Tuesday, September 25, 2007

On not being an island

Now with a new member in the family I have noticed an excess of Donnean feelings: a sunny, vulnerable little boy has made the harshness of the world very concrete. Yes, with any luck we’ll be able to protect his way till the time he’ll start choosing it for himself (hopefully doing it also under lucky stars). But I know, we all do, that this is not the case for countless of families, for countless of children: today, tomorrow, every day random tragedies strike from blue or stormy skies. Every day we offer ourselves, our loved ones for this reversed lottery. The callousness we need for living is largely devoted to ignoring this reality. More horror than boredom in this world certainly.

Not that I would think that we are entitled to any perfect sorrow, or perfect joy here: we are, will perpetually remain, incomplete and hesitant beings, unsure of meanings, impermanent, quickly fading. But as much as we have permanence and promise it's connected with love, with giving, with this offering of hostages, however reluctantly, to the fate - with this decision to live with reckless abandon. When I survey the remains of my once proud ramparts that were so impenetrable and intricate, I now notice gaping holes: walls have been throughly razed down, no resistance will be possible here. That truly is a measure of success, but it comes at a high price, as everything valuable does.

So many of the ways of the world are designed to hide, to ignore and to protect us from this realization of how much we have gambled - or how much, out of base fear, we have not dared to gamble and grasped something graspable instead. Of course in place of any serious tones on this subject of living we have endless entertainment, corrupt, ignoble politics and sheer physical and mental tiredness: this society has its way chosen for itself and it will not be a conscious path towards increased awareness. And perhaps that is for the better, humankind cannot bear very much reality. If we could we would be something else, be somewhere else, in a different situation - but one wonders whether it would really be an easier situation... Still, my own preference would be for a far more austere, more serious disposition in this world of love and loss.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On the suicide of Alan Turing

I never cease to be amazed at how stupid our organizations are and how stupid, unimaginative and ignorant are the people in charge of them. Perhaps it is a failing to be surprised by this: it is the way of the world. Any philosophy will be used as an excuse for power - that may be their most fundamental use - and stupidity will forever congregate around power and its institutions. This is how it goes, how it has always gone. Perhaps our tragedy is that we can always see amazingly far beyond our painfully narrow scopes of action but we will always remain powerless to free ourselves from them. So, the stupidity is only a half of the story, the other half is that it couldn't be otherwise: we remain poised, wise enough to see the cruel limits but incapable of ever breaking them down. Not without a transformation that would change us into something almost unrecognizable. That transformation will surely remain the dream, but hardly a goal of practical action. Not in any foreseeable future.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Marie, Marie hold on tight

Reading Ackroyd's biography I have been quite struck how odd a person T.S.Eliot really was. In many ways his beliefs and personality were actually much crazier than those of Yeats, and that is much said. He was forced to construct an iron cage of a philosophy, however absurd, literally to survive as a poet, as a person. One sees disintegration and chaos following on his footsteps, and a panicked flight away from them. Touch and go it was on the way, a desperate survival game but one that yielded such majestic, such odd poetry. Strange music. Now it is easy to see the response to the Waste Land as a significant historical phenomenon itself, so much of it surely unintended and unforeseen by the author: that badly shaken, wounded era demanded an artistic expression and would have gotten one in any case but Eliot's disjointed, apocalyptic language was uniquely suited those circumstances. In many ways violence was done to his art in the process, but I don't think that either, the poetry or its effect, diminish from the misunderstanding. Perhaps the opposite. Such a century to have.