Monday, 27 June 2011

Arbitration

Two men on their own blogs are talking to each other; they are arguing with one another about the same thing.  One is on the ground floor and the other is at the top, looking down.  The one appears to have just entered the building; the other has been there for a long time.  One seems fresh, the other somewhat stale; they appear to come from the same country; though their talk is in different dialects.  We listen carefully, or try to, trying to understand what it is all about.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Strictly Casual

Tom’s view:

‘There’s a new chap come into the office…  Long hair and some queer sort of tie.  More like an artist.’  He laughed heartily, and added: ‘Seems a decent sort of chap, though…’

Grace sees him later:

…his features, she decided, were plain.  More like an artist, Tom had said.  What characteristic nonsense to apply a label simply because he did not shave his head and oil the stubble, and generally take precautions against a certain appearance of individuality.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Victory Begins with Defeat

Ceasefire Magazine has published the first article in what I hope is a little series on that amorphous thing we call the left.  You can find it here.  There is a long comment, and my slightly briefer response.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Strange Comforts

The faith is extraordinary.  We are machines.  Machines that kiss, caress and fuck in order that new machines can do the same, because God has made us so...

God? 

In a scientific culture what would you expect God to be?  Go on.  Think about it.  I’m here, and I’m thinking too; but not so very hard.  I’ve done it all before, as a few of you know, though I keep on doing it; interminably for some, I acknowledge this, I know.  So tell me, what have you thought.  Not enough time, you say.  Oh come on, I want nothing too profound; just a quick guess will do.  So, what do you think?  In our modern age, in our new world of reason and sound sense, what God would you expect us all to worship?

Created in our own image, of course.  So.  What is that image?

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Friday, 17 June 2011

Divine Wind

For centuries learned men would muse on the ineffable.  The harder it was to articulate the greater they would try to do so, and many tomes were written; and many a seminarian was lost amongst their strange and complex sentences.  Centuries went by, and the absolute remained unattainable; still a distant realm unknown to the human mind.  Meanwhile, whole libraries were written, but nothing new could be found; for none was possible: the ungraspable was the unutterable, and the learned could only kneel before it in wondrous ecstasy.

Friday, 10 June 2011

The Festival Opens

Voices.  It is darker now.  The blue gone, the grey is going; marbles of white light float on black water; we feel it, its presence pushing against us.  We feel the night on the edges of the bay.  It is close to us.  And voices.  Muffled, raking, indistinct.  There are voices all around us.  Everywhere words, like pebbles under waves; we see large diaphanous hands in fine lace gloves; they pan the beach, moving it, shaking it, slowly.  The beach shifts, collapses; folds rise here and there.  Going under…  We hear a stone plunge in the near distance.  There are seagulls, and a dog barks.  The lampposts, sentries of light, they hold back the night, encroaching all about us.  We feel it, and see it as it squeezes between the posts, pushing onto the pavement…  They stand so still, and so silent; and they are strong – always they hold back the night.  To watch us, stare at us, staring us out.  We return to words, the loose phrases; we catch some laughter – a momentary shock, a thing we understand, sounds clearer than syllables.  There is relief in human utterance.  Someone shouts, and another and another; a sentence shoots up into the night sky!  We strain after it, amongst the voices all around us; the air a busy room, far too crowded to get in.  There is music, closer and louder; close now to where we stand; waiting patiently.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Invasion on the Farm

I am Prytherch.  Forgive me.  I don't know
What you are talking about; your thoughts flow
Too swiftly for me; I cannot dawdle
Along their banks and fish in their quick stream
With crude fingers.  I am alone, exposed
In my own fields with no place to run
From your sharp eyes.  I, who a moment back
Paddled in the sharp grass, the old farm
Warm as a sack about me, feel the cold
Winds of the world blowing.  The patched gate
You left open will never be shut again.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Do You Know Me?

If you don’t understand your own society you will not understand another.   How much confusion arises from this simple mistake!  Misled by the superficial codes, and the illusions and abstractions, that form the cultural mix of the country in which we are raised, we take them for reality.  We then climb onto a jet plane and land amongst a new mosaic of arresting images, customs, and baroque descriptions, and we think these are real too.

With the exception of this lone voice, no one of importance praised the work.  Mishima found himself in a peculiarly Japanese situation; he had alienated the Bundan but there was not one hostile squeak from the critics, just a silence – a characteristic Japanese method of criticism.  (The Life and Death of Yukio Mishima, by Henry Scott Stokes)

How little does the writer know of Western literary culture.  What he describes is an all too common technique to silence writers and thinkers who go beyond the boundaries of respectable opinion.  Russian Climate quotes Schopenhauer’s view of his treatment in Germany; a hundred fifty years later we see the same process used against Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky in America.  It is the easiest and most effective way to eradicate work that is too difficult and uncomfortable to assimilate.