The Sunday Tunnel: So Alone
How many make up a royal we? One would say one. Two is a crowd. One and one subtracted from Two is vanishingly small. Take your pick; the middle is excluded. And so are we.
“I gave up poetry for history in my youth. I gave up smoking; changed handwriting; traded stamps which I’d collected in my childhood for tables of mature statistics, seldom drank; was torn between the ethics of the Stoics and the ethics of Immanuel Kant; no longer moved to music; wrote out rules for my behavior and rigorously kept them, assigning grades; though abstract thoughts and shrank from women; cultivated bibliographies in paper pots; lived in a house of heavy books. What led me once to Germany – Hölderlin and Rilke – remained pure imagery. Hölderlin went mad. Rilke’s blood decayed. I gave up youth.” (ibid. p. 78)
To this date I do not understand why anybody would want to write lines that are not fully justified. Or neglect to adapt the wording to maximally fill a line. Ill justified lines lay thoughts out. Get that? Or …
Ha’ you felt the wooll of Bever?
Or Swans Downe ever?
“And if one had written just those two lines in a life, though living like a rat in a sewer, would the misery not be worth it? not ever?” (ibid. p. 95)
It’s just brain fever. I am the virus, mutated from quote to quote; ready to infect you when your guard is down. Biting off more than I can chew so there’s some left for you.
“Poets are the bees of the invisible, Rilke said.” (ibid. p. 110)
This was a bad week. It really was. My wife’s failure to receive acknowledgement tempts me to join Kohler in his solitude, like a free electron bound by abjuration of optimism to its atom; perennially falling, falling, falling. Will I last the 40 days?
“(..) because I understand Rilke: love is an act of acquisition – a takeover bid – (..)” (ibid. p. 125)
To be tempted is to resist the takeover by the crowd whose love is the love of uniform which is a great pity. So I resist as my wife resists. We will remain weird as wasps refusing the sugared water.
“So there were days of old even for Cicero. And what permits happiness to an honest and honorable man, our orator is asking. That’s the direction of this great oral gesture – the gist – the pith and the pish of it. And his answer is: peaceful employment and dignified retirement.” (ibid. p. 152)
And the rest doesn’t matter because then he dived into the sugared water thinking his righteousness would be the coating to keep him dry and consequently appointed. You can’t join the crowd and remain separate from it. You can’t let yourself be acquired and expect to have love left to leverage. You can’t because otherwise resistance is futile: ultimately you will be disappointed. So we stay out and will just have to deal with a lack of acknowledgement through peaceful employment and dignified retirement, the part of the crowd that is not proud.
“how long will man’s savagery deface our so-called human look and make a mockery of us? to what limit, to what an ending, will you go? Who of us is any longer in doubt of our depravity; do we need another demonstration? for we know what we did yesterday in Europe, what we do today in Africa and Asia, what plans we have to destroy Tomorrow itself, as though Time were a fellow creature.” (ibid. p. 153)
So long Mary-Anne. 40 minutes on and goodbye temptation! Kohler made me realize I am a Stoic; that I was right at 14; that I spent 30 years to figure out temperance is the only way out of temptation; that to realize you come from the crowd is the only way to stand out from the crowd and to make the crowd move out of the fray. Attacking unfairness is to make unfairness persist and that is as fair as any fact can be.
“What does my work do but simply remove some of the armor, the glamour, of Evil. It small-e’s it. It shakes a little sugar on the shit. It dares to see a bit of the okay in our great bugaboche. Inexcusable. Slander our saints, if you will, but please leave our Satan undefiled by any virtue, his successes inexplicable by any standard.” (ibid., p. 155)
Understanding is everything, empathy the only reality. Things are complex: the crowd is bad but the crowd will be good, the exceptional moves whilst remaining hidden and who gets acknowledged for standing out tries to conserve. Two is not enough. Explanations are 4-tact engines, more difficult to assemble but less taxing on the environment, less noisy also. I give you quadrialectics.
To end on a tone of reality:
A second reason is that, naive as this sounds (especially in the light of what I write), I actually thought that writing stuff and putting it on the web would be enough to build a reputation and an audience. Clearly it isn’t, and that should not be surprising. I have no credentials behind what I write, I’m terrible at self-promotion, my networks related to my writing are minimal, and although some pieces have been provocative I am uncomfortable in the culture of quickfire debate that drives much political writing. None of those things is likely to change.
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