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Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Self-Unseeing


File:Egon Schiele 079.jpg

His anxiety in the face of death
that walks hand in hand through the forest deep
with his anxiety in the face of life
standing beside the savage innocent
the innocuous mirage
the invincible ignorance of the boy
his own image in that burning pool
his penchant for destroying everything

File:Blake Dante Hell XXVI Ulisses.jpg

Selbstporträt mit Lampionfrüchten: Egon Schiele, 1912 (Sammlung Leopold, Wien)
Inferno XXVI (Ulysses): William Blake, illustrations for The Divine Comedy, 1826-27


human being said...

invincible ignorance

think this is the root of all that anxiety in the face of life and death...

this poem is really strong!

Pinkerbell said...

I'm liking the concept of "the face of life", people often talk of facing death, but never acknowledge how hard it is to face life!

~otto~ said...

Ah, childhood. And it has been my experience that some things do not change, things such as invincible ignorance. Love the image of the burning pool. Had we had a pool when I set the house on fire, I might have seen my image as well.

(Btw, love Schiele)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

This has all the weight of a powerful short story, w/ a lyrical insight rarely experienced via prose. The mind is such an amazing instrument: for some reason, I read this, and F. Scott Fitzgerald, the person not his work, keeps coming into my head.

Thanks for this gem.


Anonymous said...

I am thinking, anxiety has no place in life or death. You just live or die and do not waste time thinking about such! Easier said than done, right? *sigh* And yes, I can see clearly how life and death walk hand in hand down the street, along the shore.
I am liking this 'The Self-Unseeing' Your mind stirring words.

TC said...


I was raised Catholic. Catholic dogma, at least back in that benighted century (I haven't kept up), held that those who have had no opportunity to receive God's message -- the wild people of the earth, living outside civilization in a "natural" state -- could not be "saved". They lived in a state of Invincible Ignorance, as it was called. Neither Heaven nor Hell was a possible afterlife destination for them, just Limbo. (A place which, however, was a bit hard for an innocent lad to think of as being too bad, because it had a dance named after it.)


I think this "anxiety in the face of life" is a problem reserved for the especially privileged, like me and you.


But I'm sure that when you set the house on fire, you meant well. That's just it. We always do. (Schiele believed such ordeals to be "purgations not punishments".)


Many thanks. Yes, Fitzgerald, the Eternal, eternally ruined and ruining Boy.


Thank you, you are always helpfully reminding me to *dance* when I *sigh*. And 'tis very appropriate advice, as well. And always appreciated. Though I am probably incorrigible.

(BTW, SarahA, as in your presence I cannot lie, it must be disclosed here that I have borrowed the title of this one, though nothing much else in or about it, from a bitter, melancholy little Thomas Hardy poem of self-reproach regarding missed opportunities in a lost past -- one of my favourite poems, as it happens.)

billymills said...

Everything glowed with a gleam;
Yet we were looking away!

human being said...

thanks for explaining the background for these words... so the ignorance was from those who were teaching, eh?

unfortunately religions have caused lots of fear and anxiety in people's souls...

and now i should say i love and respect you even more, dear friend... getting rid of dogamas is not an easy task... i just think of the journey you had to become this poet you are now... with your human and cosmic viewpoint...
think the double usage of the word Limbo was a great help, eh?


TC said...


Childlike I danced in a dream...

(Were any of us ever paying attention?)


Beyond the sanctuary of the doctrinal, the uncertainties, doubts and joys of the real (among the latter, your friendship).

billymills said...

Tom, I know that RC upbringing only too well.

TC said...


Yes, I find it hard to wash it out of that hair I no longer have.

billymills said...

Thank God we're all atheists now, Tom.

TC said...


Yes, I'm damned to agree--er, damned glad to agree.

Annie said...

Ah, if only my youngest might read this, the better not to see himself, my dear...I appreciate the elided last line written in invisible blood/ink, "especially himself"

TC said...


You know it's funny (and a bit scary too) how wide the field of possible implication may be here... it took me a few days, after writing this, to realize that. And indeed it took a few others and then you to help me to the realization. I suppose the invincibly ignorant boy will always be the last to know. (And of course you're right about the invisible last line, one did not want to put a fine point on it, the news was getting bad enough already...)