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Tuesday, 10 December 2013



Fissure (Seaview, Prince Edward Island, Canada): photo by Jim Rohan (LowerDarrnley), 6 December 2013

If the world of secrets is its own universe, here we have an expansion of the universe which brings to mind something cosmological.

It had to happen. When all that possibility of expansion became available the spooks were going to avail themselves of it as naturally as night follows day.

At some point in the expansion there is a phase transition our attitude will undergo. Something that seemed OK no longer seems OK.

The impulse we are now experiencing goes back as long as we have been living in groups. How much do we owe each other? How much of our very self, our individuality, our privacy, our subjective and autonomous freedom to live as utterly unique human beings, is up for grabs on the say so of whoever is making the rules for the group, not withstanding that the rulemakers have been validated by all of us?

It is no light matter to put in jeopardy a single life when it is the very singularity of each life which underpins the idea of a just society. But it appears to me that our masters are in the grip of the delusionary nightmare of completeness: the complete annihilation of every rogue bacillus. It's as if there is a belief that in the end the virus has no riposte, that there cannot be and will not be a means to evade blanket security if it is blanket enough.

What is the society we wish to protect? Is it the society of complete surveillance for the commonwealth? Is this the wealth we seek to have in common -- optimal security at the cost of maximal surveillance? Not that anybody asked us.

Tom Stoppard: from What is the society we wish to protect? The Guardian, 9 December 2013

I have more than once tried to analyze this apparently deliberate form of self-torture that seems so common for so many people in the face of the extinction of a valued life, human or animal, and it springs, I think, from a negation of death, as if by summoning and arranging these subjective images we were in some way cheating the objective fact of it. It is, I believe, an entirely instinctive process, and the distress it brings with it is incidental, a by-product, not a masochistic end.

Gavin Maxwell (1914-1969): from Ring of Bright Water, 1960

Sounds of old timbers weeping in the dark
house in the cold night
for what is bent and broken --
a valued life --
and will never again be whole
even when the wind stops blowing

Things bend, break, fall apart. It's a mistake

to get in the way
of a force of nature. Confine it
here, it will pop up again
over there
when you're not looking.

And yes things have a way of changing,
when the wind stops blowing
there may yet come a time
in this world of the few
watchers and the many watched
when they've stopped looking.

Mirror Tide (Lower Darnley, Prince Edward Island, Canada): photo by Jim Rohan (LowerDarrnley), 8 December 2013

Three Cliffs (Lower Darnley, Prince Edward Island, Canada): photo by Jim Rohan (LowerDarrnley), 30 November 2013

Salacia (Lower Darnley, Prince Edward Island, Canada): photo by Jim Rohan (LowerDarrnley), 8 December 2013

Cairn (Pinhole version) (Seaview, Prince Edward Island, Canada): photo by Jim Rohan (LowerDarrnley), 24 Setember 2013


Nin Andrews said...

I love the poem, esp. the ending, and it's a nice commentary on the post. I'd forgotten all about Ring of Bright Water.
And I often wonder, how much of our freedom is up for grabs? It's something that I think about when I think how most of us would rather not get involved if the question is political and demands something of us. I, for one, have of late just wanted to plug my ears and find some sand to stick my head in.

ACravan said...

Things definitely feel more fissure than fusion at the moment. On the one hand, this poem and picture assembly is overwhelming and (to use an expression I never use) impossibly moving. On the other hand, it seems clear, logical, granular. In terms of Nin's question, I think all of our freedom is currently under assault and in jeopardy. I think the question is definitely political and different people will make different decisions in that regard. I'm pleased and grateful that you republished Tom Stoppard's remarks. But this post is bigger and deeper than all that. Curtis

manik sharma said...

There it is, Tom...The big one..

Anonymous said...

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