Thursday, March 1, 2012

Good-night, February

I think the paradox of this page is
that it is not one which I could
recommend to the population of its
recurring evidence, simply because
the underlying point of view, while
sound, sometimes exhibits the very
bitterness it seeks to discredit,
even subdue. I discovered this 
point of view in myself at a very 
young age - approximately 6 or 7 - 
and to obtain my university's bac-
calaureate degree I found it liter-
ally expressed in my honors thesis:
I rue the influence over the mind's
reach into all its possibilities, in
the existence of any external com-
pulsory power. In that project, I
cited this horror as the touchstone 
of the nation state, but so it is,
also, of sectarian orthodoxy and
other crime syndicates. 

From a mind conscious, at the age of
Hopalong Cassidy, of the corrupting,
limiting influence of compulsion, it
is very difficult to do justice to
the emergency whence it arises - the
fruition of youth - if one has ever
been subjected to such compulsion.
And who has not? To my knowledge,
red mug, blue linen is notable for
at least exploring this point of
view at the moment, although alter-
natives are both plentiful and ad-
mirable: accepting constraint of
possibility, in calm delectation
of the remainder. Indeed, they're
so admirable I'd regard another as
more superfluous than exemplary.

I can accept the complaint of mal-
adjustment in the blog, therefore,
but not in its point of view. I can
so little accept the tolerance of
compulsion, as a model to suspend
over the life depicted on every page 
at this address, that this refusal  
is what must shape it. Now, against 
the advantage of blogging's always-
recurring immediacy, lies the pathos 
of its swift effacement of previous
entries, even if you might say one
should be grateful for these "born
again" dispensations. I am not 
grateful for that; there is a story
here, as well as a viewpoint, and
their relationship is vital to the
page. Still, there are grounds for
adjusting the voice, by the tone
and terms of the model being pro-

Even as I resolve to pursue these
matters, I am more cognisant every 
day of the limiting compulsion of
the closet here. I do not refer
only to the guytummy thing, but 
to the feudalistic integration of 
every social policy in Virginia.
This is a tiny, hermetic culture;
associates of mine are redundantly
enmeshed in all its ruling threads. 
Everyone I know subscribes to the 
terror. Its rejection, being im-
possible, mitigates the burden of 
the closet, rather, as something
of a refuge of sanity. I return to
my object, which is not to inhibit
the mind behind that face up there,
a little less, but to keep it open.

I return, then, to the alarm I
felt for my own mind as a child.
I would like this page to find a
voice to speak to him. I want to
find the default face of a greater
freedom than that of expression.
I want to see the face of the
freedom to think.


  1. Hello Laurent:
    Such a powerful image you leave us with here; the 'face of the freedom to think'. Perhaps it is the seeking of such a face that is the best that one can do, but, sadly, we are not at all convinced that the vast majority has any wish to travel on such a journey.

    We are reminded of Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's 'The importance of Being Earnest' when she said: "I do not approve of anything that tampers with ignorance. Ignorance is like a delicate, exotic fruit. Touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever".

  2. Dear Jane and Lance, as always the kindliness of your visit is wonderfully enriched by its wit and learning. It seems cruel, under the circumstances, to parse Lady Bracknell's comment, but I must because your reminder positions it so well. Its first three, humane sentences paraphrase the argument I make less well in 30. If I may suggest any dissent, it's that in the pivot toward paradox this superb sensibility is a little encumbered by the sweet straining for mirth. Education's avoidance of harm, 'fortunate' as that would be, ceded the terrain of ignorance in her England, to the operation of other forces. You find precisely for us, the problem of conserving "the bloom." Hence the freedom proposed here is not one to learn or to know - which, as you so correctly say, is always the province of the individual appetite, but to exert without impairment that extremely precious instrument of thinking.

    I thank you very warmly for your contribution.

  3. Hello Laurent:
    Quite so.....the 'sweet straining for mirth' is indeed its downfall.Still, the play is considered to be a 'trivial comedy for serious people!

    And, the possible confusion of 'education' and 'learning' or 'knowledge'is dangerous in our view since never was the world so knowledgeable and yet so poorly educated. As you say, the 'precious instrument of thinking' must be cherished.

    Wishing you a Happy St David's Day!

  4. Dear happy two,

    I am looking forward to braised leeks this evening ~ thank you for your wishes on the day, and all the best to you.

    In the theatre, Lady Bracknell's epigram is structured with such clarity and timing as to be all mirth, no loss; and to this art, humanely directed, I certainly bow with real delight. And possibly you agree that this is also relevant, the feminine vessel drains it of any residual mordancy (unless intended), and endows it with a natural envelope of shrewd sociability, a virtue of Mme du Deffand. Possibly I assert this compliment to excuse the shortcoming admitted in the blog entry :)

    I thank you for accepting the sincerity of that underlying comment and removing it to a plane of humane tolerance. Such nuances are vitally nourishing.