Sunday, December 2, 2012

"This poor forked thing"

   .. I suppose I am bound to see
   landscape as a field dominated
   by the human wish- tortured in-
   to farms and hamlets, ploughed
   into cities. A landscape scrib-
   bled with the signatures of men
   and epochs. Now, however, I am
   beginning to believe that the
   wish is inherited from the site;
   that man depends for the furni-
   ture of the will upon his loca-
   tion in place, tenant of fruit-
   ful acres or a perverted wood.
   It is not the impact of his free
   will upon nature which I see (as
   I thought) but the irresistible
   growth, through him, of nature's
   own blind unspecified doctrines
   of variation and torment.

   She has chosen this poor forked
   thing as an exemplar. Then how 
   idle it seems for any man to say, 
   say, as I once heard Balthazar  
   say: "The mission of the Cabal, 
   if it has one, is so to ennoble 
   function that even eating and 
   excreting will be raised to the
   rank of arts". You will see in 
   all this the flower of a perfect
   skepticism which undermines the 
   will to survive. Only love can 
   sustain one a little longer.

Lawrence Durrell
Faber & Faber, 1957©

Johann Sebastian Bach
Brandenburg Concerto No. 2
  BWV 1047
Benjamin Britten
English Chamber Orchestra
Decca Records, 1968©


  1. Ah, it's this one that hits most.
    Mont St Michel as solid and take-away as a landscape marble might provide good furniture of the will.

    1. You can imagine, G, how distracted I was, to stumble upon Durrell's formulation of this. It came not at all as the gift of your visit, but it left with some of its effect of sustenance. Thank you for coming by today.

  2. i should tell you that i sat beside a chap
    at the stinson beach historical society christmas luncheon yesterday.
    he moved here in 1932.
    a train went from northern marin to tamalpais high. it had a changeover in corte madera.
    that lovely bridge of course did not exist.
    and i of course
    had been perfectly placed with this luncheon companion

    1. I can sort of picture this fellow. 1932: my father's graduating class at SBSB/Cate. His mother was living on Mason Street at the time and while visiting her from Stanford on occasional weekends, he could stand down at the street corner and see not only this bridge but the silver span to Alameda rising from the Bay in construction at the same time. Meanwhile, my little perch on Telegraph Hill, Calhoun Terrace, was being carved out of bedrock by the WPA. The country had unemployment 4 times the scale of ours, deficits further than one could imagine, and implacably bitter Republicans to howl and claw at the socialist in the White House who was making their fortunes safe. What would you like to raise today?

      Sounds like a happy lunch!