Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Monday, 8 July 2013

Most things may never happen: this one will


I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare. 
In time the curtain-edges will grow light. 
Till then I see what's really always there: 
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now, 
Making all thought impossible but how 
And where and when I shall myself die. 
Arid interrogation: yet the dread 
Of dying, and being dead, 
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify. 
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
 - The good not done, the love not given, time 
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because 
An only life can take so long to climb 
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never; 
But at the total emptiness for ever, 
The sure extinction that we travel to 
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here, 
Not to be anywhere, 
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true. 

This is a special way of being afraid 
No trick dispels. Religion used to try, 
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade 
Created to pretend we never die, 
And specious stuff that says No rational being 
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing 
That this is what we fear - no sight, no sound, 
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with, 
Nothing to love or link with, 
The anasthetic from which none come round. 

And so it stays just on the edge of vision, 
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill 
That slows each impulse down to indecision. 
Most things may never happen: this one will, 
And realisation of it rages out 
In furnace-fear when we are caught without 
People or drink. Courage is no good: 
It means not scaring others. Being brave 
Lets no one off the grave. 
Death is no different whined at than withstood. 

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape. 
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know, 
Have always known, know that we can't escape, 
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go. 
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring 
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring 
Intricate rented world begins to rouse. 
The sky is white as clay, with no sun. 
Work has to be done. 
Postmen like doctors go from house to house. 

 Philip Larkin

Friday, 23 November 2012

Whoever first defines the situation is the victor

"The struggle for definition is veritably the struggle for life itself. In the typical Western two men fight desperately for the possession of a gun that has been thrown to the ground: whoever reaches the weapon first shoots and lives; his adversary is shot and dies. In ordinary life, the struggle is not for guns but for words; whoever first defines the situation is the victor; his adversary, the victim. For example, in the family, husband and wife, mother and child do not get along; who defines whom as troublesome or mentally sick?...[the one] who first seizes the word imposes reality on the other; [the one] who defines thus dominates and lives; and [the one] who is defined is subjugated and may be killed." - Thomas Szasz

Sport, the "functionless and useless human performance of winning and losing"

This is what I wanted to articulate during the Olympics.  I attempted on a number of occasions to register my opinion that I found the raising up of sport to be some sort of crystalline metaphor for all of human experience to be confounding and that, for me, it appears to have no meaning at all beyond people moving about in a field.I got disheartened in the face of popular opinion and waved my flag with the rest.
"I object to my tax money being wasted on it (The Olympics), and I object to performance sport in general. I think it’s horseshit. Why don’t you just go run in a field, with sheep? It’s meaningless that some guy on a bicycle gets given 20 million quid. And the way the Olympics exist in a grotesque linkage or synergy with the international finance capital is so obvious. Both are arenas that exalt an essentially functionless and useless human performance of winning and losing, and use that as the tail that wags the dog. That’s why the Olympics feed so enormously into the collective psyche." - Will Self

Friday, 10 August 2012

Don't Compare Your Inside to Other People's Outside

In a recent John Water's interview in the Guardian he is quoted as saying, "My policy is 'unless you know the full story, don't judge', and you never know the full story." He said this as a plea for tolerance, people are quick to feel superior to others when confronted with conspicuous difference. But I would expand this belief to the way we perceive others full stop. Don't judge other people's projected identities based on what you perceive those projected identities to mean based on your own perceptions, you may be, and most probably will be, very wrong.

When we go around comparing our inside feeling to other peoples outward appearance. What else can we do? We have no way of knowing what is happening in someones mind. I always tend to think other people are happier than they are, rationally I know they are not, and time and again people shock me with tiny revelations as to the real complexity of their inner, personal lives. But the myth persists. I have to keep telling myself not to judge my inside feelings against the illusory outsides of others.

I often feel confused about myself and my identity. I wonder whether I'm doing the right thing, living the right life. I wonder whether people like me, or secretly gossip when I leave a room, whether I'm intelligent enough to hold an opinion on anything, or whether I'm just a chancer or bore, a half baked ponderer. Everyone has problems with their relationships, with their sense of identity, with their jobs. But most people's outward face has a similar expression, mostly brave. We smile at each other and make small talk; whilst our inward dialogue is a mass of contradictory statements, negative and positive, banal and entertaining, paranoid and confident. 

We see a smiling couple and we assume that this simple outward appearance is all the information that we need. 'Look, they're happy. I wish I was that happy. Why am I not that happy?' But what people say, and especially how they look, is never the whole story. People talk themselves up, both to present a confident face to the world and also to prevent others from having to feel responsible for their problems. I am often amazed by how bad I am at judging other people's inner lives. I will always assume the best in others and the worst in myself.

What We Fail to Notice

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.
R. D. Laing

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Our life is not our life

How often do we tell our own life story? How often do we adjust, embellish, make sly cuts? And the longer life goes on, the fewer are those around to challenge our account, to remind us that our life is not our life, merely the story we have told about our life. Told to others, but—mainly—to ourselves.
― Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending