In the middle of the journey of our life
I found myself in a dark wood,
for the straight way was lost.
Ah how hard to say what a harsh
that wood savage and rough and hard
that to think about it renews the fear!
And so begins one of the great travel logs of Occidental literature and art; for its inspiration gave flight to illustrative description as much as Dante’s own poetry. And the journey of course was into the deepest recesses of the medieval mind; descent into a maelstrom of god fearing terrors of the flesh and spirit. For as much as Dante aspired to the lofty heights of classical heavens; it was the depths of hell that bore the real fruit of imagination. As always, virtues described rather than lived are always boring; whereas the twisted irony of our regretted and guilt-ladden sins are what come to sting us worse than any blessing from above could possibly remedy.
It is along the path of self-judgement that we find a cause for justice to bestow meaning.
It is when we hold our actions up to reflection, that mindful mirror, that we find pause in contemplation of our own mortality. Our thirst for the eternal draws one mirror to face another and in that self-reflection we find judgment and meaning. For only in front of that burning mirror can we truly see ourselves as we see others.
And when we gaze into our own clear faces, undistorted by the imperfections, the agitation on the surface of our reflection , when we look past our own harsh judgements, stop playing God and start playing ‘Man’, we see straight into the eyes of others where recognition is awaiting our discovery.
But it is a long journey for the imaginative and for those whose feet are tired from the long journey they took just to get here, to the edge of the darkening wood. The naive and innocent are fleeter of foot when it comes to an inner journey. Those who only see the rays of golden light with every dawn and every setting sun are most likely to pass undissuaded by the obstacles wiser souls place in front of themselves.
The first word that enters my head is Complicity
Pulling a lazy duvet over my daughter’s restless legs,
Positioning a laptop to watch the Simpsons on Hulu,
The default BBC website interrupts our yellow plans with screams of murder from Connect-it-cut.
‘Why did he shoot such young children, daddy?
They didn’t know’.
Why don’t my Internet filters work on reality?
Why does life always deal a hand that’s a million times worse than what we could ever imagine
we would need protect our children from?
If we can protect them.
If only we could protect them.
The guns are easy.
We built them so we could sell them.
We stole ancient lies from stone-eyed tablets to justify the money we made.
We held them high over the poor losers heads itching to bring them down hard and shouted
‘See! I have the right! I hold the right!
I am the right!”
‘You are the weak and you are the wrong’.
We never counted on our son’s black dog with the white face.
We never thought that if we fed him just a little that he would follow our son home.
And curl up to sleep at the foot of his bed;
licking his face at night while he dreamt of missing school.
Licking the salt, licking the sanity from his face,
until there was none left.
We never thought that if we trained him,
if we taught him how to shoot,
how to focus on positive aims,
how to meet his targets successfully that eventually,
inevitably, sadly and eventually and inevitably,
he would mislay his targets and bring the bullets home.
While his black dog with the white face reared up on his haunches and smiled.
Who drove the car, the dog or the boy?
It doesn’t matter, we are on a final mission;
We are your children and we are ready for the evening news.
I am sometimes frustrated by the presumptions that are made in these forums that there are underlying requirements or criteria to posting on FB; there are none. I use FB mainly to procrastinate, point out odd things I see, keep informal dialogues and discussions with remote friends, underline political injustices that I often feel I can do little about but complain. (like the British government which is currently the quintessential definition of injustice), and occasionally, when inspired by another voice, practice sketching with text. Illustrating emotions as they emerge from, merge into and transform ideas. I am attracted to the media of language as it encompasses and conveys the rational, the abstract and the emotive. All in an utterance and tiny shapes on a screen. I can paint a portrait of a person, a landscape, an event, an anecdote. I can vent my anger against the petty powers that be, shake my fist at the infinite, fixate on a falling leaf, make love, make a joke, contemplate a blade of grass or the iris of a flower. And in using my palate, I know another will see what I see, hear what I hear and even feel what I feel and when they do somehow the moment of my awareness becomes real, crystalised in the recognition of another. the tree falls and thunders though the forest: ‘I exist, I exist, I exist’!
Ok, just for the sake of an argument: The format by which we access shapes the content. The easiest example is the difference between seeing a film in a cinema (projected and reflected light) and watching a film on a TV or LED screen. That 700-year-old artifact called a book has been shaping the intake of our knowledge for as long in subtle ways that nonetheless include the reader in continuity across language and genre with other readers down the centuries. Books are often personalised objects that anchor us within the experience of what we have read. They are also objects of legacy, often handed down from previous generations or gifted. They are objects as events imbedded with emotive resonance. The flaw of an electronic book is that it is so easy not to read; to begin and skim and never finish while still delivering the affect of ‘having read’ the work. A book has physical pages that must be turned, bookmarked or dog-eared. We know instinctively before we think about it whether or not we’ve ‘read that book’, started to read that book, ever finished that book or need to finish ‘that book’. That’s lost in a Kindle, iPod-like portable library. Sure, you can think about whether or not you’ve actually read or finished that work; but it doesn’t provide the same visceral certainty a volume does. Also, the intimate subjectivity of the reading is diminished; wherever you took that book to read it. Kindles are not objects that engender the same subjective intimacy. They are electronic, plugged in, recharged and interchangeable. It is the loss of the value of the artifact that I regret the smell of paper, glue and sometimes leather, which are the book’s ‘platform’ for my senses. I’ve got nothing against Kindles, although like screens their delivery of direct light to my retina is not natural and does physically limit the amount of time I spend reading on screen. Unlike a book, which I can cheerfully read from tactile cover to cover in one sitting and close with the incomparable feeling of satisfaction of the completion its author intended. I rest my case ;~)