Friday, March 24, 2017

Three cheers for Morgan Forster

I'm now re-reading Wendy Moffat's suberb life of Forster and noticed having read it rather cursorily the first time. I think I was reading modern day attitudes and journeys back into the past and saw the text through 21st century "Gay Icon" lenses. Being rather vary with group identities and loyalties Forster's attitudes seemed partially distancing and foreshadowing some unpleasant tendencies in the modern age - and some still do, like his suspicion of women and letting escape from his otherwise sharp vision their awful middle class shackles of respectability and "purity".

But his was a deadly serious moral pursuit, just the thing expected of us, of taking responsibility for our own beings and thinking hard and straight (puns unintended) about our bodies and souls and their various placements and the moral implications of those placements, those actions and impulses and their relations to the ever imperfect, cruel and unjust general society. In his seemingly timid and gentle person there was a lion's heart fighting unflinchingly terrible injustices around and terrible insufficiencies inside. A fighter's life.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Not the more deceived - on de Sade

I have never really looked into de Sade but I expected to reluctantly like and respect him. Not so it seems though - there are his madly irreverent early letters that really are charming and funny but his adult character is not exceedingly pleasant. Of course his actions are mostly nothing to object to if between consenting adults but concent in his 1800th century context is really dubious and no matter how rotten the society, he largely accepted it apart from some ideals largely then practiced in breach and in theory. And sexual fantasies are in any case usually best left unattempted in real life - they easily become ridiculous and/or unpleasant or worse. His certainly did.

His thinking was better and in some respects refreshing (as against the disgusting cant of this, one of the more horrible eras) but even there he resided much in his own solipsist unreality (though creating some rather effective pornography in the process). So I suppose he too was deceived and betrayed but surely not nearly us much as his paid partners, those much truer victims of that cruel, sadistic age.

Monday, January 30, 2017

"High politics" revisited

I never liked the catty reactionarism of the Peterhouse school but I loved much of their approach to politics: the political elite seen as a semidetached speech community, a subculture in many ways distanced from the general public and hiding that distance with very deceptive, rationalizing public speech that was in fact full of codes and nuances referring to rather cynical and irrational power struggles below the surface. I think it's still a rather illuminating approach to many dark and hidden corners of the political world. But even then I thought that the social dimension is missing or neglected, that it not a totally closed or totally cynical world. So, today coming accross this article was rather encouraging - there seems to be at least some signs of a synthesis maybe approaching:

'High politics' and the 'New political history'

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

I prefer Tolkien - elen sila lumenn' omentielvo

But it was a narrow contest: I still am rather excited about George R. R. Martin, his initial vision, his brutal but fundamentally only too realistic description of ravaging, raping knights without any conceivable honour, of the Middle Ages, that is. Unfortunately Martin got lost though, got gigantism, though there is much greatness in that bizarrely complicated narrative even if less and less coherence.

Tolkien on the other hand, is all coherence: a beautiful, sad, nostalgic epic thought out to the last exhaustive detail. Leaf by Niggle... The great anti-modernist - so much of criticism simply misses his intentions, his majestic, traditional Christian vision of a fallen world, a true conservative vision. As little as I actually agree with this unreal world view, it is such a coherent view of the Christian spiritus mundi. I still have the books in my bookshelf, ordered and bought decades ago when I was only 11 - he was my religion those early times: the magical, magically imagined world, the history, the languages, the breath taking adventure...

Two obsessed, odd, freak writers, the best of the genre showing what can be achieved by it. All amidst the spiritless, visionless counterfeits and bad copies that unfortunately dominate it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Sveriges rikes lag

It has been a rather strange experience to witness this modern and so newly re-established Finnish national radicalism of these past few years, this present wave of only recently so safely retro sentiments. And how familiar they are for a long time history student: still going along the well trodden path of us not being a Nordic land, not being a Western liberal nation - in the 1930's the promised anti-enlightenment land was Germany and today it's Russia. Always orientating towards the strongest contemporary anti-liberal, anti-humanist, disgusting centre.

Well, fine, let us then really rehearse this battle once again: for we are a Nordic country, a country of laws and liberties, centuries old, a country of citizens, not subjects or pre-determined categories of people. There is a patriotic vision of hope and progress and there is a national-radical vision of hatred, ignorance and regression, so let us then rehearse this battle again.

Friday, January 20, 2017

As constant as the Northern Star

It does feel like such a privilege having burned and crashed, having braved, having unflinchingly confronted. At the nadir of my fortunes, I could not have believed it possible to have one day emerged into life. These might seem as rather pitifully small things to ask for, but I don't know: I don't believe it's that pitifully small at all in the final analysis. And in any case I did finally succeed in my endevours: finally burned, finally crashed, finally lived and continued living. A very twisted tale, but a tale of success, and with not totally favourable odds at all. No small thing.

Friday, January 06, 2017

The glory days of the Empire are over

I have been having an interesting debate with a friend about the Trump phenomenon - he thinks it's not much of a change for: a) the republic will endure in any case and b) it has always been corrupt. Well, I don't think so: there was much prudent leadership during the Cold War, much good will and patient wisdom in building the post-wars structures in the 40's and 50's that ended up defeating the state Stalin built. Corruption too, of course, but corruption held in check with many countering forces.

Now those forces have weakened, some becoming corrupt themselves. Now we have a large section of the media sowing hatred and ignorance, large religious movements that have forgotten what traditional Christianity is about, fractured, defensive and declining system of public education. Virtue not rewarded, greed and shortsightedness gifted with ever greater profits to ever fewer people.

Yes, the glory days are over and the federal government itself is now in the hands of a corrupt, ignorant thug and rabble rouser. Things have changed and centre is ever less holding.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

To have kissed any person behind the fence where the nettles wither

To age is a weird experience: any perspective you gain might not be that trustworthy as it skews the original experience. And the regret you thus accumulate might be quite or partially mistaken. Well, in any case, there certainly were no kisses with no boys, almost no boys, no girls, in my early years, and there probably should have been many I now gather with this benefit of hindsight, this wisdom only too expensively earned surely. Though still thinking perhaps it was not only a loss - or is this too esoteric or elegiac a point to entertain? The absence in some respects being more meaningful than the presence at the time would have realistically been?

Of course talking in much wider sense than mere relationships - rather of that long life denying period of my late teens and early 20's, and, no, I well know that it wasn't a total loss and much was earned, even with a high price. Oh well, a rather beautiful song in the early morning hours led to this mostly fruitless observation.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Тебе что не нравится советская власт?!

These days one is wondering about the fate of the Eastern borderlands of Europe - many not that eastern culturally at all. The soon to be leader of the Western world seems to have strangely retro dreams of pacts and spheres of influence with the other cleptocracy in Kremlin cheering on. Who knows what will happen in this unpredictable era of not so awfully funny clowns - or worse - but everything seems to indicate a return of history to Europe after 6-7 decades of stability. That does not bode well for small civilized nations. Strange landscapes these.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Emotion recollected in tranquility

Maybe not for the creation of poetry though. I find myself again returning to those furious affections that now seem both essential and, well, quaint, from the perspective of age. Essential as the colours never were so bright, the air never so clear and cold and only the moment so essential. Quaint as it seems that worries now are so much more profound, more serious, permanent. It's hardly the most original observation ever but it's is good to recollect that both assesments are simultaneously true: we can neither dismiss the past nor the present. I do miss the immediacy, the seriousness of those times (maybe not so much the searing pain), and I'm very glad that I got to learn and experience new things about life and love after leaving them.