At the start of the year I decided to keep a diary. I challenged myself to write something, anything, for every day of the year.Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been mulling, leaving and returning to this post for some time now. And things change, or stay the same, it is hard to tell. Early on in all this I found it hard to settle to read anything until I began Matthew Newton’s Shopping Mall. The book is part of the Object Lessons series, where various authors explore “the hidden lives of ordinary things”. At the time I wanted to read of ordinary things. “Ordinary” seemed, and seems, an extraordinary concept now. Something to cherish, something to hope for – the ordinary. Read the rest of this entry »
The good hotel room is, in fact, the city’s paradigm: it provides everything you really need, and no more. The rest is out there; your dining room the city’s restaurants, your garden the city’s parks, your transport a bus or taxi or hire-car. It achieves in a positive way what so many societies try to do negatively, through commune or kibbutz: it removes the need for useless possessions. Positive, because it offers you a secret private life as well – for the possessions which really matter. How much do you really – really – need to own, continuously? Love, a sense of humour and the understanding which makes conversation into a genuine meeting instead of a pair of blind projections – they take no room at all. A crucifix, pet teddy-bear, half a dozen books take very little. The rest the city can provide, when you want them. That’s it’s job.
So much distance is meant by it:
just as with the backdrop of a scene
the world is meant; and as through that scene
the hero strides, cloaked in his action’s mantle: —
so the darkness of this doorway strides acting
onto the tragic theater of its depths,
as boundlessly and seething as God the Father
and just as He transforming wondrously
into a Son, who is distributed here
among many small, almost unspeaking roles,
all taken from misery’s repertoire.
For it’s only (this we know) from
the blind, the cast-out, and the mad
that, like a great actor, the Saviour emerges.
Excerpt from The Portal, Rainer Maria Rilke, trans. Edward Snow
To love means to esteem—even perhaps to overestimate—the object of love. To love with open eyes, critically, is something only very few people are capable of doing. Most people’s love is blind. Most people who love their fatherland, their nation, do so blindly. Not only are they incapable of seeing the faults of their nation, their country, they are even inclined to see its faults as instances of human virtue. This is called “National self-confidence.”