Saturday, 17 October 2009

A Self-Stuffing Animal. — “Fortune spoils, coddles, lulls, and isolates men, and peoples too; whereas misfortune keeps them awake, stirs, binds, and uplifts them.” [1] A life at odds with deadening conveniences and securities would have to be upheld to keep men on their toes, true blood in their veins, and thoughts in their heads, but it would never sell, not where so-called lifestyle is a commodity like everything else, glamour-packaged and deceit-promoted; and what does not sell makes no difference in our threepenny merchant-culture. A modernist could not choose to live a more noble or reasonable life. He has forgone the belief in reason and freewill. He has desire and utility instead. He desires to be fed and watered like a rare beast, history’s own prize-winning specimen and greatest exhibit, though he never thinks he might end up stuffed, and he sees no worth in anything that does not promise to bring still more fruits to his trough. Under the dominion of comfort-seeking, pleasure-questing, and thoroughgoing liberal drowsiness, man invents misfortunes wherefrom he might never recover, misfortunes which do not uplift but might ruin him utterly. One day he might beg for the old sufferings and misfortunes, if only he still had the mind for it. But, before then, would he have the strength of mind and will to refuse, even just once, yet another bite of poisoned fruit? It is strongly to be doubted. What is the nay-saying whisper of reason against the aye-saying roar of desire? — “To-day the bells and the bonfires express the violent passions of an overjoyed people, when to-morrow their own reeking blood must extinguish their flaming buildings. That thing for which we do most labour and pray, and for the happening whereof we are even transported with joy, is not seldom our utter destruction, and that speedily.” [2]

[1] [“Das Glück verzieht, verwöhnt, schläfert ein und isolirt die Menschen, wie die Völker; da hingegen das Unglück wach erhält, reitzt, bindet und erhebt.”] Adam Heinrich Müller, Die Elemente der Staatskunst, Erster Theil (Berlin: J.D. Sander, 1809), p.8.
[2] William Blundell, Crosby Records: A Cavalier’s Note Book, being Notes, Anecdotes, & Observations of William Blundell, of Crosby, Lancashire, Esquire, ed., T.E. Gibson (London: Longmans, Green, & Co., 1880), pp.130-1.

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