24 March 2012

Brave new world, That has such people in't!

'Don't you wish you were free, Lenina?'
'I don't know what you mean, I am free. Free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody's happy nowadays'
He laughed. 'Yes. "Everybody's happy nowadays." We begin giving the children that at five. But wouldn't you like to be free to be happy in some other way, Lenina? In your own way, for example; not in everybody else's way.'
'I don't know what you mean,' she repeated.
(Aldous Huxley Brave New World Folio Society ed., London 1971 p.70)

Do you know what it means to be free?

19 March 2012

Pooh Bear quizzes quissity and quiddity

"On Wednesday, when the sky is blue,
And I have nothing else to do,
I sometimes wonder if it’s true
That who is what and what is who."
A. A. Milne Winnie-the-Pooh 

How come Pooh gets it, but super-smart scientists and perfectly logical philosophers don't?

07 March 2012

Death-wish in Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf

"For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of deprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th'unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin?" (Hamlet 3, i)

And after that?

"'Where do I wander?' she mused. 'Down what draughty tunnels? Where the eyeless wind blows? And there grows nothing for the eye. No rose. To issue where? In some harvestless dim field where no evening lets fall her mantle; nor sun rises. All's equal there. Unblowing, ungrowing are the roses  there. Change is not; nor the mutable and lovable; nor greetings nor partings; nor furtive findings and feelings, where hand seeks hand and eye seeks shelter from the eye.'" (Between the Acts Folio Society ed. 1974 p.117)

Shakespeare gives six good reasons to do yourself in, and Woolf outlines a modern (or Greek?) idea of where that may lead. Life is change, and many changes are painful, namely those tribulations issuing from life's interminable power plays with others. Sadly, on the barren, changeless field the hesitant movement of seeking and, perhaps, tentatively finding another also ceases.