Now, a shift to something different.
When I was in my early 20’s I was very interested in the writer, Colin Wilson.
He is the former Peterborough man who after leaving school at 16, went to work in a chemical factory then travelled down to London in the early 1950’s. This followed with him writing a classic of the early Angry Young Men generation, The Outsider. Different from Camus’ L’Étranger, although with parallel themes.
This was a work investigating the place of outsiders in art and literature. He wrote it whilst sleeping in a tent on Hampstead Heath, spending his days in the British Library.
A similar activity in 2023 would get you locked-up or sectioned.
I was reading Oliver Burkeman’s book, Four Thousand Weeks, last night and came across a quote by the French Philosopher, Henri Bergson.
It took me back to a moment when, sitting in the Student’s Union in Dundee with my Phil, in conversation, we touched on the meaninglessness of life. When I say touch, it was more of a glance. A passing brush with the notion that proved so very terrifying we immediately changed the subject (wandering off to Waterstones, Virgin, or up Law Hill).
The notion that the aspiration or the thought is more valuable than the thing is steeped in the roots of Stoic Philosophy.
The obstacle is the way.
Apologies for the nihilistic bent of this blog.
I don’t think it is Burkeman’s intention.
Interestingly, in a different vein, he mentioned the effect of intergenerational trauma on him and his family.
They are obsessive planners.
They would drive me crazy. (The feelings would almost certainly be mutual).
Bergman claims that much of this followed his grandmother’s experiences of escaping Nazi Germany just after Kristallnacht. Consequent upon the family’s meticulous planning, they escaped in time. (He describes them popping champagne bottles on the boat – suspect his family were not of my lumpen origins). This has been passed down through the years as a religious observance of the rules of forward planning.
Like my notion of the Anxious Jew.
The laid-back Jews were extracted from the gene-pool by Amalekites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Romans, Lithuanians…
He covers this too (in a roundabout way) – discussing the notion of focus and distractibility.
I am very distractible.
If I am to read a book in public I almost aways require silence or headphones/earbuds. Most recently I have taken to playing brown noise.
I remember as a child, my mum could read a book with lots going on. My brother Lloyd is the same. Not I.
OK, we are different.
And yet, my distractibility whilst mostly frustrating is a useful tool for survival. I will sense the pounding of the horses’ hooves before it is too late. Others will be someplace else, in their heads, that is.
Back to human all too human.
It is hard to escape.
It’s a palaver.
Apologies for not describing my American/Eurasian tectonic snorkel from yesterday (dry-suits at 2 degrees C) – in the clearest water. Visibility is reckoned at 100m (I can’t see that far out of water!). Floating is like moving through liquid glass. A fish (trout? Char?) passed beneath me; sunlight shattered on volcanic boulders. It was very cold. My socks stayed dry.
To the glacier this morning.
Tour cancelled. Weather apparently too severe for tourists to visit.
The only trip I had really wanted to do during this holiday was to the glacier.
Off to the swimming pool.