Sunday, October 7, 2012

to be truly polar

In Hillgarth the early Catholics are destroying and disturbing existing structures, not to do away with structure but to introduce a new one; the mind could not love two structures at once said their verdict; the mind could not be a pagan and a Catholic although to be honest I think that in the privacy of the individual brain these do not have to be contradictory ideas, for who is there anywhere who cannot hold ideas that go against one another, who can't know and not know at the same time, the two states intermixed and cosy, or pressing against one another, so that a teenage passenger in a speeding car comes up with these words for her last text message, "I'm going to die lol," typing with her fingers, first the el, the oh, then another el, an action that comes to pause, later, in the sight of this same message printed later in a newspaper for the sake of horror, the doomed woman expressing a belief in death but also hitting an attitude with those words (almost undoubtedly in sweetly intimate correspondence with the behaviour she has shown in the past) as though she believed she was continuous and should remain consistent: here is faith in life's extension?

No thought goes unmixed, and there is no borderline between thoughts; the plural form of the word thought must be more arbitrary than it looks but I use it anyway, very helplessly.

Perhaps she was horrified when she sent the message out but probably not in the way that the reader of the newspaper is horrified. The word is the same but the experience is not. Hnh, the reader thinks, I might be in the same situation without knowing it, complacent and about to die -- entertaining themselves with this ghost story -- then the piano falls out of the window above them and smack -- no it doesn't -- they go on with life regardless, as Robert Louis Stevenson recommends in Aes Triplex, the writer in this essay sounding so gung-ho that I remember his criticism of Thoreau. "Thoreau was a skulker," says Stevenson, who likes his men to run around with "dash" and get a bit drunk. Shakespeare, he says. Who is there among us who does not believe that the Bard was game for a good shickering when the thought occurred? Drunk he was, and rolling around with the oranges. Thoreau, on the other hand.

"He was almost shockingly devoid of weaknesses; he had not enough of them to be truly polar with humanity."

But then the essay slides toward the favourable. Contradictory thoughts are easy: the patriot can call the country fine and right even though they've seen the account of the massacre; the parents of gangbangers are quoted in an article saying that their burglar son is a good boy, and when I consider those examples I realise that the woman in the place behind the tree would probably be volcanic with counter arguments if I called her a repressive mother, even though the words I hear her say to her children most often are "Shut the fuck up" and "Get the fuck in your room and don't come out," and yesterday she interrupted one of their arguments by screaming this sentence at her son, "Then let her play with the fucking game by her retarded self; you go outside." Afterwards she kept on screaming with nothing but vowels, and who was that aimed at?

The vikings in Henry Treece's novels manage to cope with all of their gods together, the Christian and the not-Christian, and they were happy until they were lectured and so, apparently, according to documents in Hillgarth, were thousands of other early-Catholic people, going to church at the appointed times, then burning their magical turfs in the barn afterwards and being kind to a tree until someone arrived sternly and said, no, you may not, if you are that then you cannot be this as well; your private accommodations between one jealous god and a group of other gods cannot be sustained, and the private justifications have to be eliminated or buried.

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