Whingeing

 He’d whinged most of his life until he realised there was a difference between whingeing and suffering, Kierkegaard’s passive and active suffering — but what was ‘active suffering’? It sounded so old-fashioned, didn’t it? Medieval gloom, they’d call it. Romantic kitsch. Christian nonsense. Maybe the difference lay in the degree of sincerity with which you suffered. Maybe it was like the Samurai’s ability to prepare for death. Already he was way out of his depth, of course. To prepare for death properly, to see death in life and death as part of life. Like the Samurai? The Samurai who was undefeatable even in defeat, who stared Death in the face? Embarrassing in this day and age, wasn’t it? Absurdly anachronistic. Laughable. Ripe for comedy. In this age of Jung’s dissociation and inexorable opposites, this age with Jung’s problems but without his solutions, which would have disgusted the Samurai, if they ever existed, would have disgusted Kierkegaard even more violently than he was disgusted with his own time. He himself couldn’t judge either way, with his kitsch and his stupidity. What difference did active or passive suffering make to him, happily stuffing his face and watching sitcoms? Where was the bronze serpent of life, Moses’ fiery snake that healed the snakebites in the desert? Nowhere to be seen unless it was invisible, working unseen like they once said of God’s finger. But mostly it felt like the end of whatever Great Cycle the world was in — the Iron Age, wasn’t it, Kali yuga? — a degenerate age whingeing and backsliding into the End Times, out of control, until the Great Clock would click over and by some immense natural law begin a new Golden Age of Truth and Calm. Would ‘active suffering’ help usher in the Golden Age? Would it make any difference?

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2 responses to “Whingeing

  1. Give me back my broken night
    my mirrored room, my secret life
    it’s lonely here,
    there’s no one left to torture
    Give me absolute control
    over every living soul
    And lie beside me, baby,
    that’s an order!

    Give me crack and anal sex
    Take the only tree that’s left
    and stuff it up the hole
    in your culture
    Give me back the Berlin wall
    give me Stalin and St Paul
    I’ve seen the future, brother:
    it is murder.

    Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
    Won’t be nothing
    Nothing you can measure anymore
    The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
    has crossed the threshold
    and it has overturned
    the order of the soul
    When they said REPENT REPENT
    I wonder what they meant

    You don’t know me from the wind
    you never will, you never did
    I’m the little jew
    who wrote the Bible
    I’ve seen the nations rise and fall
    I’ve heard their stories, heard them all
    but love’s the only engine of survival
    Your servant here, he has been told
    to say it clear, to say it cold:
    It’s over, it ain’t going
    any further
    And now the wheels of heaven stop
    you feel the devil’s riding crop
    Get ready for the future:
    it is murder

    Things are going to slide …

    There’ll be the breaking of the ancient
    western code
    Your private life will suddenly explode
    There’ll be phantoms
    There’ll be fires on the road
    and the white man dancing
    You’ll see a woman
    hanging upside down
    her features covered by her fallen gown
    and all the lousy little poets
    coming round
    tryin’ to sound like Charlie Manson
    and the white man dancin’

    Give me back the Berlin wall
    Give me Stalin and St Paul
    Give me Christ
    or give me Hiroshima
    Destroy another fetus now
    We don’t like children anyhow
    I’ve seen the future, baby:
    it is murder

    Things are going to slide …

    When they said REPENT REPENT …

    — Leonard Cohen, ‘The Future’

  2. Give me back my broken night
    my mirrored room, my secret life
    it’s lonely here,
    there’s no one left to torture
    Give me absolute control
    over every living soul
    And lie beside me, baby,
    that’s an order!

    Give me crack and anal sex
    Take the only tree that’s left
    and stuff it up the hole
    in your culture
    Give me back the Berlin wall
    give me Stalin and St Paul
    I’ve seen the future, brother:
    it is murder.

    Things are going to slide, slide in all directions
    Won’t be nothing
    Nothing you can measure anymore
    The blizzard, the blizzard of the world
    has crossed the threshold
    and it has overturned
    the order of the soul
    When they said REPENT REPENT
    I wonder what they meant

    You don’t know me from the wind
    you never will, you never did
    I’m the little jew
    who wrote the Bible
    I’ve seen the nations rise and fall
    I’ve heard their stories, heard them all
    but love’s the only engine of survival
    Your servant here, he has been told
    to say it clear, to say it cold:
    It’s over, it ain’t going
    any further
    And now the wheels of heaven stop
    you feel the devil’s riding crop
    Get ready for the future:
    it is murder

    Things are going to slide …

    There’ll be the breaking of the ancient
    western code
    Your private life will suddenly explode
    There’ll be phantoms
    There’ll be fires on the road
    and the white man dancing
    You’ll see a woman
    hanging upside down
    her features covered by her fallen gown
    and all the lousy little poets
    coming round
    tryin’ to sound like Charlie Manson
    and the white man dancin’

    Give me back the Berlin wall
    Give me Stalin and St Paul
    Give me Christ
    or give me Hiroshima
    Destroy another fetus now
    We don’t like children anyhow
    I’ve seen the future, baby:
    it is murder

    Things are going to slide …

    When they said REPENT REPENT …

    — Leonard Cohen, ‘The Future’

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