It is too hideous and nauseating

We have lived a few days on the seashore, with the wave banging up at us. Also over the river, beyond the ferry, there is the flat silvery world, as in the beginning, untouched: with pale sand, and very much white foam, row after row, coming from under the sky, in the silver evening: and no people, no people at all, no houses, no buildings, only a haystack on the edge unfinished of the shingle, and an old black mill. For the rest, the flat world running with foam and noise and silvery light, and a few gulls swinging like a half-born thought. It is a great thing to realize that the original world is still there – perfectly clean and pure, many white advancing foams, and only the gulls swinging between the sky and the shore; and in the wind the yellow sea poppies fluttering very hard, like yellow gleams in the wind, and the windy flourish of the seed-horns.

It is this mass of unclean world that we have superimposed on the clean world that we cannot bear. When I looked back, out of the clearness of the open evening, at this Littlehampton dark and amorphous like a bad eruption on the edge of the land, I was so sick I felt I could not come back: all these little amorphous houses like an eruption, a disease on the clean earth; and all of them full of such a diseased spirit, every landlady harping on her money, her furniture, every visitor harping on his latitude of escape from money and furniture. The whole thing like an active disease, fighting out the health. One watches them on the sea-shore, all the people, and there is something pathetic, almost wistful in them, as if they wished that their lives did not add up to this scaly nullity of possession, but as if they could not escape. It is a dragon that has devoured us all: these obscene, scaly houses, this insatiable struggle and desire to possess, to possess always and in spite of everything, this need to be an owner, lest one be owned. It is too horrible. One can no longer live with people: it is too hideous and nauseating. Owners and owned, they are like the two sides of a ghastly disease. One feels a sort of madness come over one, as if the world had become hell. But it is only superimposed: it is only a temporary disease. It can be cleaned away…

– D.H. Lawrence, letter, 1915

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Emotional outbursts

The individual in his rationality is determined by the rationality of capital which he encounters as a force of nature, which he experiences daily and which therefore must appear to him as rational through and through. His protest against this life-destroying force can therefore only be a protest of feeling or emotion. But since ‘reason’ rules, these emotional outbursts of the individual are rationalised and ‘disappear’ into stomach pains, gall stones, circulatory problems, kidney stones, cramps of all kinds, into impotence, head colds, toothaches, skin diseases, back aches, migraines, asthma, car and workplace accidents, depression, and so forth – or feelings mushroom in interpersonal relationships (emotional plague), in flat affects (‘serious’ people), in psychosis etc.

Turn Illness into a Weapon, manifesto of the Heidelberg Socialist Patients’ Collective, 1972

(Quoted here.)

When we decline

Only a god can still save us. I think the only possibility of salvation left to us is to prepare readiness, through thinking and poetry, for the appearance of the god or for the absence of the god during the decline; so that we do not, simply put, die meaningless deaths, but that when we decline, we decline in the face of the absent god.

– Heidegger, 1966

The world’s night

The essence of technology comes to the light of day only slowly. This day is the world’s night, rearranged into merely technological day. This day is the shortest day. It threatens a single endless winter. Not only does protection now withhold itself from man, but the integralness of the whole of what is remains now in darkness. The wholesome and sound withdraws. The world becomes without healing, unholy. Not only does the holy, as the track to the godhead, thereby remain concealed; even the track to the holy, the hale and whole, seems to be effaced. That is, unless there are still some mortals capable of seeing the threat of the unhealable, the unholy, as such. They would have to discern the danger that is assailing man. The danger consists in the threat that assaults man’s nature in his relation to Being itself, and not in accidental perils. This danger is *the* danger. It conceals itself in the abyss that underlies all beings. To see this danger and point it out, there must be mortals who reach sooner into the abyss.
But where there is danger, there grows
also what saves. – Hölderlin
– Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology

A new start

Hermitage, Berks.
Thursday, April, 1917

My dear Lady Cynthia, –

I didn’t ring you up, because on Sunday, suddenly, I collapsed with sickness and diarrhoea, and was quite seedy. Then just as suddenly on Tuesday, my soul inspired itself and I got well. So, yesterday I came on here. Tomorrow I am going back to Cornwall, thank God.

It was the evil influence of aggregate London that made me ill: suddenly I start to be sick. It is all very vile.

It is much best for you to go down to Stanway. The spring is here, the cuckoo is heard, primroses and daffodils are out in the woods, it is very lovely. I feel that the buds as they unfold, and the primroses come out, are really stronger than all the armies and all the War. I feel as if the young grass growing would upset all the cannons on the face of the earth, and that man with his evil stupidity is after all nothing, the leaves just brush him aside. The principle of life is after all stronger than the principle of death, and I spit on your London and your government and your armies.

Come and see us whenever you are near enough and feel like it. The state of your desperation is really a thing to be ashamed of. It all comes of submitting and acquiescing in things one does not vitally believe in. If you learned flatly to reject things which are false to you, you wouldn’t sell yourself to such deadness. One should stick by one’s own soul, and by nothing else. In one’s soul, one knows the truth from the untruth, and life from death. And if one betrays one’s own soul-knowledge one is the worst of traitors. I am out of all patience with the submitting to the things that be, however foul they are, just because they happen to be. But there will fall a big fire on the city before long, as on Sodom and Gomorrah, and will burn us clean of a few politicians, etc., and of some of our own flunkeying to mere current baseness. I feel angry with you, the way you have betrayed everything that is real, by admitting the superiority of that which is merely temporal and foul and external upon us. If all the aristocrats have sold the vital principle of life to the mere current of foul affairs, what good are the aristocrats? As for the people, they will serve to make a real bust-up, quite purposeless and aimless. But when the bust-up is made and the place more or less destroyed we can have a new start.

It is a very lovely day. Hope you are well.

D.H. Lawrence

A very oblique method

I must remember that my method of survival has always been a very oblique method. A kind of success through failure, programme of dogged resistance to discouragement and constant bobbing up again after apparently final slap-downs and knock-outs . . . I keep making these humiliating, inglorious returns to a place I thought I was leaving for ever on several past occasions.

Tennessee Williams

Unlikely characters

GP — With computers and synthesizers available to help you create music without an instrument and its technique, what attracts you to the guitar?

RF – It depends on what one’s work is. I was tone deaf and had no sense of rhythm when I began playing the guitar, and I’ve pondered that for many years. The answer I finally came up with was that music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice. That’s one answer. Another is that working with the guitar is part of work. And I recognize that I simply continue to work with it.

GP – Do you view it primarily as a tool?

RF – Yes, a tool for living. Some people make music their god. I don’t. But music is a very remarkable opportunity. It’s a tangible way of dealing with the intangible. It’s a practical, down to earth way of developing a relationship with the ineffable. Now, most people involved in music have experienced at least once what happens music comes alive. It’s as if one is living for the first time. And it’s almost money for jam, that by developing a relationship with music, it becomes available to the musician all the time. When I was staying with a friend in New York in July 1981, I leapt from the sofa. I understood how it was that music came into the life of a musician; like a friend. Always present and always available, but never pushy, in a sense. But always there and available. As a working musician, as a professional musician, the way in which I worked changed because of that insight. Instead of rushing around looking for other bright ideas – Robert is going to create some music – it would be truer to say that the music creates the musician than the musician creates the music. The quality of music is always present.

– Robert Fripp, interview