DAY 174: In or out?

June 23rd, 2016 § 0 comments

This seems to be the Hauptfrage today, or anyway tomorrow. Is our destiny with the Holy Roman Empire or the Holy British Empire? Do we belong with Delacroix or Burne-Jones? Flaubert or Fielding? Locke or Heidegger? And so on – so many insuperable questions; as so often in politics, you’re being asked to choose between two unattractive alternatives and then throw yourself heart and soul into defending the alternative you’ve chosen.

And accordingly it was almost by chance (though I had posted my intention on Facebook, typically) that I ended up at 4 today in Trafalgar Square at the Better Together rally in memory of Jo Cox. Rightly it was a major tearjerker; the stars were Jo’s husband, the representative from Syrian White Helmets and – amazingly – Malala Yousafzai. I don’t know if it will change anything, 13528807_10201569382554038_4539958661632812048_nI don’t think it matters. I was glad to be there with Yazzie Min, holding hands with neighbours and feeling some hope and the importance of solidarity.after (we agreed) a very bad week. Emotions had been seriously shaken up following Jo’s murder (see previous posts); it’s hard to see it as anything but traumatic.

At which point I need to insert some meditations on the role of traumatic  events in today’s politics, because I get the feeling that I’m too much exposed to them. And if I, what about all the others?  Are we too sensitized, or are the events becoming more raw, violent? That was a common feeling after Jo’s murder – things were being said which should have been beyond the reach of the sayable.

Another example, which I’d better mention as it’s constantly on my mind: As you know (or if you don’t know it, it’s not for want of being told)  I was away in Palestine IMG_0030for much of April. As the month wore on, the messages I was getting from my friends back home became increasingly (to me) bizarre – something was going on which I wasn’t being told, which I couldn’t be told; and at the same time, my friends, for some unknown reason, were becoming friends no more, splintering, falling apart.

Something happened, I could give you some of the details, but they aren’t, in my view, important. And as you can guess, once I got back, no one could, or would, give me an account of what had happened. It’s classic post-trauma behaviour.

art-therapy-australia-indigenousOvercoming trauma through art therapy (Oh yeah?) in what looks like a colonial Australian context

There was an atmosphere of ‘don’t go there’ which added to my personal trauma, the loss of what had become almost a family. I haven’t recovered, and I’d like to meet someone with a prescription for recovery; since it would involve unpicking those dangerous memories: as Macbeth say to the doctor,

Canst thou not minister to a mind diseas’d,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?

The doctor, of course, is useless: ‘Throw physic to the dogs, I’l none of it.’ says Macbeth rightly.

Now of course this is where we can zero in and say – the trauma that has been happening to my group of friends can be seen paralleled on the national scale. Politicians are saying and thinking things which should be outside the thinkable, the sayable. If death results are we surprised?

I expect you’re waiting for me to get back to the original question (you thought I’d forgotten) of how you’re to vote in the referendum. Here the classic internal dialogue goes:

First Voice: Given the numbers involved, my vote isn’t going to make a blind bit of difference, I might as well go out and get pissed

Secoud Voice: If everyone thought like you – nay, even 2% of the population – the bad guys might win.

I’ve never quite known how to deal with this, since both sides are clearly right. And though Locke or Nietzsche might offer (probably conflicting) treatments, at this time I tend to look for answers in Hannah Arendt:arendt

‘The human sense of reality demands that men actualize the sheer passive givenness of their being, not in order to change it but to make articulate and call into full existence what otherwise they would have to suffer passively anyhow.’ (Human Condition, 208).

This quote is inserted for those readers who have been complaining that the blog’s intellectual standards are slipping. Make of it what you will, and vote accordingly. Or follow the prescriptions of Schiller: all men will be brothers

A vote to leave the EU isn”t exactly a vote against the brotherhood of man; but it’s hard to see it in a positive light.


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