DAY 58 – We won!

September 4th, 2013 § 0 comments

No, comrades, I’m not referring to the fact that the Lacan of the Premier League, resisting the temptations of a shopping splurge during the transfer window, has nonetheless seen Arsenal achieve a resounding 1-0 defeat of the spendthrifts from White Hart  Lane.







(In the sage’s own words: ‘They try very hard (to bridge the gap) of course, that is normal. In our job, there is always a technical risk when you buy more than three players because you unbalance a little bit the stability of your squad.’)

Rather, this post is a reflection on last Thursday’s vote in the House of Commons, and the possible renewal of British politics. The backdrop to the vote was, after all, the news that 70% of the public were opposed to air strikes; and this was underlined by MPs  - notably Jack Straw – who recalled the lies which had fuelled the case for the Iraq war, and who didn’t see how they could be asked to accept a case which had every chance of being just as mendacious, simply because the US demanded it. It was heartwarming after the vote that thousands marched past the House of Commons shouting ‘We won’ – hence this post’s title; not so much because of the particular vote as because of the ten years’ uphill struggle since the original march in 2003 to make public hostility to such pointless and dangerous military adventures count for something.

Predictably, parliamentary hacks such as Lord Ashdown have claimed that Britain would ‘lose influence’ by not It was, of course, heartwarming joining in a US led offensive, as it has so often in the past. (Remember the last time a British government kept out of a US led war was in Vietnam, in the 1970s. Was our world status diminished as a result?) On the contrary, most of those polled said a) the vote wouldn’t affect relations with the US and b) they wouldn’t care if it did. The Green speaker in Trafalgar Square on Sunday (who was she? I can’t find the report) proposed that Britain should open a new era of influence in world affairs by stepping up humanitarian aid, stopping arms sales, and scrapping Trident. Sounds a good start.


This leaves, of course, the question of whether the US and its new ‘oldest ally’ France will take action. But increasingly they seem to be getting bogged down in domestic law which demands that the executive can’t just go ahead and wage wars without some ‘popular’ endorsement; and international law, which lays down those old rules for war to be ‘legal’: self-defence (not really), or UN Security Council endorsement (they won’t get the support of the Russians and the Chinese, having fooled them in Libya). See interminable discussion on ‘Opiniojuris

cvr2-goya-disasters-of-war-3The disasters of war (Goya)

Enough. I’m now falling into a state of despair about keeping abreast of events, since facts on the ground – and in the air – seem to be proceeding faster than I can type, as idle as I am and cramped in the fingers with it. Worst, my opening salvo about parsimony in the Premier League has been negated by the news that Arsenal have splashed out a breathtaking £42.4 m. for one Mesut Ozil. ‘To have or to Be?’ I hear you say, echoing the words of Erich Fromm. Surely the Poznan Homeless World Cup could have provided better bargains – even if the Mexican goalkeeper who’s cited as saying ‘Losing shouldn’t make you feel bad’ might not be popular at the Emirates.

So, let’s move on to those questions whose answers don’t change from day to day, three of which I raised recently. I promised to deal with them – unwisely. Particularly the first, ‘Why is the sky dark at night?’ This seems to have been raised by Kepler, but for some reason is known as Olbers’ Paradox after some 19th century dude. The point being that there are stars in every direction you look; so there should be light coming at you from all those directions; so it should be as bright as day.

Here I have landed myself deeper than I thought. While perfectly competent to explain why there are 7-dimensional spheres which are not like the standard 7-dimensional sphere (just boasting), it seems from Wiki a


nd other well-informed sources that the explanation of Olbers is still a bit fragmentary. No exact figures. What we have are two facts, and I suppose I believe them:

1. The Universe has finite age. (Genesis 1.)

2. Light has finite velocity. (Ole Rømer, 1676.)

I can see that these facts help – if you look far enough in any direction, you go back so far in the past that there’s nothing there, if you see what I mean. I can’t give much more ‘explanation’ than that, but maybe some astronomer among the small but select group of readers of these pages can do better.

Never mind. One of Rilke’s poems to, or about, God:

 Alles wird wieder groß sein und gewaltig.

Alles wird wieder groß sein und gewaltig.
Die Lande einfach und die Wasser faltig,
die Bäume riesig und sehr klein die Mauern;
und in den Tälern, stark und vielgestaltig,
ein Volk von Hirten und von Ackerbauern.

Und keine Kirchen, welche Gott umklammern
wie einen Flüchtling und ihn dann bejammern
wie ein gefangenes und wundes Tier, -
die Häuser gastlich allen Einlassklopfern
und ein Gefühl von unbegrenztem Opfern
in allem Handeln und in dir und mir.

Kein Jenseitswarten und kein Schaun nach drüben,
nur Sehnsucht, auch den Tod nicht zu entweihn
und dienend sich am Irdischen zu üben,
um seinen Händen nicht mehr neu zu sein.

English (in my version it’s attributed to ‘Admin’. Not this Admin, mate!

All will come again into its strength:
the fields undivided, the waters undammed,
the trees towering and the walls built low.
And in the valleys, people as strong and varied as the land.

And no churches where God
is imprisoned and lamented
like a trapped and wounded animal.
The houses welcoming all who knock
and a sense of boundless offering
in all relations, and in you and me.

No yearning for an afterlife, no looking beyond,
no belittling of death,
but only longing for what belongs to us
and serving earth, lest we remain unused.

Today’s classic anti-war song comes from Country Joe & the Fish; I don’t think it’s often been bettered.



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