Sense and susceptibility

I think I suffer from a psychological term called pagan candour. Oh, the Shakespearean foppery of the world. It is too much with us. You know, illusion and ideology. “I am moved by fancies that are curled / Around these images and cling.” Eliot. And that is why I love art, the uselessness of it is a scandal to hard-headed pragmatists.

Was it Matthew Arnold that wrote: “With noiseless current strong, obscure and deep”? That’s life in its true essence, the underlying stream of all that we feel and are. The subterranean current that is life, the force, the being of our matter. The imperative is always to tell it how it is. But it’s such a strong current to maneuver since life flows back and forth. It’s not a constant rushing forward because there is always the nimbus of introspection that carries us helplessly back to the past and pours us over the falls to the future.

Some days I imagine myself as a lord with whip and spur and by the chantry I fly on toward the cathouse. I think it was Ted Hughes who wrote there is in all of us a real struggle between the Puritan and the Hedonist. But then Hughes was more than Frank — he was Ted — about his need for more than one sexual partner. Fidelity is the long boat on the stream of lust that touches nothing but the water of transience. I don’t know who wrote that. Wait! It was me. Am I committing an act of Mutatis Mutandis or in flagrante delicto? I can’t tell. My Latin’s very poor since the Celt got mixed up with it.

And some hours, the bewitching ones, I wish I could only have a morsel of Blake’s creative recklessness. There is so much ballast now in the calculative spirit of utilitarians. And Blake is seen as a visionary drawing a lot from religion, but his force was not to align his spirit with the scriptures or even the dogma, he sought out the extravagant and maverick ethics of Jesus. You know, “the road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” If they ask for your coat you give them your robe. If they ask you to walk one mile you go three. If they ask for your allegiance you give them your rebel yell. If your desires are restrained by religion or politics, and a political state keeps power by convincing us of our limitations, then maybe those desires you have are feeble enough to be retrained.

Thus Spake Zerk, grease fitter


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