Friday, 9 May 2014

The bleak delights of Blogworld

It would seem that human beings are not able to describe, nor perhaps to imagine, happiness except in terms of contrast.
George Orwell - Why Socialists Don't Believe In Fun

There are numerous reasons to blog, but I’m sure one of them is the pleasure to be found in contrast. We all know all about it, but allow me to set the basic scene via a familiar experience.

One of the pleasures of walking through a peaceful snowy landscape, quite apart from the exhilarating beauty, is returning home to put the boots away, hang up the coats to dry and light the fire. The kettle comes into it too.

It’s partly the contrast between snowy cold and snug warmth. Both pleasurable in themselves, but back home the pleasure is enhanced no end simply by coming in out of the snow. Especially as night closes in. 

Both experiences need not be pleasurable of course. Walking home from the dentist for example. Rarely is there so much quiet enjoyment from walking home.

Yet maybe we with our soft lives are not able to savour sweet contrasts as in earlier times. As Orwell says in the essay quoted above, Dickens knew how even poor people could glean a great deal of enjoyment from the warmth of fleeting pleasures. Not merely the appeal of a crust of bread to someone who is starving, but further up the scale of destitution too.

The inability of mankind to imagine happiness except in the form of relief, either from effort or pain, presents Socialists with a serious problem. Dickens can describe a poverty-stricken family tucking into a roast goose, and can make them appear happy; on the other hand, the inhabitants of perfect universes seem to have no spontaneous gaiety and are usually somewhat repulsive into the bargain.
George Orwell - Why Socialists Don't Believe In Fun

I suspect most of us live comfortable lives with no personal experience of Dickensian contrasts, but maybe blogging sometimes provides us with an alternative. 

We roam an angst-ridden landscape as a counterpoint to those comfortable lives. A mental cold shower where the comforts of real life are all the more pleasing when we leave the delightfully bleak scenery of Blogworld.

So I think I’ll finish off with coffee and dark chocolate.


Sam Vega said...

"Downhill I came, hungry, and yet not starved;
Cold, yet had heat within me that was proof
Against the North wind; tired, yet so that rest
Had seemed the sweetest thing under a roof.

Then at the inn I had food, fire, and rest,
Knowing how hungry, cold, and tired was I."

So far, so good....and then there's the rest of Thomas' poem.

Demetrius said...

Mine's a brandy.

A K Haart said...

Sam - thanks for the reminder - I have a biography of Thomas on my Kindle but haven't yet got round to reading it. I must bump it up the list.

Demetrius - only in coffee for me. Either that or rum.