Tuesday, 5 August 2014

A light dies down

   
It is certain that up to a point in the evolution of Self most people find life quite exciting and thrilling. But when middle age arrives, often prematurely, they forget the thrill and excitements; they become obsessed by certain other lesser things that are deficient in any kind of Cosmic Vitality. The thrill goes out of life: a light dies down and flickers fitfully; existence goes on at a low ebb — something has been lost. From this numbed condition is born much of the blind anguish of life.
G K Chesterton - What's Wrong with the World (1910)

It takes a certain kind of observer to see this kind of social issue, to identify it as an issue and present it cogently. It requires a sceptical cast of mind grounded in what is rather than what ought to be. A degree of detachment from approved social narratives.

Our weird culture has become obsessed with what ought to be as opposed to what simply is. A frantic political correctness is on the march and doesn't know when or where to stop and look around. Our supposedly technical and rational culture has meekly succumbed to swivel-eyed hysterical posturing.

The delicate flowering of each individual human spirit becomes a feared strangeness, unwanted. A thing to be covertly damned from every secular pulpit and quietly rooted out from our fanatically domesticated garden where nothing grows naturally.  

We grow up in our feverish, artificial civilization, believing that the real, satisfying things are complex and difficult to obtain. Our lives become unnaturally stressed and tormented by the pitiless and incessant struggle for social conditions which are, at best, second-rate and ultimately disappointing.
G K Chesterton - What's Wrong with the World (1910)

Chesterton had his allegiances too, his treasured notions none could challenge, his core beliefs of right and wrong. Yet he also had a sceptic's eye, a genial observer's eye unclouded by fashionable enthusiasms. A century later we haven't quite lost his gift, but in spite of his enduring popularity we never learned Chesterton's lessons. And really - it's not as if they were even new.

Yet I think what he didn't foresee was how the evolving world of electronic communication would become a tool of mass propaganda. How the spread of information could so easily we turned into the spread of misinformation.

In his day, the great concern was the power of newspaper proprietors.  What he probably didn't foresee was the kind of large scale collusion we see in mass communication. It isn't merely the narrative-weavers, but our own failure to understand the pitiless and incessant struggle for social conditions which are, at best, second-rate and ultimately disappointing.

Perhaps for most of us, the light dies down too early.

6 comments:

Sam Vega said...

"Perhaps for most of us, the light dies down too early."

Agreed, but round here there are a few glimmerings by which we can read. Many thanks for an excellent post.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

Conrad, I think, put it much better:

" I remember my youth and the feeling that
will never come back any more--the feeling that I could last for ever,
outlast the sea, the earth, and all men; the deceitful feeling that
lures us on to joys, to perils, to love, to vain effort--to death; the
triumphant conviction of strength, the heat of life in the handful of
dust, the glow in the heart that with every year grows dim, grows cold,
grows small, and expires--and expires, too soon--before life itself."

Roger said...

What an old misery, he was only 36 in 1910 - what had gone wrong with his life? Life is such fun, so many things to see and think about, something interesting around every corner. Certainly there are foolish idealisms to leave behind but it seems a shame to lose hope that mankind will not always do the wrong thing.

As for the meeja-politico nexus that is a bit bothersome, the blighters think they are good at it but their shallowness shines through like a mortuary lantern.

A K Haart said...

Sam - thanks.

WY - Conrad puts it well but I could never get on with him, never even finished one of his novels.

Roger - I've been thinking about the age of some of these guys when they began to write with a touch of despair.

It's as if they peak too soon and know they'll never improve.

James Higham said...

Chesterton had his allegiances too, his treasured notions none could challenge, his core beliefs of right and wrong. Yet he also had a sceptic's eye, a genial observer's eye unclouded by fashionable enthusiasms.

And he knew a truth when he saw one.

A K Haart said...

James - yes he did and oddly enough was very popular as a result.