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Sunday, 26 June 2016

Universal impotence

“There’s a note I’d like to strike. It’s about impotence. Have you noticed, going along the streets, that all of the people you see are tired out, impotent?” he asked. “What is a newspaper—the most impotent thing in the world. What is the theater? Have you gone much lately? They give you such a weariness that your back aches, and the movies, God, the movies are ten times worse, and if this war isn’t a sign of universal impotence, sweeping over the world like a disease, then I don’t know much.”

Sherwood Anderson – Dark Laughter (1925)

If Anderson’s character was right about universal impotence, then here in the UK we would still be caught up in wars and conflicts and all kinds of unplanned consequences would infest our lives –

Okay that’s one box ticked so let us imagine a few other possibilities.

If we were really impotent we’d do ridiculous things such as allowing rapists into the country, or preachers of religious hatred. Or we would become entangled in monstrous bureaucracies and beat ourselves up with impossibly complex regulations. Or maybe we would find it impossible to build affordable houses for young people, control an apparently inexorable growth in our population or choose only the best from those who want to move here.

Even wilder possibilities come to mind if we really are impotent. We might find ourselves unable to criticise malign social trends in robust language without isolating ourselves. We might freely elect unworthy people to high office. We may even try to control global weather patterns by building giant windmills -

No that’s going too far. We can’t be that impotent can we?

5 comments:

Sam Vega said...

We could, and we could even be worse than that. Having been handed the get-out-of-jail-free card, and the potential solution to all the problems you list, we might be paralytically incapable of acting.

It might be months, or years, or days—
I kept no count, I took no note—
I had no hope my eyes to raise,
And clear them of their dreary mote;
At last men came to set me free;
I ask'd not why, and reck'd not where;
It was at length the same to me,
Fetter'd or fetterless to be,
I learn'd to love despair.

Demetrius said...

We have been too busy watching the TV, going on holidays and engaging in consumerism.

Roger said...

Like an old chap who swallows a whole pack of Viagra with no result, Britain is finding that its problems are much more deeply rooted. There seem no quick fixes and maybe there are no fixes at all (nothing's happening dear).

In short a British worker is worth no more than a Chinese worker except for an uplift due to our education and infrastructure - social and physical. That uplift is getting smaller due to relative lack of investment, benign? neglect and a 'keep the good jobs for our own class' mentality.

Much the same applies to our (former) European partners but some at least are waking up to the consequences of Brexit and unless we Brits pull our collective fingers out they will be three streets ahead before Parliament reconvenes in the Autumn and asks for a pay rise (having found Tuscany rather more expensive).

wiggiatlarge said...

A rather good article from the normally unreadable Julie Burchill.....

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2016/06/brexit-divide-wasnt-young-old-ponces-non-ponces/

where she describes the two sides of the Brexit debate as ponces and non ponces brought back memories of long past pre PC days when a friend in business outraged at Ted Heaths European fawning descibed Westminster as full of "poofs ponces whores and banjo players", where the banjo players were in all this I still don't know but little else has changed in Westminster.

A K Haart said...

Sam - I'm not completely indifferent to despair, but I'm not so sure about love. I suppose we are in a relationship, but it is open-ended.

Demetrius - we have and in spite of all the information available to us we have not paddled out of the shallows.

Roger - yes, much of what we see is the rest of the world catching up. There is no bureaucratic or political answer to that, only the inspiration we no longer go in for.

Wiggia - oh for more of that kind of language. At least it was direct.