I want a mature industrial democracy, where the workers by hand and brain, in full control of their means of production, exercise that control freely and generously for the common good: where they may provide comfortably for their families, and then give from the abundance to anyone in need. Where their work is sustainable, and they live without exploitation, caring for the world and all life on it.
From each according to their abilities, to each according to their need.
-But that’s Utopian. “No-place”-ish.
-Well, I am a Quaker. We seek to build the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. And there is just a chance that I might be able to help build such an industrial democracy, by co-operating with those with that aim, who have taken steps towards it, not to be reached in my lifetime but with clear progress visible.
And- there is the ultimate goal, the full beauty, and the step to be taken now. It is difficult to see.
So they built as men must build
With the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other.
There are no rules here. If I said, Do not look to the final goal- stare downwards, so that you may see the next step- that might seem sensible, and you might miss the next step. “We have faith that way will open,” say Quakers: we don’t know how, but believing that it is possible to make things better is necessary, in order to get out of bed. If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him- for knowing is possible but fleeting and uncertain, missteps are a constant risk, panaceas against missteps are so, so tempting illusion. That was the title of a book I read about fifteen years ago, amazed at its wisdom and how I was learning The Meaning of Life- but if I had kept it to read again now it would not give me the same feeling.
He quoted Godel, Escher, Bach which I have not read: you may be conscious, and conscious that you are conscious, and conscious that you are con- in endless iteration. I counter with something I read somewhere, that you may either be conscious of a thing, or conscious of your consciousness, but not both: you switch your attention, and the thing outside yourself disappears, so that you are only thinking of yourself. This is philosophy and psychology: we build a picture and an illusion of perceiving it all, but pay attention to constantly changing small parts all the time, like the scanning of a cathode ray tube.
There is a science fiction novel- I heard this, I have not read it- where the Invaders take over the bodies of politicians, military personnel, business executives, and use them to further their invasion plot; and the original owners see all their captors see, hear what comes out of their mouth, unable to influence it. A vision of Hell.
What do you Want?
The phone rings. Fxxk.
-Can I speak to Clare Flourish?
-Who is it? (angrily)
-The Blood Transfusion Service. (I should not be unpleasant to them.)
So I told him that the reason I have given blood is that I want to imagine that I am a good person; that this does not work; and that therefore I want him to remove me from their records.
Chaos of thought and passion, all confused…
-From An Essay on Man, III. (Actually I have just looked that up, in a paperback- I told him it was from “Know then thyself- presume not God to scan”.)
-You beat me. A quote I did not know.
-Oh! I did not want to beat you! (But I did, obviously, to show off my erudition and taste, or I would not have looked it up just now.)
What do you Want?
I don’t know. There are conflicting motivations in my brain and psyche, which may surface in consciousness or not; which I may misunderstand, which conflict, which may present themselves as something other to my consciousness. I want heughmagandie, and that part which wants it, wants it with no heed to consequence. Sometimes I find what I want when I see what I do: the want is too difficult for the conscious self-concept to admit.
“Let’s talk next week.” Oh, God. Only if I can get something from it. Only if I can feel slightly less desolate than I do now. What do I want? Impossible things, and the seeming of taking a step towards them; and if I seemed to move towards them, I would want more, so that I may never be satisfied. From the desolation of my dearth I offer illusion and false hope, distraction from the reality that we will all die, and are all alone. I betray myself, doing what seems to be a step towards WHAT I WANT, but it is delusion leading to misery.
This is good, actually- honest! I am understanding more, conscious more. Step by step…
Non-free media rationale: I wanted to pinch Arshile Gorky’s picture, so I did.