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Who do you love?

May I first take this opportunity to thank all those who took the time to send along their Valentine’s greetings since last we were together.  The Director is touched.  This, and the first-rate presentation of Romeo and Juliet (rightly celebrated in the last Newsletter) directed by the wonderful talent of my fellow Director, Mr A Moodie, put me to thinking on the business of love.

Now, over the years, better minds than mine have opined on the love business but love is a great leveller and so the Director ploughs on regardless.  Forgive me. If such a thought is abhorrent to your sensibilities, please feel free to cut straight to the end bits, thus missing out on anything which may cause offences.  The final paragraph is guaranteed not to cause any offences at all, rather it is there to send you into the weekend with a jaunty spring in the step.

Mind you, the next bit mentions some ticklish bits and bobs, and thus might be better avoided altogether.

The world has problems that are not automatically resolving themselves and that also appear to be novel in history.   Some have dubbed these problems, the metacrisis.

In a nutshell then…Before World War II there was no risk that we could very quickly destroy the entire habitability of human civilisation. Before the Industrial Revolution we didn’t really have the capability of destroying the biosphere. And let’s not even talk about AI and synthetic biology and drones and cyber weapons and the radically complicated six continent supply chain. Polysyndeton for effect there.

Most early civilisations don’t exist anymore.  There is no more Egyptian or Ottoman or Byzantine or Mayan empire, so there is some precedent that civilisations have a life cycle, but they weren’t Global civilizations. We have the first six continent Global civilisation, meaning for example that the tech I’m using to type these words can be made anywhere in the world.  As Bob Dylan told us It Takes a Lot to Laugh (whereas) It Takes a Train to Cry.  Maybe it takes a Global civilisation to metacrysis. Cacography for effect there.

So how did we get to the point where we might be spiralling towards an apocalyptic disaster?  Well, this is not the place to go into great depth on such matters.  But in short, I would suggest that it is the direct result of a particular way of attending to the world.  For more on the following thoughts I would suggest you have a look at the writings of Iain McGilchrist.

Attending to the world as if it were simply a lump of stuff that that we need to get hold of, inevitably leads to a polarisation, a simplification, a desire for black and white categories, a disembodiment of the way we think, and a refusal of empathy of tolerance and kindness in the way in which we talk to one another.  This way of attending to the world is really nothing more than attending to a machine-like model of the world which is created by precisely that way of attending to the world.

A model of the world which views the world as a machine, a map, a theory, a diagram, will be a world absent of love. It will be a world of representations.  And we all know how foolish it would be to mistake the map for the territory it describes.  We would not open an Atlas at the pages dealing with the Pacific Ocean and expect to get wet.  You see, it’s all a question of what we regard as valuable. And of course, there’s an important relationship between love and value. Both Pascal and Scheler said that you can’t actually value something until you love it. Most people might be of the thinking that it’s the other way round; you don’t love something until you know how to value it. But this isn’t the case at all. As Iris Murdoch pointed out in The Sovereignty of Good, Love is the painful recognition that something other than yourself is real.

There is a beautiful short story by Angela Carter, The Lady of the House of Love, which deals with these very issues.  The Lady in question is a vampire, trapped in a world of pure appetite.  Her condition means that she can only see the world in terms of its capacity to satisfy her needs.  As a result, her world is ravaged and broken.  Her appetite is, of course, insatiable and thus she must ‘live’ out an existence of permanent hunger; an enchanted life of disenchantment.  What does our Lady want?  She wants to end this suffering. She wants to be human.  But as it is asked in the story, “Can a bird sing only the song it knows or can it learn a new song?”  An answer I think which Carter gives, is that love is the only way to learn a new song.  And as Murdoch points out, such a recognition involves suffering.  Indeed Carter’s story contains one of my favourite lines in English Literature; “How can she bear the pain of becoming human?”

So there we have it, we’ve reached the end.  A welcome back to readers who skipped the middle bits.  Let me leave you with this poem by Rumi which deals with the transformational power of love.

Until next time, Happy Reading/Loving!


Those who don’t feel this Love

pulling them like a river,

those who don’t drink dawn

like a cup of spring water

or take in sunset like supper,

those who don’t want to change,

let them sleep.

This Love is beyond the study of theology,

that old trickery and hypocrisy.

If you want to improve your mind that way,

sleep on.

I’ve given up on my brain.

I’ve torn the cloth to shreds

and thrown it away.

If you’re not completely naked,

wrap your beautiful robe of words

around you,

and sleep.