Saturday, May 07, 2005

169. Thoughts on a Holiday Afternoon

“The humanity … oh, the humanity –" radio reporter witnessing the 1936 Zeppelin explosion at Lakehurst, New Jersey.

If I may begin on a personal note – what the fff are blogs for, you may well ask – it has been difficult these past few weeks to find a position of distance from which most considered writing springs; my writing, anyway.

Life is in the living moment and we’ll all be a long time dead. This is the accepted Carpe Diem philosophy of the de-Christianized West (Europe far more than the United States), or to put it another way, the thoughts of generally well-fed people trundling into their fifties and sixties with nothing in the way of trauma to impair the lures and the lies of superficial living – apart from occasional difficulties with the children.

I sit here on a pleasant holiday afternoon, shaded by gently shedding keyaki trees in an outdoor courtyard, sipping Weizen beer and half-listening to relentlessly cheerful Bavarian music (will someone please shoot the clarinet player?), and my mind roams back over the events of the first few months of this Year of Our Lord 2005. Half-jokingly I wrote a post on this blog at the beginning of the year to solemnly announce I was skipping 2005 and moving on independently to live in 2006 instead. The prescience of those words comes back to haunt me.

Engagement with the details of life is the sine qua non, the very definition of sentient existence. And yet, we are told on unimpeachable authority – Aristotle, I believe – that the unconsidered life is hardly worth living. In order to consider life, one must surely step off the escalator (it moves in both directions, down as well as up), adopt a temporary stance of disengagement, and generally call for a Time Out. Otherwise the process of consideration gets caught up in the flow of onrunning events.

What, then, is the proper balance between the living of life and the consideration of it? I don’t know, but I suspect that the whole idea of such a juxtaposition is rather shaky.

Well-meaning friends often ask a senseless question (your enemies couldn’t be bothered): “Are you happy?” There is no possible answer to this. Happiness is as fleeting as spring weather in the offshore Atlantic islands and just as evanescent.

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