Tuesday, September 21, 2010

it's probably ungrammatical, but what the heck .....

la politique
ne vaut rien
comparée à
un cœur humain

where are the estlins of yesteryear?

(from i: six nonlectures by E E Cummings [pp.31-32])

in the world of my boyhood -- long, long ago

before time was space and Oedipus was a complex and religion was the opiate of the people and pigeons had learned to play pingpong -- social stratification not merely existed but luxuriated. All women were not, as now [1952], ladies; a gentleman was a gentleman; and a mucker (as the professional denizens of Irving and Scott streets knew full well : since their lofty fragment of Cambridge almost adjoined plebeian Somerville) was a mucker. Being myself a professor's (& later a clergyman's) son, I had every socalled reason to accept these conventional distinctions without cavil; yet for some unreason I didn't. The more implacably a virtuous Cambridge drew me toward what might have been her bosom, the more sure I felt that soi-disant respectability comprised nearly everything which I couldn't respect, and the more eagerly I explored sinful Somerville. But while sinful Somerville certainly possessed a bosom (in fact, bosoms) she also possessed fists which hit below the belt and arms which threw snowballs containing small rocks.

Little by little and bruise by teacup

my doubly disillusioned spirit made an awe-inspiring discovery; which (on more than several occasions) has prevented me from wholly misunderstanding socalled humanity : the discovery, namely, that all groups, gangs, and collectivities -- no matter how apparently disparate -- are fundamentally alike; and that what makes any world go round is not the trivial difference between a Somerville and a Cambridge, but the immeasurable difference between either of them and individuality. Whether this discovery is valid for you, I can't pretend to say : but I can and do say, without pretending, that it's true for me -- inasmuch as I've found (and am still finding) authentic individuals in the most varied environments conceivable. Nor will anything ever persuade me that, by turning Somerville into Cambridge or Cambridge into Somerville or both into neither, anybody can make an even slightly better world. Better worlds (I suggest) are born, not made; and their birthdays are the birthdays of individuals.