Golden Girl and the Shillong Kid back from India, and seemingly no worse for wear, invited me to see a flick. The Big Short was on offer, filmic treatment of the months leading up to the Great Bubble Burst in 2008, as when the economy began to cannibalize its gears. How could I resist the charms of Golden Girl and the Shillongster? I would not expect much from the movie, but I would be in company I liked. It would be one of those snowy nights on Ste Catherine’s that I like, and I am in a poem of Ahkmatova, Montreal a city of the world.
So then we went and saw. At the end of it all (the movie did not begin well – too much herky-jerky camera work), we sat pinned to our seats by some centrifugal force. The credits rolled down the screen like so many indictments, the semi-truck of moral indignation having flattened us like so much bug-splat to a windscreen. It was one of those moments when one was rendered both moral and borne out as suspect. One was the lynch mob and one was the heady cocktail of financier and jerk. Out in the lobby we were leafleted by Lyndon LaRouchers. The Pope is in for it who ‘embraces the scientific fraud of global warming’. Wall Street is to be shut down. There was something about ‘zombie banks’. I had never heard of the Committee for the Republic of Canada Yes, you got me. Who are these guys? Golden Girl was mystified. The Shillong Kid was unimpressed: political science is his shtick.
So we went to one of those end of the world bars on Ste Catherine’s to discuss it all. TV screens surrounded us with their images of slam dunks and spiked footballs. For all that sort of frenetic energy, 2016 has started off gloomy. Syria. Refugees. Dire predictions for the ubiquitous economy. All this on top of the perennial worries to do with climate and famine and pestilence, creeping fascism, sightings of Justin Bieber. P.M. Carpenter, Distinguished Political Commentator to the south of here, on a daily basis, encapsulates the lunacy of the Republican Party in his batshit crazy syntax. I have visions of a polarized electorate being fatally split in two by the ballot-box exercise coming up. Stars and starlets become ever more inane, speaking in the course of interviews of deep spiritual experiences had by portraying cartoon strip heroes—
Otherwise, morning. Nikas. Alexandra the waitress could not appear more apathetic. “Why vote? You only encourage them.” No, she did not say those words in so many words, but her smile spoke volumes. I asked her if she wished to tango. She saw me as dangerous.
I have been re-reading Robert Byron’s On the Road to Oxiana. On every page I look for the book I thought I had read way back when, and I cannot find it. I wonder as to how ideas about this and that do manage to get fixed in the mind; so much so, they have become the book I have been reading even as they are not quite the thing. What? Shall I say something warm and fuzzy about memories in a biochemical category? And the winner is . . . .
London Lunar is on about Naples, as in Italy, on about anything and everything to do with the place, even when it was called Parthenope and Greeks strolled about like so many cardsharps in a San Francisco saloon. It has crossed my mind to make a spiritual pilgrimage to Windsor, as in Ontario, so that I might walk about in Virgilian mode and experience revelation in the shadows of Detroit office towers.
Tyranny founded upon the absolute barbarism, superstition, and complete bestiality of its subjects benefits from ignorance, while any attempt at enlightenment inevitably causes it irreparable damage. Because of this, Mohammed with good reason forbade studying.
And so forth and so on. From Leopardi’s Zibaldone, and he was somewhat Neapolitan. Well, I do not know about ‘enlightenment’ and the power of reason to assuage any shortfall in justice and such like, but there is this, from the same source, the same paragraph, in fact:
Nature alone is the mother of greatness and disorder. Reason quite the opposite. A tyranny is secure only if the population is incapable of great deeds. It can never be capable of these through reason but only by nature. Augustus, Louis XIV and others like them demonstrate that they understood the truth of this proposition very well.
And I suppose that we might add Stalin to the list, and Mao—
However, as one listened to the latest SOTU address, one might have thought that reason still prevails; great deeds are still possible and probable; and the appearance of tyranny is a hobgoblin in the minds of extremists of any persuasion.
The other day I was asked if I was ever going to crack open that Knausgaard about which I had a few things to say in a previous post. I responded in the negative. No, I still have not acquired the spiritual wherewithal necessary for the mission. Clearly, there is something in my make-up, some genetic lack by which one can best treat with the depressive northern mentality; or that, perhaps I squandered what resources I had, dealing with the likes of a Kierkegaard who, I suspect, was really an Easter Islander in theosophical drag.