Sunday, December 14, 2008

An angry post cheered up by a harvest of garlic, freshly washed

The one thing that everybody wants is to be free...not managed, threatened, directed, restrained, obliged, fearful, administered, they want none of these things they all want to feel free...they do not want to be afraid not more than is necessary in the ordinary business of living... Gertrude Stein, 1943
The daughter of the businessman, the income to write, the ordinary business of privilege; ever expanding post-war growth, ever expanding freedoms: cars, white-goods, confectionary, packaging, holidays; ever expanding art and art memorials; ever-expanding construction of culture well beyond the capacity of the landbase. Impermanent toxiculture; the mass market, the small secondary markets of the bourgeoisie: the snobs, the aspirants, the collectors, the publishers, the biography factory; ever-expanding obsessions of the civilised; utterly pre-tending to life.

"The world is round", Stein tells us, "and you can go on it round and round", she adds, as she did, as we do now, up and up, down and down, around and around, adding and expanding, unchecked and ill-managed, unbridled freedom, unlimited population, unleashed psychosis.

We have had 65 years of run-away capitalism, and here awaits us the blurred edge of run-away climate change: gas chambers lit for a new era holocaust by industry's furnaces and our desires.

3 comments:

astrid said...

hey pj -- love the post -- feeling swept up in similar angers myself at the moment. culminating in a god-awful, pre-christmas, inner-city tightness in the chest. i can't tell whether the pain is coming through the knot in my shoulder or the collapse of my bodily organs, but either way it's ghastly!

can you tell me what text the stein quote is from? 1943 is getting on a bit, i am thinking 'wars i have seen'?

hope all is well, x

The Garden of Self Defence said...

sorry to hear that a.

what a hard year it has been for everybody, (except for those it hasn't been, i guess).

i think youre right that it is from 'wars i have seen', but it's not footnoted in Malcolm's book; it's ambiguous whether it is from 'wars..' or written in one of her notebooks. i googled the first line and found nothing, and as my Stein collection doesn't include 'wars..' or the notebooks i'm not entirely sure.

i hope your shoulder knots and chest tightness ease.

love, pj

astrid said...

oh, god, hasn't it just? in some ways i feel defeated to desire the symbolic end of the year and the symbolic beginning of the next, but everything that makes me exhausted adheres to the yearly cycle, so i guess it makes sense.

i have a excerpted version of 'wars i have seen' that i'm not very familiar with -- and in fact, re the conversation we had in the backyard last week, would be interesting to read up on. i might check the whole book out over xmas and let you know if i find the quotation. it bothers me that it's not attributed in malcolm's book, tho you're right, it may be because it's from her notebooks (via dydo no doubt -- i think she spent nearly a decade at the beinecke? i'm planning a coupla weeks...) a beautiful quote, a truly beautiful quote.

love to you three, x