no escape

The impossibility of dropping out? ….

Our protest culture, whatever the historical precedents, be it baby boomers of Woodstock or back to the desert hermits and mystics of yore; whatever the worthiness of its aims, noble and earnest the approach may be; they must inevitably discover that from technocracy there is no escape, even if it appears possible that the society that weighs on mankind can be overthrown and the willing serfs of the machine can rebel and create a newer, more just, order. Rightly or wrongly, there are objections to a certain form of order. And it is interesting to ask ourselves whether, at any period of history, people have felt similarly stifled by an all-pervading order.

In most cases of course, the reverse has been true. The Anglo-Saxons, thankful for a year of respite from Viking raiders, looked for a strong king to defend them. In Shakespeare’s history plays, weakness in a ruler is considered the ultimate disaster, leading to anarchy and civil war. At moments of upheaval such as the French Revolution, tyranny has been more easily supported than anarchy. Human history has been dominated by the desire for an ordered society- often to the detriment of those very individuals who chose a “strong” man or a party of “order” only to find they had created a system of lawful illegality, an order of criminal anarchy.

---So far as Dylan Thomas’s death was concerned, “society” must bear some of the blame in that the fantastically heavy direct taxation imposed upon him was a major contributory factor to his awful anxieties. That taxation existed, at the scale it did and does, in part to pay for the war against Fascism, in part to finance the Welfare State. Whether Dr. O’Brien’s enthusiasm for the political methods of Dr. Nkrumah has led him retrospectively to change his opinions concerning the methods of the late Adolf Hitler, I do not know, but I imagine not, though his sour remarks about the illusory nature of Western “freedom” might have come from another politically active Doctor, in Germany, thirty years ago. As for the Welfare State, taxation for that purpose is presumably sacrosanct to so pure a “liberal” as Dr. O’Brien. Or does he perhaps advocate less taxation for poets than for plumbers? Or perhaps no taxation for artists at all? This would indeed be a refreshing thought. On the other hand, would it be right, would it be democratic, would the Uncommitted Nations approve, were we to grant to men who have composed a “few poems that will live” the privileges so sensibly granted to those scores of thousands of invaluable men and women who toil manfully and womanfully for the U.N., UNESCO (how could artists exist without UNESCO?), WHO and the rest of them? After all, it is there that the “values” so crudely despised by “society” exist in their purest and pristine form.---click image for source...

—So far as Dylan Thomas’s death was concerned, “society” must bear some of the blame in that the fantastically heavy direct taxation imposed upon him was a major contributory factor to his awful anxieties. That taxation existed, at the scale it did and does, in part to pay for the war against Fascism, in part to finance the Welfare State. …
Or does he perhaps advocate less taxation for poets than for plumbers? Or perhaps no taxation for artists at all? This would indeed be a refreshing thought. On the other hand, would it be right, would it be democratic, would the Uncommitted Nations approve, were we to grant to men who have composed a “few poems that will live” the privileges so sensibly granted to those scores of thousands of invaluable men and women who toil manfully and womanfully for the U.N., UNESCO (how could artists exist without UNESCO?), WHO and the rest of them? After all, it is there that the “values” so crudely despised by “society” exist in their purest and pristine form.—click image for source…

…It may well be the very universality of our technological civilization that is intimidating. There is no refuge from social security card, tax filing, university education; in effect no recourse from the whole buraucratic apparatus with which the advanced state governs its citizens, more or less benevolently. It is probably less easy to lead the life of a hermit today than it was in fourth-century Egypt, and as for living the simple life of a poet, it is akin to angels beating wings of bronze and crash landing on asphalt.

---  When the Sleeper Wakes          Illustration pour H.G. Wells, The Graphic, 21 janvier 1899 Henri Lanos    Paris, BNF, département des Imprimés Foule sans âme, sans espoir, sans lumière.---


When the Sleeper Wakes
Illustration pour H.G. Wells, The Graphic, 21 janvier 1899
Henri Lanos
Paris, BNF, département des Imprimés
Foule sans âme, sans espoir, sans lumière.—


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