1. Friday evening at McLingua, my biggest school, killing time till a date with an artist, i was chatting with Tod (an American teacher) and Sybille (an Italian who works on reception). i was talking about rape and murder and suicide, chortling as usual. Sybille was a little shocked. Tod told her this is normal for me, adding an anecdote from earlier in the week:
Teacher room in McLingua, top floor, high above street level. Elberry pacing by the windows, mimicking shooting pedestrians with some kind of assault rifle; he is talking about a cool student, a macabre woman full of black lore about suicide methods and the way your head explodes when you shoot yourself, and so on.
Tod: You talk about suicide with your students?
Elberry: Why not? It gets them talking. You could structure a whole lesson around suicide. Has anyone here tried to commit suicide, are you committing suicide now, will you commit suicide in the future, do you know anyone who has? Then give them a task-based activity, how to dissuade someone from suicide, how to commit suicide using common household items, how to kill a hated enemy and make it look like suicide.
As Elberry is talking, Tod looks in the bookcase and finds a book of horror stories.
Tod: Hey, look at this, you want to read it?
Elberry: God no. Not my cup of tea at all.
Elberry resumes pacing up and down blowing away pedestrians with his imaginary rifle.
As Tod told the tale, i realised i am a little peculiar. It’s strange to see yourself from outside in this way. i’m both interested in how i appear to others, and largely indifferent – that is, i lack the energy to pay much attention but occasionally someone relates such a tale, and i ponder the matter with momentary interest.
In the evening i went to have myself painted by an amateur artist – i was paid 25 € for sitting still for 2 hours. i took a photo of the result and will post it on Monday, from the McLingua PCs (my home internet is too shit). i look about 60, and apparently Ashkenazi, but i don’t really feel young, never have, and given my pen name Aske (which came to me out of the blue about 8 years ago), and the ARI (Isaac Luria), i have no problems with this. Ashkenazi is also a cool name and suggests some kind of hybrid of the Vikings (aescling), Nazis, and Mossad. When the War comes i will form a cadre of Waffen SS/Mossad killers and we will kill Jihaddists and chavs and NHS managers and hippies and Tony Blair and stupid people and fat idiots, with ash spears.
2. When Sybille is on reception alone the kitchen is unattended. She does as little work as possible, never fills or empties the dishwasher, never makes coffee, and often ignores the phone if she can’t be bothered answering. Truly Italian, she is lovely but totally unreliable for everything. This sums up the whole of Italy, i feel – nice, largely harmless people, totally unreliable and workshy. It’s fitting that the Euro (and hopefully the EU) will most likely be destroyed by Italy and Greece, the cradle of our western civilisation. i’m not optimistic about the future. i know a girl who featured prominently in some recent London protests (her face appeared on the front page of a UK newspaper) – an irresponsible, violent, feckless, prodigal (with other people’s money), cocaine & cannabis-using strumpet, a classic case of “aggrieved entitlement”, in Theodore Dalrymple’s words. She got a credit card and immediately bought the biggest TV she could find for her student flat. Then she went to London to protest against university cuts. Her (impoverished) mother gave her 50 pounds for new shoes; she spent it on drugs. And so on. i guess these are the kind of people most drawn to things like Occupy Wall Street – hippies and scumbags, though i’d hope at least some of the protestors are decent human beings. Incidentally, i quite like the girl, probably because i’ve known her since she was 9 and she minds her manners with me, but i certainly wouldn’t trust her with anything important, such as five quid or the future of western civilisation.
3. On the other hand, i don’t see any future in the past. As Nicolas Berdyaev writes in The End of Our Time:
[…] and return to the past is impossible […] there are no such things as restorations. There are sporadic convulsive movements of forces to which revolution has brought final decomposition; and then later on there are new activities taking shape from forces bred by the revolution trying to consolidate their vital gains. It is senseless to want to restore anything that led to a revolution: as well shut oneself up in a magic circle. It is no good looking for a way out in a lateral movement to right and left; it can only be found vertically, in height and depth. The counter-revolution of ideas must be headed towards the making of a new life, wherein past and future shall be one in eternity, and at the same time be rigidly set against all forms of reaction.
As Berdyaev stresses, to try to turn the clock back, to, say, 50 years before the Revolution, would just mean the Revolution would come again, bred from the same conditions and tensions. Assuming the new order isn’t to resemble Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, i think it must draw greatly from the past, but with unforeseen mutations. It is characteristic that the survivors look back to the past, so Heidegger with the pre-socratics, TS Eliot with Dante. At least four of the most powerful imaginers in human history are alive now, two in their teens, the other two much younger; the youngest have been “between lives” for a long time, so the timing seems significant. One of these four is redoing his last, disastrous, life, as it should have been. The two in their teens are already fledgling artists, one in music (Murtaugh’s 15-year-old son Leo), the other in painting (not the artist i saw yesterday, indeed i only know him through non-physical visions). i think the new order will arise spontaneously, not from politicians or protesters; not from the kind of people who wave banners and march self-importantly about mouthing slogans. It will develop from a deeper connection with the past, with that which deserves to survive. A way of life cannot be restored. But the forces which created that way of life can be allowed into the present.
My own recipe for survival: be prepared to fight gangs of chavs & Jihaddists; know your edible from inedible plants; have lots of nuts in the house; study German; read Shakespeare and Dante; try to use language well. The rest will take care of itself.