Dissident Voice Article
By Xero Hostel
Enough! I’ve had it with The Machine and its cogs
and gears and chips and sprockets and wireless wired
transistors of kleptogogic gobbetty goo.
Gone down, dropped down tripped down. Or out or about,
whatever direction of the deepest darkest mookiest not-being of
Like I’m sixteen again. Reading. Reading.
Reading. Taking notes.
Re-read Dead Souls, same copy filched from the high
school library 30 years ago. Just didn’t provoke the
same hysteria as “Diary of a Madman” or the
comprehensive satire of Sinclair Lewis: Babbitt.
Speaking of satire, Don Juan is definitely better on
the second go, or perhaps better to a 46-year-old than
it was to a 20-year-old.
Surprised I hadn’t read or even heard of Owen Barfield
before. His History in English Words was a blast. The
kind of “epistemological linguistics” I like,
etymology/semiotics as opposed to phonetics and
grammatical structure. Didn’t understand Saussure this
second time around any better than I had the first, so
I guess I’ll leave it at that. There’s a type of study
exhibited by Barfield, Graves, Mumford, Mircea Eliade,
Campbell, Barbara Mor, Walter Ong, Mary Daley etc.
that’s a combination linguistics, comparative mythology
anthropology and plain old wit. Renders me
conscious, though it’s not any of these disciplines per
se. Mumford described it best when he called himself a
Interesting how I spent so much time as an undergrad
plowing through Kant, Schopenhauer, Hegel, only to
disparage each as “nonsense” — Emerson too — and now
I’m eating it up. I think I was too young and
prejudiced against the whole “god” thing, and didn’t
quite understand that much of transcendentalism (and
whatever the hell Schopenhauer was) concerned the
“spirit” or “soul” or whatever it is that’s the spark
of mind, rather than some fusty old white man with a
Also, these guys were, like Blake and
Coleridge, and later Keats, Byron and Shelley, literally
speaking to our age, though with them it was the clunky
machines of industrialism as opposed to the sleek,
insidious, immaculately, sinisterly plastic, digital
gadgets from computers to iPods to drones looking like
pathetic blind albatrosses choked and burdened by
dead mariner neck-ties.
Also this guy Schelling, whom I’d never read before,
seems promising, like a philosopher version of’E.T.A.
Hoffman (used to love that guy).
And Tacitus, so mordantly appropriate to this epoch of
socks with no toes in them. But I can’t bring myself
to go back to Thucydides. Possibly because I never
really saw an Athens here and to follow the analogy,
Sparta is long gone. Rome this is, and Tacitus reads
off the litany of abuses like a prosecutor savoring
each syllable with which he harries The Condemned Man
to the guillotine…
Odd combination of Byron (Don Juan), H.D., Swift, Pope
and Mina Loy. And of course, ever present, if only a
few sentences at a time taken at random intervals
throughout the week, are Joyce and Stein.
I don’t regret spending much of my “best years” in the
library. The lines and grids of ink on paper are and
always were more exciting to me than fun and
excitement, which always smacked of duty endured for
the sake of “experience” till the time was ripe to
excuse myself from the company of lukewarm breath and
pulse, and insinuate myself, as unobtrusively as possible,
into an audience with aloof, indifferent genius, stark
and dependable as night.
View the original article at dissidentvoice.org