A Cornish Reverie

On Education

“How do the worthless measure their worth?” I mused, passing though the gate at the foot of the garden. By some impersonal yardstick, a degree or an I.Q. test. These are no substitute for achievement, only a gesture in its direction. Indeed, the truly mediocre view their undergraduate degree as the conclusion of their education rather than the début of their academic careers. Oxford, Bristol, Manchester; finishing schools, or an opportunity to enjoy a three-to-four year bacchanalia of sex and drink. Oxford-U.C.L.-Bristol are the trinity of tedious student politics, while Oxford synthesises the finishing school and the Hellfire Club in the detestable Bullingdon Club.

The Public Schools are a blight. What’s that I hear? “Communist!” “Socialist!” “Egalitarian!” Let the mediocrities cry what they will, these schools do not produce rulers or leaders that are worthy of our country. In the 19th century, the young viscount would progress though Eton, Oxford, and Westminster. He would be drilled as harshly as a Prussian Officer. The 19th century has been eclipsed by the 2oth and now the public schools are no more than refuges for the wealthy. These institutions are bloated corpses that attract only flies and maggots.

There are those among us that will defend these institutions simply because the institutions are elitist. A shallow mind would of course argue this, forced then to defend any form of elitism simply on the virtue of it being “elitist.” Are not communist revolutions, indeed, all revolutions elitist? The revolutionary is not intending to destroy hierarchy, rather, establish a new hierarchy to privilege himself. The formation of elites, and the expression of elitism in socialist regimes are both inevitable and are rooted, prior to the revolution, in an intellectual elite or vanguard. It would be idiotic, then, to defend the dictatorship of the proletariat because it is a dictatorship. Or perhaps he would defend the dictatorship of the disabled, where only those gifted with extra chromosomes are permitted to govern, and where all those deemed “chromosome deficient” are to become serfs?

Every politic is elitist. The question we ask is: What type of elite do we want, an elite of the able or an elite of the unable? The choice before us is between Plutocracy or Epistemocracy, that is, a society governed by the wealthy or a society governed by the informed. By some economy of scale, the American dilemma is more acute. The Bush-Clinton dynasty is (was?) poised to assume control of the United States once again. Certainly, Globalism is Plutocracy.

We are accelerating towards a society where only the mute are permitted to speak and only the blind permitted to see, and where all others are condemned to a life of silent darkness.

The Heroism of Compassion

Cioran! Prince of pessimists! Compassion is heroic, not vain. While true that compassion feigned is no more than an empty gesture, genuine compassion requires a noble spirit — a spirit it seems you do not possess. You think you are the only man to suffer, but how easy your life when compared to the starved, the beaten, and the raped. Yes, how mediocre our writings are compared to Goethe, but how mediocre our sufferings are when compared to Christ. It seems that you desire to excel in suffering and despair where others desire greatness and consolation.

Sacrifice is a heroic act and the wars of Gods are hollow. When compared to Achilles, Agamemnon, and Menelaus, the Gods are shallow and capricious. What is Apollo’s sacrifice compared to Achilles’? “Celestial spirits may bleed,” writes Milton — however, the blood of Archangels is shed without mortality. Michael wounds Satan, and the rebels are cast into chaos. All of this drama, including the fall of man, is simply a means “permitted” by God for the sacrifice of Christ and the redemption of man to be realised. Christ’s sacrifice is heroic.

When we intimately feel the needs of another as our own, and when we feel a deep compassion for his suffering, we are making a sacrifice. We smother our ego. Class, rank, elitism, hierarchy are all scattered to the air like a dream. In that moment we forgo all material superiority, and in true compassion, all moral superiority. We refrain from judgement, condemnation, or rationalisation and merge with him as one. In a sense we sacrifice our lives in that moment! Then the feeling passes and we return to our petty lives. Only a few men have been able to sustain this state indefinitely, the most notable being Christ. Yes, it is a noble to gently release the privileges our lives afford us and it is heroic to feel compassion.

The Shadow of Consciousness

While walking along the coast I met a group of children piling up stones on the shore. One ran up to me, and grabbing my legs, begged me to see his little stone towers. Ah, happy children! With some embarrassment I agreed and watched this young lad pile up stones. He played with such earnestness and industry I couldn’t help feel a happy contentment. Once the boy had finished piling up the stones, another boy hurled a rock at it causing the tower to collapse. Ah, the poor lad, the despair on his face! Children build sandcastles contentedly, knowing the evening tide will wash them away, but the devastation of their sandcastle by the hand of another child throws them into such a frightful state. They are wounded by the intent of the other child. Even if that boy has missed his throw, the poor lad would’ve despaired at the ill intent of the other boy. After a brief parley between the boys’ parents, they, and their parents, took their separate ways. I rambled along the shore under the long and heavy evening sunlight. After some way, I lay on a rock. That rock seemed designed so that I should lay on it that day. So there I lay beside the sighing sea, and allowed my mind to wander.

When contemplating fourth dimensional objects we are limited by our existence in three dimensions. Whatever intuitive feelings we may have of its structure are impossible to visualise. This limitation can be overcome through shadow. Just as the shadow of third dimensional objects are two dimensional, the shadow of fourth dimensional objects are three dimensional. To visualise a fourth dimensional object, we can view the shadow of its rotation. In doing so we do not see the object itself, but its shadow. Our selves are composed of the conscious and the unconscious. The unconscious is unaware of itself, whereas the conscious is aware of itself. Our life’s narrator, the orator of thought, exists as the conscious. He illuminates our unconscious self, wandering alone though the gloomy corridors of the mind. His flickering torch of self-reflection reveals terrifying shadows cast by unperceived objects. He is our will, and he can only reveal the shadows of the unconscious.

This longing to perceive our own unconscious is as the restlessness of the sea. When men are assaulted by this longing; like a jaguar, it pounces on them unexpectedly; they often retreat into solitude and seek out the sea. The sea! The restless longing of those waves! When our tortured man gazes out to sea and scans the horizon he is searching for himself. So has the sea become for man the expression of his unconscious self, from Jung, to Melville, to Christ himself. Was not Christ’s miracle of walking on the Sea of Galilee a transcendence of self? Most men are consumed by the deep currents of the sea, dragged into it and drowned. To sail on the sea of the unconscious is to exist in tension with it, to walk upon the water is to transcend the unconscious, and assert superiority over it. Our will is the arbitrator of the conscious and the unconscious, perhaps this act was an arbitration between the two and an overcoming of the dualism that exists within the self — to bring the unconscious into direct contact with the conscious.

We live consciously through the will. A vegetative existence is not considered life, nor one in a coma. Most see the futility of this existence and resolve to be euthanised upon reaching that horrid condition. Laying by the sea one experiences life. In nature generally, the joy of the flower or the chorus of the nightingale is the conscious experience of them. We become lost in nature because we are lost in the experience of our own existence. This experience is bound by perception; in most cultures alluded to as the window, door, or some other gateway; that separates our will from the world. Our will believes to perceive the world from without. So consumed by day to day trivia, we often encapsulate ourselves from the world, creating a distinction between us and the world. This leads many to think: “How insignificant I am to the world, but how insignificant the world is to me!” Or, “The world dies with me.” Walkers often talk of becoming “one with nature” when on solitary walks. The epiphany is the barrier of perception melting away and the will realising that it is too a part of the world. It sees the world from within the world, not from without. Being spectators of the world necessitates our existence within the world. So, men are humbled at their loss of self in the infinitude of the boundless ocean. The peace of nature is the will, rather than actively contemplating the world from without, passively experiences the world from within the world as a part of the world.

Such is my joy of solitary walks. Though it was late, I knew that somewhere traders were hurrying about in a hurly-burly. What did that matter to me, the Cornish Caliban, on my rock? I lay under the starry blanket and watched the blinking of fishing boats on the horizon. One thought that stalks me daily is that these traders, home among millions of people, open their wrists because they’re lonely! These men have been ripped away from the world like a baby from its mother. A solitary walker is never lonely because to walk in solitude is to walk with the world.


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