13 february 2002 the glamour of being human

Late morning.

I've been attempting (since I got up) to rediscover what it was that led me and leads me to react against industrial life as it is and to seek something (as yet not named or connectedly imagined) as alternative, as a better way to live, with technology as it grows, as it changes, and as we evolve (I think too slowly and inhumanly) in accordance with these new ways and means. Towards what?

What do I find so wrong in this life as it is and what or how can I imagine life as it might be, and be much better? A simple question perhaps - but difficult to answer in any way that seems well-founded, and yet audacious... and inspiring... and imaginatively wise?

So what is the main result of this morning's thinking?

Perhaps it is a resolve to cease naming or attacking the way things are and instead to name and to remake at least this meditation 'in the manner of my dreams' of what might be, or can?

Life as it might be, and can...?

This hesitation and abstract questioning is getting me down! It reminds me of the writing of Opus One, Number Two*, a piece I began in baffled questioning but which led to something strange and hard to imagine but which has been quite often quoted: the idea of designing as an end in itself, without a product!

I guess that is why I am feeling baffled today: what I seek to name and to move towards is itself likely to be as surprising and perhaps as seemingly empty and ridiculous as that! Yet somehow right...


Unable to proceed I've been reading a book and a page chosen by chance process (Imaginationsby William Carlos Williams** and within it his prose/poetry 'Spring and All')... It tells me to write of the only reality - the moment. But not to represent it - to be it!

On page 121 I read that Shakespeare's mirror held up to nature is not nature
He holds no mirror up to nature but with his imagination rivals nature's composition with his own. - He himself becoming 'nature' - continuing 'its' marvels - if you will.


The glamour of being human!... I wrote this phrase as a way to combine and to concentrate the several good thoughts that came to me on reading another book chosen by chance: Chrétien de Troyes Arthurian Romances*** - a book that I've known of and possessed for a long time but have always avoided reading (I suppose because of the bad reputation in Wales of the these romanticised French versions of Welsh folk tales - and of their Welshness having been stripped off them to the point where French and English invaders adopted them as myths of their own - and changed the tone, and the spelling of proper names - but perhaps such adaptations should be welcomed, for we are all one and all human!).

This evening (being obliged by the vow of open-minded attention that is a part of chance sampling of anything) as I began to read the first story 'Eric and Enide' I noted that I am 'totally refreshed and inspired by this apparent nonsense coming from an aristocratic culture I dislike, or thought I did'.

It seems to arouse and to reanimate great tracts of memory - all sorts of good thoughts and possibilities come to mind.... I sense a strange naivety in the writing (perhaps deliberate perhaps not) that reflects a great humanity in the world that is portrayed - no, not portrayed it is realised,made present, in the manner of the telling.

This is something I don't find in the stories of Geoffrey Chaucer which, despite their humanity, keep me at a distance - probably because of the unromantic realism. The characters in this version of the Arthurian legend do not behave realistically but to a convention or ritual of goodness and of rightness (according to an out-dated chivalry)... which makes me ask if it is possible to write something now which could give glamour to 'using machines and people humanly'? Can there be a glamour of post-industrial rightness, or of 'being human' - in place of the glamour of evil and of power? Surely yes - that is what's missing!

*In designing designing, ADT/Phaidon Press, London 1991 (previously published as Essays in Design,John Wiley & Sons, New York and Chichester, 1984), pages 147 to 167.

**William Carlos Williams, Imaginations,edited and with introductions by Webster Schott, New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York 1971, pages 83 to 151.

***Chrétien de Troyes, Arthurian Romances,translated by W W Comfort in 1914, Introduction and notes by D D R Owen, J M Dent, Everyman's Library, London 1984, pages 1 to 24.

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© 2002 john chris jones

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