Sunday, June 22, 2003


Too depleted of words - even my logorrhea can't cope. The Riddle will be finished in a week, barring acts of god or influenza, and I feel myself taking a deep breath before I write the final chapters. But I no longer feel as if I am flagging in an endurance race, with the hardest part still to run. In the past few days I have solved the book; its metaphors make sense now, and its emotional truths. But it has been very tiring: I think this has been harder to write than The Gift; but then I guess its journey is more gruelling, in every way.

As a holiday, I spent last night reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which every sentient being in the western world must know was released yesterday. It kept me up until 1am, when I finished it, from which its addictive qualities might be concluded. Still mulling over it; but there's no denying it's a good read. Obviously the narrative is compelling as the others; it also strikes me that Rowling has taken on board some of the criticisms of the ideology of the books. In many ways it's a book that an adult will find impossible to read without being aware of the context of current international politics, and its weight falls behind the Imperium; nevertheless, I couldn't quite decide whether it was simply conservative, since its moral argument is becoming nicely complex. There's also a wider world in this one, and an insistence that the denial of anyone's humanity (probably the wrong word in this book) is the great evil. It insists on good old fashioned decency and fairness, and I'm not uninclined to think that decency is one of the things this world is rather short of.

and other prose

One reason I can't wait to finish the book (The Riddle, I mean) is that my head will be free, for almost a month anyway, until I begin the next one. I usually have the sense that my head is full of loose threads, maybe it's an occupational hazard, but following the warp and woof of a single work means more than usual are dangling. There are a number of books hanging around looking very unread, and a few arguments with myself that I haven't had the chance to pursue.

Not entirely inconsequentially: Someone on poetryetc mentioned Sir Thomas Browne, (I want to say, the Good Sir Thomas Browne), which gives me the excuse to quote him, especially as I feel unable to write anything so eloquent myself, on the perils and rewards of discourse, and which seems a private pointer to what might eventuate, if I ever get around to it, on this blog. It seems to me the comments he makes are as applicable now as they were in the 1700s.

I could never divide myself from any man upon the difference of an opinion, or be angry with his judgment for not agreeing with me in that from which perhaps within a few days I should dissent my self. I have no Genius to disputes in Religion, and have often thought it wisdom to decline them, especially upon a disadvantage, or when the cause of Truth might suffer in the weakness of my patronage. Where we desire to be informed, ’tis good to contest with men above our selves; but to confirm and establish our opinions, ’tis best to argue with judgments below our own, that the frequent spoils and Victories over their reasons may settle in ourselves an esteem and confirmed Opinion of our own. Every man is not a proper Champion for Truth, nor fit to take up the Gauntlet in the cause of Verity: many from the ignorance of these Maximes, and an inconsiderate Zeal unto Truth, have too rashly charged the Troops of Error, and remain as Trophies unto the enemies of Truth. A man may be in as just possession of Truth as of a City, and yet be forced to surrender; ’tis therefore far better to enjoy her with peace, than to hazzard her on a battle.

Sir Thomas Browne, Religio Medici

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