Philosophy and poetry are my passions. Philosophy exercises my capacity to reason, and reading poetry (can’t write any) provides me the words that describe my emotions.
But aren’t emotions and reason opposed to each other? Not according to David Hume. In his “Treatise of Human Nature” he argued that “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”
In modern parlance we’d say that reason is downstream of passions. Reason is the horse and the passions is the rider. Without passion, very little gets done.
In his song “Sad Songs” Elton John sings —
Turn them on, turn them on
Turn on those sad songs
When all hope is gone
Why don’t you tune in and turn them on
They reach into your room
Just feel their gentle touch
When all hope is gone
Sad songs say so much
Many of my favorite poems and songs are indeed sad. They provide the gentle touch.
I want to share a poem that resonates deeply with me. It’s “Funeral Blues” by W. H. Auden (1907 – 1973). In the movie “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, the character Matthew (superbly played by John Hannah) reads it at the funeral of his partner. Listen.
Great actors know how to recite poems. Note how he says “I was wrong” with a catch in his voice on the word “wrong.” Absolutely heart-wrenching.
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.
“For nothing now can ever come to any good” spells heartbreaking despair. Watch that scene from the movie on Youtube.
That’s it for now. Be well, do good work and keep in touch.
2 thoughts on “Stop all the clocks”
” “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”
I would rather rephrase the above as:
–synonyms of apologetics
–Sentiment override reason
‘Passion’ is fine but some people often just refuse to acknowledge the core basic facts and degenerate into absurdity. Examples abound and I wouldn’t quote any out of sensitivity consideration.
If one starts at a popular public forum a critical debate on religion(s); all kind of protagonist and antagonist narratives will immediately pile in because religion is:
— cultural heritage..in positive tone
— tribalism…in less than positive tone
— being and identity..in more neutral language
My conclusion is one can quote some basic facts but attaching ‘good’ or ‘bad’ labels to religions would yield little. There’re 3 civilisations which are anchored to respectively one religion:
** (Sunni) Arab–Prophet Mohamed is the greatest ever arab ethnic hero. The arabs were originally
small tribes scattered in the eastern part of the Roman empire; through Islam, Arabia became a
** India–India has 16 official languages, regional , caste…. division..but wait a minute, 80% of
indians are said to be hindus. Hinduism is the only big civilisation pillar of India; can one image
what India would be without ‘Hinduism’?
** Zion–Sure an obvious example but also a partial exception because most of the jewry live in
diaspora and the jews must adopt to survive. It’s more an ethnic identity than a religion, like I
read 57% of US jews eat bacon.
Another example: If one said ‘Berlin was the Bangkok of Europe in the 1920s’ ; what does it mean?
Well, prostitution is/was a major ‘profession’ in Berlin then and nowaday Bangkok. Even the more
‘liberal’ people would not say prostitution is a preferrable ‘profession’ and Thailand is probably the most buddhist country and supposed to be ‘spiritual’, right? In Thailand, monks/nuns and prostitutes are legion. Mmm…let me try to interpret it spiritually—because the nuns are deprived of normal sexuality, Holy Buddha have them reincarnated in their next lifes as prostitutes as compensation. Buddha be Praised !!