For solace and enthusiasm, I’ve been re-reading HGWells’ The Outlook for Homo [so-called] Sapiens. He says he hammers at his main ideas which ‘offends delicate-minded people’ but has always attempted to resolve contradictions, struggled for effective knowledge, working ‘not simply for knowledge but for stark clarity of thought about it…’
All it’s possible to do nowadays (maybe ever…) is hammer at one’s main ideas.
Wells says he couldn’t remember ‘…when it was I began to realise that the world as it had been presented to me was not a trustworthy picture of reality, that in effect I was being lied to about life…’
Religion was presented to him in a way that made it seem ‘…queer muddled stuff about unfatherly fathers and sacrificial sons. blood offerings and blood-dripping sacrificial lambs… stuff that took refuge from any intelligent questions behind a screen of awe, mystery & menace…’ As a result of which he developed a fear of a God-figure as ‘spy, bully & insane tyrant.
In school, the subject of history finished at 1700; anything more recent was not history but ‘reality’ and therefore not to be scrutinised.
Every fresh development of radio, of the film and mass information generally, and all the new educational devices to which we had looked for the rapid spread of enlightenment and a common world understanding, are being subordinated more and more to government restriction and the service of propaganda. They were to have been the artillery of progress. They are rapidly being turned against our mental freedoms with increasing effectiveness.
Wells wonders when it was that ‘the heavens opened’ for him – when it was that, as yet ‘unawakened to the insufficiency’ of his learning, the light dawned; wonders when it was that the seeds were sown of his view that ‘…education still means just any old education and ‘news’ is what a press runs entirely for profit and political and social ends with (in the British system) a government-controlled radio choose to tell…’
Wonders when it was that it dawned on him that ‘Democracy is Socialism’, that it had to be egalitarian, cosmopolitan & republican, a great brothersisterhood of human beings otherwise it was not ‘democracy’; that class privilege and class tyranny were an offence to the very word.
I have to remind myself suddenly that he was writing in 1942. Class privilege and class tyranny make sure that nothing changes.
To counteract the prevailing ethos requires, says Wells, a people properly educated in the co-operative understanding of liberty, equality & fraternity. As things are in yUK in 2019, mass media is run by class & privilege and public education is being steadily dismantled.
Crucial for the project of the Open Conspiracy Wells hammered on about in the last ten years of his life was an educated will, a ‘community saturated with the conception of a common social objective’, universal self-sufficiency and economic justice. This would involve the ‘repression of the financial scramble & gangster violence’ associated with private property.
Critically, Wells asserted: ‘I do not believe that a world order can come into existence without a preliminary mental cosmopolis…’ There is no time now for pussy-footing around: there has to be an immediate trend towards world-wide ‘mental re-adjustment’.
Any state run by privilege cannot be called the democracy we hear so much about; the ballot box is a sham while the establishment continues to run things:-
Decisions involving peace or war are made without any pretence of consulting any surviving popular will, and the whole capitalist press, the cinema, the radio, [+TV] and indeed all possible means of influencing opinion, concentrate upon the assertion of the rightness and inevitableness of these decisions. Dissent is a muffled and ineffective squeaking, and any inconvenient facts are kept from the public by requests for suppression that are in effect commands. There is a special Form D sent round to the press which it is extremely unwise to defy.
The need is for re-education as WORLD CITIZEN free to take its place in a COLLECTIVE WORLD FELLOWSHIP. It’s a matter of ‘education or catastrophe’.
And so it is in 2019.
Wells lamented a ‘spell of ill-health, involving bodily discomfort and a considerable ebb of mental resilience [which] contributed to his depression’ over the prospects for the future.
That matter of health is comparatively a minor issue. But quite apart from any bodily depression, the spectacle of evil in the world during the past half-dozen years – the wanton destruction of homes, the ruthless hounding of decent folk into exile, the bombings of open cities, the cold-blooded massacres and mutilations of children and defenceless gentle people, the rapes and filthy humiliations and, above all, the return of deliberate and organised torture, mental torment and fear, to a world from which such things had seemed well nigh banished – has come near to breaking my spirit altogether. Said an old friend of mine the other day, “If only we could get away from events for a spell ! If only we could get together as we used to get together and laugh!”
And so it is in 2019 when there are reports of people suffering from depression as a result of being unable to disidentify from the effects of the continuing UK Brexit Farce.
At which point, my notes on Wells’ book descend into a stream of consciousness as I begin to wonder where I am in all this apparent farcical carrying on with people expatiating about ‘democracy’ as though it meant something: how is it that I am not depressed by all that’s happening but find myself, like Humphrey Bogart at the end of the lovely film Beat the Devil, laughing fit to bust?
What is it renders one immune to the current sawdust circus? Meta-I seemingly up above it all with the delectable flying trapeze artist, Flo? How do I think of myself contentedly up there by the roof of the big top? And so…
Psycho-chemical organism belonging to no sect or party (invented arrangements lacking all substance), having idled my way from birth towards death, from one thing to another, newts, golden rod, bombs, Hitler’s explosions in the night, doodlebugs, Farmer Dan readers, writing, drawing, singing loudly dancing down the back alley of our simple suburban house, looking at stars, dreaming into the bluebell field that led down to the sea in a painting on my 1 to 16 bedroom wall, diving through tall waves, trying to avoid going to Sunday School by reading the Beano under the bedclothes, nevertheless enchanted by listening to the tenor man in the pew behind me, impervious to Mister God, more concerned with the disposition of the rock-plant sedums in my father’s garden than anything else, long-distance cycling, motorbiking, reading on a summer lawn. Belief in systems always seemed irrelevant. God stuff. Stuff God, the nonentity. Nothing up there except stars & maybe other worlds and just a feeling of persistence as a psycho-physical organism – as I define it now. Sex – the unfortunate initial experiences – complex mystery of womanfolk. Reading, political activism, marching the streets – anarchistic socialism as being on the side of psycho-physical organisms world-wide – not a matter of belief at all, or taking sides, no ‘sides’ to take. Then there was what’s called ‘mysticism’. You can call it that if you like, pin a label on the experience, a chartered label – what do you mean by ‘mysticism’? Christian mysticism, Jewish mysticism, Eckhart mysticism? – no, just the act of registering Istigkeit, suchness, satori; nothing special or out of the ordinary, just me & it – needs no belief – just is, as it is in the plain light of day: me & the sunset, me & a tree, me & my father’s garden. No invented ‘belief’ necessary – just an experience. Then Gurdjieff’s ‘non-system system’ turned up in my life to verify everything I’d imagined before since birth – exactly half my life ago – 40 years… You didn’t have to believe anything, simply apply a few interrelated ideas to the way things are. The way things are. What if a gross of human psycho-physical organisms got together, just for practice before going on to deal with the whole world, with that common awareness? No preconceptions, setting aside beliefs in this or that. Nothing outside us, nothing to rely on or pray to, leaderless, sheer functionality, attention to a project. Absence of ‘shoulds’ & ‘oughts’, looking at the world as a matter of sticks & stones & nascent souls working things into a sensible pattern. No likes or dislikes, just a silent WOW! No badges, no crowns & denominations, scriptureless. Wordlessness. One would have to sense that nobody was disappearing into internal rummaging. How would the interrelating work? It would have to be self-controlling since there’s no leader. The principle would derive from the idea that you can construct the world as this or that or even the other but it’s still the same world indefatigably, World without end, so be it. Here is a room, pictures on the wall (no bluebells), staircase in the hall beyond, log-fire in the grate, ‘modern’ string quartets on the gramophone (Plain Harmony 1,2 & 3) by one of my most favourite composers, darkness outside. That’s all. Nothing sustains it but the observation thereof. It is as it is. There seems to be some comfort in it, a positive valence, But that’s just a balance in the neurons. Nothing else. To lumber it with invented emotionality is unnecessary – as we know from Ouspensky, we must not do anything unnecessary. The ‘modern’ string quartets scutter about and the notes suddenly stop only to start again in a quite different mode – it’s not Beethoven – you have to contribute a great part of yourself to the sound, take it all in. No belief, no comparisons except for the obvious statement of fact that it’s not Beethoven. You can say that again. Psycho-physical organism entrusted with a sequence of notes played on strings. Entrystment. Encounter. We are entrysted with sight, sound & movement in encounter & process. Stand apart, Stand easy. We entrust ourselves. Daylong, life-long. No harm should ever be done to another psycho-physical organism – that’s not an ‘ought’ but a starting point, a given – ‘do as you would be done by…’ – a universal. Not issuing from a sect, just an absolute necessity. End of that story, so often hammered at, & the beginning of the next one.