Thursday, 22 March 2012

Short meditations: certainty

I write these things on early waking, mostly in haiku form, but sometimes in couplets suggesting a classical Greek measure. Sometimes they hang together, other times they fly off in different directions. These more or less belong together.

When the roof falls in
the dust rises. High, empty,
the frame of the sky.


In the latest siege / children play loud music to / their adult killers.


Heavily armed with / Kalashnikov and Uzi./ The night's home comforts.


Certain of one thing only, the rightness of the heart's affections
and of which hearts should keep on beating and which to seal shut.

Both guns blazing he leaps from the window, the hero
who calmly put his gun to three children's heads.


Thought, like shit, happens / any time. It doesn't take / all day about it.


There is nothing there / just days of limited scope / opening their eyes.


The weather at sea,
like a clutch of names under
a rain of vowels.


The last two nights were too short. I woke at 4am both times and did not go back to sleep. Today I spent all day at the desk filling in a very long author form, writing the report on a PhD upgrade, checking the corrections to a finished PhD, and going over and over the finished first draft of the prose translation. At 6.30 there was the meeting of the Wymondham Words festival committee. Tomorrow to London all day for Poetry Review, on which little progress so far because of these other things, only ideas and lists.

I followed the news of the siege and the shooting in Toulouse in odd moments, certain of one thing only, as the verse above says, which was the horror of certainty itself. There is something quite inhuman about certainty. Certainties do exist but they are the limits between which we move, not the ground on which we stand. I know what I like. I know who to blame. I know for a fact where I stand. Then bullets wipe away any remaining doubt.


Mark Granier said...

'Certain of one thing only...' Yes, the older I get the more visceral becomes my dislike of certainty (i.e. the kind of smug certainty that condemns, that has you tagged in a glance). That rush to judge, to buttress the castle keep enclosing the stone fog. It bewilders me. What's the attraction in it? Surely it's evident by now that this will be the death of us all. But it's as if the evidence itself were a rockfall that buries the evidence.

George S said...

A degree of confidence is required to do anything I suppose, Mark, but certainty is something else: it eventually comes down to shooting children in the head at point blank range and filming the whole process as you're doing it, or as Breivik did, hunting down groups of young people and shooting them from close range.

It wouldn't surprise me if we saw more of this.