Wednesday, September 22
What is most original in a man's nature is often that which is most desperate. Thus new systems are forced on the world by men who simply cannot bear the pain of living with what is. Creators care nothing for their systems except that they be unique. If Hitler had been born in Nazi Germany he wouldn't have been content to enjoy the atmosphere. If an unpublished poet discovers one of his own images in the work of another writer it gives him no comfort, for his allegiance is not to the image or its progress in the public domain, his allegiance is to the notion that he is not bound to the world as given, that he can escape from the arrangement of things as they are.
— Leonard Cohen's Beautiful Losers, quoted at Necessary Prose
Two recent conversational dynamics: Over the weekend, talk of ultimate frisbee, music, beer, culture & politics on terms of somewhat unexpected mutual understanding. In some way related, the unlooked for culmination of the entire experience in John McCutcheon's angry & genuine & about-the-war "Not in My Name", accompanied by a chorus of folkies and Tommy Emmanuel's guitar. (Emmanuel's restrained accompaniment in a way more impressive than the virtuosity he displays during his solo performances.)
Last night, frustration at my simple inability to communicate any single idea through a combative & debate oriented fog of one-upmanship. I imagine small children with singsong voices, I know more than you know, I know more than you know. A sense of my ability to express an idea dissolving into intellectual muck and verbal incoherence. And with that, the question of what exactly I actually know.
Is it possible that I can only really feel in communication with people who already share my basic ideas or attitudes?
Alternatively, am I simply incapable of functioning in an atmosphere of contention, even when my grasp of the subject matter is more concrete and informed? I used to think I loved argument for argument's sake, but lately Good Christ how I'm sick of it.