Free Souls for Slavish Days

Two thousand eighteen, upon any honest reflection, must be judged to have been a year of robust and energetic activity for the forces of tyranny, inhumanity, and vulgarism. In other words, it was yet another year — and perhaps more than just “another year” — of predictable failure for freedom, character, and taste.

In short, the body is winning, the soul losing; earth enveloping life, air retreating into hidden crevices; water ascendant, fire dimming inexorably.

The good news is that all this defeat is inevitably and by nature temporary and partial. Matter, privation, and chaos are secondary and derivative aspects of being. Form, actuality, and purpose are primary, and therefore cannot disappear altogether, for the simple reason that it is they that lend evil and loss whatever substantiality those insignificances appear to have. 

Soul itself is inextinguishable, though so many individual lives and hopes be suffocated. And in spite of the most ardent efforts of today’s political, artistic, and educational leaders to bury all evidence of the soul’s existence, Nature, by contrast, remains always and intransigently on the side of purpose and actuality, which is to say of mind, by which I mean the ancient Greek nous, the subject and ultimate object of dialectical inquiry, and thus the source of the figurative and symbolic language that is our distinctively human means of defining and communicating the incommunicable essences so easily buried and lost under matter’s literal and grunting banality — a particularly urgent problem in this age of quasi-religious devotion to the great gods Materialism and Science. 

To restate this in language so straightforward that only the rarest souls — the least earthbound, waterlogged, and dense — can understand it: It is for moments such as this one above all that Nature gave us birds.

One of our most ancient sources of wisdom expresses a similar thought in less straightforward, but no less blunt, terms:

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

To synopsize with a simple prayer for the end of a bleakest of bleak years: Thank God for birds.

Happy New Year to all my friends and visitors in Limbo.

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