”You will live in this world as though it is real, until it is no longer real, and then, you will know as I do, that all your adventures and all your possessions, and all your losses, and what you have loved — this gold, this bread, the green glass sea — were things you dreamed as surely as you dreamed of buffalo and watercress.” Jeanette Winterson The Powerbook p 16
My friend Martha Moffet’s mother died yesterday at ninety-nine and I was moved to write the following
I have come to believe more and more in the last few months, what is new to me if not to others, that life in its arbitrariness is governed not by any real sense but by the willingness of certain people or spirits – or the capacity or conviction of certain people that allows them to impress themselves or inflict themselves on others and mold their world.
So that our living imagination is in the hands of the few people who are able by a combination of will, skill, and spirit to occupy it.
So that even in this age of mass media and incredible communication, the map of our world is made up of relatively few figures or people – whether close or far.
By these standards your mother must count as one of the great spirits, and I am sorry for your loss, and glad that her passing was peaceful.
New to me in part because I learned or was taught painfully that the world was supposed to make sense, and it if didn’t I was at fault. As Einstein said, God does not play dice with the universe.
From the Introduction to Count Harry Kessler’s Walter Rathenau 1928 Rathenau was not only one of the most important people in the history of Germany immediately after World War I, but this remarkable portrait gives insight into its author, Count Harry Kessler, one of the most remarkable figures in European culture. ———
No estimate of Walther Rathenau, the founder of
Germany’s new foreign policy and of the post-war
rationalisation of German industry, can do him justice
that is not based on his singular personality.
The profoundly Jewish, and yet no less profoundly Prussian,
mechanism of his mind and instincts can always be discerned
behind his political and social ideas.
Scientific proofs for his theories he utterly disdained,
appealing for their truth solely to the rightness of his
vision and the sureness of his instinct.
He propounded them not like a great man of science
who proves his point step by step, proceeding from proof to proof,
from discovery to disoovery, from statistics to statistics,
but like an artist who gives you his vision in a.flash,
as the image of a personal revelation, a thing complete in itself.
Thus what in the case of a great economist or practical statesman
bears a merely outward relation to his work
— the details of his life and character — becomes in the case of
Walther Rathenau the very measure of his worth as a teacher
But a peculiar difficulty attaches to any presentation of
Rathenau’s personality. Though he surrounded himself with
an atmosphere of impenetrable coolness, not many were able
to remain cool in his presence: people were violently attracted
or repelIed by him — or both simultaneously.
That was part of his tragedy: the crystaline coolness for which he
Iaboured recoiled on him in the shape of passionate adoration
or passionate hetred.
And now that he is dead, this same atmosphere, though it
tends to thicken around him into a haze of misunderstandings,
yet has a|so certain advantages;
the student who approaches him thus influenced sees him
with a distinctness so intensified by excitement or emotion
that his figure takes on the sharpness of a vision
and grips him like a Golem.
I have aimed at eliminating the emotion
and preserving only the clearness of the vision.
Whether I have succeeded, the reader must be left to decide.
But I may perhaps be allowed to set forth tentatively at the outset
an explanation why Walther Rathenau had that peculiar effect
on those who came within his orbit:
he was, and one oould not heIp feeling it,
a man who bore Fate within him.
One was conscious, when dealing with him, of something
in his spiritual structure working mysteriously and blindly
after the manner of a. physial organism,
for which every outward event in his life was merely a rung in a ladder
leading inexorably to an end which he darkly foresaw
and both weIcomed and deepIy dreaded.
And Fate in this sense belongs to one man in a million.
Let’s face it – the only fair way to cut the deficit is 1. to cut the prices of the health care industry – all parts of it –
by at least half.
a. when an ordinary person can afford to get health care without
insurance – perhaps at some sacrifice – then government healthcare
support will again become a feasable budgetary item – as it is in most
European countries. All of whom manage to afford it.
b. this will come at some cost to stockholders and markets. For this
reason it must be done gradually so that people who end up with the stock
will at least have some foreknowledge of the situtation they are getting
into. Perhaps the markets will anticipate this and crash a bit. But this
is the price of consuming so much of our national wealth for so long, and
the corruptions that have crept into and from all our insurance systems
so that the prices of healthcare have risen and become wasteful out of all bounds and proportion.
Luckily we have a little, only a little, time – as this is not the
moment to cut drastically if at all. What we need is to allocate spending
effectively – to help people, and future industries. We are bad at this
politically but we have to do it.
2. We have to stop spending money on killing people in other countries.
We do not work well overseas. Our ordinary people are frightened of
cultures and languages that they do not understand, and take horrible
revenge. Yes we will become a less dominant country but we will become a
Here too we have to move gradually but effectively.
These are the two basic ways to cut expenditure and reduce debt.
Not on the backs of the people and the cost of a chaotic society.