Just Merveilleux?

Life at № 42

Stufen

1988-town-car-2

I remember being 10 and sitting in the back seat of the car (a town car), my parents were up front, and I asked them why they thought they should have had children. Evidently I was The Children I was referring to. They thought the question was funny, so they laughed. I rephrased:

“So you and you (I was pointing at them) decided you should be together and have a child? Just like that? What was this, some sort of gift to the world?” My mother answered that life is a gift. I thought it was a rather ridiculous answer then, I still think so now. It takes an extraordinary degree of courage to inflict life on someone.  I was born on March 23rd, 1978, Maundy Thursday; I found it an imposition then as evidenced by the need for forceps. I still find it an imposition now- as evidenced by my distaste for mankind.

I leave you with Herman Hesse’s Stufen as I fill a glass with genever.

As every flower fades and as all youth
Departs, so life at every stage,
So every virtue, so our grasp of truth,
Blooms in its day and may not last forever.
Since life may summon us at every age
Be ready, heart, for parting, new endeavor,
Be ready bravely and without remorse
To find new light that old ties cannot give.
In all beginnings dwells a magic force
For guarding us and helping us to live.
Serenely let us move to distant places
And let no sentiments of home detain us.
The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us
But lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces.
If we accept a home of our own making,
Familiar habit makes for indolence.
We must prepare for parting and leave-taking
Or else remain the slaves of permanence.
Even the hour of our death may send
Us speeding on to fresh and newer spaces,
And life may summon us to newer races.
So be it, heart: bid farewell without end.

 

 

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80 comments on “Stufen

  1. Diana MacPherson
    December 30, 2016

    Heh. I too am misanthropic but I figure that’s everyone else’s problem, not mine.

    I love the way you asked your parents. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Dwight Doskey
    December 30, 2016

    And all your post does is make me sad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 2016 was not a cheerful year, for most of the world 🙂 Let’s hope 2017 brings more hope- or at least some leaders with a vision.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Clare Flourish
        December 30, 2016

        This year, Mr Trump was only standing for election. Next year he’ll be in power. I am not certain M. Fillon is a huge deal better than Mme. Le Pen, and AfD are menacing possibly the last Conservative (rather than Nationalist) right wing government in Europe. Beppo is coming for Italy- Berlusconi without the charm…

        Leaders from where???

        Liked by 1 person

      • Historically great leaders were made when they were needed. Circumstance created them. Or at least that’s my hope.

        Like

    • Btw, I walked up to have a look at the house your sister visited. I really liked the look of it. It’s solid, substantial. Much more than the one I gave you the link to. The enduit colour, mouldings and even the decoration under the tiles are extremely similar to number 42.

      Like

      • Dwight Doskey
        January 5, 2017

        Soon. Soon. Though I can barely wait to be there.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. acflory
    December 30, 2016

    I’m with your Mum – Life /is/ a gift because without it you would have no way of expressing your dissatisfaction with the world. If we can’t live forever, at least let us live well. -hugs-

    Liked by 3 people

    • makagutu
      December 30, 2016

      The question is how do we live well? Or is it a question each must answer for themselves?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Can it be answered at all- and more importantly is the answer genuinely true or the product of wishful thinking?

        Like

      • makagutu
        December 30, 2016

        I don’t think it can be answered at all.
        All attempts at answering have been products of wishful thinking

        Liked by 1 person

      • It’s interesting to look at as juxtaposed to attitudes on suicide from the ancient world to now. Aristotle condemned suicide only because it *removed* a functioning member of a community. Titus Livy on the other hand was all for free hemlock 🙂

        Like

      • acflory
        December 30, 2016

        It’s a question only we can answer, and I believe it’s something we have to revisit every day. What’s the point in believing in ‘X’ if we can’t /live/ ‘X’? That would be no better than being a Catholic once a week during mass on Sunday.

        Liked by 1 person

    • But without it I’d also feel no dissatisfaction with the world 😉

      Like

      • acflory
        December 30, 2016

        Maybe I’m the result of some weird kind of DNA mix, but the one thing I do venerate is life, in all its forms. Each creature only gets one shot at it. That alone should make it precious. Yet, because we all possess the ability to lose it, at will, our unique, individual instance of life is the one thing we truly control. Why throw it away half-eaten?

        As for making a success of life, or living it well, that really MUST be down to each individual.

        Was it Plato who came up with the concept of Eudaimon? Or perhaps just refined it? I can’t remember, but the idea of lying on my death bed, looking back over my life and feeling /no regrets/ has been a powerful motivator for me. It’s something I aim for every day.

        I can’t comment about your life, Pinky, but one thing I regret about mine is that I was incapable of having what you and Mike have. I know it takes two to tango so the success of your marriage and the failure of mine isn’t all down to you or me, but I didn’t choose the right man. You did.

        That makes you a successful man in my book. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      • That was a rather wonderful and kind thing to say 🙂
        Mike and I are two very, very, unusual people. The way we live and think is strange to most people. But in one of those extraordinary strokes of luck our almost autistic ways of being are perfectly suited. Including sometimes suited to ignoring each other. But we know we both function better with the other’s input and assistance 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • acflory
        December 31, 2016

        -hugs- Exactly. And I envy you more than I can say. ‘Nough said. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. wcs
    December 30, 2016

    Life is real! life is earnest! Sing Polly Wolly Doodle all the day.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. john zande
    December 30, 2016

    It takes an extraordinary degree of courage to inflict life on someone.

    You are now officially admitted to the hallowed corridors of TOOAIN Apologist. We’re not demanding, but one Aggrovatics paper per year would be appreciated. The cognac and Pule is over there, next to Stephen Fry playing ping pong with Stephen Law.

    Liked by 2 people

    • But it’s true, isn’t it? Creating a life is practically an act of violence.

      Liked by 1 person

      • john zande
        December 30, 2016

        Indeed! To borrow from the work of some quiet genius who has too much fruit he knows what to do with it:

        “Is not this home—this biosphere where cunning and violence is rewarded, resources are frighteningly scarce, and security is never guaranteed—a nightmarish cage where every inmate is contracted by birth to prey upon the other in order to steal the proteins and fats and sugars and minerals they need just to stay alive one more day in what amounts to a daily apocalypse of obliged bloodletting?”

        Liked by 2 people

  6. makagutu
    December 30, 2016

    That was an interesting question to ask your parents. Is there a good answer to that question really?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think the answer is people should think much longer and harder before they decide to have children. It shouldn’t be an automatic step in the progression of a couple.

      Liked by 1 person

      • makagutu
        December 30, 2016

        I think for many people they just find themselves pregnant

        Liked by 1 person

      • Esme upon the Cloud
        January 4, 2017

        That’s hit the nail on the head. It shouldn’t be all about what they feel have a right to do, or want to do, but some serious thought as to how immense a decision it is truly is. Some people just pop them out like peas, regardless. I do not have children because it would be incredibly unfair on them for a variety of reasons that I’m not going in to, but that unfairness over-rides any amount of ‘want’ on my part. Many friends have told me I would make a fantastic mother, some say I am being selfish to deny a child such a great mother. They are morons. They do not ‘get it’ at all. And how could I possibly look after all my dear bloggers in the manner they are accustomed to with kiddiwinks running around demanding attention! *winks and laughs*.

        “I found it an imposition then as evidenced by the need for forceps. I still find it an imposition now- as evidenced by my distaste for mankind.” – I love this and felt/feel much the same. I only like a small handful of humans, the rest need to buck their ideas up!

        (I’m very glad they did choose to have you dearie; the mirror manufacturers alone would have been out of their jobs had you not been squeezed out – *pegs it fast*)

        -esme nodding in agreement whilst gargling salt in hot water and waving upon the Cloud

        Liked by 1 person

  7. KIA
    December 30, 2016

    Both self pity and self loathing are just pride turned inward. Life is indeed a gift. You are not the product of an act of violence. Your parents loved each other and they apparantly loved you. They should not be blamed to made to be somehow responsible for your current dissatisfaction with life and the world.
    I’m sorry Pink, but I think you’re being childish with your post and some of your comments. Life is a gift, it’s how you live it and what you do with it that is the gift you give back to those you love and the world.

    Like

    • Seriously? Okay. Let’s say a child is born in Somalia, ends up in a refugee camp. Endures hunger, poverty and rape. They contract AIDS and die by the time they’re in their early 20’s. Life is a gift?
      I can rearrange scenarios ad infinitum. A child is born in Iraq- in Syria- in El Salvador. What sort of gift is that?
      My point is the very creation of a life is the imposition of one’s will on another. There’s no consent in the process. That’s neither self-pity nor self-loathing it’s an observation on the technical reality of being.

      Liked by 1 person

      • KIA
        December 30, 2016

        Life as an imposition… to make others responsible for? Amazingly backwards thinking. Childishly self absorbed and narcissistic.

        Like

      • Responsible for the causation of life. Which part of that do you find confusing? When two people decide they have the right to make another endure life on this planet. Is the self-absorbed narcissist not the one who feels they have that right?

        Liked by 1 person

      • KIA
        December 30, 2016
      • That’s interesting- but you realise that’s a religious notion, right? It’s based on the unproven premise that life is “good”. That obviously cannot be the case given the dynamics of life on this planet. Life is good for some, less for others- but in essence we’re talking about a cycle of deterioration. You can put tinsel and colourful lights on that, and wishfully pretend it’s not so- but that’s a delusion along the lines of Christianity, or Tony Robbins.

        Liked by 1 person

      • KIA
        December 30, 2016

        Victimhood isn’t a way to live. It’s childish and stunting

        Like

      • I think you’re confused as to what I’ve written. I don’t claim to be a victim. I’m describing the dynamics of existence from the existentialist perspective. You’re making an argument without evidence. What proof do you have that life is generally good?

        Liked by 1 person

      • KIA
        December 30, 2016

        Life is life… Neither good or evil. Life is only some of what others make it for us, and mostly what we make or allow ourselves. It’s primarily in our hands

        Like

      • And you say this as a holocaust victim? One of the people who died in the Spanish civil war? Someone who lives in a refugee camp? You’re sounding more and more religious as you go. Entirely divorced from the realities of the world. It’s quite rare that people *choose* to starve.

        Liked by 1 person

      • KIA
        December 30, 2016

        You have a choice how you see and perceive life. If you choose to see yourself as the victim of the choices and actions of others, that is your choice.
        I disagree. Here my discussion with you on this issue must rest. I’ll leave you to your own.

        Like

      • That’s a delusional 1st world bourgeois perspective. Next you’ll be handing out flyers on how Oprah says anyone can become anything they want.
        It’s simply not true- not least of which because free will does not exist.
        And sure, someone can be tortured and close their eyes and pretend they’re dancing with Julie Andrews to the sound of music- but when they shock you, you’ll still feel the zap.

        Liked by 1 person

      • KIA
        December 30, 2016

        Personal responsibility is not an exclusively religious notion. My non christian/non religious dad was always telling us to own our own and never let anyone make us feel ‘less than’ for what we had or didn’t have, and we didn’t have a lot.

        Like

      • What you’re saying is different. You’re saying one person makes a decision and the other has the responsibility.
        Think of it in terms of a dog. You buy a dog, and then the dog is responsible for himself?

        Liked by 1 person

      • KIA
        December 30, 2016

        People are not dogs, and parents don’t have the same control over conception thru just having sex that pet owners do when they buy a dog.
        Two people cannot force a conception to happen, and in the majority of times people have sex, even without protection or contraception, pregnancy does not occur.
        Every time, 100 percent, when people buy a dog, they go home with a dog. Your premise of people creating life by imposing their own wills is flawed

        Like

      • So you mean having a dog is more of a decision than having a child? Because having a child isn’t actually a decision? Do you not see how that undermines your point.

        Liked by 1 person

      • KIA
        December 30, 2016

        No… you are misunderstanding again. It’s not more of a decision. Two people buying a dog is a sure thing, 100 percent of the time it’s going to happen, and it is the intentional decision and intention of these two people. Having sex and resulting in a conception is not the same at all.
        The two don’t necessarily intend on ‘creating’ a new life, and it actually happens in a small minority of the times two people have sex together. Your analogy is flawed

        Like

      • So creating a life without intent is somehow justified? And it means the people who created it bear no responsibility? The responsibility is somehow passed on to a newborn?

        Liked by 1 person

      • john zande
        December 30, 2016

        There’s no consent in the process.

        Oh, you are fast becoming a superb Aggravetic!

        Liked by 2 people

      • The Pink Agendist: Aggravating People Since 1978 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      • john zande
        December 30, 2016

        TOOAIN is please with this one 😉

        Like

      • How about this one: “You see a meadow rich in flower & foliage and your memory rests upon it as an image of peaceful beauty. It is a delusion … Not a bird that twitters but is either slayer or [slain and] … in every hedge & every copse battle murder & sudden death are the order of the day.” Huxley

        Liked by 2 people

  8. dpmonahan
    December 30, 2016

    When I was eight I sat my father down and had the following conversation with him:
    Me: Father, when I grow up I want to be just like you…
    Dad: I don’t know what to say, Son. I feel proud, yet humbled.
    Me: …. that way, I can have a son just just like me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • HA! I love it!!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • dpmonahan
        December 30, 2016

        Seriously though, looking at the other comments, I’ve long suspected the reason why atheism has become the default position – at least implicitly – in the modern world is that people are incapable of experiencing the world as being fundamentally good. Our mental categories force us to see it as neutral, with no inherent meaning or order, and something to be manipulated. Goodness and beauty become projections of the mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Interesting, but how could we possibly make this argument of universal goodness? I know it probably sounds harsh but lots of people have sort of miserable lives. Don’t you think?

        Like

      • dpmonahan
        December 30, 2016

        1) I don’t think there is an argument to be made one way or another, in the sense that you can prove the world is good, bad, or indifferent.
        2) People will interpret suffering – their own and others – by making recourse to their preexisting vision of the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      • But when you say “people are incapable of experiencing the world as being fundamentally good” doesn’t that presuppose that the world (or in this case life) is fundamentally good?

        Like

      • dpmonahan
        December 30, 2016

        No… you could say “pre-modern man was incapable of seeing the world as neutral”. Or, “the Gnostics could not conceive of the world as being anything but evil”.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m not sure I understand. Do you think life (rather than the world) is good or neutral? And if the answer is neutral, then how does one ascribe value to it?

        Like

      • dpmonahan
        December 30, 2016

        I think it (life/the world) is good, but I cannot make a demonstrative argument for it. It is at best a logically coherent interpretation.
        There are two other possible interpretations: life/the world is evil, or life/the world is neutral. These are usually unstated presumptions. Modern culture is largely predicated on the latter. The view that gave birth to the ancient dualist religions was that life/the world is evil.
        I suspect that modern man started looking at the world as neutral (sometime in the 16th century perhaps), and slowly lost the capacity to believe in God as a result.
        Belief in God is not a necessary result of seeing the world is good, but (again, I suspect) that seeing the world as good is a condition for belief in God. I may be wrong.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Hariod Brawn
    December 30, 2016

    So, you’re a Buddhist now?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Do I get to wear a costume?

      Liked by 2 people

      • Hariod Brawn
        December 30, 2016

        No, but you get to be whipped from behind by a rugged Zen master.

        Liked by 2 people

      • No thank you 😛

        Liked by 2 people

      • john zande
        December 30, 2016

        You do in the Aggravetics Club! We dress up as Roman Senators with giant red clown shoes.

        Liked by 3 people

      • Perfect!

        Liked by 3 people

      • P.S. here’s one you’ll like:
        “A baby black eagle if it is the second hatched in the nest–the beta chick–faces a life that is poor, nasty, brutish, and decidedly short. Its sibling, four to seven days older, greets it with repeated blows to the face and body. Each chirp or movement triggers another beating, whether the parents are present or not. At one nest, closely observed, the alpha chick delivered nearly three hundred pecks over beta’s first 24 hours, another six hundred during the second day, and more than six hundred on beta’s third and last day of life. By the end of day one, the victim was blood spattered about its face, beak, and eye; by day two its left eye was swollen shut; and by day three it lay weakly on the nest, awaiting death.” Scott Forbes, A Natural History of Families.

        Julie Andrews was nowhere to be seen!

        Liked by 3 people

      • john zande
        December 30, 2016

        David Attenborough:

        “People who accuse us of putting in too much violence, [should see] what we leave on the cutting-room floor.”

        Liked by 3 people

      • Wasn’t that also part of Bashar Al Assad’s speech to the UN? You should see his cutting room!

        Liked by 2 people

      • john zande
        December 30, 2016

        Applause!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Esme upon the Cloud
        January 4, 2017

        Yes a cape and a thong with flip-flops – all in bright orange!

        – esme getting out the sewing machne upon the Cloud

        Liked by 3 people

  10. tildeb
    December 30, 2016

    Okay, now that you understand that life is a terminal illness, now what?

    This is the part you get to fill in. And I think it’s pretty interesting so far. Especially the colour schemes! The ability to create is pretty cool.

    I agree that bringing forth human life should be the most serious creative undertaking we face. And so our reasons and goals matter very much. To bring forth human life with the same amount of planning as having a good bowel movement is hardly the stuff of creative genius. This reduces life merely to function without thought to form. Reducing the creation of human life only to its unguided biological function is like decorating a room by IKEA catalog: an act of barbarism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As a species we should have come up with better guide books by now! I tell myself that making a constructive contribution makes life make sense- to a degree I suppose it does?

      Liked by 1 person

      • tildeb
        December 30, 2016

        I think the act of creation and being responsible for it in everything we do matters far more than most people recognize. There is something deeply satisfying about creating that balance between form and function that leaves an indelible impression on a life well lived.

        As for guide books, I prefer myths. They are superlative teachers in how to live well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • john zande
        December 30, 2016

        Where have you been Tildeb, Branyan misses you

        Liked by 1 person

      • tildeb
        December 30, 2016

        Seventeen Christmas concerts have kept me pretty busy.

        As for JB, the guy’s not able to think for himself and acts like a petulant teenager. His take on Keller is a prime example. He refuses to accept evidence from reality contrary to his beliefs about it as in any way meaningful or useful so I feel my efforts are wasted on him.

        His daughter is a parrot and her mewling, obsequious tone in support of her Dear Old Dad offends me because she’s given up the independence of her mind in the service of pious obedience. And she’s just too snarky to those she perceives as threats for even me to like… which is saying something considering all the fragile egos and divas I have to deal with.

        So my time following conversations has been sporadic at best. I even made a bone-headed comprehension mistake earlier over at GC’s site because I didn’t take the time to understand the source before jumping in with my misplaced opinion with both feet… only to prove myself wrong. Great fun.

        Liked by 3 people

      • john zande
        December 30, 2016

        Well, at least you can admit it

        Like

      • You have exceptional patience to begin with. Often I look at a discussion and think the parameters are so off that it would just take too long to explain things to people. If you have to explain parameters before you can make a point, it’s an uphill battle; even when dealing with people who are perfectly nice.

        Liked by 3 people

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This entry was posted on December 29, 2016 by in life, thinking aloud and tagged , , , , , .
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