On Ambition

“If travel is searching and hope is what’s been found, I’m not stopping. I’m going hunting.”

Those are the stied lyrics from a bjork song, but they express my mood at the moment quite well. For an Oxbridge Cnut, I’m strangely unconcerned about wealth, and as for success

“Art not without ambition, but without

The illness should attend it”

Of course, my ego still cringes at being judged for being less than I am, so my current trawl through comics troubles me. I am a reader, a hunter of knowledge: like all mankind I have an ideal, ill-defined, doubtless contradictory, of who I want to be. (I also have an ideal of who the perfect person is, but thankfully I’m excluded for contending for that role. I’ll talk of that another time.)

And comics give me two problems. First, normally they give easy answers, monochrome morals are their field of expertise, puritanically idealist they romp through the carefully constructed artifices of the liberal mind, throwing to one side or another.

Already I feel my mental weakness growing, the need to buck authority (which I’ve never needed before, seeming to have a knack in that particular field. Amazing what a loose tongue, no dress sense and touch of sociopathy can do for your anarchist credentials) flourishing in the environs so arid of common sense. I am a pluralist, and this commitment to good and bad, doesn’t fit. My only commitment is to diversity of moral opinion, which comics ultimately cannot adhere to, because there’s no sticking ground to plant your banner, because their users need rigidity and solidity of opinion to support them, make them think they’re living those right lives again.

Secondly, there’s social connotations to comics, which do seem to fit the people who read them. Strange-looking, curiously angry introverted young men. I saw a cluster of them at the comic shop, and they reminded nothing more glibly than junkies needing their fix of irreality to get through the day. They were waiting for their delivery, the shaven headed stickman, the inappropriately besuited, bespectacled youth, and the grizzled veteran of many an inconclusive inkgod battle. Put simply, I don’t want to be that sort of person, the propped man, stuck on Dali’s crutch.

I know I have to choose. I remember Sartre in the Age of Reason says as much, when Mattieu, the lifelong philosopher who refused to choose finds himself stuck in a dull limbo created by that choice not to choose. We have one life to live, and refusing to choose is refusing to live. I will not go with the flow, slide with the tide. An Oxbridge Cnut I am, I shall try to hold back the tide no more, let the sea rush in, decorate the void.

Still I feel pain at the choice. It was difficult enough choosing this job, this aim over any other, the restriction of myself slashing at my ideal of who I could be, but to choose a personality, readjust my mindset which has been bulked up against the day of choosing, grown fat on ideas in the hope that I will be a better person, a less lazy person, one halycon day.

Maybe for another day will be saved my explication of why, and who I want to be but more urgent concerns are intruding, food and the like, and while I’m sure you’ll appreciate my reaching out, you’ll also appreciate the cessation of that reach. Till tomorrow then.


A thing you might note about my diatribes is is that I am totally motivated by ideas: the real world (as you’d call it) seems to intrude little: that’s cos I too am to some extent an idealist: but not in the normal sense, in the sense that I believe the imeediate objects of our perception are so carefully refined by our automatic processes, and filtered through the rest of our biological structure, that what is left from the outside is indistinct and ultimately indeterminate.

It’s just an opinion though.

Introduction by analogy.

I remember that Rouseeau used to drone on about the great library in Alexandria, y’know the world’s ultimate repository of knowledge, lost for millenia: just another one of those great creations of mankind that are meant to be floating around somewhere.

Anyway his version of the story was that when the turks or the ottomans or whoever invaded egypt and captured the city, the great general, let’s call him Pashmina, messaged his boss, the Sultan, asking what to do with the library, it being the end of all ends, magnificent jewel of orient, etc. The sultan (let’s call him Mohair – this story needs a little life), Mohair says, has this library got anything more than the Koran in it? And has it got anything less than the Koran in it?

“Of course” Pashmina goes, “yes, of course it does: It’s gotta have one or the other, basic logic innit, me ol’ cocka sparra.” (Sorry about the cockney accent but in my experience most pashminas are seen in the east end)

‘Ah’ says Mohair

“Ah?” says Pashmina “guv?” (continuity of character – that’s what I admire in a two-thousand year-old turk. Oh, and a respect for personal space.)

“Well, if the library contains anything beyond the Koran, it must be burnt as blasphemous” says Mohair,

“I think I can see where this is going” says Pashmina “do you mind if I pop to the loo while you finish the story?”

“Not at all. And if it contains anything less than the koran…”

“ah…yes..?”, says Pash’s voice, echoing slightly from his position in the porcelain tabernacle

“…there’s no point keeping it: waste is a sin, and paper makes a good fire.”

“right.” Pasmina says, as he emerges from the land of ablutions, tugging tight his drawstring pants “you weren’t one of those kids who used to use magnifying glasses on crickets were you?”

“Off with your head” says Sultan Mohair

“You can’t chop off my head! I’m merely an illustrative tool used by a 21st century layabout to represent the thought processes of a seventeenth century philosophe” Sez Pashmina, fading back into the ether…

The point is, Rousseau said, this is all academic, the sultan was completely wrong, the library should have been preserved for future generations, it belongs in a museum, etc.

But Rousseau said also said that if they’d been talking about the bible, the sultan would have been spot on.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that this is my blog. It’s meant to hold all my thoughts, feelings, etc. (though at this rate I may have to build an extension). Values are malleable, they’re individual, and you and I have gotta accept that there’s no right and wrong in them. I just hope that accepting that, you also manage to enjoy my exegesis a little more than most.

Oh by the way: