The Beauty Things and Grenfell Tower

We have precious things. Whom do we show as we bring them to the light? – not the powers. We shield them from the powers. The powers have little to do with the beautiful or loved.
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Such things are passed down families and shared in deep friendship. Once upon a time precious bones were displayed in our roundhouses and now precious memories and stories are enough to vivify ancestral morals – lessons in living – we show the relics to new times and places and new times and places to the relics.
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In that sense, filial codes are things – objects, not thoughts – to be brought out in intimacy – quietly viewed and turned over.
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Can politics, or commerce touch them? Of course not. And we do not explain them either, or they shatter with the physics of reason – sacred shattered by profane.
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Once upon a time, an ancestor offered a precious thing to the water. Such gifts connect us. We are fed by the connection and also obliged. It is singular. Singularity makes the whole. My life completes the whole.
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So, the connection is deeper than reason – than pragmatism which is bound to time. We must be pragmatic, but we are also timeless, flowing humanity.
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Debt is the temporal converse to timeless obligation. We pay rent for property, money and the mere status of rentiers (GPs, dentists, lawyers…). Our mortgages are but land rents paid to the bank. All that money is idle. It makes nothing. The lawyer contributes only to the point of a fair wage – for the rest, we pay rent for parasitic enclosure – her status as lawyer.
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We are obliged to ancestral gifts. They create the common, which maintains assets where power cannot tread. Alan Garner tells us, of the obliging gifts of a friend – the passing on of what his friend called, the beauty things. Here’s a thing – the beauty things are not idle. They conjure codes of proper behaviour and revive the flow of good living – of humanity herself. And the common, unlike the enclosure, is never idle. It is a river – even though enclosure can dam the flow and suck the pool dry into idle and hoarded rentier wealth.
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In a sense, the common accumulates another form of debt – that to ancestors and descendants – so that we are obliged to act out remedies to diminishing commons. Two competing forms of debt, are firstly, rent for enclosure, which saps cultural activity and secondly, obligation to the beauty things, which revive cultural embers, stimulate reason and compel remedial actions. We should be more obliged to ancestors and descendants than to the violent demands of enclosure and rent. Descendants will know of dying soils, swelling atmospheric CO.2, squandered resources and cascading species loss.
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Grenfell Tower is a distilled image of what Britain has become – a bonfire, not only of regulation, but of probity, conviviality, moral commons, community… “Beauty, truth & rarity, grace in all simplicity here enclosed in cinders lie…” Be the Phoenix”, says the message of the beauty things.
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Yes. We are closer to William Shakespeare and his beauty things than to Theresa May – and he, closer to us. Pass it on. I hope the dreams of those terribly consumed by that bon/mal-fire fire of regulation, also pass on in those who understood them. Now we have a massive, accumulating surplus of ugly things as we wildly burn millions of years of what was once quietly-sequestered photosynthesis. We, not the powers, must end the burning and then pass beauty things to the waters.
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