Lost in Dreams of Arthur and Gawain

Yes. Our industrial journey has been interrupted by oblivion. That is simple truth. Deny it, or accept it. Of course, every government of every developed economy denies it. So, we in those economies, must quietly embark at the next station, or otherwise grab our driver; pilot; politician by the lapels and force her to stop the train. Strangely, most people prefer to stay on the train and inside their accustomed route, others would also stay on the train (most academics), but attempt to slow it down. Slightly less would stay on the train, but force it to stop, they think, by the force of powerful argument – that is the rest of academics.
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Those last would remain on the stopped train but deny the human consequence of universally stopped trains – total collapse of the rail system – of wages, tax revenues, both hard and social infrastructures…
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Only a very few would alight at the next station – abandoning the train for quite another sort of journey.
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Those of us who alight at the next station can build a settlement without a train track to the future – to oblivion. We can live, at last in the present – like all life on Earth – responding and adapting to be one small part of the greater whole.
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Meanwhile, every green NGO paces the coach corridors, raising subscriptions and persuading people to lobby their MPs to green the locomotive’s energy supply and also to slow it down – sometimes they do mention that oblivion lies ahead. Yet fast, or slow, in time the train will arrive at Oblivion Station and then disappear – its insubstantial pageant faded…
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Those who alight from the train are rather like the out-landers of Huxley’s Brave New World, or E M Forster’s, The Machine Stops. But they have a long literary and pre-literary tradition, depicted by Morris, Thoreau, Ruskin, Smith, Clare, Coleridge, Blake, Gray, Goldsmith – by the Diggers and Levellers – by Marvel, Herrick, by Milton (sort of), Shakespeare, Jonson, Sydney, Raleigh (and co), then we jump to Virgil and several others and then again to legends of the green wood and of pre-enclosure days going back deep into the Bronze Age – running counter to Tales of warrior heroes – Arthur, Cuchulainn, Hector, Achilles…
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Of course, most of the above remained on the train, dreaming of stepping off. You may be surprised to learn that I think the tracks were first laid in the late Bronze Age (about 1,500 BC), when “land pressures” first sprung ideas of property (enclosure) and the necessity for warrior elites to defend it.
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The counter tales were of The Garden; of green-wood gods; of sacred sites – mountains, springs – the deities of the common and of ancestors.
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Warrior elites are stupid – they use power, not senses. The train track is stupid. It uses power, not the senses.
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In the late Bronze Age, we lost the battle with stupidity and we have lost it ever since.
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Today, we will lose the battle again. Fighting is pointless. As many of those writers have suggested, we leave the battlefield – turn our backs, cross the tracks and walk away – didn’t our mothers always tell us that? We all know the train will run out of track and will hang, for just a moment, on empty air…
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As David Jones said of his rifle – Leave it, leave it under the oak. Leave it for Jerry and the salvage bloke… Though he was lost in dreams of Arthur and Gawain…
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2 Responses to Lost in Dreams of Arthur and Gawain

  1. Michelle says:

    I agree, late Bronze Age patriarchal culture is where we really started getting lost in fantasy worlds. Can you enlighten me on the David Jones reference? I have a cultural lacuna… 🙂

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    • bryncocyn says:

      Hi Michelle, it’s from In Parenthesis (1937) – a long Arthurian/Roman poem about the trenches in 1915, where David Jones “served” as a young man. He’ll come straight up on google. He’s a working class, extremely erudite Catholic Londoner, who later followed his longing – for Wales, solitude and the “Celtic” West. Probably, critics would label him “visionary”. He’s also famous as a painter – mostly water colours. Now, you and I could not afford them!

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