An English In Kentucky


















 Saturday June 4th 2016Tim Candler9


       There are times, and June is particularly prone to them, when those of us who dabble in the fantasy world through the medium of pulp reach an impasse that's caused by temptation to ramble around in a loose and moronic manner hopefully looking for insight into the nature of being a genuine hero as opposed to some shade of super hero for whom it's more about an ordination to a ministry which I'm inclined to call propaganda. It's the case too that many have read and enjoyed Laurence Sterne, one of his titles runs roughly The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. The account is most certainly a rambling around, no question about it. It's a funny, and very readable march through the days of a man's life in the first half of the Eighteenth Century. The author was called Laurence Sterne, he was an Anglican, or Protestant, Clergyman, born in Ireland, who if he had a point to make in no sense was that point a serious point and he thoroughly enjoyed making it. Stern was accused of plagiarism, stole from Bacon it was claimed and there was much huffiness in the higher court that dogged Sterne during his own time on earth, not so much now days. The Good Soldier Svejk, was another such genuine hero in my view. Svejk life was written by Jaroslav Hasek, a former Proudhon type Anarchist, who'd been a soldier himself in the World War One Austrian Hungarian Army, and following the defeat did briefly find sterling work as a commissar for the early Soviets before returning home to Czechoslovakia where he engaged in heavy drinking and over eating to such an extent he had to dictate most of his masterpiece.



      The other side of this temptation is the nature of fiction. If a person were to go back to the beginnings of language in our species most of our knowledge and understanding of ourselves would have been through stories, some of them true, some of them not true. This argument suggests that however useful language is, it nonetheless has actually detached us from the real world in which we live, and it's done this by us telling stories, not all of them in books, a great many billion more from person to person. In one sense stories promote possibilities, they encourage a mind to believe in what might otherwise be thought impossible, and they can be very affirming for a creature that does seem require some sort of affirmation. But in another sense they encourage us to believe that we are something we might not and never will be. My own understanding will insist that our societies would not function as they are currently arranged without stories. So it's very much a luxury to be able to enjoy the Good Soldier Svejk, he was described as a congenital idiot who had never quite grasped that the military life as well as war was anything much more than a disagreement in a bar. Always interesting that a former propaganda writer, or commissar, should arrive at such a hero. And with Laurence Sterne, his Tristram Shandy had been doomed to a life of woe consequent to the misfortunate accident of his birth, during labor his mother asked his father whether he'd remembered to wind the clock, an ill omen if ever there was one and subsequent events such as his accidental circumcision while relieving himself out of the window. Either way our own hero can sometimes preach a little and it's just not right. 


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