CARPE DIADEM

Roman poet Horace, who gave us the phrase 'carpe diem' - 'seize the day'

Below are short extracts from the forthcoming half autobiography/half novel/half not sure what it really is “Carpe Diadem” by MATTHEW AMADEUS DEVEREUX, set in Woking, England.   The extracts are preceded by some very freeform translations of Roman poetry, a synopsis of the novel, an outline of the plot, and lots of chattering and waffling and twittering.  One of the sections of chitter-chatter is my speechless speech giving away a potential Nobel Prize for Literature to 735 women.  It was inspired by the work of Boris Leonidovich Pasternak (Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к).

None of the images here are by me, but all the text is.

Publishers, literary agents and members of the general public – please contact me at devereux5000@gmail.com or 07974971737 (UK) or at Skype at devereuxmatthew.  I am also at Facebook.  To publishers: I have got some illustrators, writers, graphic designers and computer games programmers in mind for potential collaborations on the interactive versions of the book based on the kind of ideas that Marcus du Sautoy in the UK “Guardian” newspaper, amongst others, have discussed.   I would be honoured to hear from you.  I am offering a multiple book deal.  As well as “Carpe Diadem”, I will throw in “Chess Fantasia“, “The Gambler: a Dostoevskyian-Shakespearian-Reiszian Take on the 2010 World Cup“, “The Haiku World Cup” and my forthcoming series of books “Class” about social class from the English Civil War period to the 21st century.   There is also a potential book of essays out of the 101 questions at the Forebroadcast Project by Devereux & Onians television productions.  I also have a couple of poetry collections, including the Odes of Mars, a post-Samuel Johnsonian dictionary of the 21st century English language and notebooks for historical fiction called Money along with my philosophical concept of the Devereuxian Uncertainty Principle and my philosophy of “It is always being done”-ism which is opposed to the nihilism and cynicism of “It cannot be done”-ism.

CARPE DIADEM

PROLEGOMENA (INTRODUCTORY COMMENTS)

As the team of Monty Python’s Flying Circus used to put it, and now for something completely different.  Or as a carping critic might put it, and now for something completely indifferent.  Or as an economist might put it, and now for something completely indifferently curved.

This website of extracts from Devereux’s forthcoming novel “Carpe Diadem” will begin with a freeform translation of one line from a poem by the Roman poet Horace also known as Qunitus Horatius Flaccus.

CARPE DIEM QUAM MINIME CREUDLA POSTERO” – “Arise and shineSeize the day.  Grab the day by the short and curlies.  Don’t sit about moping and stewing. Get on with it.  Go for it.  Go full force. Get off your backside.  Take control of your life.  Express yourself. Don’t hide your light under a bushel.  Sport! Gambol!  Frolic!  Have funDon’t mourn the past and don’t fear the future!  Don’t panic about where you are going to be in five years’ time: just take one step after another and you’ll be in the right place in five years’ time.  If you’re fearing where you’ll be in five years’ time you’ll fall over when you take your next step.  The meaning of life is simple: don’t worry about the meaning of life. Stop fretting about it, it’s just the number 42.  Stop fretting about the meaning of it and enjoy it instead!  Create your own reality. Make your world extraordinary.  Take no heed of the negativity of others: they are just trying to project their own problems on to other people as an attempt to solve them by dumping them on to somebody else, which doesn’t work, particularly when their projections bounce off you when you bounce positivity back to them.   Stay focused on your own path and share the positivity of others on their paths.  Everybody is an artist and your life is your creation.  If you were Michelangelo, would you cover the Sistine Chapel of your life with silly doodles of worries about the future and rubbish drawings of sad feelings that have passed into the past?  Your life is your creation : why make it anything other than a masterpiece?  Start this second: in delay there lies no plenty.” (a 21st century freeform translation of Quintus Horatius Flaccus, along with John Keating/Robin Williams in Dead Poet’s Society)

“NEW DAY RISING” – Husker Du

SYNOPSIS

Woking Library, where the manuscript was written, looking a bit on the rotunda side. http://www.flickr.com/photos/buhsnarf/2533476011/

Alfred Nobel, whose prize the narrator of "Carpe Diadem" lusts after as a salve for his underlying insecurities and inferiority complexes and anxieties of influence

The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook” tells me I am unlikely to get my work published without a synopsis of it which includes a discussion of what literary genres it can be included in.  So – deep breath – here goes.  “Carpe Diadem” is a philosophical thriller, a self-help manual, a meditation on writer’s block and how to overcome it through the concept of ‘mushin‘ (無心) or no-mindedness and attain creative flow and uncover the uncarved block instead, a comedy of manners, a comedy of errors, a burlesque comedy, a pastoral comedy, a satirical comedy, a comedy horror, a black comedy, a black and white comedy (but hopefully not too grey a comedy), a picaresque, a picturesque, a semi-autobiography with a Gulliverian unreliability in the narrative, a melodrama, a parody, a stream-of-consciousness story, a chap lit novel and a potboiler.  It is also one of those books that blends an ‘eastern’ philosophy, in this case Zen Buddhism, with a ‘western’ setting and perspective and a tiny spattering of watered-down neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) as a way of exploring how the left and right brain hemispheres can be united and harmonised in a similar fashion: Zen and the Archery of Writing meets Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  It is a discussion on how concepts such as Mihaly Csikszentmihayli’s idea of flow can be applied at a wider level to make our societies more sane, as Erich Fromm might have put it.  Also, it is none of these things, as Jacques Derrida might put it, if he was feeling in a particularly deconstructive mood that day. Really it is just some theses meeting some antitheses in a bar, falling in love with each other, going home and making love, giving birth to some syntheses, which then become a thesis or an antithesis themselves, round and round and round, ad infinitum.  Which is really the only bit of self-help and neuro-lingustic programming you will find in the whole book: stop reading the book, go and fall in love, go and make love with the person you fall in love with and enjoy every single nano-second of it.  What more advice do you need than that?  And didn’t you know it all along anyway without needing a cauliflower like me to tell you?  But please buy the book anyway, even though,  like all texts, the rest of it is just a little bit of knitting, and this one wasn’t even done by Penelope in Ithaca as she awaited the return of Odysseus.

PLOT

Frankly, both the author and the narrator of the story lost the plot long ago, so it’s a bit rich to start talking about plots, particularly when the book is non-linear in its plot (has it been possible to write a linear plot since Mandelbrot, as Fritjof Capra didn’t put it?) – but anyway, the Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook tells me that I might struggle to get a book deal without a plot exposition, so – deep breath – here goes.

“Carpe Diadem”, which means “seize the crown”, and is named in honour of John Peel and John Peel, is a meditation on getting older.  The author and narrator are both called Matthew and both live in Woking and are both 32 and since passing thirty years old have both been feeling antiquated and in danger of not passing anything of any great merit on to the world or, indeed, of becoming either a Great Man Of History (GMOH) or a Great Writer (GW).  It mocks the desire of men to be considered as Odyssean Great Men (OGM) and suggests there might be just a touch of God complex in those ambitions (OMG) and a serious lack of a Good Sense Of Humour in them too (GSOH).  It lampoons the very notion that one literary text can be judged as ‘better’ than another and the consequent desire to be awarded prizes such as the Nobel Prize for Literature.  It explores the feelings of loss and nostalgia and failure and impending death and the vanity-of-all-things that can accompany aging, particularly when one discovers oneself hitting 30 and being a Complete And Utter Loser (CAUL) or, even worse, a Complete And Utter Loser, Idiot, Failure (CAULIF) or, even worse, a Complete And Utter Loser In Fundamentally Lots Of Ways & Enormous Rankweed (CAULIFLOWER).  Going past 30 and discovering that one is

"Congratulations! You just won the Nobel Prize" / "Congratulations! You just lost the Nobel Prize". A dynamite cartoon from the stable of Drew and Natalie Dee. http://www.sharingmachine.com/about.php

a CAULIFLOWER is particularly galling when one is trying to attract a Woman who is Inspiring, Successful and Powerful (WISP).   So “Carpe Diadem” is, in part, a dissection of the search for lost time when one no longer feels as Inspiring, Successful and Powerful (ISP) as one once felt oneself to be, and along with that the search for a sane mind and body in an often insane world (mens sana in corpore sano).  It is a meditation on moving beyond feelings of loss and failure to live, instead, in the present moment and to accept and enjoy the infinite bounty of each single moment of existence and the discovery of joy in the impermanence (無常) of all things.   It also includes a lot of bad jokes and puns and plays on words that are a cocked snook at a world that seemed to lose about 67% of its sense of humour down the back of the sofa during the course of the Noughties decade.  It involves the story of a frustrated 32 year old writer/loser/underground man called Matthew who has been sent by his social workers and care-in-the-community co-ordinators to a writing circle in Woking run by a 70 year old woman called Doris.  Doris tries to force Matthew to write chick lit and get rid of his propensity for long words and allusions to Roman poetry as anything else, according to Doris, has no commercial future.  He spars with another member of the writing circle, Mick, in a classic example of males butting heads against each other for no purpose.  He desperately dreams of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature for his book “Carpe Diem” and selling more copies of his book than J.K.Rowling and Harper Lee put together.  But who will win the Nobel Prize for Literature after all: Matthew, Mick or Doris?  And will Matthew ever manage to overcome his Messiah complex, his Napoleon complex, his addiction to coffee and his insomnia, his genius envy and his manic bipolar stagflation disorder and his debt deflationary spiral and his anxiety of influence from his delusions of grandeur and his far-too-great expectations and give up stewing about external prizes and become happy in himself?  Will he learn to integrate all the aspects of his psyche and the Walt Whitmanesque multitudes that he contains, stop worrying about whether he and Virginia Woolf have or had multiple personality disorder, stop worrying in general (though not necessarily learn to love the bomb) and turn himself into a fully functioning member of society and pay his council tax bill on a regular basis, perhaps even with a pre-arranged direct debit attached to a genuine and properly functioning bank account?  Will Matthew graduate from his MADness to a Good Sense Of Humour (GSOH), General State of Health (GSOH), Good Salary Own House (GSOH) and, perhaps most importantly of all, Good Standard of Hygiene (GSOH)?   Will Matthew ever learn what the word ‘dasein’ is and stop lazily thinking it is the German word for ‘design’?  Most importantly of all, will anyone actually care about Matthew’s evolution to genuine member of society or will they be far too busy seizing their own day to give a flying fish about what happens in Matthew’s poxy little existence on planet Mirth?

 

M.C.Escher: Mobius Strip

It also includes an astral travel scene and, in honour of H.G.Wells, a time travel scene where Leo Tolstoy and Lao Tzu are having a beer in a stripclub called the Mobius Stripclub and discussing whether the universe is jam doughnut-shaped or made out of a string vest and whether or not the music of the spheres can be heard synaesthetically and the gender politics of stripclubs in relation to the gender pay gap and whether or not DNA is actually mobius-shaped rather than double helix-shaped.  Spinning the disks on the decks at the Mobius is MC Escher.  And the world of “Carpe Diadem” also includes a mysterious new search engine called Gogol which is trying to take over the world and infect it with a plague of high culture and lofty ideas and principles (is it possible to write anything in the 21st century without at least one incidental conspiracy theory lilting away in the background like muzak in a lift?).  The Mobius Stripclub segments have been included purely so that the publishers, agents, PR men and women, marketing operatives, fluffers and flappers can market the book to fans of Douglas Adams.  In that spirit, there is also a scene where somebody goes into a kitchen but can’t remember why.

It also contains references to a word-based theme park involving geodesic domes along a similar model as the Eden Project in Cornwall.  The references to the theme park are based on a mixture of Tim Smit’s Tinkerbell Theory and George Soros’s reflexivity theory: is it possible for a word-based theme park involving geodesic domes to actually get built in reality just by including references to it in a book called “Carpe Diadem” and by including a theme park-based segment in the interactive version of the book “Carpe Diadem”, like the classic computer game “Theme Park” by Bullfrog or a literature and interactive tie-in such as the recent “Great Gatsby” videogame by Big Fish?  In other words, is it possible to change reality just by getting enough people to perceive a different reality being possible and to think a touch more Panglossianically rather than quite so pessimistically?  Or is there not quite such a simple relationship between reality and Idealism?

There are incidental walk-on parts for Sigmund Freud, Carl Sagan, Carl Jung, Arthur Schopenhauer, Les Dawson and Alfred Nobel, amongst many many others.

Although the plot is as non-linear as a Lorenz attractor, the book is written in traditional linear textual form without any hyper-links.  I have added some hyper-links to the extracts below.  After the book is published, there is obviously the potential for tie-ins such as online versions which do have hyper-links as well as online films, games, and so on.  Marcus ‘Marquis’ du ‘Sauteed potato’ Sautoy is bang on the money about literature and apps in the 21st century and frankly I would be happy to siphon up a few crumbs from the cake, as Judy McCoy in Wolfe’s “Bonfire of the Vanities” might put it.  If somebody in Japan wants to put my book on a mobile phone, godspeed to them, as long as we can work out a decent royalty package so that my council tax bill can get sorted.

SPIEL

Saul Bellow, author of "Seize the Day". Bellow is the buck standing up with hands in his pockets, not the old denizen with the amazing facial expression at bottom right. Image: "New York Times"

Two elements of J.K.Rowling‘s successful schitchk were that she initially wrote her work as an unknown in a cafe along with a train motif (hence there now being a platform 9 and three quarters at King’s Cross station, London).  For my schitchk, the work was written as an unknown in a library (in Woking, which is a town south of London in England in Britain) and I will choose a bicycle motif.  It would be nice to have some sort of bicycle-related Carpe Diadem naming process in Woking one day in the future, although my editors might have to remove a lot of the waffling and general infantilism from the manuscript before such an event is likely to occur.  There is a lovely Martian statue dedicated to H.G.Wells in town, and a Mars trail for bikes, so maybe – if I am lucky enough – there could be some kind of special Carpe Diadem bike trail in the area.

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may" - John William Waterhouse, 1909

Another of my bits of schitchk is that I wrote the almost 80,000 words of the first draft in ten days.  That sounds good, in a culture that celebrates the hare over the tortoise, and I think it’s even faster than Kerouac’s blitzed writing of “On The Road“, but the real truth is that it has taken me 32 years to even begin to get round to writing this book, so while ten days sounds pretty hot, 32 years sounds distinctly more refrigerated.  And even though I think those 80,000 words are now ready to rock and roll faster than Bill Haley on Halley’s comet, a meticulous editor with a crimson red pen and a distaste for relentless and unimaginative waffling might not exactly see eye-to-eye on the matter, particularly if they think that “Carpe Diadem” is too pretentious a name for the book and that it should be called something like “The Book of Matthew” instead, which in my opinion is a bit rich since it rips off the Bible and Will Self’s “The Book of Dave” at the same time.

J.K.Rowling described the “Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook” as answering all the questions she had.  I almost agree, though I haven’t found that the WAY has answered all my questions, for example the ones that arrive late at night like harbingers of death and destruction in an Edgar Allan Poe story – “why the hell am I here?” and “is there a God?  And if not, shall I put £5 on Pascal’s Wager to win the Grand National anyway?” and “how the hell am I going to pay that council tax bill that is now so late that it is gathering massive compound interest – or shall I just change my name and pretend to be a woman by wearing a wig and sticking some mascara on and putting two balloons under my jumper and then run away and settle permanently in a Thoreau cabin in the woods next to a fjord in Norway?” and “what on earth is the WAY forward in my career?  Should I really carry on offering my body for medical trials, cleaning churches on the national minimum wage, walking celebrity’s dogs in London parks and putting nails into boxes in factories, all just to fund some vague creative dream I have of being a writer even though when I write something at night it seems amazing and then the next day when I look at it it looks absolutely appallingly awful?”

Still, in literary terms, the WAY is superb.  I’ve been reading it for 20 years and have asked it more questions than a medieval Chinese scholar asking the I Ching what the weather is going to be like in the next few years.   One thing it does suggest is getting somebody famous to endorse your book or provide a quotation about it.  In the absence of that, I will quote an unnamed family member who described it as “not exactly ‘Sophie’s World‘ for adults”.

It is composed of 64 chapters, the numbers of squares on a chessboard or the number of hexagrams used in the I Ching system, which is (I think) an element within the Glass Bead Game created by Herman Hesse, a novel which had an explosive effect upon me as a teenager.  I have included the opening paragraph from four of those 64 below.

CARPE DIADEM (EXTRACTS)

Warning: contains some elements of post-modernism along with watered-down and half-digested Zen (particularly do not read if you are not pregnant as can harm the unborn child’s face)

Warning: contains nuts (as well as nutcases and nutters)

Warning: reading this will limit your chances of being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature (writing it certainly has)

Please note: this is not an international bestseller that has sold in excess of 40 million copies and anybody that tells us that it is is suffering from Mendacity Disorder (or might be somebody who works in marketing)

Warning: the author of this book suffers from Literary Audacity Disorder (LAD) as well as Unreliable Narrator Syndrome (UNS).  Buying his work may make him even more audacious, unreliable and LADdish.

CHAPTER ONE: ABANDON DOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE

or:

GREAT EXPECTATIONS (of the 21st century variety)

This is the happiest story I have ever heard.

From childhood, what I most feared was mediocrity.  Not monsters, but mediocrity.  From childhood, I had this sense of greatness – impending greatness, that all my life was a preparation for greatness, for great actions, for a life that would be lived in public, where my name would be famous, would be known worldwide, would be passed to posterity.  I always knew that my name would become famous through my writing.  From the first moment that I was handed books, both from family and at school, I found myself entering a level of consciousness and concentration that was deeper than anything I had ever experienced.  There was, for me, always something powerful and special about the written word and its relationship to reality: the way that it seemed to exist in these books, which were a kind of sacred hallway, a temple, to another world; and also, by a paradox I could not understand, those words and the secret tunnels and passageways they led me on to the that other world seemed to then illuminate the everyday world and show, as brightly and clearly as possible, that the everyday world is a place of illumination, eternity, absolute and infinite clarity and lucidity, that the infinite, the limitless, the boundless exists within each tree, rock, stone, grain of sand on the beach, each human face.  And I always knew that it was my destiny to work with words simply to remind people of what we all know as babies and as children and what we find innumerable ways to forget as adults: that the other world, the world of dreams, the world of visions, the world of illumination is the real, and that the idea of ‘reality’, a denuded, desertified place devoid of deeper meaning – that idea is the greatest illusion of all.  For some reason so much of everyday life seems to want to crush that true understanding of the world out of us, seems to want to desecrate the lily and the lotus within, seems to want to trample it, and seems to want to uphold that disillusioned idea of reality.  It is called, often, realism.  Really, it is illusionism, and the very worst kind – the most cynical, nihilistic, malevolent of all, for it strips away the love that covers every single atom of existence and tells people that that love is not there at all.  It is, therefore, the worst kind of myth-making, and all the worst because it masquerades itself as the opposite of myth-making, as the cold, hard, naked truth.  It’s only as truthful as a jackboot trampling on a human face forever.  In other words, not real at all: just an idea, and an idea created by people who have serious family issues to deal with, or other forms of maladjustment.  Apologies for writing the phrase “serious family issues”.  The word “issues” has been rather overused in recent years.  I would like to see a bit more reverence for the word ‘issues’ and for it not to be bandied around quite so freely and loosely all the time.  I might organise some sort of civil rights march for the word ‘issues’.  Involving me, and a home-made placard, and a speech that is not exactly MLK class.  The international media conglomerates will be all over it like plague.

……….

CHAPTER TWO: WELCOME TO THE WOKING WRITING CIRCLE.  ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE.

It is absolutely not possible to write anything great at all when you have a creature with purple fur in the corner of your room heckling every single word that you write.  The creature with the purple fur will, for example, read the sentence “It is absolutely not possible to write anything great at all when you have a creature with purple fur in the corner of your room heckling every single word that you write” and all the way through the process of you writing it it will be heckling: hollering and yelling, laughing and sniggering, guffawing and giggling like a pack of adolescents mocking a schoolteacher who they have identified as one of those weak teachers that is incapable of exerting any kind of discipline, structure, order in the classroom; one of those teachers who seems to have a specific aura of chaos shimmering around them, and a halo of chaos which adolescents seem to have some form of bizarrely well-attuned radar or antennae that allows them firstly to identify it and secondly to exploit it if they feel that they are being educated in a fashion which is doing little more than preparing them for the exploitation and institutional crushing of the soul of the adult world that adolescents can smell ahead of them.  For Socrates (Greek philosopher, not Brazilian footballer) education was a process of something akin to unlearning: rather than seeing the students as jars that had to be filled with knowledge, he depicted the process as being one of emptying the students to help them recover what they knew all along.  A version, in another framework of thought, of the idea of the Uncarved Block.  Now in that system, it isn’t really the case that time flows in a linear fashion from past to present to future: instead of remembering the past, for instance, what we do is remember our futures, uncover them, uncover our lives, unpeel the layers of them; for our lives are all there, ahead of us, in existence already, and all we need to do is get out of the way of them, stop putting obstacles in the way of them, and let them breathe, and let them simply be.

CHAPTER THREE: THE ISLAND

Something extremely odd has happened to me this week.  Firstly, I have written over 20,000 words in the past two and a half nights.  That in itself is odd because I have been more blocked in recent years than Italo Calvino just before If on a winter night, a traveller… popped out.  Now I realise that equating literary production to childbirth is likely to cause offence to women.  Childbirth looks monumentally painful to me.  So painful that I would rather prefer, like those old-school men back in History, to be absolutely nowhere near any childbirth that I might be complicit in.  I realise that discussing such an aversion might be rather too private; perhaps I should keep my opinions on that matter to myself at this juncture.  It would be healthy, for instance, for me to discuss such a perspective with a woman that I am in a relationship with in the future.  As long as she is not a blow-up doll, an imaginary friend, a robot or an avatar, it seems probable that she is likely to have Opinions, and that it would be prudent for me, if I wish to have a Successful And Harmonious Relationship (SAHR) with her, to Listen To Her Opinions (LTHO) and then Bear Those Opinions In Mind When Making Decisions About What I Should Do In Life Even When I Personally Do Not Necessarily Agree With Them – Not Simply Follow Her Opinions Slavishly Because I Myself Will Obviously Need To Maintain My Independence Of Thought But At The Same Time Achieve The Balance Of Maintaining Independence Of Thought Whilst Blending My Opinions With Hers In Order To Create A Stable And Fulfilling And Harmonious Relationship (BTOIMWMDAWISDILEWIPDNNAWTNSFHOSBIMWONTMMIOTBATSTATBOMIOFWBMOWHIOTCASAFAHR).  Incidentally, to any editors of trashy magazines out there, whether targeted primarily at men, women, people of various sexual subcultures, or the infirm – I am perfectly willing to package up the Relationship Wisdom (RW) that exists in this paragraph into a package a bit like a derivative package, such as a collateralised debt obligation (CDO) or special investment vehicle (SIV) and write it in an article for your magazine.  My rates are extremely low indeed and I generally send in on deadline though often in the wrong file format and quite often, if I am honest, not on deadline at all.    I can be contacted at devereux5000@gmail.com.  Also, to any Welsh people out there – if you require new long place names, I am your man.  I can give Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlllantysiliogogogoch a run for its money any day of the goddam week.

PART FOUR: THE ISLAND

Once upon a time there was an island.  The island was in the Mediterranean.  The Mediterranean Sea is named the Mediterranean because the Romans called it the Mediterranean.  Mediterranean in Latin means ‘middle earth’.  Not the Middle Earth of Tolkein.  And not chuugoku either, which means ‘China’ in Japanese, and literary means Middle Kingdom or middle country.  But anyway – middle earth, or really middle of the earth, because from the Roman perspective, the Mediterranean Sea was in the middle of the earth.  But here we run into perspective problems – and this is something that people doing postcolonial studies will be able to tap into – because what one culture thinks is the middle of the world differs from the next.  In ancient Greek culture, the middle of the world was meant to be the Delphic oracle, which was known as the ‘omphalos’ which, if I recall correctly, can be translated as something close to ‘belly-button’.  I still remember the shock of arriving for my year of studying Japanese on a scholarship at a university in Japan, and discovering that the maps on the walls had Japan in the middle.  Later, this seemed obvious but it made me think how the map isn’t the territory and how we as individuals and cultures orient ourselves based on different landmarks.  I would not want to draw the conclusion that everything is relative – there is a danger in ultra relativism, like a kind of liberalism pushed to its extremes, of chaos; on the other hand, maybe, what I am talking about is a kind of perspectivism.  I mean, there may be a universal, fixed, underlying, unchanging reality and beyond it a world of constant flux (like Heraclitus’s river) and constant changes – what the Japanese ukiyoe painters referred to as the ‘floating world’.  Who knows?  But this, it seems to me, is the central essence of philosophical discussions going back millennia: is there, as Plato put it, an unchanging world that is the true reality, with what we perceive of as reality being the shadows of that true reality reflected on the walls of the cave or, alternatively, is that unchanging reality and the changing reality really one thing?   Our conversations since then have been footnotes to that debate.  Kant, for example, called the visible and changing world the phenomenal world and described an unchanging world behind it as the noumenal.  Nieztsche, on the other hand, hated the idea that there was a difference between the two, which he saw as a form of ‘declining life’ or degeneration; he much preferred the views of the pre-Socratic Greeks, which held that there is simply the world right in front of our eyes – that’s it.  Bang.  Wallop.  Kerplunk.

….

CHAPTER 64: THE AESOPIAN MORAL OF THE FABLE

Finishing my book, seizing the day, carpeing the diem, and exchanging one present moment for another present moment, I go for a walk by the canal in Woking, and on one of the walls under a bridge somebody has written the extraordinary words in white paint that are the Aesopian moral of this entire book but which are not available in this extract format online but will be included as the final words of the book once it is published.

You can forget the rest of the nearly 80,000 words in this book (the ones written by me).  Just listen to these seven, the final seven of this book.  Seven, by the way, is a magic number.  Seven colours of the rainbow, seven notes of the scale, the Magnificent Seven, the Seven Samurai, the seven sisters, the seven wonders of the world, the seven days of the week, the seven dwarves, the seven orders of architecture, the rule of seven in sales, the Pythagorean perfect number, the seven seals, the seven ages of woman, the seven deadly sins, the seven caves through which an aspirant must pass in Persian mythology, the number of chunks of information a person can keep in their head at any one time, the seven year itch, the number of narratives from which all other narratives are derived (unless Borges is right that it’s two, or unless it’s one, or none – if narratives aren’t derivatives of each other).

I digress.

(PLEASE NOTE: If you buy the book, when it is published, I’ll let you in on the secret of what the seven words are.  Although, to be fair, you could always just go to the bookshop and read the seven words without buying the book at all.  But if you do that, how the hell am I going to pay my council tax bill?).

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