Friday, March 25, 2011

Crossing cultures

The internet is an excellent place in which to issue ringing denunciations, especially when your name is Anonymous. A particularly resonant denunciation was recently issued at the Hand Mirror blog, and I was perhaps one of its mysterious author's targets:

Just remember, pakeha, that while it's your duty to learn about Maori culture no matter how much you learn you will never truly understand it because ITS NOT YOURS.

Makes me sick to see pakeha people telling Maori people "Oh yes I understand Maori tradition, I understand Maori culture". No, you don't. You can watch it and learn about it but you can never understand it because you are not part of the tangata whenua.

Learning is good if it empowers indigenous people. But too often "learning" about Maori culture is just a way for pakeha people to claim they don't need to empower indigenous people because they "understand" their culture.

I wouldn't want to disagree entirely, or even mostly, with this statement. I believe that there are regions of Maori culture - of every culture - which are special, and which are inaccessible to outsiders, or else only accessible to very careful outsiders. But there are also many places where different cultures overlap or collide, and where dialogue and borrowing are not only possible but inevitable.

In an archive where I have done some research lately there are a few unpublished letters written by the nineteenth century prophet and guerrilla leader Te Kooti, and an unpublished diary kept by the twentieth century Waikato heroine Princess Te Puea.

I think these documents must be fascinating, and if they were published and translated by someone else I would read them with great interest, but I've never ordered them up from the vaults and looked at them myself, even though access to them is not restricted.

I think that to handle materials like Te Kooti's letters and Te Puea's writings one would need to be immersed in the history and culture of Te Kooti's Ringatu Church and Te Puea's Kingitanga movement respectively. There's a level of background knowledge required which could be gained only by living inside those 'worlds', either as a result of being born into them or making a meticulous entry into them.

I don't think it would be impossible for a Pakeha scholar to handle the texts - certainly, Judith Binney, the sadly missed biographer of Te Kooti and historian of Tuhoe, seemed to deal pretty well with a lot of Maori written and oral material - but they're not something which any Pakeha could pick up and handle without arduous preparation.

I'd make a distinction between Te Kooti's sacred writings and, say, some of the key events of his life. These events - battles, peace marches, flights into exile, returns from exile - are well-known, and are part of the history of Pakeha as well as Maori New Zealanders. Many writers, Pakeha as well as Maori, have been inspired to write about Te Kooti, so that he has become a character in poems, songs, and at least one novel, Maurice Shadbolt's popular Season of the Jew.

I would argue that Te Kooti has become, in a sense, a mythopoetic figure, like Odysseus or Alexander the Great, and that his deeds can resonate imaginatively across distant cultures.

The unashamedly Pakeha Kendrick Smithyman wrote some important poems about different aspects of Te Kooti's life: he composed one about a visit to Te Porere, the last battle pa Te Kooti built, and another about Te Kooti's strangely amicable last meeting with Gilbert Mair, the Pakeha commander who had chased round the North Island for years. Smithyman's poems aren't attempts to steal Te Kooti, or to 'write like a Maori': they are attempts to set up a dialogue between Pakeha and Maori history and thought.

When Judith Binney came to write her biography of Te Kooti, she included, as one of her appendices, a selection of songs and poems that Pakeha writers like Smithyman had produced about Te Kooti. She argued that these texts have become a part of the traditions which surround Te Kooti.

Before anyone criticises the Pakeha writers who have made Te Kooti into a subject, they ought to remember that Te Kooti himself was a great investigator of and borrower from other cultural traditions. He took the Old Testament and reinterpreted it in a Maori light, making his people into 'Jews'; he took the European tradition of realistic figurative painting and put it inside the extraordinary meeting houses that the Ringatu Church raised in his honour.

The sort of complex interplay between cultures which Te Kooti and Smithyman in their different ways practiced mocks attempts to put up 'off limits - no entry' signs around one or another culture and history.

As a sort of feeble salute to cross-cultural artistic inspiration, and as an admission that I suffer from what Osip Mandelstam called 'a homesickness for world culture', I wanted to post a poem which recently managed to annoy that distinguished scholar of classical Greek culture, Ted Jenner. After I sent him the poem, my long-suffering friend complained that I'd needlessly pulled not only Homer and Odysseus but his hero, the mysterious pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus, out of their properly European context, and placed them in the South Pacific.

My problem, Ted, is that my imagination keeps putting Odysseus in Tonga, not in the Mediterranean, and insists on Heraclitus as a boozy Greek-cum-Aussie fisherman, not some ancient and irretrievable mystic.

Anonymous polemicists should be feel free to use the comments box under this post.

Homer and Heraclitus

Say that Homer and Heraclitus are getting blind drunk
on a bottle of ouzo, in the back room of a cheap Greek
restaurant, on Lonsdale Street, sometime in the fifties,
before the smell of fish got washed out
of the gutters, before the Melbourne cops
stopped taking bribes, before tourists
chased the gangsters away.

Say that Homer went blind
transcribing and revising his poems
after mass literacy made his recitals

Say that Heraclitus lost his eyes
on an Arctic trawler,
after the crew ran out of vodka
and cracked open the meths.
(Say that it hardly seemed to matter,
in the middle of a winter-long night.
At least the dark was warm, after half a glass.)

Say that poet and philosopher
deserve their private room, and their booze.
Neither will see out the summer.
(Say that Homer moves down Lonsdale at the speed
of a walking frame, that Heraclitus smells
like the inside
of a colostomy bag.)

Do the blind old men
toast their health?
Do they reach out
across the table,
listening to the half-melted cubes
knocking together (like smooth-cornered dice
in an old gambler's cup?)
then wait for their frosted glasses
to clink politely, or to strike
a single, sharp note,
or to grind against each other
like floes of ice?

Never mind. In Ithaca, or some other piece
of Polynesia, Ulysses has just tethered his listing ship
to a banyan tree, left his comrades to their duty-free booze,
and headed uphill, through an overgrown plantation,
toward the pou and the kumara beds
of the papakainga. Say that he is filled with space and time.


Blogger Unknown said...

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9:40 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

shave Ted Jenner's head and send him into the future

10:11 pm  
Anonymous Edward said...

Hmmm, I shall have to digest this post slowly. You point out some interesting aspects, and like you, I would also tend to agree with much (though not all) of the sentiment of the anon. In my own realm of professional interaction, there is always a tension with regard to who owns the past. The objects, patterns, and landscapes themselves obviously belong to those who have a connection to them, but the interpretave process itself can be the cause of tension. It's something I'm not sure all archaeologists (for example) are aware of, though they should be. The criticism here, though to a lesser extent than other colonial countries, is that interpreting indigenous pasts is itself a colonial arrogance. I don't agree with this thought, but it is something to keep in mind. The issue which you highlight so well is that culture flows both ways - it isn't some static monolithic entity. Some traditions may well be long-lasting, but as a whole, culture inevitably changes whether one likes it or not. It is useful to remember this, I think, as neither necessarily bad or good.

12:07 pm  
Blogger peterquixote said...

Reading the maps he says:
"Say that he is filled with space and time"
this is good dude, because you are and we appreciate your writing,

6:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I realize that people sometimes have difficulty verbalizing their feelings. That’s fine. I realize that words can be symbolic. That’s fine, too. I realize that love and death are intense, and that brevity is sometimes more powerful than lengthy writing. Okay. However: I hate that with poetry, we are expected to read into it all. From punctuation! Mind you, I love punctuation. I think semi colons are fantastic. When I am excited, I litter my writing with exclamation points. I am passionate about serial commas. I know that punctuation can seriously alter the meaning of text. I’ve seen that one letter that has the punctuation changed and it goes from a love letter to a hate letter. However, our interpretations based on the punctuation had nothing to do with actual, contextual meaning. It had to do with the feeling of the punctuation. Give me a break.

I do think poetry is occasionally respectable. I guess, I’m in favor of the privatization of poetry. If your dad dies, and you’re sad about it, by all means, write a poem if that does something for you. Share it with your family, and maybe maybe your friends since it will mean something to them too. But don’t give me your poem and expect me to guess that the “song of sunrise” actually meant that every summer you went fishing with him and you miss the way he would sing so that the fish would bite, and you wonder if he‘s fishing in heaven. It’s just not in there. Sorry. And that doesn’t mean that I didn’t like your dad, or that I think your poetry stinks. I just can’t understand it like you meant for it to be understood, because those words were your way of expressing your very personal feelings. I would have chosen different words. If you really want me to understand, graph it for me. Or use clear language. But the point isn’t for me to understand; the point is for you to learn something about yourself, or for you to find a way to express something for yourself. Whenever you write a poem, you’re writing it for you. Even if it’s a love poem to someone, it’s still a poem for you, because the whole point is that you want to express something that you feel you can‘t express (or which you choose not to express) in a direct method. It’s the same way that philosophically people argue that having kids is a selfish thing. Yeah, you give up sleep and make sacrifices, but it’s so that there will be more of you in the world after you die. (You can take that or leave it, but that is what some people think, philosophically, about people having kids.) So since I really do believe poetry is a personal thing, I don’t feel any obligation to guess at what it means.

I can understand how dissecting poetry can help us create symbolism, and watch for subtleties in writing. I can also see how poetry can sometimes be fun. I like some poetry, when I make it mean something new to me instead of trying to guess why the author wrote it. I do also enjoy the challenge of creating poems with particular rhythms. I like funny poetry. I think that some poems are kind of like a collage of senses; they can combine smells and imagery and those sorts of things, and that’s kind of interesting and even occasionally powerful.

Generally, though, I think poetry tends to be a big game of “Guess what I’m thinking!” and I hate that game. I’m not a mind-reader. I think a lot of people who get excited about poetry are really pretentious. This possibly comes from believing that they actually can guess what other people think. I’m not sure.

8:32 pm  
Anonymous Johnny Twosheds said...

I like the way this last Anonymous is thinking. But some of us like not knowing what a poem means, dear Anon. Ask my good friend Brandy Simpson.

9:16 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Ted wouldn't have objected to Homer and Heraclitus going methyl blind in the Pacific, it was probably the colostomy bag that threw him.

(One thinks of Eliot's: "Human kind cannot bear too much reality." as Jack remarked on hearing one of the sections of my 'Hospital' series. I'd known that line since 1968.)

After all, Ted is keen on David Jones who mixed WWI with ancient Rome and much else, and so did Geoffrey Hill.

And what about Jack Spicer's mix of the Holy Grail and say the death of Marilyn Monroe? And your & his


(I long for the Salt days!

For God's sake! Ted was the bloke who went to darkest Africa, to the heart of the dark, to the hollow men (one thinks immediately of say two men, suffering ennui and sipping gin, in some terribly hot and desolate part of Africa, taking bets on their "kill" of cockroaches), and he suffered snakes and spiders and tigers, assagais and deluges to teach Classics in that strange and savage land of Malawi.

And Ted is the Pound man, and in fact was the local man for Paideuma, and Pound was mixing all times all ages, the now and the "then", he was heading that way. But he offered the local job to Smithy (the other great "mixer" and transposer) and he said, no, Yeats is the greatest 20th Century Modernist. The there is the other Jack's mix of Celan's work and art with a rather "degenerate" pop singer.

No problem with relocation re-timing for me. The Pacific Islanders had their history and sea exploration and myths also. No reason we cant talk about te Kooti or other Maori issues or history.

But a good poem again!

11:21 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even very tightly bound cultural roles are not limited to people of a particular kind. Local examples are not uncommon. Take the leading (very loosely defined) spiritual role in Pakeha New Zealand - the head of the Anglican Church, the leading tohunga of our nation. That role has been held by a Maori of bi-racial/cultural descent. The same person was also the head of state. Similarly, the leading (once again loosely defined) cultural role in our nation - the recognised best opera singer, a tohunga of another kind - has also been held by a person of the same bi-racial/cultural background as Sir Paul Reeves. The interchange is also reciprocaI. I have also seen good kapa haka performers who were Pakeha.

4:39 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"peterquixote said...

Reading the maps he says:
"Say that he is filled with space and time"
this is good dude, because you are and we appreciate your writing, "

Yes, a bloody good poem as PQ says here, and yes, that great last line pulls it all together.

12:35 am  
Blogger Richard said...

"Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even very tightly bound cultural roles are not limited to people of a particular kind. Local examples are not uncommon. Take the leading (very loosely defined) spiritual role in Pakeha New Zealand - the head of the Anglican Church, the leading tohunga of our nation. That role has been held by a Maori of bi-racial/cultural descent. The same person was also the head of state. Similarly, the leading (once again loosely defined) cultural role in our nation - the recognised best opera singer, a tohunga of another kind - has also been held by a person of the same bi-racial/cultural background as Sir Paul Reeves. The interchange is also reciprocaI. I have also seen good kapa haka performers who were Pakeha. "

Yes. The mix of cultures (firstly Maori and Pakeha)* is mutual and has many many good aspects.

* But of course we have many many other cultures who mix and add to each other to varying degrees. There are also tensions and problems. If we can avoid getting boringly po faced and all Official & PC, it is a good thing over all.

12:42 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why do so many 'modern' poems make NO sense?

10:54 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sam hunt makes sense!

10:55 am  
Blogger maps said...

Thanks for the comments folks. Edward, I think the ethical/methodological situation surrounding the use of texts that belong to living and faction-ridden spiritual-political movements like the Ringatu Church and the Kingitanga wouldn't necessarily always an find echo in your field of archaeology.

Te Kooti's texts are prized by his followers, and are sometimes used in arguments between factions in the Ringatu movement. Not even Judith Binney was allowed to see some of them, apparently. The Kingitanga is a dynamic and - to some extent - internally divided movement still faced with the problem of asserting the mana of Tainui in the face of frequently unfriendly governments. Te Puea is an icon of Kingitanga, and a reference point for those who argue that the movement should choose one or another strategy as it plots its future. Anything Te Puea wrote could therefore potentially become a political weapon.

But not every remnant of the past is so politically charged and so filled with potential dangers for those who would study it. Archaeologists frequently encounter material which doesn't have an immediate and problematic relationship with the present. I think of the monumental stone structures of Samoa, which are, in my own limited experience and in the much greater experience of our regular commenter Jono, treated with disinterest by most Samoans. When I visited Pulemelei mound, a huge roughly pyramid-shaped structure in the forests of Sava'ii, the locals charged me a small fee for crossing their land, but told me they didn't see a connection between the mound and their lives. Pulemelei is often regarded as the work not of Samoans but of the Tongans who invaded the country repeatedly in medieval times. Whether this is true or not, scholars who explore the mound and similar stone structures do not face the same sort of political and methodological questions that scholars using, say, Te Kooti's sacred texts inevitably encounter.

2:55 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Hi Richard,

I think Ted, as someone who has learned Greek (not to mention Latin) and studied Heraclitus in great detail for years, has a quite defensive attitude when people outside his field try to 'claim' Heraclitus as a representative of one or another
-ism or politicial cause.

Do you remember the slightly boozy dinner a few of us had after the launch of Private Bestiary last November? Ted and I had a huge argument there about Heidegger's use of Heraclitus. Ted thought that Heidegger had essentially taken over Heraclitus, and the rest of the pre-Socratic philosophers, and made them into precursors of his own philosophy. My argument, if I remember rightly, was that this wasn't anything new - after all, Hegel and Marx and Lenin all wanted to claim Heraclitus as a forerunner of their own thought - and that the most important question to ask was 'is Heidegger (or Hegel, or Marx, or whoever) doing something interesting, something worthwhile, something that stimulates us and expands our view of the world, with Heraclitus?' If the answer to that question is 'yes', then I think the appropriation can be forgiven.

I suspect that Ted's objections to my poem's placement of Heraclitus in the South Pacific go back to that November argument. I think he sees me as yet another vulgar appropriator of the mysterious philosopher from Ephesus...

3:04 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Johnny Twosheds (what a great New Zealand name!) makes an interesting point when he writes that 'some of us like not knowing what a poem means'.

I would put it differently, and say that I like a poem which works on many different levels of meaning at once, even if that means that the poem in question becomes hard to reduce to a simple prose paraphrase. I think Anthony Burgess defined poetry well when he called it 'the maximum exploitation of words'. A poet ought to try to draw on, to draw out, as many of the shades of meaning as the words he uses possess.

My favourite poems are saturated with meaning, rather than emptied of meaing, but the saturation means that they sometimes seem like 'nonsense' or 'pointless obscurity' to folks who have been taught a sort of ultra-literalist approach to reading by newspaper headlines and twitter and Jeffrey Archer's prose.

3:30 pm  
Blogger maps said...

Richard commented on the last line of the poem, but to my surprise the bibliomaniac did not recognise that I'd swiped the description of Ulysses being 'filled with space and time' from a piece that the great and tragic Russian poet Osip Mandelstam wrote in 1917, a couple of decades before his death in one of Stalin's gulags.

Mandelstam used to number his poems, and the piece in question is number 92 in the selection of his work translated by WS Merwin for the Penguin Modern European Poets series.

Mandelstam was an ardent classicist, and the poem was inspired, if I remember rightly, by a journey to the south of Russia ('Tauris' is an ancient name for Crimea), where the spirit of the Mediterranean and ancient Greece seemed to him to be in some way present.

(Had Mandelstam fled to the south to escape some of the turmoil created by Russia's 1917 revolutions?)

Here's the text of Mandelstam's poem:

The thread of gold cordial flowed from the bottle
with such languor that the hostess found time to say
here in mournful Tauris where our fates have cast us
we are never bored - with a glance over her shoulder.

On all hands the rights of Bacchus, as though the whole world
held only guards and dogs. As you go you see no one.
And the placid days roll past like heavy barrels. Far off
in the ancient rooms there are voices. Can't make them out. Can't answer.

After tea we went out into the great brown garden.
Dark blinds are dropped like eyelashes on the windows.
We move among the white columns looking at grapes. Beyond them
airy glass has been poured over the drowsing mountains.

I said the grape vines live on like an antique battle,
with gnarled cavalry tangling in curving waves.
Here in stone-starred Tauris is an art of Hellas: here, rusted, are the noble ranks of the golden acres.

Meanwhile silence stands in the white room like a spinning wheel,
smelling of vinegar, paint, wine cool from the cellar.
Do you remember in the Greek house the wife they all loved?
No Helen. The other. And how long she embroidered?

Golden fleece, where are you then, golden fleece?
All the way the heaved weight of the boat rumbled.
Leaving his boat and its sea-wearied sails,
Odysseus returned, filled with space and time.


4:23 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thought this was a politics blog?

disappear up yr arseholes, why doncha...

middle class intellectual wank

7:46 pm  
Anonymous Edward said...

RE: History vs archaeological pasts

Hi Scott, yes I suppose that is true of many things, the "political and methodological questions that scholars using, say, Te Kooti's sacred texts inevitably encounter" compared to items which people may not identify with. I don't think most people get too upset about midden interpretation for example. But there are other taonga where the line is more murky, and in the sense that archaeology might eventually build up to provide the sort of grand narrative you spoke of in another post, this can sometimes conflict with other narratives. It probably isn't as immediate politically as historical research, but I think it can sometimes be just as political. It gets even trickier when human remains are involved. In NZ we tend to have a good relationship with Maori, but in other parts of the world there are high tensions over repatriation. There have been cases where North American tribes have claimed the remains of skeletons some 7,000 + years old claiming ancestry. Despite the scientific and cultural implausability of such a tie, and the fact it is an extreme example, it shows the tensions between inherently western approaches to [pre]history and other perspectives.

9:12 am  
Anonymous Edward said...

what is politics to anon? Don't indigenous rights count? What of human rights? And what is intellectual wank? Should we perfer unintelligable grunting?

9:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

politics = class struggle edward

see the streets of london for an example

where is the politics here. ha

middle class intellectuals

12:24 pm  
Blogger Marty Mars said...

Kia ora koutou,

A couple of points that i would like to add - the concept of maori culture is a little difficult. What does that mean really when each iwi and often hapu are quite unique in their application and intrepretation of their knowledge - it cannot be said that one is right and another is wrong, even though they may be quite different. In my mind there is still a lot of 'captured in amber' approach to maori, and that 'classical' maori are often used as a yardstick for iwi or hapu today, even by other maori.

I have a pakeha friend who is a gifted stone carver. He said to me today that he doesn't go to the marae very much because he has heard some say something like, " why are you carving our stone?" When I think about that statement, I don't agree with it, yet i can understand the motivation behind it. When fighting to regain and reabsorb your culture it can be difficult when others appear to be ahead in knowledge and understanding. And I think we need to accept that many maori are on a journey to reown their culture. An example is traditional spiritual knowledge - invisible in our society in the most part. I accept that christian teachings were incorporated into aspects of maori spirituality as a response to the effects of colonisation and the loss of rangatiratanga - but I don't like it personally.

Yes we can all understand each other and part of the respect attached to that is allowing for mysteries and understandings that are sometimes only accessable from within the culture.

9:52 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Maps - I encountered theamnin question himself, i.e.Ted, in the local Pak 'n Save; and I feel he probably wouldn't have deep issue with your use of Heraclitus, but being a Latin and Greek scholar etc of course he will be concerned.

There are, indeed, limits. So there should be. We cant have anyone relocating Greek sages or myths willy nilly, or tampering with these vitally important ancient things; or thinking they can understand Heidegger, poetry, and Greek philosophy and all that. That would be cultural tragedy to make 100 thousand Japan and Chch earthquakes fade into nothingness. In fact we would all be getting too political and popular. It would be a sad descent into vulgarity of the populos.

Ted was deeply absorbed in purchasing his light bulb to be, Vic and I had come to do some minor shopping. I was sans car so Ted too us home. I think the light bulb, and Ted's deep concern to get it, shows that not only does he take a great interest in those dark and mysterious periods of history of such vast import to humanity, contra other pathetic and ephemeral and merely human events, such as those currently in North Africa where the US are playing games (sub speciae aeternitatis) whose outcome are irrelevant set against huge time and space and Heraclitus etc (and your poetic and creative efforts); not only the dark but the light is immensely relevant to Ted's philosophy and psyche.

Re the ref. to Mandlestam. I looked that poem up (I have the book in question) and that is a great poem indeed. I must "revisit" Mandelestam, remembering that circa 1995 you "got me into" reading him, Celan, Georg Trakl and others.

11:55 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Ted was deeply absorbed in purchasing his light bulb to be, Vic and I had come to do some minor shopping. I was sans car so Ted too us home. I think the light bulb, and Ted's deep concern to get it, shows that not only does he take a great interest in those dark and mysterious periods of history of such vast import to humanity'

LOL! Another Taylor classic

3:27 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

During January I was in the NZ Chess Championships (a first for me). I didn't do well (expected result about 5 or 6/11 but I came last with 2.5/11 which was due to some factors quite outside the chess game itself - that is it was to a large extent to do with my psychological approach to the event.

One point here is that most (professional) chess players of any calibre retire well before they are 60 and I am 63. (There are exceptions e.g. two great players include Korchnoi and the late ex World Champion V. Smyslov are two). Kasparov for example retired at the age of approx. 43 and the World strongest rated Chess player is 21 years of age. Most really strong chess players are between 15 and 35 years of age, so my big rating improvement last year (I beat a number of players over 2000 ELO) is quite unusual and quite pleasing) I am now again in the A Grade Summer Cup at ACC in Auckland.

3:38 am  
Anonymous Edward said...

I am inclined to think politics is more than just class struggle anon, but I agree with you in that I wish more young people and people in general were more 'political'. However, I don't agree with the anti-intellectual sentiment you offer. I think one can have a genuine curiosity about the world and still fight for what they believe in or for their political persuasions to be heard.
I do. If you think it's only one or the other than that's your problem. Not mine or any other 'middle class intellectuals'. Human beings are not simply cogs in some class war - we're more than that and it makes me sad when people forget that amongst their rhetoric of battlements and front lines. If I'm to be condemned a 'middle class intellectual' for voicing concern about cultural and human rights then so be it. We can't all be as saintly or politically active as anonymous internet commentators now can we?

9:09 am  
Blogger Richard said...

Don't worry Edward: we all have our rhetoric, peculiarities, bee bonnets and prejudices. It doesn't matter what other people think. You do what you want and express your opinions etc...

Lately I hardly even watch or read the news. But that is me. Others want to get involved. I did when I as in my twenties (politics was big buzz for a while) but as one gets on, well, things change.

As Dr Wayne Dywer says: you don't need either to worry or feel guilt. (Both emotions are useless). It is also good to avoid what he calls The justice trap! We live in an "unjust" universe!

10:07 pm  
Anonymous Edward said...

I don't really buy that there's no point in striving for justice. We should always strive for such things I think.

11:33 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"Edward said...

I don't really buy that there's no point in striving for justice. We should always strive for such things I think. "

That is personal choice but that is not the point I made here. In 'Your Erroneous Zone' Dyer lists some of the "wrong" zones people get into. Now such erroneous zones are only "bad" if they cause immobility. Some people for example worry incessantly over things that they can do nothing about and this means they get anything done! (But there is nothing erroneous or neurotic if one takes sensible precautions etc about some postulated future event. That is, rather than agonize and worry, act or stop worrying.) Or they get angry about perceived "injustices", many (if not all) of which can never be prevented or stopped, and also waste their health and time getting angry over what they cannot control.

But as he says, while injustice is a constant (in human and all other life), we can chose to fight it if in the process we are not (say) embittered or driven mad (immobilized).

Too many people become embittered about "unfairness" when, in fact, life as lived is always unfair (a relative concept of humans only, a cat playing with a mouse sees no unfairness, and politicians, criminals and con men ripping people off and lying see no problem and they never will), or can be seen to be so.

The first person to fight for 'justice' (or good pay and conditions etc) for, is oneself.

But don't fall into the "Jarndyce and Jarndyce" trap - read 'Bleakhouse' by Charles Dickens first! (Jarndyce is not accidentally similar or 'jaundice[d]' I would say, by the way!)

3:31 pm  
Anonymous Edward said...

"But as he says, while injustice is a constant (in human and all other life), we can chose to fight it if in the process we are not (say) embittered or driven mad (immobilized)"

I would agree with this as with the sentiment that worrying or getting angery is useless without action of some form, be it personal or otherwise. Wise words. Personally, I do worry and get angry but I also act. It is the frustration, rather than anger or worry which makes me rather abrupt at times. But that's human.

9:04 pm  

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