For My Friend Francis

In the beginning is the scream.  We Scream.  When we write or when we read it is easy to forget that the beginning is not the word, but the scream.  Faced with the mutilation of human lives by capitalism, a scream of horror, a scream of anguish, a scream of anger, a scream of refusal: No!

The starting point of theoretical reflection is opposition, negativity, struggle.  It is from rage that thought is born, not from the pose of reason, not from the reasoned-sitting-back-and-reflecting-on-the-mysteries-of-experience that is the conventional image of the thinker.

We start from negation, from dissonance.  The dissonance can take many shapes.  An inarticulate mumble of discontent, tears of frustration, a scream of rage, a confident roar.  An unease, a confusion, a longing, a critical vibration.

I forget where the above comes from Francis.  A book by John Holloway I think – on changing the world without seizing power.  Ambrose Beirce once described the imagination as ‘a warehouse of facts with poet and liar in joint ownership’ and we both might claim to be imaginative – though I grant you are the better poet.  Holloway ended-up in the Zapatista protests in Mexico and Beirce wandered off into jungle.  We have both looked uselessly to the bottom of the bottle in more than one way and wandered on; both perhaps selling chicken bones as sacred relics in strange teachings of survival.

I suspect you know how pompously religious my anti-religionism is and that I know this too.  I was reminded today that the word sin is the same as the word debt in old language, and how much religious language asks for the forgiveness of sin.  We are not the first in anger or depression at the recognition, even enlightenment that there is no need for the serfdom enforced by a few on the many.  It could be worse mate – we could be Greek – said the Scot with a government going Scandinavian to the Irishman whose banks went Icelandic.  The challenge is to turn the scream positive.  We should write an American can do book together – “Chicken Broth For Other People’s Souls”.  I suggest the fact we haven’t is a reason to be happy!  All my love.



3 thoughts on “For My Friend Francis

  1. Ah Neil, I am honoured!

    All we can do, much of the time, both individually and communally, is to clasp Pandora’s box tight feeding ourselves on the last unflown blessing/curse which it contains – hope.

    Most of us can easily see the problems. There are also plenty of good suggestions for solutions around. Where I find it most difficult to hope is the question of how to get from where we are to where we could – and need to – be. Paradigm shifts in history generally only occur accompanied by massive suffering and the death of millions.

  2. Indeed my own fear – we’re in a ‘postmodern 1930’s’. Some of the religious past must have been ‘revolutionary’ on the basis of what ‘tools’ they had. Something must separate us from the Stalinist right, without somehow domesticating the drive for change, yet protecting us from the urge to seize the power that exchanges beggars on foot for beggars on horseback – or the bureaucratic cage of religious power. You at least establish something like this in one man and can make me feel this.

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