Men may be divided into those who are in favour of life and those who are against it. Among those who are against it there are sensitive and wise and penetrating people who are to offended and discouraged by the shapelessness of spontaneity, by the lack of order among human beings who wish to live their own lives, not in obedience to any common pattern.
This is from the final paragraph of Isaiah Berlin’s Freedom and its Betrayal, a transcription of six lectures delivered over British radio in 1952, each concerning a different 18th or 19th century thinker. Acute philosophy and political thought, given in language that is not clotted with jargon. I’ve found much in it to argue with and to think on. There is something in here that relates to thornyc‘s post a couple of days ago about freakiness. Berlin is tracing the roots of both today’s “liberal” and “conservative” thought. It’s helpful to recognize that many of the opposing world views we have to negotiate are verisons of arguments that have been in play for hundreds of years.
If I had to sum up my feelings about myself these days I think that they are primarily ones of inadequacy. I’m proud of how far my skills have gotten me, but I feel that for the next part of my life there is a whole other tool set that I need to cultivate.
I’m also rereading Kathy Acker’s My Death, My Life by Pier Paolo Pasolini, written twenty years ago. Her books have always been touchstones for me, but now I’m not so sure.