Thursday, November 02, 2006

discussions of the soul...

all he could talk of was 'tomorrow', a shining morrow of peace and love and justice in which the human soul, ever through history striving for harmony and perfection, would at last achieve it. and to the coming century he looked for the delivery of the concentrated essence of all the good things of that ideal 'tomorrow'.

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'first place, what is the 'soul' of which you speak? show me its location in the human anatomy and then i might believe in it. second place, as we say in our country - 'tomorrow never comes'. we live, always in the here and now, the present. to pin your hopes upon the future is to consign those hopes to a hypothesis, which is to say, a nothingness. here and now is what we have to contend with. third place, how shall you recognise 'perfection' when you see it? you can only define the 'future perfect' by the 'present imperfect', and the present, in which, inevitably, we all live, always seems imperfect to somebody.

'if we abandon the grammatical metaphor, i'd certainly agree with you that this present which we contemporaneously inhabit is 'imperfect' to a degree. but this grievous condition has nothing to do with the soul, or as you might call it, removing the theological connotation, 'human nature'. what we have to contend with here, my boy, is the long shadow of the 'past hist'ric' (reverting back to the grammatical analogy, for a moment), that forged the institutions which create the human nature of the present in the first place.

'its not the human 'soul' that must be forged on the anvil of history, but the anvil itself myst be changed in order to change humanity. then we micht see, if not perfection, then something a little better, or, not to raise too many false hopes, a little less bad.'

--Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter. p240

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