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This week so far it’s been Quakers, Catholics and Communists

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Went to a friend’s wedding this weekend, up in Edinburgh.  A brilliant evening, celebrating a bride and groom who are equally brilliant as a couple. But also some inspired (but apparently unintentional) table planning – found myself sitting next to someone I’ve been doing cartoons for but had never actually met before, and also with a guy who used to work for the same publisher as me. Those don’t sound terribly amazing and exciting coincidences now I write it down, but it gave me a sense of cosy intrigue – of life as a village. Or possibly some kind of squid where we’re all tentacles connected to the same squid-head.

The following morning came the start of a brief ideological tour – fascinating discussion with the bride about being a Quaker, followed by an qually fascinating discussion with her friend about being a Catholic. Whatever people want to say about Christianity, it’s got range, you have to give it that. I’m still mulling over everything discussed with both, but mostly came to the conclusion that if I was anything, I’d be a Quaker. The idea of absolute truth that can be written down makes absolutely (!) no sense to me. But the idea of a shared, intersubjective experience of meaning…. if I’ve understood Quakerism here… that fits with the world as I’ve lived it. I think it’s time to find out more, though.

The Communism came yesterday – went to see a rousing, bonkers talk by  Slavoj Žižek – had to cut and paste his name as I couldn’t work out how to do the accents on here – anyone know? Understanding what he was saying was tricky – big echoey hall, no concession to an English accent, plus complicated rhetoric and, as I said, it was bonkers. But all the same, listening to him gave a vision of the future where things could be different. Not least because geneticists have the practical potential to change human nature. There’s something about the rhythms of his arguments and the insights he lights upon that reminds me of looking up in a dusty church when it’s sunny and seeing rays smoking through the stained glass. Bolts of insight firing like synapses, among a scrambling chaos.

Someone at the wedding – I think it was the bride, but can’t be sure – described the God she doesn’t believe in as an “sky daddy who intervenes”. Slavoj’s talk felt more like watching someone in the air, poking at the clouds so that the light can come through; but there’s no one in the light, it just gives us the ability to see the world as a panorama.

Excuse me. This is probably going to be my ponciest entry.


6 responses »

  1. This article explains what Zizek said in his lecture much more clearly than the lecture itself, if you’re interested…

  2. Žižek is great, but somewhat batty as you say. His ‘Q & A’ in the Guardian was my all-time favourite:

    I went to a summer school he did a couple of years ago and one talk on Communism and Culture included a very graphic description of bowel movement which was made even more surreal by his accent (which rendered anus as ah-NOOS).

    I really like his book on rescuing the moral heart of Christianity from religion (The Fragile Absolute); an unusual take for a Marxist but one that fits very well with his contrary and wilfully perverse modus operandi. It’s utopian, and often ridiculous, but a stimulating and provocative read.

    • AC Grayling was questioning him/arguing with him after his talk (on stage, I don’t mean it was a heckle). He actually quoted that Guardian Q&A – apparently it’s famous, I don’t think I spotted it at the time. Thanks for the link.

      I wish I’d heard him say ah-NOOS.

      I’ll check that book out, thank you.

  3. Emma Norminton

    Very touched by this post, Louie. I am the bride, for other readers. G is having a nap, which explains why I am online during the honeymoon! We must keep these discussions flowing. I loved my time with you on Sunday morning.
    Emma x


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