Talking this afternoon over a hamburger freshly cooked on the barbeque with Jez and Tom who both were at University with me, it struck us how we’d been royally screwed by the dominant ideology at Cambridge when we studied there in the late Eighties. We had the ill fortune of being there when Deconstruction and ‘theory’ ruled the roost and eviscerated all the emotion and joy in stories, myths and humanity which had probably made us as teenagers chose to study English Literature in the first place. Story and human emotion were treated with suspicion if not contempt. The totalitarian atmosphere of taste ruled that all such things were to be handled with ironic tweezers, sliced into things that were unemotional and clever. The mess of emotion that writers like Lawrence had championed seemed embarassing in 1988.
All my joy in the church, in my God, in music, in the Beatles, in writing poetry gradually dried up and withered in the face of brutal stylistic sarcasm. Sadly, I wasn’t wise or clever enough to see that I’d been wrong. And as Tom pointed out, those teachers at Cambridge who should have stood up and screamed ‘you’ve been shafted!’ stayed silent for fear of political contempt.
It took me almost 20 years to regain my faith in my feelings, in the mess of love, in the God that lives in beauty.
Drinking wine and listening to music in the deep of the Somerset night; sitting on a Wiltshire summer’s morning and admiring the hawthorn hedge; dancing all night and sleeping under a tree. I have had to spin back the clock to 1992 to pick up the golden thread that I unwillingly laid down.
There’s a theory in therapy that suggests that the therapeutic relationship you have with a good therapist creates a safe space within which you can wind back the clock to the time where your development got stuck. No matter how old you are when you take up treatment, you can go back to that time and pick up the thread. Overcome the block and start developing again. In these last few weeks I have been feeling and behaving like an 18 year old.
Which is why I am so happy to hear music like that of Mumford & Sons – a group of twenty-something musicians who, in 2010, have no scruples singing about God, about the soul, about rage and love, and waking up next to someone you’ve fallen for.
It’s beautiful, uplifting music and soundtracked me all along the M5 and M4 on a loop. Partly lifting me into a form of happy human prayer — but also reassuring me that that heinous frozen irony that killed my belief dead in 1988 is well and truely buried now in 2010.
And now my heart stumbles on things I don’t know This weakness I feel I must finally show Lend me your eyes I can change what you see But your soul you must keep, totally free