Jun 21 2012

Creating a Magic Circle

Published by at 7:09 am under John Cowper Powys

From A Philosophy of Solitude (1933), by John Cowper Powys:

The whole trend of our present-day ideas is pitifully wrong. It is all heading in the direction of more and more unhappiness. To tell us “to keep on smiling” as the preachers do, is enough to make us howl like the damned.  Optimistic catchwords combined with the torture of gregariousness are more than the strongest nerves can stand. All this feverish social laughter takes on a theatrical ghastliness, to an eye that has learnt to read the heart. The thing becomes a Mask of Horror, as if the anonymous corpses from the death-slabs of the Morgue were to rise up and mock and mow at us!  The only thing to do is to detach yourself at one stroke from all these agitating too-human interests. Earn your living. Stop competing and self-pitying; and live—even in the midst of all your friends—as if the streets were the Desert and you were alone with the over-arching sky.  From the old great writers of calmer ages, from the race-memories brought to us out of the air, from the ineffable essences of our own gathered-up moments of vision, there can be created, if we bend ourselves to the task, a magic circle around us which none of these invaders can cross. Life is too short, its sublime and tragic grandeur too deep, that we should turn from it to such bagatelles as these crowd-fashions.

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