17 October 2021

Coelacanth

Coelacanth

Once, before the pandemics and the third world war and all the other stuff that happened afterwards, we lived very different lives. It seems like a dream world now, a place  of innocence before the collapse came.

I recall a vast flock of starlings coming back to the copse on the hilltop to roost each October evening.  Hundreds of them in perfect synchronicity. They swirled in the waning light  -  a spectacular avian wave, a murmuration that rolled and twisted like a shoal of silvery sardines in a blue ocean. Together as one while we just stood in awe. Watching.

It’s almost gone now. All of that – that beauty. Those pristine white beaches where coconuts were washed up, pushing down roots at the tideline. That rustling of the humble hedgehog amidst crinkly leaves, its elderberry eyes and snuffling snout seeking plump worms. That eagle that hovered majestically like a kite over yon purple valleys and noticed everything.

When you consider it, we had it all. We were honoured guardians, custodians but it was a role we carried too carelessly for we were almost blind. We could not see beyond the end of the week or the end of the year. Of course it is far too late now. We are way beyond the pale. Way beyond.

There were wildebeest and orang-utans and coelacanths and deep in jungles or faraway mountains other people lived. Quiet people with whom we had had no contact. It was their world too.

And a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square. Little did the lyricist  think that its song was in truth an alarm call. It sings no more, like the carrier pigeons and the cuckoos and the birds of paradise that danced with hope unseen in magical clearings when shafts of sunlight broke through. Golden and green.

Yes it’s misty now that happy ever after world where we once resided. We can never get it back no matter how hard we try. It’s lost between the container ports and the concrete towers, between emissions from plastics factories and the orange blue netting tangled in a young whale’s belly.

Listen and you can hear the finale with extended notes from a violin piercing  the night sky, sending a message to the outermost stars: “We were here. Long, long ago. We were here.”

24 comments:

  1. I had not fully grasped the implications of the pandemic until reading your post.
    While mourning lives lost, I felt no sense of private *collapse*.

    This has been a peaceful period, though I have not been outside Glasgow in two years; and I have only attended one social event, a school reunion in an Italian restaurant. Had I even read any blog before lockdown 2020?

    You are viewing the world pandemic through an apocalyptic lens, conflating it with climate change and ecosystem destruction. And these are real enough.
    Apocalypse implies an unveiling, the possibility of beginning again.

    *For now we see through a glass, darkly.*
    Tyndale translated it as *a dark speakyng* (sic) which Harold Bloom thought superior to the King James translation. Bloom compared Tyndale's line to Lear on the clifftop.

    One need not subscribe to supernatural faith to profit from 1 Corinthians.
    Bloom had no such faith.
    *Harold Bloom - Shakespeare the Invention of the Human.* YouTube.

    Haggerty

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    1. "The world does not get to be a better or a worse place; it just gets more senescent." - Harold Bloom. I wonder if he was fully aware of the squandering and carelessness around him as he pontificated about Shakespeare and suchlike.

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    2. Bloom taught his students how to read and so too did Leavis.
      Leavis was not seduced by cultural Marxism nor Bloom by literary theory.

      As for the state of the Union, here is Bloom in the first pages of his long book, The Anatomy of Influence (2011).

      *Twenty-first century America is in a state of decline. It is scary to reread the final volume of Gibbon these days because the fate of the Roman Empire seems an outline that the imperial presidency of George W. Bush retraced and that continues even now. We have approached bankruptcy, fought wars we cannot pay for, and defrauded our urban and rural poor ... So large is our malaise that no single writer can encompass it.*

      An elected despot, Tony Blair committed Britain to Bush's invasion of Iraq.
      I wonder what Blair would make of Bloom's cool appraisal?

      Bloom most resembled Lionel Trilling (1905-1975) who wrote a book every student should read, *The Moral Obligation To Be Intelligent*.

      Trilling stepped down from his Ivory Tower and wrote the best American novel of the Cold War, *The Middle of the Journey*.
      The title of his novel is from Dante:
      *In the middle of the journey of our life I found myself in a dark wood ...*

      Haggerty

      *In the middle of our journey

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  2. That cheered me up YP.

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  3. I agree, my friend. We have slipped beyond the time when anything much can be done to save the natural world that you and I once knew. Why do none but a handful of people care about the final destruction of our planet? I always thought that people and governments and industries and politicians would wake up and do something while there still might be time in which to really do something to change the course of the eradication of life that is happening now. But they are too greedy and too blind and they just don't care!

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    1. They can see what is coming but still do so little to prevent us from sliding into oblivion. Just empty words.

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  4. I used to reserve such posts for Monday with the title Maudlin Monday. You haven't allowed for the effect of the world changing Glasgow Climate Change Conference. Ok, maybe rightly, but we have to have hope.

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    1. I want to have hope but see no reason for it I am afraid.

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  5. Unfortunately, there will be no concrete towers or container ports if we push the planet to mass extinction. Humanity will die along with everything else.

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    Replies
    1. It seems we are on course for that. China is building more coal-powered electricity plants.

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  6. Things have changed very much in our lives. When I came into this world Canada had a population of less than 10000000. Things are going to change much more and rapidly. Covid won't look bad when we see what's coming. I hate to be so negative.

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    1. I know that negativity is not in your nature but realism is.

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  7. Beautifully written--a tale of tragedy brought on by greed, selfishness and ignorance.

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  8. Beautifully written but there are still people out there who fight to save what is left. The truth is that we should be hopeful and fight against those who destroy. They may glue themselves to motorways but people still feel strongly enough to bring the traffic to a halt and face the wrath of the police and Pritti Patel..

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    Replies
    1. I was hopeful but that hope evaporated. Trouble is there's no deity watching over us. The power was in our own hands.

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  9. As Thelma says, people are trying to fight back, but then:
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/21/pioneering-rewilding-project-faces-catastrophe-from-plan-for-new-houses

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    Replies
    1. Isabella Tree is a great name for a conservationist! Good luck to her - she'll need it!

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    2. A bell is a bell and a tree is a tree.

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  10. The bottom line is that most of these problems are a consequence of the explosion in numbers of humans. I was born into a UK of less than 50 million, a conservative estimate is now around 70+ million. In the same time frame India's population has probably increased by more than double. This has been the elephant in the room that no politician dare acknowledge!

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    Replies
    1. I entirely agree with you about this. It is the hardest nettle to grasp and they seem afraid of it.

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  11. I have always enjoyed listening to others muse about the days gone by and how they were the "best". Makes me wonder what my kids or grandkids will be musing about long after I'm gone.

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    Replies
    1. They'll be musing about all the fun they had in The Ed Shed.

      Delete

Mr Pudding welcomes all genuine comments - even those with which he disagrees. However, puerile or abusive comments from anonymous contributors will continue to be given the short shrift they deserve. Any spam comments that get through Google/Blogger defences will also be quickly deleted.

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