Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Reflections Upon A Trump

The following has been culled from the "Preface" to William Wordsworth's first major work, "The Borderers". "The Borderers", how apt indeed. How so not at cross-purposes.

A Challenge:
Try not to think of a man we have come to know and judge as you read this Wordsworthian excerpt.

"...His energies are most impressively manifested in works of devastation. He is the Orlando of Ariosto, the Cardenio of Cervantes, who lays waste the groves that should shelter him. He has rebelled against the world & the laws of the world, & he regards them as tyrannical masters; convinced that he is right in some of his conclusions, he nourishes a contempt for mankind the more dangerous because he has been led to it by reflexion. Being in the habit of considering the world as a body which is in some sort at war with him, he has a feeling borrowed from that habit which gives an additional zest to his hatred of those members of society whom he hates & to his contempt of those whom he despises. Add to this, that a mind fond nourishing sentiments of contempt will be prone to the admission of those feelings which are considered under any uncommon bond of relation (as must be the case with a man who has quarrelled with the world), the feelings will mutually strengthen each other. In this morbid state of mind he cannot exist without occupation, he requires constant provocatives, all his pleasures are prospective, he is perpetually chasing a phantom, he commits new crimes to drive away the memory of the past. But the lenitives of his pain are twofold; meditation as well as action. Accordingly, his reason is almost exclusively employed in justifying his past enormities & in enabling him to commit new ones. He is perpetually imposing upon himself, he has a sophism for every crime. The mild effusions of thought, the milk of human reason, are unknown to him. His imagination is powerful, being strengthened by the habit of picturing possible forms of society where his crimes would be no longer crimes, and he would enjoy that estimation to which, from his intellectual attainments, he deems himself entitled. The nicer shades of manners he disregards, but whenever, upon looking back upon past ages, or in surveying the practices of different countries in the age in which he lives, he find such contrarieties as seem to affect the principles of morals, he exults over his discovery, and applies it to his heart as the dearest of his consolations. Such a mind cannot but discover some truths, but he is unable to profit by them, and in his hands they become instruments of evil.

He presses truth and falsehood into the same service. He looks at society through an optical glass of a peculiar tint; something of the forms of objects he takes from objects, but their colour is exclusively what he gives them; it is one, and it is his own. Having indulged a habit, dangerous in a man who has fallen, of dallying with moral calculations, he becomes an empiric, and a daring & unfeeling empiric. He disguises from himself his own malignity by assuming the character of a spectator in morals, and one who has the hardihood to realize his speculations."

At this point I must admit that these truths exposed by Wordsworth as being self-evident continue to mount for several hundred more well-crafted and well-chosen words by the laureate, and you can find and read them in cyberspace, paradoxically---free, yet full of charge.

No comments: