Friday, September 26, 2014

Thought for the future

When one comes to think of it one cannot help feeling that nearly half the misery of the world would disappear if we fretting mortals knew the value of silence. Before modern civilisation came upon us at least six to eight hours of silence out of twenty four were vouchsafed to us. Modern civilisation has taught us to convert night into day and golden silence into brazen din and noise. What a great thing it would be if we in our busy lives could restore into ourselves each day for at least a couple of hours and prepare our minds to listen to the Voice of the Great Silence. The Divine Radio is always singing if we could only make ourselves ready to listen to it, but it is impossible to listen without silence… ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Photo was taken by me in Ladakh on the Bailey bridge crossing the Indus river approaching the Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Stakna which can be seen on the hill ahead. The bridge is so narrow that cars have to fold in their mirrors to cross it! Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.


billoo said...

lovely thought, pli. Thanks for sharing it (reminded me of Illich's 'silence is a commons')

Can't resist, though, mentioning Churchill's comment on learning Gandhi was back in town (London)..."oh no, not that bloody fakir again!"




Pliable said...

Churchill also referred to Ghandi as "a half-naked fakir". That disparaging reference is quoted in Sudheendra Kulkarni's admirable The Music of the Spinning Wheel.

billoo said...

Gotta admit that's quite funny, pli. (don't know why the word fakir reminds me of Spike). Which is not to take away anything from Gandhi's greatness, of course.

Philip Amos said...

If I have made any friends via my occasional comments on this most admirable of blogs, I'm probably about to lose the lot, but I'm an historian, albeit retired, and I do so like accuracy in quotations.

I must say that the words attributed to Churchill by billoo sound a lot more characteristic of Eric Idle. But that apart, the words of WSC that gave rise to the "half-naked fakir" image, surely one of the best-known of the plethora of things Churchill never said, were:

"...a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well-known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the viceregal palace..."

billoo said...

You're probably right, Philip! I can't even remember where I read it. But it does 'sound' true and isn't that part of the historian's job as well, to find the balance between scholarship and imagination (Peter Brown)?

Philip Amos said...

Ah, but, billoo, it doesn't sound true. WSC did not phrase like that. Also, a shelf of my library contains works by or on him, and I don't think he ever used the word 'bloody', though he may have. And he never referred to Gandhi as a 'fakir' in that way. The mere use of the word is not enough.

When historians of my age and (even older) Peter Brown's speak of the 'historical imagination', we don't mean just making stuff up. (See Collingwood, Oakeshott, Barfield, White, et al.) That we really do leave to Monty Python, Hollywood filmmakers, and the historical novelists averse from research. Oh, and also to the younger generations of historians who adhere to post-modernist thought, giving primacy to subjective opinion and bringing the historical discipline to an undignified end.

billoo said...

No, Philip, quite agree with you, I don't think the imagination is the same thing as subjective opinion and there are obviously dangers of 'fancy'-to take up Peter Brown again-developing without discipline, effort and the constraints of reality (or social institutions).

So, yes, your point is well was a flippant comment and I can see how it must be quite infuriating as a scholar to read that. I would be interested to know in what sense Churchill used the word 'fakir' but am extremely weary of using Pli's space here for this digression)

Perhaps we can at least agree that it was quite funny?

Philip Amos said...

Heavens, yes, billoo, and it was funny. On the other hand, I wasn't in the least infuriated. I meant my first comment to come across in a vein much lighter of heart than it did. I suspect I was very tired when I wrote both comments -- my insomnia of world-class severity catching up with me. I've enjoyed our chat very much. Thank you!