Isaiah Berlin was in my view the most distinguished political philosopher and historian of ideas of the 20th century.
Seamus Heaney, the great Irish poet, whose marvellous collection of essays The Redress of Poetry I like to re-read, writes that W H Auden’s elegy for Yeats was “a rallying cry that celebrates poetry for being on the side of life, and continuity of effort, and enlargement of the spirit.” Heaney believes that one function of poetry is to act as a counterweight to hostile and oppressive forces in the world: he calls this “the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality.” This is what he calls “redress”, whereby “the poetic imagination seems to redress whatever is wrong or exacerbating in the prevailing conditions,” offering “a response to reality which has a liberating and verifying effort upon the individual spirit…tilting the scales of reality towards some transcendent equilibrium…This redressing effect of poetry comes from its being a glimpsed
Amidst my most surprising possessions are 66 letters from Don Bradman. Let me be more precise since readers may get the wrong idea.
It is hard to claim that GuySuCo’s losses on the scale now obtaining – leading to the diversion of precious taxpayer’s revenue from education and health for instance – can be sustained much longer.
In Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Edward Gibbon, writing about the reign of Titus Pius, commented in passing that history was “little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind.” That judgment seems true.
At a time when one is still shaken by the death of Derek Walcott – the thought which diminishes us that he will never again decipher the beauty of the world for us – let us celebrate poetry – “the bread that lasts when systems have decayed.” And today I do so by recalling a poet whom Walcott loved – I remember talking with Walcott about him when Walcott visited Guyana a few years ago.
Leave aside the interminable bungling and set-in-stone ill-will which to one’s endless dismay characterise Guyana’s public space – and concentrate instead for your soul’s content on the many wonders which cross the mind on a daily basis.
Many people go to the ends of the earth to find beauty. And certainly beauty can be found at the ends of the earth.
By what values should we strive to live in order to achieve a community in which differences are accommodated, a community where there is diversity of discourse but a recognition of the common good regardless of politics, religion, race and personal beliefs?
I have slowed down considerably, to say the least, but the fire in the mind still lights my world.
I remember a very long time ago, in the era of Prime Minister, not even then President LFS Burnham, when I was a Director in the sugar industry, I had occasion to enquire from an official at the then State Planning Commission about a request made months before for approval for the introduction of a new incentive scheme in the industry.
I worked in the Guyana sugar industry for decades, ending my career in 1999 as a Director of GuySuCo specifically in charge of marketing.
If you can, every now and then it is good to escape the reality which you have settled into.
The world of reading – I mean actual ‘flesh and blood’ books alive in my hand – is full of countless wonders and perceptions and images that spark the imagination as long as one is alive.
There was once a visitor to Dublin, lost somewhere near the city centre who stopped and asked a passer-by for directions.
It happens all the time in small, closely-knit groups – cabinets, party executives, boards of directors, church congregations or club committees.