Stop our ears

December 1, 2010

Pine cones – photograph by Liz Mathews

Will truth be quicker found because we stop our ears to music and drink no wine, and sleep instead of talking through the long winter night?

(Virginia Woolf, The Common Reader)

A question suggesting the answer ‘no’.  (A rhetorical question only relevant to anyone who might consider truth-seeking important.)  But the negative image it conjures – of a sleeping people, deaf to music, disinclined to celebration or inspiration, without conversation – seems an uneasy vision of the possible alternative.  It’s not so much a puritanical refusal of pleasure and sociability which is sketched in, as a lethargic denial of vivid existence, a preference for hibernation and insensibility.  In that opiate state there is no possibility of seeking truth, or of living brightly; during the centuries of enforced sleep, thorn-forests grow up, castle walls crumble, stories are forgotten.  Then it takes a heroic effort to awaken the sleepers.

Resistance to this dark oblivion is possible; or possible at least for those fortunate ones who are still able to hear music and talk, who have wine and warmth for those long winter nights, who can make common cause in their waking.  Gathering darkness is the time to make seasonal preparations, both for the chill winter and the turn of the year, the returning sun. Far from sleeping through the long winter nights, stopping our ears to music, drinking no wine, avoiding speech about what concerns us so deeply, we will remain inconveniently awake both as artists and audiences; truth-seeking, talkative, ears open.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: