ours are visions

April 3, 2017

Diary 3rd April

I met an old friend at the railway station a couple of years ago. I hadn’t seen him for a long time, and was shocked by how much he’d aged. I suppose I’d retained this mental image of him at age eighteen (of us both, in fact)? We’d been at school together. Close friends. But now, abruptly, we were two very different people.

Sometime after this, I encountered his older sister Christine in the street. It was on one of my then frequent visits to London. She’d metamorphosed from a slinky beauty to a dumpy duplicate of her mother. She looked so very careworn. I couldn’t help wondering what she saw when she looked at me?

Our faces contain as much of farce as of tragedy, or so it seems.

Christine, once vivacious and charming, had become sluggish and contemplative – nothing like the girl who’d allowed my hand beneath her pleated skirt and into her knickers.

Ah, all these breathless faces from the past belong in some old picture book, not here. We’re all racing towards the discourtesy of death, and should know better than to recall vulnerable girlish sighs from half a lifetime ago.

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We are the golden men, who shall the people save:
For only ours are visions, perfect and divine.
For we alone are drunken of the last, best wine;
And very Truth our souls hath flooded, wave on wave.

(Lionel Johnson, Munster: AD 1534)

Does anyone read Johnson nowadays? I s’pose there’s one or two: the odd, geriatric Fenian, perhaps?

Ezra Pound described him as “a traditionalist of traditionalists”. Oxford scholar, Catholic, member of the Irish Literary Society, and the Rhymers’ Club, Johnson enjoyed a drink – but then who doesn’t? He was interestingly eccentric.

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For Plato knowledge was the soul recollecting its previous incarnations. Plato and Jung have much in common, especially archetypes and the collective unconscious.

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