January 25, 2014

"Keeping life alive, and passing it on"

That we are living through a dark age. An age, if you like, of ‘endarkenment’ — and I don’t necessarily mean that negatively. The world is aflood with dark psychic fluid, everything’s stained with it. We all say we hate the stuff, but we don’t act that way, we splash in it. It’s an age in which, for reasons we can’t comprehend, everything’s being turned inside out, everything’s imploding and exploding at once, and we can’t stop it.

And it’s going to continue, it’ll go on for a long, long time, longer than we’re going to be alive. So we can’t find peace, we can’t ‘win,’ it’s not going to be all right. Not for us. But that doesn’t have to rob us of purpose; in fact it’s the opposite, it implies a great purpose: That what each of us must do is cleave to what we find most beautiful in the human heritage — and pass it on. So that one day, one day when this endarkenment exhausts itself, those precious things we’ve passed on will still be alive, stained perhaps but functional, still present in some form, and it will be possible for the people of that day to make use of them to construct a life that is a life — the life of freedom and variety and order and light and dark, in their proper proportions (whatever they may be). The life that we’d choose now if we could.

And that to pass these precious fragments on is our mission, a dangerous mission — that if you were going to volunteer for crucial, hazardous work, work of great importance and risk, this might be the job you drew. And it isn’t a bad job at all. Actually, it’s the best job. And his mother, and me, and our friends — ‘And you too, man,’ I said, ‘I can see it in your eyes’ — that’s what we’re doing here. Trying to do. And it’s no small thing, it’s the best, man, it’s one of the few things left to be proud of.
Maybe the most important thing to remember right now is that many people are doing this work. It's more public in a writer or an artist or an environmentalist, but anyone who loves something life-giving and tends it — to garden, or to read, or to brew beer, or (even this is becoming lost) to take long walks — is, as Pasternak put it, keeping life alive, and passing it on.

Michael Ventura, The Age of Endarkenment, Whole Earth Review, Winter 1989 via The Great Zero Gate

Posted by Jill Fallon at January 25, 2014 8:45 AM | Permalink