Sunday, 13th May, 2012

I’m supposed to be writing about Tessimond this morning (and I have been doing, honest!) but have been distracted by Dawson Jackson again. He has a staggering ability to turn out very simple-seeming phrases that just flaw me, and this morning it is this from the poem ‘To his wife: A scent of hyacinth’:

And she takes on the
Quality of
What she loves: the beauty that her
Eye perceives, she

Is.

It’s that dropped ‘Is’ between the two stanzas that gets me in the guts. There’s an important truth there, I feel, that what we are – the quality of what we are – is formed from what we love.

Copies of a lot of Jackson’s correspondence pertaining to Tessimond arrived from America last week. I’ve been reading through those, mainly just scanning for references to Tessimond. Jackson is an uncommonly good letter-writer and a series of them from the early 1980s really caught me. He is concerned in these with the state of the world – with the wickedness of Thatcher’s government and the fear gripping everyone – but what is striking from someone who feels all of that is that his response is not anger, but love. He describes, very movingly, a CND march in 1983 – of telling the policemen marshalling it how glad he is that they were ‘invited to the party’. It’s not to wind them up, he actually means it. I’m sure that he was angry, but there is a sense that anger has brought all of this about. The only thing that will prevail, is love.

Which brings me to something that I keep writing out on my whiteboard in my office. Years ago, I did my masters on Martin Heidegger, and ‘Being’ has a residual draw for me, but this is much more human than that – it’s the contents page from Jackson’s Primer of Necessary Belief (London: Victor Gollancz, 1957). Contents pages don’t tend to get much attention, I suppose. They’re perfunctory text not given to much analysis, but this particular one has its own beauty:

Summary of sections—

(a) I am
(b) Being, I love
(c) Others are
(d) And love also
(e) Each, without exception, throughout mankind
(f) And the hierarchies of nature

Summary of forthcoming parts

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