Enough of keeping calm and carrying on

In “Musée des Beaux Arts”, WH Auden crafted a description readers never forget of Brueghel’s painting of the fall of Icarus. All Brueghel shows of Icarus is a small pair of thrashing legs disappearing into a vast sea. Farmers on a clifftop carry on ploughing the fields and watching their sheep as if nothing has happened. A ship sails by the drowning hero, its crew unaware of Icarus’s suffering. In Brueghel’s vision of tragedy, says Auden:

Everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure.

Nearly everyone who is not directly suffering from the crisis is a ploughman today. We keep our eyes down. We concentrate on our work. We behave as if times were normal or, if we cannot manage that pretence, we behave as if times will soon return to normal. In the still rich regions of Britain, the pubs and bars are full of Christmas drinkers…
Carry on reading

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One thought on “Enough of keeping calm and carrying on

  1. An excellent article, thank you. I’m at Occupy London, St. Paul’s, though I go back to my flat in Shepherds Bush most nights. Although day in, day out, I speak with concerned visitors to the occupation it never ceases to amaze me how, within moments of leaving, it seems as though nothing at all is going on.
    The only explanation I can come up with is that people are in total denial about the situation.
    Unfortunately I think that we will discover sooner rather than later that the economic mess we’re in is not going to get fixed any time soon and that ideas being developed by the Occupy movement, and the many prominent supporters of Occupy worldwide, may prove to be the best available blueprint for survival.

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