July has crept in before we could realise it was coming.. Like an exotic leopard perhaps that pads silently into the room… Old Julius Caesar’s month..
Here at the Castle of the Muses, June 21st saw a wonderful trip up the mountain behind us to discover a lost lake hidden up there in the clouds. We watched cloud-ghosts whirling around like phantasms appearing and disappearing, ideal for skrying.. The lake, when we finally found it, had perfect white sand on its beaches.. Now can any geologists explain how white sand gets to landlocked lakes thousands of feet up in the air, around small lakes ? Does the sand arise from simply the wave action of the lake, which is smaller than Thoreau’s famous Walden Pond – or does it predate the raising of the mountains ? Or should we say it was rather “created” because it is beautiful, by the God and Goddess and it doesn’t really matter how it got there ! Answers please… I seem to recall Leonard da Vinci asking similar questions about fossils in his famous manuscript on the Moon and Tides that was shown at the Chester Beatty Museum inIreland a few years ago.. Which Bill Gates bought, by the way..
We recently welcomed several peace seekers to the Castle, one being Sheikh Satardien for his PhD viva with the Global Green University, which he passed successfully, for his thesis on Religion And Peace In The 20th Century: An Analysis. Congratulations.
Meanwhile, in Kensal Rise, the newspapers carried a very alarming story recently – council officials had sent in police and council officials on the night of 31st May, 2012, to clear the library of its books, since the library had been scheduled for cuts under local authority austerity programmes, under Brent Council, and activists were trying to keep the library open as a social service for the whole community. So police were literally sent in to capture and confiscate the books from the stacks and shelves and clear the building. This is frightening, and an image of big brother gone wild, and a bridge too far. Kensal Rise library, which was opened by American writer Mark Twain, is housed on premises owned by All Soul’s College in Oxford, and has been the subject of a long campaign with supporters including authors Zadie Smith, Philip Pullman and Alan Bennett. Alongside five other Brent libraries, it was closed in 2011 after legal challenges in the High Court and Court of Appeal failed to get the council’s plans ruled unlawful.
This image should sicken all right thinking scholars and academics, pupils, parents, children, students, teachers, intellectuals and philosophers worldwide and throughout the UK especially. Have we become a nation in which fear of budgets not meeting (lines on paper or electronic signals on screens) outruns our love of culture ? How disgraceful. This is also part of the trouble with the banking culture having a stranglehold over whole peoples and nations, such as Greece or Irelandor Spain, or Iceland. The whole thing is based on a misunderstanding, which Rene Guenon rightly named “The Reign of Quantity”, and which Robert Pirsig, in his “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” rightly called for replacing the false worship of quantity with a renewed respect for quality, or meaning. Plato, Moses, Solomon, David, Muhammad, Jesus, St Paul, Buddha, Confucius, Krishna, Imam Ali, Suhrawardi, Ibn Arabi, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Steiner, Aurobindo, Wilber, Gandhi, Emerson, Carlyle, Burke and Merlin and the entire philosophical system of the world have said the same thing, again and again in each generation. Worshipping mere quantity, numbers, over Love and Being, over Spirit, has become again the new barbarous idolatry of our age as it is of all ages…
Here at the Castle of the Muses, we are proud to be a major library modelled on the Muses such as was used by the library of Alexandria. As philosophers and lovers of the Muses we know all about the desecration of libraries. But we had not expected this in the UK in the 21st century. Are we fast approaching a new barbarism ? One in which the fig leaf of pseudo-legalism is used again and again to silence the power of spirit and truth ?
The kind of short-term cost accountancy that leads local councils to shut libraries is part of an intellectual malaise that has been going on for a long time. It is based on a false notion of economics, of economic advantage, and a false understanding of what wealth actually is. Most people think wealth can be measured solely in terms of money, cash, bank accounts, and tangible property. Yet wealth is also ideas, feelings, compassion, love, insight, genius, wisdom.. This hidden aspect of wealth can be called intellectual and social capital, even spiritual capital. This is a new factor in wealth and in economic theory that neither Marx and Marxists, nor most so called Socialists, nor Adam Smith and classical economists, nor any but Romantic Conservatives, truly understood or understand. Ideas have value in and of themselves, and can go on and generate new wealth creation projects, businesses, inventions, products, companies. We need to encourage creative intelligence in our children and young students, because they in turn will become the geniuses and visionaries of the next generation who will be the Steve Jobs, or Richard Branson’s or Paul Macartney’s of the future. Education therefore is the key to fight the generation of intellectual and social capital. And libraries, notwithstanding the seductive power of the internet, are at the heart of making social and intellectual capital available to everyone. I remember personally many happy hours spent in public libraries inCalgary,Edmonton andLondon, inWestminster andCamden library public library services – in the oldMarylebone Street library, or at Swiss Cottage, for instance. I want my children’s children’ children to have this same pleasure, the delight of communing with the great minds of past generations that only books can give, and only libraries can hold in sufficient quantity and quality to satisfy the intellectual needs of the people as a whole.
It was Julius Caesar who founded one of the first public libraries in Rome, in the forecourts of the Temple of Pax. As Peace Druid of Britain I don’t normally like to support much of what Caesar did, but even he got it right on that occasion. And Caesar wrote books (well, scrolls actually), along with his rival Cicero, because they both realised that words leave a permanent legacy tending towards truth, and in them, lies true honour and the best legacy we can bestow on future generations.
The question is – how can we fight back ? How can we restore the UK once more to being a culture and a civilisation that values learning, education, indeed enlightenment, above all else ? At the Castle of the Muses we have made a start. Much as Charles 1 showed his disgust with the petty self-righteous tyrants of Parliament who were already over-regulating the consciences of the nation, by raising his standard at Nottingham, we have also raised a standard in the Castle of the Muses for all those who love learning, wisdom, education and peace to rally around – however you label your spiritual, intellectual or political position.
We also issue this open appeal to the planned library closures of the UK, of which some further 600 are scheduled – please send us your unwanted books (classics only please). Don’t burn them ! We intend to establish as RSPUB – a Royal Society for the Protection of Unwanted Books. We will give them a home, like orphans, until kinder days allow our libraries once more to reopen nation wide. We are passing through a dark time, people, when police are sent out to clear our libraries of their precious stocks. In Nazi Germany they burned books. Now they confiscate them in the name of legalism. Which is worse ?
How about recalling all our troops from overseas, and founding instead a Temple of Pax in London, with a permanent flame burning, a meditation and prayer space, and a list of all those who have died in wars for this country since records began ? Wouldn’t this be a better way to honour our armed services than the pageants of Armed Forces Day recently witnessed nationally ? How about opening in its forecourts a Public Library and restocking it with the plundered books from Kensal Green library and the other 600 that are threatened for closure ? I think even old Julius would be turning in his grave at this barbarism… Having just got back from a trip to the Vatican Library in Rome, I can safely say that destroying libraries is the antithesis of all that Christ stood for..
So if anyone wants to make us a flag with the 9 Muses on, in the form of a 9 Pointed Star encircling the Globe, we will literally display it from our battlements up high for all to see. And the nuclear submarines and their attendant ships that parade up and down Loch Goil before us can see it flying proud and free, as a rallying call for all the Lovers of the Muses throughout this fair and pleasant land and indeed throughout the world..
Happy July everybody ! Happy Full Moon coming later tonight !
Dr Thomas Clough Daffern D.Sc. (Hon) PGCE PhD
July 2, 2012