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Saturday 29 December 2018

Quotes Worth Saving (25): Andrew Greig, "Excellent advice."

Part of the reason I've been compiling this list of interesting quotes from books (and so forth) is that there's a particular thrill in coming across something and saying to yourself, "yes, that's how I feel about that too!" A bit of validation I suppose that someone else shares your thoughts. Not many of them however have been quite on the nose as this from Andrew Greig's memoir about the folk music scene in the 1960s in Scotland and, in particular, the Incredible String Band. Former ISB member Mike Heron writes the first 100 pages or so, detailing his teenage years and starting the band. Greig then continues the tale with his own story of his attempted band and finding his own way in the world.

Andrew Greig
You Know What You Could Be
riverrun, London: 2017
'In the Footsteps of the Heron'

Sufism, Maoism, Divine Light, the Maharishi, TM, the Hare Krishnas, Scientology, anarchism, psychoanalysis, life-coaching and, in younger days, the Seaside Summer Mission - there has been much on offer in my lifetime. I have felt the pull of them all. Who does not wish to be saved, to be made whole? Who would not want to shed this burden? 
But even the less preposterous precepts of humanism, Buddhism, the Quakers that my mother joined in her later years - in the end I've turned away from entirely signing up to any of them. Anthea Joseph was opinionated, loyal, generous and darkly troubled, but on this she was right. You must not hand over the burden of yourself to anyone else, not even to your beloved if you're fortunate enough to have one. 
There's a handwritten sign by the A82 on the way to Fort William: Bag your own manure. Excellent advice.

I have also investigated many avenues of thought and routes of potential escape; mysticism, Hermeticism, Taoism, Zen, and others more close to home. However, I've never quite managed to fully commit myself to one cause and for some time I wondered if this was a failing on my part. That this certain unwillingness was in fact a fear of dedication. In the end, I think I would always eschew duty to any one meta-narrative for the responsibility of continued striving. It is better, I would say, to commit one's self to being an always unfinished work in search of, rather than a devotee to any one thing in particular.

Happy New Year to all.