Thursday, 24 May 2012

John Cowper Powys (8/10/1872 - 17/6/63) - The Magic of Detachment

  ' But it is in relation to individual human beings that Detachment is most necessary of all. The wise man spends his life running away. But luckily he can run away without moving a step. We are all - men and women alike - teased by the blue-bottle flies who want to lay their eggs. These are the people who have never learnt and never could learn the art of detachment. They are blue-bottle flies - as my sister Phillipa says - and they want to lay their eggs; and they can only lay their eggs in carrion. Not one of us has carried in him, carrion in her; and the buzzing blue-bottles, among our fellows, smell this afar off, and fly towards it, and would fain settle upon it and lay thei eggs.
   Here indeed, here most of all is it necessary to excercise the very magic of Detachment, that magic that makes it possible for you to be in one place - like the man seated on the naked stone by the flowing water - and yet to be in the heart of the flaming sun and at the circumfrence of the divine ether. For if you fail to exercise the magic of Detachment upon the blue-bottle flie who infest your road they willreally lay their eggs - the eggs of the maggots of civilisation - in your soul. And then you will believe in the justifiability of vivisection; in the sacrosanct importance of private property; in the virtue of patriotic war; in slaughter-houses, in brothels, in slavery, and in the great, noble scientific, gregarious, loving, human, undetached art of - Advertisement.
  Rouseau was right. It is only by detaching yourself from human civilisation that you can live a life worthy of a living soul.'

 Quotation Reprinted from
John Cowper Powys
A Record of Achievement
- Derek Langbridge
The Library Association,
1966 

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