The MIDGE (3)
by Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh
Gàidhlig AN SEO
say you were alive and free;
and say Gaelic was in your mouth anew.
Would justice be done by your freedom?
Would truth be spoken by your language?
Or would we be scunnered with you
as once we were with Britain?
I saw a white unicorn
If I was a Messiah
I would raise Scotland even from the dead;
but the wind and the sea do not obey me
and were I to stand before the grave of my country
she wouldn't stir
though it were in Gaelic itself that I spoke to her.
For I am in her embrace, warm or cold,
and her shroud will smother me.
I am not Atlas;
there is nothing on my shoulders but my head.
I cannot raise the world.
I cannot raise Scotland.
And to tell the truth, it is with difficulty sometimes
that I raise my head...
But who knows that if I raise my head a little
I might not raise Scotland a little?
And in raising Scotland a little
I won't raise a little the world?
Be that as it may, I am weak,
and here therefore is my dilemma -
I will remain vulnerable
unless I gain control over my body and my country;
unless I gain control over the planet and the cosmos;
unless I gain control over every atom and molecule that exists;
UNLESS I BECOME GOD.
But is not this the stance of Nietzsche?
- MINE is the kingdom, the power, the glory!
We must all play Atlas,
standing astride the grave of God
with the heavens on our shoulders;
(though the strain was too great for Nietzsche himself
and he was crushed like Samson
beneath the debris of the Temple).
But there is no room on the earth for more than one Atlas,
for my freedom is your bondage
and your freedom is my bondage;
consequently we must compete like Titans
for superiority, and before we know it
every atom will be striving to swallow the universe
for each will be terrified of mortality.
I am no Titan.
I am but a jelly-fish
adrift on a shoreless sea;
and when I touch any rock
it becomes a whirlpool before me.
We must choose the rock
that swallows us.
But here we have the heart of the matter –
in order to avoid vulnerability
I must become a dictator;
and for the security of the dictator
freedom must be denied everyone else.
Was not this the very logic of Alexander the Great,
Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin?
(They are dead now;
death wasn't under their control -
the turf was too heavy for them.)
And wasn't this the rationale of England?
(But Scotland, you had no excuse
for your blood-lust.
You were an imperial hit-man;
a political Faust
selling your soul to taste power.
But worse than that it is to avoid power
that you sell your soul now.
More like the whore of Europe,
with your blue mascara and red-smeared mouth
and soliciting hand out-stretched,
that you once were a virgin and a queen).
And I guess the same self-justification
will be proposed by empires of the future.
(Though if some Machiavellian super-computer
takes over the universe, doubtless through time
its accursed brain will curdle
with some silicone thrombosis or other –
for entropy at least won't be under its control.)
I looked up again.
The midge was struggling still
and the spider drawing closer.
An insignificant midge struggling for life.
Vulnerability and power.
The way of nature.
I saw a great spider
spinning a web amongst the stars.
She wished to catch the planets like flies in her net.
She was Rationalism.
I saw a wounded seagull rising from a storm-tossed corrie
and fighting against the gale,
and her scream filled the universe.
She was Existentialism.
I saw the sun become a television
and the face of Medusa on the screen;
And the inhabitants of all the planets were turned to stone.
She was Totalitarianism.
Was not this the sin of Satan –
the attempt to seize absolute power and absolute freedom;
to become the integration point of all things;
to become the subject of his own worship?
He wanted to shine like the sun in the midst of the planets,
and it’s like a sun therefore that he dies –
swollen with pride into a red giant,
exploding into atoms like a super-nova star
and shrinking at last into a spiritual black hole;
a voracious whirlpool bolting everything;
a cosmic parasite sucking in even light itself.
He was Lucifer the Effulgent
till he fell as lightning from heaven
to become Apollyon the Destroyer,
Angel of the abyss.
The ancient Greeks were wrong:
Narcissus didn't become a flower at all,
but a vampire.
And didn't Adam make the self-same mistake –
to spurn delegated authority;
coveting sway without responsibility;
to be archetype instead of replica;
to be word instead of echo;
to be sun instead of moon.
to be a priori instead of a posteriori?
A word was heard,
and light leaped from the darkness
like a salmon from a pool;
it was the first morning of the universe.
Another word was heard
and a torch was thrust into a clay vessel;
it was the first morning of man.
Word and light.
Trumpet and torch.
A sower went forth to sow,
and the seed was the Word of God,
and the name of the seed was
Behold, the virgin earth was with child,
and she brought forth a son,
and as a name she gave him
conceived in the larynx of the earth.