Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Puritans and ranters

Salman Rushdie says in an interview I read today that puritans are people who suspect that someone somewhere is having a good time. Today I also happen to be reading Christopher Hill's book on radical ideas during the English revolution. It's stunning to see this flora of rebellious ideas, often millenaristic and pantheistic, affirmative of life and earthly desires – and totally alien to the ascetic puritanism that went victorious out of the civil war and paved the way and provided the legitimation for the profits of a misantropic and intolerant bourgeoisie. I find a wonderful quote by Abiezer Coppe, a ”ranter” who after having handed over all the money he was carrying to a beggar - not much, he was poor himself - rides away with joy and amazement, and on the spur of a sudden impulse decides to ride back to ”the poor wretch” and exclaims: ”Because I am a King I did this...”!

I hate to draw lessons, but here is one anyway: You won't live for ever. Be kind while you can.

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