T.S. Eliot, from East Coker, Four Quartets:
“So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l’entre deux guerres-
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholy new start, and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say, or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate,
With shabby equipment always deteriorating
In the general mess of imprecision of feeling,
Undisciplined squads of emotion. And what there is to conquer
By strength and submission, has already been discovered
Once or twice, or several times, by men whom one cannot hope
To emulate – but there is no competition –
There is only the fight to recover what has been lost
And found and lost again and again: and now, under conditions
That seem unpropitious. But perhaps neither gain nor loss.
For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”
The last 5 lines are pretty much my bit on academia. The line prior apply too though, obviously.
The poignant personal truth underlying its insufferable economy of violence; the fractured souls and broke bodies who animate the monster, “though it slay me, yet will I trust it”.
Meanwhile seeds are sown at the margins, the fight to recover unfolds silently in the desert’s night.
There they are, in the middle way.
An us, an our, a community of defeated triers, might yet be the light dawning.
But that, I suspect, is only one person’s business, and not mine.