I am really struggling to get on with research and writing for my two new books: one on why ‘Tagore Matters’, the other looking more generally on ‘Facing the Future’: why we don’t, and how that could change. The cause of my ‘writer’s block’, if that’s what it is, is depression and anxiety over recent events: Brexit, the anti-Corbyn coup, and being reminded about the Iraq War and its aftermath by the Chilcot Report. Today I put the following on facebook:
My granddaughter Thalia insisted on wearing her princess dress when we all went on the march against the Iraq War in February 2003. She was then nearly 4 years old. Now a beauty of 17 she is devastated at the Brexit result. Already well-travelled, with UK and NZ citizenship, she spent several months in Thailand in 2015-16 and experienced the nuisance of visa restrictions. She’d been looking forward to being able to travel and work freely anywhere in Europe. Those two problems are connected by Blairism, a disease which has infected the Labour Party. Shockingly, the current – socialist! – Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was told by someone on the Labour benches in Parliament to ‘shut up and sit down’ while he was apologising on behalf of his Party for the Iraq War and its aftermath. We need Corbyn, the only hope for peace, justice, fairness and freedom in the UK and in its relations with the world.
I had intended to continue the ‘Story of my Tagore Book’ yesterday by recounting ‘my Tagore journey involving those lovely people’ who featured in the Acknowledgements page of my PhD thesis. But life intervened. When my husband David and I moved to our house in Dawlish, Devon, one of the first changes we made was to have the horrible plastic windows replaced with wooden ones. We love the result. Sadly, though, there was one piece of timber which harboured dry rot, and it has spread, and over the years efforts have been made to cut out the infected wood and replace it. It still spread, and yesterday another effort was made. This meant that David had to stay at home to consult with the carpenters. I don’t drive so I had to go to Dartington for a session with my pilates teacher on the train and by taxi. I walked back via Dartington Shops and met one of the Schumacher College students, Ana from Brazil, who was on the Bioregionalism course I attended in April-May this year. Then I walked back to the station, which took longer than I remembered from when I used to walk from the station to High Cross House in Dartington to work on the Dartington Trust Archive.
It feels strange writing about my own day-to-day experiences which are not directly connected with my Tagore studies or the political issues and activities which concern me. But they have connections, and the phenomenon of connectedness is highly relevant to why Tagore’s ideas and projects matter.
But to resume what I meant to put on my blog yesterday, I wrote the following in the Acknowledgements page of my thesis:
‘I owe a different kind of everything to my supervisor, Regenia Gagnier, for her intuition that I have something to offer the world of scholarship, if only it can be got out, for her exacting criticism, for her appetite for new ideas and opportunities from wherever they may come.’
Yesterday, Regenia sent me an email:
Dear Chris, Thank you so much for sending me a copy of your lovely book, so beautifully produced as well as researched. Scholars with your far-reaching commitment are not the norm, and I wish you all success with the broadest possible audience.
I had been a bit anxious that my decision to remove all my footnotes, and put just a short notes section at the back, would be regarded disapprovingly by academics. But Regenia clearly understood that I want the book to make a difference by showing that Tagore’s radical ideas and projects can inspire and strengthen the equivalent movements for world change, which have been emerging over the past half century. I had an encouraging email thank you from Andy Goldring, CEO of the Permaculture Association Britain:
Hi Chris, I’m just back from Spain (Art of Collaboration conference) and your very fine book was waiting for me – many thanks indeed. I will of course read and let you know my thoughts arising. It looks wonderful. I just need a few long train journeys now so I can get some time to read it! I’m going to Italy in September for the European Convergence, so it may be that that is the time!
PS a great time for revolutionary thinking and calm action!
Andy is so right. It is indeed ‘a great time for revolutionary thinking and calm action!’ – a time for a Tagorean World.
For a copy of my book, see http://tagoreanworld.co.uk/?page_id=152.