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Thread: Sedartis

  1. #1
    Registered User FREI's Avatar
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    Sedartis

    Sedartis appears out of nowhere and joins me on my train journey from Zürich to the unfortunately named Chur, making his presence felt in the empty seat next to mine, as I glance out of the window.

    (When I say 'Zürich,' I mean a small lakeside town outside Zürich, some ten minutes along the route, where I had boarded the train, having spent the night on the other side of the hill with friends and colleagues, talking mainly about things I am only ever half sure I half understand, but which nevertheless never fail to feed my hunger for thought, invigorate my imagination and massage my malleable mind.)

    Where did you suddenly come from, I want to ask him, and how is it I know your name; but before I can speak we are already in conversation:

    ‘So,’ asks Sedartis, ‘wouldn’t you like a boat on Lake Zürich?’

    ‘Most certainly not,’ say I in reply, though the question seems scarcely to warrant one.

    ‘Why not?’ Sedartis insists.

    ‘Why,’ retort I, ‘what would I with a boat on Lake Zürich?’

    ‘Whatever you fancy,’ Sedartis enthuses: ‘sail on the water, enjoy it, splash about in it a bit!’

    The puppy dog wag of his voice wearies me.

    ‘I enjoy water much as I enjoy women,’ I say in measured tones, unsure of the ground I’m suddenly skating on, without consciously having made any decision to foray at all, onto ice thick or thin: ‘from a distance. To look upon and marvel at their splendour, be it shallow or deep. I have no need to sail upon or splash about in them.’

    Sedartis seems saddened by my lack of alacrity and produces an apple, far too symbolically. He contemplates it for many a long second and then takes a bite from it in a manner that could, though perhaps it ought not to, be described most accurately as ‘hearty.’

    He vaguely reminds me of a character in a book I undoubtedly once would have read, but I don’t remember the book or the story (not least as I’m unsure I’ve even done so yet, or whether this is something I am still to do), and I feel that now he’s here it would be rude of me to dismiss, blank or reject him, or to send him away; and so part of my onward journey, simply, unassumingly and innocuously enough, he becomes...



    From EDEN by FREI

  2. #2
    Registered User FREI's Avatar
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    Lesson

    What, I wonder to myself in a manner that brings to mind Morrissey, complete with a hint of a self-pitying whine, as I sit by another waterside—this time the almost too picturesque, too pristine Windermere—if life suddenly became real? Would I recognise most of it, still?

    I had not intended to involve Sedartis in this query, but since joining me on a train from a small town outside Zürich towards my least favourite city in Switzerland, he has never entirely left my side, and he has honed to an art the disconcerting skill of hearing my thoughts before I’ve had a chance to formulate them, and responding in kind: he never says a word, yet his pronouncements are crystal clear.

    I’m not sure I like this about Sedartis. His clarity. His straightforwardness. His unreconstructed linearity. Aren’t we supposed to have moved into the Age of Diffusion? Of vulnerabilities and fluidity, of connectedness, in all directions; of openness and of infinite potentialities? I probably don’t understand him, yet.

    If I had a life, I would be that much happier sharing it, I surmise, almost as an afterthought, and Sedartis now latches onto me:

    ‘Liberate yourself,’ he urges, ‘from the Tyranny of Opinion. Yours and other people’s.’

    The expression on my face betrays doubt continued.

    ‘Banish that.’

    ‘Really?’

    ‘Don’t banish doubt, of course,’ Sedartis clarifies, as if the idea of doing so were preposterous, though he himself comes over so doubt-free: ‘and make allowance for their doubting too; but banish weariness and eagerness to please. You had it once, don’t you recall: the Freshness of Thought, the Arrogance of Youth, the Wonder of Everything New.’

    There are a lot of capitals, all of a sudden. But I do remember, I remember it fondly and well; but was I not, I also wonder, also just blind to my own …Inadequacies?

    (And now italics, as well…)

    ‘Of course you were! Therein lay your Power. Remember Goethe, remember Boldness, remember Genius.’

    I do. I remember Goethe; he is, unsurprisingly, indelibly ingrained on my mind.

    Sedartis, I realise, is nowhere near as mild-mannered as I believed I had reason to expect him to be. He reminds me of someone I know—not just a literary figure I have a sense I’m confusing him with, but someone I have actually met—but he’s too fast for me, I get no respite from him; not at this moment, though he counsel patience:

    ‘Learn to distinguish between those who know what they’re talking about and those who just talk. Listen out for the quiet voices, the tender, the considered, thought-through ones. Those with nothing to say shout the loudest. You live in a terrible, terrible din. Find the dial and tune out the noise. Listen for the Gentle Song of Truth, it always, always plays on, it never fades out; not completely.’

    I want to, I do.

    ‘Opinion is cheap. And instant opinion may well be worthless. If you, or the person you’re listening to, hasn’t had time to reflect, has not expended thought, has not at least slept on their ukase then you are ill advised: heed it not. Demand earnest discourse. Reject quick fixes as you scorn fast food. You would not stuff your face with salt-fat-sugar bombs from a garish-liveried American chain. Why do you allow your brain to be poisoned by rash judgments, soundbites and rushed ratings? Insight and wisdom are dear, they are earnt. They weigh substance with value. Everything else is just froth.’

    I get the feeling I’m being lectured to by Sedartis, and having never suffered being told what to do, my porcupine prickle stirs under my skin. His unvoiced tone changes. He is with me, he tells me, not against:

    ‘Experience everything new. You once knew how to, you still know now. Free yourself from the familiar, and delve into the exhilarating fear of the unknown.’

    ‘It’s hard, that,’ I offer, all too feebly, ‘pulling yourself up, again and again, summoning the strength, expending the effort, over and over, from scratch…’

    ‘Of course it is,’ Sedartis asserts, laconic, then suddenly severe: ‘if it were easy it too would be spume, but:...’ I don’t want to hear any more, I feel a little sad now and somewhat dejected. Sedartis pays no attention to my discomfort: ‘...the universe gives us each the challenges we need to grow.’




    From EDEN by FREI.

  3. #3
    Registered User FREI's Avatar
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    Autumn

    ‘It is very nice, this very nice weather we’re having:’ I’m trying to work out what Sedartis thinks about simple things.

    Sedartis agrees, but: ‘it is also a burden.’

    ‘How is it a burden?’ I ask him, though I feel I know the answer already:

    ‘It is also a burden because it insists on our enjoyment of it. If it were raining, or grey and drizzly, or at the very least cloudy and disagreeably damp, we would both be happiest sitting indoors and doing some work on the computer, or listening to music, or having a nap, or watching a documentary we had recorded months ago but never found the time to catch up with, or play the guitar and sing an old song, quite badly. We would be deeply content and get some of the things done that we have been meaning to do for a while. Instead, we have to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine. Or go for a walk. We go for long walks anyway, there is nothing wrong with long walks, quite the opposite, we love our long walks come rain or come shine; but with this very nice weather entangled comes an inescapable obligation: it would be a terrible waste of a beautiful day now to be locked inside and not happy.’

    ‘It’s good to be happy, though, is it not?’

    ‘It’s good to be happy,’ Sedartis concurs. Yet again, I sense there’s a but… ‘but the effort of being happy may prove wearisome. Sometimes it is so much more agreeable to be moderately gruntled, and enjoy the undemanding misery that comes with being English in England. The stridency of happiness can be quite overbearing.’

    I know he’s right, though I will him to be wrong, and I close my eyes and inhale the neither warm nor cold air. The city is in constant, fuel-driven agitation: cars and lorries and aeroplanes and buses and the ambulances. Always, always the ambulances.

    I like the sun on my skin and the heat that expands under my cheekbones. I enjoy enjoying the weather, burdensome though it be.

    A big fat cloud starts wandering across the sun, and immediately the air feels much cooler, but not quite yet chilly. I open my eyes and see it will pass ere long.

    I like autumn, though it signify decay. This year, I’ve chosen to stay in London rather than go away. I like London, I love London. It troubles me, right at the moment. There is too much cold money breezing in that doesn’t do anything other than stifle the cracks that before let the light shine through; it deadens the life that makes London unruly, infuriating, endearing; but still I love it, because I know this siege, too, will be withstood; like the small cloud across my sun this very moment, it will pass, and ere long. I have an old-fashioned, daily rejuvenated love affair with ten million people, with more history than I know how to make sense of, and a generous, rebellious, untamed and untameable heart.

    I sense there is a change in the air, and I know the change will be profound.

    Sedartis nods in agreement and with some slight tingle of anticipation; I close my eyes again and take it all in while it lasts, while it lasts…



    From EDEN by FREI

  4. #4
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    The Sedartis Effect

    Sedartis is full of little insights which are borderline annoying. They are annoying, because they are obvious, and it’s possible only to be borderline annoyed with them, because they are obviously true. They are the kind of insights that make you wonder: why has nobody pointed this out to me in, say, year ten or eleven.

    Since joining me, unbidden, uninvited, and taking up quasi-permanent residence by my side, he has sprung them on me at irregular intervals, which, on account of their irregularity, at least retain a mild but welcome element of surprise.

    ‘The reason time passes faster as you get older, relentlessly, is very simple,’ he informs me. I did not ask him about this, I was just looking out of the window of yet another moving train, this time to Dorset.

    ‘I imagine it is,’ I say, having for some time felt I had my own plausible theory about this.

    ‘At the age of one, one year is a hundred percent of your lifetime. That makes it really long. So long that you can’t fathom the sheer vastness of its duration: it is all of your life so far.’

    I’m not sure that I can fathom it now, but for different reasons…

    ‘By the age of ten, that same year is now only a tenth of your lifetime. In absolute terms, it may be as long as any other year, but you don’t experience life in absolute terms, you experience life in relative terms, always: relative entirely to you. Your year is now just ten percent of your body of experience. By the age of fifty, one year has shrunk to a fiftieth of your lifetime: if somebody offered you a fiftieth part of a pie you’d barely think it worth eating. But it’s still a year, and it’s still a slice of your life. And aged a hundred, your year now hardly registers at all. You may well lose track and forget how old you are: was it a hundred and two or a hundred and three years ago now that you were born? Does it matter?’

    ‘This all makes perfect sense to me,’ I say to Sedartis, which it does, but: ‘why are you telling me? Now?’

    ‘Because you’re obviously at that point in your life when your perception of time reaches a tipping point: your life expectancy nowadays isn’t quite, but may soon be, about one hundred years, so around now, as you’re halfway through that more-or-less century of yours, your feeling of losing your grip on time will accelerate, and because you’re now no longer moving away from your birth, but towards your death, you will find this more and more disconcerting.’

    ‘What, more disconcerting than I find it already?’

    ‘Of course. But think not for one moment that you’d be happier if you lived longer.’

    ‘I don’t think so.’

    ‘Because: if you were to get to the point, say, where you habitually had an active conscious lifespan of ten thousand years, it would not feel that much longer than it does now: as you’d get towards the last millennium, each year would only be between one nine and one ten thousandth of our lifetime. That is about the same as three days for you are today. You would not experience a hundred times more than you do today, you would simply stretch your living out over a period a hundred times longer. And nor should that surprise you: when your life expectancy was thirty years or so, people did not generally think, our lives are so short; they simply did all their living inside those thirty years. No-one would argue that Alexander the Great, for example, or Mozart, didn’t really get that much living done in the thirty-odd years of their lives.’

    ‘No,’ I say, thinking, a tad wistfully, of Tom Lehrer, ‘that, I’m sure, no-one could argue.’

    ‘It is, in a not entirely obvious way, not unlike the Doppler Effect: the sound waves coming towards you are compressed so they appear to your ears higher than they do once the source of the sound has passed: now the waves are getting stretched, and so the pitch seems to drop. Of course, time is no wave, and the comparison is clumsy at best and misleading at worst, but if nothing else it’s another example of how your reality is shaped entirely by your experience of it. You may, if you like, refer to the phenomenon of a relative experience of time as the Sedartis Effect, I shan’t hold it against you if you will.’



    From EDEN by FREI

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