Oxford, symptomatic of Europe / by IKB

There is something peculiar if not odd about careening along a motor-way — in a foreign country — obscured by the penetrable darkness of night; Dawn of the rosy nose not having reached the zenith, lazily pressing herself unto the horizon. It is reminiscent of every other time I have dragged myself out of bed and hastily packed, rather ‘stuffed’ my suitcase with clothes and other essentials, before rushing out the door and into an awaiting taxi. Somehow, I tend to leave everything until the last moment, hoping, foolishly and optimistically, that things will be easier and better then.

The drive to the airport was uneventful. The occasional to and fro as the taxi hungrily took a curve — perhaps it took flight at one instant— sunk me into thought; and I greedily dug my heels into the wet sand of supine meditation.

I realized that an author is nothing more than an ingenious artifice; he delves into the dell of his people’s history, a dark and wooded valley of gangly tree-shadows, of sparingly truth-dappled myths. And he is intoxicated, stumbling face unto the ground. Laboring under a full moon, the sweet moonlight breaks the spell of historical indoctrination. Alas he sees — finally!

He awakens from the stupor, realizing: I must redeem, I must redeem them — for my sake. Thus he produces. From him comes forth redemption: art.

The people applaud him; his genius is acclaimed and his name is mounted on that ever-growing tower of their people’s accomplishments. He too is to be remembered eternally, for having added one more layer of paint to the ephemeral artifice that is called history.

But enough on that, for it might be tantamount to saying that man recycles; from something he creates something different but of the sameness. as God created man in his idea, however out of nothing!

It is Saturday and I have taken refuge in Magdalen College — Oxford. The history that drowns this place — so heavy is its weight, so burdensome that one may be pardoned for suspecting that it is inescapable — passes me; I am calm. It is the same viscid history that affects Old Europe. It is the memories of the lost lover — lost forever. Alack, She does not say: I want him to let me live. I wish to live! No, She seems intent in basking in his memory; She is afraid to live, isn’t she. She proudly signals her ancient glories. And She looks back, forgivably under the illusion that man is a historic being, somehow forgetting that man is answerable to the effects of the past but nevertheless he is of the present.

I ask myself: When was the last time one heard of Oxford, of its accomplishments, not of those historic accomplishments deeply buried in the past, no, but of recent accomplishments?

It is Saturday and the streets are inundated with awed-struck throngs of people pointing and swooning.

— Such lovely buildings, they say, so much history! They are here to delight in what remains of that once-lovely maiden. And to aid them, placards signal the historic: here so-and-so were executed on the orders of Cromwell in 16—.