Thursday, 4 November 2010

Grasping for the wind, or beyond

Many people have commented on this BBC interview - Jeremy Paxman in an unusual interview with comedian Russell Brand. Unlike his public persona (of which, to be honest, I know very little, as his speech seemed vulgar enough to put me off listening to him ages ago), Brand shows has real insight into culture and human nature. I often think that comedians are left to be the only ones in our age and culture who are permitted insight and understanding of human nature and society. They are the court jesters, who are allowed to preach unpleasant truths to the powerful and comfortable, in the name of entertainment.
Brand - I don't want to dwell here with such trivial things for very much longer.
Paxo - You mean you seek death?
Brand - Not death. But between now and death, it would be ever so nice I think, if I were able to achieve something that is truly valuable, some evocation of beauty, togetherness, an exposure of the illusion of separation, and some connection between people; perhaps use this energy for something better than leaving voicemail...'

Brand - Now I am famous and what does it mean: ashes in my mouth. ... Someone told me once that all desire is the desire to be at one with God in substitute form. So perhaps we can draw attention not to the shadow on the wall, but the source of light itself.
The substance of the interview is worth hearing (if you can ignore the few profanities).
I want to send Brand a copy of C.S.Lewis' Surprised by Joy. He seems to have 'got' that celebrity, or mundane non-celebrity, are all vanity and grasping for the wind. He wants to get through it and find something genuinely weighty, which will transform him. But would he cope with the weight of glory, if he held it in his hand? It might pierce him right through, unless he has been transformed to bear the image of the Man from glory.

[Aside: Paxman finds it unusual that Brand's so intense or in earnest about what he's saying. One of the aspects of British culture which I really don't like is how being in earnest or passionate about serious things is found somewhat Odd, and Not To Be Encouraged.]


Anonymous said...

Hi there Rosemary,
Thanks for the post.
I remembered too that Kate Fox in the book 'watching the English' calls the last thing you mention 'the importance of not being earnest' rule. She goes into why this is and its effects, not least one of which is on religion in general.

étrangère said...

Hi Matt, yes, I read Fox a while ago - v helpful to this non-English Brit living in England! I can't remember exactly the reasons she gave for it, though I can imagine some. The Celts have more time for passion, intensity and earnestness, I suppose. The good Ulsterman C.S.Lewis tried to get rid of his as a teen, believing the emotion was out of control and, platonic-like, should be suppressed. Thankfully he saw his way to redeeming it once he'd grown up and also become a Christian - and most of his works have that journey, through rationalist to whole person including earnest passion.

Would you give any defence of the English 'importance of not being earnest'? Help me appreciate that it's not all bad, from a Christian perspective?