The best kinds of group are ones where people who don’t get on have, out of necessity, to find a way of getting on. If they do, when they do, the results can be extraordinary.
Fragmentation worries me. Political parties splintering. Factions forming. Where’s the force to come together, and why would anyone bother to? For some people it is very easy to speak out differently. Others are easily and cruelly exposed as different. And with this going on, many people are left unable to have their voices heard at all.
Freedom is not a right. I wish it were. Freedom will always be contested.
I visited the dentist with someone this morning. The dentist, a large and friendly Rumanian, a slightly shy bear, was playing Vivaldi: no words, not especially what I would listen to, but something about the music filled the room with a feeling of a very special, loving presence. One on the Side of life. No anaesthetic necessary. Pain sounded as if it had been the last thing on Vivaldi’s mind, and maybe he had intended it to be: Vivaldi was never a well man. Listening to his music it seemed to become one of the last on ours; and this was wonderful because I had been at the dentist because the person I was with had been very nervous of having a filling.
Then I went to a cafe for a coffee and nearly drowned in the open sluice of its sound-system: pouring into my ears, my brain, my body, my soul was the terrible liquid sound of macho self-pity, an earnest man singing about the various ways in which life had never gone right for him. I imagine it never will. There’s sad music and there’s music that makes you sad, neither of which I could do without – but there’s also the kind of thing I finally left the cafe to avoid. Music that grabs you by the throat and drags you down. Angry music that suffocates and traps. Indignant music: hard luck stories that secretly wish hard luck on others, which see luck as a thing to be jealous of.