Ideas that add up #132

Every morn­ing, when I wake again under the pall of the sky, I feel that for me it is New Year’s day.

That’s why I hate these New Year’s that fall like fixed matu­ri­ties, which turn life and human spirit into a com­mer­cial con­cern with its neat final bal­ance, its out­stand­ing amounts, its bud­get for the new man­age­ment. They make us lose the con­ti­nu­ity of life and spirit. You end up seri­ously think­ing that between one year and the next there is a break, that a new his­tory is begin­ning; you make res­o­lu­tions, and you regret your irres­o­lu­tion, and so on, and so forth.

…That’s why I hate New Year’s. I want every morn­ing to be a new year’s for me. Every day I want to reckon with myself, and every day I want to renew myself. No day set aside for rest. I choose my pauses myself, when I feel drunk with the inten­sity of life and I want to plunge into ani­mal­ity to draw from it new vigour.

Antonio Gramsci, “Sotto la mole” column in Avanti! January 1st 1916

Written with a young man’s passion and righteousness — he would have been 24 or so at the time. I get it, though, his impatience with the artificiality of it all: the assumption that life is there to be bracketed within the numbers; the pressure to stocktake; the mandatory mood of “celebration” — celebrating, in effect, our domestication.

I’ve been slave to these things for most of my life, but less so in recent years. I think it’s living in the company of two unhinged forces of nature, aka children, for whom each day brings exactly the same potential for mischief and wonder as the day before. Waking into any morning with them at hand is always brighter, by orders of magnitude, than Christmas, birthday and New Year rolled into one — and those calendar highlights correspondingly fade into irrelevance.

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