42 : deep thought on life, the universe and everything by Mark Vernon
By Mark Vernon
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Extra resources for 42 : deep thought on life, the universe and everything
The midday demon (daemon meridianus) is the most cunning of all demons, attacking the monk in the middle of the day, in broad daylight, causing the sun to seem to be standing utterly still in the sky. Things intrude on this state but appear to be completely deanimated. The demon causes him to detest the place where he finds himself – and even life itself. In other words, to detest life is to detest God, hence the mortal peril of boredom. qxp 11/14/2007 23 12:26 PM Page 23 ‘Man’s unhappiness springs from one thing alone …’ Pascal modernised the concept, by linking boredom with diversions, the many things people do to avoid ennui.
Or, consider the crusader castle of Saône, also known as Qalaat Saladin. Krak de Chevalier might steal a march in terms of glory but Saône wins in beauty. It is poised on a luscious green ridge that rises out of a deep gorge. The view west, as the sun sets over the golden surface of the Mediterranean, makes the valley leading down to the coast seem like a pathway to heaven. No wonder the romantic crusaders built a fortress here, despite, as T. E. Lawrence pointed out, its site fatally compromising its military strength: Saladin took the place in just a couple of days.
Like a magnetic pole drawing a compass, the work orients her whole life. As thoroughly as a neurotic, though positive because productive, it is embedded in her like a habit. It is coterminous with her character. She obeys it. This is why the work is frightening. The life of the artist, which might be thought of as free and expressive, is constrained and – to the visitor – oppressive. The thought of it prompts a round of questions about life. Is the life of novelty and choices – the life of the visitorconsumer – antithetical to the life of excellence, the life of the artist?