Isaiah Berlins associationer

Nu ska ju i och för sig de sista orden vara sagda i figurations-debatten, men jag måste delge ett stycke ur ett av Isaiah Berlins brev (skrivet i augusti 1936) som jag läste igår kväll. Det är en fascinerande liten tirad, vars associationer — kan det tilläggas som en brasklapp — var mer förståeliga  år 1936 än 2009.

I leave England on the evening of the 26th & go to Belfast & meet O’Neill there & proceed to Sligo & thence to the Blaskets. I am not afraid of rain. I was born in a semi-Scandinavian town [Riga] & look on pastel colours as natural & friendly, & on the Italian-Palestinian landscape as absolute paradise but too splendid & and like a dream. The only surroundings I really dislike is the adventurous, Peter Fleming type, very high mountains, very low valleys, angry torrents, pure and snowy peaks etc. The sublime in nature directly connects with Nazi heroes, T. E. Lawrence, Mr Day Lewis’s lines on Auden as a kestrel, bully boy etc. & moral bullying. This in its turn leads to reactionary romanticism, the Germans, chivalry & the beauty of danger, & Mr Huxley’s exhortation to us to prepare ourselves for a contest of more than Olympic importance.  I cannot conceive why I suddenly have begun to go on like this, unless it is that it is nice to take sides, & seems relevant now.

Isaiah Berlin, Flourishing. Letters 1928—1946, Chatto & Windus, London, 2004, s. 191.

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