This is for Sidey, who last week gave us the weekend theme “Illusion” which I am still thinking about and have thoughts I will maybe post later. However, too late for illusion, another weekend has arrived and she suggests “Let Them Eat Cake”.
That was Marie Antoinette, under the illusion that she was making a helpful remark to people in distress who had no bread. Poor little rich girl, living a life in a series of illusions, playing games of being a milkmaid in her Trianon, ‘protected’ from the real world until one day it cut her head off. No more cake.
For some reason – probably connected with the series of real feelings in Sidey’s posts – “Let them eat cake” is in my mind alongside Betrayal. I don’t like having the horrid feelings any more than anyone does, envy, jealousy, rage, hate, and their vicious soul-eating cousins like resentment, bitterness, disappointment, sorry for self, feeling unfairly treated etc etc. But what a massive betrayal it would be if I was ‘protected’ like Marie Antoinette so that I lost the experience of them. I would lose my learning to live and knowing why I had them this moment, now, I might not even know I did exist outside the milkmaid’s game. And then I would lose my life, the only one I have.
Being betrayed is part of the “don’t know” we often try to change, to help get rid of feelings, rather than letting our feelings be, so they help us see what is actually happening out there in the world, even in the ones who betrayed us. John Keats was born a few years after Marie Antoinette was executed for treason, and one of his most wonderful sayings is not in a poem, but in a letter to his brother:
I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke on various subjects; several things dovetailed in my mind, and it at once struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement….. I mean Negative Capability, that is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.
[Never mind he said “Man” – think of the culture he was in where women were something ‘other’, a compartment of not-men, not really human, is this sort of mental compartmenting another illusion?]
So – illusions are wonderful guides to hopes and dreams and riches in playing or experimenting with what life might be or become, not just cake, they are even the icing on the cake. But, turn illusion into all there is, or demand that another has the same one you have (let them eat cake), or insist the illusion is something which must be gratified and made real, then we are betrayed.
Am I getting pretty muddled here? Haha no irritable reaching, time to stop.
Hang on to those feelings, they are the bread in your life, grow fit and healthy and see more of the life in other people. They help you stand up for the ones who really don’t get bread. Who knows, with people the world over sharing posts like Sidey does, I am feeling really happy there is enough good bread and some cake out there.