moral

where do I get my
categories and concepts
concerning evil
versus good? — why do I live
gripped by their fascination?

I dreamed of Tim Watts, my Cambridge roommate, for the 2nd night running. He was a strong character and I realised after I’d left Cambridge how much I’d benefited from sharing college rooms with him over the previous two years. In retrospect, his Roman Catholicism took on an importance it never had while I was at Cambridge, although I did accompany him once to Mass during that time. Within a year of graduation, I’d decided to convert (from Anglicanism, in which I was brought up). While it’s true these memories kickstarted this poem, the poem isn’t really about Catholicism or even Christianity. Which is older? The idea of a good supernatural force and an evil one? Or the universal human tendency to find meaning in the terms ‘good’ and ‘evil’ to start with? Either way, these are mental processes which are surely much, much older than Christianity or any present day religion. I believe Nietzsche discussed these issues at length. I have never had the patience to read one of his books all the way through, and I am more interested in the utter mystery of where the power of these ideas (‘good’ and ‘evil’) comes from, and in refusing to take them for granted, than in having them necessarily debunked in the way Nietzsche seems to set out to do.

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