Reading Geoffrey Hill's Without Title. Airport reading (my daughter Phoebe returned from 4 months in Bangladesh yesterday).

May try to write a review of this fascinating book. Dedicated in homage to E. Montale, I seem to see influence of Montale's late style (in Satura). He also translates M's famous poem La bufera ("The Storm"). Some great "Pindarics", one of the high points of the volume. A poem about Hart Crane. Several allusions here & there to Mandelstam.

Still trying to fathom something of the political stance (not that that's the most important thing, but Hill sometimes speaks very gnomically & obscurely - hard for me, anyway, to follow). There are references to politics & democracy, but the outlook seems bleak, disillusioned. As though democracy suits his heart but seems unrealistic to his mind (politics is done by "the elect", in an ironic sense).

I'm sure I'm misunderstanding, though - too early to comment.

But the question got me thinking. Perhaps democracy is only realistic as a radical commitment. By that I mean one must be - thoroughly - a committed believer in popular sovereignty and the intelligence of the common person and ordinary opinion - radically so, despite the debilitating processes & events so conducive to despair & cynicism. Because only such a commitment is strong enough to say nay to the centuries - millennia - of elite thinking on politics (from before Plato, to Plato, to Macchiavelli, etc. & beyond). One has to be radical enough - & sceptical enough of intellectual pretension - to regard the elite discourse on politics - no matter how intelligent, informed by hard experience, and persuasive - as wrong-headed and out-of-date.

Novus ordo seclorum.

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