The Crow Road (to hell?)

Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Bit harsh, innit? Chill out, Bernie.

But I sort of see where he’s coming from.

I intended to post this at the start of the New Year. So much for that. Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans  – a quote from another saint, of sorts.

As it happens, this post is about good intentions. Hence it seemed appropriate for a New Year’s post. I was reading Iain Banks’ The Crow Road over the festive period, and a passage from it struck me as really capturing a good way to try to look at things.

Here’s some context, for those of you who haven’t read the novel. The protagonist, Prentice McHoan, is thinking of his father, Kenneth McHoan (who’s fate is in some ways a joy to read – I’ll say no more):

Telling us straight or through his stories, my father taught us that there was, generally, a fire at the core of things, and that change was the only constant, and that we – like everybody else – were both the most important people in the universe, and utterly without significance, depending, and that individuals mattered before their institutions, and that people were people, much the same everywhere, and when they appeared to do things that were stupid or evil, often you hadn’t been told the full story, but that sometimes people did behave badly, usually because some idea had taken hold of them and given them an excuse to regard other people as expendable (or bad), and that was part of who we were too, as a species, and it wasn’t always possible to know that you were right and they were wrong, but the important thing was to keep trying to find out, and always to face the truth. Because truth mattered.

I’m not particularly an Iain Banks fan. I do like what I’ve read, and he’s undoubtedly a great writer, but somehow I never I enjoy his novels as much as I feel I should. I can’t put my finger on why. He’s one of those, I guess.

But those two sentences (yep, two) struck a chord. It seemed like good timing; they suggested a nice way of looking at the world to keep in mind for 2014. And I thought I’d share them with you, in case you’d like to keep them in mind too, for what’s left of 2014 and perhaps beyond.

And yes: I’ve just filled a blog post mostly with other people’s writing. Laziness? I think that these days they call it “curation”.