In A Wrinkle in Time, when Meg goes back to Camazotz to rescue Charles Wallace:
“Nonsense,” Charles Wallace said. “You have nothing that it doesn’t have.”
“You’re lying,” she replied, and she felt only anger toward this boy who was not Charles Wallace at all. No, it was not anger, it was loathing; it was hatred, sheer and unadulterated, and as she became lost in hatred she also began to be lost in IT…
With the last vestige of consciousness she jerked her mind and body. Hate was nothing that IT didn’t have. IT knew all about hate…
Suddenly she knew.
That was what she had that IT did not have…
She could stand there and she could love Charles Wallace.
I love AWIT in the way you do love childhood books that you read (as I did) when you were just the right age for them. Reading it as an adult I can see its flaws, but I was just the right age to identify completely with Meg, who wore specs, got teased for being ugly and weird at school, was far too bright for her teachers, and walked into hell to confront evil and save her baby brother.
One of the worst things about Camazotz is that they are doing it all for your own good. Everyone is happy in Camazotz. They’ll get into your mind and try to control you, try to wipe out the essential you that makes you not fit into their world, but they’re nice, kindly people: you’ll be much happier when you stop fighting them.
Envy will hurt itself
Let yourself be beautiful
Sparkling love, flowers
And pearls and pretty girls
Love is like an energy
Rushin’ rushin’ inside of me
There are people who want to take their hate and make it into the whole world. They live in a globe of hate, they breathe, eat, drink hate. Their hatred informs them, enfolds them, soaks into them, makes sweet taste bitter and bitter taste sweet.
‘Everybody knows our city has the best Central Intelligence Centre on the planet. Our production levels are the highest. Our factories never close; our machines never stop rolling. Added to this we have five poets, one musician, three artists, and six sculptors, all perfectly channeled.’
If you tell them that they hate, they look at you, bewildered, angry. Here in Camazotz they hate no one. They want you to live as they do, that’s all. They accept you’re different. They accept it will be harder for you to live in their world, but they know that’s what IT wants, and what IT wants is good. You must be evil to say that such goodwill is hate:
Disingenuously, the Government has suggested that same-sex marriage wouldn’t be compulsory and churches could choose to opt out. This is staggeringly arrogant.
No Government has the moral authority to dismantle the universally understood meaning of marriage.
Imagine for a moment that the Government had decided to legalise slavery but assured us that “no one will be forced to keep a slave”.
Would such worthless assurances calm our fury? Would they justify dismantling a fundamental human right? Or would they simply amount to weasel words masking a great wrong?
In AWIT Meg realises that if she could love IT, IT would shrivel up and die, unable to bear being loved. Cardinal Keith O’Brien looks at Maria and Vivian, who got married July last year, and what he sees is not what we see:
Both Maria and Vivian are New York-born Puerto Ricans who live in Staten Island. Maria is a retired corrections officer who worked in Rikers Island for 20 years. Her longtime partner Vivian is a Manhattan bus operator. During their almost three decades together, they raised a grown daughter and built a life together that is filled with love and commitment.
and what he sees through his world of hate is something that I don’t want to be able to describe – I don’t want to be able to see what he sees. He looks at two women in love, marrying after 27 years together, and he sees something grotesque, a madness to be derided, a subversion.
I feel about Cardinal Keith O’Brien and Archbishop Sentamu as Meg felt about IT: doubtless it would be better if I could love them, but the best I can manage is a kind of fragile not-hate. They’re saying these things because they have become part of Camazotz. IT speaks through them. I am an ex-Quaker kind of atheist brought up by old-fashioned left-wing activists who were born before the NHS and the welfare state. My father witnessed independent India and Pakistan fracturing into pieces. My mother’s childhood was profoundly distorted by WWII. They believe in satyagraha, in the power of truth upheld and insisted on. And so do I.
The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
The power of love
A force from above
A sky-scraping dove
To be a pacifist does not mean denying war exists. There is an essay written by Little Light, which I return to every time I am bewildered by a confrontation with someone who sees me as a monster:
There is a war on. All we can do is succeed, or find ourselves no longer in a position to care. Daring to continue living, let alone daring to speak, will be considered an act of war until there are no more battles to fight, and no one to fight them.
So let’s admit it. Our lives? Our lives are an act of war. They are open defiance. They are invasion. They are insistent violation of the borders of a world that desperately pretends we do not exist. They are rude gestures and thrown rocks at the rumbling war machines of systems who choose to write us out of history, beginning only a moment ago and stretching back to the beginning of all things. By standing here and living, we defy the notion that we have no right to, and we scream out that no world where we are torn apart into nothingness can continue. Every seed we plant, lover we kiss, drum we beat is indeed a grave and mortal threat to the entire world as they know it, because our reality forces it to crash against us over and over only to find us still here. Even when we die of it, we are dead, but we are still here, we still are, we still were.
We can call it linking arms. We can call it embraces. We can call it a garden plot or a home or a marriage. We cannot concede that it is war. We cannot look at the arrows fired by our adoration of our loved ones and the mortars launched by our still-real, still-abhorrent bodies. We look into the furtive, fervent trenches dug by those who call our lives war and shake our heads, wondering what they’re on about.
In Scotland, when the equal marriage consultation was going on, Cardinal Keith O’Brien caused to be sent out to the 185,000 Catholics in Scotland who attend Mass every week, 200,000 postcards with a message asking MSPs to vote against same-sex marriage, and a space for the Catholic’s name, address, and signature. These postcards were handed out at Mass and the signed postcards were collected after Mass. Priests were asked to encourage their parishioners to sign them.
Only about twenty thousand did. About five-sixths of Scotland’s mass-going Catholics listened to their parish priest, heard what the Cardinal had to say, and roundly ignored them.
No one should try to make this a Catholic thing, or a Christian thing, or a religious thing. It isn’t. This is a Camazotz thing.
I got upset this afternoon – and have written this down to write myself back – because of an online encounter with one of the people who have accepted Camazotz as her world: she lives inside hate made normal for her. I read her twitter feed: she could be my sister. She opposes what the Tories are doing to the NHS and the welfare system, supports Remploy, likes the local farmers’ market but resents the high prices: and then:
Down came the ropes. Down came the balls. Over and over again. Up. Down. All in rhythm. All identical. Like the houses. Like the paths. Like the flowers.
Love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal