Strangely for a blog about the book “Unapologetic” I have to apologise for being a bit slow on the whole read as you blog / blog as you read thing. I am in the middle of a deadline crisis for a book I am writing and so not getting the time I would like to enjoy this book outloud with you.
Chapter 2 of Spufford’s spiffing book is on Sin and Guilt, which he acknowledges are such toxic words in our western culture that he has created a new term to avoid being misunderstood. Because as Spufford reports:
Everybody knows, then, that ‘sin’ basically means ‘indulgence’ or ‘enjoyable naughtiness’.
Instead Spufford uses the phrase “How People Tend to Fxxx things Up.” Its an interesting state of affairs that using the F word in a definition helps to make it sound more plausible and palatable. That said, Spufford is brave in his choice of the subject matter of the second chapter of his book, as he notes:
I could have put our hearts in our mouths and filled us with awe at the bigness of it all; with the luminous, numinous Carl-Sagan-osity of things, which even Richard Dawkins agrees ought to stir us to our depths, though what it should stir us to do, of course, is to seek out a career in the empirical sciences…I think of awe as a kind of National Trust property among feelings: somewhere to visit from time to time, but not a place you can live.
The bad news is bad news about us, not just about other people.
The wrinkle is that he wrote it before he gave up slaving. He wrote it under the impression that he had already seen the stuff he should be worrying about – booze and licentiousness, presumably, and playing tiddly-winks on the Sabbath, and not running his slave ship with a swear-box screwed to the mast.