Advice from Karl Marx

Yesterday I was fully planning on writing a post called “Advice from Karl Marx,” which discussed one of his more famous aphorisms, the last of his Theses on Feuerbach: “Philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

I stopped because I couldn’t come up with anything particularly coherent or interesting or more than just: yes — but — (but what?  It’s dangerous?).  Then I started writing about how I’m not a Marxist because, as I’ve said before, I don’t like isms very much.  Later, at a questions meeting, we decided it wasn’t a very good topic for the students to write papers on, either.

So I left it alone and worked on my post for Other Voices, but I keep coming back to it.  Apparently it’s inscribed on Marx’s grave: and not really surprisingly.

“Philosophers have merely interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”

Now, I agree: this is a rousing call to action.  Many a revolution has been founded on this call, and I confess it jumped out at me during my reading of Marx over the last couple of days for work.  It seemed particularly resonant in light of a post at my favourite blog, Cold Antler Farm, where the author wrote what amounted to a manifesto of her own life.  She’d written something earlier in the week that got a lot of flack, and this was her response.

I wrote that it felt to me like a gauntlet thrown down.  (A bunch of people appear to have come over here in response: if you happen to be one of them: you’re very welcome!)  I have been feeling in the last few weeks that I’m not going anywhere, that I’ve plateaued on my year’s plunge upwards.  This is partly due to it being February, of course; I always feel rather like this in February.  But I think it’s more than that. I was letting myself slide into a form of complacency, not pushing ahead.  I wasn’t really falling behind, but I’ve not been moving forward. My story has been stuck, my life feels the same way.

But: that’s just interpreting my life.  What am I going to do to change it?

First, I think I’m going to write more about the process of writing.  This is what I spend the majority of my time doing — either considering my own writing, or considering other people’s writing — and I want to write about it.  My dream, as I’ve said, is to write for a living and live on a small holding with an amazing garden, and walk across Europe first.  So: enough of the interpreting, and more of the doing.  And I am going to describe more of the doing.

I’m also going to plant vegetable and flower seeds for the spring.  Expect to hear more about this once I’m back from my trip to Ottawa next week.

February: time to move on, year.


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