Mens Temporum . UK

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Free Will or Fate?

In my earlier article about the events in 2017 I mentioned enrolling for a study day on breaking the rules of writing and reading the recommended book on the subject. For the study day we were asked to take an example of how we had ourselves broken the rules and I had written a poem some time previously that I felt would qualify but there was a problem as the rule in the book that it broke was “Obey the arbiters of taste”. The poem induced in the reader’s mind thoughts of sex initially but then necrophilia before ultimately dispelling them. I will not repeat its contents here because there has been a genuine appalling case of serial necrophilia in our local area reported in the national news in more recent years and the poem parallels this case too well to be tolerable any longer.

When I first wrote it I posted it in the online writers’ forum to which I was then subscribing and its reception by other members understandably varied because of its divisive nature. Some members commented objectively on the technical aspects of the composition while others gave their subjective reactions to the implied content. One expert provided a detailed analysis of the composition and praised me for achieving something that many poets aim for but fail. It was clearly a good example of something done well that maybe shouldn’t have been done at all.

I wondered whether it would be acceptable for presentation at the study day so sent it to the tutor for his opinion. He considered it acceptable but suggested that I read it out during the break so that attendees could decide whether to be present. Even so I was still undecided about using it. I also noticed an unlikely coincidence as I had posted it online as soon as I wrote it and the item had been date-stamped then. If I did read it out during that break I would do so precisely two years to within an hour after first reading it to my wife for her reactions immediately after writing it. This coincidence itself tempted me to use it on the day but my doubts still persisted. For once my intuitive guiding phenomenon had abandoned me and I felt that I had actually been left to make a free will decision. Eventually I decided to use it if only to save finding something else.

Not long after making up my mind I received an email stating that the study day had been cancelled because not enough people had enrolled for it. That seemed to explain why I had felt no intuitive guidance about my decision. It simply hadn’t been mine to make. I felt that I had been taught a lesson, that the future is unpredictable even when one believes that one is in control of it. In truth I had no say whether that coincidence would actually occur although even the strong probability that it would have makes it worth mentioning here. However, from another point of view if PMIR had a hand in events then perhaps my dilemma itself deterred others from enrolling and I unconsciously resolved things that way, but that is just speculation. More likely it was simply that more conventional novice writers than myself preferred to try to keep to the rules rather than flaunting them and that made the planned event unpopular.

The incident left me thinking about the true value of free will, the implicit denial of which makes people uneasy about the future being substantially a matter of fate rather than choice. I considered whether I would rather have genuine free will along with its accompanying indecision as I had experienced here or the illusion of free will given by intuition guided by a virtual guardian angel as the phenomenon appeared to be. To be honest I feel very comfortable with the way things are, whatever that may be, which was maybe exactly what that angel wanted me to appreciate.

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