The late sublime and empathy for the younger self

A recent radio interview with Clive James has set me thinking about how we reflect on our younger self. It’s available on BBC iplayer although I don’t know for how long.

In his seventies and very sick, he reflects on his life, as journalist and tv show host, and as a man. He is writing poetry (he calls them ‘funeral songs’) and in the programme read aloud “Lecons de tenebres” which you can find here on his website.

There he speaks of “the late sublime” – a state of grace, awe and wonder found at the end of a life.

Looking back, he sees choices made by his younger self and the consequences they brought.

Each one of us may come to this kind of reflection – personally, I find being on holiday leads me to similar spaces.

Understanding what led us to choices and decisions is important – empathy with the younger self does not undo, does not remove responsibility, but it is necessary for making amends, through action and through poetry.

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