Mead Halls in Winter: Big Big Train as Community

Grimspound
Grimspound, 2017.  Art by Sarah Ewing.

One of the wildest and most disturbing aspects of modernity is how compartmentalized everything becomes.  One important thing (a person, an idea, an institution) becomes isolated and, in its isolation, takes on its own importance, its own language (jargon), and, naturally, its own abstraction.

During the past 100 years, a number of groups have tried to combat this.  In the U.K., most famously, there were a variety of literary groups: The Inklings; the Bloomsbury Group; and the Order Men.  In the States, there were the southern Agrarians, the Humanists, the Lovecraftians, and the women (no official name–but Isabel Patterson, Claire Boothe Luce, Dorothy Thompson, and Rose Wilder Lane) who met for tea once a week and shared stories.

The first such known group in the English-speaking group was the Commonwealth Men, meeting in London taverns from 1693 to 1722, attempting to combine British Common Law thinking with classical and ancient philosophy.

The great (one of the greatest unsung) English philosopher, Owen Barfield, once argued that no terrorism or ideology (such as fascism or communism) could ever be defeated except by such groups of creative thinkers–willing to form, in his words, “a commonwealth of the soul in which there is no copyright.”  No short term gains will come from such groups, but a society will find stability over time with such healthy associations.

Hence, I give you Big Big Train.  Not only does the band function as a community–rather perfectly–but they also draw all others to them.  Indeed, they are rather naturally masters at this.

On their 2017 album, GRIMSPOUND, they made this rather artfully explicit in two of the eight tracks: “Meadowland” and “A Mead Hall in Winter.”

Here, with book in hand
Follow the hedgerow
To the meadowland
Here with science and art
And beauty and music
And friendship and love
You will find us
The best of what we are
Poets and painters
And writers and dreamers

–Greg Spawton

Meet me at the mead hall in winter
Set the world to right
With songs, science and stories
Hold back the fading light
Artists and dreamers and thinkers
Right here by your side
Finding truth in those travellers’ tales
On this brief flight of life

Bring word of your engines and designs
Your medicines and poetry
And meet me at the mead hall in winter
We’ll set the world to right
With songs and science and stories
Hold back the fading light
Artists and dreamers and thinkers
Are right here by your side
Reaching for the far skies
And the undiscovered depths
Following a dream of the West

Here in science and art
And beauty and music
And friendship and love
You will find us
The best of what we are
The poets and painters
And writers and dreamers

–Greg Spawton

In their music, Big Big Train always calls us back to first principles and right reason, to the things that matter most in this world: the good, the true, and the beautiful.

One thought on “Mead Halls in Winter: Big Big Train as Community

  1. Pingback: Mead Halls in Winter: Big Big Train as Community — Progarchy | Stormfields

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