On Possession by A.G. Gardiner

On Possession - A.G. GardnerIn On Possession by A.G. Gardiner we have the theme of ownership, exclusivity, selfishness, pride and pleasure. Taken from his Windfalls collection the reader realizes from the beginning of the essay that Gardiner may be exploring the theme of ownership. The woman who has been to various parts of the world likes to share her thoughts on her excursions. However should an individual have traveled to the same place the lady no longer wishes to discuss the matter. Shifting her attention to somewhere else in the world. This is significant as it suggests the lady does not really want to share possession of how she feels about a place. She wants exclusivity for each destination she has traveled to. If someone else has a memory to share or has met the same person as the lady she remains either quiet or shifts her attention to somewhere else. Perhaps somewhere that nobody else in her conversation has been. Gardiner also argues that people like the lady are not alone. There are many of them which suggests that possession or ownership is important.

This sense of ownership also involves things and Gardiner highlights the experiences he has come across of the man who refused an etching when he discovered someone else in his town had a copy of it. Again there is the idea of exclusivity. For Gardiner possession is not a material thing but a spiritual matter. It is based on memory, where the real enjoyment of something comes from. Just because everyone may enjoy the sunshine does not diminish from the fact that Garner too, though not owning the sun, may enjoy it too. Even land which might be owned by someone else does not provide the owner with exclusivity. Anybody can enjoy the nature of the land without necessarily owning it. The real pleasure is not in owning something but in their use. How one might feel about something without owning it.

The example of Wordsworth is interesting. Like the lady at the beginning of the essay Wordsworth considers nature to be his, his possession, and cannot tolerate others liking it as much as he does. If an individual is to enjoy the natural world around them they are to do so on Wordsworth’s terms. That being through his words. Something that some readers might find egotistical and selfish. The introduction of Plato and Bernard Shaw is interesting as both have a commonality which unites them. Both think that the home, and life in the home, should not be for the one individual but a shared experience. Something that some people might consider unusual considering the importance of home life. A marriage after all should ideally be exclusive. Gardiner however has a different opinion citing the stealing of some trees from his property. Should a person steal from him, as another man might steal someone’s wife, it is natural to be angry. If anything Gardiner cannot conceive a life where private property (including a wife) is not a necessary condition of life. Though Garner does admit that through change in life things may be different in the future. If society can live life without private property it will do so. Though things have not changed since Gardiner wrote the essay. Private property or materialism is still a goal of many even though Garner had a solution to private property which he called equal justice and community of purpose in whereby a person may own something but may not necessarily be in charge of it. Using the deer forests as an example.

The end of the essay is interesting as Garner explores the idea of exclusivity again. Regardless of how many people might see a place or have possession of a thing. No one can take away Gardiner’s memories of it. He may not necessarily own it but he can still enjoy it. Gardiner also argues that the real problem with possession or ownership is that people take pride in things they own because they believe they have exclusivity and by claiming exclusivity a person ends up bankrupt (spiritually). Garner’s final message is important because he uses the example of the first born having the oldest clothes and no one wants the oldest clothes. That is why Gardiner believes it is better to travel without luggage of all kinds, including spiritually, and leave those who want abundance or ownership to travel with their pride or exclusivity.

Cite Post
McManus, Dermot. "On Possession by A.G. Gardiner." The Sitting Bee. The Sitting Bee, 27 Jun. 2022. Web.

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