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A N D N O W I T ' S T H E L A W O F T H E L A N D.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Hope is the thing with feathers--

Today's ominous headline from the New York Times:

This is just a note to say that I have nothing to say about the state of the nation, the state of the world, or the dark night of ignorance, fear, hatred, and folly that seems to be engulfing humankind at this time, swallowing it whole.  I see the headlines, occasionally I read a whole article, and once in a while I watch a news report on television - it's not that it's fake news, but it is so very often utterly trivial news delivered like tabloid melodrama, even by the top stars of the top networks nowadays, who should know better, and replayed mindlessly, endlessly, in Orwellian fashion until you almost feel you would do anything to make it stop, just stop stop stop stop stop.

I see what is happening and I have nothing to say.  I could say many things but I feel such pain, disgust, and despair at the brutality and ugliness corrupting the world and everyone in it, that it is simply not worth the effort to put my thoughts into words.  Other people have already said, and are saying, the things I would say; although some things I would also say are things nobody wants to hear, either on the right or on the left.  So there would be no point in saying anything, not really.  Anyone with intelligence and good sense can see what I would point out;  if they haven't seen it already, nothing I say would open their eyes.

I see what is happening and I would rather say nothing.  I do not wish to read this new chapter of history, do not want to see it played out.  I feel the ghastly tragedy building day by day, and it sickens me to the core.  But I am too old and tired and heartsick to man the barricades, either literally or figuratively.  I have no strength left to beat my head against a brick wall, which in some way or another I feel I have been doing a long, long time now.  I see the world as I have known it sinking into a black, stinking tide, and I have no idea how to stop it or save it; certainly my little squeaks will be of no help.  Prayer is the last refuge of the helpless; but how often, alas, "that which they greatly feared came upon them."

I see what is happening and I have no words.  Since the dawn of civilization, priests, poets, prophets, preachers, and philosophers have spun out a fulsome tapestry of wise words, but words alone do no good when people do not listen.  Time and again, fathers and mothers have labored across the long years to build what their careless children, or children's children, spurn and toss away, or destroy in a day:  it is all recorded in the histories of other countries, other ages.  All that I would say, in some way or another, has already been said and can be found among the golden writings of mankind; but to the willfully ignorant, the voices of the sages are like those of so many birds chirping in the wind, an indignant ruffle of feathers and no more.

I see what is happening and I cannot say more.  I know that nothing I say will change anyone's mind, and at this point it would not help my feelings, either.  The world will bump and grind and careen along in just the way it has so many times before, to the inevitable end of its present course; and after some cataclysm or another, it will pick itself back up and with however few are left start all over again - as it has so many times before.  The end of the world as we know it is not quite the same as The End of the World - no matter how cruel the hurt or how great the destruction, the very next morning the sun rises up exactly on schedule, as if nothing had happened.  And the irresistible, irrepressible cycles of life begin anew.   This of course gives prophets of doom a bad name, so why bother to be a Cassandra?  Clear-sightedness certainly did her no good, nor anyone else, come to think of it.

I see what is happening, and I have no words.  Thoughts but no words.  Feelings but no hopes.  What can anyone say that has not already been said, and better than I can do?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity. . . .

--W. B. Yeats, 1919

At this late age, I am already worn out with grief and loss. I wish I had something more to offer my readers, but I don't; I can barely keep my own head above water. What will happen will happen, and we must all deal with it the best way we can.

I wish you peace, and comfort amid the storms of life, my friends. I don't know what else to say.  What is there to say in the face of the unspeakable?

I could be wrong.  I hope I am.


Frank said...

It's a bit unnerving how similar our thoughts and feelings can be, although I imagine many others share similar reactions and emotions. The difference is that I've not even had the desire or energy to write anything about my frustration, exasperation, or near despair over current state of the nation and the world. I really don't have the words.

Russ, you have, as always, expressed yourself eloquently, even sharing the words of W. B. Yeats, an author whom I should have read and studied in a Romantic Literature course many years ago. Alas, I found that subject excruciatingly painful and ended up with the only "F" I ever got. So thank you for educating me a little on Yeats and making his words relevant to our present predicament.

Here in Cochiti Lake there is a group of "Indivisibles" to which I am tangentially associated, but have not attended a meeting for many months, for exactly the reasons you mention. I marched and demonstrated at the Connecticut State Capitol and in Washing, DC, years ago. I might do so again, if I thought it would make a difference.

But these are different times. Our spoken and written words, our actions, fade in an instant as some other person's words and actions become the gestalt of the moment...as we are bombarded by "information" that is all treated as though of equal import: whether a threat of nuclear war or a performance on "The Voice" or a dog food commercial or the fatal accident on the Interstate, or some celebrity's hangnail or another senseless massacre.

So...I walk the dog, and do the grocery shopping, and tend the rocks and flora in the yard, and chat with neighbors, and cook dinner for my husband, and try to make our lives as pleasant as possible. And try to remain grateful for all we have.

Peace to you Russ. Truly, the sun rises despite the deeds of humankind.

Russ Manley said...

You end your comment the way I should have ended my post: with a focus on what is pleasant and lovely and good. Il faut cultiver notre jardin -- this famous phrase is all the advice I can give, maybe all that anyone can give in this frightful and darkening time.

(A couple of long, thoughtful articles on cultivating one's garden, if you care to read them:



but if they bore you, just skip them and get on with the task at hand.)

I'm so sorry Romantic Poetry was a painful thing for you - a pity, that. I'm sure you have the interior sensitivity to appreciate good poems. Perhaps your teacher that semester was a dud, or set you to read some ghastly long and dreadfully dull stuff like Wordsworth's Prelude or Tennyson's In Memoriam. Or maybe you just had a mental block against it, as I did with algebra (though I aced geometry - go figure).

Ah well, there are more important things than poetry or algebra - such as the actual beauty of a flower, or the succulent taste of a homemade dish, or a loving embrace or a happy home - the description of these things, however well-worded, is only the ghost of joy, not the thing itself.

Hold on to your joy and your gratitude. We never know what the morrow may bring, so savor the goodness of today.

Theaterdog said...

I completely agree with Frank.
I think we all need to express these things as maudlin as it may be ..and stop denying what is in front of our faces.
Misery loves company ..no ...grief however ... appreciates company and support?

I am glad to have seen what you wrote today, and I realize I am not alone ... like being gay, and realizing when you thought you were the only one ..and realized you were not ...

thank you

Russ Manley said...

You're welcome - glad my words touched you in some way.

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