I wonder what it would be like . . .

The center will not hold

The center will not hold

This morning I wrote and wrote and have a quirky little piece nearly finished but then I got caught up in trying to do something useful for the world and all of that went away but I’m not really sure I accomplished anything because it’s me against 300,000,000 Americans with guns and hubris and a lot of other stuff that makes talking to them difficult. I don’t mean that of course because I am not any better than anyone else except on this one issue where I know I am right and public opinion and political will and some twisted desire for national self-preservation or something has allowed a group of about a million Christians and another group of I’m not sure how many Jews to formulate American foreign policy as well as domestic policy and it is the most depressing reality because it is so ridiculous and so short-sighted and so, shall I say the word I don’t really believe exists, “evil?” But I got a short email note from someone whom I respect more than almost anyone else in the world, and she said to me, Thank you Harold. Yes of course we are just as concerned. And you are very right about your conclusion re US policy towards Palestine. Had our conflict been with any other people, it would have been solved a long time ago. God bless you for your support to the cause of justice and peace. And if it is true in any way to any tiny extent that I have perhaps given that one person whom I admire and, yes, in a way that has nothing to do with close friendship or intimacy of any kind, love, a reason to think even for one moment

. . . to write a poem . . .

today that she and her people are not alone and that some day justice and peace will prevail, then what do I have to worry about or be absorbed in concerning my own little world of problems? Her gratitude is for something outside of me, something for which I have allowed myself to be the messenger and have simply done what I knew to be right, and it is an overwhelmingly sad reality that some people believe that other people are expendable because their god says so.
center cannot hold

Most people probably never have themselves so wrapped up in themselves that they allow intricate, complex feelings and ideas to get tangled up in their view of reality—how on earth do I think I can know what “most people” do, think, or feel? that’s preposterous; I can’t theorize any kind of generality for “most people” based on the cluttered and unkempt nature of my own feelings and thoughts—but reality is so hard to figure out some of the time. I heard on the radio yesterday that Isaac Newton was the first “genius” to be thought of as such and canonized as a person who helped us see the face of god, at least the face of the universe, and so we think of him as something of a great 18th-century secular saint—completely secular except to fundamentalist christians who still believe god created the heavens and the earth in seven 24-hour days, and he’s not a saint secular or sacred to them—and we revere the rationality he gave us and the enlightenment (Enlightenment) he helped bring to Western thought and

. . . from which not one, but two . . .

then the saintly mantle passed to Darwin and then to Einstein and then to Edwin Hubble and all of those people in between like Marie Currie and Thomas Edison and Jonas Salk, and—you know, the scientists, the rational thinkers, the people who have made our world what it is today. And then there are the real thinkers the abstractionists Nietzsche and Heidegger and Sartre and Foucault and all of those other people whose writing is so complex we can’t comprehend it so we declare it to be brilliant. When all I really want is to be able to think simply in some way that will help me get through today without pain and suffering and crying for an hour or two—don’t go getting all concernedly on me because it’s simple depression exacerbated by foolishly allowing myself to have feelings about people and situations any rational person like Isaac Newton would never have had—do we know who he ever fell in love with or was angry at or wanted to scream at them because their political thinking was so bizarre, or do we know him only by his brain.

. . . lines famously show up as titles . . .

slouching.
.
I used to think—no, I’ve never been able to think—imagine, hypothesize, that when I got to be 69 years old if I ever did—now don’t get all concernedly on me because I am not suicidal, just trying to be realistic—think by this time I’d be all wise and contented and one of those old guys people came to for advice and help and comfort. But you would be really not very bright to come to me for any of those things because I’m only an almost-old man who longs and yearns for someone to love and be loved by in that way the psychologists but not the Buddhist monks tell us every person needs in order to be fully

. . . of someone else’s work?

human. And I’m not the Dalai Lama so I don’t have much peace and calm and joy and serenity from all of this because I don’t want to end up (as I am partially already) that little old lonely man living by himself and craving needing someone—almost anyone—to touch him now and then and know they will be together when one or the other of them shuffles off this mortal coil so it doesn’t seem like such a fucking lonely and scary thing to do.

The Second Coming, by W. B. Yeats

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.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

The center has not held

The center has not held

 

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