January 1, 2009

This Year We Are Here

The days and their thoughts are split. Particulars are abstracted out, "again and again," the melodies divided into tones, the verses into words, the statue into the discreet swings of the hammer, persons into things, bombs into reason.

Also, respite into peace. So the paths of the disparate crisscross one another, the bleeding ideas shaped by the difference with the affirming feeling still there, the time of particulars dissolving into the utterance of beauty, the timely timelessness of prayer -- then "the tempests of causality cower at my heels, and the whirl doom congeals." No deception there: "here is the cradle of actual life" (Martin Buber, I-Thou).

This actual is said to remain in spite of the realities all around, cataloged and dispiriting. It is felt in the humane healings and the very capacity of hope by those most feelingly vulnerable to hopelessness.

"Madness, thou has prevailed. . . . But we need not therefore think that we must sink altogether. Reason and spirit have known, through many thousand years, that things do not go their way on this earth; surely they have not confuted, or crushed, or given the lie, by a defeat as preposterous as this. It is the way of the world -- it always has been; but that does not mean we did wrong to wish it otherwise. To be against such a thing as [we witness] is always to be right, let it turn out as it will. The way that history has taken in this instance is so foul, it has such a stench of lying and knavery, that no man need be ashamed of having refused to take it. And who can say whether it will not still lead through such abominations that we are justified of our faith?

We must have no fear. Reason and truth may suffer apparent eclipse. But in us, in our hearts, they are eternally free. And looking down from the bright regions of art, the spirit may laugh at the triumphant folly of the hour. Not forsaken and alone, but secure in the bond uniting it with all the best on earth." (Thomas Mann, 1938)

And so for the year to come and for that which is not forsaken, nor forsaking the world as it is: Steve Earle, courtesy of Ted Barron: Jerusalem

Photos: Gaza (1/1/2009) and Andre Kertesz