Thursday, December 30, 2010

* Slouching Toward Macbethany?

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."

Some say this is the greatest last line of any American novel.

"Call me Ishmael" is called the most famous first.

As I am now in the fourth day of my 67th year I wonder, what does literary or historical immortality matter?

They say Lincoln was obsessively concerned with how history would remember him.  

I'm afraid it remembers him more as the name of the longest highway or a marble monument or a Ford luxury car than it does for the courage it took to dare to sign in the absolute loneliness of office,  the most moral document in human history------The Emancipation Proclamation, which he (perhaps the most eloquent speech writer in history)  purposely composed in boring bureacratese to avoid inflaming political fanatics.

The agony and heartache which went into that decision in the White House in 1863 is the immortal struggle of a flesh and blood being which is worth signifying, and which gets lost in all the clatter we mortals make in history's wake.

I can think of nothing in history ---- at least American history ---- that equals Lincoln's act of moral courage.

Maybe the Bill of Rights, but that was merely moral leadership, not moral courage.

What Lincoln did took guts-----and could have ended his career.  It probably hastened the end of his life.

So, 67th year ticking away:  What will be remembered of 2011 a thousand years from now?

Will there be a great first or last line written in a novel?

A friend of mine claims that music scholars believe classical music  has reached its overflow point: that nothing now can be written that hasn't been written before in one variation or another.

Has that art been exhausted?

  I 'gin to be a-weary of the sun, And wish the estate o' the world were now undone.

(Macbeth,  Act V, scene v)

Is the world slouching toward Macbethany ? 

Or is this musing simply the solipsism of sixty-six summers ---- simmering in the winter sun? 

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