This is the end

Dear __________

It’s been much the same with me, though I seem to be doing better, now.

Beyond that, in the last week I’ve had word of three people — to whom I’m related  in one way or another — one suffering a stroke, another having a heart attack, and yet another having a house burn down.

My feeling is that, in the first two cases,  it may be that, now that the international situation is calming down, our bodies have decided it’s safe to collapse and regroup — to begin to recover from all that we’ve endured these last years.

On a more metaphysical plane … I believe the old order is fading away and the new one is just over the horizon. Here, I would invoke Northrop Frye‘s notion that the prophetic tradition only makes a good kind of sense in synchronic time.

Thus, the end of the world is not about the whole universe imploding, but rather the end of the world that we have come to know. But then, what we call an end is often a beginning.

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them. The Word in the desert
Is most attacked by voices of temptation,
The crying shadow in the funeral dance,
The loud lament of the disconsolate chimera.

TS Eliot, Four Quartets

And now, I hear about the homeless lashing out in terrible violence. The insulted and injured beating and robbing the presumed innocent — striking out against all of us, really. Who threw them out like trash, who created a class of untouchables, who put them out of our minds and turned to TV fantasies about the wealthy, the privileged and the beautiful. Who, in an act of Dickensian darkness, imprisoned the insane.

Putting me in mind of Auden:

I and the public know

What all schoolchildren learn:

Those to whom evil is done

Do evil in return.

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