What is wrong with this story is that it is not a true story. Men have in their minds a picture of how the world will be. How they will be in that world. The world may be many different ways for them but there is one world that will never be and that is the world they dream of. Do you believe that? (From Cormac McCarthy’s Cities of the Plains)
Shakespeare wrote many soliloquies; although dark and depressing, his final speech for Macbeth is one of his best.
And now comes John Barleycorn with the curse he lays upon the imaginative man who is lusty with life and desire to live. John Barleycorn will not let the dreamer dream, the liver live. God is bad, truth is a cheat, and life is a joke. From his calm-mad heights, with the certitude of a god, he beholds all life as evil. Wife, children, friends – in the clear white light of his logic, they are exposed as frauds and shams. He sees their frailty, their meagerness, their sordidness, their pitifulness. And he knows his one freedom: he may anticipate the day of his death – suicide, quick or slow, a sudden spill or a gradual oozing away through the years, is the price John Barleycorn exacts.
(From Jack London’s John Barleycorn: Alcoholic Memoirs)
While in New Orleans, I was intrigued by a poster called The Last Session.
In trying to research who each of the figures of betrayal were in the work, I was quick to learn that parodies of Leonardo Da Vinci’s 1498 iconic work are common as thieves.
The proliferation of this icon, re-branded and spun, is confusing to say the least, an image that everyone seems to know and yet no one understand. Yes, just like getting a tattoo.
The Brooklyn Academy of Music is currently staging Eugene O’Neil’s marathon play, The Iceman Cometh. At just under five hours (!!!), the play delivers its message in the form of a blunt object (“the pipe dream”) ad nauseum, inducing an uneasy drowsiness for actors and audience alike.While the acting of Nathan Lane, Brian Denehy et al is solid, as are some tableau moments, the trauma of this painfully slow drama begs the services of a certain tool. The highlight of the evening was in fact the relief of it being over and then getting on the NBA All-Star subway train home.Although even this moment of reprieve became painfully slow.
Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee is a book that you will never forget. The prose are terse and clear, the images startling, the narrative impossible to digest. It must be read.
“Father, your young men have devastated my country and killed my animals, the elk, the deer, the antelope, my buffalo. They do not kill them to eat them; they leave them to rot where they fall. Fathers, if I went into your country to kill your animals, what would you say? Should I not be wrong, and would you not make war on me?” (Red Cloud, Oglala leader)“It is cold and we have no blankets.The little children are freezing to death. My people, some of them have run away to the hills, and have no blankets, no food; no one knows where they are -perhaps freezing to death. I want to have time to look for my children and see how many of them I can find. Maybe I shall find them among the dead. Hear me, my chiefs! I am tired; my heart is sick and sad. From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” (Chief Joseph, Nex Perce Chief) “We tried to run, but they shot us like we were a buffalo. I know they are some good white people, but the soldiers must be mean to shoot children and women. Indian soldiers would not do that to white children.” (Louise Weasel Bear, Sioux)
If we are to have a chance of becoming anything, we must remind ourselves of who we are and where we have come from. Dee Brown’s book does exactly that.
I was academically introduced to the concept of the “it” in Georg Buchner’s unfinished play Woyzeck, where a man is terrorized by a vague unnamed force which lays in wait for him in the bushes. I had no idea what this “it” was – a ghost, a demon or what – until it dawned on me over the years that it was, as simply as I can put it, a primal force so overwhelming that we must instead coddle ourselves with poor facsimiles such as sports, work and travel.
In other words, our consciousness is so puny and small-minded that instead of blossoming toward truth, justice and beauty, we drink and have sex. John Williams is succinct in his reflections on our futile struggles at the conclusion of Butcher’s Crossing: “You get born, and you nurse on lies, and you get weaned on lies, and you learn fancier lies in school. You live all of your life on lies, and then maybe when you’re ready to die, it comes to you — that there’s nothing, nothing but yourself and what you could have done. Only you ain’t done it, because the lies told you there was something else.”