Friday, January 12, 2007

Bush: "full of passionate intensity", looses the "blood-dimmed tide"

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 convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
The Second Coming - William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

David Seaton's News Links
In the 1960s, when there were still a lot of them around, I was fascinated by European survivors and their stories. The stories of Jews who had lived in Germany during the rise of Hitler: just normal people going about their lives, while facing an indescribable abyss. The stories of Spaniards who had lived the hope of Spain's Republic and then had seen their youth and hopes destroyed by the fascist reaction, the civil war and its brutal, impoverishing aftermath.

If you could get them to talk about their experiences at length, there seemed to be many a common thread to their stories. One that fascinated me was this universal memory of how life tasted on the threshold of disaster. A common memory of how totally 'normal' everything was until suddenly it wasn't. A normalcy that, seen from hindsight, was a dream to be remembered with a mixture of nostalgia and bitterness.

Many of these people I have spoken to were politically aware, not unconscious of the dangers and tensions around them, but the natural optimism running in our blood, an optimism that keeps our species chugging along over peaks of sublime achievement and racing down through troughs of filthy cruelty; that optimism buoyed their spirits and convinced them, from moment to moment, that everything would be alright in the end. Also, many spoke of a feeling of helplessness, a gnosis that nothing they could have done would have changed anything in the slightest and also, perhaps, the regret of not having squeezed the last drop of juice from the apple before the fall.

The memories of those conversations comes back to me constantly as I read the news these days. I haven't settled on cheerful fatalism or dour foreboding as the path to follow: probably the moody mixture, a tincture of both, ire and saudade, that a Celtic nature dictates.

1 comment:

Anansi said...

I haven't settled on cheerful fatalism or dour foreboding as the path to follow...

My feelings exactly. My late husband grew up in Germany after WWII and I have read extensively in a vain attempt to understand how ordinary people get into and deal with mad situations. Now I can observe it myself but still cannot understand it.

Since Billmon has disappeared, you have become my first and essential read of the day. As another American expatriate, I find your perspective much more focused and less political than many of the other blogs.