Hogan's Alley

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Second Coming

As is obvious, my interest in blogging has severely flagged over the last several months. Why? It is difficult to know for certain, but two main reasons seem very likely.

First, American politics has become a shrieking melange of techno-operatives seeking advantage by any means. This is especially true in the blogosphere, where attempts to think and reason our way in a very complex world are overwhelmed by the gleeful posting of gotcha events and efforts to rally the faithful of either side. And the noise works. In fact, with very few exceptions, the ratings winners on TV and the internet are the loudest shouters. Not a very accomodating environment for those like me who seek signs of truth without joining and cheering for one team or the other.

The second truth in my life has been a long summer of illness. Nothing life threatening, just enough to refreshen my awareness of my mortality. Having drunk a sufficient portion of depression, I hope it is now possible to refocus on the world and to use this blog as a therapeutic tool and reemerge gradually into the world of daily writing. We shall see.

For this reemergence, the most appropriate work of literature I can think of is Yeats' magnificent and frightening poem The Second Coming. For me it speaks as loudly about our era as it did in the post WWI environment in which it was conceived.

Here, for your elucidation is the poem:


by William Butler Yeats, 1920

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 conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

There seems no doubt that the "rough beast" is not the engine of our ever-hoped-for salvation. Quite the opposite.