In honor of going to Cafe Attitude tonight in Hana, I thought I had to write something that symbolized man’s struggle for idealistic creation: the creation of the polis to the theos.
We live in a funny time, an apathetic time, I think because we are constantly reminded of the failures of the past…. the imperfection of all of our devices, and the impermanence of even our sturdiest efforts. It is easy, in this place, to become discouraged — to give up hope… HOPE that bittersweet word… and bow down to our fates. Why? Simply because we realize the inefficacy of all effort, the futility of our passions — I could depress you and go on.
There are some who are resilient, who do not and will not ever realize this. And there are others who are utterly affected by the scourge of nihilism. It waits for them at the end of every turn. Follows them like a shadow…. And no matter how hard they scrub and scrape, they cannot wash it off.
Thus, I do not believe in believing in the perfection of our crusades: that they must either be successful or righteous. This, however, is only a starting place. Meaning, if you cannot get passed the fact that we have no control in how things unfold and develop… that even the results of our best laid plans and most reasoned work can backfire or misguide us — or, as a simpler case, that there will be people that DISAGREE WITH US(!!!)… then you will become paralyzed… immobilized.
If this happens, we are no use to anyone. Then we are just an instrument to those people who have not lost certainty in their endeavors… who will not hesitate to use us as means to their ends — ends which may be far from our own.
While It may, on the face of things, seem dangerous to propose that it makes no difference what people are passionate about — as long as they are passionate — the trouble I find is in Yeats’ words
“…the best lack all conviction and the worst are full of passionate intensity”
(the second coming)
Doesn’t this ring true? You see, I’m not worried about “the worst” lacking all conviction and suddenly kicking into gear…. I mean, how many of “the worst” do you know who are like this? Usually, “the worst” are the ones mobilizing MOST of the action!… and of course “the best” are going to freeze — how could any good person act while thinking that the consequences of their vision would result in more harm and more problems? Perhaps this is the appeal of the Taoists’ Wuwei.
Thus, let’s try not to doubt our visions so intensely. Let us be sufficed with our best intentions, and irreverent to their outcome…. as opposed to holding only our outcomes holy. There is much more I could say on this point — which I will get to later — but this is good for now.
This poem should really be called a semi-sonnet. I’ve found the sonnetic form a little too restrictive the past few days. Of course, I’m in awe of the genius in such poets as Keats and Millay who can manipulate it so beautifully (Shakespeare, of course… even Jeffers! (Wild Swan)).
A dream is a candle: wax, wick and flame,
Lit by individuals or generations trained
For jealousy, upset, failure, fame when
Even the sturdiest dreams melt away:
Mao’s great China and Russia’s great Stalin,
Lennon and Gandhi and King’s fleeting blaze.
The news, the books, our palaverous hours—
Singing over fresh wax that covers the street,
Dripping into the cribs, from showers to feet.
Now, we’ve seen so many flames fade it seems
Darkness always wins: where a candle lays,
The rose grows and the rose dies.
Life sloughs the wax to extinguish time’s imps.
A dream is a candle but let us unite
The wax of burned dreams since the world needs light