American Culture

The Rest is Silence

I think it better that in times like these
A poet’s mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of meddling who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter’s night.
                                                          -William Butler Yeats

I thought of several possible titles for this piece.  Here are some of the ones I considered:

Good night, Sweet Prince

Farewell, My Lovely

So, We Beat On, Boats Against the Current…

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield…

Something is Rotten…

I could go on like this for pages, but, if you’ve been one of those hardy souls who have read my “long form” essays posing as blog entries over the years here at S&R, first, you know this and second, God bless you for your patience and tolerance. As we all know all too well in 2020 America, there’s precious little of that (patience and tolerance) for thinking people. Also, apropos of nothing, as the great Stephen Crane said in the finest short story ever written, thank you all for enduring my life-long love affair with ellipses, a fascination rivaled only by Miss Emily‘s obsession with the dash.

jay-breezeAs my old friend winterSmith observed about me once several years ago (rather more elegantly than I do here), my life has been a struggle between my bookishness and my love of classic rock music as both player (one time pro) and fan. Some years ago (actually in the early days of S&R) I made the decision that I wanted to write about books and literature and the writer’s life – and classic rock music – more than I wanted to join in the ever more strident, ever more partisan, ever more meaningless political discourse that veni-ed, vidi-ed, and vici-ed the interwebs over the last decade plus.

Whether I contributed in any significant way to the current hopeless morass we now inhabit due to this decision I do not know. I do know the following:

  • Anyone who has education, expertise, or  credentials that qualify him/her to comment on any subject will soon find him/herself under attack from people who have been convinced by their random reading of unverifiable internet posted information that they have greater expertise than educated, credentialed experts.
  • Facts themselves are no longer believed if they do not fit the personal biases of the person confronted with them.

Given those two pieces of knowledge, I think I made a reasonable choice deciding against joining the great public discourse of the last decade or so. Writing about books and music stresses one much less than trying to convince people that certainty is not a substitute for knowledge however tentative and uncertain having knowledge makes one.

Instead, I have spent many happy hours reading and writing about the topics I mentioned above – books and literature, the writer’s life (yes, I am one), and classic rock music at this dearly departed blog. Post S&R, I intend to write about these same topics at my personal blog. Tempus fugit. Carpe diem. Don’t worry, be happy.

I realize that even the choice of this seemingly innocuous path of activity is fraught with challenges. After all, as the great, if controversial, Peter Handke reminds us:

The problem with literature is that any asshole can get a meaning from it.

Still, one of the advantages of writing mostly about books and literature is that most of the assholes don’t read – or read only that which fits their personal narratives. So when I Venn Diagram this, it looks pretty good for me.

As for classic rock, both the great players and the great fans are dropping like flies these days, so the threat of ill-informed commentary flooding my posts is ever diminishing at an all too rapid rate.

Now if I could only caddie once for the Dalai Lama and get him to tip me by promising me Total Enlightenment on my death bed, I’d be all set.