Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord

I admit I do see the present-day USA as largely a decadent society. This does not come from any traditional European anti-American world view - the USA has been indispensable for the preservation of the Western world in the last 100 years. Its leadership would even now be indispensable for the West. But there doesn't seem much energy left, only a dysfunctional, corrupt political system and ethically and intellectually failed elites.

I have been re-reading the excellent Battlecry of Freedom (in the Oxford American history series), and even though it was a bloody, violent era, there was also an unmistakeable austere, ethical, forceful spirit in the nation. There was corruption, naturally, and ethical collapses, but also a strong, intense and serious will to progress and reform. Of course we do still have intensity, awfully misplaced, intellectually corrupt intensity in the various right wing groups, but that seems more a symptom of a steep decline than a sign that there hasn't been much decline.

Oh well, I'm inclined to pessimism in any case and as regards the future only an open mind is a completely rational view: we cannot know what signs will prove to be significant and which won't, but certainly a depressing spectacle, this exhaustion.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

What do you see my blue-eyed son?

I guess it is telling of my character that now having children, having experienced such intensity of affection and love, having seen such innocence and vulnerability that I don't think about the wonderfulness of the world but about the awfulness of its scope. How almost anything can happen, how there are no safety nets below us, below them.

I am not suited to this age in the sense of feeling like Donne: no person is an island - the awful, the crazily cruel things have already happened to us, are happening to us. A hard rain's a-falling right now, it has always been falling.

But of course this doesn't make the love, the innocence meaningless but only more meaningful, desperately meaningful. Our experience is a wild experience, as sharp, as real as it gets. It's an awful inheritance, but not only awful.