“Not what a man does, but that he does; not how he prays, but that he prays; not why he fights, but that he fights – this is the sole enduring truth that vain and finite man can ever win from a fight with Eternity: that.”
For fear, on the one hand, of revealing too conspicuously my own shallow understanding of such matters, and on the other, a grotesque megalomania that might too easily frighten and offend the potential benefactor of this strange and illusive text, I will withhold the names of the literary company I seem fit to so often keep, each one who – among the many infamous appellations attached to their names – marked themselves by declaring their own lives and works the end of a two and a half millennia epoch that above all witnessed the birth, maturation and now ultimate demise of a certain Ideal – no, the idea of the Ideal itself: that other, more hopeful, less painful, more beautiful, less fleeting, more necessary and less absurd “Reality” from which this reality – our bodily reality – is but a mirror and shadow when placed alongside; a wisp, a phantom, delusion, lie and dream which, to most so condemned to endure it, is, in fact, an unrelenting nightmare that only through death can one overcome and be liberated definitely therefrom; death which seems to such ones if not the ultimate goal of life then at least her most precious reward: the prize of a long and indeterminate sleep peopled, of course, by only the blissful company of a man’s closest companions, dearest loved ones, moral champions and, above all, his own personal God who, to the man who believes, is not merely the author of such sleep but the singer of its lullaby and essence of its notes; that Song which, quiet as the above-unmentionable names have rendered it, could not have been decisively silenced until one arose from these shores, my shores, my American shores to blunt her final move and fell her heavy drape before harrying her baffled patrons into the hard frozen streets; America upon whose mountains and through whose valleys and across whose deserts and plains resounded if not the most overwhelming derivation of the Song then at least her most intoxicating and monstrous accentuation, one that has until now – until me – encouraged the pianists and flutists and cellists and drumming cymbal-crashers of every ability and sort to trundle on in their own sublime innocence never mind their imminent doom: Innocence which allows a man, on the one hand, to defer indefinitely the affirmation of life with all her pains and futilities and, on the other, to actively struggle and strive for whatever Arcadian fantasy might haunt the candied corners of his infantile imagination – each and every Utopian covet that man has ever indulged commoned by a single wanton lust: the overthrow of bodily life with all her apparent relativeness and meaningless subjectivity of which only the individual man is both blessed and cursed to bear for, to and in himself alone; that Body, raw in her terror, glorious in her fury and ruthless in her longing to avenge herself of those age-long assaults her Objective foes do I, dear Reader, with as much subtly as my nerves permit, endeavor to express to you now, as only one who truly loves her can.
Alabama Gulf Coast
Devil walks into bar. Orders drink. Asks Philosopher sitting next to him: “And what do you do?”