Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Better World

Photograph courtesy of sxc.hu
and Thomas Rathbone of Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Ten years gone: was the hour so long ago when all those people were brutally thrust into eternity, throats slashed, passengers burned, and office workers chased into air by fire, the wind unable to do anything but tear at their clothing and let them plunge? No, they were not hounded by fire but by men with fire and lovelessness at their command.

Create. Imagine a better world. Live.

One might have thought like Macbeth that "virtues will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against / The deep damnation of [such] taking-off; / And pity, like a naked newborn babe, / Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, horsed / Upon the sightless couriers of the air, / Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye, / That tears shall drown the wind." Had I not known already that writers were fallible instruments of wisdom, I would have learned it then, when so many American writers jettisoned the love and compassion demanded by the moment and flew to use those losses as a weapon against their own government. Therefore I make no attempt to climb some mount of wisdom and lay some tenth-year wreath of heartsease flowers but remember other words.

Create. Imagine a better world. Live.

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.  And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing." 1 Corinthians 13: 1-3

Create. Imagine a better world. Live.

If I speak with the tongue of man or angel but without love, if I give up all I have and allow my body to be burned without love: how apt these words seem to that bad time! Not long ago, Makoto Fujimura ended an address on the purposes of art with these words of hope that make good instructions for the living: "By continuing to create and imagine a better world, we live."

Create. Imagine a better world. Live.

4 comments:

  1. We remember 9/11 not because we 'should', but simply because we do.
    If we really want things to be better, then yes, we have to create better.
    Not because we 'should', but because we do.
    Love, create, live.
    It's what we do.

    I like this blog posting, Marly. It works for my day.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Good response, Marly. And I identify with what Paul says as well. I felt obliged to say something on my own blog about 9-11. How could I not? But what can one say, ultimately, in the face of such horror?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Paul,

    Thanks for sending the 9-11-12 music--I always find your work to be beautiful and moving. Go write some more!

    Robbi,

    Well, I chose to write about it by not writing about it . . . in a way.

    ReplyDelete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.