If you have not already done so, you may wish to read the
Introduction to Gnomica.
Wednesday 9 January 2013
Read gnomica 1-200 here!
The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.
William Butler Yeats (13 Jun 1865 – 28 Jan 1939)
These words first came to my attention at some point in the late sixties or early seventies as the country was imploding over Vietnam and headlines almost led one to believe the apocalypse was at last nigh – I think it was a line Eric Sevareid used on one of those not unreasonably alarmed newscasts that were not uncommon on the evening news programs of the day. For some reason the words – like Sevareid’s serious mien as he uttered them — have stuck in my mind, and over the years they have on what seemed not inappropriate occasions come to the fore in my mind as memorably encapsulating the latest madness abroad in the land.
Then it was Nam.
Now it’s the cliff.
Right down to the very wire of 2012 the solons of D.C. – those wise men and women we send to Washington to do our nation’s work for the good of all – were still squabbling in their individual self-righteousnesses about what was to be done and what was not to be done. So that it looked as if nothing was going to get done, and 2013 would begin with an ominous question mark about what was what. That last Friday (29 December) there was only the bleakest of hopes that someone somehow somewhere could pull a legislative rabbit out of the hat on the last operation day of the year on the following Monday (31 December). Then the precipice!
Who are the ‘best’ here, and what ‘conviction’ is it they lack? What is the nature of the ‘intensity’ with which the worst are filled … whoever they, the ‘worst’, are? Does it mean that if you are a Democrat the worst are the Republicans and if you are a Republican they are the democrats? Do both – or either – believe in anything other than getting their own way … the country and its anxious people be damned? Is there any perspective left but that of securing the personal and the parochial so as to be able to chalk up a ‘win’?
I don’t think I was alone in those final hours of last year simply baffled by what at times seemed nothing more than a puerile intransigence and an infantile obduracy on the part of both sides in dealing with legislation the failure of which to pass would not be – so the nation was led to believe — without rather serious consequences for most Americans … and even other nations.
Perhaps more important, what did you think about these disgraceful histrionics that final week of the year while the stock market tanked about 373 points on its relentless way to that much bruited-about cliff?
As we now know, this time the cliff was avoided — and the market currently seems not entirely unhappy … some nine days into 2013.
There are of course some 356 days left in the year.