those who do not learn from history are bound to become history
Electricity changed everything. There were always broken cities where we once lived. Collapsed so long ago we did not notice. And it’s only if we think to visit those worlds that we discover what is not to be sustained.
You can call it the past, your past, your history. The name isn’t important enough to stumble on.
You know there were people once. Moments made of how you felt, what you thought, how you did this or that, was it regular, was it all expected. Those were your neighborhoods.
You may have felt lost, or found. Or found again that you were never lost, merely touring destruction never witnessed before because that is not how the reportage goes. It is always what we found, never what they saw or experienced.
We, the innocent. They, the vicious and unwanted.
Did it happen like this in Pompei? Was fire the accident resulting from the flow only because nobody then wanted to recall the unpleasantness of whatever civilization upon which Pompei made its home?
These may appear to be questions involving ancient civilizations, rumors of history, notes upon which scholars can delay knowledge that is ever present.
Barbarians cut off heads, massacred, were rude and cruel to others’ sensitivities. These are our legends, too. They murdered students, they persecuted the penniless, they triumphed in glory over the crude.
Debates to please themselves, discussions over the appropriate ghosts to be allowed, souvenirs of the fascistic national pride supreme over all those who remain bowed down.
Funerals and crowds. High hosannas and the hallelujah for the singular. Candy can feed the crowd for awhile, but only delay the great revelation all look toward.
Like visitors to our own burial plots, serving only to confirm our whereabouts so the living can distinguish between the dead, and the simply we-who-are-about-to-die salute, we’re all the Emperor’s kids.
I wish, you wish, they wish. Impatiently for the process of the future, dust we can see from the stars that freckle our skins, obvious or not. The financiers pull the strings of everything. The moneymen and women. The manipulators of hopes and dreams, recognizable at least. Grace importunes for all and all.
Our bones and flesh once so perfect blend in since who is so important you can believe anything they say which you in your democratic cannot self-confirm, or perhaps dispense with outside your temperament.
In these we rise, in these we surface. Yet. The minor hums and thralls passing almost without notice are as ever present as the necessity for listening and repetition.
I can hear them now just as those who indulge in the beneficial effects of astrology lay down their shovels above, refusing to disturb the beauty of what they rest upon. To do so freely could imperil what they believe they stand upon.
In truth they shift sideways to our striving – not to be caught in what some call our beliefs and others refrain from speaking of conceits.
There is a song in there for somebody. Many songs unspoken, many words to call into being that which is sought and found in one breath.
© Dean Baker
excerpt from IN RIPARIAN FIELDS, 162 pages, $18.99 cheap
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