Kristen's letter to Wendell Berry
Toni Morrison endorses Obama

Darkness Buries All!

Yesterday I was suffering from depression and after a day of errands, I elected to sit in the billiard room, which faces the evening sun, and read some poetry while listening to R.E.M. and eating chocolate. Michael said that this was like a junior high girl. I corrected that the junior high girl would be writing the poety, not reading it.

Plus, I was reading Pope and Johnson. Not your normal junior high girl fare.

I'm very much enjoying Bloom's anthology. I am learning much and am arriving at appreciations for poets that previously I had not cared for as much. Plus, I'm gaining an even greater sense of the power and depth of the language.

One poem that Bloom excerpts from is Pope's Dunciad, in which he bemoans the end of western culture as it is take over by fools and dunces. Regarding this Bloom writes, "This may have been justified in 1743; in 2003 it is simply the way things are."

Here is the final section of the Dunciad, when the Queen of Dulness approaches:

In vain, in vain -- the all-composing hour
Resistless falls: the Muse obeys the power.
She comes! she comes! the sable throne behold
Of Night pirmeval, and of Chaos old!
Before her, Fancy's gilded clouds decay,
And all its varying rainbows die away.
Wit shoots in vain its momentary fires,
The meteor drops, and in a flash expires.
As one by one, at dread Medea's strain,
The sickening stars fade off the ethereal plain;
As Argus' eyes by Hermes' wand opprest,
Closed one by one to everlasting rest;
Thus at her felt approach, and secret might,
Art after Art goes out, and all is night.
See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of casuistry heaped o'er her head!
Philosophy, that leaned on Heaven before,
Shrinks to her second cause, and is no more.
Physic of Metaphysic begs defence,
And Metaphysic calls for aid on Sense!
See Mystery to Mathematics fly!
In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.
Religion blushing veils her sacred fires,
And unawares Morality expires.
Nor public flame, nor private, dares to shine;
Nor human spark is left, nor glimpse divine!
Lo! thy dread empire, CHAOS! is restored;
Light dies before thy uncreating word:
Thy hand, great anarch! lets the curtain fall;
And universal darkness buries all.

Wow! That's fantastically well written. It is, of course, the paradox of art like that that if what is says is true, then the thing itself could not be created.

But I do find its warning and Bloom's indication of its current reality to be apt. In an age where Britney's every move is covered, we surely have lost many significant aspects of our culture.

I feel that what is most missing in today's America is a sense of beauty. And with that goes the good and true, since we know they are intimately connected. Few people seem to cultivate their aesthetic sense, finding pleasure only in the common pleasures. The common pleasures are not bad -- they are pleasurable and valuable. But they are not all there is.

A sense of beauty must be cultivated. There is a natural appreciation, but the skills to really appreciate the richness of the visual arts, nature, the written and spoken word, the human body, food, etc., must be cultivated.

And so I find immense joy in these phrasings:

See skulking Truth to her old cavern fled,
Mountains of casuistry heaped o'er her head!

In vain! they gaze, turn giddy, rave, and die.

The first one is splendid. Not only is it filled with a clear moral critique, the language used to make the point is so evocative. The crispness of the "k"s in "skulking," for instance. And "mountains of cauistry," sound o'erwhelming.

And thes second line is filled with movement. The "rave" is the most important beat, I think. The "turn giddy" and the "rave" seem like a party, not an moment of agony, yet in the moment the outburst of meaningless enthusiasm seems appropriate.

Well, anyway. I'm going to take some peptol bismol and nap. My physician has me on a new medical regimen to see if we can tackle the inflammation that bothered me all week.


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