Monday, August 7, 2017

Abdul Abulbul Amir

Long, longer, longest gone ... I learned the following song as a youngster when the Russo-Turkish War was already an aging memory that hardly concerned safe Americans such as myself. There's always a war somewhere and someone is always on hand to sing up its heroes and sing down its villains or, as in this tuneful case, rain death on both their houses.

One of the functions of my aging is that I lose my callouses. Literally and metaphorically, what was once an inconvenience rubbing up against hardened experience and knowledge is now a painful goad, something unprotected and painful. I become what I once viewed as a wuss. I cannot watch violence with the savoir kool of an 'adult' past. The idea of singing the glory and valor of conflict is like being hit by a blast of rock salt. It hurts and I can feel myself wanting to cry. Isn't it enough that life can deal out tragedy without contributing to -- let alone singing about -- it?

Before bed these days, I am reading a well-written novella called, "The Hessian" by Howard Fast. It's about 150 pages long but was published in a time when brevity did not absolve the author of character development or human complexity. Two-thirds of the way through the book, I know what is going to happen and yet wish that that knowing would mitigate the sense of loss I feel as I turn the well-written pages.

Funny how knowing can console in one moment and fall to ashes in the next.

1 comment:

  1. I was engaged at a party once, in a philosophical discussion with a fellow who after a while mitigated his thoughts on information with what he called "real knowledge", things that you truly know to be true from experience, etc. I was gob stopped. He apparently trusted his brain, an idea I'd never entertained. I'll allow for rumor and suspicion, but knowledge remains suspicious in my world.