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Life After Death

August 26, 2020

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Even the greatest of minds may disagree about what to do with those who came before us, fallible fellows all.

The Bard of Avon put the truth in the mouth of Mark Antony.   That was the way the world worked in the late Roman Republic when JULIUS CAESAR was set, that was the way the world worked in Elizabethan England when the play was written, and that, alas, is the way the world seems to work now, despite the passage of centuries.  Shakespeare was a pretty smart fellow.   He told it like it is.

Gandhi was an idealist.   The world he imagined, dreamed of, and worked to create was a better world than Shakespeare’s; a gentler, kinder, more loving world, a peaceful and non-violent world.   We are not there yet.   We are a long way off, I fear, centuries off.   But Gandhi moved us toward it.   Before a better world can be created, it must first be dreamed.

Dwelling where I am now, deep in the heart of Westeros, I find myself surrounded by my characters, the children of my mind and heart and soul.   They are real to me, as I write them, and I struggle to make them real to my readers as well.   All of them are flawed, from the best to the worst.  They do heroic things, they do selfish things.   Some are strong and some are weak, some smart and some stupid.  The smartest may do stupid things.  The bravest may have moments when their courage fails.   Great harms may be done from the noblest motives, great good from motives vile and venal.   Life is like that, and art should reflect that, if it is to remain true.   Ours is a world of contradiction and unintended consequences.

Boromir is my favorite member of the Fellowship.   The tragic hero.   Shakespeare’s Brutus speaks to me as well (more so than the real one); the noblest Roman of them all, whose nobility — and gullibility — lead him to commit a vile crime.   Captain Ahab, Wolf Larsen, Gatsby, Falstaff and Hotspur and Prince Hal (those plays are full of flawed characters, each with his own failings), Ebeneezer Scrooge and Sydney Carton, Gully Foyle, Roger’s Sam, Dr. Doom and Dr. Jekyll and Dr. Moreau, Morbius of Altair IV, Huckleberry Finn, Sir Lancelot and Sir Gawain (but not Sir Galahad, so perfect, so empty) and Guinevere and Arthur and even Mordred, that little shit.. oh, the list is long.   And when my reading turns to history, biography, memoirs, my response is much the same.

I am not blind to the flaws of those who went before us, and I recognize the truth of Mark Antony’s words.   But Gandhi’s words are nobler, and those are the words I choose to live by… to treasure the memory of the good they did.

Our world needs more empathy, less anger.




Current Mood: melancholy melancholy

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