And I quote...

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in our selves, that we are underlings". That's from Julius Caesar, and it's one of my favorite lines from Shakespeare, and also from modern American history. See, Edward R. Murrow used most of that line while talking about McCarthyism. i remember being a young man of 14 or so and seeing some documentary about that, and i was so impressed with the whole thing- Murrow, his style, his gravitas, and his ability to quote Shakespeare like that. How cool that a quote hundreds of years old could be so pertinent to the here and now. For some reason, that moment resonated with me. i wanted to be able to quote things like Murrow did. It was the same admiration i felt for Bobby Kennedy the first time i heard a recording of the impromptu speech he gave the night Martin Luther King died and he quoted Aeschylus. There is something inherently comforting in the idea of human beings from long ago saying things that are still timely today- some sort of implied order to this chaotic world, and whenever i come across those moments of quotation, i feel like less of a quotidian. Sorry, i couldn't resist the alliteration. So, the other night, Stephen Colbert went on this riff about which Shakespearean characters the candidates resembled- and i was in heaven. First, he likened McCain to the Scottish Laird- a man of honor who loses all that is good about himself to achieve power. Then Colbert compared McCain to Prospero- a cranky old man living on an island with a creature that nobody liked (at the mention of the creature, a picture of Lieberman can on the screen). If you want to see the whole thing, go here.
What is most interesting to me, as a writer, is that i take more comfort in pertinent quotes in times of trouble than when things are going well. And right now, what with all that's going on economically, politically, and environmentally, you have to admit things are pretty scary. Yet, old quotes make me feel better. "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times". Ah, Yes! Thank you Mr. Dickens! "May you live in interesting times"- oh, damn you old curse. "These are the times that try [peoples] souls." Amen. We need to know that others have been through something similar to what we have gone through- it's comforting. It's human. In fact, it seems to me that what truly gives comfort to most of us in the hard times are the humanities- music, poetry, stories- and of course love. All those material things we have sort of lose their stature- I mean, when you read about the stock market crashing, do you go out and stare at your car and think "boy, it's all right- I've got a hybrid!"? No- it's when you remember something you heard once in a story, or said by someone you loved or looked up to, that you start to feel okay.
Okay, I feel a little rambly right now- what I mean to say is just this- money really can't buy you shit, in the long run. Money is a lie, a made up system for trading stuff that can vanish far quicker than a dream you have in those last minutes of sleep after you've already hit the snooze button. And unlike that dream, which may come back to you from time to time, when money goes- it's gone. Poof.
So, here's your assignment for today- think of some quote- it can be from a song, a movie, a poem- whatever- that somehow relates to you at this very moment in time. Say it out loud. Carry it with you for the day. Share it with someone. And wonder and how great and mysterious it is to be a human being.

Comments

James said…
“Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened."
"Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
That was the first quote that came to my mind after reading this, as well as the quote that I feel best describes the state we live in today as individuals and as a country.
heathermac said…
this quote from Chicago reminds me of the icy cool of Obama. this quote keeps me going:

"if life is a school i'll pass every test
if life is a game i'll pay it the best
'cause i won't give in and i'll never bend
and i am my own best friend."

and this t.s. eliot reminds me of McCain:

"I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach? I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me."

i know it's a little dark, but not all of us have the luxury of love's open arms to fall into in these hard times...

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