Alright everybody, settle down. Take your seats. Stow the mobile devices—Janey and Bobby-Joe can wait an hour for your latest Facebook update. Class is now in session.
At the end of our last meeting together one of you—and I’m speaking to you, Miss Beverly—was impertinent enough to point out that, while I routinely inveigh against the excessive use of quotes in papers submitted to me, I’m not above employing them myself when submitting my work to the admiring scrutiny of the adoring public, namely you.
Whereas there may be a certain extremely tenuous element of truth to what Miss Bev brings up, I would like to put forward the fact that when it comes to my writings the only truly quotable words worthy of passing down into the annals of human spiritual and intellectual endeavor reside in the main body of the work in question and not at the top, between quotation marks and next to such names as ‘Proust’, ‘Joyce’, ‘Miller’, ‘Campbell’, and all.
They’re dead and gone, Miss Beverly; while you and I, I would posit, are not.
Be that as it may, I’ve spent the last day and a half inputting into my trusty supercomputer, Big Bertha, every single quote ever uttered and written down by a member, living or dead, of our Western European/North American civilization.
They can be seen behind me on the high tech Super iBoard as numerous seemingly unrelated points dotting the graph. For the moment, if you will, ignore the arcing line, for it is in no way visible to the naked eye.
Indeed, the millions of dots appeared entirely unrelated, chaotic and random, until I asked old Bertie to analyze them using a complex algorithm comprised of what I would call the poetic element, the shamanic principle, the seventh chakra, the pineal gland, or inner eye. Then—and only then—did the arcing line appear which traces the grand trajectory of our collective soul. Then—and only then—did it become clear where exactly we are on Life’s slippery continuum.
At this juncture let me observe that the decline and fall delineated on the board is in no way correlated with material or scientific progress. No, on the contrary, material wealth and benefits could very well be perceived—at least in the short term—as continually accumulating. For the fortunate few, in any case.
For what is depicted—keep in mind—is our inner lives! It could very well be that alongside the all too steep plummet to complete psychic and spiritual disintegration there is the compensating rise of … Empire! That is, the total abdication of personal responsibility for a blind, unquestioning collective one, just as once occurred in the Mayan/Aztec, Greco/Roman, Indian, Chinese, and Egyptian worlds. The Song—to borrow a lyric from my youth—Remains The Same.
Observe the right hand side of the graph as the line crashes back to ground. Look close enough and you see the works of Joyce, Mann, Proust, Spengler, Faure, Woolf, Waugh, Maugham, even Picasso! It was a heady time for the soul’s work indeed, the early twentieth century, culminating in the cataclysm of the two World Wars which punctuated starkly on the outer plain what had already occurred on the inner.
Oops. Well, class, it looks like our time together is up.
Homework? I’d like each of you to tweet me an essay on whether or not you feel the kooky Christian right’s prophesying an end of time later this year is related in any way, shape, or form to the arcing line of our soul’s collapse as illustrated on the board, or does it still belong on the Greco/Roman world’s graph?
And oh ya, you can put your hand down now, Miss Beverly. Has anyone ever pointed out a resemblance between you and Hermione Granger?