“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Some one had blunder’d.
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
I’m in a melancholy mood today. Partially due to a visitation with various relatives, some in various stages of dying or self-destruction. Partially due to the recent news that an online aquaintance of mine has died. Partially due to the knowlege of humankind’s mortality–not in the sense of my own personal mortality, but something else. More the knowlege that all stars pass into darkness–the brightest, or the most fiery, it makes no difference. Man knows not his time.
So much is lost. How many secrets are carried to the grave and beyond, and will never be spoken? How many words of forgiveness, or whispers of “I love you,” or reconciliations, will never reach the ears of they that they were intended for? The wisdom of the aged departs this world, and takes with it its color.
When this poor lisping stamm’ring tongue lies silent in the grave…
And enter the new generations. Re-inventing the wheel in their own image. Mocking the foolishness of their predecessors whilst they fall into the very same traps. Seeing history through a chronocentric lens.
Why is it that there is a common unspoken belief that the teachings of a person are null and useless if that person is dead? I spoke to an art professor about the painting style of Bob Ross, and her snotty highbrow retort was, “Bob Ross is dead!” There is a Xangan who says in his/her profile something to the effect of “C.S. Lewis is an awesome writer, even if he’s dead.” I’ve heard similar attitudes expressed time and time again.
Why should death be an intellectual handicap? Does wisdom and truth come with an expiration date? Do they sour if one leaves them out of the refrigerator overnight?!?
Only in this age. Only now that Truth has become to us something to be chosen as casually as one chooses Pepsi over Coke. Only in this time of “personal reality” and “my own truth.” Because now the only Truth is Self. What the Self does not know or care to know instantly becomes unimportant.
Oh, to speak with the ancients! To converse with the wisdom of the ages! I would trade all the “knowlege” and technology of this bitter Age to speak philosophy by the side of Plato in the shaded Acadamy. I would trade my personal reality and my individualized truth to hear the whispered theologies of G.K. Chesterton. To speak of honor and responsibility with Marcus Aurelius. To immerse myself in mythopoea with Tolkien. To tread the Roman Road with Luther. To sit at the feet of Jesus…
Don Nelson, my fellow Forumite and one of the moderators of SFI, is dead. His knowlege about swords and martial history has passed away with him, except where it remains written down or passed on to others.
Former President Reagan died a few days ago, and whatever secrets he had were long since eaten away by the ravages of Altzheimer’s.
My grandfather died in 1999, taking with him a lifetime of World War II stories and experiences as a plumber in Brooklyn that I barely scratched the surface of.
C.S. Lewis died in 1963 at his home “The Kilns”, and we will never know how his story “The Dark Tower” was meant to end.
Every man must bear his going hence, or so I am told. Even I will face the black-robed angel, be it seventy years from now in a nursing home or tomorrow in a terrorist attack. And while I am more than confident in what comes after, and even if I die before I finish this post I will die with no regrets… it is still a great and terrible thing. What things I have left unfinished, what secrets I have yet to tell, what words remain unspoken…
“For all we ought to have thought, and have not thought; all we ought to have said, and have not said; all we ought to have done, and have not done; I pray thee God for forgiveness.” –Antonio Bandares, “the 13th Warrior”
I stand on a darkened beach and I watch the stars fall. Some streak down, seeming to connect heaven and earth with a blindingly bright flash. Some merely wink out–one moment there, the next consuming darkness. Some nova. Others, not to be outdone, supernova.
But every star falls.
Media vita in Morte sumus,
Adjutorem nisite Domine?
Qui pro peccatis nostris justeira sceris.
Requiem aeternam, dona eis Domine,
Et lux perpetua, luceat eis.
Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison.