Thursday, January 24, 2008

when the centre cannot hold

Don't know why I'm moved to type this post this morning. I'm not in crisis (though any number of family and friends could attest to propping me up during the crisis moments (months?) of 2007). So, it's not a mood thing. In fact, despite the gloomy snowstorm that moved in during the night, I'm feeling downright chipper and productive this morning. Whatevs. Here's a Yeats poem:

"The Second Coming"

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Still with me? Reaching for the Prozac yet? Did you count the number of book titles that came straight from that poem? Did you wonder if C.S. Lewis came up with the title "Mere Christianity" in response to Yeats' "Mere anarchy" line? Did you think of Napoleon Dynamite's liger when you got to the part about the creature in the desert? I did.

Okay, then. Here's the part where I channel Dr. Phil:

What do you do (or what have you done in the past) when Things Fall Apart? Here's a (very partial) list of my typical reactions - past and present, good and bad.

clean the house
prepare the meal
write the book
kiss the husband
call the friend
eat the chocolate
drink the wine (one glass, maybe two)
read the Word (today's verse: "Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD." Psalm 27:14 KJV)

stare at the mess
reach for the canned soup
despair about the muse
avoid the husband
screen the calls
eat the chocolate
drink the wine (three glasses, maybe four)
read (today's headline: "Britney Pissed: Get the Eff Out of my Way!!!")

Now it's your turn. Comment anonymously, if you must, but let's be bold, People. You never know who might find comfort in solidarity.

Notes on the poem, which I got from Printings: The Dial (Chicago), November 1920; The Nation (London), 6 November 1920; Michael Robartes and the Dancer (Dundrum: Cuala, 1921); Later Poems (London: Macmillan, 1922; 1924; 1926; 1931).


  1. Ummm, OK here goes....

    refuse to eat (I guess that can be good or bad depending)
    Have a Cosmopolitan
    listen to music
    take a relaxing bath/shower

    don't answer the phone
    listen to very loud music
    drive fast
    have more than one Cosmopolitan
    curl up in the dark with a stuffed animal

  2. This is what happens when those twin harpies, Meaning and Purpose, rear their nasty heads.

    I have two things to contribute; the first is a title from the above poem: Slouching Towards Gomorrah by Robert Bork; and the second is a quote from an underestimated essayist:

    “In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and
    lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes can have an anxiety–
    reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite
    space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or
    spiders.” Alain de Botton Status Anxiety

  3. Boy, Jane and Ken. Can the three of us get together in a coffee house sometime? I'll bring the black berets.

  4. GAh.


    Drag myself out of town to Susan's place to ride and clean the barn
    hug the kids
    call husband for pep talk
    walk the dog

    stare at the wall

    Is it weird that my good and bad coping activities are so similar?

  5. I know, Heidi. I noticed that, too. I guess it gets down to that whole "everything in moderation" thing.