WickedEye's Quotient

4/06/2008 at 12:57

The Eternal Footman

{For I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.}

Dave and I went to see No Country for Old Men before the break. Unusually, our experiences of the movie didn’t agree.

The movie ended with a sudden black screen and left me staring- staring and cold to my very center.

So cold that I tried, over the next four hours, to explain why I had frozen over during the movie, congealing in that final second of darkness- tried without any success at all. Tried in the theater and the car, tried over cups of tea and then beers and then tea again- the bracketing teas I requested we get because I needed so badly to warm up inside.

(Wrapping a hot cup of tea around myself like a cherished and raggedy childhood blanket when I need deep, cosseting comfort is a tried-and-true strategy.

...It didn’t work this time.)

I managed to explain some of it, if not to him, then to myself, later. Days later.

So wandering through the Hudson News store in JFK on my way back from Bangalore I looked at Cormac McCarthy’s books and picked up No Country for Old Men, thinking, It can’t give me the same feeling here, in this raucous terminal, in this small tiled crowded shop- the public venue giving me a vague conviction of safety.

I read the beginning and the end.

And the Sheriff woke from a dream of his father and darkness and cold and an assurance of light granted without hope or tenderness.

And said this sentence: I think its more what you are willin to become.

And I felt, in that small noisy pedestrian shop, oblivion breathing on the nape of my neck.

And felt the cold again in an icy wave that traveled from my scalp down my spine to the soles of my feet.

I had tried to explain the despair the movie conveyed, the ending an aching longing for lost light and a chilly certainty that it flickers somewhere in the darkness.

Somewhere. But not here.

The defeat of the Sheriff- of the forces of order, of goodness, of law- is so total that the vanquished have no room for bitterness, only a dazed and wondering awe at the magnitude of the devastation wrought upon them.

The man reliving the story is, at the end, like a mortally wounded warrior who looks at the torn flesh and pumping blood and, pushed beyond any fear, thinks Damn. That’s bad, huh?

I don’t get emotional in public. But I think I might have been shaking as I set the book gently back on the shelf as though it were an unstable explosive. And looked at it.

And thought- I might read it.

But I saw myself curled in the enormous green armchair in my mother’s house, and her finding me there with the book in my lap, weeping hopelessly. And on the heels of that had another vision of myself in the same chair, huddled and frozen and bereft of tears, too frightened and despairing to weep.

And knew that that is what would happen. What will happen.

Because though for the first time the thought of reading a book terrifies me, I will read it.

Because it terrifies me, I will read it.

I cannot bear to know a fear and not confront it- and this…

The crushing entropy that may turn anyone who stands in its path to its own agent, traducing her to her and others’ destruction: This is, apparently, one of my greatest fears.

So great it took me more than a month to name it. So great it made me literally back away from a bookshelf, turning from it as from a source of fatal contamination. So great I practically ran away, ran away to my gate to sit and scrawl this.

(So great it took me a month just to transcribe this essay.)

So great I almost cannot bear to voice it.

Can a person battle darkness without letting it creep through her veins?

Or is it destined all ways, always to supersede all effort, an entropic corrosion grinding relentlessly over any effort, all virtue?

Subverting light into the thin final dust which at the end of all things will cushion its inexorable tread?

{Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

                               For Thine is the Kingdom

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow

                               Life is very long

Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow

                               For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper
. }

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