Friday, May 09, 2008

Cycnus of the Soul

The din. Can we even imagine a day, just one, where everyone on earth remained silent for the time. One day of quiet. What really, is there to say? Who will speak that one important truth that all should know? Not I. Instead, perhaps I'd spend a day smiling and nodding.

Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book 12.
"The House of Fame and the Trojan Cygnus."
Trans. Brooke More

[39] There is a spot convenient in the center of the world, between the land and sea and the wide heavens, the meeting of the threefold universe. From there is seen all things that anywhere exist, although in distant regions far; and there all sounds of earth and space are heard. Fame is possessor of this chosen place, and has her habitation in a tower, which aids her view from that exalted height. And she has fixed there numerous avenues, and openings, a thousand, to her tower and no gates with closed entrance, for the house is open, night and day, of sounding brass, reechoing the tones of every voice. It must repeat whatever it may hear; and there's no rest, and silence in no part. There is no clamor; but the murmuring sound of subdued voices, such as may arise from waves of a far sea, which one may hear who listens at a distance; or the sound which ends a thunderclap, when Jupiter has clashed black clouds together. Fickle crowds are always in that hall, that come and go, and myriad rumors—false tales mixed with true—are circulated in confusing words. Some fill their empty ears with all this talk, and some spread elsewhere all that's told to them. The volume of wild fiction grows apace, and each narrator adds to what he hears. Credulity is there and rash Mistake, and empty Joy, and coward Fear alarmed by quick Sedition, and soft Whisper—all of doubtful life. Fame sees what things are done in heaven and on the sea, and on the earth. She spies all things in the wide universe.

Cycnus, impenetrable, was crushed to death. The son of Poseidon, his tomb was in the sea, inaccessible, no mourners, as if anyone would care.

The mass is babbling, the world jabbering, the universe screaming, the aether shrieking. What, were we within the pleroma, would be worth hearing?

We live a dual life, one private and the other public. In our public lives we might, some of us, turn our attention to affairs of state and community, perhaps acting in ways we hope will be of good benefit to others and ourselves. Some of us put our public lives into struggling against the evil that is Islam. What with all the noise, it's difficult, I think, to hear the sound of Reason and temper. We throw our spears at an invincible enemy who will not die, and we are frustrated badly like Achilles. Like him we might be silent for a bit, to think, to act in new ways that win. This horrible din.

What does Fame know?

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