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January 6, 2021: The Second Coming

“The Second Coming” By William Butler Yeats

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 the 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?

William Butler Yeats

This poem seems to me right now to be most prophetic. William Butler Yeats wrote this poem in 1921. He intended for it to describe the current historical moment in terms of the gyres. Yeats believed that the world was on the threshold of an apocalyptic revelation, as history reached the end of the outer gyre and began moving along the inner gyre.

The words, the tone, feel heavy-handed. The narrator though, is safely at the distance, passing judgement on the situation. Today, the entire poem came into my head as the day continued to unfold. I do not think we are approaching end times (and the outer gyre), but I sense that unforeseen changes loom on the horizon, some good, some bad.

This is going to be one of those days in which people will ask themselves, where were you when the Trump supporters attempted to stage a coup in the Nation’s Capitol. Me, I was upstairs, attempting to make book distribution connections, and at the same time, keeping my eye on the weather. I was wondering if it was going to be a good day for a ride.

Pete alerted me as to what was going on. I finished my second-to-last call. I didn’t make the final call. Instead I went downstairs and pulled a kitchen chair up next to Pete’s chair. There, we watched ABC news, on the computer. I sat, all total, for twenty minutes, staring at the screen. Crazy people in American flag cartoons were scaling building walls. Others were walking around and yelling inane things. I said to Pete that the signs they were carrying were unimaginative compared to those carried in the Woman’s Day march in 2017.

Lots of bodies and few with brains. A recipe for disruption.

I sat mesmerized, all total, 20 minutes. And after, it occurred to me that I’d spent twenty minutes too long watching the screen. I imagine that most were glued to the television all day long. The rest, they got up and did other things, once in a while glancing at the screen.

I couldn’t help but think that the media perpetuated the badness. Trump and his kind thrive on attention the way dung beetles thrive on shit. Take the press away and ignore them and they have no audience. This would have been the best thing to do, given that their fearless leader sequestered himself in some safe place and was most likely watching what was going on. At the same time, he was probably thinking that these individuals, in backing him, were doing the right thing.

And I couldn’t help but think that social media exacerbated the problem. The hate groups, via these platforms, found a gathering place, one with people of like sentiments.

What’s to become of us all? This is the question William Butler Yeats asked, in 1921, 100 years ago. And this is a question each and every one of us needs to be one another, now.

Next: 7. 1/7/21: Tyra and the Magpie

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