Thursday, December 31, 2009

“Limits”... for New Year’s Eve 2009

Note: in my rush to post this poem, my intended dedication got left off. Here it is anyway, belatedly but not diminished for that:

My final post of 2009 is dedicated to Wretchard, a man of integrity, possessed of a finely discerning and analytical intelligence.

Wretchard never stoops to mockery or meanness to make his point.

In him you will find that rare combination of genuine goodness and the willingness to look evil in the face and name it.

He has grasped his own mortality by the hand and bid it (a restrained) welcome.

Wretchard is one of the Twelve Just Men who are the pillars holding up the world. How fortunate we are to actually know one of them.

So we come to the end of a tumultuous year. Some of us are glad to see it go, others would like to hold on a bit because the future seems so unsure.

A few weeks ago this poem by Jorge Luis Borges popped up again. Despite some of the warmth of his images, the mood is somber and reflective. It fits well into a season of cold and uncertainty.

Thus armed, we shall look forward to whatever that is slouching towards us.

Perhaps one of our readers would be willing to supply the poem in its original Spanish?


Of all the streets that blur in to the sunset,
There must be one (which, I am not sure)
That I by now have walked for the last time
Without guessing it, the pawn of that Someone

Who fixes in advance omnipotent laws,
Sets up a secret and unwavering scale
for all the shadows, dreams, and forms
Woven into the texture of this life.

If there is a limit to all things and a measure
And a last time and nothing more and forgetfulness,
Who will tell us to whom in this house
We without knowing it have said farewell?

Through the dawning window night withdraws
And among the stacked books which throw
Irregular shadows on the dim table,
There must be one which I will never read.

There is in the South more than one worn gate,
With its cement urns and planted cactus,
Which is already forbidden to my entry,
Inaccessible, as in a lithograph.

There is a door you have closed forever
And some mirror is expecting you in vain;
To you the crossroads seem wide open,
Yet watching you, four-faced, is a Janus.

There is among all your memories one
Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain
Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.
- - - - - - - - -
You will never recapture what the Persian
Said in his language woven with birds and roses,
When, in the sunset, before the light disperses,
You wish to give words to unforgettable things.

And the steadily flowing Rhone and the lake,
All that vast yesterday over which today I bend?
They will be as lost as Carthage,
Scourged by the Romans with fire and salt.

At dawn I seem to hear the turbulent
Murmur of crowds milling and fading away;
They are all I have been loved by, forgotten by;
Space, time, and Borges now are leaving me.

…As they must leave us all…

The wiki for Borges is here.


History Snark said...

Wow. Not much for poetry, but I like this one.

Evanston2 said...

Wretchard is indeed a man of compassion and great insight.

Zenster said...

During my return trip from overseas just before this New Year's Eve, I had quite the delightful conversation with a Boeing employee who is currently working on America's Missile Defense System in Alaska.

Setting aside our shared mirth at Obama's minions marching in and abruptly shutting down this vital defense project − only to later realize that so many major infrastructure tasks had been completed and mission milestones achieved that the penalties for early termination were prohibitive − then just as suddenly reactivating it without any fanfare, we also found common ground in discussing, what I consider to be, one of Wretchard's finest essays, "The Three Conjectures".

So thoroughly Googled is this work that merely searching for "three conjectures" makes his article top the list of returned results. My seatmate concurred with me as I predicted a rather dire end for Islam in the form of a Muslim holocaust.

Wretchard's own forecast makes it startlingly clear that no good will ever come of jihad's quest for a global caliphate. To wit:

The most startling result of this analysis is that a catastrophic outcome for Islam is guaranteed whether America retaliates or not. Even if the President decided to let all Americans die to expiate their historical guilt, why would Islamic terrorists stop after that? They would move on to Europe and Asia until finally China, Russia, Japan, India or Israel, none of them squeamish, wrote -1 x 10^9 in the final right hand column. They too would be prisoners of the same dynamic, and they too have weapons of mass destruction.

Even if Islam killed every non-Muslim on earth they would almost certainly continue to kill each other with their new-found weaponry. Revenge bombings between rival groups and wars between different Islamic factions are the recurring theme of history. Long before 3,000 New Yorkers died on September 11, Iraq and Iran killed 500,000 Muslims between them. The greatest threat to Muslims is radical Islam; and the greatest threat of all is a radical Islam armed with weapons of mass destruction

At the bottom of this new Pandora's box that our budding social engineers have so fecklessly opened lies, not hope, but cold consolation that even should all of our lives in the West be sacrificed upon Political Correctness' altar of Multiculturalism, less suicidally tolerant cultures will use the nuclear weaponry we developed to assure that Islam NEVER, EVER gains ascendancy upon this globe.

Small comfort I'm sure but one that should eliminate all compunction for each of us regarding why the West has every right to set about casting Islam onto history's scrap heap of discarded ideologies. We did it with religious theocracy, Nazism and Soviet Communism and there is no compelling reason why Islam should not join these tyrannous monsters in the graveyard of illegitimate social constructs.