Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Drama Itself

I am half way through a book that begins its Part 2 with a line from William Faulkner's Requiem for a Nun. I've seen the quote before though I have never read, Requiem for a Nun. Whenever I have seen the lines, the words make me nod in appreciation of its truth.

"The past is never dead.  It's not even past."

We are who we are which is a composite of the residual of what we've been.

This doesn't mean we need to lug around our bad decisions and display them like a scar or a foolish tattoo. We can learn from our I-can't-believe-I-did-that acts, and transform.  But whether we grow qualitatively because of what we learn or stay stuck in the muck of our errors, our past is present.  And therefore, "not even past."

The book I am reading is called, A Strong West Wind.   I'll spew my assessment of the book when I finish Part 2, but there is a line in Part 1 that made me rear my head and straighten my back. And it is relevant to the past/present quotation.

The book is a memoir written by Gail Caldwell.  The author used to be the literary critic for the Boston Globe.  It is clear from just reading the first part that she is a prolific reader. She refers to books constantly and can impress one, or at least me, by the sheer volume of books read, let alone her ability to draw from them to make several points. She makes the following remark about the effects of reading on page 67 when she writes, "All those places I visited in books were accessible realities, had I the courage and volition to go looking---to trade in my role as spectator for the drama itself."

I am not sure I agree that all the places we visit in books are accessible realities. I'll have to think about that some.  But I do know that when I read I find myself exploring possibilities that without the read I might not have imagined.  It's not just places to visit and adventures to pursue, but behavior and attitude to imitate or avoid.

I think that when we identify some path that we'd be wiser to pursue, the challenge for those who want our past to healthily inform, influence, and enrich our present, is to have the volition and courage to "trade in [our] role as spectator for the drama itself."

[P.S. For what it is worth on this day before July 4th, I reread a blog I wrote on July 4, 2010 called Independence and Anomie.  I think it is one of my better efforts, so an fyi for anyone who is inclined to read it.]

No comments:

Post a Comment