Saturday, December 31, 2011

Adios 2011

Then we came to the end of another dull and lurid year.
That's the first sentence of Don DeLillo's Americana. I quote it each year on December 31. It never stops capturing a certain truth.
It's been a year of highs and lows, wins and losses.  Things have gotten worse and better. Years are like that.
So here's where I should insert a few highlights and lowlights from 2011 (with links).  I'm not going to do that.  Because there's nothing special.
  • Some folks got what they deserved (for better or worse).  Most probably didn't.
  • Government fucked us over repeatedly, but sometimes it didn't.
  • Same for the courts.
  • And the cops.
Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you.
What else is new?
As I said a year ago today,
Dickens understood, though he was speaking of a particular historical moment in A Tale of Two Cities.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
Every silver lining has its cloud.
And so we come to the end.
Winter is come, that blowes the balefull breath,
And after Winter commeth timely death. 

That's from the December Eclogue in Edmund Spenser's The Shepheardes Calender (1579).
But ineluctably (though not for several months yet) Spring follows Winter. With death, with ending, comes birth.
The Phoenix. Janus. And Shakespeare:
                      [T]hou mettest with things
dying, I with things newborn.
So says the Old Shepherd who has come upon a baby to the Clown who has come upon a man killed by a bear.  It's from Act III of The Winters Tale, itself is a play about cycles and rebirth and starting over.
Yet we're each a little older.  Perhaps a bit wiser.  Maybe more jaded.
Much of what we've lost won't be recovered.
The new year isn't likely to be better than the old.  And on balance we're probably worse off than we were.
I'm not talking economics here, though maybe that too.  I'm talking about our rights. I'm talking about our ostensible system.
Lift a glass tonight and mourn not the passing of the year but the passing of some last chances. Mourn as we move further from the Rule of Law to the Law of Rule.
And then?
We're back at it.
They're still arresting people.  Some factually innocent, some not.
They're still going to execute people.
There's still a war on drugs and it's still an arrestable offense in many places to record the police abusing the citizenry
Despite a few press releases from the Justice Department, Sheriff Joe is still in business in Maricopa. And there's a fair chance his clones are at large in your neck of the woods.
We're as scared as we were last year at this time.  Maybe more.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.
And so the fight goes on.
Thanks for sticking with me.
See you next year.
* * * * * * * * *
The play is not done
Oh, no, not quite
For life never ends
In the moonlit night.
And despite what pretty poets say
The night is only half the day.So we would like to fully finish
What was foolishly begun
For the story is not ended
And the play never done
Until all of us have been burned a bit
And burnished by the sun. 
Tom Jones, The Fantastiks

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