Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Country for Old and Young Writers

Whichever direction we turn, we seem to be presented with an ongoing scenario of dissent, making us spectators at a Balkanized, fractured landscape ruled by old passions and questionable logic.  

It is not a landscape we have entered with zeal or adventureous spirit.  Rather, it is a place where we have turned in search of refuge if not solace from the consternation about us.  It is more a place for a cynic, a politician, or a career diplomat that one who would offer the soaring freedom of the creative imagination.

Cormac McCarthy called it no country for old men; he was quoting Yeats, who was old when he wrote the lines:
That is no country for old men. The young
  In one another's arms, birds in the trees
  - Those dying generations - at their song,
  The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
  Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
  Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
  Caught in that sensual music all neglect
  Monuments of unaging intellect.

McCarthy's sheriff, Ed Tom Bell, was inspired by those lines and he,in the best artistic sense, became our man in this fractured landscape.  It is the job of the story teller to take us into such dismal and disspiriting places, asking questions, forging the moral boundaries over which we must not retreat lest we limp backward to the cynical state of the politician or career diplomat or other well-paid pragmatist.  

The landscape of the reader is a country for old men and women as well as young, teeming voices, eager to find their own aimbre and pitch. 

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