Sunday, November 16, 2008

Prime Passage: Resistance by Barry Lopez

... Now we believe that without love our homeland -- perhaps all countries -- will perish. Over the years, as we have learned what it might mean to love, we have generally agreed that we've better understood the risks. In our nation, it is acceptable to resent love as an interference with personal liberty, as a ruse the emotions employ before the battlements of reason. It is the abused in our country who now most weirdly profess love. For the ordinary person, love is increasingly elusive, imagined as a strategy.

We reject the assertion, promoted today by success-mongering bull terriers in business, in government, in religion, that humans are goal-seeking animals. We believe they are creatures in search of proportion in life, a pattern of grace. It is balance and beauty we believe people want, not triumph. The stories the earth's people adhere to with greatest faith -- the dances that topple fearful walls; ethereal performances of light, color, and music; the enduring musics themselves -- are well patterned. And these templates for the maintenance of vision, repeated continuously in wildly different idioms, from the eras of Lascaux and Shanidar to the days of the Prado and Butoh, these patterns from the artesian wells of artistic impulse, do not require updating. They require only repetition. Repetition because, just as murder and infidelity are within us, so, too, is forgetfulness. We forget what we want to mean. To achieve progress, we've all but cut our heads off.

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