Monday, October 7, 2013
The Stuff of Tragedy
When I drove by, I noticed a chorus of gods and goddesses outside of the Launderland Coin Laundry this morning, a couple of Renaissance men and a monk or two. They had come marching south, down Vermont Avenue, disgruntled by the dry air, the crackling wind, the voices discontent. Rich people lack empathy, a wise man noted. Not to mention their difficulty getting through the eye of a needle. David flexed his muscles, held on to his stone. Venus took her hand off her mons and flicked back her hair. Donuts were passed hand to hand. The cars rushed by, their inhabitants intent on misery.
Heroes. Victims. Gods and human beings.
All throwing shapes, every one of them
Convinced he's in the right, all of them glad
To repeat themselves and their every last mistake
No matter what.
People so deep into
Their own self-pity, self-pity buoys them up.
People so staunch and true, they're fixated,
Shining with self-regard like polished stones
And their whole life spent admiring themselves
For their own long-suffering.
Licking their wounds
And flashing them around like decorations.
I hate it, I always hated it, and I am
A part of it myself
-- the Chorus, from Seamus Heaney's The Cure at Troy, A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes