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A Fond Fare Well

January 28, 2017

Many many thanks, Dear Reader!

Our novel now is ended, almost—the author will add a closing page. (And he might announce a revision! Maybe he’ll renew my contract on a page by page basis.)

I hope you have enjoyed the extraordinary characters who have presented themselves, and a plot that has been so surprising as to risk suspension of belief, yet has been so American, so episodic, that it seemed as if one were making it up as one went along. I do wish I could have made Bernie president, or introduced our first woman president. But I’m only an experimental, nonfiction narrator.

For a while, in fact almost to the end, I thought that the key to the plot was turning out to be a major advance of our democracy, in spite of its psychopathologies. At the least, we would read an end to the Reagan (counter)revolution. But then the villain and his psychophants, exploiters, and enablers marshaled a remarkable concentration of all of our democracy’s historical psycho-pathologies, into a victory of the sick imagination over that healthy imagination that was expressed in our Founding Principles.

So I’m closing in a mix of espoir et désesperance. I don’t know how much hope is available when we are being governed by a person, clique, and party who bring together so many psycho-pathologies of our democracy that they might put an end to it. Thirst for conquest, lust for wealth, genocidal disrespect of populations and millennially ancient cultures, extinction of species, propensity to violence, class warfare, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, religious fundamentalism, residual aristocracy and authoritarianism, cheapening of labor, substitution of heroic individual ego for community of truth. What have I left out? All bound together like a club made of fascisti, for beating the heads and backs of the frail.

Being a narrator can be painful.

Perhaps our closing image is of Psyche raped by a clown Hades, dragging us all down into the Underworld. There, the real Hades, king of all that is darkly unconscious, can only shake his head, while his queen suffers flashbacks. Her mother begins to shiver, dresses in night. Love and beauty embrace in tears.

It’s midnight in America.

But no! But yes! Aurora rises out of the Atlantic, like a tide of pink, and washes across the continent. Women are marching for all that awakens the life force.

That’s a good ending for this plot line.

Here are some alternative endings that have come to mind, from time to time:

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes and our sacred Honor.

I look for the new Teacher that shall follow so far those shining laws that he shall see them come full circle; shall see their rounding complete grace; shall see the world to be the mirror of the soul; shall see the identity of the law of gravitation with purity of heart; and shall show that the ought, that Duty, is one thing with Science, with Beauty, and with Joy.

Buoyed up by that coffin, for almost one whole day and night, I floated on a soft and dirge-like main. The unharming sharks, they glided by as if with padlocks on their mouths; the savage sea-hawks sailed with sheathed beaks. On the second day, a sail drew near, nearer, and picked me up at last. It was the devious-cruising Rachel, that in her retracing search after her missing children, only found another orphan.

But I reckon I got to light out for the Territory ahead of the rest, because Aunt Sally she’s going to adopt me and sivilize me and I can’t stand it. I been there before.

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

He went on down the hill, toward the dark woods within which the liquid silver voices of the birds called unceasing—the rapid and urgent beating of the urgent and quiring heart of late spring night. He did not look back.

Old Grandma shook her head slowly, and closed her cloudy eyes again. “I guess I must be getting old,” she said, “because these goings-on around Laguna don’t get me excited any more.” She sighed, and laid her head back on the chair. “It seems like I already heard these stories before . . . only thing is, the names sound different.” . . .Whirling darkness / started its journey / with its witchery / and / its witchery / has returned upon it. . . .

Down by the stream in back of 124 her footprints come and go, come and go. They are so familiar. . . .By and by all trace is gone, and what is forgotten is not only the footprints but the water too and what it is down there. The rest is weather. Not the breath of the disremembered and unaccounted for, but the wind in the eaves, or spring ice thawing too quickly. Just weather. Certainly no clamor for a kiss. . . .Beloved.

Or, when you are reaching for a lighter mood:

nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands

Dear Reader, you are encouraged to choose one or more that you particularly like, or to re-member or imagine one or more of your own.

Hey, it’s still a free country.

And while you are imagining, healthfully, breathe deeply. Breathe steadily. Breathe simply. Breathe well.

[From the Teacher’s Guide: “Quiz. Match the quotation with its author (there is one extra name): Jefferson, Emerson, Melville, Mark Twain, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Silko, Morrison, Cummings, Vonnegut.]

One Comment
  1. Thanks, Tom,

    Both for this way of leaving things “open-ended” and for all your reflections on these tenuous and trying times.

    I look forward to reading through the pages once again as a whole, hopefully with a sigh of releif and not with a groan of despair.


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