Weekly musings on the arts and current events.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

From Whence We Came


This week, the President signed into law a major financial markets reform bill and an extension of unemployment benefits. The news, however, was all about Shirley Sherrod, a woman whose reputation was attacked by a provocateur named Andrew Breitbart.

The story might never have broken in an earlier age, before the rumor mill was digitalized and newspapers still checked their facts. It also might not have happened when civility abode in Washington and partisan bounty hunters weren't desperate for peccadillos.

Overlooked in the dustup was the theme of Sherrod's speech, which was to encourage young black people to return to careers in agriculture. Racial attitudes can not only inhibit compassion but opportunity as well.

The crossfire isn't over. Some of Breitbart's allies claim that it is she who owes him an apology. It's all very sad, but perhaps we can gain some perspective from former poet laureate Billy Collins:

While Eating a Pear

After we have finished here,
the world will continue its quiet turning,
and the years will still transpire,
but now without their numbers,
and the days and months will pass
without the names of Norse and Roman gods.

Time will go by the way it did
before history, pure and unnoticed,
a mystery that arose between the sun and moon
before there was a word
for dawn or noon or midnight,

before there were names for the earth's
uncountable things,
when fruit hung anonymously
from scattered groves of trees,
light on one smooth green side,
shadow on the other.


Sugar Bowl Pears and Tablecloth, 1893-1894, by Paul Cezanne. Click on the picture for a closer look.

3 comments:

DUTA said...

"From whence we came" - We came from the monkeys and ate.. pears.

The word 'pear' is included in both the title of Cezanne's painting and that of Bill Collins' poem.

Although not as popular as the apple, the pear is quite a loved edible fruit. Moreover, it appears and is mentioned in literature, art, music, medicine, language ( the expression pear-shaped, for instance).

The still life in the painting and the rather still atmosphere in the poem, stand in contrast to the contents of this post which deals with a high-tension incident on race issues.

'Race' , by the way, in all its
semantic forms: race, racial, racism, racist - is a term frequently used by politicians in all WRONG contexts possible.

"Peccadillos" (I love the word) such as this with the black agriculture woman and the white writer-journalist, makes one think: Oh, America, you ain't seen nothing yet!

Paula Slade said...

Your post is thoughtful - Breitbart's standard of journalism is disquieting. (I enjoyed the poem and Cezanne is one of my favorite painters. Interesting how you linked it all together.)

Anonymous said...

I couldn t agree more! well done! financial help