We are a generation of clowns and jokers performing during the intermission. A flummoxed flux facing the farce as it finds itself fleeing an afflicted entrance and flowing into an absurd exit.
I read Cyril Connolly’s The Unquiet Grave like I once used to read my book of Catholic prayers–often and everywhere. He writes, ” Three requisites for a work of art: validity of the myth, vigour of belief, intensity of vocation.”
What reigning and sovereign myths do we still collectively hold apart from some vague sense of the democratic value of the individual?
Vigo(u)r of belief? The only belief that we still vigorously share is some nebulous notion of individual rights.
As for vocation, a belief that one can be called unto something would require the relational idea that there is one who calls and directs and gives accordingly. Even those who do accept this premise may chafe in the tight-fitting teleological pants prescribed.
I have come to believe that we are a transitional people. By we, I mean we moderns. Our constitutional insipidity–our lackluster core–prevents us from greatness, whether in spirituality or art.
Leon Bloy writes that “[t]he only real sadness, the only real failure, the only great tragedy in life, is not to become a saint.” Connolly, echoing him in thought but not in vision, writes that “[t]he more books we read, the clearer it becomes that the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence.”
Unfortunately, we do not possess the spirit either for sainthood or for masterpieces. All we can do, perhaps, is bear witness to later generations. I am prevented from using the analogy of the phoenix because that analogy requires a fire that burns only to recreate. We have no such firing burning in our souls. If there is a hope, then future generations who will reclaim and restore what it means to be human must rise from the dirt that has accumulated on humanity’s porch of lethargy, indifference, and listlessness.