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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Though Nothing

[Happy 66th to David Bowie]


His intention was always to embrace heroism, but on a small scale, in his own eyes. No fireman’s hatchet for him, no distinctive, transformative cape, no white stallion. With calm precision, magical equanimity and grace, he held gazes, held out his hand, held the broken pieces together. When sirens screamed in the street, he rose and strode down the hall to check that the baby slept, undisturbed by the wailing city.
A scar hidden under his dark beard, at the corner of his smile, belied the menace of his tall, sturdy frame. He never knew what hit him, or why. He raised his eyebrows when he told the story, heroically.
His version of derring-do, his quixotic jousting, was driven by the pleasure of the challenge, the glory of fighting City Hall. His heroics before the IRS, Unemployment, Social Security offices demanded that he scale mountains of rhetoric, redacting manifestos and espousing Man’s Inherent Right to lay claim to fair practice, fair price and the disabuse of power.
In his transformation from mortal to hero, he became the essence of swashbuckling gallantry. He was a warrior for chivalry, a paradigm of consideration, the guardian of other people’s feelings. No, please. You first.
If a hero is a man who would argue with the gods*, then a man is a hero who is doomed to lose that argument. The gods have no reasons, and a hero is not allowed to save himself. He cannot erase the writing on the wall, nor can he reverse the progression of a relentless, determined adversary. He cannot turn water into wine; he cannot change the weather; he cannot stop time. He can only glance up as the light fades and quietly, nobly, say goodbye.
* (norman mailer)

40 comments:

  1. This really was wonderful. I liked the little details, like the scar under his beard.

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    1. Thanks, Tara! (I liked them, too.)

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  2. great first sentence. really like your portrayal of heroism - going back to read again :-)

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    1. Thank you, Steve. I might go back to that first sentence sometime, too.

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  3. nicely written. That first paragraph is a real gem.

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  4. nice piece; i like it, esp the opening paragraph :)

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    1. Thanks, Rashmi. I considered leaving it at the first one.

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  5. This is lovely - I like the everyday hero so much more than the superhero.

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    1. Thank you, Kelly. Yeah, they really are much nicer.

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  6. beautiful, tho sad as I expect i know the hero.

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  7. this is wonderful, big sis :)

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  8. :) I like it. It amplifies the heros that people do not normally think about. Nice job. :)

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    1. Thank you, Jodie. I think about this one every day. :)

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  9. To embrace heroism in his own eyes... that's nice. Great tribute - great writing.

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  10. The line,"He was a warrior for chivalry, a paradigm of consideration, the guardian of other people’s feelings",says it all-wonderful portrayal of a true Hero!:-)

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    1. And that he was. Thank you, Atreyee!

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  11. This was wonderful from the first word to the last. Really nicely done.

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  12. This is really well written. Great post.

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  13. Wonderful story! I love the opening sentence. The last paragraph was sad, but I do like how it ended with "as the light fades and quietly, nobly, say goodbye." Yes, a hero is noble.

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    1. Thank you, Janna. It was always heading to the sadness. That's why he was a hero.

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  14. I feel a wonderful sense of calmness and ease when I see a writer in control of her words, and keen to play with them. At the very least it means I don't have to fight with those words when I read them. On the contrary, I have no distractions or worry when I read. By the first sentence I had decided the above, and by the third I knew you, as a writer. That third sentence, which gives us 3 layers at once. Enough analysis! What pleasure!

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  15. You are very kind and, I must say, it is a pleasure being analysed by you! Thank you so much, Managua.

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  16. That is brilliant! A wonderful description!

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  17. This is so brilliantly written! You had me from the first sentence. I had to read it slowly, almost hesitantly to understand. You, sir, are a writer!

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    1. Thank you, Sugar! And thanks for taking the time to read it.

      (I know the name's confusing, but for the record, I'm female. No intention of disparaging the other gender, of course.)

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  18. This was beautiful - I was so inspired by reading it, wishing we had more of his kind. :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Jody. He was one of a kind!

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  19. "[B]elied the menace" is such a perfect phrase. Great, great, great!

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