Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

"I weep for Adonais--he is dead!"

Saul Bellow, R.I.P.

Here's one of my favorite passages from Herzog:

"I suppose, [Herzog] was thinking, that we heard this tale of the Herzogs ten times a year. Sometimes Mama told it, sometimes he. So we had a great schooling in grief. I still know these cries of the soul. They lie in the breast, and in the throat. The mouth wants to open wide and let them out. But all these are antiquities -- yes, Jewish antiquities originating in the Bible, in a Biblical sense of personal experience and destiny. What happened during the War abolished Father Herzog's claim to exceptional suffering. We are on a more brutal standard now, a new terminal standard, indifferent to persons. Part of the program of human destruction into which the human spirit has poured itself with energy, even with joy. These personal histories, old tales from old times that may not be worth remembering. I remember. I must. But who else -- to whom can this matter? So many millions -- multitudes -- go down in terrible pain. And, at that, moral suffering is denied, these days. Personalities are good only for comic relief. But I am still a slave to Papa's pain. The way Father Herzog spoke of himself! That could make one laugh. His I had such dignity."

Bellow was a giant, the greatest novelist of the latter half of the twentieth century. His novels lamented the fate of the individual soul -- the fate of the poet, and of the dignified "I" -- in the modern world.

God rest his soul.


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