Legacy

by dschapman

As all we kindred people are, I am an imitation. Once I imitated fools, but now I imitate kings. There was no such king was not a fool, nary a fool more than I, yet kingly. I imitated the limited motions of the strongest men, of the most capable men, performing in turn their performances, as though I were a performer. It is a matter of movement, a factor of mere assertiveness, of mere awareness, capacity. I imitate those whom I do because they are the men most imitable, themselves good imitations of better men; the culmination of a progressively ancient timeline, durable, passed on by word of man, through man from man, a myth in name and measure, in strength of propositions. I quoted a passage from the bible and retold the prized parable in my own most curious vernacular, admiring the men that better men admired most, acting like heroes and kings, my own heroes and kings, those whom I identify with, and whom I take faith in. The more you know, the greater your capacity of imitation, the greater your resources, your potentialities, your inspiration – the greater your instinct to fail, the greater your limited breadth. Not long from now, you will surpass them – and then where will you be? You will be too close to the sun and you will burn. But at least you will have touched the sun! There is a life to be lived, a life which has been lived many lives before, many more times than is mentionable, many more fuller totalities than reasonable people encounter.  If one man did it, so can I; the conquerors, the matter of mind; reducible yet to a sole objective consciousness, withholdable still in the singular ego, the memories of childhood, lovers and trains; infidelities, pouring outwards, pleasant forbidden sensations; a totality, reducible yet to one man, and one man before him, and another man before that, in myth, in legend, circumscribing light, a polychromator.

I know that it exists; I have seen it myself, I have read it, I have felt it, coursing through me, like pure unbridled insanity, like intention and confidence and idealism. I can show you; here, by the Bible, by the book On the Nature of Things, by the library of Emerson, Miller, and the dramatist Marlow, a poet swinging swords and wooing devils, playing parlor tricks with rings of fire; by the decline of Rome, Babylonian conquests, the bark of the devil chained up in the basement, summoned up, the Ancient One upon its divine dissent with Man, split, and splitting deeper still; a sense of the myth in the curious discord of divine separation, of separate wills, of the struggle for unity lost.  Come with me, I will show you, I will read your Wittgenstein, Whitman, Rimbaud; Baudelaire, with his hair down, legs parted;  and then you will see in me my own ascension, the steps of the stepping path I have found, in which I find my footing; that is, my descendants, the ancient race of angels to which I do belong, the nameless ancient race of men, trials of life, annals of time. What must the modern geniuses have thought, moving swiftly through their centuries, alive and afraid and on fire with thought, caught up in the whorl of sublime inspiration; centuries before the birth of Christ, and centuries ever after, on into the twentieth, on into today; how painfully, how gracefully, the men of their ages must have borne it, must have borne the modern world! Blessed we are, our perpetual burden; blessed are we our dreams of redemption, lest we ever stop dreaming.

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