Conscience: An Epitaph

Lucian Freud, Reflection (Self-portrait), 1985.

Time melts as it’s made, said Anthony Burgess. Each moment is both increase and surcease, the tip of the fountain, bubbling, collapsing—itself upon itself—at once always there and then never there at all. Like ice in a country made of steam, it lives and dies in the rift.

Wrapped within our youth, we do not see this, or if we do, it is of no consequence. We purchase the perjury of our stature and trust the deceit of our mass. We weigh ourselves, take our measure, and assume our heft and reach too great for a world so flat. In our young fancies, we are the stuff of marble, and cannot feel time’s rain wear upon us, both outside and in.

We would not care about time at all but for what it does. And what it does is always a shock. For in spite of what we believe of ourselves, one inauspicious morning, or one historic dusk, without notice, the cold, flat mirror resolves to house a stranger—an unwanted guest that will not leave, that lingers like a bad taste, intruding in pools of water, in store-front reflections, and in the sheen of another’s eye. [Read more...]

Bible Thumping

I once saw a girl beaned in the head with a Bible.

Her attacker was a well-muscled star of our middle school football team, so his throw was hard, accurate, and had a bit of a spiral.

To be fair, the weapon wasn’t a full Bible, neither was it large. Someone in this guy’s group of cronies had procured a box of those miniature New Testaments kids are given in Sunday school, and brought them in his backpack with the intention of evangelizing—through force.

I noticed something was up that morning in the gymnasium, where the buses unloaded and students lounged in the bleachers waiting for the bell to ring so we could go to homeroom. With only one teacher—usually a distracted gym coach—on duty, it was easy to get away with mischief, and many of the students, hormonal and restless and facing another day of Algebra and cafeteria food, had mischief in their hearts. [Read more...]

We Should Raze But Not Erase Evil

The arrival of so many small children at the tiny train station at Hattenheim could not have gone unnoticed . . .

These attempts to shed light on the atrocities committed at the Eichberg may have done little to change the regional population’s lack of interest in this topic, however.

—Lutz Kaelber

“You ever eat grass-fed beef?” This from a biker in Starbucks, eavesdropping on my conversation with a friend.

“Yeah,” I said. “It’s good.”

He curled his lip. “Tastes like grass.”

“You have to cook it right,” I told him.

He grunted disapproval. A confederate flag was stitched to his sleeve and he wore a Penn State cap. I suppose that willingness to display the former is evidence of a certain inurement to public opinion that enables one to impart lifestyle instruction to strangers while wearing the latter. [Read more...]


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