Legion. An amalgamated journal.

A call on the shoreline

Barrel, powder, spark

Increasingly we render ourselves accomplices. Born into a generation of gluttony, into a nation of venality, into a class of mediocrity, we have passed willingly blinded from apprehension to appropriation. We have conspired within the sepulchers of our youth to accept and assume an intellectual miasma that has corroded our public life. We have not only failed to reject but have proudly belched forth illusory dialectics: hope against fear, love against hate. As if those ‘againsts’ or the opposites joined by them constituted a whole world! We are easily sated, we accomplices, we are easily inured.

We are comfortably wrapped in one layer of silence over another layer of cacophony.

And so we have constructed rules to preserve the cocoon. Americans must remain freedom-loving and God-fearing. With nimble non-partisan fingers we cast ballots for ourselves in reflection. Memory of the stillnesses of churches material and spectral compels us to keep the volume down at all times. We have found too that it is much quieter when only a few people are speaking, and so we demand our types kept limited even when our talkers explode into many. In our houses at night we keep a neat clamor, one channel at a time. As the agreement of voices, no matter how voluminous, is still quiet, we have sent troops and performers and middle managers abroad to choreograph the world for this end.

We have exchanged the freedom to know, to blunder, to reform, to chafe, to understand, and to love for the freedom to shout in silent unison. We have expunged our consciences and defaulted our assertions. We have retained the freedom only not to exist, or, in other terms, no freedom at all.

Should it be that we set out now for the future by way of a distantly-remembered port of call. Upon approaching port we find not only that the wharves and landings have been abandoned but also that the buoys have rusted and the channels have gone undredged. All at once, as we realize that our responsibility lies not only to the future but to reproducing the annihilated progress of the past, intimations of the enormity of the task begin to appear.

May we have company in this.

May we have company in holding sacred human existence and holding sovereign individual existence.

May we have company in championing a vicious allegiance to the largest sphere of society—humankind—and to the smallest sphere of society—the self—and in disassembling all others.

May we have company in asserting the state as the collectively agreed upon means of maintaining human existence and preserving the sovereignty of individual existence.

May we have company in the secular piety found in the sacrifice of power.

May we have company in reconvening truth against the dictatorship of expediency.

May we have company in refusing a mere fictionalization of beauty and understanding, the two aims of art.

May we have company in the bullheaded optimism of modernity, an uncompleted and uncompletable task.

May we have company in unabashedly partaking of the twin tonics of revolution and restraint.

May we have company in all of our labors, and in our leisures more laborious still.

Garrett Dash Nelson and Maryellen McGowan

February 10th, 2008 at 12:12 pm