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Here We Stand
Feature Article
by Bill Lasarow


Bill Lasarow, "Shroud," 2020, digital composite

 

How is it possible that words so obvious, so ordinary in their moral clarity become the very instrument of our self-immolation? “Equality.” “Justice.” “Peace.” That the balancing of those polarities between the molten core that props us up and the plasma from which we are risen seems cool and remote lends testament to our self-absorption. Hell, we’ve always garbed ourselves in universalities, pretentious moss that we are. We produce so much internal combustion that our molecules speed up to the point of breaking gravity. Old certainties pass some natural time limit, typically, even predictably in a moment we knew must come but understandably refuse to see. We arrive at the edge of yet another precipice bearing a five-foot shroud, resolved to wear it ourselves for mourning alone, because we let her do the work so we could reap the benefits. And she surely worked hard; the rest of us maybe not so much. Within that fabric we know that, suddenly, the only certainty is memory, and memory is nothing but boots beside a broken door.

 

Small details, particular moments, a butterfly stuck to the heel of our own muddy shoe. What we do or, more to the point, fail to do to deserve the outcomes we dread is beside the point. We were the glue of a world that did not exist until mere moments ago. The plinth remains what it always was and always must be: An impermanent and imperfect platform, vast and trunkless legs of stone. 

 

Resolve to revel in that truth if you wish to move forward. The symbols we are invested in are no substitute for what they truly are, just as no person can or wants or deserves to save you and me, and the person who says otherwise is a factotum only to themselves, dangerous to themselves and everyone who suffers or invites their lethal touch. Such a one unsurprisingly delights in the violation of dying wishes.

 

The great tragedy of our moment is that we can see the boulders shaking loose, we understand what they will do to our dwelling, but since it hasn’t happened yet, we hope. Only yesterday the machinery with which our dwelling was built was gleaming under the nuclear sun, and we knew it could never break down. We wore our lace ruff of soft emulation while others stared into a blastula globe believing it was the world itself. Justice in our world has never managed to convene with superstition, no surprise, but need it all be so … Manichean?

 

Bitterly ironic how an earlier generation’s national felons, ambitious to cleanse the world of imagined imperfection, and the product of our own rehabilitation, now stand aghast. How could we not retain the very lessons they learned from our example? Could the toppling catastrophe they now witness be the product of a single ill-timed event? We all know better. But one ill-timed event marks the time of arrival for the rediscovery of what has been there all along. No singular individual but rather the universality of our uniqueness, the strength of millions and billions of fragile strands never left us. Understandably it is the bridge crossing that we have feared to make all along. What we knew to be a wide chasm, viewed from 30,000 feet appears to be a line in the sand; it fools the eye because we naturally prefer to postpone the inevitable. Here we now stand.


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