...directs us to dumbness by fable: We've never really understood Robert Frost's Directive.
Written in 1947, it's sometimes described as Frost's last great poem. That said, it starts as shown below. If we imagine Frost as our guide, we'll admit that he has us lost by the time he gets to those very large knees:
Back out of all this now too much for us,Say what? How can a road "seem as if it should have been a quarry?" And where do the great monolithic knees fit in? To whom do the knees belong?
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
There is a house that is no more a house
Upon a farm that is no more a farm
And in a town that is no more a town.
The road there, if you'll let a guide direct you
Who only has at heart your getting lost,
May seem as if it should have been a quarry–
Great monolithic knees the former town
Long since gave up pretense of keeping covered...
From that point on, we're lost. That said, we've been thinking about that opening imagery quite a bit of late:
"Back out of all this now too much for us?" As a society, hasn't "all this" clearly become "too much for us" by this point in time? Hasn't our time become too complex to navigate due to profusion of "detail?"
As the poem continues, our guide continues to direct us, apparently to a place where we can "drink and be whole again beyond confusion." We don't know what Frost is talking about. But it sounds like a good idea!
At any rate, our social confusion has been great in recent decades. Our liberal world's reaction to this has been to start crafting novels.
More precisely, we've been crafting simple-minded tales about race and sex which are little more complex than fables. Fables are perfectly fine in their place, but real-life events involve real people and real facts, and our tribe is increasingly sunk in the childish practice of rearranging basic facts to generate simple-minded escapes from our growing confusion.
So it has been when our dumbest upper-class news orgs have tried to react to Chanel Miller's memoir, Know My Name.
Miller's book is a very challenging text, and we don't mean that as a compliment. Miller herself is very young. But what is our tribe's excuse?
We'll try to complete our discussion of this topic in the next few days. If we exit the world of childish fable, it's hard to get one's arm around the absurdities of that widely-praised text.
The Atlantic tackles Directive: Back in 2017, Jezelle Lanie tackled Directive for The Atlantic. Lanie said she loves the poem "for its depiction of a grief so enormous and incomprehensible that it can only be understood through the story the speaker tells."
In Lanie's view, the speaker's story is "a story of the impossibility of wholeness and the inevitability of loss—of how humans’ carefully built structures of order and meaning must give way to the indifferent natural laws of death, erosion, and decay."
We've been within that regime for decades now. Especially at its upper ends, our tribe hasn't dealt with this well.