December 1, 2008

Echoes (echoes) ((echoes))

A friend wrote a thoughtful blog post, about the recent terrorist bombing in Mumbai, which reminded me of a favourite quote I recently rediscovered.

I had written it carefully with pen in a small bound journal, along with other short texts I thought were pithy back in 1997. Many I found second-hand, in the books of writers who touched the idea in its original context and javascript:void(0)published the echo of that thought in addition to the din of their own. Eleven years later, my inky choices have either stood the test of time in a mind since deflowered of sentimentality, or have wilted in the face of my cynicism, which I had since built up and only recently partly deconstructed.

I have no idea who Donald Hogan is — or was. Google turned up many names when I asked, including Anna Nicole Smith's father, a dentist, a lawyer, and a writer who has been published in Harper's Magazine. Whoever this Hogan was, he made this statement in 1972 as "A Personal Testament."
I am not an idealist, nor a cynic, but merely unafraid of contradictions. I have seen men face each other when both were right, yet each was determined to kill the other, which was wrong. What each man saw was an image of the other, made by someone else. That is what we are prisoners of.
Aside from some quibbling about what constitutes "right," I do believe this. I can also try shouting this into the cavern — "This is only my image, made by someone else" — but terrorists who survive their own efforts are prisoners trapped mentally in solitary confinement, and they cannot hear me to answer back. I've wondered before, thinking particularly of Palestinian rebels, how many of them are now themselves shouting because no one listened to them until then; no one except those who convinced them to make these terrible choices, and who told them to listen to no one else.

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