Friday, May 8, 2009

Mirror Error

Some other thoughts on the 'T' word from Andrew Sullivan and blogger Hussein Rashid.

Literature has often been a teacher of humanity for me. As this subject is debated over various outlets, my memory takes me back to IB English in 11th grade. Our reading list included Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Wikipedia has a decent synopsis.

My memory of the novel is fragmented. It's sort of a mash-up between other things I was reading, junior and senior year of high school. I was also reading Kurt Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron, Edgar Allen Poe's The Pit and The Pendulum and Elie Wiezel's Night. These stories stayed with me. They were stories of the individual versus the state. Maybe it was my first literary encounter with torture and why I think of it now. The Pit and the Pendulum, Night, and Harrison Bergeron along with Darkness at Noon form this dystopic nightmare for me. The lines where these stories overlap in my brain comes to this point: totalitarian regimes suppressing the rights of individuals and systematic murder of citizens. The Spanish Inquisition was torture. Rubashov in Darkness at Noon was tortured and was compelled to fake a confession. Harrison Bergeron was murdered for not conforming to the rules of the State that suppressed his individual freedom. Elie Wiezel survived living in a concentration camp while Nazis methodically murdered Jews, gypsies and others.

Isn't it odd that the conservative movement fears Obama Administration's policies on social entitlements and tax code versus the Bush Administration's sanction and codification of a torture program? Where's their fear of losing the rule of law?

Not everyone has read these stories. They've read others, perhaps. Maybe it didn't affect them as much as it has affected me. Maybe they can't see how these stories were written so that we remember to do better. Maybe they can't see how at this moment, art and life are thisclose. That is not a typo. We still have time. We're the ones we've been waiting for.

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