Tuesday, February 7, 2023

#38 / Peggy Noonan, Don't You Wish!


Peggy Noonan, opinion columnist for The Wall Street Journal, utilized the picture above to illustrate her column in the Saturday, January 7-8 edition of the paper. As pictured, this illustration depicts a lovely moment, between past and future, in which we get to "take a rest," allowing us to review our past thoughts and deeds, and to get prepared for what's to come. Wouldn't that be lovely!
In fact, our real situation is quite a bit different. What Noonan has pictured has always been our "dream," what we would like to be the case, but the reality is that our position, "between past and future," is not a place of respite or relaxation. Quite the contrary! We always find ourselves in "the present," with the momentum of the past pushing us inevitably forward, and with the looming future ahead assaulting us, and forcing us backwards, even as we wish desperately for an escape - for some place like Noonan's hammock, where we can think about things both past and future, acting in the capacity of intellectual referee. 
Such is not our fate; this is not our reality. We are, inevitably, caught in the middle, right on the fighting line, and we can't jump out of the conflict, no matter how much we'd like to. 
The situation I have just described is how Hannah Arendt portrays our human situation, in her wonderful book, Between Past And Future. The image she utilizes comes from a parable by Franz Kafka, and I think Kafka has a better understanding of where we really are (here in the present) than Peggy Noonan. 

I have mentioned this Kafka parable before. I invite you to click that link to see what I had to say back on June 5, 2020. 

The Noonan cartoon picture is escapism, nothing else. If you want to avoid having to read my "back pages," here's the bottom line: 

A call to political action, not to political commentary, is what Bob Dylan, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., and Hannah Arendt suggest!

That is what I suggest, too!

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