Monday, September 22, 2008

The Dream of Our Age

"So I fled west from the fact, and in the West, at the end of History, the Last Man on that Last Coast, on my hotel bed, I had discovered the dream. That dream was the dream that all life is but the dark heave of blood and the twitch of the nerve. When you flee as far as you can flee, you will always find that dream, which is the dream of our age. At first, it s always a nightmare and horrible, but in the end it may be, in a special way, rather bracing and tonic. At least, it was so for me for a certain time. It was bracing because after the dream I felt that, in a way, Anne Stanton did not exist. The words Anne Stanton were simply a name for a peculiarly complicated piece of mechanism which should mean nothing whosoever to Jack Burden, who himself was simply another rather complicated piece of mechanism. At that time, when I first discovered that view of things -- really discovered, in my own way and not from any book -- I felt that I had discovered the secret source of all strength and all endurance. That dream solves all problems.

At first, it was, as I have said, rather bracing and tonic. For after the dream there is no reason why you should not go back and face the fact which you have fled from (even if the fact seems to be that you have, by digging up the truth about the past, handed over Anne Stanton to Willie Start), for any place to which you may flee will now be like the place from which you have fled, and you might as well go back, after all, to the place where you belong, for nothing was your fault or anybody's fault, for things are always as they are. Any you can go back in good spirits, for you will have learned tow very great truths. First, that you cannot lose what you have never had. Second, that you are never guilty of a crime which you did not commit. so there s innocence and a new start in the West, after all. 

If you believe the dream you dream when you go there."

Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men

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