David T. Wright -- THINGS FALL APART, part three


If you haven't read Mr. Wright's three-part article yet, here it is, from the top:
"The Occupation: Things fall apart"



To the editor ...

Did Mr. Wright take his title from the novel by Chinua Achebe?

The most memorable line from Achebe's novel defines Bush and his war on Iraq:

"When a coward sees a man he thinks he can beat, he becomes hungry for a fight."

(No name provided)
May 21, 2004

Mr. Wright replies

I am sorry to say that I am not familiar with Mr. Achebe's book. However, after looking it up on Google, I have to say it looks to be quite interesting. [Here's a link at Amazon. — ed.]

Actually, I borrowed the title from a line in the famous (and prescient) poem by W.B. Yeats. I suspect Mr. Achebe used the same source for the title of his 1958 novel.

Written after World War I, "The Second Coming" expressed Yeats's opinion that Western society was indeed falling apart and becoming something monstrous in the aftermath of that huge catastrophe. Certainly his suspicions have since been amply confirmed:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

May 24, 2004

To Mr. Wright's article.

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