I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

FOR LUNCH, I will be going over to the Draught Horse, a bar here on campus for a liquid lunch.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

I don't know about Luther, but I know about history. Joyce said it best--"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake." Ten years ago, the neoconservative Francis Fukuyama proclaimed The End of History: liberal democracy and capitalism had finally won the Cold War, and it'd be pretty much smooth sailing into Utopia from here on out.

And God said "Ha!"

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Utopia? The end of history? Not quite. Like World War I, the future century was again found in Sarajevo. This blood in my veins, in your veins, is the blood of murderers. Of hunters. Of soldiers. Of those who survived at least long enough to pass on genes. But we aren't all nature--there's nurture, too, and the two principles work together in a sickening cauldron, feeding each other, growing in synergy.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

I don't know what to say. I really don't. I didn't on September 11th, I didn't when Madrid was bombed (except to laugh that they tried to pin it on the ETA in a CYA that backfired). Imperialism breeds terrorism, but so does poverty, so does religious fundamentalism, so does middle class malaise or hyper-intelligence. Think I'm wrong? Look at Ted Kaczynski or the Weathermen.

I'm not sure what I'm saying. But that's nothing new.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

"We must love one another or die." There are a lot of lines from poetry that ride around in my brain, but this is one of the most prominent. I'm an angry person: angry at myself, at my family, at the world. But the anger is born out of frustrated love; Whitman on a bad night.

Terrorism is a frustrated love, and that is one of the most frightening things about it. There's a great line from C.S. Lewis' Out of the Silent Planet, where it's said the more dangerous man is the one who is possessed with a passion, a belief that what he's doing is right, than the one who merely wants to get rich. (I wish I had the book at hand.) It's stuck with me, and comes to the surface right now.

I've been trying to write a play about The Waste Land. Not exactly about Eliot, but about the concept of the Waste Land, of spiritual impotence, about September 11th, about Tarot cards. So I've been reading The Waste Land, murmuring its lines to myself:

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.

That last line--it's Dante, you know: si lunga tratta
di gente, ch'io non avrei mai creduto
che morte tanta n'avesse disfatta.

And there, behind it, marched so long a file
Of people, I would never have believed
That death could have undone so many souls.

One day, we're all undone. And in the meantime? Do what Auden said:

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

I have no answers, only grief. And hope.