Jay Meehan: A darker matter | ParkRecord.com

Jay Meehan: A darker matter

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By Jay Meehan
Park Record columnist

“The candle flame gutters. Its little pool of light trembles. Darkness gathers. The demons begin to stir.”

– Carl Sagan

I admit it. I never saw it returning. The Dark Ages were from a past quite distant from our own. It mattered not that the term referenced a paucity of hard data from that seemingly incoherent era following the fall of the Roman Empire. It fits Trump-time like a glove.

Carl Sagan, as many before him, sensed its rebirth, however. Back in the mid-‘90s as his own time on the planet drew to a close, he had seen enough to recognize that history was well on its way to repeating itself: “I worry that, especially as the Millennium edges nearer, pseudoscience and superstition will seem year by year more tempting, the siren song of unreason more sonorous and attractive.”

Each and every day I am forced to step over the horse stall residuals that litter the philosophical and pseudo-theological landscapes. Ignorance sticks to boot heels like never before. From climate change to wild land drilling, where does it end?

As I mentioned in a previous column, I’ve been oscillating between rooting for Robert Mueller and his crack team of investigators to get the goods on Trump so we can throw the bum out, and somehow keeping him in office so we don’t have to put up with the current succession lineup of Mike Pence, Paul Ryan or Orrin Hatch.

When you look at who would follow in Trump’s footsteps should his veil of smoke and mirrors come crashing down, the deck certainly is stacked in his favor. Up and down the clown line, I don’t see any improvement on the integrity front should the President be forced to step down and the Constitutional succession invoked.

Maybe it’s time to bring in William Butler Yeats from the bullpen. What’s the statute of limitations when it comes to ripping off of a few of his “Second Coming” riffs, anyway? If memory serves, it’s been at least an hour or so since my last blatant broad daylight larceny.

“…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.” (My caps, by the way.)

I bet it felt good for Yeats to get that off his chest. Lord knows, I very much enjoyed hammering it out. It’s gotten to the point where each new acknowledgement as to the “lowness” of my species adds not a ripple to the waters.

Sagan, again: “Whenever our ethnic or national prejudices are aroused, in times of scarcity, during challenges to national self-esteem or nerve, when we agonize about our diminished cosmic place and purpose, or when fanaticism is bubbling up around us – then, habits of thought familiar from ages past reach for the controls.”

What are you saying, Carl? That the Neanderthal in us is once again reasserting its world view? That our inability to witness the larger picture has always been present? That we’ve always been only one loaf of bread missing from the shelf away from the twirling bones of “2001?” Say it ain’t so!

Don’t know why I’m so surprised. It’s been a long time coming. It’s just that I feel so boxed-in with “45” on one side and Orrin and the boys on the other. Admittedly, since my misspent youth, I’ve looked to the poets for comfort and understanding.

You know, writers like Henry Miller, Toni Morrison, Anne Sexton, Charles Bukowski, Dorothy Parker, Ed Abbey, Hunter Thompson, Jim Harrison, Joan Didion, Gabriel Garcia-Marquez. The usual riff raff. Actually, their collective vision cuts too close to the bone to be of much comfort. They see far too clearly to help during these times.

Well, Dylan’s on deck for the following two nights down in Salt Lake after I hit the “send” button on this so maybe I’ll find some sort of solace in those quarters. You gotta be kidding! Bob’s never been much into sugar coating: “Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb/ I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from/ Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer/It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.”

Jay Meehan is a culture junkie and has been an observer, participant, and chronicler of the Park City and Wasatch County social and political scenes for more than 40 years.


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