Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Thinking is my fighting

Only after September 11, 2001 did I grasp that Woolf's comment in "Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid" is real and substantial, not simply aesthetic posturing. That seems somehow backwards: one might guess that an act of terrorist violence would make thinking seem inconsequential, but that is not how I felt. When my school hosted a peace camp to protest escalating violence, I went (rare for me--I generally hate public political rallies, even tiny ones), read the Woolf essay aloud, and led a little discussion among the four or five vegetarian students and the hipper-than-me prof who sponsored the gathering. I felt like I'd really done something.

I committed myself to thinking, teaching, talking about, writing about peace. I read the paper, listened to NPR, signed and passed along petitions from But now I'm tired. It's been three and a half years and there's another Bush inauguration tomorrow. The steely passion with which I first embraced "thinking is my fighting" has faded and I wonder, is it still my fighting if what I want to think about is whether or not Doris Lessing is a great writer or what will happen to Harry Potter at Hogwarts next year?

I have ebbed back into the mode of cop out, of thinking as retreat. But I like it here inside the whale. And perhaps, to switch registers from Orwell to Robert McCloskey, like Burt Dow, it's there that I can best express myself...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you read Lucy Grealy's memoir, Autobiography of a Face? It's beautiful as well. And strange too, I think, to be able to do something that's so rare-to see both sides of a friendship, two interpretations, and a little bit of what each woman means to each other-objectively.

It's a nice compliment to Truth and Beauty.