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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Speaking of the War. By John von Daler

                                "That war just had to be fought! It was justified!" a young man shouted. "For many important, indisputable reasons!"

                In the middle of the loud, belligerent, political discussion the old man would reach some kind of impasse in himself. He would go silent, the way a great orchestra after pummeling from crescendo to crescendo reaches a tremendous fortissimo and suddenly breaks off into the all-encompassing hush of a Grand Pause.
                He would sit quite still for a moment. When the contours of his face again had reverted to the relaxed dips and curves of an intelligent Buddha, he would say:
                "In which month were you born?"
                If his opponent, though taken aback by the sharp switch in topics, answered him politely enough, the old man would sit back in his chair and mutter to himself.
                "February, huh? Then you were probably conceived in May". He would fix his eyes on a certain section of the wall, a blank, white space with a pregnant glow similar to the space between the window and the woman with a necklace in a Vermeer painting.
                "May, when the Japanese cherry trees just have blossomed and the capricious weather suddenly becomes more predictable, yes, even warm. A half-moon plays hide-and-seek with the frisky clouds. The grass is as green as your dream of Ireland and far across the rolling lawns a piano piece by Debussy depicting a girl with flaxen hair wafts gently through the night air."
                "A couple lies on a cotton cloth beneath a small tree full of pink blossoms flickering in the moonlight. He is half on his stomach, half turned toward her. She has her arms around his torso and her left leg stretches across his legs, her body also half-turned in his direction. They are kissing quietly, gently touching each other's lips in quiet anticipation."
                It is now still in the room. No one seems to remember the original subject of the conversation. The old man looks down at the table and waits.
                "What were you going to say? In quiet anticipation of what?" someone asks.
                "Oh," answers the old man as he looks across at his erstwhile opponent, "That was when you were conceived. That was what brought you here tonight. Nice to know, don't you think? That we all were conceived in some month, in some setting, in some place, in some mood."
                The old man raises his glass and drinks a silent toast to everyone and to no one. You can almost hear the minds counting months.
                His young opponent tries to figure out how to reintroduce the topic of the war. Then somebody decides it's late; it's time to go home, war or no war.

War is not
my topic
Life is.
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