Thursday, February 9, 2012

An honorable man


Last Saturday, the representative of the Syrian regime started his speech at the United Nations by quoting Goethe, a cultural giant, and one of the most respected and admired literary figures of the 19th century. A classic ruse, that, unfortunately, never fails.

Try to quote Edgar Allen Poe, a doomed and genial poet, who lost his soul in the darkest alleys, who sought refuge in the arms of toothless prostitutes, who alleviated his heartache by sipping whiskey, and last but not least, who did not even have the decency to die correctly like every one else, and you are a depraved and immoral soul.


Does it matter that the poet was describing the world as he knew it, nightmarish, cruel,wild and unruly? Does it matter that he dug till his last breath to recover a trace of beauty? Not really. Quoting him, by association, makes you a piece of trash who hangs out after midnight in   cemeteries to compose with evil spirits.


But you quote Goethe, who, it has to be pointed out,  died correctly in his bed, and you immediately bask in a light of purity and splendor , in a harmonious world where rules are obeyed , moral lessons are drawn , and aristocratic values of delicateness and exquisiteness are displayed everywhere you turn.  The snow is always white, women have a most perfect profile, and young men fall in love with an abandonment and passion such that death itself becomes an ecstatic denouement to a torrent of life that is impossible to contain. Goethe's world is always whole , never senseless and firmly anchored towards the future.
And here was the Syrian representative, with his boot pressed deep into the throat of an agonizing child , and  his head surrounded  with a Goethean halo. 


The world  will need to call upon the memory of Edgar Allen Poe to remember again the definition of an honorable man. 

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