The “Something Older” in the title is me. The “Something New” is not really new but several quotes from Faulkner in Martin J. Dain’s photo essay book, Faulkner’s Yoknawpatawpha County i have possessed since the early 1970’s and take off the shelf and go through every so often just to give me a moment to relax and even mediate a bit:
You must struggle, rise. But in order to rise, you must raise the shadow with you. But you can never lift it to your level. I see that now, which I did not see until I came down here. But escape it you cannot. The curse of the black race is God’s curse. But the curse of the white man is the black man who will be forever God’s chosen own because he once cursed him.
from Dilsey, perhaps my favorite Faulkner character, this one from The Sound and the Fury. When i read of Dilsey, i think of Vicey Shavers, the wonderful lady who cared for me when Mother did some part time work from about four years old into my teenage years:
I’ve seed de first en de last,” Dilsey said. “Never you mind me.
“First en last whut?” Frony said.
“Never you mind,” Dilsey said. “I seed de beginnin, en now i sees de endin.”
Then one day the old curse of his fathers, the old haughty ancestral pride based not on any value but on an accident of geography, stemmed not from courage and honor but from wrong and shame, descended to him. He did not recognize it then.
Because man’s hope is in man’s freedom, The basis of the universal truth which the writer speaks is freedom in which to hope, believe, since only in liberty can hope exist — liberty and freedom not given a man as a free gift but as a right and a responsibility to be earned if he deserves it, is worthy of it, is willing to work for it by means of courage and sacrifice, and then to defend it always.
But like i said we was all busy or anyway occupied or at least interested, so we could wait. And sho enough, even waiting ends if you can jest wait long enough.
…fear, like so many evil things, comes mainly out of idleness, if you have something to get into tomorrow morning you’re too busy to pay much attention to fear. Of course, you have fears, but you have — you don’t have time to take them seriously if you have something to get up and do tomorrow. It don’t matter too much what it is…and if it’s something that you yourself believe is valid…
This post was begun five years ago. i was struggling with what to add and didn’t finish. It was automatically filed as a “draft.” i was cleaning up my files (a never-ending and hopeless endeavor), i ran across it. Reading it this morning, i realized it was a bit bold, if not downright improper, for me to try and add remarks to Faulkner’s quotes. And this morning, it seemed damn close to what i think about where we are, what we might do about it, and how i can live feeling better about me and feeling better about living amongst what we live amongst.
So i deleted references to my seventy-fourth birthday, and let Faulkner’s words speak for themselves as they have spoken to me.
Dain’s book is still in print and available. But if you care not to purchase but would like to look at some awesome photos and read some powerful words, drop by and we can go through the book together and discuss how we feel about it.