Caveat Emptor

Letter From London

Like the flea-market buyer of an atomic clock that is supposed to keep perfect time until the year 8021 but breaks the next day, the poet player straddles the gnostic frontier between infinite skepticism and absolute faith.  On the one hand, it appears that the buyer’s skepticism is justified, because he’s been swindled.  Look here, the stupid thing isn’t working!  On the other hand, it appears that his faith is well placed, because the clock did work for a while and would’ve kept working if it hadn’t been broken.  Like any machine—which is to say, a product of lofty intellect that has found  its way down into the context of lowly human striving—the world is indeed a hybrid, inviting of such dualism.

Thus, the poet player trusts in a woman’s love but not the love of any woman he knows.  He believes in the law but is instinctively sympathetic to the plight of just about every convicted criminal.  He esteems the material luxuries that money can buy but scorns those who enjoy and consume them as much as he despises the society that produces and prices them.  He is cognizant of the irreconcilable contradiction between individual liberty and social equality, which, however papered over with newsprint, makes a travesty of the modern political ideal labeled democracy.  He knows, even as he greets the liveried lackey swinging open...

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