Monday, October 8, 2007

The Coming Cataclysm

Shangri-La, or Rivendell, or ...

A nagging fantasy of mine is one that James Hilton wrote about in Lost Horizon. A hideaway in a deep rift of the Himalayas serves as a repository for all the greatest expressions of truth, goodness, and beauty while the world wars and tears itself apart. Many on the left, I suspect, see themselves flying-the-flag for such a place when they affix little ”Save Tibet” flags to their Subaru bumpers. On the right, an equivalent might be becoming a life-member of contributors to Ronald Reagan ranch.

Regardless, when one considers the loss of sub-creations, in Tolkien's parlance, whatever the source, at the hands of those caught in the fearful symmetry of the primitive Sacred, one wonders and dreams of such a place as Shangri-la. Is it a merely a playful fantasy, a parody of being, finally and eternally, in the presence of our greatest desire, the Beatific Vision? Or, is it a valid goal amid the terrors and destruction of conventional culture? Even Tolkien's Rivendell was not a place in Middle Earth of final security for the elves, let alone mortals in his Lord of the Rings.

What is clear is that more and more small fissures are appearing in the dike of western civilization. Expressions of truth, beauty, and goodness, like Monet's ‘Le Pont d’Argenteuil’ recently attacked, are a scandal to those caught in the whirlwind of the ”sacrificial preparation” -- not merely to Muslim iconoclasts, but to neo-pagan Westerners as well.

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