Friday, May 18, 2007

Life is More Than a Bag of Chips

What this is really about is an essay I just read by Joe Bagent, but first I must make a detour.

There is a folk singer you may never have heard about, his name was Alex Campbell and he was World Famous in Denmark.

He was a Scot from Glasgow and if you met him in the wrong way you might have thought him to be an insufferable bastard. The fact is though, he was really a nice guy. It's a hard life doing gigs here and there, struggling to promote an image so's you can get more pay when all you really want to do is for people to listen.

Alex wrote one song that should be in the school books, he sold it for fifty quid and regretted it ever after, the was later recorded many times and often been a hit. The name of the song is "So Long". I want to sing y' a couple of verses here:

I've seen what was war -- so long!
The pain and the scars -- so long!
The lies and the greed of the leaders of men,
Those cheats who would lead us to war again
So long!

But hope lives in me -- so long!
It's a new day I see -- so long!
In the courage and hope in a young girl's smile
The faith that lives in a little child.
So long!

The essay of Bagent's I refer to here is a difficult and in some ways a rambling piece, yet I find it to be one of the best things he has done. For me, it's like he has come full circle. However, if you are not familiar with his work that means nothing to you and a précis of his thought is difficult to construct. Joe Bagent is what they call in Denmark, an original, that is he is defined by himself.

Many of Joe's tales are so funny you laugh so hard that you are in danger of farting and crying at the same time. But this particular essay is different -- I think he is getting close to writing his manifesto of the American Dream or something like that.

I've been going through this essay, trying to pick out quotes and end up with this paragraph which made me remember Alex Campbell's song:

After all, it is not the coursing energy of the human spirit that is doomed. It never has been and never will be so long as a single newborn baby still squalls out "I AM!" immediately upon its delivery, even into this most recent issuance of "the world" we have allowed to happen in the name of reason, progress, science, democracy -- feel free to pick your own pious scientific, political or religious excuse. It does not matter. The animating forces of the universe seem unmoved by the collision of planets and implosions of supernova, much less the outbreak of a temporarily virulent virus called man on a speck of cosmic dust we call earth.
But go read the entire thing -- in fact read all his essays and the many fantastic letters people have written to him in response.

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