Tuesday, September 23, 2014

64 x 48 (The Home Stretch)

Autumnal equinox: a day that traditionally marks the passage from summer to fall. But in terms of my own internal calendar, the fall equinox signals that the year is three-quarters over. Where I live, Fall is already here. Today also marks the ¾ mark in my series of 64 posts: number 48. Macrocosmically and microcosmically, we're heading into the home stretch. Winter is coming.


I had to compress a lot to get tonight's post into 64 words. Among the things I left out was the third level of significance for the three-quarters ratio: the question that is always lurking when one thinks of fractional proportions: how much of my life is already gone? If I were fortunate enough to live until my 89th birthday, then today would be pretty close to the 3/4 mark for my lifetime as well. Circles surrounding circles. The Stark family motto speaks to me at several levels simultaneously. First of all, I admire the flinty-eyed realism of the Stark philosophy, as I am sure George R.R. Martin intended. Secondly, it's literally true. Winter is coming. Thirdly, it's metaphorically true, for each of us individually, and most certainly for the human race as a whole. Martin goes very far out of his way throughout the Song of Ice and Fire to keep his readers explicitly aware of the larger threat to humanity that those in contention for the Iron Throne, in their shortsighted greed and self-importance, ignore, not only to their own peril but to that of every soul in the seven kingdoms. I have not seen a lot of critical commentary acknowledging the degree to which Martin's narrative describes as accurately the world we live in as the world of Westeros. Winter is indeed coming, and with a vengeance. Not that anybody in charge seems to care much, or even to notice.

And so as not to end, just yet, on such a dire note, I thought that in celebration of the equinox I'd share this Steinberg cartoon which Beverley Shiller reposted on Tumblr today, and which says quite eloquently, using no words whatsoever, a great deal about the way that the minds of humans deal (or don't, as the case may be) with the prospect of change.

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