Apr 27, 2011
Cheap Seats - 94.12
Casey at the Bat by Ernest Lawrence Thayer : The Poetry Foundation [poem]
YouTube - Penn & Teller - "Casey At The Bat"
(The Penn & Teller piece is six minutes; they know they are an acquired taste, so they won't be offended if you don't watch it all. The poem starts at about Minute 3:00).
Apparently I lied about being finished with "Cheap Seats" and "Casey at the Bat" and attendant issues.
If Easter isn’t about heroism and dramatic moments, among other things, then what is it about? So I decided not to add these thoughts on William Matthews until Passover and Easter were in the rear view mirror. Why create Mudville out of a season of hope?
For context, let’s return briefly to the April 25 visitor comments. Barbaro and AH, I’m also wild about the poem’s “we had no result/three nights out of three: so we had heroes.” Heroes are heroes because the rest of are not.
Heroes are aware of the clock running down; they act precipitously and skillfully. That’s the drama of them—in the midst of time’s vanishing, they jump at the chance for decision, change, beauty, rightness, and therefore greatness.
In that context, what I hear Matthews offering is that we fans, audiences of all kinds, don’t want to face the fact (“at home” where there are “mirrors”) that most of our moments, including months-long or even years-long moments, have “had no result.” No win, no loss, just sleepwalking through another day if we’re lucky, finding our way to the hazy cheap seats if we're lucky.
That’s not a cheerful proposition, but maybe it bears more truth than notions I’ve heard about the heroism or greatness in all of us.
In turn, maybe that’s why we love war.
Footnote: for classroom discussions of various forms of heroism, I still like the question, “If a character sets out to be heroic, can he be heroic? Can heroism arise from intentional self-aggrandizement?"