The Great Themes in Literature

The Great Themes in Literature


The great writers
seduce us, through story, into dealing
with the “big questions”. [The Great Themes in Literature] That’s mentioned
in that Chekhov story, where a man in Petersburg
is interested in a girl. She’s much younger than him,
and she’s a musician or singer. And they made
sort of a party, and expressed
some interest, whatever, and she gives him a note,
and he reads the note, and it says, “Meet me in the graveyard
at midnight.” [Laughing] And he’s thinking, “Oh, she’s just playing with me.
This isn’t serious.” And he is sad, goes home,
and he’s saying, “I’m not such a fool
to fall for this kind of thing, I’m not that kind of man …” That was at around 10:30. [Laughing] By around 11:15 he thinks, “What if she actually goes?” Then he calls his driver
get the horse and a carriage ready, and the whole thing. By around 5 minutes
to midnight he’s there, in the graveyard. But she’s not there. But this is a Chekhov story. So, through that story
where nothing happens, he brought you to the position
he needs you to be in. So while he’s there
waiting, he starts going
for a stroll, and looking
at all the tombstones, and he’s seeing,
‘Born this time, died this time.’ And he’s seeing,
‘Men and women.’ And, particularly because
he was there looking for the woman, he’s seeing the women
gravestones, and he’s thinking, “Yes, they were
beautiful young girls, and they had aspirations,
and hopes, and lives, and loves, and …
here it ends.” Guru Mahārāj liked
to quote that Gray’s elegy: “The boast of heraldry,
the pomp of pow’r, And all that beauty,
all that wealth e’er gave, Awaits alike
the inevitable hour. The paths of glory
lead but to the grave.” I was on Ukrainian
television show in Kiev, kind of like “Good morning, Kiev!”
or something, and there were
two… male … a man and a woman doing the interviewing, and
the woman asked me about memento mori, which means—
she was paying attention in school, when they taught to say—
“What does it mean?”; The reminder,
death reminders. So, the great paintings,
the great poets, the great works of art—
that’s one of the issues that you are going
to deal with: love and loss,
and also mortality. So let’s back
to your question— to avoid that,
to not deal with that issue, is to not take advantage
of what human life is about.

local_offerevent_note September 23, 2019

account_box Matthew Anderson


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