The essay secret places in the four quartets

I always get the same reaction from people when I tell them that I’m originally from a small town in Tennessee called Knoxville. Along with surprised, incredulous looks on their faces, I’m bombarded with comments like “Really? You don’t sound or look as if you’re from Tennessee.” These reactions are nearly all the same because everyone sees me as a typical Californian who loves the sunny weather, the beach and the city. They don’t know that I lived in Reading, Pennsylvania, before I moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and then moved again to Knoxville, Tennessee. The idea of my living anywhere in the vicinity of the South or any place besides California is inconceivable to many because I’ve adapted so well to the surroundings in which I currently find myself. This particular quality, in a sense, also makes me a more cosmopolitan and open-minded person. Having already seen this much of the world has encouraged me to visit other places like Paris or London and the rest of the world. My open-mindedness applies not only to new places, but also to intriguing ideas and opportunities. This attitude towards life prepares me for the vast array of opportunities that still lie ahead in the future. From my experiences of moving place to place, I have also come to acknowledge the deep bond I share with my family. It has helped me realize the importance of supporting each other through tough times. Moving from Tennessee to California meant saying good-bye to the house we had lived in for six years, longtime friends and the calm, idyllic lifestyle of the country that we had grown to love and savor. But knowing that we had each other to depend on made the transition easier. It also strengthened the bond we all shared and placed more value on the time we spent with each other, whether it was at home eating dinner or going on a family trip. Now when I think of the word “home,” I see the bluish-gray house I live in now. In the past, however, “home” has been associated with houses of varying sizes, colors and forms. The only thing that has remained unchanging and permanent is my family. I have acknowledged this constancy, knowing well enough that it is, and always will be, a part of me and a unique part of my life.

Whichever the case, I’m still deeply fond of De Laurentiis’ King Kong now, no doubt in part because we’ll never see its likes again. Whatever the failings of its ape effects, they have a tangible quality that even Jackson’s great CGI work couldn’t fake. (If younger readers wonder why the generations ahead of them complain about CGI effects no matter how impressive they become, it’s undoubtedly because films like this got into our dreams at a tender age.) The finale is now poignant in ways no one could have imagined at the time. Kong climbs one tower of the World Trade Center, then leaps to the other before falling. The ape dies. Years later, the towers would fall, and the dream of a big world filled with unexplored wonders would be edged a little further into the past by the reality of the smaller, more dangerous place in which we now live.

The view that the citizen and dictator have nothing in common has another corollary: the view that the dictator’s victims are inherently innocent, not merely innocent victims of someone else’s evil, but innocent in everything, so that even after the murderous dictator has been destroyed, their own actions, no matter how oppressive or unjust, may not be judged by the same standard as his actions. As victims of irrational hatred, they cannot imagine themselves acting on comparable hatreds. Against this fantasy of inherent innocence, Auden recognized that victims, no matter how guiltless in their own victimization, are tempted to become victimizers in turn. As he put it briskly in a song, “Many a sore bottom finds/A sorer one to kick.”

The essay secret places in the four quartets

the essay secret places in the four quartets


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