Grace should be my middle name.

Location: United States

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

All the Kings Men

Warning: This post may be boring.

In response to Al's questions on my favorite of favorite books, I have to say that she actually is a pretty good reader for a physics nerd. J/k. I actually already knew that.

Because I love Al, and All the Kings Men so much, I dusted off my old copy to answer her questions. My first reaction about Anne sleeping with Willie, I honestly couldn't quite remember. I had a few ideas, but I wasn't positive. But the question about The Great Twitch, I thought immediately that Al got it right.

The Great Twitch:

Jack's character is sort of a remora of the active and acting characters in the book. He reports about stuff and thinks about stuff, but he doesn't do much. He really doesn't do much of anything. And he admits it. He finds some action, something interesting, and latches on to it.

At one point, Anne even tells him, "You know I love you and I'll live in a shack and eat red beans if you've got to live that way because what you want to do doesn't make any money." But the fact is that at the point of that conversation, Jack didn't want to do anything. No drive. No desire. No plans. Anne would have eaten red beans and lived in a shack if the thing he wanted to do most on earth was shovel rocks for a living. She didn't care. She just wanted him to WANT something. But he didn't. And some years later, he created the idea of The Great Twitch.

The Great Twitch is Jack's idea that no one has any responsibility for anything and that there is no god, but The Great Twitch, which pushes people into their place in life without plan, rhyme or reason.

Why Anne Sleeps With Willie:

Now, this I'm not positive about, but I think it has to do with The Great Twitch Mentality. If Jack was a remora, Willie was his shark. Willie took action. Anne wanted action. Willie made things happen. He was the people's politician. Anne was mesmerized by this action, fervor and life - as was Jack, but obviously in different ways.

The Ends and The Means:

While Willie was a man of action, a political icon, and a man of the people, he obviously was no saint. He built hospitals, schools and fixed up interstates. He made life better for a lot of people. He used his power for many good things. But he used it in some very evil ways. He ruined people. He tore them down. He was unfaithful, sneaky and deceitful. Anything to increase his power. Anything. He had no remorse, no guilt.

Willie also understood people. He understood that we're all imperfect. "Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always something," he says. He uses this truth for his power and his ego. It's ugly. It's also very effective.

Without giving away any of the book, I will just say that Willie does not win and live happily ever after. And Jack does not remain unchanged. But the idea that the means is as important as the ends rings true. How you get to where you want to go IS important. Perhaps, even MORE important. We're all waiting to get somewhere, or waiting for something to happen. It's what we do while we're waiting that counts. And also who we're waiting with. Two things, which Willie never grasped.

Final Thoughts:

Al was right when she said that it's the sort of book you read and get caught up in and almost forget that there's a lot more going on than you innitially realize. So many themes. So much content. So profound.

It's a book I have revisited at least once every year since I read it first in high school and I find the understanding of human nature and of the world is absolutely beautiful.

But the part I always come back to when my world gets a little crazy. When I don't know up from down. When I'm gladder than glad. And when I'm looking inside. That part is Jack's reflection on how love changes us. He says:

"When you get in love you are made all over again. The person who loves you has picked you out of the great mass of uncreated clay which is humanity to make something out of, and the poor lumpish clay which is you wants to find out what it has been made into. But at the same time, you, in the act of loving somebody, become real, cease to be a part of the continuum of the uncreated clay and get the breath of life in you and rise up."

"So you create yourself by creating another person, who, however, has also created you, picked up the you-chunk of clay out of the mass. So there are two you's, the one you yourself create by loving and the one the beloved creates by loving you. The farther those two you's are apart the more the world grinds and grudges on its axis. But if you loved and were loved perfectly then there wouldn't be any difference between the two you's or any distance between them. They would coincide perfectly, there would be a perfect focus, as when a stereoscope gets the twin images on the card into perfect alignment."

Deep thoughts for a Tuesday night, I know. But it's something most people figure out at some point. Often the hard way. And there is nothing worse than that grinding of the axis. Let's hope finding out the good way, the coinciding way, is in the cards for all of us.


Blogger Einstein said...

Wow! what an awesome blog. and not boring in the least. Seriously, I don't know why I didn't read that book sooner. And I too love the part where Jack talks about how love changes you. It's amazing.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Earnest said...

woah..? what...? oh im sorry i fell asleep what were you saying abuot that really interesting book grace? ;)
just kidding...i have every intention on reading that this summer

4:00 PM  

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