The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

A Reminder

As the political passions rise, and the level of rhetoric grows ever more intense, it is very difficult not to get swept away with it. I admit that I sometimes fail in this regard, and allow my own ire and sarcasm to get the better of me. It's hard not to.

But then I stumble across Shaw's St Joan, and remember the reaction of the Chaplain, who, after vehemently advocating for Joan's death, goes to witness the event--and quickly runs back in:
The Chaplain staggers in from the courtyard like a demented creature, his face streaming with tears, making the piteous sounds that Warwick has heard. He stumbles to the prisoner's stool, and throws himself upon it with heartrending sobs.

WARWICK [going to him and patting him on the shoulder] What is it, Master John? What is the matter?

THE CHAPLAIN [clutching at his hand] My lord, my lord: for Christ's sake pray for my wretched guilty soul.

WARWICK [soothing him] Yes, yes: of course I will. Calmly, gently--

THE CHAPLAIN [blubbering miserably] I am not a bad man, my lord.

WARWICK. No, no: not at all.

THE CHAPLAIN. I meant no harm. I did not know what it would be like.

WARWICK [hardening] Oh! You saw it, then?

THE CHAPLAIN. I did not know what I was doing. I am a hotheaded fool; and I shall be damned to all eternity for it.

WARWICK. Nonsense! Very distressing, no doubt; but it was not your doing.

THE CHAPLAIN [lamentably] I let them do it. If I had known, I would have torn her from their hands. You don't know: you havnt seen: it is so easy to talk when you dont know. You madden yourself with words: you damn yourself because it feels grand to throw oil on the flaming hell of your own temper. But when it is brought home to you; when you see the thing you have done; when it is blinding your eyes, stifling your nostrils, tearing your heart, then--then--[Falling on his knees] O God, take away this sight from me! O Christ, deliver me from this fire that is consuming me! She cried to Thee in the midst of it: Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! She is in Thy bosom; and I am in hell for evermore.
The Chaplain is meant to be somewhat over the top, both in his antipathy toward Joan and here, but he makes an excellent observation when he says that we damn ourselves because it feels grand to throw oil on the flaming hell of our own temper."

I sometimes resemble that remark; I'll try to bear this stricture in mind and keep it on policy not personality.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

About time. What is it with all you liberals anyway? Wah, Wah, Wah... I want more for the poor, more for the infirmed. Take from the guiltless rich and give it all away.

Don't you realize that some people are more important than others? Don't you realize that "those" people are hardly human? Don't you...

Wait a minute...

Sorry, was channeling my parents for a moment.

Truthfully, I tend to agree with you. Often times, I allow my fire to rise up and consume my reason when matters of politics come to the fore. (Especially after I endure outright lies, cast in the form of convention speeches. Did Christy actually say what I heard come through the TV? Or did the network muck up the connections?)

Anyway, time to breath and then breath again, acknowledge and release.