As little as that last post, though written as a “last comment” or at least my last comment for a very long and contentious set of discussion threads, can be known to be a last comment at all, whether if at all it will stand as a last word, or as little as an old favorite poem under the same title has ever turned out to be what it says it is, is this post what it purports to be, unless it happens after all to be. (It’s never happened, but it has happened, though it could never have happened.) Somewhere, I am confident, someone, Dostoevsky at least implicitly, maybe Monty Python, has parodied the self-legendary man preparing delivery of his last words, then discovering to his very highly qualified disappointment that they were not his last words at all, not even close: He’s actually on the road to recovery or possibly as fit as ever (not necessarily very). Even in such an instance of utter self-embarrassment before God or no one or one’s own nothingness, both impending or always already or thus finally established, one’s not so final words still would be in the genre if not perhaps in fact. We know as well that the tradition of last words is often a false tradition: Someone it seems always comes along to raise doubts as to whether the last words of the recalled personage really were uttered, or, if uttered at all, really were last, the really last words being presumably always only lost.1 The last not lost words will thenceforth be treated not as the last words of the living being, but the last words of the living being’s falsified and falsifying public character, a quotation to be re-quoted always as though in an extra set of quotes, and which in this way will record the death a second final time, with second final finality, of the more fully realized de-realization of the life as in theory lived by the one who has in theory died, but now, as ever, is restored to a properly un-real immortality among us, or anyway for as long as we care to care and happen to be – all in all and nothing, nothing in all, re-stating the ultimate original question of what we ever justifiably at all could ever have thought so ever could think had ever lived so would ever have lived at all. Therefore, we are compelled to say, or so we say, or so someone says, or something seems to seem to say someone or something says, last words though only ever never last words are still last words precisely as last words ever only are words that last a little as last until they do not at all as they never did.
A Last Word
Let us go hence: the night is now at hand;
The day is overworn, the birds all flown;
And we have reaped the crops the gods have sown;
Despair and death; deep darkness o’er the land,
Broods like an owl: we cannot understand
Laughter or tears, for we have only known
Surpassing vanity: vain things alone
Have driven our perverse and aimless band.
Let us go hence, somewhither strange and cold,
To Hollow Lands where just men and unjust
Find end of labour, where’s rest for the old,
Freedom to all from love and fear and lust.
Twine our torn hands! O pray the earth enfold
Our life-sick hearts and turn them into dust.
–Ernest Dowson, 1896, 1899
All of which is to say, at last, finally, this, again: For multiple convergent practical, financial, personal-constitutional, and probably other reasons, I need to take a break from blogging as “blogging” – i.e., as responding to current discussion “out there” – and also from blog-commenting. I may continue to publish pieces here as time permits and dispirit weakens, will remain likely I suspect to engage in side-discussion and to respond to comments, but I gottalotta nothing to do right about now, too much to do to write about right about right about now.
- Later thought: Seems to me that one of the best examples of the difficulties of the tradition would be the differing treatments of Jesus Christ crucified in the Gospels, then the complication of The Last Supper, then the further complication of the Day of Judgment, and further complications again of the reign on Earth or in Heaven… The last word of Christianity on last words is that in the most important sense there are none. [↩]