Saturday, March 10, 2007


Stripped of sarcasm, of humor. Stripped of sentimentality or sincerity, of compassion or rage. Stripped of ego and emotion and intellect and eloquence. Stripped of honor and of pain. Stripped. Naked, then. And he stands solely to be examined.

Well. We see him simply as a specimen of mankind. We consult our expectations and find he has not lied. He is a man. Standing slack as he is, as if a dead body propped up, we find no nobility in him. A sleeping animal, or entranced, or stunned, bare and dusted lightly with hair. Pale. Lean, like an older lion who still must hunt. We can see the years he has referenced as stiffness when he moves.

There is an asymmetry to his features, that must have come with the years. Time has twisted him more than burned -- he will end as shreds rather than ashes. A face surprisingly unlined. A sullenness of lips. Some creping about the eyes. They are too deep, and expressionless during this experiment, but we may please ourselves to think that they give some hint of character. Perhaps it is simply weariness -- his or perhaps ours -- but we think we see something in them. Compassion and fear look too much alike though, in the eyes. Long of bone he is, and they show through his skin. Broad and rawboned. Covered by muscle like thick leather.

He is a not displeasing specimen, but exceptional only because so few of his kind have taken similar care. Not pretty, certainly. Perhaps not handsome, although that is so much a matter of preference. We can see how some have thought him pleasing. We can just as well see the other point of view -- we do however feel that such a view would have been formed under some prejudice.

He looks tired. It may be age. We are weary too. He gave us quite a chase, this old lion, and he was not subdued with ease. We took him unawares. He did not think he could be found in his deepest hiding place. But we understand that no place is secure.

He seemed to come quietly, seemed resigned to this inevitability. But then something in him must have snapped and he strained against the bonds as if to break his bones. This he did for much longer than intelligence would warrant. First it was amusing, then sad. We felt pity for him. Finally, after far too long, he realized the futility and despaired. There is no escape. And the lion became the lamb.

We have his body now. We do not know where he has gone. He must have found some deeper hiding place. But we will not stop our search, and when we find him we will pull him out and examine his heart as we have his body. He thinks he is safe. We understand that there is no safe place.


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