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1995 digital image based on a vision of Yeats, by Chris Wayan

Yeats's poem THE SECOND COMING has always impressed me, but troubled me nearly as much.

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

You see, I always thought he was twice wrong: predicting a brutal post-Christian era, and using the Sphinx to symbolize it. Seems to me the rough beast he should have worried about is religious ideology itself--and its cheesy spinoffs, Marxism and Capitalism.

You don't think they're kin? Come on! They all promise a future heaven, if you'll just be tough and make someone suffer now (preferably someone else). Isn't that their history? Islam's conversion by the sword, Christianity's witch-burnings and support of empire... and how are capitalism and communism any different? "Th-th-thaaaaat's progress!!" "In the name of the Revolution..."

But I dream of sphinxes. And they want a better texture for life here and now. They're unanimous who the "rough beasts" are: humans! Scary creatures... and haven't they always been? I welcome the beasts of the future. For the beast of the past--humanity--was no fun at all.

So I tranced out in front of the computer one evening and looked into that plane where Yeats's visions came from... but what I got was this.

Me as a sphinx-artist, by an altar on a slope above the sea. A dove approaching...
So light a peace-candle, dear monsters, and hope for a dove.
And paint your websites with love; if you can love.

LISTS AND LINKS: weird dream beings - animal people - sphinxes - Yeats - a poem on "The Second Coming": Cheetah - mystical symbols - Christianity - landscapes - pure digital art

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