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  It was the best of times - It was the worst of times

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joefrank
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PostSubject: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:18 pm

9/27/2012

It was the best of times , It was the worst of times

It was the age of wisdom. It was the age of foolishness

It was the epoch of belief. It was the epoch of incredulity

It was the season of darkness. It was the spring of hope

It was the winter of despair.......................................

" A Tale Of Two Cities" 1775 Charles Dickens

These same words written some 237 years ago, can go for today 2012,

if we're not careful and the division doesn't stop amongest people then we

are headed for another tale of two cities....

Joe........
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:17 pm

Or not. Around the same time, a French Romantic writer named Victor (sound familiar?) Hugo wrote a book called Les Miserables. I cannot write the title without remembering what a hard time I had convincing my AP students that is really was a "romance."

Then, just over a quarter of a century ago, a group of French playwrights and composers turned it into a musical, and shortly after, it was picked up by an English group, translated into English, and became the most popular English language musical of all time. While it does not adhere to the technical specifications of an opera, it is closer to that form than it is a typical musical.

The serious critics hated it for "trivializing" a great novel, the tabloids hated it because it wasn't light and funny, like a musical was supposed to be. The audiences everywhere ignored the critics and just experienced it.

Sometimes I think it took a quarter of a century to have it made into a film because it had to wait until this time in our history - a time when its message was so sorely needed.

I saw the stage production in Washington, DC, in 1988 at the Kennedy Center. I soon bought the score on cassettes, later on CD's, and more recently, bought a DVD of the 25th Anniversary special. I could sing every bit of it to you - if only I could sing at all. I will spare you that.

The libretto, which the film will follow word for word, can be found here:
http://www.angelfire.com/ms/shows/LesMizScript.html

YouTube has more clips of the songs and music than you can imagine, should you want to put sounds to the words.

It is a powerful piece, and echoes our present situation so closely that it almost hurts.

I won't repeat the videos, etc from the Chatter Box. You can revisit them there if you want.


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joefrank
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:48 pm

9/27/2012

I shall check this out to see if it compares to

what I have said...

Joe......study
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joefrank
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:27 am

9/28/2012

Very interesting story....I believe " A Tale Of Two Cities,"

comes very close to today's issue .

Joe.......study
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:17 am

They both have parallels, certainly. What I like about Les Miz is that (1) The revolution didn't work - the rebels all died. Not saying that is a good thing, just that resorting to violence didn't help; it made things worse.
(2) Valjean (the new paradigm symbol - love wins out in the end) is relentlessly pursued and maligned by Javert (old paradigm symbol - order and judgement must prevail). Also not a good thing in itself, but Valjean continues, against the odds, to focus on doing the right thing, being a good man, and eventually saves Javert's life. Then, Javert has to look at the result and reality of what his way has brought about (the death of the young rebels and his own salvation through Valjean's act of compassion.)
(3) Javert is not killed by this enemy he has made a life of pursuing and defeating. When he sees what taking this course has done to him and those about him, he kills himself. Also not a good thing, but it points out the inevitability of evolution and change, and that the old paradigm will eventually destroy itself as the new one grows and flourishes. We don't need to go to war. We just need to stand aside and allow the future to proceed.

Just me.

Quote :

They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord
They will walk behind the plough-share
They will put away the sword
The chain will be broken
And all men will have their reward!
----------------------------------
Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade
Is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!

Annie
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Victor D. Lopez
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:33 am

Ann and Joe,

Romanticism fueled the spirit of revolt, the yearning to fight for oppression and the hope of a more just society. For all the bleakness in most of Dickens' novels, there is always hope, redemption, the triumph of the human spirit, even in degradation and death. It fueled the rise teleology and the fall of deontology (at least in Britain and the U.S., followed slowly in other parts of the world), and stoked the fires of revolution that gave us workers' revolts and the rise of both Anarchism and Communism. It inspired hope for the hopeless and brought us two world wars and endless strife all around the world. The current situation in the Middle East is directly traceable to the rise of Romanticism and its destabilizing influence on both secular and religious traditions--indeed on traditions of every kind. It brought us the original bad boy as hero--Lord Byron and the birth of the Byronic antihero. It provided a fresh perspective that splashed cold water in the face of all traditions and assumptions as to law, ethics and government.

Those who skimmed over this post or may have stopped reading by now, assuming they know what I might have to say on the issue, may be very surprised to know that I embrace Romanticism and the movements it has spawned--though some of these I find dangerous and misguided. It freed the human spirit from the "mind forged manacles" of tradition and injected boundless creativity while removing all barriers to artistic expression of all types. These are all good things, for me, though they also have some very unsavory consequences. In rebelling against order and established forms, too many people have made a cult of rebellion for its own sake and order as a concept or organizing principle in society has been marginalized, along with those who express the need for it. In Milton's Paradise Lost, long before the Romantic period, we see rebellion treated fairly, with the minions of hell eloquent and rhetorically effective orators for their cause. Better to rule in hell than serve in heaven is at many levels an admirable spirit. It is a far cry from do on to others and run or a catchy tag line for motorcycle gangs.

Romanticism has its own duality: it IS the best of traditions/philosophies, and the worst. It embraces the Songs of Innocence AND the Songs of Experience, the young Wordsworth and the old, tired poet laureate, Keats and Shelley and Byron who would make a drinking cup of his dead friend's skull.

I am a Romantic and a lover of the romantic tradition. In some better universe I am an English professor teaching and writing about the British Romantics, by far the most influential poets and writers in my own life and in my intellectual growth. But I do not love all the baggage attached to this movement by people incapable of understanding it. I do not love rebels without a clue, or Satan worshippers treated at a par with other traditional religions, or the wholesale abandonment of the concept of good and evil, or the turning of the seven deadly sins into virtues by an appropriate application of sophistry and relativism.

It was/is/shall be the best and worst of times. We have been/are/shall be the best and worst of sentient beings. Both aspects of the duality are true. The glorious and the profane are forever mixed in equal parts in our nature, our philosophies and our world views. Those who choose to see only one side of the duality are, to be kind, limited in their perception or perhaps blinded by their prejudice.
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:40 am

Ahh, spoken like a true poet. I remember that one of the first of your own that you shared with us had that quality.



Ann
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joefrank
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:54 am

9/28/2012

In my comparing the lines from a Tale Of Two Cities, we as a

country is so divided just because of two candidates, Sorry I

have to say what I believe and I'm tired of being jumped on all

because I believe the democratic party is so far left that it's

gotten so vicious that one side if you are against Pres. Obama's

politics you are a racist I'm sick and dam tired of the dam race card !

I wish the hell people would stop treating a politician like he's a god,

he's a human being just like you and me, I don't like his politics, so I

decided not to vote in this election, I don't like either one...I'll wait it

out till 2016 to see what turkeys run.......

Cheers..Joe....
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Betty Fasig
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:18 am

Dear Victor,

Awesome post.

Love,

Betty
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alice
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:37 am

Joe,
What news do you hear?
Obama has been called everything under the sun--Left, Socialist,Communist anti-Christian. Not born in America! He has been criticized for calling himself black when he is half white.

He will win without your vote
Is that what you want?

It will certainly please me.


Last edited by alice on Sat Sep 29, 2012 8:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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alj
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 10:43 am

Joe, is Obama English or French, then?

Ann
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Victor D. Lopez
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:56 pm

My thanks to Ann and Betty for the kind words and my apology to Joe for going a bit off topic. I'm weary and would much rather think what a great joy it would be to take a course from Ann. That puts it in perspective nicely.

While politicians of all stripes struggle to close minds and paint pretty pictures of themselves and mustaches and horns on their opponents' heads, Ann has reminded me with her response to Joe's original post of what it is like to have one's mind opened, guided by a wise teacher encouraging us to find connections and seek our own answers without judgment or compulsion, helping our fledgling ideas to take flight in the warm updraft of selfless encouragement and gentle guidance.

Thank you!
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joefrank
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Fri Sep 28, 2012 9:12 pm

9/29/2012

I've applied for citizenship in Germany, where my fore-fathers

came from...........

Joe........
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Victor D. Lopez
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PostSubject: Re: It was the best of times - It was the worst of times   Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:49 am

Joe,

Don't give up on America. The temperature of the rhetoric will cool down after the election and we'll go back to the normal level of sniping from both sides. Moreover, when Germany gets tired of carrying the EU on her back through countless bailouts to prop up the irresponsible policies of too many of its member nations, things will get nasty over there as well--nastier I fear since the bad old days leading up to WWII. The stoked unreasonable expectations of people whose governments have artificially allowed them to live way beyond their means for generations will come home to roost. And I don't want to be around to witness the end result when German largesse finally reaches its limit.
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