Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Maybe it's just the thick glasses talking.

Lincoln once gave a speech so great that there is no record of it.
Every short-hand in the room dropped its pencil when the president spoke for the passion of his oratory rushed through the hall and filled every chest with a plea
that no other heart be slave to another. At least not in the truly physical sense.
Lincoln did not use a teleprompter, and no one ever threatened to shoot him through one, but we know that happened anyway.
He sometimes wrote his speeches on the backs of envelopes, and then did the opposite of what one usually does with an envelope,
gave his words to a thousand people once rather than one forever. A gift of the moment, they could never re-gift, the gift of feeling and story that cannot be matched.

I too write on envelopes, and playbills, and yes, even the occasional cliched napkin when I find myself without a notebook
but somehow I always assume the notes will be read.
Maybe I will turn them into a poem later, or a letter to my lover, or my intrepid biographer will dig up this coaster from the High Line Ballroom
and glean insight about how a young artist felt about the acoustics of a cello.
When I say something clever or devise a moving argument, I post it to my blog for the world to access forever and always. That is my gift, and it feels cheap.

Speeches are on Powerpoints now, delivered in advanced on the AP wire so that we can watch in real-time closed-caption and dissect
every position a pundit has ever stated. Every mic is secretly hot, unless you fail to say anything interesting.
How many uninteresting things we write down, for all the true pith that passes our lips.

I long for epistolary revelation. I long to hear a speech so great the alphabet weeps and lays aside its vowels in refusal to capture it.
We are sentenced to 140 characters, eight second sound-bites, scrolling headlines and the speed at which the hands can type.
The ears hear more. Speak to me. Let me watch you, and listen.

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