We don’t love or cherish the mechanical so-called trees in Singapore’s “nature park,” featured in my last post, because their artifice robs them of death. They have no life span. We love non-plastic flowers because they are vulnerable. They bless us for but a brief time, and pass gently on.
Do we cherish the final chord from the Steinway Grand because it too will diminish, and share its dying away? And when we depart the concert hall, subdued, don’t we carry the reverberation as treasure even as that last living note is also lost?
Some final Fortissimo organ cadences fall
on ears become deaf to their value.
They give no hint of dying away, and unlike a final chord from the Steinway, they pretend to false invincibility. They begin to resemble iron-wrought, deathless trees.
Terry Eagleton, writing about “hope against hope,” in Hope without Optimism, has this to say:
All pieces of music end in nothing, silence. Yet this particular silence is a peculiarly palpable one, retroactively transforming the final tone of mourning into one of affirmation.
And he adds, in the final page of his book, this reverberating observation:
The last note is experienced twice, the first time as living, the second time in death, but it is in death that it seems most alive. There is hope, as well as sorrow, in the fact that things pass away.
Death or passing seems to be facing backward toward what has just sadly finished and will be no more — and to be facing forward toward an unformed future strangely, affirmatively, even hopefully colored by the strength, beauty, or vulnerability
of what has passed.
We then believe in what can be because it palpably has been. Its passing delivers a cherished taste of hope.