Thursday, November 02, 2006

Modified version of earlier post

(><) When the Nazzis ( as Winston Churchill called them, which drove Hitler nutso ) ran over France and the Low Countries at the very early stages of World War II, it looked bleak for Western Civilization.

Thornton Wilder's wonderful play The Skin of our Teeth made the point that the advance of civilization was often threatened, and survived only by the "skin of their teeth" --- what a great phrase !

The political cartoonist ( an often under-rated profession ) David Low inked a a single panel showing Churchill with his famous "V-for-victory" sign. ( Turn this > clockwise)
The caption read simply "Very Well Alone."

A statue based on the cartoon is prominently displayed in the front of the handsome English Embassy on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington D.C. and --- I imagine at many other places as well.

The Morse code for the letter "V" is dot-dot-dot-dash. It became the signal for resistance all over the world at a bleak moment.

And dot-dot-dot-dash are the stark opening strains of Ludwig von Beethoven's famous Fifth Symphony, about which books and learned essays have been written.

That work and LvB's Ninth Symphony are the signature work of the man who may well have been the greatest composer who ever lived.

Talk about courage: He wrote his later great works when he was deaf !!!

Those works cast a lasting shadow of strength and fortitude (chazak v' amatz in Hebrew, another favorite of mine.) Also of joy, freedom and the indominabilty of the human spirit.

Beethoven wanted to leave his mark, as we all do, through our children, our work, our love.

(So did the cavemen who drew pictures on the side of a cave 25,000 years ago.)

When things get bleak in your own life think of that line "Very well, alone."

It can help.

It is often darkest before the dawn.

PS. Albert Einstein was chosen as Time magazine's Man of the Century.

For my money, it should have been Churchill, a weird and wonderful man.

He got us out by the skin of our teeth.



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