It was on this day, September 19, in 2004 that Helen -- Aussiegirl -- began her blog. Over the next 27 months she managed to add nearly 2200 posts. It's been half a year since anything new has been added, and I thought it only appropriate to start the fourth year by posting a meditative essay that she wrote a little over a year ago but never published.
The beautiful illustration, of the month of September, is from an old edition of Edmund Spenser's The Shepheardes Calendar, his first major poetic work, published in 1579.
As always, September has brought a sudden end to summer. It always seems to happen that way here in Washington. August hung on for what seemed an eternity with its hazy heat and late-summer cricket-serenaded doldrums, and then September came along and rang the curtain down with cool rains and cooler temperatures. There is always something to the change of seasons which brings thoughts of the death of what has been and the birth of what is yet to come. Perhaps this is why those of us who live in temperate climes tend to a more philosophical frame of mind. And it makes us aware of the passage of time, that flow that we are all on that carries us along the wave of existence, yet weaving an illusion of permanence and reality. In truth, the present moment is but an illusion, a knife-edge of an infinitesimal point between the past and the present - the moment that has just passed and the one that has yet to transpire. It is only our consciousness that bridges this divide and creates the bubble of awareness that creates a sense of reality. Perhaps the Eastern philosophies are correct when they tell us that all is illusion, and current physics also leads us to contemplate such mysteries. This, however, is a subject for another time. I find that I am in a melancholy mood as the seasons change inevitably, as I see the death of one season and the onset of another. And these thoughts bring me to contemplate the state of our civilization, and I can't help but feel that I am witnessing the twilight, or the autumn, of our once glorious age. I find that I am returning to and reveling in the glories of our Western Civilization, and cherishing them as you would something which you know may soon vanish. I'm only glad I won't be here to see it, but there are so many young ones who will inherit a horrible future, and the present political class has abandoned all pretense at leading and courage in deference to political power and money. Complete and utter corruption rules the day. Was it ever any different? I wonder if we have become too civilized? Too peaceful? Too rational and intellectual, while at the same time emotionally committed to retreat and pacification and appeasement. We are addicted to postponing the unpleasant medicine for our short-term pleasure and comfort. Sometimes I think that there are certain racial tribes or types in this world that have by their history and genetic selection become adapted to a more warlike makeup. I think that those in the West have over the centuries of civilization bred aggression out of their genes. The genes that contributed to success in our Western culture were genes that favored intellectual achievement and high intelligence, a cooperative nature to enable someone to work in and participate in a complex industrial and technological culture. We may simply have evolved into two distinct genetic types -- and when it comes to war -- the aggressive and warlike is likely to win. But perhaps there's still time for Western man to rediscover his inner savage. After all, homo sapiens was able to kill off the far stronger Neanderthals.