Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Last night, in the East Room, while awarding the Kennedy Center Honors to this year's artists--president George Bush fearlessly kissed Barbara Streisand. And while the lion and the lamb didn't actually lie down together, we can't help wondering if this smooch signaled endtimes, a shift in the zeitgeist, or the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Probably not. Most likely it was just an impulsive mistake, an awkward moment in the ceremonial duties of an unpopular, outgoing president. Still, we'd like to think that for one brief sparkling moment there was love among the ruins.

Now that he expected nothing, the incident of the kiss, his impatience, his vague hopes and disappointment, presented themselves in a clear light. It no longer seemed to him strange that he had not seen the General's messenger, and that he would never see the girl who had accidentally kissed him instead of some one else; on the contrary, it would have been strange if he had seen her. . . .

The water was running, he knew not where or why, just as it did in May. In May it had flowed into the great river, from the great river into the sea; then it had risen in vapour, turned into rain, and perhaps the very same water was running now before Ryabovitch's eyes again. . . . What for? Why?

And the whole world, the whole of life, seemed to Ryabovitch an unintelligible, aimless jest. . . . And turning his eyes from the water and looking at the sky, he remembered again how fate in the person of an unknown woman had by chance caressed him, he remembered his summer dreams and fancies, and his life struck him as extraordinarily meagre, poverty-stricken, and colourless. . . .

--from "The Kiss" by Anton Chekhov

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