Thursday, December 25, 2014

Yes, Virginia

   You'll probably come across this many places, but for some reason it resonated with me this year, so I chose to post it...

from the September 21, 1897, edition of The (New York) Sun
   We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
Dear Editor—

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O’Hanlon

   Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
   Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
    Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
    You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
    No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

   You can learn more about the editorial, and the man who wrote it, HERE.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Book Review ~ The Golden Age by Gore Vidal

The Golden AgeThe Golden Age by Gore Vidal
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book grew on me as I progressed. I attribute the difficult time I had getting into it at the beginning to the fact that it was one of (actually the last of) a series. Several characters are dropped on the reader with very little introduction, yet a bit of research revealed these had been major players in a previous volume. As this novel's events unwound, these players faded somewhat as heir, Peter Sanford, took not so much center stage as central POV duties.

One thing that (especially at first) I found disconcerting was Vidal's insertion of himself as a character in the narrative. It initially comprised little more than a drive-by, which had little more effect on me than to cause a roll of the eyes). But by the end, the author/character had gone full meta and surrounded himself with his characters much like Samantha did that time she tried to write a story on Bewitched. It only managed to work (IMO) due to the inclusion of Aaron Burr, harkening back to the first entry in this series, which (full disclosure) I have not read.

I'm a huge van of Vidal but not so keen on his style as a fiction writer. His slightly detached, slightly pedagogic voice works better when he's functioning as a critic/essayist. Still, I enjoyed the book. It makes a great companion to his final collection of essays, The Last Empire.

View all my reviews