Elegy for an Age

by John Samuel Tieman

I almost did my dissertation on post-modernism, but in the end decided to opt for a Ph. D. rather than a bullet in my head. But one thesis I had was that post-modernism is a critique rather than a fixed position. And it is a critique of Romanticism, Modernism being redefined by me as a sub-set of Romanticism. We dismantle what was — but that is very different from saying we have a fixed vision of what is, or what is to be. Post-modernism is, in a sense, a reflection upon the pain of transition. We know we are in transition, but have no idea what we are transitioning to. In the words of poor Ophelia, “Lord, we know what we are, but not what we may be.”

I am a member of a Church that may well be dying. I write essays and poems that never see a drop of ink. I say to my students, “Go to college,and get a job,” when I know they are not prepared for college, and there are no jobs. Aside from my colleagues, I’m the only person I know who has a pension. I’m the only veteran among my colleagues, and the only veteran among my friends. The corn is dying. Parts of the Mississippi are not navigable. Mere tolerance is what passes these days for liberalism. “Lord, we know what we are, but not what we may be.”


Filed under: John Samuel Tieman, Prose