Explorations of Value
Thomas Magnell, editor
The essay worth reading in here
is “The Photograph on My Mind” by Robert Ginsberg, the moralist’s equivalent of
a motivational speech. Research suggests that isolated exhortation has little
affect on individuals, but what the hell.
The photograph Ginsberg ponders
features a man who tried to escape a Nazi prison barracks as Americans were
about to liberate it. The Germans torched the building, and the man died
just as he was squeezing out from under a portion of the building, perhaps from
burns or smoke inhalation.
Ginsberg marvels that this man who
spent months or years in a prison struggling to survive—and make no mistake,
life in a Nazi prison was a constant struggle to survive, not an idle wasting
away as some imagine—had the strength to struggle for freedom. He did not
accept the flames. Yet he died ever so close to freedom. With a few slight
changes in the universe, he would have lived—or never been a prisoner.
The prisoner did not give in to what others wanted. He might have said, “I’m
getting me the fuck outa here. I’ve got too much to live for.”
Speculating on what the prisoner would
have done with his life had he a little more oxygen, Ginsberg is confident
the prisoner would have celebrated life and lived it to the fullest. With a few
cosmic coincidences, we could have been a prisoner. How lucky we are. How lucky
that some have fought for the justice that gives birth to our freedoms.
A couple of the essays in here deliver blather about Silence of the Lambs and Dances with Wolves, but I do not remember what they said, and I don’t care to remember. Worth browsing.
—Book review article by J.T. Fournier, last updated June 29, 2009