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  From the Editor
      LOST AND FOUND AT NEWTOWN

    The last time I was in Newtown, this past June, I got lost driving in the endless leafy maze of an upscale subdivision. When I saw a man standing next to a panel truck at the top of a long driveway, I pulled over, stuck my head out the window and yelled “How do I get to 84?” The fellow was tall and lean and appeared to be in his mid-thirties. It was hard to tell his race, he looked Serbian to me. He motioned me to come on up the driveway.

    When I got out of my car, he shook my hand and had me follow him into the back of the panel truck. He had created a mobile office in the back of the truck, complete with a desk and an assortment of high-tech equipment. He had me sit next to him while he drew me a detailed map that got me right to the onramp to 84, just a few hundred yards south of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Six months later, when the shootings happened, I anxiously looked through the photos of the slaughtered children, searching for resemblances to my good samaritan. There were none. But, while I was looking, I realized that all the children who died at Sandy Hook had parents who were of a mind and spirit with the kind man who had helped me find my way in June; the children who died had grown up in his world.

   The horror of Newtown has given new life to serious gun reform, and rightly so. One thing never mentioned by the media is the unusual impact the Newtown shootings have had on the psyche of hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people all over the country and the world.        

   The slaughter of small children resonates in the human heart with biblical intensity. When the news of Sandy Hook went out, even people with rock-solid faith couldn’t help but feel  their  ground of being     slipping out a little from beneath them. In his poem “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven” Wallace Stevens has a line, “The plainness of plain things is savagery.” We lull ourselves into the bogus conviction that the world is as mundane as we are, that everything will fall into its comfortable, familiar place as long as we continue to participate in the daily grind. In another poem, “No Possum, No Sop, No Taters,” Stevens reports:

                   The field is frozen. The leaves are dry.

                   Bad is final in this light.

    Then this:

                  It is here, in this bad, that we reach

                  The last purity of the knowledge of good.

    And finally, in “Esthetique du Mal”:

                  As if hell, so modified, had disappeared.

                  As if pain, no longer satanic mimicry,

                  Could be bourne, as if we were sure to find our way.

   Truth be known, your editor has been reading Emerson and Stevens late at night the last couple of months.  If you are willing to share with our readers your story of how you came or are trying to come to terms with the existential aspects of Sandy Hook, email up to 300 words to ctoldhouse@gmail.com. All contributions will be posted on the From the Editor page within 48 hours of their receipt.

      After the final no there is a yes

      And on this yes the future world depends.

      No was the night. Yes is this present sun.

                     -Wallace Stevens “Well Dressed Man with a Beard

Max H. Peters

 

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