Some works of art are perfect receptacles for the stresses and troubles of their times while they are graced with a wisdom that is fundamental and ongoing, making them perpetually relevant.
In many ways, Edith Halpert embodied the spirit of American pragmatism, which is how she explained herself: “I either had to stagnate, which was a thing I dreaded, or go ahead, and the only way to go ahead was to do something beyond what I was doing.”
Dara Horn’s new novel, Eternal Life, imagines two characters who have made a sacred pact that consigns them to lives that will never end. Tethered to wearying and repetitive perpetuity, they cannot encounter the crossover from purpose to purposelessness that my mother-in-law experienced.
The earliest comedy I remember with any clarity was created by a famous tragic clown, a circus performer whose painted mouth was perpetually turned down in a frown. Left out of the spotlight, he carried a sledgehammer and ran after the other clowns who wouldn’t have anything to do with him.