Prise de la Bastille, Jean-Pierre Houël

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times

Are there works of literature, music or pop culture which somewhat describe current events in our nation’s capital? Could it be Dante’s Inferno? Could it be Alice in Wonderland? Could it be To Kill a Mockingbird? Could it be The Crucible? Could it be The Emperor Has No Clothes? Is it like watching One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest? Is it like watching Pinocchio? Is it like reading a George Orwell novel? Is it like watching Monte Python? Is it like watching The Twilight Zone? Is it like listening to Tammy Wynette sing Stand By Your Man? Is it like listening to Johnny Cash singing What is Truth?

Perhaps, however, I would choose the opening paragraph and the last sentence of Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. The first paragraph of the 1859 novel goes like this, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way-in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being reserved for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

The last line of the book repeats the first line of the book, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” 160 years later, the word of Dickens are hauntingly familiar.

Jim Maxson

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