Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Quote of the Day

When the boy in the Bruce Willis movie said he saw dead people, it was supposed to be an affliction. But dead people are all around us. We go to the country looking for woodpeckers and Orion, and we find them, but every acre is marked with footprints. The stone walls marching through the woods were assembled, stone by stone, by someone clearing a field for cattle or (God help him) planting. The winding roads that carry trucks and Subarus carried Model Ts and wagons; some of them, no doubt, carried moccasin-shod hunters. Unlike the clairvoyant boy, we will never see the dead. The books that offer to depict them are mostly frauds or tales. There is something vulgar about history, like looking for buried treasure. If you find an old artifact, an arrowhead or a rusted leg trap, it is mute. Imagination, and knowledge of ourselves, can make it speak, a little. No one is looking at us. But many ones were here, looking. Long ago, and long long ago.

- Richard Brookhiser

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