Yeats, Achebe and US

In reading the transcript of a polisci conference session on Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland, I find a gem in Paul Krugman’s opening remarks.

[There’s a] Walker Percy novel with a near future setting, a dystopian scenario, in which he said, `As things fell apart, the center did not hold; however the GDP continued to rise.’

Some of us will say, “GDP is up.  Who cares about the center, whatever that is.”  Others in tense laughter announce our concern.

See WB Yeats “The Second Coming” (1920)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
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