A New Lear; or, Daughter Dissed

We waited last week in an anon umbra for the expectant promise over at Literary Rejections on Display, an entertaining and informative site we visit periodically to check up on the latest trends in rejection slips and attitudes of those on the receiving end. Apparently, Writer Rejected, the hospitable host of LROD, had landed a paper airplane safely somewhere, an acceptance.

What Wasn’t Passed On” (New York Times, Dec. 8, 2011) is a familial, personal essay about a daughter who is disinherited by her father. We were reminded, of course, of the mad dad mother of them all, King Lear, and we posted our congratulations to the now somewhat less mysterious WR in a non-puckish comment, for the tone had grown serious, and we also realized a larger context of the personal theme, for the whole country has by now disinherited an entire generation of its young, and it appears to be headed toward disinheriting a generation of its old as well.

Yet we were also reminded of Faulkner’s Isaac McCaslin, who, in Faulkner’s “The Bear” (see Go Down, Moses), rejects his inheritance, insisting that no one can truly own the land, for the land inevitably has a complex history of giving and taking, of laying claims and laying hands.

“Nothing will come of nothing,” Lear tells his daughter, and Blake’s road of excess may indeed lead to a palace of wisdom, but what’s a palace emptied of its children and its old people? Where’s a fool when you need one? For maybe something does come from nothing, for “God bless the child that’s got his own.”


  1. dan hennessy says:

    A New Lear ; a new year ; a leary year with depressing prospects for inheritance to young and old ? Did you see the film Da ? A man inherits his father’s house back in Ireland and when he goes to clean it out to put it on the market he gets more than he expected. He gets the old man’s ghost badgering him about the past , giving him a wholly different perspective , a re-interpretation of his life’s events . _____ Or are we talking about only money when we contemplate inheritance ? Poor Warren Buffett’s kids won’t get most of the billions . I guess , with inheritance issues , it’s all relative .


    1. Joe Linker says:

      Yes, and “Happy New Ears,” John Cage said, rejecting the old music for something new. No, it’s not just about money. It’s also about access, including access to health care, for young and old, and, increasingly, for everyone in between. And access to education. Here’s a great photo of Murdoch and his son. Note Corak’s discovery here: 67% of the sons of the 1% work at their Dad’s company: http://milescorak.com/2011/11/11/inequality-and-occupy-wall-street-4-daddy-put-you-in-the-top-1/ In any case, Faulkner was not talking about only money. I’ve not seen Da; I’ll check it out. Meantime, for our generation, much has been given, and much has been taken away. Or lost, or squandered. “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor” (Mark, 10:17-22). Who occupies the lowest status in society? Children. Gingrich would put them to work; he would combine the departments of education and labor and put the children to work learning servitude:

      from Ezra Pound’s Canto XCIII

      “The black panther lies under his rose-tree.
      J’ai pitié des autres.
      Pas assez! Pas assez!
      For me nothing. But that the child
      walk in peace in her basilica,
      the light there almost solid.”


      1. dan hennessy says:

        let them inherit the wind ?
        Aside about Agnes : When she left St. C she packed her car up head-to-toe with everything from the school she could steal . Then terry and I went through her classroom closets —— stuffed to the gills with softballs and bats , paper clips , paper , staplers , etc. I don’t remember all in there , but there were supplies hoarded for an army . She ordered supplies for the school and we were always short , as you remember. She had told the students at one point that since they had knocked one softball too many over the fence she would order no more forever .
        So , what has the world inherited from her ? What did she inherit from St. Clements ?
        re: politics : I like when OBama said ” That’s not who we are .” He makes himself part of the America that takes social responsibility for all of us , especially the least of us , and calls the Gin-grinches( and the “Christian” Bachmann’s , etc). out as un-American .


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