Evening on the Ground

Joanna and I just made what we hope will be the last of many recent trips to southern Alabama. It was another rough one — the type of experience that is supposed to give us “closure.” Everytime someone says that to me (and always with the best intentions, I know), I think of Philip Roth’s The Human Stain. I never got around to seeing the film, so I’m not sure if this made it into the screenplay, but Coleman Silk’s rant about the language of Monicagate-era America has stuck with me longer than anything else from the novel:

Their whole language is a summation of the stupidity of the last forty years. Closure. There’s one. My students cannot stay in that place where thinking must occur. Closure! They fix on the conventionalized narrative, with its beginning, middle, and end — every experience, no matter how ambiguous, no matter how knotty or mysterious, must lend itself to this normalizing, conventionalizing, anchorman cliche. Any kid who says “closure” I flunk. They want closure, there’s their closure.

Of course, none of that has anything to do with “Evening on the Ground,” the Song of the Moment, except that, on the way out of town, I picked up Woman King, the new Iron and Wine EP, and Joanna and I listened to it over and over again during the drive. Jo has this habit of replaying and replaying songs that hit her. Usually, I get annoyed in no time, but “Evening on the Ground” — the sound of it more than the lyrics, and that unexpected distorted guitar most of all — seemed to suit our mood.