Sunday, June 03, 2007

A moment of reflection

This afternoon, a quiet Sunday in late spring, I find myself reviewing a couple of the latter episodes of Ken Burns's The Civil War. Despite the terribleness of the subject matter, I've always found a kind of strange comfort in the series. Years ago, when I was studying animation at Sheridan College, we used to have to turn in our layout assignments on Friday mornings. Being a young 20-something, I could never find the discipline to get myself to budge on these assignments till Thursday evening, when the pressure was on. WNED, the PBS affiliate in Buffalo, was running The Civil War on Thursday nights at the time. And so for me, there is always this strange tie between something I felt I desperately needed to do to secure my future, and the compulsions of the soldiers, North and South, of the Civil War — and here, I don't mean to trivialize the conflict or its causes, but explain why I find it so personally compelling, years later.

Like COSMOS, this is a gift of the US Public Broadcasting System to my soul. I learned a lot about the finesse of our language listening to the show while I worked feverishly on my layout assignments. I've quoted lines from the series — from the people, long gone, it gave renewed voice to — hundreds of times in my adult life. The series is part of who I am, and this afternoon I'm renewing that association.

1 comment:

Polt said...

Ya know, every so often, on a Sunday afternoon down here one of the PBS stations (I'm lucky enough to get TWO stations, one with Pennsylvania PBS and one with Maryland PBS) will be showing the entire mini-series. And when I see it, no matter part it's on, I end up watching the entire thing all the way through. it is SO captivating!

Glad you enjoyed it.