I am reading a novel by C. W. Smith. I picked it up years ago, a used paperback whose original price was one dollar, 50 cents. It is a powerful story of the collision between two cultures here in the Southwest. Mexican and Anglo. But the reason I purchased it, or so I believe now, is that I was intrigued by the title, “Thin Men of Haddam.”
Researching the title, I found it came from a poem by a New England man, Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”
It goes like this:
O thin men of Haddam / why do you imagine golden birds? / Do you not see how the blackbird / walks around the feet / of the women around you?
Haddam is a small city on the Connecticut River south of the poet’s hometown in Hartford. It is unclear in my slender research why Stevens chose Haddam as the start of the the 7th stanza. But “thin men” is a symbol of spiritual bankruptcy. Men chasing the god of gold when the things of real value rest under toe.
This is one of the many things wrong with a spiritless America today. We have too many thin men. Too many thin men, in my mind, equates to Third World country.
No soul, no depth, we play our silly little digitized games. While we are distracted by our incessant mania to be connected to someone at all times, we the thin men of Adam allow other thin men to gobble up power, erode our freedom and march us ever backward toward slavery which is what oligarchy really means, at least to me. All, while democracy dies except in name.
Sometimes just the title of a book can help you think. Too bad it doesn’t make us act.