LESS THAN a week ago all hope died in the universe.
Muhammad Ali entered the squared circle of Caesar's Palace in his best physical shape of the last five years. He was 38 years old, yes, but also a master of magic, and there were those who thought that he had harnessed all the weird motive forces of the universe that no one could name, and had summoned all available gods and demons to carry his spears. All the gauges and compasses of the rational mind said he couldn't win, but he was Ali, and therefore he could win; whether he would win, though, was another thing.
Destiny took a holiday that Thursday night. With the absolute clarity that comes from television lights and the pressure that comes from the yearnings of millions, (pressure to create diamonds!), Ali saw that he was going to lose. So, like Vinnie Curto, the East Boston flash, so many years ago, he just didn't show up. Oh, his body was there, and enough will to throw maybe two dozen punches over the space of ten rounds. But in every important way, he was a million light years from home.
And so, now, are we. For the entire span of most of our conscious lives either Muhammad Ali or Cassius Clay was heavyweight champion of the world, or should have been. How abhorred in our imagination it is! None of the dogs are leashed anymore. It's almost certain that Ronald Reagan is going to be president. And it's going to be a very hard winter, very hard indeed. Ali, Ali, lama sabachthani!