Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday commute clxxx: No rush ii

Like Stephen Spender, discovering
he'd been discovered by Pasternak,
Spring has been patient with us in
Virginia this year, on the sound
principle that someone is bound to
notice her before the onset of our
regional tragedy, Summer. At the
same time, this page has enjoyed 
an unannounced interruption of un-
usual length, for us, in the less
tenable belief that the American
President's lust for exhibiting
himself at his worst will dissip-
ate, allowing a subtlety like bud-
break to be restored to its proper
place above the fold. But now our
Piedmont temperatures are rising
to the 80s, F, placing us on not-
ice to take note. We do, and the
excuse is not unwelcome, to shed
our screen of distance from an
effrontery of just the right kind.

Christopher Schulze x Adam Washington

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Apple-eating weather, if ever

It was ideal apple-eating weather; 
the whitest sunlight descended
from the purest sky, and an east-
erly wind rustled, without rip-
ping loose, the last of the leaves
on the Chinese elms.

The rejection of Elizabeth Warren,
from within her own Party, of the
candidacy she waged to be the next
President, has finally taken place
this week, and there is much turn-
ing of faces to the wall in hearts
where in season, the tawny infinit-
ude of wheatstalks bristle, blaze.

These American places, which are
reduced to speechlessness by the 
pure evocations of themselves in
Lincoln, Whitman, Truman Capote,
and Elizabeth Warren, are silent-
ly aware of how they waken them.

All over the country, we read of
people in the reading media, set-
ting down their reasons for why
Elizabeth Warren's campaign will
be remembered -- having hastily
drawn the conclusion, that it's
ended. There can be no disputing
the intensity in these remarks,
apart from the telling imitation
of an academic festschrift.

To paraphrase a comparison Orson
Welles once offered to Peter Bog-
danovich, between Howard Hawks 
and John Ford, Clinton was prose,
Warren is poetry. The latter is
the most literally - strikingly,
to be fair - optimistic artist
of political outreach in my ex-
perience. At the same time, it
was inevitable to hear the male
rivals complaining, that she
audibly was undaunted. What a
telling stain she did reveal.  

Possibly Elizabeth Warren does
know, in her one hears a beauty
that the literate would recognize
immediately, but one also hears
an irritation, that this is not
enough. Here, it's apple-eating
weather, and it will do.

Truman Capote
In Cold Blood
Random House, 1965©

ii  Harris Dickinson

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Hey now, Super Tuesday, who will hang his name on you?

If this "Super Tuesday" casino of political preferences is not the end of the Democratic Party in the United States, it is likely to be cited as the last required mile marker of that destiny. A doctrinaire hysteric from one of the very least representative jurisdictions in the country is said to be poised to dispatch the candidacy of a gen-uinely mawkish bore, endlessly boasting of great personal sorrow and flattering servitude in a previous Presidency as its ceremonial gofer. In the contest still is the single credible candidate remaining, without the stature she originally brought to the field, yet with still more vitality than it would welcome.

It isn't that the program disappoints, it's that what could utterly have been foreseen by the unapproachable, anonymous, and incorrigible powers who structured it as a compulsory cataclysm waiting to happen -- appears so plainly to have been foreseen. Particularly after the last Democratic "Super Tuesday," when the least popular politician in America highjacked the political rights of an electorate starkly deprived of viable choice, who could not have predicted this re-run of the same generation of the same credentials, given how sparklingly well that worked to block the fascist seizure of power in America? 

Let it be remembered while it can be, then, what lies beneath this morally impeccable structure of policy distribution in America. Some 327 million human lives, all arrayed to function as required, if not to be marginalized by the only choice which is theirs. Rosebud. 

Lise Sarfati

Monday, March 2, 2020

The field, unwinnowed

  The withdrawal of Pete Buttigieg 
  does not leave the field of can-
  didates for the Democratic nomin-
  ation properly winnowed, so much
  as it sustains his renown for a
  shrewd appraisal of his position.
  He's left before he'd be crushed.

  Lest we forget, a winnowing is
  supposed to dispose of the chaff,
  not the grain, but the reverse
  befalls us all, in the resulting
  concentration of expectation up-
  on alternatives perfectly matched
  in dispiriting unacceptability:
  a noisy, confused fundamentalist
  for justice, and a maudlin wreck
  of a vapid egotist. Yes, our own
  intact, but its intactness looks
  like a symptom of being ignored.

  Our responses are already be-
  ing assiduously shaped to pre-
  serve Buttigieg as the polite
  and valiant spokesman, for a
  future he was allowed more to
  embody than to rally, having
  argued (assiduously) for con-
  geniality over conviction, if
  the latter requires more than
  goodwill toward an inoffensive
  outcome. Betting all one's
  chips on one's private life, 
  to evince a capacity for com-
  mitment, turns out not to be
  so winning as he'd thought. 

Has our political history ever presented us with such a striking case, of a candidate who so squandered the virtues of youth as to campaign against them all at every turn: naïveté, fire, fecundity, iconoclasm,
He campaigned as the knight of the managerial class he was hired by McKinsey to be, not as the knight of the risk-welcoming class of the politician he most disdained, Elizabeth Warren. To think: in a single generation, everything we learned from John F. Kennedy, Robert Ken-nedy, and Ronald Reagan, submerged in a porridge of bland calculation, was offered as the tocsin of a "new generation of leaderhip." Yes, he did it ingratiatingly, and yet why, therefore, did our connoisseur class fail to tell him what the winner would be serving? 

The field is the loser, for this gainless occlusion of the qualities of youth, but for the persistence of Elizabeth Warren. One fine day she, too, may be counseled to do the noble thing, but I think it is likelier that she would be defeated by others' flight from nobility. 

Bruce Davidson
ca 1960

Harris Dickinson

Friday, February 28, 2020

Suppose it were Friday clxxv: I do late, pretty well

The Democratic Party's rites of selection for the Presidential nomination have now run long enough for all of the surviving contenders to have made at least one appearance which would not have to be described as hideously inept. I shouldn't think this wat-ershed will seem very important to many, even so, given how assidu-ously ineptitude is pursued by the incumbent. Yet, it is important to me, as one of the few perquisites granted to the morally marginal, to be careful. Now that we're told, it's all come down to Mr Sanders or Mr Biden, there's nothing to complicate the natural choice of Elizabeth Warren.

In this lugubrious fog, where she is deemed no longer a threat to an inferior selection, Elizabeth Warren insinuates herself into one's sensibility in an almost sisterly way, as if something in me had been reluctant to see another campaign of rigorously tested perceptions and policies appear to be discredited, simply by losing to the habits of our erratic electorate. She was drawn to politics by a resistance to losing, not by pangs of any appetite for approval; but the President has shown how approval of the self is the most powerful motive and impregnable shield against defeat in a culture devoted, as this one is, to gratification at the public expense. What would be the cost to policy, in a defeat of Mrs Warren which would be bound to be sharply, and as evasively as possible, ad hominem? 

Had I, moreover, of no noticeable suffering under the injustices so zealously maintained by our government, any right to expose the vulnerable to its manifest lust for reprisal? With its courts corrupted, with its pulpits putrefying lustily every Sunday, with its captive Confederacy quivering for every redundant injustice, with its debauched bankers incapable of shaving their oversold returns, and with its Babbits unacquainted ever with a single honest page, would a candidacy of Mrs Warren penetrate this superstructure of sadistic ad-dictions, to be met with any vestige of rationality?

Yet the question which has been framed for us is not, if so likely to meet resistance, why bother; it is the aggravating factor, on the one hand, of the profuse and pious hostilities of a Sanders candidacy, menacing the Party's positions in the legislative branch and in the State houses, and a Biden candidacy, anesthetizing the Party into a swooning torpor on a diet of nostalgia, stunning hallucination, and dazed malapropism. Even the morally challenged may choose not to be humiliated.

But I stray. It can't be a recommendation for Mrs Warren, that this set of alternatives is unacceptable. What does recommend her is the quality condemned by the Senate Majority Leader, that she persists. For decades in public life she has held to principles not merely heroically, but effectively in the labyrinths of legislation in the public interest. Noticing the charisma of her intellect, a small-city mayor has been inspired to project a candidacy on what he takes to be competitive terms, without substantiating achievement or the tenacity of holding ground. Noticing the valor of her endurance of misogyny, a gutsy Midwestern Senator has offered to stand in her place, minus its principles. Noticing the directness of her appeal to them, everyone stipulates to her authenticity, despite autobiographical confusion.

In the past few days, just since one had "leaned Klobuchar," Sanders has insufferably championed a brutal neo-Leninist statesmen and waved aside his indefensible support for the domestic gun lobby as a phase in our past. Simultaneously, Biden has pretended to have been arrested in South Africa for a pilgrimage to meet Mandela in prison, a stupid yet chronic example of compulsive fabrication. Between Sanders' incurable contempt and Biden's career-long self-inflation, I don't discern a material moral distinction.

If, then, it is already late to choose a candidate, there is even less foundation for getting it wrong. Elizabeth Warren is my candidate for the Party's nomination because she undeniably does represent its core traditions more eloquently than anyone else in the field, and equally undeniably does perceive the policy implications of its obligations, with the least inhibition or exaggeration. She has the stature to deflect the excessive demands of the novices, and to exemplify and dignify the inclusive reach of democratic liberalism. 

Equally to the point, she disorients the opposition as no one can, who does not also reach their conscience. That is the field of this year's campaign. Elizabeth Warren reaches people's minds by sustained, concise relevancy, constantly exhibiting the inherent connection between the rational and the merciful, constantly exposing ostensibly irreconcilable confusions of the hour as products of vicious political cynicism. She is the most exciting, inspiring, and legitimate candid-ate for the Presidency since 2012. She is the balsam of clarity in a vessel of healing passion, and how we do want to be in that number.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A most peculiar fallout

Almost as if outrage and anxiety,
goaded by virulent, unrelenting
cynicism and savagery, had ex-
tinguished all hope of resort to
reason in recovering the nation,
the call of Mr Sanders and a few
novices in Congress for "revolu-
tion" has seemed to precipitate
a most peculiar inference, that
extreme emotion is a substitute
for political feasibility. Yet,
for all the depredations of the
present government, its experi-
ence has only confirmed the op-
posite, at almost every turn. 

The damage that can be done in
the misuse of language is sel-
dom any match for the thrill of
taking one's turn with mocking
fact and reason. Now it is un-
derstood, that language is the
enemy against which every hyper-
heated "issue" is arrayed, for
which it must pay the price of
the extinction of definition.

Mr Sanders and his clique are
converts to what they oppose.
In every thrust of his disor-
derliness, he has turned the
word, justice, into the blunt-
est, crudest, least coherent
of all the epithets of politics,
rivaling greatness in villainy.

Sandro Botticelli
Portrait of a young man
Pitti Palace
ca 1470

Friday, February 21, 2020

Suppose it were Friday clxxiv: One's heart goes out to poor Roger

Our followers of the rustications
of Jonathan Swift will not forget
his remedial holiday in the house-
hold of a rural divine, documented
for us by Dame Edith Sitwell, in a
bravura display of relevancy in her
biography of Alexander Pope. But to
ponder the case of our poor Roger,
having squandered the best years of
his naughtiness in pitiable exculpa-
tions, only now so belatedly to dis-
cover the blessings of rebuke in a
Federal Court, is to comprehend the
Dean's wistful trepidation on the 
impending return of the lady of the
house. For, who could possibly now
deprive our Roger of his whole car-
eer's affirmation, but some insen-
itive pardoner of his cheeky pranks?

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Current events are what they used to be

What very few of us appreciated at the time, early in 2016, was that when Jeb Bush was predicting bitter chaos under any government by the current American President, he knew what he was talking about because his Party had ridden that whirlwind for most of his own life. Just with a luckier hand. The company they used to keep must have taxed their patience as much as it does everyone's, today, but they all knew it in ways the rest of us simply did not. We are the novelty.