Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The seduction of boys iii

We applaud, I think, the prevailing custom in many cultures, of looking upon our couples whose conjugal felicity finds approbation by church or state (not to stress a distinction moribund at home) as "sovereign" in their union. We might even deck them out in little crowns or coronets. We also toy, with some incurable delectation, with the institution of a personified sovereign in a nation-state. Some coinage, indeed, is admired as a sovereign. But when we think of a sovereignty in any of these ways, we impute a capacity which stops short of infinite, much less immutable effect.

For this reason, when the portrait lately published in The New York Times restored this interesting concept to its proper antecedent, it served only to place the week's festivities in timeless perspective.

In the garçonnier which sheltered me as a young child, there were the usual portraits and dartboards, personal projects and pennants which festoon such enclosures for a formative time. I can't remember them all in my brother's wing - Stanford, surely (although this was not to be, for him), and swimming trophies, by the squadron. But also, too, the odd front cover of an Annual Report from something called, Raytheon, a toy particular to him, but of mystical appeal even to me.
I'll never forget the day, when this bright and shining little boy, buttoned down and solicitously knotted by his father, was led off to meet the nice little man at Merrill, Lynch (then a reputable firm) whom another nice little man who controlled his inheritances (then a reputable bank) had recommended, for the purpose of finding something to do with some cash which had fallen out of one of his trusts. It goes without saying, it was not about to find its way into one of his mother's charities; and, besides. It was time to introduce the boy to the market.

I did not attend this meeting, but I know where it was and I know what it did. It resulted in the little boy's infatuation with guidance systems for a new and thrilling thing, the omnipotent intercontinental ballistic missile. This was the sole project to which this young but brave and promising new company had devoted itself, then: to keep him safe as he slept and to enable his godly nation to smite his mortal enemies with impunity. I will make this clear, if it can be done: the boy was seduced, right before his father's eyes. His substance was taken, with his father's counter-signature, to nourish the illusion that would destroy him.

But, oh, my. How did our boyish hearts leap to learn this magic name, and warm with pride to know that Davey was helping to make all this possible. In time, need I say, the brave and promising new company became, as a 5-star General then retiring as President observed in his closing speech to the nation, a leading element of that cluster of interests which, to this day, exerts an utterly untrammeled hold upon a people's means and dreams to an unchecked and sovereign extent, without any client except itself.

Davey had got in at the proverbial ground floor, and not just for a penny, but for a pound in those days. The gusher of the national security state is not so flashy as that of Xerox or of Polaroid, but it lasts, and is the bluest chip on earth. More to the point, its clutches had got in at the ground floor in that boy. The history of our time will show that hundreds of thousands of people have given their lives for the genius of witty guidance systems, when they could have had a better friend in all our power; but I knew only one boy who paid their bills.

Now, here's another. Do you like him; do you think he's cute? Or would you have it that he's fine, and thrilling in his street address? Dashing, probably, is what we are supposed to say; as if by such exquisite gradations in our concessions of temporal stature, he might aspire to the divine right of any boy. But it doesn't matter much, if he is interested in sovereignty. Sovereignty is interested in him.


  1. The images posted on this blog are beyond fantastic...not to mention the words! I'll be back...on a regular basis...

  2. I just read of your run-in with chiggers and didn't know whether to laugh or to cry; but if you haven't copywritten your blog's subtitle, I would do that immediately. It's inspired. As for our page, we're happy to anticipate your visits, and thank you vm! L

  3. I can only write-there are no words-but here at this post, with my gray cells taxed and it is only Weds-with Sat pm to race off to-