Friday, August 24, 2012


Have you not heard? We have a man
of ideas to save us this Fall, an
intellectual from the Party of an-
ti-intellectualism. Paul Krugman,
the Nobel laureate in Economics,
has read his syllabus for us, and

As ever, though, they have a simple
answer for how reassuring Paul Ryan
is. They say, he didn't mean it, or
they say he doesn't matter, because
his running mate's nicer ideas, in
the event of any conflicts between
them, will be the ones that count.
Here a wink to you, here a wink to 
me. It's a wonderful thing to pose.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Sein oder Nichtsein" and the citizen of curiosity

The distinguishing question in American politics has always been whether a bleakly mercantile Protestantism, a caricature shaped by experience of Calvinism transported to a new continent, could co-ordinate the sect's devotion to capital with its moralistic intolerance at any given moment, into an irresistible force for control of American society. A pretty crisis in that inherent pair of impulses presents itself strikingly enough in 2012 to compare the pending election to the extremism with which Nazism waged its war on Bolshevism, 1942-1945, but for one material distinction. There is no resistance to the Republican Party such as Stalin mounted to Hitler. It turns out that the Party's natural immunity from information, observation, and reason has not generated a mirror image of its wantonness from those qualities, because it is impossible to do so. 

But the desperation of the Battle of Kursk (July, 1943) is all over the program of Republicanism this year, and we have seen only the mildest evidence of this in Congressman Todd Akin's immaculately ignorant attack upon women's self-determination in the uses of their body, and in his call for a Constitutional amendment to limit the equality of both men and women in same-sex relationships. That he has always been joined in these labours by Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin cannot be contradicted or qualified by the latter's demurral to a single revealing interview in ideologically friendly territory, with a Rupert Murdoch affiliate. 

Momentarily, polling will portray how Akin's remarks have only intensified his support, in a campaign against one of the United States Senate's more enlightened members. The Republican Party is waging its most candidly frantic, explicitly existential battle of Sein oder Nichtsein, life or death, being or not being, against information, observation and reason in the lifetime of its new indebtedness to the unreconstructed South, since 1968. Marshaling all the vulgar lust for Judgment Day that it has shown since Goldwater's 1964 defeat, the Party is replete with The Second Coming's passionate intensity.

Here I present the portrait of all that stands in its way: an individual, alone, watching and listening in undefensive candour of curiosity. Yeats was wrong to rue that the best lack all conviction, if he can muster this. All we can do to multiply his number is to resort to information, observation and reason in our individual relationships, but the enormous massing and unleashing of Panzers of unreasoning, unyielding finance, by the Republican Party's Supreme Court, has meant that our reachings-out must be sustained and encouragements of this figure, inexhaustible. 

Now do we see, this is the most beautiful thing there is. All that we work for, in the growing of our relationships is the unguarded image of the educated confidant, the sharer of our time. And we will want to be in their number, when the votes come marching in. 

Arno Mayer
Dayton-Stockton Professor
  of History, Princeton
Why Did the Heavens Not Darken?
  The Final Solution in History
Pantheon, 1988©

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What shall it be, hash at 21 or the blini at the Tea Room?

Possibly you remember, too, when
you could be seen stepping out for
lunch with your Senator, without a
wave of humiliation sweeping over
you if you ran into a friend. Now
that the country's been turned over
to Others, one must wonder if they
would ever believe it, or what good
it would do, to tell them.

.. and everyone would have said, 'Impossible casting! He's too young!' And he was too young. Too young for Senator, too young for President, it felt strange in his pres-ence thinking of him as President, as if the country would be giddy, like the whirl of one's stomach in the drop of an elevator or jokes about an adolescent falling in love, it was incredible to think of him as President, and yet marvelous, as if only a marvelous country would finally dare to have him.

We have to think, now, of how it could be that the marvelous country could be entertaining what The New York Times so tellingly finally conceptualised only today, as New Frontiers in Extremism as guidelines for its future. We have to wonder at the turning over now, of all of its institutions to their operation by a generation which must regard it as absolutely normal, for the fortunate to use the Treasury of the United States as a grossly rigged casino for the most immoral redistribution of wealth in the western hemisphere since Cortez, and now plan to blame and scourge and bleed their hod carriers for their helpless trust. Is there to be no end, to the B-movie casting catastrophes of Reaganism?

Concluding his indelibly historic contemporary history of the Party conventions of 1968, Norman Mailer reflected to a candidate's daughter, We'll be fighting for 40 years. Arithmetically impeccable, he could not have imagined the late spike of hallucinogenic revanchism in the Party of history's disfavour, irreconcilable not merely to its defeat by a person of color, but to its financial and political rescue from its own arsenous bonfire, by the same forgiving hand. 

Forty years from the inevitable triumph, in Roosevelt's sense, which is bound to transpire this November, who will forget who it was, who kept faith?

Robert Francis Kennedy
Rudolf Nureyev

Norman Mailer
Miami and the Siege of Chicago
D.I. Fine, 1968©
New York Review Books, 2008©

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thomas Stearns Eliot and our Summer


Have you ever watched
as someone tested the
lake before you? And 
did you wonder, then, 
why you went in?

Fruit    Albemarle County
Blade   Tosa
Plate    Limoges

Sunday, August 19, 2012

You knew, one day they'd get Lachowski on a horse

  Contemplating the exigencies
  of fashion marketing, as we
  are all compelled to do, be-
  cause of our jockey pants'
  infamous obsolescence the
  moment Lachowski dons a new 
  pair (despite the ruggedness 
  of those we already own),
  you and I have been resigned
  to the day when his agent
  would find him a mount to
  exploit his lithe seat, 
  whence the latest in equine
  wear must press itself up-
  on us all as a mandamus to
  go shopping. Did you bet, it
  would be some bobtail nag,
  and not this bay?

Oh, Saturday! Have you not noticed, too, that when it runs on at any length, the seeming calm can be disrupted by some obligation not merely to spend unexpectedly, but without expected fulfillment? And yet no plan can prepare us for the novelty of what Francisco Lachowski might wear today, much less tomor-row; and who would care to test the endurance of his friends, for such excuses as not having noticed or cared? As Sunday morning finds us, breaking in our new polo pants at the breakfast table, our pony stamping the earth impatiently for a workout, what is our excuse for having overlooked the sweater?

ii  Francisco Lachowski