Friday, September 14, 2012

Suppose it were Friday lxv: am I going in

        I know the sea -         
        like some meeting 
        where I'm going, 
        the closer I am.
        I just don't know

Thursday, September 13, 2012

From patriots to Superman

In his column in The New York Times last month, Thomas Friedman said it best, on Mr Romney's return from a tour abroad, denouncing that immortal bulwark against fascism in London and fanning the fumes of apocalyptic war in Jerusalem: his foreign policy is that of George W. Bush on steroids. Now there is reason to doubt that this man even wants to be President of the United States, so eager is he to humiliate the nation with a pathetically infantile belligerency. He is running for Superman, and would embroil our society in a fitful history of tantrums without notice. He goes beyond having imbibed the degenerate indignations of his vulgar, shriveled base. He believes his own false biography, about the meaning of his badge of predatory wealth. We should trust his genius for exploitation.

O, Michigan! O, Republicanism when it worked. The natural human wellspring of patriotism once ran clear and humble there, speaking for the State of Mr Romney's birth through a US Senator in the time of Harry Truman: Politics stops at the water's edge. Arthur Vandenburg, Republican, led his Party away from cheap shot nativist attacks on the diplomacy of the United States, and helped to forge the most durable bipartisan foreign policy the nation had ever known: the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, the development of NATO to defend it. None of this would have been possible without the abiding moral force of that unarguable maxim, a policy which held until both parties resorted to the gross deception of the nation in the war in Viet Nam.

But there were two Arthur Vandenburgs. The Senator's son, a leading figure on his Senate staff, was selected by General Dwight Eisenhower to become his Appointments Secretary when he was elected to the Presidency. It was a natural gesture of continuity of policy, as well as a brilliant stroke in staffbuilding, by a man who knew something about hiring well; and it had the staunch support of the next generation of Republicans, led especially by Nelson Rockefeller of le tout New York.

This was an appointment not to be effected, however, as young Arthur Vandenburg, Jr suddenly took medical leave to Florida, to address a confidential sort of ailment. Only when Lyndon Johnson became President did he disclose the nature of Vandenburg's condition: blackmail. In one of the shabbiest conflicts between hypocritical, powerful media figures - Drew Pearson and James Reston in this case - and the political set in which they mingle, Vandenburg was threatened with being outed as a gay man, in this case, as the lover of Joseph Alsop. Eisenhower wrote a touching letter to Nelson Rockefeller, urging him quietly to continue to find gainful work for Arthur Vandenburg, Jr. There was no question of his working in the White House.

Now we recall Mr Romney's debate with Mr Santorum at St Anselm College in New Hampshire, in which he openly speculated on how to handle the menace of homosexuality, allowing citizens some rights, denying them others. It's a speculation for a Superman, for the kind of man who will always condemn, destroy, exploit, and extract a grisly personal advantage. I don't wonder that his contempt for a steady hand in diplomacy, goes so far as to denounce the loyalty of the President of the United States.

It is tragic for Republicanism that this man has seized this Party's permission to seek the White House. Who shall let him pass?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

I have a barometer I love because it doesn't work

It never did work. It's from Hermès,
where at best such conduct would be
unseemly except in a saddle, where
decoration is all that the law re-
quires. But it has three settings -
pluie, beau, et variable - which
one may manually toggle at will, by
opening its cunning little port-hole
design, and tweaking a knurled knob
inside. I adore it, of course, for
this very disposition toward my tem-
per at any given time.

Such is our academy's play with the
roiling tides of erotic identities,
that in any given season we may have
a consensus for continuity, never to
despair of a period of fetishes for
distinctions. Sometimes it is argued,
no one can have been gay who didn't
see Boys in the Band with its origin-
al cast; how well I remember my class-
mate's seduction (inconclusive) by 
Mart Crowley in the lobby of the Al-
gonquin, not so long before my wed-
ding. So we retire Patroclus and the 
writer of Michelangelo's Sonnets, un-
til the next toggling of our barometer, 
to resume our speculative practices.

on another such episode of renaming
the weather of the past in terms of
the present, in the name of not doing
so. New credentials must dangle in the
meteorology of history all over again,
to show how supremely tiresome the wor-
ry is of when we first knew rain.


Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
Between Men: English Literature
  and Male Homosocial Desire
Columbia University Press, 1986©

Allen Barnett
The Body and its Dangers
  and Other Stories
St. Martin's Press, 1990©

Daniel Mendelsohn
The Elusive Embrace
  Desire and the Riddle of Identity
Knopf, 1999©

Monday, September 10, 2012

And why wasn't he told?

"It always amazes me 
to think that such a 
mass of water, such 
power, such pure force, 
can lick the land in 
such a delicate way."

Possibly one is the last 
to notice that our ref-
erence page in shimmer-
ing imagery has under-
gone refreshment under
the title, visual diary.
These pictures are drawn
from elsewhere; the ob-
servation is from the

iv   Ivan Terestchenko©

Sunday, September 9, 2012

If you're awake, how come you don't already have your feet on?

 We have this conversation
 pretty much nearly every
 morning. There is always
 A Wait for Someone to put
 his feet on, before we go
 outside. And going out is
 very, very large. We just
 do not understand unfoot-
 edness in a gentleman.

To a certain extent, we rely on 
this first outing of the day to
help us get our footing, broadly
speaking, in the context of what
to expect of the day. We might
go to bed, for example, savour-
and we take this into account in
our stride. For example, we dozed
securely in his vow to extinguish
the new civil right to health care;
and yet, no sooner had the news of
Meet the Press poured in, than he
had evidently seen a poll gauging
its intense popularity, and there
went that assurance, in his newly
generic embrace of more or less
the whole statute, except possibly
some parts which might be unpopul-
ar later on. Ask him another day,
you might say. 

We don't wish to be indelicate in
the matter, but living on a farm,
we are cognisant of where we step
in the morning, and so it doesn't
occur to us to scatter convictions
like so much night soil of a head-
less herd. Would it be asking too
much, do you suppose, for someone
to pose the question of Mr Romney, 
If you're awake, how come you don't
already have your feet on? That, or
we wish he'd keep off our farm.


The New York Times
  The Shallow End of the Campaign 
September 10th

Amy Davidson
Does Mitt have a preëxisting condition?
  The New Yorker
September 10th

The New York Times
  The Caucus blog
September 9th