Monday, August 26, 2013

Theirs was a dignity springing

Theirs was a dignity springing
from the very depth of their
desolation; as to be naked is
to be so much nearer to the be-
ing a man, than to go in livery.

I wonder, that a lifetime of
listening to right-wing cal-
umnies against the human hand-
iwork of feudal oppression can
fail to inoculate one for their
refrain, every time demand for
justice gains a common cadence
in the street. Underneath all
the undoubtedly meretricious
manipulations of symbolism to
be expected in this week's re-
vival of 1963's mobilisation
at the Lincoln Memorial, in-
cluding yet another mockery
of commitment by the President,
there remains the unblinkable
fact of feudalism's enduring
fashion, and lower still, the
flippant phrases of its ideo-
logy. I remember when Summer
re-runs of our sitcoms could
draw us back to our devices
with more dramatic credibil-
ity. Suspense is not a strong
suit in our demagogues, and
human character is conspicu-
ous by its absence.

I've been spending the most
wonderful mid-August days
just now, thanks to my in-
whose recommendation of a
philosophical new text has
filled some hours with the
tellingly distilled botan-
icals of pure Thatcherism.

John Gray's ruminations an-
ticipate so well Gerson's
and Will's, Krauthammer's
and Brooks' to befall us
this week, that I'm almost
ready to pay for them im-
mediately, instead of al-
lowing any implication of
Gray's being for hire to
mar his native villainy.
I have friends who make
the same excuse for these
four horsemen, emolument
exhibiting its gift for
redemption, yet again.

The catarrh of contumely
scarcely gathers specific
gravity of spittle, any-
more, clichés of contempt
cascading from the gorge
as the dessications of old
wind that they are. A few
dolorous misprisions of Con-
rad here, a putrefaction of
Pascal there, and we have a
text bought and paid for in
perpetuity, by the inculcated
prejudices of the lucky. The
gentlest essayist in this lan-
guage saw them coming by their
going, in satire struck from
Shakespeare - 

Age, thou hast lost thy breed.

  A Complaint of the Decay
  of Beggars in the Metropolis
London Magazine
June, 1822
Jonathan Bate, editor
Elia and The Last Essays
  of Elia
Oxford University Press, 1987©

Hermès, 2012

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