Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Arm music vi: Forster for our Summer

   A friend from ancient days said
   to me he had been reading short
   stories of Forster in his eyrie
   overlooking a diminutive bay in
   California. We all enjoy access
   to such places, but in lieu of
   hopping online to fetch those
   texts I took myself back to V-7,
   the Vintage Books serial number
   for Howards End. I don't con-
   sult Forster a lot, but I know
   the scent of good advice.

Yesterday in Youngstown,
in a strictly controlled
and redundantly counsel-
ed speech, the Republic-
an candidate presented a
worldview so purified of
surface inflammation that
it projected, inevitably,
the least alloyed hallu-
cinations of his paranoia.

Here again was the ideo-
logical demon, stalking
innocents from evil em-
pires we could isolate,
punish, and extirpate at
home, "viciously." This
speech, this priceless
confession of abysmal
delusion, belongs among 
our most important pol-
itical utterances, as
that rarest of entries:
one that isn't sarcastic.

       And Frieda Mosebach was stopping with them for another
       fortnight, and Frieda was sharp, abominably sharp, and
       quite capable of remarking: "You love one of the young
       gentlemen opposite, yes?" The remark would have been un-
       true, but of the kind which, if stated often enough, may
       become true; just as the remark, "England and Germany
       are bound to fight," renders war a little more likely
       each time it is made, and is therefore made the more
       readily by the gutter press of either nation.

       [This] might, by continual chatter, lead Helen into a
       repetition of the desires of June. Into a repetition -
       they could not do more, they could not lead her into
       lasting love. They were - she saw it clearly - Journal-
       ism; her father, with all his defects and wrong-headed-
       ness, had been Literature, and had he lived, he would
       have persuaded his daughter rightly.

What happened to the father,
we never ask in a novel of
the English educated classes
from 1921. An archaic sexism
in the formulation cannot mar
the underlying principle. Now, 
interlineating gossip, inter-
nal monologue and modish taunt,
well before the plain speech of
Orwell's Politics and the Eng-
lish Language laid out the man-
tras of Fox News, a bashful ac-
ademic suggested a compelling
choice for what literature of-
fers, against raw seductions,
courtships of dazzling terror,
intimidating the naïve, by un-
forgivably cynical manipulation.

Every time we look, there is a
Party clawing at our young, to
verify the reflex of pure trust.
Understand the thing, the way it
is. How could they do it again?

E.M. Forster
Howards End
Alfred A. Knopf, 1921©

Francisco de Goya

No comments:

Post a Comment