Friday, December 30, 2016

Ask a simple question

  On the day following the apparent
  election of the American strongman,
  to a questioner, that she would ex-
  pect to enjoy a merry co-operation
  with the United States, but only on
  the basis of democracy, freedom and
  respect for the law and the dignity
  of man, independent of origin, skin
  color, religion, gender, sexual or-
  ientation or political views.

  Anticipating our strongman's ascent
  next month, I'm glad not to have to
  spell the word, kindergarten, again.

  As we watch the hoary domicile of the
  Executive Branch being marked down in
  gold leaf, and spritzed with whatever
  glitz its tenant snaffled in halcyon
  years at Studio 54, to invigorate the
  spasms of his 140-character conscious-
  ness - all injections aside - we un-
  derstand that speculation on his con-
  duct is essentially medical, and not
  epistemological in the slightest.

  We look, then, to the afterlife of a
  forebear of his aspects, from temper-
  ament to inclination: to a four-acre
  memorial in the middle of the German
  stances we have always understood to
  have been, foreseeable. As the arch-
  itect says, You pray for accidental
  results. But in monuments this suc-
  cessful, as in Maya Lin's gash in 
  the ground off Constitution Avenue, 

  The American strongman may posture,
  all he likes, as a swaggering Joshua
  of the West Bank, because he never
  will understand why the world, with
  this nation's indispensable blessing,
  conceded lands previously disputed to 
  a people subjected to one strong man,
  one exceptional nation too many. Now,
  we have an ostensible ally disporting
  itself in mockery of its own proven-
  ance, at the expense of any peace. But 
  humanity is its own egalitarian champi-
  on, and we must be prepared for it to 
  prevail. May we acknowledge our place 
  in that Party; may we precipitate a 


Joonas Parviainen
ii    Slovenia, 2013
iii   Berlin, 2014

Franz Schubert
An die musik, D. 547
Ian Bostridge, tenor
Julius Drake, piano
EMI, 2005©


  1. A reader wrote in to dispute the complaint in the final paragraph, as if it reflected upon the figure quoted in the first paragraph. This was a mistaken impression, but as sometimes happens, the message could not be answered because no address was furnished. It’s unfortunate; the complaint was a ringing endorsement of what the entry did say.

    1. Ah, it's a linking problem, I see; the least of our problems, to be sure, over the next four years. Noted, sir, and Happy New Year to you, all the same! :)

    2. No, it was distressing to notice that it hadn't been enough to set the stage for that complaint with references to swaggering impostors, impersonating heroism, against which the calm prescriptions of the German Chancellor truly are intended to carry their full prohibitive weight. I cited an essay on this by a leading historian of our time, but I am confident that any reader of newspapers would have observed these qualities in her remarks, as opposed - only yesterday - by the kowtowing of England's current Tory PM, on precisely this issue, to the malign eminence of Trump Tower.