Monday, January 23, 2017

Damon Winter, Childe Hassam, and this cavalcade

Events trigger interpretations,
not only musings drawn by mem-
ory, but observations properly
facilitated by preparedness. We
watch a parade prepared by lem-
mings, from resentments and raw
ignorance, which tasks the mind
to breathe as it was built to
do, ever conscious of a vacuum
at the core of what it sees. If
this readiness had a camera, it

Now the passenger in the gaud-
iest coach in this procession
of last Friday passes an ob-
struction at First and Pennsyl-
vania, whose impertinence must
enrage him if he knew its der-
ivation. There is the memorial
to James Garfield, a President
shot for greater respect for
Civil Service than the passen-
ger could acquire in any decade
of the penance to which the
Laws cry out to deliver him,
his despotic, nepotistic cron-
ies trailing after him.

There is the memorial to Ulys-
ses S. Grant, corruption's pat-
ron saint until the passenger's
own rise transcended imagina-
tion, itself; but who had such
uncanny literary honesty as to
leave Memoirs of which we know
we can't deny two things: the
passenger hasn't read them and
will not, and they convey to 
posterity a confession every
sensate mind must mourn, of
his negligent squandering of
loyalty to rank and country 
at Cold Harbor. For that, we
have obstruction to remember,
a fortified concentration of
remorseless rebellious power.

But what Damon Winter captures
the figures, Grief and History.
The one, a sense the passenger
cannot master, the other, just
a context he condemns. Winter
expected this photograph, he
was ready for this photograph,
and this weekend The New York
Times let us see it online. We
felt it coming, long ago. We
saw what they were doing and 
they did it, but not by honest
dealing. That is not their way.

On this morning, January 23,
around this corner in down-
town Manhattan, the first of
what must surely be a torrent
of lawsuits against the pas-
senger, personally, is being
brought in Federal Court for 
the Southern District of New
York, one of the most awesome
sites of jurisprudence in our
history. The passenger will
be hauled to the bar of jus-
tice for being in breach of
the United States Constitu-
tion's prohibition of his ac-
ceptance of any form of pres-
ent from foreign governments.

How seamlessly the strands of
memory converge to snare the
gift of reason, we know too
well. Yet how idle to deny,
this cavalcade's not new, and

Damon Winter
The Peace Monument
January 20, 2017
The New York Times©

Childe Hassam
Wall and Broad
Johnson Museum of Art
Cornell University

Casey Jackson

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