Sunday, August 27, 2017

The life of form

The other day, I was musing on
the theme of the alienated lib-
rary, confessing to occasional
searches in the second-hand or
remaindered stashes for a book
allowed to slip away, to which
I should gratefully add a more
contemporary resort, the house
of republication. FS&G, for ex-
ample, will reprint for one in
need of an out-of-print trans-
nation of Virgil or Horace, by
the masterful David Ferry, not
that this will offer insurance
against all miscalculations. I
give you an entire government,
for example, it would be prop-
er to exempt from preservation.

Over the weekend, exploiting a
peach of a natural disaster, a
distinguished pair of offenses
against the nation and our law
were issued by the White House
as an almost endearing sort of
dare to utter condemnations at
a time of televised suffering,
and damages to Texan property.

Behind rude, howling winds and
cruelly penetrating tides, the
President pronounced the first
unilateral edict of discrimin-
ation against a distinct class
of citizens in the lifetime of
this nation, where even incar-
cerations of Japanese-American
innocents claimed an emergency
of a limited duration. And, as
if this stunning triumph might
not be enough, he also brushed
aside every tissue of due pro-
cess in the peremptory pardon,
of a political ally for crimes
steeped in discrimination, in-
jury, death, and social harms.

The times summon the mind to a
discipline of form on all lev-
els, such is the gravity which
distinguishes our nation's or-
deal under this government. In
aid of portraying to oneself a
restoring vindication of these
disciplines, I was reminded of
Humanism's vital connection of
rhetoric and philosophy in the
Italian renaissance, presented
to me in college in a text I'm
revisiting, cited below. There
can be no doubt, that the gen-
ius of the current government-
al assault on our nation is in
its violation of every discip-
line of form. It boasts of it.

We assert an interest, not on-
ly countervailing but defining,
in the humanity of a coherency
long demeaned as elegance, but
truly the triumph of study and
application. The marauding neg-
ligence we suffer at this gov-
ernment's hands is, at bottom,
sloth incarnate, all its venge-
ances a feast of malnutrition. 

Time to do the reading once a-
gain. Everyone knows the text
that warned him, he'd be back.

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