Thursday, November 2, 2017

We didn't do backpacks then, and he didn't smoke

    It's a good thing, verisimilitude 
    hasn't much to do with memories. 
    My great friend was born this day,
    and all I can think of was a mag-
    netism, the usual cluster of sec-
    rets of our era, and a resilient,
    hearty laugh. He was positively
    infamous for favoring Toscanini,
    and he would have been amused to
    see Harvey Sachs' second biography
    in publication. He didn't do any-
    thing right or finish anything he
    started, but he was an ornament
    of our Class and intensely respect-
    ed. Some guys are just absolutely
    real and yet not ever known by the
    people they keep closest. One re-
    quired no prompting, never to mind.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The President had a quiet day today

He toyed, as the Trujillo of
Fox courtiers that he is, in
teasing a domestic suspect of
murder with fun torments at
Guantánamo, his minders ev-
idently ignorant of the il-
legality of the fantasy, 
but grateful for its deni-
ability. Nobody challenged
him in his hearing, none of
his chums squealed on him - 
unless in indictments, not 
yet opened. But tomorrow is
another news cycle, Scarlett. 

He must alarm Asia to dread
him, and cheer his thrill-
starved throngs. A General,
as chief of staff, is bound
to remark favorably on his
next suggestion of a little
white man's sport, such as 
a concession to slavery, 
while good people are still
to be found, conditioned by
that heritage. Asia, however,
a continent saturated in the
antidote of patience, awaits
to dandle him on its knee.
Better that, than his paw-
ing of Marines at home.

Mario Vargas Llosa
Edith Grossman
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2001©

Monday, October 30, 2017

The repulsive information

What is the quality that brings
to treason a distinguishing re-
pulsiveness? Or is it just the
hideousness of the punishments
so long reserved for it, exclu-
sively, that lends the trauma of
horror to its contemptibility?

People seem to remember how it
sounded, when ribaldry's Prince
Hal had become sovereignty's
King Henry V, and sent off his
most intimate peers to the spec-
tacle of treason's grisly des-
tiny in English law. I don't
sense we miss their ordeal, 
but that we dread our part as
their passive spectator. Their
crimes are his, so indelible in
his own demented transcripts
that he poses no objection to
them, and freely scoffs at how
insignificant they all are, to
him. This repulsive dismissal is
what deprives our poseur of his
postures of leadership, as we
have only William Shakespeare
to recall to us from school days.
One therefore appraises his ad-
vances against our sensibility
with regret, and an overwhelming
sense of ignominy, in giving him
our government.

The information, as it is called,
of a Grand Jury's indictment, be-
gan its pending torrent today in
charges brought against the one-
time campaign manager of the Pres-
ident of the United States, for
various offenses against our laws
on behalf of Russian subversion 
against Ukraine, and in the guilty
plea of an advisor to that Pres-
ident, for falsely denying deal-
ings with Russians on his behalf.
In a way, it lends dignity to
these proceedings to discover
how immeasurably beneath them,
the President's responses are.
Well, he should enjoy the prac-
tice of these occasions, to 
exhibit himself to his fullest.

I haven't noticed any comment
in our media, since the Pres-
ident's cheering of Russian ac-
tivities against our democracy
first came to our attention, a
year or so ago, how the nation
is expected to expunge the dis-
gust it endures to confess to 
his citizenship, much less to
his holding of office. I have
not seen any columns on the
reparations to be sought from
Russia, for its injury to our
country, albeit with his rabid
encouragement. I haven't seen
any computation of the damage
these unblinkable realities
have brought to our diplomacy,
worldwide; but more to the
point, I haven't seen anyone
remarking on the vicious abuse
they inflict upon legitimate
expectations of a generation
only beginning to exercise the
right Republicans oppose al-
most as much as free public
education, the right to vote.

But I remember the discovery
of Richard Nixon's crimes, as
an unpardonable devastation of
idealism, catalyzing an out-
burst of cynicism and material-
ism climaxing last November, in
the triumph in which we bask to-
day. As everyone agrees, this
was not the fault merely, or
even sufficiently, of the in-
formation which was revealed.
It was the fault of hiding it,
in plain sight. Second only
to all the crimes to be dis-
closed, is that we knew them.

Alexander Calder
untitled lithograph

Joakim Heltne 
untitled photograph

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Latest news of Russia's domicile

Having established in this Wednesday's
I take interest to announce that for the
past three days her uniquely unified mar-
ketplace of ideas has been unrepresented
in rmbl's map of visitors. Ukraine remains
attentive, however, so one cannot reliably
suppose the Russian State does not keep an
eye open through that window - or our own,
for that matter, given our new government.
Yes, to watch so much of two continents, e-
rasing itself on cue, is possibly less ex-
citing than to ask where it has crept now:
a rainy-day parlor game for our times?

strong, to cite only another strange bed-
fellows State, ruled by an authoritarian.
Manila's such a congenial nest for looters.

Karen Dawisha
Putin's Kleptocracy:
  Who Owns Russia?
Simon & Schuster, 2014©