Sunday, April 26, 2020

"Change," and other motives

I have been toying with an impression that one could be relevant with-out, necessarily, being topical. Circumstances, it now seems to me, are not a bar to this ambition, so much as the intrusive omnipresence is, of the day’s leading personality. This represents a measurement of the scale of the latter as greater, possibly not to our surprise, than that of the most unnerving neutral scourge to engulf the planet in the present generation; and this would be true if he hadn’t undertaken, with his genius for precaution and infamous antic exuberance, to inflate the horror of it all past humane imagining. 

Children, raised in the most distant continents, studying the seizure of their parents and siblings by protracted asphyxiating torment and implacable extinguishment, must now mature in the understanding that what crippling he willed upon the vital organs of international epidemiological co-operation, had left his signature on these more proximate formations of their consciousness. A mind, we used to say in charitable moments, is a terrible thing to waste, only to discover now that the waste of a terrible mind lives after it. In short, laboring under the oppression of the rudest topicality, we must inquire again, Es muss sein?

Yet I couldn’t claim the agency of my own reflection as giving form to these effects, without the help and support of two of our least impeachable chronic-lers these days, Haberman and Martin of The New York Times, who published today this fascinating reduction as their lead:

President Trump’s erratic handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the worsening economy and a cascade of ominous public and private polling have Republicans increasingly nervous that they are at risk of losing the presidency and the Senate if Mr. Trump does not put the nation on a radically improved course.

And you were suspecting, dear Reader, that a reference to remote continents were a reach too far? Well, then you are exactly the reader to see this Pulitzer-provenanced projection for what it is: a preposterous hypothetical. It isn’t necessary to be an Isaac Newton to recall that inertia on a certain scale does not turn on a dime.

The stunning silliness of the condition laid down in this writing only exposes, once again, how confident so many have become in the habitation of unreality, or rather, the shiny-object dominion. Republican officekeepers don’t clamor for a radically improved course. They want a defter twirl of the topics. The passivity to which they’ve succumbed has never been more eloquently pealed. At the same time, the exalted powers presumed by our correspondents, for the constant puller of their focus, can be a lesson to us all in what to read. 

I’ve been wondering if Miss Anne really could have harbored a conjugal intention toward Wentworth through all those missing years, without her captivity in Austen's fiction, and why Fielding's Sophie Western exhibited such indifference to the escapades of Tom Jones, unless her education in Paris had been comparably varied, or reconciled to exploiting his. 

Even now, though, I marvel that our media could be so helplessly fully abducted, as to leave us having to accost each other for the preservation of relevance. And who better, to cultivate the taste for what we must hear?

ii   Robert Mapplethorpe, USS Coral Sea, 1983

iii  Arnold Newman, Igor Stravinsky, 1946

iv   Bill Emrich, unidentified models, 1991

NB  The final link refers to a column published
        several hours after this posting, and was
        inserted as compatible, the next day, with
        no change in the original posting.

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