Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Wreckage, quickly

It has been dazzling to notice the swiftness with which minority authoritarians have seized control of the American Government, and neutered its legislature with no more than a few bold, compacted strokes of blazingly candid betrayal of the country's systems of relationships, domestic and international. It was one thing, to see warnings from students of 20th Century fascism, of resemblances in our government with those seizures of power. It is another, to see our own practitioners reveling in lurid imitation. Mere days after yielding to the dictator of North Korea, the American President rejoiced in the trials of democratic Germany.

River Viiperi

Monday, June 18, 2018

Trump's terminus

Wagering parlors are fattening on
odds that the President indulges
a keen hope that his dismemberment
of families will shortly extort a
glossy border wall for him, while
also driving from his Cabinet his
universally detested Attorney Gen-
eral -- to be succeeded by a sim-
pering sycophant from the pages of
sadism's most cherished dreams.

At the same time, Father's Day week-
end in America saw a former director
of the CIA recalling those glory days
for us all, in the President's medium.
We see the rail terminus at Auschwitz-
Birkenau, in Poland, prototype for our
El Paso -- only one small step, for a
religiously clairvoyant Cabinet priest
to extol as the 'law' of Jesus Christ.

For surely we remember the Prophet on
the Escalator, on migratory sub-humans.
Our Shoah holds to a timely schedule.
What land could designate our children,
what law sort them, for our protection?

Patryk Tereszkiewicz

Thursday, June 14, 2018

For the infant says it's so

     "North Korea is no
     longer a nuclear threat."

     All this, he could tell, from the first
     few moments of being in the presence of
     his erstwhile nemesis; and could trust,
     from the recapitulation, word for word,
     of prior promises, which had so deluded
     his small and even Kenyan predecessors.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Better the rape of Europa than this

   In subtropical semiotics of
   psychopathic summitry, a hand-
   shake is no mere photo-op. The
   clutch of the upper arm, the
   bold caress of the manicure
   portray a power exchange for
   mortals in their terror to
   marvel at, and minion media
   flacks to frame on-site, by
   manipulation made hilarious,
   at last, by extenuation of
   great distances spanned,
   hazardous seas traversed in
   triumphal passage, to a safe
   harbor of serenest dictator-
   ship. Now must America be 
   dazzled by her abduction.
   What was ever so Olympian?

i   Ralph Gleason

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Ought Americans to have a representative government?

The extraordinary international exposure afforded this weekend in Canada, of undeniable incompetence in the American President - both intellectually, as many have pointed out, and emotionally - has coincided with heightened worldwide interest in the apparently ungovernable and indisputably cynical power of social media enterprises. The American President's demagogic genius has emerged as implicit in, not merely reliant upon the exploitation of this callously amoral nexus of glamorous toys and their besotted societies, throughout the developed world. 

His great achievement, miming Hitler's demonstration that there is no power greater than an alluring delusion, has incalculably entrenched the already acute concentration of wealth and impregnability in what used to be called an information industry, whose natural object is the dismissal of all other vessels of information. Unsurprisingly, the most cogent essay of the season has correlated these trends as embodying the science fiction imagined by the late Ray Bradbury, in Fahrenheit 451.

The natural tendency, to appraise what the Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman has finally described as ignorant and insane aspects of the American President, as unrepresentative of the American people, is tempered by abundant manifestations of his popularity among the necessary masses, in whom his project naturally is to inculcate these very qualities. If he isn't representative and yet still governs, it is not merely because the structure of the American democracy was never mended by Reconstruction or matured by expanding the franchise; it is now materially because that structure is being shredded by industrialized confusion, and the wholesale piratical theft of the human personality, one synaptic gesture at a time. And because that amoral nexus, immune as it may be from any regulatory reach of the American people, is demonstrably vulnerable to crass seduction, covert invasion, even solicited manipulation by hostile powers, not merely nation states. We spawn a new epidemiology, on the perpetration of viral insanity by weapons of mass intellectual destruction.

The question, then, is whether any civilized perspective could lend itself to recommending a representative government for the United States. This is not being asked, except by who can say how many, willing to glance at these times with any perspective at all. The President and the social media industry do all they can to frustrate the emergence of any such intention. They do guide us to forget, lustily to deny the destructiveness of our diurnal dose of alluring delusion. Here, look: you can have your stimulus, your reward, on a glossier, now curvaceous screen. And upon this debilitating, destabilizing and demoralizing, dehumanizing platform, lies the casualty of its business plan, Free Speech.

It follows, the very definition of representative government is so fraught with compromising institutional, social, cultural, and political contradiction, as to hound the phrase off the stage for the next few acts. No responsible playwright would venture to design one for Americans at present. Better a U.N. Protectorate, or a Parliament of Parkland High School students, until the dust of extirpating the New American Government has melted the last cube of ice in Mitch McConnell's julep.

                               In times of change and danger when there is a quicksand
                               of fear under men's reasoning, a sense of continuity with
                               generations gone before can stretch like a lifeline . . .

With Dos Passos, I keep resorting to an expression that can't mean much anymore: Do the reading. A wrecking, idiotic misanthrope for a Head of State has been seen before, even by contemporaries of George III, whether honestly portrayed or not. Now, the prestige of elevating such a beast, above (as he says) the law if not the profits, has fallen to ourselves. Rapidly, the monster remakes this society in his image, and/or atomizes the normal, the stable, the informed. Hitler was elected; Hitler was popular. Putin was elected; Putin is popular. It is easier than ever here, because it was never believed possible. America does have a representative government, no more and no less than these deluded states. Ought Americans to have such a government? Then the fault is not in our stars.

Fritz Stern
Dreams and Delusions
  National Socialism in the
  Drama of the German Past
Alfred A. Knopf, 1987©

John Dos Passos
The Ground We Stand On
  The Use of the Past
Cited in Stern, supra

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Origins of Wednesday lxxi: 50 years with Robert Kennedy

The unrandom slaughter of Robert Kennedy
in Los Angeles has shown itself to share
the legacy of the unrandom extermination
of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in the souls of
those who were alive at the time. The oc-
currence of another California "primary"
election yesterday [first of two stages],
on that 50th anniversary has been noted
as a mournful reminder of what American
history might have become, had Kennedy
continued his distinctly pastoral polit-
ical struggle through the term of a nat-
ural life. But surely this is to place
the virtues he called forth, from the
stoniest of social and cultural divides,
in a grave too quiet for their complaint,
whose natural register he rang as joy.

He was not eliminated, he was dissemin-
ated, inculcated, and has elevated Am-
rican progressivism ever since millions,
still alive, heard him speak with univ-
ersal respect for the peoples of all
nations. We point to the smallness, the
hysteria, the crabbed self-pitying mal-
ignancy directed still against his vi-
sion; but also to the hollowness, not
of the content but of the structure of
our embrace of him, shriveled by con-
descension and self-exoneration as hid-
eous as anything we face, as impugned by 
this very survivorship. He is our exemp-
lary threat to the most wretched afflic-
sion, contempt. The most bracing run on
the beach ever mounted in our politics.

                         Let all who shrug
                         The grip of envy off
                         Sing in season
                         An expert's praises.

Robert F. Kennedy
  & his English Cocker 
Oregon, 1968

Nemean Ode for Pytheas
  of Aegina
Robert Fagles
Yale University Press, 1961©

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Alexandra Petri and the English language

As is widely understood, the New
American government has hoisted
barbarian vulgarity as the de-
fault idiom of public discourse
in this interesting country, and
has raised legions of practition-
ers in the arts and other arbit-
ers of civic morality. It was on-
ly endearingly delightful, then,
as a broadcast network defrocked
a brutish virago of this movement,
to savor unalloyed pleasure while 
Alexandra Petri anatomized it all.
Fulsome euphemism met its match,
and dulness its deadliest dagger.