Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
January 30, 2012 - January 23, 2012

Monday, January 30, 2012

The New Wall

"We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control."
Definition of an oxymoron: A false proposition illogically linked to
a true proposition, as if they were one and the same. They're not.

OH YOU CENTRALIANS. A writer should probably be deterred by the fact that his topic has too many possible ledes. I'm not. In current parlance we call it multi-tasking. You know, the idea that a millennial is smarter than his parents because he can do his homework while watching a streaming video, posting to Facebook, texting his friends, taking the intermittent voice call, smoking some weed, and watching "Are You There, Chelsea?" on TV.

Well, I was multi-tasking before the millennials were, and here are the ledes for this post. 1) In the crevasse between the NFL conference championships and the Super Bowl, is it possible to find some sport to watch? 2) Does NBC have an actual death wish? 3) Is it time to measure the impact of the utter collapse of mass media in terms of competency, literacy, and even basic standards of journalism? 4) Just how insane are the lefties who presume to be the superiors of ordinary Americans? 5) If you ever needed absolute proof of the corruption of the post-American intelligentsia, I have found it. 6) I have been criticized for advocating knowledge of history and for watching too much TV: What if the latter proves the value of the former? 7) We are now living in an utterly contextless, continuously present-tense society our children are hopelessly unprepared to defend themselves against. 8) You know, the real value of history is that it provides a standard of measure by which we can distinguish quality from crap. 9) There's something called sportsmanship, a by-product of an obsolete thing called a gentleman; amazingly, it's still clinging to life. 10) Screw the Fox News Channel; they're exactly as transparently corrupt as everyone else.

A multi-tasking millennial might be able to follow the multiple stories that flow from these ledes. This and this and this. Aha. Whatever. But I'm going to do what they can never do. I'm going to integrate them all into a single post that makes sense as a whole. Doubt it? Watch.

My wife was exhausted after a work ordeal I needn't describe that left her listless and borderline ill by the time the weekend arrived. We were scheduled to have an outing with our 3-year-old granddaughter, but she came down with an earache. And I got bad personal news from a close friend. A final blow to the energy levels. So we watched TV instead. Her Ravens were out of the NFL running (another blow), but there have to be some sports to watch in the long gap between conference championships and the Super Bowl. And in reserve, we had a DVD, a recent revisitation of a BBC series she'd always enjoyed called "Cracker." We were also armed with Netflix access, our iPhones, providing instantaneous entree to the febrile yet constantly information-rich environment of the Internet. In short, we were prepared to be entertained. (Forget books: between us, we've read all the great ones and Kindle feeds us with any promising new ones, of which there are, well, few.)

The first thing we found was Tiger's Abu Dhabi run. He was leading after three rounds. You could see it live if you got up at three in the morning, pretty much like the Australian Tennis Open. We're not that hard core. And Tiger lost anyway, to the immense satisfaction of ESPN. (Why? Their stable of jocks never cheats on their wives? Or is just fun to see the best destroyed unless they're an old wreck named Brett Favre.) Which leads to NBC sports and, TA DA, figure skating. The Lady has always been a fan of figure skating, although not that much a fan of Americans of late, because with the exception of ice dancers, they have come to SUCK. The Saturday broadcast, though, featured women's singles and ice dancers. (A good get by me.) When we tuned in, the women's singles were done and the announcers were Scott Hamilton and some chick who actually made an attempt to tell us what music the ice dancers were dancing to: "Dee Flee-der-mouse" and "Chopin Pree-lude Number..." whatever. We looked at each other. How does this happen? Easy. Cultural literacy is dead, even when it's relevant to your own area of "expertise." Little did we know that things would get worse on Sunday. We thought we had been inattentive or confused about what the next step was for the American ice dancers, who are the only remaining U.S. contenders for World and Olympic honors. We're not as young as we once were. And via her iPhone, the Lady revisited the great ice dancers of the past to our mutual enjoyment and satisfaction.

Then something odd happened. No more sports. (Unless you count the swirling skirts of college basketball, men's and women's, in which we're both supposed to have a dog in the hunt.  Hell, both Harvard and the Rutgers women are ranked in the top 25, but for some reason we didn't want to see them spinnakering around the court.) Instead we found a movie called Blades of Glory we'd both avoided just as we'd avoided Napoleon Dynamite, which Monica insisted we would like. She was right. So we watched it. Blades of Glory, too. We laughed. Hard. I confess. I was the one who didn't entirely get over it. There was, shall we say, a hangover.

We got up early next morning. Pro-Bowl Day. the centerpiece of the NBC Sunday primetime broadcast, don't you know, but before that more figure skating on NBC. And the NHL All-Star game, to be broadcast on the brand new NBC sports channel. All right. Not great. But we spent part of the morning cleaning the house, grappling with cats and sighthounds and so forth, and then we settled in for the figure skating pairs and men's finals.

This is where the integration I promised starts to kick in. Sometimes having a sense of humor is a curse. You start laughing and you can't stop. For hours, if not days. Everything starts to become part of a huge tsunami-like punchline that just rolls and rolls and rolls. Truth is, it's only beginning to ebb now, when I consider why I was so convulsed. Why I won't talk about the pairs competition after Blades of Glory. Doubt if I could hold it together for a full paragraph. What I will say: No 'Iron Lotus.'

[Sorry if this seems long. It's deliberate. I'm scraping off the short-attention span folks. Multi-tasking also means following a thread. However far it winds. Don't think you I-babies can do that. Your first response will be to say that I don't get to the point. As well as, say, Kanye West. Right.]

The NBC coverage of the men's finals began with Johnny Weir, dressed like Cruella DeVil and promising a comeback to honor his fans, supporters, and his new husband. Okay.Then to Scott Hamilton and whatever generic NBC play-by-play announcer had drawn the short straw. Honest to God, I can't tell you who he was, though his voice was annoyingly familiar.

We learned that the U.S. Nationals would determine who represented the U.S. at the World Championships. Only two would go. The Bronze Medal was a ticket home to plan for next year. Next we learned that competition in the Worlds was all about the quadruple jump. No quad, no chance.

They showed us eight men's singles competitors. What I didn't learn: Where the hell we were in the competitive figure skating season, which events had been completed and which were left (early, late, huh? No past, no future -- perfect), what any of this has to do with the Olympics, what makes the triple-axle the hardest of the triple jumps, why is a triple toe-loop easy, what music any competitor was performing to, what the costume rules are (and why -- Is Bette Midler involved?), what the difference in difficulty is among any of the standard maneuvers, where the hell we've been performing of late in world competitions. What I did learn: No quad, no chance on the world stage; no quad, no chance; no quad, no chance. Also, this guy and this guy are beautiful, talented skaters who just have to get more consistent (i.e., quit falling on their ass so much.). Scott Hamilton's gushiness was apparently supposed to cover a complete absence of information. At the last there were confusing references to both the "Worlds" and the "Four Continents" competitions. WTF? NBC considers this sports coverage.

When the uncontrollable fits of laughter began to attack me. Eight men's singles skaters. The quad is always the first jump. It requires the most effort. It has to be done early in the long routine. Since they wouldn't define for me what a quad jump was, I had to infer my own. There are only two kinds of quad jumps: the Quad Butt Smash and the Quad Face Plant. All five of the first American men accomplished one of these. What's the problem? The last one did a jump without hitting the ice? Is that allowed? And is it enough to show up at the Olympics? NBC will never tell. They think everything is a joke. Including us.

Which brings us to the Pro-Bowl. An even bigger joke. NBC opening the coat. The most outright expression of pure contempt American sports fans will ever see. Hundreds of millions of advertising revenue. Of content, nothing. Smug all-stars laughing with one another and tweeting on the sidelines as the offensive and defensive lines simply hold hands.

In and amongst and between, commercials advertising NBC shows, including an NFL special offering honorifics and starring -- Alec Baldwin. How dumb do you have to be not to understand that you amputate half your audience when you feature a wild lefty boor who curses his own daughter, gets thrown off an airplane for being an an obnoxious uppity asshole, and thinks he should should run for office as an Obama rubber stamp? You'd have to be NBC. "I'm a huge corporation that would rather be politically correct than attract an audience I pretend doesn't matter I've cut in half from the git-go. I'm a business genius."

Right. Here's the NBC primetime lineup. It's actually impossible to imagine anything more vulgar, nihilistic, and humorless than the spiffs of NBC New York think we all want to see. It's not so much that they underestimate us. It's that they actually despise us so much they can't see how much it's sabotaging what should be business sense.

You see. And sorry to break it to you. Liberals (so-called) are the most irrational people on earth. They will cut their own throats to prove a point they have accepted without serious thought. Key for you and me to understand is that they're NOT thinking. They're just superior. I wrote this, and the specific individual I wrote it to could not recognize himself in my analysis, though he fulfilled every jot and tittle of my description. He had one degree more than I had. And he had lived among the New England elect for a lifetime.

He's a member of the aristocratic mass media. He rejects the notion of liberal bias. Because if we see it, we're being, you know, paranoid.

Except that, well, everything we know and trust is being turned against us, including even sports and light comedy. It's all gotta be gay, politically correct, and left-leaning. My learned friend aside, there is no more journalism. On any side. Gingrich was right to call the MSM on gotcha questioning. All the other Republicans should be thanking him for calling a spade a spade. CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, PBS, NYT, etc, etc, will never relent in their attempt to make Republicans look like racist, child-killing plutocrats. Will they thank Gingrich? No. Even Fox News is dedicated to killing him off, killing him dead, because the Republican establishment wants, uh, Romney. This morning's Fox & Friends was a flat-out disgrace, as MSNBC as anything Rachel Maddow does. Only with Steve Doocy's smug smile sitting on top.

There are no more journalists. Drudge and Hotair have joined the Gingrich gangbang. The New Media are subject to the same temptations as the Old Media. What would those be? Fame, credibility, guest appearances on TV, column and book contracts (Malkin likes me, she really likes me...). Good luck with that, Ed. Just don't get too far from where the smart guys say the game is being played. But you knew that already.

Which we said a long time ago.  We'd side with the Paulistas except that you can't bow out of the world. Sadly, we too would prefer to be completely anonymous on such a world stage. But we just can't.

Yet apparently you can't bow out of a lifetime of miseducation. The Boomers who are running things really do hate America. Like the president they protect so reflexively.

The antidote is to educate the uneducated. But the uneducated think they know enough to get by.

In which case we're cooked. What are the beltway geniuses doing?

"Smug all-stars laughing with one another and tweeting on the sidelines as the offensive and defensive lines simply hold hands."

Do you gather that the Lady and I bailed at some point on the Pro Bowl (and the NHL contest between the Charos and the Heffalumps -- who gives a shit if regions and divisions are politically  incorrect?)  So we defaulted to "Cracker: 9/11," the only time I've ever had to tell my wife she was flat out fucking wrong. Sometimes Brit writers are nothing but assholes, including the one who penned this lavishly overpraised series.

[I invite you to watch it. The most irrationally virulent anti-American screed you're ever likely to see in the guise of fiction. The Brits and other fans thought this was entertaining. Really? Shows you who the Brits have become.]

But there's always a purpose. Watch it. You'll see why we can never trust the Brits again. They've gone fucking crazy in denial of their own moral responsibility for anything that happens south of Scotland and east of Ireland. Good luck with that.

THE BRIGHT SPOT: If you did get up at 3 am in the morning, you got to see Nadal vs. Jokovich. Reminiscent of Ali-Frazier, a stupendous confrontation of skill and character that will likely make the Super Bowl look small. You can look it all up. The glory of the Internet. The only thing I'll draw your attention to is this: Late in the critical fifth set, a ball hit by Jokovich was called out to Nadal's advantage. Jokovich challenged, but according to the rules the point had to be replayed when he was proven right. Nadal immediately hit the next serve out of bounds, conceding the point. We really need to stop playing every point to the death regardless of who's right or wrong. Nadal did. Coolest outcome of all. Nobody mentioned that Nadal did that. It was just honor, expected and fulfilled.

Honor. Long gone from the media in general and journalism in particular. Even from the Columbia J-School grads. But they'll be the last to recognize it. They're probably among those quibbling about the Pro-Bowl farce. Because, you know, like everyone else, they expect to be entertained, even if they can no longer reliably spell the word. "Hey, teacher, leave them [stars] alone."

Did I miss anything?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hats off to Jonah.

Stick it your ear, dear leader.

CUTE THAT THEY CALLED IT THE "CH'IN" DYNASTY. I won't repeat the whole column here. Fair use and all that. But here's the beginning.

Obamas Vision for a Spartan America

By Jonah Goldberg

President Obamas State of the Union address was disgusting.

The president began with a moving tribute to the armed forces and their accomplishments. But as he has done many times now, he celebrated martial virtues not to rally support for the military, but to cover himself in glory he killed Osama bin Laden! and to convince the American people that they should fall in line and march in lockstep.

He said of the military: At a time when too many of our institutions have let us down, they exceed all expectations. Theyre not consumed with personal ambition. They dont obsess over their differences. They focus on the mission at hand. They work together. Imagine what we could accomplish if we followed their example. Think about the America within our reach.

That is disgusting.

What Obama is saying, quite plainly, is that America would be better off if it wasnt America any longer. Hes making the case not for American exceptionalism, but for Spartan exceptionalism.

Its far worse than anything George W. Bush, the supposed warmonger, ever said. Bush, the alleged fascist, didnt want to militarize our free country; he tried to use our military to make militarized countries free.

Indeed, Obama is upending the very point of a military in a free society. We have a military to keep our society free. We do not have a military to teach us the best way to give up our freedom. Our warriors surrender their liberties and risk their lives to protect ours. The promise of American life for Obama is that if we all try our best and work our hardest, we can be like a military unit striving for a single goal. Ive seen pictures of that from North Korea. No thank you, Mr. President.

Needless to say. Read the whole thing.

We told you he was a Mandarin.

I'm not much interested in being a terra cotta warrior. How about you?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

An unfinished post from the past for my boy Brizoni:

Last Word, etc.

PSOMETHING 37. When Edgar Allan Poe died, his chief rival and enemy got the last word, an obituary that stands as one of the nastiest in literary history. It succeeded in damaging Poe's reputation for half a century or more, a bitter harvest on top of the fact that the man had died a pauper and was buried in about three minutes with seven people in attendance. Here's what Rufus Griswold had to say:

Edgar Allan Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore the day before yesterday. This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it. The poet was well known personally or by reputation, in all this country. He had readers in England and in several states of Continental Europe. But he had few or no friends. The regrets for his death will be suggested principally by the consideration that in him literary art lost one of its most brilliant, but erratic stars.

The character of Mr. Poe we cannot attempt to describe in this very hastily written article. We can but allude to some of the more striking phases.

His conversation was at times almost supra-mortal in its eloquence. His voice was modulated with astonishing skill, and his large and variably expressive eyes looked repose or shot fiery tumult into theirs who listened, while his own face glowed or was changeless in pallor, as his imagination quickened his blood, or drew it back frozen to his heart. His imagery was from the worlds, which no mortal can see, but with the vision of genius.

He was at times a dreamer, dwelling in ideal realms, in heaven or hell, peopled with creations and the accidents of his brain. He walked the streets, in madness or melancholy, with lips moving in indistinct curses, or with eyes upturned in passionate prayers for the happiness of those who at that moment were objects of his idolatry, but never for himself, for he felt, or professed to feel, that he was already damned. He seemed, except when some fitful pursuit subjected his will and engrossed his faculties, always to bear the memory of some controlling sorrow.

He had made up his mind upon the numberless complexities of the social world and the whole system was with him an imposture. This conviction gave a direction to his shrewd and naturally unamiable character. Still though, he regarded society as composed of villains, the sharpness of his intellect was not of that kind which enabled him to cope with villainy, while it continually caused him overshots, to fail of the success of honesty.

Passion, in him, comprehended many of the worst emotions, which militate against human happiness. You could not contradict him, but you raised quick choler. You could not speak of wealth, but his cheek paled with gnawing envy. The astonishing natural advantage of this poor boy, his beauty, his readiness, the daring spirit that breathed around him like a fiery atmosphere, had raised his constitutional self-confidence into an arrogance that turned his very claims to admiration into prejudice against him. Irascible, envious, bad enough, but not the worst, for these salient angles were all varnished over with a cold repellant cynicism while his passions vented themselves in sneers. There seemed to him no moral susceptibility. And what was more remarkable in a proud nature, little or nothing of the true point of honor. He had, to a morbid excess, that desire to rise which is vulgarly called ambition, but no wish for the esteem or the love of his species, only the hard wish to succeed, not shine, not serve, but succeed, that he might have the right to despise a world which galled his self-conceit.

We must omit any particular criticism of Mr. Poe’s works. As a writer of tales it will be admitted generally, that he was scarcely surpassed in ingenuity of construction or effective painting.

As a critic, he was more remarkable as a dissector of sentences than as a commenter upon ideas. He was little better than a carping grammarian.

As a poet, he will retain a most honorable rank. Of his "Raven," Mr. Willis observes that in his opinion, "it is the most effective single example of fugitive poetry ever published in this country, and is unsurpassed in English poetry for subtle conceptions, masterly ingenuity of versification, and consistent sustaining of imaginative lift."

In poetry, as in prose, he was most successful in the metaphysical treatment of the passions. His poems are constructed with wonderful ingenuity, and finished with consummate art. They illustrate a morbid sensitiveness of feeling, a shadowy and gloomy imagination, and a taste almost faultless in the apprehension of that sort of beauty most agreeable to his temper.

We have not learned of the circumstance of his death. It was sudden, and from the fact that it occurred in Baltimore, it is presumed that he was on his return to New York.

"After life’s fitful fever, he sleeps well."

Today, of course, everyone celebrates the memory of Rufus Griswold, and nobody remembers the man he assassinated after his death.


No. The irony is that most Americans still don't know just how great and important a genius Poe was. He was not only the inventer of horror fiction and detective fiction (Conan Doyle), the first writer of science fiction (Jules Verne), the direct inspiration of Herman Melville's Moby Dick, the stepfather of French symbolist poetry (Mallarme, Baudelaire, Rimbaud), but also an intuitive scientist who theorized the Big Bang, in a poem no less, sixty years before scientists did. Perhaps even more astoundingly, he has continued to inspire young artists more than a century and a half after his passing, including dozens of pieces of classical (Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Glass) and popular music (Beatles, Alan Parsons Project, Lou Reed), as well as what we can only call multimedia art (from Manet to the Sims) based on his poetry and prose. Not to mention all the movies derived from what we insist on considering his potboiler fiction. He may yet be the most important American writer who ever lived in terms of his influence and inspirations. And he still gets more respect abroad than he receives at home. Although he is nevertheless so much a part of us that we all know of him and can only rejoice in the attention he is receiving in this, the 200th anniversary of his birth. He lived fifteen fewer years than Lincoln, born the same year. And he is less famous. But it's unclear that the sum total of the ideas and works and dreams he indirectly gave rise to amount to less than Lincoln's.

He may not have thought he would, but he definitely has the last word -- and opera, and movie, and symphonic chorale, and video, and cartoon, and painting, and detective and sci-fi thriller, and maybe even metaphysical truth, unless you personally place more stock in the fact that no other NFL team is named after a poem. Not even Shakespeare can lay claim to that distinction.

Is all this worth dying alone and unloved on the wet cobbles of Baltimore? Who can say? Our own favorite Poe poem is this one:


From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.

Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)
Of a demon in my view.

You can decide what he would have thought of this whole discussion. [ED. I have no memory of what's in these links. Maybe I should be more meticulous, but maybe you should explore your ancestors more recklessly...]

(This list of links can and should be much longer...)

[ED. I never finished this post, which I began in October 2009, because there's so much to say about Poe, and the press of circumstance diverted me in other directions. I'm posting it now because I'm beginning to understand that young people have been taught to sneer at him. The very same young people for whom he should be a beacon, an archetype of the misfit who managed to remake everything he came in contact with. Not that there is one, but if there were an American Shakespeare, this man would be first in line to claim that mantle. With the world falling apart around us, I know you may not be interested. But if you are, let me know and I'll return to fill in some of the many blanks in your knowledge of this towering genius who died at the age of 40.]

I don't usually like Phillip Glass. This time I do. His inspiration is Poe's "Descent into the Maelstrom." There's literally no end to what the links could be. Edgar Allan Poe is alive. It's just that he's also dead. Schroedinger's Black Cat, if you will.

Catching up. Don't like unfinished business. From Debussy's "La chute de la Maison Usher":

Not that I like it. Never did like Debussy. Nothing against the French per se. Because I did like this translation by Stephane Mallarme:

Annabel Lee

Il y a mainte et mainte anne, dans un royaume prs de la mer, vivait une jeune fille, que vous pouvez connatre par son nom d'Annabel Lee: et cette jeune fille ne vivait avec aucune autre pense que d'aimer et d'tre aime de moi.

J'tias un enfant, et elle tait un enfant, dans ce royaume prs de la mer; mais nous nous aimions d'un amour qui tait plus que l'amour, -moi et mon Annabel Lee; d'un amour que les sraphins ails des cieux convoitaient elle et moi.

Et ce fut la raison qu'il y a longtemps, - un vent souffla d'un nuage, glaant ma belle Annabel Lee; de sorte que ses proches de haute ligne vinrent et me l'enlevrent, pour l'enfermer dans un spulcre, en ce royaume prs de la mer.

Les anges, pas moiti si heureux aux cieux, vinrent, nous enviant, elle et moi - Oui! ce fut la raison (comme tous les hommes le savent dans ce royaume prs de la mer) pourquoi le vent sortit du nuage la nuit, glaant et tuant mon Annabel Lee.

Car la lune jamais ne rayonne sans m'apporter des songes de la belle Annabel Lee; et les toiles jamais ne se lvent que je ne sente les yeux brillants de la belle Annabel Lee; et ainsi, toute l'heure de la nuit, je repose ct de ma chrie, - de ma chrie, - ma vie e tmon pouse, dans ce spulcre prs de la mer, dans sa tombe prs de la bruyante mer.

Mais, pour notre amour, il tait plus fort de tout un monde que l'amour de ceux plus gs que nous; - de plusieurs de tout un monde plus sages que nous, - et ni les anges l-haut dans les cieux ni les dmons sous la mer ne peuvent jamais disjoindre mon me de l'me de la trs belle Annabel Lee.

I find this translation unutterably touching. Why? Because it's such a failure. Mallarme has exquisite talent, but he is attempting the impossible. And in attempting the impossible, he is exposing the weakness of his native language. You see, I love English. I love English. I also love French, just not as much. Like Shakespeare, Poe was not afraid to make new words. (One reason so many teenage boys have flocked to him. 'Ratiocination' anyone?" He liked the sounds of words, their syllables, their stresses.

And so, apparently, did Mallarme. In this valiant translation, he is distorting French to make it more like English, expressing a hope that cannot be realized.

It was many and many a year ago...

Il y a maint et maint annees...

French does not permit of iambic pentameter. All French syllables are equally stressed. I'm thinking Mallarme was reading his translation in iambs, but few other Frenchmen would even know what he was attempting. And when he gets to the money lines, he comes across the other great French weakness -- not enough words:

... of the beautiful Annabel Lee. la trs belle Annabel Lee.

"Beautiful" equals "la tres belle"? Really? No. Say the word 'beautiful' to yourself, as if about someone loved and lost, with your heart breaking on every syllable. Then try the same exercise with "la tres belle." See what I mean?

It's this that is the beginning of symbolist poetry in France. The language has lovely rhythms, but it cannot embody passion; it can only symbolize it. It becomes necessary to use language as a kind of abstract background from which genuine emotion might ultimately emerge. The constant lilting prettiness of equally stressed syllables has to be a kind of fertile architecture, not a a singular voice of stature. (Why Clarence Day reading his mother's French Bible was so dismayed to discover that "God was wroth" became "le Dieu est irrite.") (Music, of course, changes the equation: Why there's an Edith Piaf.) The result is a backing away from literalism into a twilight zone where everything important is actually something else:

The translation to English is not quite as much a failure as Mallatrme's version of Annabel Lee:

"The Drunken Boat" by Arthur Rimbaud
b y A r t h u r R i m b a u d

As I was floating down unconcerned Rivers, I no longer felt myself steered by the haulers: gaudy Redskins had taken them for targets, nailing them naked to coloured stakes.
I cared nothing for all my crews, carrying Flemish wheat or English cottons. When, along with my haulers, those uproars were done with, the Rivers let me sail downstream where I pleased.
Into the ferocious tide-rips, last winter, more absorbed than the minds of children, I ran! And the unmoored Peninsulas never endured more triumphant clamourings.
The storm made bliss of my sea-borne awakenings. Lighter than a cork, I danced on the waves which men call eternal rollers of victims, for ten nights, without once missing the foolish eye of the harbor lights!
Sweeter than the flesh of sour apples to children, the green water penetrated my pinewood hull and washed me clean of the bluish wine-stains and the splashes of vomit, carring away both rudder and anchor.
And from that time on I bathed in the Poem of the Sea, star-infused and churned into milk, devouring the green azures; where, entranced in pallid flotsam, a dreaming drowned man sometimes goes down;
where, suddenly dyeing the bluenesses- deliriums and slow rhythms under the gleams of the daylight, stronger than alcohol, vaster than music-ferment the bitter rednesses of love!
I have come to know the skies splitting with lightnings, and the waterspouts, and the breakers and currents; I know the evening, and Dawn rising up like a flock of doves, and sometimes I have seen what men have imagined they saw!
I have seen the low-hanging sun speckled with mystic horrors lighting up long violet coagulations like the performers in antique dramas; waves rolling back into the distances their shiverings of venetian blinds!
I have dreamed of the green night of the dazzled snows, the kiss rising slowly to the eyes of the seas, the circulation of undreamed-of saps, and the yellow-blue awakenings of singing phosphorus!
I have followed, for whole months on end, the swells battering the reefs like hysterical herds of cows,-never dreaming that the luminous feet of the Marys could muzzle by force the snorting Oceans!
I have struck, do you realize, incredible Floridas, where mingle with flowers the eyes of panthers in human skins! Rainbows stretched like bridles under the seas-horizon to glaucous herds!
I have seen the enormous swamps seething, traps where a whole leviathan rots in the reeds! Downfalls of waters in the midst of the calm, and distances cataracting down into abysses!
Glaciers, suns of silver, waves of pearl, skies of red-hot coals! Hideous wrecks at the bottom of brown gulfs where the giant snakes, devoured by vermin, fall from the twisted trees with black odours!
I should have liked to show to children those dolphins of the blue wave, those golden, those singing fishes.- Foam of flowers rocked my driftings, and at times ineffable winds would lend me wings.
Sometimes, a martyr weary of poles and zones, the sea whose sobs sweetened my rollings lifted my shadow-flowers with their yellow sucking disks toward me, and I hung there like a kneeling woman...
[I was] almost an island, tossing on my beaches the brawls and droppings of pale-eyed, clamouring birds. And I was scudding along when across my frayed cordage drowned men sank backwards into sleep!...
But now I, a boat lost under the hair of coves, hurled by the hurricane into the birdless ether; I, whose wreck, dead-drunk and sodden with water, neither Monitor nor Hanse ships would have fished up;
free, smoking, risen from violet fogs, I who bored through the wall of the reddening sky which bears a sweetmeat good poets find delicious: lichens of sunlight [mixed] with azure snot;
who ran, speckled with lunula of electricity, a crazy plank with black sea-horses for escort, when Julys were crushing with cudgel blows skies of ultramarine into burning funnels;
I who trembled to feel at fifty league's distance the groans of Behemoth's rutting, and of the dense Maelstroms; eternal spinner of blue immobilities, I long for Europe with it's age-old parapets!
I have seen archipelagos of stars! and islands whose delirious skies are open to sailers: -Do you sleep, are you exiled in those bottomless nights, O million golden birds, Life Force of the future?
But, truly, I have wept too much! The Dawns are heartbreaking. Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter: sharp love has swollen me up with heady langours. O let my keel split! O let me sink to the bottom!
If there is one water in Europe I want, it is the black cold pool where into the scented twilight a child squatting full of sadness launches a boat as fragile as a butterfly in May.
I can no more, bathed in your langours, O waves, sail in the wake of the carriers of cottons; nor undergo the pride of the flags and pennants; nor pull past the horrible eyes of the hulks.

Beautiful, yes, and only a fraction of the original, BUT we are no longer talking about exactly what we were talking about. Are we? It's Poe at work. He challenged them to offer up the passionate apostrophe, which they could not duplicate, and then he showed them that an environment could be its own character:

Where did abstraction begin? Here. From here, it rampaged. From a guy who died in 1849.. The culture remembers, even if the heirs do not.

Towering. He changed everything forever. And for most of you he's just a guy on a list and "We all should work to learn more about him."

Tired of millennials. Really tired.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Yo Ho.

I'll be playing the Keith Richards part. I'll explain.

THE BOOK OF YOU. For days and days, I haven't been able to watch the news except in snippets. There is no news. There is mere caterwauling as Obama's Alinsky virus spreads into Republican ranks and infects the entire body politic. For now it's all about lies in every quarter as every principal politician and pundit pursues his own personal interest. People change sides and perspectives on an almost daily basis in what has ceased to be a campaign and become instead a kind of vaudeville show.

I can't possibly provide all the links I've been combing through -- no, I haven't been idling -- and if you care enough you can surely find them for yourselves, so I won't be doing that work for you. Gingrich wins in South Carolina by dressing down the CNN moderator who led off the Carolina debate with a question culled from maliciously solicited gossip by an embittered ex-wife. The NYT responds by claiming that Gingrich loves the media, which causes all the leading journalists at Fox News to close ranks around their CNN "colleague." Barf. Even Lady Laird's FNC favorite, Neil Cavuto, superciliously declared he would have asked that same question first, too, because he is a journalist, by gar. Self-important asshole is more like it. I'm not even going to mention Chris Wallace and Charles Krauthammer. Oops. I guess I just did. Not to mention the ritual Gingrich scorn of Ed and Allah at Hotair.

People claim the American people have a short memory. I suggest that nobody has a shorter memory than the self-proclaimed conservative intelligentsia. Cavuto gets on his uppers and somehow forgets the two years of lefty propaganda surrounding Clinton's Lewinsky/perjury/impeachment scandal arguing that private sex lives are personal matters and have nothing to do with affairs of state, that lying about sex isn't lying at all but inevitably human. Sure, the question can be asked. But first? Really? There's some known universe in which ordinary Americans should trust the journalistic objectivity of NBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, NPR, CNN, or even FNC to ask questions that aren't expressly designed to embarrass Republicans and elevate Obama? Not if they want to keep going to social events hosted by the powers who own the New York Times, The Washington Post, and the White House." *

Which leads some to the argument that CNN's John King was deliberately helping Gingrich by making himself a target (uh, no, I saw his face), thus propelling Gingrich to an unexpected win against the candidate the Dems really fear -- Romney. Which has somehow become an article of faith for both the Republican establishment and any number of conservatives who believe Romney is the only electable Republican candidate. Yea, even Ann "Attila" Coulter is carrying water for Romney, as was Mark Steyn a week or two ago when he claimed that Gingrich is essentially totalitarian, though now he is curiously reversing his field to savage Romney's rhetoric, his bloated campaign organization (like an unyieldingly incompetent government bureaucracy), and his whole candidacy (like a bad Broadway show that can be made better but never good).

Meanwhile, everybody on the Republican side has pissed off everybody else on the Republican side. Gingrich attacks Romney's Bain experience, which rightly causes Romney to propose that Gingrich is employing leftist anti-capitalist arguments that will be exploited by Obama in the general election. Then, in the wake of his South Carolina loss, Romney declares Gingrich a "disgrace" and "a Fannie Mae shill," and his sudden new ally Chris Christie (panting for a VP nod, apparently) tells the MSM that Gingrich is an "embarrassment to the party." Sarah Palin wades in to tar Christie for taking a NJ state helicopter to his son's baseball game, tells him "not to get his panties in a wad," and reminds him he's just made an Obama ad against a Republican who might get nominated.

In the margins or in the background, the Santorum who claimed credit for his association with Gingrich a week or two ago is now a Santorum who dismisses Gingrich's term as Speaker as a time of chaos and "an idea a minute," while Gingrich falsely claims to have been a Goldwaterite (he supported Rockefeller) and Romney falsely claims to have been a Reaganite (he repudiated Reagan in his Massachusetts gubernatorial run) even as he continues to use the Reagan phrase "shining city on a hill" because his huge writing staff can't come up with a better close for his stump speech. And Mark Steyn, erstwhile Gingrich opponent, does to Romney what Tina Fey did to Palin with her "I can see Russia from my house" line that has since been attributed ceaselessly to Palin herself. What did Steyn do? He quoted this from Romney's stump speech: "I believe in an America where millions of Americans believe in an America thats the America millions of Americans believe in. Thats the America I love." Thanks, Mark. That's not going to go away anytime soon.

Why you haven't heard from me lately. What we're watching is the success of Obama's Alinsky tactics. He has succeeded in so poisoning the political waters with his own strategem of saying whatever he thinks works at the moment while repeating the most pernicious of the out-and-out lies ad nauseam that he has conjured a mirror image of himself in the opposition. He doesn't need to participate actively. He just has to prod and nudge and drop in the occasional harpoon to keep the whole melee roiling. Meanwhile, meanwhile, meanwile -- the MSM is too busy with Republican self-destructiveness to cover Fast & Furious, Solyndra, LightSquared, and other administration criminalities that would be worthy of an impeachment investigation if anyone in the news elite, including Fox News, really cared. Or cared about covering the truly "dismal state of the union."

There is one person one American among the 300 million of us who is not to blame for the state of the union. Everyone else, each of you, in some small or large way, bears some share of the blame, but not this guy. Not one little bit.

This guy is Barack Obama. He is not the least bit to blame for the dismal state of the U.S. economy. George W. Bush is, for sure, and that evil Dick Cheney, oh, no doubt. House Speaker John A. Boehner evil, too is, of course, to blame. But guess what? So is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, and every Democrat in the House and Senate.

Now, President Truman made it very clear: The buck stops with him. No passing the buck for that guy. But Mr. Obama blames everyone but himself. Mr. Bush, he says, left the nation in a ditch, a deep ditch, and hes been digging out since he took office. And Congress? Those guys are just plain awful, he says. So mean. Wah, they wont do anything I want done! Mr. Obama feels so sure about it that hes basing his re-election campaign on bashing Capitol Hill.

Well, I did find one illuminating essay, by J.E. Dyer, a back bencher (of course) at Hotair.

If the voters werent silly, they would understand that it has to be Mitt Romney, because, well, primary voters were silly and picked Christine I am not a witch ODonnell over Mike Castle in Delaware, not to mention running with that goofy Sharron Angle in Nevada, and look how that turned out. You cant get California and you probably cant get New York, if youre the GOP nominee. But you have a good shot at Pennsylvania and Ohio, Michigan and maybe even Illinois, if youre Mitt Romney. Newt Gingrich? Forget it. Gingrich cant even win Georgia...

As with the ODonnell-Castle primary outcome in 2010, however, its not the voters who are silly. They know that all things arent equal in 2012. The voters who put Gingrich over the top yesterday believe that we cant keep going down the same political path in the United States and that that holds for Republicans at least as much as for Democrats, if not more. Their perception is that the GOP leadership is invested in the current path of government: that it doesnt want change; it is not committed to restoring liberty and limited government, but instead is comfortable with the growth of regulatory intrusiveness, and seeks merely to broker pragmatic accommodations to leftist activism as a sort of rear-guard action.

Considering that the GOP has been doing this for most of the last 80 years, the voters arent wrong. They arent wrong about Mitt Romney: his record of enthusiastic accommodations to the left is a set of rusty, clanking weights tethered to the back of the Mitt-mobile. Gingrich and Santorum both have some splainin to do as well, but Gingrich has specifically repudiated some of his earlier faux pas (such as the snuggle-up with Nancy Pelosi on combating global warming). He also speaks trenchantly on the issues that exercise the most voters: federal debt, health care regulation, regulation in general, government intervention in the economy, illegal immigration.

It does matter to primary voters, moreover, that Gingrich takes it to the media by rhetorically denouncing the questions posed in the GOP debates. Voters on the right perceive the one-sided political attitude of the media to be a significant problem for American politics...

Many voters are determined not to be ruled by federal executive agencies whose agendas are approved by MSNBC and the New York Times. These voters are voting for the candidate they deem most likely to reverse Americas slide into precisely that method of government. That they see such a candidate in Newt Gingrich speaks more loudly about the general state of the GOP than about anything else. Voters are seeking to break the inertia and conventionalism of the Republican Party; this is, in fact, a power struggle, and one in which I would not bet against the voters...

The people have one tool the vote by which to express the sentiment that things have to change. In 2008, Mitt Romney didnt look all that different from George W. Bush. The Obama tenure has been a wake-up call that has put Romney in a new perspective: in 2012, he doesnt look as different from Barack Obama as conservative voters would prefer. Obama is less an outlier than the end-gamer of the same big-government principles embraced by both major parties over the past 80 years. We have now seen with our own eyes where those principles lead, and the voters dont want to go there. Its not the voters who need to wise up; its the Republican Party.

Which brings me at last to my video. I decided to watch Pirates of the Caribbean 4 after reading a solidly literate review dismissing it. Nicely and convincingly written. Everything the franchise could do it has done. Not worth watching. Then I read the first comment (paraphrasing): "What's wrong with you, dude? It was a bang-up entertainment."

I trusted the commenter over the reviewer -- my mood these days -- and he was right. It was a bang-up entertainment. But it was also more than that. It's a pirate movie obviously, but as I watched I became aware that the only honest communications between pirates in the whole movie occurred at the beginning between Captain Jack Sparrow and his pirate dad, Keith Richards. (The old man warns him that his next adventure will be a demanding personal test.) Throughout the rest of it, everybody was continuously, obsessively, even perversely, lying about everything. Absolutely nothing and no one could be trusted, including the hero who eventually does a right thing because of a love he has to lie even to himself about. It's comical in the extreme, but eventually you begin to wonder why they talk to each other at all, because everything they say to one another is a lie. They turn on each other in an instant, sometimes in mid-sentence, and betrayals are so constant and inevitable you're left with the conviction that it's all simply a game, which is fine in an entertainment but not in real life.

The truth is, we're all being taken for a ride by pirates -- by everyone who has something public or private or, worse, venally vengeful to gain, even the Charles Krauthammers and National Review editors on the sidelines.

So I thought, maybe it really is all over. Maybe there's no point in talking any more, blogging any more. No matter who wins, we all lose. But if I'm going to be swayed by a pop culture movie, I have to be swayed by its message, such as it is, too. Captain Jack Sparrow does finally commit an unselfish act, both to save someone he loves and to destroy the most evil of his direputable colleagues. Maybe that's a victory worth fighting for. Small in the grand scheme of things, perhaps, but not inconsequential to those most directly affected. Like our children and grandchildren.

Which brings me to a modest proposal I simply can't execute alone. Forget the pirates on the Republican side. The worst of the pirates on the scene is still Obama, the Blackbeard of the movie. It is still the mission to defeat him.

I propose constructing a news aggregation site that consists of no Republican advocacy or candidate-specific campaigning. It consists of aggregating and organizing the abundant stories about the costs, corruptions, lies, disinformation, evasions, persecutions, accomplices, unconstitutionalities, and other monstrosities of the Obama administration. A go-to source for anyone seeking information about just how bad Obama has been as president and how catastrophic a second term would be. Not gossip, not snarky abuse, not rumors, not explosions of anger. Just the facts regarding where he has been (I'm not even excluding fact-based "birther" analyses and other bio questions), who he consorts with, what he has done, what he has set in motion, what he intends, and how the history shows he has gone about it.

I don't know what the right software is. It has to allow those of you who care to participate to contribute links individually, maybe one or two a week each. I'm not a news aggregator talent myself, but I can accept your input and do actual postings; I simply have no idea how to set it up. I'm still learning how to use my iPhone.

The mission is Beating Obama. My idea for a title. Who among you is still feeling like a pirate rather than a damsel hopelessly walking the plank?

My son is still working on my book. Slowly. But he'll do me proud. Eventually.

Fountain of Youth? No. "Does this face look like it's seen the Fountain of Youth?" But how about regeneration of the American spirit? That's a different question altogether.

Yo ho.

Back to Archive Index

Amazon Honor System Contribute to Learn More