"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Water in Every Wine

Hey Trump, clean up your trash!

You might notice in this photograph that I have cropped out the flag flying above the White House, so you don't have to put your hand over your heart or anything. Just go ahead and take the knee in mourning for the grievous plight of our federal government.

I guess if I'd been feeling more ennobled that day, I could have been a pro - active citizen and picked up the litter myself. Heaven knows I did it plenty of times in Philadelphia, as my family can well attest. But right there in front of the White House, it seemed symbolic, so I just left it lay.

For me, "taking the knee" is a metaphor, a gesture of lament for the deplorable state of our federal government -- not just for professional athletes in the public eye but for all citizens at any time in the privacy of their hearts. I can hardly think of a gesture more respectful than taking the knee -- as in prayer. And not just when the National Anthem plays, but at anytime when things don't seem to be as they should -- such as seeing a pile of nasty litter in front of the White House, or realizing that our elected officials have sold their souls and are not representing our interests.

Maybe we don't even need the anthem at sports games -- we might call them national events, but they're not. The players are paid professionals who work for private clubs. But I digress, my post is not about the NFL. It's about the disgust and sadness that have washed over our country in the Aftermath of last year's Election.

I believe it when my brother Bruce asserts -- much as he did last year -- that "this man has ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE what it means to be president." A president, for example, does not declare: "I'm the only one that matters." As Bruce suggests, "Someone needs to explain our Constitution to the man, explain how divided branches of government work, explain the difference between a president and a despot. Listening to him makes me physically ill. I am ashamed and embarrassed every time I think about him, dishonoring and disgracing the office of the presidency."

I concur.

It has been a year of high blood pressure, attributed by many, including my friend Olynn, to Trump's incivility, cruelty, and inhumanity. It has been a year of daily lies and serious scholars asserting with straight faces that "The right wing’s disregard for facts and reasoning is not a matter of stupidity or lack of education."

Hmmmm. How can this be, unless we are recalibrating what we mean by "stupidity"? Personally, I still consider a "disregard for facts" to be a kind of stupidity. Is that no longer part of the standard definition? Author and psychologist John Ehrenreich insists that he is not condoning "alternative facts," but it sure sounds like he is, leading some of his less astute readers to such inane conclusions as "after all, what is a fact?" or "how do we verify facts?" Verifiable facts may elude the grasp of some, but contrary to popular opinion, they do exist; and to suggest otherwise is just plain embarrassing.


Some Words to the Wise
for these Troubled Times
1. As Oscar, from "The Office" warns us: "It's a very dangerous time. The coalition for reason is extremely weak."

2. As Samuel Beckett observes in his novel Watt: "Times are hard, water in every wine" (27).

3. As Woody Allen cautions: "Mankind is facing a crossroad -- one road leads to despair and utter hopelessness and the other to total extinction -- I sincerely hope you graduates choose the right road."

4. As the school principal tells Billy Madison: "what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

5. As poet Philip Booth reminds us:

As long as you
know you don't know,
not knowing's not
what hurts,

;it's what

you don't know you
don't know that
finally gets
to you, right
in the old
solar plexis.

First Lesson
Lie back daughter, let your head
be tipped back in the cup of my hand.
Gently, and I will hold you. Spread
your arms wide, lie out on the stream
and look high at the gulls. A dead-
man's float is face down. You will dive
and swim soon enough where this tidewater
ebbs to the sea. Daughter, believe
me, when you tire on the long thrash
to your island, lie up, and survive.
As you float now, where I held you
and let go, remember when fear
cramps your heart what I told you:
lie gently and wide to the light-year
stars, lie back, and the sea will hold you.

I fear it might be true that listening to the political discourse of the current administration has indeed made us all stupider. Thanks to Donald Trump, Mike Pence, and their deplorable retinue, reason is extremely weak in our country now; there is water in every wine; despair, hopelessness, and -- yes -- even extinction are daily concerns. A punch in the gut, a cramp in the heart -- I hope the poet is correct that the sea will hold us up, that we will survive.


One of the Best Antidotes So Far

Also from Philip Booth:
“I think survival is at stake for all of us all the time. . . .
Every poem, every work of art, everything that is well done, well
made, well said, generously given, adds to our chances of survival.”

Which is precisely what this blog strives to provide,
in accordance with Goethe's admonishment:

"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem,
see a fine picture and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words."


In this picture,
later that same day,
our Nation's capital looks as pretty as Paris!

Next Fortnightly Post
Tuesday, November 28th

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading

No comments:

Post a Comment