Goodbye Cruel World
Occasional visitors here will by now have noticed a certain format to the postings, one which may be a little jarring, de-focused, or hard to categorize. It's intentional: as an adult, I've been described as "intense," and fully indulging that tendency would make this blog one ongoing predictive contrarian rant about what I've known would happen to the country and world, how the shifting obliquities of the ecliptic relate to the Mayan calendar, to the reversal of the earth's polarity as foretold by mnemoic devices found in Viking sagas, I Told You I Was Sick, etc. Which it very much is. So what I do is intersperse a mix of snark, cool little things, fluffy kitties, technology, the smell of diesel fumes mingling with hot-fresh baguettes at dawn in Paris as contrasted to what I wake to now, the traces of Irish mists lingering in my son's hair. Arguably more faithful to how life unfolds.
In baseball, pitchers set up batters with change of pace, and I try to nibble at the edges of the strike zone with off-speed stuff, setting you up for the chest-high fastballs that could come all day. Besides, the nibbling is really good for me, it's challenging, makes me stretch, makes me have fun, and I hope for you, too. Having done so for a string of posts, I'm entitled to throw heat for a few days, days which will assuredly shake the world like an old Mustang convertible crashing through East River pot-holes on bald tires, way, way too much engine and busted springs. In the drag-race to the United States presidential election, I'm being deluged with information, as we all are, we can all feel it building, and if I re-published every top-notch story I received in email (especially the past week), well...that would take all day, every day. Which I don't have.
What you take in, comes out, and thank you all for sending those stories. I read them, and fortunately the insurgent mosh pit in the culture war we're winning turns up some lasting stuff, like a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist's take on the meta-questions. My wife passed on a post by Jane Smiley (A Thousand Acres, 1992), a disciplined, scalpel-sharp writer and journalist who cuts away nuance and leaves essence, sharing glimpses of a possible, likely, necessary future, the basic qualities of its tenor and tone. It's not an easy future, rather, in a way, it is the reverse. But at least it will be aware:
"...the right wing experiences the world as cruel and arbitrary, they have no inhibitions about enhancing that cruelty -- as in "Hurricane Katrina", as in "Iraq War", and in "Abu Ghraib".Observations like these, insights into the hearts which makes systems beat, are why we're increasingly subjected to barrages of lies and misdirections from the Mercenary Media every day. For the other side, screaming is now the normal mode of communication. For our side, our alien mediators have decided that it's ok for us to have hope. Resilient, rational, respirating, resourceful Hope.
This is the world we have been living in for the past thirty years.
In a week, we have a chance to leave this world behind. If we look at our two candidates, the differences between them are stark. John McCain, who was raised by and accepts the authoritarian model, is evidently never at peace. He is hot-headed, erratic, and has been remarkably cruel. He claims to have principles, but his principles change every time he loses his cool. The more he is pushed, the more it becomes evident that he lives by his own selfish desires -- for money, for power, for women. He's is a classic avoider, who can't even answer the simplest question -- if something "unpleasant" comes up, he changes the subject.
Barack Obama rarely changes the subject, because he is fully capable of looking at an issue and considering it. He seems to have been reared in a non-authoritarian household, by a loving mother and loving grandparents. He thinks that the world is a rational place that can be understood and modified. His own family seems happy and loving. Right wingers think he is shallow, but he isn't shallow -- he's well-adjusted. And we've had two whole years to poke him and prod him and discover this. Obama has grown through campaigning because he has learned from it. McCain gets ever smaller and more weird as he campaigns because he doesn't understand what is happening to him.
When we choose between these two men, we are choosing between two worlds -- the world of ignorance, fear, manipulation, and cruelty, and the world of rational investigation, weighing of options, and planning. This world is a world where sexual preference is not such a big deal, salvation is not an eternal mystery, and life goes on. It's a world where bad things happen, but there is no malign Godly intention behind them. It is world that understands the temptations of human nature and attempts to deal with them rationally and systematically. Some of these attempts will fail, but on balance, not as many as have failed in the last twenty-five years."