Well that's the title of a poem by Gerald Stern and a darned good poem it is, but I'm not thinking of Gerry Stern--though now that I've paused I can remember him telling a very entertaining story in Iowa City about how he deflected aggressive telephone calls from the credit bureau by telling them he wasn't Mr. Stern, but the piano tuner. Imagination is sometimes the old tin pail one puts under the leaking roof. As for me, I am in the mind of a lucky life because I have friends in the blogosphere and some of them actually take time out of their works and days to have dinner with me. I had dinner with Blue Girl (In a Red State) the other night, and I've had many a lively conversation over many a curious repast with my friend Lance Mannion (who met me in Iowa City when Reagan was fleecing the country the first time around). Ah, those were the days! I actually believed the nation would be smart enough to vote for Walter Mondale.
Blue Girl told me she doesn't think people get wiser as they age--she used to think so, but now, well, look at the world. I mumbled something about emotional intelligence--if you have the capacity to see yourself, as though you're a character in a play--that is, see outside your subjective responses, then you have the type of irony that allows for wisdom. We got into a great conversation which veered toward post-industrial capitalism (which I believe is far more destructive than its predecessor since it demands buying as a principle of citizenship--George Bush after 9-11: "Just go out and shop.")
In order to be a citizen in PI Cap you have to spend. If you can't spend you belong in prison. Or else you should borrow from your parents, as Mitt Romney said yesterday, right here in Columbus, Ohio. The heartlessness of Mitt Romney is only exceeded by his cluelessness. He's a good example of someone who doesn't get wiser as he gets older. He's also an example of someone who didn't inherit his father's compassion. Where did George Romney's compassion disappear to? It's a good question because it's the question that covers the entire GOP. Now we're back to PI Cap, since our current heartlessness (GOP style) has to do with the marriage of racism (disdain for LBJ's embrace of civil rights--packaged first by Nixon, then Reagan, and now wildly out of the can) with the disappearance of blue collar manufacturing jobs. George Romney could march for civil rights because he understood implicitly that minority workers were terrific, he saw them every day in the auto industry. George Romney wasn't threatened by people of color. PI Cap says that every person of color is dangerous, needs to be "dealt with" --hence the wild hatred of the GOP for Obama who is, after all, a Republican.
It's amazing to see the heartlessness bubbling over in this proud nation. I heard a Catholic priest talking about the same thing on one of the cable networks just the other day--I was jogging on a treadmill in the hotel here in Columbus and I heard a priest--a PRIEST--say that the GOP is pushing social darwinism on the nation.
We're living in creepy times. I'm beginning to think I should rename my blog "Creepy Times" but someone has probably taken the title already.
Here are the opening lines from Gerald Stern's poem:
Lucky life isn't one long string of horrors
and there are moments of peace, and pleasure, as I lie in between the blows.
Lucky I don't have to wake up in Phillipsburg, New Jersey,
on the hill overlooking Union Square or the hill overlooking
Kuebler Brewery or the hill overlooking SS. Philip and James
but have my own hills and my own vistas to come back to.
Each year I go down to the island I add
one more year to the darkness;
and though I sit up with my dear friends
trying to separate the one year from the other,
this one from the last, that one from the former,
another from another,
after a while they all get lumped together,
the year we walked to Holgate,
the year our shoes got washed away,
the year it rained,
the year my tooth brought misery to us all.
Thanks to Blue Girl and Lance Mannion for posting me!