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Showing posts from November 8, 2020

genteel and mongrel politics: the Democratic Party trap

  The genteel trap When Santayana used the phrase “genteel tradition” to refer to a certain strain in American thinking - a romantic avoidance of the real, haunted by Calvinistic rules that equated happiness with sin – the phrase escaped his essay and came to stand for an damning avoidance of the vulgar in American art and by extension, America’s middle class self-consciousness. An editor at Scribner’s magazine, which was popular in the 1920s, wrote that he refused stories that contained “slang, profanity, vulgarity, agnosticism or radicalism.” (quote from The Black Genteel Tradition by Gorman Beauchamp). This rule was, as well, once the rule of genteel politics, and most especially of the Republican party, centered in the Northeast among businessmen. The Democratic party was quite different. From the beginning, it was the libido to the Whig Id. It welcomed both the Southern planter and the ethnic immigrant, mainly Irish. And it was animated with the anti-Black fevers of both groups.


Throwin time away  - hattip  BLCKDGRD The story of the structural anthropologist and his deconstructive sidekick (his Sancho Panza, his Gilligan, his Groot). How they go out, like shamen, into the bush to listen to the phrase and fable of the tribe. How they ponder, back in Sherlock Holmes apartment, the cliches they have collected from the folk like songs. How it stitches together into a mythology – the structuralist – and how the weave unweaves itself – the sidekick.   Take the phrases, the binary: wasting time/saving time. In the wasting corner: masturbation, addiction, hobbies, the masculinist view of emotional expression. In the saving corner: technology, devices for home and work, rationality, investment. When I was growing up in the seventies, a mark of the way the parental order was being overturned was the elevation of waste to an honorific. Man, you were wasted last night was said not as a reproof, but as a sign of respect, as though the waster had won a battle. Indee

Political advice, of a kind, from your friend and mine: Northrop Frye

  In my opinion, one of the worst pieces of advice in all American history is: 'when they go low, we go high.' This is not just appeasement, it is smug appeasement - the kind of passive aggressive gesture that makes you want to go lower. It is a symptom of what George Santayana called America's genteel culture. So what is the counter-model to be adopted by those rejoicing in the ruin of Trumplandia - or its temporary ruin? American politics is a revenger tragedy, and the liberal difficulty - liberalism in the purest sense - is to disentangle the toils that keep the revengers and the offenders united in the slaughterhouse. One can't pretend the slaughterhouse isn't there. Or lift yourself out of the revenger tragedy by thinking pure thoughts. Who by thinking, as the Man sez, can grow a cubit taller? The liberal answer must, at last, make peace with ritual. Rituals operate in the now - they have the vaguest sense of the long term. The now has to be welcomed: the s