Sunday, January 21, 2007


Hope for hope at the end of neo-liberalism

Cornel West writes that "our kids today see clearly the hypocrisies and mendacities of our society, and as they grow up they begin to question in a fundamental way some of the lies that they've received from society...This often leads to an ardent disappointment, and even anger, about the failures of our society to consistently uphold the democratic and humanitarian values tha can be born in youths in this phase of their life."

and continues:

"In the political sphere, the most significant expression today of this mix of anger, disappointment, and yet a tough-edged longing is the democratic globalization movement here and abroad."

What is a tough-edged longing, and who feels it today? The times today without a doubt bring me to anger and disappointment. I cannot comprehend the systematic idiocy of our country's economic nihilism. As a little-'d'-democrat my political values are rooted deeply in a simplicity that is rarely espoused in our country today, and always far away from the suburban wastelands and temporal industrial bilges along the fringes of cities that incubate the pseudo-, the pastiche, democratism of this free market age of disillusionment and despair. It infuriates me to hear our president speak. I want to give up when I see his crew placating the millions, patronizing the ideologically weakest and most vulnerable.

I've said it many times in the presence of collective despair that the prophet of Americanism is an extinct typology. I'm ultimately wrong about that. There are many people who I would consider prophetic. Wendell Berry, Daniel Schorr, even Sufjan Stevens, are all people in whom I recognize democratic prophesy. Many of our venerated figures of the past meet this characterization as well. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a prophetic; Harry Caudill was a prophetic; Rachel Carson was prophetic; Medgar Edgars was prophetic; Bobby Kennedy was prophetic. Were the Kennedy's shmucks? Probably, but they were lucrative enough to articulate some things that, despite their intentions in doing so, they saw as essential.

Bobby Kennedy. I have, in conversations about the upcoming presidential race, compared the potential of Barak Obama to the run of the younger Kennedy back in the 60s. Had he been elected--and he would have been elected--our country would be in a very different place right now. After Kennedy, the American project endured, and is enduring, a long onslaught of destructive, nihilistic, and undemocratic policy. We saw the quotidian, bottom-up concerns of everyday Americans in the American landscape, fighting against poverty and for an identity, disappear with the same acceleration in which free market capitalism came into veins of American democratism like a heroine, an illusory addiction, that made most hopes of an imperfect America that was worth the prophetic fight into no hope at all. The realization that many people and many structures were denying the prophetic from many Americans was the reason for the fight.

It is true that his country has never been perfect. People that believe that--they're called Republicans--are dumbass ignorant of basic historical inquiry. But the political means of democratism is self-reflection. It means that societies can procur systematic justice by affirming the increasingly discrete scales of justice that characterize the boundaries of human civlization. Thus the little-'d'-democrat turns to his neighbor, his family, himself, in self-reflection. This is a phenomenology of politics that hasn't been integral to an American vision since, I would argue, Jefferson, who had the opportunity to posit outcomes. Today, as in the era of Bobby Kennedy's run for office, we no longer have the luxury of starting from scratch. We must deal with the nihilism that has pervaded our economic will, cultural production, and incubated, uprooting, melancholy despair. It is the "tough-edged longing" that must be nursed. Otherwise, what does the American project have to live for? What is needed now, is a prophet. One who speaks not to his own power, but to the hope for hope in the last memories of American democratism.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Tremont Saga

4 July

it is high past the day rain and evening is coming
the air has laid low thickly while trunk and peak
have risen staid as mountains among mountains
the foliage of thickened dixie is saturated along
great strides of ridge and local knoll and inbetween
peers our friend from the porch of a bungalow set
upon footer and feet and table over whatever land
inside companion beasts have come to greet these
visitors with pittering taps and reckless wags
through pane and knit this light has cast deep
shadows across edges of wood and shelves
lined with bottles and books and porcelain knacks
these rooms scent of weathering and i think the land
here is a hallow of color and molded things
into and out of which pour wine and oils and barleydew
by stories of aiming wander which have somehow
come to settle and rest here in this hour
a dog has run from a lapse under the tree and now
there is a party treading from ebb to ebb
and there is a woman who has set deep her frail
mean eyes haunting the ground for webs
though she cannot see the terrain
and that all is settled on plate and rift
which are moving always indeterminancy and will
nonethless she holds a gun and hunts chaos
at scales of blindness towards the edge and ground
after some lull and silence one rises up the street
holding this lore come lately in her arms
and it has begun to rain
she has begun to cry and the rest of
us sway in some time to this fable
that was called to be in the crazed wroughted past
the rain will flow back upon us now and who will
say that all of it is blind and lunatic and passing?

Monday, January 08, 2007

And Trains Pass By Throughout the Night


Early December now, and flocking birds reside in great clamoring masses in the trees out in the church yard. The wind is brisk but the thinning clouds allow a cast of pale yellow light over the lawns. There is a woman before me and her dress is fluttering and we stand there silently while guns blast in the distance. These birds are unphased but this is a moment of collapses in memory, great colliding and folding of the past, which, I would argue, this woman before me has either ignored or forgotten all together. Now next to a lot of cars I am waiting to bear witness and she is waiting for the Great Apotheosis of the Living Grace, the Fragile Absolute, the Bobbing for Apples, the Feast of La Divina Enchilada. After the sun sets and we have driven out along the freeway service road in the deep blue winter light by a faint scent of antifreeze, I sat in the Sandtrap Bar downstairs with Andrew setting two words a piece on a card hoping to give meaning and reflection to this momentus subtle occassion. The NFL on television, bitterness dripping from the haggard thing behind the bar complaining of a bruised hip, and I thought, this is memory? Some suppose, I suppose, and maybe I do too. Behind me, in dark light, a woman plays dusty tunes on a piano to a glutonous crowd of shuttered golfers, and now it comes headstrong, full-on: memory, out of time, and the sentiment of our words heaves roots out to sentiment of another epoch and another place. She will not know this, but I know it. This, then, is memory.