- Glenn Sonnenberg
Musings from the Bunker 3/23/21
Each 25 Musings, I try to highlight interesting things over the past few weeks. Here are a few:
GREAT CRITICAL ANALYSIS
In this last weekend’s New York Times Book Review, Author Joe Ide was asked to distinguish between commercial and literary fiction:
“Colson Whitehead’s ‘The Underground Railroad’ and Delia Owens’s ‘Where the Crawdads Sing’ were both very commercial and very literary. I’ve read many a literary novel that were neither.”
“Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil.”
-- Eric Hoffer,The True Believer(1951)
JFK: Coming of Age in the American Century, 1917-1956, by Frederick Longevall. I have commented about this one already. It’s a great story of JFK, the Kennedy family and their times. I recommend it highly. For a view of the Kennedy administration and the complications of leadership, I really recommend David Halberstam’s The Best and the Brightest.
By William Carlos Williams
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
GONE IS THE NOTION OF “LOYAL OPPOSITION’
Gone are the days when we had a “loyal opposition,” when the party out of power would be generally cooperative, attempting to fashion legislation to be as favorable as possible to their position and move on. In effect, they would be saying:
“You won the election. You can set policy. I will argue all the way and try to reshape your more extreme policies to be as palatable as I can to my point of view. But I want you to succeed (any success will bring with it failures, so I’ll always have something to run on). Next election cycle, the people can vote on your policies.”
Now, the conversation, most notably articulated by Mitch McConnell, is:
“You won the election. It is my job to stop you in your tracks, to do everything possible to make it as difficult as possible for you to achieve anything whatsoever—even though it is not in the best interest of the country for me to do so. In the next election cycle, I will run on your inability to get anything done, motivate my base to believe you are the anti-Christ and do what I can to ensure that your base can’t vote.”
The idea of a “loyal opposition” is that it is loyal to the greater good and will allow the duly elected leadership some latitude to enact the policies their supporters expect—all while standing in opposition to the extremes of those policies. The idea is that the loyalty is to the nation and to the people. At this sad point in our nation’s political life, it’s all “opposition” and not much “loyal.”
MOST RIDICULOUS DEBATE
The estate of Dr. Seuss—the owners of his books—decided to remove from publication a few of his books that had insensitive portrayals and offensive stereotypes. It seems it is their prerogative. Yet many folks are up in arms. It’s not as if his entire oeuvre is off the shelves of American libraries and bookstores. Most of his work is readily available. As for the now out-of-print books, well I suppose Western civilization can survive without If I Ran the Zoo.
GREATEST MOVIE YOU MAY NOT HAVE SEEN
Silverado. An expansive story of several characters who meet and share their adventures. This is, in my opinion, Lawrence Kasden’s best and it is a great favorite of mine. Kevin Kline, Danny Glover, Scott Glenn and Kevin Costner are the key friends. Rosanna Arquette, John Cleese, Jeff Goldblum and Linda Hunt are in supporting, yet important, roles. So many tropes of the old west and the western movie. Hard to believe this was made 35 years ago. It is not as dark as the westerns below, though just as revisionist a take on the old west.
Have a great day,