Thursday Update: A Poem of Survival
(Thursday: I can put one foot after the other, partially because of thoughtful columns by Nicholas Kristof and Gail Collins, and also because of the poem from Altenir Silva, writer friend from Rio:
“I want to dedicate this poem written by the Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade (October 31, 1902 – August 17, 1987). Here in Brazil, we always read it, when we are looking for better days. Best – Altenir.”)
What Now, José?
By Carlos Drummond de Andrade
The party’s over,
the lights are off,
the crowd’s gone,
the night’s gone cold,
what now, José?
what now, you?
You without a name,
who mocks the others,
you who write poetry
who love, protest?
what now, José?
You have no wife,
you have no speech
you have no affection,
you can’t drink,
you can’t smoke,
you can’t even spit,
the night’s gone cold,
the day didn’t come,
the tram didn’t come,
laughter didn’t come
utopia didn’t come
and everything ended
and everything fled
and everything rotted
what now, José?
What now, José?
Your sweet words,
your instance of fever,
your feasting and fasting,
your gold mine,
your glass suit,
your hate – what now?
Key in hand
you want to open the door,
but no door exists;
you want to die in the sea,
but the sea has dried;
you want to go to Minas
but Minas is no longer there.
José, what now?
If you screamed,
if you moaned,
if you played
a Viennese waltz,
if you slept,
if you tired,
if you died…
But you don’t die,
you’re stubborn, José!
Alone in the dark
like a wild animal,
without a naked wall
to lean against,
without a black horse
that flees galloping,
you march, José!
José, where to?
* * *
(Wednesday: All right, Joey Nichols is elected. I have nothing coherent to say as of Wednesday but may bounce back soon. Meantime, all comments, suggestions, verbal hugs, second-guesses or flat-out told-you-sos are welcome in Comments. I'm turning on classical music. GV.)
Monday: I have never watched any reality show, intentionally, but one time I accidentally clicked on somebody named Simon, who was cruelly dissecting a guest.
“What a horrible person,” I thought, pushing the clicker. “Who would let him into their house?”
Of course, I never watched Trump on his show because almost everybody in New York knew him as a dolt and a poseur, a punch line. He was Joey Nichols to our collective Alvy Singer.
Say it together: “What an asshole.” We knew.
Now it turns out that a significant chunk of the country does not know, cannot process information about Trump’s business dealings, is not offended by his ugly boasting about sexual misconduct.
The country, founded by patriots and enlightened leaders, has been dumbed down by the reality-show persona.
At the same time, people stopped reading newspapers. They cannot tell the difference between news-gatherers and the comedians on the tube. Grown people repeat stuff that has been proven false.
Go into a school sometime and talk about issues on the front page (or web site) of the Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian. Blank looks. Trump is putting journalists in pens and mocking them.
As he rolled over the cardboard Maginot Line of Republican challengers, Trump unleashed a barrage of incomplete sentences, incomplete thoughts, utter untruths, in the sing-song voice of an undeveloped human being.
In a sing-song voice. Trust me, I’m telling you, in a sing-song voice.
I have developed earworm, the condition when some piece of music is repeated so often that it bores its way into the eardrum, and stays there, repeating itself.
It keeps repeating itself, believe me, in a sing-song voice.
Other people are reporting earworm from this endless election. In the last catatonic days, I have been flopping in front of the tube like a beached whale, hoping that Steve Kornacki and Joy Reid on MSNBC, or maybe John King on CNN, will point at the state that confirms it is almost over.
I’ve heard this condition described as “a great national nightmare” or a “societal nervous breakdown.”
On Sunday evening, I made a break for it. I went upstairs and put chamber music on the CD player and read a new book I discovered in the library: “The Face of Britain: A History of the Nation Through Its Portraits” by Simon Schama – great stuff about Winston Churchill and Henry VIII and John and Yoko and the artists who tried to represent them.
For a few hours, the earworm went away.
Laura J Vecsey
11/7/2016 11:11:26 am
Asshole or ear worm. Which is it. Can't have both. Ok, in this instance. You can. Signed -- Joey 5 Cents
11/7/2016 11:26:47 am
That's what they teach in poetry class, right? Don't mix metaphors. But in this case.....
11/7/2016 01:48:46 pm
Profits and fools tend to get similar treatment in their own countries. It's time and outsiders that tell them apart in the end. The ear worm of discomfort in this case is with us for a long time, I'm afraid, because people are hurting. And not being heard by those who have been in policy power. It won't go away and won't be forgotten until it is properly treated. Like that old pair of almost forgotten shoes:
11/7/2016 05:46:12 pm
11/7/2016 07:36:23 pm
Agreed, Elliott. We are all, who are eligible and responsible, voting for each other, to the best of our abilities. God help us. May honesty and reasoned intelligence guide our votes past our wishful thinking and prejudices. I'm voting for Trump. There is no other choice in my judgment, unless one waste's one's vote on the substantively worthy Jill Stein. God help me, and all of us.
11/7/2016 07:43:15 pm
I mistakenly unsubscribed. Please reinstate.
11/7/2016 08:35:04 pm
Elliott, I'm not sure of George's ability as moderator to do this, but you can. Post anything once you log on and you will get the option to subscribe all over again and then do so.
11/7/2016 10:18:56 pm
11/8/2016 01:44:04 pm
I've been trying hard to maintain some decorum, so have kept it to myself, only expressing the thought, too many times I'm sure, to my patient and tolerant German wife. But you've now said publicly what I think every time I see that bloated orange face with the mouth that spews out a never-ending stream of mangled sentences that amount to a carnival pitchman's routine for suckers: What An Asshole!
11/8/2016 01:54:31 pm
11/11/2016 01:00:05 pm
Have to apologize to carnies, too
11/9/2016 12:06:14 pm
Let's hope that things are never as bad as they seem. No other alternative is currently available.
11/9/2016 06:47:58 pm
With apologies to Tolstoy, nice people are all alike. Assholes are each assholish in their own way.
11/9/2016 07:19:52 pm
Josh: Quite right. I thought that later but this has been up for days, so I let it be.
11/9/2016 07:35:40 pm
Josh: bizarre coincidence. Just after I typed previous comment, McKnight told story, in his measured way, about how Vaughn Williams worked at night. Then he played RVW. Weird.
11/9/2016 07:14:32 pm
Alan, please give it up and keep an open mind. Trump has no agenda in spending $100 million of his own money other than to serve and I can elaborate if you wish and I believe defend that statement. The Clintons flaunted their corruption in our face. The details are real and disgusting. But if you are still clinging to false beliefs, maybe we should meet and discuss it in detail. I've never been of the opinion that would be worth the effort for us but I'll say this: our nation was saved, in my opinion, from physical violence by Tump's election. Given Wikileaks, there is even an argument to be made that Trump was a better choice than my own Bernie, who seems to have made a deal with the devil.
11/9/2016 10:42:33 pm
11/10/2016 08:01:52 pm
Bruce, as a lawyer, I become deeply disturbed when Secretary Clinton is consistently accused of being corrupt and criminal. Everybody knows Hillary never committed any crimes yet repeats the slander endlessly. How does a junior senator with only 6 years in the senate become corrupt? By receiving campaign donations from Warren Buffett and George Soros? This is silly. Both men have had entre to world leaders, presidents, and anybody in Washington or anywhere around the world for decades. Neither Secretary Clinton nor former President Clinton make a nice from their foundation. And the State Departments does not dish out foreign contracts anyway, the Commerce Department does. So what specific bill or policy has ANY donor of Mrs. Clinton influenced? Obviously with her junior status, none. The bottom line is that the Clinton donors give to everybody and everything and there is no cause and effect of their money. Besides it is the long tentacles of Koch Industries which has taken over the party who controls Congress, kicking out and purging even conservatives such as Al Simpson of Wyoming. As George so brilliantly points out, Herr Trump (soon to be joined by his fascist sidekick Benito Giuliani) is is a total fraud and con man, highlighted by his vague mention of putting uneducated, inexperienced rural males to work, which he knows is impossible and so, of course, provided no details. The hopes and dreams of 90 year old women, getting out of hospital beds to vote for the first woman President of the United States, were brutally crushed on Tuesday after Herr Trump had basically stolen the election by the help of House Republicans who intimidated the Republican FBI Director, and after DNC Headquarters was hacked and embarrassing, if routine, campaign gossip was thrown like pieces of garbage into the hands of Wikileaks. Although Carl Bernstein is on the record saying the hacking is not like Watergate, I believe he, the White House and others are dead wrong in guessing it was the Russians. If the Russians had the possibility of hacking one party it would also have hacked the other party, Mr. Trump's party. At the end of the day I believe you will discover Trump or a Trump surrogate, perhaps in the hacker haven of the Ukraine, hacked the Democrats. I believe it is also possible that Trump himself leaked a summary of unreleased taxes to the New York Times, because the envelop came from Trump headquarters and because by making clear Trump did not pay taxes and was not as rich as claimed, he forestalled the far more serious issue that he may be under audit for declaring losses on other people's money, which the Times suggested this week, and was illegal at the time Trump took the looses and hence the deductions. Since Trump's party gave neither President Clinton nor President Obama the traditional "honeymoon," I will not extend one to him. Neither will I extend the courtesy of admitting that he is my President in protest of his denigration of women, overt racism, and unpardonable accusations against Secretary Clinton of criminal acts that he knew were untrue. I do not feel compelled to offer any slack to someone who is responsible for racial tensions and racial violence that he instigated with provocative remarks. I will offer him Christian forgiveness AFTER he ends his racism, his sexism, and his bullying. And not before. If he does not change, he will receive no forgiveness.
11/11/2016 08:03:54 am
Hansen, where you been? Thanks for your note. I agree with you. One of Trump's aides talks about an enemies list. I remember him instinctively mocking a colleague of mine with a disability. That just came natural to Trump -- making fun of a working reporter with a disability. So we've all got our lists.
11/11/2016 09:15:52 am
You're too kind, George, glad to be back: have been busy in my law work and trying to hammer a PR campaign together so somebody actually buys my Clemens bio, supposedly to be released in January. I'm eager to see what you say about papers and polling. Thinking this morning how quickly the elites and establishment who Trump pretended to run against have welcomed him back in the fold, while the poor, working bastards whom he exploited have been conned and are not likely to get any relief from their economic problems in an economy becoming more high tech by the day. As you pointed out, Hillary was not comfortable as a campaigner but she is a good Methodist who does CARE about regular people as did her husband. What bothers me is the spin that a few thousand protesters are the equal of Trump not willing to accept a democratic election. The protesters are not negating it; they have no power to do so, they are just against HIM. The e-mail mess is not over. Either Trump is behind the hacking like Watergate (and I want to point out that I covered Watergate and broke the exclusive on radio of the second break-in in September 1972 when the "plumbers" broke in again, hoping to retrieve materials they left behind. Knew somebody there who opened up the office that morning!) or the Russians have just engaged in the first foreign interference in a presidential election in US history, neither of which is an insignificant development. It was creepy to see the video last night in which the Russian parliament cheered Trump's election. My wife and all her female friends are devastated. They feel an election has been stolen right from under the first woman president. And for all practical purposes, it has been. I'm really disappointed in the Times in not pursuing the hacking story outside of government avenues more and of not investigating the legality of such brazen interference by the FBI a week before the election. This lawyer has no idea.
11/11/2016 01:54:57 pm
Hansen, thanks. The public editors, the great Margaret Sullivan, now with the Washington Post, and Liz Spayd of the Times, are discussing failures to predict this result. But I think the last great papers are being hard on themselves. See stories from “out there” by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Trip Gabriel and many others. But forming opinions and voicing them are a specialist’s art, based on independent thinking, the freedom to be “out there.” Rumpled, grumpy Michael Moore kept trying to tell his hosts (who all too often were yakking over him) that people were hurting and angry in Michigan.
11/11/2016 12:27:06 pm
“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
11/11/2016 02:16:17 pm
11/11/2016 05:27:30 pm
Rigid Christians do not apparently believe in the New Testament, which is after all our "half" of the Bible. That is I guess the rationale that drives the meanness and the lack of interest in the poor and dispossessed--right at the heart of Jesus' teachings. My wife suggests that "There is nothing Christian" about the so-called Christian right. And Trump's pretension to being a religious Bible reader made me want to throw up. But the art of the smear in this campaign was joined by the art of the con.
11/11/2016 05:36:50 pm
11/11/2016 06:51:05 pm
Wait til they find they've been conned by a hustler who always finds the weakness in his mark. Three-card monte.
11/11/2016 07:36:22 pm
11/14/2016 08:21:16 pm
I think it's time for this particular group of intelligent, caring folks, to subscribe to the blog of the wonderful former Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis. Trump is important. Trump is not a fascist. He provides hope to more than half the populations of the developed countries. He cares. He is one of the most intelligent people willing to run for office at this point in our history. Most importantly, he is not corrupt but wants nothing other to do a good job and has the ability to do so. At a Columbia U. conference last week the question was asked whether he would adhere to his opposition to a particular corporate merger that was bad for the public interest in my estimation. I answered by saying: "Flying pigs will drop snowballs in hell, first (before he allows it). I stand by my statement until and unless he comes acropper. He won't. Give this sonofabitch the chance he needs.
11/17/2016 09:37:47 pm
Hey, George et al. This discussion is fascinating, and I'm sorry to be late to the party. I'm part of a small consulting group that makes its living helping decision-makers NOT try to predict the future but instead think expansively about plausible alternative futures and act accordingly. Never in 25+ years of doing scenario planning in industry and government have I seen such fear and uncertainty about what the future holds. Forget about Y2K and 9/11. We knew the center would somehow hold. I don't sense that confidence today. We're in totally unchartered territory. That said, there is no shortage of good will out there. It's just that the future, if we are to reach it, will require a lot more giving and reaching out to attenuate the effects of the trials that undoubtedly await us (and an inchoate leadership team frighteningly unprepared to govern). It's honestly hard to rustle up the hope buried deep beneath all the fear and dread...but what's the alternative? On that hopeful point, I close with important news that according to my counter Spring Training official begins in 87 days, 2 hours and 32 minutes... Regards, PK
Comments are closed.
“I don’t think people understand how Covid affects older Americans,” Mr. Caretti said with frustration. “In 2020, there was this all-in-this-together vibe, and it’s been annihilated. People just need to care about other people, man. That’s my soapbox.”
---Vic Caretti, 47, whose father recently died of Covid at 85.
---From an article by Paula Span, who covers old age for the NYT, which currently has 2646 comments, the majority criticizing the American public – and public officials – for acting as if the pandemic is “over.”
Classic wishful thinking, at a lethal level.