Sunday, April 26, 2020

The Pampered Idiot

"Mars—His Idiot" by Kerr Eby (Metropolitan Museum of Art)

     "Like a thousand other strong men who have come into the world here in America in these later times, Jesse was but half strong," Sherwood Anderson writes of one character in Winesburg, Ohio. "He could master others, but he couldn't master himself."
     That sentence begs to be picked apart. "In these later times" might sneak past, at first, but it is a reminder that the times always feel late; the present, the crust of history yet forming, only now begun to cool. We've always missed the gold age. The time feels late, at least to those no longer young. 
"The Pampered Idiot" by Leonardo Alenza Nieto (Met)
      The "thousand other strong men"—don't they immediately spring to mind? Can't you just see them, in a group? Tough guys, a dime a dozen. Pumped to hide the hollowness within. Makes you think about all those guys parading around state capitals, holding signs, their protests demanding that they be asked to make no sacrifice, no matter how small, toward the country they profess to love. "I need a haircut!" Has any more pathetic plaint been made in the history of this country? No disruption of routine, no gesture made toward civic responsibility, not when they can display the firearms that are a far greater threat to their own lives, to the health and safety of themselves and their families than to any bad guys skulking around their nightmares. Strong on the surface, but oh so weak underneath. Not even "half strong." 
     The president certainly is at full half strength, and nearly named by that "couldn't master himself." As identifying as a thumbprint. As a mug shot. Not that he seems to try, self-mastery being an alien concept to him, to all of them.  Why even try try to control yourself when you can enjoy the fun of pretending you have control over others?
     You hear the term "babbling idiot" from time to time. But how often do you actually see one? Actually see an idiot, babbling? There's almost a rare kind of pleasure to it, the cliche in real life. Like being in a crowded Grand Central Station. "What is this?" you pause to say, smiling, "Grand Central Station?"
      Or there would be, if it weren't so serious. If the serious result weren't seen all around us all the time. Well, seen by some of us anyway. The others, not so much.

5 comments:

  1. He’s not pretending to have control. He has control and that is the scariest part of this whole mess. We know most Senators think he’s nuts but won’t stand up to him because they want to be re-elected by the babbling idiots who make up the majority in the Red states. Not a good situation and a sad commentary on the Electoral College and the misrepresentation of the U.Sl Senate.

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  2. Self-serving narcissists, all of them! When I taught college business, professors were required to include chapters on ethics. I guess it wasn’t required in Poli Sci. Frankly, neither do I see ethics practiced in but a handful of businesses.

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  3. There is covid-19 humor out there, mostly dark. The Onion has the uncanny ability to write ridiculous news stories that come true within a few months. I heard about a humor site called the Babylon Bee last year because Snopes.com had fact checked some of their stories and determined they were false, and rated babylonbee.com as unreliable. They specialize in parody, satire, and general mockery of Religious right Christians, Joel Osteen in particular, Dr. Fauci, Mike Pence, CNN, politicians, every day living, nerds, hippies, anti-vaxxers, and now snopes.

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  4. Now Biden - there's a man for ya!

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