Thursday, January 19, 2017

we may live in interesting times






"May you live in interesting times."


~~  traditional Chinese curse




"Politics is like navigation in a sea without charts, and wise men live the lives of pilgrims."


~~  Joyce Cary, Irish novelist





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Thoughts and questions and more thoughts and wonderings and questions and thoughts -- up to our shoulders in them, and more falling down upon us.  Like standing in a lake while it rains on you....




Earlier this week I was reading, and sharing here, M. Kakutani's President Obama interview, about reading and books:  it says during his last two years in college the future president "spent a focused period of deep self-reflection and study, methodically reading philosophers from St. Augustine to Nietzsche, Emerson to Sartre to Niebuhr," in order to boil down and test his own beliefs.


Heavy.


I don't know whether I ever "tested" my own beliefs.  Took what I learned at church / school / home -- "Be nice; don't kill people" -- and said OK, and kept going. ...But unlike Barack Obama, I was not preparing to be in public life.




(I wonder if President Obama would think I was shallow if I told him in my last two years in college I spent "a focused period of deep rock-and-roll reflection and study"....)




... The president has his Recommended Reading List, and I have mine.  I included reading recommendations for the next president in a November letter I wrote to him --


Democracy, by Henry Adams


All The King's Men, by Robert Penn Warren


Lone Star Rising, by Robert Dallek





Fear And Loathing:  On The Campaign Trail '72, by Hunter Thompson.







What would the president think of my recommended reading list for Pres.-Elect Trump?  Obama would probably be encouraging and positive.  ("Rock and roll...!")


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With the next president coming in, there are many concerns and thoughts.  (Out in that lake, with rain falling on us, again...)


Some of those speeches and rallies during the 2016 campaign were scary and disturbing, in some ways, and in other ways they were just so silly...! 


And one thing I will say for Trump is, while he may have "made fun of" other people ("Insensitive!"  "Insensitive!"  Racist!"  "Prejudiced!"  "Crazy!"  "Saying the Opposite of What he said Yesterday!") the biggest amount of his silliness was all on himself. 


And on purpose -- he's been on a T.V. show for -- how  many years?  He knows what stuff is going to look like on the camera, on film...  He's aware, he has to be.




At first I would see some of this and say, "Isn't he embarrassed to be seen in public saying these things and behaving in this manner?"  Well, I was runnin' behind, I guess -- I had not caught up with the show...I didn't "get" the joke... 


He wasn't "embarrassed" -- that was his show, and he was workin' it... doing the show, playing the role...  And really, while he seemed to put others down, he actually only ended up making himself look silly.  And that was all right with him -- he wanted to make people laugh.  And cheer.




You know, you'd see these crowds going wild, and interpret it as enthusiasm for racial prejudice, insult, put-down, blame all problems on some ethnic group, and think, "My God, is this a modern-era Beer Hall Putsch"?


But right now, I'm seeing the president-elect much more as the song-and-dance man Donald O'Connor in the "Make 'em Laugh" number:





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...Make 'em roar
Make 'em scream
Take a fall, butt a wall, split a seam


You start up by pretending you're a dancer with grace
You wiggle 'til they're giggling all over the place
And then you get a great big custard pie in the face


Make 'em laugh
Make 'em laugh
Make 'em laugh!...