Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Other Thing Late-Breaking Undecideds Do

I had an amazing encounter yesterday evening at my garbage can. And no, I'm not talking about an encounter with any of the half-dozen previously unknown life forms I might have found building complex civilizations on the inside lid, either. This was both an amazing encounter and, despite taking place at my garbage can, not totally disgusting.

It happens that my next-door neighbor on one side is a young graduate student in engineering, steadily working his way through the laborious process of completing his Ph.D. Let's call him Keith. He's a good kid insofar as he doesn't set couches on fire in his front yard, but his parents--a husband-and-wife team of contractor/landlord/developers in Melbourne--are two of the most unhinged Tea-Party-moron lunatics you are ever likely to encounter in your life. Keith's dad once told me that money is made from gold and that the shavings of gold are sometimes irradiated by the government to diminish our capacity to resist its efforts to control us*, while Keith's mom recently self-published a 360-page book in which she laid out a blueprint for fixing the public school system, of which the entire text seems to have consisted of the words "fire all the teachers and replace them with people I agree with" written over and over again**.

They are in other words the embodiment of precisely those attributes one imagines when one thinks of Tea Party / Constitution Party advocates who also happen to be wealthy enough to be landed contractor/developers: Loud, blinkered, counterfactual, selfish, scary, and, above all, wrong. I need not elaborate to the point of describing what they think of the current occupant of the White House. It isn't good. And no, the apple doesn't fall terribly far from the tree. But bear with me because there's more to this story than meets the eye.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

On the question of "building that"

Regular readers of Cinema Democratica will know that there hasn't been anything regular to read. I won't apologize here because, well, because that's been done. There is the matter of a new novel, which I began outlining on January 1st of this year and which--owing to a comedy of unforced errors--is scarcely any closer to completion than it was, then. Bringing the sort of attention to detail to that project that I very conspicuously failed to bring to any of its predecessors in my own bibliography, I've had little energy and even less enthusiasm to write anything else.

Quite aside from the issue of my time, though, there has also been the issue of my emotional investment. For any number of reasons, mostly to do with my disappointment with the President, I've felt almost none of the feverish daily investment in political affairs during this election cycle that I did four years ago. (When the guy to whom you gave three months of your persuasive-essaying life, four long weekends driving people to the polls, and a couple of thousand bucks, stands before a joint session of Congress for the last State of the Union Address of his first term and blames the high cost of college tuition on excessive faculty salaries, you may be forgiven for harboring a certain measure of ambivalence to the question of his continued incumbency. Especially if you teach college classes for a living.)

The thing is, there is only so much internet-free office space in the universe, and only so many ways to avoid viewing the aggregated political news of a person's daily facebook feed, before the whole thing becomes so unavoidable that fatalistic detachment starts competing inside one's head with fully-formed theses about what's going on. "You could never stay home when armies are moving," is how Sherman put it to Grant, after the latter had "retired" to Ohio in a snit in 1862. And if there are to be fully-formed ideas inside my head about what's going on, there seems little point in not inflicting them on the five of you, too.

The fully-formed idea inside my head this morning is that the Republicans have committed a grave and, as far as I can tell, un-commented miscalculation, with this whole business about "yes we did build that."
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