Tuesday August 29, 2017

You’ll never catch me declaring, like Mary Boykin Chesnut into her Civil War diary, “My subjective days are over.” Something tells me, “Mists of memory are where we’re touched by the better angels of nature” — though not the ones spoken of by Lincoln. Mingled feelings of joy and sorrow. How have I escaped knowing all of these articles exist with titles like, “Are we headed for a second civil war?” The believers in magic are the ones who seize the day. “Today,” writes Robin Wright, “few civil wars involve pitched battles from trenches along neat geographic front lines. Many are low-intensity conflicts with episodic violence in constantly moving locales.” Perhaps I should revise a syllabus and assign Omar El Akkad’s novel American War. Nah, just kidding. That book sounds like a piece of shit. I worry, too, that a story like that may, in its telling, inspire people to buy more guns. My sense is that ideological opponents are already waging the war, precisely by trying to implant the war, as aggregate of instances and images, into the nation’s dominant narrative. Period dramas set in the seventies like The Deuce, meanwhile, no longer even attempt to approximate that former decade’s forms. Exhausted internally from work, I stare befuddled at the image-screen in front of me. Inauthentic, overacted: words begin to lose their meaning. Tide comes in and mutters, “Repair to the great outdoors.” The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. Global warming will melt polar ice caps, says Game of Thrones, and the dead will walk the earth. Remember when the political community used to use the phrase “existential threat”? I kinda think that would make a good band name. Also, let’s hear it for all the Popeyes out there who like to eat cans of spinach. Let us each do as we’re each obliged, AKA “I yam what I yam.” “The evidence is circumstantial,” says Sensi Seeds, “but it is there, and when added together it presents a compelling picture that, for many readers at least, Popeye’s strength-giving spinach is … a clear metaphor for the miraculous powers of marijuana.” Before “Broccoli,” there was “The Spinach Song.” Of course, Julia Lee, famed performer of the latter, sometimes also just came out and said it, as in this more explicit version of her elegantly debauched classic, “Lotus Blossom.” The keys to the Kingdom are there for the taking, hidden only to those who refuse to look and listen.