“I Did Not Want To Become Slight and Fantastic”

As I … meditated the direction of modern poetry, my discouragement blackened. It seemed to me that Mallarmé and his followers, renouncing intelligibility in order to concentrate on the music of poetry, had turned off the road into a narrowing lane…. Idea had gone, now meter had gone, imagery would have to go; perhaps at last words might have to go or give up their meaning, nothing be left but musical syllables…. I was standing there like a God-forsaken man-of-letters, making my final decision not to become a “modern.” I did not want to become slight and fantastic, abstract and unintelligible.—Robinson Jeffers, Preface to Roan Stallion

Going to the Mattresses

Is There Any Escape?

We have reached that part of the election when all the millions of dollars spent by candidates and Political Action Committees (PACs) lead to a barrage of ads on television and over the telephone. During the last four weeks of a hard-fought political campaign (and they’re all that way now), I screen all my telephone calls.

Irrespective of the candidate or issue, I don’t want to talk to anyone on the phone about politics; and I most certainly don’t want to participate in opinion polls. I already avoid television—unless I am watching a movie without advertising or a DVD—so I am not susceptible to that particular attempt to poison my thought processes.

As I was coming to work today, I heard a news story on the radio about how the second presidential debate will be in a town hall format, with the participants all being uncommitted voters. Who in this superheated political arena is uncommitted any more? Doesn’t one have to be stupid or disingenuous at this point to be truly labeled uncommitted? I am as committed as hell, and I don’t want to talk to anyone about it.

In about a month, all this will be over and done with. We will have a president with whom we will be dissatisfied, to a greater or lesser degree; and the media blitz will have died down to nothing.

All those Citizens United dollars will have wreaked their damage on the American voter, who will be increasingly contemptuous of our political system. Sometimes I think the only people who like our system are those directly involved in manipulating public opinion.

In the middle of a hurricane, the only safe place to be is in out of the wind.

Picture Credit: The above cartoon is taken from the Fremd High School American Studies Ning (?!), which also addresses the same point I am trying to make.