Excerpts from my Journals Politics Prose Reflections The Clintons


Excerpts from my Journals

[Dated July 29, 2001, 11:09 pm.]

[My father] has become a social and economic conservative, but remains a liberal with regards to class and wealth; he keeps talking about my “cynicism” – but my “cynicism” was born out of the stories of Nixon’s law-breaking and tales of papal corruption he told me when I was younger, and nourished by facts I came onto myself. My “cynicism” is mislabeled as such. I have great pride in my country – at the same time, I cannot in good conscience toast to either, “My country, may she always be right; but my country, right or wrong.” The power of denial is strong – and in everyone’s life, there is the choice between truth and repose. Which is how my father can construe my defenses of Clinton as naive, but my dislike of Bush as cynicism.

I wrote this some time ago; and since this time, my father has come to change his mind on President George W. Bush. But I especially liked this passage because I see similar sentiments to those my father held in 2001 in the anti-Obama backlash.  Perhaps it would be better labeled the anti-Obama-supporters backlash.  From the right and left, Obama supporters are labeled naive; and from the left, Obama supporters are called out as cynics for allowing their candidate to benefit from attacks on Ms. Clinton – and for attacking Ms. Clinton themselves.  Although I am sure that Obama supporters include their share of cynics and their share of the naive, I do not think either group is dominant.

The problem I see is with the critics who assume that you cannot be critical of America and proud of it; who assume that you cannot be hopeful for change and also clear-eyed about power; who assume that a candidate cannot both criticize his opponents and represent a “new politics”.  All of us recognize within ourselves the complexity that allows us to be both proud and critical, hopeful and pragmatic – yet we do not acknowledge that complexity within our opponents.

Excerpts from my Journals Prose Reflections

Reflections on Writing

Excerpts from my Journals

[Undated. From sometime in the spring of 2000.]

Eventually writing empties you.

There is nothing left to write, to think. You still feel, but without the weight of a past. The danger in emptiness lies in confronting the emotions hidden underneath the endless layers of the day to day.

What’s left is usually painful.

Writing is a meditative process used to instill clarity in the writer.

It is as essential as sleep or bowel movements.

Excerpts from my Journals Politics The Clintons

Clinton and the Mummy

Excerpts from my Journals

[digg-reddit-me][Early June 1998.]

…the president made a crack about a five-hundred-year-old Inca mummy that had just been discovered at the summit of a Peruvian volcano. “You know, if I were a single man, I might just ask that mummy out,” Clinton said. “That’s a good-looking mummy.”

Afterward, McCurry [Clinton’s press secretary] told the president this had not been a wise comment for a man with his reputation for philandering. Clinton snapped at him…

On the ensuing flight to Milwalkee that night…McCurry had a drink, and he was shooting the breeze with a dozen reporters clogging the aisle. One scribe asked about Clinton’s appraisal of the mummy.

“Probably does look good compared to the mummy he’s been fucking,” McCurry said.

Had one of the reporters published the remark, even with the expletive deleted, McCurry’s tenure at the White House probably would have been over.

From Spin Cycle by Howard Kurtz, pages 48-49.

Excerpts from my Journals Politics

Don’t you sell America to me.

Excerpts from my Journals

[Dated December 2001.]

Phil Green:

For Christ’s sakes, Henry, don’t you understand? It’s people like us, people in the middle that made this country work. And an…when people like ourselves get into this…this kind of thing, it takes it all down. That’s what’s ripping our country apart.

Harry Stoner:

You son of a bitch! Don’t you sell America to me. I’ve got friends over there sitting under the sand with bikinis on their heads…I used to get goosebumps every time I look at that flag. Don’t sell me America!

From Save the Tiger, a 1973 film for which Jack Lemmon won an Oscar playing Harry Stoner, a staid businessman whose personal and professional misconduct over the course of two days is supposed to reflect the societal disorder unleashed by the 1960s.


Introducing a new feature: “Excerpts from my Journals”

Beginning tomorrow, I will be posting excerpts from the journals I kept during high school and college. The journals were a mish-mash of things – quotations from movies, songs, and books; diary entries about my day; lists of every sort; diagrams of historical events; reflections on art, theology, philosophy, politics; poems; news clippings; and other odds and ends.

I just picked up the books from my house a short time ago. I wanted to use some of the quotes I had taken down for the blog – but as I reviewed the books, I found that as often as I was deeply embarrassed by what I had written and noticed, I was impressed.

Starting tomorrow, I will be posting from these journals on a regular basis. I’ve edited some of the items slightly – for grammatical and spelling mistakes – and when needed I will give the items appropriate context.  I hope you all enjoy the new content.

Life Politics Prose

Quote of the Day

Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.

African proverb.

Life Prose

These doomy, gloomy, over-psychologized, terminally ironic, post-humanist, post-postmodern times

But this love business – so far, it had been not very satisfying.  He had been involved with girls he liked; he had been involved with girls he didn’t like. In neither case had he ever really felt…whatever it was that he imagined he was supposed to feel.  He was shy, so that even though he showed determination at work, and playing hockey he positively enjoyed giving an opponent a hard check, he shrank before a girl who attracted him, and this made the search for someone who would make him feel whatever it was he was supposed to feel particularly difficult.  Moreover, he wasn’t cold-blooded, so he couldn’t pursue and abandon girls with the same relish as some of his friends, his best friend in particular, rather, he had a sympathetic streak that, in the matter of making conquests, seemed much more like a weakness than a strength.

From pages 5 to 6 of Beginner’s Greek by James Collins.   I just started reading the book a few days ago.  James Kaplan of The New York Times described the novel as:

…a deeply strange book. In fact, it is, to the best of my knowledge, a nonesuch: a 400-plus-page first novel by a 49-year-old American male, dedicated to the highly dubious proposition that such a thing as perfect romantic love is possible in these doomy, gloomy, over-psychologized, terminally ironic, post-humanist, post-postmodern times. Part comedy of manners, part chick lit in male drag, James Collins’s “Beginner’s Greek” is a great big sunny lemon chiffon pie of a novel, set, for good measure and our sociological titillation, among the WASP ruling classes, people who work at white-shoe investment firms and own villas in southwestern France and can instantly tell the difference between fine Bordeaux and plonk.

There is also apparently already a fight over the movie rights – with Anne Hathaway and Harvey Weinstein involved.

I will say now that the novel wears better than Mr. Kaplan’s wearying review of it.

Humor Prose

The Funniest Analogies (Collected by H.S. English teachers)

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

More here

Election 2008 Prose

The difference between a presidential candidate and a fool in love…

The difference between a presidential candidate and a fool in love is only a matter of Secret Service protection.

Now that’s practically poetry.

Life Prose

The Esoteric Poetry of Science

There is sometimes an esoteric poetry to scientific explanations of the world. In the Scientific American, Chip Walter described the “primal effects” of a kiss:

Visceral marching orders boost pulse and blood pressure. The pupils dilate, breathing deepens and rational thought retreats, as desire suppresses both prudence and self-consciousness. For their part, the participants are probably too enthralled to care. As poet e. e. cummings once observed: “Kisses are a better fate / than wisdom.”