Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Couple Quotes from Cintra Wilson

I just finished Cintra Wilson's book, A Massive Swelling, and thought the following quotes were a good follow-up to my previous post...

Now children barely out of training pants are wearing asymmetrical Victor Costa ball gowns and belting out how Their Man Is Gone in the smoky tones of world-weary, dope-sick B-girls who've been beaten like donkeys for loving too intensely.

No bog-banshee wailing for untimely death in an Irish family [hey!] could send more freon up the spine than a Backstage Mother howling darkly at her toddler in showgirl makeup, "Pretty FEET! Make PRETTY FEET for the agents, Missy!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bread and Circuses

I sometimes feel ashamed of this country - and I'm not talking (this diary, anyway...) about the leadership, I'm talking about the masses, and the class of pimps that cater to their basest..."instincts" is the wrong word, because it implies that cheap thrills, vicarious rage-expression masquerading as "justice" (*cough* Nancy Grace cough) and pornographically violent spectacle are intrinsically, deeply human, and not just an abberation that has been nurtured into a thriving, culture-destroying monster by people who worship Power over Goodness.

About 50 years ago, someone way smarter than me described Television as a "vast wasteland" (as I recall it was someone who was fabulously enriched by helping form and create said wasteland, but I digress) but television has moved so far down the depravity slope that people are actually nostalgic for the sentimentality-opium-softened wasteland he was describing.

"Future Weapons" is a popular show on the Discovery Channel, during which an ex-navy-seal masturbates all over the latest, shiniest, most advanced ways of killing people (not an exact description, but I think I've captured the gist). Cable TV feeds Americans a steady diet of war-glorifying "documentaries."

"Reality" shows (note the term) celebrate people who will stop at no self-annihilation, no debasement, no whorish defilement for a shot at money or fame or both. The "reality" these shows are selling: "America, this is you; this is the world. This Is Who We Are."

"American Exceptionalism"...Nationalism... is that ancient temptation: Pride, hubris, Idolatry, self-exhaltation, narcissism masquerading as idealism. This kind of thinking killed millions and millions and millions of people in the last hundred years, many of them children, many of them burning to death in the wreckage of their homes before they learned to pronounce the name of the country they lived in. The circumstances that killed them are now sold as the "Noble Cause," the "Good War," of the "Greatest Generation" when really it was just an orgy of killing, an obscene, unrestrained slaughter in scenes beyond the imagination of Dante.

Our American culture is descending into barbarism, which citizens of the wreckage of this country keep at bay in a haze of drugs, video games, and anything else that will keep the wolf of truth from intruding into their consciousness.

Maybe this is my depression talking. Then again, maybe not.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

A Minor(?) Quibble with Digby

[ludicrously late update: it turns out Digby is a "she" - oops]

Digby has a great post up at Hullaballoo about the conflict being exposed between the Republicans' [culturally] populist, blog- and talk-radio-fueled base, and their real, actual base, which is millionaires, Wall Street and Big Business.

No wonder Bush is sweating bullets. Aside from the small matter of turning the country into a rogue super power, his lasting political legacy may be overseeing his party's decline to a minority faction of racists and malcontents because they foolishly empowered a bunch of shrieking wingnut gasbags to speak for them in the national media --- and now they can't control them. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

Yep, I'm nodding my head and enjoying the spectacle right there with him - but after going back and re-reading this:

This is essentially a made up crisis by people like Lou Dobbs and talk radio show gasbags to exploit the insecurities of certain Americans by creating the illusion that the fact they are losing ground economically is caused as much by illegal immigrants doing day labor as the total abandonment of the manufacturing base by big business.

I thought, I was with you all the way through, Digby, but this just seems obtuse. Here's more how I see it:

"This is essentially a made up crisis by people like Lou Dobbs and talk radio show gasbags to exploit the insecurities of certain Americans by creating the illusion that the fact they are losing ground economically is caused as much by illegal immigrants doing day labor as the total abandonment of Labor by the Democrats."

This is the lesson that Democrat's haven't quite learned yet, in spite of taking back Congress in the '06 elections - successful politics is, at the core, not about what you stand for; it is about who you stand with.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Politics and the Traditional Liturgy

Via Fr. Jim, a discussion of the Traditional Roman Mass, and the fact that it is not exclusively the property of right-wing Catholics.

I love Palestrina Masses, and am glad that they might become more widely available: I also am quite progressive - radical, even - in my politics.

Take that, Ms. Welborn.

The Trouble with the Catholic Right

Morning's Minion has a post up at Reasons and Opinions which explains, better than I could, the trouble with the Catholic right wing.

Now, if Donohue has complained about the unseemly nature of member of the clergy aligning themselves with partisan political campaigns, he has a point. I can't speak for the protestants, but no Catholic priest should do such a thing. But this is not Donohue's point. He appears to have no problem with Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life endorsing Sam Brownback. And on the protestant side, he never complains about the fact that the Falwells and the Dobsons have done their very level best to align Christianity with the Republican party. No, it is the politics that Donohue has a problem with. Aside from the other complaints, to criticize somebody for "blaming 9/11 on American foreign policy" is ludicrous. In fact, only the hyper-nationalist and self-deluded refuse to admit that American foreign policy (especially the lop-sided support for Israel) has no hand whatsoever in promoting a terrorist backlash. Donohue should check what prominant Catholic leaders have to say about such subjects. But there are other religious leaders who blamed Americans for causing 9/11-- Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. Where was Donohue then?

Donohue has a self-righteous streak almost as big as the late Jerry Falwell's, and that's saying something.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Everybody Get Together

One of my favorite movies is "The Mission" with Jeremy Irons and Robert DeNiro.

It is the story of a group of missionaries who establish the titular "Mission" in the Jungles of Paraguay, among the Guarani people.

A notorious Portuguese mercenary and slave-trader, Rodrigo Mendoza, kills his brother early in the film, and feels near-suicidal remorse, and is starving himself in an asylum. He is met there by a Spanish Jesuit priest, Father Gabriel.

Gabriel offers a dubious Mendoza a chance to redeem himself: he must travel with the missionaries up the river to their nascent mission in the jungle, and must drag a heavy bundle containing the armor and weapons he used in his life as a mercenary. There is a scene where one of the missionaries, out of pity, cuts the rope by which Mendoza is dragging his burden, but Mendoza retrieves his bundle, re-ties the rope to it.

Some time later, they finally meet the Guarani, in a scene of remarkable tension. The missionaries exchange joyous greetings with the Guarani, who then see, and recognize, the feared man who has killed and enslaved many of them. Mendoza lies exhausted among them, overwhelmed with weariness, emptied of all pride, prostrate on the ground.

The Guarani go to him, fear mixed with confusion, and some of them have knives. Mendoza looks up at the Guarani leader pitifully, harmless and exhausted. The Guarani leader pauses a moment, looks at the rope attached to the bundle of armor and weapons, and then cuts the rope and pitches the bundle down a high cliff and into the river.

Mendoza feels the burden of the armor lifted, something changes in his expression...and suddenly he's overwhelmed with emotion, crying and laughing at the same time. Father Gabriel goes to him and hugs him, and the Guarani crowd around, and are holding his hands as he weeps, and Mendoza is flooded with humble gratitude and love.

It's a powerful scene.

But this diary is not about the Guarani of 300 years ago; It is about America, today.

There are people in our ghettos and 'hoods who have not had a chance to comfort many of their brothers and sisters in the suburbs in their loneliness and desolation, nor to share their own pain at the violence the plagues their communities. They have not had the chance to share their incredible stories, stories of resilience and hope.

Sometimes the greatest gift you can give someone is to allow them to give to you.

There are people in the poorer parts of our cities, and who have much, so much, to share with their more affluent brothers and sisters.

I would like to see the day when people from the richer parts of this country and the people from the poorer parts realize their common brother- and sister-hood; I imagine warm embraces, with tears - of sorrow for our long separation, and of joy that the gulf has been bridged.