As background to this anecdote, yesterday both Larry and I read Mark Jarman’s excellent essay on Gilgamesh from his forthcoming book, Dailiness, which I will be reviewing. If you don’t know the Sumerian epic, Gilgamesh, it’s the oldest written story we have, in which a king and his friend kill the monster Humbaba.
This morning we were discussing, over fresh eggs and wonderful toast, the lack of acknowledgement and apology for our national racial history. I have just finished the Bryan Stevenson book, Just Mercy, and listened to him on Preet Bahara’s podcast. In addition to his work with unjustly incarcerated death row inmates, he has created a monument and a museum in Alabama that deal with slavery, lynching, etc. He said, “You don’t see any statues of Hitler in Germany, but there are 150 statues of Confederate heroes here. In Germany you can’t go five steps without a memorial or a museum about the holocaust. No one’s proud of that history.”
Talking with Larry, I said I thought as a nation we needed to acknowledge and talk about our terrible history of racial discrimination, starting with the native populations, slavery, Manzanar, etc.
Larry said, “I don’t know. Grudges run deep. I’m not sure talking about them would do much good. Humbaba’s descendants probably still hold a grudge against Gilgamash.”
If you are living with Larry, he might say to you from time to time, “I have something funny to show you.” And it will be very funny. Here was today’s offering, which you get to share just by reading this blog.
This is mostly a literary blog, poetry, selections from novels and non-fiction. I have been reading a lot of literature about Nazism and Totalitarianism lately, including A Century of Horrors,Secondhand Time, and rereading Hope Abandoned. This was a very illuminating process. The stultifying political correctness of today, the offhand denigration of the capitalist democracy that supports us all, masks a kind of group think that Orwell would recognize and chide us for. We don’t see through it–the deadening of individual thought this self censorship promotes in the service of inclusiveness, identity politics, diversity.
This morning, Larry was reading Greg Mankiw’s NY Times editorial on 45’s tax plan. Mankiw is an economics professor at Harvard. To familiarize me with Mankiw, Larry played a country western economics song, Dual Mandate for me. I guess he was directed to this from reading Mankiw, and I incorrectly reported it as Greg. An alert reader (thanks, Dan) caught the error, but the video is still worth watching.
And Mankiw’s editorial in the Times is worth reading.
I don’t know any good poems on economics or business. As Dana Gioia has pointed out, business is the last taboo subject for poetry. I have one poem about money, and so you don’t miss a Monday poem, here it is.
Meditation on Money
I am thinking about a day forty years ago
when we were down to our last fifty cents,
and our friends drove up
with a month’s rent and groceries,
and after we ate and talked, we sat together
on the edge of the dock, saying nothing,
and watched the barnacles
slowly open their feathery lips,
slowly close them.
Watching the sun disappear in gradual increments today, what amazed me most was how little you would notice if you weren’t looking at it with glasses. The light did change towards the end, but not so much. Of course, we didn’t go to total eclipeseville to see it, just to east county where the sun wasn’t obscured by fog.
What Larry said: “I don’t know what amazes me more, the sense of the bodies moving in space or the ability of the scientists to predict their movement to the minute.”
Oh, and if you want to see the poetry reading last Thursday, here it is: https://www.facebook.com/beltiblibrary/
When he was a boy, Larry lived near a vacant lot with an the chassis of an old P40 airplane that he and the other boys played on, pretending to be pilots, fighting enemies. He grew up near Camp Pendleton in southern California, and war myths were part of his boyhood. Continue reading “Larry and the P40”→
I read Larry a line from this review of The Art of Rivalry, a study of influences a group of modernist painters had on each other: “Lucien Freud declining a wedding invitation because he found himself ‘in the unusual position of having been involved sexually not only with the bride but also the groom and the groom’s mother.'” Larry’s response:
According to Larry, reading from the paper this morning, Jan Böhmerman, a German comedian, is being prosecuted for reciting a lewd poem on late night TV lampooning Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey. Why? You can read about it.
The event inspired British free-speech advocate Douglas Murray to host a contest with a Ł1,000 prize: “The President Erdogan Offensive Poetry Contest, the ruder the poem (limericks preferred) the better.”