Friday, April 4, 2014

4.4 Friday (Feast of Torquemada)

 Your tax dollars at work

Congress has ordered the release of a report on the CIA's 'enhanced interrogation' techniques, a document which to no one's astonishment does not redound to the honor of the agency. Saxby  Chambliss (R-Absurdistan), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee (I will not stoop to pick the low fruit in that phrase) is already whingeing that the report is biased, distorted and relies for its gobsmack on 'cherry picking.'  Nonetheless, urges the Hon. Senator, it should be released anyway so that 'the American people can make up their own minds.'

This last, of course, is the soapy sanctimony of cant. When Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld were huddling with John Yoo to refine the extralegal notion of enhanced interrogation, you can bet that neither Saxby nor any of his Congressional colleagues was informed of anything that could have helped them to 'make up their own minds.' Nor was that sacrosanct fiction, 'the American people,' ever asked what they thought at the time.

Saxby is no Pericles, but must political speech always be the sort of disingenuous drivel that only the viewers of 'Duck Dynasty' can hear without gagging?

To make matters more trying, I came across a magazine lying on my cocktail table, evidently left there by a soul of a more rarified bent than mine. It was a New Age-y literary/media/art photog production of unpredictable and irregular valence; on its inside cover, the various 'contributors' each supplied a brief precis of themselves, a thumbnail to help the subscribing public understand who they think they are and where they think they're 'coming from.' It was instructive and humbling.

The first one off the mark says that 'after years of having stumbled down long corridors of philosophical mystery, he has learned that spaghetti can make you happy." (This is from the  Everything I Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten school of hastily acquired wisdom, generally bleeding over into the glib smart-assery of the unschooled. It will surprise no one to learn that the first word of this author's contribution is 'I'.)

The next contributor notes that she 'recently married the woman she's essentially been married to for thirty years.' (Is being 'essentially married' different in some important respect from just being married - more authentic, more fun, less expensive? Is this merely self-congratulatory or will it contribute to our understanding of her written opus?)

Yet a third notes that his teenage son 'has recently discovered he's a spoken-word poet' whom you can watch on YouTube, depending on how much you figure your time is worth. (Which begs the question what sort of poet this prodigy may have been before his discovery that he was a 'spoken-word poet.' I presume it means that he just starts talking without writing anything down beforehand, which seems more an affliction of adolescence than an art form. This is what gives New Age-ism a bad name, this fudging of artistic categories - are there, for example, poets in farina, feces, pharmaceuticals or any other medium? News to old Miguel.)

A fourth (I'm merely taking these in order of appearance and they each in turn set a new standard of fey) is 'an adoptive parent to the monarch caterpillars that metamorphose into butterflies on his patio.' What more could one add to this coy neo-Romanticism?

"Think what you like, mate, you're not me dad!"
A fifth, 'along with every third person he meets, is working on a novel. His goal is to spend more time on writing than he does on fantasy baseball and the stock market.' (This seems to be one of those 'three-legged stool' financial plans that money advisers recommend so lushly. Consider the genius of it - a three-pronged scheme for financial success, every prong guaranteed to fail.)

There were more, but I was too exhausted to persist, feeling (as I was) the weight of my own prosaic drabness. Still, I felt grateful not to be a writer and so under no obligation to limn the trackless wastes of the 'I'. Any way you want to take it, the power of speech is at best a mixed blessing.

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