Woke up this morning to…. RAIN????!!!!! Huh??? Ribbons of rain trailing down the windows to my complete surprise. Rain in the morning is exceedingly rare here in the back of beyond but it’s a sign of changing times meaning Fall and (OMG) WINTER!! ❄️
Teddy persuaded me yesterday (not much of a challenge) to take him out to the Big Empty. It’s so nice now. Beautiful light, beautiful breeze, comfortable temps, no deer flies. Oh yeah, I’ve said before. Yeah, well, I never take things like that for granted.
Readers will be happy to know that most of the garter snakes I saw were alive. I scared one to make it get out of the road. How? I walked closer and stomped on the ground. The little guy stuck out his tongue to see if I was worth eating and I saw how beautiful his tongue was — blue underneath, bright red on top. They aren’t colorful snakes, so I was a little surprised. When he decided I might be an SUV and not a grasshopper he high-tailed it (most of him is tail) into the grass. Teddy was less interested in him than Bear would have been, but not much.
The sky was indecisive, and for a very short time, we walked in the rain. Teddy is still a little crazy on the end of the leash, but a lot less so than last year. He’s growing up — four years this coming January. (PSA Many new dog owners don’t realize that a dog isn’t really mature mentally until they are a few years old.) I also think that having the chance to go out alone with me makes him happy. He wants me to scratch his little head the whole time I’m driving, which, given hay trucks, isn’t possible.
Bear, meanwhile, this morning, is already hinting that it’s her turn. She’s not wrong, but…
Because of the moving clouds in the indecisive sky, the light changed constantly rendering the landscape a blue and yellow, pastel world. I felt like taking pictures, so…
If you’re pining for more Escape from Freedom, well, some things are swirling through my mind. One is that Fromm wrote somewhere (I will find it again) that the charismatic (my words, not his) will say words that don’t correspond with his actions and should be judge not by what he says, but what he does. He makes the point that contradiction is a trait of these people, that their psychology is built on it. I’ll find the passage and share it next time I feel like delving into another wandering analysis of this book.
Big news in the back-of-beyond. There’s a stagecoach coming to town or something, no, wait, it’s already IN town. It’s leaving town and going to Del Norte, if everything goes as many hope and plan. I don’t know the whole story, but it looks like I might be writing it. I’m pondering that. The story has been offered to me, but I don’t know yet what the story is — at first I thought it was the fancy dinner being held next month at the local historical hotel, but after not sleeping on it (I am tired of this not sleeping thing, really, really, really and literally tired of it) I’m thinking the fancy dinner isn’t the story. It’s part of the story. The story would be the actual acquisition of the stagecoach, with, maybe the process involved in getting it. I dunno yet.
Yesterday I told the esteemed psychologist/philosopher, Mr. Fromm, I had other work to do and had to put down Escape from Freedom for a bit (whew), and I researched the stagecoach. I learned that it was mistakenly painted red when it was thought all the stagecoaches built by the company painted their coaches red, but then it was learned that the stagecoach wasn’t a big one. It’s a small one, a “mud wagon,” designed to navigate narrow roads through the mountains. Mud wagons were painted yellow ochre. The small ones weighed a couple tons unloaded. Its main job was to connect mining towns. At the end of its “life,” it was connecting towns in Northern New Mexico and the San Luis Valley; once remote and underserved by public transportation, always remote and underserved by public transportation.
There were a lot of stage lines back in the day, diminishing as the railroad came to various parts of the nation. As I read about this particular line, I thought about a meme I saw on Facebook not long ago where there was a horse harnessed to a wagon and words below the photo saying, “One upon a time our vehicles were propelled by engines that avoided hazards” or something like that. Horse drawn vehicles still exist on the roads of the San Luis Valley.
– Horse drawn vehicles are slower than cars, but they get there. They have different problems, but considering how many millennia people relied on them… OH well. My reading told me that the stage went about 15 miles/hour and at what distance they had to change horses. That’s pretty much the distance between towns along my street, US Hwy 160. I found a great, contemporary picture of the big stage in action.
It’s true; Escape from Freedom is heavy going for me. I don’t want to jinx it since I’m also enjoying it, and it’s been good for me recovering my brain from Covid, but I’m glad I wasn’t assigned the book to read over the weekend! Forgive me for all these boring posts.
Writing about it as I read helps me process and understand, which makes sense as my academic training at those liberal indoctrination camps was to do just that. I’ve been wading through what I have found to be Fromm’s somewhat questionable and slanted perspective on the Middle Ages and the transition to so-called “modern times.” But I am a medievalist. I like those people. I like their way of thinking. I like their institutions and their religious philosophy. I like their literature and their artwork. I don’t think I romanticize the period, but everything I’ve studied has shown me that we just don’t know much about them, and we assume a lot — for example that they never bathed and had no toilets. Studying them opened my eyes to the fact that we all share a future bias, which is that humanity is better now than it was in the past (whatever that means).
Anyway, one important thing Fromm seems not to have considered, or forgotten, or intentionally ignored, is the impact of the Black Death on the change between Medieval times and the, uh, uh, I’m just going to call it the 16th century. I mean, when 60% of the population of Europe DIES in roughly a decade during the 14th century from the Great Mortality, the world WILL change. One of the biggest changes was that it gave bargaining power to the peasants, tradesmen and craftsmen who survived the disease. (“men” = humans) “You want my labor? You pay for it!” “You want the food I grow? You pay for it!” “You want my skills? You pay for them!” People even moved to places where they had a better opportunity.
But, Fromm seems to be ignoring that and that’s OK. It’s not my book. The Reformation is his destination; it’s what he wants to write about. He is interested in what we might call the “cult of personality.” So am I.
By the beginning of the 16th century, the Church was losing its power over the people. It was a centuries long process. There are 12th and 13th century poems/minnesangs that complain about the pope’s treatment of people particularly those who live far away from Rome. The pope and the emperor(s) had been at war for generations over territory and power, wars that depended on mercenaries from Switzerland and, later, areas in what would become Germany. That ONE thing right there was a big factor in the success of the Swiss reformation in the early 16th century which ultimately led to the growth of several different protestant faiths. There was the period of the papal schism at the end of the 14th century when there were two popes — one in Italy, one in France. There were also what look to us from the long lens of time as “small” attempts to reform the church — Saint Francis — and pretty much every religious order — started out with that aim in mind. My point is that the church wasn’t a static, universally loved power over the people, not at all.
It never occurred to me before that the BIG change of the Reformation was that it put a charismatic (religious or other) leader in front of vulnerable people in contrast to the times when the church was God, God was the church and Bob’s your uncle. The plague (about which Fromm doesn’t write) would have scared the living shit out of people; it was Covid times a million. On top of that, death from the plague was gruesomely ugly, horrifying, and involved the color BLACK which we all know represents evil. People were more concerned about demonic possession than disease since disease WAS demonic possession. Fromm doesn’t write that along with the years of the Renaissance and Reformation came such leading lights as Savonarola or such noble institutions as the Spanish Inquisition, witch-hunts and heavy persecution of Jews who, during the Middle Ages were, for the most part, just other people in the village.
By the 15th century, I imagine people were lost — they’d gone through a period with two popes during the Great Papal Schism; people had died all over the place and the plague didn’t completely go away; clearly God had abandoned them. As Europe picked itself up after that, many great and good things happened, no question, but there was also a spiritual and leadership gap. Religious skepticism — disillusionment — had to have been enormous. Certainly they looked for someone to blame, something to blame and they looked for something to believe in.
In beginning his discussion of the Reformation, Fromm makes sure we (meaning I) understand that he’s talking about the psychology of the leaders and the followers. I’m cool with that, and as I read I got the feeling I was about to understand the very thing I’ve been struggling with for 6 or 7 years now. And voila…
Fromm writes that psychology of the leaders of the Reformation (early 16th century) meshed with qualities in the psychology of their followers that enabled a religious revolution. He emphasizes that it wasn’t logical, but psychological, meaning that contradictions were an intrinsic part of it. Fromm writes, “The influence of any doctrine of idea depends on the extent to which it appeals to psychic needs in the character structure of those to whom it is addressed. Only if the idea answers powerful psychological needs of certain social groups will it become a potent force in history.”
I give you Exhibit A. Shooting an assault rifle from a helicopter, the esteemed representative from an impoverished district in Georgia, has just (allegedly) killed a wild pig in Texas. Making America Great (Again)
I could sure use rejuvenation this morning. I don’t even want to write what I’m thinking about so I’ll go to Erich Fromm which is a stream of tedium in its own way, but kind of cool and enlightening.
Escape from Freedom is so dense that I can read about 5 pages before I’m going “Whoa. Overload.” Yesterday Fromm compared the new capitalist market economy of the 15th century with Calvinism. Who wouldn’t go “Whoa, dude, huh?”
“…the medieval market had been a relatively small one, the functioning of which was readily understood. It brought demand and supply into direct and concrete relation. A producer knew approximately how much to produce and could be relatively sure of selling his products for a proper price. Now it was necessary to produce for an increasingly large market, and one could not determine the possibilities of sale in advance.”
Here’s the kicker, “It was therefore not enough to produce useful goods. Although this was the one condition for selling them, the unpredictable laws of the market decided whether the products could be sold at all.”
And here it gets weird, “The mechanism of the new market seemed to resemble the Calvinistic doctrine of predestination, which taught that the individual must make every effort to be good, but that even before his birth it had been decided whether or not he is to be saved. The market day became the day of judgment for the products of human effort.”
Fromm is on the brink of his counter argument — which is that capitalism freed the individual and he offers up the usual cant (or so it seems to me). Any of us could write this, but, “…capitalism…freed man from the regimentation of the corporative system; it allowed him to stand on his own feet and to try his luck. He became the master of his fate, his was the risk, his the gain. Individual effort could lead him to success and economic independence. Money became the great equalizer of man and proved to be more powerful than birth or caste.”
To me the words “success” and “freedom” are red flags. Success? What is that? Ultimately (and will Fromm go here? I don’t know) it seems to me that each person must finally determine for him/herself whether their life has been/is a success. The ultimate success, of course, is survival. Ask any animal and you get THAT answer. That is the great irony of sentient life, an irony the church attempts to address, an irony that some people attempt to reconcile through fame and, uh, success. Oh shit. And “freedom”?
Fromm closes the chapter with a long paragraph that begins with the clearest expression we have to the question of freedom; that it is ambiguous. “The individual is freed from the bondage of economic and political ties. He also gains in positive freedom by the active and independent role which he has to play in the new system. But, simultaneously he is freed from those ties which used to give him security and a feeling of belonging…The new freedom is bound to create a deep feeling of insecurity, powerlessness, doubt, aloneness, and anxiety. These feelings must be alleviated if the individual is to function successfully.”
How has that played out in our day? My first answer is “retail therapy” or, more generally, by acquiring things. I guess I’ll find out where Fromm goes, but it seems to me that is one way we free people exercise our positive freedom, freedom TO.
Meanwhile, in my little cottage industry, working on the notecard problem with some success. The black and white notecards, ink drawings, look much BETTER printed here than by a commercial company. Who knew?
Featured photo: Shriver/Wright Wildlife Area, September 28, 2019
Yesterday Bear and I fought our way out of the house (seriously, poor Teddy… No no, he’s fine. I just had to force him to stay behind by shutting the door) so just the two of us could have a quiet walk on a cloudy day. I really needed it, and I think my Bear did, too. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Wait, how can something be “more perfect?” It can’t. And that isn’t even true. Snow would have made it more perfect. OH well… That’s like “More best.”
We had an audience — some friendly crane tourists had come up from New Mexico and were making do with some ducks in an irrigation ditch. “What’re you seeing?” I asked.
“Ducks, mostly, mallards.” They had the gear, the cameras, long lenses, everything. They were READY. One couple even had a VW camper van (sigh dream on, Martha). They also had what some crane tourists don’t have — a sense of humor. “We saw some cranes, maybe 25,” the man gestured to a barley field to the southeast. I nodded. It’s important to see cranes. Every crane tourist wants to — well, almost every crane tourist. I’ve met a few people who were happy to see whatever they saw. Those are my kind of crane tourists. Of course, he wanted to know when they were usually here in the fall. They hadn’t come all that far — just from Taos, a couple hours away.
“They don’t come in that huge group in the fall. But, I’m no expert,” I said, “I’m just out here all the time.”
“That makes you an expert.”
“OK. Well, from where I stand as an expert, cranes do whatever they want whenever they want.”
“Nature, huh?” said the guy, grinning.
“Yeah. We’ve had a warm fall — it hasn’t even frosted yet — so…”
“You think they are affected by the weather?”
“It seems to me they are. In 2020 when we had that early snow, they were early. Well, have fun!!”
Bear and I continued our Bearigrination. It was such a pleasure walking in the cool breeze. While we didn’t see any cranes — this time of year I don’t think anyone can be out there without wanting to see them — I saw a Harris Hawk swooping low over the ground and a Red Tailed hawk hunting. Bear studied the ground with passion and feeling, liberated from the responsibility she has when Teddy goes along. When Teddy comes, she feels she needs to stay beside me.
There were many dead garter snakes along the road attesting to two things; one, they’d been dropped by birds. Two, they’d been run over by cars. I could kind of tell from the position of the corpse and it’s location on the road what had happened. I don’t want Bear being interested in them — dead or alive. They won’t hurt her, but…
Because of Bear’s attention and scrutiny to the edges of the road, I picked up a Red Tailed hawk feather and a soda (we say “pop” not “soda” in Colorado) can I might not have seen. It was beautiful, relaxing, soothing and just what I needed after my tussle with gravity on Monday. The aspen are rapidly turning up in the mountains. I couldn’t get a good photo without borrowing one of the cameras belonging to the crane tourists, but believe me, wow. The featured photo is from around Kenosha Pass and was taken by my friend Lois a few days ago.
A big challenge for an artist like me is money framing a painting. I have another big painting on a panel that needs a frame. It’s not just for the hanging or aesthetics that the painting needs a frame; panels are a little fragile in the corners and a frame protects them. I thought of a GoFundMe for $100 and then laughed at myself. It’ll happen. I just don’t know when.
I’ve also stopped the note card business except direct orders. It’s a gamble at this point to order them printed professionally when THOSE costs have gone up a lot. I have found a way to print them myself — and the quality of the printed image is excellent, every bit as good as Vistaprint. Still, with postage going up so much, I imagine people will be sending less mail — may already be sending less mail.
I experimented with the Rainbow Girls in Wheatland Wyoming (aka The Three Graces) and that came out beautifully. I’m going to have to refine this for landscapes, but I’m optimistic.
I’m not whining. I have an income, few needs and the ability to choose (to some extent). The way I see it, after the past several years of craziness things are naturally going to be fucked up. Like other “bad” times in my life I figure my job is just to hold on. It’s worked OK in the past. I’m just really happy I bought my house when interest rates were so low and refinanced it when they went lower. Meanwhile, I live in a beautiful place, have friends and the opportunity to simplify my life to ride this out. It’s comforting and not comforting to know we’re all in the same boat. I’m a little worried by the recent election in Italy, but, as I’m learning from Fromm, people turn to authoritarianism when they’re scared and have lost faith. Maybe he wouldn’t put it that way, but it seems to me that’s what it boils down to.
One thing that’s doing VERY well are the Scarlet Emperor Beans of song and story. With 23 plants, you’d expect SOMETHING to happen and it has. Several things. One I’ve learned is how much they like living in a close neighborhood. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you plant them directly 1 or 3 inches deep ; they’re going to come up and do just as well as the ones you’ve nursed into being in the house. I’ve learned they are just very very happy to be alive, and while they “like” my attention, they prefer it ensconced in their language which is sunlight, heat and water, all leading to a chorus of “Thank you, Martha!”
I’m no Felix Mendel, but these all came from one packet of five seeds. The first year I planted one. I harvested seeds from it and, the next year, combined the seeds from that plant with those I had remaining from the packet and planted three. The next year I planted four. Then six. Then and then… They are all related to each other. I wonder if they’ve naturally selected in some way to do well in my small garden plot. This isn’t their native land by any stretch, though the altitude is. “This species originated from the mountains of Central America. It was most likely cultivated in the highlands of Mexico and Guatemala around 2000 BC.” And more.. Eat the Weeds…
The Scarlet Runner Bean has also been called …Aycoctl by the Aztecs, and Ayocote by the Spanish. It’s native to Central America and has escaped cultivation in many areas. This bean is still on the home kitchen menu in its original range but the rest of the world grows it as an ornamental. Lots of folks also use it as a nectar attraction for hummingbirds and butterflies. Historically, Scarlet Runner Bean was in English and early American gardens by the 1600s.
There are some dozen and a half cultivars now. (Cultivars are made by man, varieties are made by nature.) The Dutch Phaseolus coccineus v. alba has white flowers. The “Butler” is stringless, “Painted Lady” has red and white flowers, the “Kelvedon Wonder” is an early variety with long pods, “Sunset” has pink flowers, and the “Scarlet Emperor” …has scarlet flowers. Under right conditions the Scarlet Runner Bean is the most productive of all the planted beans.
I think next year I’m going to try a new system because this year’s system – with all those plants – wasn’t great. It wasn’t even a “system.” It was kind of “Oh shit, what do I do now?” My past methods didn’t work with so many plants. Then, because most of the light is at the top of 8 to 10 foot plants, they got top heavy. Reaching for the sun, a couple almost fell over. I guess I have a few months to research wires/netting etc. Anyway, out of this strange summer, that began with my not even wanting to mess with a garden, I have learned a lesson. Mess with the garden. It might be the best part of the whole show.
“Well, Lamont, I guess this is some kind of weird fate that I’m going to live with an albatross in this two bedroom beach house.”
“You don’t like it, Dude? I thought I’d be good company.”
“You’re pretty messy, Lamont. I can’t believe you don’t want to live with the other albatrosses on the beach.”
“Problem is, Dude, I can’t. My albatross brain has imprinted to you. Birdbrains, you know? Besides you know what they say, ‘No good deed goes unpunished’. I don’t know if I ever thanked you.”
“No. But you’re welcome anyway.”
“You going out?”
“With your board?”
“I have to go to work today. It’s been weeks since I turned up at the museum. Lucky for me they’re an understanding bunch, and when I told them I’d taken in an orphaned albatross, they just thought I was deeply and environmentally cool and gave me a paid leave of absence.”
“From the Smilodon suit?”
“That and the research, you know, scrapping tar off bones to find out what they are.”
“Right. Well, when do we leave?”
“Lamont, you can’t come with me. You’re going to have to go out there on the beach with the other albatrosses when I’m at work.”
“Why? You might find out you like them.”
“What do I say to them?”
“Maybe just shut up for once and listen. Find out what albatrosses think about, what worries them. Learn how to be an albatross because you’re going to be an albatross for the duration, Lamont.”
“I know what they think about. Just like the rest of us. ‘Mate, spawn and die.’ What else is there? When will you be home?”
“I dunno. 7 ish. You going to have dinner ready for me? No no no, never mind, just kidding. Please don’t bring dinner.”
“Images of fish guts just flashed through your mind didn’t they, Dude? I don’t see why I can’t come with you. I’ll be quiet.”
“It’s dangerous. You’ll be drawn to the water in that pond and let me tell you, you DON’T want to go there.”
“I’ve BEEN there, or have you forgotten? Thanks to you.”
“Let it go, Lamont.”
“Is there a dumpster?”
Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a few years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past iterations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe, and everything.
My response to the Rag Tag Daily Prompt today — bottle — is a link to the first episode of Lamont’s and Dude’s adventures.
Sleepless night until 5:30 and then at 6:00 some neighbor’s car alarm went off — for a long long time. Went back to sleep but? Life is just so weird, and, right now for some of the people I care about it’s tough going. I can’t help any of them, though I would. As for me? After what was a pretty rough year, things seem to have, may have, calmed down a bit. Time will tell. Remnants of Covid hang on, but steadily lessening. That’s just the slog it is, I guess.
So… got up at 8 and wandered to the kitchen while the dogs weren’t looking. It was pretty funny because when they realized I was awake, and came running inside to greet me, Teddy ran right past me. “Wait, you’re not supposed to be THERE!” He looked a little scared when he turned around and saw me where, in his little Aussie mind, I wasn’t supposed to be. Then he was happy. Then began the citrus ritual (pouring OJ into the blender jar for the smoothie) and morning is happening more or less as usual but damn, I’m tired…
Yesterday I was kind of disputing with Fromm, but this morning, no. Aristotle described humanity as a chain of dancers and, thinking about the structure of a chain, that analogy works with Fromm’s ideas. I just get bristly when people write/talk about the Middle Ages as if it were some dark dark time during which semi-humans wandered Europe pining for the great enlightened minds of the Roman republic. Now I think I see better (from his point of view) where he’s going. It appears the problem is fear; fear of individual freedom might have its foundation in loneliness and alienation. But I’m too tired to go anywhere with that, now.
Facebook has reminded me that 8 years ago I made an offer on this house and it was accepted. It’s amazing to think I did that within 3 days of arriving in Colorado. There weren’t many choices, which helped (in a way) and there were/are features in this house that said, “Home” to me. It’s similar in age and design with two places I’ve lived where I was happy, a big selling point. It was in my price range — get this! Under $100k. That was then… and here… It had a fully fenced yard. The downside? The highway in front, of course, the ugly bathroom, but seriously. The seller had to put a new roof on the house before I could move in and that was my first exposure to what is known as “valley time.” I understand that now. The San Luis Valley is an inconvenient place to live. I moved in exactly 4 weeks after I arrived in Colorado for good. Crazy. The three little houses at this end of my street — all Southwestern style stucco — are known in town as “the adobes.” When I first came inside, it was decorated in Southwestern style which isn’t me. Since then I’ve thought about the actual Spanish colonial houses I’ve seen, restored from old photos, and they were not decorated in Southwestern style. Many had Chinese carpets on their floors, so maybe this style of mine (style?) is pretty authentic.
I’ve been trying to write a sonnet about the mayfly. You’d think it would be easy, mayflies being tiny things, not even a whole haiku let alone 14 lines, but it turns out this isn’t an easy poem to write. That or the remains of Covid brain (which gave me an uncanny ability to solve Wordles) is hindering my progress.
I was walking with one the other day, the situation of a friend filling my mind, questions about life and death and fear and illness all that stuff. I needed the walk and the day was good for walking and thinking. As Bear, Teddy and I were returning to the car, a mayfly hitched a ride on my shirt. They often do that and I like it. I like them. They are so small, barely even visible, white and gray and transparent with googly red-brown eyes that appear to be able to see in nearly 360 degrees. Invariably they are looking at me.
I thought, too, about everything I’ve seen and learned out there since 2020 when I started walking there regularly. I went because I needed to get to a place where dogs would be under human control because my places — wildlife areas along the river — were — thanks to Covid — suddenly overrun (ha ha) with dogs. People staying home, taking out their dogs, turning them loose. I guess it was a problem for more than just me — Colorado Parks and Wildlife has made them fee areas. A person needs a license to go out there. I love that. I’m licensed, but I seldom go out there.
The Refuge was, at first, a place I went with friends just to see cranes. They were a kind of “gateway drug” to a world I didn’t know anything about. It’s been an amazing school, these two and a half years. I admit to getting a little bored with the flat gravel road on which we walk, but that’s a problem with me, not the road and not the place. During our walk Wednesday, a flock of geese flew over. I stopped to watch them and Bear leaned against me. I realized that I was doing a seasonal thing, watching large groups of birds in flight, and Bear understood I was happy.
Without the cranes I wouldn’t have met the mayfly. Every little being is a lantern in the wilderness.
That was when we turned around to go home and the mayfly joined us. And, thanks to the mayfly, my troubled mind and heart got a kind of resolution. But the poem? Not there yet…
Walk with a Mayfly Martha Kennedy
Mayfly riding on my shirt, frail beauty against early autumn’s gray and clouded light With her big red eyes, she looks up at me. What does she see? Here, in her life’s one flight, She rests in her fleeting, urgent frenzy, Carried on the soft breeze of a fall day, She shares her short airborne time with me. I’m humbled, awed. “Little Mayfly,” I say “You honor me. Your mayfly flight is just three days, and you ride on my shirt,” but she stayed, Transparent upright wings, still watching me. I can never know what she would have said, If she could. Maybe (and these words are true), “Three days for me is a lifetime for you.”
I haven’t had a chance to return to Escape from Freedom which is too bad because I left it very curious about where Erich Fromm was going next with his evaluation of the psychology that leads people to choose fascism. I’m also curious to see if his theory and mine are similar or widely divergent. My theory has always been that many people get frustrated with a system that’s necessarily slow and messy, and (sometimes out of desperation) they jump on a band wagon that offers quick fixes, like making something great again. The question I think Fromm is going after might be related to that, but I think it’s deeper; it’s WHY.
As I look at my own country right now, I remember some of the black and white movies about WW II and the rise of the Nazis we were shown weekly when I was in high school. One sought to explain the rise of Nazism and for me, it kind of did. I see the ultra right pushing some of the same things — notably inflation, from which we’re all suffering to some extent. It was interesting that in the not-very-good restaurant where the ladies and I ate the other day there was an “inflation cost” added to our bills. Why? So they didn’t have to change the prices on their menus. In a way that turns the menus into false advertising…
Yesterday I happened to see MTG talk to a reporter on the steps of some building. The reporter asked why MTG used the term, “Christian Nationalism,” and supported it. She pushed MTG into a defense of the term which MTG did not, at first, attempt. MTG (who lives in a dream world in which TFG is still president, likes putting others on the defensive and deflecting ideas) asked, “Who gets to say what words mean?” The reporter — who was (besides being Black) intelligent, informed and articulate, armed with excellent questions — had brought up the term in the context of its origins in Nazism. MTG argued in circles and never seemed to see she undermined herself with her own words and revealed her abysmal ignorance of history. Not surprising. But I was disturbed by “Who gets to say what words mean?”
History “gets” to say some of that, history, the context of language and human institutions. That took me back to Georges Santayana’s much quoted statement, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905. But, for me, more resonant are the words carved over the library entrance (old library entrance) at the University of Colorado, Boulder, “Who knows only his own generation remains always a child.” It wasn’t meant in a good way…