In response to a question posed to him by presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, concerning which historical era he believes would best suit his rhetorical style, Barack Obama stated the following: “There is a big part of me that has a writer’s sensibility. And so that’s how I think. That’s how I pursue truth. That’s how I hope to communicate truth to people.”
I’ve read these four sentences many times since they were spoken by the president; not long after Goodwin’s Vanity Fair interview appeared online, in September, I copy-pasted the quote into Adobe Illustrator and printed out a letter-sized inspirational poster, which I hung on my office wall at the spot on which my eyes tend to focus whenever I’m having trouble keeping the writerly juices flowing. While intended to be a goad, my poster has, so far, been a reliable distraction. READ MORE >
Alexandra Petri and John Deming Should Probably Get Married Because They Have A Lot In Common Because They Are Both Considerably Misinformed About Poetry
I intentionally missed most of the inauguration of Bruce Springsteen’s boyfriend. Symbols of democracy and freedom make my tummy quite queasy. I prefer the enchantment of The Little Mermaid to the mediocrity of the middle class and the person that they pick to govern them. But a couple of days after The Boss’s “partner” was publicly sworn in, I overheard two princess friends of mine discussing a poetry quarrel that arose from this inauguration. Supposedly a poet named Richard (I’m not sure of his last name, and considering his connection to Obama, he’s certainly not talented enough to Google or even Bing) read. The poem prompted a girl Washington Post blogger, Alexandra Petri, to declare that poetry is probably dead. A poetry boy, John Deming, quickly rendered a rebuttal. After reading both, I’ve come to the conclusion that each has a very un-magical, unsupportable viewpoint on poetry.
To begin, I’d like to declare that being “dead” isn’t deplorable: it’s delightful. Sylvia adored the dead. She covered herself in concentration camp victims. Her skin was “bright as Nazi lampshade.” Was Sylvia disempowered or on the margins of culture? No way, progressive gays! Sylvia was a spitfire. She slashed her daddy and her canonized poet husband. Charles Baudelaire, one of the best boy poets ever, sought the dead too. In “Spleen (ii)” Charles boasts that his skull holds “more corpses than a common grave.” Identification with dead doesn’t disadvantage Charles either. He’s a dandy — someone superlatively superior to humans, a boy who follows his own special set of laws. The dead are special and unique. They’re much more powerful than humans. To call someone or something dead is a term of incredible endearment, and should be embraced.
At first, my Tumblr literary corporation championed Mitt. We believed that he would cut taxes for the most moneyed Americans, thereby making it a breeze for a boy to snag a handsome millionaire so that the handsome millionaire would provide the boy with a weekly allowance that would cover straight-to-DVD Disney sequels, Snickers ice cream, and other such terrific trinkets and trucks. But, suddenly, Mitt started saying that he wouldn’t cut taxes for millionaires. Indeed, Mitt has become a centrist. Even if Mitt’s migration to the middle is merely a lie, it’s still revolting enough for my literary corporation to withdraw its support because compromise is so awfully common (not to mention unexciting).
Now, obviously, Barack Obama could never ever earn the endorsement of my Tumblr literary corporation. Obama’s trademark word is “hope.” Any thoughtful boy (or girl) knows that while there is “hope,” that “hope” cannot be realized on earth because “hope” has to do with heaven, which isn’t on earth. Baudelaire concurs. In the first Fleurs de mal poem, Baudelaire sings fondly about being an angel in heaven. Then, in the final “Spleen” poem in Fleurs de mal (which takes place on earth) hope is conquered by anguish. Yes, being amongst postlapsarian people is tediously tiring. Yet these fallen fartsniffers are the very ones that Obama plans to assist. Obama is the antithesis of Baudelaire. Obama is calm, nice, and pragmatic. Baudelaire is catty, hyperbolic, and pretty (he spent no fewer than two hours preparing his outfit for the day). Baudelaire is a performance. Obama is a person, which is the worst thing that anyone can ever be.
David Fishkind recently asked “Are You Afraid of Politics?“, and a lot of people, myself included, chimed in. Since then I’ve realized I have much more to say on the subject.
I normally don’t think of politics in Democrat/Republican/presidential election terms. I’m registered as an independent, and I prefer to live my politics on a daily basis—which is why I don’t drive, buy organic food when I can, and support local businesses run by people I know, etc. But it would be damn foolish of me to not recognize that “the political is personal” (to invert a phrase), and that the gentle people elected to the state and federal levels regularly impact both my daily life and my career as a writer. Specifically:
The Mitt Romney campaign is in a terrible tailspin. He trails Barack Obama in almost all major polls. The poor little Mormon actually has to stop attending fundraisers so that he can be out on the campaign trail more (and, even when he’s out and about, Romney proves to be so unentertaining that he must stump with more exciting Republicans). Then there’s the 47 percent comment. Mitt, honey, if you want people to like you, you shouldn’t call them losers.
But tomorrow’s debate brings hope (to use Obama’s word). What can Romney say in the debate that will swing the momentum in his direction? Need Romney say anything? Can Romney convey a stronger message using only his clothes? Obviously. Here’s four outfits from Paris Fashion Week that Romney should wear in order to regain the upper hand.
This arrived in my email inbox this morning from a contributor who has asked to remain anonymous. I feel like posting it, so I will:
See what was happening was
See people were going to have the best hamburger yet, Puff Daddy had been sighted at the Anne’s Snack Shop in Pittsburgh for a ghetto burger
Dogs were having fun
See what was happening was there were no stop signs in any of the apartment complexes where anyone had grown up
Barack Obama brought the meat
Every morning in his cells, Bret Easton Ellis stands up and looks at the wall for 100 minutes before beginning on the sentences that will be deleted from his next novel
Someone is ready for hungry time
Today someone is ready for hungry time
When I say that ‘Artistic expression is impossible under Barack Obama’ I’m not any way trying to be funny
Though it will be easy to say I am
The best advice I ever got on writing was when the small woman full of blue blood stopped me in the street and asked me if I could help her tie her shoe
Which never happened
But was still the best advice I ever got on writing
People are getting afraid more often now, while eating waffles
At 4:04 am on 19th street in downtown Hemmings, a small child wriggles his fists in anticipation of the museum that will be built in the next 2-18 years over the ground where the room where he was going to one day cheat on his wife once stood
Today Barack Obama gets up in the morning and goes to the kitchen for a ham sandwich
But there is no longer any ham
There is an autographed replica of the first woman ever to be eaten alive, and there is a pack of Starburst gummies, and there is a lariat
But no ham
2008 has been a historic year: We elected our first black president. Htmlgiant was born. I continued surfing porn naked.
If there’s anything these things have in common, it’s this: there’s a part of me that feels really good. Happy new year everyone.