Friday, February 26, 2021

Corona Jottings: Intermittent Speculations(#22)

The Donald, live and in person, has been absent from the tube till now. It’s rumored he is to appear on Sunday at CPAC, the Republican organization, not to be confused with the CPAP breathing device for sleep apnea, though both items are fused in my mind, given the GOP’s predilections for wearing weird outfits, all suspicious. Trump’s image hasn’t gone away, thanks to the news hounds of media that can’t let him go, and with the help of the slice of Democrats that share the same jones. We Need Our Trump! I don’t need him, but the damage he has done to the republic will live on longer than he, unless he has the life-span genes of Lawrence Ferlinghetti. After Congress impeached Trump again and the Senate, post inauguration, acquitted him once again, and after the January 6th attack on the Capitol has been replayed by various committees, using, largely, the same smart phone videos replayed over and over, the air time Trump shares with President Biden (who Andrea Mitchell and other commentators keep calling Vice President Biden) is about 50-50 thus far. Though redundant – much of the Trump years were duplicates of outrages – the climax was the temporary take down of the Capitol. What a way to end! A TV movie at its worst. But, all of culture has gotten worse, and that trend, unfortunately, did not begin with the Trump Administration. He was the effect, not the cause. None of his Republican enablers ever took his loathsome blabber seriously. He was the fool they would humor as long as he let them do what they wanted. They would tolerate the buffoon, never thinking he could actually unleash the intolerable. But he did so on January 6th. If you ask me, which you haven’t, I would ascribe it to the triumph of the resurrected oral culture, new version, Oral Culture 2. I’ve written about this language topic before, but the violent culmination was Trump’s assembling of the mob – mobs tend to be the epitome of the oral culture. Note the Sermon on the Mount – and then he dispatched the aroused to the Capitol, armed with cudgels, poles and pikes, all Medieval oral culture weapons of war. Alas, I’m not sure that is going to be the last gasp of the new oral culture taking over what passes for culture here at home. People still read, obviously, but it is no longer the wind in the sails of the culture. If I extend this out to the world at large I could quickly become – because of the handy examples I might use – a likely target for all the political correctness and language police on duty. I will admit I favor the literate culture, evidently a passing phenomenon of history, existing from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg, from the printing press to the internet, and its spawn, facebook, twitter, etc, being among the leading transformers. Those practitioners, wealthy as they are, did not invent the internet, they just knew how to exploit it. See John D. Rockefeller. So much woe to contemplate and people continue to drop like flies from Covid-19, also, unfortunately, a large part of the oral culture, letting people breathe together. Pandemics, too, are practically Medieval, flourishing, as they did, in the oral culture world. Perhaps this sort of disease is the apotheosis of the present era. Science, though, is getting a lot of play – at least some – these days and it is fairly literate, though its language is mainly numbers, equations, amounts, chemistry, etc., not Shakespeare, or seeming to favor those who aspire to the written word. On the bright side, so to speak, more mechanical spiders have been sent to outer space, one to land on Mars recently. Terrific! It all begins, it seems, with a countdown. 10-9-8-etc. Counting came before language, but language did catch up, at least to a decade or two ago. Talk, as they used to say, is cheap, but no longer. Podcasts rule, belatedly climbing out of their ancient dens. As Trump proved, it is the oral culture that allows for the Big Lie. Just say it over and over. Proof would have to be found on the page, documented, to be checked and read. Proof, not always, but often, is set in type. Speaking, as I was above, of counting, Biden is the oldest president. When Reagan left the presidency (after two terms!), he was addled with Alzheimer’s at age 77. (Though I don’t blame his final impairment for all his follies, but the stuff he was spouting long before he even became governor of California was borderline nitwittery.) Biden is 78. Numbers, numbers. I’m 75, so if I’m an ageist, it’s the self-criticizing kind. We have a bit less than 23 months before things will get worse. And they’re pretty bad now. But the less I see of Trump the better for the precious months ahead. That would be the ticket. Or, at least, my ticket to ride, as the Beatles once sang.

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