March 22, 2010

Back in a Few Days...

Well. I gather a few events of perceived political moment have occurred recently. You could have at least tried to staunch the flow of news while I gathered what waning powers I still possess.

Yes, I feel a bit better at the moment. First and most importantly, I offer my profound gratitude to those who have continued to make donations during my prolonged absence. A few of you have been especially generous, for which I am enormously thankful, but I sincerely offer my thanks to everyone who has made a donation in any amount at all. I well understand how precious even $5 or $10 can be these days. My blessings on all of you.

I should doubtless apologize to those who may have sent emails and might reasonably expect a reply at some point, and I hereby offer such an apology to those who have sent messages of genuine concern. For several reasons, I have read almost no email at all over the last few months. Primarily, it's because some readers continue to send viciously unpleasant messages, a constant I've had to live with for some years now. I find such emails unsettling in the best of times; when I'm at very low ebb, wondering for hours at a time whether today is the day I have to call 911 again and if I'll make it to the end of the week -- a fairly frequent occurrence in the last months -- I simply can't read them. Since the subject line often fails to indicate the nastiness that is to come, it's safest for me to avoid email altogether, which is what I've done. I may take a look at it in the next few weeks, if I continue to feel not too terrible. But I'm most concerned with getting some writing done. So, my sincere regrets again.

And that's about how I feel now: not good by any means, but not too terrible. It's the difference between feeling completely, deeply awful all the time in every respect and feeling largely awful much but not all of the time. When you reach this stage, that's an important difference; not one precisely deserving celebration, but one that makes some work possible. I'm grateful for that.

So. I have a few things to say! I will offer some observations about the events of the past weeks, and about the monstrous abomination that goes by the name of "health insurance reform." In particular, I'm interested in why the Democrats were so intent on enacting this vomitous piece of shit now. There are a few connections to be made in that regard that I haven't seen discussed in the reading I've done in the last week (which was hardly exhaustive, but sufficient to give me an idea of the major themes being offered). There is no reason to alter significantly the general judgments I offered about this legislation last December -- except to revise those judgments severely downward. (The same is at least trebly true of those who worked with such disgusting diligence for its passage and now celebrate it.)

I've written a great deal about politics, yet as I sometimes remark, in terms of those concerns that matter most to me, politics ranks very low. I expressed the problem in the first installment of my Tribalism series, written just over a year ago:
This is one of the great problems with political commentary: politics is only a symptom of a more fundamental condition. Unless we address these more fundamental concerns, the symptom will never be altered in a lasting way. Yet we (and I) spend so much time on political matters because politics affects our lives so dramatically and with such immediacy. Because politics has the power to alter our lives so profoundly and, far too frequently, even to end them, some of us fiercely resist the especially destructive aspects of its operations. Yet this will never be enough by itself, as history, including our recent history and ongoing events, prove repeatedly.
I had forgotten a passage that appears a little earlier in that same essay. For me, this is a wonderful reminder of what I ultimately consider of greatest consequence, and a theme to which I will now be returning:
An article about [Philip] Pullman excerpted in my earlier piece notes the lines from Robert Frost that appear above. Perhaps those thoughts are not directly relevant to what follows, except for this particular thought: "Earth's the right place for love:/I don't know where it's likely to go better." That will do for me, and very wonderfully, but the value of this idea depends on love being healthy in its source, expression and effects, love that acknowledges and honors the independence and irreplaceably unique value of another human being.
Thus, I need to go far beyond politics, and share with you what my song tells me -- and what love tells me.

For those who may be familiar with them, I can confirm that the phrases "my song" and "what love tells me" are references to compositions by Gustav Mahler. I will offer some thoughts about those works and their meaning, and a vision of a profoundly, radically different world.

What love tells me. In all times, but perhaps especially when the world begins to crack apart (slowly, as I suspect will be the timetable for those of us in the United States, but possibly more quickly depending on events), nothing is of greater importance. For me, it is finally the only subject that matters.