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Anxiety and overinterpretation:
The martyrdom of St. Agatha
The revolt that exaggerates its populace.
for Hotel Attraction
on the site of
the World Trade Center
Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer
The gap between who we are and how we wish to be seen—and how we are in fact seen—is frighteningly wide.
Charlotte Beers, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs (formerly Chairman, J. Walter Thompson, also Ogilvy & Mather advertising agencies), in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, one week before resigning for health reasons.
The American Flag
When Freedom from her mountain height
Unfurled her standard to the air,
She tore the azure robe of night,
And set the stars of glory there.
She mingled with its gorgeous dyes
The milky baldric of the skies,
And striped its pure celestial white,
With streakings of the morning light;
Then from his mansion in the sun
She called her eagle bearer down,
And gave into his mighty hand,
The symbol of her chosen land.
Majestic monarch of the cloud,
Who rear’st aloft thy regal form,
To hear the tempest trumpings loud
And see the lightning lances driven,
When strive the warriors of the storm,
And rolls the thunder-drum of heaven,
Child of the sun! to thee ‘t is given
To guard the banner of the free,
To hover in the sulphur smoke,
To ward away the battle stroke,
And bid its blendings shine afar,
Like rainbows on the cloud of war,
The harbingers of victory!
Flag of the brave! thy folds shall fly,
The sign of hope and triumph high,
When speaks the signal trumpet tone,
And the long line comes gleaming on.
Ere yet the life-blood, warm and wet,
Has dimm’d the glistening bayonet,
Each soldier eye shall brightly turn
To where thy sky-born glories burn;
And as his springing steps advance,
Catch war and vengeance from the glance.
And when the cannon-mouthings loud
Heave in wild wreaths the battle shroud,
And gory sabres rise and fall
Like shoots of flame on midnight’s pall;
Then shall thy meteor glances glow,
And cowering foes shall shrink beneath
Each gallant arm that strikes below
That lovely messenger of death.
Flag of the seas! on ocean wave
Thy stars shall glitter o’er the brave;
When death, careering on the gale,
Sweeps darkly round the bellied sail,
And frighted waves rush wildly back
Before the broadside’s reeling rack,
Each dying wanderer of the sea
Shall look at once to heaven and thee,
And smile to see thy splendors fly
In triumph o’er his closing eye.
Flag of the free heart’s hope and home!
By angel hands to valor given;
Thy stars have lit the welkin dome,
And all thy hues were born in heaven.
For ever float that standard sheet!
Where breathes the foe but falls before us,
With Freedom’s soil beneath our feet,
And Freedom’s banner streaming o’er us?
Joseph Rodman Drake
Something you can get a grasp of, something to save you from yourself: metre, traditions and firm opinions.
This quiet Dust was Gentleman and Ladies
America has entered one of its periods of historic madness, but this is the worst I can remember.
John le Carré
Mr. Bush and his plans are a greater danger to the United States than Saddam Hussein.
W. S. Merwin
Asked whether the payments to Mr Cheney represented a conflict of interest, Halliburton’s spokeswoman, Wendy Hall, said: “We have been working as a government contractor since the 1940s. Since this time, KBR has become the premier provider of logistics and support services to all branches of the military.”
We are left with coalitions of the willing. Far from disparaging them as a threat to a new world order, we should recognise that they are, by default, the best hope for that order, and the true alternative to the anarchy of the abject failure of the UN.
Well, in, in many ways it strikes me as, as a meaningless controversy, because the greatest weapon of mass destruction is the human brain. Once people have acquired the knowledge of how to build the weapons, that’s the hard part. The question of how much they have in the pantry is less interesting than the question of could they do it.
David Frum, special assistant to President Bush for economic speechwriting (2001-2002), and co-author with Richard Perle of An End to Evil: How to Win the War on Terrorism.
Behind the whole push to go to war with Iraq is the desire to have a huge military presence in the Near East as a stepping stone to taking over the rest of the world.
Flag conservatives truly believe America is not only fit to run the world but that it must. Without a commitment to Empire, the country will go down the drain. This, I would opine, is the prime subtext beneath the Iraqi project, and the flag conservatives may not even be wholly aware of the scope of it, not all of them. Not yet.
Because democracy is noble, it is always endangered. Nobility, indeed, is always in danger. Democracy is perishable. I think the natural government for most people, given the uglier depths of human nature, is fascism. Fascism is more of a natural state than democracy. To assume blithely that we can export democracy into any country we choose can serve paradoxically to encourage more fascism at home and abroad. Democracy is a state of grace that is attained only by those countries who have a host of individuals not only ready to enjoy freedom but to undergo the heavy labor of maintaining it.
Democracy, I would repeat, is the noblest form of government we have yet evolved, and we may as well begin to ask ourselves whether we are ready to suffer, even perish for it, rather than readying ourselves to live in the lower existence of a monumental banana republic with a government always eager to cater to mega-corporations as they do their best to appropriate our thwarted dreams with their elephantiastical conceits.
Virtue and Terror became inseparable, a single Janus-faced god who guarded the gate to a better world. Was the violence of 1793-94 just the product of circumstances, forced on an unwilling Government panicked by war, civil war and sabotage? Or was it somehow the logical outcome of everything that had gone before? By late 1793 there was a rotten substructure to the Revolution, a web of crooked Army contracts, stockmarket frauds and forgeries, and a capital full of spies and foreign persons of, as Robespierre saw it, dubious worth and allegiance; all information which came to the Government was suspect at source. Also, it was clear that the Sovereign People did not always act in its own best interests. It seemed, from the actions of looters and strikers, that it was given to short-term thinking. Robespierre tried to forge an inner consistency, clinging to the idea of a virtuous people misled by corrupt and factious politicians, by enemies who were masked and veiled. If the Revolution didn’t have moral force behind it, it was merely a series of self-serving crimes.
Telle était sa vie, une vie d’individu, le premier individu européen depuis l’expédition d’Egypte. Les acrobaties impériales ont flétri l’âme léonardesque, empoisonné la tranquille vertu des indifférents européens. Sous l’égide crapuleuse d’un valet cornélien la dernière trace de la colère dantesque s’est transformée en crachats de Jésuite fatigué, le cortège des pestiférés buboniques qui vont empuantir le 19e siècle s’organise à la gloire éternelle du premier touriste. C’en est fait. Montaigne s’appelle Baedeker, et Dieu porte un gilet rouge. Des minorités se mobilisent et inventent un vampire abstrait qu’elles appellent la majorité. C’est l’apothéose de la force mineure. Une horde de crapauds sadiques parcourent l’Europe à la recherche de l’ânesse éternellement exténuée. Raskolnikoff, Rastignac et Sorel se dévouent et mettent la Trinité au goût du jour, triangle scalène ou symbole phallique, comme vous voulez, camarades. Chacun à sa gouttière. Ibsen prouve qu’il a raison. Renan démontre qu’il a tort. Coïncidence. Anatole France s’en fout à tue-tête. Marcel Proust se métamorphose en aubépine à force de fumigations. Coïncidence. Et Gide se crucifie à un angle de 69 degrés parce qu’il a perdu la concordance du chasseur et Fargue s’horizontalise parce qu’il a épuisé son répertoire de saloperies et Valéry décompose en propositions absolues ce qu’il n’a pas lu et Mallarmé bémolise en tierces claires-de-lunaires ce qu’il n’a pas fait et tous les autres que vous savez accordent leurs cornemuses et puis se mettent en quatre afin de jouer faux, car, saperlipopette!, les individus ne vont pas au concert. Enfin, et pour en finir de cette crise de splénite, si j’ose vous affirmer qu’un individu—(et je vous invite à verser dans ce mot, creux depuis un siècle, toute sa vertu prénapoléonique)—qu’un tel individu a vécu et est mort au milieu de nos vulgarités, c’est parce que je le trouve pur de cette exaspération sociale qui s’est nécessairement exprimée en braiements anti-sociaux, infiniment moins émouvants et moins nobles que les plus ordinaires explosions de tristesse asine. Et cela fait déjà deux fois, au cours de cette comédie, et dans l’espoir d’éclairer mon texte, que j’ai insulté l’âne. Je lui demande pardon. Je me prosterne devant ce plus charmant et plus ténébreux de tous les animaux qui nous font patiemment l’honneur d’agréer nos accès de tendresse. Mais le dernier affront, celui d’Esope, celui pour lequel il n’y a pas de rémission, et qui consiste à le faire parler, lui, l’âne, Dieu m’est témoin que je n’en suis pas encore coupable.
The ironic thing about the Republicans is that while they talk about family values, all their actions work to destroy whatever shred is left of close family, or even close community in the United States. While they pay lip service to that and use it to get votes, anything they actually enact goes completely to break that down. When you live in a country like France where family and community are still very strong, you see the process of what’s at work that breaks those things down. It’s mostly corporate mono-culture, and that’s exactly what the Republicans really stand for. They don’t really stand for family values.
When I think of America, I always tend to think in terms of Walt Whitman.
Jorge Luis Borges
I’ll tell you what I really think about politicians. The other night I watched some politicians on television talking about Vietnam. I wanted very much to burst through the screen with a flamethrower and burn their eyes out and their balls off and then inquire from them how they would assess this situation from a political point of view.
I don’t do a lot of political jokes, too many of them are getting elected. I couldn’t believe how much money was spent on this year’s campaigns, hundreds of millions of dollars. But the way politicians look at money is, you can’t take it with you, and even if they could, it would have to be fireproofed.
“Improvisation”, I heard [Richard Meier] saying, “I wish never to hear that word again. When you build a building, you determine the parameters, you work out the values, you get them right, and then, when things change, you pull the building down, and you start again.”
Politicians can never believe how little they deceive us.
John le Carré
Notes of a Loyal American
I am having many misgivings.
About these wars, for one thing. Pinter has it (by
way of Bill Richardson, and let’s not forget Special Advisor to the President
and Secretary of State for Caspian Basin Energy Diplomacy, John Wolf) that
Bosnia was all about oil, and furthermore European Union needed Bosnia for
cover, Euro needs Afghanistan, but what if it goes on five years or more
maybe, like they say? We are having Western Hemispherical Union?
Don’t forget, all the good Republicans have
resigned, and China went in the WTO without a murmur. War is good business! There’s snow business like snow business like snow
business I snow!
I’d sow a seed for
thee of endless Nationality,
In the Department of Defense (as Mort Sahl might say) there is a sign which reads, Proceed With Care: The Regime You Change May Be Your Own! Freedom is for the advertising companies, and payback is for everyone else.
How could anyone compare the President of the United States to a sociopath like Hitler? This is more like Italy’s Abyssinian adventure, isn’t it? But the people, God love them, are with him all the way, and how may it be said it is within his consciousness at all? He reads speeches no better than did President Clinton, who gained a reputation in the press for being a genius by virtue of never speaking his, you will easily pardon the expression, mind.
The white-haired revolver is a pastel fathead.
Bronze plaque on exterior of Home Depot, Sunset Boulevard, Hollywood, California