Where the Hope of Spring meets the Winter of our Discontent
I was going to write on the three dimensions of cultural diversity--diversity between different traditions, historical or chronological diversity within a tradition and diversity in the consciousness level within a tradition--but the above heading seemed more catchy and relevant to this Super Tuesday moment--and has everything to do with three multi-dimensional cultural diversity.
This morning I woke up to the sounds of a medley of God Bless America and Die Fahne Hoch still ringing in my ears after watching a Mitt Romney rally rerun in Dade County--donde hablaron español for the most part, and when I was finally wide awake I discovered it was actually me singing the medly at the top of my voice while taking a shower. For good measure I added the Star Spangled Banner, Die Internationale, and God Save the Burning Bush--with as an after thought Sarie Marijs, the Wilhelmus and Lustig is das Zigeuner- leben, especially that part where we brauchen den Kaiser kein Zinsen zu geben--don't have to give the Kaiser no taxes--always guaranteed to bring tears to those who love to wave the Banners High, die Fahne Hoch, also known, of course as the Horst Wessel Song:
But lets face it folks, the Publicans have not been in such disarray since Jesus rode that donkey into Jerusalem and proceeded to turn over their money changing tables. About time too because what the elephant of the GOP has been spouting has been not life giving seed, but a tsunami of red ink.
Talking about Bush, that Spouting Devil--Spuyten Duyvel, that's the name the Hollanders of Nieuw Amsterdam gave to a particularly treacherous part of the Harlem River--it has been translated variously as the Devil's whirlpool, or as the story below does, as 'in spite of the devil' --speyt den duivel.
But if you check the above link you will find a comment which gives yet another meaning of this name:
Not far from the plaque that commemorates the sale of Manhattan Island to the Dutch, there is an underground watershed that has been coming to the surface and "irrigating" the flatland beneath the hills for as long as anyone can remember. Could this be what local folk called the Spitting or Squirting Devil (Old Dutch=Spuyten Duyvil).
Of course there is always the other meaning of spuyten, or spuiten in the modern spelling, and that is the most obvious (niñas, corred las cortinas): spouting as the Dutch slang word for coming or ejaculating.
So let's talk about that coming devil, the next President of these United States.
After my shower and on my way down I met this black lady in the stairwell of our apartment building. We had met a few times before, in passing, so I asked her: "Who are your going to vote for this time around?"
She said she wasn't planning on casting her vote! I was dumbfounded. She said--well they always say this and that and then they don't do what they said they were gonna do. But I said, how will you be able to look your grandchildren in the face when they ask you who did you vote for when you finally had the chance to vote for an old white man, a middle aged white man, a middle aged white woman or a young black man? Our polling place is righ across the street! You gonna say you didn't even care enough to get yourself out across the street and vote? I hope she will change her mind--but it goes to show the level of cynisism that has pervaded the American electorate--and especially the young and disaffected. This lady was not particularly young but she sure was disaffected. How has it gotten to be so bad?
In the sixties things were different--young people especially felt the world was their oyster, they could go anywhere, do anything, and if they encountered obstacles, they could do something to bring about change.
And we did bring about change: there was the Peace Corps, the Beatles, the Civil Rights struggle, to name but a few elements of that change in our consciousness and our culture. But there were other elements as well that we need to complete the picture: what did Silicon Valley spring from? It was the Wozz (Steve Wozniak) and the other Steve, Steve Jobs, two young men doing their thing in a garage, who are iconic in what happened--but we could mention that giant of the Northwest, Bill Gates, who dropped out of Harvard so he too could do his own thing.Their offspring changed the world and our entire way of life: in the beginning there were Apple and Microsoft. That last company name is of course a misnomer of biblical proportions--whatever Bill Gates's personal equipment, the ruthlessly aggressive company he founded would be more properly characterized as Macrohard.
Be that all as it may, that spirit of renewal, the willingness to drop out of conventional thinking and start fresh, take risks, follow your heart and let the microchips fall where they may is as much a part of the New Enlightenment as New Age thinking in any other realm.
Just as the contrast between a Nixon not made for television and a JFK picture perfect for the new cool medium of that time augured in a political sea change the like of which is just beginning to ebb away, the current election is again all about the old and the new: the candidates could not have been more fitting:
Obama, the candidate of hopes and dreams, versus the candidates that march to the drum beat of experience: Hillary on the Demo side, McCain and Romney (yuk) on the Repo side. Hillary at least is very much a child of the sixties, gone middle class. The other two never were part of the sixties--McCain thought that Woodstock was nothing more than a pharmaceutical experience. Yeah. Then why is he about to make history as the first white man to loose the Presidency against either a woman or a black? Woodstock, baby!
The Woodstock generation, pharmaceutical or not, did produce a sea change in human consciousness. I remember an Argentine friend of Louis and myself, a young architect who operated a small art gallery in the village where Louis and I were having a two man show at the time, begging us to help him get some of those great windowpanes from Harvard so he could send a quantity of them to Argentina to help raise consciousness in that part of the world. I feel guilty in not having done my share to prevent that dirty war, La Guerra Sucio, in which, often with American help, the most outrageous tactics were used to repress the people--and not just in Argentina, but all over Latin America, and all over the world.
And so we see that once again the Eternal Hope of Spring embodied in a younger generation is prepared to meet a candidate who stands for experience, the experience of the Winter of our Discontent.
If Hillary wins, I hope she will at least pick Obama as her running mate, for without him, what could she bring to the mat against the Publican's most likely candidate, John McCaine? He certainly has had lots of experience, even more than she can boast of. So what is she going to say?
Obama has shown he can rally all kinds of American voters to his banner, young people, old people, poor people, rich people, white people, black people--everyone feels inspired when they hear him talk. Even the Publicans are ready to give up in disgust on their own party's choices in this race and vote for Obama in stead. Hillary on the other hand has a significant anti-fan club in the blue states--as the Iowa results clearly showed. What Republican would actually cross over for Hillary--even when they might for Obama?
In California, the epicenter of this historic election, we have Governor Schwarzenegger--whose name is not a tautology meaning Black Negro, Schwartze Neger, as some might think, but Blackacre, i.e. a parcel of land in which the earth was black and fertile Löss (see: New European loess map ) --coming to the support of John McCain, while his wife, California's First Lady Maria Shriver came out in support of Obama. Not Hillary, mind you, Obama. Same as Caroline Kennedy, Ted Kennedy and that icon of feminism, Oprah.
Is the long winter of our discontent then finally going to be over?
I could give you the answer now, but the local Feldwebelin here at the Alliance Française just came over and wants to repossess my terminal. As long as she is friendly about it, I don't mind, so I will just let this flow, with the promise that I will return next time with more overpeinzingen, reflections, on the matter of multi-dimensional diversity. Are there three, are there four, or perhaps even more? I'm not sure, but will come up with some kind of an answer soon.