It occurs to me that I haven’t posted anything longer in the last few days. I haven’t kept you up to the minute with my fabulous up-to-the-minute Fellowship life.
Nothing personal. I’ve had my nose in the Russian book — I think I’m caught up, but that’s a matter of opinion — and my head in the clouds, these last few days. Yesterday I walked around campus marveling at this dense bolus of a place, so packed with facts and theses and interesting people, although all I could really do was woolgather a bit. A few weeks ago I got an e-mail inviting me to a lecture on lesbian erotica in Urdu poetry. Yesterday I confronted a tub of vegan chapstick at a coffee shop. Then I ate a hot dog. It all seemed to be part of a big seamless…seamless thing. Whatever.
I continue to be thrilled at being among so many young people. They’re so much fun, the way they blast Radiohead in their retail establishments, so loudly that you have to yell at the clerk to be heard, but who cares? My screenwriting study group meets on Monday mornings at 9 a.m., an hour that might as well be the crack of dawn for these 22-year-olds. They show up utterly bleary-eyed, looking as though they all just rolled out of bed, which I suppose they did. And yet, they know stuff, more than I knew at their age, although they know it in a different context. To them, ABBA is camp retro fun, the creative force behind “Mamma Mia.” I remember when ABBA was just a pain-in-the-ear on the radio. I consider that perhaps ABBA sounds better when the other choices on the radio are Beyonce and hip-hop, rather than late-career Led Zeppelin and the Ramones. (Am I remembering correctly? Retromania gets me so confused.)
Now it’s 10:50, time to shuffle off to class again. I’m in the computer center at the graduate library. I want to stand up and make an announcement: Please treasure every moment. It doesn’t get any better than this.
alex said on October 21, 2003 at 11:48 am
Amazing how a few years can make such a huge difference in peoples’ takes on the world.
Just this morning my stepson pulled me into a discussion about Viet Nam. He’s amazed when he considers that not all that long ago, the military could conscript you and you’d have no choice in the matter. They could send you off to Asia to bomb the hell out of people living in grass huts. You might die. Or you might return, like his uncle, fucked up in the head for life. And if you’d happened to have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth, your daddy could have bought your way out of it all�not an option for a kid like him who’s paying his own way through school.
Kind of makes him wonder what we’re doing in Baghdad right now. The best answer I could give him was this: Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11, but this administration managed to play on the public’s fear of Arabs to garner the support it needed for this mission. It’s up to you to exercise your right to vote. And to vote out the government we have at the moment because this administration wants to take us right back to the way things were.
An overstatement? Maybe we can revisit the discussion with more nuance when our busy pace slows down. I don’t expect him to buy my politics hook, line and sinker. But I’ll be damned if I don’t give him the best civics lesson of his life�don’t let other people decide your fate for you, which is what you’re doing when you don’t exercise your right to vote.
Nance said on October 21, 2003 at 1:31 pm
If you really want to blow his mind, tell him that if he were drafted, there’s a fair chance he’d be working for a guy like this.
alex said on October 21, 2003 at 1:56 pm
I always thought Gore Vidal was a bit loopy when he made the argument that fundie Christians are behind the coddling of Israel�for religious reasons. Something about them believing that’s the place where the Rapture is gonna happen and Christians need to keep it out of enemy hands so they can go there and hitch a ride to the Mothership when it happens.
This general certainly makes me wonder…
Jenny said on October 21, 2003 at 4:01 pm
Well Nancy, in all honesty only the students who aren’t working to put their low socioeconomic selves through school and who have wealthy parents (or at least parents who are willing to put themselves in hock) are “treasuring every moment” and thinking that it “doesn’t get any better than this.”
I bet if you look a little closer you’ll see students who are bleary eyed and tired because they are working their asses off to pay for school–and not because 9:00 a.m. is an early time to get out of bed.
I speak for the tired asses. I’ve been putting myself through night school for an embarrasingly long double-digit amount of years to “make something of myself.” School was never a time to treasure every moment, and I hope to God it gets better than this…..
Dan McAfee said on October 21, 2003 at 9:37 pm
The America many desire seems to be one where those who reach for the highest levels of public service must not display their faith. Is the argument that faith has no place in modern life, or no place in public life? Apparently both, since the general was displaying his faith in front of church groups. Are judges and generals no longer allowed the solace of the faith their predecesors enjoyed? Why not apply the rules you want to yourself before applying their to others… so that should your spouse or child or siblings fall ill, make sure no one catches you on camera praying, make sure that during the difficult times in your life you keep your tongue and don’t tell anyone the secret that you pray to God for help. Make sure your faith doesn’t inform your journalism or your management decisions because then, well, then you should step aside and let more reasonable people take your place.
I desire the opposite.
Nance said on October 21, 2003 at 10:00 pm
I desire a world where a general doesn’t speak batshit nonsense in public, like the news that “God put George Bush in office,” or that “my God is stronger than your god, because your god is an idol, and that’s why I won.” What does that say for the American men who died in Mogadishu during that very same war? Was God busy somewhere else that day, and allowed the idol-worshippers to get the upper hand? And if God made George Bush president, he also elected Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and various other ne’er-do-wells. I’d also like generals speaking on behalf of the military to refrain from assigning motives to those who have professed nothing of the sort. I mean, just for starters.
Dan McAfee said on October 21, 2003 at 10:25 pm
I think Orwell wrote a book about the America you’re looking for. RightSpeak or face adjustment.
I believe General Boykin, in his recent statements, echoes your words: That God indeed, had a hand in placing all leaders of the world in office, past and present.
So, do you believe that “the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” — or is that rhetoric. Or is it batshit nonsense?
If I prayed for Bush to win during that long Florida recount, does that make me batshit nuts? If I actually believe my God is real and all other Gods are idols, does that disqualify me from holding public office?
alex said on October 21, 2003 at 11:07 pm
Dan, regarding the last two questions, I’ll give you my best impersonation of a sitcom actress faking climax: Yes! Yes!
Dan McAfee said on October 21, 2003 at 11:37 pm
Since 65% of Americans say their faith is very important in their lives and 25% say their faith is somewhat important in their lives, I guess that leave 10% of the people qualified for public office. 65-90% of the people are batshit and 10% are intelligent enough to “get it.”
alex said on October 22, 2003 at 12:07 am
Sounds about right.
Dan McAfee said on October 22, 2003 at 12:21 am
Make sure your stepson knows that since 1970 americans have been allowed to be conscientious objectors even without religion as the reason… he just has to have a core belief that war is wrong and live his life that way. Of course just believing that “this” war is wrong won’t do the trick, he has to believe that all war is wrong.
Nance said on October 22, 2003 at 7:27 am
I don’t think you’re crazy for praying for George Bush. However, you’ve said before that people need to be careful of the things they say when they say them in public, at least when they’re representing another institution. This man is out in public, IN UNIFORM, making these claims. Yeah, that’s wrong any way you slice it.
Dan McAfee said on October 22, 2003 at 8:43 am
Have I said that? I don’t recall. But I agree with it. People should be careful. My problem with the outcry against Boykin is that he has been careful. He didn’t write an editorial about his views on Townhall.com, he didn’t give an interview on Fox News, he spoke in a religious venue, he expounded a Christian view in a place where people had every expectation of hearing a Christian point of view.
Should our national goal be to fire all government workers who speak before church groups, or only those who actually believe the content of their own speeches.
michael golden said on October 23, 2003 at 2:20 pm
Lest it be thought that the only persons desiring the departure of “Mine is Bigger Than Yours” Boykin, here is the “National Review’s” take: http://www.nationalreview.com/nr_comment/editors200310230849.asp
“During the Korean War, Douglas MacArthur wanted to attack Manchuria, and he let that be known to everyone who would listen. That was not U.S. policy, however, and President Truman promptly sacked the great man. During the Cold War � in fact often pretty hot � NATO general Edwin Walker was instructing his troops in the theorems of the John Birch Society. That the U.S. government was 60 percent under Communist control was not the view of the Kennedy administration, and Walker was gone. Flash forward to today. A three-star general, William “Jerry” Boykin, has been lecturing, in public and in uniform, to the effect that we are in a war with Islam, than whose god his God is bigger, that this is a war against Satan, of whom he has a photograph in the sky above Mogadishu. President Bush has made it national policy that we are not in a war with global Islam. Furthermore, it is hardly good for the morale of troops to understand that their commander is a wacko who goes around photographing Satan zooming overhead. General Boykin is manifestly insubordinate, and should be sacked. Yesterday.”
alex said on October 23, 2003 at 3:46 pm
Dan McAfee said on October 23, 2003 at 4:25 pm
Yeah, the more I read the more “out there” Boykin appears. He most likely deserves the MacArthur treatment.