We Love The Smell Of Nice Things In The Morning
It's almost Election Day, so Yr Nice Things is here to help you de-stress some before you get back to being a force for change. (You ARE a force for change, aren't you?) I'd like to start off with my own receipt, since I admitted Wednesday that I hadn't yet dropped off my absentee ballot. So here:
It's Boise, and when I went to City Hall, there was plenty of parking and no line at all, so stop growling, you.
And now, on to Nice Electoral, Halloween, and Sundry things!
In Joe Biden's America, Poetry Will Make You Cry
Rebecca had it exactly right in Friday's Tabs when she said "Stupid Joe Biden ad making me cry."
The Washington Post today has an excellent look at Biden's fondness for Irish poets like Seamus Heany and W.B. Yeats, which is shared by a bunch of other Democratic presidents. But the piece goes well beyond the usual "here are the poets Democrats like to quote" to a much more nuanced question: How the hell did Irish modernist literature become such a fixture among middle-class white politicians?
Georgetown literature prof Cóilín Parsons offers a brief intellectual history of how modernism — which often had radical aims — got tamed in academic institutions, and frequently presented as universal and apolitical. In the attempt to sweep out dusty Victorian ideas of Great Works, academe ended up with a canon that, while of more recent vintage, was still stuck in a particular viewpoint.
In the process, the writings of White, middle-class men became codified as universal.
Driving the depoliticization of modernist works was a search by American leaders, in the shadow of the Cold War, for a body of literature that could be seen as "pro-Western, pro-'freedom,' and pro-bourgeois," as critic Greg Barnhisel has written recently. Institutions such as the CIA-funded Congress for Cultural Freedom (1950-1966) and the Ford Foundation bankrolled a literary and artistic program that valued what were seen as apolitical art forms that allowed for individual expression. Modernism became such a body of literature, and a "weapon" in a fight over culture that was at the heart of the Cold War.
It's a terrific look at how literature isn't ever simply "the best writing" that "stands the test of time": It's always embedded in a context, and looking at who says some works pass that test is fascinating, too.
No, don't worry, Parsons isn't saying Seamus Heaney isn't a great writer — just that the "canonization of Irish modernists as 'good literature' took the active work of scholars and tastemakers in the postwar period, and that process stripped the work of its most radical sentiments." And as Parsons readily acknowledges,
[It] may be true that Heaney really is the poet for our times and the muse for a new presidency. His words, like Biden's moving new campaign video, "catch the heart off guard and blow it open."
Also too, I want to call attention to the series that this essay is included in, WaPo's daily "Made by History" feature. It's consistently one of the neatest resources in the paper, edited by a bunch of historians and aiming to look at how things going on right now can be understood by looking at historical contexts. Good stuff!
And while I hate to make Jeff Bezos richer, I'll point out you can get a super cheap WaPo subscription (six bucks a month) if you have Amazon Prime. (So now you can yell at me about promoting oligarchy instead of voting procrastination).
Soap History. Dilute! Dilute!
Speaking of history of ideas, check out Andrew Greenstone's brief history, in comics, of Dr. Emmanuel Bronner's strange "All-One-God" mystical beliefs, which he came up with in 1912 and then later started putting on his soap labels. It's all-natural, and mostly weird!
It's from comics magazine The Nib; you should definitely give 'em a follow on Twitter,. And subscribe to the quarterly print version if you can afford it. It's edited by Mat Bors, author of the famous "Mister Gotcha" comic that went viral four years ago and stayed viral because it's perfect. We should improve society somewhat.
And just in time for the holiday, The Nib on Friday ran this fascinating look at how Mexico's Dia de los Muertos has started merging with American Halloween, by Gerardo Alba. It's very good!
This image, however, is not from The Nib. It's my favorite Day of the Dead art, by 'Violetmagician' on DeviantArt, who has, sadly, since deleted their account:
Moar Votey Stuff!
Bernice King twote this reminder, by her father, of why voting matters.
More from my father regarding the 1964 U.S. Presidential Election. #MLK https://t.co/QWLE71kNkP— Be A King (@Be A King) 1604091292.0
Get ready to cry a few patriotic tears, OK? No bald eagles or glurgey music needed. Click and read the thread, too!
I just voted for the first time in my life. I told the lady registering me that I had naturalized this year and had… https://t.co/Ea5OW1K4hE— Ishaan Tharoor (@Ishaan Tharoor) 1604094067.0
This is just silly fun.
Some of Trump’s closing arguments are pretty weird. https://t.co/YWRoLqqurx— Schooley (@Schooley) 1604091060.0
As is this brilliant goddamn thing, right down to the little kicks.
Dead 🤣🤣🤣 https://t.co/4WDTYqLsyc— Louie G 🇩🇪🇲🇽🇺🇲 (@Louie G 🇩🇪🇲🇽🇺🇲) 1604082186.0
You've probably already seen this, but so what? Long lines are bad, but voting joyfully? It's the best.
This voting line in Philly!!!! https://t.co/sC6e3a4Ljv— Jerry Saltz (@Jerry Saltz) 1603625416.0
Halloween Twitter Is Fun, also too!
Voice actor Tara Strong has found another Harley Quinn. She doesn't seem worried about the competition.
My spirit animal. Thanks for sharing @IAmCreeSummer #HarleyQuinn ❤️💙 https://t.co/2XHU1kqmMQ— tara strong (@tara strong) 1604095009.0
How could anyone think this is Zorro? It's ... Difficult to conceive of! (from a tweet by @littlestcabbage)
Also (once more) that time I trick-or-treated with Kid Zoom years ago; the prior year, Kid had been
Zorro the Dread Pirate Roberts, so I got to re-use my Fezzik costume (and, sigh, back then I had to use padding). Didn't try to convince Kid to be Vizzini the next year, tho.
We also made one of these for Kid's vest:
Every tweet in this thread gets better and better. Clearly, she's raising her daughter right!
I just walked into my kid’s room and almost had a heart attack. I didn’t realize she had been making homemade Hallo… https://t.co/87nNyoqqgQ— hend amry (@hend amry) 1604091688.0
It slumped over now. :( https://t.co/dhhIHTugvh— hend amry (@hend amry) 1604092745.0
Forgot he was wearing a mask #DPZ #地味ハロウィン #jimihalloween https://t.co/skQT32eja1— Makiko Itoh (伊藤牧子) (@Makiko Itoh (伊藤牧子)) 1604079127.0
And finally, while this has nothing to do with Halloween, it's hilarious and so very My Teen Years. The high point is the nice Boston lady worried about video-game obsessed young hooligans "passing fast remarks" in front of senior citizens.
Intoxicating time warp. Every detail better than the last. https://t.co/NXSNwktSsg— Rob Delaney (@Rob Delaney) 1604061716.0
The danger was real. I knew a kid who climbed to the top of a tower and threw flaming barrels at everyone. The town had to hire a brave plumber to take him down.
So if you want kids off the streets and not getting potted up on weed, make sure they have a pocket full of quarters.
Have a lovely Sunday, youse! And enjoy your open thread!
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.