Wholesome American Guts: Your William S. Burroughs Thanksgiving Prayer 2020
Yr Wonkette began posting this Thanksgiving Prayer by William S. Burroughs and Gus Van Sant back in 2006, and quite a few things have changed since then. The deadpan list of Bloody American Triumphs is more relevant than ever in this Plague Year of 2020, and if Burroughs were with us today, he might look at his 1986 poem and wonder how he'd ever been such a starry-eyed optimist. Back in the anxious Thanksgiving of 2015 we fretted because the presidential campaign featured "serious debates over registering religious minorities and bringing back torture." Heh. We were so innocent back then, and didn't think that guy had any chance of really getting elected.
So now we have elected a new president, but the failed one continues to insist that never happened, because voting isn't real if the Great Man says it isn't. The good news is that, through all four years, according to Gallup at least, he never had the approval of a majority of Americans. And a clear majority rejected him in the election.
But it remains anyone's guess whether the Trump years mark the beginning of a new, degraded era where all politics will be terrible forever, or a temporary season of madness from which we'll emerge blinking in confusion, swathed in bandages and wondering why Canada keeps asking us if we remember anything, especially where we stashed Toronto. There's no shortage at all of decent church-going people with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces who seem ready to keep supporting outright fascism.
And now we have a genuine plague, a pandemic whose deadly reality makes Burroughs's "laboratory AIDS" line seem almost quaint, as conspiracy theories go (and a reminder that you probably shouldn't get your epidemiology from a Beat poet, either). Frankly, I can't rule out the possibility that William Burroughs might have turned out to be a COVID crank, just for the cussedness of it. Or maybe he'd look at the pandemic and be even more convinced than ever that we're a nation of idiots, suckers at the carnival cruise happy to believe in magic pills the "president" hawks, willing to infect each other for the sake of the GDP. Hell, maybe both.
Burroughs might well look at 2020 and have a good rueful laugh. He told us so. We had An American Dream, and we almost pissed it away because the loudmouthed crazy uncle from TV was so entertaining, and because so many of us really resented that there had been a Black president. Burroughs might have said Donald Trump was the president America had been working toward for decades.
This year, our bleak Thanksgiving prayer is made even bleaker by the plague. Even those of us who haven't lost friends or loved ones to the disease have empty seats at the table, because the safest thing is to not travel, and the best way to tell distant friends you love them is to keep yourself the hell away from them. No pile of winter coats on the bed in the guest room, but instead we'll chat over the computer. (No, really, join us! Here!)
But we'll be thankful that we've made it far enough to hope it will be better next year, and that we've turned some kind of corner on the strangeness of the last four years. We're thankful that Reality seems poised for a comeback. We have each other, even if for the moment we can't go to a restaurant. We're looking forward to being able to sleep a bit more, maybe.
For all the petty small-minded terribleness and evil out there, we still have the option of laughter, because it sure as hell beats giving in to the bastards.
A happy and safe Thanksgiving to all Wonkers everywhere, and remember to Buy (almost) Nothing tomorrow.
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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.