Going, Going, Gone

January 17, 2009 § 5 Comments

I imagined that now I’d be feeling excitement about Obama taking office but I don’t. I’ll probably feel it Tuesday. What I’m feeling now is a deep happiness that Bush is going. I’m not even worked up about how he got away with everything. I disagree with Paul Krugman about the importance of inquiries into the Administration’s crimes. It would be fine if we could do that without stopping Obama’s momentum but we can’t. And if that’s always gong to be the case, if no President ever wants to give up his momentum to punishing the last guy—well, maybe that should teach us to start fighting sooner. I know his damage hasn’t all been done yet. More lives will be lost, jobs and homes will be lost. But he’s going. He’s not our president. Most of us made it through. And all you guys who wanted to have a beer with him—start a petition. Maybe he can spend the rest of his life passed from saloon to saloon like the parrots and chimps sailors used to bring home and set up as mascots in the local watering hole. You can teach a chimp to drink beer; what you can’t do is teach George Bush how to be—what did he say he is now? A citizen. Not even.  He just lives here. Might as well let him entertain the drunks (but they have to really want him).
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In Michael Kimmelman’s obituary of Andrew Wyeth in the Times, he refers to the painting “Christina’s World” as dark, humorless and morose. The first time I saw a reproduction of it, as a young teenager, it comforted me that there was a man somewhere who knew about the loneliness of girls in fields. (Cristina was 55 at the time of the painting, but it never occurred to me she wasn’t a teenage girl.) I knew the difference between, say, Degas and Wyeth, but had room for both, and more, and all the art I could find. I suppose my quarrel with Kimmelman is about the word ‘morose’…although if I were to using my teenage self as a measure of normal, it would be hard to find anything that would qualify as morose. The painting doesn’t do much for me now, but I’m grateful for the memory of what it gave me. And for the memories that come with it, all the hours roaming in fields and woods in New Hampshire, the trees and snow and mud and rocks, the bay and rivers…the great gorgeous weight of it all…I was dizzied by so much beauty; I didn’t know what to do with it; I wanted to talk to it; I thought it was trying to talk to me.  And none of that would have been so astonishing without loneliness.

New Hampshire Field

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