Monday, July 19, 2010

Serendipity of an Idea, Part One

Today began as any other, with me trying to get past emails and all the "click on this" links that suck the time right out from underneath me, so that I could try to finish some mail art. Finally, around 11 a.m., I had my enveloped treasures ready and set off in my car for my usual post office ten miles away.

I have had the habit for awhile now of preferring talk radio to music when I drive locally, and it was this habit that spawned my love-hate relationship with Rush Limbaugh, whose radio show is on here from 11-2 weekdays. I say love-hate because I strongly belief that El Rushbo is out for no one but himself, and while he may make a lot of sense surprisingly, one always should be on guard for what I call his Rushbo Mumbo Jumbo (his little plots of mischief helping no one in the end but his reputation among his rabid fans, his ego and his bank account). Let's just say, I respect the many good points he makes, but not what he wants to do with them most times.

So, on today's show, Rush pre-empted his regular script to ooh and aah over a new article in the latest American Spectator called "America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution" written by Angelo M. Codevilla.  Basically, the author describes our current political partisanship not so much as Dem vs. Repub, but as The Ruling Class vs. The Country Class. Dems, being the party in power currently, but whose majority has eroded to a minority after only two years, are the R Class; and those of us who are disillusioned, pissed off, saddened, and otherwise void of Hope and Change, who are now the majority, are the C Class. And there is a humongous divide and disconnect between the two Classes that could not be more impossible to bridge if it were in a Shakespearean or Greek tragedy.

You can read the article linked above to find out more in detail (it's a good article, easy to follow and I found it authentic and identified with it immediately). I read it as soon as I returned home.

One notion struck me deeply in it, and because I cannot dare paraphrase it well enough to do it justice, I'll quote the paragraph that contains the jist of it:
Never has there been so little diversity within America's upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America's upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and "bureaucrat" was a dirty word for all. So was "social engineering." Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday's upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.
I knew when I read it that this was a kernel of an idea that I'd never really explored before but has the tonnage of an bomb. But as often happens, I mentally filed it away to access later on, and continued reading. I knew I agreed and that there was much more there. But I needed to marinate it a bit.

Then the mail came and with it, my latest issue of Texas Monthly magazine. Last month had such a good cover story about Texas writer Larry McMurtry and his novel Lonesome Dove. So, when this issue featured a cover story on another Texas writer, John Graves, whose classic novel Goodbye to a River is sort of a cult rite of passage for wannabe student writers (and I was one of those in my younger day), I just gave up on doing anything else, got my coffee and cigarettes, settled down outside on the porch in my rocking chair and had a very satisfying afternoon smoking, sweating and drinking in the issue cover to cover. I also enjoyed reading a riotous article by Kinky Friedman about his advice to our gubernatorial candidates in the upcoming November election, but I'll leave that one for another day.

So, I am almost to the end of a very good interview with Graves by 37-year veteran TM contributor Gary Cartwright (and he's now retired, unfortunately...this being his last regular contribution), when a paragraph in this article hits me like a ton of bricks. Cartwright had asked Graves what his feelings were about Texas today. Again, my paraphrasing would not do it justice, so here are Graves' words:

Maybe it's a sign of old age, or decreptitude, but I'm not very optimistic about the future of this country... People here, they weren't what you'd call an admirable hunk of American society, but they had their own ways, which I got used to. They were a distinctive variety. But that's all been wiped out. It used to be that the differences among people were big, and those differences always interested me greatly. But now I find alot of sameness. I don't like the way things are shaping up.

He goes on.

Difference in modes of human work, play, manners, language, and even appearance have fascinated me forever, and I have come to believe that these differences not only hold rich and interesting color and drama but are a stout force in the possibility of humankind's endurance on this planet, for as Darwin knew, variety fosters survival.
I'll end this for now, but has the coincidence or serendipity of this idea struck you as it did me? What are your thoughts? Does DeTocqueville's wise observations about what makes an American come to your mind as it did mine? Did Orwell knock at the door as well? Part Two tomorrow....