Today was a brilliant day for biking, but I remained indoors to nurse my head-cold/chest-cold. A single-mile ride on Sunday had resulted in me feeling like my wheezing lungs were full of cold and clammy fluid.
My mood gets alternately prickly and lethargic when I’m ill. Part of me wants to write some bit of poetics – namely how awfully boring most critical writing is, how much it rehashes stuff from 30 years past (yeah, language is indeterminate, who knew?), contrasted to the failure of the critical arts to cohere around and elucidate a poetry that actually speaks to fundamental human concerns in times of crisis. Perhaps I want also to write about the numbers of humans who waste their human potential on word-constructs-to-be-explicated, but desire to identify themselves as poets.
I find it increasingly appalling, actually, given that many of these writers have important things to say, things which their fellow citizens need to hear. Instead we get code and cant.
In my current mood, I find a frustrating similarity in the left’s recurring failure to do anything but criticize. Those criticisms (valid) tend to attach to persons, not broad ideas. Meanwhile the right has endless new unsullied politicians who can step forward and articulate ideas which do mobalize the voters imagination. Democracy! Saving American Lives! Fighting Terror! And so on. Scandals may knock out individuals, but the same old rhetoric is where their true power is. It’s what gets them elected.
The left needs to abandon it’s current rhetoric and restate (on a popular level) a positive articulation of core values that swing voters (not leftists) can get behind. Bring the Troops Home! is getting a bit shopworn, but it’s the most effective thing the left’s done in awhile.
Rumor has it that Kerry may run again – and given that the last election wasn’t so long ago, I’d like to ask anyone if they remember any big sweeping value that Kerry endorsed (that wasn’t co-opted by the Republicans). I suspect few of us can name them easily. Yes, he had his platform planks and proposed policies, but he didn’t have one-word sweeping ideas/ideals which his programs grew out of. Or if he did, he singularly failed to communicate them.
Sometimes I think of juries as mini-electorates. Some will find a formal hook on which to hang their hat, but I wonder how many of them decide for or against someone based on that sweeping “total” argument, then go looking for points to justify that decision?