Monday, November 10, 2003

À bientôt, j'espère 

I just got a letter from my former host family in Orléans and, jesus, am I ever ready to get back. It's been over two years since my last sejour la-bas/over yonder, and foreign language is very unlike riding a bike... every day I'm not casually using it is a day that a word or two, maybe an irregular conjugation even, slips away. I finished my bachelors in French language living with them, and I knew that my love for them was mutual when my host father, Phillippe, offered to buy me an extension on my plane ticket home if I would stay with them until my next term began. I left them to come home and finish my biology degree--I made a very, very warped choice. Salut Marie-André, Phillipe et Florian--vous me manquez terriblement.

On an unrelated note, some unnamed neighbor left a fresh copy of The Rapture's newest "Echoes" leaning against my front door. I'm glad s/he did, and I'm also glad I'm not living in New York as I would apparently hate it for not being better (hello, House of Jealous Lovers?! MORE COWBELL!). The title track has been on a continuous loop since I got off work, and now that I'm a few beers deeper into relaxation, said track has been turned to maximum volume and caused me to dance like a Breakfast Club Molly Ringwold in front of the hot, hot fireplace. SUPASTAH!

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Sun has Set on the American Idiom 

For some reason, today the feverpitch of national insanity has flipped an internal switch of mine. When did the United States become so aggravatingly dense? I mean, the social milieu wasn't this illogical or unnavigable when I entered college, was it? It certainly has been since I've left. Nothing's shocking in an international context any longer--I am only dumbfounded, and dumbfounded continually, by what the United States' administrative authorities do every day and how easily said authorities are able to sweep misdeeds and vicious political behavior under the rug.

Ann Coulter spoke at Johns Hopkins about a month ago, jeering the audience as much as they were jeering her. Is this acceptable? The public (as a dissolute, heterogeneous body) always reserves the right to acrimony, a public figure (as a specific representative of institutional policy or character) never does. Jesus, I hate this--I hate seeing idiocy prevailing under the shroud of conservativism, a four-letter word that isn't much better than the idiocy it is obscuring. Even the word 'conservativism' curdles my blood--it suggests a rationing of potential action, of change in a positive direction, under the false premise that there is actually some substantive element of human nature that must be conserved... as if we could ever run out of ill-will. I remember talking at an author on campus about this very issue (I say "talking at" because he never made eye contact, nor did he ever answer my question without first making obvious his well-rehearsed allegiant platitudes) who insisted on consistently returning to the silly defense that all changes must take place at an alarmingly slow pace to avoid inflaming the public temper and thus causing more regression than progression.


I like to think that maybe some neoconservatives actually have convinced themselves that delaying civil progress is an essential step in implementing just policy, but I strongly (and sadly) doubt that this is the case. It is true, after all, that suddenly-implemented legislation that affects the moral outlook of a nation does cause distress... I get pulled into that easy trap as well. Yet a statement's truth is in no logical way its own endorsement, especially in the arena of human rights. Lethargic policy is a method of corroding public conviction, of stretching out minimal action across maximum time. Take the civil rights movement as an example: how long did it take for a simple scientific fact (the biological sameness of caucasians and other regional body types) to be implemented, and how did that long-ass trial of social modification take to, umm, not work? I'll tell you what, I live in Little Rock, Arkansas. I drive by Central High School every day on my transit to work. The entire time I attended public school (from kindergarten to graduation) it was under desegregation legislation. Social Conservative Governor Orval Faubus called out the National Guard to protect the school from 9 black kids in 1957 forcing Eisenhower to call out the goddamned U.S. Army (1,000 troops, no less!) to federally supersede said resistance. People, I graduated in fucking 1998. The slow path does not work.

Ann Coulter is a true champion of rhetoric, no matter how poorly she wields it. She and her followers are echochambers, taking in the philosophies of Leo Strauss and amplifying them to an amazing degree, all the while co-mingling said arguments with party conveniences and justifications for a Moral Authority. I've always admired those who can captivate and convince audiences with discourse, but Coulter is a textbook example of an amateur who doesn't have to try to hard to impress an uneducated public, hungry for validations of their own prejudices, their own irrationality. It is still a hobby of mine to jarringly halt a conversation when I hear an argument hashed up prima facie (and word for word) out of an Ann Coulter book--I am sadist enough to enjoy causing intellectual pain to those who lack the energy to think about policy, casting downward glances in the manner that they have gleaned from Coulter, O'Reilly, et al. I accept my character wholly, and consider these fleurs du mal as a beautiful bouquet, a soft instrument of vindication that can be so easily tilted in the direction of a shrewdly ranting stereotype. I want people of the same persuasion to lose the fear of confrontation, to overcome inhibition and start putting these repeaters down--desperate times most certainly call for desperate measures, so fucking cut loose and yell at some dumbasses.

Every time I'm fucking, I make sure to direct at least one sweaty moment to point at two documents I have framed above my headboard: the first is the legal brief detailing the declaration of anti-sodomy laws as unconstitutional, the second is the frontpage of the article from the last issue of the journal Molecular Brain Biology demonstrating that sexual identity is a genetic characteristic that is predetermined even before the hormonal flush responsible for most morphological sexual differentiation. You see my bias here? With the Supreme Court, justice is as swift as it can be in a judicial context. A wave of the gavel and, poof, we're free to fuck ('cause we didn't before said legislation, you know...). Scientific progress is even more amazing (especially when it involves boinking... badum pum) because, no matter how slowly the world catches on, the illumination has already taken place, and I can find comfort in the knowledge that , "Yes, I know."

I accept that I must cope with the national resignation that summarily demonstrates that we are all yielding to the axe of the executioner, but I offer up hope in the form of a frantic cry: Rip off the fucking band-aid, America, or you're just going to start ignoring it until it becomes another festering wound, resistant to all defenses. Complacency will be our terrible disease, and, as the first horseman Ann Coulter is demonstrating, that disease is upon us.

I wish I could afford to move to France.


Sunday, November 09, 2003

Seasonal cunning 

I was tricked by a warmish day into leaving my bedroom window open all night.


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