Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Politics, What Is that?

I don’t pretend to review literature. But I can see when words become more than pressed ink.

“Man is conceived in sin and born in corruption and he passeth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud.”

I know that All the King’s Men (Robert Penn Warren) is about Huey Long and politics, yes, about history and background, sure, but mostly about a brand of human that live and die in a coliseum of luster and shadows.

Willie Stark, the Boss (with a capital B), that great man who respectably represents a hapless rural constituency and sweats to improve his state—he uses blackmail like currency to get what he needs. Like battling politicians make his shopping list.

Politics. That coliseum of luster and shadows.

What can we make of its cyclical morals?

Jack Burden (the even-keeled, introspective Boss’s hand and narrator) writes as his decrepit father dictates some thoughts on the good book:

“The creation of man whom God in His foreknowledge knew doomed to sin was the awful index of God’s omnipotence. For it would have been a thing of trifling and contemptible ease for Perfection to create more perfection. To do so would, to speak truth, be not creation but extension. Separateness is identity and the only way for God to create, truly create, man was to make him separate from God Himself, and to be separate from God is to be sinful. The creation of evil is therefore the index of God’s glory and His power. That had to be so that the creation of good might the index of man’s glory and power.”

Shame he wrote so much. Could have just said, Circles, circles.

Perfect God creates a compromised being to which perfection is impossible. That man negotiates with morality in seeking perfection and drifts only further and further from it until he realizes (with that graceful, human-elevating, God-given trait reason) that such vice is opposite the good life. He vows—or society forces him—to reverse his action and he stands once more where he was conceived

Politics, then, is like a lion-pulled chariot within the great coliseum.

Willie Stark wanted to build a six million dollar state of the art hospital. He was to make sure that the contract was given to a company that would build the hospital soundly. But he was to name the hospital after his own self, contradicting any altruism with sonorous selfishness, saying he wanted his name to live forever.

There are too many circles to draw. Too much luster. Too many shadows. I’ll extract Willie Stark’s state politics and apply them nationally. I’ll take those and apply them internationally. Then I’ll take the whole sphere of politics and insert it quietly into the broader circle of a mind where it will compete for attention with other equally complex thoughts.

So you see? Even if we focus on just one, on just politics, we become entangled in that dangerous (and circular) web of examples and settings. Coliseum.

Is there no way to run without lactic acid? Is there no triumphant sunset without an ensuing deafening darkness?

Aren’t politics meant to improve our lives, to make life better, to progress society?!

It’s all so confusing, so engulfing. “Every action has an opposite and equal reaction” almost makes you want to sit completely still. I feel pessimistic and disheartened about politics, about “progressing” society.

What’s the point.