American Grotesques

Our guest columnist this morning is Sherwood Anderson.

In the bed the writer had a dream that was not a dream. As he grew somewhat sleepy but was still conscious, figures began to appear before his eyes. He imagined the young indescribable thing within himself was driving a long procession of figures before his eyes.

You see the interest in all this lies in the figures that went before the eyes of the writer. They were all grotesques. All of the men and women the writer had ever known had become grotesques.

The grotesques were not all horrible. Some were amusing, some almost beautiful, and one, a woman all drawn out of shape, hurt the old man by her grotesqueness. When she passed he made a noise like a small dog whimpering. Had you come into the room you might have supposed the old man had unpleasant dreams or perhaps indigestion.

For an hour the procession of grotesques passed before the eyes of the old man, and then, although it was a painful thing to do, he crept out of bed and began to write. Some one of the grotesques had made a deep impression on his mind and he wanted to describe it.

At his desk the writer worked for an hour. In the end he wrote a book which he called “The Book of the Grotesque.” It was never published, but I saw it once and it made an indelible impression on my mind. The book had one central thought that is very strange and has always remained with me. By remembering it I have been able to understand many people and things that I was never able to understand before. The thought was involved but a simple statement of it would be something like this:

That in the beginning when the world was young there were a great many thoughts but no such thing as a truth. Man made the truths himself and each truth was a composite of a great many vague thoughts. All about in the world were the truths and they were all beautiful.

The old man had listed hundreds of the truths in his book. I will not try to tell you of all of them. There was the truth of virginity and the truth of passion, the truth of wealth and of poverty, of thrift and of profligacy, of carelessness and abandon. Hundreds and hundreds were the truths and they were all beautiful.

And then the people came along. Each as he appeared snatched up one of the truths and some who were quite strong snatched up a dozen of them.

It was the truths that made the people grotesques. The old man had quite an elaborate theory concerning the matter. It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself, called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truth he embraced became a falsehood.

Winesburg, Ohio (1919) [Bartleby]

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Updated version:
Lust for absolute power and being stupid corrupts absolutely.

to heavy for monday morning. makes my teeth hurt.

I read this someplace before – and recently. Noj’, you been taking warm-up swings with this thesis in the comments lately?

That’s very good. I smell a musical.

TJ/ I hate it when I agree with Ron Paul:

“This is all about hate and Islamophobia,” he writes in a column about the backlash to the Islamic center that is in development near ground zero. He blames the brouhaha on “neoconservatives” who “never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for ill-conceived preventative wars.” He excoriates conservatives for “failing to defend private-property rights, a policy we claim to cherish,” and, when faced with popular support for banning the construction, says, “majorities can become oppressors of minority rights as much as individual dictators.”

@Mistress Cynica: I came very close a moment ago to posting the entire press release. If the day remains (thankfully?) slow, I still might.

@FlyingChainSaw: I ran the last paragraph in a comment last week, but that was the other thing I couldn’t get out of my head, so I went for an extended excerpt.

@Mistress Cynica:

If it makes you feel any better he only said that to bolster his street cred regarding big government and objectivist selfishness. He could give a shit about Muslims.

Talk about a grotesque! Hey, Nojo, what do you become when you embrace a falsehood and live your life by that?

Speaking of grotesqueries:

From about halfway down:

At one point, a portion of the crowd menacingly surrounded two Egyptian men who were speaking Arabic and were thought to be Muslims.

“Go home,” several shouted from the crowd.

“Get out,” others shouted.

In fact, the two men – Joseph Nassralla and Karam El Masry — were not Muslims at all. They turned out to be Egyptian Coptic Christians who work for a California-based Christian satellite TV station called “The Way.” Both said they had come to protest the mosque.

“I’m a Christian,” Nassralla shouted to the crowd, his eyes bulging and beads of sweat rolling down his face.

But it was no use. The protesters had become so angry at what they thought were Muslims that New York City police officers had to rush in and pull Nassralla and El Masry to safety.

It’s a damn shame nobody has video of that (as far as I know), because it would have summed up the whole “movement” nicely. It’s not about 9/11, it’s not even about religion – it’s about a new variety of race hatred. Poor Egyptian bastards thought it was about religion, and probably would have gotten seriously hurt and/or killed for it but for the NYPD.

Given this, the post by Mark Williams today is just icing on the teabag-fascist cake.

@al2o3cr: There’s video, and I’ve been sitting on it all day.

(Actually, the video I’ve been sitting on is a similar story from the same rally. But still.)

@nojo: Well, this certainly tops the Tiger Woods divorce tip I was going to send to you.

@Dodgerblue: Sitting on that one, too, but it didn’t seem “news” as much as “foregone conclusion.”

@nojo: “Woods Divorce Final; Vegas Hookers Storm Bikini Wax Parlors!”

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