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Archives for August 2014

Swept away

I have a plastic dust pan with a great crack from tip to handle. When the trash was leaden, which is more often than not, I would remind myself I must replace this worthless tool for one made of metal. But as I wandered the endless warehouse aisles of Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace, I found, alas,  only plastic dust pans. The answer was the web. I found one metal pan at a reasonable price. It arrived today. I am grateful that the manufacturer saw fit to include this so as not to contribute to great dearth of instruction in this world:


A little grandmotherly poetry

By Tony Hoagland, from his book “Sweet Ruin.”

(Thanks to Addie Rimmer for introducing me to his poetry.)


You’re the Top

Of all the people that I’ve ever known
I think my grandmother Bernice
would be best qualified to be beside me now

driving north of Boston in a rented car
while Cole Porter warbles on the radio;
Only she would be trivial and un-

politically correct enough to totally enjoy
the rhyming of Mahatma Ghandi
with Napoleon brandy;

and she would understand, from 1948,
the miracle that once was cellophane,
which Porter rhymes with night in Spain.

She loved that image of the high gay life
where people dressed by servants
turned every night into the Ritz:

dancing through a shower of just
uncorked champagne
into the shelter of a dry martini.

When she was 70 and I was young
I hated how a life of privilege
had kept her ignorance intact

about the world beneath her pretty feet,
how she believed that people with good manners
naturally had yachts, knew how to waltz

and dribbled French into their sentences
like salad dressing. My liberal adolescent rage
was like a righteous fist back then

that wouldn’t let me rest,
but I’ve come far enough from who I was
to see her as she saw herself:

a tipsy debutante in 1938,
kicking off a party with her shoes;
launching the lipstick-red high heel
from her elegant big toe

into the orbit of a chandelier
suspended in a lyric by Cole Porter,
bright and beautiful and useless.

So to speak

An editorial in today’s Wall Street Journal under the headline, “The Ferguson Exception” says that instead “of applying predetermined racial template to every episode” each case should be judged on its merits. Then the editorial argues rather dramatically and forcefully:

“Reality is contingent and fact-specific.”

We have given this thought. What, might one suppose, is reality contingent upon? Such contingencies have plagued mankind since the dawn of time and the emergence from the ether of ignorance of a fact-specific world. Perhaps it is facts, specific facts as opposed to general facts, which presumably have little or no bearing on reality, possibly contingently and specifically factual, as opposed to being unspecific fact-wise, which in reality might not be reality, but fantasy-specific. We cannot thrive in a fact-generalized world, that is to say (just to clarify matters) an unfactual-specific world. If facts were aspecific in the sense of amoral, we might not be troubled by the specificity of factualness. This might mean that factual specificity in reality lacks specific achieveability-ness, at least insofar as contingencies may be involved. But these things should have no bearing on predetermined application in which templates do not merit consideration in a reality-contingent predetermined world where racial templates are not fact-specific and lacking the contingent of reality.

We owe the Journal a specific debt of reality-based gratitude for such clarity concerning the contingent nature of reality and its specific facts. And that we indeed should look at such matters on a case-by-case basis, judging each upon its merits and contingent realities.