Sunday, December 17, 2006
The Liquid Life (installment seven)
TALKING POLITICS WITH ELENDELE
Elendele was a Democrat at the polls, but fell outside the mainstream political prism at the meal table.
One day in bed, she said to Saturn and I, that you could tell in high school what parties American children would belong to their whole lives. Those kids who needed to ask credit for class participation would be with her crowd. Everybody body else was with everybody else.
She did more than criticize. Her prescriptions for social head colds were many and she talked often of opening the world’s first political science store.
Her polity was not without bureaucracy. That, she believed, could not be helped.
What she envisioned were all-inclusive bureaucracies, buttressed by the fact that those people administering them did so because it affected them directly. Farmers directing agriculture, and without pay, so that only when problems arose would they convene out of common concern for their own creature comforts. Or something like that. She could explain it better, and look better doing it, but she really felt everybody should be treated the same, and that democracy wasn’t democracy unless everyone was working at it.
She believed that single people’s pets should be covered by their company health plan because she believed in loose family and natural tribes.
I told her that once I was a Democrat too, but that having met her, I’d since converted to monarchist. That is to say, she convinced me of the natural aristocracy.
But touched by flattery she was not, noting that there were neither Gods on earth or
heaven, “at least since the end of Viet Nam.”
There is a politics of love, she’d maintained, and hers was rooted in the notion that trust was not necessary for a good relationship.
“Men and women all caress some secret, keep a little life apart. To smother them in vows of trust is to doom it from the start.”
Then she declaimed, “Just what does all this social Darwinism have to do with civilization anyway? Either we’ve done nothing more than institutionalize Hobbes’ state of nature, or we’ve come together to make gentler the life of the world like Bobby Kennedy said we should.”
Saturn tried to shatter her: “What about the countless failed attempts at redistributing the wealth.”
“That’s a problem that has always been gone about improperly,” came the counterthrust. “What we need is a ruling party to convince people that, like me, all they ever really need to live fully and freely, are coffee, candy, and cigarettes.”
“There are lots,” answered Saturn, “and that’s not a novel idea.”
It is unknown to me whether the words sophistication and sophistry share the same root. But in Elendele’s world they had been knotted nicely neat with her achieving the former by taking the back door provided by the latter.
Then I asked her, “Do you like Jews?” and she said, “Well yes. That is, some Jews I like and some other I don’t.”
Then she quickly changed the subject again, deeming it important for me to know that, in extinguishing a joint, you don’t have to rub it out.
“Just lay it down and let it burn its own slow epiphanies.”