Friday, September 26, 2008

Uncharted Territory

Jon Stewart's piece, "Clusterf#@k to the Poor House - Dive of Death" showed footage of the two Bush speeches, before the Iraq War, and now – concerning the impending 'financial meltdown'. This confirmed my sense of uncanny similarity between those two moments. The same corridor with gilt-edged chairs, the same red carpet and 'flag thingies' in the background, the same language of fear and cataclysm. Thank goodness Stewart can make us laugh.

Cratering and tanking, we are melting down, bailing out, mixing the metaphors of disaster. The candidates rush to Washington to try to fix the economy in a few hours. They didn't, of course, and as Stewart asks: What would Mount Rushmore Do? The failing Washington Mutual was purchased by JP Morgan, and my first email of the day was from WaMu: 'The Holidays Begin Today!' Now which holidays are these, exactly? Am I supposed to shop?

In the face of such 'uncharted territory' (where many economies have gone before us), we carry on with our own financial uncertainty and those private intuitions and intentions that guide our small but significant lives. What strategies can we use to find calm and quiet in the midst of this chaos and bloated urgency?

I hesitate to even mention politics in this blog. But it's all politics on some level, and therefore impossible to simply 'suspend.' As a friend said to me yesterday, the level of toxicity in our culture is so great – how do we prevent relationships from succumbing to it? And how can we engage the greater culture in creative and meaningful ways, moving beyond numbing consumerism? These questions form the static background of our lives.

Preposterous humor, pointing out the rampant absurdity, often helps.

1 comment:

Joyce Kennedy said...

I think of Jon Stewart as the Feste of our time.
Feste was one of Shakespeare's clown truth-tellers, one who points out the absurdities of human thought and behavior. Jon, like Feste, gets away with it because he is so likable, funny, witty. He is not in the least mean-spirited. And he is indispensable--we need him!