Monday, October 8, 2018

Thanksgiving, E.B. Day Three

Happy Thanksgiving! A quiet solitary day, blessed. Last night, an unaccustomed 3 1/2 hours in front of the TV: The Durrells in Corfu, Poldark, Madame Secretary, and John Oliver. Enjoyed all of them. Madame Secretary is an American fantasy I won't watch again about a female Secretary of State, last night featuring a scene with former real S of S's Madeline Albright, Colin Powell and of course Hillary, speaking passionately about the importance of American rights and freedoms, leading to an impassioned speech about same by the actress playing the part, followed by a shot of the magnificent American flag flapping regally outside the White House window.

I thought, I wonder who they think is watching this? Do they think people in the red States, Trump's people, are watching lofty lefty Madame Secretary, with its feel-good sentiments? They're watching Fox News on TV and Breitbart online. So what's the point?

I'm getting cynical in my old age. But the others were as always delightful, especially Durrells - glorious.

Today, working - my bum going to sleep, I've been sitting here so long - and now rising to begin to put some order in my house, now that the reno is vastly reduced and I can figure out what goes where. Just Skyped with Lynn in Montpellier, and we started to talk about my visit next year. Woo hoo!

Here's E.B. today, a few thoughts for the current Secretary of State, whoever he is:

December 1941 (America has entered the war)
The passionate love of Americans for their America will have a lot to do with winning the war. It is an odd thing though: the very patriotism on which we now rely is the thing that must eventually be in part relinquished if the world is ever to find a lasting peace and an end to these butcheries.
            To hold America in one’s thoughts is like holding a love letter in one’s hand – it has so special a meaning. Since I started to write this column snow has begun falling again; I sit in my room watching the re-enactment of this age old phenomenon outside the window. For this picture, this privilege, this cameo of New England with snow falling, I would give everything. Yet all the time I know that this very loyalty, this feeling of being part of a special place, this respect for one’s native scene – I know that such emotions have had a big part in the world’s wars. Who is there big enough to love the whole planet? We must find such people for the next society.

October 1942
(about a concert raising money for war bonds) After the band had performed, a young Jewish soldier stepped forward and played a violin solo. For him there could be nothing obscure about war aims. It was a war for the right to continue living and the privilege of choosing his own composer when he played the fiddle. He played solidly and well, with a strength that the Army had given his hands and his spirit. The music seemed to advance boldly toward the enemy’s lines.
            Here, for a Nazi, was assembled in one hall all that was contemptible and stupid – a patriotic gathering without strict control from a central leader, a formless group negligently dressed …, a group shamelessly lured there by a pretty girl for bait, a Jew in an honoured position as artist, Negroes singing through their rich non-Aryan throats, and the whole affair lacking the official seal of the Ministry of Propaganda – a sprawling, goofy American occasion, shapeless as an old hat.
            It made me feel very glad to be there. And somewhere during the evening, I picked up a strong conviction that our side was going to win.

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