Thursday, November 10, 2016

False Teeth

An original drawing by Antonio Adams.

Election Night 2016 I got sick of the whole damn thing and made a carrot cake.  It was soothing, to tune out all of it and crack some eggs and make something sweet.  It was a box cake, with a little container of icing, so it wasn't like I was the Barefoot Contessa or anything, but still doing one stupid thing like that made a lot of crap go away at least momentarily.  I wasn't scared of what was going down.  It was more like I was apocalyptically disappointed.  I haven't really bumped into that kind of instant depression in a long time, but there it was:  the monster winning, everything I thought decent and kind just poof, gone.  And then the monster's idiot parade continues on, all the way into history and power and the Whitehouse.  And so on so forth.

It is what it is.  You can't predict what he's going to do because he lies all the time anyway, and he'd probably tell you that just to get your vote.  But one thing is for sure:  it's pretty set in stone that he will keep on kissing the asses of the people who shout how great he is and desperately need someone to help them blame somebody else for how rotten their situation is. Monday morning quarterbacks are talking about how that's the real tragedy here:  no one was listening to the Rural Working Class and boy oh boy now they are getting their revenge.  Well I got news for you:  I am from that stock, and still circulate within its circles at times, and the RWC does need help but it's the kind of help that's truthful and sober and quiet, as in TPP or no you're still shit out of luck if you think "your way of life" will return just like it was before. Monumental cultural/economic shifts have happened that have disconnected the RWC manufacturing base from the global market, and no amount of screaming at the top of your lungs to lock somebody up will alter that.  No amount of shifty dealings and heavyhanded negotiations can change that situation.  China does not care about you, nor does it give a shit about you-know-who and all his wonderful businessman skills.  The RWC is going to have to change how it sees the world, how it deals with what the world taketh away, and then move forward accordingly, as in:  there are no saviors.  Just strategies.  Plans.  Hope comes out of that kind of pushing forward.  It does not come from standing around with signs that say somebody is a "cunt" and by the way all lives matter.

Poverty and lack of opportunity is the one universal for a lot of people, of all races, nationalities, religions, sexualities. And uniting to combat those circumstances might be a wonderful start to a Utopia, but somehow uniting around changing the system to redistribute the wealth and chances always gets enmeshed in identity politics so sordid and flat-out wrong it makes you want to make another carrot cake.  All sides on that one too:  from thousands of whiny-assed RWCs jumping up and down wanting to make America great again to posh universities filled with safe-spaces just in case of micro-aggressions.  No priorities just pontifications and victimizations and posing and bitching so on so forth.

I really never loved Hillary, to be honest.  I understand the distaste for her shrillness, for her need to seek power and then turn it into a public display of phony tenderness.  I get it.  But you know what?  I voted for her because I knew all of the things I don't like about her are the things that make shit work in government, as in steely reserve, automaton-hippie smile, and above all else a greedy need to be seen as a problem-solver so craven and self-serving that it makes you actually get things done.  Of course I voted for her also because I don't think she will unleash a new phase of orgiastic fascism.

Anyway, after making the cake, after realizing for sure it was all the way over, after witnessing the pundits on every network looking shocked and pale and disappointed at their own impotence and stupidity, I went to bed and it just so happened that I was on the last few pages of As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner.  I reread this book every few years.  I've probably read it 15 or 16 times now.  It has velocity, sorrow, grotesque humor, soul-stirring poetry, floods and fires and broken legs.  It is about a family of rural working class nobodies whose mother Addie is dying and her oldest son builds her a casket while she watches.  All her other children are in their own little moments of lunacy, despair and tragedy.  They end up taking her corpse across the country in a vain attempt at burying her where she wanted to be buried, but by the time they get there, well, she sort of smells bad and there are buzzards following their every move.  Not funny-weird, not-funny-haha, just goddamned funny the way life is.

But it's her husband, Anse, who closes out the book in the most hilarious and human manner. Basically his quest to bury his wife reveals parallel, multi-tasking motives:  he also wants to get false-teeth so he can eat victuals the way God intended him to.  And then also,  just through serendipity, while borrowing a shovel with which to dig his wife's grave from a lady he's never met he falls in love and asks her to marry him right there on the spot.  Right after he puts his dead wife's stinky remains in the ground.  Tah-dah.

Happy ending for sure.  When I finished the book I just thought to myself:  thank God for books like this that take you away from grand concerns and worries and terrors and allow you to relax into situations so complicated and stupid and vexing as to make you feel alive and somehow sympathetic beyond words and beyond even maybe consciousness.  The people Faulkner writes about in As I Lay Dying are pure white-trash, poor, crazy, stupid, pissed off, petty, and lost.  Yet they all feel so alive and beautifully rendered you want them never to leave you, even while buzzards flutter above them, even while they are setting fire to your barn.

That's the spirit I am going to live in and on.  Not love or hate or whatever, but I think a version of good old-fashioned wonder.  Not the joyful kind, but the kind that allows you a poetic and distant understanding of how the world actually works, and maybe even how it will fix itself by getting new false teeth when all is said and done.