Tuesday, June 3, 2008


She said, What is history? And he said,
History is an angel being blown backwards into the future.
History is a pile of debris.
And the angel wants to go back, to fix things,
to repair things that have been broken.
But there is a storm
from Paradise,
and the storm keeps blowing the angel backwards
into the future.
And this storm, this storm, is called

-- Laurie Anderson, from "The Dream Before (for Walter Benjamin)"

I was standing in the shower thinking about who Obama is likely to pick as VP, when this lyric came to mind. Since our nation's voting public still hasn't quite worked through the dysfunctions and inspirations of the Sixties, it's an especially interesting question -- on the one hand you have Clinton, at one time an appealing candidate (bias here) who gives those original founding Feminists a vision of arms lifted in final victory. On the other hand you have Edwards (and for the moment we'll leave out the other options, whatever they are), a sincere replicant of Bobby Kennedy and the evocation of some lasting vision of racial healing via the King/Kennedy aura. It's much too much to hope that short of divine intervention either ideal will wholly come to pass in any practical sense, should a Democrat be elected. But it's long past time for some larger moral vision (we're talking real morals here) to lift a significant portion of the country out of its backyards and ghettos long enough to effect discernable change.

Hillary Clinton is just on my nerves, frankly, and I think Saturday Night Live has her pegged. She has blown her chance at respect, in my mind, by being shrill and vindictive, and by bending the truth for no good reason. Plus I've always thought her an establishment candidate, relatively speaking. More white than woman. And nobody likes a sore loser.

And the angel wants to go back, and fix things. It's not necessarily a good way to view politics, by virtue of a need for recompense and retribution. Yet "move forward, forget the past" has so often been the message of those in power who benefit from a move away from moral progress, away from the progress of social justice, of human rights. And yet again -- maybe Progress comes full circle, eventually -- maybe Progress catches up with itself, the pendulum swings the other way, the angel's work is done right here and Now. I hope so, whatever happens.

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