My Blog Week: July 19 to July 25
A Word on the Week
Misremembrance of Things Past
I have a reason for writing opinion pieces. Being opinionated, of course, but also to counter that hazard creative people know, a sort of passive-aggressive goggling, spawned by the notion one person’s achievements are judgments against another’s, or that being paid for talent, like receiving public benefits, is getting away with something: “Where do you ever get your ideas! I would never think of anything like that!”
Troubled genius biopics tend also to fuel the cultural romance; while artists tend also to invent personas…some may see fallback capital (excuses and forgiveness) in artifactualized vulnerability—but this perception of artists being “not normal” is marginalizing, too.
And most of us, I’m sure, are placid types, nerds, if not recluses, happy with our pets and gardens, busy producing as much as a day’s hours allow…
But if you’re marginalized, blogging and social media provide an important service. Have you been cut short, ignored, not asked your point of view, not approached to share your experiences? Well, me too…I always have been. When I tell my true-life stories and give that opinion, I am giving my side of the conversation…
The conversation that, as we know, so many aren’t willing to have with us.
I have a story, of a trip to Cleveland with my parents, a motel we’d spent the night at, breakfasting next morning at a little table in the close-packed “continental” room. I heard a man say, “Whatever happened to smoking?”
He was not speaking to his companion, so much as to the room, and he wasn’t really asking. His rhetoric was a gambit, disingenuousness used to imply, “Where did all the fun go?”
Was smoking fun? Have smokers typically been jolly Santas, well-wishers to all humankind? It stopped, in any case, because of logistics. Businesses set aside smoking areas, which tended to shrink over time—but even a few tables in a restaurant, or rows on a plane, left paying customers unseated while saleable seats sat empty. That, and class action lawsuits by employees, the chance for better insurance deals, ended the phenomenon of smoking as a public behavior.
This past week, a lawsuit was announced, against some prominent Fox News personalities. The subject is sexual harassment. Some of the internet trolls responding to stories (from their chief targets, CNN, the Washington Post, and NBC news) used the gambit…I’ve seen it show up in other discussions as well. “Whatever happened to office flirtations?” “Is it harassment now to ask a woman for a date?”
Well, what roof are you under? That will determine your particular social contract—why a joke told in a comedy club is not an aggression, but a joke told in the office may be. If Jill and Joe have the same job description, their company, for its legal safety, must invest itself in their equal treatment. If Fred the boss would never say to Joe, “I like those trousers on you. It’s nice when men dress like men,” he should say nothing of the kind to Jill about her skirt. Jill’s forced view of a colleague who eyes her up, rates her on a basis irrelevant to the work she does—possibly retaliates against rejection with an f-bitching campaign of gossip—will be as bad for her productivity as a lungful of secondhand smoke.
As mentioned, the “fun” days of indoor pollution and wanton groping can’t, like MAGA, have made anyone—bigoted louts and Twitter tiraders alike—very happy. “Whatever happened…?” , as propagandistic tactics will, speaks of a nebulous thing, an idyll when the PC police hadn’t messed the world up…with such insistences as rights and respect, self-control, a sense of time and place (part of the manners suite, that parents allegedly teach as they produce upstanding, patriotic citizens).
“It used to be better” is an easy falsehood to buy into. For every MAGA self-coached into greater disgruntlement today than yesterday, with full meltdown on the horizon, it did.
On Monday, a new Assorted Opinions, the first part of a discussion on blind political attachments. Tuesday, The Mirrors (part ten), the project to save Carmine taken in hand by a newly-met Dumain. Wednesday, a new Eight in the Bushido octet, “Honor”. Thursday, an introductory essay, and the first page of Shine!, by Mathilde Alanic, my current book translated from the French. Friday and Saturday, excerpts from A Figure from the Common Lot, “Passage”, and “Paris”, Honoré’s first sight of a dangerous woman, and Broughton’s ill-fated attempt to be helpful to him.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: July 19 to July 25
(note: the art I’ve chosen to anchor this novel is a photo of my own grandmother, not meant to imply a picture of the author, who can be viewed on French Wikipedia.)