All hail the Barack (and some summer reading)

November 4, 2008

Today’s the big day so I’ll be surprised if anyone’s reading blogs other than the political-watching ones. I wish the rest of the day would fly past so I can settle down in front of the TV at 2am and watch the results come in. Remember 8 years ago — when the election race was “too close to call” for what seemed like weeks!?

I’m going to enjoy seeing Obama and the Democrats winning some swing states like Ohio, Florida and maybe some red states such as Virginia. Maybe the race will be closer than we think but I just can’t see that. Obama’s so much better than McCain and, as corny as it sounds, there’s a sense of hope in the air. Maybe this time things will be different. Maybe America can be an inspirational superpower and increase peace and prosperity around the world.

On the reading front I have a number of books on the go (or waiting to have their turn):

The Innocent Libertine (Colette)

The Sibling Society (Robert Bly)

London Fields (Martin Amis)

Sexing the Cherry (Jeanette Winterson)

Tonight I’m borrowing Siri Hustvedt’s The Sorrows of an American, which seems oddly out of place today. I’ll report back in due course on the reading above. So far I’m enjoying the Colette but I have some questions. Will have to check what Litlove has to say about her.

The Robert Bly has flashes of brilliance but I find it a bit limited. There are some very interesting ideas in there and I like the way that he develops the fable of Jack and the Beanstalk, comparing the beanstalk to our brainstem and exploring the evolution of the brain. But I’m not totally taken by Bly and I think it has to do with his playing up the role of fathers as opposed to mothers. There’s a stubborn insistence on the role of fatherly guidance rather than an appreciation of motherly containment. As one of the leaders of the mytho-poetic men’s movement, Bly is a self-styled male guru. He’s a softer male if you like but he’s also at pains to criticise the softer male and declare himself in favour of the Wild Man and to argue for an important role for male aggression. I agree but also disagree. What about female aggression? Is the female in Bly’s worldview mainly about nurturance?

Returning to the election, I was looking for a poem that expresses the joy of today. This doesn’t quite get it, but there’s a feeling of careful optimism and gentle celebration maybe.

Spring is like a perhaps hand (ee cummings)

Spring is like a perhaps hand

(which comes carefully

out of Nowhere)arranging

a window,into which people look(while

people stare

arranging and changing placing

carefully there a strange

thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps

Hand in a window

(carefully to

and fro moving New and

Old things,while

people stare carefully

moving a perhaps

fraction of flower here placing

an inch of air there) and

without breaking anything.

Update: I also think Mary Cornish’s excellent poem “Numbers” could apply. Here’s how it starts:

I like the generosity of numbers.
The way, for example,
they are willing to count
anything or anyone:
two pickles, one door to the room,
eight dancers dressed as swans.

I think the “generosity of numbers” is a good way of describing that process in which the electoral college votes get divided up between the two candidates. As the votes come in the presenters touch the state concerned (Virginia for example) and then another 11 votes magically get added to the tally of Obama (hopefully). Which will be the decisive state which takes him over the tipping point?

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