Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Charles Simic

Monday Night!

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* The latest Detroit atrocity: Detroit mayor shoots down idea for Robocop statue. When will that poor city finally get a leader with some vision?

* How “The Fridge” lost his way: Elegy for William “The Refrigerator” Perry.

* Football vs. labor: Will the NFL play next year?

* Dystopia watch: Disney Now Marketing To Newborns In The Delivery Room.

* David Cole plays “Is Health Care Reform Constitutional?”—almost by name!—in the New York Review of Books.

As Judge Hudson sees it, the health care reform law poses an unprecedented question: Can Congress, under its power to regulate “commerce among the states,” regulate “inactivity” by compelling citizens who are not engaged in commerce to purchase insurance? If it is indeed a novel question, there may be plenty of room for political preconceptions to color legal analysis. And given the current makeup of the Supreme Court, that worries the law’s supporters.

But the concerns are overstated. In fact, defenders of the law have both the better argument and the force of history on their side. Judge Hudson’s decision reads as if it were written at the beginning of the twentieth rather than the twenty-first century. It rests on formalistic distinctions—between “activity” and “inactivity,” and between “taxing” and “regulating”—that recall jurisprudence the Supreme Court has long since abandoned, and abandoned for good reason. To uphold Judge Hudson’s decision would require the rewriting of several major and well-established tenets of constitutional law. Even this Supreme Court, as conservative a court as we have had in living memory, is unlikely to do that.

The objections to health care reform are ultimately founded not on a genuine concern about preserving state prerogative, but on a libertarian opposition to compelling individuals to act for the collective good, no matter who imposes the obligation. The Constitution recognizes no such right, however, so the opponents have opportunistically invoked “states’ rights.” But their arguments fail under either heading. With the help of the filibuster, the opponents of health care reform came close to defeating it politically. The legal case should not be a close call.

* Did Bush cancel a trip to Switzerland out of fear of criminal prosecution? Probably not—but isn’t it pretty to think so?

* The lunatic fringe of the Republican Party finds another RINO: godfather of neoconservatism Bill Kristol.

* The end of the DLC. My inclination is to say “make sure you bury it at a crossroads so it can’t come back,” but of course Ezra’s more or less right: the DLC can safely disband because it won.

* The city-states of America, “those states where the majority of their populations lie within a single metropolitan area.” Via Yglesias, which has some light speculation on the politics of all this.

* On the Soviet Union’s rather poor plan to reach the Moon.

* Star Wars, with all those pointless words and images taken out. Note: falsely implies Chewbacca received a medal at the end of the film.

* Charles Simic: Where is Poetry Going?

“Poetry dwells in a perpetual utopia of its own,” William Hazlitt wrote. One hopes that a poem will eventually arise out of all that hemming and hawing, then go out into the world and convince a complete stranger that what it describes truly happened. If one is fortunate, it may even get into bed with them or be taken on a vacation to a tropical island. A poem is like a girl at a party who gets to kiss everybody. No, a poem is a secret shared by people who have never met each other. Compared to the other arts, poets spend most of their time scratching their heads in the dark. That’s why the travel they prefer is going to the kitchen to see if there is any baked ham and cold beer left in the fridge.

* An evening with J.D. Salinger. It ends pretty much exactly as you’d expect:

The three of us got into the cab. Joe gave the driver my address and when the cab began to move Salinger began walking, then running, alongside, still asking us to change our minds. He hit the cab—with his fist, I supposed—and the driver braked.

Joe said, “Drive on!” Salinger was looking in through the window beside me. “Stop. Please come back!” He was shouting now in the quiet street.

The cab moved and got through the intersection. Joe said angrily, “He’s absolutely crazy.”

* And the headline reads: Global food crisis driven by extreme weather fueled by climate change. Enjoy the century.

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Charles Simic has been named poet laureate. Verse Magazine’s blog has a poem, as does The Cortland Review.

Eternity is a bathroom full of spider webs,
Dostoyevsky wrote.
I better get the passkey and see for myself.
I better bring some matches too.

At the Paris Review, Mark Ford interviews Simic in the mysterious distant past, Spring 2005.

INTERVIEWER

On the other hand, one of the main pleasures of your work, for me anyway, is the way it reminds us of all the ordinary pleasures of life, and urges us, or rather invites us, to enjoy them while we still can—things such as fried shrimp, tomatoes, roast lamb, red wine . . .

SIMIC

Don’t forget sausages sautéed with potatoes and onions! It’s also highly advisable to have a philosopher or two on hand. A few pages of Plato while working on a baked ham. Wittgenstein’s Tractatus over a bowl of spaghetti with littleneck clams. We think best when we bring opposites together, when we realize that all these realities, one inside the other, are somehow connected. That’s how the wonder and amazement that are so necessary to both poetry and philosophy come about. A “truth” detached and purified of pleasures of ordinary life is not worth a damn in my view. Every grand theory and noble sentiment ought to be first tested in the kitchen—and then in bed, of course.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 2, 2007 at 2:43 pm

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