Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Reporter - Part 7: December 1, 1955


I see that it has been almost exactly one month since I posted the last in my series of backward glances at The Reporter. Skimming through this one, I’m getting the feeling that this reluctance to get on with the task represented a prescient, if subliminal, message received from somewhere beyond concerning just how little of interest was going to be found in this issue. Maybe it’s me, but I just can’t get into it. I can’t get into it with such complete indifference that I despair of ever, in this life, getting through the entire collection.

Let’s get our boy Sidney Alexander (since the whole thing is his fault) out of the way, right here at the outset. In this issue, Alexander reviews the career of Italian novelist, Alberto Moravia. I have never read anything by Alberto Moravia, and I hereby swear a solemn oath never to be tempted into doing so. Moravia was apparently hot stuff in 1955. But that knowledge in hand, I will go wholeheartedly with Alexander’s closing words: “…a decade after the fall of Fascism, we see that Moravia’s caustic view has nothing to do with politics: His people are still the indifferent ones, staring at the same brick wall.” I stand solidly with them in that indifference.

The cover story, authored by Max Ascoli, and proclaimed by the cover banner “The Hidden America” concerns a symposium of academic intellectuals held at Marquette University in Milwaukee to commemorate its 75th anniversary. My, isn’t that exciting? The article unfolds as an extremely wordy call for these same intellectuals to rally themselves and muster their peers in the service of developing ideas—vital ideas—which will serve to overcome a creeping pessimism which Ascoli sees as threatening the American Way of Global Dominance:

“Mine is a frank plea for respecting both facts and ideas, addressed to fellow intellectuals. We certainly cannot go on much longer…with, on the one hand, hallowed ideas that are getting increasingly stereotyped and uncommunicable, and, on the other, the huge, mountainous accumulation of unorganized tidbits taken from newspaper clippings or statistics or public-relations press releases, and all called facts. Things have gone well beyond the point of national safety.”

OMG! How little did he know about what “national safety” could withstand. He begins his next paragraph with:

“Mine is a plea for ideas, but not for ideologies. We do not need ideological binges in our country, or systematic attempts to force the hand of history for the sake of verifying historical predictions and reaching some perfect, immutable order of things.”

Right. Okay. Ronnie Reagan—you can stay in Hollywood: it’ll be cool, man. Barry Goldwater—run your department store, or whatever: you’re not needed. Newt Gingrich—stay on campus and conduct your own little symposia: be good to your wife. Tea-baggers—you never happened: it was all a dream.

We also have an article here titled “Saudi Arabia: Oil, Sand, and Royalties”. This one, while demonstrating the cosmic power of the phrase plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, deals with the cozy relationship between “King Saud…head of the puritanical Wahabi sect” and Aristotle Socrates Onassis, who has been charged with building up a fleet of tankers to ship Saudi oil. It’s always about oil, isn’t it?

The next article is entitled “Can Mao Collectivize Half a Billion Farmers?” That one’s a historical dead-end, eh? Where would Wal-Mart be today if…

Then we have another article about the arms race and nuclear deterrence -- been there; done that. So, we move on to an article about pre-statehood Hawaii, the final section is headed “Second Thoughts on Statehood”. The closing paragraph is:

“If mainland Democratic opposition continues—presumably on grounds of race prejudice—while Republican enthusiasm from Hawaii cools off, statehood would presumably be farther away than ever. But as far as Hawaii’s latest revolution is concerned, statehood is pretty much a side issue. The Territory’s big problem is whether it can handle its coming of age without destroying the human gentleness and warmth which, along with this matchless climate, have given Hawaii at least some of the qualities of paradise.”

In other words, will the haoles fuck-up the Garden of Eden? Hell, yes, they will. And they’ll lose Obama's birth certificate one day, too.

Do you want to hear about an article concerning Lyndon Johnson as a senator from Texas? No? Then how about a biography of James Joyce’s brother, Stanislaus? (Stanislaus? What kind of name is that for frickin’ mick?)

Fuggedaboutit. In the immortal words of Roberto Duran: No mas!