Friday, January 16, 2009

Seriously, Blago? Tennyson? Seriously.

I'm starting to come around to the opinion that we should pull a Truman Show on Rod Blagojevich -- build a massive television sound stage in perfect imitation of his home and offices, transfer him there while he's asleep, and then let him continue to be the (fictional) governor of (fictional) Illinois. And film it all: the backroom deals, the self-aggrandizing riffs and speeches, the arrogant indeed delusional denial of reality. Which, if we put him unwittingly into the middle of a reality TV show, would be the most poetic justice that could be enacted. Let him believe he's getting away with everything and start a viewer's contest to predict just how egregious his behaviour gets.

I make this modest proposal both for the poetical nature of its justice, but also because I would otherwise miss his Nero-like performances in front of the press when the inevitable finally happens. The most recent incident had me both cringing and laughing: to add a rhetorical flourish to his words of defiance, he quoted the end of "Ulysses" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

I cringed because this happens to be my favourite poem by Tennyson; I laughed because of the absurdity of it -- it reminded me rather vividly of the scene in The Wire when the massively corrupt state senator Clay Davis, standing on the courthouse steps before his trial, holds up a copy of Prometheus Bound and claims to be taking strength from this place by Aeschylus (which he pronounces "Ascilius"). Life imitates art.

And then I laughed harder when it occurred to me that, more appropriate to the governor's saga would be the closing lines of another Ulysses: "yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes." Seems a little more appropriate to the breathless spirit of opportunism and transgression fostered by the good governor, don't you think?

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