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Nearly Relevant
Nonsense, Fiction, and Miscellaneous Things

'My Antonia', Willa Cather: Part I
     Novels are fictive.  Novels of the romantic genre, it seems to me, are necessarily bucolic or halcyon.  Reality portrayed isn't the sobering tragic but rather the endearing pastoral.  When the tragic occurs within romanticism, I sometimes see the particular romanticism as 'wrong-headed romanticism'.  Some how, mistakenly, the tragic got mixed in with the romantic.  The same attitude of mine exists regarding other qualities i.e. absurdity, deceptions, etc.  It seems as though when I read romanticism, any kind of non-romantic quality belies the romanticism.  As if only idealized, pastoral, utopian can rightfully exist within a romantic prose. 
It seems plain to me that this view of romanticism is biased and mistaken.  Just as there exists various kinds of temperaments of characters within a novel, so too do qualities of romantic, tragic, absurd , etc exist side by side within a novel.  Of course romanticism  has a quality specific to itself;   An aura of utopia;   Security as opposed to vulnerability;  Perspectives which are not jaded because the causes of jadedness have not yet occurred for the characters.  My prejudice is that in the face of the real qualities of tragic, etc. , I  dismiss romanticism as being 'bumpkin-headed'; A pollyanna work, fanciful.   The pastoral seems 'bumpkin-headed'.  It gives romanticism it's fraudulent, mistaken quality.   However romanticism is just as valid as other qualities of fictive depictions.    
     "The garden, curiously enough, was a quarter of a mile from the house, and the way to it led up a shallow draw past the cattle corral.  Grandmother called my attention to a stout hickory cane, tipped with copper, which hung by a leather thong from her belt.  This, she said, was her rattlesnake cane.  I must never go to the garden without a heavy stick or a corn-knife; she had killed a good many rattlers on her way back and forth.  A little girl who lived on the Black Hawk road was bitten on the ankle and had been sick all summer.1

      The reader may ask about the above passage;  'How, in such rural, less knowledgeable medical of the time, is it that being bitten by a rattlesnake causes only sickness and not death?  If the passage seems fanciful, then maybe we should ask; 'Where is the threat of nuclear annihilation?' or 'What would Freud conclude?' since those concerns have, in today's world, validity.  It would be ridiculous - not to mention egocentric - of our time and era to ask those questions of a different era.     
This benefit to reading romanticism is in realizing this limit of our knowledge
.  What seems mundane or mistaken of 100 years ago only implies that what we are concerned with in these times will seem mundane or mistaken 100 years hence. Maybe the issue of nuclear annihilation will be irrelevant to the world of 100 years from now.  Or Freudian topics will be antiquated by then.  In effect, those current concerns aren't, necessarily, any more 'real' than the concerns of romanticism. It's a temperate thought.  
     Getting beyond the 'antiquities' of the past to an assaying of this 'antiquatedness' is not very difficult.  For example, in realizing that the less fashion conscious characters self-identify based on values other than fashion, or that a shared morality albeit more narrow-minded exists, or that a local economy is less demanding of resources, etc. 
Characters whose mindset is of the day to day functionalities of feeding and sheltering themselves is no less a reality than the contemporary characters of 'realism' ruminating on what life is about.  We all make choices.  Some people - as exampled by the characters and settings of romanticism - choose a less conspicuous lifestyle.  
      I suppose the best benefit of romanticism is it's alternativeness.  Post modernism for example is often seen as a development in literature.  Post-modernism can be more circuitous and perplexing than romanticism.  So romanticism provides an alternative way of viewing literature.  As if post-modernism were, metaphorically, a perplexing boyfriend/girlfriend of which one decided a return to a previous boyfriend/girlfriend of pastoral, romantic topics was a heck of a lot more contentful and sensible. 
So, there are benefits to reading romanticism for someone like myself who doesn't have an actual affinity for romanticism.  Of course it's a bit of a token or obligatory reading - one which replaces my preferred choices - so I don't read much of it.

1 My Antonia, Willa Cather,  pg. 16, Barnes and Noble Classics, ©2003
Not So Random Bible Verse

Have ye not known?  Have ye not heard?  Hath it not been told you from the beginning?  Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth?     Isaiah 40:21
Regarding Congress and Syria
     Congress is a noble idea.  Representatives - numerous - consider issues which aren't deemed relevant as voting issues.   Contemporary representatives are, also, keenly aware of politics.  The differentiating characteristic between  politics and representation is that politics is the means to representation.  But what happens when the obligation of representation is supplanted by the awareness that being a representative is a wonderful means by which to further the political-self?  If I as a representative use my position, not to consider an issue honestly or fully but rather to advantage my future political career then what becomes of representation?  If instead of spending the effort to consider the issues as fully as I can, I spend the effort to ensure my reelection?  Or to ensure a status leading to an even more prominent office of representation?
     Well, I think this incongruity dilutes the effectiveness of representation as well as tainting the position of representation.
     President O'bama has decided to put before Congress the question of retaliating against Syria for it's recent use of the nerve gas sarin.  I think there is some reason to believe a political motive to this procedure.  By going to Congress some of the responsibility for any decision on the issue is shared even, arguably, abnegated .  But is there a reason by which to claim there is neither sincerity nor value in exercising a shared representational relationship between Congress and the President on this issue?  No; not one iota of a reason.  A decision not to consult Congress would have been abnegating.   
     A certitude of correctness in striking Syria, a knuckling under to insinuations of abnegating the constitutionally authorized power of the office of President, and a continuation of an operating procedure characterized by a group-think rusty with 'standard tradition', all would have been present.  Under these conditions, a continuation of commonplace decision-making would have been an abnegation.   President O'bama had the strength of character to make a turn of course;   A characteristic of his I've, unfortunately, come to take for granted.
     Because the value of the Presidential - Congressional relationship is evident, in this case, I think it important that Congress put politics aside on the issue.  I'm not refering to a Congressional deference to the Presidency such that Congress abnegates it's responsibility thus pandering to the President's wishes.   I am referring to a necessity to admit; 
  1. Doubts concerning the issue - to which doubts President O'bama's consultiveness admits.
  2. A President willing to break from a tradition of a certitude of, both, 'moral superiority' and the 'realpolitik'.
  3. A President willing to put some responsibility on Congress - as a recognition of Congresses share in a somewhat unprecedented issue - which issue should sensibly gather the considerations of the peoples' representatives.
     None of this opinion is designed to decide a military strike as wrong.  In fact, personally, I think a military strike is necessary.  What is not necessary is a continuation of a prideful international stance in an ever-changing world.  Nor is it necessary to acquiesce to domestic politics as a career-game.  Congressional representatives are supposed to be some of are brightest, most able citizens.   I hope they're political advantaging is put aside to take on the task of actual consideration on a demanding and difficult issue.  One of many that has been faced by a strong-minded President.  
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