Posted in essays, tagged change, history, Jimmy Carter, media hype, power, Ronald Reagan, tastes, Thomas Jeferson, US Presidency on October 16, 2010|
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Nothing ever remains static: the face of the earth changes with seasons and continental shelves move. Such changes take place in matter of time and it goes without saying man is of no exception. How relevant is a man who holds the most powerful job on the earth? History does that while tastes of the masses may be manipulated to certain extent. History however has the last and more enduring word on him.
What with the mass media and TV we have become a visual generation. Recalling the Andy Warhol quote each of us holds the right to fame though it may be for some fifteen minutes. It may be through reality shows or as a witness in TV coverage for 6 o’clock news. Television has killed the art of conversation and instead we have talking heads whose style and contents are what matter for the ratings. Yes fifteen minutes of fame is enough for the audience whose attention span is correspondingly becoming shorter.
Looking at the appeal of the US presidents history judges them as tastes govern the appeal of fashion art and literature.
The Presidency of Andrew Jackson(1829-37)has undergone swings in popularity. Jackson presided over American expansion as well as subjugated the American Indians. The New Englanders and the Eastern gentry despised him as a frontiersman and a dangerous demagogue about money and banking. The historians of the early 20th century saw him as a democratic hero, coming out of the West to fight the moneyed Eastern interests. Thomas Jefferson is another. Jefferson, had his bitter critics to whom he was ‘Mad Tom. Of his prodigious mind and its wide sweep no one had doubts. John F. Kennedy once invited a group of Nobel Prize winners to the Executive mansion and said thus: ‘the most extraordinary collection of talent… that has ever been gathered together at the White House-with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.’ His personal stature or his qualities are not what makes his relevance count. His policies or what he stands for must mesh with the mood of the times like teeth of gears so history on its march keeps his relevance as obvious. No president or king is as relevant as to be in step with mood of the times all the time. Ronald Reagan came to power on the belief ‘Politics is just like show business. You have hell of a opening, coast for a while and then have hell of a close’. He edged out Jimmy Carter from the Presidential race with the promise of getting the nation out of depression. ‘I am speaking of depression in the human sense. A recession is when your neighbor is out of work. Recovery is when Carter is out of work.’ Reagan was elected the President. His covert interference in Afghanistan to arm the Mujahiddins and break the back of the Soviets seemed to succeed. History however shows its terrible consequences even this day. As for his economic policies paved the way for the economic meltdown and recession of 2008.
Power is always a potent tool in the hands of a President in the US or anywhere else to shape destinies of people; and politics is the means to get the policies across but then they are on their own.(Ack:Hedley Donovan-Time/essay Nov 9,1981)
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Posted in Aesop, fables, history, Aesop and the Ass, modern fable, selections, tagged antithesis, Athens, changes, decline, Hegelian diletical materialism, history, rise and fall, rise of rabble, synthesis, tastes, theater, thesis on July 5, 2010|
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(After the threat posed by Persia was gone Athens and Sparta fell out. Their rivalry will bleed them white and their decline will leave Rome to rise as an imperial power. b.)
Athens of old was gone. None could believe how quickly the city had showed a deep chasm within itself. It was thus Aesop found Athens in his advanced years. He was sixty something. When one of old acquaintances shared his disappointment at the deep division rearing its head Aesop dismissed it thus, ”Nothing strange, Cleomenes, what do you expect from a city of highest ideals but would require slaves? We ourselves are to blame.”
Even when Athens looked so formidable, tocsin of decline was going on at a rate that was so subtle and implacable. The citizens the wise, the good, and the bad spent their lives just as the very dregs of the city made their living: for all their actions good or bad could not have stemmed the crisis. It wasn’t the guardian spirit of the city had abandoned the city but the march of events taking elsewhere needed more room to spread out. In the face of such overwhelming onslaught the city was not adequately protected. (Just as a hurricane can be explained as Mother Nature letting out excess of heat escape. Hurricane Katrina, – or Floyd before it, made a landfall not caring where it hit. The dikes of New Orleans would fail and create unparalleled havoc. Such an impersonal hand takes over history of nations as well.) Athens was no exception to the general rule.
Athens in transition. For Aesop it was as if his beloved city, that tower of pride had vanished, brick by brick even while he sought its shelter: his more pressing concern was to beat back the boredom which was creeping on his old age.
Aesop told stories to the Athenians the young and old, not so much for its moral content but as a way of being part of the warmth that the living gave out. It did lessen the pain of losing his wife, and his old master and his wife. And his only friend Xeno took leave for the last time. Before he died the old cynic felt homesick. He had a knack of making every friend look a fool. It did not work in the case of Aesop because he affirmed that he was a fool. “I am a fool for progress Xeno. I look forward to changes. What these will be or in what shape or form I have no idea. Yet I call it is progress. (A higher state of things, so I tell myself.) But when it comes, I am sure, I will not like it at all.”
A tragic poet had his play put up before the boards. He watched a tragic actor who was required to wear thick shoes and tall wigs. Since it was his play and knew the effect he wanted from him he explained his entry called for a subtle approach. The much harried actor said when he came in such thick shoes it was a wonder he did not fall over. “So I need a cane to support myself. How much more subtlety you intend to put into my cane?”
Another time a comic actor who did not impress his audience with his witticisms asked the public, ”You get two obols worth of seat, free from the city. The least you could do is show some appreciation of that?”
Dramatists of yore wrote as they often said, as inspired by gods. The audience lapped it up and said they were enlightened and taken to a higher sphere as a result. Aesop was shrewd to note how the relationship between the writer and his audience went a shift over the years. It was progress that Aesop thought as natural. The audience became enlightened with so many plays that they attended in civic pride and it made them arbiters as well. Gradually it was the taste of man on the street that decided the kind of plays that were to be staged. Not the poet, not the muse but the uncouth rabble set the trend. It was the masses that in the end beat the system. (ch:11-Beating the System:sections 4-6)
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