Date: 07/08/2020
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Pseudsday Tuesday

I once heard Ken Livingstone described as a "vainglorious twat". Any insult directed at London's erstwhile Mayor of Misrule is welcome, but this one was particularly pleasing. A long refined word is followed by a short coarse one; both are equally apposite and the whole phrase rhythmically exceeds the sum of its parts. Ken Livingstone is a vainglorious twat, and there's an end of it.

Going from the sublime to the ridiculous is one of life's pleasures - and it's usually free. Think of Great Anna, taking counsel and tea. Think of Mrs Slocombe going from posh to northern as she touched upon her pussy. But it only works if the writer - or speaker - has a feel for the ridiculous. If he thinks himself sublime, it jars. Ihab Hassan writes in the Georgia Review on the seemy side of modern life. There is a "surfeit of seeming":

I do not mean to make an essay out of the tribulations of writing an essay—that’s tacky; I mean only to explain my title as a bewildered approach to the multitudinous present, the way we have become. It’s a large topic, relevant to what V. S. Naipaul called “our universal civilization,” relevant also to all those errant souls—immigrants, refugees, displaced persons, expatriates like myself—wandering the earth. It’s a large topic, but I have tried to hew to a particular line: the tyranny of appearances, a surfeit of seeming in America. Yes, now things must seem, not be. 

Bees buzz and also sting. The line I have taken may not always please. But I suspect that even Candide knew in his heart of hearts that whatever is, is not always, well, cool.

Perhaps whatever is, is well, like, whatever. And is "cool" a cool word in a cruel world? 

Then there’s the leap of faith, Kierkegaardian or otherwise, that finds truth and trust—now fused—in a spiritual impulse that overwhelms doubt, defies the weight of the world.

Defies or deifies? Bees buzz, death stings, and my Kierkegaardian angel wings. On it goes in the same vain vein, then he bumps up against mind:

As to mind, its road has been long and anfractuous.  

I can't speak for his mind, but the words "bust" and "ass" spring unetymologically into mine.