The irony of it all

–I can’t quote them because Heidegger was a Nazi, Pound a Fascist, Sartre a Maoist, Eliot an anti-Semite. I don’t read Foucault because he didn’t care if he infected guys and I don’t read that mystery writer because she’s a convicted killer. I don’t go to baseball games because of the players’ strike way back when and I refuse to watch that man’s films because he’s said to have messed with his own kid.

I don’t buy Nike because of the sweatshops, listen to Wagner because he was a Jew-hater, or have a TV because it makes children violent. I can’t eat tofu because of genetically modified soybeans or cheese because of genetically modified bacteria. I don’t listen to Sinatra because he was a nasty little man or Swarzkopf because she was a collaborator. The U.S. government’s been screwed since Johnson and the Great Society (no, since FDR and the welfare state (no, since Lincoln and the Civil War (no, since Jackson and the Trail of Tears (no, since Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase (no, since Washington and his plantation slaves…)))).

I don’t trust Freud because he didn’t understand women, Klein because she couldn’t get along with her own daughter, Bettelheim because he’s said to have hit kids, or Laing because he too wasn’t nice. I think we were never further away from nuclear war than during the Cuban Missile Crisis (only afterwards did Brezhnev insist on nuclear parity). Plus it’s a good thing Japan has lost decades of economic growth or they’d’ve been re-armed by now. I do wish Jodie had come out like Martina did. (Do you really think Jesus worried about who licked what where?)

From time to time, I’ve wondered if Socrates could go to heaven. Speaking of which, why is Adam painted with a belly button, where in the Bible is the turkey that keeps showing up in those pictures of Eden and at Noah’s Ark, and for that matter why do shadows first show up in early Western art only? Dying means my total annihilation into endless nothingness: Too bad for eternity, I say—it doesn’t know what it’s missing. Still, little gives me quite the exquisite pleasure as knowing my secrets and shadow die with me.

Which makes me wonder: Other than the streets, where do squirrels go to die? And whatever happened to pineapple upside down cake and Saturday drives? I also have to wonder, did Wittgenstein read Rabelais: “Utterances are meaningful not by their nature, but by choice”? Can there be anything more mind-numbing than a sentence beginning, “In hunting-and-gathering societies. . .”? And just who did say, Freedom is the recognition of necessity (Hegel, Engels, Lenin, who)? E Pluribus Unum: Isn’t that Latin for “Follow the dollar”?

Whatever, every morning I wake up and thank heaven I wasn’t born a minority in this country. If I had a magic wand, I’d solve America’s race problem by giving everybody a master’s degree. I’d also make sure they’d be white, married, professionally employed, and own their homes. (BTW, every person in China should have a car; with all that ingenuity they’d have to come up with a solution to vehicle pollution.) But then again, I’m quite willing to say that the entire point of human evolution is there hasn’t been any worth speaking of. As for the rest, I suppurate with unease. It’s probably—possibly, plausibly?—wise not to think too much about these things. . .

Don’t you think?

–If you do think about it, irony is not what we know. It’s more a knowingness than knowledge. Or, if you want, irony is the side of unknowledge we think we see. As when people are more wont to quote Wittgenstein’s point that death is not an event in life than they are to quote Rilke about death being the part of life turned away from us.

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