Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Superman Returns to the Supermarket


The night Kennedy was elected, I felt a sense of woe, as if I had made a terrible error, as if somehow I had betrayed the Left and myself. It was a spooky emotion. In the wake of the election, one thing was clear—the strength the Left had been gaining in the last years of Eisenhower's administration would now be diluted, preempted, adulterated, converted and dissolved by the compromises and hypocrisies of a new Democratic administration. And so I began to follow Kennedy's career with obsession, as if I were responsible and guilty for all which was bad, dangerous, or potentially totalitarian within it.

Norman Mailer
Postscript to "Superman Comes to the Supermarket"
The Presidential Papers, p. 61.

I just googled the title of this post and it seems to be, well, mine. "In this moment..." I think there is a lot to learn from a look back at Mailer's obsession with Kennedy. And by the same token (as this little snippet already suggests), we might learn something from Pound's infatuation with Mussolini. I'm as excited as the next guy about what might happen tonight. But there really is a danger implicit in all this excitement. At least, the One Himself acknowledges the problem:

3 comments:

soren buhl said...

moments before I checked the pangrammaticon for the expected election night special I watched, as it happened, footage of an anonymous American voter comparing this election to that of Kennedy. Basic traits are shared: candidates combining eloguence with looks, the raw power of inexperience and a dinosaur Republican in the mix.
The video of Obama at that weird dinner (imagine a party where people sit like that, lined up for the cameras) confused me when I first watched it: it appears to be a very risky thing to seemingly loose control like that (remember that at the same event McCain said he'd fired all his advisors). What if someone took this at face value? But then I realize that my reaction is that of someone acostumed to the very literal and demonstratively non-ironic forms of campaign communication.

Kirby Olson said...

One big problem that is already front and center: they plan to shut down right-wing talk radio as the first order of business. They plan to invoke the Fairness Doctrine which will mean that at least half of all time has to be devoted to liberal sentiments. This won't of course go for the universities or the TV. It will only go for talk radio, which is the last bastion of right wing sentiment. I, personally, don't listen to talk radio, but a lot of people have gotten rid of their TVs and just listen to radio, because the TV is now so far to the left. The left already own almost all the media TV outlets, except Fox News. Almost every university is 90% plus leftist. Now the radio will be next.

Samisdat, anyone?

The good part is that the country is out of money, and he has to do all these things he's promised: trillions for universal health care, trillions for alternative energy, trillions to continue the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now somehow the Messiah has to deal with reality. It's very very difficult to get anything accomplished, and once it's done, to be sure that it works.

I'm glad I'm not him, and am not responsible for this mess. But honestly, I would have felt just as scared about the McCain option (for which I voted). McCain is erratic, and can go from zero to sixty in terms of anger in about half a second.

Who knows what he would have done.

No one knows the future.

Thomas Basbøll said...

I hadn't heard about this talk radio thing.

I don't think Obama is a serious lefty. But I think he may be what Mailer called an "existential hero" (i.e., a JFK). With the election of Obama, "the new psychological realities are closer to history and so closer to sanity..."

"I knew if he became President, it would be an existential event: he would touch depths in American life which were uncharted."

Crucially: he would do this despite having utterly conventional politics.

I'll write a post on this. As Mailer said before the march on the Pentagon: "This an existenial moment; we don't know how it will turn out."

No one knows the future.