September 15, 2008
Quaeries, Part III
For those America-Bound
Justin E. H. Smith
Hi-ho, brave trail-cutters! Won't you please tell us whether it is true what the French explorers say, that America is "une nation avec quantitez de beuffles," so many buffaloos in fact that one can scarce walk from door to street without risking a sharp poke in the rump? Is it true they have descended upon the great cities, and greedily muzzled the garbage there, as in New-Jersey's Camden, and the Dutch strong-hold of Coxsackie?
Can you please tell us also, whence comes this place-name, Coxsackie? Does it have to do with cocks? With sacs? Why does it reduce even learned men to puerile snickering? (Why, even as I dictate this, my loyal old secretary, Isaac, appears on the verge of an infarctus!)
But let us come to the pressing matter of that land's electoral politics. We have heard that all men in America have "the vote," and that this was the result of a tragic twist of fate some years ago in which "the vote" was rudely and unexpectedly "rock'd." Won't you please tell us wherein this rocking consisted, how many were injured, what was the role of the Red Indians, what the Negroe's, &c.?
Our explorers in the Great Northern Ocean --sent there to collect samples of Iceland spar, which, we are told, is a stone with many rare qualities, such as the power to produce "electricity," and to make men lactate-- have met there travellers from Minsk, who tell them that the leader of all White Russians, Alexander Lucasenckough, correctly predicted some months ago the outcome of the Americans' primary elections. How did he exercise such prescience? Do the Bello-Russians, perhaps, have some "friends on the inside"? Were they "pulling the strings" in Denver and Saint-Paul? Could their immense reserves of Iceland spar be giving them the "upper hand" in world affairs?
We have heard that Americans wish for their political leaders to be "like them." Do they wish for them to grow corpulent like Bahama mer-cows, then, and to ignore the manners and customs of men beyond their shores? Do they wish for them to pass their time watching situation comedies on tele-vision? It is clear from reports that Barack Obama is not at all like them, whereas John McCain is, so it is said, like their uncles. Sarah Palin is reported to have "shaken things up" by the alarming likeness of her person to the Americans who would elect her. Wherein does this likeness consist? We know that a French adventurer has recently returned from those parts, and has been causing the women of the Parisian salons to drop to the floor in obscene laughter with his report that she looks like nothing so much as "un cochon maquillé." Could this be the likeness that pleases the Americans?
We have learned from ordinarily reliable sources, who learned from a drink-besotted Esquimau while anchored off the coast from Godthab, that McCain fathered a bastard child with Palin, a half-wit, and that she used this to black-mail him into naming her as his "first lady." It is reported that McCain never appears in public holding the bastard, on the grounds that, so he says, "men do not lactate." Yet there are other parts of this grotesque family epos that do not hold together, such as the story of the "red-neck" who defiled Palin's eldest daughter, only to be suddenly and without warning propulsed into the role of a virtuous husband and father.
We have heard that Palin bravely annulled the plan to build a "bridge to nowhere." Could this have been the great land-bridge of Beringia? But if so, did she not know that it leads not nowhere, but to Chukotka, home of the brutish and bear-like Chuckchee tribe?
It is said that Palin hates ear-marks, yet collects eye-glasses. It is said that the American people now wish to wear spectacles that resemble hers, but that they too hate ear-marks, and moreover that these ear-marks are sometimes found on "pork." Could it be that in that land the pigs are decorated with pendants about the ear-lobes as well as rouge à lèvre? Why does Palin promote the one sort of adornment, while combatting the other?
We have learned that Barack Obama, while "liberal," is also "conservative" with respect to chewing-gum: he will chew upon spear-mint, pepper-mint, and cinnamon gums, but not upon the more whimsical varieties, as the bubble-making resins with fruity aromas preferred by his daughters. Won't you please explain to us how, in the face of a matter of such great importance, the American voters are content to simply "look the other way"?
A man named Barney Smith, we are told, was called from his home in Indiana to the Democritickal convention in Denver, in order to declare there his support for Barack Obama, and to announce common cause with this candidate in the war against his arch-rival, the hog-farming baron of Terre-Haute, Smith Barney. Broadsheets here have described Smith as a "king-maker," and as a veritable "American Richelieu." Can you please explain to us why this man --who, after all, is said to have the physiognomy of a regular imbecile-- wields so much power in that land?
Obama also has the firm support of Teresa Asenap, a woman from New-Mexico (as if Mexico were not new enough!) with, as she is said to have declared triumphantly, a "Doctorate in Education." How, we would like to know, does he attract not just vulgar cretins like this Smith, but also such a learned and wise woman as she? In this very important matter, we ask you to confirm for us, and to be very precise: is it certain that this woman has obtained not the degree of Master in Social Work, nor yet that of Associate in Hotel-and-Tourism Studies, but a true Doctorate in Education? If so, we are dumb-struck with awe and trembling with anticipation, for this is bound to be a union of wisdom and power undreamt of since the immortal Platon founded his Republick.
It is said that Americans vote for such rough and common candidates as McCain and his consort Ms. Palin not because they agree with the ratiocinations of these persons in matters political, but because their world has been "dis-enchanted" by the onslaught of "modernity," beloved of the atheistickal party of Democritus, and they are now looking for a means to re-enchant their world with "values," to see themselves (to quote another learned American doctor) as "part of a normative whole that includes man and nature in a unified and intricate web of meaning." What do McCain and Palin propose in this connection? What vital principles do they see as governing natural motion? Souls, perhaps? Entelechies? Psychopyric semina? Hylozoickal archaei?
We must know: What is McCain's position on hylozoism? If he is against it, then what, pray tell, does he propose to get nature moving again? We have heard reports of his proposals for giving the economy a "boost," but in God's name what use will this be if, in the end, our world is nothing more than a great mass of corpuscles rudely knocking each other about?
For an extensive archive of Justin Smith's writing, please visit www.jehsmith.com.
Posted by Justin E. H. Smith at 12:27 AM | Permalink