Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Post-Postmortem Post

(Oh, great. Not another nomination post!)

Over the course of the last week or so, I've been writing a piece looking back over the whole nomination process from my perspective, focusing especially on all the insanity of the last few months. But it was growing very long, and although I was getting close to finishing it, now I feel like taking a different tact. Here's how the original post opened:

Postmortem Confessional

Or, I fully expect to be able to resume a diplomatic mode fairly soon, but here's why I've been a bit pissed off.

I know a fair number of liberal bloggers who tried to avoid diving too deeply into the fracas between supporters for Obama and Clinton, myself included. When the race was between just those two after Edwards dropped out, I had been planning to link a number of others' posts making the case for and against each candidate, in the spirit of discussion. But right about then, a significant number of blogs just got nastier, and to my eyes, surprisingly irrational. This past month, and the past two weeks, have gotten especially bad. Some people I'd read or linked in the past became increasingly unrecognizable to me. I had some more detailed critiques in the works I shelved because I thought they might be redundant or inflame things — although there are some benefits to being relatively off the radar. Perhaps my timing's awfully bad, especially as I'd have liked to have had this post up several days ago, but I wasn't able to finish it before now. Clinton's speech this past Saturday accomplished much of what her Tuesday speech certainly did not, and I do appreciate it, as I know many folks do.

Kyle Moore suggested an air your grievances day, in the spirit of getting everything out and then moving on, rather than letting resentments fester. Many bloggers have done some sort of version of this, or offered olive branches, all good moves. After trying to play peacemaker most of the time for several months, I found my patience was increasingly strained this past month and found myself surprised by how genuinely upset I was last week. So my apologies in advance. This is a very long, cathartic and self-indulgent post, even more so than usual. Feel free to skim or skip over it all, as is your wont.

I'm going to write from a personal perspective more than usual, because the Rashomon effect has been in full force throughout much of the fracas as well as here in the aftermath. The quality of reasoning, the soundness of arguments and level of respect during the fracas remain issues, especially since there's a great wonky tradition in the liberal blogosphere, but I feel the biggest divide right now is in understanding others' perspectives and feelings.

So I don't need to write a disclaimer after every sentence, let me issue a few upfront. As always, anyone is free to disagree with me. This is my perspective. When I opened my Blogger account, I received a pair of Super Goggles of Penetrating, Flawless Insight, but the funny thing is, the damn things don't always work. I'm writing this in the spirit of airing grievances and moving on. If, in that process, you in good faith feel I still cross an unacceptable line, by all means, leave a comment or feel free to email me.

Rest assured that despite that rocky start, the post was brilliant, you would laughed, you would cried, you would have received a personal epiphany and achieved a new level of consciousness, all aggrieved parties would have had their wounds healed, and I even would have discovered a cure for cancer. Maybe I'll still bootleg parts of it in the future. Admittedly, there's still some part of me that hates those bastard people and their ass faces. But the thing is, while writing the whole damn thing, the political landscape has changed, however slightly, I'm less upset, and I received at least a partial catharsis through writing it. I do trust that overall, cooler heads and kinder hearts shall prevail, despite some legitimate grievances. So I'm only going to adapt and use part of the original post for now:

And Now That I've Smacked You in the Mouth, Can't We Be Friends?

Jack: Maybe he wants to stay. You want to stay?

Homeless Cabaret Singer: Oh, yeah, sure. I just love bleeding in horseshit. How very Gandhi-esque of you.

The Fisher King

I've been writing this in the spirit of airing grievances and moving on. But, if you've actually made it this far, you may be saying, "Hey, blogger-guy with the silly name and the stupid blog name, that's all well and good, and maybe you feel better now, but while I agree with a few (only a few) of your points, there are some things you said that really piss me off, and I was just getting over some of this whole thing, and now I'm more upset!" And if you sincerely feel that way, you're absolutely right.

Let me tell a story, which happens to be true. When Schindler's List came out, I went to see it with two friends. We weren't extremely close, but the film had gotten strong reviews, we had heard some good interviews, and we all wanted to see it. The theater wound up being a packed house.

We all found the film powerful, and came out of the theater a bit in shock. As we walked along, we talked about it a little, but weren't at all articulate because we were still trying to process it all.

A silence. Then, to break the tension, my first friend told a joke, of the funny-but-in-horribly-bad-taste-especially-given-the-timing variety. He laughed nervously.

I think we all laughed nervously, because it was a bizarre remark, and we were still trying to process our experience watching the film. But my second friend stopped and looked at my first friend, aghast.

My first friend laughed nervously again and said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's just that humor is one of my coping mechanisms!"

And my second friend said, "I know, but your coping mechanism is interfering with my coping mechanism!"

And that's it. That's it in a nutshell.

Among people of good will, who generally like each other, perhaps love each other, or maybe just tolerate each other to work on a common cause in a community, it really just comes down to that.

We all have our experiences, and some of them are powerful or overwhelming and not easy to process. We sometimes say or do things we may later regret.

We all have different coping mechanisms. And sometimes, our coping mechanisms interfere with someone else's coping mechanism.

Or, as I prefer to put it: Deep down, in some small way, all of us is an extremely large, bearded, occasionally cross-dressing Jewish man coming out of Schindler's List and making an inappropriate joke.

The world can be cruel. But life is beautiful.

(Edited very slighty for clarity.)

(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)


Anonymous said...

An excellent post. I think that many of us are in a rush for party unity. Others are still feeling angry and spiteful and making threats which says "beg me to come back."

Now the television talking heads want to make a fine mush of Obama's V.P. pick and all of their speculation will simply keep the feelings muddied.

I can understand the nervous laughter.

Fran said...

Brilliant brilliant and brilliant.

This speaks to all the raw emotion and what I interpret as out diminishing ability as a nation, to connect and relate to others. That would be within our own land at first and then to other countries and cultures.

Marc McDonald said...

Good post. And the photo from "City Lights" reminds me of just how radical that film really was (as was much of Chaplin's work). The ruling class of the time must have been horrified at how Chaplin managed to make The Tramp (a homeless bum) into an appealing character that stole America's heart.
After all, America isn't SUPPOSED to have sympathy for tramps (much less love them). In our Horatio Alger culture, it's drilled into us from an early age that poor people are losers who're to be held in contempt.
Sadly, mainstream filmmakers today by and large haven't carried on Chaplin's legacy. Instead they're too busy cranking out mega-million-dollar soul-less action flicks based on comic book heroes.

Batocchio said...

Good points, Marc. As a former comic book geek and long-time film geek, raised on Kurosawa and the classics, I do like a good comic book movie but bemoan the lack of diversity in offerings from mainstream Hollywood. I've normally lived near some good rep and art house theaters, though, and certainly there are some here in L.A.

You make an especially good point about Chaplin. There was a doc a few years back on TCM, I think, about Hollywood silents being more frank pre-code. Many of them showed the cops as corrupt, for example, which apparently didn't go over so well with the powers that be. I'll have to dig out my copy...