One of the reasons I like to read novels by folks like Barbara Kingsolver is because they often have important things to say and do it so well. Her novels (and I am hooked on her novels, I admit) are always thought-provoking and intriguing. She has won numerous awards and, in her case at any rate, they are well deserved. In her novel The Lacuna, which is in its way brilliant, she tells us of a young novelist living in Washington D.C. and lets us read the letter he is writing to an old friend in Mexico. The letter is dated July 6, 1946.
“Politics here now resemble a pillow fight. Lacking the unifying slogan (Win the War), our opposing parties sling absurd pronouncements back and forth, which everyone pretends carry real weight. How the feathers fly! The newsmen leap on anything, though it’s all on the order of, ‘Four out of five shoppers know this is the better dill pickle,’ assertions that can’t be proven but sway opinion. ‘Dance for the crowd’ is the new order, with newsmen leading the politicians like bears on a leash. Real convictions would be a hindrance. The radio is the root of the evil, their rule is: No silence, ever. When anything happens the commentator has to speak without a moment’s pause for gathering wisdom. Falsehood and inanity are preferable to silence. You can’t imagine the effect of this. The talkers are rising above the thinkers.”
It’s no longer the radio, of course, but her point is well taken: “The talkers are rising above the thinkers.” Or is it “the shouters”?
Or in the case of Ben Carson, the “whisperers.” I read something the other day that said, sort of in jest, but with a strong ring of truth, too, that he is now leading the race without even trying. ! No doubt. For a brain surgeon, his thinking is incredibly vapid or narrow-minded or naive. I don’t know which, and maybe it is all of them. And he seems to have all the energy and enthusiasm for the job as a retiree in a lounge chair on the deck of a cruise ship.
I love the Kingsolver line you quote: “Falsehood and inanity are preferable to silence.” Although she sets it in 1946, it is especially apt for this era of round-the-clock TV, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram …
Indeed it is. This is why some books are great! They are timeless.
Good post and relevant. Lonesome Rhodes figured out in “A Face in the Crowd.” Carson is doing well as the anti-Trump personality wise. His soft spoken demeanor belie how bizarre the man’s opinions are, many even more bizarre than Trump. Carson’s relationship with the supplemental drug company may be his Waterloo. What worries me most is Ted Cruz is biding his time and will seem more credible by comparison, yet this man would be a grandstanding disaster as president.
A number of the candidates would be disasters!
But, speaking of bizarre opinions, consider this one:“I personally believe that this theory that Darwin came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary [the devil], and it has become what is scientifically, politically correct,” Carson said during a speech at an event called Celebration of Creation in 2011.
During an interview with the Adventist Review, Carson said God and evolution are mutually exclusive and that accepting evolution eliminates morality.
12 remain standing on the stage, not a one worth a lick. Not that HRC is all that much better.
But to the point of the talking heads, we are faced with cable and “News” that must fill every second with something, even if its total nonsense. I can’t see a Cronkite today being able to stop talking and just have us watch Armstrong on the moon.
And Hugh, I too am a great admirer of Kingsolver.
I’m not surprised!