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Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?
For All the Saints
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Is this real life? Is this just fantasy?

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Clio's Temple

Culture

Swimming in history, or drowning?

Mark Twain once said, "History doesn't repeat, but it rhymes." Looking at the shape of American politics this year, I think he was onto something important. Namely, that the hopes (fears) with which we invest our candidates are cyclical, except that we often don't recognize what's happening.

What do I mean? Just this: there is very little about Donald Trump that's surprising. Anyone who looks at the less-than-golden past of our elections can pick up echoes of things Huey Long might have said, or Father Coughlin, or George Wallace.

The day of, the days after

We always remember "the day of," don't we? In my parents' generation, there were the obvious dates - December 7, 1941 being the perhaps the first . Perhaps more significant are those more personal - wedding days, the birth of children, anniversaries, retirement parties, funerals. For my generation (I'm giving my age away), November 22, 1963 was the first great national trauma. Perhaps our children remember January 28, 1986 (Challenger disaster), but for most of them, September 11, 2001 is the one always burned into the memory circuits.

Gordy's Ghost, or Upsetting the Past

Because my paternal grandfather died years before I was born, all I knew of him was what I learned from my father and uncle, and the impressions of him from my grandmother. To make a long story short, I now believe that Grandma always bore some resentment at the fact that my grandfather didn't resist the demands of his brothers to loan him money. Eventually, even some land that his own mother had left to him went out of his hands. At that point (about 1925), my father's family relocated from Georgia to Florida and Grandpa went into the lumber business.

Mediocrities, I absolve you

Perhaps you remember the ending toAmadeus: the dying Antonio Salieri is moved to another room in the asylum which has become his home. As he passes his fellow inmates, he gives them a beatific smile, saying, "Mediocrities, I absolve you." He died on this day in 1825. Perhaps it's worth remembering, when competitive pressures bear down on us, that we will most likely never have to compete with a person of Mozart's talents (in whatever field is our métier).

When he passed on, it was in the middle of a great transition.
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