Thursday, June 21, 2007

Hillaryland vs. Arnoldland

By Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network at 6/21/07

There are two kinds of people in this country: Those who look West and those who want to go Back East. Those who look West follow the Sun on its morning path across the Plains, the Pacific and the far waters. Those who look Back East move faster into its dwindling light.

California, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Arizona and the Southwest are the final destination of those who follow the Sun – they are the last places for new beginnings in America. New York, Boston, New England and Europe are the destinations of the Returners.

They are entirely different. The Sun Followers change – they greet change; they make change; they welcome change. The Returners get alienated by places they don’t know and haven’t been and they try to recall the early days. They remain the same throughout their lives, echoing the same cord in their 60s that they felt as young college students.

Here in New Hampshire last year one of the ritzy prep schools generously held a symposium for us proles in the state and our high school kids. In one of the exercises, the parents were asked to write a creative paragraph about themselves. I was surprised that almost all the men – they all had their hands up to read their comments out loud – most exclusively wrote about when they were in college or went to Woodstock and heard Jimmy Hendrix, or when they were teenagers in a band. They were all Returners. Maybe because they were all businessmen and couldn’t think of anything that would sound artsy. But they were all Returners anyway and at 50 years old they had no anxious life crossings to report, no salvations, no creative failures.

We have quite a few Returners up here. People “return” to New England although there is no more New England to return to because of all the Midwesterners and suburban types who have returned, and brought it with them.

A lot of the Returners are college oriented – they want to return to being in college. I talk to them about their dreams and they dream of being in college, although they are in their 60s. Which is kind of unfortunate. They come here to retire in the region of the college campus they went to because they have no place else to go; no town, no parish, no family. ‘Tis the curse of federalism and the corporate culture. (Do we still need federalism? New York and California seems to be very well today without it. Indeed, it seems increasingly to be a useless appendage.)

But there are issues with going back. One must cross life’s rivers. And when you cross the one river, it brings you to the second and then the third, and finally you reach some oasis in life’s journey. It is there from which life begins again. But if you don’t cross the first river you never get to the second or third.

Those who cross every river go back as well at life’s end. We return, in shadow, to whence they came. You have to go back; everyone is called back to her or his beginnings, it is the way of all things; God will call you back to the stone church and the green mornings and the smell of childhood friends when you are old – you will dream about the friends you were born with. But those who have made the journey, like Bilbo Baggins, are restless in old age and yearn to head West again; to camp under the stars in Sonora risking scorpion bite or paddle the Boundary Waters deep into the Yukon and grizzly territory. They feel maybe it is better to be eaten by a Grizzly than to pad around doing tai chi on the old college campus at 75 years old. Those who have made the journey are not afraid to die. The Returners all live to be 110.

Hinduism has it that life is always awakening and moving with the path of the Sun, and always returning with its Shadow at the same time. Newton found this core principle of the East as well; the path of Vishnu, the Creator, is balanced by that of Shiva, the Destroyer, and for every Force there is an Equal and Opposite Counterforce: again, the way of all things.

Two people represent this in high contrast here today in the Land of the Free; Arnold Swarzenegger, the Sun King who rose out of the beach scene and Southern California’s strong man culture – ( large as a Titan, no? Like the one which is claimed to Pour the Water in the icon of Aquarius) and Hillary Clinton, who, after victory of a sort, returns East; to New York and to the constancy of issues which have not changed in her life since she was a college student. In full truth, she is the representative figure of the Democratic Party today. Arnold is the representative of a diametrically opposed new movement in American culture.

Anyone who was in college in the late Sixties and early Seventies will recognize a familiar ring to the “Take Back America” conference the Democrats held recently. It echoes the “Take Back the Night” feminist concerts from college days, and it thus resonates the same cord of angst, alienation, approbation and victimization of that time and place, echoing into this.

This is the Hobbit tendency. As their Master Creator pointed out, the Hobbits like to read the same book over and over. These are the Bagginses, loath to leave the Shire and terrified by the river. Does Obama’s autobiography somewhat resonate with Richard Wright’s “Black Boy” and somewhat with a touch of Malcolm X?

Echoing the Original Spirit creates the reinforcing orthodoxy around the shining moment and fortifies the waning spirit. But it leaves a hunger in the third or fourth generation’s repeat. Like that horrid music they constantly play in supermarkets and malls and everywhere; rock without roll, as Joni Mitchell called it – the spirit left eons ago. A Xerox copy of a Xerox copy of a Xerox copy on to white.

How many times have we heard now the “new JFK” or the “new Bobby.” Of course a new JFK would only be a shadow of the original. It is modish cultism; let’s restore that feeling which gave us such a buzz when we were 18. It is modish idolatry; let’s bring back the once and future king. The consequences on personality can be pitiful; it presents one from crossing the rivers ahead if one can only see into the past.

Thanks to YouTube, I can plug in and show my kids the power, courage, danger and fearlessness that Malcolm X found when he universally scared the pants off the white people. He still does. But Obama, who speaks of a “quiet riot” does not. There is no such thing as a quiet riot. Malcolm was a man who didn’t long to retire in his college campus. Or the anguish of Bob Dylan at Newport in 1965, like a magical animal come out of the North Woods; a heartbroken and drunken John Brown warning of pestilence, danger and the end of things ahead. The Poet of the Heart rarely expects to live past 30 and the best do not. Malcolm, like John Lennon, managed to get to 40 before he was gunned down.

We face the big transition now, and not because of this upcoming Presidential race. All healthy people are sick of this consultant’s scam already. Today America’s new generation faces the question every generation faces: Do we follow the Sun or retreat into Shadow?

I don’t care if Arnold runs for President. I don’t care what he intends to do. Nature will call him forth where he is needed. There is a new thing started up here in New Hampshire at high school graduations, much to the great dismay of the guidance counselors: When the boys get their diplomas, they collectively light up cigars. I believe it is an Arnold thing. From the kids I talk to, they seem to like Obama. But they idolize Arnold. He is perhaps the First Citizen of America’s finished journey in its last frontier; the place at the end of journeys where the world begins again.

We face now our first days: The North/South contention which has resonated heart and mind in this country for 400 years in cord and chorus and sometimes in blood and anger is over. That age was Prelude. That day has passed. We are now an East/West country and we will be for the next thousand years. And the representative avatars of this new condition are Hillary Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This is the question we ask today: Do we cross the river ahead and all the other rivers? Or do we return again to the Shire?