Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Sarah Palin and the Eggman
By Bernie Quigley
- for The Hill on 12/08/09
Every age has its primary symbols and if you are to go long to understand what will emerge over time and what will recede, they are worth looking at. With the rise of John F. Kennedy came the rustic troubadour Bob Dylan from Minnesota’s north country fair, declaring that the times were a changing. The lyrics of that tune which became the anthem of a generation (mine) paralleled a speech written by Ted Sorenson about the “new men of the Sixties” and delivered by Kennedy in his acceptance speech at the Democratic Convention in Los Angeles in July 1960.
Symbols can awaken a culture or kill it. They can prevent its future from arising as the red battle flag did in the South for 80 years after the Civil War had ended. Two days today are marked symbolically: December 7, when Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese, and December 8, when John Lennon was murdered outside his home at the Dakotas in New York City.
What is remembered and what is forgotten will hinge on these two dates. Lennon, who died 29 years ago today, will be remembered symbolically through a song he wrote in which he called himself the Eggman, an image he likely borrowed from one of his favorite books, Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass which featured Humpty Dumpty and a wise Walrus. A man or woman rising from an egg forms a classic Creation Myth and this symbol has had long historic resonance in Salvador Dali’s great painting of 1943, Geopoliticus Child Watching the Birth of the New Man, depicting the awakening of the “new man” breaking out of an egg in America. Investigation and cross culturing with other Dali paintings – Poetry in America, in particular, painted the same year - clearly suggests that the “new man” in his picture is the Christ entering a new world still a cultural desert in a new millennium.
Every age has its priests as well; true priests, I mean authentic voices that arise who people listen to for authenticity after the winged monkeys subside. Stanley Fish, for example. His opinion turns the tide as there is no living scholar in his generation who writes for the public as respected as he is. His review of Sarah Palin’s book Going Rogue, this morning in the New York Times, will have them shifting uncomfortably in their seats, as he says that as one who wouldn’t consider himself a supporter, he found it, “ . . . compelling and very well done.”
This is important and necessary as it saves Fish’s class and lesser colleagues at the New York Times and elsewhere from becoming completely irrelevant to the political process as Palin rises to the political challenges. Rasmussen reports this week that her popularity continues to grow.
And as in the early Sixties, her popularity grows along side a cultural phenomenon and runs parallel to it like a road that follows a river: The Twilight saga, a series of four novels which has taken another young generation still in high school by storm and sold books now into the tens of millions and broke records at the box office. Because embedded in the Twilight stories is another primary myth. Note that the picture on the cover of the fourth book in the series, Breaking Dawn, is the chess piece; the white queen.
These stories brings the ritual death of the Red Queen - who just happens to be named Victoria . . . she gets her head torn off by Edward Cullen in the movie coming out next June - and the victorious return of the White Queen, who’s name is Bella. This references Robert Graves’s mythic masterpiece, The White Goddess, about the beginning and middle of the cycle of the earth mother or Triple Goddess which brought Britannia to life and to world prominence and dominance. The last of England’s “great mothers” was Victoria, the “third mother” or covered moon in the mythic passage, which ends the life cycle. The White Queen – the “first mother” - brings the earth mother cycle to life again.
The story is a Creation Myth, and like Dali’s Geoploliticus Child, it is a North American creation myth. And one like Sarah Palin – whose husband’s maternal line runs to the Curyung tribe of the Yup’ik – which finds intuition and instinct for the “new creation” in Native America.