A fact is objective and unchanging, but what makes it meaningful? It is a true fact, for example, that Donald Trump is the first president in US history to have never before held public office or served in the military. But what does that mean? I might be saying he’s unqualified, or I might be saying that he brings to office fresh blood, untainted by the degeneracy of the political class. Facts are inert. It’s their contexts, that allow them to come to life and create meaning for us. Today is Friday, and it’s all in how you frame it. Won’t you pick out something tasteful with me?
As recently as two months ago, this country was run by elites: latte-sipping, liberal arts degree-holding, pilates-skipping elites. Fortunately, the election of Donald Trump and meteoric re-ascendence of the Republican Party has solved all that. Now that the billionaire son of a millionaire is president, America is going to start working for ordinary people again. And you know who will be leading the charge? Conservative pundits. They’ve broken free of the oppression that confined them to think tanks and the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, and now they’ve taken up the cry of the real American. Today is Friday, and we’re finally going to do something about the elitists who stopped tax cuts for the rich and saddled the country with burdensome welfare programs. Won’t you go sans culottes with me?
Yesterday, we learned that Michael Derrick Hudson has a poem in Best American Poetry 2015 he submitted under the pen name Yi-Fen Chou. Ben al-Fowlkes sent me Sherman Alexie’s explanation of how that happened, which I like as much as anything he’s written in years. Alexie wisely begins from his own perspective as a writer, which is the familiar mix of high ideals, envy, and conspiracy theory. I find contest judges are unfairly biased in favor of writers who aren’t me. Alexie feels about the same way, albeit for better reasons than I do, and when he becomes guest editor of BAP 2015 he resolves to judge fairly. He also resolves to uphold Rule #5:
Rule #5: I will pay close attention to the poets and poems that have been underrepresented in the past. So that means I will carefully look for great poems by women and people of color. [snip]
Enter Yi-Fen Chou. Alexie read his poem carefully and thought it was great. After he picked it for the anthology and Michael Derrick Hudson unmasked himself, Alexie was enraged. Then he read the poem again and liked it just as much, so it stayed in.
There are two of you: the person you think you are, and the person who sees that person clearly. You can ignore your assessment of yourself; you can even forget about it for long stretches of time, but you cannot un-know it. Insofar as we spend most of our time faking people out and excusing ourselves, we are the people we claim to be. At one time or another, though, our honest assessments fill our heads, and we become the person who sees clearly. That person is a dick. Today is Friday, and our crises of conscience are in the mail. Won’t you put off opening the box with me?
If only there were some way to make this graph that did not put percentages on both axes. That would be class warfare, though. You’re looking at a visual representation of historical US income inequality that is A) extremely conjectural in red and blue, and B) terrifying. It’s from this article in the Atlantic, which tentatively alleges that ours is a less equal America than it was on the eve of the Revolution and the Civil War. Numerous qualifications after the jump.