It’s Monday, and politics nerds across the nation are waking up and shouting, “Let’s get ready to increase federal oversight of financial markets and/or ruuuuuummmbbblllllllllllleeee!” directly into the ears of their spouses or cats. It’s go time, motherhumpers, and Broadway Chris Dodd is going to throw the long bomb (regulation of derivatives markets) down the sideline (gray area separating conventional banks from hedge funds they operate) to hit Chuck Schumer in a curl route (narrative of Republican obstructionism) in the hopes that he can run it into the end zone (future in which Argentinian-style currency collapse has not forced us all to do weird Japanese pornography to pay our electric bills.) It seems like the game day metaphor is breaking down now—not least because the Patriots have decided not to show up. You know who the Patriots are, right? They’re the Republican party, defenders of Real America, whose concern for Main Street has led them to promise a filibuster against the attempt to regulate Wall Street. And the Combat! blog staff has been tailgating since 6:30, too. Put your shirts back on, interns.
It’s Friday, and that means it’s time to fit the irregular detritus of the week into a taught chain of causal, um, links. The problem with contemporary life—if I can just jump right into it here—is that it’s increasingly non-narrative. Ever since the basic unit of work went from stalking a mastodon over the frozen plains for two weeks to franking insurance forms in a cubicle for eight hours, human life has become more and more episodic. That’s great for creating a mood but bad for developing character, to put it in workshop terms. Maybe that’s why the character of our nation has been so moody lately, with alternating factions declaring crisis amid recovery, victory in stalemate, strategem in disaster and vice versa, pretty much anew every morning. There must be a narrative in there somewhere, since yesterday will definitely not be happening again today, but sometimes the story seems hard to follow. Maybe we’re just looking at another week’s episode in the long-running melodrama of stupidity versus sense. Maybe stupidity has won, and the rest of the performance will be a puppet show, with shrieking socks debating each other in the same idiot’s voice. The fact of the matter is that not everything happens according to some plan, and our best evidence for destiny is still assembled in retrospect. This week, retrospect reveals only a startling refusal to cohere. As you move from the structure of your workweek to the short-form improvisations of the weekend, consider Camus’s assertion that meaning is only something we make for ourselves, and therefore so is meaninglessness. It is the edge between our desperate understandings and an indifferent universe where stories are made, and it’s the friction in the joint that gives them heat. It’s a cold morning in the Combat! blog offices, so let’s get a little fire going, huh?