Friday, May 30, 2014

Nothing Changes

Politicians are the only people one can vilify with impunity, for if you do not specify what party- or even what country-most of your fellow humans agree with you!

Here is a snippet from a book titled "The Essay", that I pulled out of the free books bin at McKay Books. It is from an essay by Jack London, who describes how his working class birth made him long for a different life. As a young man he became an oysterman, and briefly a criminal:

"One night I went on a raid amongst the Chinese fisherman. Ropes and nets were worth dollars and cents.It was robbery, I grant,but it was precisely the spirit of capitalism. The capitalist takes away the possessions of his fellow-creatures by means of a rebate, or by a betrayal of trust, or by the purchase of senators and supreme- court judges. I was merely crude. That was the only difference. I used a gun."

And from "The Craft of Gardens",by Ji Cheng, a garden designer from the age of the Ming Dynasty (translated by Alison Hardie), Maggie Cheswick writes this in the Foreword-

"- and since the Ming was a repressive and autocratic dynasty, it reinforced the option of a gentleman to reject public office and devote his time to the advancement of his spiritual,literary, and artistic gifts in the elegant setting of a garden. The great Ming artist Wen Zhengming(1470-1559), who partly designed the Zhuo Zheng Yuan, or Garden of the Unsuccessful Politician, in Suzhou, made only one brief and unsatisfactory excursion into public employment and then, calling himself always an amateur, he lived for a time among the watery mazes of this lovely place, devoting himself to poetry and painting."

Well, one of our previous Presidents, who no one calls much of a success, did retreat to Texas to paint pictures of himself and his feet, as they stuck out from the water in his bathtub. I do not know that he ever gardened, though he had been pictured on his presidential time-outs clearing brush and complaining about armadillos.

"The Garden of Sagebrush and Possums on the Half-Shell". That is what the Chinese might call it-

1 comment:

Out on the prairie said...

Churchill was a painter when he retreated to Morocco.His were much better than the Texans.