5 NOV 2008
you are sitting by the stove in Camberwell S London looking out the kitchen window at the leaves of the sycamore tree the day after Barack Obama has been elected president of the United States. your parents from Oklahoma have taken your children to West London. P is conducting interviews in Stone House, England. you are alone in this house. after all night watching the election on democracy now, the endless talk and the endless speeches, it is quiet
from beyond the Chein-ko pass, news suddenly reaches us of the recovery of Chi-pei. on first hearing it, tears soak my clothing. turning back towards my wife and children, we exchange looks from which sorrow has been removed. I begin at once to roll up these texts in a state of euphoria verging on delirium.
his hands are shaking, said David Hawkes
the only response is to burst out singing into the bright sunlight. Later there will be time for drinking. it will be a fine trip home to Loyang with the green spring for company. (I have some farmland there and my half brothers live nearby.)
Immediately after Pa you cross the gorge at Wu then down to Hsiang-yang and on to Lo-yang
'on learning of the recovery of honan and hopei by the imperial army' by Tu Fu
Senators McCain and Obama have raised a billion dollars to campaign for this election. The film maker and activist Michael Moore has reminded us that for this sum clean drinking water could be provided for every person on earth. we are the people on earth. we sit by our fires. the leaves turn yellow in the autumn. in Iraq and Afghanistan the US government is spending a billion dollars a month on wars we can still barely imagine. uncertainty marks the pronouncements of the candidates. the US government has spent a trillion dollars on the wall street bailout. these sums would be sufficient to eradicate child poverty on earth. the figure of barak obama bestrides the earth. with all the others, we listened to the words of his acceptance speech fall from his mouth with startling clarity from behind a bullet proof glass screen on the stage in a park in downtown chicago tuesday at midnight. his grandmother had died the night before. he knew she was watching, he said.
democracy now was celebrating. we are the ones who have made this possible, some one was saying. later will be the time for planning a campaign of pressure. tonight is a time to give credit to all those who have campaigned against the war, who have created the media platforms and the political organisations without which this new political constituency could not exist. we are part of this, he was saying.
you do not feel part of this. what it is to be a part of this, to wave an american flag, to use the word america in celebration of a capacity for renewal, you can only imagine. the figure of barak obama stands as a symbol of this new america, even as he figures the fable of rags to riches, even as he figures the idea of racial and social justice - unless we have been somehow paralysed from the heart down, the commentator went on, each of us feels tears come to our eyes. tears come to our eyes at such a moment after a lifetime of betrayal. our lifetimes have witnessed the most thorough betrayal at every level of our simple human impulses, confining us to a political farce restricting our human impulses acquired as a child to a prison. now we are free to go. the rule of criminal demagogues that began with ronald reagan, at the same time as we were being subject to the domestic obscenity of thatcherism, and continued through the bush criminals, father and son, with barely a deviation in the tenure of clinton - the violence and wastage of those years, we are now to believe, we are asked to begin to imagine to be at an end. no wonder we are floored - bitterly expelled from our exhausted roles as carpers and whingers on the side lines of power - in the face of that profound betrayal we have become so inured, so chronically depressed and inured to disappointment and disillusion that we have come to recognize disillusion as the only form of maturity and depression as the only appropriate form of feeling and mode of life. now it is as if we are to be released.
studs terkel died too. curiosity never killed this cat, he said, was the epitaph he had all worked out.
we are those people who have been implicated in horrific crimes at a distance, suddenly being told the whole thing is over now, not to worry about that any more, of course our lives have been robbed from us - the best people and the best times of our lives have been taken from us, along with those people whose lives were literally crushed and blown out of their bodies by terrorist regimes in the US, the UK and else where - those billions of ungrown bodies that have been placed in the earth over these years of betrayal and the foisting of american fantasies on this earth. what haven't the americans done in this period? in the so called fog of war? what outrages haven't they committed, in our names, in this long sorry history, that began with slavery and genocide and has matured into a planetary slaughterhouse with consequences already so advanced that half the lifeforms on the earth will have been eliminated by the time our children, the so called philosophy club, are 50 years old.
you watch them sleeping. because you can only feel time pour through your body with prosthetic devices, you spend all night wandering through the house with a video camera, filming everybody sleeping, observing every animal and the fire in the stove, all the time you are listening to democracy now coming live from the firehouse studio in new york, a few blocks from the site of the world trade centre
a benign story tells us that was the catalyst and the intervening years have been the preparation of a response, which now unfurls in the person of barack obama and the figures of a new constituency, including the slacker uprising celebrated and facilitated by michael moore - all those young people so fresh and ripe, who perhaps will not have to suffer the betrayals we had to suffer -
but we ask you: how is it that we are again hearing the announcement of an american fantasy, the declaration of a vast american subjectivity which, unable to contain itself, seems to rove constantly, seeking food for the dreams that prevent it sleeping? who is this person, this representative supposedly of a nation, as if representation of such a kind on such a scale were technically and morally conceivable? immediately after the conflict come the appeals to unity: we are to pull together; we are to help in any way we can we are to commit ourselves to new forms of national service under the tutelage of a new leader, whose story is our story whose dreams are our dreams god bless america
who are these people? these self styled americans? when you have wiped out a people taken their name and come to the podium to talk about your capacity for renewal, isn't it clear that this capacity is possible only as a form of consumption of the other? is it not, as in any low budget horror film, quite clear, that the renewal referenced and constantly obsessively sought by america and the so called american people is possible only in the form of bloodfeast? it is only through the violent slaughter, exsanguination and feasting on the fresh blood of human subjects that the nation of america renews itself - no sooner do we begin to sense its power waning and its energy for new conquest diminishing, than it gives a great turn of its engorged body and relaunches itself on fresh conquests. for those of us on the receiving end of these assaults, is it any wonder we hesitate, alone in the middle of the night, while a million americans assemble in downtown chicago, fired with the spirit of renewal drunk, as the saying goes, on blood
they wave their flags and the tears run down their faces - like the woman in theatre de complicite lisa was talking about - are these tears ok? is it ok to shamelessly shed these tears, why are we shedding them? what are we crying about? is there something to cry about which we don't yet know, or which at some level we know and suspect and are ashamed of? what are we going to do?