Monday, 22 September 2008

Election Eclectica, The Conclusion: Nausea Moratoria

I believe I have finally formulated a conceit that adequately embodies the disgust with which this election fills me.

Actually, the image communicates not merely how I'm experiencing the election but, more generally, what it feels like to watch my nation become ever more masterfully commandeered by Stephen Harper and his geeky stable of insolent, rat-eyed Utilitarian geldings.

It is this: I am perpetually in the middle of a fourteen-hour flight to Jakarta on a turbulence-tossed twin-prop Piper, seated between two fat, flatulent, un-deodorised Amway salesmen suffering from Tourette's Syndrome, overactive sweat glands, aggressive halitosis, and severe air sickness.

I have thus decided to place a moratorium on election-driven posts (I see it as a corporal work of mercy, for which I hope some time may be cut from my stay in Purgatory, if I make it even that far).

I have come to believe that Canadian elections are very much like ejected plates of undigested spaghetti and meatballs: their essence, their Gestalt, cannot be grasped or even adequately contemplated while the vomited stream is arcing its repulsive path through the air; rather, one must wait for gravity to cancel its lofty pretensions and smash it down into a gaudy red splatter pattern of spoiled dreams, violated dignities and curdled destinies, whereupon one can (one must) collect the mess into an analytical bucket before the unpleasantness is expunged from our collective memory and until the national gut is once again moved to expel yet another electoral jet-stream of pandering cant and servile hucksterism of a kind that disgraces the great men and woman who made Canada possible and that negates everything we say and think we are.

Nevertheless, I still reserve the right to comment on the American election: U.S. elections have reached a terminus of degeneracy that ours are still far away from and are thus void of the traces of earnestness that prevent our own elections from being satisfying as sheer entertainment.

In fact, I cannot consider U.S. elections to be "elections" at all: most Americans don't vote; the electoral aspect of the spectacle is the one which Americans find least engaging, and who can blame them? When you've got guilty pleasures like the cheap vaudeville so divertingly provided by a Palin or a McCain, who wants to interrupt the show with spoil-sport banalities like "issues", "visions", "dialogues", "programs" or anything that smacks of the uncool?

No, our distant republican cousins have not come terribly far from their delight in showboat minstrelsy, the only serious innovation being their abandonment of blackface (which is, however, still considered useful for racially-ambiguous candidates who need to appear sufficiently "from tha 'hood" to key constituencies).

I shall post a retrospective post-mortem of this stillborn election on or after October 14th. Until then, this (slightly edited) comment I left at Matt Bondy's sums up my feelings about the legitimacy of the election call and thus of the legitimacy of the election per se. Unsurprisingly, my prediction about the process being "degrading" came mere days before Puffingate and the Ryan Sparrow fiasco:

[This election proves the] decay of correct constitutional practice in Canada–a process fueled by passive-aggressive hostility, ignorance, and benign neglect in roughly equal parts.

If the office of Governor-General were more than a ribbon-cutting farce, Michaëlle Jean would really have had to deny Harper’s request [for dissolution], as there’s no way to conjure an objectively valid reason for it. Harper didn’t even allow Parliament to sit before he declared it “unworkable”, and no other party leader was given a chance to seek the House’s confidence. The Governor-General, theoretically the only check on the Dominion executive, has become a laughable rubber-stamp enabler of it. Most Canadians fail to realise that we no longer really have an effective head of state.

As for Harper’s fixed-date “law”, there never was a law: nothing can limit the Governor-General-in-Council’s power to dissolve Parliament except a constitutional amendment. Harper’s “law” was merely an aspirational goal that was sold as an iron-clad guarantee by CPC hacks and credulous media lemmings.

It was merely part of a package of preposterous, pseudo-populist gestures Supreme Court
candidacy review, a threat to “democratise” the Senate , etc.) meant to sell the CPC’s “egalitarianism” to the Wal-Mart crowd. It’s been degrading for everyone concerned, as I expect the election will be.
At times like this, I am tempted to quote that great, sad, brilliant conservative, Ezra Pound. He wrote Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, in a fit of rage, in 1920, but it sounds tragically contemporary. Replace Lloyd George and the plutocrats who had "done very well from the war" with Harper, Bush and Washington's sordid, sclerotic lobbyists; then replace World War One with the Bush/Harper anti-jihad jihad, and you'll hear Pound excoriating the organ-grinding liars in the White House and their monkeys at Fox News. The Jessica Lynch myth, the Pat Tillman cover-up, the Omar Khadr fiasco, Bill O'Reilly, Halliburton...Pound saw them all--and hated them all, with a holy rage--over eighty years ago:

We see _το καλόν_
Decreed in the market place.

Faun's flesh is not to us,
Nor the saint's vision.
We have the press for wafer;
Franchise for circumcision.

All men, in law, are equals.
Free of
We choose a knave or an eunuch
To rule over us.

O bright Apollo,
_τίν' άνδρα, τίν' ήρωα, τίνα θεον_,
What god, man, or hero
Shall I place a tin wreath upon!


[The soldiers] walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving
came home, home to a lie,
home to many deceits,
home to old lies and new infamy;

usury age-old and age-thick
and liars in public places.


There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization...
For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.


rumor said...

Your 5th paragraph, DT, was poetry in itself.

Anonymous said...

My heavens, darling. That in-flight meal _must_ really have gotten to you.

Lady F.

Ti-Guy said...

U.S. elections have reached a terminus of degeneracy that ours are still far away from and are thus void of the traces of earnestness that prevent our own elections from being satisfying as sheer entertainment.

No wonder we're all so bitter and cranky, eh?

Sir Francis said...

That in-flight meal _must_ really have gotten to you.

I would be lying if I denied the pernicious inspirational power of that hellish meal. One takes one's "objective correlatives" where one can...

Sir Francis said...

No wonder we're all so bitter and cranky, eh?

Bah. Who's "bitter and cranky" (aside from "conservatives", that is)?

As for me, I'm bored...and bemused.

Ti-Guy said...

As for me, I'm bored...and bemused.

I wish I had your background in history and literature that would permit me to highlight events past and examine them for useful purposes, critical, ennobling, satirical or otherwise. As it is, I'm forced to pay attention to what is said, right now, and with every minute, it's getting more depressing.

I was happier before when the incoherence of the Conservatives just mystified me; now that I've concluded that the entire strategy is premised on incoherence, I've lost considerable faith in North American democracy.

I'm still willing to believe that most people are simply too distracted to pay attention and focus but what amazes is what they're willing to swallow the minute they tune in, such as when upper-middle class suburbanites with university degrees agree that shopping at Home Depot is a manifestation of authentic, working-class populism and that anything else is elitist.

Ti-Guy said...

I'm too bored to write something clever.

Sir Francis, I await a post featuring the words "jizz," "splooge," "choad," "ropy ejaculate"...


Sir Francis said...


Refer to the archives, mon pote...