Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Frighten the Horses!

For two months running, the print edition of The Progressive magazine has carried outraged letters from readers, pro and con, regarding the October cover depicting Obama and McCain exchanging a French kiss. This is getting so tedious. Every ten years or so, The Progressive will reveal H-bomb secrets or promote gay marriage or call those that discriminate against illegal aliens "racists," only to have dozens of readers declare "Cancel my subscription." For heaven's sake, have we forgotten our chill pills? Does freedom of speech and the notion that reading should challenge one's perceptions mean nothing any more? I'm glad that Philip Dacey wrote a letter in the December issue reminding people that the slogan of the Surrealists was "not to flatter or comfort, but to disturb and shock."

I have a friend in the auto industry who wants nothing to do with Saturday Night Live skits, Onion articles, or Vanity Fair bailout spoofs that chide the Big Three. No respect for the common worker, he says. The key to right living as the Buddha would have it, to being unencumbered, is to be able to poke fun at those things most sacred in your life - your family, your job, your faith. Becoming outraged about such things is the first sign of mental rigidity. And to all those people canceling subscriptions, thank you for revealing your faux-progressive roots. If you are not ready to constantly shock, to provoke, to frighten the horses, you might as well just declare yourself a Republican and be done with it.


Ruth said...

Hallelujah, Amen, Right Awn, and pass the mustard!! Symbols, people, symbols!

(And I'll convince you yet that Zaha Hadid's metal spaceship modern art museum will be a wonderful shock to East Lansing's quiet brick campus.)

Loring Wirbel said...

Has she phoned home yet? (Patti Smith has a great song, "Birdland," about the children of Wilhelm Reich waiting for the spaceship that's going to take them away. The description sounds like Hadid's art museum. And hey, art takes you away!)