Monthly Archives: September 2010

“Justice? — You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law. . .I’m talking about fascism, that’s where this compulsion for order ends up. The rest of it’s opera.”

So goes the opening of William Gaddis’ A Frolic of His Own — a novel I’ve no doubt Jonathan Franzen has never started, much less abandoned halfway through. It is of course worth reading for a million reasons. But it’s clear-eyed, mercilessly thorough examination of the law is of especial import these days when Our President is so obsessed with following the rules.

The rules he’s interested in following of course. Others like Habeus Corpus and the Geneva Convention are optional.

And so he sits down to chat with Jann and states –

“Now, I am also the commander in chief of an armed forces that is in the midst of one war and wrapping up another one. So I don’t think it’s too much to ask, to say “Let’s do this in an orderly way” — to ensure, by the way, that gays and lesbians who are serving honorably in our armed forces aren’t subject to harassment and bullying and a whole bunch of other stuff once we implement the policy. I use that as an example because on each of these areas, even those where we did not get some grand legislative victory, we have made progress. We have moved in the right direction.”

That’s true if you believe the right direction is circular.
Barry’s promise to repeal the law banning gays and lesbians from the military isn’t worth the air it was printed on.

Adding insult to injury is his notion of gay and lesbian soldiers being subject to “harassment and bullying.” Who do you think Dan Choi is, Barry — Asher Brown?

Asher

Not that you’d take the “political risk” (as our famously “Free Press” loves to say) of intervening in high school thuggery, thus offending those all-important Christians.

I suspect doubtless having seen Philadelphia, you fancy we’re all desperate and dying like Tom Hanks — and you’re Denzel, a hotshot lawyer gobsmacked by the discovery that those you’ve been condescending to are flesh and blood human beings like yourself.

Almost.

And so what follows is scarcely unexpected.

Jann: “What music have you been listening to lately? What have you discovered, what speaks to you these days?”
Barry: “My iPod now has about 2,000 songs, and it is a source of great pleasure to me. I am probably still more heavily weighted toward the music of my childhood than I am the new stuff. There’s still a lot of Stevie Wonder, a lot of Bob Dylan, a lot of Rolling Stones, a lot of R&B, a lot of Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Those are the old standards.
A lot of classical music. I’m not a big opera buff in terms of going to opera, but there are days where Maria Callas is exactly what I need.”

Indeed. But it’s not Andrea Chernier I’m thinking of dear.