Monday, May 28, 2012

"Times Have Changed"

When a politician makes a public pronouncement, do you get the feeling that he or she thinks that the people to whom he or she is speaking (i.e., you and me) are credulous yokels?  Do you get the same feeling when a government bureaucrat or a media shill holds forth?

Do you notice that politicians, bureaucrats, and media shills have an infinite capacity to be both disingenuous and supercilious, no matter how sincere they attempt to sound?

It has ever been so, of course.  One Dark Age follows another.  Only the outer particulars change.

                                   Stanley Spencer, "The Bridge" (1920)


Times have changed.
Remember the helplessness
Of the serfs,
The inexplicable tyrannies
Of the lords.

But times have changed.
All is explained to us
In expert detail.
We trail the logic of our lords
Inch by inch.

The serfs devised religions,
And sad and helpful songs.
Sometimes they ran away,
There was somewhere to run to.
Times have changed.

D. J. Enright, The Old Adam (1965).

I harbor no illusions that we can dispense with this cast of characters.  I do know this: you can keep them away from your thoughts and your feelings. And, remember: they have absolutely nothing to do with poetry and art, which, to them, are alien and unreal spheres.  How fortunate for the rest of us.

                                Stanley Spencer, "The Roundabout" (1923)


Fred said...


Unless, of course, they decide they know what's best for us in poetry and the arts and literature.

Valkrye said...

Hello, As I have been a reader-follower of your beautiful blog for some time , I thought today as good a day as any, to finally leave a comment~ Your post today being so topical and relevant and I have often had the same thoughts regarding politicians ~ particularly this past year. Although I find it difficult to ignore completely, as you say one does not have to allow it to overwhelm one with it's level of sheer, incredible ignorance. Seems to abound these days.! Thank goodness there is still art, poetry, music and the natural world (more or less )to turn to. Otherwise one would be totally crackers. I know now for certain though, the lunatics are in charge of the asylum! But at least I have some alternatives to it. I think you have one of the most beautiful, thought-provoking and invariably interesting blog on the internet. Hope you will continue to post . Thank you for all your efforts here.

Stephen Pentz said...

Fred: yes, that's true. And I suppose that we see some of that in the politically-correct excesses of the educational system in the U.S. But I think that they are too obtuse to do any harm.

Thanks for stopping by.

Stephen Pentz said...

Valkrye: thank you very much for visiting, and for your comments. I greatly appreciate your kind words, and your support. As I have noted before, I am always gratified and humbled that people such as you find your way here -- and keep coming back.

I agree with all that you say about the political classes (of all nations, it would seem). Your analogy of the lunatics being in charge of the asylum is right on target. And I should have made clear, as you did, that the follies are "difficult to ignore completely" -- I certainly cannot claim to be free of the madness, but I try to escape it as much as possible. However, this may be quite difficult this year in the U.S., with our presidential elections. The prospects are mind-numbing!

Again, thank you very much.

Fred said...


I hope you are right, but I'm more pessimistic than you.

Shelley said...

What you say here is exactly why I have always loved Howard Dean.

He doesn't do that.

Stephen Pentz said...

Fred: well, nobody is touching my books!

Stephen Pentz said...

Shelley: thank you very much for visiting again.

As for Howard Dean: I am going to keep my mouth shut and be politic: "No comment."