outwait outrun outwit


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"...all fiction, all writing of any kind, in fact, exists on a number of different levels. 'Never trust the teller, trust the tale,' said D.H. Lawrence, and he was right, even if he did not want this to happen to his tales. If you read the tale carefully, the tale tells you more than the writer knows, often much more than they wanted to give away. The tale tells you, in all innocence, what its writer thinks is important, who she or he thinks is important and, above all, why. Call it the sub-text."--Angela Carter


Reading a collection of essays by Angela Carter, who is my kind of gal: unfailingly passionate, disarmingly vitriolic, always class-conscious, ready to flay sentimentalism bald and bloody. Deeply intolerant of its spiritual poverty, she reveals sentimentalism as a curiously modern and capitalist phenomenon, dependent upon a constellation of fetishes, otherwise ordinary things, like bread and wine and sex and oil.

Perhaps Carter would have been amused by the cheap fiction that Bush pandered in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. While the radio commentator narrated, I listened, captivated, a leery spectator to what seemed an unnecessarily gory sports event where everyone already knew the name and shape of the victor, but watched anyways because of the sheer spectacle of it all. Much eye-rolling ensued, of course, especially when, after insisting that "[w]e have no intention of imposing our culture," Bush inserted the requisite but, parroting human rights rhetoric to advance the national agenda of the rich and corrupt. Of course, the word du jour, Enron, was missing from his litany.

Briefly, I pretended that this was only harmless drama, a re-vision of the 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast, but my body betrayed me, shuddering as Bush intoned, "This will be a decisive decade in the history of liberty."


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