Friday, July 04, 2008
Happy Independence Day, guys, we'll have you back when you're ready - well, not John Bolton obviously and I'm in two minds about Lenny Kravitz (what's that all about?). There's a striking 4th July leader in the New York Times. It is badly written- the first two sentences are absurdly tortured - but interestingly so. What the writer is trying to say is that the date, though a contingency, is made more significant in that it signals not just freedom - ha! - from the Brits but also the start of summer. Summer is very important to the Americans; they write about it very well. One of the great books by that great, great artist Wallace Stevens was called Transport to Summer, a lovely title that that captures the sense of the season as an occasion for pastoral transcendence. The NYT leader tries to do the same thing in the paragraph beginning, 'The early vegetables in the garden are over...' and climaxing in the truly gruesome sentence beginning, 'High summer is the time of black shade...'. One would think this stuff would read like fantasy to the paper's Manhattan readers, but it probably doesn't. Walden Pond is never far from the most rabid urbanite's imagination. Summer, to the Americans, is the season that transcends - 'High summer has finally come,' says the leader writer, his hands seemingly clasped in prayer. We're keen on summer too, but as a hit and miss affair, something that occasionally works but, just as often, doesn't. I don't think Americans ever say 'we had no summer this year' but we do. Anyway, it's your day, transcendentally-inclined cousins, have a good one - well, not John Bolton of course, and maybe not, come to think of it, those horrible people in the ads who say Aleve has changed their lives, when, in fact their lives could equally well have been changed for about $4 a shot less by the identical generic. (You're worried about gas prices? Stop buying Aleve!) They really get on my nerves.
Posted by Bryan Appleyard at 10:16 am