A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Thin Line

Obama's comments today about his respect for the Rev. Wright and love of his own white grandmother, despite their racial attitudes, reminded me of something I wrote in a review reprinted in this post:

I know these men [Mississippi sheriffs shown in a photograph], or the men like them who were my neighbors, my uncles, my friends' fathers and our Sunday school teachers and scoutmasters. When I was growing up in Mississippi, they would say such appalling things about black people that even to remember 40 or 50 years later causes my gorge to rise. Yet I also know that when they weren't spewing racist filth, they could be men one could respect and even love. It was as if, in the lives of these men, a tributary of human feeling had been dammed, grown stagnant and polluted, and its foulness had seeped out and corrupted a mainstream that should have run clear.

I think lots of people, especially white Southerners of a certain generation, know this feeling -- of affection and respect for someone with whom you disagree deeply and painfully on particulars, usually concerning race. It was thrilling to hear something similar articulated so well today by a candidate for president. Whether the sound-bite-obsessed media can comprehend and accurately report the subtlety of what Obama had to say is another question.

Update: Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow and Eugene Robinson do an excellent job of analyzing and commenting on this particular section of the speech.



The Speech



Does anything else really need to be said?