Saturday, March 14, 2009
I finally realized who it is that Peggy Noonan reminds me of and why I wish she would just stop. It's Roger Rosenblatt. You don't see him around much these days (is he still alive?). But in the '80's he was much in evidence, blathering in his deeply pretentious yet relentlessly middle-brow way about the most topical of the topical. God he was painful to listen to. Nobody acheived a higher ratio of sheer opininated gas to actual content, the actual content being some thoroughly distilled bromide of public television contributor class. You'd need an astrophysicist to explain the profound vacuities he was able to acheive. Anyway, Peggy Noonan has something of the unmourned Rosenblatt in her, only instead of pieties of the leftish New England middle-brow liberal arts major class of '65, we get the pieties of the (very) soft traditionalist Right. After Obama, will we still have Christmas trees? Martha Stewart get togethers (or rather the sort of get togethers that inspire Martha)? Will docksiders still be scuffed and penny loafers still have their pennies? Or will we because of inflation have to put those phony gold dollars in them? At some point, one can only quote:
I spoke to a Manhattan-based psychiatrist who said there is an uptick in the number of his patients reporting depression and anxiety. He believes part of the reason is that we're in a new place, that "When people move into a new home they increasingly recognize the importance of their previous environment." Our new home is postprosperity America; the old one was the abundance; we miss it. But he also detected a political dimension to his patients' anguish. He felt that many see our leaders as "selfish and dishonest," that "our institutions have been revealed as incompetent and undependable." People feel "unled, overwhelmed," the situation "seemingly unsalvageable." The net result? He thinks what he is seeing, within and without his practice, is a "psychological pandemic of fear" as to the future of things—of our country, and even of mankind.
So where does that leave us? The writer and philosopher Laurens van der Post, in his memoir of his friendship with Carl Jung, said, "We live not only our own lives but, whether we know it or not, also the life of our time." We are actors in a moment of history, taking part in it, moving it this way or that as we move forward or back. The moment we are living now is a strange one, a disquieting one, a time that seems full of endings.
Too bad there's no pill for that.