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I was wondering when these guys would show up again.
I spent summer 2010 in Washington, DC and their 2010 album The Unmistakable Man was, with For Whom the Bell Tolls and the first four seasons of Bones, a defining bit of ephemera. The first week I was in the city, sleeves rolled up, strutting down Nebraska Ave. on the way to the Metro, it was the only thing playing through my oversized Sennheisers, and, after an exposure like that, there’s little doubt in my mind that it was that year’s great unsung album.
On first listen, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger has the same sort of vulnerable melody and affecting warble, the same spirit, as that last effort and if it proves to be even a third as good it’ll be one of 2012’s best.
I have long thought of “racism without racists” as merely the product of the color-line. But it’s also the result of the American—and perhaps even the human—inability to admit fault. No one wants to be wrong. It is a great failing, not simply of morality and honor, but of imagination. Being wrong is painful. It would be painful for Ravi to tell the world he actually was trying to humiliate a fellow human for his own ends. It would be painful to admit that he actually has tried to spy on people in the past. But people who can’t admit to who they are, have little chance of ever becoming anything more.
As a culture, we’ve abdicated responsibility and personal choice— it’s not only that, as a Americans, we would rather not be wrong, but we would rather not make choices in the first place, because choices have consequences and maybe I would chose wrong and who wants that kind of responsibility?
Then again, maybe I would chose right. Or, maybe, if I chose wrong, I’ll choose right the next time. But, no, we would rather not choose at all. We would rather not act than take responsibility for our actions.
“Pappy could have directed another picture, and a damned good one. But they said Pappy was too old. Hell, he was never too old. In Hollywood these days, they don’t stand behind a fella. They’d rather make a goddamned legend out of him and be done with him”—
“We understand, then, do we not?
What I promis’d without mentioning it, have you not accepted?
What the study could not teach—what the preaching could not accomplish, is accomplish’d, is it not?
What the push of reading could not start, is started by me personally, is it not?”—
I am greatly troubled by what you say. I wrote Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn for adults exclusively, and it always distresses me when I find that boys and girls have been allowed access to them. The mind that becomes soiled in youth can never again be washed clean; I know this by my own experience, and to this day I cherish an unappeasable bitterness against the unfaithful guardians of my young life, who not only permitted but compelled me to read an unexpurgated Bible through before I was 15 years old. None can do that and ever draw a clean sweet breath again this side of the grave. Ask that young lady—she will tell you so.
Most honestly do I wish I could say a softening word or two in defence of Huck’s character, since you wish it, but really in my opinion it is no better than those of Solomon, David, Satan, and the rest of the sacred brotherhood.
If there is an unexpurgated Bible in the Children’s Department, won’t you please help that young woman remove Huck and Tom from that questionable companionship?
(Signed, ‘S. L. Clemens’)
Mark Twain’s response to Asa Don Dickson, of the Brooklyn Public Library, who was distressed that the library’s superintendent, “an enthusiastic young woman,” had removed Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer from the children’s section.
When I woke up this morning to go to the Zen Mountain Monastery, less than two hours after finishing the last essay I will ever write as an undergraduate, I did not expect that I would return home with a smoked trout given to me by a Lithuanian woman.