I will give this cat credit. It was laying just outside of our property line, and so was safe from my lawn mower. This feline is one of the two that I have seen on our roof.
Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. That was true landmark legislation in the U.S. I was in high school when President Johnson signed it into law. And the law’s influence is still being felt in the country in so many positive ways.
So, of course, most of the morning TV shows led with the story of the U.S.’s loss in the World Cup yesterday. It is to weep.
When they did get around to discussing the Civil Rights Act, briefly, on Morning Joe this morning, one of the talking heads was asked if in today’s political climate in Washington, D.C. the Civil Rights Act could be passed, his answer was the nuanced, “No.” And he is right. Nothing of any import can get done at the Federal level anymore. While most people blame warring political philosophies, I blame politicians who think only of reelection.
Elected officials, especially in the House of Representatives, are on a continuous reelection campaign. It is an amazing week if they spend four days in Washington, rather than in their district campaigning. They don’t want to take a stand and actually vote on anything that might cause them to lose a vote or two. So, stagnation. And it has been going on for a long time. Over 90% of House members were reelected in 2012, while only 10% of the public thought they are doing a good job.
And that caused me to think of T.S. Eliot. I vaguely remembered reading one of his essays from then 1940’s when I was in grad school. In it, I thought I remembered his declaration that a language that doesn’t change is a dead language. Does it then follow that a congress that doesn’t change is a dead congress?
I pulled out my copy of On Poetry And Poets by Eliot (yes, I still have my copy from grad school). I wanted to make sure that I was remembering what I had first read decades ago was right. Well, I was wrong, Oh, you could draw the conclusion I made about language from what he wrote in his essay The Social Function of Poetry. In fact the Professor who taught my class may have interpreted it that way in a lecture. But when I read the essay again this morning, after so many years, I found that my memory was dim and that Eliot was saying so much more about poetry and the need that we have for poets. It doesn’t matter so much what their point of view might be, but it does matter that they have a point of view and that they are willing to share it. At least, that’s my take on the essay this morning. It might change tomorrow after more reflection.
So that’s how I went from contemplating the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to today’s political grovellers to T.S. Eliot’s reflections on poetry and poets. And I haven’t had breakfast yet.
Addendum: If you can find a copy of the essay The Social Function of Poetry I urge you to read it. If I had waited another day to write yesterday’s post, I would have quoted from the essay, because there is a paragraph that speaks to my minor rant.