Past is Prologue, Certainly

Because of this I now have Mary Poppins on the brain.

The hosts of Fox and Friends are concerned that a program in Ohio which allows same-day registration and voting could provide opportunities for voter fraud or manipulation. “Before you could try and actually prove where they actually live,” complained Gretchen Carlson, “if they’re actually residents, or they’re just Mary Poppins.”

I don’t like where it’s coming from and the direction it’s going, but “or they’re just Mary Poppins” has a certain lucky genius to it.

So, on Thursday (what a lovely day) I was now thinking about Mary Poppins and how the bank wanted Michael’s trifle of pocket money so clutching bad that Michael fled in terror while the Bird Woman sat on the steps of St. Paul’s begging pennies to feed the pigeons, there was a run on the bank by Michael demanding his tuppence back which somehow came to be called a defaulted loan and caused panic, banker daddy realized he worked for soul-stealing gluttons, reflected upon Poppins’ medicine and eased all cares with the admonition that all should just go fly a kite.

Trouble is I watched Fellini’s “Satyricon” Wednesday night, not having seen the film since it first came out, and then located The Satyricon of Petronius Arbiter at Gutenberg online books and had been reading that off and on Thursday afternoon (and been bored reading it), and so all these things were colliding in my head, the Big Bail Out and Mary Poppins and Michael and the bank and Satyricon.

“What do you think of the fellow in the freedman’s place? He has a good front, too, hasn’t he? And he has a right to. He saw his fortune multiplied tenfold, but he lost heavily through speculation at the last. I don’t think he can call his very hair his own, and it is no fault of his either, by Hercules, it isn’t. There’s no better fellow anywhere his rascally freedmen cheated him out of everything. You know very well how it is; everybody’s business is nobody’s business, and once let business affairs start to go wrong, your friends will stand from under! Look at the fix he’s in, and think what a fine trade he had! He used to be an undertaker. He dined like a king, boars roasted whole in their shaggy Bides, bakers’ pastries, birds, cooks and bakers! More wine was spilled under his table than another has in his wine cellar. His life was like a pipe dream, not like an ordinary mortal’s. When his affairs commenced to go wrong, and he was afraid his creditors would guess that he was bankrupt, he advertised an auction and this was his placard:




I guess Petronius was something like the Thomas Wolf of the time. I don’t know. But there is something about “Satyricon” that at least recalls the spirit behind the “Bonfire of the Vanities”, except the hero isn’t charged with running anyone over. No, the hero becomes impotent. More on that in a moment, but “Satyricon” became a whole lot more interesting to me as I read along.

So, I had “Satyricon” on the brain.

Then we watched the debate Thursday night.

Biden was what I expected him to be and I was impressed with how there was no trace of condescending in his manner, which was sadly pronounced by Palin’s tendency to smirk, which I think she realized after a while was going to go badly for her and she toned it down a bit. One of the surprises of the evening for me, however, was when he spoke of his experience as a father, and I thought it was as much a surprise for him, the anguish that struck him as he referred to his wife and child dying in the wreck and his two other children being critically injured. He recovered mid-heartbeat, that quickly. And then a subsequent surprise was when Palin blazed on without acknowledging what had just happened. As I watched I knew she’d hit uncharted territory, something for which she’d not been coached, and was trying to imagine what the wheels of her brain were dictating, Palin driving on her own.

Both Biden and Palin had just been asked what each their respective Achilles Heel was. Palin did not divulge her Achilles Heel. She instead chose to speak of strengths. Biden instead acknowledged that he may be said to have a lack of discipline as his Achilles Heel, and added excessive passion as well. Then, as Palin had spoken about her being a concerned mom, referring to it as a connection to the heartland of America, Biden reminded it isn’t just moms who have the job of parenting and feeling for their children, and a bit of his intimacy with passion slipped through in the form of anguish.

Palin was at least coherent and was very Palin, she doing very well at being the feisty outsider, the Alaska pioneer. And that’s one thing, but she was exhibiting a problem with answering questions, and though that’s come to be expected it’s still frustrating because she is so good at deflecting that about ten words into her responses you could forget what the question was that had been asked and few would fault you as senile, just as one can’t fault Palin as exhibiting senior moments in her lack of relevance.

Not two seconds after I remarked to Marty that she wasn’t answering questions, Palin said “I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear” and, well, that did it for me for the moment, Palin having announced a non-debate, a commercial of talking points instead, and I got up and left the room for a bit and listened from the kitchen. But I returned, though it was physically painful listening.

I gazed amazed as she winked. And winked again.

Whenever Palin referred to herself as folksy Main Street I found myself flashing to “A Mighty Wind’s” faux folk band the New Main Street Singers.

As a matter of fact (if I remember correctly) Jane Lynch, as Laurie Bohner, the grand dame of the New Main Street Singers, does a fair amount of winking.

Of course, Sarah Palin might not appreciate the comparison with The New Main Street Singers. Though curiously Young Republican, the leads are also members of WINC, “Witches in Nature’s Colors”, who at one point in the film do honor to flame, which represents the light and the dark, the uncertainty of life and its delicacy….”and the penis”.

(Yes, I’m about to go *there*. Because I just must. But I think I do so tastefully, examining a few of the archetypes parlayed by the McCain-Palin campaign, if only to remind of the archetypes that have been embroiled with politics and leaders since, I bet, almost forever, as humans count time.)

Hmmm, well, actually, come to think of it I do believe that same flame has its place in McCain-Palin’s campaign strategy. I’d watched the 1931 “Cimarron” Wednesday night and as I’d watched (personally, I think it is a remarkable film and deserving of a blog post) it was reconfirmed for me that part of the appeal that’s being sold via Palin is returning the American people to frontier hopes, “go west young man” becoming “go north to the land of the melting permafrost” and billions and trillions of barrels of oil, as many as the stars that sparkle the Alaskan nights (a state that has less than a million inhabitants), America once again offered as a land of infinite resources ripe for the picking, and Palin one of the gutsy individualistic pioneers who’s paved the way, turning and crying from the far edge of civilization, “Follow me, folks! Leave behind the decaying husks of the fathers and the effete silver spoons with which they feed their decadent selves! I, Sarah Palin, from the last outpost of maverick frontier spirit, a gun-toting wilderness woman down the line of the Unsinkable Molly Brown, will reinvigorate the wet and flaccid leather of the American Dream! I will save, from their accursed political and energy impotence, the citizens of the Titanic Lower 48 with, did I mention, the billions and trillions of barrels of oil the new Molly Brown is sitting on? Shall I mention again the billions and trillions of barrels of oil I’m sitting on and that we are the foundling twin of Texas and are ready for take-off, Houston!!?”

I’d already observed Palin being sold as frontier woman and a Molly Brown sitting on the pot of oil gold, but it had slipped past me that McCain was the new Priapus and just how literally we should take Palin as his political priestess, winking so feisty about that fertile frontier she commands.

“Drill, baby, drill!” as she said.

The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.

They know that even in my own energy-producing state we have billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas. And we’re building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline which is North America’s largest and most you expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets.

Encolpius, the hero of “Satyricon” (if you could call him a hero) also suffered from impotence. He had troubles, thus, satisfying a woman named Circe.

In “The Odyssey”, Odysseus was by Hermes warned about a sorceress, Circe, that she would entice him to bed but steal his manhood. Circe had invited his crew to a feast and turned them into pigs. Odysseus won them back by having Circe promise she would not steal his manhood, then becoming her lover. When he seeks to leave, learning a year has passed rather than just a matter of days, he is told he must first visit the Underworld, a port that no ship can reach.

In “Satyricon”, Encolpius’ virility restored simultaneously (it seems) with a friend of his (Eumolpus) enjoying the virgin daughter a fortune hunter had given him as a student, that fortune hunter (named Philumene) having hoped to obtain some part of a legacy, we immediately after have Eumolpus, the man with the legacy, reading his will to a number of legacy hunters. The will reveals that if they wish to procure their fortune then they must feast upon him at his death.

Though the legacy-hunters were horrified, Eumolpus died shortly thereafter.

…the Crotonians, furious because the old fox had lived so long and so sumptuously at the public expense, had put him to death in the Massilian manner. That you may comprehend what this means, know that) whenever the Massilians were ravaged by the plague, one of the poor would offer himself to be fed for a whole year upon choice food at public charge; after which, decked out with olive branches and sacred vestments, he was led out through the entire city, loaded with imprecations so that he might take to himself the evils from which the city suffered, and then thrown headlong (from the cliff.)

Another Eumolpus was the son of Poseidon and Choine, and he, as one of the first priest of Demeter, was also one of the founders of the Eleusinian Mysteries. I did a quick Google and didn’t find, at least in the top search results, anyone making a comparison between Satyricon’s Eumolpus and the Eumolpus of the Eleusinian Mysteries, which surprised me. In other words, there’s probably no scholarly validity in comparing the two? But I must! I think they’ve quite a bit to do with each other and that there’s more going on to the suggested cannibalism of Eumolpus by the legacy hunters than first meets the eye and makes people go, “Eeeeeew!”

Anyway, we humans are funny creatures. We’re in a time of crisis and a lot of us humans are on record as viewing times of crisis as a dysfunction in the fertility department. Good leadership, or at least leadership upon which the gods smiled, was observed through good crops and a proud Priapus. Bad times and failed crops meant a challenged Priapus and sometimes required a scapegoat, a fattened fool imitating the king.

Palin several times decried looking to the past.

Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future.

Preferenced? Never mind.

Biden reminded that past is prologue.

Past is prologue, which is why today I’m so struck by a few of the archetypes that seem to be smiling through the seams, archetypes that are exhibited in how we humans work and are thus also employed by humans both unconsciously and consciously. They aren’t always very clear in every day life but we sense their presence and appease them with ritual that gives boundaries to those archetypes and seems intended to keep them from breaking out of their shadow realm into the every day.

Art serves the purpose, too, of reminding us of the energy, of the force of archetype, while containing it.

These are seriously troubled times.

They are also interesting.

I would have it they weren’t quite so interesting.

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Juli Kearns

Juli Kearns is the author of Thunderbird and the Ball of Twine and Unending Wonders of a Subatomic World (or) In Search of the Great Penguin. She is also an artist/photographer, and the person behind the web alter of "Idyllopus Press".

5 thoughts on “Past is Prologue, Certainly”

  1. Palin and husband are certainly fertile (does *no one* remember Zero Population Growth?). Palin favorite New Main Street Singers song: Potato’s in the Paddy Wagon.

  2. Though I’m an individual who is concerned about overpopulation , I can’t fault the Palins the large family they elected to have, and I imagine they treasure each of their children, but I would fault Palin her Pro-Life ambition to deprive other women of choice.

    I don’t know about Todd, but Sarah Palin comes from a Roman Catholic family, though she later attended a Pentecostal church. She’s now attending a nondenominational church.

    However, Joe Biden is Roman Catholic but is Pro-Choice, as are the majority of U.S. Roman Catholics, from what I read. I’ve wondered if Sarah Palin’s Pro-Life stance is more representative of her long-term Pentecostal affiliation. Dunno.

  3. I watched most of the debate, except for a part that we missed when my brother, who has been staying with me this week, got a Skype call from his daughter and wife so we began talking to them via webcam and missed about twenty minutes of the debate. The part that stood out to me the most was that moment when Joe Biden spoke of his first family, the loss of his wife and daughter, the worry over his sons and of being a single parent. I thought that was a very real moment, for one thing. And that it was a strong reminder as you said that it isn’t just moms who care about their families. Seems that Sarah Palin has tried so hard to capitalize on her mom status that it seemed like it was about time someone spoke up and reminded her and others that fathers also care about their children and carry a load, emotionally and otherwise, too, in relation to their families. I found that as Sarah Palin talked on not only couldn’t remember the question but especially in the first few answers she gave I couldn’t even figure out what it was she was saying. It just sounded like a wall of words. The winking was too cute for my tastes. I don’t like it when men do that either. I’d read something a couple of weeks ago from Deepak Chopra, who was likening Sarah Palin to the archetypal Shadow, that he thought it interesting that she was selected at that point. His thought was that this country has been living out of its Shadow for quite awhile now, that he hopes we’ll bring some things into more consciousness and stop living as a country so unconsciously from our Shadow side. There is, as with Pandora’s box, always Hope.

  4. Nina, I’m sure by now you’ve heard about National Review’s Rich Lowry’s review of Palin’s debate performance:

    I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can’t be learned; it’s either something you have or you don’t, and man, she’s got it.

    I’ve an image of little candy starbursts rupturing the screen and splatting the walls.

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