Sometimes you lose interest in a project. Sometimes you run out of time, leaving the work unfinished. These are ultimately inevitable consequences of the active and often brutal world we live in. I mean, how many of you were absolutely giddy when undertaking something with passion only to be bogged down by the grind, realizing that what you were aiming for simply isn’t worth it?
With this in mind I would like to wrap up a number of lingering serieses that have long been stamped as the very definition of Recording Editorial History:
The first one to mention is a very long and dedicatedly researched project that has not appeared on this site for quite some time. It is entitled Recording Presidential Editorial History. Numerous rough drafts of pieces appeared early on in my efforts on this site (might I direct you to those on Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt, William G. Harding, and FDR in particular, although in the form they were published here they are somewhat incomplete). But I later withdrew publishing these studies (and thoroughly revised many of them after much more research). The reason for this is that I have decided to turn it into a book.
The basic premise is a historical essay for every President in the history of the United States (including revolutionaries like Sam Houston and traitors like Jefferson Davis). The study itself is partially biographical, but deals primarily with both their contemporary and transformative public views as major figures towards the development of not just our nation, but the entire world. Contrasting opinions, rumors, hero worshipping tall tales, and generational reconsiderations of certain ideas and actions dominate the stories. As an author I attempt to withhold my own opinions (sometimes more difficult than others) and focus exclusively on the “editorial history” of how these world leaders have been painted. This is a major project of mine and I have gotten up to Eisenhower. Once we get to Kennedy the crazy rumors, the divided partisan animus, and endless suggestions of conspiracies (and I have no doubt that he was killed by more than just Lee Harvey Oswald), overwhelm historical discussion all the way up to the present, the swinging division of opinions becoming a shattering picture of patriotism and national pride collapsing.
Next we can look upon Elsewhere, an extremely important series to me. This is a wide-ranging and densely researched historical study of numerous places throughout the world that are not my own. As with everything I do, these narratives tend to focus on the darker shades of reality, discussing the barbarism of the past and how our views of such history have changed with every following generation, concepts of pride often devolving into deepest shame.
I happen to love the Elsewhere series. They are the most joyful pieces I have written on this site. They are endlessly fascinating to me, discovering all of these things that I did not know. From discussions of prehistorical speculation all the way up to contested elections from the week before the narrative was written, there is so much one could learn by paying attention to others places that operate in unfamiliar or parallel ways.
Series 4 of Elsewhere kind of ended abruptly, a twice promised final study of Greenland being prepared. Of course I became occupied with other things, other ideas, and decided to put this on hold while I studied, once more, the politics of my home country, the social atmosphere of paranoia and rage sweeping the world, the cruelty of people towards one another and, my personal passion, a defense of animals in a world of violence and indifference, lamenting and mourning the destruction some people commit from entirely selfish motives.
Elsewhere Series 5 will come along eventually, hopefully starting with Greenland (with the strange effort of President Trump to “buy” the nation adding another twist to this curious history), and then continuing to tour the northern most populated parts of the globe.
Finally there are the continuing journalistic-styled editorials on the Democratic Presidential Primaries, which is an often torturous study, listening to the same things coming out of sometimes indistinguishable candidates, all covered in the cynical nothingness of professional politics. With the recent climate change town halls I had planned to write a comprehensive study on the different ideas and opposing views each candidate has on the issue (another important topic for me, repeated numerous times as an occasional weekly theme).
But I just couldn’t . . .
God were the discussions monotonous. This is not to say that many of these people had nothing worthwhile to say, no. But the format, the gruesome display of variant showmanship drooling out of each candidate’s mouths started to bog me down and eventually drowned me. I mean, how many of you actually watched these things? All of them? I watched all of them. Eventually it became far more interesting to contrast the CNN moderators and how they questioned the people instead of what response anyone had. It was fun to figure out which person in the audience asking a question was a plant, either of the candidate talking or someone else looking to trap them. Most of the speakers even went off topic, returning to their regular platforms, winking at the already forgotten Jay Inslee for his dedication to our environment, and then suggesting, alongside dollar signs, what they intended to do about the problem wrapped up in the dollar store ribbon of a proposed solution.
Also, with another debate (I believe with the same ten candidates) coming up later this week, I decided to incorporate whatever comments and analysis I have into that barb-throwing shit storm that all of these goddamn things have become. The cynicism of the candidates–and most especially of President Trump himself–has created such a skewed atmosphere of politics that it is no wonder people fear the outside world, and the dawn of dictatorial tyranny on the horizon. Books like 1984 (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780452284234&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used) and, perhaps more relevant to the United States’ current aloof indifference, Sinclair Lewis’ It Can’t Happen Here (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780451525826&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used) continue to sell all these many years after their publication, giving people a picture of what the future might be. And we stop watching, stop listening to what anyone different from us have to say.
I have gotten comments that the fact that I number the pieces (“Previewing the Democratic Primaries (Part Seven), for example, and “Evaluating the Democratic Primaries (Part Nine Hundred-Four)) telling me that such a thing is part of the problem. The fact that so many people say so many things when most of us have already made up our minds not so much on who we support, but who we will vote against should give you an idea of just how exhausted with the decline of social discourse we have become.
Yes, I will continue with the analysis (those pieces earn me the most money of any of the others, much to my horror), and I will do my best to merely comment and predict. But it is getting hard–harder–and there are times I do not want to do it anymore.
And so, prior to the preparation and discussion of the next debate, I think I will write about less tense issues. There are other things to talk about after all. Tomorrow–tomorrow let us talk about parents and their children . . .