Farewell Speech

Watched Obama’s Farewell Speech:

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.

We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.

Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.

Suttree

Suttree influences

from books-and-movies-that-influenced-the-writing-of-suttree thread at http://www.cormacmccarthy.com

Davis Grubbs

Night of the Hunter

George Washington Harris

Sut Lovingood: Yarns Spun By a Nat’ral Born Durn’d Fool

William Faulkner

Sutpen in Absalom, Absalom! and The Reivers

William Shakespeare

(influences liked by Faulkner) Falstaff, Prince Hal, Nick Bottom, Mercutio, Huck Finn, Jim

Falstaff at Herne’s Oak, from “The Merry Wives of Windsor,” Act V, Scene v, James Stephanoff, 1832. Via Wikimedia.

Scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1848-1851). Titania and Bottom. Edwin Henry Landseer (1802–1873). Via Wikimedia.

Joseph Conrad

Dante Alighieri

James Joyce

Ulysses

Nelson Algren

The Neon Wilderness and A Walk on the Wild Side

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Walt Whitman

T.S. Eliot

W. B. Yeats

John Keats

Hermann Hesse

Siddhartha

Mark Twain

Huckleberry Finn

Herman Melville

H. L. Mencken

(Henry Louis Mencken) See The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche (1907)

Scopes Trial (1925)

The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes/The Scopes Monkey Trial and Tennessee’s Butler Act. (On human evolution)

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