What more can one say about the current ghastly state of affairs in America? That Trump is a vain, childish proto-fascist; that Clinton is too enmeshed with the neo-liberal establishment to inspire enthusiastic support; that the best historical parallel – my area – is with the rise of the European dictators in the 1930s, which is hardly a novel observation; and that – from an even broader historical perspective – this really is beginning to look like the ‘final stage’ of global capitalism, presaging its collapse, that has been fondly and repeatedly anticipated by Marxists for a hundred years. There’s nothing much to add to this – yet. After the American election – which I’ll be staying up all next Tuesday night for (or all week, if it’s anything like the ‘hanging chads’ election of 2000) – we’ll see.
In the meantime we thought we might seek some distraction from all this horror by going to an opera. The one we chose also featured some British imperial history – ideal, it seemed, for me. Unfortunately Philip Glass’s Satyagraha proved not to be a distraction at all, unless it was from life itself. I’d always been prejudiced against ‘minimalist’ music. Now I no longer am. ‘Prejudice’ involves pre-judging, on the basis of ignorance. But now I know. I found the experience mind-numbing, but not in a restful way; and totally unenlightening with regard to the Mahatma. The contribution of Cirkus Cirkor (modern circus) to it – juggling, tumbling, (fairly) highwire walking, and so on – provided some relief, I suppose – they were very clever – but seemed to have nothing at all to do with either the subject-matter or the plot. OK, I don’t understand minimalism; or perhaps my hearing is too unsophisticated to appreciate the (very) subtle modulations in the music, so I shouldn’t judge. And won’t.
But it did sound rather like a long speech by The Donald: the same clichés repeated monotonously over and over again. I’m only sorry I was less mesmerized than Trump’s supporters clearly are. But then I expect both my music and my politics to be just a little bit more complicated.
For anyone seeking a subtler and more pleasurable form of distraction, you should see Steven Frears’s Florence Foster Jenkins, which we thoroughly enjoyed last night. It brought me back to life; and to blogging.