In the Shadow of Joy

The feeling I have when surrounded by Obamaphiles reminds me of my adolescent experience in a pentecostal church: discomforting. Long ago I realized that Barack Obama is a salesman peddling a product: Barack Obama. Naturally, this makes me a pariah — an alien sensation! — among many.

Enthusiasm and euphoria, especially of a religious nature, is immune to inquiry and analysis. Being high is justification enough. So because I am loathe to ruin their buzz, among Obamaphiles I smile and remain silent.

When I want to voice my opinion, I remind myself of the Taoist maxim: Spare speech and let things be. And I comfort myself with In Tenebris #2 by Thomas Hardy.


WHEN the clouds’ swoln bosoms echo back the shouts of the many and strong
That things are all as they best may be, save a few to be right ere long,
And my eyes have not the vision in them to discern what to these is so clear,
The blot seems straightway in me alone; one better he were not here.

The stout upstanders say, All’s well with us; ruers have nought to rue!
And what the potent say so oft, can it fail to be somewhat true?
Breezily go they, breezily come; their dust smokes around their career,
Till I think I am one born out of due time, who has no calling here.

Their dawns bring lusty joys, it seems; their evenings all that is sweet;
Our times are blessed times, they cry: Life shapes it as is most meet,
And nothing is much the matter; there are many smiles to a tear;
Then what is the matter is I, I say. Why should such a one be here?…

Let him in whose ears the low-voiced Best is killed by the clash of the First,
Who holds that if way to the Better there be, it exacts a full look at the Worst,
Who feels that delight is a delicate growth cramped by crookedness, custom and fear,
Get him up and be gone as one shaped awry; he disturbs the order here.


Cynics and gadflys have always been pariahs and outcasts.

Hmm. Maybe I should start a commune.

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