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JUST DENY EVERYTHING. IT’S NEVER FAILED. . .

“I hardly know the lady.”
“Sir, she’s your wife, she’s the First Lady of the United States because she’s married to you.”
“Can you prove that ridiculous allegation? I don’t see any evidence.”
“Mr. President, you’ve been married to Melania for many years. You have a child together. She’s traveled all over the world with you.”
“You see, this is exactly what I’m talking about. You liberal media guys are just mouthpieces for the Democrats.”
“Mr. President, I’m with The National Review.
“Yeah? Well I don’t like smart alecks. Sit down and shut up or I’ll take your White House press pass away. You there, with the big cross and the NRA cap. What’s your question?”
“Mr. President, I interviewed you and Mrs. Trump just last month. My paper gave your campaign a big check and a special commemorative assault rifle. When Mrs. Trump said she’s afraid of guns you pulled the trigger just to show her it wasn’t loaded. The problem is, Mr. President, now you say you barely know her and, uh, it kinda, you know, makes my paper look bad.”

File:President Trump Delivers Remarks Upon Departure 2019-09-22.webm

“What the—”
“Mr. President, are you trying to distance yourself from Mrs. Trump because of—”
“I didn’t call on you, you’re very rude and out of—”

“—because of her statement today that she’s worried about you, that you’ve been talking Russian in your sleep and—”

“Security, I want that woman removed from this—”

“—and that you’ve been choking your pillow and calling out Rudy Giuliani’s name?”

“I don’t know that Giuliani guy. I think I saw him once at one of my country clubs, he was trespassing and double bogeyed the tenth hole.”
“Sir, over here Sir. In 2016 you said you would jump off your penthouse balcony if Melania asked you to, that’s how much you love and depend on her.”
“I never said that. Melania who?”
“Nice try, Mr. President. Every network has news footage of you saying that, Sir, and giving her a big sloppy kiss right afterwards.”
“It’s fake. They used computer tricks.”
“Mr. Trump, the whole world is watching this news conference as we speak. Do you realize that you are destroying any shred of credibility that you might still have had left?”
“That’s right, Mr. Trump, you can’t deny what the whole world sees and hears and what these cameras preserve for the record.”
“You guys think you’re so smart. Well how do I know that this is really me talking? How do I know that some Democratic conspiracy hasn’t built a fake me and put him up here at this podium to say things that make no sense? Maybe this whole room is a fake. Maybe all of you are hoaxes. Maybe you’re all holograms. Maybe the whole government is a hologram. Which means I’m a hologram. Which means I’m not the me that said that I’m me because I’m the me that someone else said was me before they realized that I’m a lot smarter me than that other me and I’m also twice as rich as that other me, and a hell of a lot better looking or why else would all those magazines and TV shows keep flashing my picture everywhere and why else would all those sexy broads keep flirting with me and make me do things that only a hologram could do and maybe I should ask for a better hologram, one with better hair, although really my hair is perfect, it was a perfect haircut, it was a beautiful haircut, there was nothing wrong with that haircut, there was no quid pro quo for any kind of investigation into anyone else’s haircut. Speaking of investigations, did you ever notice that it begins with the word ‘invest’? If they didn’t want rich people to own investigations and make money from them, they should have called them something else. Am I right? Any suggestions? Why do I see holograms wearing D.C. Department of Mental Health uniforms? Why are they coming towards me and smiling like Newt Gingrich? Why is Mike Pence coming towards me. Did you ever see a hologram with such a ridiculous smile?”

“TWO-BIT REVIEW” . . . The Way of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler

” I think the Church Catechism has a good deal to do with the unhappy relations which commonly even now exist between parents and children. That work was written too exclusively from the parental point of view; the person who composed it did not get a few children to come in and help him; he was clearly not young himself, nor should I say it was the work of one who liked children. . .”

Samuel Butler by Charles Gogin.jpg

BOOK? . . . The Way of All Flesh, by Samuel Butler (1903)

WHAT KIND? . . . Novel

BE MORE SPECIFIC . . . Realism/Satire

ABOUT WHAT? . . . This is a multigenerational family saga of 19th Century rural England, but it’s much more than just a story about a family’s historical struggles. The family is a typical one full of ordinary people who make the parish church their means of livelihood and the foundation of their self-identity. But, despite their ordinary lives, the insights Butler gives us about such families are extraordinary.

SIGNIFICANCE? . . . Thanks to its eloquent narration and its depiction of the traditional way the older generation raises and instructs the younger generation, The Way of All Flesh is one of the great novels exposing the cruelty of strict religions and other hypocrisies. The book dared to say things rarely, or never before, said about established religion and Victorian morals. The book was monumental in its impact on modern thinking. It was a work of humanist philosophy that used a fictional story as its vehicle.

SO SHOULD I READ IT OR WHAT? . . . Maybe. . . The plot is slow but it’s a slow-motion slap in the face. The characters are unremarkable but that’s how Butler needed them to be, and they’re as well-drawn and real as a portrait on a wall. The dialogue is sparse and the prose is unadorned. But Butler’s message is full of sympathy and kindness.

YOU GOT ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD? . . . . The finished manuscript sat in a drawer for twenty years until Samuel Butler gave it to a friend and as a dying wish asked the friend to arrange for it to be published, finally. It was published a year after Butler’s death.

“TWO-BIT REVIEW” . . . Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence

” The bruise was deep, deep, deep…the bruise of the false inhuman war. It would take many years for the living blood of the generations to dissolve the vast black clot of bruised blood, deep inside their souls and bodies.”

BOOK? . . . Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence

WHAT KIND? . . . Novel

BE MORE SPECIFIC . . . Romance plus philosophical and social themes

ABOUT WHAT? . . . An illicit and potentially scandalous love affair, described in intimate detail, and the emotional conditions leading up to it. The book portrays the sadness and emptiness of the generation that fought and endured World War I. It offers only a glimmer of hope that people so emotionally damaged can find fulfillment in their lives. Clifford, Lord Chatterley, who is left paraplegic from the war, physically personifies the emotional numbness that torments Connie, Lady Chatterley, and leaves her feeling that something is missing from her life and life in general.

The novel also describes the ugliness, the misery of modern industrial society, and laments the loss of pastoral beauty. At the same time the book deplores British class structure, which persists despite the social and economic upheaval all around it.

SIGNIFICANCE? . . . Most people think of Lady Chatterley’s Lover as a daringly sexual book that offended large segments of the public. Unlike other books (by Updike, Roth, Irving, etc.) that unfortunately add sexual content merely to shock or titillate, Lawrence’s novel is rich in sex because sex is a symbol and a symptom. It is there to convey serious feelings that matter to the characters. It is described with wondrous respect, and the love scenes place women and men on the same plane, in terms of desires and feelings.

SO SHOULD I READ IT OR WHAT? . . . Maybe. It may not be a great novel, standing head and shoulders about others. But it’s a very good one, with memorable characters, a lot of remarkable prose and deep disturbing thoughts about men, women, life, love and sex.

YOU GOT ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD? . . . Nope. I said what I gotta say.

War

The poor and lowly, who pay the heaviest price, since each fresh burden presses desperately on their poverty, who in their masses are killed off wholesale, true food for cannon, who suffer by far the most from the atrocious misery of war, because they are the feeblest and least resistant among us, such as these scarcely understand the meaning of our bellicose ardor, our touchy points of honor, our sacred political obligations, as they are called, which in six months can exhaust two  nations, victor no less than vanquished.

Guy de Maupassant, “Old Mother Savage” (translated by Mrs. John Galsworthy)

Matka Sauvage.jpg

A short story that somehow choked me up

I’m reading some stories by Guy de Maupassant and they’re all excellent but one in particular put a lump in my throat. It’s called “Mademoiselle Fifi” and it’s set during the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71), when Maupassant was about 20. He wrote it a few years later. That war actually changed Europe forever, because it prompted Prussia and various smaller German states to become a unified Germany. There is something very astute and foreshadowing in the story regarding the events that were eventually to shake Europe in the 20th Century. I don’t get the sense that Maupassant was anti-German per se, but simply that he was anti-war and anti-cruelty in any form.

You can read, online, the very edition of the story that I got from the library. The link is below this photo of the author as a young man. How often do you get to read a story with such distinguished credentials: story by Guy de Maupassant, translation by Mrs. John Galsworthy, and preface by Joseph Conrad! . . . .

Guy de Maupassant fotograferad av Félix Nadar 1888.jpg

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=inu.32000007503560&view=1up&seq=145

“TWO-BIT REVIEW” . . . “Lady Audley’s Secret”, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (pub. 1861)

“Circumstantial evidence,” continued the young man, as if he scarcely heard Lady Audley’s interruption—”that wonderful fabric which is built out of straws collected at every point of the compass, and which is yet strong enough to hang a man.”

BOOK? . . . Lady Audley’s Secret, by Mary Elizabeth Braddon (pub. 1861)

WHAT KIND? . . . Novel

BE MORE SPECIFIC . . . “Sensation” fiction, early detective novel or mystery

ABOUT WHAT? . . . An unarguably beautiful young woman (with a “Secret”) who marries into a wealthy English family, one of whose members, an idle bachelor solicitor named Robert Audley, is roused into amateur sleuthing by his unflagging loyalty to a childhood friend in trouble. Not surprisingly, Robert cannot help his troubled friend without boldly piercing the Lady’s veil of secrecy.

SIGNIFICANCE? . . . Lady Audley’s Secret was a popular novel in the early days of the detective or mystery genre (what they referred to as sensation fiction). Wilkie Collins was a better known contemporary of Braddon, although Braddon’s books were very numerous and successful. One of her mentors was Baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton (“It was a dark and stormy night.”).

SO SHOULD I READ IT OR WHAT? . . . Yes, in terms of pure enjoyment it ranks high on my recent reading list. It’s an excellent detective novel. It does not deal with social issues or deep themes, it’s just for entertainment. But, its style, construction and characterization are on a par with many well-respected Victorian authors who concerned themselves with weightier matters.

YOU GOT ANYTHING ELSE TO ADD? . . . The one oddity about the book is its frequent disparagement of women: both by the narrator and the protagonist. Certainly these critical views of women were not the views of Mary Elizabeth Braddon. My hunch is that she incorporated this attitude into the novel either as a sort of private joke, or as a way of appeasing male readers and reviewers who, in those days, often harbored strong prejudices against women writers.