Malice has an interesting background, a podcast, and some interesting friends. One is Thaddeus Russell, historian and author. Speaking together recently, the pair alerted me to the writings of Grant Madison, whose racial theories apparently helped shape US immigration policy. Example? Well, in one work Madison shows how the Irish worked their way up from quite lowly status to Nordic. In his taxonomy, apparently, Nordic is the “white man par excellence.” So I’m smiling already.
Russell is amusing when he speaks of the Scots-Irish who worked through the middle colonies: “motherfucking savages”, rowdy, violent renegades who drank, fought, and defied government intrusion in their anarcho-capitalist communes with violence.
The late sixties and seventies toughened some of us up for severe psychic distortion, but on the internal dimension. Hallucinations here, inside the head. Reality over there, where we share it with most others. Our psychotropic mental rock climbing was matched somewhat by externals: adventurers like us made music and art that reflected their perhaps temporarily disarranged reasoning capacity. We had a different and deeply amusing perspective on the world, thanks to medicine and creativity. Much laughter! Today, I wonder if things have reversed, inverted, flipped and totally freaked out, man. The George Floyd protests. A new saint! As we know now, a rather felonious monk he proved to be, robbing a pregnant woman at gunpoint as he did. Yet he has our prime minister kneeling in the dirt to honour his name? Or something. The crazy people want to defund the police! In a way, of course, given my deep hatred of government and authority, I see the attraction. (You and I, my friends, could operate and thrive in such an environment, of course, but I doubt the many would survive the first weekend.) Green. Greta. George. If we have replaced our induced insanity with an outside and objective mass psychosis, fine. Bring it on!
An hour long walk along the Sir John A. MacDonald Parkway, Westboro Beach, and Island Park Drive in Ottawa on Saturday yielded some purely subjective impressions about present and future behavior in this current lockdown. First of all, bicycle riders appear to have the least respect for distancing conventions of anyone in the crowd, and it was a crowd. Perhaps they feel the wind has a sterilizing effect on their emanations. Second, judging by people sitting and standing and moving in clusters, there’s a shared impression that family groupings confer immunity. And family groups would gently intermingle, one with the other, beginning with the younger members, with no fear of infection. Dogs, apparently, exempt anyone near them from even the pretence of caution.
Many people on foot, using the pathways and sidewalks in this western banlieu of Ottawa, were in several senses, going through the motions. For many, distancing has become conventional if not merely performative. (To borrow what I think is a commie word?) By this I mean, fear of dying from the Chinese Communist Party virus is dying away, to be replaced by that beautiful Canadian trait, a massive overdisplay of politeness, and conformity. People were giving only the slightest token obedience to the distancing guidelines, daintily ignoring them when pathways simply became too crowded. This observation tells me that the current apparent overreaction to this pandemic cannot and will not hold. People no longer fear death greatly during this pandemic. They have the much greater fear, the distinctly Canadian fear, of the disapproval of their neighbours. So they will pretend to keep their distance, and move to more normal behaviour. I think this great scare will soon be over.
Me to a friend
My mind has been running on this one for a long time, and now I find I must approach you with my thoughts. The autumn wind, the breeze in the fall, it seemed to exert a powerful influence over every folk singer in the world. It seemed to set them all to driftin’, wanderin’, cutting loose from all ties that had recently been established to seek something else in the distance and in the future. Let me ask you something. The spring rains? Did they tell folk singers to register for summer courses? The first deep snowfall? Was that a sign you needed to get a job? These are just locked down thoughts. Otherwise, I fear you would take me more seriously than they might deserve. Well, got to be a wanderin’. But not really.
My friend to me
Was a time that folksingers were all “Hey Nonny Nonny”, “Jolly Rumbelow” and courtly ballads… the singers were either boosters of the agrarian life or singing tradesmen argung for the particular merits of one’s occupation. Everything was nicely settled and folks voted the straight party ticket. Then, around the time of one of the Jameses – when Popery and famine stalked the land – ordinary entertainments began to pale and people were seized with discontent. The grass appeared to be just that much greener a few counties over and harps were being replaced by the much more portable (and tune-able) lute. Communal singing around open fires morphed into a kind of star system. People demanded personal appearances and the travelling musician became the thing to be. It was the Irish – of course – that started all the rot.