I expect more of my favorite books. I expect to hear the voice of a child whisper "tolle, lege, tolle, lege, tolle, lege, tolle, lege, aut pedicabo ego uos et irrumabo."* I expect I'll consider that a command given to me by God to open the book and read the first chapter I should come upon.** And I expect that instead of landing on Romans 13 like some African-American Church Fathers,*** I'd land on this passage from Gillian Beer's Darwin's Plots:
An aspect of his insistence on congruities, and branchings, was his desire to substantise or substantiate metaphor wherever this could be done. He needs to establish ways in which language may be authenticated by natural order, so that his own discourse and argumentation may be 'naturalised,' and so moved beyond dispute. (49)
And instead of finding myself in tears over the fair pear once stolen only to steal, as from Thou, the fairest Pear of all, for I had a store of better...so instead of finding myself doing that I'm counting my blessings that I'll never be numbered among these clowns:
Those who teach Judith Butler's work have looked forward to a reader that gathers key parts of her extensive corpus and provides a context in which to understand the major themes and continuities of her eclectic philosophical, psychoanalytic, cultural, and political interventions.
Because if I was, I'd be forced to parse this blather...
Setting aside for the moment how the media act upon the public, whether, indeed, they have charged themselves with the task of structuring public sentiment and fidelity, it seems crucial to note that a critical relation to government has been severely, though not fully, suspended, and that the "criticism" or, indeed, independence of the media has been compromised in some unprecedented ways.
...when I could've been reading this:
We have come in this country to tolerate many such fixed opinions, or national pieties, each with its own baffles of invective and counterinvective, of euphemism and downright misstatement, its own screen that slides into place whenever actual discussion threatens to surface. We have for example allowed American biological research to fall behind that in countries where stem cell programs are not confused with "cloning" and "abortion on demand," countries in other words where rationality is not held hostage to the posturing of the political process. We have allowed all rhetorical stops to be pulled out on non-issues, for example when the federal appeals court's Ninth Circuit ruled the words "under God" an unconstitutional addition to the Pledge of Allegiance. The Pledge was written in 1892 by a cousin of Edward Bellamy's, Francis Bellamy, a socialist Baptist minister who the year before had been pressured to give up his church because of the socialist thrust of his sermons. The clause "under God" was added in 1954 to distinguish the United States from the atheistic Soviet Union.
"Ridiculous" was the word from the White House about the ruling declaring the clause unconstitutional. "Junk justice," Governor Pataki said. "Just nuts," Senator Daschle said. "Doesn't make good sense to me," Representative Gephardt said. There was on this point a genuinely bipartisan rush to act out the extent of the judicial insult, the affront to all Americans, the outrage to the memory of the heroes of September 11. After the June 2002 ruling, members of the House met on the Capitol steps to recite the Pledge—needless to say the "under God" version—while the Senate interrupted debate on a defense bill to pass, unanimously, a resolution condemning the Ninth Circuit decision.
These were, some of them, the same elected representatives who had been quick to locate certain upside aspects to September 11. The events could offer, it was almost immediately perceived, an entirely new frame in which to present school prayer and the constitutional amendment to ban flag burning. To the latter point, an Iowa congressman running unsuccessfully for the Senate, Greg Ganske, marked Flag Day by posting a reminder on his Web site that his opponent, Senator Tom Harkin, who had spent five years during the Vietnam War as a Navy pilot, had in 1995 opposed the flag-burning amendment. "After the tragic events of September 11," the posting read, "America has a renewed sense of patriotism and a renewed appreciation for our American flag. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees." To the school prayer point, according to The New York Times, a number of politicians were maximizing the moment by challenging restrictions on school prayer established by courts over the past four decades. "Post–September 11," the Times was told by Richard D. Land, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, "the secularists are going to have a harder time making their case."
*"Take up and read, take up and read, take up and read, take up and read or I'll bugger you and make you fuck this."
**No pun intended.
***Of course I realize that...but I don't think some people do.