Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Tuesday, April 08, 2003

Failure of the Day: Your money stinks of the corpse of the poet that you never dared to become.

That slogan was printed on fake 1-Euro notes and handed out in Paris at a protest of the sale of the vast collection of books and artwork belonging to Surrealist poet Andre Breton. Owee.

I have a variety of thoughts on the topic. (Not the sale of the stuff, the sentiment on the money.) My first reaction really was "Owee" when I read it because my poetic idealism tends to jump right in before the rest of my brain can finish reading and react.

Shockingly, I had a reaction to the sentiment printed on the money that wasn't entirely about ME. For starters, it's gorgeous. It's a little verbose, maybe, but I suspect that is a function of the translation. Even still, it is meant to stab you mightily in the heart. Which is does. It is pointed and effective and it hits its mark brutally. It's a brilliant protest, I think. And we're pretty short on those these days.

So then, who among the anarchists, the withering hippies, the unfocused and aging tribe of activists in San Francisco will come up with the new way, the new thing that will insist on being heard? No one is inspired by these predictable and dull marches to the Federal building. I'm not exactly a media pundit and even I know that the tactics used by the Left for the last several hundred years don't play anymore. They can't. They were moderately successful in the tired old 60s, but I am not convinced that the demonstrations did more to bring an end to Vietnam than an uncensored media did. For starters, the demonstrations relied on the news coverage to get their point across, and we don't have an uncensored media now, so who can be surprised that the demonstrations accomplish nothing?

It seems to that what is missing from the political activism of today is beauty. The beauty of the ACT-UP "kiss-ins" from a decade ago. The beauty of those incredibly dignified black men and women in business attire just sitting at lunch counters. They were righteous, and they could not be ignored. Where is that now? "Shave a pussy for peace"? That's what we're offered and offering instead of beauty and righteousness and dignity?

Instead of the base and predictable, couldn't we line the sidewalks of the main streets with people in long single-file rows who, at an appointed time, turn to face whoever they are standing next to and shake hands or something? The rubbernecking alone would stop traffic without lumping the blame on the protesters. And that not even a very good idea; just off the top of my head. Buy a ton of fish food and spread it out on the bay next to the bridge in the form of a peace slogan. Print up and sell a butt load of t-shirts with American flags on it that say "We're Sorry."

Or maybe print up a bunch of fake I dollar bills that say Your money stinks of the corpse of the peacemaker that you never dared to become.


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