Thursday, November 7, 2019

Nothing New

Re-reading Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, I’m struck once again that thought the times and places and settings change, there really is not much new in the human condition. The same old flawed human beings making courageous or cowardly choices, bringing light into the world or plunging us into darkness, moving through obstacles with firm humility or swaggering around with their heavy shoulders of power. Trump is a type that has always been with us and you can find lots of him in Sir Mulberry Hawk and his cronies (Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, Rudy Guiliani, etc. their contemporary counterparts). What worries me more is the three young black students nodding their head to Trump’s lies at the recent Kentucky Rally, the brainwashed masses with their “Read the Transcript” T-shirts who didn’t read the transcript and don’t have the capacity to understand that this was illegal. Trump without the nodding masses is simply a powerless buffoon. They are the ones who created and sustained him. Back to real education, people. 

But meanwhile, here’s Dickens’ portrait (p. 435). Pay attention to that second paragraph!

"The reflections of Sir Mulberry Hawk—if such a term can be applied to the thoughts of the systematic and calculating man of dissipation, whose joys, regrets, pains, and pleasures, are all of self, and who would seem to retain nothing of the intellectual faculty but the power to debase himself, and to degrade the very nature whose outward semblance he wears—the reflections of Sir Mulberry Hawk turned upon Kate Nickleby, and were, in brief, that she was undoubtedly handsome; that her coyness must be easily conquerable by a man of his address and experience, and that the pursuit was one which could not fail to redound to his credit, and greatly to enhance his reputations with the world. And lest this last consideration—no mean or secondary one with Sir Mulberry—should sound strangely in the ears of some, let it be remembered that most men live in a world of their own, and that in that limited circle alone are they ambitious for distinction and applause. Sir Mulberry’s world was peopled with profligates, and he acted accordingly. 

Thus, cases of injustice, and oppression, and tyranny, and the most extravagant bigotry, are in constant occurrence among us every day. It is the custom to trumpet forth much wonder and astonishment at the chief actors therein setting at defiance so completely the opinion of that world, but there is no greater fallacy. It is precisely because they do consult the opinion of their own little world that such things take place at all, and strike the great world dumb with amazement.”

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