Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Old McCain and the Sea (plus Derb vs. Bruce Lee)

Manliness — beautifully captured in the audacious cover to this learned tome.

In our woefully matriarchal (and third-wave feminist/post-structuralist) era, it is rarely regarded as appropriate even to speak of manliness as a meaningful concept, let alone as a virtue (perhaps not even appropriate to speak of virtue — or to say “appropriate”).

Nonetheless, there is, for instance, something pleasingly Hemingway-like in this quote from McCain about his ongoing battle with a wily catfish:

I fish in the creek, and we have a pond that we have fish in, as well.  We have one catfish who I’ve hooked at least ten times, who always is able to get to the piling of our little dock and break the line.  He must have at least ten hooks hanging out of his mouth. We do stock it with catfish.

(And in keeping with my left-right ceasefire until November, let me hasten to add that the same article containing that quote noted Obama’s childhood memories of spearfishing in Hawaii.  I am not saying McCain’s ongoing aquatic war makes him superior — perhaps more like Homer Simpson, in fact, whose battle with an escape-prone catfish in one episode caused Homer to become the stuff of legend, purportedly possessed of arms like tree trunks and “a shock of hair, red like the fires of Hell.”)

I am pleased, though, by the e-mailed suggestion that if McCain becomes president, there is a perfect band to play at his inaugural gala: the Catfish Hunters (of Austin, TX), featuring lead singer L.B. Deyo, the friend who I’ve previously noted reminds me a bit of McCain.


I am pleased, too, by the fact that conservative writer and past Lolita Bar debater John Derbyshire is not only a math geek, a Mysterian (that is, someone who believes certain cosmic questions, such as the nature of consciousness or universal origins, must remain unanswered, a position that caused me to technically mislabel him an atheist during his Lolita appearance), and more or less a paleolibertarian (who, like me, was initially rooting for Ron Paul, the one candidate, in retrospect, who warned us all to fear easy-money policies at the Fed, big bank bailouts, and dollar devaluation, urging everyone to buy gold and reduce the federal deficit — but, hey, he’s a crazy libertarian, right, so who cares?), but was also an extra in that most manly of films, Bruce Lee’s Return of the Dragon (simply because he was a Chinese-speaking white guy in need of work at the time), of which, according to his Wikipedia entry, Derb wrote:

[T]he casting director had obviously just trawled around the low-class guesthouses for unemployed foreigners of a sufficiently thuggish appearance…[and Lee himself gave directions in English, such as] “Hey, Slim, let’s try that again — and this time look mean.  You hate me, remember?  I’m a runty, obnoxious little chink, just stole your woman, trashed your car, and pissed in your beer.  Whaddya gonna do to me?  Huh?  Whaddya gonna do?  Come on…”

On a more politically-substantive (and still arguably non-partisan) note, my Arkansas legislator friend points out this recent Derb column that brilliantly sums up the attitude of any paleolibertarian type feeling trapped between two unacceptable options in the Obama-McCain contest (and thus perhaps considering a vote for Ron Paul’s natural heir, Libertarian candidate Bob Barr).  I’m not saying I agree with everything Derb says (I sympathize with illegal immigrants, for instance), but close enough.

For those swing-state residents who are so torn about the election that they need psychiatric attention, though, help is on the way — or at least, faux-therapist and comedienne Lisa Levy is coming to Scranton, PA to examine your anxieties onstage, much as she has done for many a New York audience.


I would guess that Derb, having come from England, likes the tradition there of “freemen” being granted the symbolic privilege, still occasionally ceremonially exercised, of being able to drive their herds of sheep across London’s Tower Bridge — a vestige of the special trio of rights they held centuries ago: being allowed to carry an unsheathed sword, entering and exiting the city without paying tolls, and the right to be escorted home if drunk.

That’s not precisely the core trio of rights sought by libertarians — namely, freedom from assault, theft, and fraud — but there are certain parallels (ease of defending oneself from sword-wielding assailants, exemption from certain government fees, and rescue from drink-addled misperception of reality and resultant meandering).  A man could do worse.


Ali Kokmen said...

Can we intuit, perhaps, that of all the great writings of American history, you have some special place in your heart for the passage of the Declaration of Independence that speaks of the colonies’ Representative houses “opposing with manly firmness [the King's] invasions on the rights of the people”?

Manly firmness…

Todd Seavey said...

If you get invaded by the King, surely manly firmness is the only fit response. But on to tough broads in today’s entry…

David said...

One of the top prizes awarded by my high school at graduation is the Nathaniel Horton Batchelder Prize for Industry, Loyalty, and Manliness, a trio of attributes that has a slightly antiquated air but a great ring to it. Can’t help but make you sit up a little straighter.