2305 pages of Mark Helprin in 3 weeks — my desperate attempt to flush *trump out of my head.
Just about everyone who will admit it will tell you that the inundation of our world with this 3rd rate vulgarian running it has reached crisis proportions. He is everywhere all the time and seemingly forever — a lumbering American Horror that is devouring the world. Normalcy has been pushed aside in favor of daily new lows that leave us drained and unable to truly rest. Ever.
*I refuse to capitalize his name, as it is really his ‘brand’ that I don’t buy into and refuse to acknowledge.
On a business trip to Pittsfield, Mass. in 1984 the idiot box was not offering anything promising one cold night so I ventured out to find something to read. A corner drugstore, ridiculously overlit in the style of the day, had a single book rack with a copy of a rather thick paperback called Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. I had heard vaguely of this work so I picked it up and thus began a life-long love of this book and other work by Helprin.
Those of you familiar with Helprin know that he writes huge doorstop books that transport you away like none other. He writes beautifully detailed tales of times and places we might not recognize in our addled age. He can get on your nerves after a while in that every woman in a Helprin book is a marvelous force of nature — ridiculously beautiful, smarter than any man, moral, and a true role model. Of course we almost never meet anyone like this, but this is fiction. He loves New York City, my hometown, and writes eloquently of its maddening biploar nature — it can drive you mad and give you much joy at the same time.
Almost 3 years of the daily assault of idiocy we call the trump administration has taken its toll. He is a narcissistic toddler who demands to have the spotlight on him all the time — there are countless examples of this and no hope that he will ever mature in the role of Dear Leader. The trump horror seeps into every hour of the day and even moving to Switzerland to escape him wasn’t enough. Perhaps they don’t know of him in the Sombrero Galaxy:
If so, I am going there as I have heard the guacamole is first rate.
So, finally reaching the saturation point on October 5th, I decided to re-read all my favorite Helprin to flush out the trump calcification and countless ear bugs as annoying as having the wretched ‘Ebony and Ivory’ stuck in your brainpan. I pulled out Winter’s Tale, Memoir from Antproof Case, In Sunlight and in Shadow and Paris in the Present Tense.
All these I read in the space of 3 frantic weeks, over 2300 pages, and slowly began to have normal and even uplifting thoughts again. Instead of such assaults on the language as the average trump tweet:
I was reading writing like this:
“Nothing is random, nor will anything ever be, whether a long string of perfectly blue days that begin and end in golden dimness, the most seemingly chaotic political acts, the rise of a great city, the crystalline structure of a gem that has never seen the light, the distributions of fortune, what time the milkman gets up, the position of the electron, or the occurrence of one astonishing frigid winter after another. Even electrons, supposedly the paragons of unpredictability, are tame and obsequious little creatures that rush around at the speed of light, going precisely where they are supposed to go. They make faint whistling sounds that when apprehended in varying combinations are as pleasant as the wind flying through a forest, and they do exactly as they are told. Of this, one is certain.
And yet, there is a wonderful anarchy, in that the milkman chooses when to arise, the rat picks the tunnel into which he will dive when the subway comes rushing down the track from Borough Hall, and the snowflake will fall as it will. How can this be? If nothing is random, and everything is predetermined, how can there be free will? The answer to that is simple. Nothing is predetermined, it is determined, or was determined, or will be determined. No matter, it all happened at once, in less than an instant, and time was invented because we cannot comprehend in one glance the enormous and detailed canvas that we have been given — so we track it, in linear fashion piece by piece. Time however can be easily overcome; not by chasing the light, but by standing back far enough to see it all at once. The universe is still and complete. Everything that ever was is; everything that ever will be is — and so on, in all possible combinations. Though in perceiving it we image that it is in motion, and unfinished, it is quite finished and quite astonishingly beautiful. In the end, or rather, as things really are, any event, no matter how small, is intimately and sensibly tied to all others. All rivers run full to the sea; those who are apart are brought together; the lost ones are redeemed; the dead come back to life; the perfectly blue days that have begun and ended in golden dimness continue, immobile and accessible; and, when all is perceived in such a way as to obviate time, justice becomes apparent not as something that will be, but something that is.”
― Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale
And it worked, you see. The bad need not necessarily force out the good. We can fight back. We can replace the torrent of vulgarity in this wretched time with articulate expression. Who knows?- we may witness a reaction against adolescent behavior after 4 years of this dreadful man. Come that blessed day of Jan 20, 2021 (or cursed if a certain orange bull is released from his pen to give us American Carnage II) a real adult may raise her hand and the healing begin.