Friday, September 30, 2005


An image in wide circulation on the internet: the Dauphin, some months before his accession to the throne, clowning before the camera. "A one-finger victory salute," he says. (Ronald Reagan, on bombing Russia.) An image that opens the cultural divide of contemporary politics like a butcher knife splitting a melon. He was on mike, too, when he muttered to Cheney that the Times reporter was a "major-league asshole." Those of the left, secure in armchairs or manipulating mice before their PCs, give the finger verbally or physically into empty air, rage against the offence to their sense of propriety, of dignity in office. Those of the right, a bit embarassed, are mostly amused & heartened. A man of the people, the same appealing coarseness that endeared LBJ to the red-dirt farmers. (Pick up that dawg by the ears, show me your surgery scars...) He gives the finger to everything they hate: to the technologies of mass communication that no-one, left or right, quite understands, but which manipulate them all; to the style sheets that bid him unslur his consonants & regularize his vowels; to the suit and tie that straitjacket him for electronic consumption. He gives us the finger; he gives the finger for us.

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