Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama poetics

I just read Ray Bianchi's post about Obama.

Obviously I am very thrilled and optimistic about his tenure, but there's one important thing to call attention to midst all the hoopla over us electing the first African-American president: the extreme presence of heterosexual normalcy in his campaign. I don't blame him for trotting out his family etc all the time; that's how you get elected.

But it's not like the country became totally open to the foreign all of a sudden. This is underlined by the passing of Prop 8 in California, which is about who can marry, who can become that normal, all-american couple. The reason people oppose gay marriage is of course that it reveals a certain artificiality of normalcy. Of course funding played a big part in this.

I do agree with Ray that there is a great deal of obscurantism and elitism in poetry, but I don't think it's where Ray finds it. It seems to me Flarf for example has been a very popular movement, involving people from all over the place. My students seem to really like it and be inspired by it. I think it's actually a kind of populism.

The key is not to have a populist poetry that acts like Prop 8.


Blogger Max said...

Who ever imagined that an Obama presidency would signify all these great things in the first place? I think it would be kind of silly to expect it to.

I'm not sure Prop 8 can really stand up to legal scrutiny as it is, anyway. As I understand it, the reasoning behind legalizing gay marriage in CA was that marriage extends rights, and sexual orientation is a protected status according to their constitution. If I'm correct, sexual orientation is still a protected status in CA, and marriage still extends rights, even if it's now defined in the constitution as being between a man and a woman. This should still constitute a breach of equal rights under the law, because legal rights are being denied on the basis of sexual orientation. I'd imagine Prop 8 is nothing more than an attempt to temporarily gum up the gay rights movement in CA. A court should be able to get this overturned, though the question of when is still up in the air.

7:40 AM  
Blogger Fran├žois Luong said...

Wasn't irony declared dead seven years ago already?

10:22 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Irony is such an ambiguous word. some kinds of irony are tiresome but some kinds I think are quite important.

10:38 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Not ironic.

12:54 PM  
Blogger Max said...

I don't get it. Where's the irony?

Obama has already said publicly that he doesn't support gay marriage, but that he also doesn't support banning it. Biden echoed this in the VP debate.

Anybody who thought that gay marriage was going to be a high priority of the Obama administration simply wasn't listening. It isn't going to be a case of Obama running on one thing and doing another.

I've always felt that this was one of Obama's sore points, in the same way that his insistence on increasing our focus in Afghanistan kind of contradicts what I think we should be doing (getting out of all military involvements in the region). But honestly, I'm sick of this mindset--which seems to prevail among liberals--that we should wait for the "perfect candidate," and in the mean time, we should "protest" by voting for Ralph Nader or withholding our votes altogether.

Obama isn't perfect. He isn't ideal. But since when did we just find out about this? I don't understand why there's this big post-election sigh of slight discontentment now, as though people had just found out (or only could have found out now) about Obama's shortcomings.

Anyway, that said ... Obama actually stands in vocal opposition to DOMA, which Clinton signed into law. He has said that the only reason why he didn't make it his hobby horse to get rid of DOMA during Bush's presidency is because he knew Bush would never sign off on repealing it. So there's a good chance that, sometime during his presidency, he'll at least work to get DOMA off the books.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...


You misunderstood me. I'm not blaming Obama for not running on gay rights. I'm saying, all is not suddenly perfect because we've elected Obama as the president.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Also, this was in part in response to Ray's entry.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Max said...

But what intelligent, rational individual could ever have been fooled into thinking that an Obama presidency would be ideal and perfect?

Yes, I'm reacting to your post, but at the same time, I'm reacting to this larger trend I'm beginning to see of people writing these post-celebratory tampering-down pieces about Obama, as though we are only capable of seeing his faults now that the fanfare is winding down.

5:55 PM  

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