The previous post caused me a lot of difficulty in writing. Most of the pieces I post here flow easily, write themselves almost. I rarely re-read and almost never edit. It probably shows, although I tend to disagree with Sheridan when he said “You write with ease to show your breeding, but easy writing’s vile hard reading”. I find the opposite, although I should say that I get the post more or less sorted out in my head before I ever put one finger to keyboard, so I am not quite doing automatic writing.
But the previous post was one where the flow just didn’t flow, and I had to keep hacking about, adding bits, removing bits. Eventually I needed to stop before it became unwieldy and unreadable and you, dear Reader, lost patience with it.
I think part of the reason was that I was trying to pack several different things into it, and, although that is often the case on this blog, the trouble here was that each thing was quite large and unwieldy in its own right. So I thought I had better have a go at a follow-up post to explain what I was trying to do (indulge me for once, I never do this).
Should say hastily (and guiltily) I wasn’t really concerned with the details. Hence my egregious mistake with dress colour (and the spelling of “Kernot”, D’Oh), but good to know you guys paying attention. My purpose was three-fold:
First I have long been interested in the turning points of history. A silly phrase, in one way (rather like “transitional fossils” in evolution, every point in history is a turning point), but one widely used. Three options – the inevitable march of ideology and events theory; the Great Man theory; the horseshoe nail theory. I have always preferred the latter, and the Lewinsky-Clinton affair is a classic example. If Monica had not joined the White House Intern Program, if she had not been in contact directly with Clinton, hell, if she had taken the red, sorry, blue dress off first, or washed it, then history would have been different. “For want of a dry cleaner the White House was lost” perhaps.
Second I was trying to subvert the whole “Great Man” thing in another way too. Here was Bill Clinton, mover and shaker, most powerful man in the world, leader of the free world, nuclear codes in satchel, all that crap. And there was a young girl just out of college. Power disparity? Of course. But in another way she proved far more powerful than he did, or, at the very least, she affected his world as much, or more, than he did her’s. Strikes me that this has probably been the case on far more occasions than we ever know about.
Virginia Woolf said that “Anon” in British literature was usually a woman. The women behind the scenes of the captains and kings (and queens, possibly, in case of Queen Anne) were often (though of course not always) “Anon” too. Their roles just as unknown to history as those of anonymous writers.
Finally, something touched on, but not expanded, in the post, the use of private matters as weapons in political discourse. This seems to me, while always a possibility in the past (especially where homosexuality or adultery involved), to have grown much more prevalent since Lewinsky. It seems to me that what politicians do in privacy, what their sexual preferences are, is of no relevance to, should not be a part of, political discourse.
The only exceptions to this would be:
1 where the activity is illegal, eg, most obviously, paedophilia, or rape
2 where the activity could certainly lead to blackmail with security implications, or
3 where the politician concerned has made a political career on a platform of “family values”, or anti abortion, or anti gay, and so on.
Apart from that, the fact that politics makes strange bedfellows is of no concern of mine or anyone else. It does not, as is often said, go to “character” (except in the three examples I gave above). Someone’s sexual preferences and partners go less to “character” in a politician than do, say, being an evangelical, or receiving payments from lobbyists, or being a vegetarian.
But these days the media has convinced the public that the reverse is true. In recent times there has been the horrid case of a Gay Club being “staked out” by a tv camera crew in order to film a NSW politician leaving and run with the footage for days until his resignation was forced.
More recently of course has been Peter Slipper, where, to put it even at its simplest, private sexually-charged text messages between adults were splashed all over the Press to force the resignation of a Speaker of Parliament and the collapse of a government. The former succeeded, the latter, just, not.
This stuff shouldn’t happen in Australia, or indeed anywhere else.
There, have I cleared the water, or muddied the pond?