A friend writes that my post of earlier this week–the despairing item in which I admitted I was roundly sick of of politics–reminded him of a passage in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1922 novel, The Beautiful and Damned:
[He] tried to imagine himself in Congress rooting around in the litter of that incredible pigsty with the narrow and porcine brows he saw pictured sometimes in the rotogravure sections of the Sunday newspapers, those glorified proletarians babbling blandly to the nation the ideas of high school seniors! Little men with copy-book ambitions who by mediocrity had thought to emerge from mediocrity into the lusterless and unromantic heaven of a government by the people — and the best, the dozen shrewd men at the top, egotistic and cynical, were content to lead this choir of white ties and wire collar-buttons in a discordant and amazing hymn, compounded of a vague confusion between wealth as a reward of virtue and wealth as a proof of vice, and continued cheers for God, the Constitution, and the Rocky Mountains!
“I don’t endorse every sentiment there,” my friend notes, “but wow. What a piece of writing!”What a piece of writing indeed. Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Cather, Faulkner–the prose this country has produced seems argument enough for our mess of a democracy.