If I Ran the Circus

Here we are at circus, you and me and all the others, facing each and every way in The Age of Absurdity.  Rather alike some Swiftian satire, some Aesopian consequence, some Seussian phantasmagoria where all the world is upside down, facing sideways in slow-motion walking backwards into a psychedelic truth.  Yet, who can say: This day seems alike most other days in Washington, D.C., sunny, easy, grown wealthy by coast-to-coast plebs who pay us to mock them, to destroy their lives, to take from them what is most dear, most good.

Moretto da Brescia (1498–1554); Girolamo Savonarolo (detail)

Savonarola took from others the most good.  You remember Savonarola, the persuasive pastor who worked upon the open minds of questioning Florentines, the Medici, the Albizzi, the Pazzi and other putz who did not know the difference between the intellectual pose and the intellectual throes of burning in passionate argument, and a burning of the person with whom you are arguing. 

Well, if you do not remember, we shall here recall the great circus, the Carnival of Savonarola’s preaching damnation to his congregation (the whole of Florence), the rooting of the devil that lived within the dark, silent places of each Florentine, the rooting-out of the devil, of the Florentine vanities, the pride, the prettiness, the wealth of pictures, of draperies, of books and manuscripts, those Beauties, those great piles of privilege set magnificently to flame in a Bonfire of Vanities most good, most humane.

Ludwig von Langenmantel (1854–1922); Savonarola Preaching Against the Prodigalities, 1879

Do you see, there, in the flames, that portrait exquisite of style, the glaze crackling horribly; Botticelli himself fed this his picture to the flame.  There!  A Lorenzo di Credi, his self-fed picture glows, a pretty orange … there, flames shoot from the eyes, the lips melt.  And that?  Why, that is the floating silver-ash of a Dante, the red specks yet hot above the heads of the dancing, self-flagellating crowd.  Oh.  And look there, a pinkish smoke, pretty in its way floating airily away, the last, the only, the is-no-other copy of an Ovid of an Ovid of an Ovid.  Good bye, sweet thoughts.

Do you know: The Magnificent Lorenzo, patron of Michelangelo, Leonardo, architects and poets, grew to despise his generosity, his inspiration to creation of great works in art and literature; that Lorenzo the Magnificent retired into ignominious failure, that at death he begged the forgiveness of the Beauties burning friar, Savonarola.  Old, broken, will-wary, great Lorenzo.  Savonarola forgave the broken, penitent Lorenzo his generosity, his goodness.  Some few years later, the dancing, flagellating Florentines grew weary of burning their beauties, because they were running low of Beauties to burn, so they burned Savonarola, instead.

Unknown Painter, active 1490s; Execution of Savonarola on the Piazza della Signoria, 1498

For the most part, a preaching, an education is a good thing.  Edu, caritas, to draw out knowledge; to bring-up, to rear, to train.  Just now, in Fairfax’ county, named for The Right Honorable Thomas Fairfax, Sixth Lord Fairfax of Cameron, the only resident Peer of the Thirteen (original) British Colonies, youngsters are being trained to hate themselves – in truth, only children of European ascendency are being trained in self-disgust – by the influence of Ibram Kendi, by his “critical race theory”, by all the District’s teachers under order to train, to rear, to tell youngsters that they are vain, that they are privileged, that they should renounce themselves, that the bright, innocent, rose-cheeked face seen each morning in the mirror is a thing vain, racially ugly. 

I wonder: Will these good, rose-cheeked children offer themselves to flame in auto-da-fé; too early to say; though, if history will be our guide, yes, they shall.  But smile: even after all is ash, bright flowers will grow from the black.  Was that a, “trigger”: yes, though just in fun.

Jan Luykens (1649 – 1712); Auto-da-Fé, 21 May 1559

Well, here we are, little to do but to watch the circus, to smile at the absurdity of it all.  We humans are silly creatures, silly, both in the original meaning of “silly”, “alike an angel”, and as “silly” has become, “foolish, alike an idiot”, alike a child chasing a blind, fluttering butterfly that airily flits both long along the hard gray mede into the rolling ten-thousand-ton bumper of a red, rushing Mack truck.  Can you see what Swift, what Aesop might have done, might have written of this circus of us.  Expect you can.  I can, too.  What, do you suppose, a Dr. Seuss might write of this moment’s circus. 

I have no need of telling you, Dr. Seuss would not be writing, would not be read: Dr. Seuss is being “disappeared”, disappeared as were inconvenient “soviets” disappeared from photographs, from wordy Russian sentences, from family and friends, from breath and from life.  Yes, the little Savonarola’s have shamed the old, weary Doctor into silence, have disappeared him … today, some six little Seuss books into a fire … tomorrow, into two fires; into three fires, into me fires, into you fires.

Seuss books banned, delisted by Ebay after selling for thousands-of-dollars each … Progressives will not be denied the pleasure of disapperings and burnings.

Why is Dr. Seuss disappeared?  No reason, really.  Reason’s got nothing to do with disappearing a person.  Posing, preening, posturing, proselytizing are the causes of disappearing your neighbor.  In the instance of the good doctor Seuss, orthodox relations omitted him from his Canon so that the Canon be purified, sanctified by the Progressive.  And the sin?  Well, don’t you know: picturing people silly.  No.  Not the “silly” part, the part of the “people” pictured silly. 

Of course, I know, I have eyes, I notice that every person pictured by Seuss, pink, white, purple, yellow, chartreuse, heliotrope, is absurd, is silly, is a caricature.  And you know this, too.  You are a poet, you caricature everything, persons, planets, platitudes, petunias, whatever particular you draw in words is a caricature, sometimes, a caricature of a caricature.  Caricature is the nature of our art.

Dr. Seuss (1904 – 1991); If I Ran the Circus, published 1956

Now, I might go on to detail who is allowed to caricature, who must be caricatured, who must not be caricatured; yet, the argument grows tedious, because obvious.  You know as-well-as I: hate today who today you are told to hate, tomorrow hate, and et cetera, and the next day, hate etc. for whichever hateful etc. next tomorrow is in fashion. 

And here I am, here we are at circus, one-thousand-words when five-hundred was wanted.  So then, to the finale, to the point, to the moral: With Truman, friends, please, “Strike a blow for Liberty.”  Write, freely.  Speak your minds, caricature your caricatures; if caricatured, smile, knowing that someone saw you for who you are, silly, that curious person this morning reflected gangly, Seussianingly in the mirror.  Yes, both you and I know, you have faults, I have faults, best to laugh one-another our faults, for, if not, where shall we end, Savonarola, in flames?  No, let us smile, together.

You recognize the symbol; you acknowledge the purpose; do you oppose the violent intent.

This bit (above), composed for my fellow poets of The Society of Classical Poets, an organization dedicated to preserving mankind’s artistic traditions, reestablishing excellence in poetry, et cetera  … here reprinted because it touches upon subjects in consideration of Annals, Quae Sumus, “what we are”.  Hope you enjoy.  Do look into the Society.  Excellent poets, the best of the XXI Century.

M. Curtis

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