"blank screen", Fugitive Days: A Memoir, Joe Christmas, Light in August, The Audacity of Hope, William Faulkner
NOTE: As one engulfed in literature of all genres since I transferred to the English Literature dept, I couldn’t escape this fascinating and revealing article. I hope you enjoy it, also!
Barack Obama has been President of the United States for nearly 4 years, and still we know very little about him. His past is “sealed” from public view. No transcripts, no valid SSN, no old friends coming forward. And now, after 4 yrs, all we know is what he has done in office, and that is exactly what?
- He has increased the national debt in his almost 4 yrs MORE than the previous 41 Presidents put together. Now, think for a minutes about that. Even if this was the only problem, it is sufficient to look to another candidate.
- Add to that the “Fast & Furious” debacle in which he defends AG Holder with “Executive privilege indicating that Obama was either directly involved or he knew about the operation from the beginning. (Otherwise the use of EP would not be applicable)
- How about his many deliberate lies? The longer he “reigns,” the more audacious his lies to you and me become. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty peeved at this man’s attitude toward ME! These men and women in Washington are hired BY We-the-people to work FOR us, so why does it seem the other way around?
Anyway … that is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. This is about CHARACTER. Enjoy!
Obama and the Ghost of Faulkner
By M. Catharine Evans
The ghost of William Faulkner has appeared in the oddest of places ever since Barack Obama entered the public consciousness. The president’s speech writers and others have purposely summoned Faulkner to aid them in developing Obama as a transcendent racial figure.
The 2008 election was all about race, so who better to invoke the nation’s legacy of slavery than a guilt-ridden white southern Nobel-prize winning author. The president’s handlers, who still surround him, hammered away at the racism meme knocking Hillary Clinton out of the competition.
They plunged the accusation of ‘racist’ into the heart of white America; and catapulted a “creepy” narcissistic collectivist into the White House.
Faulkner’s presence in the campaign may sound elitist to Middle America but it played to the white professionals and moderate-minded, middle-class liberals. No doubt the literary aficionados Bill Ayers and David Axelrod had a hand in the resurrection.
Now it’s 2012 and once again the race-baiters are hoping to conjure up long dead slaves and zero in on Holder’s “people” from the civil rights era.
A few weeks ago Virginia State Senator L. Louise Lucas proudly told a radio host she has convinced her children the past is not dead and racism is alive and well.
Chris Matthews loaded up and used the same ammo from 2008 this past week telling his MSNBC viewers the right-wing attacks can be linked to Obama’s ethnicity.
Online bloggers, some in the know, seem to think Obama’s campaign advisers intend to ratchet it up even more in the next couple of months.
I must state right off the bat I am no fan of William Faulkner and did not go looking for him. He popped up by accident in 2010 when I was looking for a line from The Audacity of Hope for a NewsRealBlog article; the one where Obama describes himself as a “blank screen.”
In the 2006 prologue of The Audacity of Hope Obama wrote, “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views. As such, I am bound to disappoint some, if not all, of them.”
As I searched for the quote, one link led to another until I clicked on a 2005 SparkNotes analysis of Faulkner’s 1932 novel Light in August. The description of one of the main characters, Joe Christmas, came eerily close to various journalists’ post-2008 election accounts of Obama’s weird personality traits.
The SparkNotes writer, whom I later discovered came from a pool of Harvard students, used the phrase “blank slate” as a metaphor for Joe Christmas.
The following is a description of the inverted, biracial and “foreign” Christ figure, Joe Christmas from SparkNotes:
An angry man, he is a shadow figure who walks the fringes, treading neither lightly nor comfortably in both the black and white worlds. When Joe first appears, he provokes a healthy amount of curiosity on the part of the mill workers, accompanied by contempt for his smug aloofness and other disarming qualities.
Though Faulkner provides many details of Joe’s life and character over the course of his tale, Christmas still remains a distant, inscrutable figure, closed and elusive. At the mill he is a cipher, a blank slate onto which others project their own biased and subjective notions of who they think the mysterious man truly is.
The similarities prompted me to look up the origins of the 1932 novel.
Faulkner changed the title from Dark House to Light in August at the last minute when his wife noticed a peculiar feature of the sunlight in August. Faulkner called it a “foretaste of fall a lambence…as though it came not from just today but from back in the old classic times…-from Greece, from Olympus in it somewhere.”
Spooky. Obama was born on August 4. And who can forget the Greek columns rising behind him as he accepted the Democratic nomination in Denver. Did Faulkner’s genius extend into prophesying the future election of a biracial and virtually unknown Chicago radical?
One day after Obama won in 2008, Newsweek’s Evan Thomas and Jon Meacham sat down with Charlie Rose to discuss the first black president. Meacham referred to the blank screen metaphor and used the SparkNotes word “elusive” to describe Obama.
Meacham: he is very elusive — It’s fascinating. He says, ‘I am a screen on which people project their visions, their hopes,’ and he could be a redemptive figure as long as race was implicit and not explicit
Thomas: He would spend a lot of time searching for himself, and deciding that he was a black man –
Thomas: There is a slightly creepy cult of personality about all of this
In a 2001 book review of Bill Ayers’ Fugitive Days: A Memoir, Mark Webster mentioned Ayers and Faulkner’s Light in August in the same sentence. Webster references Ayers’ “poetic jabbering” about memory similar to a technique “William Faulkner used more effectively in Light in August.”
Webster’s observations prompted me to look for more Faulkner references relating to Obama.
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