Wandering around Tokyo over the last day or two and the weather has definitely felt a little warmer, not that we are breaking out the flip-flops just yet, but if you have to take off a mitten for a minute to get some change out of your pocket you don’t instantly feel the digits drain of blood, which is encouraging. (Cue snowfall brought about by this post!)
Recently one of my students mentioned a poem by Shelley which she told me was very popular in Japan, and which ends with the words:
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
She told me it was also encouraging, because however much you feel as if you are in the depths of a Narnian endless Winter, the longer it goes on for, the closer you must be getting to Spring.
And bearing all that in mind, I was further encouraged when I looked into the poem, Ode to the West Wind, a little more (ok, looked it up on Wikipedia!) and read that it was written by Shelley in 1819, not long after the Peterloo Massacre. The Spring he is anticipating is not only the temporal one, but also an awakening to reform and revolution, with the wind bringing a message of change as it travels.
So it is with a fervent hope that the events of this weekend can see a wind of change reach us all, along with the warmer summer breezes we have missed out on over the last couple of months. And if that is not a perfect excuse to link to the following video, I don’t know what is.
Enjoy the weekend!
Taking in all the mid-term results via the web and Twitter, along with a Sunday evening spent in a Tokyo bar listening to Joshua Tree-era U2, brought this song to mind this week.
Of course, the US has always been prone to mass outbreaks of batshit-craziness, denying evolution, riddled with inequalities and displaying a high tolerance for murder at home, as well as abroad, all the while proclaiming its belief, above that of all other nations, in fairness, justice and all things holy.
Then every now and again they do something that was thought impossible, such as elect Obama as President, and you are brought back to remembrance of all the things you love about America. So it is disquieting for those of us who truly love liberty, tolerance and equality to watch an even more mental version of the right-wing lunatics we thought we had just seen the back of, regain control of the world’s largest democracy. Especially so if you are also a tea drinker, as the bastards stomp around Washington besmirching the name of our favourite brew.
If, as this recent Vanity Fair article records, the machinations at the heart of US bureaucracy now make it impossible to build the kind of cross-party alliances that existed until relatively recently, the polarisation of American politics can only get worse. That the Tea Party Republicans can pass themselves off as a grassroots movement while opposing measures to reform banking and taxation that would avoid a repeat of recent financial catastrophes ensures that there are likely to be sad eyes out in the badlands for years to come.