Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Surrealism of American Politics

I love this surrealist work of art by Méret Oppenheim:

I don't love the way it reminds me of American politics. It's as if we are expected to view a fur-covered coffee cup and saucer as the way coffee cups and saucers are supposed to be. We are expected to write about the usefulness of getting animal hairs in your mouth when you sip your coffee, about the fascination of trying to clean the cup after use and about the obvious need for all coffee cups to be covered in Chinese gazelle fur.

Put another way, the coffee cup and saucer IS already covered with that fur, whatever I write, however much I rant. And I'm not surrealist enough to simply accept it.

I can't agree with the idea that channeling more and more money to firms will somehow miraculously make them invest in jobs when there is little demand for their products, I can't agree with the view that anyone wealthy is somehow a potential job-creator rather than just wealthy, I can't ignore the unemployment rate and worry only about the deficit and hypothetical future people's happiness. And I can't accept the fact that the financial markets will not be regulated, however obvious the need for such regulation is.

The most surreal aspect of American politics is not any of that. It's not even the Tea Party demanding the end of a civilized society if it also means zero taxes. It's the way too many in the media cover politics as if it were a work of surreal art with no deeper importance.