Monday, September 28, 2020

The Final Solution: Pere Ubu

Ubu Roi (woodcut by Alfred Jarry)

Whimsy is an emotion that’s hard to call up and even remember. Flights of fancy seem to reside in some dusty archive containing characters like Jeeves the famous butler immortalized by P.G. Wodehouse. Satire has a different taste. Today, almost all of it is reserved for our current Ubu Roi, Donald Trump. As you may remember Afred Jarry’s character was a primitively drawn despot also known as Pere Ubu who liked to get his way. You think of whimsy in Victorian settings which provide the stability and structure in which outlandish characters and their cousins, dandies and flaneurs, were subsidized by aristocracies in Hyde Park or on the Boulevard Haussmann. One feels wistful for the days when the world could afford imaginative flights of fancy, without the constraints and mandates to usurp some force of black shirts on Harleys creating litanies of ritualistic violence. Whimsy is a product of a cultured universe of repose, the world of the “effete” which Vice President Spiro Agnew, an earlier form of our present hoary figure, infamously attacked. Agnew got into trouble because of his tax problems, too.

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