Ella is off doing political battle — well, mock-battle — leaving her dad to write tonight’s post. And what springs to mind? Spring. Today begins the month that T.S. Eliot called the cruelest. He saw a near-obscenity in April “breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire.” In the wake of ‘The Great War,’ a profusion of spring flowers probably did seem like nature mocking humanity’s pointless bloodlust. Scanning today’s news – war, disaster, cruelty, terror, deceit and tyranny – can make one feel that in the return of birdsong nature is mocking us still. The challenge of climate change, after all, is not that we need to save the planet – it will endure. It’s that we need to keep from so thoroughly fouling our nest that we can no longer thrive.
But spring comes nonetheless, whether sunny and bright, or as this morning, with snow flurries, drizzle and persistently gray skies. Earth has swung once more round its orbit to tilt its northern end toward the sun, just as in billions of orbits before, and billions more to come. Like it or not, we’re in for some beautiful days ahead, at least until the next equinox.
Which leads me to another thing that springs to mind this April first: Rebecca Black. Even amid earthquakes, civil wars, tsunamis, air strikes and nuclear meltdowns, reviewers of her song “Friday” suggest she has raised disaster to new heights.
I have to confess I’m thankful for “Friday” in a way that old Tom Eliot might never understand. Despite a domestic and global political climate that seems like it can hardly get bleaker, one gormless teen can rise up and geek-bop her way into our national consciousness. The middle east may be teetering on the brink of genocide or civil war, but we have bigger crises here at home. Today the Arab world must choose, under force of arms, between tyranny and democracy. Our Ms. Black faces a choice every bit as stark: “kickin’ in the front seat, kickin; in the back seat, gotta make my mind up: which seat can I take?”
As art, “Friday” is undoubtedly an excrescence. But as a cultural lightning rod, it is merely one of Eliot’s lilacs, a vain burst of happiness that mocks us in our mourning for a world gone deeply wrong. This, after all, is what April fools day is all about. Spring comes as surely as winter, whether we greet it with a dirge or drecky pop.
Tomorrow I’ll return to worrying about the all-out war on working families currently being waged by Republicans in the House, and in state Houses across the country. But tonight it’s Friday, and I’m looking forward to the weekend.