Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Making all his Renaissance Man plans for nobody

I used to study Renaissance England, back when they were just starting to call the old days in that old country "Early Modern England."

I never heard squit diddly said about an "Early Modern Man," but the "Renaissance Man" tag still does get applied. It's usually applied to people who can do a lot of very different things, often in the arts. It's a good enough term, I guess, in that respect - if people are using it, it must work, say the linguists (and an early rock and roll girlfriend of mine, Kimbo, convinced me to always trust the linguists, never the grammarians).

A "Renaissance Man". Or, woman. Let's try to get it right.

I submit, for the term to have historical resonance and connection, it must add a dash of particularity to this business about being able to do a lot of different things. One of the things you are able to do has to be warfare. Or, power politics, which is warfare without the blood and guts.

That's only being accurate to the Renaissance cats. The only people from that day and time whose memory survives (that is, who were literate: who wrote shit down and who hoarded what they wrote) were of the nobility. And the nobility was, by definition, a political class. They schemed and plotted, they stabbed backs and went to war. That's what they did - that's one of the things they all did. There was not one single Renaissance Man during the actual Renaissance who ever dreamt of assembling his package without including power politics. Without including warfare.

I got all this from books, a long time ago. But I didn't even begin to get it until I began to live it.

I started to pick up politics very recently, and for one reason only. My boss expected it of me. I work for a Renaissance Man, you see. By that, I don't mean, merely, that he can do a lot of different things. I mean that he can do a lot of different things, and one of them is warfare, or power politics.

I work in the Black Press in St. Louis in the 21st century. Whoa, Jasper!

Anyway, the newspaper is the St. Louis American, the website location was cleverly embedded into the name of the paper (thanks to my IT boys at blogger dot google; burn one in the Silicone Valley for me, tonight). The power politics shit mostly ends up in Political EYE. Sometimes, front page. Other times, Editorial.

It ain't pretty. It's no fun. It's blood and guts. I do not recommend it for pleasure. I recommend it only to Renaissance Men and Women. I recommend it only to people who think power politics should be one of the strings to their bow, or their violin.

This week, the EYE is all about a senior Missouri Obama operative, who is new to the state, getting debriefed by local veterans on what to expect in St. Louis. Yow! I'd rather open a vein. The news hole looks into a dust-up between the mayor (not a good mayor) and the unions representing City workers (a mixed bag). The Editorial looks at two aldermen doing the not*a*good*mayor's dirty work.

That's a nasty tavern, that power politics tavern we were just hanging out in. But my boss tells me I need to visit it on a regular basis. I see his point. When you do visit, you realize you should. Power gets wielded and bludgeoned and squandered, all around us, whether we like it or not, and it effects us personally, whether or not we care.

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