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Notes on Kennan pt one

pt one

It's a strange thing. I'm sitting here at 4AM or thereabouts and it is August 26th of 2023. This has been a strange year of our Lord indeed. Here I am. Sitting here telling myself I need to write, that I am a writer. But I look around and see I am walled in by books I haven't written. They seem endless. I'll get rid of a few here and there. Create a massive pile and dump them off at some used book store far North on State Route 99. There are readers everywhere. Anyhow, I am surrounded by these books. Seemingly endless like I've said. My mother calls them "dust collectors" (they are) but she loves to read. She hates books but loves to read? I don't think that's all truth but maybe more or less. My mother's an odd bird but that's for another time. I'm sitting here and thinking I need to write and I'm looking at books and thinking well maybe I should finally write about one of the books I've actually read. Many of these books are waiting either to be given away or read. I'm always getting off track. So I grab one of these books I've actually read called "George F. Kennan: An American Life" by John Lewis Gaddis and I randomly flip to page 424 and I see my red pencil has been at work. I underline the important bits in red pencil because I once read that an old Big Boss out in Kansas City did the same. That's a different book for a different time.

Write, you bastard, write. Write desperately, frantically, under pressure from yourself, while God gives you time. Write until your eyes are glazed, until you have writer's cramp, until you fall from your chair for weariness. Only by agitating your pen (keyboard) will you ever press out of your indifferent mind and your ailing frame anything of any value to yourself or anyone else.

Now I am thinking there is a God and I begin to write as if by inspiration.

Gaddis is what Trump would call a Bushie. Hey, he's a Bushie. No offensive to the Bush Family. But, yeah, he's a Bushie. I'm a bit Bushie too. Why? I can't tell you why. Maybe it's because they've been tinged by Reagan? Who knows. I like Reagan. I can't help it. I've been to Dixon. The people are good. A piece of the Berlin Wall reminds them of him and the Reds and we mustn't forget we had to occupy a European City because their political leaders got out of hand. "Out of hand"? They started to throw Jews into gas chambers. They killed woman and children wholesale. Not very Bushie. Well maybe just a bit Bushie. When we mistakenly drone kids we just rock back and forth and repeat: we're not Nazis we're not Nazis we're not Nazis.

Anyhow, Gaddis is a Bushie and if you want to know anything about the First Cold War he's the one to read. Or so I tell myself because I haven't read anyone else on that first chiller besides the primary actors. Nixon's early stuff comes to mind. I haven't gotten through Dr. Kissinger's stuff yet. He's a Doc like Jill, yeah?

Kennan isn't thought of all that much when it comes to China but let's see what he's got to say:

The great country of China, forming the heart of Asia, a country which for many years we befriended above all others and in defense of whose interests, in part, we fought the Pacific war, has fallen into the hands of a group of embittered fanatics: wedded to a dated and specious ideology but one which holds great attraction for masses of people throughout Asia; finding in this ideology a rationale for the most ruthless exertion if power over other people; associating this ideological prejudice with the most violent currents of traditional nationalism and xenophobia; linking their power to the arrogance and pretension traditional to governing groups in a country that long regarded itself as the center of the world (the middle kingdom);

Here I pause because I've switched my pencil to a plain old Dixon Ticonderoga 1388-2:

consumed with ambition to extend to further areas of Asia the dictatorial authority they now wield over the Chinese people themselves; sponsoring for this reason every territorial claim of earlier Chinese Governments for which history could show even the flimsiest evidence; and now absolutely permeated with hated toward ourselves, not only because the ideology pictures us all as villains, but also because we, more than any other people have had the temerity to stand in their path and to obstruct the expansion of their power.

I am reminded that Kennan often wrote very long run on sentences. The Long Telegram moniker makes more sense now. That and the State Department had restrictions on the length of a telegram. This was a man that just couldn't stop writing. I just flipped through pages and pages of Gaddis to find evidence that Kennan is guilty of run on sentences. Just reading Kennan direct reveals as much. Listen to him on Petrograd (I call it what I will):

Over this community there pass, in endless rhythm, the characteristic season of the north: the long winters of snow and darkness; the protracted in-between season of gray skies, slush, and a pervasive dampness; the white nights of the summer solstice, with their unbelievable, eerie poetry; and, finally, the brief, pathetic summers, suggestive rather than explicit, drawing to a close almost before they have begun, passionately cherished by the inhabitants for their very rareness and brevity.

One wishes Kennan's writing was cherished for its brevity. It ain't.

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