A Liberal Heretic’s Notes: On Yeats, Lost Friendships, And The Pain Of Being “Magic”

Writers Notebook:

There is a poem of Yeats’ that makes me nauseous, but I totally understand if people love it.(taste is personal) “Song of the Wandering Aengus” is one of the better-structured poems of his early neo-romantic period; he had just found the effectiveness of sprung rhythm and slant rhyme, and it reads better than some of his twee, Shelleyian early form pieces. It has a concocted dream reverie and pitch that stick into the reader’s mind. One one or two levels one can see the appeal of its theme, a young man, spurred by heartbreak, reimagining himself as a mythical folk figure who will search for the dream woman for him to process his heartbreak

My queasiness toward the poem comes from the experience of being at the business end of white liberals dream reveries(and seeing my friends at the business end of male liberal activists dream reveries). More than a few former friends have vented their spleens in the last two months about their cultural disagreements with me and how they someone psychically contributed to the election(I don’t have to go through em, yall have read me). The anxiety and terror they’ve had when they’ve listed the offenses of my disagreeable political opinions and my disagreeable tone left me rattled. What they wanted from me was magic, for me to be perpetually on, for me to be perpetually charming, to be perpetually patient and heroic in crusades to change the souls of people who hold reprehensible beliefs. I couldn’t be a person who could respectfully agree to disagree with them on some things but values their take in the spirit of dialogue. I had to be a Dream Brother.

And a lot of my friends had to be magic, and when they couldn’t be, when they couldn’t be magic pixie dream girl progressives or magical dream rapping negroes, a lot of white liberals were done with us(and any interest in our human rights). I hear the same liberals friend talk dreamily about Kamala Harris, and I feel sick to my stomach. Not because harris isn’t a great politician and exemplar of progressive values. But because she’s human, because of that and the inevitable nature of politics, she will do something to break the fever dream the frail monarchs atop liberalism have of her; and leave them as sputteringly contemptuous toward “identity politics” as they are right now. But another politician will come. Another cool black guy. Another groovy bae “not like those other feminists”. And maybe they won’t ever say no. Maybe they won’t talk back and be super cool forever and ever. Maybe the magic, the vaunted magic will come for my old liberal friends. But good lord, what real pain comes when people separate you from being human.

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