Try It Without the Spacesuit

NOTE: This blog-style mini-essay was composed a few years ago (2006), but I've always liked it and thought it would make a good addition to Art & Argument.

Don't interrupt the sorrow
Darn right
He says, "We walked on the moon
You be polite"

- Joni Mitchell

I've had Joni Mitchell's The Hissing of Summer Lawns on steady rotation in the car for a while now. "Don't Interrupt the Sorrow" is my favorite cut, a rumination on our unbalanced world, one tragically fixated on the masculine principles or energies at the expense of the feminine, also known in Jungian terms as the anima. The couplet above captures perfectly the petty arrogance and entitlement that accrues from technological mastery and domination, which, when devoid of wisdom, amounts, at best, to mere tinkering, and at worst, devastation.

As will happen when listening closely to verse, I started thinking between the lines, and it occurred to me: We actually didn't walk on the moon, did we? No human skin touched the surface. The space suit was a prophylactic that voided consummation.

Written in the 70s, the song captures the tone of the White House, circa 2006.* We are protecting you. Be polite. We brought democracy to Iraq. Be polite. But wait a second. What kind of democracy requires a massive military occupation to function? Without our troops, Iraqi democracy would thrive as long as a naked man would strolling on the moon. Do it without the spacesuit, and then let's talk.

* Ed. With strong echoes in the White House circa 2013.


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