The title of this long essay comes from one of the finest American short stories ever written: William Faulkner’s tale of cosseted delusion and Southern gothic horror -- "A Rose for Emily”.
And rather than being a pedant and beating the point home with a rock, let me instead tell you the story…of the story…and you can judge how apt it is.
Also here is your Big Spoiler Alert that I’m going to give the ending away.
So once upon a time, in an unnamed Southern town that acts as the story’s narrator, there existed Miss Emily Grierson.
She had her peculiar habits handed down through the generations, but the town looked after her:
“Alive, Miss Emily had been a tradition, a duty, and a care; a sort of hereditary obligation upon the town.”And in due course, Miss Emily fell in love with Mr. Homer Barron:
“…a big, dark, ready man with a big voice and eyes lighter than his face..”(Jesus, how that SOB could write)
“We learned that Miss Emily had been to the jeweler's and ordered a man's toilet set in silver, with the letters H. B. on each piece. Two days later we learned that she had bought a complete outfit of men's clothing, including a nightshirt...”But it was not to be. She got dumped:
“That was two years after her father's death and a short time after her sweetheart--the one we believed would marry her --had deserted her. After her father's death she went out very little; after her sweetheart went away, people hardly saw her at all. “However, shortly after her sweetheart went away, her place began to reek.
No one could figure out why, but the town, as always, discretely indulged her:
The next day he received two more complaints, one from a man who came in diffident deprecation. "We really must do something about it, Judge. I'd be the last one in the world to bother Miss Emily, but we've got to do something." That night the Board of Aldermen met--three graybeards and one younger man, a member of the rising generation.Many long years later, Miss Emily died, and the town came to fulfill their final obligation to her:
"It's simple enough," he said. "Send her word to have her place cleaned up. Give her a certain time to do it in, and if she don't. .."
"Dammit, sir," Judge Stevens said, "will you accuse a lady to her face of smelling bad?"
So the next night, after midnight, four men crossed Miss Emily's lawn and slunk about the house like burglars, sniffing along the base of the brickwork and at the cellar openings while one of them performed a regular sowing motion with his hand out of a sack slung from his shoulder. They broke open the cellar door and sprinkled lime there, and in all the outbuildings.
After a week or two the smell went away.
…And then, at long last, they learned her horrifying secret…
Already we knew that there was one room in that region above the stairs which no one had seen for forty years, and which would have to be forced. They waited until Miss Emily was decently in the ground to open in.
The violence breaking down the door seemed to fill the room with pervading dust. A thin, acrid pall as of the tomb seemed to be everywhere upon this room decked and furnished as for a bridal: upon the valance curtains of faded rose color, upon the rose-shaded lights, upon the dressing table, upon the delicate array of crystal and the man’s toilet things backed with tarnished silver, silver so tarnished that the monogram was obscured. Among them lay a collar and tie, as if they had just been removed, which, lifted, left upon the surface a pale crescent of dust. Upon a chair hung a suit, carefully folded; beneath it the two mute shoes and the discarded socks.And while telling us that the town’s little old lady had kept her lover's corpse in her spare room might have been more than creepy enough for any other story, for Faulkner it was not.
The man himself lay in the bed.
For a long white we just stood there, looking down at the profound and fleshless grin. The body had apparently once lain in the attitude of an embrace, but now the long sleep that outlasts love, that conquers even the grimace of love, had cuckolded him. What was left of him, rotted beneath what was left of the nightshirt, had become intractable from the bed in which he lay; and upon him and upon the pillow beside him lay that even coating of patient and biding dust.
For Faulkner, there was one more layer to peel away:
Then we noticed in that second pillow was indentation of a head.Like Miss Emily, Mr. Brooks fell into a passionate and ill-considered love long ago. But the Conservative Myth to which Bobo gave his heart never really existed, and any vestige of it in the Real World died long ago.
One of us lifted something from it, and leaning forward, that faint invisible dust dry and acrid in the nostrils, we saw a long strand of iron-gray hair.
Like Miss Emily, Mr. Brooks simply cannot not cope with the cold reality that the object of his affection is stone dead and has been for decades, and so, like the legions of privileged, white Republicans just like him, he has gone quietly mad.
And because he cannot cope with the idea that what he loved is a lie, like Miss Emily, Mr. Brooks has instead set up housekeeping with the putrefying corpse of his Once And Future King.
He sleeps with it.
Chats with it.
Holds tea parties with it.
And will not tolerate any back sass about its goodness and purity.
Like so many Modern Conservatives, David Brooks has been fucking the moldering remains of something long dead, gone and rotten for so long, it started to seem normal to him. And sharing a political marriage bed with a corpse in a kind of ideological necrophilia also just so happens to very much suit the despicable goals of the vile, little monsters who actually own and operate Brooks’ Party and his Movement.
And in his column entitled “History and Calumny”, the gagging reek of continuing this absurd, genteel indulgence of Brook’s nauseating brand of conservative paralogia and psychosis has finally gotten to be too much for the rest of us to stand.
End Part 4 of 4
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You just keep getting better. Just brilliant.
Our Miss Bobo.
Although it WAS tough getting through Sunday without any coming down this week. There's just nothing quite like it.
Dude, you are a master of the English sentence. And you also make me feel better for starting so many sentences with "And". And you have the balls to leave them alone.
Good one! Has anyone pointed out that the word "calumny" is only used to describe the act of calling racists on their racism?
Wow. Just wow. Effing brilliant. And perfectly describes Bobo.
Flying. H. Spaghetti. Monster.
This may be Drifty's best one yet.
I've read plenty of excellent smack-downs of Brooks.
This is far, far beyond smack-down territory. This literary euthanasia.
Well done. Wow.
Like the commenters above, I'm in awe! soo fucking brilliant!
It will take more than a mirror to exorcise Bobo, but it's a step in the right direction, eh! It can't be hammered home enough that (as Paul Krugman recently noted) Lil Dubbie IS the son of Reagan. To not embrace that steaming turd is to deny Reagan's legacy. And, and , AND! we just can't have that, now? ;-))
Anchors and Anvils, bahbee, Anchors and Anvils.. start tossin' as many as ya can.
Ditto to all the above and a few extra huzzahs as well.
More than that, however, I want to thank you for honoring Steve Gilliard on his Birthday Nov 13th).
"...that a deceased and relatively obscure blogger named Steven Gilliard is still a vastly more vital, thoughtful, passionate and powerful writer from inside the Narrow House than is the allegedly-living New York Times columnist named David Brooks."
What a marvelous blending of classic American literature (Faulkner,) a prescient American voice, now sadly stilled (Gilliard,) and your own brand of "Chicago way" with sparkling metaphors and dead on diagnostics.
It makes me wish I could rewind my short term memory, just to read it again like the first time.
Good Holy Christ, Drifty, you make me wonder why I even bother to write when you put out stuff like this.
What werebear said....I'd love to read it again like the first time. This is one for the ages.
Clap Clap Clap Clap Clap.
Take a bow Drifty,that was a beaut.
So much awesome.
Brilliant. No shit, just a wonderful read.
Do you reserve this brand of necrophilia for Brooks alone? I was thinking others like Kristol, Krauthammer?
Drifty, sheer brill, as per your usual, you get another laurel wreath upon thy head, too, for the "Rose For Emily" framework. You're as classy an act as can be.
Y'know, there actually WAS a real-life case of necrophilia that either served as the framework for 'Emily's', story or life and art imitated each other, down at the very bottom of America. Key West Florida had someone steal the love of his life, (and afterlife, too), from a graveyard there and took her home to stay. The perp even went as far as to stitch in a pocket-sized addition to keep the marriage active and alive in more than name only. (not really something I want to dwell on.)
I mention the Key West number because I think it's too easy to lump Bobo in with the other certifiable nuts when what he does isn't passive and simply self-centered. Sure, he's humpin' the decaying corpse of St. Ronnie but his actual, "JOB", is to be a cheerleader for these blackshirted bastids. His name on a column gives the masquerade of evil public legitimacy. What he writes benefits others, more than it benefits him through his paychecque.
"Brooks is but pitchcapp'd -- why doth he prance so, maw?"
"Dearie, he is happy for relief of his guilt. Let 'im be, let 'im be. 'Tis the cap of a foole, now."
The Reagan Era is when Movement Conservativism began its dark metamorphosis from Goldwater conservatism into the chimpanzee-screaming, chest-thumping, feces-flinging, Coulter-esque plutocratic reactionism that has the temerity to call itself conservatism today.
Driftglass, I think that there's only one mistake in this entire series of posts.
You keep using the term "conservative", which is a political category, to describe people who are much more accurately called "authoritarian followers", which is a personality type, not a set of opinions and ultimately unreachable by reason.
The Pulitzer Committee should get a clue.
You beat me to it. The case of Carl Tanzler and Maria Elena Milagro de Hoyos immediately came to mind when I read Driftglass' excerpts. But there's no way it could have been the inspiration for A Rose for Emily. Faulkner's short story was first published in the April 1930 Saturday Evening Post, while Tanzler's gruesome little love object wasn't discovered until October of 1940.
And deliciously lurid as it may be, there's considerable skepticism about that claim of necrophilia.
But hey, who knows? Maybe Dr. Tanzler was a Faulkner fan -- a lot of people read the Saturday Evening Post back in those days ...
As for you, Driftglass, you wield your verbal snickersnee on Bobo with such grace and artistry you should be awarded both ears and his vestigial tail.
Some of your best, ever.
*bows three times*
By God that was some beautiful truth. And imagery, that will age like a fine wine - or Faulkner better yet. If there were ever a "wooden stake" award, this post would have set the standard.
This post really does deserve some sort of award. Crystalline clarity of the farce that is modern day Republican.
Drifty sir, I know I'm a little late but I am gobsmacked.
I think the fact that Gilly would be proud of you is beyond doubt, but what I read in this essay is a verbal evisceration of a phony and his motives that Hunter would have been proud of.
I don't have a blog to give you props on, but if I was a professor of Gonzo Literature this would be required reading in perpetuity.
Hat duly doffed.
Bravo! Who knew one could author an asskicking in four acts?! Bravo!
thank you. this was the highlight of my week.
To further the analogy, the Democrats have been much like the kindly town folk - too polite to call Mr. Brooks (or his crazy Republican brethern) on his stink.
when the skin slid off his body
it pooled below next to his feet
his bones were shocked at just how gawdy
became that which was once elite
excellent series. mr. brooks walks the earth among the shadows and ashes.
This is stunning writing, and more than the deftness, is the chilling truth that you have unearthed here. I am a first time reader lured by C&L but I will be back.
Damn you, Mr. G l a s s. You keep raising the bar like this for me, I'll be giving myself an aneurism trying to keep up.
worthy of an award!
It's been so many years since I read a Rose for Emily.
Better than Poe's best corpse love story by far.
Corpse love is the heart of all conservative ideology. After all it all about keeping things unchanging and in the face of death that can lead only to corpse love.
Every once in a while you read something that you know you will never forget.
This is one of those times.
Oh wonderful. Wonderful. Drifty, you are a joy to read!
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