November 22, 2014

Persephone, the Queen of Hades and the beautiful bride of grief.



"It was as if we slept from Friday to Monday and dreamed an oppressive, unsearchably significant dream, which, we discovered on awaking, millions of others had dreamed also. Furniture, family, the streets, and the sky dissolved, only the dream on television was real. The faces of the world's great mingled with the faces of landladies who happened to house an unhappy ex-Marine; cathedrals alternated with warehouses; temples of government with suburban garages; anonymous men tugged at a casket in a glaring airport; a murder was committed before our eyes; a Dallas strip-tease artist drawled amiably of her employer's quick temper; the heads of state of the Western world strode down a sunlit street like a grim village rabble; and Jacqueline Kennedy became Persephone, the Queen of Hades and the beautiful bride of grief. All human possibilities, of magnificence and courage, of meanness and confusion, seemed to find an image in this long montage, and a stack of cardboard boxes in Dallas, a tawdry movie house, a tiny rented room where some shaving cream still clung to the underside of a washbasin, a row of parking meters that had witnessed a panicked flight all acquired the opaque and dreadful importance that innocent objects acquire in nightmares." -- John Updike


via neo-neocon



Posted by Vanderleun at November 22, 2014 12:52 AM
Bookmark and Share



"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

It was etched into all our consciouses ... part of the "collective consciousness, if you will. Eight years old at that time, and still it was a watershed moment. Loss was felt even at that age, though the intellect and the words were not yet in place to properly perceive and articulate what had been taken from me.

The irony of it became clearer, a bit later in life, Kennedy had driven in a motorcade through our little town of about 400 people back in 1960, The reason i remember that ... there are two reasons actually:

1. Mom had "dragged" my little brother and I to the highway to see him pass by,
2. (and more importantly) When the motorcade passed mom steeped out into the street and grabbed his hand. The transaction was but a second or two, Still being in tow, I saw him face to face. He reminded me of my dad. His looks and ready smile. And there was a fire in the mans eyes, even a five year old could discern.

And 3 short years later, he was gone. And here it is 3 years shy of the 50th remembrance of his passing, yet there was no mention of it on the radio news (at the top of the hour) that I was aware of.

Camelot is not only long gone, it's memory has headed into the long dark night as well.

And yet ... will there not be an Arther to rise from the ranks. To rescue us from Mordred, the usurper who now occupies the throne ?

Posted by: Guy S at November 22, 2010 5:15 PM

Meh. I was still biting ankles on 22 Nov 63. The term "Kennedy Mystique" means little to me. I'm just glad that the statist world-view that animated so many of our leaders in those days is going out of vogue (finally!).

Truly, think about it: If so much of our country's destiny seems to ride on the shoulders of one man, if so much of our perception of what is "good" lives and dies with that one man, isn't there something badly wrong with ourselves and the system that permits such concentration of hopes and dreams and power?

Posted by: Hale Adams at November 22, 2010 5:27 PM

I am the first to admit Kennedy was not perfect, both in his private life and in how he handled (or allowed to be handled) a number of events which transpired durring his tenure in office.

But sometimes ... sometimes there is a mixture of men, a peoples optimism, culture, and maybe even destiny. The generation at the reigns of power, at that time, was the same which had beaten the nazis only 15 years before. The economic engine had brought the country to the forefront of the world, and it was felt there was nothing we as Americans could not achieve. We were going into space, we were going to the MOON! (and maybe beyond). We might have to be on our toes in watching out for the Communists, but in the end, we felt in our hearts we would win. We believed in ourselves.

Kennedy was at the end of the day, just a man. He had an egp, and he had charisma. He (as I noted above) made mistakes in and out of office. But he, at the end of the day, had one thing which put him more in common with a Reagan, Bush, and even Nixon, like the rest of us at that place in time, he believed in America and in his fellow Americans.

I would suggest the current holder of the office, along with the last two Democratic candidates who ran for same, do not, and have quite possibly never shared in those beliefs.

It was Kennedy's saving grace. And one of the main reasons I morn his passing.

Posted by: Guy S at November 22, 2010 7:14 PM

Lee Harvey Oswald and the Liberal Crack-Up by James Piereson in Commentary Magazine for May 2006 (sorry, no url)

"What, then, explains the resilience of such fanciful and conspiratorial thinking? Part of the answer surely lies in the enduring need of the Left to circumvent the most inconvenient fact about President Kennedy’s assassination—that he was killed by a Communist and probably for reasons related to left-wing ideology. If the case against Oswald can be clouded or denied, it opens up the possibility that Kennedy was killed by a more familiar villain, one of the many malignant forces on the Right. "

* * *

"The most potent element of this image-making was, of course, the now inescapable association of Kennedy with the legend of King Arthur and Camelot. This was the invention of Jacqueline Kennedy, who a week after her husband’s death pressed the idea upon the journalist Theodore H. White in the course of an interview that would serve as the basis for an article by him in Life magazine. ...

White’s short essay in Life contained a number of Mrs. Kennedy’s wistful remembrances, one of which was the President’s fondness for the title tune from the Lerner & Lowe Broadway hit, Camelot. ... According to Mrs. Kennedy, her husband was an idealist who saw history as the work of heroes, and she wished to have his memory preserved in the form of appropriate symbols rather than in the dry and dusty books written by historians. Camelot was one such symbol; the eternal flame that she had placed on his grave was another."

June 19, 2007 7:00 A.M.
The Day the Music Died
Camelot and the American Left.

The shooting of JFK didn’t just kill a president — it devastated a political movement, argues James Piereson in his new book, "Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism." ...

The thought that the nation itself was responsible for Kennedy’s death suggested that the United States, far from being a “city on a hill” and an example for mankind, as Kennedy had described it (quoting John Winthrop), was in fact something darker and more sinister in its deepest nature.

* * *

Liberals at the time were convinced that the nation was threatened more by right-wing radicals like Sen. McCarthy or fundamentalist preachers than by Communists. Given their assumptions, they had great difficulty assimilating the fact that JFK was shot by a Communist — for this was exactly the kind of thing that the hated Sen. McCarthy had been warning against. Instead of seeing Kennedy as a casualty of the Cold War — which he was — they saw him as a martyr for civil rights. They saw his assassination as a sign of the nation’s guilt. Thus, Lincoln’s assassination reinforced the legitimacy of the nation while Kennedy’s undermined it, at least in the eyes of liberals.

Posted by: Fat Man at November 22, 2010 8:24 PM

Who cares, anymore?

It's only the boomers who get all fuzzy-wuzzy over this guy, the younger generations - who weren't brainwashed by the propaganda of the time - don't care, and won't. They can see the constructed myth in all its tawdriness, after the special lighting has been shut off and the little man behind the curtain has stopped pulling his levers and gone off somewhere else. But it's amazing the persistence of those propaganda images in the minds of those who were exposed to them, even after they should know better. Another 50 years and this will be on par with the shooting of McKinley, if that. And it's a good thing. The guy was a liar and a poser and an adulterer; he never deserved this sort of adulation. Every single person who continues promoting it is participating in and promoting something they shouldn't, honoring him merely honors the pretty lies with which he cloaked his reprehensible morals.

"I would rather have ten people, all in possession of the same absolute truth, than ten million tea partiers who agree on nothing but glittering lies and myths. "
- M.M.

Kennedy was all and always about the glittering lies; there was nothing more or less to that name.

Posted by: Rollory at November 23, 2010 7:28 AM

It's always struck me as slightly creepy that two iconic literary figures, Aldous Huxley and C.S. Lewis, died the same day as Kennedy.

Out of all of them, frankly, I think I regret losing Lewis the most.

Posted by: Jake Was Here at November 23, 2010 9:40 AM

Hey, who's that guy standing next to Jackie? He was killed by whom? Who was it? Durka Durka, or something, right?

Posted by: JD at November 23, 2010 10:36 AM

What is it that made him a "great" president. I have yet to see anyone answer that. Oh yeah, he gave great speeches. where have I heard that before?

Posted by: TC at November 23, 2010 4:03 PM

Every radio station blathered on and on about the end of Camelot. Except WWVA, which played some good ole music I could listen to as I drove up to deer camp. They knew.

Son of the American Godfather, bought and sold Presidency, followed by a puller of dog ears.

Posted by: Vermont Woodchuck at November 24, 2010 6:46 AM

And then there was the evil Ted Kennedy, who repudiated his dead brothers and embraced and joined their enemies.

PS. What a come-down: Jackie to Michelle!

Posted by: bob sykes at November 27, 2010 5:17 AM

I can see the younger set is still angry about....something. The giveaway is the scornful use of the term "Baby Boomer," as if everyone born before you was part of a single generation.

The nostalgia for Camelot, if that's what it is, has less to do with JFK than it does for what we were. Look at those pictures, kids; a lost civilization, peopled by the civil. Try to imagine any possible occurrence that could produce the shock and self-examination you see in those faces. Try to imagine a country without the cynicism of a Bill Clinton or Barack Obama. Whatever Jack Kennedy was or was not, he unblushingly proclaimed "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask rather what you can do for your country." And the nation who heard it recognized that phrase for what it was, the founding principal of the United States itself.

Your knowing darkness and disbelief expose your despair, young folks. There are no heroes but you, and only you can know whether you're up to it.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at November 22, 2011 12:48 PM

Jake was Here - Did you know that there's a book called "Between Heaven and Hell: A Dialog Somewhere Beyond Death" by Peter Kreeft that imagines a conversation between the newly departed Huxley, Kennedy and Lewis? Interesting read...

Posted by: LauraS at November 22, 2011 12:53 PM

Thing is, Americans were only 18 years removed from the violence of WW11, ten from Korea, and yet fifty years on we are so desensitized that an assasination just would not have the same significance anymore.

We lived in DC, my dad was GS 16, and quietly anti-Kennedy, but I remember how somber that veteran of the Pacific war was that night.

Posted by: james at November 22, 2011 1:09 PM

I think James and Rob are on to something. That the date, in and of itself, is of no special significance; there was nothing else of importance on an international/national level, which brokered for this date as being a line of demarkation...and yet it is.

It was, for the most part, not long after this date. Vietnam (thanks to LBJ escalating the war, while congress dithered) grew to a level which demanded young men be sent to fight for a cause not fully fleshed out at home. They were taught to question authority, and look for new ways of doing things, giving little or no thought on the preserving of the old.

There had been a portion of society which existed to feed off same, but the numbers always seemed to be kept in check. Now this was changing. Good intentions, would lead to unintended consequences, would mix and mingle with agendas (hidden and otherwise), and would eventually bring us to the present day.

But the untimely passing of an American President, at the time...the end of an era,,,in which it took place, Would seem as fitting a place mark between what was, and what was to come, as anything.

Posted by: Guy S at November 22, 2011 3:32 PM

I first heard of it when they rousted us out at 07:00 for a "Memorial Formation". We went to the bottom of our lockers and dug out our moldy class A's and assembled for about 10 minutes. As we were dismissed I looked over at the hot pad and there were three nuke carriers, ugly yellow things that looked like giant insects, proceeding slowly down the road to the F100s. We climbed back into our bunks and a couple of minutes later heard the afterburners. We were just glad that our Air Force buddies drew that mission because we really needed some sleep.

Posted by: Roy Lofquist at November 22, 2011 7:12 PM

"The younger set".
Sad, Rob.
There are many from that generation who had no use for the Kennedy clan, and not all of "the younger set" blame the baby boomers.
I do agree that there was much more of a belief in America amongst our populace during that time, but what sprang from the policies enacted by Kennedy (and even more so LBJ) has been the ruin of that very same belief.
And are Clinton and even Obama not baby boomers, or the product of baby boomer brainwashing (ala Ayers, Dorn, et al)?
You look at that photo and wax nostalgic; I look at it and see the beginning of the end.
I don't simply blame baby boomers, as they've been aided and abetted by some who preceeded them (Cronkite, Leary, for example) and those who've followed (see OWS, 2011).
Then again, those who've followed have been tremendously influenced by their baby boomer parents (and now grandparents), the baby boomers of Hollywood who've romanticized the 60's narcissism, the baby boomer professors in our institutions...
You wouldn't be a baby boomer either feeling shame, or in denial, Rob?

Posted by: Uncle Jefe at November 22, 2011 8:44 PM


Massive projection on your part; sad, indeed. Nostalgia is a petty emotion, once perfectly characterized as "Present tense, past perfect." I'll admit to feeling a little wistful for a better world, and one I will continue to believe is the true representation of America - but nostalgia? Too busy, sorry.

What you seem to miss is that to the younger generations anybody over 40 is tarred with the brush of "Baby Boomer." Lemme let you in on a little secret, hotshot: Yo no se no fuckin Baby Boomer. My feelings toward that gang are more aptly characterized as disgust than shame. I doubt you could be more aware than I am of what that aberration in the population caused to fuck up the country, history, art, politics, you name it.

It's long been my contention that the transition from the war generation to the generation that kicked off in 1946 was the least graceful and gradual in history. Raised on Spock, whose Baby and Child Care was published that year just in time to ensure that His Majesty The Baby Boomer never had any unpleasant reality intrusions, they became the most entitled entities on the planet by the time they entered grade school. It happened instantaneously.

I was born during WWII; my father didn't return from it. We was poor, and virtually everybody I knew felt a deep responsibility to our country and to the guys who'd kept it safe. It wasn't like the suburbs, that's for damn sure. By the time I was in college (and working, of course) I was astonished at the alien nature of kids a mere 2 or 3 years younger than me - "Hey, let's all express our individuality by going to a rock concert together." Weird, and robotic. And notably unlike the America of the '40s and '50s, and notably unlike the people who were shocked at what happened to Jack Kennedy. The Boomy Babers just treated it like another teevy show, and it was all about them. And their offspring now treat it like it never happened, because it's not all about them.

It should be apparent to anybody who can read that BJ Clinton and The Precedent are Baby Boomers; every breath they take shouts it to the rooftops, and carols to the world that they just haven't quite achieved toilet-training yet. Maybe next year. But don't accuse me of being a God Damned Baby Boomer unless you bring lunch.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at November 22, 2011 10:37 PM

Please. Spare me the "ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country".

I am neither owed by my country, nor do I owe it. I AM the country.

Otherwise, take your collective "country" and shovel it.

Posted by: Pandora at November 23, 2011 1:17 AM

Old Uncle,

Apparently Gerard deleted my response to you due to its exceeding the obscenity limit. Probably just as well.

Suffice it to say: Don't dare to equate me with a goddam Boomy Baber unless you're ready for the fight of your life - and you best bring lunch. I've hated those little snots for going on 67 years now, and know better than you the havoc they've wreaked on civilization. If you'd read my original screed you'd have recognized that was my annoyance with the younger set, to whom apparently anything that happened before their birth was easily blamed on the biggest target.

And Pandora, if you are so arrogant as to believe that you are the country and that you owe it nothing, your box apparently contains evils and sins without measure (and you are undoubtedly a "libertarian.") Grow up and learn a little humility; in any other country you wouldn't have been allowed to live this long.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at November 23, 2011 6:29 AM

Well.... the filter did catch that original comment but it is restored now.

Posted by: vanderleun at November 23, 2011 8:51 AM

"The nostalgia for Camelot, if that's what it is, has less to do with JFK than it does for what we were."

Your words, not mine.

My point, Rob, is that you were generalizing about "the younger set" as if anyone younger than you just 'doesn't get it' and isn't worth your time.

"Your knowing darkness and disbelief expose your despair, young folks. There are no heroes but you, and only you can know whether you're up to it."

I'm no "young folks" (although I'm a bit younger than you, I'm definitely over 40), but I believe in America, the best country on the face of this planet, in the history of this planet.

"everybody I knew felt a deep responsibility to our country and to the guys who'd kept it safe."

Amen to that, and believe it or not, that's how it still is amongst the majority of people I know.

My heroes have always been those who've served our nation and put their lives on the line for us, whether in the military or as a first responder.

I'm glad you clarified that you're no baby boomer; I didn't accuse you, I asked, albeit in a baiting manner, considering your tone. ("Kids")

And don't worry about my lunch- it'd be best to keep your internet tough-guy to yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless America.

Posted by: Uncle Jefe at November 23, 2011 9:25 AM


If you'll take the time to look at the earlier comments, you'll notice more than one expressing boredom at the observance of JFK's assassination, seeing it as the self-obsession of the Boomer generation. All those people express themselves as almost certainly in their 20's and 30's - or in other words "kids," as far as I'm concerned and until they demonstrate otherwise. Having had the self-absorption of the Baby Boomers shoved down my throat along with their "music" for the last 45 years or so, I feel the same way about them until I am individually abused of that notion by the unexpected emergence of adulthood. Maturity is a helluva lot rarer than old age around Santa Rosa, I promise you.

"The nostalgia for Camelot, if that's what it is, has less to do with JFK than it does for what we were."

Your words, not mine.

Yup, my words. And damn proud of 'em, too. I say again, and find agreement with virtually everybody I know who experienced it from the outside, that the coming of age of the Boomers was the most profound shock ever experienced by this or any country - and it seems no accident that it was coincident with the emergence of Jack Finney's The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Aliens, instantaneously, on every street corner. People who mysteriously didn't want to grow up, and didn't. People who had more of everything than anybody I knew, and seemed determined to evangelize to the rest of us that wanting it meant we were selfish.

I spoke with a pal after Mass this morning who's 70, and came home from Vietnam in '67 to an America he simply didn't recognize. We were a different nation in the '50s (which of course lasted until around '64 or '65, in the same way that "the '60s" consisted of around '66 to '72 or '3), and the simple proof is found in the photographs of the people in the streets reacting to the news of Jack Kennedy's shooting. People (dressed like adults) were profoundly shaken; people expressed grief openly both for the person and the office of The President, and for the nation itself. I've never seen any, nor did I experience any, who thought that it was about them. That was left for the Boomy Babers, who've made a career of it and left their children to be raised by the Socialists in the school systems.

My opinions, and welcome to 'em. If you don't like my "tone," you might considered climbing down a little from the Wise Old Man pose inherent in your username.

Posted by: Rob De Witt at November 23, 2011 12:23 PM

All I remember about that day was we had a test and Mr. somebody said JFK would have wanted u.s. to take it.

Everybody flunked.

Posted by: Stella at November 26, 2011 9:13 AM

"To be President of the United States, sir, is to act as advocate for a blind, venomous, and ungrateful client." - John Updike (also)

My mom viewed "As the World Turns" as part of the household routine. Her program was interrupted by the news, which seemed to broadcast continuously for the next several days … back in the days when everything was delivered in black and white. The assassination of an American President certainly was a pivotal time in our Country's … development. If Updike was able to express the sentiments of his time, as poets must do, I think the poles on which the world, as it might have been, flipped that day, as it is unimaginable for me to think of the president as an advocate of the people.

Posted by: DeAnn at November 22, 2013 9:07 AM

Is that Peter Lawford between Jackie and Ted?

Posted by: tim at November 22, 2013 10:01 AM

Yes it is.

Posted by: vanderleun at November 22, 2013 11:08 AM

I was a student at Wagner Junior High School in NYC when the announcement was made on the PA system. School was dismissed shortly after.

I am not any fan of the Kennedy's. I am amazed at that first picture with the Kennedy clan. I'm sure I've seen it before, perhaps never taking paying much attention to it.

Besides the tragedy of a widow and two small children, when one ponders those individuals pictured it's amazing the totality of tragedy that would befall those pictured, individually and collectively.

Posted by: Geo at November 22, 2013 2:24 PM

Past imperfect, present imperfect, future imperfect.
Note the perfect as part of the imperfect. Who makes it so? What's to be learned? Teach your children well.

Posted by: Howard Nelson at November 22, 2014 10:41 AM

That is ironic: perfect imperfection.

Tha's awright. What we lose on the swings we'll make up on the merry-go-round.

Posted by: chasmatic at November 22, 2014 1:21 PM

I was born in Feb 63. I never got the this. Still don't. I weep for no one except my own close kin and kith. 9/11 is the closest I'll ever come to sharing in communal tragedy.

Posted by: Christina M. at November 22, 2014 5:54 PM

Ah, 22 November. Time for the annual rereading of KING KILL 33.

Posted by: B Lewis at November 22, 2014 11:21 PM

I was a senior in high school on that fateful day. I do not remember what I was wearing or where I was except, in school.
My uncle Louie Lozko, we all called him "Letsgo Lozko", he raised bantam chickens. He was still alive at that time although he died later on.
His only comment upon hearing the news was "And Jesus said to him, 'Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.'"
He spoke proper English with little accent when he quoted bible verses.

Posted by: chasmatic at November 23, 2014 10:32 AM

Jack and Bobby, you weren't all bad

In black and white
and shades of gray,
color drained,
gone all arts,
ghosts and mortals,
with broken hearts.

1860's, 1960's uncivil war-torn
bright blue sky.
Who told their mother
how her sons died?
For her it may not matter why.

And how and by whom were their children told?
Oh, the tears and the cold, cold, cold.

Posted by: Howard Nelson at November 24, 2014 3:27 PM