Tuesday, January 25, 2011

the president's speech

Photographing television is always a strange gamble, but never so strange as when it bleaches out our president.   Or maybe it's some kind of celestial, luminous light coming off him?   Though his measured, reconciliatory, let's rebuild the Greatness of America speech didn't exactly shimmer with incandescence (though I've just heard Barbara Boxer describe it as "visionary and inspiring"), even if, from another point of view, I can't imagine too many people (even if Tea Party spokespeople staring into the wrong camera) thought that he hit Roswell scary territory.   Nonetheless, visually, this is unmistakably ET stuff.

There was, however, very little in this speech for the humanist (unless one's meant to head off and analyze Google and Facebook, which were put forward as recent examples of US entrepreneurship and inventiveness) - much praising of education, much exhortation to go off and be teachers - but, it would seem, of science and technology.   It's interesting, though, to speculate how he could have worked in the importance of reading and thinking and exploring language and using one's imagination and playing an instrument and and and and etc.  (though the speech itself was an example of how one builds, quietly, on examples from history) without sounding fusty and / or elitist.   It would be so wonderful if he were to work on this for next year ...


  1. Well, there was the following emphatic, albeit brief, statement:

    "What's more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea - the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That is why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It's why our students don't just memorize equations, but answer questions like 'What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world?'"

    I thought his rhetorical technique was brilliant; advocating acceptance of the realities of 21st-century global communities while simultaneously emphasizing American exceptionalism is no easy task.

  2. True. And I should have given credit where credit was due - I was perhaps a little too distracted by salmon.