Friday, April 15, 2016


There is the kind usually spelled "awwwwwwwwwww", often elicited by something darling and adorable.  But the more overarching kind is associated with impressive mountains and people of stunning power.  That is the sort of awe I could feel being communicated when the singer/character of Sarastro first strode onto the stage in the recent production of Mozart's The Magic Flute.  I am still not sure exactly what Sarastro is the head of.  Could be a country, a large monastery.  Whatever it is, the man has power.  If he smiles on you, you will benefit, maybe flourish some.  If he frowns, you could lose your head or your freedom.  You can pick up vibes from the people around him that you should be polite and respectful and concentrate on him, his statements, his location, his gaze: is he looking at you?

I suspect that such a reaction in the presence of the leader is visceral.  It is probably similar to the reaction experienced by other group and social animals, like lions, wolves and apes.  But even as I was feeling that, I was thinking how that awe contrasts with the general American Jacksonian idea that we are all equals.  Sure, he has the votes and the allegiances but all us frontiersmen and farmers are from the same roots and we all respect one another.

A friend visited a restaurant where one of the current presidential candidates had recently lunched.  The waitress and the host informed the party that they were being seated at the very table with the candidate had sat!  Was that table and that chair magical?  Was it an honor to be right there?  Was there a benefit ?  Is there a benefit to me since it is MY friend that was in the very same chair.

Or, should I put on my populist hat and pooh-pooh such monarchy propaganda ?  Should I figure my napkin is just as interesting as the very napkin the candidate actually used?  Is he great and I am not?  Are we both great?  Neither of us?

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