The Democrats and many others of the Eastern establishment have a Roosevelt hangover and dwell, like Proust, in a remembrance of things past. It is exactly like the South that W.J. Cash wrote about in the late 1920s. The South was ready economically to enter the greater world, but the honored ghosts of history prevented it from doing so for 20 more years.
Historical periods overlap. Gore Vidal, aged and decrepit, hating America, hating everything, longing for the “gallant” Roosevelt and conjuring the ghost of William F. Buckley Jr., when he was honored for “lifetime achievement” at the 60th annual National Book Awards this week, might be seen as the Roosevelt era’s “last Confederate,” still waving the red flag after the world has gone on; gone on to Elvis, to Reagan, to “Twilight.” There were still Victorians long after the age had passed. And when Elvis first rose in the world on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” he still had to contend with Stonewall Jackson over who would represent the post-war South.
Generations are the engine of history and the channel of historic change, and those who look for generational change should get in line tonight to see the opening of “New Moon,” the second of the series of four new vampire movies. Tickets have been selling out months ahead, like a Beatles concert. But when the first movie, “Twilight,” came out, it was called a cult movie and a passing fad. Like they said about the Beatles. Critics said the writing wasn’t any good. Like they said about the Beatles.
We are at the century’s turning. It hasn’t turned yet and it won’t for a few years. But it is beginning to rise now new against old generations as generations always do, ignoring or opposing the old ideas and the old century. In our period, even an old millennium.
When cultural patterns including political ones are established by the old generations, everything that is new “doesn’t fit” and becomes a challenge to the old generations. All at every level of power become priests and defenders of the old in opposition to the new. But we began to see the turning with the “Twilight” movie, which was widely panned by critics, although the book by Stephenie Meyer had already sold 30 million copies, mostly to young teenage girls. It is the politics of denial. The new are denied entry into territory already controlled by the old people. We are seeing in spades a similar pattern with Sarah Palin. We have been seeing it with Ron Paul as well.
Each generation has its own gods and goddesses: Victoria, Douglas Fairbanks, James Dean, Marlon Brando, Eisenhower, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and Neil Young and Joni Mitchell. They form and fulfill their own generations and place them in sequence to generations past and those ahead. The new gods, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, Bella and Edward, awaken the long-awaited fourth post-war generation tonight with “New Moon.”
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