Technical note: why do Republicans talk that way?

Answer: because they talk Calvinist. Paranoia like theirs has been the language of American Protestantism since the days of the Pilgrims, and in the Presbyterian theologian Donald Trump it has found a poet for the twenty-first century. The video shock of his complexion combines with his pulpit-style sing-song audio to evoke a full spectral range of American culture. As of 2023, Trump is the lord of American language: a bard loved as perhaps no poet in English has been since Tennyson. He commands a tradition.

You can tell from the sample of print below, for instance, that the text being communicated through its words is old. But don’t the words themselves seem contemporary?

No doubt, but they date from 1704.  They were transcribed back then by Jonathan Swift, and the “he” on the page is Swift’s character Jack, who stands mostly for John Calvin. It is Calvin who lives on in this Irish page and thousands of subsequent pages by such American thinkers as Jonathan Edwards, Woodrow Wilson, and, yes, Donald Trump.

What — you thought the idea of a paranoid atavism was original with Trump? One thing poetry can teach you is that no stimulus to emotion is original. First comes an imageless desire and only then comes its realization in form. For any poet, realization — that is, making real — has always been the hard part. Trump’s achievement as a poet was to realize by transforming his uttering body into a bardic color: the color orange. Calvinists have always reveled in their pain, but Trump taught all America to revel orangely. After Trump, suffering was newly and lovably embodied in orange. Suddenly, at last! it seemed understandable. All you have to do is realize, murmured the TV while America was going to sleep, what color it is that irradiates when a lord of language rolls video and sing-songs, “Let there be light.”


Two remedies for distress

In my state, the current lieutenant governor spends one day a week working his other job as an emergency room physician. He also makes media appearances to discuss the course of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But because he promotes science and because he is a Jew, the congregants of a Christian chapel now picket his residence at night, flashing strobes and creating noisy disorder. In the comment stream of the local newspaper they also discuss health policy in language whose wordplay seems to show the influence of Ezra Pound. There, the words attributed to the lieutenant governor are a sheeny dialect from about 1908, the year that Pound left the United States and cut himself off from American language. Of course if you turn on the TV in 2022 you won’t hear the lieutenant governor speaking like that, but Pound was the poet who wrote for eternity, “Literature is news that STAYS news.”

The dictum must also be true for other ways of thinking in language, such as politics and religion. So would you yourself like to be cured of distress, reader? Then perhaps the time has come for you to open your mind to one or both of these ancient word-cures. Their strength is still unexpired.

Hear it. Open a window anywhere in America. The air that flows in will be filled with voices chanting, “Gimme that ol’ time,” and time will be mingled with them. Once more, time sings through the varied carols of America, and once again, as once in 1849, it writes this lyric prescription for healing. Take it now. You are no longer in the past, but the past will be to you a nutritional supplement.

Handbill, Duke University Libraries, Contrast and detail restored.

And this second revelation, datable to an American childhood in the Eisenhower years, has turned out to be a text immune to time. In your old age it now teaches you, at last! that all you have ever needed is the happiness of feeling with your body a red hat, a red tie, and a gun for threatening with.

Contrast, color and detail restored. About the line “Our 60th year,” this source says the Wilson Chemical Company was founded in 1895:

You may address your prayer to the fulfillment department.


Fox News: its values and its viewers

Library of Congress, Contrast and detail restored.

From England’s Natural History Museum,

In 1912 Charles Dawson, an amateur archaeologist, claimed to have discovered the ‘missing link’ between ape and man. He had found part of a human-like skull in Pleistocene gravel beds near Piltdown village in Sussex, England.

Dawson wrote to Arthur Smith Woodward, Keeper of Geology at the Natural History Museum at the time, about his find.  

Dawson and Smith Woodward started working together, making further discoveries in the area. They found a set of teeth, a jawbone, more skull fragments and primitive tools, which they suggested belonged to the same individual.

Smith Woodward made a reconstruction of the skull fragments, and the archaeologists hypothesised that the find indicated evidence of a human ancestor living 500,000 years ago. They announced their discovery at a Geological Society meeting in 1912. For the most part, their story was accepted in good faith.

However, in 1949 new dating technology arrived that changed scientific opinion on the age of the remains. Using fluorine tests, Dr Kenneth Oakley, a geologist at the Natural History Museum, discovered that the Piltdown remains were only 50,000 years old. This eliminated the possibility of the Piltdown Man being the missing link between humans and apes as at this point in time humans had already developed into their Homo sapiens form.

Following this, biological anthropologist Dr Joseph Weiner and human anatomist Wilfrid Le Gros Clark, both from Oxford University, worked with Dr Oakley to further test the age of the Piltdown findings. Their results showed that the skull and jaw fragments actually came from two different species, a human and an ape, probably an orangutan.

Scratches on the surfaces of the teeth, visible under the microscope, revealed that the teeth had been filed down to make them look human. They also discovered that most of the finds from the Piltdown site had been artificially stained to match the local gravels.

The conclusion: Piltdown Man was an audacious fake and a sophisticated scientific fraud.

We hold many documents and photographs relating to the Piltdown Man, including correspondence between Woodward Smith and Dr Oakley and communications within the Museum’s palaeontology department. The Museum also has a large collection of photographs of the original findings and cranial restoration. There are also a number of Museum publications on the Piltdown story.


Nevertheless, what you’re seeing is in color, just like your TV.

Requires red-and-blue stereo viewer.

So you know it’s true.


You Republicans and your underwear

If you entrusted your wealth and your women to Jeffrey Epstein, this advertisement’s roman fonts are for you.

Graham’s Lectures on Chastity, Specially Intended for the Serious Consideration of Young men and Parents, ed. James Coates. Glasgow: James Coates, n.d.,

But if your holdings are with Fox News, scroll down to the fine italic at the bottom.

It comes from an undated Scottish reprint of an American text by the health lecturer Sylvester Graham of Northampton, Massachusetts: 1834, second edition 1837. Whether you know it or not, Graham occupies a happy place in your kitchen. He is the man who gave his name to the Graham cracker. In his lifetime, however, he thought of small pleasures like that one as aspects of a much larger happiness. It may not have been mere commercial motives that placed his ads in America’s pioneer Abolitionist newspaper.

The Liberator, April 7, 1837, page 4

No; because Sylvester Graham conceived of happiness in what we’d probably recognize in 2021 as Republican terms: a liberation from bondage to bondage. You incels who reverently stood before cross and flag on January 6, 2021, believing yourselves worthy at last to track shit through the Capitol, what do you think? Way back in 1837, wasn’t Sylvester speaking for you? Here you are: described on Coates page 57, and then lovingly prescribed for.

The question is often asked,– Is it best for a young man, of suitable age and circumstances, to marry, when he is in a state of great debility and morbid irritability, resulting from self-pollution. To this I reply, as a general rule, that if a young man has so injured his body by any mode of venereal excess, as to be subject to involuntary emissions of semen on occasions of considerable excitement, or irritations of the parts from riding on horseback, or from other means, and also, to be subject to frequent nocturnal emissions, it is far safer and better to defer matrimony, and to avoid all dalliance and familiarity with females, till he has, by a rigorous adherence to the regimen laid down on the pages from 33 to 35, improved his health to such a degree that he is wholly relieved from his involuntary discharges by day and by night. Let him constantly push his exercise in the open air, so far as he can comfortably bear it. If he finds riding on horseback irritates the parts too much, let him avoid that sort of exercise. Where it can be done, regular labour on a farm is the best mode of exercise for such a person. To use the language of young people, if he is in love and courting, or engaged to be married, let him find some good excuse to go away from home, or, by some other means, which are honourable and kind towards his “sweetheart,” absent himself entirely from her, till he recovers from his difficulties, and is in a proper condition to marry.

By providing himself with a quantity of unbolted wheat-meal sea-bread, made very thin, he may with great advantage go a voyage to sea as a sailor.

Yes, the paragraph is only that single sentence. It stands before you as an oracle, chanting Know thyself; quaff thy nutritional supplements. You once were a mere Graham character, but now you have eaten of that which is unbolted. Making your congé from notional “sweetheart,” you have become your destiny: in this instance, as an extra picturesquely costumed as Leslie Fiedler in the scene from Two Years Before the Mast that got D. H. Lawrence classically off.

Ceteris paribus, of course, as Fox News’s legal department will have reminded you in the fine print.

Fall River Monitor, April 7, 1851, page 2

But doesn’t the magnet feel comfortable as it rusts away next to your skin?

The Grand Old Party assures you it does, by Jove. If it doesn’t, that’s what you get for being a pussy.