Ex America semper aliquid novum

Malcolm reckons two elements should inspire a good blog offering:

The faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident. Also, the fact or an instance of such a discovery.

Well, so far, there’s nothing ‘happy’ to be extracted from the Newtown CT massacre.

Somewhere in there comes this, from the New York Times:

Newtown, incorporated in 1711, takes its child-friendly, Norman Rockwell ambience seriously. The all-purpose landmark is the downtown flagpole, which dates to 1876. Fat and packed with small-town ephemera, including weekly equestrian news, The Newtown Bee dates to 1877. Scrabble was developed in Newtown by a local lawyer, James Brunot, in 1948, who adapted an earlier version and changed its name from “Criss-Cross Words” to “Scrabble.”

That article is topped-and-tailed by references to a local business selling Christmas trees.

Scrabble, Christmas trees … it all seems so reasonable, so normal in an unreasonable, abnormal context. One has to reach to grasp a vestige of sanity.

For the record, it’s about 75 miles — say, around a hundred minutes driving time — from Stockbridge, Massachusetts (the Norman Rockwell home) to Newtown, Connecticut. Malcolm has to wonder what the late-period Rockwell would have drawn this weekend. It would be telling, caring, gentle, and incisive: it would be infused by some of that quiet anger — liberal angst, if one must —  that went into The Problem We All Live With, the painting of six-year-old Ruby Bridges going to school in New Orleans (and which hung for a while outside Obama’s Oval Office).

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Or perhaps it would reflect the earlier, Birthday Surprise:

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Here’s to those dedicated teachers who gave their all on Friday.

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1 Comment

Filed under broken society, civil rights, New York Times, Norman Rockwell, United States, US politics

One response to “Ex America semper aliquid novum

  1. Malcolm Redfellow

    It’s only on the second, third, or later view that one spots the board-rubber on the head of the kid in the red shirt (probably the one to push the envelope with that ‘Jonesy’).

    Message: mischief is constrained, but still latent. And it has its self-imposed limitations. That’s ‘social control’.

    And Miss Jones has her pupils sat alternately by gender.

    Rockwell is an old sentimentalist: but there’s usually a hard kernel in there somewhere. Any teacher will recognise numerous truths in this art-work.

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