Monday, December 12, 2016

One Man's Meat by E.B. White

One Man’s Meat by E. B. White

Brian G. Fay - December 12, 2016

I've just finished my fifth or sixth go-through of One Man's Meat, E. B. White's essays from Harper's written in Maine (mostly) after he left New York and The New Yorker. I went back for one essay only to realize I have never read the book cover to cover despite it being my favorite of his. I set about remedying that situation knowing it would take a while.

A book of essays does not have the pull of a novel and I don't go one piece after another as I do with poetry. I set One Man's Meat at my bedside and read a couple essays a week until recently drawn to read more. The election did that.

As we elected a white supremacist , I read White's thoughts on Hitler. The two men are similar as are White’s and my thoughts about them. I had gone to the book to read "The Wave of The Future," a response to Anne Lindbergh's defense of fascism as a trend, like bobbed hair. White, unimpressed with such waves, decimated her argument.

Like White in 1940, I know enough about our new leadership not to wait, and see. These people disdain facts, chafe at questions, contradict themselves without explanation, bully any opposition, despise the meek, and do not follow The Constitution or the teachings of Jesus Christ.

One Man's Meat spans July 1938 to January 1943, four and a half years of transformation. Our next years will be as transformative and will call into question what it is to be American, democratic, and human. Late in "Bond Rally" White writes this about World War II: "And somewhere during the evening, I picked up a strong conviction that our side was going to win." I'm not as sure America can win or even survive the self-inflicted wound of this last election.

Toward the end of my reading I posted a quote that caught the attention of a friend who suggests we form the resistance. Maybe there is hope. E.B. White's account of a thoughtful man living close to the land but aware of the World is a good model of resistance, a light to follow. I'll read it again and again.