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Jena Against Thebes

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Jeffrey Jena is dropping Lit101 knowledge on us today, in service of a strained analogy that, while not quite as hilariously nonsensical as the stuff Skip Press comes up with, still makes a good effort.  Before we get into why Obama is just like Oedipus though, let me address this:

I was watching the President at Notre Dame a few weeks ago and hoping that one good Catholic student would rise in defense of the church and the unborn and do what the Jesuits teach best, question authority. I wanted just one strong Catholic woman to respectfully express her disappointment with the school’s decision to invite a man so at odds with many of the teachings of the church. It didn’t happen, or if it did I didn’t see it reported.

A few things:

1) No one staged a protest during the Notre Dame commencement because conservative  (or otherwise vehemently pro-life) students held an alternative ceremony, which was widely covered by AP, the cable nets, etc.  I even saw students from that ceremony interviewed on my own local Fox news.

2) “Good Catholic.”  Fuck yourself, Jeffrey Jena.  In ’99 or so, when George Bush started copping John Paul II’s “culture of life” line, he convientiently made it all about abortion.  The Pope’s call for a “culture of life” was also, clearly, a call for an end to the death penalty and euthanasia.  We all know George Bush’s record on the death penalty, and yet there was no national coverage of the (modest) protests staged by the Progressive Student Alliance, Pax Christi, and others when Bush delivered the 2002 commencement at Notre Dame.  There was no hand-wringing over the state of ND’s “Catholic character.”

3) Obama’s never personally overseen an abortion.  Can’t say the same of George Bush with regard to executions.

4) Notre Dame is not a Jesuit university.  It is a Holy Cross university.  This might seem like a nitpick, but there is an enormous difference.  One a “Good Catholic” would appreciate.

But enough of me nerding out over Catholicism (though I’d be happy to continue in the comments!)  Let’s get to the meat of Jena’s argument:

As I watched the address, and many of the events since, I realized that what we are all watching is the unfolding of a classical Greek drama. It is interesting to note that the early Greek tragedies started with a song of praise to the god Dionysus who was known to inspire ecstasy and madness. Perhaps our unfolding modern drama was begun by the mainstream media’s song of praise for Mr. Obama. Aristotle thought a good tragedy should arouse both fear and pity … anybody with me yet?

No, no one is with you.  Because you sound like a crazy person.  Not every goddamn thing in human culture is directly relatable to the narrow world of American electoral politics.  I don’t know when Big Hollywood contributors are going to realize that offering up an analogy between Obama and whatever random Wikipedia pages they opened that day doesn’t serve to illuminate anything other than their own wackness.

The first element in a classical tragedy is the noble hero or protagonist. The hero must appear at first to be perfect though he has a fatal flaw. The hero is driven to accomplish some great task but his flaw will make this go horribly awry. The protagonist in our tragedy is Mr. Obama. He is the modern Oedipus tortured by his abandonment as a child by his mother. He craves the love she showed for causes and others but not him. Rejection by his mother caused him to doubt his worthiness to be loved and develop low self esteem. I know that might sound a little nutty — how can someone who has risen so far have low self esteem? Many overachievers are driven by that same flaw. This character fault also may have led him to experiment with drugs and alcohol in his early years.

I’d love to know the basis for this bit of pop psychoanalysis.  Random pull-quotes from The Audacity of Hope that Jena got from an e-mail forward?  I always squirmed during the Bush years, whenever a fellow LIBTARD would try to tell me that Iraq was all about Bush’s daddy issues.  I’m pretty disappointed (though not entirely surprised) to see conservative commentators start in with the same bullshit.  I wonder how Jena would explain Bush’s experimentation with drugs and alcohol?  For SHAME, Bar, we never knew what an absentee mother you were.

At the same time he seeks the approval and love of that dead parent, Mr. Obama tries to prove that she was wrong to reject him. His desire to achieve has brought him to see his destiny as being a leader and a man that commands respect. He first tried to find this in community organizing and then in politics. His rise will prove his mother’s rejection of him to have been a mistake. His drive to achieve and win love and affection from a distant and cold mother is also what keeps him from denouncing his old friends like Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. If he rejects those who have accepted him he will be exactly like his mother when his whole life is a struggle to prove he is not.

The next element of tragedy is hubris. The hero feels entitled, that his abilities will allow him to overcome fate and to violate moral law without consequence. Mr. Obama, also like Oedipus, is afflicted by the sin of hubris. In Ancient Greece that overwhelming sense of pride and entitlement was considered not only a character flaw but was a crime. The Greeks felt that pride often led to poor judgment and unnecessary acts of violence against ones enemies. Acts of hubris were often hypocritical and would, in Greek drama, eventually lead to the protagonist’s downfall. We see this in Mr. Obama recent “date night” in New York City.

This bit is fantastic.  Yes, Jena.  Taking your wife for a weekend in New York is an affront to fate and gods!  Never has a world leader been so consumed by the sin of pride as to take his wife on a date.  Cover your children’s eyes!  Quelle horror!


Written by dieblucasdie

June 7, 2009 at 8:52 pm

One Response

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  1. “I always squirmed during the Bush years, whenever a fellow LIBTARD would try to tell me that Iraq was all about Bush’s daddy issues.”



    June 9, 2009 at 9:04 pm

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