Pettifoggery and other barrator talents…

It quite astounds me to hear on American cable news that journalists are as strung out as I by the bickering politicians who rather than dedicate their ephemeral political lives to the common good prefer instead to the preserve a lifetime career. It creates a motley image of worldwide discontent. Though we inferior nationalists from the outlying city states resent having to cow-tow to the United States of America as the modern-day Roman Empire there is no denying that their ambitions – failed or successful – are perpetually intriguing.  Yet there is likewise no denying the frequency of Americans wishing to emigrate to Canada. We can derive some strength from the hardship endured at Reading Goal by one of our greatest literary minds Oscar Wilde.

And then at the height of his success, his star fell. On trial at the Old Bailey, he was convicted of indecent behaviour and sentenced to two years of hard labour, which ultimately broke his spirit and heart. Though he wrote two last pieces, now classics De Profundis and The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Wilde also said: “I wrote when I did not know life; now that I do know the meaning of life, I have no more to write. Life cannot be written, life can only be lived, I have lived.

Interest in Wilde spread across the ocean to America. Miss Mary Anderson, a New York actress, asked him to write a play for her. He began a five-act tragedy that developed into The Duchess of Padua. Soon after, he was invited to come to America himself to lecture on aesthetics. On his arrival he told the customs agent: “I have nothing to declare but my genius.

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born on 16th October 1854 at 21 Westland Row in Dublin.

Not insignificantly Wilde’s published writings elicited a hostile reaction from critics but they had popular appeal. It is perhaps similar social contradiction which has currently invaded the American populace in matters politic. I am however compelled to observe that Donald J. Trump – apart from his popular appeal – is in my opinion nowhere near the legend that is Oscar Wilde. It is also notable that Wilde held some sway with members of high society though often merely as entertainment paid in kind with a free meal in return for his witticisms at table. Trump, not entirely unlike Wilde, grew up in moderate privilege. It is painfully apt in Trump’s instance that “what’s bred in the bone will out in the flesh“. I needn’t detail the many accusations of employment impropriety of which Trump stands accused, nor the allegations of lasciviousness not to mention repeated bankruptcy.  His father – another borough businessman  – instructed skilfully.

His parents were Sir William Wilde, a successful aural surgeon and writer; and Jane Francesco Elgee, who translated and wrote poetry and called herself ‘the voice in poetry of all the people in Ireland.’ Oscar had two siblings, an older brother named Willie, and a sister, Isola, born when Oscar was two.

Oscar Wilde grew up in a household constantly full of Dublin’s artists and intellectuals. His mother regularly held a salon, and their artists, writers, intellectuals and members of the medical profession gathered.

In retrospect almost any historical event – whether pervasive or personal – is notable more for its result than its cause. It challenges the thought processes to lay out precisely what it is that drives each one of us. Broad interpretations such as conservative or liberal,  capitalism or socialism and even white or black have done nothing to reveal the deeper veins that propel us. But such veins indubitably exist. Their elixirs are at times brutal. It has been suggested that Trump has deliberately fashioned himself as “the guy you love to hate” and he allegedly maintains his constant front-page by creating division and dissension.

The question nonetheless remains in my mind – and I am entirely earnest in my inquiry, “What exactly is it that the Trump supporters see in him?” The thing about Wilde that I positively adore is that fateful statement of his:

Life cannot be written, life can only be lived, I have lived.

I especially like that his observation isn’t merely suggestive or instructional. It’s practically a post mortem! What we’re getting is a formula that is tried, tested and true! Naturally I haven’t any hesitancy to acknowledge the reputed and well-deserved accusation of fancifulness to Herr Wilde; but neither have I any doubt that the admission was heartfelt and represents the work of labour. It is at the very least a happy bit of wisdom.