This morning the Star Tribune editorial page brings us DFL consultant Randy Schubring on Senator Wellstone. Schubring is inspired by the fact that on the day before he died Senator Wellstone recommended James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men to a reporter covering him: “A final assignment from Prof. Wellstone.” Talk about a time warp! We are now entering Mister Peabody’s famous “wayback machine” from the incomparable “Rocky and Bullwinkle” show of our youth.
On this trip back to our youth with Mister Peabody and his pet boy Sherman, the Power Line trio recalls the iconic sixties paperback version of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men as one of the accessories we displayed prominently in our college room to exhibit our deep soulfulness, especially to visiting members of the opposite sex. We seem to recall that Agee idealized the poor Southerners he covered on assignment from Fortune, bathing them in poetic prose that was the perfect accompaniment to Walker Evans’ hagiographic photographs. In Agee’s prose, those poor people somehow never got around to rendering their views on social issues where they may have departed from the views of Manhattan liberals, and in Evans’ photogaphs, those were the cleanest poor people in the history of the world. I give Evans’ photographs the edge in realism, but Schubring’s view of the book has made him weepy again about Senator Wellstone. It’s made me weepy about my lost youth.
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