Saturday, December 15, 2012

PROSE: Putting a Crown Princess Nanny to Work: A Comment to Maxim Thorne's "How the Crown Princess Nanny Could Help Us Avoid the Fiscal Cliff"

Not unlike the unorthodox behavior of the wife of the heir apparent of Norway to assist a friend, Maxim Thorne's piece "How the Crown Princess Nanny Could Help Us Avoid the Fiscal Cliff" is, too,"a complicated story with a lot a heart." Both the scholar and the Princess possess "a lot of heart," and Thorne deploys this rhetoric to signify not only her but also his willingness to engage in transgressive behavior for some higher purpose. Though we all know better, we all concede despite our collective knowledge that the human heart is the symbolic site where the soul of a human being resides and is the metaphorical center of one's emotional life. So, when Thorne describes Mette-Marit's story as one with "a lot of heart," he is essentially saying that the single-mother-turned-princess was possessed with the spirit, courage, and strength of character to think and act not only in terms of what is good for herself, but rather to think and act in terms of the common good. And I would argue that it took "a lot of heart" as well as spirit, courage, and strength of character to make the kind of intellectual leap needed to identify parallels between the behavior of a princess and our own modern American nation-state. 

Mette-Marit, Crown Princess of Norway
Strategically written only days before the end of the 2nd session of the 112th Congress, Thorn criss-crosses critical intellectual boundaries to remind us that our nation need not follow the self-destructive trajectory of Thelma and Louise, who decided to keep going rather than sacrifice personal freedom for some greater good. While it sho nuff took a lot of heart for Thelma to ask the question and for Louise to answer her question in the affirmative, it would have taken a great deal more heart for the two characters to turn around and sacrifice the self for some higher purpose, just as Mette-Marit sacrificed her identification with the monarchy by disguising herself as a someone from the working class--a nanny. In my imagination, I need not tell you who Thelma and Louise represent, and if I were to tell you, it would not matter one iota which character represented which political party. But this is not movie, and it offers none of us no comfort that Eric Cantor, a leading Republican in the House of Representative, promised that Congress would not adjourn without a fiscal cliff deal. 

Scene from Thelma and Louise, 1991
Thorne is our metaphorical detective Slocumb, who takes after Thelma and Louise on foot in a failed attempt to save them, but the car is driven over the cliff and the movie comes to an end. Not unlike Slocumb, Thorne attempts to remind us that the inability of governing authorities to govern and govern effectively is the kind of erosion and weathering in Washington that could lead reasonable men and women to create a fiscal cliff, (though some say that the combined effect of tax increases brought on by the expiration of the Bush Tax Cuts and spending cuts projected in the Budget Control Act of 2011 are more akin to a fiscal hill rather than a cliff). Rather than add to the hysteria, Thorne identifies a litany of small but mighty tactics by tacticians as diverse as graduate student philanthropists and a Fortune 500 corporation whose combined effects have the wherewithal to achieve real progress, and he is able to do so because history has taught him that Congress under the hypnotic spell of Wall Street is no different than the daredevil who foolishly attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in a steam-powered rocket, and history has also taught him that American institutions, and in particular those created to affirm, what he describes as our nation's, "philanthropic vision" were erected to mend broken bones. 

No comments:

Post a Comment