A couple of years ago the nearest town to me honoured a local artist, not on any of his anniversaries, but on the centenary of having his statue erected in the Market Square. This they did by re-enacting the event in period Edwardian costume.
---- Who he was I won’t reveal, but he was very famous; but by now maybe 10% of the world would recognise that name — and this is as it should be, because since him there have been 10s of 1000s of artists and the new drives out the old. —
But it got me to wondering: in a hundred years how many of today’s events will be ‘re-enacted’ in quaint old early 2000s AD costume ? Even now the fashions of the 1990s seem ridiculous; and our descendants will wear far different modes and be despising of all we did. All I could come up with was George Bush’s Mission Accomplished piece of live art. And after re-enacting that, they will go home and explain to the kids who Mr. Bush was.
Apart from his half-blackness, very little will be recalled of the amiable Mr. Obama: not even that, after 6 more ethnic presidents ( if it lasts that long, which is unlikely ); and less still about his struggles with Congress, because what ordinary person gives a flying fuck about congressional quarrels of the 1840s ?; but if recalled, it will be fondly.
Presidents,* like the leaders of other countries*, have always had a stench of vulgarity, and this has intensified over the last 100 years: Mr. Clinton, the nadir of vulgarity, made Harding look like a fine old gentleman; George W. Bush recalled to me that paperback of Dead Souls where it was argued the hero was so banal he could be the Devil. Maybe it is as well these creatures are mayflies of but a day.
A favourite poem I unearthed by William Goldsmith Brown puts all this in context:.
Where, where will be the birds that sing
A hundred years to come ?
The flowers that now in beauty spring,
A hundred years to come ?*
We all within our graves shall sleep
A hundred years to come;
No living soul for us will weep,
A hundred years to come,
But other men our lands shall till,
And others then these streets will fill,
And other birds will sing as gay,
And bright the sun shine as to-day,
A hundred years to come.