I was of two minds

Like a tree, in which there are three blackbirds, but one of them is actually just a regular blackbird.

On the one hand, yesterday’s election results want me to take everyone by the shoulders and remind them:  Hey, it’s okay!   We still belong to one family, the family of man.  Life goes on.  Obama is just a guy, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Donna Summer, it’s that there is no guy who can make life not worth living.

But seriously, here is a book which reminds you most gorgeously of the timelessness of human experience, which perdures with dignity no matter which clown is in the oval office:

The Family of Man by Edward Steichen and Carl Sandburg

This is the book version of an exhibit which collected over 500 photos from 68 countries, interspersed with illuminating fragments of verse and prose.  I looked through this book maybe twelve thousand times when I was growing up, and I think I remember every single image in it.  I consider this book to be an absolutely essential part of a basic education.  There is no message; it simply shows you what life is like.  It’s completely accessible, not overly arty — but never descends into cliches.  Magnificent.

On the other hand, there is this (WARNING:  uses the f-word):



  1. I loved this book too, growing up but had completely forgotten about it until now. Oh, thanks so much for mentioning it! Now I know what I want for Christmas.

  2. I love this book too and, like you, looked at it a million times over the years. One year recently for Christmas my mom gave me her copy since she knew I loved it so.

  3. So the hard cover is awfully expensive, but I see there is a paperback version for less than $13….. Is the hard cover worth an extra $200?

    And Deadwood – ah! I loved so much of that series – David Milch’s dialogue has such a unique cadence, almost like iambic pentameter. We liked it enough we’ve at least tried every other thing he’s done, but I think it worked best in the Wild West…

  4. Who could resist a plug like that? Of course I am cursed with a message that comes up that says there is a problem with my Amazon password, which is not MY password because everyone uses my computer….Grrrr. And that’s what I also get for making my daughter (no longer here to make her do it) my computer techie.
    The only thing worse than Obama winning is PMS and Obama winning.
    Plus oldest son declaring that I truly don’t understand politics
    Plus, fourth kid glowering and wishing out loud that he could live at Grandma’s house where he wouldn’t have to do the kitchen.

      • Jenny, you are so sweet. We lost our little one at about six weeks. But to be frank, prepare for your forties, chances of miscarriage are more than 50%, past 45. Sad, but also in God’s hands… I’m confident there will be a happy reunion some day 🙂 And *no* I don’t know that I’m *not* pregnant, I’m too lazy to do NFP.

  5. Seriously love the clip. I needed that today. It’s been a long four years and we haven’t seen anything yet… Thanks for posting.

  6. Hitler. Hm. Yes, the Thing that Used to be Conservatism is really going to have to work to get out of the veil of unreality it has woven around itself. One good place to start is to stop imagining that Obama is Hitler. When “conservatives” say such ridiculous things, they place themselves in the position of the Boy Who Cried Wolf. Result: when they complain about Benghazi they get tuned out, even when they have a point. Stop living in illusion and start treating with reality.

  7. I love finding new poems due to your posts! I figured that first bit must be a reference to something and those handy Google tubes knew exactly what I was looking for.

  8. For a different view of The Family of Man, see the end of chapter one of Jacques Barzun’s The House of Intellect: “Whatever is formed and constituted (the work seems to say), whatever is adult, whatever exerts power, whatever is characteristically Western, whatever is unique or has a name, or embodies the complexity of thought, is of less interest and worth than what is native, common, and sensual; what is weak and confused; what is unhappy, anonymous, and elemental.”

  9. The clip made me laugh. I needed the laugh. And the reminder. “The world ends when you’re dead.” Well, that’s a way of looking at it… 😉 “stand like a man and give some back.” Not bad.

    My oldest child is almost nine. He’s got cerebral palsy. Do you know, I am more afraid of what the next four years will mean for him than I am anything else?

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