Wednesday’s Child: The Joy in a Worm’s Eye

In England a Member of Parliament otherwise not known for his folly told a newspaper some days ago that the expected Russian invasion of Ukraine would almost certainly result in a dramatic increase in the price of biscuits, which is what the British call cookies.  Ukraine, he explained, is a major exporter of wheat in Europe, and clearly logic, economics, and perhaps even botany were all on this watchful parliamentarian’s side.

I realize that ridiculing the worm’s eye view of the world is almost as perverse as ridiculing nature, who, if the worm does indeed have some kind of eye, has given it to him in the first place; perhaps intimating that, in its own way, it would serve him as well as the eagle eye serves the eagle. An American nursery rhyme comes to mind, with its moral that “if you’re a bird, be an early bird, but if you’re a worm, sleep late.”  The reality of life is such that a nursing mother, whose figure happens to loom large over me in these months on my child’s infancy, is incapable of seeing anything beyond the walls of the nursery, and to propose that she should do so is to argue with nature at its clearest.  Rather than feel contrite or apologetic, a new mother revels in her cloistered solipsism, and any suggestion that she “broaden the horizon” would be met with justified scorn.

Similarly, for a citizen in the context of a nation’s polity, broadening the horizon to include glimpses of the larger world beyond is neither invariably nor unquestionably a good thing, as more likely than not these glimpses will be but worm’s eye distortions, scattered throughout the public continuum by people no more worldly, knowledgeable, or farsighted than he is.  Broadening the horizon does not make a worm into an eagle, and it is far better to revel in the joys of unapologetic provincialism than to tell your neighbor that you love New York because it has so much energy.  The globally aware citizen then comes to resemble the Nabokov character in The Gift who, “like many unpaid windbags, thought he could combine the reports by paid windbags which he read in the newspapers into an orderly scheme, upon following which a logical and sober mind – in this case his mind – could with no effort explain and foresee a multitude of world events.”

There is, on the other hand, a citizen’s state of mind which may be defined as clinically delusional and politically suicidal parochialism.  Sweeping aside abundant evidence that he was simply a wicked person, I would cite Walter Duranty, the Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times correspondent who covered the genocidal famine in Ukraine in the early 1930’s, as the perfect example.  A man capable, in those historical circumstances, of filing a story on June 25, 1931, headlined “Red Army is Held No Menace to Peace,” and another, “Stalinism Solving Minorities Problems,” on the very next day, is a worm who is clearly enjoying life in his parochial puddle, the puddle in question here being the New York Times. Duranty’s insouciant mind is very much of our time, by the way, as evidenced by the Pulitzer committee’s recent refusal to rescind his prize on the grounds that in his dispatches “there was not clear and convincing evidence of deliberate deception.”  Oh, but of course there wasn’t.  A worm sees the world as he sees it, that’s all, and it’s just too bad that he happens to be a famous journalist.

Which brings us back to Tobias Ellwood, Member of Parliament and Conservative chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, worrying about the likely rise in the price of cookies.

Andrei Navrozov

Andrei Navrozov

16 Responses

  1. Michael Strenk says:

    M.P. Elwood is of the type who, in centuries past, would have advocated for the enclosure of the commons to suit the greed and ambition of his masters. Now, it seems that it is the sale and distribution of war materiel that will suit the same impulse, that and the reduction of Russia to complete impotence so that her resources can, once again, be plundered at cut rate prices, as they are now trying to do to Ukraine. It is no coincidence that the Western agricultural/chemical conglomerates have been foremost in pushing for the “liberation” (really annexation) of Ukraine. How quaint that M.P. Elwood should use grain as his cat’s paw. When did the English become so fond of biscuits? I would bet that it happened soon after the price dropped out of the grain market as a consequence of European agriculture recovering from the Napoleonic Wars. What else to do with all that excess than force it down the throats of the dispossessed who formerly ate milk and meat and subsequently bread and booze and biscuits. This would be about the same time that the British aristocracy came to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the banking interests, who are the main driving force to incorporate Ukraine into the Empire.

  2. Vince Cornell says:

    Now-a-days, it’s mostly unpaid windbags following the reports of other unpaid windbags on social media who are mostly following each other and, mixed in somewhere, paid windbags who are reporting on what the unpaid windbags are saying or doing. Sound and fury, indeed.

    Still, as much as I’d like to shut everything out and be a happy little worm keeping to myself, from medical mandates to globalist wars, the eagles keep insisting on doing everything they can to disrupt my soil and get in my worm business. Why can’t they just go back to being eagles, or, more accurately, buzzards? But I already know the answer. Damn Yankees.

  3. Robert Reavis says:

    ” as much as I’d like to shut everything out and be a happy little worm keeping to myself, from medical mandates to globalist wars, the eagles keep insisting on doing everything they can to disrupt my soil and get in my worm business. Why can’t they just go back to being eagles, or, more accurately, buzzards? But I already know the answer. Damn Yankees.” Priceless!!

    Dear Vince,
    I looked up the various translations for the quote, “I am a worm and no man,” after reading this little reflection Mr.Navrozov composed. There are so many I quit counting. It has always been a personal motto of mine and served me well up until just recently. I felt embarrassed for Mr. Trump the first time he ran for POTUS when he would say during campaign stops,” If I am elected, America will grow weary of winning!! ” Well he won very few early rounds and then of course was knocked completely out in the later rounds etc. Anyone posing as a winner today is either fundraising, mentally ill or a sure loser, there is very little great area. The poor Englishman mentioned by Mr Navrozov concerned about the rising costs of crumpets and those rock hard cookies used for high tea is no doubt a winner. Just another lucky winner.

  4. Dot says:

    Mr. Cornell:
    It would be nice if you left out “Damn Yankees” because I am one. A little civility goes a long way.

  5. Robert Reavis says:

    Dear Dot,
    Mr. Cornell can speak for himself of course but I certainly don’t consider you a yankee in the sense that hs used the cliche. It is not a geographical origin or even a preference for certain local customs but a type and you have never struck me as that type. The Clintons had strong ties to southern Arkansas at one time but they are still Yankees in the sense Vince used the term In fact we are all Yankees today in a certain sense although there are some more unwilling to admit it that than others.

  6. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    I did not know that Mrs. Delano was of Puritan New England background, though the De Lannoy family certainly played a prominent (if sometimes checkered) role in New England history. But I had assumed that Delano was a married name. Still, it is a strange world when Yankees can count as an underprivileged minority? They betray their country in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, conquer, destroy, and subjugate the richest part of the country during the War Between the States and then spend the next 100 years piously sucking their teeth about “the American dilemma.” The least one would think they could do is to take a little ribbing.

    I wonder if we are not being too hard about the poor MP. Isn’t part of his job to weigh the consequences of an aggressive war against a powerful nation, especially if it is in defense not of an historic nation like France or Poland but of a frontier region with no tradition of independence. The government of Louis XVI was perhaps too little concerned with the price of wheat and thus bread, and, while the Revolution might well have taken place in any case, his enemies saw to it that he lost a good deal of credibility. It is the job of a conservative with a defense portfolio to protect the well-being of the British people, not to prop up a corrupt Ukrainian regime with threats of war. Rationally estimating the likely outcome of even the justest of conflicts is one of the wiser provisions of just war theory, and, if Mr. Navrozov is correct about the danger posed by the Putin regime, the the UK and the nations of the EU had better think twice about what they are getting into. One thing they had better not count on is the eagerness of patriotic Americans to rescue them for the third time in 100 years (and a few more). For the independence of the Ukraine, I would not willingly contribute the price of a bag of Pepperidge Farm cookies.

  7. Dot says:

    No, I am not of Puritan background and am glad that I’m not, but it appears that the word Yankee is reserved for the northerner in an unpleasant light. My relatives came over here in hopes of a better life from Sao Miguel in the early 20th century. For the most part, their children did very well.
    I can take a little ribbing, but it wears thin when some writers still haven’t moved on past the 19th century and do not have the chutzpah to identify himself or herself. Treason? The most famous one was Arron Burr who killed Hamilton in a duel. It was his killing of Hamilton that brought dueling to an end in the Northern states but persisted for a longer time in the Southern states.

  8. Robert Reavis says:

    If the only thing the MP can come up with against the recent insanity of saber rattling for more young blood in the Ukraine is the inflationary cost of wheat, he is probably part of the problem. After all, our dear leader, Mr.Biden, is supervising high inflation rates at home while simply ignoring the invasion of his country’s southern border. I think the Ukrainians should adopt this more Western policy and simply allow only poor Russians dressed as civilians looking for a better way of life, more fertile opportunity, and jobs, jobs, jobs into their country. No Putin sympathizers dressed in military gear, of course, no mob types bringing drugs and ideology, no fentanyl pack mules, No sir, just poor poor Russians looking for a better life.. Or am I being too cynical?

  9. Dom says:

    Would that the blood to be spilled were for anything so tangible as a cookie.

  10. Michael Strenk says:

    I also live in the North, Dot, and likewise have no relatives who fought on either side of our nation’s definitive conflict, but, being in the Mid-Atlantic, I take solace from living in the land of Copperheads. Where-ever I travel in rural areas of the North I see Confederate battle flags and meet people who are much like the peoples of the South in many important ways.

    I am assuming Dot that you are no relation to FDR’s Delano grandfather (a Yankee in the finest tradition of Yankeedom) who is reputed to have made the family fortune ferrying slaves across the Atlantic and, losing that profit center, increased it in the opium trade.

  11. Dot says:

    Mr. Strenk
    My late husband was no relation to the Delano’s. He was Irish and that is another story. He died the day I retired from work. He was a chemist and had patents to his name.
    I tend to think that it was the Portuguese who ferried the slaves across the Atlantic and I am of Portuguese ancestry. I have never figured out who ordered the Portuguese to transport the slaves to the US. I know they travelled all over the Atlantic and Pacific, but I hate to believe they just picked them up and brought them here. They had to have been compensated for this.

    There is a reason why I identify only as Dot. Nobody needs to know my last name.

  12. Vince Cornell says:

    Ms. Dot,
    Please forgive me. You were certainly not who I had in mind. Of the many important and close people in my life, not a few are from the North, including many of the godparents to my children and my current pastor who, albeit he was born a New Yorker, has a car whose horn plays Dixie and has offered prayers at the Confederate cemetery every Memorial Day for at least 7 years. Likewise, I know more than my fair share of “Damn Yankees” who live in the South, including just down the road in Richmond or just up the road in Arlington county.

    As Mr. Reavis said, what is to be condemned is more of a universal quality one finds in Roundheads, New England Puritans, Abolitionists, Civil Rights do-gooders, and the modern day Woke-erati. It’s not bound primarily by region anymore and extends far back into our history (I always think of the “doctors” that won’t let poor Sancho Panza get a decent meal when he was governor as being “Damn Yankee Doctors”). Certainly I meant no disparagement to you or your family.

    Now, if we go to war with the Brits again then I take it all back and we’re all “Yanks” – at least until after we thump the redcoats for a third time.

  13. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Dot, you are decidedly not a Yankee. I don’t know a single Southern nationalist who has any animosity towards, for example, Greek or Italian, Irish or Polack Americans or even against most Midwesterners–the exception is the Yankeefied population of the Western Reserve, though of course the memory of Grover Cleveland is honored by people who know any history.

    To Vince C. My friend Forrest MacDonald used to say that when he was in Alabama, he was a Texan; in New York a Southerner, in England a Yankee, and, I suppose, in France an Anglo.

    Identity is peculiar, and it is hard for some people to resist the temptation to universalize it, as in hte late Sam Francis’ insistence on White Racial Consciousness. I don’t feel any solidarity with Muslin Chechens, much with the Ainu of Japan. As a Christian I am far more at home with African Christians than with American anti-Christians, and in the Midwest, where I live much of the year, I sometimes meet black Southern ex-pats with whom I feel more comfortable than with most people in the Midwest.

    Anthropologists speak of “cross-cutting” alliances and institutions that facilitate peaceful resolution in societies that are segmented vertically as, for example, the ancient Hebrews were. If two tribes were at war–as was frequently the case when they entered the Promised Land, it was hard to resolve their differences and fight the common enemies–Philistines, Edomites, Canaanites, et al. In the Biblical account, it is the emergence of the Judges, a term that seems to have associations with Phoenician magistracies–that allowed them to make peace and defend their territories. An essential aspect of this–one it is probably impossible to study–is the development of the sense of having a common religion, whose leaders were respected, no matter what tribe they belonged to.

    Here in America one might be a black Southern Catholic physician, with three sets of loyalties that may in many instances trump skin color. That is how things work, when they do work at all. Race, nation tribe, kinship, social class, profession, hobby–they are all the basis for friendship.

  14. andrei navrozov says:

    Tom, just for the record, here’s Tobias Ellwood in another mood: “Boris Johnson’s response to Russian aggression against Ukraine has been “more Chamberlain than Churchill”, the Conservative chair of the House of Commons Defence Committee has told The Independent.”

  15. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    More characteristic, certainly of his party. Here is a question to which I do not know the answer: Suppose Chamberlain had stayed in power throughout the war. Would his response to Uncle Joe have been as sycophantic and short-sighted as Churchill’s?

  16. Avatar photo Thomas Fleming says:

    Andrei, for the sake of clarification, perhaps I should add that I cannot think of a politician in the USA or UK whose statements or opinions interest me sufficiently to take them seriously. All that interests me is the implications of an argument, and it seems to me that the material interests of the Brits should mean more to an MP than the independence of an invented state or the success of a corrupt regime. I know little bout the new leadership in Germany, but I am willing to bet that their reluctance to rattle sabers is an exercise in Realpolitik rather than in cowardice or naivete.