March 11, 2018

The Anxiety Clown.



I was looking for an image of an "anxiety clown," because I was speculating — at the end of the previous post — that the use of the epithet "clown" to describe your antagonists reveals your own anxiety. You may want to say that your opponent is stupid and ridiculous, but people are anxious about clowns, so you're saying — perhaps unwittingly — I am unnerved and scared of my opponent.

I really just wanted to add an image at the end of that other post, but I stumbled upon that picture of Joseph Grimaldi (18 December 1778 – 31 May 1837) — an English actor who "expanded the role of Clown in the harlequinade that formed part of British pantomimes." The Clown took on the name "Joey" (for Joseph) and "both the nickname and Grimaldi's whiteface make-up design were, and still are, used by other types of clowns."
Grimaldi became recognised as one of London's leading Clowns. Grimaldi originated the catchphrase "Here we are again!", which is still used in pantomime. He also was known for the mischievous catchphrase "Shall I?", which prompted audience members to respond "Yes!"
But what made me break out that image for a separate post was the caption: "Detail from hand-coloured etching by George Cruikshank (1792 – 1878), first published in the 19th century."

Cruikshank! Man, I love blogging! We were just talking about Cruikshank! Remember? "Snuffing Out Boney" and "At the Monstrosities Café."

You know, Grimaldi's Clown was — according to the above-linked Wikipedia article — "the 'undisputed agent' of chaos." There's a lot of chaos in blogging. You have to love the chaos — and not be anxious about it — to blog (really blog). And if you're living in the chaos, when things match up — harmony strikes — it's a full-body thrill,  like the "frisson" (or "aesthetic chills" that "roughly two-thirds" of us can get from music.

Do you get that? The frisson? From what? I'd read the articles on people who get it from music — it was a trending topic in May 2016 — and noticed that I hadn't been getting that from music lately. But just in these last few weeks, I've noticed myself getting chills from songs that, intellectually, I believe are below my actual, official taste level. Just yesterday, I got chills on repeated listenings to Richard Harris singing about Camelot, which I'd brought up in the comments here, after somebody had quoted an anti-Trumper's confession "I carry a little plastic Obama doll in my purse." And later that day, listening to the car radio as we drove out to Blue Mounds, I got chills over "Please Come To Boston" — a song I wasn't aware I especially admired. Back when it was a hit, in the 1970s, I probably turned off the radio if the song came on.

And isn't Trump a bit like that? He is for me. I don't particularly like him. I don't know why he should be assessed as any good at all. He seems like a ridiculous man who belongs in a past decade (the 80s). But in some confounding physical way, he hits a button.

I am reading the Wikipedia article on "Please Come to Boston," and I see it was the first single from [Dave Loggins's] album Apprentice (In a Musical Workshop)." The Apprentice! See? Random resonance, attainable through blogging. It's all only chaos, and coincidences are part of the randomness.
The three verses of the song are each a plea from the narrator to a woman he hopes will join him in, respectively, Boston, Denver, and Los Angeles, with each verse concluding: "She said 'No - boy would you come home to me'"; the woman's sentiment is elaborated on in the chorus which concludes with the line: "I'm the number one fan of the man from Tennessee." Tennessee is the home state of Dave Loggins, who has said of "Please Come to Boston" - "The story is almost true, except there wasn't anyone waiting so I made her up. In effect, making the longing for her stronger.... Some forty years later, I still vividly remember that night, and it was as if someone else was writing the song."
Someone else was writing the song... for a woman who did not exist. I just hope there really was a girl who holds the world in a paper cup.

Here we are again! Shall I? Yes!

ADDED: My hope that "there really was a girl who holds the world in a paper cup" doesn't work as a hope. I assumed there was only one Loggins, but there are 2 — the Dave Loggins of "Please Come to Boston" and the Kenny Loggins of the girl who holds the world in a paper cup in "Danny's Song." So there was a girl like that, but she wasn't Dave's. She wasn't Kenny's either. Kenny wrote the song for his brother Danny. The line "think I'm going to have a son," didn't refer to a son of Kenny's named Danny. The son was Danny's boy Colin. Colin was also the inspiration for "House at Pooh Corner":



In other late-breaking Loggins family news (to me), Kenny and Dave are second cousins. They're both 70 now.

AND: I'm confused by too many Loggins and too many log ins.

66 comments:

mockturtle said...

Does anyone not think clowns are creepy. Years ago a friend of mine invited a clown to her son's birthday party. The kids were terrified.

Michael K said...

A prominent clown was John Wayne Gacy, who was quite a clown and one who probably caused considerable anxiety.

Gacy became known as the "Killer Clown" because of his charitable services at fund-raising events, parades, and children's parties where he would dress as "Pogo the Clown", a character he had devised.

I don't know if he arrived in a "clown car."

roger said...

Chesney, also from Tennessee, does a live version.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCVOcQIkje8

roger said...

"A prominent clown was John Wayne Gacy, who was quite a clown and one who probably caused considerable anxiety."

clown culture appropriation


Ralph L said...

Doesn't Chesney have to change the pronouns?

Bill, Republic of Texas said...

Grimaldi originated the catchphrase "Here we are again!", which is still used in pantomime.

I guess I don't know the meaning of the word pantomime.

tcrosse said...

Pantomime:
BRITISH
a theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, that involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas.

Ralph L said...

The Comedia Dell'Arte shows up in so many British crime stories (Chesterton, Christie, Sayers) I really should have figured it out by now. Guess it's like cricket.

Ralph L said...

I have misplaced panto mine.

The Germans Have A Word For That. said...

"... a girl who holds the world in a paper cup."

See:

"Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass, they slip away across the universe..."*

Which may be akin to blogging.

As far as chaos: that song's chords are chaotic to play.

Sure, A7sus4 is easy (just sounds like it would be chaotic).

And the D chord is entry-level.

But the Bm and F#m are a pain in the ass: I hate chords where you have to 'capo' the strings with a finger.

Sure, it's easy when you use distortion: power chords, etc.

But playing it clean on an acoustic, with all of the strings ringing clean: I never could pull that off consistently.

(*I really dislike the Rufus Wainwright version of the song. Too prissy.)

The Germans have a word for this.

stever said...

I don't find my attraction to the personality of Donald Trump to be nearly as important as the fact that he is not HRC, and is driving all the right people crazy.

Grant said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Earnest Prole said...

Speaking of "Please Come to Boston," the late B.W. Stevenson of "My Maria" fame does a killer version.

tcrosse said...

The kids were terrified.

Blame It on Steven King.

tcrosse said...

There's an old story of the guy who goes to the Doctor complaining about very deep depression. Doc tells him to go see Grimaldi. That will cheer him ups. "But, I'm Grimaldi", he says.

Karga said...

Chaos... Clown... pantomime Prof. you are great...

mockturtle said...

The kids were terrified.

Blame It on Steven King.


This was before 'It' was release in 1986. Kids seem to instinctively know that clowns are creepy. Maybe not in a circus [do they still have those?] but close up.

Leslie Graves said...

This song bears a family resemblance to that Camelot piece if you want another frisson.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2rd8rRQqe0

Angle-Dyne, Angelic Buzzard said...

mockturtle: Maybe not in a circus [do they still have those?] but close up.

Yes, in a circus. They were still around when I was a kid. I remember my brother and I running away and hiding whenever some adult made noise about taking the kids to the circus.

Btw, "Clown World" has been a meme among internet deplorables for years. Remnick had best police his metaphors more carefully, lest some Red Guard thickie (but I repeat myself) gets triggered by the word "clown" and attempts to ruin his career.

Jim at said...

the fact that he is not HRC, and is driving all the right people crazy.

Exactly.

And point #2 is quickly surpassing point #1. Daily.

John Tuffnell said...

That Cruickshank painting has a touch of John Wayne Gacy about it.

Speaking of Cruickshank, US vs Cruickshank is a this-is-the-end-of-reconstruction era decision by SCOTUS that the 1st Amendment right to assembly and the 2nd Amendment apply only to the federal government, not the states, notwithstanding the 14th amendment and that unfortunate disagreement a decade earlier. That rather clownish holding led to Jim Crow and was later overturned in the New Deal era, and then again as applied to 2nd amendment rights in the McDonald v Chicago case in 2010.


Nonapod said...

I've never much liked clowns. I guess the clinical term is Coulrophobia.

LincolnTf said...

I never found clowns scary or amusing. They are boring.

Oso Negro said...

“I don’t know why he should be assessed as any good at all”.

Did you mean that he lacks moral worth as a human being? Or is it a comment on his job performance?

tcrosse said...

Speaking of chaos, maybe we could call the political equivalent of Brownian Motion as Trumpian Motion.

Ann Althouse said...

“This song bears a family resemblance to that Camelot piece if you want another frisson.”

Thanks! Can you believe I saw the original Broadway show of Man of La Mancha in the 60s?

As for Camelot, I never saw the original show, but I had the album, with Richard Burton, and listened to it many times.

Of course, I saw the movie.

I don’t consciously like this sort of thing much, and I actually try to resist the physical reaction because I think I shouldn’t be reacting so strongly to this sort of thing.

Drago said...

"...the fact that he is not HRC, and is driving all the right people crazy."

They were crazy long before Trump.

Trump is President because starting in late 2008 the lefties and their LLR allies thought they would never lose again and so they "let it all hang out baby"...and everyone else noticed.

chickelit said...

Serious students of Italian know that their word for clown, pagliaccio, derives from "bad strawman."

paglia + accio.

chickelit said...

Back when it was a hit, in the 1970s, I probably turned off the radio if the song came on.

Ah, but you were so much older then, you're younger than that now.

Ann Althouse said...

The English word “clown” comes from the same sources as “clod,” “clump,” and “clot.” The oldest meaning is a low class rustc sort of guy... a Trumper.

Mary Beth said...

Dave Loggins (Please Come to Boston) is, according to the internet, the second cousin of Kenny Loggins (Danny's Song).

David Begley said...

One doesn't need to like Trump to appreciate his policies and how he is actually accomplishing things that are good for the American people.

The guy is fearless and funny. Also an incredibly hard worker who gets stuff done at lightening speed.

And I love how he takes on the media and has put them in their place; the bottom of the heap. The media in America is a huge part of our decline. That's why the blogging world has been a godsend. Chaos and all.

Recall that incident where Rush Limbaugh cited something Ann wrote and he said, "Ann Althouse. She is from Wisconsin. She is a law professor. She has a blog. She's had it for some time now." I suppose 5 to 10 million people heard about the Althouse blog that day. That's way more than watch MSNBC or read the NYT.

As for me, I covered the campaign for Power Line. I don't have a real firm grasp on Power Line's numbers but hundreds of thousands of people (including many candidates) read my posts. And I had a completely different take than the MSM on the various events. The OWH and Register were the only regulars and they still missed many events. I also constantly and vocally called out Hillary, her husband and daughter for the liars and fakes that they are.

I love chaos.

Lexington Green said...

"I don’t consciously like this sort of thing much, and I actually try to resist the physical reaction because I think I shouldn’t be reacting so strongly to this sort of thing."

Don't do that. There are all kinds of things that are beautiful, that we think we are too cynical or sophisticated to appreciate. If you respond physically to a song, if you find yourself choked up, tearing up, that's real, it's authentic, and the desire to rationalize away something that's happening on a more visceral level is what you should be resisting.

Youth, and hope, and idealism fade away. If some piece of music or poetry or film revives that for a moment, treated as a gift, not something to fight against.

robother said...

Oh sure, Ann writes about clowns, chaos and frissons in a way that normalizes Trump or at least our strange attraction to him. But where does she write about the Established Order in a way that satisfies our longing for order and predictability and civility? I, ummm... order Ann to write about order!

John said...

In Amazon's great series Mrs Maisel one of the characters plays a comic whose shtick is a cleaning lady. One of her lines could have been written specifically for President Trump

People don't like me because I don't speak the queen's English

I speak Queens English

She then displays her central digit to the audience.

It's one of the things a lot of people, including me love about our president. Nobody can misunderstand him even if he speaks Queens English.

And a lot of us are happy to see hi giving the finger to the progfas.

Nope. Not tired yet. Don't expect to be any time in the foreseeable future, either

John Henry

Rob said...

"There's a lot of chaos in blogging." You know what else there's a lot of chaos in? Presidentin'.

wild chicken said...

I find myself liking Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.. of all things!..it was really lame and out of place in Butch Cassidy.

But kinda poignant now, and very musical.

Inga said...

“Speaking of Please Come to Boston”... the Bee Gee’s “Massachusetts” is much more likely to give me the chills, although “Please Come to Boston” is a beautiful song.

buwaya said...

That bit in "Camelot", that nostalgic reprise, sums up my attitude to the American situation. I am a sympathiser, and would be even if my worldly interests aren't so closely tied to your fate. Well, the whole world is, but that is a digression. But it is all very far gone now, and its not too early for nostalgia.

As for "Man of La Mancha" - it is what it is, the subject does not fit the form very well, and the music is, with some small exceptions, not very good. It isn't Mozart. But as popular tunes go they have retained an interesting depth. "Impossible Dream" is a much more "intellectual" sort of thing than the usual pop song ever was, and packs together not only an anthem to idealism but several cogent criticisms of it. And there is, still, at least a smidgen of Cervantes in "La Mancha", which is a good thing regardless of the quality of its padding.

One of the shows failings actually is that it had to play to an audience that can't really understand the context of, say, medieval Christian Europe, and that world is even more alien today. So the compromises made to a more conventional theatrical sentimentality. It sounds different to one brought up in a world closer to that of Cervantes.

I remember a high school religion class that discussed "Impossible Dream", along with Poe's "Eldorado" in the light of Christian doctrine. What is madness, what is obsession, what is devotion, and what is a worthy way to spend a life as a Christian. In a sense you could call both excellent analogies for the religious calling of the Christian clergy, and many of its pitfalls, including the tendency to "march into hell for a heavenly cause".

MayBee said...

I like calling people clowns because clowns are so ridiculous it makes the term sooooooo demeaning.

tim in vermont said...

That’s the same expression Phil Michelson always has on his face when he holds up a trophy after he wins.

MayBee said...

The song "Please Come to Boston" is so very sad. I almost can't listen to it.

Anonymous said...

There is an reason why Please Come to Boston sticks in the mind : it is a well crafted pop song with an interesting lyric married to a lovely tune. I get a good sense of what the object of his affection was like and why the relationship never worked. I ignored the song at the time, preferring what I considered more serious music, like Dylan and such.

Good songwriting shines through and lasts- the Beatles not only sang and performed well, but they were great songwriters. I love everything they ever did, most especially the pure pop stuff.

tim in vermont said...

It’s something around the eyes.

https://www.apnews.com/amp/0b88b2416a794ff199fc6c5a57679f90

buwaya said...

Btw, I once played Sancho Panza in a school production of "Man of La Mancha", my only turn on the stage. Sancho doesn't get to sing that much, which was just as well.

" Golden Helmet" is probably the bit thats truest to Cervantes.

buwaya said...

Unlike "Camelot", and for that matter unlike Cervantes, "Man of La Mancha" contains a very modern, anti-sexual harassment, almost feminist theme. A touch of "Handmaids Tale" decades before.

Parts of that show could have been made yesterday - or perhaps not, as this would be terribly "triggering" perhaps.

Birkel said...

Another Chuck thread?

Will Cate said...

I'd also punch away from that song -- and any other whiny sing/songwriter going on about Please come here, Please don't go, etc. "What happened to the rock?" my 14 yr. old self would say.

Michael K said...

The guy is fearless and funny. Also an incredibly hard worker who gets stuff done at lightening speed.

And I love how he takes on the media and has put them in their place; the bottom of the heap. The media in America is a huge part of our decline. That's why the blogging world has been a godsend. Chaos and all.


I followed your posts at Powerline and agree about Trump.

Only a billionaire whois a bit crazy would take on the Deep State, another term for the permanent bureaucracy and the intelligence apparatus.

Codevilla just called them "The Ruling Class" and that is OK too,

The assumption that the Trump support is just from white men with no college is just the left telling itself bedtime stories.

I have three degrees and you are a lawyer. They just don't know.

mockturtle said...

Trump won the white college educated male voter 53% to 39% for Clinton.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Scare the kids?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aiZtWrzibA

chickelit said...

Hillary won the white college educated female voter 51% to 45% source. Non-college educated and non-white women voted overwhelmingly for her. I don't think he's closed those gaps. There's still a lot of unrequited Trump hatred out there. I'm guessing it's daddy issues.

MadisonMan said...

My oldest brother bought the 45. This surprised me when I found it in his room (snooping little brother) because he never seemed interested in music.

I can sing the whole song. Fabulous tune and lyrics. I'm the #1 fan.

Bad Lieutenant said...

I don't think he's closed those gaps.


chick, please fact check, or typo scan.

chickelit said...

chick, please fact check, or typo scan.

I cited their facts. If you don't like them or were confused by the word "overwhelmingly," please cite. If you're you're concerned about the "daddy issues" remark, I said it was a guess.

David said...

From Wikipedia:

Grimaldi's father, Joseph Giuseppe Grimaldi (c. 1713–1788), an actor and dancer (known professionally as Giuseppe or "the Signor"), also made his way to London in around 1760.[6][n 2] His first London appearance was at the King's Theatre. He was later engaged by David Garrick to play Pantaloon in pantomimes at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, earning high praise,[8] and eventually became the ballet master there.[2] Grimaldi's mother, Rebecca Brooker, was born in Holborn in 1764.[9][n 3] She was apprenticed to Giuseppe Grimaldi in 1773 as a dancer and public speaker, and she became his mistress shortly afterwards, even though she was under 14[10] and he was about 60.[11]

Meeee Tooooo!

chickelit said...

@BL: If you're convinced that he has closed those gaps, please learn to use quotation marks or italics in your comments.

I wonder about you Althousians sometimes. I wonder if you live and especially work among people under 30.

walter said...

It was high time.
She wanted it.

Michael K said...

My oldest brother bought the 45. This surprised me when I found it in his room (snooping little brother) because he never seemed interested in music.

I read this and wondered why a Colt 1911 had anything to do with music.

pacwest said...

Whether he is a clown or not The Donald is "The Greatest Show on Earth".

Bad Lieutenant said...

Chick:

(from link) The majority of non-college educated white women (64%) voted for Trump, while 35% backed Clinton.

Apparently conflicts with your:

Hillary won the white college educated female voter 51% to 45% source. Non-college educated and non-white women voted overwhelmingly for her.

So I thought you misspoke. Non-college-educated (white) women went for Trump. (add college and still close)

Anyway, I guess I was remembering a different slicing of the pie, where it was broken down by marriage, and (white or all, probably white) married women went net for Trump.

Rusty said...

Which just goes to prove, Althouse that we are living in a fractal universe. Where everything is eventually connected to everything else in a giant, not well conceived, computer simulation.

Birkel said...

Crookshanks is the name of Hermione Granger's cat in the Harry Potter series.

I wonder if that is an homage to the artist, Cruikshank, from J.K. Rowling.

tim in vermont said...

I know it's a thing to cover songs done or written for the opposite sex to sing. (Good thing millennials don't know geometry or they would be lecturing me that there is no such thing as an "opposite sex" since the logic only works with binary genders!)

Anyway, Danny's Song sung by a woman is just wrong. It ruins the whole thing. Yeah, we know that women want to settle down and raise a family, that's dog bits man (heh) it's when the man wants to settle down and raise a family and buys into the whole melodrama that's interesting. It's like the old joke about how a lesbian brings a U-Haul on the second date.

None of the above logic obtains anymore, which is why the RomCom is dead as a genre.

MadisonMan said...

The random walk of this blog post and comment thread is awesome.

tim in vermont said...

"Gender irony" is what I am calling it, you need a little sometimes. Imagine the song "Respect" sung by a man. It would ruin it because suddenly all of the irony is gone from the song. I guess a goal of feminism is to destroy gender irony.