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OrdinaryTimes 1.44-Salon

In DC, honest dialogue happens in salon. A salon here isn’t a place where one connects to their inner hair drier. It’s supper and conversation, in the classic sense. A provocateur’s invited along with many appreciative listeners. We drink some wine, eat some pate, then swallow some supper and engage in off the record conversation. Tonight’s topic was foreign policy. Tonight’s provocateur had several decades of foreign policy experience. Personal friends with some of the higher-ups in the Chinese government. He once sent a cable to the then Secretary of State, saying, “Fuck you, strong message to follow.”

The news never quite captures the subtlety of the real-world. The real world seems to be inhabited with the remarkable people who quite selflessly engage in our best interests, though they might sometimes find themselves sideways to the politicals. We would be sunk without their audacity. We’re nearly sunk with it.

The theme of tonight’s salon was the reasonably inescapable fact the we are very, very good at creating enemies through our insistence that other countries behave like we behave on the world stage. But then, if they behave like us, we go and get offended. We, for instance, feel perfectly comfortable sending spy planes within three miles of Chinese territory, but if they sent a spy plane three miles off of San Diego or Puget Sound, we’d scream bloody murder.

The first rule of international diplomacy might be tit for tat, except we expect no tat for our tit. And we vilify anyone titting our tat, or tatting our tit. This foreign relations stuff gets complicated.

I’m just the cook, so I get to ask the juicy questions. When the provocateur suggests that we’re creating autistic opponents, I unh-unh poke my hand up and ask him to repeat what he just said to the general appreciation of all the foreign policy experts present.

Like I said, I’m just the cook, but the cook holds the spatula, and the spatula brings special privileges. I fed ‘em. I can question anyone without recrimination.

These people are sentient beings, smarter than a whole circus of whips. I’m the guy with the singed knuckles, but I still have standing. I chose the wine that lubricated the conversation. I created the space.

Salon isn’t really about the provocateur. It might be more about the conversation, not the topic of conversation. Salons are meta to the topic at hand. It’s about the questions I ask and the ones they ask and the web woven in response. It’s the relationships forged in between the questions and behind the conversations. I meet again, every time, people I care about and people who care about me. We are free in this society to speak dangerously subversive albeit completely honest perspectives, and to own what we see.

We are all making meaning here, some more emphatically than others. I salon for the emphasis, for the passion, for the perspective. Otherwise, I might conclude that I’m all alone here without an ounce of intellectual support.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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