Saturday, April 26, 2003

An excellent feeling came over Kramer, in every cell and every neural fiber. In that instant, the instant of that little swallow, his scuffed attaché case meant nothing, not did his clodhopper shoes nor his cheap suit nor his measly salary nor his New York accent nor his barbarisms and solecisms of speech. For in that moment he had something that these Wasp counselors, these immaculate Wall Street partners from the universe of the Currys & Goads & Pestersalls & Dunnings & Spongets & Leaches would never know and never feel the inexpressible pleasure of possessing. And they would remain silent and polite in the face of it, as they were right now, and they would swallow with fear when and if their time came. And he now understood what it was that gave him a momentary lift each morning as he saw the island fortress rise at the crest of the Grand Concourse from the gloom of the Bronx. For it was nothing less than Power, the same Power to which Abe Weiss himself was totally given over. It was the power of the government over the freedom of its subjects. To think of it in the abstract made it seem so theoretical and academic, but to feel it, to see the looks on their faces – as they stare back at you, courier and conduit of the Power – Arthur Rivera, Jimmy Dollard, Herbert 92X, and the guy called Pimp – even them – and now to see that little swallow of fright in a perfect neck worth millions – well, the poet has never sung of that ecstasy or even dreamed of it, and no prosecutor, no judge, no cop, no income-tax auditor will even enlighten him, for we dare not even mention it to one another, do we? – and yet we feel it and we know it every time they look at us with those eyes that beg for mercy or, if not mercy, Lord, dumb luck or capricious generosity. (Just one break!) What are all the limestone façades of Fifth Avenue and all the marble halls and stuffed-leather libraries and all the riches of Wall Street in the face of my control of your destiny and your helplessness in the face of the Power?

Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities (615-616)

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