My Aunt Annie was our Auntie Maim, a strong personality, an independent business woman far ahead of her time. In the 30s the created a corset business in Philadelphia that was so successful her husband gave up his job to work there. Mr. Coggin she always called him. Aunt Annie was a member of what we call the middle class of her day, which was basically a sandwich, the class between the lower and the upper class.
From my reading today, I share the observation that a man’s power is what he can do for you or to you; but a woman’s power is what she will allow you to do to her or not. And Annie had tremendous power in that regard. A good capitalist, she invested wisely and never spent her principle. She helped most of her family stay afloat during the depression. Invested in my uncle Tommy and made him an established photographer in Tampa. Helped my sister’s husband through medical school (I don’t know why I’m getting off on Annie…)
Oh, wait…she was the Crown in our family. The center that held no matter what. So this brings me back to the Netflix The Crown…..the Center holds, no matter what.
America has been going through a roller coaster series of crises since JFK, because then we knew what it felt like to lose the Center. And then Nixon and the corruption of the Center, and then Clinton’s disrespect of the Office, and Bush’s rush to war, and the disrespect of Obama, and now Trump.
The British are blessed with their history and their social customs to carry them through crises; but America, being an immigrant nation is a mix of customs and people, so our customs have no anchor in history. We are subject to the upheaval of social changes—most of which we initiate—and even now, our institutions are under threat. In America there is no external Crown. In America we have to find the Crown within.
But there is another aspect to the Crown, that I just saw. A woman is putting the crown reserved for males on her head. Is this not a sign of what’s happening in our history now. Women are rising out of their “woman’s roles” and taking the reins to a wagon that has gone off the road. The Crown is this way is a metaphor for women who are now entering the male playing field and demanding a place at the head.
This conflict of roles was evident at the marriage of Elizabeth and Phillip where she, as the wife promised to obey her husband. In marriage there can only be one center at a time, and the wife defers to the husband as the decision maker traditionally.
My Aunt Annie was the decider. She always restored balance. She wore the crown.
The Crown is also about the death of the personal Ego, that little ME we value so much in our society. We hear a lot about duty, honor, country, especially from Gen. MacArthur’s farewell speech and the Republican right. Duty, honor, country. Since the 60s, the Left has been seen as the movement that broke up our social virtues and fixed place, where men were men and women were women, and you went to war and stood for the flag, no matter what. Duty, honor, country.
So you have on one side Queen Elizabeth and on the other side Princess Margaret, the rebel who wants to follow her own individual dream. This is our classic ambiguity of the modern age, the conflict between social obligations and individual obligations. Is it patriotic to obey no matter what or to follow my individual conscience? That is our modern dilemma.
Unfortunately, this existential conflict has been politicized into ideology, into religion, I might say. The question we have now is whether we can rise above this new political dichotomy that is like a dragon devouring its own tail, and find a transcendent Crown, a new center that contains the current contradictory pair of opposites.
A new Crown must arise in our society that unites the fragments into a new America. A new center must be born. The king is dead, long live the Queen.
Another dimension to the Crown is the willing surrender of one’s personality to the needs of society. This has a spiritual dimension: What are the needs of the moment? Does the Ego surrender to Just This? The Ego must give up its story of itself. But in the Crown, the personal ego must give its personal story to live in the story of the royal family, the Story of England. Individuality must surrender to the National Story, the role of monarch. One is paid well for this sacrifice, however, the Crown raises the question: is it worth it?