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Saturday, September 30, 2017

Atlas Shrugged

Last week or so I blasted through ”The Fountainhead”. Ayn Rand. Is that her real name? Uh, Wikipedia… hm, something about Rosenbaum being like Rand in Cyrillic. Whatever. This week I went through “Atlas Shrugged.” I say went through, because audiobooks can be played at double speed. Where have you been all my life, audiobooks at double speed? I’ve looked online for triple, but can’t find an app. VLC can play at 4x, but there’s too much distortion. Light fiction is good at up to 3.5x – but you do have to pay closer attention. Depends on the reader. Man. Do. They. Ever. Read. Slooooooooooooooooooooow. I looked it up. The publishers want it read at a speed that 90% of the public can understand. I hope they mean, of the reading public. I wish they meant it. I think they are seeking to include the genuinely retarded. That’s very PC and all, but appreciate the irony – Atlas Shrugged read slowly. Prsnlly, I wld jst prfr tht t b spd p, frm th pbllshr. snt thr ny wy t ll t rd t fstr? Wsh thr wr – myb a lttr wrtng cmpgn?

 It’s my expectation that languages that have shorter words must make people think faster. That’s the case with Japanese – shorter names of numbers make calculations faster. I am an Esperantisto, but that’s cuz it takes about a day to learn the language. If it were practical, which it isn’t, an artificial language with short words and precise grammar would be heavenly. Bloqxch gla*ck kreg ug qEarthp schmer a'g luthe #epg. Klingon for I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he shall stand upon the earth. That may not seem so very much shorter, but it includes the exact galactic coordinates and weight in metric tonnes for Earth, and the date of the Crucifixion and of the Second Coming, and the genealogy of Jesus, and the current location of the Ark of the Covenant, and a refutation of the gnostic idea that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and went to live in Glastonbury. Oh, what a tool is mood and inflection.

 John Galt, Rand’s Doc Savage superman, is just a libertarian Jesus. Of course, Jesus was libertarian. Speak the truth, have integrity, make your destiny by your choices, etc. Rand, an atheist ideologue, is clear about the antagonism between justice and mercy. I expect she had no capacity for apprehending grace. That’s why her work is a utopian fantasy, rather than mere polemic or satire. What, you say dystopian? Potato potato.

 Rand had no capacity for blue-pencil editing, whatsoever. 1200 pages. Should be about 400 max. She never wrote a scene that didn’t include every thought that could be thought. She said the same things over and over and over again, just using different words. She’s a very good writer. But she had no characters, only voicers of positions. Everyone is perfectly articulate. This in itself is inauthentic, but she wasn’t really an artist. An ideologue. I kid you not, she has a chapter toward the end – oh, page eight- or nine-hundred – in which John Galt give a three hour radio speech, of which all three hours are recorded. People, it seems, in her world, do not converse, but exchange declarations.

 I’ve done quite a bit of non-fiction writing. I have several gifts, one of which is organization. When I’m revising formal writing (not these little occasional things), I’ll bring two paragraphs together (hm, now where does this belong) and sometimes they say exactly the same thing, with different words. Since I’m not writing for children, once is enough. Sometimes a single word from a sentence is all that needs salvaging. Or the better of several examples. Point is, not every way of saying every thing.

Pick the best, most clear, lucid, appropriate, illustrative, apt, edifying, articulate, instructive, appropriate, explanatory, apt way, and say it. (Weird how such words love to start with vowels.) Rand has her mouthpiece characters demonstrate their passion by mounting up synonyms, as if too caught up in their brilliance to pick the right word, so they repeat a bunch of approximations. That would be fine, as a trait of one, or two, characters. Any more, and it’s the seams of her craftsmanship being obvious. The effect of such thesaurus writing is to trace out a silhouette, and never delve to the heart of the matter. Like a balloon – all surface, no weight, afraid of a point.  The word is, incisive. I’d be making too much of a style issue, except the dang book is a half million words long. My longest book was only a quarter million. On Evolutionism.

 Very good. Funny. Smart. Right. Right, as a corrective. I suspect she and I have similar styles. I know I’ve been saying her sort of thing for decades. We have arrived at similar conclusions. I was no doubt influence by her, indirectly – she does after all precede me by half a century. But a smart severe abridgment would make Atlas Shrugged a much better work of art. As with Moby Dick. Which is one-third as long. Whuh-huh?

 Have you missed me?

 J

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

An email to my father

I have always taken pride in my son. He has always been a blessing to me. On the day he was born, I remember seeing, like the revelation of joy, that the sky had never been so blue. So simple a thing. But I had been given what I’d always known I needed. Someone to love, and to value as much as they are worth. For a number of weeks after he was born, it puzzled my why I loved him so much. Then I figured out that it was because he was mine, and that this love is just instinct, common to every normal person. Then I understood that as he grew, he would show the individual he was, more than just my own offspring, and I would love that person, even more. This is normal, but not really common.

When he was little I took joy in his innocence and sweet temperament. When he was a teenager I respected his independence and self-confidence. I watched him grow into integrity, and there was not one single time when I was ashamed of him, or fretful for his future. I have watched him mature out of his teenage arrogance, and now, as always, when I think of him I smile.

No one else’s negative judgments mattered to me. Ignoramuses are to be ignored. I remember a friend asked me about some behavior I allowed little N to do, and I only then realized that it wasn’t appropriate, and I learned from it. We don’t learn from preaching, but from repentance. I am secure enough in all this to be amused at the memory of anyone who disagreed with how I was raising my son. Time has of course proven me right, but that was a foregone conclusion. This is not arrogance on my part, but contentment.

I listened to his opinions. I had earplugs for when there was shrill childish yammering, and if there was more than a little whining, I shut it down. There was very little, and very mild, punishment, because there was self-control. I never had to spank him. I would have, but it was never necessary, because he was never incorrigible. Mistakes were fine – that’s how people grow.

As a teenager there were only a very few times when he overstepped himself, and even then he did not break the one single rule that I had always had. No disrespect, ever, for any reason. This was fair, because I never gave him cause for disrespect. I made mistakes, but I’m sure that almost always I recognized and apologized for them. ‘When I said such and such, I was impatient. I’m sorry, N.” This is integrity. I never lied to him, or tricked him, or used him to meet some selfish need of my own. That would be disrespect, and what is valuable should be valued.

My reward for my very easy truthfulness was that, to my knowledge, he never lied to me either. Because he was smart, he might several times have attempted to use words to create a misleading assumption. I did not press him, because another of my traits as a father was to allow disagreement. N was too valuable to be used as a tool or a puppet or a clone. That he is very like me in many ways is only natural. It was never demanded or forced. It gives me great pride to recognize his independent intellect. It is very like my own. Good.

I know N, and he knows me, because we trust each other, because a lifetime of observation and experience has taught us that it is appropriate. Love is a cheap and easy word. Trust is dangerous and expensive. Love, it is true, never dies. But trust can be destroyed, completely, and never repaired. There comes a point when time is up, and there are no more chances, for all that there may be forgiveness. To me, it is infinitely more meaningful that I trust N, than that I love him. People love dogs – trust doesn’t apply, since dogs are not capable of betrayal. If N were a trashy or disappointing person, I’d love him just as much. Love isn’t earned. Trust is.

Because I am such a strange man, I had to give birth to my best friend. Because I am strange, I see him rarely, and don’t need more. Although it’s nice. I don’t need him, but I’m grateful to have him. Our conversations are virtually never about the past. We like information. I always respected his privacy, and he certainly didn’t need to be burdened with my painful and stupid unresolved details from long ago. If he were interested, he could ask. No need – the past exists to teach, not to control. N knows me because he knows my character. Anything else is just gossip.

What I am deeply gratified for is that from the day of his birth I had the common sense to recognize him, for himself, as a worthwhile person. More meaningful than loving him, I liked him. He was never just an extension of myself. What I believe is that it was my, frankly, admiration of him that made him admirable. He lived up to my expectation. He has my sense of humor. He has my love of truth and honesty, of facts, of integrity, of organization and efficiency, of reality. Like me he has no patience for delusions or manipulation. He is kind in a practical way.

A story that I tell is how, when he was a young teenager, we were having a conversation, and he said of one of his schoolfellows, “There’s nothing … honorable about him.” I said, “Hm, that’s too bad.” Inside I was screaming with pride. He didn’t say this because he was trying to impress me. I did not preach and lecture about honor. He had learned to recognize good character, or its absence.

I joke, but I mean it, when I say that his excellence is my excellence. I can say this because my honesty is his honesty, learned by example, and my patience is his diligence. The blessing that I was to him, blessed him. I did that. On purpose. Not only as a plan, but because there could never be anything more important. An infant comes fresh from God. God says, ‘Here, I’m entrusting you with one of my babies for a time. Take care of him for me.’ I did. When I stand before God on the day of my judgement, it will be as one through fire. But for this one thing at least, the father that I was, I will hear the only thing I want to hear. “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Very few people live up to their potential. So much emotional clutter – negativity, regret, self-pity, blame, unforgiveness. It’s ugly, of course, and destructive, and hard to cure, like leprosy. I avoid ugliness as much as I can. Some people believe in curses. I blessed my son, and he is blessed. One of the several things that I am deeply proud of in myself is that N is actually making himself worthy of his gifts. Nobody is free of pain or of shoddy behaviors. But N more than any man I know is working actively to be the man I raised him to be. He is a better man than I am. No father could ever ask for more.


J

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Starting My First Novel

It was a dark and stormy night.

[No.]

The night was dark, so very dark, and quite stormy. ... It -- by which is meant the night -- was stormy and dark. ... The darkness of the night was so dark, and the storminess made the darkness seem that much darker and more nightlike.

[Yikes. It just gets worse.]

Dark and stormy, the night screamed like a ravished virgin. ... The dark, stormy night ranted madly in a barometric tantrum.


[Ugh.]

It was an ebonic nocturnal tempest. ... The stygian typhoon of eventide...

[No, no, no.] 

Prosopopeic fuliginous Nyx, enceinte as it were with lachrymal lamia farouche as Hecate, disbosomed upon her terrene demiorb an empyreal borasque.


[Huh?]

Dark storm roiled through the night, stirring up ghosts untroubled since pagan times

[Pagans?! At least it isn't pirates.]

Dark the night was, and stormy -- aye.

[Dang.]

O Thou, Night of Dark Storm, whither goest? -- whence cometh thine exudations of witching Strife?

[Unbe-freakin-lievable.]

It all started on a dark night that was stormy.

[Um ... no.]

I never would, or could, have dreamed, or believed, that anything like it could ever have had happened, to somebody, anybody at all, really, such as myself, but, man, oh, man, believe you me, it really, truly, did happen, and not too very long ago, either, and, not only that, but, also, what’s more, it happened to me, too, one dark, and stormy, night!

[Ack!!]

"Take me! Take me now, you big man!" moaned Stormie Knight darkly as she threw herself panting and naked onto the hot wet sand.


[Hmm. I'll deal with this later.]

The night swayed into my office on dark clouds like your mother never wanted you to see. A lacy froth of storm just barely held back the thrusting silky light of the soft, full moon. Brother, could I feel the wind rising, and how.

[How ... noir.]

Dark, stormy night rolled madding over the wuthering moor, heedless of the heather blooms.

[Yeah, great -- and here’s Heathcliff wending soulfully through the tuffets.]

Darkness muffled the stormy night, damping dreams as well as earth.

[...and breeding lilacs out of the dead land.]

It was the best of dark and stormy nights, it was the worst of dark and stormy nights.

Once upon a dark and stormy night dreary, while I pondered weak...

To be a dark and stormy night, or not to be a dark...

Let us go then, you and I, when the dark and stormy night is spread out against the sky... 

Call me a dark and stormy night.

Mother died today, or maybe last dark and stormy night -- I can't be sure.
 

These are the dark and stormy nights that try men’s souls.
 

In the beginning, it was a dark and stormy night.

~~~~~

It hadn’t rained for months, and the hard bright sunlight streaming all day through the window was harsh enough finally to kill the fat angry fly that clattered around in the dry air like a broken shopping cart. But now the sun had fallen, and night with it. Somewhere out of the Pacific, storm clouds crept through the darkness and laid hold of the sky.
 

Rain was falling.
 

It was almost comical, slopping down in a deliberate drench. I could picture the dark fairies hidden just above the backdrop of the clouds, giggling and snorting to each other, gleeful with malice, scooping out great wooden bucketfulls from the waters of the firmament. You just don’t expect government workers to try so hard. A light mist, a drizzle, maybe even a few scattered showers. The minimum, just to meet the quota. Certainly nothing as exuberant as this.
 

I smiled. Odd, how we smile outloud. Even when a man's so sick of himself he can barely breathe, he still acts out his little pantomimes. No one’s there, no one watching, no audience. Yet he talks to himself, smiles when he's alone. His inner life spills out, overflows, too much to be contained. Witness me, O Creation! I’m so interesting!
 

No one’s watching. No flies, no peeping toms, no fairies or angels or demons or ghosts. I didn’t see any. Well, maybe ghosts.
 

And still the rain falls.
 

I was in my office. I’d just wrapped up the Svenson case, and for the past few days I found myself with nothing to do. I was out of whiskey. I lit another cigarette. It was a dark and stormy night.
 

A knock sounded at the door. Goodness, who can it be at this late hour? ...




J

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The T Word

So today there was yet another terror attack in London.  I only caught the end of the news report, but no mystery about filling in the blanks.  Mere details.  Only four dead -- not sure if the mystery person is counted among them.  Yes, it is a mystery.  Who, who, who could it be?  A middle-aged female dental hygienist?  A rogue Eagle Scout from Texas?  Only time will tell.

The official-sounding statement from the government referenced rule of law and tolerance and never succumbing and never being totally wiped out.  All very fine.  But it set a train of thought rolling.

An easy point, but I have a good example.  There is no place  for a mention of tolerance in a situation like this.  Tolerance can only refer to something that is obnoxious.  Nothing neutral can be tolerated.  So where exactly, here, would tolerance fit?  Nowhere.  Regardless of how merely annoying we find something, terrorism is of a different order.  The good example is this:  we do not tolerate the fact that one cloud, this one, has a different shape than another, that one. There may be a preference, somehow -- but how could there be any aversion? We tolerate that someone is kicking the back of our chair, or speaking in a loud rude voice.

We tolerate the fact that abortionists kill human fetuses legally.  Ah, the wacky irony -- destroy a bald eagle egg and you go to the penitentiary.  Truth is funnier than fiction.

So far, as with eagle eggs, we do not tolerate the actual exploits of terrorists.  We do tolerate their presence, in obvious potential.   We tolerate the individuals on our watch lists.

We somehow didn't die from our staple diet of poison.  I wonder if we will recover?


J

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A Reminder:

[And because I seem to be in a mood to reminisce, remember Beslan?  Which earned its place of honor in the Annals of the Heroes of Islamism by virtue of its convenient and easy accessibility?]

=====

Beslan. As a tourist spot it makes a great train station.

But people of a certain description looked upon it as a marvelous land of opportunity. Here's what they did with the school's gym:
That's an explosive charge hanging between the hoops. Hope nothing happens.



Oops. Hope it wasn't on purpose.



Well, maybe she's crying about her job?



Oh.







How we cling to each other.



And to God.



Does it do any good?


*****


Beslan

Such passion is normal, and stirs the
blood like wine – think of it as exercise.
And yes that is blood, but after all, death is just
a part of the great circle anyway.
And it’s an interesting anatomy
lesson – look at the ears, look at the spine.
And look at the foolishness in the fingers of his right hand.

Well, no matter: because there is no evil,
this









never happened.


[9/7/04]

______



Sometimes I do go a little mad.

Forgive me for that, will you?


J

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"I think never killed."

[I wrote this 10 years ago.  Does it hold up?  Is the world very much changed?] 

=====

We saw it almost 20 years ago with Tiananmen Square. A spontaneous groundswell, a great yearning for freedom. Sometimes Asians yearn to be free.

And why not? There is such a thing in the world. We have it. We are an example. A beacon.

It is our heritage.


We are an inspiration.


It was over 18 years ago now, so I can talk about it. Because words have meaning, and actions have consequences. Because sometimes things don't go according to plan. Sometimes life seems more important than liberty.




Hm. Why are these young men hiding from those soldiers?





A student. In the process of being beaten to death.





A grad student.





It has the rough beauty of skewed symmetry.







When the tanks start rolling.





This is a human body.





This is grief. And courage.




Between 200 and 10,000 killed. Sort of a big margin of error, but it wasn't quite yet the internet age. Well, no matter. If there's one thing the world has plenty of, it's chinamen. If they don't value their own people, why should we.

Maybe I'm young, but I'm sorta sick of all the meaningless governmental protests. We are aware of the situation.... We are concerned.... We are monitoring events.... We are busy feeling up pageboys....

So we have the talkers.

Then we have this young man. This man.



We've seen what tank treads can do.


Let's look at him.
What's that in his hand? A clarinet case?


And this, in his right hand --
--his shopping? No, a jacket.


Let's study him. Because it's not so often that we get to see a hero. Maybe we'll learn something.


Ah. That's what heroes do. Know what he's saying? "Go away. My city is in chaos because of you. Stop killing my people."

Some claim his name is or was Wang Weilin, a student, age 19. Some reports have him as shot within weeks of this event. Some have him hiding in China or Taiwan. When asked of his fate by Barbara Walters in 1990, Jiang Zemin, CCP General Secretary -- that's like what Stalin was -- said, "I think never killed."

Anonymity swallows him like death.

Before the tanks really started to roll, the art students built a 30-foot plaster statue. The Goddess of Democracy.
She needs both hands to carry the torch. Liberty doesn't start out strong.


Those poor naive children. It was ground to rubble by the tanks.

If I had the computer and graphic skills, I would put this picture in the banner of Forgotten Prophets. Forlorn Idealists.  But I have only words. Like the rest of the world.

And now Burma. Maybe I'll have something to say about Burma, in 18 years.

=====

[Well, the specifics are dated.  Even the event -- almost 30 years ago now.  Doesn't seem so long.  We're not hearing so much about congressmen wanting to date pageboys.  And what the hell ever happened to Burma? I have nothing to say, after 10 years.  Now, though, we can switch the word for, say, Aleppo.  And we can be sure that some sexy scandal will be revealed, by the bigoted  media, against you-know-who.  Ah well.  Every day provides ample inspiration, for those who would profit by it.  Or we could quibble about trivialities.  Whatever.]


J

Sunday, January 29, 2017

RG

[I was given cause to recall various recent-history monsters, recently.  A little stroll down memory lane, then, from five years ago.]

===

Why is it always Hitler? Stalin was worse. So was Mao. But those are just the big names. I thought of Idi Amin, whom you probably don't even remember.

Maybe from SNL sketches.

He did love the medals, that Idi. I think I see a Vlasics Pickles jarlid over on his mid lower chest area. No, lower. Lower. At the bottom. We'll call it chest. Perhaps half a million killed. Hard to keep track. He died in 2003, in Jeddah. He was demented even back when he was in power, but he died utterly insane, from syphilitic degeneration.

There's Che. What, you thought he was heroic?

You shouldn't let your political opinions be formed by teeshirts. This is how I like to remember him:

But Che doesn't really rank up there with the big monsters. Not enough power. Sufficient evil, but not enough time.

The one I latched onto though was Pol Pot, whose face you wouldn't even recognize.


Not a bad looking man. An air of confidence will do that. You didn't know the face, but you'd heard the name. And you loved the movie. The Killing Fields. Pol Pot was the author, or rather the inspiration.

Allow me to introduce you to some of the denizens, if that's the right word ... no, it isn't. But here are some of the people whose bones cluttered those fields.

Look again. Look close. Closer. Make eye-contact. Linger.

I apologize for the poor quality of the pictures. They're from the '70s, but the circumstances must have been a tad constrained. All of these children were tortured to death.

What a world.


J

Friday, January 27, 2017

aMERICA fIRST

Even when he's wrong, Charles Krauthammer is worth reading.  As with Trump.  I disengaged for several presidential cycles, not wishing to witness the ongoing sodomistic gangbanging of America.  Now this leftist ritual occurs only in the inner city and on uni campuses and on CNN and MSNBC and the NYT and the Post and, and, you know, those sorts of places.  It's not coming from the Executive Mansion, is my point.  Krauthammer should be doing backflips.  Oh.  Well, in an ideal world he should be.  But that is also the point.  It's not an ideal world, and we must must must be grovel-grateful for those blessing that harm us but do not kill us.

These  sausage-skinned commissars who have hacked their way to legislative preeminence  are to be excused.  They are evil and stupid, and irredeemably given over to their hatreds. It's understandable, and to be overlooked.  They must have been abused as children.  Obama could not help it.  He came from a broken home, abandoned by his father and brainwashed in a madras -- you'd be crazy too.  And after all, pernicious parasites and toxic bacilli do have their place in the scheme of things.  We have to die of something.  Overpopulation is as great a hazard as Climatechange, and never truer words were spoken than these, that humanity is a carbon-generating virus.  So fire fights fire.  Hantavirus to counter Humavirus.  Obviously.

Therefore it's not completely crazy to hate America and humanity, and love welfare queens and drug dealers and abortionists.  There is a non-Aristotelian logic to it, dispensing with observation and evidence and organization, and trusting in the heart and the innate goodness of all people who are minorities or liberals.  (I realize that I'm being self-contradictory, but only a denier would have a problem with that.)

Krauthammer, on the other hand, doesn't have the excuse of being irrational.  So he must have other reasons for being, to my eye, resolvedly against Trump.  He does not couch his criticism in emotional terms.  From what I've read and seen, he objects to Trump's character.  Well, so do I.  Trump's character is a caricature -- equivalent to a stump-fingered cigar-chomping plutocrat in a top hat.  Not that, but equivalent.  He's a vulgarian who actually paid his own money for a gold-plated toilet seat in his jet.  To which I reply, so what.  Not my concern.  I can see better uses for the money, but he earned it.  Is he an adulterer?  I don't know.  The question is moot, thanks to bill clinton.  Does he lie, or hyperbolize, or whatever the word may be?  That's how he is, and it will not change.  The response to that objection is well-known by now: Trump-deniers take him literally but not seriously, realists take him seriously but not literally.

Where is Krauthammer, here?  He makes a point of objecting to Trump's 'America First' trope -- the objection being, primarily I suppose, the historical implications of that term.  Lindbergh and the American isolationists of the Hitler era.  What is that, nearly 80 years ago?  Too soon?  Someone pointed out that a Hillary slogan was 'Stronger Together' -- which was Mussolini's fascist motto.  (Literally: the bundled sticks of the fasces gave fascism its very name -- they are, you see, forti insieme.)  The rePress didn't condescend to endlessly echo that coincidence -- too diligently  emphasizing how deplorable were and remain a  largest minority of the American voting population.

What ever shall the World think of us, with our yellow-comb-overed commantweeter-in-chief, with his long red ties and his flapping lapels?   I imagine, Dr. Krauthammer, that they will think what they always have: America is gauche and callow and careless and wasteful, and to be resented for our history and our wealth and our arrogance -- and to be relied on when there is need.  Trump is implying, sometimes, that such a need may not be answered, next time.  Gratitude and actual tokens of friendship may be required, first or concomitantly.  You know, as if there were negotiations and treaties and mechanisms of enforcement and accountability for deceit.

I don't have a problem with this.  I don't care if Trump brags about the size of his hands (and by implication of his penis).  I don't care if it is a comb-over or just an incredible simulation.  I don't care if Mexico pays for a wall or not.  I do care that just laws be enforced, and that the Constitution be the supreme law of the land, and that those whom we have privileged with elective office jealously guard the letter and meaning of that document.

It is my belief, based not on campaign hyperbole -- best understood as opening negotiation bids -- but upon the spate of lawful exercises of power via executive order, undoing the extremities of the preceding antinomian regime, that Trump has the makings of a truly great president.

Odd.  Odd.  I never would have thought so.  We are only a week in.  Far too soon for anything but careful observation and assessment.  Not trust, yet.  Not hope.  But, yes, most definitely, change.

I've already thanked God for not-Hillary.  Now, tentatively, thank God for change.


J

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Burn





The wind blows, clouds flow, rain falls, sunshine, moonlight, wind, rain, hot, cold. We blink through it like coming out of solitary confinement, or stare it down like a mad dog, or find a hand to hold and stand side by side, for a moment or through the decades.






Yes, time is a fire. We don't want to put it out or slow it down though -- time is what life is made of. We burn through it, understanding there will be pain, and scars. There are caresses and embraces and quiet smiles and rollicking laughter and the swelling of our hearts with love and pride and tenderness.  So it's more than worth it, the pain, if we do it right. Wait long enough and everything is calm.

More pearls from the clam of my wisdom.


J

Monday, January 9, 2017

What My True Name Might Be

I've taken pains to keep my actual identity private, as my many frustrated admirers frequently complain via email. Oh Jack H, please tell us more about yourself, like your full name and where you live. But I have good reason -- very good reason indeed -- to attempt to preserve my anonymity. As far as I've been able to find, my name appears on the internet only once, and just recently, in its complete and true form. It was rather distressing to me to find even this single slip. I am, you see, a hunted man.

It's a long story. Once, back in the 1930s, I was lynched by a mob of racists. I was a Negro woman in those days, and I spilled boiling water on a white baby farmed out to me. It was an accident, but no matter. They hanged me naked from an old elm tree. There's no record of it. It was a backwoods affair. I've hardly ever been important. Anyhow it's behind me. I miss my own little babies, though. They're all dead now too.

Then the next time, as a teenager in the fifties, I was abducted by sexual sadists -- my body was buried off an interstate highway. It's never been found. What was I, boy or girl? It hardly matters. Sometime I make the trip out into that desert and weep for myself over my bones.

This time, in these current decades, I've had a longer life than in the past several hundred years. Nearly everyone has died young, though, if you average it all together. This time I've passed the half-century mark. Maybe I'll make it to a subsequent decade. Odd, how we cling. We'd clutch even at razors, lest we fall. I usually die violently. I've never killed myself. It seems some instinct instructs us that life is better than death -- even if life waits on the other side. I do not trouble myself with paradoxes, anymore.

I don't know what dharmic violation I committed, but it's been this way for millennia. I don't go in for this past-life regression nonsense -- just a bunch of flakes as far as I can see -- but I personally really do remember it all, and not as some mere intuition, however powerful. My memory precedes the pyramids. Why? Why? I have not been told. No higher being, if there be such things, has ever revealed a truth to me. If the gods have voices, they do not speak to me. I believe in a higher order only through inductive reasoning.

I do know I was involved in the destruction of Atlantis, but there was no court of condemnation to make it clear that this was a crime and I was condemned. I simply started remembering. I never did it on purpose, that unloosing of such primal forces -- but the Wheel of Incarnation rolls inexorably along, and those caught up in its treads must suffer the indignity of continuing if intermittent existence. So inductive reasoning informs me.

It isn't my own deaths that bother me so, as much as those of the ones I love. Sometimes I've tried to love no one, to have no family. But we're born into families. And even when I did not start my own, I couldn't help but love, even strangers. How many lifetimes I have spent in the wilderness -- not lost, simply dreading the bonds that attach to us when we touch each other.

Being old is hardest, and I watch them all drop away -- my parents, my wives and husbands, even my children. I've had so many, by now. I've never counted. It must be thousands, many thousands. What a massacre, and no less terrifying because it stretches across the eons. I've seen towers built of skulls. I've seen rivers of blood. No place you can put your foot, that isn't an unmarked grave.

I don't recognize them again, my lost loved ones. Sometimes a smile or a tilt of the head in one generation reminds me of some soul I knew in a century past. The baby in Troy is like that maiden in Rome, who is like a boy in Gaul. But it blurs together, and it's as if the resemblances are only family traits. I never know if this one now is the same as that one from ancient days. I just know that these days too will someday be ancient. And those I love now will return into the earth, and emerge, if they do, unrecognized. That's the cruelest punishment of all, that the Lords of Karma have pronounced on me. I remember, and everyone else forgets.

Maybe I’m unique, though. Maybe I’m like beloved John was thought to be, to live until the Lord’s return – or like the Wandering Jew, cursed Ahasuerus, likewise bound to life, cursed for cursing the Lord in His Passion. Perhaps like the shade of Samuel, released from Sheol to pronounce one final judgment, upon Saul, I too eternally slip the chains of Hades and rise somnambular to take on other chains, of flesh. And all humanity slumbers on one or the other side of a great abyss, biding time until a harsher disposition, or one of mercy. While I alone tread some middle way, dividing the difference by partaking both of life and of death. Perhaps. I do not know. I speak sometimes of faith, but I think in terms of theory. Some traditions seem less suited to my case than others.

How weary my soul has grown. Hardly anything remains of that haughty prince who delved too deeply into the secret underpinnings of reality. How long before I am forgiven? What fire might I find, to match those that burned my world down, and now might burn away the last of my pride, my crime? I don't know. I trudge on toward an ever-receding goal, every myth of damnation woven into my shadow, weighing as much as eternity and its substance. I've seen the ice roll in and I've seen the sun grow hot, forests supplant plains and cities return to clay. The ages mount up on me like a sexual sadist, and I am buried and I return to the grave time and again only to mourn.

What is my true name? Well, I've had so many. H is for Happy, and H is for Hell. It is for Hunter and for Hatred, for Hubris and for Humility. H is for Holiday and Horror, for sacred and profane. It is for compassion and rage and desperation and forgiveness. H is for a man who wants to love and to be loved. He wants to love himself, but an unremembered crime, some unwitting sin has made him Eternity's vagabond and what invocation can turn aside the pursuing Furies? It must be this way for everyone. Not everyone is aware of it though. Forgetting is how forgiveness shows itself.

What is my name? I suppose it's the same as yours. H is for Human.


J

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Hogmanay

Who'da thunk it.  Jews thinking Alsace-Lorraine was their homeland.

Obama cannot stand idly by while Israel commits the human rights genocidal atrocity of building/maintaining settlements on 'occupied' land.  Well, honestly, if it weren't occupied, if no one were using it, it wouldn't matter.   But no.  It must matter, as everything matters.  Feelings matter.  Trivia matters.  Barren rocky wastes matter.  Like, this empty occupied territory (occupied doing what, you may wonder?  You are a hater ) was  empty, prior to its Israeli usage.  But no it wasn't.  After all, fellah wasteland has its usage.  Um, someplace to walk across.  Um, someplace to lose your goats into.  Um, something to separate your tent villages.  See?  Useless land has many usages.  It could be a worldheritagesite.

Obama finally got off the pot and pissed in the pool.  His spokesperson ernestly asseverates  that no american administration in the history of the 5500 years of the world has ever done as much for Israel as Barack Haman Obama.  And if the First Amendment teaches us anything, it's that we must respect islam. So the UN issued its unvetoed protocol against the elders of zion, while Obama looked on  approvingly like a roman at a crucifixion.  It's the least a good friend, the best, could do.  Also the most.  As the past ate years ... no, eaten, as by locusts ... have demonstrated, if there's one thing Obama knew how to do, it was being proactive in standing by.  Ukraine and Libya and Syria and Egypt and on and on -- examples of the masterful inaction that has made this a golden age of racial harmony and cooling seas.  

Thus it is with ejaculatory relief that we bid 2016 a fraught farewell.

We know not what the new year will bring.  Trump is a bit of a worry to me, in that I am not convinced he apprehends the nature of the former USSR and its current hetman supreme.  I have no specific insight into Putin, because I don't follow the details.  I know his grandfather was the head cook in the early Soviet Kremlin.  And I have an awakened interest in Stalin, and now Lenin.  Hitler is easy to understand.  So is Obama.  And I assume Putin is what he appears to be.  Thus I doubt that any mere american business man, or politician, can competently deal with the latest tsar.  Reagan seems to have understood.  Roosevelt appears utterly to have not.  Neither Truman.

Same with the caliphate.  We are such a simple people.  My expectation is that almost nobody in the 5500 years of the world dies in peace of old age in their beds.  Statistically speaking.  So if Trump, in the end, turns out to be just another guy who wants to be liked -- we are doomed.  In a different way than the surefire doom of Obillary.

But right now we are not doomed.  For once it's a new year that truly is a new start.  Good or bad, it's good.  We'll see if it's bad.  At least there will be an america.  Perhaps no longer the real america, exceptional, naive and idealistic, secular savior and unworthy but earnest child of blessing.

Eight years, then, of being the battered spouse.  We'll see how much we can recover -- indeed, we'll find whether or not we have escaped from Sodom, or fled far enough.  Question is, why were we ever there.


J

Friday, December 30, 2016

Whiteface

Blackface is of course utterly outr√©.  And there's just no need for it.  Plenty of talented africans to fill appropriate roles.  And what is an appropriate role?  Any non-specific role -- you know, for a human being.  Also a specifically african role, like Harriet Tubman or MLK jr.  But what about Brownface, or Yellowface, or Whiteface?  I just don't see the need for a hispanic to play a  hispanic role.

Is that insensitive and racist of me?  Well, I have a right to be racist and insensitive. That's what freedom is -- the right -- not the necessity -- to be offensive.  Civility and good-breeding should daub up the cracks, and tolerance -- actual tolerance, for what is obnoxious -- will cover the rest.  It is pathetic that we need to remind them of this -- the opposite of freedom is coercion.

But to return to the matter.  I think it's racist to require that actors play only their own race. Pace the Huntington Post, with its blindside racism. Thus, the Globe Theatre's casting of a black youngster as  Romeo.  He's just too earnest and breathy and smiling to be pleasing, and the ahistoricity of it is jarring to me -- call me a bigot -- but to our modern sensibilities there's nothing necessary in Romeo's being white.  Same sort of casting in the most recent film of As You Like It.  And there's a Midsummer Night's Dream  with an african female.  We just have to redefine the meaning, when she is called "fair".  Fair enough.  Off hand  I don't recall any BBC attempt to cast an asian in a comparable speaking part.  Odd.

Point is, any nose-shape, any length of hair, any mere detail of physicality need have no impact on the role.  So, a dwarf as One of the  Gentlemen of Verona?  Nowadays there are some excellent little person actors.  No need to cast  them as weird dream visions, or as comedy props.  Once you're not an adolescent any more, the old funnyman references to midgets just isn't funny, man.  They're depending on the condition itself to be the joke.  Lazy hack stuff.  Like old-time radio with its dialect humor.  Italian and Irish and Jewish -- it was a SCREAM.  Deadly unfunny, to us.  Tastes change.  The essence of humor is surprise -- witness the hilarity to an infant of  peekaboo -- and the surprise of such differences as dialect has worn off.  Thank heaven.

And hispanic is such a mixed bag, that just about anyone could play it.  I'm about the only exception -- tall lanky blue-eyed blond.  Africans can play hispanic.  Asians can play hispanic.  Europeans can play hispanics.

And given the wide phenotype of american blacks, do we really truly need only ethnically african american actors to play such roles?  Well, as an affirmative action thing, sure, maybe.  It's not like there have been that many non-musician/criminal roles open to blacks.  Fortunately the audacity of hope has changed that forever.

But I do have two issues.  First, asians.  In olden days, honestly, when an asian actor was cast in a movie or early tv, it was more because they were asian, than because they were good actors.  You do know what I mean, hurt though your sensitivities may be.  Same with giants -- Richard Kiel was okay, but no great shakes as an actor.  Same  with little people -- they got the role because they fit the part physically.  Michael Dunn, as an obvious exception.  Sociological reasons for all of this -- lack of encouragement to even find out if you were a good actor, if a minority. Toshio Mori's "Japanese Hamlet" touches on this theme.

I suppose that's mostly in the past, now, although these Hollywood lefties are as racist as any clansman.  Good roles, you know, go to our  people.  Crossburning, or speech codes ... means of control.  (I know, I'm evil for saying it.  I should be stopped.  Opinioncrime (henceforth, opcrim) will not be tolerated.)

Of course, no one could have been less talented than Micky Rooney as Mr. whoever in Breakfast at Tiffany's. Any asian off the street who could find his mark and remember lines would have been as good, or as bad. You'd have thought someone in the studio would have seen that. But they still had blackface in the 50s, so, uh, there. Peter Lorre  could, uh, pass, as Mr. Moto.   But  Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee ... and Glen  Gordon -- as Fu Manchu? Ah, so.   It's a great character.  Unnecessary casting, though. Warner Oland?  He was a freakin swede.  John Wayne as Genghis Khan -- famously awesome.  Nuff said.

But my real question is really an answer to the PC lefty racists.  How have europeans been portrayed, in asian productions?  Well, originally, at first contact, we have this:
Slightly demonic.

It was hard to get the eyes right:

And the nose was a problem:

But it started to come together:


Hey, foxy lady -- come here often?

And by the time Commodore Perry hove to, we get the idea pretty well:
Recognizable.

But that was then and this is now.  I went online to see if there were any scholarly or journalistic studies of how europeans have fared in the past hundred years or so.  Crickets.  Something must exist, but not in the first few pages of google -- and how could anybody be expected to look further than that?  Be sensible.  Get a grip.

My deep expectation is that we -- and by we I mean normal people ... you know, tall lanky blue-eyed blonds -- have been portrayed by ethic asians, in asia.  Mostly.  I have only one bit of evidence for my intractably-firm opinion.  Something I saw a few years ago, to my delight.
Look familiar?

I will never be convinced but that this is meant to represent my people.  A few more inches in the nose, please.  Just think about pulling taffy, and you'll get it right.  Haw haw haw.

So the next time some lefty hack racemonger complains about, well, what else, it will be easy and useless to suggest that, yes, true, america sucks, but so does everywhere else.


J