Saturday, November 13, 2021

Notes to my grandchild(ren), as yet unconceived

Every generation starts out not even knowing our right hand from our left.  We don't know how to speak.  We don't have teeth.  We have to learn how to eat.  Old people have the advantage of perspective, which if appreciated, like a grand vista overlooking a vast expanse, can be edifying.  We might identify the trends and find a pattern -- the repeated errors and learn their remedies or how to avoid them.  We might grow wise.  But none of us starts out that way.  We're born knowing nothing at all.  

I was quite an arrogant youth.  I wouldn't have agreed about that, but it's true.  I deduced it, correctly: it comes from "arrogate" -- to claim, without justification.  Arrogance has nothing to do with confidence, aside from a superficial likeness.  Confidence is content to accept disagreement.  Arrogance has to be seen to be right -- it is insecure, and fragile.  Confidence accepts, arrogance argues.  One is gracious, the other is tribal.  

That's a distinction I would have profited from knowing.  Someone should have told me.  

My father meant well, but he was crippled.  He thought somehow that forbidding emotions would transform them into happiness and competence.  Suppression however is not actually any kind of disciple at all.  By lecturing about what a man should be, he thought he was teaching some kind of success.  He did not mean the harm he did to us.  His intentions were undermined by narcissism -- immaturity and unhealed wounds.  His theories about fatherhood were never corrected by their invalidation.  Thus, not theories at all, open to refinement -- rather, ideology and dogma.  I hadn't really thought about it, but I grew up in a cult.  

I raised your father with that in mind.  In contrast, I liked my little boy.  I enjoyed him, and respected him.  I let him know this, first because it was true, and also because such things need to be shown.  Hugs, and kisses, and tickles -- physical stuff, because touch is our first human experience -- fetal skin against uterine walls.  Love is not a drug, not a medicine -- these are always poisons, hopefully healing.  Love is a nutrient.  

I've allowed your father, in recent years as I write this, to see much more of how damaged I am as a man.  He didn't know.  But he's in his thirties now, late thirties, and successful, and secure, and even though it will be a burden on him, there is such a large opportunity for him to grow, emotionally and in his insight into a deeper wisdom.  I have been willing to -- well, personally it feels like I've devalued, almost degraded myself -- but, reveal myself, as crippled and neurotic, fearful, unsuccessful -- futile and ashamed.  A harsh legacy, but there was never deceit -- just appropriate truth, the revelation of which evolves. 

Part of my reevaluation of my own fathering, of your father, is where I could have been better.  I've never been shy about proclaiming how awesome I was as a dad.  It was a combination of learning from my father's mistakes, and doing the opposite -- as, for example, actually liking my son -- and also of simply being intuitive and observant -- of not being theoretical at the expense of, oh, reality.  But I didn't have exceptional insight about puberty.  That went well because of the solid childhood he had.  But, while I gave him his teenage space, appropriately, there was something missing.  I know this, because of his own teenage arrogance.  Maybe it's an inevitable stage.  But I could have made the transition out of it easier, somehow.  I know there must be a way to do this.  I just didn't know.  

Fortunately, some of the hard lessons the Army taught him dealt with this. The outcome was fortunate.  The lessons were hard.  Why did it have to come to that? So hard?  That's on me.  But I did my best. As my own father did -- his best.  We only know what we learn, and we find our lessons where we may.  In savage and depriving childhoods, or in the silence of unrecognized ignorance.  Our response, in every case, is of love, or bitterness.  

So you, a grandchild who may never be born, well, that's how it always is -- each generation is produced and turned loose with hardly any guidance at all -- in this case, because there was a message but no one there to hear.  Or maybe I won't live to know you -- I may be just a name, an important if distant influence upon your life.  If I do know you, I do love you with all the capacity of my heart.  If I do not know you, I would have loved you that much.  


Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The Unified State of America

You know the line, "Ain't nobody here but us chickens"?  A hipster used it, and I asked if he knew the joke.  He did not.  My dad told it in the 60s, but it's from minstrel-show days, as far back as the 1830s.  Someone was stealing a Southern farmer's chickens, and one night he hears a big commotion in the coop.  Gets his shotgun, goes out and says, "Come on out or I'll blast you."  Silence.  Says it again, and again.  Maybe he shoots into the air.  And from inside the coop, in Amos and Andy dialect, "Ain't nobody here but us chickens, boss!"  A racial joke -- the thief being very stupid.  

Bill Cosby said of the TV show, Amos and Andy, "It was very funny.  And we knew we had to get it off the air."  It wasn't racist, in my opinion, at all.  But as with all dialect and ethnic humor, it exploited stereotypes.  That of course is what very much humor does, but this was and remains a sensitive topic, so the broad social interests were not to be ignored.  Along my ongoing journey toward maturity, I am coming to understand that not everything that can be said, even if true, needs to be said.  

Remember the line, "What you mean 'we', white man."  I looked it up, via the convenience of the Internet.  A Bill Cosby joke.  The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by redskins.  "Well Tonto, looks like we're done for."  "What you mean 'we', white man?"  Again, a racial joke, the humor of which hangs on the presumption and rejection of subservient identification.  

You understand and approve the conditions governing your presence in this State.  You must submit to all inspections of physical, emotional and verbal hygiene.  You must at all times carry on your person proof of responsible social and medical conformity -- your Cards, or in your device. You must follow all posted and non-posted regulations. You will contemn all proscribed epithets and attitudes.  Failure to comply will result in loss of employment, reputation, courtesy, and permission to participate in any public gathering of more than three subjects.  You will conform.  You will obey.  

Remember that old line?  Went something like, "Live free or die."  Remember that joke? -- don't quite recall it, but the punchline was, "give me liberty, or give me death."  Well, that's the kind of thoughtless humor we just don't accept anymore.  Its time has passed.  Inappropriate for our frankly superior sensibilities.  Not cool.  Anyway, it's 'live free and die'.  It's 'give me liberty and death'.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

MoveOn dot MeToo

They're too young to remember it, mostly.  Or in fading early middle age, old people puberty, decline combined with self-righteousness.  They've always been self-righteous, entitled, empowered, esteemed.  Proud heirs to the participation trophy, the triumph of will, ascendant upon the mountain of the universe -- vast in the equality of poppies, their vaginas are powerful, their penises a handy leash.  The decline was from birth, born into twilight, and hell is murky.  

The Left wanted us to move along, forget about it, that clinton thing.  Get over it.  Move on.  So what if the male president groped a boob or grabbed a mons pubis.  Trump, clinton -- well it mattered with Trump, but that was different.  Vulgarian.  Cigars, blue dresses, semen stains, flowers, troopers. Who can remember.  Class. 

Like a glimpse of stocking.  Something shocking, from a long-ago generation.  Passé. We have evolved.  This is what maturity looks like.  Virtue signals and cancel culture.  Signal cancels -- a failure to communicate.  What you are allowed to do, say, think, feel.  

Best watch yourself.  

It's never been okay.  And if women finally get the courtesy they were, several generations ago, nominally due -- holding a door open, standing when she enters -- well such formalities didn't prevent scum from abusing the power of position.  

And abortionism had its price.  Women stopped being female.  They are men with breasts, as men are women with back hair.  What they are pleased to call 'gender' is all about, and nothing but, bulges.  Everything is entirely superficial and phenomenological.  Shave down an adams apple, remove breast tissue -- presto change-o.  Déclassé.  

It's an idea I may go into, sometime.  But transgenderism is an anti-abortion argument.  There is a spirit, they suppose, male or female, in the wrong body.  So, there is a spirit in a body.  A human spirit, in a human body. Thus, abortion is homicide.  

Don't blame me.  My position is consistent.  I've changed in hardly anything.  There is no longer an America -- that was hard to accept.  My brazen serpent, Nehushtan, a useful thing that became an idol.  Nun sheath -- ashen hunt.  Now it's not even useful, america.  Nothing but the richest slave.  A fun fact known from ancient Rome (and everywhere else): slaves make the cruelest masters.  It's all they know.

What is the first human emotion?  You'd think hunger, but that's just biology.  Hot or cold or itchy, or boredom, the same.  The first human emotion is the need for connection.  Intimacy.  It's why babies stare.  They look at everything.  They stare at mommy.  As I have said, it is the nature of a personality to want to be known -- to reveal itself.  Human life is about contact.  Sartre is mistranslated: hell is [needing] other people.

This explains it all.  

Move On.  Me Too.  They're almost anagrams.  Move onto me.  Like OJ, there's just too much love.  


Friday, August 6, 2021

Brother Uncle Son

                                                        Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, 
                                                        Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. 
                                                        Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; 
                                                        Do not fret -- it only causes harm.
                                                                                                                                -- Ps 37:7-8 
After my father died, I found that I was completely done with the rage I had felt over his failures as a father.  Whatever the real reason, the reason I accept is that there's nothing I can do to change the past.  That pathetic, ultimately old man, rejected and abandoned in his monstrosity of a house, who finally died, alone on the floor of his bedroom, his last moments consumed with regret and futility and despair. 

No one in his family could tolerate him.  I couldn't stand to visit him, alone.  I always took my son, when he came to visit.  Triangulation, so I wouldn't be trapped alone with him and his judgments and blindness, his desperation and stuckness.  The only virtue in any of this is that my father was proud of my son -- so, a vindication.

 I've never made a secret about what a nightmare my birth-family was.  One of the ways I'm a fool is that I think I have to say what I think.  I stupidly think that's integrity.  It's adolescent -- the immaturity of improperly understood rule-keeping.  Honesty matters, but other people matter at least as much.  I doubt I will ever master that idea.  

Thinking about all this for the past few years -- trying to find my way out of the pit I was thrown into as an infant -- I have come to understand something that very much surprised me.  I was the least-favorite child.  This seems astounding.  I was the cute one. I wanted to be good.  I was little, and should have been protected.  None of that mattered.  Brenn, the narcissist crybaby, was my father's favorite.  It must be because he was the firstborn.  Kip was my mother's favorite -- as worthless, violent, and hateful as he was, he got every favor from her.  In that cultish family, I was the child sacrifice.  

I have always been betrayed.  Not self-pity -- but it's the reason I cannot trust.  My mother sacrificed me.  My father had no time for me.  He told me a number of times across the years, starting when I was a teenager, that he didn't like me.  He told me with those very words. "I have to love you, because you're my son.  But I don't have to like you."  That's the kind of stupid honesty I've been guilty of.  Because it was true, he thought it should be said.  Damaging to the spirit and to the relationship.  Unwise.  

Apparently from very early, my father had decided I was homosexual.  I had to figure that out.  Well, no -- eventually, in my thirties, he actually argued with me about it.  He took the "you are gay" side.  You know, because I listened to classical music and read books.  And other things he did not say but I put together ... one of them, truly vicious.

Nothing was left for me -- just middle-class duty on the positive side, and otherwise neglect and abuse.  I was an afterthought.  This is not a reason I pity myself.  By the time I was able to notice this, I was so completely alienated and isolated that it was too late.  It's only 50 years later, give or take, that I even realized it.  I pity myself because of the wasted time and potential.  Locusts have eaten the years -- a family of locusts.  That's true, but it's on me, the way addiction is on the addict.  

I've had two important ideas.  The first, I had not long after it was clear about Brenn's lies and cowardice and theft.   It's that he, and incidentally my other brother, would have to be forgiven.  It's the only way I can make up to my father for the not-good son I was.  Nothing I can do, to show him love now.  Only to love the worthless, selfish, abusing brothers of my childhood.  Well, maybe love is too much to ask -- love your rapists, love the people who used you like toilet paper.  But forgive, if there's a meaningful difference.  

The other idea is that both of them, but mostly the most-betraying brother, Brenn, Brenn Ko -- to me they were like the brothers of Joseph, in the Bible.  His brothers dropped him into a pit, to kill him, but ended up selling him into slavery.  They meant it for evil, because of jealousy and spite.  And Joseph suffered, but ultimately he prospered.  It's a nice story.  The lesson is that the evil, the envy and hatred of his brothers worked finally to a good purpose.  

Trapped in that crazy, frankly wicked family, I didn't understand.  I thought abuse was the order of things.  I didn't stop to wonder why my brothers were such scum.  To say they were jealous seems inadequate -- it's too cheap an answer.  I was just a white-haired little kid, in no way a favorite in that family.  I suppose it was that I was at the bottom of the pecking order -- the easy victim.  So, the convenience of corrupt human nature. 

Almost three years ago now, while Brenn was playing his waiting game, plotting his theft and flight, I made assurances to various family members that I thought he had integrity.  I remember saying he was not a thief. Obviously I was wrong. Years before I had pointed out to him a lack of integrity in his behavior, and he was very offended.   Time has proven that observation to be right.  

I had a conversation with him shortly after my father died, and he went on about how Kip's family, "the H's", were all greedy.  I corrected him, that they were ungrateful.  "No, greedy."  Regardless, Brenn is greedy.  I had not put that together.  

Hypocrisy, then, and a deep ignorance of self.

That's how Brenn justified cheating Kip.  He justified cheating his nephews and niece because he was greedy.  He justified cheating me because he manufactured an excuse that I was dishonest -- I was plotting, stupidly, to steal mom's house -- so Brenn imagined he could and should steal dad's house. I had to put that together.  So he is sleazy and shameful -- but there it is.  It's not stupidity and it's not craftiness.  It's willful evil.  

At that same conversation, Brenn was saying that the idea of giving my father's grandkids an inheritance was "ridiculous."  His reasoning was not sound -- dad was senile, and our grandfather had not left anything to the grandkids -- but I did not argue.  First, because I no longer like to argue, and second because I recognized a malevolent situation.  

The thing I am ashamed of, and philosophical about, is that I did the calculation.  Three sons, instead of  three sons and four grandkids -- my "share" would be about equal either way, so my own son was taken care of -- and what I would allot to my mother.  In other words, I wasn't looking out for my other brother's kids.  My instant calculation was that Kip had drained his mother's resources for so long, for so much, that it more than equaled out.  (I had planned on my mother's assets -- her house -- going to the grandkids -- but that's another story, possibly uglier.)  No harm done, except in the end to my self respect. 

All of us ended up cheated. None of us deserved to be robbed, but none of us deserved an inheritance -- least of all the betrayer. I'm philosophical about it, because none of us deserve anything, for all that our father wanted, ultimately, to be a blessing to us.  

That's Brenn's biggest betrayal.  He is of course a coward.  He ran away, and would never dare meet any of his family again.  Given the magnitude of his crime, fear is appropriate.  He is a thief, taking and keeping what is not his.  He is a betrayer, of his mother, his brothers, his nephews and niece -- most, of his father, who trusted him.  

His infantile sentimentality, his blackmail and threats, his need to control -- in his fifties he married a teenager -- in part that's a response to the harm my father did to him.  That he chose to harm others rather than examine himself -- well, my response to the abuse was to lose my ability to trust.  Of these two psychopathies, I'd take mine.  I've been hated, but only a few times with just cause.  

There is nothing to say against his wife.  She was just a little teenager who took the chance she was given -- get to live with money in America. Maybe she was complicit in the theft, but her debt would be to common decency, not to in-laws she met only a few times. Maybe she deserves what she got, and will never understand the cost. 

When you're that much given over to depravity -- what does it take to be redeemed from it?  Probably as much of a miracle as it would take for me to learn how to trust.  Like Kip -- how to repay what he owes?  So many cripples.  

And if Brenn Ko were not a thief?  And we got and divided the million dollars that he stole? Honestly, I have to suppose it would not be a blessing.  The work that I have yet to do, I would neglect.  The growth that this continuing betrayal has demanded would not have been spurred.  The self-examination would have remained superficial, and my self-righteousness would degenerate into delusion.  We've been talking about how that happens.

It must be obvious that I could say many crushing truths about my brother Brenn -- liar, pervert -- so true and so ugly that his response could be only hatred, more hatred.  I have nothing to fear from him.  He has done all the evil to most of his family that he can.  He is a bad son, and has only the power to further harm his mother, but if he does, he will die of pancreatic cancer within not many months.  Other than that, I don't know what deserved anguish is coming his way.   No, actually I do -- there will be a sexual element to it.

I have said it only to two people, but it is the explanation, other than his personal corruption: Brenn has a demon.  I saw it, years ago.  It's not possession -- affiliation.  He delved into that cheap sort of thing -- the fantasy of controlling others.  This is why hating him would be futile, as well as ungodly.  It would add to the evil his demon wants to flourish.  His demon loves to do harm, and if it cannot harm us, it will turn, even more, upon him. 

He will not believe he is evil because he thinks being sentimental is the same as being good.

It has to count for something, this idea of 'brother'.  It's always only meant bitterness to me. We can let hatred, resentment, obsession, unforgiveness, rule us.  The time has not arrived, but I have to trust that it will, when I can say in my heart, with honesty, that my abusive brothers have been forgiven. 

So there he is, my shameful and bizarre eldest brother, spending stolen money on travel and boats and toys and other such trash. Every time he buys something, he is a thief.  Every time he remembers the past, he is a coward. Every time he touches his wife, he is a betrayer. 

The appropriate response to this must be that of Joseph.  We can rule only ourselves, if we do.  The blessing that was stolen from my father, can be returned, by me.  The price of being good is giving up our craving for justice.    


Sunday, July 25, 2021



I Wislblohd U today.  They needed a name, and thheirs just came to mind.  Someone said I petted a cat and Wislblohd me for Inviyyurmenl Inuhsenxhulizm.  I said I was examining the cat’s collar for Qahrbn Misapluhqayxhun, so I could report it.

Then why hadn't I submitted an Eqspohzay?  I said it wasn't a collar after all, but a bit of noose -- some hyumins tried to hang the cat but the string broke.  It's a popular hyumins' game down by the Needl uv Fayrnus -- so I was believed.  And it really was a noose.  

But I did pet the cat.  Only hunger made it trust me.  I gave it a bit of Mahyqohtahmash.  The Wislr wasn't close enough to see.  I'd have said I was testing a hypothesis, using vermin to dispose of refuse -- for the Uhternul Hohpr.

I'd inconvenienced Thuh Stayt, though -- so I gave them U's name.  They will arrest thhem, if not already.  These things happen.  The Intrvyu won't be severe.  Like me, U will give up the first name that comes to thheir mind.  There’s no malice.  It'll only be bruises, not blood.  U is smart.

If they knew I petted the cat, it would be the end of me.  I'm too old to survive a Quhreqnus Qamp.  I know someone who was Beeyuhfendudbiyd for 7 years at Perfiqt Eluhqwns Tahwr.  Thhey'd been Thinqn Liyq Haydrz -- Biynayreeyizm.  Thhey never talks about it, but thhey fell asleep once in the waterline and mumbled about digging for worms to eat.

Once I gave U's name, I had to accuse thhem of something, and this was true at least -- thhey was humming an Intahlerunt song.  Sometimes I feel like a m*th*rless ch*ld.  I used to sing that to my baby hyumin, before it mattered.  

I’m not worried -- the cat mistake is the first I’ve made in many years.  Nobody's as careful as me.


I met a hyumun last week.  Thhey was sitting on the steps outside Yunuhvrsul Uhgreemnt Sentr.  Thhey was wearing a small gray locket, heartshaped like hearts used to be shaped.  Thhey had a Liysns for it clipped to thheir coat, but it was still a Selfush Ahbjeq -- not something safe like Bahdeemahd.  Thhey was much younger than me.  But everyone is.

I didn't mean to, but we made eye contact, and something in thheir look kept me from breaking away.  After the Weeqs Vrqhyu Uhsesmun, thhey was still there.  Thhey had a permit clipped to thheir hat, so the BayzhShrts wouldn't Beeyuhfendudbiy thhem.  I wondered what thhey was waiting for.  Thhey stood up just as I passed and we bumped.

Then we walked down the steps, side by side, and I don't know who was leading or following, but we walked in silence to the Ahbuhlisq uv Ahluhliyqnus.  I could hear thheir breathing.  It sounded like snowflakes.  We bumped shoulders.  I tilted my hand out and took thheirs.  It has been many years since I touched a hyumun.

It's late spring and Soon's up longer, so less cold.  I couldn't think of anything to say.  Thhey never let go of my hand.  Thheir hand was small through the gloves.  There were BeeEsuz on patrol, but we kept to the gravel paths and they don't like to scuff their boots.  

About Ayteen Ohqlahq thhey tugged me, but without any movement, toward the mainwalk and Grayt Speeqh Ahmnuhbus Serqul.  We stood until it came, and thhey got on, slipping through the Laytwerq crowd until I saw thhem at a window.  Thhey held my eyes again, expressionless.  Thheir face was tight but thheir lips were full and dark.  Like someone I once knew.

As I stood watching, I suddenly became aware, I was holding something.  In my hand, in my glove, I was holding thheir locket.  I felt dizzy.  I looked up and stared.  When the omnibus pulled away, my eyes burned.

I have not seen thhem again.  I return to the steps of the YUS after work everyday.



Sometimes I wonder about the meaning of life.  The lesson for the Stoodunts today was how perfectly Q loves all hyumins.  They must love thhem perfectly too.  I drilled them on it.  Do you ever doubt how much thhey loves you?  No, they replied in chorus.  Never?  Never.  Do you doubt Soon when it shows?  No.  Do you doubt that gravity holds you to Thuh Planut Urth?  No.  Do you doubt the perfection of Q's love for all little hyumins?  No.  Very good, hyumins.  Always remember this lesson.  Always give these examples, Soon and Thuh Planut Urth and Q in the middle, when they ask about the love of Q, or the Iqwahluhty uvthuh Yuniytud Stayt, or the Prfeqxhun uv Qhaynj.

For the older Stoodunts I asked, Do you love Q perfectly?  Yes.  So you are as perfect as thhey is?  They didn't know how to answer that.  I fed it to them.  How can thheir perfect love not receive love just as perfect?  It is not our love, it is thheirs, reflected back to thhemself.  We are Moon to thheir Soon.  Yes, we love Q perfectly.  There is no imperfect love for Q.  Duhplohruhblz don't love thhem at all.  Everyone else loves thhem perfectly.  I drilled them until they learned it.  It may save their lives.

That’s the meaning of life.  Teaching hyumins to stay alive.  Never deny, I teach them.  Doubt means you think Thuh Qhaynj is Uhngud.  Agree, reframe, deflect, add a detail that Qhaynjuz the meaning.  If they Wislbloh a Playpahrtnr -- these things happen.   Always look at the bridge of the nose, and never smile.

I haven't read yet about U.  If thhey makes it, thhey'll be around by Soonday.


U died today, or maybe yesterday.  I can't be sure.  I read it in the Fayrnus Rejustr.  I scan it for familiar names.  We all do.  Heart failure.  All deaths, of course, are heart failure.  Old joke.  Thhey must not have given up a name.  Or thhey made Uhn Uhnhyumrus Ruhmarq, or thhey held eye-contact with a Quhmyunuhty Ohrguhniyzr.  Or thheir heart failed.

I've saved enough Qreduts to trade for a bicycle almost.  There's always the risk of Insiytn Uhndrprivluhjizm.  Don't invite trouble.  But I have my eye on an old one, very rusted.  No rubber, but big wheels.  IU is a gray area under Q's Fayvrd Tahlerayxhun directive, but one weighted complaint and the Iqwahluhty Gahrd confiscates Thuh Trigr. 

I'm noticeable -- nobody's tall anymore.  But hyumuns are usually gray.  I'll vary the route.  Nobody uses Thuh Qahluhnayd uv Iqahlujy.  Just don't get noticed day after day -- that's the cause.  They brood -- leads to Sohxhul Juhstus.  Labeled a Haydr, you're through. 

It is risky.  

But it will save time.  And I have old knees.


They announced they cancelled Hequhday.  Clashes with Veenuhsday and Moonday.  Back to a 9 day week. Next I think will be Qahntuhnuntsday.  The younger hyumins get confused.  Last year they added Qbr.  And they changed Raynbr to Raynbohwbr.  Don't like the name?  Wait a minute.  Old joke.


I saw U's partner I today.  Thhey was standing by Thuh Mahnuhlith uv Inqloosuhvnus, coming from work.  Thheir breath did not steam.  Thheir nose looked wet.  It should warm up after Sohlstuhsbr for a few weeks -- but Qliymut Qhaynj is so unpredictable.  Q saved Thuh Planut though.  Thhey just stood, feet on the patchy salt, staring into the gray middle distance, still as ice.  I passed without stopping.

Hequhday  Veenuhsday

It's too dangerous.  I'm careful, but -- that cat thing.  Don't undo it all.  Isn't Sohxhul Werqr a funny title? Liynwerqr.  Agruhwerqr.  Sohxhulwerqr.  Once they notice you, it's just over.  No, nothing funny about it.  No.  No bike.  What was I thinking.


Another hyumun was sitting on the steps today, with a permit in thheir hat.  I asked why thhey was sitting there.  Thhey didn't respond.  I ask if thhey knows the hyumun who was there the week before.  Thheir eyes flicker, and thhey glances up.  "What is it?" I ask.  "I'm waiting for a Mohrnun Liysns.  This is the line."  "Who died?"  "Everybody."

I left thhem there.  I will not return.


I Qahrbn Traydud for another pair of gloves today.  The one that held thheir hand, I keep in a box.  When I hold it to my lips I smell newly washed hair.  In the locket when I pressed it open was a tiny picture from the old days.  Thhey must have switched it for another when thhey got thheir Induhljuns Liysns.  There was a name.


Q was Reeyuhleqdud again, because it's Qday.  Old joke.  Universal mandate -- it's been that way longer than most can remember.  People don't live as long as they used to though, mostly -- not Werqrz.  A generation flies by.  The usual Seluhbrayxhunz uv Duhmahqrusy.  Every few years, no pattern, thhey calls for thheir Reeyuhleqxhn.  Thhey always gives thheir Grayt Speeqh, with Legthuhril Spiyr and Thuh Pilr uv Tohtl Satuhsfaqshn framed in the background.  The same musty intonations from thhem, the same ritual frenzy from Thuh Pahpyulus.  I thought of a joke, but I can't say it.  Great is * of the *

The wristchips Voht automatically.  Some people started Vohtn the day they were born.  Saves Qahrbn, not going anywhere or doing anything.  As the Yuniytud Stayt motto says, "Prahgres iz ahlwayz gitn bedr!"

Q's motorcade sped by the school a few weeks ago.  I didn't go to the window.  I was alone, so no one could notice.  Afterwards I thought, what if a great pit opened and swallowed thheir limousine? Then I thought, how could somebody make that happen? 

Back when there used to be teevee with commercials, there was a show about a little hyumin who could make happen whatever thhey wanted.  I thought of that, and Thuh Urthqwayq, what it would be like to have that power.  Then I realized Q had it.  I'm one of the few left who remember thhem promising to Lohwr thuh Seez.  Indeed thhey did.  Froze them over to do it.  Too bad the moon's in the wrong place.  Moon.


Yesterday I went mad.  I read thheir name in the Rejustr and my heart has not beaten since.  My heartshaped heart.  Failure.  Words.  

Names.    Tears

ice     salt

I said once long ago that all bets are off.  When I lost my, I lost, my

I didn't mean it.

Sometimes I feel

I think I've come to a decision.


I have lived in fear and silence and cowardice and complicity and betrayal through all the recent generations.  I was never the hyumun I thought I was.  Such a hyumun is no longer possible.  No gene splicing of atavistic traits will reclaim that hyumunity.

There used to be a Resistance.  "Who does not doubt, does not know freedom."  We had a plan, the tenth plague. The firstborn virus.  But we didn't mean it.

All that remains is a memory of teevee shows and the skulking that sneaks an extra splat of mash in the commissaryline.  Their violence has met for too long with only bleeding and weeping.  We are broken and they have grown careless. 


We.  As if there were a we.  The wrong people have been suffering.  I will remind them of fear.  I will show them their own blood.  I will work such obscenity on their corpses that all who see will face the cowardice of their own souls.  I will be as evil as Q.  I will burn down Thuh Planut and all its childless fathers.

A man cannot live, fearing the loss of his tyreless bicycle.  He cannot live, denouncing acquaintances who are beaten to death.  He cannot live staring at a tiny heartshaped picture of a little girl, clutching a glove because he thinks it smells of his baby daughter's hair.  I have forgotten God.  But no atheism promises an end more meaningless than life as it now is.


Thursday, July 22, 2021


I've been regretting that I neglected to learn Hebrew in my youth.  For probably 2500 years (since Ezra, I'd suppose), very smart rabbis have been playing around with the words and letters of the Torah, finding real and merely clever subtleties of which the goyim must remain ignorant.  I of course am not among the goyim, the nations -- Christians are children of Abraham, through faith.  Thus, I'd suppose, brothers by adoption of Isaac (who was to be sacrificed) -- and uncles to Jacob.  That's pretty interesting -- Israel, my little nephew.   

Almost randomly, I found a talk by Rabbi Michael Skobac which is worthwhile.  We learn that Hebrew letters have a number of meanings in themselves, beyond mere phonics.  It's an extremely deep study -- vertiginous.  Thus, each of the 22 letters resonate to rabbis as the initial letter of a set of important words. Reb Skobac's ministry seems in part about Jews remaining talmudic Jews, rather than, oh, say messianic Jews.  And on that point, he has a story to tell (at 13:15), transcribed by me: 

There was once an apostate Jew who came to the great Elijah of Vilna, one of the greatest sages of rabbinic Judaism, lived about 300 years ago.  And he said to this great rabbi, "I'm going to prove to you the truth of Christianity from the very first word of the bible."  And he says to the rabbi, "Look at the first word in the Hebrew bible.  The word beresheet [be-r-a-sh-ee-t, בְּרֵאשִׁית‎].  The first three letters, bet resh alef [בְּרֵא], "Ben, Ruach, Ab" -- "Son, Spirit, Father".  The first three letters.  So the rabbi immediately said to him, "You know, you didn't read the rest of the word.  The rest of the word says, shin yud tov [שִׁית] -- spells out "torah Yeshu sheker" -- "the teachings of Jesus are falsehood".  

Well.  That seems disappointing.  Score one for the opposing team?  But being me, I had to check it out.  It would be that pesky shin, "falsehood."  Indeed, the "letter shin also represents the word שֶׁקֶר (sheker) lie, falsehood."  So it's true.  But, that "also" -- what else?  And there it is: "We all know that the first letter of the word שָׁלוֹם (shalom) peace is shin. The ש is also the first letter of the word שַׁדַי (shadai) which is one of the names of G-d."

So Rabbi Skobac didn't tell the rest of the story -- maybe he didn't know it.  In the rest of the story, the apostate Jew … but let's not call him that -- seems dismissive.  "And the faithful Jew immediately said to the rabbi, 'You read it backwards in the same way you have the meaning backwards.  The rest of the word says, shin yud tov [שִׁית] -- spells out "shalom Yeshu torah" -- "redemption is Jesus' law"'."

(For, "shalam is translated as 'make it good', 'shall surely pay', 'make full restitution' or to 'restore'. The ancient Hebrew meaning of shalam was 'to make something whole'.")

So.  Beresheet, the first word in the Hebrew bible, holds a talmudic rabbinical Jewish teaching of, Son, Spirit, Father: redemption is Jesus' law.

Thank you, Rabbi Elijah of Vilna.  And, Rabbi Skobac -- may I have another? 


Friday, July 16, 2021

Trans Tranny Trany Trannie Traney Tranie

"...these be her very C's, her U's, 'n' her T's, and thus makes she her great P's."
                                                      --Twelfth Night, Act 2, scene 5        .

It's just impossible to make up my mind.  But spelling is about mere incidentals, like whether or not you dot an 'i', or a 'j'.  J is one of those questionable letters, not useless, like male nipples (except I'm given to understand that some men enjoy their nipples (I have found them utterly ignorable, except when very slightly irritating)) -- redundant, rather, like 'x' or 'q', or even 'c'.  

'W' is useful; how could one reasonably get that sound, otherwise?  Oouman.  Oouhmuhn, Ooihmehn.  You can get the idea, but it doesn't really work.  And when it's 'w' 'h', where what why, but not who -- that blowing doubleyou sound.  The dialect of American English I was brought up in ... in which I was brought up ... up in which I was brought -- it didn't acknowledge this particular phoneme.  Not that it's difficult to produce, like that Arabic 'D' that we can't even hear, or the Japanese sound between 'r' and 'l' that makes them confuse our 'r' and 'l'. 

You just have to understand that some folks expect words to be pronounced the way they like it.  Like 'often' -- there's no 't' sound, except if that's how you were raised.  It's a back-formation, from 'oft'.  It's how you deduce extinct words from the root and grammatical forms.  Listen fasten castle whistle wrestle.  Dullard, drunkard, coward, bastard. 

And this nipple thing -- I understand it, embryologically. Women, after all, have an analogue, a homologue of the prostate.  Whale pelvises are used during the birthing process.  These things have reasons.  I seem to recall that humans have the capacity for, say, eight nipples, two rows of four.  This explains the supernumerary expression that sometimes occurs.  My son had a third nipple.  It never grew.  I was almost proud of it, but I think he probably got tired of my mentioning it, when he got a bit older.  So I stopped.  I'm capable of learning.  

If I use the search capacity of my smartphone it gives a list of suggestions.  Completely irrelevant and random.  I suppose they're 'trending', as the kids say.  Elliot Page was showing his first shirtless picture. My mind boggled.  Who is Elliot Page, and why would this be of interest?  Is he beautiful and mysterious?  Well, no.

Low bodyfat, nice enough abs if you like that sort of thing, but an example of failed puberty, youngish but not aging well -- a wizened pixie. Wizard.  He managed to achieve armpit hair -- bucking the manscaping trend, rather daringly I should think.  Transgressive.  Except, looking as he does as of northerly European extraction, he should have at least some chest hair. So he is untrue to his most authentic hairitage.  

What is it with these last 20 years.  Men actually shave their pubic hair.  And women too.  You realize what this is, right?  Body hair is a tertiary sexual characteristic, indicating adulthood.  No such hair means hands off.  It is unattractive to the point of being grotesque -- not in even an aesthetic sense, but biologically.  It's a gateway behavior, into a perversion that is common historically and culturally -- just not in our history or culture.  

But these things are relative.  Who's to say what an age of consent is.  Yes after all means yes.  Two year olds like to say NO, but, well, I don't know how to finish this sentence.  Egyptians married their sisters, Mohammad married a nine-year-old, PBUH.  The flow of actual human behavior is against us, and who can fight the tide?  

American men marry American men.  No, I'm sorry, I made a grave error.  American men marry american men.  There is no America -- those capitalized 'Americas' I just used, they are purely orthographical, upper case because that's how sentences start, unless that too is a custom to be phased out, by enlightened practice and the Supreme Court.   There is no 'America' -- just a geographical expression, like the holy roman empire, or Metternich's italy.
And I'm doubly wrong, at least -- there are no american "men".  Because there are no men.  I just learned this, just now, when I looked a bit further into Elliot Page.  He is a man, per assertion and common report.  But some few months ago he was a woman -- I should say, he "presented" as a woman, the way a female dog presents her posterior when in heat -- 'mount me'.  Presuming of course the case is different with dogs, than with humans.  Dogs have male and female, as far as the Supreme Court currently allows us to suppose.  And it goes without saying, we are told, our understanding re the existence of "marriage" was fatally flawed.  Exploded myths: america, manhood, marriage.

Ellen Page, then.  A talented former actress, now actor -- actress actrex actranz. Such obsolete terms, like Jewess or negress.  My grandfather said 'coons' -- it's just how Montanans born in the 1800s spoke.  People should get reasonable courtesy about what they call themselves. But they do not have the right to eliminate capital letters at the start of proper nouns.  They don't have the right to make someone else dot an 'i' with a pretty little heart.  When very small children are potty trained, they enjoy the power of holding back, or producing.  It's something to outgrow. 

She spent all those post-puberty years (that explains it: it was a female puberty) hating her breasts. My desultory search did not uncover any info regarding her pubic area -- it's all about the "top surgery" -- radical bilateral mastectomy.  Nothing about "bottom surgery" -- vagina, labia, clitoris.  A lesbian, she will have had no affinity for penises -- yet presumably a fascination, and (in a rare instance where Freud would be correct) envy.  

But the info is incomplete.  Like Caitlyn Jenner (we all have a right to change our names) -- does he still have his junk?  Unknown to all but a few.  This must be the difference between these neologisms, "transgender" and "transsexual" -- the -sexual, I'm supposing, would try to more convincingly effect the illusion, of, um, transmogrifying thheir sex.

I should have thought Eliot truly committed herself -- removing not just the "dangerous", deadly and disgusting breast tissue the very thought of which so tormented her.  I had thought she'd had a little penis constructed out of maybe tendons or cartilage, and perhaps they repurposed her clitoris.  Gristle.  Hanging or flopping or bobbing about inside those "swimming trunks" she's wearing for the first time.  Maybe it was a big penis -- is that a choice?  Can they transplant some dead man's penis -- the "organ donor" box benevolently ticked on his drivers license?  But they don't always go more than skin deep.  Like that pregnant man from a few decades ago.  Another exploded myth: motherhood.

I have to admit, I'm curious.  Bi-curious, is that the term?  No, the internet informs me.  It must be trans-curious.  Is that a thing?  Everything is a thing.  LGBTTQQIAAP-curious (I looked it up -- Legbutt Kyap I am Yippee Kiyay Yellow Curious.  Why does thheir Q come before my A?  That's discrimination.).  

I have below-zero interest in a prurient or titillated way, in transsexual penises.  But that's not clear: no interest in the removed or repurposed actual penises of body-dysphoric men who have themselves castrated and mutilated to counterfeit the appearance, sometimes extremely convincing, of actual women.  And no interest in a neopenis, or the penis-like construct that is assembled for the type or direction of transsexualism that moves from dysmorphic female to plausibly presented male.  (I've found some online images of the surgical artifact in question.  It is alien and very sad.  An inexperienced lesbian might be fooled, as from Renaissance art, or the bas reliefs of Khajuraho.)  

I hope that's clear: no interest in either women with a constructed penis-like anatomical modification, or in the amputated organs of men who opt for this elective surgery.  Rather, my interest is like that in a medical picture of a prolapsed anus -- this can happen.  My curiosity is operational ... maybe that's not the best word -- but, do the doctors provide one of these "penises" with a foreskin, or alternatively with a circumcision scar?  Can it achieve an actual nitric oxide-induced erection?  Does viagra work on it?  Would it retract, as when it's cold -- would the "scrotum"? -- would the "testicles" retract in a fear-response?  (I'd assume they put two little surgical-grade rubber ovoids in a little manufactured sac, as they do with castrated German shepherds.)  So many open queries, for the questing mind.

Sup, I'm Chaz.  I used to be a cute little girl,
but I hated that.  So now I'm a man. 
I got my insurance to pay surgeons to make some junk for me, and now I have this tube of skin between my legs, like a thumb with no bone in it, and sort of behind it there's this hairless skin sac that used to be my vulva or whatever, with two silicone balls I call my balls.  They're huge.  They're held in place with mesh so they haven't caused a fistula yet, and you could hardly tell the difference, if you were a dude, but I wouldn't let you, cuz I don't let dudes near my balls.  I'm straight, see, and I dig chicks. And chicks dig me, at least the ones I git with, who don't really know what balls are like -- I mean the balls of other dudes.  

It's not hatred.  Befuddlement to a degree.  But it's disgust not with her, them, thhem, but with a depraved society that so utterly encourages a mutilation that briefly ameliorates the catastrophic mental illness of gender dysphoria or sexual dysmorphia.  There are cases where it's not about genitals, but, say, an arm.  The current solution would be to amputate the arm at the shoulder.  For all that it cuts as deep as can be, it's such a superficial response.  But lobotomies are still practiced -- I'm guessing mostly in, say, North Korea. 

With or without a dot, it's a 'j'.

Elliot is pro-abortion ... I think that's their locution -- oh, poor-choice. No, a typo, pro-chaz, d'oh, chew, well that was spellcheck ... but I clearly have a glitch in my brain about this. What's the matter with me.  She loves abortion is my point.  No, dang, HE loves abortion.  Well, I've lost my train of thought.  Why was I talking about abortion?  Something about uteruses, maybe.  Yes, that's it.  

She thinks that razor sharp knives are the solution to unwanted organs and organisms, and feelings.


Thursday, July 15, 2021


I just found 4 years of unmoderated comments.  Sorry, if you've been waiting.  I like the excitement of a chaotic life.  Went through and posted what was postable.  Lots of "unknown"s there.  How rude.  

I looked at YESHUA BAR YOSEF from 13 years ago and found a comment I had not responded to.  That's not like me.  I started a response, but it was too much work to finish it.  You'll have to ask.  


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Some of My 'Shark Tank' Ideas!!!

• Dog lipstick!  - dog nose bleaching!
• Cat nail polish!
• Feather curling /  waves & bobs / perms!
• Pig tanning booth, home spray-tan service! Treats vitiligo!   - Also pig electrolysis, expandable to other household pets! 
• Fishtank dye! (colored water)!
• Tail ribbons for ALL domestic, wild and feral animals!  - also nose-rings  - human adaptable!


• Hyena meat - steaks, burgers, dogs, cutlets, briquette, loaf, shish kabob, bouillabaisse, tartar, bacon, jerky, etc.!  Exotic!  Trending (potentially)!  Perfect for the Foodie!
• Food truck, cart, stand, online, mail order, retail, franchise, promotional give-away, licensable!


• "Pedi-Kyur"!  Foot sanitizer (guaranteed to not sanitize hands)!
•  "Knobs 'n' Homs"!  Knee & elbow sanitizer (front & back!) (likewise, guaranteed NO hand sanitizing!)!


Amazing board game!  "The Filasufer King!"  Based on Aristotle's "Nicomachean Ethics"!  Provided: attractive corrugated cardboard playing surface; nine dodecahedral dice; ruler and colored pencil.   The only rule is, there are no rules?  Not here!  Over ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY fantastic rules ... plus that ruler, for a ruler!  Makes a great drinking game!  Ages 18 and over!


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Sunday, March 21, 2021

Go cry, emo kitty

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Unity, Freedom, Work


Anodiwa stood still, staring silently, almost rudely.  She started to tremble.  Her mouth opened as in grief, her eyes wide, and she broke into sobs.  She stumbled toward the doctor, grabbed her in a desperate embrace.  Dr. Washington held the joyful mother, silently.

Since his birth the little boy was a humiliation for his mother.  Even at age six he rarely spoke, and when he cried he always covered his nose and mouth to stifle the sound, its difference.  Anodiwa was ashamed of her shame, but mother-love is a duty as much as a feeling -- something that the doctor relied on.  Anodiwa had confided, "My boy, he something God forgot to fix in my belly."  She said, "Sometime I wish the ground swallow my little boy up."  And she burst into tears.  

Of all the surgeries Dr. Washington performed, these sorts, cleft palate and the like, were the most satisfying.  She sometimes said that saving a face was like saving a life.  

The surgery had no complications.  The little boy's lip had been reshaped, and now he looked like an unremarkable child with a sticking plaster on his face.  The doctor had preserved enough of her funds to stay in the region long enough to monitor the healing of all her patients.  Parents always had to be trained, warned about clean bandages, and infection, and opening scars.  That was a bigger job than the surgeries.  Do no harm.  

Until almost living memory, doctors had killed more of their patients than the diseases did.  George Washington was killed by his doctors -- they bled him to death.  The doctor kept this fact in the forefront of her mind, not because they shared the name, but as a reminder about how the world is: people think they're right, when they're not.

Later that evening, alone in her makeshift office, gazing out the window past her mobile surgery parked outside, the doctor saw Anodiwa walking alone at the other side of the village center, carrying water to her young family.  Faintly, a crooning song about answered prayers hung on the cooling twilight air.  



Idai had turned off the paved road from Nkayi hours ago, into the rough hill country, slow going on the dirt track.  A bus came shambling toward them, passed, children waving like bon voyage passengers from an ocean liner.  Flat-topped trees, dry gold grass, roan antelope placid in the distance.  The road bucked and swayed beneath the large van, unrestful across the hypnotic landscape.

They finally came to the crossroads.  A truck blocked the way, five men standing, holding or leaning on bolt-action rifles, waiting.

Idai rolled to a stop.  The officer approached, casual, arrogant.  He wore mismatched military insignia.  “Lieutenant Captain,” Itai said quietly to the doctor.  "Not so good for us.  And Budya.  They should be Tauara.  Not so good.” 

“Get out,” the officer said.  His face was burnished copper, dull with the grime of dust and ash, streaked with dried sweat.  A necklace hung outside his shirt, the teeth and claws of some big cat.  Not deigning to use English, he spoke rapidly in a dialect the doctor could not follow. 

Itai replied, round vowels and rolled consonants.   The officer looked angry, lines dug hard into his face.  Itai gestured broadly, swept his hands eastward, encompassing all of Zimbabwe, into Mozambique, perhaps to the ocean.  He smiled, his tone deep and melodic.  He was being convincing.  

The lieutenant captain stared at the doctor as Idai spoke.  He growled a few words, turned abruptly and went to his men.  They argued among themselves.  "He did not care to see our permits," Itai whispered.  "He knows who you are.  I told him we have only a little money."  Itai wiped a palm across his brow.  "They always must have something.  They must have everything."

The officer returned, snapped what had to be commands.  Itai hurried to the cab, pulled out a bag from behind the driver's seat.  Handed it over.  Papers, notebooks, and several hundred British pounds.  The officer took the money, went back to his truck and laid it out on the bonnet.  One of the men started dividing it.  The officer returned, pointed at the watch on the doctor's wrist.  She pulled it off and handed it over.  

A few more sharp orders, dismissive, and Itai and the doctor got into their vehicle.  Far down the road, Itai let out a bark of a laugh.  "You know why he let us go?  You heard him say it, 'Doctor Martha'.  Fifteen years ago you did an operation on one of his cousins.  He said he will give her your watch."



The large wall clock clacked off another minute.  The customs agent glanced up, down again at the transit papers, grunted disapproval.  He looked up and stared unsmilingly at the doctor.  He looked at the papers again, unblinking, not reading -- thinking rather, planning.  He smiled tightly.

"Wait," he commanded, and disappeared behind a door on the far wall.  She waited, knowing the game.  Unusually long, this time -- more than ten minutes.  A siren whined through the open window.  The window blinds clattered in the morning breeze.  The door opened abruptly and the agent gestured.  "Come."

In the office, the agent's superior sat at his broad desk, pretending to be engrossed studying her permits.  She had been in this office before, six, no seven years ago.  The same neglect, peeled paint, coffee stains -- the same dust and indifference.

The official was surprisingly old -- perhaps her own age.  He raised his eyes, sighed, remained seated, shook his head solemnly.  "So Dr. Washington.  You come again to our beautiful country.  I am Under-Sub Minister Siziba.  I think I have not had the pleasure of a previous meeting."  He did not wait for a reply.  "But I should think you would know by now the importance of Zimbabwe law.  We are a very lawful people.  Civilization cannot work without rules.  It is very serious to smuggle technology and drugs into our country, as surely you must know.  There are many fees and costs."

They had not met before.  She supposed he was reciting his usual speech, varied only slightly for her particulars.  So many men like this, over the years -- decades, really.  Uniforms with incomprehensible decorations, or shiny suits more expensive than an official income could account for.  Corruption and money.  Disease and medicine.  

Siziba tapped the stack of papers on his desk.  "Not in order.  No proper stamp.  You did not pay the proper fees.  I cannot allow your -- what are you calling it? -- your 'mobile surgery' to enter.  So sorry, but no entry.  It is not possible.” 

She looked into his bored, shrewd eyes.  Games have rules -- agreed upon, but open to interpretation.  She smiled, nodded, and sat down uninvited.  They interpreted.  

Money, money, money.



[applause]  Good evening.  I'm Martha, as some of you know.  Let me tell a story, of sorts.  Many years ago, when I was young, I was, yes, believe it, a Flower Child.  That dates me.  I called myself … 'Titania'. [laughter]  We believed in flower power.  [singing:] "Love, love, love."  "All you need is love..."  We'd save the world by painting our faces and dressing like carnival people.  

We were a fad, like love beads. [laughter]  The world did not cooperate, red in tooth and claw as it is.  You've seen the picture of the girl putting a flower in the rifle barrel?  I knew her.  She died of a drug overdose.  We were just children with flowers -- babes in the woods.  And victims not just of our own foolishness.  There were wolves among the sheep.  As there still are criminals, and predators.  Lions after goats.  

When commercials started singing songs about solving global problems with a soft drink, well how perfectly human.  A flower, a smile, a cola, and everyone is young and beautiful. [laughter]

Go ahead and smile, at who we were.  If you do, we were right, a little -- honest laughter makes the world better.  But we weren't right.  Smiles don't save the world -- they brighten a mood.  Sometimes that has to be enough.  But it's better to do more, if you can.  

I grew up a little, finished college, lost my Afro and went into the Peace Corps, to Botswana, a landlocked African country.  In those days, the average income was 20 cents a day.  They didn't need flower power, they needed clean drinking water.  Water power.  I came home and became a surgeon.  Once a year I'd take a few weeks off and do surgeries in Central African villages -- of course I'd need to follow up the next year or two.  When I retired, I took it up full time.  

Let me show you.  I carry this notebook, my little black book of photos.  I have many older ones, and this one's just about full up too.  I started with polaroids, and now it's digital, but I like the physical connection of paper.  I'm like a grandma, with pictures of my hundreds and hundreds of grandkids, and I don't mind making a nuisance of myself.   

You can see on the screen behind me, this little boy, with a cyst the size of a fist on his lip.  Yes, it is hard to look at it, isn't it.  I removed the cyst.  Here he is now.  How very, very, very beautiful he is -- utterly transformed, by a procedure of mere minutes.  Saving a face is like saving a life.  His name is Boitumelo.  It means 'Joy'.  Pardon me.  His smile blinds me.  Tears for joy.

Let me make a nuisance of myself.  There is an unspeakable need in Zimbabwe.  Twenty thousand will cover the peculiar costs of this trip.  I don't expect it, but the very last thing that came out of Pandora's box was hope, otherwise full of pain.  American dollars, of course.  Twenty thousand Zimbabwe dollars are about fifty US.  It's among the very most corrupt countries.  

There's a breakdown of projected expenses on my website.  I doubt you'll ever find a budget that's so fascinating.  Twenty thousand is a lot of money.  It's like, twenty thousand soda pops. [laughter]  You and I, we can smile.  Not everyone can.  This is what money is for.

I don't want just my little shelf -- I want a bookcase, no, a library of these books, full of these beautiful people, my flower children.  I want a garden of children of all ages, that stretches farther than human vision can reach. [pause]

We weren't wrong.  We just didn't understand, that money is needed too.  Money power.  It really does help.  Because there's "No one you can save that can't be saved." [long pause]

 [singing:] "Love, love, love.  Love, love, love.  Love, love, love."  

Thank you. [applause]


Wednesday, January 15, 2020

First Draft

I say there are only two religions.  But there is only one, of works. "True religion is visiting the sick etc".  What then is false, or at least not-true, religion?  Selfishness?  Rituals?  Self-advancement, including meditation unto enlightenment?  These are certainly not "visiting the sick".  The other religion  is not of works, but grace, and isn't a religion.  It has nothing to do with psychology, psuche, soul, enlightenment, nirvana.

I say there are two religions, but there's really only one: the advancement of the soul (psuche, nephesh, animus, prana, chi -- not  exact cognates, but all referring to that perfectible essence that concerns mystics, ascetics, monks, religionists).  By this meaning, there are true and false religions, in that some methods advance and some  inhibit soulish growth: religion as an edification to the world, or as a means of power and selfishness.  Inward or outward, selfish or selfless.  It's still all pretty much the same -- all about gaining advantage in the world.  Moslem and Hindu and Buddhist -- well, fill in the list.  Shinto. Christian. Orthodox/Roman Catholic/Protestant.  Calvinism.  Methodism.   Just ways of acting or thinking that affect the soul.  Methods and beliefs that are personal to the individual, and which  differ only in efficaciousness.

Then there's the religion that is not a religion, because it is not about the advancement of the soul.  It's the only one that is not about works and goals, and self. It has nothing to do with the world.  It is entirely about a relationship with God, the only means of transcending, extending out of the universe.  That relationship is spiritual, not soulish.  Soulish enlightenment may come with the relationship, but it may not. 

Enlightenment -- a process, a goal, a relationship with the world -- is not the point; rather, reviving a dead spirit -- salvation, as Jesus taught it.  Saved not from a benighted soul, false ideas, an excess of desire,  bad breathing habits.  Saved from a cut-off, a dead spirit.  Separated not from the timeless sea of nonbeing, the eternal cloud of unknowing, but from the transcendent source of life, rather than the natural physics of life. 

So, there are only two religions, of soul, and of spirit.  Soul is about works and experience in the universe -- a process, and all religions are true.  Spirit is not about anything -- it's a relationship that reaches God, by grace.  No one saves themselves by believing and keeping the laws of Moses, the Pillars of Islam, the Paths of Buddhism, the credos of Christendom.  There is no way to save yourself.  Again, two religions, of saving yourself, or of not being able to save yourself. 


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Monday, October 21, 2019

The Metamorphosis, Part Two

Copyright © 1919 Franz Kafka
Translation copyright © 2020 Jack H

Gregor Samsa had drunk poison the night before.  For eight days the bottle went untouched under his pillow, and every night Gregor could feel it through the linen and the feathers, hard as a stone on his cheek or the back of his head.  When making up the bed his mother had not found it, or did not move it.  He died in the morning after hours of dull fever-dreams.  Having died he awoke in his bed to find himself transformed into a gigantic insect.  Being alive, he supposed the poisoning to be a vivid part of the night’s delirium.  Time, he thought, answers no master in dreams.  He put the matter from his mind and considered the day before him, how his employer would upbraid him for being late.  Because of his change even the most habitual act was difficult, and in fact he would never again return to work or even set foot outside the front door -- although in truth none of his many legs had feet.

His first attempts to communicate with his family were met with loathing and violence.  Gregor understood their reaction, unaccustomed as they were to insects the size of -- a large hog?  Not as weighty though.  He supposed he was mostly hollow, or full of foam.  His father hurled a number of apples at him, one of which lodged painfully in his carapace where for several months it rotted, bringing an infection which resulted in yet another death, this time without distress, quietly in the night. 

When Gregor woke again he had transfigured into a violin.  He lay on his soundboard, tilted to the left off his bridge, uncomfortable but utterly without the power of motion.  He was on a tumbled heap of rubbish among shabby ash cans.  This is a fine state of affairs, he thought.  Being a monstrous beetle was inconvenient enough, if I even was a beetle.  I never thought to count my legs -- perhaps I was a spider or a scorpion, an exotic arachnid of some sort, certainly an arthropod.  But now, a, a, -- he cast his senses about to verify his intuition -- yes, a violin, and not even in bed.  I am sure I was just on the floor of my room.  This is a fine way to treat a violin, face down in garbage in a back alley.  Doesn’t moisture damage violins?  It could rain at any moment.  Who would be so careless?  I did not bring myself here.  My health used to be so fine -- in five years I was never sick a single day and now I don’t even know myself.  In another five years I might have paid off my parents’ debt and been completely free.  I would have met a woman and married her and had two children, a boy and a girl.

He could not move or make any sound by his own effort, but his senses were not extinguished by the transformation.  His sight -- it could not be called eyesight -- projected from the frontis of his volutes, and while he was unable to change his view, he found he could focus on any object within his field of vision with as much facility as if he had eyes to move.  He would later think of it as sliding a game piece across a playing board.  He heard as a vibration within his body, as if the f-holes were ears.  His entire surface had a sense of touch, most sensitively along the length of his strings.  Smell was dim and diffused, like the feel of air on skin when he had lungs to breathe.  After he searched himself for a sense of taste, he settled on the impression of a tongue in an empty mouth.

Several times during the morning he heard people passing along the alley, always the sound of feet, sometimes conversation, mostly men, but no one noticed him.  I am the color of dirt and rags, Gregor thought.  Soon more litter will cover me, or I will be crushed beneath the boot of the ashman.  Being face down he could see only the ground, stones and gravel, dirt, dung, the lower part of barrels and at the edge of his vision the brick wall of a building.  A column of ants moved endlessly from beneath a crumple of butchers paper toward the wall, into some minute crack no doubt, to a nest within the building’s foundation, feeding their queen and protecting her infinite eggs.

Late in the day he heard feet approach and then a cry of delight.  A hand snatched him up by his long neck and held him before the face of the charwoman who worked for his father and mother.  “Well my word,” she said, “look at this.  Isn’t this a fine violin.  Here I brought you to see a giant disgusting flat dead bug as a treat, and right there we find a valuable treasure like this.  It is a strange world.”  A young boy reached out quickly and took Gregor from the woman’s hand.  “Look at me!” he exclaimed, “I’m playing the violin!” and he plucked at Gregor’s strings as if pulling weeds.  The strings were untuned and held no pure notes.  “Not any music I would dance to,” said the charwoman merrily, shaking her skirts, “and I don’t think you’ll be working in a cafe playing for the toffs.  We’ll take it to the junkman and sell it.”  The boy now began to flail Gregor around like an axe.  “I’ll smash it!” he shouted.  “I’m a red indian!”  He whooped and hopped in a circle on one leg.  “Now you stop that,” the woman snapped -- Gregor thought she was the boy’s mother, although she might have been his grandmother.  “Knock over those ash cans if you must break something.  This here violin is money to us.”  So saying, she snatched Gregor away from the boy and dropped him into a large pocket sewn into her skirt.

From the dark Gregor heard the boy complaining: “We were going to see a giant bug, so where is it?  Was it there and somebody stole it?”  His tone grew sulky: “I bet stinky gypsies stole it.”  The charwoman scoffed: “Nobody wants that filthy thing.  I tried to squash it with a chair, but it was a cowardly thing.  I would have poisoned it but I couldn’t find the bottle.  It finally died and I dragged it here.  Disgusting. ”  They walked for some time, out of the alley and onto the high street, the charwoman’s large feet sounding purposeful on the paving stones.  She had dropped Gregor into the pocket upside-down, and with every step he was jostled about until his scrolls were wedged blindingly into a linty corner and his chinrest slapped against the woman’s slack belly like an impatient palm.  Even though he knew he did not breathe, he felt suffocated.  Yes, he had a sense of smell -- the sour of unwashed linen, of turning milk, and something of uncooked sausage left in the sun.  I had an appetite when I was an insect, he thought, but not for what they left me.  So I shrank, I flattened, dry and flat.  I am flat now.  An insect should always be hungry for anything.  I wish I could tell someone it is otherwise.  No one knows this except me.  I would be a scientific expert -- that would make my employer take notice.  Gregor Samsa, renowned for his discoveries about insect appetite, world’s greatest entomologist.  I didn’t know I knew that word.  Perhaps if I could eat I would grow into a viola, then a cello and then into a contrabass.  Let her put me in her oversized pouch then!  But that’s like supposing a dachshund could grow into a great dane.  Things do not change their natures.

At last they stopped and Gregor heard a door open and the ring of a shop bell.  “Now you wait outside, it’s not cold,” the charwoman said, entering and closing the door behind her.  “Hello junkman,” she called out, pulling Gregor from the pocket.  “Have I brought something special for you today.”  They were in a cluttered shop, nearly overflowing with oddments, stacked chairs, piles of gazettes, tilting bookcases crowded with candlesticks and dusty figurines, hinged boxes and mismatched china plates -- rack upon rack of men's hats, top coats and jackets, innumerable boots and shoes piled beneath, most kept in pairs by tied strings.

From a corner a wizened man in a skull cap the color of wet ashes blinked over pince-nez glasses at the charwoman.  He blew out air from his long thin nose in a show of disapproval: “So it’s you with your usual rubbish I pray to God not, more bits of thrown-out furniture all creaking and scratched.  I cannot sell it for firewood.”  Drawing near, he said, “Here, this, give it to me.”  He took hold of Gregor and thrust him into the light that leaked through the shop’s grimed window panes.  The little man plucked at Gregor’s strings, and with swift fingers twisted the pegs.  In a moment Gregor was in tune, which gave him a strange exhilaration, almost the first joy he could remember having.  “Where is the bow?” snapped the shopkeeper, holding out an impatient hand.  “A violin is not an American banjo in a minstrel show, to smack at like a drum.  It is the instrument of genius, and you pull it from your apron like a loaf of bread.”  The charwoman shook her head angrily.  “Now you just remember what’s what.  None of your high hat, just tell me what you’ll pay, bow or no.”  With a humph the old man turned and bent behind the long shop counter.  He straightened holding a violin bow, and positioning Gregor between his chin and shoulder he ran his deft touch along the fingerboard, bowing with practiced ease the tune of a popular waltz, merry with spiccato.

“Not bad,” he nodded.  “Not good but not bad.  I do not recognize the maker, which surprises me, but it has the timbre of a better-made student violin.  Six kronen, it should be five without the bow but I am a fool.”  A gleam shone in the charwoman’s eye, but she said, “The one on Linden Street offered me ten not 30 minutes ago.”  The shopkeeper closed his eyes knowingly.  “The one on Linden Street went out of business 15 minutes ago and was so blessed to die in his bed.  I’ll give you seven, and that is all or do not waste my time.”  The bargain was made and the charwoman departed.  Through the shop window Gregor watched the woman and the child walk off, almost instantly out of sight -- he felt as if he were sailing out of a port city beneath a smoking volcano.  Goodbye forever, and thankful for it.

The shopkeeper went again behind the counter, stooped and placed a violin case on the surface next to Gregor.  He took a cloth from the case and began to rub Gregor thoroughly.  “Very nice -- not great but nice enough,” he said.  “The tone is a bit thready, but this is the strings -- old and never of good quality.  And the body is sound enough -- a dent in the back plate, but small.  Always only what is important matters.”  He continued to polish Gregor, moving the clean soft rag in tight light circles.  After a time he went through the door into the rear of his shop, returning with a second violin case, empty.  The old man placed Gregor into the case and latched the lid shut.  When blackness enveloped him Gregor felt no unease -- calm rather, like a child again in his own bed, asleep or partly so and the dark night no different than the dark of sleep, lying flat, unmoving, armless, legless, no need at all to move.  He thought back to when he could walk on his many skittering footless legs -- how was that even possible?  He supposed the legs could have ended with toes, or five toes connected end to end like knuckles.  Horses he recalled had legs with only a single toe, running on the nail, a hoof -- but which one, he wondered, the big toe, or thumb, or maybe the middle finger?  When I was an insect did I walk on my pinkies?  Did the top limbs have thumbs and the bottom toes?  And all the nails on a single finger, as claws.  I did not look to see, but they were unpleasant, those ugly waving thready legs, like algae growing up from the bottom of a pond.  Now it is fingers alone that give purpose to my being.

He must have slept, for when the case was next opened Gregor saw that the high street through the window was bright with morning sunlight.  “New strings,” the little man said, “and we will see what bargain we truly made.”  The old strings were quickly replaced, the new were tuned, fine tuned, and Gregor was raised to the old man’s chin.  A rich and mellow tone issued from Gregor’s body, the melody an uninspired popular ditty, but played with a sprightly humor that could justify a rehearing.  “Yes, this will do nicely,” the old man said after a time.  He placed Gregor back into the case and snapped shut the lid.  How many days then passed Gregor could not say.  It did not matter.  He would be taken out and tuned and played, ten minutes or twenty, then put away, and so on, many times.

Time had no meaning because Gregor had no needs.  To make music, to rest in darkness -- it was enough.  Now I am a musical instrument, he thought.  Before I was an insect.  Before that I was a man, and a boy, and a babe that lived in the womb.  I do not know what, before that.  I do not know why any of these things, or how.  I never wondered why I was a beetle and not a bee or an ant, a single ant marching in a long line stretching from deep in a mound all the way to some store of food, spilled and sweet or dead flesh drying into earth.  I was an industrious man, but beetles do nothing meaningful, only scuttling and eating.  The scarab was a beetle, a sacred dung beetle, pushing balls of manure around like Sisyphus.  The Egyptians supposed something like this made the sun move across the sky.  Phaethon.  Prometheus.  Tantalus.  I should have read more.  I sold cloth, without which people would be uncovered.  Cloth is what civilization is made out of, like a fence makes a paddock -- cloth, not stone or dried mud, or wood or paper.  Now I am wood -- will I be rock or dust?  There is so little difference.  If I were a book, would I know my story?  I can make music when someone plays me.  Could I have made music as a beetle?  Like a cricket, my own music, but my legs could not touch.  I rustled as I scrabbled across the floor.  My sister said the sound made her skin crawl.  I did not have skin -- just a shell, not even wings.  Do all beetles have wings?  I was just a bug, undefined the way a child would draw.

One morning Gregor was taken from his case by the shopkeeper and handed to a bearded man standing with a young woman.  They were not in the junk shop -- the parlor rather of a private residence.  The bearded man took Gregor by the neck and inspected him closely with an air of judgement and assumed expertise, making small assessing noises with throat and nose.  He paused a moment at the dent in Gregor’s back -- scratched a critical nail at Gregor’s chinrest, but nodded a grudging dismissal of some complaint.  After further searching, the bearded man handed Gregor to the young woman, saying, “Give it a play, my dear, and see if it has as fine a tone as we have been told.”  The young woman took and rosined the bow, placed Gregor to her chin and played the strong deep opening strains of the third movement of Brahms’s violin concerto.  “Oh yes, quite lovely.  Thank you darling, it is a lovely gift.  My old violin was a child’s instrument and I am to be a married woman,” she said with a demure smile.  The bearded man removed a folding wallet from his coat and counted out a number of notes.  The shopkeeper bowed and said, “So nice, thank you good sir.  Your lovely fiancée plays so nicely.  A fine student.  I loathe to give up such an instrument but it is in the business of the world.  We part from what we hold dear.”  The bearded man gave a curt nod.  “You hold the money dear enough,” he said stiffly.  “That will be all, Herr Shopkeeper.  Good day.”  The old man donned his overcoat and bowed himself to the door.  He placed his hat upon his head and departed unnoticed as the young woman placed Gregor back into the case and latched down the lid.  The bearded man said a few words but they were indiscernible.

Gregor felt himself being moved and set down, and heard the closing of a door, perhaps a cupboard or closet.  In the silence Gregor could not recall the sound of the music he had just made.  Time passed in stillness.  He did not think of music -- he knew it as a dream one wakes from and cannot remember, as people do not think of breathing.  I do not breathe, Gregor thought, and I am a person.  What do I think about.  Do I dream?  Do I sleep?  He let his mind grow still, as listening, as waiting without expectation.  Am I asleep now?  How can I know?  Is time passing?  Do I want it to?  Does it matter?  I was not curious as an insect.  As a man I despaired.  Now I am an instrument, a thing deliberately constructed.  If I do not make music do I have a purpose?  Fingers, hands, handle me, manipulate, men and women, two of each, and a boy -- this far have I lived as I am now, simple and shaped, balanced, sanded, varnished, somehow alive, alone and resonant.  Her hand, her fingers, the bow strokes on my strings, the breath from her nostrils blowing across my lower bout, beardless jaw and slight shoulder pinching the dimension of my ribs.  She was my sister.  That is who she is.  Gregor felt no surprise that he only now thought to recognize her.  She is my sister.

From inside his case Gregor heard the music of a small wedding orchestra.  He thought he must have been asleep.  His case opened and he was lifted out, and a man in formal dress quickly plucked each string, making slight turns of Gregor’s fine tuners.  Then the man stepped onto the small stage at the side of the reception hall and joined the other musicians.  In the open case by his chair was another violin, the E string broken.  Gregor was played for another half hour or so as part of the ensemble, then the musicians stepped away to refresh themselves.  The violinist lingered a moment, staring distractedly after one of the musicians, then placed Gregor on the seat of his chair and followed after.  Gregor could see the wedding party, the bride who was his sister, the bearded man she had just married, and there too were his father and mother.  His father moved with a lightness of foot Gregor had never before seen in him.  He looks so young, Gregor thought, like me as I was, taller now and larger, very large in fact, like a wrestler -- and even my mother looks younger, and both are smiling and calm, happy in the blessings of the day.

His father went and embraced the bride, kissing each cheek and smiling into her eyes.  They strode as a couple toward the small stage where Gregor was.  “In a moment I will make a speech,” Gregor’s father said.  “I will welcome my new son into our family, as a blessing to me and your mother in our old age.  Now I know we will have grandchildren.  You do not know yet that worry, what a worry that has been to me, the thought that my name and line would wither and waste away like something starved of vitality.  We cannot live alone and be human.  So many generations behind me, and any continuation into the future depends entirely on you, my dearest child.”  Gregor’s sister nodded and smiled, and said, “It is so strange, like a jump into a river.  I will have a boy and a girl.”  His father chuckled agreement, and asked, “What will you name the boy?” The bride smiled knowingly and said, “Just you wait and see.”  He chuckled again and sat down heavily into the chair where Gregor lay.  Gregor’s neck, his fingerboard, his front and back plate, his ribs smashed and snapped and flattened like cracking teeth and shattering glass.  Gregor’s entire body was possessed by brilliant pain more shocking than ice, his mind like a hiding child able only to observe the savage ravening of wolves, slashing ripping claws and fangs and a bloodless splatter dry like hunger at the moment of death.  The pain ended however as quickly as it came, and Gregor thought, yes, he has broken me, my neck and every part.  There’s another sense I had not thought about, pain with its sheer and its brevity.  If I were human flesh and bone I would be paralysed.  Now only my strings hold my head to my body.  I will never be played again.

Gregor’s father had risen, now standing with the bride staring at the wreckage.  “Oh father,” she said, “you great oaf.  I was going to perform.  My husband paid twenty-four kronen for that violin.  It had a fine sound.  It was cheap because we do not know the maker.”  The father replied, “No matter, do not worry.  I am so sorry but honestly it is not hard to replace.  We will celebrate with a truly noble violin that I myself shall buy for you.”  At which the bridegroom approached, smiling thinly.  “Well father, you did not approve of my little gift I see, or should I say I heard, as did we all, with that loud crunching.  But as you say, it is an accident easily fixed.”  With that he gathered up the pieces, brought them to the fireplace and dropped Gregor into the flames.  Gregor felt again yet another kind of pain, but only a moment and he was beyond agony and he could once more think and his mind was still with a subsumming calm.  Touch is more than one sense, he thought.  Flames do not caress.  And as the fire snapped and sizzled through his blistering varnish, his shards and splinters, he thought his final thought.

The bridegroom had turned away from the fire as soon as he dropped the pieces in.  The flames blazed briefly, then fell down to glowing embers.  It was early summer but the day was brisk -- the fire had been built more for cheer than warmth.  The wedding party ended and the hall emptied, guests to their homes, the newlyweds to their marriage bed.  Toward evening a charwoman entered and tidied up, resetting chairs, bundling linen, sweeping the buffed bare floor.  She brushed the fireplace ashes into a pan and spilled them into a small tin pail.  Later she carried the trash down the stairs to the back alley, where she dumped the ashes into an ash can.


When Gregor Samsa wakes again he finds no sense of duration or dimension or warm or dim or of himself in a breathless space, distant silence, deep.  Time passes because there must be time, and change is like the rolling of a world, and then always the sound of pervading rain, of far-off waterfalls, of lake waves filtered through a hedge of willow, slow wind in long rye.  He feels sight now as an effortless red blackness, less than lunar light through closed eyelids.  He does not remember music, or hunger, or movement.  If he has flesh, it is weightless as a sleeper aware of a body.  He floats nameless in a void like a star before God makes light, suffused by a tuneless hum, meaningless as time, sufficient as death, infinite as dreams, as hope.