The Falling Leaf Review, published on ISSUU.COM/thefallingleafreview has shifted its publication schedule. It is currently a Semi-annual published each Solstice. Look for it in the upcoming week. It is still a literary review with fiction, essays, poetry, commentary, photos and art. Publishing and Contributing Editor, Jay V. Ruvolo.
Criticism. How do you receive criticism? What is it about the critique of literature that differs from your parents criticism? Is it really as different as we would like to say, at least those of us in the Academy (or should that be Academies, yes, those of us in the Academies of Higher Learning [is that what we do at University?])? Questions beget questions, I used to say, and herein now it is no different.
But let me say that Susan Sontag was correct in her diary entry–how long ago, now? Decades ago? Yes! Correct was she when she said that most literary criticism is “cultural cholesterol.” Cultural cholesterol. Oh yes! Fabulous, no?
She said that criticism was a “reactive indignation,” meaning? Yes, most critique is only reactive. Yes, of course, we have come to say, some of us, at least, that is we who are still concerned for literature, the literary . . . who does not know that literature is a branch of Epistemology? Where was this going?
Ah! As she said, “Most notions about literature are reactive — in the hands of lesser talents, merely reactive”; and as I add, “especially Post Structuralist critique.” The latter was born of a seething resentment of everything literary by those who loathe anything related to what too many, in their minds, have called Western Civilization. Yes, that mouthful is worth the chew. Hard to swallow?
Something like Deconstruction becomes a dog whistle for those who feel they can no longer be a part of a tradition that they imagine would have marginalized them if they had not rested intellectual and academic hegemony from the previous bearers of a tradition all Post-Structuralists then had to lambast as fake, or so the individual psychologies go into the mentality that has bred a hatred of literature, a hatred of the literary, a dismantling of all that has ever gone into literacy, being literate; thus creating systems of under-education–entrenched at all levels as it is, leaving paths clear for Power to become even more Powerful and Money even more monied, each trading in the other with the other . . .
We have become like the fool who chases the devil in the forrest of Truth and Law and cuts down all the trees of Law and Truth to get at Him, the Devil, only to find that the devil turns to face this fool who no longer has a stick of Truth or Law between him and the devil.
Paperback Book Details
- ISBN 9781939739889
- 90 pages
- Poetry. Land’s End is not only the end of land at the edge of the sea, but the brink of everything we stand on. It is a precipice, an opening of the abyss; it is everything primordial in living, thinking, remembering. Land’s End is a first book of poems by Jay Ruvolo.
Septem, Octo, Novem, Decem. Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten in Latin. The last three letters forming the final syllable of all month names is -ber. Yes, Septem ber, Octo ber, Novem ber, Decem ber.
Yes, October is consistent with September, November and December.
So, there! All you Octemberists can stop it now.
I’m with Virginia Woolf–I have sometimes wished I could have met her, talked with her, read her manuscripts as manuscripts which I often find as exciting or sometimes even more exciting to read to hold to handle to take from someone else’s hand, presumably the writer’s, the author’s . . . what then must I say about how I am with her? I am, though, when she said that the history of woman’s literature is the history of “Anonymous,” the eponym for women everywhere, every-when. What did she say exactly I am not going to find to quote.
Read again whenever you read anything ascribed to Anonymous.
PART ONE: Anonymity, She Said
Anonymity, she said, He says (something he wishes he understood better than he can, better than he suspects he cannot, would ever want to, perhaps sometimes).
He says, I wish I understood you better.
She says, No you don’t. You say you do, but you don’t, not really, not ever, only words you know I might want to hear.
He says, Why do you say that?
And yet another lame account comes out of his mouth? Off his lips? Under his breath? What is that was said amounting to nothing in–how do we measure what it is we say, the value of what has been said, the weight of the words used, meaning made? Words do not mean what they say at, say what they mean at? And you or I will say the same tomorrow as we will every day after day in the petty paces we continue to step on our way, just as it was true yesterday and the day before yesterday that all of them, the words we used, have used, will use, till we arrive back at our beginning, around and around we go, what Franco used mean when he said gira, gira? How does anything begin, let alone this story.
To tell or not to tell, from whose mouth, off whose lips, what are the questions any writer asks, should ask when the telling needs to be told . . . Garcia Marquez spent 20 years writing A Hundred Years of Solitude, and I am not going to go into why, or how, or what was it that he was doing all that time? Who is the Narrator of that story . . . Omniscient, yes?
“You make my skin crawl when you speak as you do about me, about wanting to understand me,” she said . . . “about what you think I want to hear, syllable after syllable, and I wish I were deaf,” she says, “snuffing everything out in me as if I were a candle.”
“Thinking about something, about its meaning, what it means, what does it intend to convey, to indicate, or to refer to (a particular thing or notion); to signify,” she says. “What then is it to be mean or not to be mean, all meaning therefore in the meaning, its intention, although intentionality should no more restrict meaning than etymology should, which does not mean we should ignore what the parameters of intention were in what a word means, or what a word’s etymology is that could then help us to understand its meaning.” She said, “What an author intends should not preclude interpretation; author intention is still a proscription of sorts.”
“To define is to set limits; here the limits of understanding meet the limits of knowing? To know her or not to know her, that might be question to ask, I could ask, would ask if–I am genuinely asking if semantics is governed by epistemology in an absolute way? More questions,” she says.
She examines what she knows, what she thinks–in fact she has said that she does not know what she thinks unless she writes, puts it on paper–she has said enough times in the past that the way she was taught writing was a way in which thinking gets taught–yes, she would insist, “there is a way to think, a how to think. I know that there are too many people who believe otherwise, but then listen to them talk. Yes, listen to them thinking–read what some people write,” she says, has said, will say again as she did just the other day, where was it, were we?
“It is frightening,” she would say in other words. But this notion of anonymity, what it is , how it can be understood, what its significance “has been for women historically,” as she would say, “is important to flesh out,” give it something it has been denied . . . is that what she is doing here, has done here, in these pages of word after word after . . . all of this is and so on and so on.
What is it that she has done here can only be answered by reading what she has written here and elsewhere, put in words for you to understand . . . but mostly for her to know what she thinks and how she thinks because it is impossible for her to know exactly what she thinks she believes without having written, a dialectic of selfhood . . . the dialectical Self? She would say something of the sort, and she has written she has said almost similarly, just the other day, in fact–I do not record her, although I am a very, very close friend and confidant, whatever that means, who is she? I do not need to ask, or maybe I should.
What she says she says the way she says, and she and her words remain completely inimitable.
As for a woman’s anonymity–that is, what it is, how it is, when and where it is or has been . . . what? It seems as if it will be . . . more and so much less at the same time, the same way is said, has been said, needs to be said all over again, the repetition of nothing new under the sun is a lot subtler than imagined, but not nearly as difficult to see as some others imagine.
I want to tell my story.
The questions she raises she does so without equivocation. She is not apologizing for her opinions which are more than mere opinions–the mereness of any opinion is not in the opining but in the opinion of those prejudiced against opinions in themselves. I am not apologizing for her opinions by pointing out she is not apologizing.
“How many methods of discovery do we employ in our self examinations?” She used to ask often. “To discover is the opposite of cover, but is it to uncover what is as is? How much woman is she when she is, woman?” She used to ask; the used to does not mean she no longer does so because she does and will do so, I know. I remember her asking quite clearly: “What methods of discovery do I use in my methods of self examination?” These words, other words, we cannot go to the audio or the video tape.
“Virginia said so,” she said, “that a woman is anonymous, or that the history of anonymous in literature was the history of woman’s literature or that the history of woman’s literature was the history of anonymous, but then there has always been a kind of anonymity for women of women in all societies, some more than in others for longer.”
Can you say without offending anyone “that black Americans have suffered only what women have suffered here or there longer or shorter, greater or lesser,” no? “Woman has ben the prime nigger of the world, and continues to be in many, many places still,” she said.
“If everyone is money’s nigger, what then are African Americans? And if it is true that everyone is Money’s nigger, then what is a woman in this world if the above is also true. And if all of these are true, what then is an African American woman?” She asked.
“I repeat myself, I know, when I say that a woman is and in this is everything is. Yes, she is; this woman or that woman, firstly and lastly, is. What she is is another endeavor; who, when, where, why and how are all of them together subtraction,” she said, and so far how can you disagree? I do not. You should not if you wish to keep your mind opened–and yes, if you disagree with her ad hoc then you are close minded–if you disagree with her on principles that are apart from her saying what she is saying being what she is who she is then this too might be closed minded, I mean what is there to disagree with in her words herein phrased as they have been?
“I am, I say,” she said and would say and has said often, in one or another context, but mostly in her talks about being and existence and the differences there between the two. “I am not this or that when my being is concerned,” she said. “I am; I exist, although I know that to exist and to be are not exactly the same thing.”
To be without the complement not to be. Whether named or unnamed, this woman is, she is. Hamlet’s soliloquy herein referenced is also every woman’s soliloquy. She is not further removed from Hamlet’s Cartesian inquiry than I am because she is a woman.
“How is Hamlet not relevant to me?”
[You should pause here briefly. Take a breath.]
“Now, the history of anonymous is the history of woman; or is it that the history of woman is the history of anonymity?” She asked. I have asked as well. You should have asked. She believes and has believed for a long time that this is an investigation worthy of pursuit. Nonetheless, as she has said, has asked, “Woman is anonymous? She is in anonymity? Anonymity is a place history has reserved for woman? The history herein is one and the same whether it is written or unwritten, irrespective of whether or not there is a historiography to support it in the way all historiography has a way of aping Moses descending from Sinai,” she wrote.
“How much is left unknown at the end of a relationship?” she has asked in this and in other contexts; it has appeared in many pieces written by her. “What is a relationship where the woman or the man or both are perpetually becoming other than each is. How much do the happiest spouses really know about one another, or the unhappiest (we do imagine misery is wiser which might explain the propensity for misery we all have). A lover dies, a spouse is put in her tomb and who was she?
No one was; the one who is is not who she will be when she becomes who she was. But traditionally woman has remained a modified man in the collective unconscious of men. In this, they are part not a whole, except of course in the homophonic, hole.
Women then are–to be or not . . . what? What is for things I have read before (Jay Ruvolo, before)? What are they? What is she? [Who is more important than what?] No, I demand as she has said I should demand that they are not what, but who. So then, Who are they? ‘They’ is too big to manage? Are they? As I am we, woman is they? Does this make any sense. I imagine it does, but then this I I am is macrososmic to the many that make up the subject complement we in I am we.
I know the arguments for I am we are rooted in understanding a selfhood that is plural, a many selves Self, I recall my father having said Milton had said. Every person should be able to say this with conviction, I am we. It is true for each of us, but then that is not exactly what I am saying when I say, A woman is they. This woman here, this woman now, the one in front of me with a world of inquiry and response between us, potentially, is what, is who, is when or where, these are the dimensions of this they she is when we know, like I am we, she is they . . .” to continue with what she has written (what she wrote) might be fruitful, but space here is a consideration and quotes handled correctly–or should I say appropriately–will suffice to reveal something more than just a bit of what she thinks.
“Place and time as much as the things we are or the persons we are, become the dimensions of our world projected outwardly toward the world, into the world; this world, we know, is a stage. Yes, each of us to its many parts. But the selves of the Self are microcosmic to the greater Self we are in its singular totality. These are thrust outward and take place around us in the effect of details, she wrote. “The I, I am is I am; the I am is macrocosmic to all details of our world or any world or all the worlds together in the one larger greater all encompassing world we mistakenly think is larger than us because the physical dimensions are so much greater than each of us is,” she has written.
“The [fore mentioned] ‘they’ inside her is encompassed by the she we use for her, this one and only woman who is herself and every woman as well, both, yet sometimes neither, sometimes someone else. All the time she is who she is whenever she is anyone she is, all the masks she wears inside or outside dependent on the ones worn inside . . .[,]”she wrote. “[A]ll the parts she plays, the players she becomes–in the sense Shakespeare asserts–they are, she is; women and woman are. That’s it. She is. I am. They, them, those people, women. We know no one, not really–who do we know? I ask. Do we know the people whose minds we cannot know completely, whose lives have been lived independently of ours, whose eyes we do not see the world through, whose shoes we do not wear, whose ears we do not hear with, listen with?I ask; I am really asking. Examine this . . . [,]” she said. “What?” She asked. “Who do we know? How many of our selves in the Self remain hidden? How can we know anyone? So how could we know any woman?” She had written before she wrote again what you have herein.
“Who is she, again, the question gets asked and if asked . . . I contend that asking is not always to look for an answer, and not every response is an answer as we should know from their etymologies, although I do not want to enforce meaning through etymology. And oftentimes asked without the intention of waiting for an answer, a particularly annoying contemporary trait we have all acquired. But how many of us avoid asking any question like this at all?
I try to imagine what it is that woman feels, thinks, says to herself when she asks, “Who am I?” I sometimes catch myself pretending to think about this, other times only pretending to understand something that might come from this, other times when I actually feel as if I do understand something–but how much standing under a woman do I do, have I done, the latter when not lying down naked, the only under I do for woman, the only support is in how not to give myself a hernia when letting her get on top?
Responses are not answers; I’ve asserted this above and before in other essays. There are plenty of responses we give, we feign attachment to or connection with, but the answers we seek–do not answer a question with a question she used to say, a woman I once knew. No question is an answer, yet we offer questions as answers, responding as we do not with the rhetorical questions that answer, but the questions in responses that avoid answering. Everything to avoid answering. Irrespective of any answer to any question, She is. To respond is not to answer but to put again, to place once more. To put once more is a placement nonetheless, it is a choice of arrangement,” she has written.
“A woman is” should be the first line of discussion when any thought of her right to choose anything arises. In her is, there is no longer any subtracting devices such as who, what, when, where, how or even why. None of these questions are pertinent or relevant to her inalienable right to choose. There should be no equivocation for anyone sane enough to want to save a woman from the unnecessary horrors that existed before Roe versus Wade. I’ve said this in essays before, and I will reiterate it again and again in essays to come.
There were horrors before the law got behind a woman’s right to choose safe medical procedures rather than the rock or the hard place in back alleys, and yes, there were back alleys; curtain rods and all that sort of letting the air in. I’ll never forget the end of Goddard’s Masculin et Femminin, or Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” where the word abortion is never mentioned. What am I saying? How can I say anything for her? How can I not? How can I afford to disallow myself the ability to speak rationally for woman. Defending a woman’s rights is an obligation I take seriously, which sometimes sounds as if the one asserting the severity of the responsibility misses the point. I assure you I do not, but then who am I to you or for you? I do have an obligation to defend a woman’s rights as I do anyone’s rights because I exist as a moral being. Not to defend human rights in any way anywhere is to reduce one’s self in one’s moral stature. Even if it is at a dinner table in face of indifference or diffidence or ignorance or prejudice,” she has written, we are reading.
“There will always be dilemmas for her, even if aborting an embryo is legally sanctioned. This is not to say that legally sanctioning abortion is a fool’s errand. To each woman her own personhood, her own psychology rooted in her biology, her physiology and her experiences? She has reason; she is capable of reasoning, of being rational or irrational; capable of being passionate or dispassionate. She will have different levels of education, different jobs or careers; her income will vary, as will her home situation, her relationship status, her religion, and so on and so on. But the roller coaster she rides will be hers to ride when and where she chooses. To decide or not to decide should be her question and hers alone. I have shifted gears quickly, but we cannot see any effort to control abortion or the availability of safe nedical procedures for induced miscarriage as anything other than controlling a woman;s body, her right to reproduce or not, which when centered in the opinions of men might be nothing lese other than Uterus envy. It was through the womb of a woman that in Christian Theology, God becomes man; the Son of God, begotten not made before time and creation is gestated as the incarnation through the uterus of Mary,” she has written, has said in other words some of what has been put down here, words, words and more words she has formed reformed, shaped—what was it our friend Addie used to say about words? Shapes to fill a lack.
“Now, if Roe versus Wade were a complete fabrication, if it were a docudrama, would that mean that the majority ruling was somehow made weaker, argumentatively? Would the truth of it, whether true or not in the most pedantic sense of trueness become other than true? Roe versus Wade is just as strong in support of pro-choice whether or not the trial was justified on its factual merits. A trial is just that, an essay on a thesis, and whether it was factually justified does not undermine the results of the debate. The text could have been fabricated entirely by a novelist and placed in a novel. Would that make the argument irrelevant, invalid, sociologically? The argument would maintian ethical, moral and socilogical veracity throuhg–even in spite of–its verisimilitude Fictional truths have as much valency as actual. I should say that veracity in fiction is deeper than verisimilitude; it carries metaphysical weight; it has epistemological density.
But this is not solely the point. Hypotheses are presented all the time in politics and law; the sacred law of our land delivered by Divine Providence, itself a holiness above every insipid conception made by illiterate minds twisted in their bleak deserted imaginings of a God whose baseness as a Lord can only muster an angry call to human intelligence to submit humanity and all humane being to a fearful jealousy, born of barbaric cruelty, fueling a misogyny greater than all traditional hatreds of woman, coupled everywhere it has spread like a virulent venereal disease of the mind, all vicious, all violent, all consumed by hatred, severed forever from any connection to the One True Transcendental Holiness, a Wisdom of Love, Compassion, Redemption and Forgiveness, way beyond the lame and guttural recitations of a most contemptible and corrupted re-connection with God . . . and all of the United States when subject to ratification was a hypothesis subject to the most critical examinations. It took a great deal of intellectual effort to get The Constitution ratified.
The majority ruling in the Roe versus Wade does not become invalid for us epistemologically or ethically, no; it remains valid in its thesis. Nonetheless, the prime thesis here in any discussion of a woman’s right to choose is a Woman is.
I remember Aquinas and his Deus Est. yes, to give tribute to Woman is to subtract from Her, capitalization needed.
There must be a first and last step in all reasoning about human beings (human being, being humane), and for human beings, that asserts loudly and clearly He is; she is; thus, I am which would be the primary and teleological determination for all ethical considerations of each and every one of us, and there has to be an us. Why does a woman deserve respect for her person, for her choices, for the integrity of her selfhood?” She asked, she wrote, has written in these exact words, although rearranged now and then for reasons other than just avoiding redundancy.Or . . . there are always ors? In others the same nevertheless . .. what? If you were her, one thing known or understood; if you were I, what then?
“Because she is, she exists should be First Feminology; her to be following is all of her metaphysics and physics,” she has said time in and time out, the same and not the same. I wish she were the kind of woman . . . what? What do I wish specifically? I could or I could not imagine her; I might or I might not speak her into being, an existence existing like a tree exists in its existence—but a tree is not as a woman is. She has being; the tree does not. If no one is present to hear a woman falling, does her having fallen make a sound?
We understand this is often too much for any one person to handle, all that he is, that he has been, is being, will be, will have been, might have been, could be, should be, would be if or when; what has happened to should have been? I should have been what, could have been . . . I will have been; I would have been–then what?
Who is she? You ask. Who is the narrator? You ask. Who am I? I would not ask; you might. Who are you? I should ask. I could, whether I am who I am at the moment writing this, or whatever I become thus am as I speak this to you; the you who hears it or reads and the you you are every day, I assume, but these assumptions are often in error. There is a real world you, and a you who reads the text not as a real you you but a you you become in the text.
You could spend some time sorting all of this out; but I do not us spect that you would want to, so leave what you have read as it is and do not consider this author me wearing a mask of authorship for you wearing a mask of readership. It’s all about the world and all of it a stage and all of us merely players, many players, a player playing many parts, parts together equalling what whole, an entirety rhyming with hole, the great abyss we all fall into?
PART TWO: Anonymously Speaking
Anonymously speaking, Ginny, Ginny, come out of your dark room, deny your doctors and refuse that glass of milk.
What if, Anonymous said, this were an untitled manuscript by an anonymous author found on the D Train in the New York City Subway one afternoon? What if I were that person who found this text, and what if I were the person who was presenting it here in its entirety without editing, and with only a very modest introduction, which this could function as for the piece I am actually presenting to you? But then who this “I” that is saying (?), writing (?) these words here for you to read–and that is the actual in-the-world reader that you are when you read, but then what is it that you become when you do, someone other than you were before when you were not reading thus not the reader?
Herein, though, are the opinions of an anonymous writer (me) as they were found in typed pages on the New York City Subway . . . how then am I writing this if I am the one who lost them . . . but then you are confusing the narrator/expositor (for every narrator does not always and only narrate; sometimes he expositates, says in expository prose what he wishes to provide in exposition . . .) for the author. There is an author behind this, behind me, as you should know, should be able to understand by any one of the several if X then Ys that extend in the logic of the text. Yes, this text is left here for your perusal and conclusion, whatever that might be. What your opinions should be or should not be I will not venture here, nor will the author, who is there first and the last of this text, but is not the first and the last of interpretation. Author intent is quite useless in criticism.
So, let me say, Let us say that Anonymous begins here, and she says what she says as she says . . . there are generalities and specificities for her, of her, about her, what then does she say, she saying we say because we know that the sayer here is anonymous, and I want to exhibit what I have herein asserted for what we should think when we confront an anonymous text . . . but what of texts that are merely inscribed? We are here talking about those texts that have been specifically ascribed Anonymous, no?
Live Free or Die is the motto of New Hampshire, on every license plate you see, definitely unspoken in the character of a people far, far removed from the understanding of too many of the people I live among in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, too many people who have suffered one or another form of repression, for certain, oppression, it can be assumed, as it has been historically verified in some cases. I have lived among many people from various and varied places within the Soviet Union and The People’s Republic of China.
What I have seen first hand, experienced myself in company and in other forms of social interaction is clear: No one from any Totalitarian Communist society has escaped the formative effects of that totalitarian enculturation, assimilation, indoctrination. There was state manufactured and delivered dogma to be swallowed, either whole, or chewed and digested. There were those who delightfully chewed and digested their State dogma, feeding themselves and nourishing their minds with propaganda and ideology . . . not so unlike those living under Totalitarian Western Bourgeois Capitalism . . . and do not tell me that you imagine that Western Bourgeois Capitalism is not totalitarian in parallel with any totalitarian communist societies, or totalitarian fascist ones. In the ways these parallels can be drawn, the United Sates, France, the Soviet Union and Nazis Germany are all of a piece; in many, many other ways, they are each quite distinct, as the United Staes in many of its own ways is distinct from every other–any other society. The complexities we are talking of here, socially, economically, politically, governmentally, ideologically are . . . perhaps swallowing dogma whole only leaves one with a socio-political gastro-intestinal distress, as if there is an analogy for gastro-intestinal processes or disruptions in what we can call the political mind; but then we do speak of the body politic, don’t we? In my understanding, from what I see, what I hear, what I personally experience in my neighborhood and other neighborhoods around the city, there are far too many people from the former republics of the Soviet Union or from mainland China who were either members of the Communist Parties in their respective countries, or have assimilated the manners of operating within such a system. Yet, all forms of totalitarian control . . . western or eastern, bourgeois capitalist or bourgeois communist (and you do know what I am saying . . .) have their own set of appropriate and in appropriate manners and behavior. Political Correctness in the forms familiar to us in the United States actually have their first imprinting in the factory made citizens of the Soviet Union. This is not to say that political correctness has not always been the marker of social or political advance if not just economic prosperity in all societies for all time. What is politically or socially or economically excommunicate and anathema has always been codified and enforced one way or another in every society. We are though talking about totalitarian societies. We are also talking about how much dissent is allowed, tolerated and to what extent this is used either in the cause of freedom and democracy, or as a method of controlling liberty and choice. We are thus talking of how full of shit a society purporting to be democratic actually is with respect for how much freedom is actually accessible . . . and access is the key because the rights of freedom are inherent to our humanity; it is not the law that gives us our rights. The law can impede access and the free exercise thereof our rights.
Adapting to a totalitarian social schema designed to keep everyone on his toes, walking on egg shells, and participating in small or slightly larger degrees in the repression that was wide spread became as natural–if we can speak of the nature of a society–as leaves growing on trees. The horror of all totalitarian oppression is that everyone participates in larger or lesser degrees, no one is exempt, and the repressive actions become collective. One such reflex that I have both noted myself and have been told by former citizens of such societies, and over the number of years living next to, across from and among people from the former republics of the Soviet Union and China, is the penchant for–or at least the motivation toward–character assassination. There is an ease and sometimes a visible, although albeit unconscious, glee that comes over the face when saying something defamatory about another. The legal distinction of defamation of character seems lost on those I have witnessed engaging in such displays of micro-Stalinist or micro-Maoist activity. Do we imagine that our say something if you see something is not also part of this, even if it is also linked with good sense? Defamation of character is a sport among too many from either country, it is fast becoming the norm from Americans too; and the ease with which some people from either country can perform on the stage of informing is astounding to me, but then I am astounded the way most managers and administrators in the workplaces I have been in perform their tasks of order and control.
The character of the informer is a role too many have played for the purposes of social advancement through the decline of another’s reputation. I have known those who have experienced the same from Americans in the City University of New York, a place where you might expect better ethics, but then you would be mistaken. Primo Levi noted the actions and reflexes from”society’s betters” when put against in comparison with those of “society’s alleged underbelly.” It was astounding the human and humane responses from criminals, drunks, prostitutes the working poor when compared with the inhumane responses and reflexes from doctors, lawyers, teachers, financiers and university professors, and just how easily it came to the later group to betray one another to the Nazis. Societies such as Communist China or the Soviet Union were all too ready and willing to accept such information, either anonymously or not. Often, to settle petty scores, or at other times just to get a leg up on someone in either a real or an imagined pecking order, informing as a method of character assassination was the way. We become more like the former Soviet Union in our social manners and behavior.
This has been attested to by more than just a few people I have known over the years from either country, more specifically the Soviet Union, and not because it happened there more often but because I have found Russians more critical of the Soviet Union than I have found Chinese to be critical of Communist China, and I have found them less xenophobic and a lot less racist or anti-American than I have the Chinese I engage daily in Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst Brooklyn, particularly when they do not know that I am an ESOL teacher that can help them advance socially. When they discover this, all changes, and from either Russian speakers from the former republics of the Soviet Union or Chinese from mainland China, I am received with a complete and visible transformation of character.
It is not exactly disturbing to me how personal conflicts, when some people were concerned, were managed by going to the authorities with something damaging about another person–it is just all too human. But it was also all too Russian and certainly all too Chinese. “I thought I heard someone listening to the radio last night. I think I heard English. It wasn’t Russian.” I am certain there is a variation of this for Chinese as all totalitarian re-structuring amounts to individual rewiring; just as we can say that mentality affects individual psychology, if we wanted to understand the former as a social phenomenon, and the latter what an individual has that is influenced by the former.
Now in societies set up to do nothing else but to manage their populations through manipulation, propaganda, fear, coercion, force and/or investigation, telling tales about someone is useful and even encouraged. It did not matter to the authorities, for the most part, if what was said were true–the authorities in China and the Soviet Union themselves often fabricated false reports to coerce and control. Any excuse to investigate was seized with delight. Gleeful were the Communist authorities who had patriotic citizens who were concerned enough to say something if they thought they saw something or heard something, or just were bold enough to fabricate something, perhaps for something as petty as a personal slight. Virtual paranoia was the norm. You can almost feel it, it is sometimes palpable when in proximity to some people from these societies. It is sometimes almost the same as when engaging socially with Arab Muslim women who have just arrived within the last year or two . . . and do I need to tell us that there is an endemic misogyny that accompanies any society that claims to be traditional enough to support the idea that it is okay to be medieval in its attitudes toward women–or should I say, behind the times, if you prefer cliches.
It is unfortunate when this kind of mentality–one I repeat that I see growing among Americans in their most fervent anti-American attitudes and reflexes–yes, this mentality affects the psychology of individuals operating here in the United States–and it does when people of this kind find themselves in positions of petty authority here in the City of New York, as I have on a number of occasions confronted one or another of these former communists from China or the Soviet Union because one thing a former member of any communist party does not do is sit home and sip his coffee leisurely over his morning paper.
I have experienced this myself first hand, from students and colleagues; the extent some people from either country are willing to lie, to distort, or to imagine without evidence that they have enough to testify to what they are saying is amazing to me. There is nothing in any of these instances I am alluding to that I understand to be American or democratic in any way, or anything fostered by a living, breathing understanding of the First Amendment or the Fifth. I have never wondered why fish cannot swim in the air. Americans are headlong bent on becoming ever increasingly like the Soviet Union, and in exactly the same Patriotic, Ever Suspicious, Ever Watching, Ever gleeful to abandon rights and rational decency for a few more crumbs off the tables of State like good Public Dogs we have become.
But then after the Patriot Act, these individuals are now at a premium. Former communists, or just simple separate former citizens of China or the Soviet Union who had been fully assimilated into being good citizens in either form of Totalitarianism, are a perfect match for the kind of state bred paranoia Real Power in America wants. And as I mentioned above, former communists in either country are not the kind of people who will just sit back and relax and enjoy themselves–they will seek positions, particularly of petty authority, where they will–and do–operate within the former mentality of their former assimilation. And I cannot tel you how many members of formerly oppressed or currently oppressed American groups when they find themselves also in petty authority imitate or assimilate the manner and matter of factness of the former communist formed by his prior experiences with Totalitarianism. I have a supervisor in my experience who fits this model perfectly. Good for him and his Dog-eat-dog success at the level of Petty Authority, justified as a means to support his family, as if having a wife and family exonerates his, yes, heinous behavior.
But then States and bureaucracies have more in common with each other universally internationally than they do with the people they allegedly serve, no? Former German Nazis operated very well in the United States and the Soviet Union. Gestapo helped build the East German State Police. Nazis science gave us the steroid monstrosities of the East German Women’s Olympic Swim Team in the 70s. Alien mentalities operating at the level of any petty authority, particularly when Totalitarian Communist, are the greatest threat to the security of the United States, or more specifically, the freedom of its People. Do we really want to become more like China or the Soviet Union in any way? Why then allow former communists to lie to us about how they were coerced into being members of the Communist Party. Having been a member of the Communist Party to get a better paying job has become the joke of refugees from China or the republics of the Soviet Union.
Putin’s Russia has its young Russian adherents, I guess as did Franco in Spain, Pinochet in Chile, Mussolini in Italy, et cetera et cetera. With China leading the world in sexual slavery, female suicide (an average of 500 women per day) and suicide in general, I guess repression is custom; it might have become for some, as Chinese as Tao or Confucianism. We must not forget the forced abortions in China when the fetus is female. Forced abortions are as oppressive to a woman and her right to choose as would be the unavailability to have an abortion here in the states–a repressive current from the lunatic wing of the Republican Party seeking to manifest itself in law. And we still tend to think that Muslim societies lead the way in the world in the matter of misogyny; but the time has not yet come to revise entirely our attitudes toward the treatment of women in some west African Muslim societies, nor should we turn a blind eye on systemic violence and atrocities perpetrated by Muslim fundamentalist groups against Christians because President Obama chooses to do so.
I am not joking when I say that you must beware of the totalitarian mind–it is as un-American as Satanism is anathema to a mono-theist. My friends–be very, very wary. But do understand that every individual has the potential to be either exception to, or example of, the rule. You really do not need to look very far from home when you want to see what Totalitarianism looks like–America, once again, I say, is a Totalitarian Bourgeois Capitalist State.
Now Live Free or Die, I understand–what I do understand better is that we must live Free the American way and any alien mentality in the mind of our democratic body politic, contrary to the best impulses of American freedom, should die, simply by us not fostering or nurturing this alien mind. This, of course, must come from a higher calling or election, if you will, in literacy. American democracy is able to manage the best impulses of the human humane, not as the totalitarian which manages the pettiest drives and impulses of the vengeful and vindictive mind. All personal violent impulses under totalitarianism are channeled into State oppression. It can also happen here if we allow it.
There is a crisis in civilization at hand, my friends, and we are not exactly prepared to defend democracy and freedom the way we need to, which is what allows the lunatic fringes of our politics to assert themselves more loudly and boldly, to the detriment of the freedom they purportedly are defending. Yet I find many of America’s liberals as scary and as stupid (not quite as semi-literate) as are America’s conservatives.
All enemies foreign and domestic, but now the foreign is domestic. The Constitution needs defending, but the literacy sponsored in our Public Schools mismanages that. We have to oppose totalitarian communist mentality as we need to oppose, for example, any imposition of Sharia Law. Sharia Law used to enforce misogyny cannot be permitted under the pretext of religious freedom. Misogyny is not a First Amendment right. Totalitarian Communist mentality is not an alternative for American democracy. The Constitution of the United States must remain above Sharia law; it is above, before and after Sharia law in all matters social and political. If someone wants to keep it in his living-room, okay; but as soon as he leaves his home, he must abide the laws of American democratic society, which extends to teaching his children not to chase and taunt western women for how they dress, which too many Pakistani parents do not do in the building complex I live in in Brooklyn. I see too many times, Pakistani Muslim children running after women as they walk taunting them for how they dress–I have to say something because this is not a Muslim theocracy, nor is it Pakistan where it seems virtually acceptable for a brother to kill his sister for eloping–these are all of piece. This is the United States of America, and neither Muslims nor Communists have very much, if anything at all, to teach us about freedom and democracy. We are the last best hope for human kind, and unless we understand what this means and the responsibilities inherent, we are going to fail at advancing Democratic Civilization.
The Soviet Union was not a half dozen of whatever donuts you like while America was six of the same. If we sponsored the kind of literacy that went into writing and creating the Constitution, we might actually read it and understand it and be better able to defend it, but we do not, unfortunately. And again, I see this particularly in how we do not confront some Muslims for what amounts to misogynist behavior and attitudes. Do I need say nothing when confronted with the Arab Muslims in my neighborhood voting for measures to turn back the clock on Roe versus Wade? Do we imagine we are able to negotiate texts in the matter and manner of defending a woman’s rights which have always been Human Rights and always associated and contingent with Civil Rights? Am I supposed to tolerate Muslim intolerance because some systematically under-educated, half-literate millennial insists I do in his half-thought through acceptance of current received ideas and third hand mis-readings and dis-understandings of someone else’s second-hand lesson-planned cliche-riddled diatribe against White people or Christian People or American People or Men, especially Straight Men dictates so–and anyone who imagines that I am a Trump supporter is a nit wit.
Let me just say again that neither the Soviet Union nor China has anything to teach us in the matters and manners of democracy and freedom–and this is not a recurrence of American Know-Nothing politics, which the hallmark of everything coming from The Donald. This is simply stated,without hyperbole. It is a truth I take to be self-evident; therefore it is not a matter for debate. I do not have to embrace the devil to prove Christian principles.
Live free or die–another to be or not? I know where I stand; I know how I have to stand opposed to any threat to the Constitution of the United States. What standing against this governments assault on our Constitution do I do, have I done . . . I work with those who do not read it when it becomes an issue, have not read it, have allowed their literacy training to dictate what they read, how they read, when they read; and this culture does confuse literacy and what could be called a baser alphabetics . . . oooh! Look at me. I spell my name correctly. Speling your name incorrectly used to get you exempted from Jury Duty, but no longer is that true. Maybe they are trying to stop people from doing so on purpose and getting out of service, but think of this another way: just how many semi-literates and nearly illiterates are we garnering as jurors in a system of justice that demands literacy at least from those who are administering he justice. We cannot allow ourselves to think that just because some defendants are illiterate that a jury of his peers must also be illiterate!!!!!!!!!!
We need not die to live free–why leave ourselves opened to the disease contracted under the epidemics of totalitarianism . . . what do I need to do to prove I am good–turn the other cheek to Satan.
Yes, defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, but with intelligence, advanced literacy, reason, rationality and sobriety . . . a tall order, of course, but the last best hope for civilization is a great demand, one we can answer, if prepared–what is any of this supposed to mean. It’s coming off a bit trite in places, no? The effects of too much media bombardment by facts facts and more facts themselves confused for the data, data, date we have been inundated by . . . statistics are in themselves not facts and facts in themselves are not knowledge and knowledge in itself is never wisdom and wisdom turned into the gray of theory is not wisdom lived in the green of life.
Anonymity, Virginia Woolf inferred (and I am not quoting), has been the foremost condition of woman throughout history.
Feminology is my preferred choice in diction, one made in contrast against Feminism, a choice in diction no longer mine.
I used to say what I thought about “ologies” and “isms,” and how I would think that an ology seemed more organic as a discipline or an ordering factor for historical analysis? for epistemological inquiry? Than isms. Except scientology, itself a great deceit in deception.
I am not going to go as far as to say that Impressionism should be Impressionology, but I could. I do not seem to have as much to say against Existentialism although I could develop an Existentialiology, but then we already have Phenonmenology as a precursor? as a collateral? as a contingent influence?
Perhaps I feel the need for a new word to create a new course in an epistemology of Woman (women) to influence the metaphysics of their freedom.
Where then do I begin in my first philosophy of Woman, in any metaphysical or ontological argument of Woman’s existence, of my phenomenological experience of Woman, not only as an object in the world, as I am also an experiential object in the world, but in so many other ways,physiocal and metaphysical: Woman is.
[I will discuss at a later date just what the differences are between To be and to exist.]
Below is an excerpt from among the papers found in a briefcase without identification, without any evidence by which we could ascribe authorship–the thus writer remains unknown, except those who insist they can tell gender by diction, by syntax, by rhetorical strategies gleaned from reading . . . but then this gleaning would be something akin to superficially skimming pages, which Melville warns us, all great writing is meant to deceive, as he had ascribed to Hawthorne’s texts. That is, Hawthrone’s writing is meant to deceive the superficial skimmer of pages. Yes!
Perhaps we will find out who he or she is if we publish this, one of the more interesting pieces found among the papers in the briefcase, leather, brown, a bit worn, old, perhaps not treated or taken care of as others might their leather shoes or jackets or even other cases of other men or women; but then cases like these often get the lesser of attention when a person is inclined to attend to anything they own that is made of leather. The briefcase was found by a colleague of mine on a park bench in the park near our office where we publish our literary review, THE OCTEMBER REVUE.
I am the Publishing and Contributing Editor of this review, an on-line literary review that we have published monthly while maintaining a daily blog that also publishes short fiction, flash fiction, short essays, fictional essays, whatever have we in the matter and manner of crossing boundaries, perhaps the way that some might cross dressing, one’s dress a matter genre, no?
Faith has its uses, I’ve been told. I have had occasion to be in agreement, others to be in disagreement, flip-flopping, as we say, from one to the other, another game of hop-scotch played with what? Is it the Truth that I am playing hop-scorchers with . . . something else? What else is there to say about this faith in our politics because I am losing that fast? I use to think that the genius of America was for politics, but maybe I should have said government. They are not one and the same thing, are they? Of course they are not. What is it about these things we think that we frame as matters of course–are they as self-evident as we imagine them to be? Do not take heed from this and run away with your increasing doubt . . . imagination is quite necessary for the rational mind, for any pursuit of Truth, any scientific investigation which is a reference the method and not what we have restricted sense we assign to the word ‘science.’
I have no faith in our politics–I am not certain what kind of faith I have in God. I do have faith in The Constitution, and I am fairly religious about that, and that religiosity is bifurcated: I am religious in the traditional sense which rules our contemporary notions about how religion is and what expectations we are to have about how it has existed and what role it has played in our civilization and other civilizations; that is, what being religious means and how it functions in behavior, even its use in the connotations we apply to attitudes and behavior apart form what might strictly be called religious; and religious in the sense captured by its etymology, which is from the Latin re-legere, or to relink, that is, to reconnect, and with what? You do ask, I know. Reconnect with the One, the True, the Origin . . . and that is our Constitution.
American is an idea not an ethnicity, which is part of our success, I have a prejudice in believing. But faith of this kind for our politics, or should I say, our politicking, no!. I have no faith for human intelligence, either, at least in general, and more specifically, for our contemporaneity. Today is not the best of times, nor the worst of times; yesterday was not the best of times, nor was it the worst of times; tomorrow will not be the best or the worst. There are an infinite number of shades of gray between black and white. I do not wish to live on a checker board any more than I want to think on one, like one, with its rule being my regulation. All of these are true, but that does not mean today is not really, really bad, nor does it preclude that we have been backsliding for a long time, politically, governmentally, in the maters of our freedom and the access to them thereof an ensuing problem.
I remember many of my Italian student-visa friends from university—and there were enough of them, not too many and certainly not only a couple. They asked me many questions, but the the most frequently asked question was not Why are Americans so under-educated, so under-read, so stupid? No. This was not what they asked, even if it is what too many conservative-minded Americans today might think they asked. No, this was not it. The most frequently asked pejorative was, Why are American liberals so stupid? And that I saw and continue to see–which is not, as it so often amounts to in American idiocy, a flip of the coin on the side of conservative. No. Conservatives are always going to be as conservatives are, have been, yes, will be. This is the given of their politics. It always verges on Reactionary, unfortunately as oftentimes does Liberal in its extreme, too often being the flip side of intolerant, confusingly and collaterally becoming too tolerant of intolerance. But it is the horror of how insipid America Liberalism was and has remained that is one of the first causes in how totalitarian our bourgeois capitalism has become. And it has. Stop confusing Capitalism for Democracy, stop thinking they are mutual and contingent.
But then we’re baboons—no, really, we are, when we are not at best being chimps, yes, chimps at best most of the time. This is that 98% sameness in our DNA we share with them. In the shadow of the simians, we are. Where would our opinions be without Jane Goodall and her tireless observations?
Human is choice, as I have said before this, how many times? Too many to count.
Just look at human history, though, if you doubt what I have said; just look at our current events. Can you imagine that we are not only a little better than chimps? All, most, still too, too many if not all or most whenever we are required be something more than the solipsists we are most persistently.
From the papers found on the desk of Thomas Sarebbononato by his nephew a week or more after the former’s funeral during a summer when a lot of rain fell.
The past is not past–should this be interrogative or declarative? Yet, by now or by then? Up until what? No!
As a further matter (and we do remember that further and farther are not synonyms)–what? The present is not present–it is always something more, something else, one or another and another thing creeping in the petty tick-tock of conventional clocks on conventional walls with conventional dust accumulating on them . . . digital clocks do not tick, or do they?
Is the future a tabula rasa? I do ask. It is relevant here. it is important elsewhere. What will be will be is indicative–it is also a load of horse-shit. It is neither conditional nor subjunctive. Mood is one thing, tense quite another–tense, though, has never been time. Yes, tense is not time, what then does that mean for these herein words, words and more words . . . do we concern ourselves with facts anymore, or only data, data and more data. Mr. Gradgrind is an idealist, is he not, at least in this contemporaneity, he is.
No, we must not confuse time with tense or tense with time, as we must not confuse the time of pour conventions and the time that is all of it One.
I am speaking of the three orders of time, or the ordering of time we do out of vanity. Yes, vanity I think I recall having read that Einstein had said. More matters of course–yes, the three orders of time, this past, this present and this future, all of them, they do not exist except as states of mind. Now if past were really past and future really future, neither one of them would be “this,” but could only be “that.” That past; that future–but then this here consideration. See the difficulties?
The three firmest yokes of our oxen-like existence? We are oxen when we are not baboons, when we are not the highest ape. Yet, the greatest yoke ever put on humankind . . . what was it? Marriage or the twenty-four hour clock? Ah! Flying in the face of convention–a convention is just as often an unwanted finger up the ass. Conventional people are all of them proctologists. The clock with minute hands, then the one with second hands . . . have you ever glimpsed those digital clocks counting 100,000ths of a second? Nauseating, aren’t they? Yes? No? Perhaps? How are we not buried by this infinite regression as we imagine noting infinite progression . . . can you actually subdivide infinitely?
Is Time the moving arrow? The moving arrow? Not ‘a?’ If so, then shot from where? Or is it the tunnel we move through–and we do move through tunnels everywhere. What is passing in our hours? Yes, time flying by. Time is something we pass through, like shit through our intestines? Life a great beast and we the waste of its digestion. What slows it down? What speeds it up? Time is a multiple of relatives–not what you might think.
Can time be frozen? Except in metaphor? Much the way Music was for Goethe in Architecture, yes, music frozen in stone. Does photography freeze time? Can it, except in the ways we imagine? To imagine or not to imagine–what are we without this imagination, I hope not yet dead. To see what we see demands there be light–yes, let there be light! Light by which I can see what there is to be seen . . . all now the scene as it has been put or placed.
Photography? Light graphics; light etchings; images etched by light, not into light, yes, by. Literalness here helps us to reimagine photography. The fact that all vision is dependent on light, that all color is a matter of optics–what do we see when we see and the seeing is what we know when we understand; to stand under, no? Yes, post to lintel; architecture again, living architecture, the fundamentals. Metaphor once more. All of it is, you know, metaphor–this thing language–all of it is metaphor on metaphor extended and extended. Every object, red is black in the dark.
There is no color in the dark. Without light, everything is black. Etymology is not the first and the last of meaning, of what we ascribe to our semantic comprehension–no! But it does help. Words never escape the effects of their history anymore than nations or a people or a person does, right? There is always residue in a word of all former meanings and uses. We are heaped by residue following residue.
Digital photography has no more presentness about it than film photography. Barthes is wrong about photography, although he does not discuss digital photography when he wrote what he had a written about photography–or his interpreters have been wrong. But then it remains a puzzle to me how much American semi-literacy has been fostered by its contact with French Post Structuralism? Am I too harsh?
Ah! The lucidity comes across more clearly now. Still, though, the camera is dark within, much as memory is dark until we shed light–the apertures of mind in re-memory and that of the dark box in etching film with light. The light in memory is the light in film, the light of the stage, all of it everywhere, my life is a theater. How could what I remember not be this, theatricality presented with a certain lucidity?
I am, therefore, I think. Please! No referrals to Descartes. I have flipped the Cartesian syllogism–that is obvious enough. Why do I imagine that my readers will miss the point and draw a semi-literate conclusion–because I do condescend from time to time, and I no longer have faith that my culture has enough faith in literacy to maintain it, support it, teach it, train it, foster it . . . what have we in words to say what words no longer bear from us, respect.
Digital has no more presentness than an old polaroid might have had when it was taken–how it is immediate as we want to mean when we say, immediate–but immediate what? Immediately is always a future time realization.
Polaroids are no more present with their implied presentness than the film I shoot today and have developed today after having shot it.
The camera is not lucid. It is dark and remains dark. It will always be the dark box–digital has removed the dark box, the chamber within which it all happens. Digital has side-stepped all relations with Camera obscura.
This light etching–yes, graphic, is it not? But what of digital in this Photo Graphy? Can I ignore what happens with digital photographing? I can do whatever I want in writing–but my saying something does not make it so. I am the final authority over this text, no–yes! So then, does digital etch by light, with light as traditional pre-digital photography did? What is it that happens when I take a digital photo? I am really not sure. I know what happens to the film I still shoot–and they are different, will remain different, the sense? that is, the feel? Even when prints are made you can tell–film re-presents skin more naturally, we have said.
Yes, camera obscura, always.
My AE-1 in hand, manually focussed with black and white film. Lucidity is a state of mind. What means this? Pictures on a computer screen; photos printed on paper and in hand examined, looked at, pawed over, what then happens in the handling that does not by right clicking a mouse? This question is not incidental, is not irrelevant–relevancy is often debated without thinking, so therefore is not debated but played with as in a ping pong match of slogans and received ideas.
I wish I could say what it is or was that I feel or felt for photography, my photography, to shoot or not to shoot was my most pressing question dozens of times a day, day in and day in again for years. What is it we measure by these means we create to help us maintain our delusions about Time . . . Past, Present and Future? I would make scoffing sounds at this point, but you cannot hear me except in the way we see, say and hear with and by words on a page. Only this is not a page, now, is it? That diction dates me, doesn’t it?
A room, sparsely furnished. A desk and chair facing a window, from our point-of-view, upstage, exposed by open curtains. It is afternoon sometime in a future always near. It is raining.
A man, sitting at the desk looking out the window onto concentric circles forming and reverberating on the surface of the puddles two-stories below. The puddles have accumulated here and there along the paths that wind in a snake between the lawns mis-kept on purpose by the sought-after incompetence of the maintenance workers hired by the landlord’s managers who consciously or unconsciously impose the will of the landlords.
The landlords remain invisible to the tenants and many of the managing agents. They have little or nothing in common with the residents. They do bear an oblique resemblance in their manners with many Wall Street CEOs, at least insofar as the residents are concerned, that is, by the contempt they have for those their greed allows them to condescend to, these owners of the building complex where our man lives. This notion is a certainty in the imaginations of the residents, or so the owners think and say to those they know as an attempt to deflect bigotry but remaining a protestation too much.
As far as anyone concerned for minor truths could find, if he would only open his eyes, as so many who do not question what others in their imaginations have concluded for the landlords . . . yes, if he would only open his ears, but what then is gained by opening one’s eyes and ears in a manner dictated by some very special or specified conventions?
Our man has special concerns for the capital ‘T’ version, Truth. Any other anonymous man would say, as our man sitting at his desk then might say, “Truth does not meet in a one-to-one correspondence with the received ideas of a society. Truth and what is true are often at variance, no?”
What then does this mean or say-at, by intent or by accident? This society is now no different than any other has ever been, or that any other is now, or then might be in any future, there are universals, there are generalities, there is a human nature and thus a political nature, irrespective of what too many idiot Americans conclude from mis-reading (or dis-reading) in their second, their or fourth hand reading of French Post Structuralist thought, if the successive regurgitations of some other ejaculatiobns could be called thinking?
What the landlords are is of little factual concern for those intent on playing hop-scotch with the Truth, or anyone so formed or framed by contemporary received ideas, the propaganda disseminated, as our writer might think, by our media, meant to keep power and money in the shadows, as well as maintaining marketed images of people and peoples to suit the interests of Order for the sake of order kept in line with the demands of Money and Power, never the People, always now functioning as a Public, the latter always the people in service of the State for which it always stands in support of Power and Money . . . landlords are landlords are landlords, especially the kind you meet in New York, most of the worst kind of landlords.
He sometimes let’s himself imagine what murdering them would be like, the landlords of his building complex, understanding that the Good of any society are those content to dream what the evil ones actually practice. No? Not very Christian, I know, and I am talking metaphysically, not the everyday Christian who is not in tune with Christ.
He sits watching the rain drops dropping in the puddles outlining the path. He seems intent on continuing his gaze, watching, looking, at least until he feels the spark to write. He does for a very brief moment think about having walked the other day in the sunshine on the path outside his window below; yes, on the path to the laundry with his laundry cart full to the brim. He would not go to the laundry on this day; if he were to need clothes to wear, he would dress for the rain and go buy the clothes he needed rather than wheel his laundry cart full in the pouring rain.
The man begins to type on his laptop on his desk facing the window with the curtains opened. He is writing in his blog. It does not matter what political affiliation he has in this America. He writes a political blog for anyone who understands but most especially for those who never will.
The window the man is looking out of onto the rain, again, is upstage from our point-of-view. The curtains of the window are parallel with the curtains of would be the proscenium if this were a play, his room then the mise-en-scene of the stage. There is nothing down stage, there are no other objects on stage–the property is scarce, sparse is what it is. There are no other suggestions of a room or an apartment that we see, what we are looking at in imagination as we read. There are only these curtains, this window, this desk, its accompanying chair and the man with his laptop. That is all. One must never allow oneself completely to suspend disbelief, yet one must never persist in concluding that this is only a story or that this is only a play, if it were a play, as the exposition here could allow you to conclude.
He, typing; speaking out loud as he does, says:
“Only in America can the People be co-opted into serving a propaganda function for the State through social media while being lead to believe that they are furthering democracy in their continued dependence on social media for most of what they think they need to think, most of what they imagine they should imagine, too much of what they have habituated, addictively, as necessary for connecting to other people, thus what each of them needs to be complete.
“American pluralism is where being American now means the people have lithified, where they have become a monolith of the most massive proportions. Pluralism here is a brand of politics seriously devoted to praying before the icons of our mass media, in imitatio de stelle. And we do look to our media icons to pray to devotionally; what then is TV than pseudo-live-motion saints, chapels in a box with an aerial tuner.
“There is a ritual life in our entertainment world aligned secularly, one we gratefully participate in. True enough, for sure; but then there is often nothing more difficult to see than the truth. The media president is no different in this way; he has been one thing every four years–perhaps we believe she will differ?
“President Obama is as much a media president as any other, if not more so than any other, including Reagan. But what about the media man and the media woman, the media American; the media person complete with media personhood, a media sense of self, a media informed sense of duty of obligation of freedom of liberty of pedagogy of voting behavior of ethical conduct et cetera . . . television has been ruling our minds, almost as near to how people feared the medium in the fifties . . . we do take too many history and political lessons from Hollywood, as heinously complicit in the degradation of the American people as a public as any media institution. Flip the coin of greed and manipulation and see the faces and tails of Hollywood and Wall Street; other denominational coins will reveal the White House, Capitol Hill, Major League Sports, Oil, and so on.
“TV evangelists have always bugged the American liberal establishment because the former are simply more overt forms of what the latter is politcally, secularly. Obama is none other than a new Billy Graham of the contemporary secular liberal establishment. True enough, we might know if . . . ; enough truth, though, we wonder in exactly that way doubt has become wisdom.
“And this is for mass media, particularly the designs and the in-effects of TV, but then what of social media, now come into its own? If Kennedy was the first TV President, then the Donald is the first Social Media President, as scary as that might be, and I cannot stand too many of those who have fallen in love with the antics of dismissing critique as a way of not being real or as an inability to cope with the painful president–yes, those of you who critique our government, our system, our Democrats and republicans, our epistemology, our ontology, our metaphysics are often ridiculed, especially by recent or a little more than recent graduates of four year colleges across America, no demographic group less independent in thinking or voting behavior . . . exactly the ones the Media has been proposing will be the ones to save us, as our politicians now get on board, especially Democrats, yes, oh, yes, let’s allow the Millennials to save us . . . as baldly false as accepting that age must equal wisdom, unilaterally and universally. Yes, there are critiques of critique that sharpens its rhetorical edge on the whet stone of Adulthood–it is adult to deal with the painful present as it is, but mostly as if everything has always been exactly as it is today, just those of us without historical consciousness, or the correct social and historical consciousness, have misread this heinous present. And this notion that things have always been as they are usually accretes around the center of one or more differing ideas, one of them being that anyone who critiques the system is Naive–go ahead, try to critique the Democrats and the Republicans ands where you get with the mass of the other’s supporters . . . and I a mass because there are still far too many people supporting one Party or the other, and I have been saying since the late seventies through the eighties that Party realignment was necessary, but I will not get into that here, not now, it will take too long and I want wind up, finish, conclude–did you know that ‘conclusion’ comes from conclusus, which is Latin for a kind wall, thus only a damning up, stopping of the flow.
I no more believe in a Golden Age than I think that Now is the only time, any more than I imagine that there is a Golden Age in our future, any more than I do in any other way of thinking about time, history, its progression or regression or . . . time and history are not rivers as I have read recently in an essay by my friend Jay . . . history as time is an ocean.”
The need for self-distance has always existed? I sometimes doubt that vehemently; at other times I question simply, even softly, whether this is so or not, the always-ness of the need for self-distance. There are times I could not be convinced of the contrary, ever, this need is so; or as I imagine at the moment this overcomes me with a sureness you might only get from characters in fiction, or from people who have so characterized themselves as to have presented everything about themselves as if they were writing the fiction of their own lives–what is it really about telling in fiction and telling in non-fiction that differs so greatly? I have done so for myself, tithing or not to think of this for me one question of a kind, and more questions come, responses go, of course, to respond is not in itself to answer, I swear to one and not to the other, whether I realize it or not, whether I intend to or not; this of myself for others, who am I now, and what is it about writer, author, narrator/expositor, character . . . for reasons that remain obscure to me . . . in me? I am, therefore, I think, as I have said before, heard before, another me speaking from where? I do ask half rhetorically, but never quite as fully as too many I hear today, in love with the questions that question themselves, the questions, not the poser, to pose a question, we do pose our answers, dow e not?
Who would not assume so about himself, about his writing, about why he writes? But then this idea of self-distance means what for what senses of Self that a person can have–I essay myself when I write fiction as well as non-fiction. What then are the differences between some short stories and some essays. Don’t some stories employ the expository–are there not stories, fictional stories that are overly determined by the exposition, the prose, expository, what am I saying? I hear you ask.
We have been on a tangent. Let’s return.
What is the Self? I ask genuinely. Is it so that this upper case Self has many selves, as I believe? As I have also found elsewhere, read elsewhere–have written too elsewhere? I am sure my friend Michel must have imagined as much; I am sure my friends Christopher and William did as well, if not my friends John and Laurence and Daniel, yes, no, maybe, perhaps even something else? All as if there could be more than this yes, no and maybe?
There should be more. I have not subscribed to the cliche that more is less in a very long time. They do wear masks, you know, these selves . . . personas on personas on the person we come to be, when?
What then should be said about time, about ages, about custom, about genre, about the idea that the literary is a valid branch of epistemology–and it is, you know. What then must we say . . . I say, et cetera, et cetera, all about how people wrote and what they wrote when and where they did write. Do we really discern the why of any writing. All writing is alike to me, as all cultures are in effect alike to me, all peoples–to be a citizen of New York City is to be a citizen of the world in a way no one from anywhere else could ever be, or ever have been or think of being in some future time.
The writer–yes, of course, who he is she is it is–to write or not to write has become my to be or not, and this latter has been made in the image of whether or not I am or I become, what is it to become, to come to be, being something quite other than existing, no?
My advice to you, then, is, Avoid the search for author intent at all costs. Author is not the mask of the writer. Writer, which is what society says you are when you are published or serious, whatever that is supposed to mean, but I have heard as much said . . . an author is the one with authority over a text? Yes, I have said this before and will come to it again, I know me well enough. I am the author.
We have undermined the notion that any writer of anything has absolute authority over the text, a text, what text, the laundry lists of our lives, shopping, shopping . . . but there is a diction, a form, a content, a layout structure of a list that is idiosyncratic, no? Who should be allowed, permitted to have first and last authority over a text, I mean, if not in interpretive matters or manners then at least or at most in what gets done to the text before print, before being published–who retains what rights over the text and how much is made from its dissemination, right? Wrongly done rights protections? I am the author of my shopping lists.
If I am not the first or the last to say what a text I write means, I can go along with that. I have never wanted to know what a writer thought about a text he had written. Hawthorne’s extra-textual commentary on The Scarlet Letter . . . :Ah! Nathaniel, the great deceiver, no? “The Custom’s House” is part of the text, attached to the text, prefatory to the text, explanatory of interpretive strategies to take, make, build on, conclude from, right? Who am I not, though, to offer an opinion about my text or texts, this one or that one, here or there, now and then, whenever we come together, as we sometimes do, and we do ask writers, that is, authors questions about tests.
Even if my assertions are only some that is a few from among many many more, they must or should be included, even, again, if only one of several to be used in determining what gets said at some moment in some place, now or then, past, present or future. The author is not dead. As usual, some of the French are wrong, and most resentful people going to college today in America from among Americans like finding the French who are generally wrong, critically, rather the the ones who are right, or close to being right, or who are just not as glaringly wrong as someone like Foucault–not like him, but him, actually him. Reading him is like an experience of Death.
I betray prejudices I have held for a couple of decades already, or more, perhaps, if I were to think about this more closely, but only in a way I am certain I will not. My Selfhood in dialectic–something I learned from Montaigne, but only learned how to say, express, in these and in other words used to paraphrase them, from my friend Frederick.
How so I am that I am or I am who I am when I am where I am with whom or for whom or at whom or to whom . . . I say so much, have said so much, will continue to say even more?
What happens when I approach the other (an . . . other, not yet another?), this other outside of me? There is an outside of me as there is an inside of me, as there is an outside and there is an inside of the expansion of the universe . . . and it is space itself that is expanding, not space expanding into something.
I have asked many questions about me, about my nature, our nature, the universals observable by understanding after determining just what is or has been polygenetic in our cultural histories . . . . Is there someone inside of me who is another other? I so ask genuinely, less posture than the pressure to know myself, yes, my fellows, Know Thyself. But what does happen to me in my connection to me, there are many connections, are there not? I ask rhetorically. How could I not know this?
I was supposed to make them, these connections, they were to help me in my future. To connect with people, persons of interest? Yes? Networking, we used to say, might still say, the word is overused, is trite, is cliche, meaning, again, is made in the mind as sound is in the ear? What is that supposed to say? The deadening of language, or the emptying of vitality from our use of it . . . and it is important how we use language, it should not be used so flippantly as if anything that arises in any mind is worthy of being appreciated in a way that speaks to its hierarchically ordered ascendancy . . . now tat is a mouthful, something I have been saying a lot lately, about my diction, word choice–choose your words carefully.
What abilities do we have as a species for language, with language? This is not only for English–or what some more than arrogant pseudo-intellectual not-nearly-as-educated-as-they-imagine Others think about America and Americans and American English . . . no people ever from anywhere at whatever level of education or native intelligence who know less than what they believe with conviction they know as these Russians always trying to bullshit you in one way or another, having already bullshitted themselves, something they learned from Ashkenazi, themselves doing it better than anyone from anywhere, bullshitting themselves–where was I? I do not hate Slavs or Jews so do not try to make me out to be a Nazis . . . more foolish endeavors by American Liberals who imagine they are not closet Puritans or Totalitarian Bourgeois Capitalists behind the facade they keep. And do not imagine that Bernie is an answer for anybody’s future–he is just a hell of a lot better than too many of what we have, which is a sadness unto sorrow leaving us in this sorry political state.
What are those abilities we have that are derived from our choices as humans? To become human or not to become human? The choices we make make us, no? I imagine now you might think otherwise. Today I want to remain an animal, I say; but then I am an animal always, as every human is in his fight to choose the human.
This wisdom I speak of hear obliquely . . . what is there in my understanding of me that allows me to continue being this me that others recognize? That is what seems most important to most people, this being recognized by others. I am not myself when others do not recognize me by whatever current behavior confuses them, confounds the image of me that is expected, all people determined by their have been, each has-been is what each man or woman or other needs to project?
Of what is mine, I might wonder, consider for a time, how long might even be an additional consideration, why would anyone stress how long they should think about anything? To think or not to think becomes every human to be.
What are the delineations of my attributes, of my characteristics, what then this personality made up of traits? Ah! The many masks I wear? I do wear them, outside and inside, the vastness of the Self, she said.
The many selves in me wearing masks to hide behind. I need to uncover them as well as the one’s I wear in the world. Everyone wears masks in the world by nature, yes, it is in the nature of the Homo Sapiens to wear them. It is thus a problem when we then wear masks on the mask . . . I have explicated this elsewhere, she says.
Everything about personality is maskality, no? But these others do recognize what? If they see only what I present, then they cannot know what I hide, unless suspicion leads them to it near enough for them to convince themselves they know something that others do not, know something we would call hidden knowledge, knowledge hidden from others that they are then privileged to know, hidden in a way they keep to themselves and reveal to no others, maybe even not to me. This could be as much an extension of madness as intuition, does not madness have its intuition?
I am genuinely asking now. More questions. But then, yes, I say, as I have also said for some longer than able to measure time–what is time, is there a larger ‘T’ variation? Any or all of the former variations of me by me, with or without a discernible for me, What is it that is by me, thus made by me, created by me, adopted by me, adapted to me by me? How so? And with what degree of intention? I ask. She asks. Who asks? Anyone could ask? How about everyone–I am Everyman?
Another question forms, is formed, informs . . . what is molded in me by the questions I ask, never mind the ones that I answer, are there always answers? I often simply respond whether answering or not. I have always thought that author intention was the most useless pursuit of any literary criticism.
Do I ask these questions in earnest, and if so, how much of it is in earnest? Is there always present some rhetorical strategy, some rhetorical edge, cutting which way my questions? As I say this now, I think perhaps that I might need to ask other questions, what allows me to ask the questions I ask and disallows me to ask the ones I need to ask?
What is it about me that I see in the mirror? I do look sometimes to my reflection, an attempt on my part to root myself in me. I am sure that there are enough of you who do the same, who have done so for longer than I have. What is it that I see in my mind thinking about me, of me, on me, to me, the image therein held? What can I hold of me in me . . . something of me contained? maintained? once again, formed? We make ourselves–I do, as I have, as I will again.
What then do I say about how I see myself, how anyone does, could, would, will? What is it that I see in the eyes of this other looking at me, looking to me, gazing, hazing, what is actual, what remains potential, what is thrust upon this other by me, forced upon, everything through a lens, no pure undiluted unadulterated seeing. I am, therefore, I think. Now that’s a first philosophy, no? A new anthropological first philosophy; the anthropological metaphysics of knowledge and being.
To think, to see, to understand; to know believe imagine extrapolate; to add to, subtract from, then thus to interpret, rightly or wrongly, to misinterpret, usefully or not, by adhering to or disregarding utility? How effects affect? Wherefore art thou myself, a load of dog shit by the name rose still stinks.
To be a big piece of shit. We are . . . mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.
The opinions of this other having a trans-formative effect on me–and the opinions of others do affect us, they are the many effects in cause of our own happiness or unhappiness–the origins of which are where? deep inside of us? Inside me. Yes, some have thought to say there is an inside to each of us. Do we really have a grip on Freud’s metaphors for the mind? Does it exist? I have not lead me to suppose that mind is a substitute for soul any more than I have allowed brain to stand in place of mind. The multiplicity of gaze after gaze after gaze, and so on . . .
What happens when we think, perceive, imagine? What else is there for me to understand who and/or what I am? To be me or not to be me; to be then another and another and another, always this notion of creeping here and there throughout the hours passing by hours into days into weeks until the the final tolling of the bell, my bell, the bell that rings for me is the one that rings for you, we have believed, what is it we share in common as animals as other animals do, share traits in common? We do not think until the last syllable of our thoughts, inward words telling tales, how the telling gets told, tolled.
In me–in the mirror–what is in is on, what is on is in? In the mirror is on the mirror; on the person is in the person. Do these opinions of others have an effect? Of course, we say. All of this true and of great import to, on, with and for the political animal I am–even Aristotle had told us clearly in the Politics that man, of course then we were to understand man and not human, that is human as we imagine human, say human, man and woman . . . who is this political animal, with then a political nature? And what is the primary political unit? Aristotle tells us that this primary unit politically is the family, yes? And this tells us, as he tells us, that we are engaged in politics and political relationships, the acts and performance of politicking, from the day we are born.
What must I say to me, to my opinions of me–what opinions of others do I hold close to my imagined Self. I must speak to them, for them, of them, about them . . . what then do I say in conference with me, many me(s) make up a larger me? When I hear, when I meet, when I confront, try to understand contrary opinions . . . the various and varying assessments from others, when by others these others profane the sacramental Self? For whatever reason or un-reason there may be, implicit or explicit or veiled, in one way or another, to whatever degree of veiling is completed . . . how so do I recognize myself? Would I not still be me even if I did not, recognize myself . . . right? Wrong? But that is not so, someone says, I thinkI hear. However, amnesia is simply to forget; it is not a dis recognition. I look to me in the mirror under the affects of amnesia and I still recognize who I am, no?
Moreover, how do I handle, understand thus come to know(?) those opinions that flatter, support, stand-under me to hold up what I have thought of me, accurately or inaccurately does not yet matter? What todo with flattery? How does flattery help, how does it hurt–it does do harm. But then how does flattery hold anything up?
Commerce, communication, community, interchange, exchange, contact, discourse, dialogue and dialectic, not necessarily the same or mutual. How is it that I am to understand these as a bulwark against madness?
Isolation is alienation? But then alienation is something divorced from community as well as from one’s Self, whether the latter is integrated or not within a social nexus?
Questions continue their questioning, their probing, to inquire–inquiring minds, we used to think was good, a good thing to have an inquiring mind, but what then happens when all we do is ask question after question in perpetuity ad nadeem? Producing more and more questions to form, to pose, to ask, to entertain, to respond to and/or to answer? Is that a question? Was it? Yes, no, maybe, otherwise? Yet again, whether with or without gain should I continue?
How am I as I am? Where and when I am? Meaning what for me? To what I say about me? What I think without saying about me? What am I? Who am I? How am I? Where and when again am I? Who is for persons, we know; what is for things. Who are the persons I am? What of these selves I discover, uncover, find, know, contact, talk to, nurture in me, as a Self of many selves? Upper-case value intended and necessary.
What am I? Again this question threads what kind of needle’s eye? What things am I? I have not yet begun a discourse on becoming, to become is not too be as well as ceasing to be is not to be , , , method and madness? To be mad or not to be mad–I praise this special madness i have . . . to praise folly, I have in my time, sitting before a blank page.
More method in my madness than none or little? I wonder how much more there is to say about me. Wondering what is missing from our philosophy, how to philosophize, which is to learn how to die does begin in Wonder. What more can be said? To say or not to say would then be my question . . . writing is of course a kind of saying.
I really do not know what I think unless I write. Another other to become other than each another I am from time to time in place to place each of us merely a player on this stage the world.
In five days, on April 23, we will commemorate the 402 anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. I know that this means a lot to many people, and that it means nothing to too many others who have come across this fact. I do know that there are many, many others for whom this would mean something but for whom they nothing of it. I also understand that there are those for who tis would mean nothing even if they would come across this fact, mean nothing mostly because this Will Shakespeare has not and perhaps could not touch their lives at all in any way, and that for a variety of reasons or causes. But anyone who tries to tell me that social forces wrote Shakespeare’s plays–which is not exactly what any of his detractors are trying to say . . . let me now praise an exceptional Man, and I am not going to try to imitate an interview with him, although I will say, In Memoriam, Will. Am I being presumptuous? No? Pretentious? This I have heard. But then too bad for those who think commemorating Will’s death date is pretentious. Imagine the kind if thinking that would comets that conclusion, what would be going on in that mind, what that mind would think was important to think?
Yes, April 23, 1616 was the date of Shakespeare’s death. Will no longer in the world . . . but what of this world can we associate with his plays? If all before him were lost, what would the cost be? We could rebuild civilization based on his oeuvre? A question? Did I not say this in hyperbole once?
Of course, this date above is an Old Calendar date. In 1616, England was using the Julian Calendar. The Gregorian Calendar was introduced to Europe in October of the year Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, The Gregorian Calendar was not introduced in England until September 1752. I am not going to get into an explication of the differences of the Julian Calendar and the Gregorian Calendar, why and when and where they were used, when they co-existed, what calendar we use today, who used the Julian after the introduction of the Gregorian and for how long and the possible whys that accompanied that.
When I say Europe, I mean to say Catholic Europe, which of course is not Protestant Europe or Eastern Orthodox Europe, all of them different ways of seeing more than just the religious in these distinctions–metaphysics is everything, you should know and would know if you weren’t so pathetically contemporary American. Metaphysics is not counting how many sprites fit on the head of a pin; and most of what you have called science is nothing more than another religion with its religiosity and one or another brand of mysticism instead of rationalism.
In a way we have forgotten about metaphysics, or should I say, have abandoned it, arrogantly assuming we have graduated beyond it, have advanced further than its once necessity could keep up with, being something someone might assume were . . . I have lost the train, here. And this being said without judgement, without rhetorical edge, if that were at all possible at any time anywhere; yes, to say or not to say what I have herein and elsewhere about Catholic Europe and Protestant Europe, the Thirty Year’s War ongoing in my un-conscious?
I am not Protestant, thank God!
The Anglican Church is not a Protestant Church, if you want a note on what I am saying, trying to say, have tried to say in other times when saying something about Protestanism was necessary. Although there are many who might imagine the Anglican Church is a Protestant Church, it is not. Just because it is not longer a Church of the Seven Sacraments, as are the Catholic, the Russian Orthodox and Greek Orthodox Churches, let us use as examples; the Anglican Church is still a Church of Four Sacraments.
As if anyone listening wants to continue to think about this, about any of this–what then is the next point to make?
Let us come full circle or fully elliptical, in a couple of days we will be commemorating the 402nd anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death. And I have no problem, as we should have no problems in understanding that Shakespeare wrote his plays. And why would this be of concern here unless it has come up again, as it has before in the popular imagination, that Shakespeare could not have written his plays, or simply did not write them, but then why do we imagine this yet again and again without any gain or fruit from this tree of dis-knowledge. And I have no issue with the existence of a Canon, the rejection of which is as blind as any detractor asserts was the efforts of Canon making, a lot less blind and arbitrary as the detractors would like to believe, their detraction often just as blind as they claim in classic projection syndrome.
There is no less known of Shakespeare than any other writer of his time; and we surprisingly know more about him than we do many others we have no questions about. I have always dismissed elitist critiques, as if he had to have been a university educated man–and my prejudice, having spent as much time in theater as I have, tends toward believing that if he had been university educated, would never have written as he had.
I have no patience for stupid people, I could say, do say sometimes; but then I often have more patience for those who are organically stupid as opposed to those who are ignorant in spite of their education, or who have allowed their limited education to eclipse everything they do not know, or can know. This is also a stupidity, maybe of another kind. Hubris? Let us not get sidetracked. Another way of saying let us not go off on another tangent?
Intellectual hubris is very annoying. I have zero patience for those who assume because they know nominally of what I know they know the same as I, like students in my ESOL classes who want to debate facts of the English language as if we were equals in knowledge . . . and then that says something too, does it not, of them, of me, of unqualified supervisors who spend most of their time co-opting subordinates in doing his job, and other managing what he should be doing while he gets paid for his un-job to do his own work for his own on line companies, all in an ever growing self-delusion that no one sees what he is doing or has done.
What then must anyone say about anything he knows–humility always, yes, no, what then does perhaps really mean? Yes, just be humble and try not to pull the intellectual rug out from anyone, especially those who do not know what they should and have been either faking or have been put in the position of authority for reasons completely unrelated to anything that has anything to do with the job to fulfill–but is that what I do when I show someone he really does not know what the fuck he is talking about when he talks Shakespeare?
Too bad, but I have read Hamlet six times, and everything at least once.
All good reading is re-reading.
If I could only be Philosopher King of the World.
The monthly/quarterly review published and edited by Jay V. Ruvolo on ISSUU.COM since August 2016.
I used to spend so much time reading what I hated in order to hate it with authority. I don’t know if we do that. I know after years of having done it, I cannot do it with the same fervor, no. I’m tired, I don’t have to guess. I am just asking if anyone does this as a matter of course in his or her critique. No responses. It is a response that I am looking for, respecting? I am not looking for an answer. An answer is something else. One does not fore-swear every response.
Hugo Ball died in 1927 at the age of 41. He was born in 1886. I am not assuming that you cannot add and subtract dates from dates, years from years to determine age. Hugo Ball was one of the founding members of the Dada movement . . . DADA was a bomb! Who said that? I think I once knew. What then do we call movements in art history–isn’t it history, everything that has ever happened whether it receives historiographic re-presentation or not? There is no writing of history, really. History is something that happens independent of whether someone writes it or tells it or shows it. Historiography is what we support or have a problem with or question or critique when we do not like how history has been handled; but not the conclusion that some of us draw when we say that history is only in the telling, or that history is only what this leadership or that leadership get to say . . . it is not a matter of their being no Truth–there is Truth–but so long as we conclude otherwise, soloing as we allow ourselves to say, to teach, to preach that Truth is false that Truth does not exist, we will continue to confuse historiography for history.
Ball left the Zurich centered movement, revolving around the Cafe Voltaire in that city, citing that Dada and Dadaist antics were only flirtations with what was seriously wrong with European Bourgeois Civilization–and the Bolsheviks had their own response for that. The Bolsheviks were not wrong, you know. I understand how some of you might want to entertain that latter statement of mine, only with the anxious rejoinder, but they went too far. If any one of us were Lenin, we most certainly would have done the same. That is what the Stanislavski What if demands us to know. The thing is, if Lenin were I, he would have murdered more–and I make no equivocation between killing and murder–the kind of slaughter the Russian Bourgeoisie deserved at the time of the revolution was much more than they received. Yet, if I were a Russian upper Bourgeois or lower level aristocrat, I’d be just as bad. If any one of them were I, they would be worse than they actually were.
Deeper troubles, of course, Hugo imagined he had mined. He was a savage critic of the German Intelligentsia–but we must not be too hard on any intelligentsia, being as useless as they usually are everywhere. His critique did criticize even the likes of Brecht. Sorry, Brechtian fans (for whom I am among). I am not ascribing utility to intelligence, or utility in one grossly overdetermined social way for the need of an organic and vibrant intelligentsia. The need for them opposed to their virtual uselessness in all matters and manners of societal utility . . . the utility they serve, Power and Money can do without, as the Thirty Tyrants of Athens could do without Socrates. Does this Oligarchy seem familiar?
Power does manage, always, all the time, everywhere, to give space for some amount of subversion to arise in order to control it. I thought I was dis-enamored with Foucault? I still think he was mostly an Idiot, and I am not evoking Dostoevsky, so do not allow Michel to be flattered in your imaginations. However, Fyodor is creating a special kind of idiot–one without general and social concerns in a throughly decadent corrupt social system is obligated to be an idiot in the Aristotelean sense? But then Socrates is and is not Aristotle’s idiot. To the Oligarchy, Socrates is definitely without social concern, but Socrates’s pursuit of Truth is the highest concern for society.
Our particularly virulent strain of the Bourgeois Capitalist virus infecting the body politic allows the illusion of subversion to stand for actually subversive impulses. Nothing more evident of this than X : And that X stands for whatever it is you imagine in this contemporaneity speaks Truth to Power instead of helping to keep it in the shadows, which of course is what most, if not all, of our rebellious impulses wind up achieving, helping to keep Power and Money in the shadows . . .
Yes, news is not Fake, but the media do help keep P and M in the shadows, which is of course the heinousness of Trump–whether by design or in effect, this latter most likely, Trump has helped the media gain ever increasing credibility by presenting the most extreme counterpoint for what it is they do, by saying it is Fake all the time, he has most of us looking to it for Truth–Power wins, the State wins, Money wins . . . of course, real Power and Money love Trump because no one divides us more greatly and serves the interests of the elite against the People more fully . . . you fucking boobs!
We really are not literate enough to see because we have disaffected ourselves from literacy and the hierarchically ordered levels of appreciation for the literary, as well as any ability to evaluate or perform the literary–and I am also most surely talking about all the Russian, Arab, Pakistani and Chinese immigrants in my Brooklyn who imagine themselves so much smarter than Americans–but then, the level of stupidity among the educated from the former Republics of the Soviet Union has left me with only wanting to beat most of them with a heavy stick.
Insipid is the only word that comes to mind when I think of bourgeois culture as it has arrived where it has gotten in our contemporaneity. Insipid. Deserving of the most savage of beatings, most of us–there was a time I would have said all of us, a posture I used to take editorially. Forget that now. I am not among the mass of those without truly social or more largely general concerns. That is the Aristotelean idiot, you now know if you had not before this. Be it as it may . . . whatever that means, what is there for me to say or not to say, thinking about what is nobler in the mind that imagines enduring the slings and arrows, or police bullets . . . you do know that more unarmed white men were shot by the police in 2016 than unarmed black men . . . Machiavelli would be proud that his formula . . . Nicky was writing satire, you know. His genius was in that while writing satire for those who got the satire, he kept his head and offered Power just what it needed to flatter itself.
I was given a gift card to pick out two Christmas presents that I said I had wanted. One of the presents I wanted was the Complete Montaigne, the Everyman edition, but I could not find it where I looked, and I did look in several places. (It does not surprise me because with the corporate takeover of education, especially higher education, too many of the products of that education imagine themselves intelligent enough, literate enough to be radical enough to believe they can do without connection to anything that has been a product of the intellectual currents of what we used to call Western Civilization, perhaps eschewing Montaigne most assuredly because he was [is] white and male, perhaps more so in America because he is French?) One clerk at a bookseller never contacted me after he said he was going to order the aforementioned, so I let it go. (People in positions to help people often do not because they feel they are under paid. It remains very annoying.)
I had also wanted Truffaut’s Jules and Jim, since last year Jeanne Moreau died. I adored the film when I was in my twenties–I adored her. I first saw it at an art house cinema decades ago while I was studying with Bill Packard at HB Studio on Bank Street in the West Village–it’s no longer there–the art house cinema–as so many places like that for film are gone. HB is there, although Packard is dead . . . I am not going to tell you about the day I found out and how and where and with whom and what we were doing and did after . . . .
I did not get the Montaigne, nor did I find the Truffaiut film at B&N when I looked there among their Criterion Collection. Instead of Truffaut, I decided to get Goddard’s Breathless. As far as a book to complete my intentions, I bought Alfred Doblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz, perhaps because I have recently become enamored with the Netflix Original series Babylon Berlin, the later taking -place in the year Doblin’s book was published, 1929. Best television I have seen in years????
It’s only been a couple of weeks that I am in possession of the two. I have only just started the novel, but I was in the middle of re-reading Kafka’s The Trial and Brecht’s Three Penny Opera, as well as from a copy I found in the library of Radio Benjamin which collects somewhere in the neighborhood of eighty of Benjamin’s radio broadcast transcripts he delivered on Berlin radio between 1927 and 1933.
Berlin in the 20s . . . !
I have already watched the film mentioned above, which I have seen before, I cannot say how many times . . . but it seems as if it would have to be at least a few or more. I miss the arthouse cinemas of NYC when I was a young man.
To be iconoclastic is to be narrow, to be far, far less than intelligent, astute, perceptive, sensitive. It allows us to remain inarticulate, unable to speak or write the complexities or contradictions of history. It is born of a reactionary politique to become reactionary politics–reactionary is not only Right Wing. It can and is in America also what calls itself Left Wing, but maybe we need to re=assess just what we are calling Liberal in America, as confused and confusing as it has become. To be iconoclastic is to be hyper conservative. This had already become one of our favorite cultural engagements in America a couple of decades ago. Iconoclasm prevents us from being insightful when confronting history, disallows us from maintaining an astute focus on Truth and the many lesser truths that accumulate when having to examine the depth and complexities of history. It plays into the hands of Power and Monied Elites by allowing us to be satisfied with the visceral instead of the literate, the intelligent. To be anti-Black and even anti-White, which too many African Americans actually are, is to be iconoclastic . . . destroying the icons of history is more grossly absurd than to genuflect without thought or consideration before these icons of culture, icons of history, icons of our political past. The nauseating degree of revision in much of what purports to be corrected history I suspect as I have always suspected one or another brand of this in our past, from whomever, whenever, wherever, however, moreover . . .
From two and a half years ago
If I were another kind of man I might write an essay on blogging in my blog, or would it merely be a blog entry, and how do they differ, perhaps in the way a journal entry differs from an essay, even a personal essay–but then, aren’t journal entries personal essays of a kind, a different kind of personal essay than the literary varieties we have become used to, at least those we have called literary in our tradition of essay writing; and aren’t letters essays, but then, they too are different than blog entries thus themselves different from journal entries . . . what are we trying to say–it is we who are trying to say here, the reader completes the text? You, my hypocrite brothers and sisters. To be a blogger or not to be a blogger might be a question for another blogger to answer; I do…
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I began The Falling Leaf Review at issuu.com/thefallingleafreview in August 2016. I began with the idea of publishing it monthly, but soon switched to quarterly publication. The most recent issue was published almost two weeks ago as the Winter 2018 issue, a special edition sub-titled: CURRENTLY POLITICAL
Containing the poems in Mr. Ruvolo’s Chapbook, SHADOWS.
Reading the Shelley biography, The Pursuit, by Richard Holmes. Comments to come.
I will be starting a blog on, about, in response to reading the letters of Vincent Van Gogh. It will be a separate blog.