What Then Should This Title Be? [Flash Fiction]

A Printed Copy of a Download from a Website

by an Editor-in-Chief of another Web Journal

Dedicated to Being a High Literary Review

 

I came across this from a friend who was present at the cafe meeting called by his Editor-in-Chief. My friend has for some time now been considering leaving the web journal he has been working for and coming to work for me. After I publish this, I do not think he could continue to work where he is working for very long.

“Why we allow heinous diatribes such as this to be published, is beyond me,” my friend has said he said to his friends and  colleagues gathered at the table at their favorite cafe, passing copies of what he printed from a download online from a website dedicated, as he says, to an “Anti-Semitic agenda,” which some of his friends at the table did not–could not–agree with, although at least two of them did, however, one of them only reluctantly, and neither of the two in agreement was my friend, although she did address the fact that there was nothing overtly Anti-Semitic, about the piece and that any response as such by them would only feed into what this piece was trying to do if it were in fact trying to assert an Anti-semitic agenda.

The Editor-Chief gathered them in this cafe to sit together and read together what he was certain something they should read together and decide together how they must respond to this in their own website. He is the Editor-in-Chief and has great pull with the others on staff at this privately funded website, including with my friend, who was not at all easy about showing it, only that the Editor had become a bit overbearing in how he wanted the editorial policy of the web review to be handled, addressed, asserted, written. It is an old fashioned literary review that contains political and social commentary, as well as fiction and poetry and literary criticism and book and film reviews.

Here then is the text of the download that he printed and distributed to his friends at the table as they all had coffee or tea or wine or beer and a sandwich or a salad or a croissant.

The text:

What Then Should

This Title Be?

I could extend questions–any question followed by yet a string of other questions followed by yet other questions–nearly perpetually, Could I extend any of the questions that might be asked about what we intend in our pages beyond the limits of one of the essays I write for the section entitled Essays, Essays, Essays? Of course I could. I have written many in a variety of styles for a variety of purposes for a variety of audiences–know your audience. I could continue any questioning far beyond where I take my inquiries in the essays I publish in the pages section. Style shifts for need, of course. What more should I ask?

Could I apply this approach to subjects as diverse as from language and linguistics to epistemology and ethics? Yes. From history to law to then again historiography? For certain. Or to reading and writing in the most general application? I imagine so. From painting and sculpting to the state of theater in America? Why hesitate with a reply?  From blogging, to Orthodox Jewish landlords in my building diminishing maintenance services correlative with the rise in Muslim tenants in the compound where these Orthodox Jewish landlords are allowed, by the City that governs the housing they own, to act as they wish, or do not wish, and with impunity? Yes. And I address all of these and then so much more, but how is always ever present. What is the rhetorical edge I am going to use and will it cut appropriately? Rhetoric must cut. I need to wield a scalpel’s blade. Surgery in satire is better than butchery.

Could I also address in tones more sober that Mayor Bloomburg was a large Orwellian pig–in direct contrast to his diminutive staure and mousy nature before the media? Of course I could–but I would still need to tread gently. Did Bllomburg let landlords off thier leashes? I could say that he did, but to what effect when most of what we have in the media has c0nditioned us to be hyper-polite to the extent that we are psychopathically polite?  Blimpburg’s City policies did let them off their leashes to sink their teeth into tenants. Blimpburg did do for the rich and powerful in direct proportion to how he tried desperately to cut services and do less for The People. Blimpburg, without irony, was Statist pig of monstrously grotesque proportions. This was undeniable from where I stood, a perception not to be lessened in its veracity or valency by my subjectivity.

Yes, of course we–that means I–could address all of these things, and I do understand that some might say that these conclusions are not matters of course; but I insist that there are self-evident necessities that must be phrased as we do, as I do–this review is not mine–it is me; I am the review. Thus, whatever it is that we will do, I will do; whatever we do, I do; whatever is done has been done by me. So, when I ask what I can do in this review, I am of course posing the question as we like to say rhetorically. I do not have faith–or is it that I do not have the correct faith–to believe that the media will address the City’s Mayor or the twenty-five worst landlords in New York City appropriately. But as I have said before in other essays and herein, rhetoric is an edge that cuts. Is it though, the meat cleaver, or the surgeon’s scalpel, I use.

What then must anyone say to this is what I am asking? Is there an agenda as the editor has said. Could this have been misconstrued? What do you think the the appropriate response should be if you did believe it sprang from an Anti-Semitic agenda, or if in fact it did so and was so? This then would be your turn to insert a conclusive narrative or exposition to this story. My friend has left the  web journal that the Editor-in-Chief herein discussed is the chief editor of; he did have a hard time dealing with the fact that my friend did give me a copy of the text the Editor haad downloaded, and that she also gave me information to write this as I have written this here.

What then must anyone do? I ask. What then must we do?

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Double Homicide? [Flash Fiction]

Charging someone with double homicide for killing a pregnant woman is an anti pro-choice ploy to get us conditioned to accepting a fetus as someone with rights independent of the mother.

A bar tender does not have the right to refuse a pregnant woman a drink.

Refusing a pregnant woman a drink in a bar is consistent with the pro life position?

 

A Preacher in Search of a Choir

I do not want to discuss what a literary review is, although I should–discuss, not want to; I still do not want to discuss what one could be because I am only publishing this review for those who understand, and it would be lie in this context to say I am trying to convince anyone of the valency or validity of publishing a literary review. All Publishing-Editor-Authors of reviews such as this one are only ever preaching to the choir. In search of a choir? That should be the heading: a Preacher in search of a Choir.

I do not want to define what this review should be. I recoil from external shoulds; I have a good sense of what is necessary. I guess I have that American cultural prejudice against anything phrased as should–it used to be reserved for must, what we must do; however, we have been so overloaded with doubt, doubt and more doubt for what we know and not just what we know but what we can know and not just what we can know but what knowledge itself is that we have NO faith that we can know anything therefore no one else can know anything either and so we cannot be told what we must or should do except through coercion, never reason.  Ah, we continue to wonder why we have the combative society we do . . . ? Yes, in our collective delusion–and yes, our mutually extensive misapprehension . . . misconception? our societally idiosyncratic belief or impression (and we have many lesser ones filtered into each of our psychologies or refracted through the prism of the Self, its psychology ever linked with the culture’s mentality . . . firmly maintained in spite of being contradicted by Truth  . . . or rational argument [and we are anything but rational; we no longer have Reason as our guide . . . we are all of us political mystics like the Nazis or the Bolsheviks . . .] . . . ), thus a typical symptom of mentality disorder (note well that this is not mental disorder), thus affecting everyone’s psychology . . . so, of course, we are living in a mental institution . . . so yes,  we have been deluded about making things more democratic, socially and politically, by attacking the notion of Truth and then too many of the little ‘t’ truths . . . there is no Truth, there are no truths, there never has been a Western Civilization, all civilizations are alike unto each other in their aims, in their goals, any one of them as good as any other . . . we have only created a condition where the Will to Power has flourished.

It is interesting how so many under educated college kids with half baked notions come from semi-literate readings of Post Structuralist anti-humanist diatribes and polemics have themselves opted for conclusions bred of binary metaphysical conditioning . . . too many define themselves and their beliefs, read dogmas, not by any affirmation of what they are, but only by what they are not . . . for three or more decades we in America have heard too little concerning any affirmative idea of Blackness, but only a sense of blackness that is over-archingly and nearly unilaterally not-white . . . so African-Americans have no conclusive theory of blackness, only Anti-whiteness, to be Black firstly and lastly and mostly means to be not-white, which in turn breeds a more virulent sense of anti-blackness (not that fringe White people did not always have their White Power reactionary racist lunacies) as the more dominant sense of whiteness, now adopted by Caucasians that used to be Non-white and of a variety or variegation of different identities (I was not white first and last, but Italo-American, Franco-American, Catholic American, Irish-American–it was black persons who insisted that I was white, and a New York Jewish media [and let’s not pretend that Ashkenazi Americans do not play a predominant role in publishing and broadcast media in America, let alone New York City] that bent to this whim and projected me as White [Jews who used to be aligned with immigrant poor in forming unions abandoned their allegiances and opted for becoming both White and Not-Catholic to align themselves with Protestant Money in America]  . . . yes, they conveniently asserted Whiteness for Ashkenazi when it was beneficial, although principally because they were not black . . .) thus we have made of ourselves not a plurality or multiplicity of identities, but a binary framed checkerboard of  a culture, a yes/no, right/wrong, this/that, here/there doubling of a socio-political, socio-econoomic 01010101 . . .

I understand that a literary review must be committed to the highest quality in the writing, the highest quality in the thinking, the highest quality in the strength of its critique. I have said this before; I will repeat this again and again. There is no sense in asking me if I believe in hierarchies of value or of achievement. I do. I am not going to delineate what this literary review has been; any reviewing of the review by anyone sensitive and open will reach this end.

This literary journal is as I am–I am. What it was is better left to the historian of literary enterprises. Publishing has its history as does automotive manufacturing and sales. No editor wants his journal to be has been; if it were has been, so much the worse for those working toward publishing this has-been-magazine There is a debate over the merits of, as well as the implications between, editorials addressing readers from the point-of-view of we and those that address readers from the point-of-view of I. I do both; yes,  I am the editor thus the editorials, as I am also all the writing herein.

Do we have to ask if I believe an editorial can really be written from the pov of I? I am sure it can. I do know that one from the pov of I and another from the pov of we has a different rhetorical edge, each one sharpened by its separate rhetorical strategy, which is always a whet stone for every critical edge.

I relates to me, the actual person me and not only the inter grammatical reference of one pronomial case to another; yes, this me that I am is the principal writer of texts within the confines of this review. I am every word; every word is me, c’est moi, I could say. But this has little to do with the mask of we or I wear when I write social or political commentary, critical commentary, that employs we as part of its strategy. There is no more to say about the review except that what it is is what it is when it is how it is where it is for whomever it will be. Again, as elsewhere, I am the writing in search of which author me can be found among the selves inside my many selves Self.

 

Death is not Dying [Flash Fiction]

She says my soul is her blank slate, a clay tablet for her to impress. She passes through my heart again, what she isn’t sure she believes. I call out her name in my dreams. I wake waiting for her to respond. She continues to hammer her tacks into my head. I ask her to stop. She says I never listen.

jvr

Pro-Choice is an Argument Broad and Variegated

Pro Choice is Pro Freedom; this is self-evident. The right to choose is a human right; this too is a truth undeniable, unless one wishes to argue in favor of tyranny, oppression and general inhumanity. Human Rights are Women’s Rights, universally and unilaterally. With respect for the self-evidency of the former truths, a woman’s rights include her inalienable right to choose.The right to choose is inclusive of her right to choose to have an abortion, her right to have unimpeded access to safe medical practice when an abortion is the choice. The right to choose is not exclusive of the abortion rights argument. The right to choose is a fundamental human right as alluded to above.

This basic right to choose includes the right for same sex partners to get married. Marriage is about love, not about breeding. Most who object to gay marriage do so on what grounds? Marriage is a husband and a wife? Why? Because a husband manages the brood of the breeder, in this case, the female, or the wife. The etymology of the word wife is from the anglo-saxon, and it means just that female. In fact, the word woman comes from the anglo-saxon, wif man, which meant female person. The anglo-saxon man meant what we mean by person. So, in marriage, a woman went from being a modified person to solely a breeder. The contractual agreement was in fact for her to give uo her personhood for the role of breeding a man’s brood. He in turn agrees to take care of the brood mare or brood female in turn for her producing offspring. I guess because gay men cannot gestate babies in their colons, the idea that they should be allowed to marry for love is obscene for many.

Is this what we want?

Where Every Stream Begins

He dedicated the following “to [his] . . . father, Dylan Thomas and Montaigne.” That was it. That was all he said at the head after the title, herein the same as the entitlement to this presentation: “Centers and Circles; Post and Lintel.”

I do insist that the kind of critique or commentary or exposition found here in The Literary Review can only be handled (mentalized?) effectively when literacy is raised above the levels we have come to accept as good enough; the emphatic mood is used by necessity, and yes, there is an emphatic mood: Mary says to John, You don’t love me, and John replies, No, Mary, I do love you–the emphatic mood. The ‘do’ in the negative is not a mood indicator; when I say I don’t kiss camels, I have not shifted mood. However. I love you, I should love you, and I do love you are all mood shifts. The first is the Indicative Mood, the second is the Subjunctive Mood and the last is the Emphatic Mood. I could go on, but the task at hand–in hand because I do sometimes write with a pen in hand on paper, sometimes even nib pens dipped in ink wells to scratch across the cotton rag paper I have bought for such writing because the cotton rag is more absorbent . . .

Now let me say, getting back to the original stream . . . I could not begin this essay any other way than how I have here, insisting on literacy having to be raised above what we have considered good enough to be able to manage the critique, handle the rhetoric as well as the allusions and often times the twists the exposition might take–does take.  The emphasis placed at the start supports my claim about how much literacy has been undervalued in our culture; and it has been undervalued. Americans have a talent as well as a penchant for toppling hierarchies, making them vertical when it suits them, which has been used by power to reinforce power, using the toppled hierarchy idea as a way of masquerading as more democratic when in fact the opposite has taken place.

But this penchant for turning hierarchies on their sides has left us prone to toppling them, at least in our minds where hierarchies should be maintained because without the markers of hierarchic achievement in something like literacy, we can only live in a degraded democracy. This leveling off of hierarchic achievement in reading and writing has been especially noticeable in our Public Schools, and most nefariously in the pedagogy that gets developed as an answer to social problems we have traced to a crisis in education, or what we call being educated, not necessarily identical things.

Let us say that we know how we read and write is not good enough–I know that I cannot say otherwise. Not nearly high enough or deep enough has been the mark for too long. Reading and writing should be mutual with one other and reciprocal in a proportionate way. The fact that no one is ever going to read at a level much higher than he can write, or write at level much higher than he can read is a truth I hold to be self-evident. Another fact that I hold to be self-evident is the fact that reading without writing is only half the task of literacy advancement, and yes, without writing, setting one’s self the task of developing higher stages of achievement in writing, one is only half as literate as he could be, and weighs down the the ascent in reading. I have not yet gotten to what happens to the mind, to one’s psychology and a societies mentality through higher and higher advancement in literacy; and what the French call alphabetics is not literacy. Superficially skimming the pages, recognizing words spelled on the page, being able to spell your name correctly and negotiate the tabloid press and/or the network television news is not what I am calling literacy.

This failure of ours in literacy is unilaterally effective, how we separate reading and writing as if they were as categorically distinct as art history is from organic chemistry. Let us not pretend we do not understand what I am saying, and we have become quite expert at maintaining doubt beyond all epistemological usefulness. We often pretend more than we remain deluded. One pretense we maintain is that we need to soften this critique, need to lessen the pressure of the bite. I do not agree. I do think otherwise–I know otherwise. Nothing coming from nothing is a truth we cannot deny or avoid the consequences of . . . and trying to lessen the force of this critique would be a nothing begetting no reform. What then must we do? We have to first imagine that we can know more and that knowledge is possible.

As a result of the kind of attention we pay to literacy and the literary–a learned inattention, as we also learn to use hearing instead of listening whenever we are in forums where speaking to one another is intended to produce some additive effect in our processes of learning, or of educating, or of making some headway in the manner in which we address social problems. Yes, hearing is what we do more often than listening. Superficially skimming the pages of our reading matter is what we do more than penetrating the text, deepening our reading, raising our levels of literacy by following what used to be taught and is believed now to be unteachable–how to read deeply. Moreover, this inattention of ours is a kind of looking away instead of seeing what we need to see, a kind of dropping the baby instead of standing under the child we need to hold, to love, to nourish . . . let us get back to the center of things herein. To understand is to stand under; there is something literal in the framing here, metaphysically, as the metaphysical has correspondence with the physical.

What then do we do when faced with our strife, our disorder, our social fragmentation? With how we read, not very much except emote, misfire, howl, scream, cry, topple, break, burn . . . We opt for the ultimate choice of, we do not know, we cannot know, or everything is a mystery. These are resignations that amount to abdications. Our literacy needs care and an understanding, standing under it as much post to lintel as any architecture can tell you is by necessity imposed.

We need to examine and reexamine our pedagogy–and in a culture of doubt, where doubt has become the highest wisdom, re-examining our pedagogy has amounted to spinning our wheels. The teaching of reading and writing  has been mismanaged by our schools, elementary, middle, and high, as well as by our universities, or more particularly, our community colleges; and more nefariously, by state bureaucracies. First and fore mostly, separating reading and writing into separate sub-disciplines is absurd. State sponsored education is always going to be a mediocre education. The standards are only going to be set at the middle–something I have never been able to get the Soviet pseudo-educated Russian speaker to understand. States are not interested in advacning the people as much as they are concerned for controlling them, or herding them, channeling them, managing them, keeping what they imagine is order–and of course, theirs is the only sense of order they think is necessary to uphold.

The state is never going to sponsor teaching in a way that ensures a greater dissemination of literacy and thereby democracy. I know that this has ben true here, more overtly and perversely over the last thirty-five to fifty years than ever before; so how could it have been different in a place like the Soviet Union? It is a truth I hold to be self-evident, that when overall literacy wanes, or when we allow the State to redefine for us what literacy is, democracy lessens or disappears. Of course, you do understand that one of the cornerstones of democracy is literacy, as literacy is also one of the cornerstones of civilization. By restricting the former, literacy, the latter, democracy, cannot help but shrink in its radius. The circle is closing in; its center will be crushed before it cannot hold. Please, rage against the dying of the light

What Profits the Prophet in his Prophecy?

The prophet’s message is prophecy. What profit in the prophet’s message? The medium is the message, no? The prophet’s message has been mediated by the divine. Mary is a prophet of Christianity. Islam and Judaism do not have their women prophets? Is this true? Mary is contacted by Gabriel. She is told what we repeat in the Ave Maria. The “Hail Mary” is the message, the medium is Gabriel who announces to her that she is with child, a child through to intermediacy of the Holy Ghost. What does this have to do with the writing herein contained in this journal, except that Jeremiah was a prophet of Israel. The Lamentations are his message; God’s message in other words? What words do I have for what we face, what we do, what we think, what we say, what has been done to us, what has been taught to us, what deceptions have been played on us, trick after trick after trick. I do lament the state of my country, my culture, my civilization, my religion, my people, and so on I could go on.

The quality of the writing is very important to me and I take that seriously enough to ensure that it is always at a high level, not just in the employment of a literary style, which is something I have decided is necessary, but in the technical aspects of the writing as well, I make sure it remains at a high level of execution. I insure that word to purpose is weighed and suited carefully. Even among Jeremiads, technical quality, literary style and rhetorical strength are important matters. Being passionate is never an excuse for being technically sloppy or rhetorically weak; style must always shine The Jeremiads herein have their aesthetic considerations and an integrity to their rhetorical structure lend as do buildings have an integrity to their structure and other assessments to be made aesthetically. The social and political critiques herein stand as rebuttals for elite social policies, elite politics, and elite economics; elitist politics do have a vehemence that must always be opposed otherwise they will impose a rule to the detriment of the People. These policies and politics manifest in societies around the globe and have done so perennially. They are most especially heinous, and increasingly virulent, here at home in the United States, a superstate that has become more like the former Soviet Union in the subtlest ways than any other society in the world, and to an extent that most in the United States would deny.I understand the hyperbole.

Again, I am not herein at this time going to defend the western tradition of thought, nor the significance of the inheritance from our Greco-Roman heritage. I know that a more seriously engaged understanding of history is needed to mange the main currents and tides that effect our lives politically, socially and economically, a more seriously and intelligently managed engagement with history than we seem willing or even able to perform. We have been systematically undereducated for too long, and not-nearly-enough has masqueraded as good enough for so long we have suffered a mental (an intellectual) atrophy, all in a pandering to our lust for ease. We have come to a point where saying God help us! just might have greater relevance or more veracity than thinking anyone in any position of authority (certainly not power)  will help us.