Essay

Kosher Pastrami on Club [A Short-short Story]

And here we find our narrator, our expositor, our lyric interluder speaking for himself, by himself, with himself participating in what he is talking about, we still assume that what is said on the page in words written, either in long hand on a word processing program like Microsoft Word, the journals he has kept for as long as he can recollect keenly in his adult life, of his adult life, what is it about in a life that differs from of his life?  Words, words and more words, over twelve thousandpages of journals and notebooks written in long hand, never mind the thousands of pages on the keyboard to his computer, this one or that one, whichever one, the many folders of poetry, of essays, of blog entries, of short stories of novels and novellas . . . how many millions of words has he written in his lifetime–his life is not over.  The text concerned is here below, and from this text we are supposed to get something out of it about him, of him, from him being the author, yes the one true and holy righteous authority of the text: 

Intelligent people can come from anywhere. Stupid ones do come from everywhere. The Democratic ideal has been abdicated in favor of a pluralistic one, a hallmark of twentieth century politics everywhere, certainly; a current politique in favor among a broad spectrum of college educated administrators and fellow paper pushers (paper in the ether?) managing America’s affairs with a bureaucratic efficiency reminiscent of the best managerial traditions of our military. The military-social-complex is here. Intelligence in America is more in line with saying so than proving so. Democracy has thus been transformed in the image of the State, the newest form of God we worship, and worship we do . . . worhsipping God aside, what is it about religion and God that had the founders all in a twist–knotted up they were about it–keep them separate, for sure they knew.

Power in Democracy is numerical, we once believed–I have and do. The power of belief in a Kosher Deli’s pastrami being the best is also numerical–too many people defer to popularity, but most people have their tongues stuck up their asses, especially if they are Americans. We deferred to the idea that the people were a powerful entity in any country, let alone a country like the United States with a unique tradition of liberty–I defer to this idea too. We were certain of this Liberty–I am certain of it–and yes, I am sure of it with an upper-case ‘L;’ I do not believe we hope for this any longer. We were once sure that the people were the only “institution” of governing that had the potential to counterbalance the weight of the state; We the people meant something to each of us–I am among us. I am here with us. I am for us too.

It was the people and only the people who were dense enough to counterbalance the weight and mass of the state, l’etat en soi-meme . . . Cousin’s Kosher Deli delivered? I don’t remember. I always walked when my mother wanted anything from the kosher deli. I think I can recollect the kosher pastrami of my childhood for lunch at Cousins on Avenue D when for lunch I would go there at noon not as crowded with the kids from P.S. 208 as other places were for kids who were let out for lunch as we were when I was a boy in Grammar School.

Now, all states serve themselves; a truth to be undenied today; a truth that had at least the potential to be countermanded, not something I’m sure of at present. They are, as fore-stated and after-stated . . . for themselves, by themselves, in themselves, of themselves . . . with themselves . . . self-contained for always, every state for always the mortal enemy of what is best in the soul of the individual simple separate person . . . I am this simple separate person as you are as he is and she is and that person over there is too as each and every simple separate person is every other simple separate person. Who serves good and authentic kosher pastrami–what means authentic?

This person must remain macrocosm, however, even to the people themselves in order for the people to maintain in counter-balance its power and density. I could not say why I liked pastrami more than I did corned beef, both made from the same cut of meat. How is this not true for me?

We who could be the people, though, are no longer the people as Jefferson had envisioned, as later ages have agreed needs expanding; there is no resemblance to Populus or to Demos, not in any way akin to how either maintained its distinction from what was public in antiquity, or what could have remained in the Jeffersonian We the people. And that remains an is true in spite of Jefferson’s contradictions or seemingly weak remedies for having taken the wolf by the ears; I don’t let slavery stand as a rebuttal for the truths of Jefferson’s maxims on Liberty; Jefferson spoke truth on Liberty in spite of how he contradicted himself by his actions. It was Jefferson’s self-evident truths on liberty that the anti-slavery movement used to help free the slaves . . . none of us should.

Today we proudly parade ourselves as Publius, a great Public en masse, not Populus, conformity the first and last choice in our contemporary notion of being free. And with there being no truth, no allegiance to the traditions of Democracy in the world historically or in America culturally, any idea of the people as in We the people of the United States in order to form a more perfect Union becomes either suspect for being traditional or modified for succumbing to a hyper subjectivity, a kind of evolving antidote or answer for former totalitarian hyper rationalism. Give me liberty of give me death means nothing today.

Give me kosher pastrami or no kosher pastrami makes more sense–perhaps we should be saying–perhaps we are saying, give me no liberty if you cannot give us liberty in its entirety?

You must know that public and people are not synonyms; I cannot count how many times I have to defend this statement no matter how often I use it in discussions of politics with friends and colleagues–imagining that people listen in our sound-bite culture, in a culture devoted to maintaining Twitter accounts, is absurd.

The masses who are everywhere alike as masses are also those who gravitate toward one form of pluralism or another, whether Bolshevik then, communist after, fascist or Nazis before or since; one totalitarianism successive with another after another in a long parade of political sleepwalking; pluralism can and has also become Americanism redefined inside multiculturalism and the political correctness of the new diversity, supposedly a rebuttal if not an answer for what has ben imagined the old universalism. Politics, therefore, for the individual, and throughout the twentieth century, has marched as one kind of somnambulism after another, and this remains true whether it has been American, Russian, or French; Chinese, German, or Chilean, every kind et cetera . . . Toi! mon hypocrite lecteur, le semblable.

They are always the same everywhere as masses are masses regardless of language, culture, history, political or religious belief; each mass is essentially ready to serve the state or squander the self-hood of its numbers as well in turn their collected identity as a people, the people for whom each is macrocosmically We. I am we, politically. All of this has been abdicated for a lumpen, numerical existence, one most honored and respected by bureaucrats, collectively in themselves bureaucracy. bureaucracy is not something apart from bureaucrats; that’s a sleight of hand bureaucrats perform more expertly than any dealer in a game of three-card-monty, any magician would pay to perform with the straight face of your local bureaucrat.

The problem is no state can do without them; they can conform to any state. You don’t think the Nazis or the Fascists in Italy or Castro got rid of all bureaucrats, do you? The horror of existence is the bureaucrats for Batista were the bureaucrats for Castro. Talk to any administrator who is your boss in any state-run bureaucracy or the likes and you will see the same people who went from pushing papers for Weimar in the beginning of 1933 and the Nazis at Christmas time. What do these have to do with me, how I engage with politics, with government, with bureaucrats, with government agencies and administrations?

They are present everywhere, these lumpen masses, especially present every morning in our reflection. Who is not willing to be less than himself at every other turn? Mostly we consider freedom to be liberty from responsibility, yet it is our responses, our actions, our choices, thus all in a set of our obligations that define us; so in our quest to be free, how could we avoid abdicating our responsibility and think we could remain free. I am yearning to be free . . .

Kosher pastrami–good Kosher pastrami–is a thing of the past. Good Kosher pastrami and We the People Liberty have both them gone the way of my childhood.
I used to get good kosher pastrami at the Avenue T Deli–how long ago is that now? God it was how many decades ago that I went there with my mother and father.

 

 

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