Feather Dusters, Full Moons and Bloggers [Flash Fiction]

I would never use the word if it weren’t for the fact that no one has the ability to use another. I don’t look for synonyms for ‘bicycle.” It is suitable for all referencing. There are two cycles, two circles, two wheels. I use it irrespective of whether the word suits my taste. I use the word ‘blog’ likewise even though it is a horrid sounding word, too much like blah which is too much like baaaa, internet sheep we are all of us lambs to the slaughter.

How I like the word ‘blog’ is akin to the kind of affinity I have for the word ‘twitter’. Someone or something that twits away its day his day her day is a twitter. One who does is a doer; a dancer dances and a writer writes, but a twitter twits away. To twit or not to twit, that would be a twitter’s to be or not. The twit does what he does when he twits, so he is then a twitter. But what now of the verb to twitter, yes of course, birds tweet, so then why not call birds tweeters and we who use twitter should be called tweeters, a tweeter on twitter because I twit and I twit and I twit away my day until the last syllable allowed in the 140 character limit. Is there nothing more inane we could be doing? I’m sure we have the resourcefulness to come up with something even more inane.

I’m reminded of the tribe of people who under the light of the full moon strip naked outside in a field, assembling themselves in a circle, whereby they then each shove a feather duster handle up his or her own ass and proceed to cluck like chickens or crow like roosters. In such a tribe, everyone would do the same each month without question and wonder about those who might refuse to participate, even about those who legitimately miss the opportunity to cluck or crow with a feather duster sticking out of their asses, feathers first.

Are we not like the people in the fore mentioned tribe? We have our conformities, the things we do without question and cannot think about not doing, at least not without some Herculean effort of thinking. Most of what I read on blogs are the words clustering in a semblance of sentences expressing what we imagine are thoughts, but then thought or thinking would have to be other than simply and randomly passing images and phrases in the mind. Most of what I read in blogs are nothing more than what would have been too embarrassing to say out loud, that is, before the virtual anonymity of the internet.

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Permeation [Flash Fiction]

The exchange of our personal facts is too free and too easy. The kind of information exchanged today is the kind we kept close or offered only to our kin. Now we open the book to those who are not kin and a lot less than kind. But then facts are in themselves things made, thus fictions of a kind. The truth of us is not in our facts, is it? Then bureaucrats disagree, and will always help police to use them against us. The Patriot Act is one more heinous attempt by police agencies to circumvent the Bill of Rights. If businessmen only agree on one thing, the restraint of trade (think about it and figure it out), then police come together in agreement only on the violation of the four freedoms. Not very many men who want to wear a uniform and a badge and carry a gun can respect the Bill of Rights, even if they think they do. And all of them would balk the second the screws were put to them, of course. But he lives by the sword, by the usurpation of the people’s rights a thing a lot less than beautiful, a de-formation of Beauty, of Truth.

We are convinced that beauty has no part in truth, but that’s because we have no idea what beauty is. In fact, we have no belief system to sustain the idea that Truth is valent. We’ve debased Truth and in turn have de-formed Beauty. We have made it common, perhaps in order to be less elitist, whatever that might mean to the mind who thinks its valid and valent to think so. It has become less than common; our new rhetoric of beauty champions the ugly in order to advance political programs rooted in resentment and the vindications of new hegemonies. We have no idea that this effects all notions of Truth, which have come under a like intellectual assault. We did miss the point when these intellectual maladies have affected our politics and our socio-economic well-being. Our media advances the base in order to control the debased populus, turning free thinking selecting people into a new Pavlovian consumerist public. Popularity always become publicity in any campaign to undermine the people in favor of monied elites. We have given up on ever perfecting this special acumen as We the People of the United States in favor of All the Public of the United Oligarchy of Monied Corporate Capitalist Power. Hollywood is no longer of any use, not that it ever really was; very little of Hollywood did otherwise than sell escapist fantasies for Americans during the Great Depression. It remains grotesque for the set of values it sells, power creates subversion in order to control it.

We are subject to too much permeation, infiltration, from institutions wanting information about us, on us–always on top of us. I’m not so certain today we even know what exchanging information means, anything akin to a philosophy of beauty would be lost on us. Aesthetics has long-lost its influence in the academies of learning in America, somewhere now in an intellectual graveyard with philology, words, words and more words we do not think of words, the form of words, the sound of words, deeper sound in words, the way the Word is beginning and how all things in the beginning come from the Word . . . with our acumen and with our love being what it is, how could we hope to love language in the way too much in order to love it enough? We do not love anything enough, unless it’s a prepackaged notion of who we are, what we could be, always ever-living in the conditional.

Recollections in Something Other than Tranquility [Flash Fiction]

I sit with espresso in a cup, I bought the other day, made in  Portugal. I used to have plates fired in Portugal. What having had plates from Portugal has to do with having a coffee cup made in Portugal is beyond me. I am having a piece of pastry leftover from her birthday two days ago. I am having half of a sfogliatella, cut as I did with a knife from Germany; the pastries were bought at Villabate Bakery. I make more coffee to have with the remaining piece of sfogliatella. I remember the sun setting yesterday, crimson. I recall the blood oranges I bought at Sal’s fruit market on 18th Avenue last week. They had just come in from Sicily. What do I recall? How many more recollections of her on the shore in the mornings in Montauk with coffee and croissants can I play as silent motion pictures (–I see Louise Brooks, who looks nothing like she does, even when her hair was short)? I do not ask. I have a postcard photo of her. I keep it in an old cigar box. I use them for bookmarks. I remember the other day having remembered that I thought Louise Brooks was pretty. I have no idea how I am going to face death.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment [a Short-short Story]

I cannot imagine a world without wine. I can imagine Paris without people who are not French. I cannot imagine anyone wanting to imagine such a heinous thing as a world without wine; I cannot fathom the thinking during prohibition that lead fucking Protestant gringos in American California to destroy three and four hundred year old Spanish vineyards. A world without wine is an ultra conservative thing? But then politics has nothing really to do with being against or being for wine; but then, I never understood iconoclasm of any order–Protestants, endemically anti-Catholic. I do not want to understand the endemic narrowing of the mind that happens with hyper conservative religious maniacs. [And as for the President of Iran, who loves to loathe things like the Four Freedoms–Freedom of expression must include insults in print to faith while it does not include insulting the faithful person or persons in the free exercise of the chosen faith.] 

I remember asking a Chicano friend if only white Protestants could be gringos, and he said no, not really, that gringo was for American, white American, and then I wondered if anyone by extension American could be a gringo, or was there another term for that, but we did not get into that discussion, but maybe you could say Israelis in relation to Palestinian Arabs were gringos, but then this does not make any sense except in analogy. And I also cannot imagine a world without Jazz, but wine, for sure, how could anyone live without drinking wine–I do imagine that there are millions of people for whom a life without wine is more than okay. However, wine is life, Il vino e la vita. Le vin est la vie, no? Of course this is true.

I cannot see me ever refusing to drink any good wine, anywhere, any time. I know too many people have no clue what they are drinking or how they are drinking when they drink wine, what goes through their heads in their choices I could not guess . . . I know too many Americans have their tongues stuck up their asses when it comes to their taste in wine, just as often their taste in food. But I do not want to begin a diatribe or go on a tirade against Americans and America in matters of taste. I know that Muslim proscriptions against alcohol would prevent me from converting to Islam, even on pain of death. I would prefer to die a martyr in the cause of western civilization and the place of viniculture in that civilization than be a Muslim. This is not a condemnation of the religion. It is an assertion of who I am, or what I am, or how I identify myself. Yes, Identity is ID Entity. I drink wine; I am a wine drinker, that is who I am.

I am not a vinter, although I wish I could be; no, really, I do. I am also not a wino, nor any other variation of alcoholic, but I could drink wine every day, and believe I should drink wine every day, although I regretfully do not. I would need to live in Italy or France to be able to do this? I do believe this–I would drink wine with lunch more often if American employers did not have sticks up their asses as far and as uncomfortably as they seem to here even in New York.

I do not imagine in fundamentalist Protestant America it is any better–although, I grew up with the stereotypical image of the southern moonshiner, although I imagine that is all about the dry and wet county conflict you have throughout many states in the South, even today. A world without viniculture, though, is a world I would prefer not to live in. I would not kill myself, though, if there were no wine . . . I do know that there is no condition that humans cannot get used to, that is, no level of descent, no degradation, no amount of corruption or decadence withstood that would be too much for humans to endure.

The world does present a choice of life with wine or life without wine. I choose to live with wine. The destruction of virtually all of the old Spanish vines in California during Prohibition was one of the great crimes of the 20th century, right up there with the Nazis stealing and destroying a lot of the art of the West during the Second World War. I do not expect anyone to get it who is not inclined to be outraged by this because they think you can or should only be outraged by atrocities against human beings.

I don’t know what to say to people who think that their indifference to the sensitivity, the perspective and perceptions of artists in their art has nothing to do with nor has any transference to or onto their feelings and responses to human beings. I do understand that it is possible for a person to be indifferent to art and passionately protective of human’s and their rights; I am just saying there is often an indication that is revealing when you find someone who is insensitive to art you also find someone insensitive to artists and thus find someone insensitive to a sensitivity for humans.

Perhaps if I had never had wine, this question might not come up. I do know Italians and Frenchmen for whom wine holds no special place, has no special merit, does not preoccupy their notions of what is civilized and what makes up an advanced civilization. This Franco-Italo-American is not one of them; my father, himself Italo-American, was also not one of these for whom wine held no special place. But wine is significant in the history of cultures or culture.

It is important in history, a great agent in the civilization of the world. It is alive, it is living, it is life, and I remember having heard a French woman one time in a bistro here in New York, an older woman, perhaps at the time nearing two decades older than I was–she was a waitress in a bistro here in Manhattan owned by a friend of a sister of a friend (as if that were not convoluted), and she used to say, the words I have herein stated I had heard, “If you drink only wine, you will live to ninety; if you drink only water, you will die at 53.” I used to raise my glass with the broadest of smiles and salute her with a big gulp.

[LOOK FOR PART THREE; COMING SOON]

Serialized Essays [Flash Fiction]

[ . . . ]

. . . so look for Serial Essays upcoming in February and March, particularly “Gay Marriage” and “In Itself American.” The former every Tuesday through February and March; the latter, every Wednesday in February and March, culminating on the final Thursday, the 31st. You must dedicate yourself to reading, which means penetrating the text, getting past the impulse to superficially skim the page, fooled by the flatness of the page or screen and the linearity of the words in typeface set in neat lines in plane geometric shapes called paragraphs.

Beyond Living [Flash Fiction]

Do me a favor, take that newspaper and press it to your nose, no do it, trust me, I’m not going to do anything fucked up, just put to your nose, up against it, your nose to the paper, good, now  keep it there, do not move it no matter what I ask you to do . . . can you put it back, trust me, put it . . . good, keep it there. Now read it to me. What’s the matter? You can’t, right? Why? Exactly, it’s too close. 

He imagines himself someone to whom others would listen, at least should listen, as he often assumes in his life, that others should listen, although he does not respond poorly when they do not, unless it is his family, for whom there is no possible excuse for not listening to him, unless it is his inability in the moment to remember that it is the people closest to us who do not see as clearly what we imagine they should see . . . he thinks he is someone who has a lot to say on many subjects, topics, issues, at least five hundred words on anything was there mantra in university . . . be able to say five hundred words on anything, including everything they knew nothing about, of course this is not absurd.

I Am, therefore, I Think

If what is humane is the question, then one of the first responses would have to be directed at the notion of love. Herein stated as a priori true, love is the principal attribute in acting humanely, in elevating our humanity to where we can live beyond surviving, which if we recognize the French in our English, to survive is always beyond or other than living, sur/vivir in French means just that, beyond to live. Love effectively changes surviving into living; living without love is in effect merely surviving. Love is the soul of humanity. How could I think otherwise; I do not, have  not, assume I will not, believe thatI should not, what you would do I could prescribe, but won’t.

I connect to humanity by choice, thus by an act of freewill, which I accept as self-evident. Humans have free-will. This choosing to have is exactly what distinguishes humanity from other things we are able to have without choosing. We do not choose to have blue eyes, we do not choose to breathe, we do not choose to be the homo-sapiens we are, presented with the heredity we have—we do not choose our biology as it is given to us at birth. What do you do? This might be a question to ask . . .

No one chooses if he has to piss; the will to piss and the bodily function of pissing are exclusive. If holding one’s piss and shit has its limits. We do choose to be the kind of human we are, though. Thus we choose our humanity; but, of course, we do not choose it as we do other things; if we do, so much the worse for our humanity.

For certain, humanity is not a thing in the sense of an object, whether that be a rock, a chair, a tree or a piece of paper, or a part of the body separate in consideration from the entirety of one’s body in symbiosis with mind. It is also not a thing in the sense of idea or of energy, such as freedom or love. But it is a thing in the notion of thing present in the idea of entity. Yes, humanity is an entity we choose; it is an entity that possesses us, becomes one with us, transforms us, and transfigures us even in the eyes of others who can see, seeing here a part of our knowing our understanding our ability to learn, something even the blind can perform, this kind of seeing.

An entity has being; it exists as one. Humanity is therefore a thing as a state of being is a thing, and herein henceforth, human being is the thing we must most highly prize because to be human in this sense is to have what we have herein so far come to understand as humanity, which is to be human in the way we mean when you cannot be human unless humane. Humanity is thus an a transfiguring entity, it exists for this purpose; it is to be had, it is to be allowed, it is to be held, and what is to be held is to be done so with care, with caress, with tenderness. It cannot be extinguished, exterminated, and not even by the most monstrous inhumanity. It is the most fragile and yet the strongest thing in the universe.

Having humanity then is to be human in a way that can only be thoughtful, selfless in the sense that egocentrism (as we mean in the most pessimistic connotation we have given this term) is not the primary way in which we choose to interact with others. Love is the axis of the humane; love is the essential ingredient in kindness, tenderness, forgiveness, and compassion. Without these virtues, there can be no humane treatment of another human being. They are, though, the first qualities to disappear in any society suffering from a protracted dehumanization, the kinds we have seen throughout the history of totalitarianism, whether Bolshevik, fascist, Nazis, Stalinist or Maoist; or the kind performed in one dictatorship after another, whether Franco’s, Pinochet’s, or Hussein’s; whether Romanian, Serbian, Cuban, or Haitian.

Dehumanization seems to have become one of the leading pastimes around the world; the forms of which have been at the disposal of, for instance, one African war-lord or another; one ethnic group against others, in Iraq, the former republics of the Soviet Union, during the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, or in Israel/Palestine; in Rwanda.

Tribal politics are always in the service of oppression or genocide. All the fore mentioned isms have aided in the transformation of the nation-state into tribe.Tribal life is the beginning of the humane, not the further cultivation of being humane. The tribe forms as a step in civilization. Herein I mean civilization as we have tried to mean it, a civilizing force, thus an advancement of the humane, thus an agent working against inhumanity.

Inhumanity has been all too human throughout history, where we mean any human-being, or member of the species Hiomo-sapiens, or the genus Homo, by the lexical reference, ‘human.’. How often we repeat this or the ways we do only ensure we will forget the message. In our media culture, where the medium is the message, the content gets lost in the conduit. The way we are taught to read now only further makes certain we will dis-understand the information conveyed.

America is not immune to inhumanity; the fact we are human leaves us susceptible, the fact we are undereducated only insures we will mismanage our legacy and responsibility to ourselves and our posterity.

Spell, Spelling, Spelled; The Magic of Technology [Flash Fiction]

 

I can spell cannot be the call out of our literacy. No it cannot. A, B, C, D and so on, yes, Alpha, Beta . . . what next? I do not mis-spell my name and so I should say that I am proud of my literacy? Reciting the alphabet is not in itself spelling, and there is something magical about arranging letters to make words, to represent soeech, which is ephemeral at the moment spoken. Yes, this techne is magical, but it is not literacy. Something akin to counting is not going to make it literary, no, never in my estimation will literacy be simply the ability to spell correctly. I know I repeat myself; but let us allow this to become motif.

Being literate is not merely being alphabetic, the later what the French call being able to spell and fill out bureaucratic forms and read the tabloid press (the tabloids never meant to elevate, only inform in the most rudimentary way). This alphabetisme, as the French say, is sometimes referred to by me as having dexterity with the alphabet. I can count correctly; I can add, subtract, multiply and divide; this does not make me a mathematician. There is a syntax to equations; there is an equational form to sentences; what then do I call literacy if what can be called alphabetics is not literacy. What do we mean when we say literacy?

To spell or not to spell is every wizards call–spelling being what every wizard and every school child learns. No mater how much spelling has been associated with magic or magic with forms of writing, we are not performing the rituals of literacy by merely spelling. I remember learning that the Phoenicians, who were great merchants, used their writing system, alphabetic as it was, for the purposes of keeping catalogues of their wares. Their use of the alphabet was what some of us in America call literacy, but since it was mostly and virtually only used for the purposes of their mercantilism, keeping accounts, writing and keeping receipts in their trade, literacy is not what I would call that use. The business of business has always been business; listing one’s wares stored in a warehouse does not a literature make.

Although, the study of literature is sometimes called the study of Letters, spelling one’s name correctly is not what I mean by being literate–I know I have said this already. (The chorus speaks in a chanted speech which employs carefully plotted repetition.) Keeping accurate and sometimes detailed accounts of storage, though, is never going to be my idea of what the literary is or what literature can be. I know the Phoenicians developed more than catalogues, but the alphabet in its inception had little other use, nor was the literary the spur toward developing an alphabet to represent the sounds of speech.

My shopping list is also not what I would call literature, although the aesthetics of this shopping list or shopping lists could be employed in the service of the literary. No? Of course it could. Poetic forms themselves are more in number than can be counted or named offhand by most who are themselves what I would call literate, educated in the study of literature–no? A poem written in the style and manner of a shopping list is an interesting idea, and I just might try my hand at it after I finish this trial of an idea. It is necessary to make the steps toward higher election in matters of the literary sturdy enough for us to climb. We ave not; we do not, certainly not in our schools that have succumbed to a pedagogy of systematized under achievement and under education.

Most of us recoil from what we need to do because it is easier to defer to the mandates of a State administered bureaucracy that will always sponsor less than enough as good enough to insure that the people are always less than free, always less than able to mange their affairs democratically, always manipulated by the media, parroting one or another of the received ideas constructed by power and money through the agencies of the media.

Sometimes I need the help of a dictionary or spell check to spell a word. This has never made me question my level of literacy, no more than anyone’s near perfect ability to spell any word has ever lead me to conclude that who I am talking to is a highly literate man or woman because of this spectacle of spelling. Who we are is a lot more determined by how literate we are than we would like to admit; and I am talking not of the simple separate person who does not need literacy to be good, but the overall overarching us who are the society more dependent on the general state of literacy in that society than we would like to admit. We defer from admitting this because if we were to admit it, we woould have to take responsibility for how much more powerful Power has become, how much more monied Money has become–we would have to admit, or at least we would be able to see, just how much our liberty has waned over the last several decades, most specifically, the decade and a half since 9/11.

What kind of society we are or will be is determined by how literate we are–that is self-evident for me. Civilization is determined by, projected by, formed by and managed by literacy. It really can be no other way. We have devalued literacy in lieu of mistaken ideas about orality. This has left us opened to forms of social decadence and degeneration in the manners and matters of the literary that have left us prey to vices we once thought we had managed for the better. Let this last statement stand as X, where X is a variable in the social equation that stands for any one or another of the many vices in our society; we have abdicated our responsibility as People to our Liberty in favor of a State serving Public, this latter role being an easier one to fulfill, having less responsibility to oppose Power and its attempts to control the People.