At What Price Peace?
The State in America only pays lip service to the exercise of freedom. Presidents in the State of the Union rarely ever serve more than their image. The State was incapable of respecting in the least the kind of freedom he had once believed was his birth right.
I cannot believe anymore in a President of the people. Perhaps naively in my youth I believed that presidents were capable of what Obama’s most ardent supporters believe him capable of but doubt of this has begun to supplant confidence. Perhaps my mistake was to have taken freedom for granted–how I had done this I am not going say. I am beginning to feel like one of Barnum’s suckers. He went on to say that Washington seems like a Big Tent; Capitol Hill, the White House, other rings.
Will our civil liberties always be present? I did not ask, but considered. The slogan of the ACLU is Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself . . . Good cause, good slogan. The need for vigilance is constant. But vigilance must come from the people not a lazy public looking for men like President Obama to do it for us.
We saw Bush II and did not like what we saw; we heard Obama and liked what we heard, but hearing is never listening. We might as well shake hands with the devil anytime we let leaders in Washington keep vigilance for us. The only sense of vigilance that our degraded state sponsored education can imagine is one that serves the interests of the state.
It might be something else entirely now, he said, in that we will not think serving the state against the people is such a bad idea. You can always get people to come out in droves to support ideas or measures socially or politically that are not in their interests. The Cave dwellers again rebel against the light of day. We do prefer our shadows to the realities outside our caves. Twitter, Facebook, TV, the mirror, all of them our caves; inside ourselves, solipsists ever.
We have grown too accustomed to a state more increasingly unfriendly, now bartering our civil liberties for a false sense of security. And we do have one, a false sense of security. States for all times, have rewarded publicans and rarely the people. America had once almost become contrary to this. Advertisements rule our sense of the real; psychologists say that the internet has made us even more self-absorbed, more inside ourselves. If that were at all possible. Metaphysics by Madison Avenue.
I do believe we were freer at a time before Reagan and Bush and Iraq one and two, and certainly the post 9/11 world; which is not to say that Bush II was worse than Johnson or Nixon. We were smarter, more literate, better educated and more willing to commit to social change in a tactile not only tangible way. Today, drug dealers, criminals, pop stars actors and actresses all party with the President and we somehow miss what’s happening. We have come a long way from the old New Left, I wanted to say. Even further from the Old Left, I wanted to add, buit did not. Let’s not lament yet, he said after along pause.
It was the old left that informed many of the men I had come to listen to when I was a boy, I knew. My first lessons in American Democracy, politics, freedom, the exercise of liberty, which was never license (a confusion I see popularly spreading) . . . I would have liked to have added, but did not. But then my fantasies of the old left might not be as accurately conceived as they should be, I am certain. Among the old left, I include the Teamsters of the thirties–and I know too many bosses who deserve the Nietzschean lessons from the Geneology of Morals . . . mill stones on the head.
I remember the Revolutionary slogans from the time of our Founding Fathers, someone said. One, I recall, stood out: The Tree of Liberty is Watered with the Blood of Patriots . . . and if I might add, sometimes that of the moneyed and power elites . . . le sange impur. But who gets to say when the shooting stops, or how many is enough? If we choose what we seem to be headed for? Is that what we are headed for? What Reign of Terror is next? The Nazis had their own.
What did Jefferson mean about our obligation to liberty when he wrote in “The Declaration of Independence” that a people desiring freedom are obligated to throw of their chains? What are the inferences to be made in today’s economy and from close examination of power politics? In this America who is there Democracy for? I know that the rich get richer; I know we have a degraded sense of the possibilities of each man’s future riches, mainly because we have confounded possibility and probability. We tolerate the rich because we believe they do something for their money; they are not an idle rich aristocracy, no–but outside of drilling for oil, raping lands, putting protected land at risk of ecological disaster, what then do the rich do?
Goldman Sachs was at the head of the 1929 market collapse and was there again in 2008. And they are Obama’s biggest supporters. Obama is not likely to bite the hand that feeds him–and I do not know if Hilary is the answer because if she were running in the 70s, she’d be running as a moderate Republican, no? You do not think so? How is it we think, anyway–what is it that we call thinking? Epistemology has suffered greatly these last few decades . . . can you imagine, though, this country run by Donald Trump?
I am still wondering about just how many of us are registered Republicans and how many are registered Democrats, and even in the days of Barry Goldwater, there were a significant number more registered Democrats than Republicans, and I am pretty sure that there are an even greater number of voters who are not registered with either party today when compared with 1964, and Goldwater had the Republican Party nomination fairly sewed up and still he was buried by Johnson in the national election, I guess by the time campaigning came along and the people expected a platform to be built, Goldwater’s polemics did not sell to even those who supported him in the primaries.
Remember, even Republicans and Democrats have different lenses with which they look through at a candidate when he runs against others in his party and then for President. Goldwater’s fiasco was that he was for a short time a big fish in the Republican Party fish bowl, but in the larger pond of the presidential election, he seemed a much smaller and weaker fish. After the primaries, the people are going to expect Trump to be presidential–and he is not, as Goldwater was not. In spite of what you might think; at the time, Johnson was.
I did think of buying a rifle with the stimulus money we got like scraps from the banquet table to a dog.
Through the Woods and to the Store
I have no stale bread to break into pieces, but I know my way and do not imagine I will get lost on my way to the store to get milk, these woods that lie between our house and the store–I could take the road around these woods but it would be so much longer than the path that has been cut through them probably before the store or the house was built, perhaps? The woods come to the edge of our property, the line of them I see from the kitchen window that looks out back as my Aunt Mae’s kitchen window looked out back behind her home in Pittsfield, out onto the back lawn that extended nearly the length of a football field I imagined when I was a boy to the line of pine trees at the edge of the back of her property, seven of them standing nearly thirty to forty feet high.
I see raccoons from time to time and have to make sure time and again that the raccoons do not make the tool shed out back their home because they would if they could, and I know people who have had them invade their basement–we have not, fortunately. The path I will take to the store is not too narrow, but is not in any way wide. I probably would not want to walk it at night–of course I would not want to at night–and certainly would not want to walk it in the rain, terribly muddy, as it would be, slippery, too.
Wandering into the woods at first when I was a boy in the Berkshires–the woods did not carry the same fear as I had had when first presented with the prospect of entering the ocean at night, swimming at night in the sea, the surf in the dark and the great unknown–it is somewhat the same in the day, but why didn’t the woods have the same foreboding, or instill in me the same sense of foreboding as did the ocean at night–this is easy enough to tell, but there is something of foreboding felt when presented with entering the woods at night, how did Hansel and Gretel face their fear entering the woods . . . and they did meet a witch in the forrest. What was I going to meet when I first thought to enter the woods at a time when I looked for the night light before sleep, and I only vaguely now remember what it was like for me at time when I finally went to sleep without a night light on in the hall outside my room, lighting the way to the bathroom as much as a ward against monsters in the dark.
We are out of milk and I know she is going to want steamed milk with her coffee this morning as she does every Saturday and Sunday morning, caffe latte I make for her with our espresso machine. I like my espresso straight up, sometimes in regular coffee cups halfway full, or in smaller demi-tasse used for espresso as we had in Spain, Italy and France.
Do not expect much to happen on the way to the store. Rarely does anything happen on my way to the other side of these woods, a wooded area we can call a woods, but a forest, although their are forests we call woods. The woods by my Aunt Mae’s were rather extensive, and perhaps in places connected to greater areas of woods equal to what people imagine when they say forests, but there were places when the woods by her home opened, or ended at a golf course, and I forget which one because although it was not very far, at least by our standards of walking then when we were boys on our adventures in the woods during the day, it was a fairly considerable drive by car to the entrance to the grounds that were the golf course that extended from its first hole to the farthest extent of the course’s grounds. I played golf a lot when I was in the Berkshires with my Dad and Uncle Miller.
I go to the store through the woods. I enter from my backyard, and I cross the woods to the store, a supermarket that has a rather extensive parking lot that borders the woods and into which I exit the woods, where I then cross the parking lot and enter the supermarket where I then buy the milk I need and something for later for lunch and some of the croissants they get delivered that are uncommonly good and a great surprise for a supermarket to have.
Caffe Latte with croissants with wild blueberry jam. I am a happy man sometimes–happiness is not a persistent condition or an enduring one, but is now, in the moment, as I feel when I do. She will be happy to which goes a long way to making me happy because she will presumably have no call to transform magically as she sometimes does into a big giant chicken ready to peck holes in my head.
I am in fact so happy with my bread and coffee that I have completely forgotten about how I should want to shoot the CEOs on Wall Street, and how the guillotine was integral to the advance of democracy–no? At least to unlocking the shackles on the poor–no? At least in enforcing a new hegemony, soon to be co-opted by the bourgeoisie who in turn placed woman in greater chains than she had been in before; the same bourgeoisie that throughout all of the 19th century spent its efforts at reversing any of the gains or the sentiments toward revision that the French Revolution had manifested in the ways of woman’s emancipation.
Stores are places where things are stored; store houses, they could be called. Russians call stores magazines–magazina–what is a magazine but a storehouse of information, pictures, articles, reporting, whatever else in writing there is to include; the magazine of a naval vessel is the storehouse of the ships ammunition, as a rifles magazine is the clip of ammunition used in the rifle or other such weapon. The mind is then a magazine, no? memory is ammunition against despair, or is despair’s ammunition one uses to shoot himself with, no?
I have no intention of shooting myself. In fact, I used to think that the world could be broken into to distinct categories of persons, and the one would be those who could kill themselves and the other the group of persons who could not kill themselves. i used to refine this and make it about those under certain circumstances were the kind of people who could kill another human being and those who could only kill themselves under such conditions . . . those with a propensity to murder and the others having a propensity for suicide.
There was a girl in my elementary school I only vaguely recall ever having existed in my school, my classes–and even now I barely remember what grade it was, although for some reason I imagine that it was before third grade, or was it in third grade–and now I am not so sure if she was in my class, and I think I recall my mother having said something about this, what I am going to say about this girl, now this how many years ago it would have to be decades, of course, when my mother said something about this, the girl–did my mother know her mother from the PTA, very active as she was, my mom–but the girl–were we in kindergarten–I think we were in kindergarten–I barely remember anyone from kindergarten and can only barely recall the girl I imagined I was impossibly crushed on, who was not this girl I am trying to remember because this girl who was five or six or seven maybe eight, no older, hung herself, and I never understood how she was able to, how a girl that age had ever been able to, I could not imagine it, or maybe I could, and maybe I did, and maybe it is possible for any of us at that age to do it, accomplish it, how would someone that young have the wherewithal to go through with it, not emotionally, but physically, how was she able to do it–is it easier for young people, little people to hang themselves?
My Aunt Wendy at the height of her menopause left a table of casual and even friendly conversation with family at her kitchen table to go up the attic of her house to hang herself. I do not think it is possible for me to kill myself, although I do know that I have it in me to kill another person. I have murder in me, I am sure. What else do you want me to say? I would only manoeuvre my way around the possibility of self defense, often in the past waiting until I had to defend myself to over step the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable defense, but always leaving it at the borderline.
The steamed milk was good with the coffee; even I had some–I made it a small glass pitcher I have thatI bought in a kitchen supply store how long ago now nearing two decades. The croissants were fantastic–and the best croissants we have ever had were not in Paris but in Montreal–absolutely.
Where have all the good readers gone?
I would like to ask this question openly, but do not have the courage to ask this question, by thus doing I would challenge too many of the grossly absurd assumptions of too many of my colleagues who I respect in spite of what I know to be their defects in intellect . . . the evils in society are chiefly from defects or diseases in the intellect, our intellect, what we know, how we know it, what we have determined the limits of knowing are, what we call knowledge, and how we have critiqued and dismissed many of the forms of traditional knowledge and knowing, which are themselves the great defects in intellect we suffer . . . we do not suffer social diseases–a kind of syphilis of the body politic . . . and so, diatribes on the state of current pedagogy notwithstanding, let me say, as I have said before, in many places before this, that education is the cornerstone of Civil Liberty–and how is it that anyone could think other wise? I do ask, and now and then put in a rhetoric that makes any askee of my asker-self very uncomfortable, which is not my primary intention, and I do ask myself who I think I am to do what I have done and continue to do with words, questions of words, words, words and more words I use to bludgeon sometimes . . . but then as I have inferred here, the current degraded state of our common pedagogy only points to a society that might not understand the role of education in Civil Liberty. Let me reiterate what Madison believed, yes, Civil Liberty can only be supported sufficiently by strengthening our standards of education, and not by playing the pedagogic shell game the State (L’Etat) and our current bureaucracies setting standards seem to enjoy playing. Who do I have to be, though, to ask the questions I ask, pose as I do pose them, questioning postures . . . in as much as education should still be, and needs to be raised to a level and a sufficiency that is able to manage the demands of Democracy, we cannot endure the way we currently perform on the stages of Public Education across America. And I can say this., across America . . . the ways we fail to achieve what is necessary in educating the People (the People the only institution with enough density to counterbalance the weight of the State) are interestingly the same methods others have used successfully in controlling the Public . . . do I have to prove to you that I have appropriate credentials for speaking the Truth as well as the truths of our contemporaneity, no I do not think so.
Madison certainly could not have been talking about the kind of education we have in our Public Schools anywhere in America, whereby we graduate more students than ever in spite of increasing the percentage of those who graduate reading below grade. I do not have to believe in a Golden Age to know that ours just might be the worst of times so far for literacy and education in America. We no longer train the less than academically inclined students for blue collar jobs in our Public Schools; we merely instead pass them along, many at below grade level, a good number with a semi-literacy barely functional, so as to fill the demands of a Welfare Bureaucracy still bloated because it was never designed to help people but to create an entire mass of welfare serfs bound to the bureaucracy as serfs in a former feudalism during the middle ages were bound to the land they worked . . . how do we not know that we liberals in America are complicit with the simian outbursts politically today in America, America, my most failing flailing America–yes, we . . . and so, who among our High School teachers, let alone our current graduates in New York City can read Madison with the acumen necessary for a deeper understanding? And yes, deeper from an acumen that can–that should–be taught, not divined as in so many classrooms where pedagogy is about teaching less to achieve only the end that parents must do more. Why send children to school with how ineffective most classroom teaching has become? And this is not an invitation for reflexive assertions to the contrary, amounting to a ping pong match of I said/you said. To read well or not to read well, that is the question most pressing about pedagogy, most pressing about thinking, what we think, how we think, the limits of thinking linked with the limits of knowing, never succumbing to the pervasive overarching doubt as we do today when confronted with the questions pertaining to what is knowable and what the limits of knowing are . . . to be or not to be educated in a way appropriate to a People managing democracy as a People and not as a Public managed by the State and in perpetual service of the State. I do not need to know every single High School teacher, and a single contrary example does not refute the question asked in earnest. And I have also met far too many college educated adults for whom re-reading is essential for even an appropriate first read, so why do we sponsor the kind of pedagogy of reading that amounts to engaging a text in a way similar to how waiters clear tables of crumbs before bringing the coffee? Is it about making a teacher’s job easier? Or is it about creating a mass of welfare serfs or another of minimum wage serfs in an economy dislocated from freedom and only bent on making the rich richer, the monied more powerful as well as reciprocally, power more monied.
Ta meta ta physika
All good reading is re-reading, so the necessity to re-read is not the issue above. But this necessary re-reading is more effective when a more attentive and less perfunctory first reading is achieved. Superficially skimming the text will never do anywhere. I am referring to the kind of reading that penetrates the text, not just superficially skims the page. Sweeping has nothing in common with reading when reading is performed organically and seriously and not how it has been fostered in our schools. All great writing is multi-layered. Today, though, among who we call literate, reading amounts to superficially skimming the page as if words were crumbs on the dinner cloth. But then many of the texts chosen in classrooms through Public School are two-dimensional as texts, the kind of writing that defers to the flatness of the page and the words being organized in lines. So then, am I to assume, probably, that the kind of reading that gets fostered by our pedagogy is in line with the kind of writing we find in the kinds of texts that get chosen, or is it that the kind of writing in the texts that get chosen demand a kind of superficial skimming because this skimming is suited to the writing. When a teacher is allowed to have a B- average in the subject he teaches, and can have at least a C+ overall–what kind of teachers are we getting. We even discourage prospective English teachers from getting a Master’s degree in English and instead to get a Master’s in Education, that is, the Teaching of English, as if that is not a misguided, misconceived notion of what knowledge is, and not the product of our mistaken notions about epistemology, what is knowable and what the limits of knowing are.
Good readers can tell bad writing and politically correct hyper-didactic texts are often poorly written. How then though can I hope to understand what individuality means when true political and social individuality is so countermanded by one kind of pluralism after another, contradicted by one determinism or another in assault against any or all notions of free-will. This assault on free-will is backed up by these aforementioned pluralisms, but fostered by the kind of pedagogy of literacy we have in our Public Schools. Don’t bother to look to education anywhere in America for saving graces in the rituals of freedom; it is in our public schools that the greatest reinforcement for a decrease in civil liberty and social freedom has been maintained. Current pedagogy has ensured that we will be neither aware enough historically nor literate enough to defend our freedoms. As insipidly as we support cultural and linguistic awareness, we are not likely to hold onto our best ideals, all in the name of a diversity more diversion than diversification. Today, our diversity has too little respect for individuality. Individuality and a respect for it seems past reckoning; individualism has increased its ismistic referencing in our rhetorical strategies concerning the package of individuality over the product of individuality. Madison Avenue still rules the ritual actions of our minds, the ritualized thoughts behind our actions. It is one of our greatest horrors that we call it Madison Avenue.
Our diversity today is nothing other than a tracing of the veins in a great monolith of marble, or creating new ways of genuflecting before the altars of entertainment. Conformity is America’s greatest dogma; how is it that we have not returned to narrower times? There was more individuality in the old universality, it seemed to me, so long as the push was not universalism. Isms are always a reduction of individual will and idea. Baroque Europe I must remind us did have a greater sense of universality coextensive with its ethnic and national diversities than anything we have today. America today is not as organically diverse as was Europe just at a time they plummeted into the maelstrom of the Thirty Years War. But then we go crouching and crawling and creeping our way out of the 20th Century, best labelled by Camus, The Century of Murder, slouching, Mr. Yeats, yes, slouching, we are.
Is it true that there are no philosophical theories, and only philosophical fictions?
The essence of the fictional essay is directly extensive of the conclusion that all philosophical systems (if we will, and so in desiring make acceptable) are in themselves fictions, no less so than Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. In this way, fiction or fictions represent alternate epistemologies, no?
The old Church liturgy was almost invariably the call of the rock. By church here I also mean mosque and synagogue, much the way we understand that when Jesus says Be seen not praying in the synagogue, He means churches and mosques, public schools and offices of finance too. He also means how we tend to blow our own horn, especially in a society as ruled by media and advertising as is contemporary America. I had been reminded one night by a Hasidic student of mine that stoning is still part of Jewish law, but that they cannot stone anyone in America. Perhaps this is the progressiveness we should be most proud of; however, we have always preferred ropes to rocks. Yes, rocks and ropes will harm me, but what of our fear of names and other words? We do believe that words can harm us. Our current politically correct reflexes about speech show us this. It is a grotesque puppet literacy performed in a social Grand Guignol.
I do not even want to begin a discussion of how horribly far from an understanding of democracy most of my Muslim women students are–completely baffled, they are, and to me baffling. Nonetheless, I persist in maintaining my commitment to freedom. Even I understand how hokey we have let this statement become–and we do wince when we hear someone say something like the former, “commitment to freedom.” But then who can say in measured articulate paragraphs just what freedom is–and it does need paragraphs, not tweets on our Twitter accounts–social media’s role in declining literacy should be examined, which is not to say that it cannot have a significant role in spreading democracy. One has nothing really to do with the other. Guarding against a decline in literacy, including tracing the lines of influence that social media draw in this decline, while maintaining a broader understanding of social media’s possible role in spreading democracy, are not mutually exclusive in our efforts.
The greatest assaults on the First Amendment in the last thirty years have come from the Left; and this has allowed the right to maintain validity in its ever increasing shift into reactionary lunacy. The shift to the right has been monolithically American, the entire political spectrum as moved to the right. Moreover, I do not see ideological differences between the Democrats or the Republicans, and political space like metaphysical space like physical space is curved, and the further you go in one opposite direction, the closer you come to the other opposite.
Do you need more illumination; what is illumination here but explication, explication illumination, what gets said about what is being said, words used to elucidate other words about yet other words in another piece of writing or speaking, some writing made to stand for speaking, sometimes speaking for writing, too many of us writing as we speak instead of learning how to speak the way we should write, and there is a should for this.
Father Death, we are coming home. I do not know if I should say for the gentle soul of Allen Ginsburg, or, for the gentle soul Allen Ginsburg . . . why don’t I just say both because it is just as true that neither is appropriate, as well as something else, lesser or greater, and in which of the many ways it could be either lesser or greater not necessary to discern at the moment.
I say here in this Epilogue that it is an epilogue that I am writing, and that all this fancy Greek word-stuff (stuff Elizabethan idiom for semen) way to say after-word, logos, you know is word, no–is all about what I need to say for you to understand something that I, the author, intends in the manners through the matter of my expositors . . .
In search of Jack’s ghost in Lowell Mass. I remember when we abbreviated it Mass and not MA–passing old mills abandoned after having buried my Great Aunt, older sister of maternal grandmother I hardly ever saw, did not know her, knew her older sister we buried in Pittsfield before taking the state wide trip to Lowell from the Berkshires to cousin’s house, Godfather cousin on my mother’s side, the son of the aunt we buried, I helped carry her casket, can’t count how many caskets I had help carry by the timeI was nineteen, then fourteen, in hazy Berkshire June, to the grave, never really ever that humid in Pittsfield, even in the summer, unusual.
Context helps define the limits–definition is the limit, what limits do we put on fiction, these things made, what is made in the sense of truths to tell . . . America and how it can disintegrate, Americans lost in trying to be what they only parrot about being American.
I am in the cellar, not the basement, I used to spend some time on discerning the differences between the two, and I think you have an idea, could look it up and find out without having me tell you what only I think, which is only what anyone ever does when he says what he says about what he says.
It is a mistake to say that the Reign of Terror saved France, or so it has been said by many, and to which I can only agree. The Terror certainly destroyed the revolution. Only the insane or the most savage satirist can say the guillotine was an instrument in the installation of democracy. The Terror established a premise for which Napoleon at his worst was the most unavoidable logical conclusion; Napoleon at his best was the illogic of a humane heart. Danton’s exclamation to the Tribunal that condemned him, that Robespierre will follow him, was not prophecy, but again logic. It was also a matter of observation and not any mystical insight, particularly by Francois Buzot, that”Robespierre never forgave men for the injustices for which he had done them, nor for the kindnesses for which he had received from them.” Such was the way of the Revolution; such is the ways of all revolutions? I am asking in earnest.
Here you find an essay written by a man you will hopefully in time come to know. The question raised is about the People versus the State, the single most important question to investigate, to explore and explicate in any society concerned for its democratic future, the present state of its democracy. The question, what then must we do? is always topical, whether stated or not. Other questions are those of context and boundaries–those of genre and how we speak in writing, or what we say in writing, or what we write in writing and what that writing achieves or accomplishes in the way of communicating. Who I am here telling you of this other there now here having written what you will read . . . expositors inside another expositor’s exposition inside an author’s writing called fiction–where is the Truth and what are the truths herein present or to be discovered or that have been inferred?
Louis Quatorze said, L’etat, c’est moi, when asked his opinion about the Political State; the state, it is I, he said. Today, the modern state has no such illusions of absolute singularity, at least not since Mao or Stalin, maybe Pinochet or Pol Pot. That the state could live in one man in Louis’s time is only inconceivable to the grossly historically ignorant, except today, that includes college graduates, who are as contempo-centric as any of their contemporaries infected by a pop-culture tapeworm. These facts not exactly aside; today, the credo of state is L’etat c’est l’etat, en-soi, pour-soi. In itself, for itself. Nothing more; no one else.
Yes, who and whom; what and of what, to what, with what else . . . what is said comes to you from where? Have you examined this? What then does that say about the saying? Again, I am one expositor; the expositor of these non-italicized lines is yet another, and who then is the author, that authority over me–there must be another implied author of the text that there is then an expository voice separate from the vice of the author, no?
How is it we do no see that the economic oligarchy we have in America has become as Absolutist in its designs for and of power and control as Louis had in his Absolutist Monarchy–no? You are looking the other way, perhaps . . . as I know I do from time to time, from occasion to occasion. Who wants to–thinks he needs to–has the energy to keep constant vigilance? No one I have ever known anywhere I have ever been.
I do betray my dreams, my beliefs, my selves, this Self, content to wear the masks I wear, looking in one or another kind of looking glass in one or another circumstance physical or metaphysical, psychic, psychological, in memory, whatever else I have in the matter of contexts lived and looking through as I decide into–I am a long, long way from Louis Quatorze and his absolutist monarchy, or so I assume; but our State is no less absolute for the absence of king. Energy does not die, we know from physics. It merely changes form, and the State form that had developed in Louis’s sei-cento has gone from absolutist monarchy to an impersonal, mechanized, computerized oligarchy of bureaus, the latter no less absolute over the lives they manage rather than rule.
Power is energy; authority is another kind; influence yet another form. There is always an aesthetics for each of them, an appropriate and suitable form to match, and that’s true even if the aesthetics are governed by the grotesque . . . the horror we have in our hearts or caves, as dark as either one of them is . . . Homo Sapiens has come from the cave, but is he truly out of his cave?
Whatever is best in me as a human being is countermanded by the force and power of the State, represented by any of its agents in authority. Everything that is best by my being individually human is disinvested by the State’s efforts to serve the public and only the public, never the people, distinct from the former in how they exist in relationship to the state. Jefferson said we the people, not we the public. I have before and will again make note of how in Roman Political Science, Publius and Populus were not synonyms. The State is a non-human entity, many like myself consider it to be inhuman. It has always remained the mortal enemy of everything good in the individual human soul. The state is an institution that bears its weight of force, the power of its immense density, onto people and only people. All density has the power to displace in proportionate measure. The only people the state has a vested interest in are people transformed into a public, whereby they cease to be the people they were, and each becomes a mass man, a mass woman, one of the great over-arching public that will always attempt to displace the person within, the success of which is usually in direct proportion to the degree of resignation on the part of the individual; however, the State barely trusts its servants in the guise of the Public, that en-masse that serves. It never trusts anyone apart from and not a part of it, this greater impersonal en-masse, at least in numbers, the people. I had a friend who tried to draw corporeal analogies for the State, and thus organic relationships for the Public. As a result, in the Body of the State, the Public had the same function that the bowels do in the human body; we are the intestines of the State when we are the Public, you could say. Waste passes through us.
The frequency with which we read without considering what I have raised herein for consideration is astounding to me–and this in fact should tell you something significant–the signifying expositor, or would that then be the implied author meaning that the there is an expositor inside and author inside the author of me who stands side-by-side with the expositor of this expository diatribe on the state of education in America? Perhaps it is not so astounding.
Whatever the people understand to be best about their humanity the State remains cynical in face of, or only referential to in slogans or platitudes. Intelligence in platitudes alone remain for the State; listen to most people speak about government, listen to your average American, whether he’s Democrat or Republican, whether he considers himself conservative or liberal . . . and in America, I have nothing but the greatest contempt for the later, pity for the former.
The State, ce n’est pas nous, ce ne’est pas moi, jamais. Mais moi, je suis plus gros que l’etat, not because I am a king, the King, but because I am a man, a person as we mean person as one of the people, populus, again, who are never publius, unless transformed by the state into its servants. Yes, I am bigger than the state, as you are larger than it, must always remain larger than it. I am we the people, as you are we the people, and in this enlightened position on democracy, each of us is we the people, and only when this sense of ourselves as demos prevails will freedom actually ring as well as reign.
I wish we had the means to say what we really think in America, and that we were not so managed and shaped by the received ideas we accept without question . . . without fear, we should be, but are not.
The People are always other, rarely ever another. They are potential enemies of the State, always. The President of the United States does take an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic: the People are domestic, better domesticated as the public in the mind of any agent of the state, but when not transformed into the Public, the People will always remain suspect. Any person from among the People is potential Public Enemy #1. What then must we do? What then can I do? Do I do anything by writing herein the way I have written . . . who am I here, the expositor I have been in this lines, word by word, I give you my word, by my word, what words do I have, can I meet with what I see, what I hear, what I read, what I experience. And those of you who saw President Obama as the agent of change were are mislead as anyone has ever been in this Western Bourgeois Totalitarian Capitalist America.
It has been said equally naively that I have naively believed that violence is a solution for political problems, that by saying that the guillotine is the greatest of machine politics I am somehow showing a degraded understanding of politics. I do know that those who protest my satire do so as the Queen in the Murder of Gonzago does, yes, of course, too much (as Gertrude observes openly and to her own betrayal); they also do so from a debased notion of literacy and what is literate enough.
Sugar dissolved in water results in a solution. Murdering many people who stand opposed to your politics is not a solution, excepting what dissolves in the blood that flows in the streets. Terror, as in France’s Reign of, does, however, tend to get rid of opposition in an immediate way and having immediate if never long term effects, that is, positive when we understand that criminals murdering each other might be affirmative action for whatever immediate positive results it has on whoever fills the power void within the limits of the circumscribed criminal world.
I have no patience for anyone who misreads Utopian fiction, dis-topian fiction, or most assuredly, Menippean Satire.
We are all too keen on looking for any reason we live in the political shit we live in–any reason but the one that would point to our complicity in the mess we have made of our politics. Complicity is difficult to take; you only have to look at any divorce at any time anywhere with any two people husband and wife to see just how far and for how long both parties engage in he said/she said, denial in perpetuity. It may be one of the main ingredients in our sanity, our brand of sanity; it’s not me, it’s them, for sure, of course.
Who are we? I am I; or, am I this carefully crafted we? I am We the People, I know, have taken from another text I have read. The author of the text below will remain anonymous. There was a time when Virginia Woolf had an opinion on anonymity in literature, what her opinion about the Anonymous attached to a text throughout the literary past, a poem, by whom? By Anonymous. Anonymous was eponymous for woman.
Whatever needs to be discerned can be discerned from the words in the text, but only if you stay in the text, closely to and with the text, nothing outside the text I request, I should demand, but I am afraid that in our social climate that might be too strong for most readers to accept. “Consensus, Non-sensus” is the title–what does that mean to say that this is the title–entitlement is what it says, but what does it do by what it says, what it infers, what boundaries it sets and has set for it by the reader, the author, the characters performing in the piece, the text again, nothing outside the text, what are all the clues, do we really read anymore, or have we become so systematically undereducated that we only superficially skim the page, fooled as we are by the words appearing in lines, an artificial linearity to the text imposed by the inescapable linearity of the words in lines; an artificial flatness to the text imposed by the flatness of the page. All texts are paradoxes in the very material that composes them. Even screens are flat.
And now . . .
Consensus, non-sensus . . . it’s amusing to say. What else should I say? Will I say–what? We can all disagree in this pseudo-democratic nation managed by power elites bent on keeping the masses semi-educated and semi-literate–but consensus in the end is the mandate. I have no problems speaking for everybody; everybody is one, everybody is, all are, you understand, no? It is easy for me to speak for everyone.
To disagree with mandated consensus is to become excommunicate and anathema, socially, if you want to take my word for it, as I phrase it, say it here as if I am speaking from on high–why shouldn’t I speak as if I am on high when the conviction is there. If the President were Pope, I’d be excommunicate, I would have long ago become anathema. But the dogma of all Americans acting Americanly has itself reached a reinforcing consensus; after we disagree in any verbal exchange, itself only another ping ping match of monologues, we must come to some point where we all agree that everyone is partly right and partly wrong.
There is no real democratic dialogue in America? Does this point to the,possibility that there is a fake democratic dialogue in America, one that masquerades as the truth of democracy in action? Of course it does. You really do not disagree, do you? Have you actually thought–because I am not so certain that what you do and what you say have anything to do with thinking. Randomly passing images in the mind or playing hop-scotch with words does not qualify as thinking, no. Too bad for you, but then your mouth running to keep pace with the stream of sound-bite received ideas is too much and too bad for me for us.
If we had dialogue, real trenchant democratic dialogue, we would not need to scramble for consensus after extending our disagreements into tangentially drawn monologues, themselves more reminiscent of our collective psychosis in matters of reality, what is real–itself popularly drawn into consensus managed by the media themselves controlled by sponsors selling products we most likely do not need . . . yes, more so this than anything resembling a healthy expression of democracy at work. But then, democracy is rule or law by the people and all we have in America, as far as the media or the government are concerned is a public–the people are managed as a public and not as a people because the latter are independent of the State, the former are always in the service of the State, as I have said elsewhere within the Pages section of my BLOG . . . to blog or not to blog, sounds too much like blah blah blah.
What we have instead of democracy is a Public interest, a Public good, always managed in its images by the media, whether it is broadcast or print, Hollywood or Government PR . . . and you are not going to use my singularity against me are you? Others have, I know, feeling comfort for their insipid opinions by the numbers who agree. It’s absurd; it’s grotesque; this demand for consensus we hold as one of the foremost dogmas of our social interaction, our version of the democratic process. There isn’t even a thread of coalition drawn up in the paradigms of these consenses; that would at least have some residue of democracy working.
This idea has nothing to do with and mostly opposes democracy, again, rule by the People and not the State serving Public. Democratic action always benefits from more democracy; the only cure for the ills of democracy is not fascist policies or other brands of totalitarianism or dictatorship–no. The only cure for the ills of democracy are more democracy, but the democracy practiced must maintain a loyalty to the People, Jefferson’s We the People, not We the Public. The Romans, believe it or not understood this implicitly: the two words Populus (the people) and Publius (the public) were not synonyms in Roman Political Science (I am not going to advocate, as I once did in a satire I had written, that crucifixion could instruct public morality, but only if they were visible to everyone, crucify in all of squares in New York, Herald Square, Dufy Square, Columbus Circle, Union Square, Madison Square, all of these p[laces could hold public crucifixions . . .).
The kind of consensus that societal norms demand is thus the kind of thinking and acting one finds in totalitarian societies. Do not imagine that it has not already happened here, this kind of totalizing that totalitarian governments enforce. We used to say that when fascism comes to America it will come as Americanism–the real horror is that it is not fascism or Nazism or Zionism or Bolshevism, but America’s brand of totalitarian rule, Americanism, a totalizing will to turn the People into a State serving, thus a Power serving and thus Money serving Public fed by crumbs from their tables. Without it being any of the former mentioned four isms, Americanism will be a new totalitarianism.
Totalitarianism is totalitarianism–a truth revealed in tautology. I am not trying to be facetious, no more than a Buddhist is when he says good is good, bad is bad and both exist . . . because they do and there is no reductionism in this in the way we mean to make pejorative any attempt to streamline our focus on what is for us politically: America is the new Totalitarian Bourgeois Capitalist Super State.
What more is there to say, to have said, will have been said when a time comes for us to accept complicity in our political demise? Questions will always remain opened to many responses, will have a dearth of answers provided. Answering and responding was once the subject of an essay I had written, how long ago now I cannot say. It might be as much as a decade or more ago. They are not the same thing; we respond many times without intending to answer; we compose responses especially to avoid answering.
The Review I am editing will handle, as much as possible, a variety of social commentary and political critique, the likes of which you have seen exhibited here; the necessity for this in our current political climate is even more necessary than might be understood.
To critique or not to critique–there are many, many more questions, whether there is any nobility in trying to answer them–am I looking for praise? Some would be nice, some might even at times be necessary for continuing.
Here is a letter by an unnamed author. The manuscript was found on the steps of the Harvard Library one early spring, a sunny, yet chilly day in Cambridge. It is presented here in its entirety, and not knowing what genre it was originally intended for, I have assumed that of the philosophical letter–there were no other markings on the pages, themselves stapled, but untitled and without any other markings. Here are the words of this unknown-to-us author, presented as if it were a letter to an unknown audience . . . an essay, or what was once called a philosophical letter, as in the 18th century these had been in vogue from the most prominent philosophical minds, or what we may now call fictional minds, philosophy being an alternate literary endeavor, or another genre of fiction.
Here now is the essay, the philosophical letter, a fictional piece in away other than this being a thing made, as anything written is composed, thus made . . .
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.
Power in Democracy is numerical, we once believed. 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 that we were once certain of, and tat I cannot believe we hope for 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. 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.
Now, all states serve themselves; a truth to be undenied today; a truth that had at least the potential to be countermanded in a time not so long ago; and is 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. This person must remain macrocosm, however, even to the people themselves in order for the people to maintain in counter-balance with its power and density.
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.
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.
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 as a means of staying connected, of saying something intelligent on what is trending, 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 sonambulism 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. 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.
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.
American pluralism is where being American now means that 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 media, in imitatio de stelle. And we do look to our media icons for guidance, as some used to look to saints. We do pray in devotion before them, their images pressed as icons through our various media. What then are our TV personalities other 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 has been one thing every four years–and President Obama is as much a media president as any other, if not more so than many others; he is a media darling and therefore receives gracious treatment by broadcasters. 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 . . . Warhol, Warhol, prophet of our future. What of the media fucker, one who fucks as the media wants him or her to fuck? Is that what it would be? If we are of the media, by the media, for the media with the media then they are there in the bedroom with us (or in the kitchen or in the bathroom or on the park bench or in the subway car when no one is in the last car or the car next to it and you have all the way from 59th Street to 125th Street to fuck).
TV evangelists have always bugged the American liberal establishment because the former are simply more overt forms of what the latter is politically, secularly.
Philosophy as another genre of fiction gives us different access to Plato’s Dialogues, does it not? What then must we do with what we have read, imagining all the while that what has been called non-fiction and what has been called fiction are intrinsically, integrally distinct and mutually exclusive, even in the ways we understand them? What then does that do for how we read and have read what we have called fiction? How does everything change; or, what is it exactly that does change, if anything at all?