Contemporary Honor [prose poem]

I say what he says sometimes, and here I will say what he says, yet what and how he says what he does has often left many people dis-understanding what he mean,s or what he intends, by what he is saying. He has talked often before of “Honor,” as he says, inflecting the word mockingly, as he has done, saying in addition that most of us wouldn’t know honor if it fucked us in the ass, which is what he says most of us intend by the words, “I honor you,” too many contemporary assholes, as he has said, uncommitted to their words, most of us, as he has also said many times, wanting to change our ideas like we do our shirts; I think I will wear the blue socks today with this new shirt, closer to how we think than anything I can come up with to say what I know he thinks. Yet why he says what he does as he does, with an especially vehement condescension apparent in his tone for those who use the word ‘honor’ is not going to be addressed by me. I could, but I won;’t; I won’t although I know you think I should, at least I have before known other readers who have expressed a desire for this particular kind of explication from me. I did not provide it then; I will not now.

“We always do everything for honor,” he said, I say. “Everything for honor whenever we do anything for the state, as the United States of America is mostly and persistently a government of the state, for the state, and by the state,” he continued, “a state that maintains itself against the People, levying its weight in an attempt to crush us, to pin us down,” he said.  “Other states of affairs holding fast to the images we use to sell a set of identities . . . yes, the state packages actions as honorable and dishonorable when many of our social actions are concerned. Never mind what they say about themselves . . . however then, what is it that we do for culture when we continue to ignore it, abuse it, refuse to understand it, continue to look to media packaging for what we accept as authentic–as if the idea of authenticity in a culture is not in itself absurd. And we do look to the media for our ideas about us, who we are, let us turn on the TV and then we’ll know, at least the most current version of who I could be should be would be if not for the fact that I hold residually to the notion that there is an individuality to respect in me and in others. What others we are never going to know anything about in a real and tactile way . . .” he says and says as he has before in like words, words and words again, often without gain (I recall having read elsewhere in an essay somewhere).

“I am not pointing to authentic pastrami or inauthentic pastrami when I say I want a good kosher pastrami sandwich like I used to be able to get when I was kid;  but what kosher pastrami was as kosher pastrami had been when it was made by those who lived it, who loved it, who made it the way they did when the way they did was loved as life is loved and necessarily so. How could it be otherwise for politics, for baseball, for reading or for eating kosher pastrami, or for fucking in the morning greeting the sun rising with orgasms?” He asked. How would it help you to hear me say something about what he has said. “I want good kosher pastrami,” I heard him say. “I am not going to pander to that marketing ploy, authentic ,” as he has said others have said, have thought, have believed, have relayed, broadcast, promoted in advertising or other marketing ploys that help sales . . . “This notion of authenticity has crept into the way we identify ourselves with ourselves with others, others with ourselves,” he said. “Media packaged authenticities for ethnicities too, and for races as well, and these authenticities are something parallel to stereotyping, which we abhor, but stereotypes are a minted coin; one the flip of the racist coming up as authenticity.” Again, whatever more you could say I should say does not affect what I am going to say, I think now you need to adjust your sights, but then seeing is understanding and understanding is standing under—you know this, don’t you.

“Authentically black, for example—let me say something about this notion pandered to and disseminated by even black people themselves, this idea of being authentically black as other than black is when black is black independent of media constructed stereotypes of what black is; or how black can be in a simple separate black man or black woman any time any place among anyone or ones remains other than what the media packages as authentically black, so that what we get . . . I do not know what the fuck anyone is talking about when they look to media construed and constructed images of being black that amount to no more or other than a new minstrel show–yes, hip-hop has become a new way to market the expected black-face of black people; contemporary minstrelry no closer than what is actual than any 19th century minstrel show was revelatory of black life in the post-bellum south . . . and how you do not see this otherwise I am afraid to ask . . .  but then this does not mean that there cannot be expressions of truth or Truth within because the horror of existence is that messages get coded within whatever dominant method of expression is available to those who have the desire to express themselves other than by talking to friends at the bar or family at the dinner table” he said, I say. And so now you understand how what he says gets misconstrued, but mostly by too many who have been educated by systems of under-education who then imagine they’re literate enough or that their love of doubt as the highest form of wisdom allows them to sidestep their ignorance, an ignorance that too many wear as a badge of honor.


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