Some Months at a Glance [Flash Fiction]

Septem, Octo, Novem, Decem. Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten in Latin. The last three letters forming the final syllable of all month names is -ber. Yes, Septem ber, Octo ber, Novem ber, Decem ber.

Yes, October is consistent with September, November and December.

So, there! All you Octemberists can stop it now.

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Feminology 101 [a Short Story]

 

Prefatory Remarks

I’m with Virginia Woolf, she said. I have sometimes wished I could have met her, could;d have talked with her, could have read her manuscripts, as manuscripts, which I often find as exciting or sometimes even more exciting to read . . . to hold . . . to handle take from someone else’s hand, presumably the writer’s, the author’s . . . what then must I say about how I am with her? She asked. She does not begin a discussion of what an author is or what instead is a writer, as if anyone could fully articulate how distinct the two are–were . . . what then must she say, she says more: I am, though, when Virginia said that the history of woman’s literature is the history of “Anonymous,” the eponym for women everywhere, every-when–what was I, I should say, she said. What did she say exactly I am not going to find in order to quote, she said . . . flipping through a critical biography she bought how long ago now she will not consider . . . she then suggests that you or I should . . . Read again whenever you read anything ascribed to Anonymous. Yes, she said this. yes, she believed this. Yes, she worked from this assumption in her critical approach to literature . . .

 

PART ONE: Anonymity, She Said

I

Anonymity, she said, He says (something he wishes he understood better than he can, better than he suspects he cannot, would ever want to, perhaps sometimes).

He says, I wish I understood you better. 

She says, No you don’t. You say you do, but you don’t, not really, not ever, only words you know I might want to hear.

He says, Why do you say that? 

And yet another lame account comes out of his mouth? Off his lips? Under his breath? What is that was said amounting to nothing in–how do we measure what it is we say, the value of what has been said, the weight of the words used, meaning made? Words do not mean what they say at, say what they mean at? And you or I will say the same tomorrow as we will every day after day in the petty paces we continue to step on our way, just as it was true yesterday and the day before yesterday that all of them, the words we used, have used, will use, till we arrive back at our beginning, around and around we go, what Franco used mean when he said gira, gira? How does anything begin, let alone this story.

To tell or not to tell, from whose mouth, off whose lips, what are the questions any writer asks, should ask when the telling needs to be told . . . Garcia Marquez spent 20 years writing A Hundred Years of Solitude, and I am not going to go into why, or how, or what was it that he was doing all that time? Who is the Narrator of that story . . . Omniscient, yes?

II

“You make my skin crawl when you speak as you do about me, about wanting to understand me,” she said . . . “about what you think I want to hear, syllable after syllable, and I wish I were deaf,” she says, “snuffing everything out in me as if I were a candle.”

We pause.

“Thinking about something, about its meaning, what it means, what does it intend to convey, to indicate, or to refer to (a particular thing or notion); to signify,” she says. “What then is it to be mean or not to be mean, all meaning therefore in the meaning, its intention, although intentionality should no more restrict meaning than etymology should, which does not mean we should ignore what the parameters of intention were in what a word means, or what a word’s etymology is that could then help us to understand its meaning.” She said, “What an author intends should not preclude interpretation; author intention is still a proscription of sorts.”

We paused.

“To define is to set limits; here the limits of understanding meet the limits of knowing? To know her or not to know her, that might be question to ask, I could ask, would ask if–I am genuinely asking if semantics is governed by epistemology in an absolute way? More questions,” she says.

She examines what she knows, what she thinks–in fact she has said that she does not know what she thinks unless she writes, puts it on paper–she has said enough times in the past that the way she was taught writing was a way in which thinking gets taught–yes, she would insist, “there is a way to think, a how to think. I know that there are too many people who believe otherwise, but then listen to them talk. Yes, listen to them thinking–read what some people write,” she says, has said, will say again as she did just the other day, where was it, were we?

“It is frightening,” she would say in other words. But this notion of anonymity, what it is , how it can be understood, what its significance “has been for women historically,” as she would say, “is important to flesh out,” give it something it has been denied . . . is that what she is doing here, has done here, in these pages of word after word after . . . all of this is and so on and so on.

What is it that she has done here can only be answered by reading what she has written here and elsewhere, put in words for you to understand . . . but mostly for her to know what she thinks and how she thinks because it is impossible for her to know exactly what she thinks she believes without having written, a dialectic of selfhood . . . the dialectical Self? She would say something of the sort, and she has written she has said almost similarly, just the other day, in fact–I do not record her, although I am a very, very close friend and confidant, whatever that means, who is she? I do not need to ask, or maybe I should.

What she says she says the way she says, and she and her words remain completely inimitable.

As for a woman’s anonymity–that is, what it is, how it is, when and where it is or has been . . . what? It seems as if it will be . . . more and so much less at the same time, the same way is said, has been said, needs to be said all over again, the repetition of nothing new under the sun is a lot subtler than imagined, but not nearly as difficult to see as some others imagine.

I want to tell my story.

III

The questions she raises she does so without equivocation. She is not apologizing for her opinions which are more than mere opinions–the mereness of any opinion is not in the opining but in the opinion of those prejudiced against opinions in themselves. I am not apologizing for her opinions by pointing out she is not apologizing.

“How many methods of discovery do we employ in our self examinations?” She used to ask often. “To discover is the opposite of cover, but is it to uncover what is as is? How much woman is she when she is, woman?” She used to ask; the used to does not mean she no longer does so because she does and will do so, I know. I remember her asking quite clearly: “What methods of discovery do I use in my methods of self examination?” These words, other words, we cannot go to the audio or the video tape.

“Virginia said so,” she said, “that a woman is anonymous, or that the history of anonymous in literature was the history of woman’s literature or that the history of woman’s literature was the history of anonymous, but then there has always been a kind of anonymity for women of women in all societies, some more than in others for longer.”

Can you say without offending anyone “that black Americans have suffered only what women have suffered here or there longer or shorter, greater or lesser,” no? “Woman has ben the prime nigger of the world, and continues to be in many, many places still,” she said.

“If everyone is money’s nigger, what then are African Americans? And if it is true that everyone is Money’s nigger, then what is a woman in this world if the above is also true. And if all of these are true, what then is an African American woman?” She asked.

“I repeat myself, I know, when I say that a woman is and in this is everything is. Yes, she is; this woman or that woman, firstly and lastly, is. What she is is another endeavor; who, when, where, why and how are all of them together subtraction,” she said, and so far how can you disagree? I do not. You should not if you wish to keep your mind opened–and yes, if you disagree with her ad hoc then you are close minded–if you disagree with her on principles that are apart from her saying what she is saying being what she is who she is then this too might be closed minded, I mean what is there to disagree with in her words herein phrased as they have been?

“I am, I say,” she said and would say and has said often, in one or another context, but mostly in her talks about being and existence and the differences there between the two. “I am not this or that when my being is concerned,” she said. “I am; I exist, although I know that to exist and to be are not exactly the same thing.”

To be without the complement not to be. Whether named or unnamed, this woman is, she is. Hamlet’s soliloquy herein referenced is also every woman’s soliloquy. She is not further removed from Hamlet’s Cartesian inquiry than I am because she is a woman.

“How is Hamlet not relevant to me?”

[You should pause here briefly. Take a breath.]

 

IV

“Now, the history of anonymous is the history of woman; or is it that the history of woman is the history of anonymity?” She asked. I have asked as well. You should have asked. She believes and has believed for a long time that this is an investigation worthy of pursuit. Nonetheless, as she has said, has asked, “Woman is anonymous? She is in anonymity? Anonymity is a place history has reserved for woman? The history herein is one and the same whether it is written or unwritten, irrespective of whether or not there is a historiography to support it in the way all historiography has a way of aping Moses descending from Sinai,” she wrote.

“How much is left unknown at the end of a relationship?” she has asked in this and in other contexts; it has appeared in many pieces written by her. “What is a relationship where the woman or the man or both are perpetually becoming other than each is. How much do the happiest spouses really know about one another, or the unhappiest (we do imagine misery is wiser which might explain the propensity for misery we all have). A lover dies, a spouse is put in her tomb and who was she?

No one was; the one who is is not who she will be when she becomes who she was. But traditionally woman has remained a modified man in the collective unconscious of men. In this, they are part not a whole, except of course in the homophonic, hole.

Women then are–to be or not . . . what? What is for things I have read before (Jay Ruvolo, before)? What are they? What is she? [Who is more important than what?] No, I demand as she has said I should demand that they are not what, but who. So then, Who are they? ‘They’ is too big to manage? Are they? As I am we, woman is they? Does this make any sense. I imagine it does, but then this I I am is macrososmic to the many that make up the subject complement we in I am we.

I know the arguments for I am we are rooted in understanding a selfhood that is plural, a many selves Self, I recall my father having said Milton had said. Every person should be able to say this with conviction, I am we. It is true for each of us, but then that is not exactly what I am saying when I say, A woman is they. This woman here, this woman now, the one in front of me with a world of inquiry and response between us, potentially, is what, is who, is when or where, these are the dimensions of this they she is when we know, like I am we, she is they . . .” to continue with what she has written (what she wrote) might be fruitful, but space here is a consideration and quotes handled correctly–or should I say appropriately–will suffice to reveal something more than just a bit of what she thinks.

“Place and time as much as the things we are or the persons we are, become the dimensions of our world projected outwardly toward the world, into the world; this world, we know, is a stage. Yes, each of us to its many parts. But the selves of the Self are microcosmic to the greater Self we are in its singular totality. These are thrust outward and take place around us in the effect of details, she wrote. “The I, I am is I am; the I am is macrocosmic to all details of our world or any world or all the worlds together in the one larger greater all encompassing world we mistakenly think is larger than us because the physical dimensions are so much greater than each of us is,” she has written.

V

“The [fore mentioned] ‘they’ inside her is encompassed by the she we use for her, this one and only woman who is herself and every woman as well, both, yet sometimes neither, sometimes someone else. All the time she is who she is whenever she is anyone she is, all the masks she wears inside or outside dependent on the ones worn inside . . .[,]”she wrote.  “[A]ll the parts she plays, the players she becomes–in the sense Shakespeare asserts–they are, she is; women and woman are. That’s it. She is. I am. They, them, those people, women. We know no one, not really–who do we know? I ask. Do we know the people whose minds we cannot know completely, whose lives have been lived independently of ours, whose eyes we do not see the world through, whose shoes we do not wear, whose ears we do not hear with, listen with?I ask; I am really asking. Examine this . . . [,]” she said.  “What?” She asked.  “Who do we know? How many of our selves in the Self remain hidden? How can we know anyone? So how could we know any woman?” She had written before she wrote again what you have herein.

“Who is she, again, the question gets asked and if asked . . . I contend that asking is not always to look for an answer, and not every response is an answer as we should know from their etymologies, although I do not want to enforce meaning through etymology. And oftentimes asked without the intention of waiting for an answer, a particularly annoying contemporary trait we have all acquired. But how many of us avoid asking any question like this at all?

I try to imagine what it is that woman feels, thinks, says to herself when she asks, “Who am I?” I sometimes catch myself pretending to think about this, other times only pretending to understand something that might come from this, other times when I actually feel as if I do understand something–but how much standing under a woman do I do, have I done, the latter when not lying down naked, the only under I do for woman, the only support is in how not to give myself a hernia when letting her get on top?

Responses are not answers; I’ve asserted this above and before in other essays. There are plenty of responses we give, we feign attachment to or connection with, but the answers we seek–do not answer a question with a question she used to say, a woman I once knew. No question is an answer, yet we offer questions as answers, responding as we do not with the rhetorical questions that answer, but the questions in responses that avoid answering. Everything to avoid answering. Irrespective of any answer to any question, She is. To respond is not to answer but to put again, to place once more. To put once more is a placement nonetheless, it is a choice of arrangement,” she has written.

“A woman is” should be the first line of discussion when any thought of her right to choose anything arises. In her is, there is no longer any subtracting devices such as who, what, when, where, how or even why. None of these questions are pertinent or relevant to her inalienable right to choose. There should be no equivocation for anyone sane enough to want to save a woman from the unnecessary horrors that existed before Roe versus Wade. I’ve said this in essays before, and I will reiterate it again and again in essays to come.

There were horrors before the law got behind a woman’s right to choose safe medical procedures rather than the rock or the hard place in back alleys, and yes, there were back alleys; curtain rods and all that sort of letting the air in. I’ll never forget the end of Goddard’s Masculin et Femminin, or Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” where the word abortion is never mentioned. What am I saying? How can I say anything for her? How can I not? How can I afford to disallow myself the ability to speak rationally for woman. Defending a woman’s rights is an obligation I take seriously, which sometimes sounds as if the one asserting the severity of the responsibility misses the point. I assure you I do not, but then who am I to you or for you? I do have an obligation to defend a woman’s rights as I do anyone’s rights because I exist as a moral being. Not to defend human rights in any way anywhere is to reduce one’s self in one’s moral stature. Even if it is at a dinner table in face of indifference or diffidence or ignorance or prejudice,” she has written, we are reading.

“There will always be dilemmas for her, even if aborting an embryo is legally sanctioned. This is not to say that legally sanctioning abortion is a fool’s errand. To each woman her own personhood, her own psychology rooted in her biology, her physiology and her experiences? She has reason; she is capable of reasoning, of being rational or irrational; capable of being passionate or dispassionate. She will have different levels of education, different jobs or careers; her income will vary, as will her home situation, her relationship status, her religion, and so on and so on. But the roller coaster she rides will be hers to ride when and where she chooses. To decide or not to decide should be her question and hers alone. I have shifted gears quickly, but we cannot see any effort to control abortion or the availability of safe nedical procedures for induced miscarriage as anything other than controlling a woman;s body, her right to reproduce or not, which when centered in the opinions of men might be nothing lese other than Uterus envy. It was through the womb of a woman that in Christian Theology, God becomes man; the Son of God, begotten not made before time and creation is gestated as the incarnation through the uterus of Mary,” she has written, has said in other words some of what has been put down here, words, words and more words she has formed reformed, shaped—what was it our friend Addie used to say about words? Shapes to fill a lack. 

“Now, if Roe versus Wade were a complete fabrication, if it were a docudrama, would that mean that the majority ruling was somehow made weaker, argumentatively? Would the truth of it, whether true or not in the most pedantic sense of trueness become other than true? Roe versus Wade is just as strong in support of pro-choice whether or not the trial was justified on its factual merits. A trial is just that, an essay on a thesis, and whether it was factually justified does not undermine the results of the debate. The text could have been fabricated entirely by a novelist and placed in a novel. Would that make the argument irrelevant, invalid, sociologically? The argument would maintian ethical, moral and socilogical veracity throuhg–even in spite of–its verisimilitude Fictional truths have as much valency as actual. I should say that veracity in fiction is deeper than verisimilitude; it carries metaphysical weight; it has epistemological density.

But this is not solely the point. Hypotheses are presented all the time in politics and law; the sacred law of our land delivered by Divine Providence, itself a holiness above every insipid conception made by illiterate minds twisted in their bleak deserted imaginings of a God whose baseness as a Lord can only muster an angry call to human intelligence to submit humanity and all humane being to a fearful jealousy, born of barbaric cruelty, fueling a misogyny greater than all traditional hatreds of woman, coupled everywhere it has spread like a virulent venereal disease of the mind, all vicious, all violent, all consumed by  hatred, severed forever from any connection to the One True Transcendental Holiness, a Wisdom of Love, Compassion, Redemption and Forgiveness, way beyond the lame and guttural recitations of a most contemptible and corrupted  re-connection with God . . . and all of the United States when subject to ratification was a hypothesis subject to the most critical examinations. It took a great deal of intellectual effort to get The Constitution ratified.

The majority ruling in the Roe versus Wade does not become invalid for us epistemologically or ethically, no; it remains valid in its thesis. Nonetheless, the prime thesis here in any discussion of a woman’s right to choose is a Woman is.

I remember Aquinas and his Deus Est. yes, to give tribute to Woman is to subtract from Her, capitalization needed.

VI

There must be a first and last step in all reasoning about human beings (human being, being humane), and for human beings, that asserts loudly and clearly He is; she is; thus, I am which would be the primary and teleological determination for all ethical considerations of each and every one of us, and there has to be an us. Why does a woman deserve respect for her person, for her choices, for the integrity of her selfhood?” She asked, she wrote, has written in these exact words, although rearranged now and then for reasons other than just avoiding redundancy.Or . . . there are always ors? In others the same nevertheless . .. what? If you were her, one thing known or understood; if you were I, what then?

“Because she is, she exists should be First Feminology; her to be following is all of her metaphysics and physics,” she has said time in and time out, the same and not the same. I wish she were the kind of woman . . . what? What do I wish specifically? I could or I could not imagine her; I might or I might not speak her into being, an existence existing like a tree exists in its existence—but a tree is not as a woman is. She has being; the tree does not. If no one is present to hear a woman falling, does her having fallen make a sound?

We understand this is often too much for any one person to handle, all that he is, that he has been, is being, will be, will have been, might have been, could be, should be, would be if or when; what has happened to should have been? I should have been what, could have been . . . I will have been; I would have been–then what?

Who is she? You ask. Who is the narrator? You ask. Who am I? I would not ask; you might. Who are you? I should ask. I could, whether I am who I am at the moment writing this, or whatever I become thus am as I speak this to you; the you who hears it or reads and the you you are every day, I assume, but these assumptions are often in error. There is a real world you, and a you who reads the text not as a real you you but a you you become in the text.

You could spend some time sorting all of this out; but I do not us spect that you would want to, so leave what you have read as it is and do not consider this author me wearing a mask of authorship for you wearing a mask of readership. It’s all about the world and all of it a stage and all of us merely players, many players, a player playing many parts, parts together equalling what whole, an entirety rhyming with hole, the great abyss we all fall into?

 

PART TWO: Anonymously Speaking

I

Anonymously speaking, Ginny, Ginny, come out of your dark room, deny your doctors and refuse that glass of milk.

What if, Anonymous said, this were an untitled manuscript by an anonymous author found on the D Train in the New York City Subway one afternoon? What if I were that person who found this text, and what if I were the person who was presenting it here in its entirety without editing, and with only a very modest introduction, which this could function as for the piece I am actually presenting to you? But then who this “I” that is saying (?), writing (?) these words here for you to read–and that is the actual in-the-world reader that you are when you read, but then what is it that you become when you do,  someone other than you were before when you were not reading thus not the reader?

Herein, though, are the opinions of an anonymous writer (me) as they were found in typed pages on the New York City Subway . . . how then am I writing this if I am the one who lost them . . . but then you are confusing the narrator/expositor (for every narrator does not always and only narrate; sometimes he expositates, says in expository prose what he wishes to provide in exposition . . .) for the author. There is an author behind this, behind me, as you should know, should be able to understand by any one of the several if X then Ys that extend in the logic of the text. Yes, this text is left here for your perusal and conclusion, whatever that might be. What your opinions should be or should not be I will not venture here, nor will the author, who is there first and the last of this text, but is not the first and the last of interpretation. Author intent is quite useless in criticism.

So, let me say, Let us say that Anonymous begins here, and she says what she says as she says . . . there are generalities and specificities for her, of her, about her, what then does she say, she saying we say because we know that the sayer here is anonymous, and I want to exhibit what I have herein asserted for what we should think when we confront an anonymous text . . . but what of texts that are merely inscribed? We are here talking about those texts that have been specifically ascribed Anonymous, no?

II

Live Free or Die is the motto of New Hampshire, on every license plate you see, definitely unspoken in the character of a people far, far removed from the understanding of too many of the people I live among in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York, too many people who have suffered one or another form of repression, for certain, oppression, it can be assumed, as it has been historically verified in some cases. I have lived among many people from various and varied places within the Soviet Union and The People’s Republic of China.

What I have seen first hand, experienced myself in company and in other forms of social interaction is clear: No one from any Totalitarian Communist society has escaped the formative effects of that totalitarian enculturation, assimilation, indoctrination. There was state manufactured and delivered dogma to be swallowed, either whole, or chewed and digested. There were those who delightfully chewed and digested their State dogma, feeding themselves and nourishing their minds with propaganda and ideology . . . not so unlike those living under Totalitarian Western Bourgeois Capitalism . . . and do not tell me that you imagine that Western Bourgeois Capitalism is not totalitarian in parallel with any totalitarian communist societies, or totalitarian fascist ones. In the ways these parallels can be drawn, the United Sates, France, the Soviet Union and Nazis Germany are all of a piece; in many, many other ways, they are each quite distinct, as the United Staes in many of its own ways is distinct from every other–any other society. The complexities we are talking of here, socially, economically, politically, governmentally, ideologically are . . . perhaps swallowing dogma whole only leaves one with a socio-political gastro-intestinal distress, as if there is an analogy for gastro-intestinal processes or disruptions in what we can call the political mind; but then we do speak of the body politic, don’t we? In my understanding, from what I see, what I hear, what I personally experience in my neighborhood and other neighborhoods around the city, there are far too many people from the former republics of the Soviet Union or from mainland China who were either members of the Communist Parties in their respective countries, or have assimilated the manners of operating within such a system. Yet, all forms of totalitarian control . . . western or eastern, bourgeois capitalist or bourgeois communist (and you do know what I am saying . . .) have their own set of appropriate and in appropriate manners and  behavior. Political Correctness in the forms familiar to us in the United States actually have their first imprinting in the factory made citizens of the Soviet Union. This is not to say that political correctness has not always been the marker of social or political advance if not just economic prosperity in all societies for all time. What is politically or socially or economically excommunicate and anathema has always been codified and enforced one way or another in every society. We are though talking about totalitarian societies. We are also talking about how much dissent is allowed, tolerated and to what extent this is used either in the cause of freedom and democracy, or as a method of controlling liberty and choice. We are thus talking of how full of shit a society purporting to be democratic actually is with respect for how much freedom is actually accessible . . . and access is the key because the rights of freedom are inherent to our humanity; it is not the law that gives us our rights. The law can impede access and the free exercise thereof our rights.

Adapting to a totalitarian social schema designed to keep everyone on his toes, walking on egg shells, and participating in small or slightly larger degrees in the repression that was wide spread became as natural–if we can speak of the nature of a society–as leaves growing on trees. The horror of all totalitarian oppression is that everyone participates in larger or lesser degrees, no one is exempt, and the repressive actions become collective. One such reflex that I have both noted myself and have been told by former citizens of such societies, and over the number of years living next to, across from and among people from the former republics of the Soviet Union and China, is the penchant for–or at least the motivation toward–character assassination. There is an ease and sometimes a visible, although albeit unconscious, glee that comes over the face when saying something defamatory about another. The legal distinction of defamation of character seems lost on those I have witnessed engaging in such displays of micro-Stalinist or micro-Maoist activity. Do we imagine that our say something if you see something is not also part of this, even if it is also linked with good sense? Defamation of character is a sport among too many from either country, it is fast becoming the norm from Americans  too; and the ease with which some people from either country can perform on the stage of informing is astounding to me, but then I am astounded the way most managers and administrators in the workplaces I have been in perform their tasks of order and control.

The character of the informer is a role too many have played for the purposes of social advancement through the decline of another’s reputation. I have known those who have experienced the same from Americans in the City University of New York, a place where you might expect better ethics, but then you would be mistaken. Primo Levi noted the actions and reflexes from”society’s betters” when put against in comparison with those of “society’s alleged underbelly.” It was astounding the human and humane responses from criminals, drunks, prostitutes the working poor when compared with the inhumane responses and reflexes from doctors, lawyers, teachers, financiers and university professors, and just how easily it came to the later group to betray one another to the Nazis. Societies such as Communist China or the Soviet Union were all too ready and willing to accept such information, either anonymously or not. Often, to settle petty scores, or at other times just to get a leg up on someone in either a real or an imagined pecking order, informing as a method of character assassination was the way. We become more like the former Soviet Union in our social manners and behavior.

This has been attested to by more than just a few people I have known over the years from either country, more specifically the Soviet Union, and not because it happened there more often but because I have found Russians more critical of the Soviet Union than I have found Chinese to be critical of Communist China, and I have found them less xenophobic and a lot less racist or anti-American than I have the Chinese I engage daily in Bath Beach, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst Brooklyn, particularly when they do not know that I am an ESOL teacher that can help them advance socially. When they discover this, all changes, and from either Russian speakers from the former republics of the Soviet Union or Chinese from mainland China, I am received with a complete and visible transformation of character.

It is not exactly disturbing to me how personal conflicts, when some people were concerned, were managed by going to the authorities with something damaging about another person–it is just all too human. But it was also all too Russian and certainly all too Chinese. “I thought I heard someone listening to the radio last night. I think I heard English. It wasn’t Russian.” I am certain there is a variation of this for Chinese as all totalitarian re-structuring amounts to individual rewiring; just as we can say that mentality affects individual psychology, if we wanted to understand the former as a social phenomenon, and the latter what an individual has that is influenced by the former.

Now in societies set up to do nothing else but to manage their populations through manipulation, propaganda, fear, coercion, force and/or investigation, telling tales about someone is useful and even encouraged. It did not matter to the authorities, for the most part, if what was said were true–the authorities in China and the Soviet Union themselves often fabricated false reports to coerce and control. Any excuse to investigate was seized with delight. Gleeful were the Communist authorities who had patriotic citizens who were concerned enough to say something if they thought they saw something or heard something, or just were bold enough to fabricate something, perhaps for something as petty as a personal slight. Virtual paranoia was the norm. You can almost feel it, it is sometimes palpable when in proximity to some people from these societies. It is sometimes almost the same as when engaging socially with Arab Muslim women who have just arrived within the last year or two . . . and do I need to tell us that there is an endemic misogyny that accompanies any society that claims to be traditional enough to support the idea that it is okay to be medieval in its attitudes toward women–or should I say, behind the times, if you prefer cliches.

It is unfortunate when this kind of mentality–one I repeat that I see growing among Americans in their most fervent anti-American attitudes and reflexes–yes, this mentality affects the psychology of individuals operating here in the United States–and it does when people of this kind find themselves in positions of petty authority here in the City of New York, as I have on a number of occasions confronted one or another of these former communists from China or the Soviet Union because one thing a former member of any communist party does not do is sit home and sip his coffee leisurely over his morning paper.

I have experienced this myself first hand, from students and colleagues; the extent some people from either country are willing to lie, to distort, or to imagine without evidence that they have enough to testify to what they are saying is amazing to me. There is nothing in any of these instances I am alluding to that I understand to be American or democratic in any way, or anything fostered by a living, breathing understanding of the First Amendment or the Fifth. I have never wondered why fish cannot swim in the air. Americans are headlong bent on becoming ever increasingly like the Soviet Union, and in exactly the same Patriotic, Ever Suspicious, Ever Watching, Ever gleeful to abandon rights and rational decency for a few more crumbs off the tables of State like good Public Dogs we have become.

But then after the Patriot Act, these individuals are now at a premium. Former communists, or just simple separate former citizens of China or the Soviet Union who had been fully assimilated into being good citizens in either form of Totalitarianism, are a perfect match for the kind of state bred paranoia Real Power in America wants. And as I mentioned above, former communists in either country are not the kind of people who will just sit back and relax and enjoy themselves–they will seek positions, particularly of petty authority, where they will–and do–operate within the former mentality of their former assimilation. And I cannot tel you how many members of formerly oppressed or currently oppressed American groups when they find themselves also in petty authority imitate or assimilate the manner and matter of factness of the former communist formed by his prior experiences with Totalitarianism. I have a supervisor in my experience who fits this model perfectly. Good for him and his Dog-eat-dog success at the level of Petty Authority, justified as a means to support his family, as if having a wife and family exonerates his, yes, heinous behavior.

But then States and bureaucracies have more in common with each other universally internationally than they do with the people they allegedly serve, no? Former German Nazis operated very well in the United States and the Soviet Union. Gestapo helped build the East German State Police. Nazis science gave us the steroid monstrosities of the East German Women’s Olympic Swim Team in the 70s. Alien mentalities operating at the level of any petty authority, particularly when Totalitarian Communist, are the greatest threat to the security of the United States, or more specifically, the freedom of its People. Do we really want to become more like China or the Soviet Union in any way? Why then allow former communists to lie to us about how they were coerced into being members of the Communist Party. Having been a member of the Communist Party to get a better paying job has become the joke of refugees from China or the republics of the Soviet Union.

Putin’s Russia has its young Russian adherents, I guess as did Franco in Spain, Pinochet in Chile, Mussolini in Italy, et cetera et cetera. With China leading the world in sexual slavery, female suicide (an average of 500 women per day) and suicide in general, I guess repression is custom; it might have become for some, as Chinese as Tao or Confucianism. We must not forget the forced abortions in China when the fetus is female. Forced abortions are as oppressive to a woman and her right to choose as would be the unavailability to have an abortion here in the states–a repressive current from the lunatic wing of the Republican Party seeking to manifest itself in law. And we still tend to think that Muslim societies lead the way in the world in the matter of misogyny; but the time has not yet come to revise entirely our attitudes toward the treatment of women in some west African Muslim societies, nor should we turn a blind eye on systemic violence and atrocities perpetrated by Muslim fundamentalist groups against Christians because President Obama chooses to do so.

I am not joking when I say that you must beware of the totalitarian mind–it is as un-American as Satanism is anathema to a mono-theist. My friends–be very, very wary. But do understand that every individual has the potential to be either exception to, or example of, the rule. You really do not need to look very far from home when you want to see what Totalitarianism looks like–America, once again, I say, is a Totalitarian Bourgeois Capitalist State.

III

Now Live Free or Die, I understand–what I do understand better is that we must live Free the American way and any alien mentality in the mind of our democratic body politic, contrary to the best impulses of American freedom, should die, simply by us not fostering or nurturing this alien mind. This, of course, must come from a higher calling or election, if you will, in literacy. American democracy is able to manage the best impulses of the human humane, not as the totalitarian which manages the pettiest drives and impulses of the vengeful and vindictive mind. All personal violent impulses under totalitarianism are channeled into State oppression. It can also happen here if we allow it.

There is a crisis in civilization at hand, my friends, and we are not exactly prepared to defend democracy and freedom the way we need to, which is what allows the lunatic fringes of our politics to assert themselves more loudly and boldly, to the detriment of the freedom they purportedly are defending. Yet I find many of America’s liberals as scary and as stupid (not quite as semi-literate) as are America’s conservatives.

All enemies foreign and domestic, but now the foreign is domestic. The Constitution needs defending, but the literacy sponsored in our Public Schools mismanages that. We have to oppose totalitarian communist mentality as we need to oppose, for example, any imposition of Sharia Law. Sharia Law used to enforce misogyny cannot be permitted under the pretext of religious freedom. Misogyny is not a First Amendment right. Totalitarian Communist mentality is not an alternative for American democracy. The Constitution of the United States must remain above Sharia law; it is above, before and after Sharia law in all matters social and political. If someone wants to keep it in his living-room, okay; but as soon as he leaves his home, he must abide the laws of American democratic society, which extends to teaching his children not to chase and taunt western women for how they dress, which too many Pakistani parents do not do in the building complex I live in in Brooklyn. I see too many times, Pakistani Muslim children running after women as they walk taunting them for how they dress–I have to say something because this is not a Muslim theocracy, nor is it Pakistan where it seems virtually acceptable for a brother to kill his sister for eloping–these are all of piece. This is the United States of America, and neither Muslims nor Communists have very much, if anything at all, to teach us about freedom and democracy. We are the last best hope for human kind, and unless we understand what this means and the responsibilities inherent, we are going to fail at advancing Democratic Civilization.

The Soviet Union was not a half dozen of whatever donuts you like while America was six of the same. If we sponsored the kind of literacy that went into writing and creating the Constitution, we might actually read it and understand it and be better able to defend it, but we do not, unfortunately. And again, I see this particularly in how we do not confront some Muslims for what amounts to misogynist behavior and attitudes. Do I need say nothing when confronted with the Arab Muslims in my neighborhood voting for measures to turn back the clock on Roe versus Wade? Do we imagine we are able to negotiate texts in the matter and manner of defending a woman’s rights which have always been Human Rights and always associated and contingent with Civil Rights? Am I supposed to tolerate Muslim intolerance because some systematically under-educated, half-literate millennial insists I do in his half-thought through acceptance of current received ideas and third hand mis-readings and dis-understandings of someone else’s second-hand lesson-planned cliche-riddled diatribe against White people or Christian People or American People or Men, especially Straight Men dictates so–and anyone who imagines that I am a Trump supporter is a nit wit.

Let me just say again that neither the Soviet Union nor China has anything to teach us in the matters and manners of democracy and freedom–and this is not a recurrence of American Know-Nothing politics, which the hallmark of everything coming from The Donald. This is simply stated,without hyperbole. It is a truth I take to be self-evident; therefore it is not a matter for debate. I do not have to embrace the devil to prove Christian principles.

IV

Live free or die–another to be or not? I know where I stand; I know how I have to stand opposed to any threat to the Constitution of the United States. What standing against this governments assault on our Constitution do I do, have I done . . . I work with those who do not read it when it becomes an issue, have not read it, have allowed their literacy training to dictate what they read, how they read, when they read; and this culture does confuse literacy and what could be called a baser alphabetics . . . oooh! Look at me. I spell my name correctly. Speling your name incorrectly used to get you exempted from Jury Duty, but no longer is that true. Maybe they are trying to stop people from doing so on purpose and getting out of service, but think of this another way: just how many semi-literates and nearly illiterates are we garnering as jurors in a system of justice that demands literacy at least from those who are administering he justice. We cannot allow ourselves to think that just because some defendants are illiterate that a jury of his peers must also be illiterate!!!!!!!!!!

We need not die to live free–why leave ourselves opened to the disease contracted under the epidemics of totalitarianism . . . what do I need to do to prove I am good–turn the other cheek to Satan.

Yes, defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, but with intelligence, advanced literacy, reason, rationality and sobriety . . . a tall order, of course, but the last best hope for civilization is a great demand, one we can answer, if prepared–what is any of this supposed to mean. It’s coming off a bit trite in places, no? The effects of too much media bombardment by facts facts and more facts themselves confused for the data, data, date we have been inundated by . . . statistics are in themselves not facts and facts in themselves are not knowledge and knowledge in itself is never wisdom and wisdom turned into the gray of theory is not wisdom lived in the green of life.

Anonymity, Virginia Woolf inferred (and I am not quoting), has been the foremost condition of woman throughout history.

 

POST SCRIPT

Feminology is my preferred choice in diction, one made in contrast against Feminism, a choice in diction no longer mine.

I used to say what I thought about “ologies” and “isms,” and how I would think that an ology seemed more organic as a discipline or an ordering factor for historical analysis? for epistemological inquiry? Than isms. Except scientology, itself a great deceit in deception.

I am not going to go as far as to say that Impressionism should be Impressionology, but I could. I do not seem to have as much to say against Existentialism although I could develop an Existentialiology, but then we already have Phenonmenology as a precursor? as a collateral? as a contingent influence?

Perhaps I feel the need for a new word to create a new course in an epistemology of Woman (women) to influence the metaphysics of their freedom.

Where then do I begin in my first philosophy of Woman, in any metaphysical or ontological argument of Woman’s existence, of my phenomenological experience of Woman, not only as an object in the world, as I am also an experiential object in the world, but in so many other ways,physiocal and metaphysical: Woman is.

[I will discuss at a later date just what the differences are between To be and to exist.]

Cross Dressing Genre [Short Fiction]

What would it mean or could it mean, if I were to present this text as an excerpt taken from among papers found in a briefcase without identification, without any evidence by which we could ascribe authorship–thus the writer would remain unknown, except to those who insist they can tell gender by diction, by syntax, by rhetorical strategies gleaned from reading . . . but then this gleaning would be something akin to superficially skimming pages, which Melville warns us all great writing is meant to deceive, as he had ascribed to Hawthorne’s texts. That is, Hawthorne’s writing is meant to deceive the superficial skimmer of pages. Yes! I agree, but then you ask, Who are you? Yes, who am I? Who are you to assume you know more than you can? Unless you are able to make the case, defend your position with a bit more than your saying so makes it so.

Moreover, nevertheless, if the text were presented so, we could then assume that perhaps we would find out who he or she was if we were to publish this–of course, the pretext would be that someone might find out that his or her piece has been published and then claim it. I might say that it was one of the more interesting pieces found among the papers in the briefcase.

I could also add that the case is leather, brown . . . what then? A bit worn, old, perhaps not treated or taken care of as others might their leather shoes or jackets or even other cases of other men or women; but then cases like these often get the lesser of attention when a person is inclined to attend to anything they own that is made of leather. The briefcase, I could say, was found by me . . . but why would I say this? Why all this pretense for a story written and published in an online literary journal or blog? Yes, short fiction published as flash fiction? This text as expository fiction, perhaps?

I do write and publish short essays, others I have called fictional essays, whatever have I in words to express  the matter and manner of crossing boundaries, perhaps the way that some might cross their dressing . . . the only time I have come close to cross dressing is when a woman I had met many, many years ago asked to wear a pair of panty hose while we did it, the appropriate patch cut out . . . ad she had a clean pair in an unopened packet for me to wear because she said she liked the feel of the nylon rubbing against her inner thighs  . . . moreover one’s dress is always a matter genre, no? But again, what if I were to say that this piece was found, then published with authorship anonymous? Another question we pause to answer, what do I swear to when writing . . .

Faith has its uses, I’ve been told. I have had occasion to be in agreement, others to be in disagreement, flip-flopping, as we say, from one to the other, another game of hop-scotch played with what? Is it the Truth that I am playing hop-scorchers with . . . something else? What else is there to say about this faith in our politics because I am losing that fast? I use to think that the genius of America was for politics, but maybe I should have said government. They are not one and the same thing, are they? Of course they are not. What is it about these things we think that we frame as matters of course–are they as self-evident as we imagine them to be? Do not take heed from this and run away with your increasing doubt . . . imagination is quite necessary for the rational mind, for any pursuit of Truth, any scientific investigation which is a reference the method and not what we have restricted sense we assign to the word ‘science.’

I have no faith in our politics–I am not certain what kind of faith I have in God. I do have faith in The Constitution, and I am fairly religious about that, and that religiosity is bifurcated: I am religious in the traditional sense which rules our contemporary notions about how religion is and what expectations we are to have about how it has existed and what role it has played in our civilization and other civilizations; that is, what being religious means and how it functions in behavior, even its use in the connotations we apply to attitudes and behavior apart form what might strictly be called religious; and religious in the sense captured by its etymology, which is from the Latin re-legere, or to relink, that is, to reconnect, and with what? You do ask, I know. Reconnect with the One, the True, the Origin . . . and that is our Constitution.

American is an idea not an ethnicity, which is part of our success, I have a prejudice in believing.  But faith of this kind for our politics, or should I say, our politicking, no!. I have no faith for human intelligence, either, at least in general, and more specifically, for our contemporaneity. Today is not the best of times, nor the worst of times; yesterday was not the best of times, nor was it the worst of times; tomorrow will not be the best or the worst. There are an infinite number of shades of gray between black and white. I do not wish to live on a checker board any more than I want to think on one, like one, with its rule being my regulation. All of these are true, but that does not mean today is not really, really bad, nor does it preclude that we have been backsliding for a long time, politically, governmentally, in the maters of our freedom and the access to them thereof an ensuing problem.

I remember many of my Italian student-visa friends from university—and there were enough of them, not too many and certainly not only a couple. They asked me many questions, but the the most frequently asked question was not Why are Americans so under-educated, so under-read, so stupid? No. This was not what they asked, even if it is what too many conservative-minded Americans today might think they asked. No, this was not it. The most frequently asked pejorative was, Why are American liberals so stupid? And that I saw and continue to see–which is not, as it so often amounts to in American idiocy, a flip of the coin on the side of conservative. No. Conservatives are always going to be as conservatives are, have been, yes, will be. This is the given of their politics. It always verges on Reactionary, unfortunately as oftentimes does Liberal in its extreme, too often being the flip side of intolerant, confusingly and collaterally becoming too tolerant of intolerance. But it is the horror of how insipid America Liberalism was and has remained that is one of the first causes in how totalitarian our bourgeois capitalism has become. And it has. Stop confusing Capitalism for Democracy, stop thinking they are mutual and contingent.

But then we’re baboons—no, really, we are, when we are not at best being chimps, yes, chimps at best most of the time. This is that 98% sameness in our DNA we share with them. In the shadow of the simians, we are. Where would our opinions be without Jane Goodall and her tireless observations?

Human is choice, as I have said before this, how many times? Too many to count.

Just look at human history, though, if you doubt what I have said; just look at our current events. Can you imagine that we are not only a little better than chimps? All, most, still too, too many if not all or most whenever we are required be something more than the solipsists we are most persistently.

Anonymous

Dark Box, Dark Room [short fiction]

From the papers found on the desk of Thomas Sarebbononato by his nephew a week or more after the former’s funeral during a summer when a lot of rain fell.

[a fragment]

The past is not past–should this be interrogative or declarative? Yet, by now or by then? Up until what? No!

Moreover–of course!

As a further matter (and we do remember that further and farther are not synonyms)–what? The present is not present–it is always something more, something else, one or another and another thing creeping in the petty tick-tock of conventional clocks on conventional walls with conventional dust accumulating on them . . . digital clocks do not tick, or do they?

Is the future a tabula rasa? I do ask. It is relevant here. it is important elsewhere. What will be will be is indicative–it is also a load of horse-shit. It is neither conditional nor subjunctive. Mood is one thing, tense quite another–tense, though, has never been time. Yes, tense is not time, what then does that mean for these herein words, words and more words . . . do we concern ourselves with facts anymore, or only data, data and more data. Mr. Gradgrind is an idealist, is he not, at least in this contemporaneity, he is.

No, we must not confuse time with tense or tense with time, as we must not confuse the time of pour conventions and the time that is all of it One.

I am speaking of the three orders of time, or the ordering of time we do out of vanity. Yes, vanity I think I recall having read that Einstein had said. More matters of course–yes, the three orders of time, this past, this present and this future, all of them, they do not exist except as states of mind. Now if past were really past and future really future, neither one of them would be “this,” but could only be “that.” That past; that future–but then this here consideration. See the difficulties?

The three firmest yokes of our oxen-like existence? We are oxen when we are not baboons, when we are not the highest ape. Yet, the greatest yoke ever put on humankind . . . what was it? Marriage or the twenty-four hour clock? Ah! Flying in the face of convention–a convention is just as often an unwanted finger up the ass. Conventional people are all of them proctologists. The clock with minute hands, then the one with second hands . . . have you ever glimpsed those digital clocks counting 100,000ths of a second? Nauseating, aren’t they? Yes? No? Perhaps? How are we not buried by this infinite regression as we imagine noting infinite progression . . . can you actually subdivide infinitely?

Is Time the moving arrow? The moving arrow? Not ‘a?’ If so, then shot from where? Or is it the tunnel we move through–and we do move through tunnels everywhere. What is passing in our hours? Yes, time flying by. Time is something we pass through, like shit through our intestines? Life a great beast and we the waste of its digestion. What slows it down? What speeds it up? Time is a multiple of relatives–not what you might think.

Can time be frozen? Except in metaphor? Much the way Music was for Goethe in Architecture, yes, music frozen in stone. Does photography freeze time? Can it, except in the ways we imagine? To imagine or not to imagine–what are we without this imagination, I hope not yet dead. To see what we see demands there be light–yes, let there be light! Light by which I can see what there is to be seen . . . all now the scene as it has been put or placed.

Photography? Light graphics; light etchings; images etched by light, not into light, yes, by. Literalness here helps us to reimagine photography. The fact that all vision is dependent on light, that all color is a matter of optics–what do we see when we see and the seeing is what we know when we understand; to stand under, no? Yes, post to lintel; architecture again, living architecture, the fundamentals. Metaphor once more. All of it is, you know, metaphor–this thing language–all of it is metaphor on metaphor extended and extended. Every object, red is black in the dark.

There is no color in the dark. Without light, everything is black. Etymology is not the first and the last of meaning, of what we ascribe to our semantic comprehension–no! But it does help. Words never escape the effects of their history anymore than nations or a people or a person does, right? There is always residue in a word of all former meanings and uses. We are heaped by residue following residue.

Digital photography has no more presentness about it than film photography. Barthes is wrong about photography, although he does not discuss digital photography when he wrote what he had a written about photography–or his interpreters have been wrong. But then it remains a puzzle to me how much American semi-literacy has been fostered by its contact with French Post Structuralism? Am I too harsh?

Ah! The lucidity comes across more clearly now. Still, though, the camera is dark within, much as memory is dark until we shed light–the apertures of mind in re-memory and that of the dark box in etching film with light. The light in memory is the light in film, the light of the stage, all of it everywhere, my life is a theater. How could what I remember not be this, theatricality presented with a certain lucidity?

I am, therefore, I think. Please! No referrals to Descartes. I have flipped the Cartesian syllogism–that is obvious enough. Why do I imagine that my readers will miss the point and draw a semi-literate conclusion–because I do condescend from time to time, and I no longer have faith that my culture has enough faith in literacy to maintain it, support it, teach it, train it, foster it . . . what have we in words to say what words no longer bear from us, respect.

Digital has no more presentness than an old polaroid might have had when it was taken–how it is immediate as we want to mean when we say, immediate–but immediate what? Immediately is always a future time realization.

Polaroids are no more present with their implied presentness than the film I shoot today and have developed today after having shot it.

The camera is not lucid. It is dark and remains dark. It will always be the dark box–digital has removed the dark box, the chamber within which it all happens. Digital has side-stepped all relations with Camera obscura.

This light etching–yes, graphic, is it not? But what of digital in this Photo Graphy? Can I ignore what happens with digital photographing? I can do whatever I want in writing–but my saying something does not make it so. I am the final authority over this text, no–yes! So then, does digital etch by light, with light as traditional pre-digital photography did? What is it that happens when I take a digital photo? I am really not sure. I know what happens to the film I still shoot–and they are different, will remain different, the sense? that is, the feel? Even when prints are made you can tell–film re-presents skin more naturally, we have said.

Yes, camera obscura, always.

My AE-1 in hand, manually focussed with black and white film. Lucidity is a state of mind. What means this? Pictures on a computer screen; photos printed on paper and in hand examined, looked at, pawed over, what then happens in the handling that does not by right clicking a mouse? This question is not incidental, is not irrelevant–relevancy is often debated without thinking, so therefore is not debated but played with as in a ping pong match of slogans and received ideas.

I wish I could say what it is or was that I feel or felt for photography, my photography, to shoot or not to shoot was my most pressing question dozens of times a day, day in and day in again for years. What is it we measure by these means we create to help us maintain our delusions about Time . . . Past, Present and Future? I would make scoffing sounds at this point, but you cannot hear me except in the way we see, say and hear with and by words on a page. Only this is not a page, now, is it? That diction dates me, doesn’t it?