IN ITSELF AMERICAN [a fictional essay, revised]

[To be American or not to be American should be the principal question of democratic living for the world in the world but has become the rallying cry of corporate oligarchy around the world, the monied elite garnering more power, the powerful becoming richer and richer by the day, at an impossible to fathom exponential factoring. Yes, the generation of Post Structuralists and Post-post Modernists imagined, as did the New-new Left, that they were freeing us when in fact their arguments and conclusions have been the greatest impediments to democracy and the greatest support for elitism in the history of western civilization, more so than Royal Absolutism, for Absolutism did not hide the boundaries of elite control as effectively as does Power today after we have helped them by undermining entirely our conception of Truth, the existence of Truth, all the while we have foreshortened the limits of knowledge, but more so, what is knowable. Doubt is the highest wisdom, an all pervasive ending with doubting, doubting, doubting. Doubting what? Doubting the veracity of Truth as well as all the minor ‘t’ truths in our lives. The possibilities are infiniteis an avalanche waiting to bury us.]

I

We the people of the United States, in order . . .  yes, order. Order is the single rule of operation for any State, whether French, American, or Iranian; fascist, communist, Islamist; it does not matter. Third world dictatorships or totalitarian regimes are not the only kinds of governments concerned for regulating its citizens and residents. Our United States government no less than China’s.

The preferred result of any state’s practice is always a more perfect union, and the finishing point for any State would be for all who live within it, all the people governed by its administrators, to serve the state and only the state, as any or all bureaucrats understand, themselves standing firmly as managerial pillars supporting the fundamental tenet that the State must for certain and for always come before the people, that in all matters governmental, the State is Alpha and Omega. These are dogmas heeded no less fervently than the dogmas of any organized religion are by the pious. States have their demands and bureaucrats their devotions.

These clerics of State, and every clerk is a cleric—they come together in one temper that expresses their function in the following way: everything we think, everything we do and all that we react to should be of, by and for the bureaucracy and the bureaucracy alone, in as much as they are the guardians of the State, the limit of life and reality for all who exist in the state, but bestly, for the state. Of course, Lincoln meant to say, of the State, by the State and for the State–no–I cannot believe that of Lincoln, probably more so because my father, who did not trust the state or many of the contemporary presidents he had lived through, could not believe that of Lincoln. My father had parsed the sentences of, and examined the poetic devices used in, Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address, all in his efforts to teach me what I would not get in P{ublic Grammar School. He read Lincoln’s speeches to me as well as Milton and Shakespeare, and before I was ten.

In as much as we in America systematically under educate at every turn in our standard public education, we are not likely to enlist bureaucrats with anything more than the typical less-than education we want; that is, the scarcely literate, and only the functionally so if that, is all anyone in the state will sponsor or to which anyone from within the State bureaucracies will aspire. Our current sense of literacy is the only kind the State considers fit for the Democratic averages, the great social en-masse, more liable to answer the Pavlovan bell of advertising than likely to discern critically; these are the masses accustomed to deciding political issues firstly and lastly only when filtered through the sieve of mass media.

Now, as it seems in perpetuity, the State maintains as part of its internal policy of control a scheme of education whereby large numbers of students moving through its curriculum will in the last read no better than the eighth grade, which is the grade level considered by the federal government literate enough. This functional literacy, as the government of the United States calls it could not carry you through the most significant editorials of even the New York Times. It will allow you to handle most of the general reporting in almost any of America’s tabloid newspapers, and even a significant portion of the general reporting of the Washington Post or New York Times. Now whether or not what is contemporarily required to read at the eighth grade today is equal to or less than what was considered eighth grade reading twenty five or fifty years ago or seventy-five is not going to be determined within these pages; however, we do know that there are all of the years of high school beyond the eighth grade, so what have we established when we say that an eighth grade reading level is quite sufficient to perform functionally in society—or is it the functionary tasks of state we seek to replicate in our mass produced high school graduates? How has graduating from High School become an achievement when in New York City still more than half of its public high school graduates read below the 12th grade. Students are tested only up to the eigth grade; the state and the schools need not be accountable beyond there.

For us to utter with such pride, as we do in New York City about the numbers of high school graduates we have promoted in the last several years, when still nearly half graduate reading below grade, is example of one of our greatest delusions. But then an eighth grade reading level will allow you to handle bureaucratic literacy, the kind needed to manage the many forms and applications you will have to fill out through the course of your life, sometimes in triplicate, or simply a number not repeated but certainly insuring the appropriate redundancy, as if the mother of all bureaucracies in America was the military. A variation on this functional literacy has crept into our colleges, particularly at the community college level, but also in our baccalaureate programs.

I noted this kind of programmatic educating from the allegedly kinder and gentler teachers at a Community College in Brooklyn, where there was an enforced mediocrity from the governing administration, to the point that if any adjunct lecturer had ever gotten his students to pass the CUNY ACT exam at a percentage rate nearly double that of the CUNY average, then he or she came under fire from above, firstly, and most likely, for being too teacher centered, whatever that is supposed to mean. But those who use this cliche–another of our received ideas about pedagogy that has only allowed us to systematize failure and ensure a pervasive mediocrity in our students ability to read and write critically–are only too quick to oppose anything that will not keep 2 out of every 3 students in remediation failing the exam they need to take the composition courses they most certainly need to graduate, but finish their course of study more effectively. Through this system of failure we achieve a kind of intellectual mendacity that is difficult for any individual teacher to stand up against when the consensus–when the overarching majority of teachers in the Community Colleges all agree to the contrary. My students were paying at a percentage rate of around 70%. The CUNY average was around 34%. There had to be something wrong with the pedagogy, if I could do this in my classes; so, the only response from administration was not reward but vilification. But at the time of my inquest, the Chairperson of the department was someone with a surname made famous or infamous by Sinclair Lewis.

II

We have a professional military in America of a nearly incomparable size, that is, greater than almost all nations with the exceptions perhaps of China and India. This professional military, even when many are career soldiers and might presumably retire from active service without entering the job market, is a feeder trainer of many bureaucrats and other government functionaries. How anything taught by the military in its training, how any manner or behavior learned in military service could keep itself out of civilian acculturation is not possible from this imagination. Thus, we have a system of administering control, under the euphemism of supervision, that aligns itself with a program (or programmatic) of service that does not serve the people, cannot serve the people, no longer understands serving the people as an integral component of our democracy. We have all enlisted.

Any branch of the military, even in the United States, is not present to serve its individual members, but be served by them as it serves itself in all protocols and norms. How then could we expect any other way of thinking to creep into the functional mode of our government bureaus?. It has become more than impractical for bureaucracy to serve anything but itself—and the state has become more overt in this since around the time of John Kennedy’s administration.

We do, though, once again, have a bureaucracy only a little more than “functionally literate;” bees in the beehive we are becoming—fast. The funny thing here is that we used to call the Soviet Union the bee hive state; there is no place on earth more rapidly resembling a bee hive than our United States. We are consequently unlikely to turn out the kind of literacy in our system of education that we once sponsored as standard—and again we do graduate more students from high school than we did in the 30s or the 50s or the 60s, let’s say, and even at a higher percentage too. But I ask at what price? At what capacity do any of our contemporary graduates read, at least here in the City of New York with which I am familiar. I did teach all forms of freshman nad remedial freshman composition classes in several of CUNY’s colleges. At what capacity do CUNY’s in-coming freshman read? At what ability do we, those of us who are the alleged educated elite? How many of the mass of our graduates are reading below grade is easy to discern when teaching freshman composition, how many of the students in CUNY’s remedial classes are graduates of NYC’s public schools.

Questions begetting questions—of course, I am not establishing the quantification of reading as our pedagogic normative center. Literacy is not actually something that can be quantified in the way chemical reactions can be quantified. It was not too long ago, however, that the percentage of students in New York City who graduated High School reading below grade was at fifty per cent or higher, and that was from a normative standard that required students to understand more and be able to achieve more than we require today in order to be at grade. I’ve noted the descent of CUNY’s admissions standards and composition placement standards for in-coming freshman, how from the WAT test in the early to mid nineties and the passing standards that are current for the ACT tes. I’ve seen the shift in norming from how one test was graded fifteen years ago and how the other is graded today.

We could lower standards of reading even further to ensure everyone can read on grade. What we would then expect from our students would be achieved by everybody, including all the students who would never have achieved more than reading too far below grade to graduate. Yes, we graduate more; but then we graduate students who would never have finished school twenty-five, thirty-five, fifty years ago. Nonetheless, schools are in business—yes, business, the business of empowering boys and girls, of lifting confidence, of supporting self-esteem; however, it seems as if the lessons learned for this have been taught by Madison Avenue. Moreover, the child who never fails is a model of happiness, no?.

I do understand how State tests are packaged and delivered; mostly pedantically, the plodding and sophistic built-in as elements for success—there are many students who do very well later in college who do not get 4s on the current exam. But then, they are not the ones who get 1s or 2s, either. But there is not the alarm for the student who gets a 2 as there would have been, and perhaps this student never gets above a 3 later on mostly because a 3 has become a significant feat to be applauded, met with at least moderate fanfare. But then, everyone is special in our America, even Johnny who cannot read is special, and even though he will fill the welfare rolls or the workfare roles of minimum wage jobs at Wal-Mart or McDonald’s, America’s two largest employers, he remains special. Perhaps I am not opposed to this in the manner or the matter of further humanizing our relationships among ourselves—humnan really does not exist without the humane and it is humane to treat every person as if he were special, as of he or she were endowed by the creator with rights that are unalienable. But special in the pretexts of one’s huamnity is not the same as being special in achievement, special in skills, special in graded levels of accomplishment academically. These standards we have lowered to give every one of our students a false sense of being special, a mistaken sense of accomplishment.

Any appraisal of the reading and writing remediation that has been done in CUNY colleges over the last twenty-five to thirty years can attest to just how well or poorly we educate in the Department of Education in New York City, and just what I mean by under educating. I am not advocating against open enrollment or the presence of remediation on college campuses, but am simply moderately vilifying a pedagogy that fails by design or in effect. I’m not suggesting that we do what we have started to do in response to the sudden awareness that we might not be educating as well as we had thought, that we might need to do better, which is attempt to quantify literacy, reducing standards in education along arithmetically drawn equations for success—never mind any algorithm.

Again, quantifying literacy is a nearly impossible thing to do, but not impractical, especially in the eyes of state bureaucrats sitting at their bureaus, mostly all never present in any classroom. I recognize that measuring reading levels is a kind of quantification that many detractors from what I am saying abhor, nonetheless some measure must be maintained as a guide, yet, I hesitate even as I take these steps because I shudder when I think of how we could reduce all literacy appraisals to a base numericalism, an arithmetic of achievement, the same kind in currency today where teachers teach the state tests half the year, and where principals receive pay bonuses for the number of students getting at least a 3 on the state exam, which means we are paying principals bonuses for students doing what we were once expected to do without fanfare, as a matter of course in the methods teachers employed. We were expected to read at least on grade; today, reading on grade has become something to applaud. We are crippling our studetns—worse, we are crippling future citizens. The responsibilities of citizenship are crumbling.

Nevertheless what can we use to determine grade level standards when functional literacy in America is, once more, an eighth grade reading level. How much serious and important literature is beyond most of our in-coming freshman, most of our community college graduates, a good deal of our current B.A.s, certainly a goodly number of ESL directors I have worked for? Rhetorical questions born of subjectivity notwithstanding.

I witnessed a severe decline in the respect for literacy in the Community Colleges where I taught, and not just from the students who wanted quick fixes for their schooling maladies, but from the adjuncts and even some of the full–time professors who questioned what traditional literacy meant, what its sociological and socio-pedagogical ramifications were in the futures of our students, our country. We have questioned in the academy how traditional literacy might just have been part of all our societal woes, particularly racism, sexism, and homophobia. Traditional western literacy in its highest attainment has been identified as adjunct to and parallel with colonialism and imperialism.

The notion I present that reading is integral in developing the kind of individual capable of managing his democratic affairs with intelligence and good judgment, if not expertise has all but vanished. Save for now in our lesser ability we have succumbed to one or another cult of the expert, most of whom many of us could not afford to consult if we were smart enough to know we needed to consult them. But one of the results of lower literacy in general is a deflation of our common wisdom, for we do not have the luxury of establishing a non-literate culture within the larger culture; we do not have any connection to a folk—and this could be illustrated quite vividly by examining the ramification of the “black” Diaspora to the industrial north and what the effects were when blacks en-masse moved from their folk origins (yes, origins; yes, folk) in the agrarian south to the inhospitable concrete, brick and asphalt of the industrial and mercantile north here in the United States.

In this culture within the larger Western Civilization, if you are not folk or literate you are illiterate, and that is as criminalized as illegal, illicit, illegitimate (except for bastards—no one is stigmatized anymore by his parents not having been married when he was born or still at present).

III

The political and the literary are each distinct ways of seeing the world. Each is a unique means of understanding the limits of Truth (yes, upper case necessary). Both are ways of adjusting the focus on the lenses we use to recognize and to identify people, places and things in the world, ordering that world as such according to different metaphysical paradigms. They are as well ways in which we project our vision onto this world. Moreover, these forms of epistemology—and they are ways of understanding knowledge, of considering and accepting what knowledge is and what the limits of it are, as well as the limits of what is knowable—the latter epistemology in extremis.

The political and the literary, you could say, have for always been mutual antagonists in any society since the advent of writing. And it is mostly since writing that this conflict has arisen. It is with the advent of writing, oparticularly alphbetic writing that we see an extraordinary shift in the framework of mind and how it apprehends the world, orders that world, projects visions onto that world. The political is a framework for any kind of power to manifest. The framworks for power are older than writing; with literacy came the push for democacy and thus the antagonism that writing, literature and literacy have had with all forms of power and elitism. The irony, here, though, is that achievement in the literary must be maintained along a vertical axis of hierarchically arranged levels. Only then can the literary democratoically challenge old and traditional power wich always aligns itself with elites or coalesces within elite groups, that’s elites that are monied or invested with authority or power itself.

The political and the literary are thus equally exclusive theories of knowledge competing for acceptance, at least metaphysically they are exclusive. But in our lives this competition is real enough, true enough, actually felt as a force in the freedom of every individual in our society. How it affects what we think, how we think, why we think what we think when we do . . . and in this argument, I establish as self-evident the existence of metaphysical energies without embarking on a definition of metaphysics or how metaphysics is a force or an amalgamation of energies found in the unseen paradigmatic shape of thoughts, ideas, theories, institutions, strategies, hypotheses, laws, norms, behaviors; political, literary, rhetorical, et cetera. These metaphysical energies parallel those in the physical world, they often correspond to those physically manifest along parallel lines, if you will. The metaphysical is likewise tangible with the psychical—tangibility is not tactility, so do not confuse the two.
Metaphysics has an effect on the forces of the physical universe; again, for every force, let’s say, of the physical universe, there is an equally powerful metaphysical force. The metaphysical is not just an articulation of the real, or the actual, but it is reality itself. Reality is never complete without all of its metaphysical components; the senses alone are poor judges of the real or the actual. I need not point to the fact that we walk on flat ground, topography not withstanding, yet we know the surface of the earth is curved; we note the rising and the setting of the sun in the sky, yet we know that the sun neither rises nor sets; we order and arrange time into past present and future, yet we know that all time is one and that past present and future are illusions we persist in maintaining out of vanity and hope. Clocks and calendars are time in experientia for most of us, yet how we experience time in the mind is other than how it passes on a clock, and how it passes on the clock is no less a fiction than the play you just saw on stage—there is though a fictional truth to time, and there are advantages to suspending our disbelief in the reality of clock time.
Nonetheless, time, space and the indissoluble unity of the two not withstanding, I return to the driving force of my current argument, the metaphysics of politics will for always stay in opposition to the metaphysical character of literature, and that’s in any theater of being, anywhere, any when.

For some of us who do aspire to higher literary expression than we seem capable of fostering in our state sponsored education systems, or the few of us who do respect the literary enough to love her too much, it should be no surprise that writers and governments have always had a tenuous relationship at best, certainly precarious and mortal in the worst of times.

Writers for all time become enemies of the state where they are not tolerated as antagonists in a political theater that serves the performance of the State as it presumably does here in America and abroad in Western or western style democracies. The illusion of freedom is the best we can offer ourselves and our countrymen in America . . . no less than those people in the Matrix were served by their illusions. And I do not ascent to having used hyperbole here.
The relationship between literacy and freedom, literacy and democracy, where and when and how our liberty does and should have limits, however, is just what must be determined if anything resembling democracy in its highest ideals can be sustained.

What does toleration mean, for instance; what does it signal here in our current America, one that preaches diversity and multiculturalism from on high, whereby they have become dogmas of state, of every institution of government, but with how much organic and intelligent expression, or with how much meaningful capacity other than that found in slogans and clichés .

We need—yes, it is necessary to ascertain how much States and their governments create space for subversion in order to control subversion; or, how much they subdivide the people in a Machiavellian ploy to conquer and control, while maximizing proceeds, which is capitalism 101—sub-divide the market to increase profit. Of course the state sponsors multiculturalism in society—it increases the wealth of the moneyed and power elites. In a society that no longer produces anything , black America, for instance, is no longer needed as a producer class, so they go from proletarian under class to pseudo bourgeois consumerist class.

We needed to subdivide the market place in order for them to buy more and go deeper into debt in order to continue to live their pseudo bourgeois existence. But how many really care or can read deeply enough to understand they should care.

Everyone in America seems entitled to his own opinion, a nod to our origins as society based on the principle that without Freedom of Speech, among other pillars of freedom, there could be no liberty at all. No one today though will call anyone on the quality of another’s opinion, but toleration for all opinions goes only in so far as someone opinionating is willing to reach consensus in the end.

Writers have often found themselves hanging by a precipice, if not by a rope, whenever they have been too closely scrutinized by political leaders, or those agents of government who maintain loyalty to their state in counterbalance to any fidelity to art, or to the people. Book burning and banning is not something reserved for Nazis alone. Censorship does not need a Politburo or Commitern to succeed. We can burn literacy without actual flames; denying books that require greater literacy is equal to burning books. How is the manner in which we educate in our State sponsored education not like the burning of the library at Alexandria; how is the recent assault on the Canon not equal to that.

Bureaucrats everywhere are usually those whose only link with intelligence is a base and state serving pragmatism, a kind of cleverness found in abundance in both businessmen and criminals. Their aesthetic is the sense of beauty one has for mass production, bureaucrats like clean neatly written applications and forms—yet, there is something to the intelligence of someone who when filling out an application cannot stay within the lines. But why has this become the limit of state sponsored literacy is beyond my comprehension, except as a program for control, a way for moneyed and power elites to better control the people, creating out of them Pavlovian conditioned salivating dogs, the bell is rung. Ask not for whom this bell rings because it rings for every one of us, dogs to be fed. An antagonism to higher literacy must be maintained by all those committed to enhancing the power of the power elite or the profits of the monied elite, the great influential capitalist class.

IV

What shall not perish?

A government of the elite, by the elite and for the elite.

We have seen the results of an economic elite making billions of dollars in a three-card-monty-economy. You don’t imagine that economics is not a shell game, do you? Perhaps we will actually start producing things at home to help secure a stronger economy for all, but I doubt it. That does not serve the elite; banks give you less than one per cent interest on your CD and yet charge you 20 to 30 per cent on your credit card; and we do not balk, do not write our senators, do not shout to the heavens or to the press–the press is as corrupt as Wall Street or Washington. There are too many profits from child-slave labor around the world–remember Michael Jordan making more money for one NIKE commercial than all the workers making those sneakers did in a year? Michael Jordan is part of the problem, as are all puppets of power and moneyed elites. The same Banks that nearly plunged us into economic chaos supported Obama; his Treasury Secretary Geithner initially employed as his four chief advisors former members of the three banks most responsible for the economic problems we face today; Geithner did not get it; the mentality of greed and irresponsibility cannot mend itself anymore than the sociopath tends to cure himself, anymore than the aristocracy of France could in 1789. But when will our Reign of Terror begin . . . ? I do fear it is coming, but we are stupider than the peasants and the poor of 18th century France.

The further the French get from the memory of the Jacobin, the less free they are; the further we get from the Bill of Rights . . . well? Power will never relinquish power without threat to its safety. Economic power will not give back if it remains safe and secure in its pursuit of wealth. Forty years ago, banks gave you six times the interest it offers you today, and at a time when your money was worth three or four times as much, as high as eight times as much when it concerns rental values, at least rental values in New York. The same rental values that have been inflated by the practice of warehousing apartments, a landlord loophole whereby an artificial shortage in apartment availability raises the value of rent. One of the chief architects of this warehousing technique for raising landlord revenue was Ed Koch, one of the chief supporters of Mayor Bloomberg, and we allowed him to bully and strong-arm his way to an outlawed third term. Who were Bloomberg’s biggest supporters; who are these men on Wall Street that suck the life out of our nation, sucking its wealth as vampires do blood. What are their names, who are they, where do they live, swim, relax, play, all on the life blood of vibrant Americans working away their lives to produce profits for the few. What are the names of the supporters of Bloomberg? Look at how Hollywood came out for Obama and how Obama has come out for the banks . . . what has Hollywood’s relationship with New York money been? Who are the big players in Hollywood; what are their names? How are they aligned with New York money on Wall Street and in what way are the interests of Hollywood Producers and Wall Street Investment firms the interests of Middle America, the South, the South West or any working-class man or woman from any of our cities or inner cities.

How can political authority and power help economic power get richer? Let’s look at the Bloomberg administration, which is what the Department of Justice should do, but won’t. Why does Washington protect Wall Street? Why don’t we ever see a list of the names of the twenty worst landlords by violation, by city law suits, by fines . . . why? Do the landlords in New York City own the papers? Who owns the newspapers in New York that keeps this information out of the papers? What do the twenty-five worst landlords in NYC have in common with the publishers of the newspapers in New York City that you never get an expose about them? What are the names of the publishers and the money behind the papers and who are they protecting in New York Real Estate? Have we so degraded our literacy to think the Bill of Rights is not a mutually inter-unified document; do we think it is a list to pick and choose from as we do in a cafeteria?

But let us return to New York City landlords who are allowed to keep a certain per cent of apartments warehoused as a tax break and to artificially inflate rental values. With the artificial shortage of apartments, rental values increased back in the 80s. Through the Koch years, rents increased nearly six to seven hundred percent. What do Bloomberg and Koch have in common apart from their alliance with landlords and moneyed power in New York? Nothing? Something? Anything? What? Why can’t we say anything? What do we fear? Why are some people “hands off” by and in the media? Does it not seem as if some people get protection or immunity from the media?

Bringing even a bit of industry back to America and stop making billions on the backs of wage-slaves around the world is not likely. The next time you travel internationally, wearing NIKE sneakers and other apparel made in the third world, pause and wonder why Americans are hated. Yes, worry about your safety, asking yourself, why, why, why do they hate us? If I were a man in the third world, knowing what I know, I would like to think that I would have another response than any of the many that others have had toward Americans around the world. But that would be mostly out of fear of reprisals from a state sworn to become The New Order of the Ages . . . Novus Ordo Saeclorum.

If I grew up anywhere in the third world, as poor and helpless as many there are, with a life as hopeless for my children as many of theirs are, knowing what I know, understanding what I understand, how could I not want to murder the power and moneyed elites of the West? Only a horribly corrupted person can look on the actions of a terrorist bomber as something more heinous than a civilization such as ours set diametrically opposed to this bomber’s world, while in every action seems intent on subjugating it for the economic benefit of America’s moneyed elites, all the while they continue to reap profit from the death and maiming of America’s young men and women in wars alleged to maintain our safety, a safety put in jeopardy by both Bush and Obama, one each from an opposite end. Neither is what any of us really need in the way of protecting us from harm while maintaining credibility for the American Imperium, and yes, America is an Empire. To think otherwise or to act as if it were not a fact would be naive at best, monstrously irresponsible at worst.

And I am not one that thinks naively that withdrawal from Iraq or Afghanistan is possible or should be brought about as swiftly as possible–I know one necessity as I see an equally potent futility coexisting in two very unpopular wars . . . most of us have no clue when it comes to our interests abroad, or what exactly our interests are in all their complexities, or where or when we should protect them, defend them, yes, even with the lives of young men and women . . .

A horror of existence–and yes, there are many horrors in our existence in addition to the many we experience within, the many selves of the Self that wander inside each of us–a horror of existence is that we will always need to defend democracy–no rest for the weary, if you do not mind the cliché. Civil liberties need guarding, watching ever so carefully, attentively, persistently, and yes sometimes with guns, and I’m not one of the gun nuts. What do you imagine the Second Amendment is for; that is exactly what Jefferson’s legacy to the people is all about: a Bill of Rights that is mutual and contingent in all of its parts. The Bill of Rights is not a cafeteria steam table. You must also read the Declaration of Independence carefully and reexamine exactly what Jefferson’s rationale for our break with Britain was, how it was delineated, how it was articulated, just what the diction was and how it remains the correct action even today. Neither Wall Street nor Washington get it; and I fear for us all in the future, allowing ourselves to have been and to be systematically undereducated so as to permit power to usurp our rights, allowing monied elites to become more monied and power elites to become more powerful. We just might only have the extreme at our disposal. The media is aligned with power and money; Hollywood at best is the small space for subversion created by power to allow subversion to emerge in manageable and control-able forms. Everywhere I look, the media has persisted in one or another overly sentimentalized Yellow press campaigns against the Second Amendment. The gun nuts aside, the Second Amendment is the only thing standing in the way of even more state control and restrictions on personal liberty. We cannot allow ourselves to continue playing a rhetorical ping-pong that disallows us a correct management of the received ideas that masquerade as the truth.

V

When talking about Politicians and the People in America, we have to re-examine the relationship along the lines of the pimp/prostitute social dynamic. Congress has never been more starkly and evidently the Money-doling Pimps of our political system–but every pimp has his gangster overlords, as do our politicians in the Oil or Wall Street gangsters of our bourgeois totalitarian capitalist fiefdom.

Bourgeois cultures have collectively created an overarching, overbearing civilization that has been the enemy of art, the adversary of the spiritual life of art, while pretending, only sometimes, to be the friend of the corporeal life of artists. This has been unwavering, this has remained steadfast, this has achieved ascendancy in the hearts, minds and souls, if it could be said that the latter survives, of those who could be artists, who should be, who were, that is, until their art had been bought and sold and sold again so many times as to leave on it the stink of prostitution, as in all variations of bourgeois marriage. This is contradictory of the idea that we in America marry for love and only for love; so be it. The notion that we love for anything but materialism is surely a laugh; however, the fact we believe materialism is only contingent with things of the senses, articles we can buy and sell, is yet another confusion the bourgeoisie suffer in their minds, an entity they ironically have more faith in than soul.

Hollywood has also remained one of the foremost enemies of art; the likes of any grossly overpaid grossly overrated Hollywood actor becoming one of the foremost advocates for the integrity of Hollywood as a force for good in the world, speaks volumes. Hollywood producers have remained steadfast enemies of Truth, as has publishing become steadfast in its attention to profit before people; maintaining attention to a public that buys. These, of course, are practices in a world of diminished literacy so much so that even publishing can only pander to taste, as degraded as ours has become. Does Hollywood or conglomerate owned publishing believe other than their self-perpetuated delusions of who or what the people are, no different than the political state who works toward confusing the people for a public that serves, or at least a public that buys and buys and buys. We sit by and marvel at free enterprise as fashion and cosmetic industries allow musical entertainers make upwards of eighty million dollars a year, thus seriously diminishing the salaries and benefits packages of the very employees that make the products the entertainer represents, allowing the public to become enamored by her image or enthused by her spirit enough to waste more money than they can afford; all of this while my health insurance goes up, salaries freeze, hours to work shrivel and Congress stall on health care reform.

I dare anyone to name any of the top three to five publishers in America, especially, but anywhere in the world, and see if they are not committed to a contemptibly narrow programatic of what should be published, all in the attempt to right former wrongs, political, social, ethical–how has the new hegemony not become a reanimation of the old? I’ll never forget Oprah saying that you must believe in your own goodness and that your reward will take the form of money if you believe it will . . . High Priestess in the Cult of Mammon.

All of the attempts to right former wrongs by multiculturalism have been perpetuated in an attempt to garner the resonance of truer voices, voices more real because they are more diverse. Brown-eyed writers and blue-eyed ones we used to joke were next, but with the culture of ignorance besetting all contemporary attempts at multicultural reevaluation, I wonder what kind of multicultural world has been envisioned. I met an educated man, college educated, somewhere in his early fifties, who could not understand why an American poet made allusions to Greek poetry or mythology in his poems, finding it pretentious. The contemporary American politically correct version of multiculturalism is horribly narrow, terribly proscribed. We tell ourselves our moves toward corrections are necessary instead of what seems to me to be the prime motive in all diversity, increasing profits by sub-dividing the market.

Publishing has never been more enamored with any marketing ploy as much as they are with multiculturalism, diversity, diversity, diversity, all and only in the name of dollars. Its macroeconomics. And with enough resenters from formerly beleaguered camps, dollars are right enough. Did we expect a bourgeois capitalist populist society to envision literary truth any other way? Is it different because the authors are women or persons of color or post-colonial, all of these the new status quo?The bourgeoisie must kill its artists for two reasons: it increases the market value of the art, and in selling the art it does not have to pay the artist; someone else gets rich.

VI

Politeness and the new politique: We do moo and baa together in one or another social or public forum and call it our Ode to Freedom. Can we, though, articulate any sense of freedom other than entries by figures and calculations in the ledger books of state? Have we so relativized meaning that we can no longer say anything about anything anywhere anytime other than Who’s to say? when questions we have been systematically dis-educated to ignore arise. Yes, who’s to say is what everyone says when he wants his invalid assertions accepted without question. This, of course, is rooted in an idiosyncrasy of thinking, or what he confuses for thinking, usually a random passing of images or phrases in the mind. It’s a great advertising ploy, this who’s to sat, to get everyone to accept anything at any time anywhere; all opinions have become equal in weight, in value–mostly because it’s been the ability to evaluate opinions that has come under the greatest assault in our acceptance of semi-literacy as being good enough; everyone is a genius for fifteen seconds, just as everyone through twelve years of school was special.

If all things were relative, though, there would be nothing for anything to be relative to; so all opinions being of equal weight is absurd. Reductio ad absurdum, more literally a reduction to deafness, which is what the absurd is–a lack of sense or a sense, the sense of hearing, which is what we need to hear an argument–rhetoric being the Greek root word for the Latin oratory, all argument in classical antiquity arising in its forms in orality. Yes, of course rocks must have weight otherwise we would see them floating in the air. But what about feathers? They too must have weight, but what kind of weight in as much as we see them floating about. The steps in the process of inferring gravity can be examined–but we do not want to stay put for any revelation that what we have blurted in opinion is absurd. This is very much where we have arrived, perpetual relativity ad nauseum, ad absurdum. With this, we have reached true nihilism, a nihilism at its purest. Infinite possibility does bury as I have said before. In our mass media culture, saying anything makes it so, even if only, again, for fifteen seconds, but that quarter of a minute is enough to sustain us in our thinking for years, or ruin us for life.

There is no truth, only perpetual topicality. If we lived in Bradbury’s world of Farenheit 451, though, all knowledge would be lost, all literature gone, burn all the books–how far from the mob that burned down the library in Alexandria do we imagine we are–not very far. Our Public Schools are reinforcing this nowness and newness as the prime and the last measure of culture, of what we need in what we read. Our Brooklyn Public Library system, where I live, has set its survival, its very existence, its perpetuation, on circulation. All funding and distribution of money to the branches depends on circulation. Books are discarded irrespective of their intellectual worth, of their literary value or theur historical significance. But as I have said it’s the ability to evaluate that we have undermined. This move toward gleaning the shelves of the branches of books that do not circulate is contrary to a library’s chief purpose, ay least traditionally. It sets the library in parallel position with bookstores. Circulation alone is as close to profit that a not-for-profit institution like the Public Library can come. But libraries are not bookstores although they are supposed to store the treasure house of our civilization, of our culture and the many cultures of the world.

I should have seen the hand writing on the wall, as a friend of mine had said, when over the last two decades slowly, but inevitably, America shifted, en masse, to the right. Wherever you might have found yourself in the linear gradations, set horizontally in political spectrum, that American political spectrum has shifted to the right relative to a fixed and constant, albeit absolute evaluation of politically spectral analysis. Thereffore, as I have witnessed, black people have stopped telling it like it is–although I have noted that many still might think they do; and in addition to this reversal from the days of my childhood, Jewish people have become more conservative, shifting almost en-masse to the right from wherever they were situated on the political line in America. Even the radicals are less liberal and thus more conservative.

I don’t know what Joe Monte thinks or would think if he were alive. I have no words for Joe, just as I have no words for any of the victims I have been taught I am supposed to feel something for, although I often do not as I often forget they have ever existed–most of us do not recall or lose the ability to recollect most of the people in our lives. Most of us are fixed on the moment now and our problems eclipse the world’s problems. History is just out of this world. Try as I may to feel for the people close to me in my life, sometimes I fail to feel anything, or most of what I should, imagining some situation where I would be expected to feel something. This lack arises though, when I think about what I should be feeling, which is always a bit in abstentia in abstentia, a kind of absent-presence or present-absence superimposed over itself, an emptiness lingering over emptiness. This thinking about what kind of feeling I should feel is absurd.

I can see the grocery store where Joe Monte worked with his wife and his daughter and his rolled up sleeves revealing tattooed numerals on his arm. I initially did not know what the numerals meant. I subsequently found out and I wondered what I felt. What was I supposed to feel is a question that marks our problems in the world, in our lives; our lives are the world. Sometimes I can see Joe’s wife or his daughter, but principally, Joe, the grocery store owner, and the man with tattooed numbers on his arm, with the sleeves of his white shirt rolled halfway up his forearms, who sliced my ham on his non Kosher slicer to make my ham hero for school lunch when I was going to JHS 285 across the street from Tilden High School. What does being able to see him mean? What does remembering this mean . . . to me to you to anyone? I still can’t imagine what it was like to have been tattooed as he was, when he was, where he was, and not even another Jewish man born here in Brooklyn, New York, USA, as I was, knows why. The knowing we do, we have is other than Joe’s. Yet, still . . . he had to have been a teenager, the highest percentage of survivors who were not collaborators were teenagers. Children and the elderly were the groups with the highest percentage of deaths. To feel what another feels is called empathy; sympathy is something else–in fact, it is what in a Romance languages is used as a translation of the English ‘nice.’ Elle est sympathique in French for “She is nice” (of course you can also use gentile for her); or, as in Spanish, tu eres simpatico.

To be nice or not to be nice has always skirted the acts of foolishness in one evaluation or another. Perhaps there was a time to be nice as we mean nice when we say nice in earnest about someone was to be foolish. Fools are usually nice–business men love fools and their money–flattering customers with ‘nice’ has always been a form of marketing. But just how nice, thus perhaps polite, fits in our pursuit of the Truth or our revelations of truths is a puzzle to me. However, polite has become the new politique, a kind of muzzle put on the people who fear being publicly impolite more than they do the loss of their freedoms and the exercise of their rights that come along with a politique from the people less than straight forward, less than direct, less than honest, less than truthful. We live in a permanent social fog of half-truths and lies, propaganda and advertising.

VII

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, we were certain of, I don’t 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. 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 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.

TV evangelists have always bugged the American liberal establishment because the former are simply more overt forms of what the latter is politically, secularly.

VIII

Consensus, non-sensus . . . 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. To disagree with mandated consensus is to become excommunicate and anathema, socially. 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.

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 this Pages section.

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. 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.

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. America is the new Totalitarian Bourgeois Capitalist Super State.

IX

People versus the State–what then must we do–what then can we?

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 tempocentric 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.

We are a long, long way from Louis Quatorze and his absolutist monarchy, or so we 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.

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.

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.

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.

X

Education, Madison believed, is the cornerstone of Civil Liberty. But Madison could not have been talking about the kind of education we have in our Public Schools anywhere in America. I do not have to believe in a Golden Age to know that ours just might be the worst of times for literacy and education. 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.

I have met far too many college educated adults for whom re-reading is essential for even an appropriate first read, so why we sponsor the kind of pedagogy of reading that amounts to engaging a text in a way similar to how waiters clear a table of crumbs before bringing the coffee. I am one who asserts that 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. 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 my sons classrooms through Public School were 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. Good readers can tell bad writing and politically correct hyper-didactic texts are often poorly written.

How can I hope to understand what individuality can mean 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 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 mind, 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.

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 others 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.

XI

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 is incapable of respecting in the least the kind of freedom I had once believed was my 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; I am beginning to feel like one of Barnum’s suckers. Washington does seem like the Big Tent; Capitol Hill, the White House, et cetera, other rings.

Will our civil liberties always be present? I know the slogan of the ACLU is Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself. Good cause, good slogan, the need for vigilence is constant. But that 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 sense of vigilance our degraded state sponsored education can imagine is only one that serves the interests of the state; it might be something else entirely now, in that we will not think serving the state against the people is such a bad idea. 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, bartering our civil liberties for 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. 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 all party with the President and we somehow miss what’s happening. We have come a long way from the old New Left, even further from the Old Left, but let’s not lament yet.

It was the old left that informed many of the men I had come to listen to when I was a boy, my first lessons in American Democracy, politics, freedom, the exercise of liberty, which was never license (a confusion I see popularly spreading). But then my fantasies of the old left might not be as accurately conceived as they should be; 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.

I remember the Revolutionary slogans from the time of our Founding Fathers, whereby one 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? What Reign of Terror is next?

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 his pompous forked-tongued wife?

XII

Dark Age does not mean there is no sunlight, that the sun does not rise and set, that summer never comes, that everything is obscure under clouds and shrouds, terminally gray, as I had said once of ten days in Paris when the sun did not shine. Even in what we once referred to as the Dark Ages, people had a wide range of emotions, some people were happy, others were joyful, some experienced delight, ecstasy, pleasure. Some were well off, others were intelligent, accomplishments were made, health was maintained, children were raised, knowledge and wisdom were attained. However, the Darkness or Lightness of an age has other factors in its determination, mostly those relating to the general good, the general welfare, the intelligence and the forbearance of light by those in Power and with Money (capitalization intended).

Yes, we knew decades ago that American oil companies had sold oil to the Nazis out of Mexico; so, why should anything surprise us about the Oil Gangsters or the Koch Brothers Cartel. And their names on places for the Arts does not make them philanthropists anymore than the Nazis building theaters made them philanthropists. There was State Ballet in the Soviet Union. But please remember when we talk about the dark waters of Republican support,  we do have to recollect that there was no President deeper in the pockets of Wall Street than Obama, and that includes Bill Clinton, although you would probably want to think Ronald Regan. Jefferson did warn us about banks being more dangerous to a People and their Liberty than standing armies of occupation.

Now, no man made greater dents in the New Deal than Bill Clinton, and he was directly responsible for unleashing the banks with measures through legislation that lead to 2008. Clinton Pro-Wall-Street deregulatory actions . . . begun while Democrats were the majority, starting with the appointments Robert Rubin and Larry Summers in the Treasury–does anyone recall his dissolving the Glass-Steagall Law that was in effect from the Great Depression? Glass-Steagall had been passed to bar Investment Banks from Commercial Banking activities. Commercial Banks could no longer use the money from depositors to invest. This does not ring a bell, does it? Moreover, theca for repeal was based mostly, as it had been for decades, on the specious notion that Commercial banks lacked profitability, most especially as the economy grew. But what exactly is or was this lack of profitability–was it an actual loss of profit, a sum-totaling in the red, or was it no longer “profitable” by the standards of decadence and greed that subsumed our economics, especially grotesquely in the 1980s of Regan and into the Clinton 90s?

However, another question to raise would be, Does anyone recall the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, “which left the derivatives market a laissez-faire Wild West,” according to the Columbia Journalism Review. With Riegle-Neal Clinton gutted State regulations of Banks leading to grotesque bank mergers and the too-big-to-fail mind-set. And yes, responsible directly for more deregulation that lead directly to 2008 than any President . . . recall Obama blaming George W. for 2008? I do. But next to Bill Clinton, there has been no greater friend to Wall Street Greed in the Oval Office than OBAMA. But then, there is now no greater enemy of the People than Donald Trump. Milton Friedman, Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan are my triumvirate in the pit of a new Inferno(mics).

Our Obama-O Bankers! out-did Clinton and Regan both when he spent 0ne Trillion dollars upgrading our entire nuclear arsenal, and thus expanding it, making fifty years of attempts at disarmament irrelevant, all the while tweaking Putin’s nose as if the latter was going to say, Yes, please! You arrogant Americans, push further for your MILTON Friedman NEO-LIBERAL Globalization; please take hegemony because we will let you.

Let’s face it and try for once to be honest in geo-politics: If Russia tried to negotiate with Mexico in half the way we tried to get into Ukraine, we’d already be at war. And speaking of wars, which we seem hell bent on perpetuating, Obama has started more wars than Bush II, has deported more people than any other President and still more than Trump. Obama inititated no immigration reform–examine his record. He has spread the drone-assassination campaign to all quarters of the world. He signed off okay on Hilary’s desire to topple Libiya by bombing the shit out of it, thus destabilizing it to the point that it cannot contain its borders and has become a hotbed of jihadist terrorism and a funnel for all refugees from Africa of any politicized persuasion–without screening–to southern Europe. Could this be part of a darker plan to destabilize the EU and necessitate NATO expansion? I am just wondering out loud.

Libya has become one of the great cluster-fucks of world geo-politics, and a potential human disaster on the level of Syria–another of Obama’s great geo-political coups, and it will again become convenient for many of Hilary’s semi-literate college student supporters to blame Russia, when it was Obama who laid hands off ISIS for over a year in an effort to pressure Assad or topple him in Syria. Obama has wanted regime change there more badly than Bush II did, and Bush was training opposition to Assad, as was Obama, not caring who the Moslem Brotherhood there or in Libya used as its allies as long as it could meet with U.S. Global Imperialist designs.

So when I tell you that Regan, Bush I and II, Bill Clinton, Obama and Hilary are all of a piece geo-politically, except for style of presentation, spin of the doctors of State and Statism, charisma and shifts in policy, or whether they are in the pockets of oil or Wall Street, why don’t you hear me–listening is something I have not seen too many educated people doing lately. I am an OPPONENT of Trump, but even Bernie Sanders does not inspire faith from me. Trump we knew was an idiot 30 years ago, that is, New Yorkers did. But then, contempo-centrism has come to haunt us; a cultural a-historicism that has turned and bitten us right in the ass. How was it that when we undermined the intellectual and academic credibility of a capital ‘T’ Truth as even a compass heading, that when we undermined the validity of a universal human nature, that when we pulled the intellectual rug our from under the footing of the idea of Knowledge, making Knowledge impossible and all smaller ‘t’ versions of what is true irrelevant . . . how was it that we imagined that these measures in thinking were going to free us and n to give Power and Money just what it needed to become more Powerful, more Monied, more Elite?

Hilary and Obama are actually worse than Bush, and Bush was bad, REAL BAD; but no American IN form(ed) by the mainstream media who are linked with finance capitalists on Wall Street (again, 6 corporations control 90% of our media) will ever read about it except on page 44 in the NY Times, a kind of State Pravda because it is Wall Street Pravda like the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Past, all meant to keep power in the shadows. Bush was a liar; Obama is the blackface the Monied and Power elite wear in a Grotesque Minstrel Show–I know you do not think so, and I also know that you think you understand what I have said, and I know that you will imagine that you see racism when you can not feel Power fuck you in the ass at night even while you sleep.

Questions beget more horrible questions. Yet, as endemically racist as we are, was it true that only a black man could sell us the idea that he spoke for the People when he spoke for monied power more eloquently than any President in history? That is, unless we are going to talk about the buffoon, Donald Trump (who does not get Mr. President. And yes, Obama has appeared more Presidential, which is part of the Stagecraft of Statecraft.) But then Americans imagine that Rap is not a new minstrel show when it meets the paradigm, point for point. Rap is no more about authenticity than minstrel shows were. And when I hear ‘white people’ mentioned by anyone, I know I am listening to a Machiavellian drawn received idea because there is no political or sociological term that is more overly generalized or stereotyped than the term “White People.” I have met few to no perosn of color who actually knows what he or she is talking about when they say “White People,” any more than most white people of any ethnicity have a clue what they mean when they say black people. And there has been no other racial or ethnic term that could possibly be used as we do “White People,” and that’s in Academic discourse and thorugh media conduits, print and broadcast. And I am a Trump opponent; and I actually like Obama. But the truth is the truth. We have to stop playing ping pong because that is what this is when we try to put a halo on Obama and horns on the head os Trump, a demon (which is not to say that Trump does not deserve to be demonized).

Furthering the idiots’s ping pong Americans love to play, are the people who voted for Trump . . . but let’s not forget that 30 out every 100 Hispanics voted for Trump and more than twice the number of African Americans who voted for Romney in ’12 voted for Trump. So much for endemic authenticity from Record-Industry-created images that match African American reality in exactly the same way as Hollywood Stereotyping of any ethnic group you choose to examine has ever matched their social, cultural or political reality. If you were to take Hilary’s margin of victory in California out of the election, she loses the election in the other 49 states by the same margin as she won popularly with California–give or take a few hundred thousand.That’s another rationalization for the Electoral College Hilary’s supporters do not want to consider–regional tipping of elections is not more democratic. How is her gross margin of victory in California more Democratic than the electoral college? It’s not. And do not get me started on contemporary liberal critique of Gerrymandering, when Gerrymandering is perhaps one of the most effective or the only effective measure to set against Gentrification of neighborhoods of color or poorer neighborhoods.

We have to stop being stupid because that is what WE are being. Oh, and by the way–I do want to piss on the Patriot Act–and you know what I mean, so stop being conveniently literal. It has been since the Patriot Act that we have had more cops off the hook? Yet, t was Obama who used The Patriot Act to meet his overly STATIST agenda–and by the way, the President is the Chief of Police in America, if you do not already know that.

When I talk with others who are supposed to have been educated, I cringe when I hear what comes out of their mouths about the election or what the Electoral College means, or could mean to and for minority voting, the voting of People of Color, the voting and representation of once neighborhoods of color that have become gentrified (much the way the real estate boom in the 80s had begun to redraw neighborhoods that then became zones of Gentrification dividing once voting blocks in districts that coincided with People of Color.

I know no one has read the Constitution or the Federalist Papers, and this includes Trump and most of his supporters. I still say, though, that if the election had gone the other way, where Hilary had won an Electoral victory and Trump lost with a popular victory, Hilary and Obama would be quoting Madison and singing the praises of the Electoral College. Now it is interesting that Trump and his spokespersons and Cabinet members and his Veep are all too stupid to articulate any of this–not one of them quotes Madison because they have not read Madison. They are just too semi-literate, or perhaps just to contempo-centric?

And no, Madison did not frame the Electoral College because he did not trust the people; there were enough popular elections in our dual sovereignty from the on-set. If that had been the reason first and fore mostly, we would have versions of the electoral college at the State level, which we do not. Governors were and are popularly elected. And remember how important Governorships were: John Jay, the first Supreme Court Justice (for life), left the position to become Governor of New York State. Madison made the distinction between Federal Elections and National Elections and the election for President was framed as a Federal election and not a National one. We are still insisting that the President and the Presidency become something other than what the framers went to great lengths to circumscribe and reduce the power of . . . but then I hear Pundits  of Color on line questioning the wisdom of “these old laws that do not pertain to now” when talking about the Bill of Rights.

I do not expect most of the people I talk to every day to have read or go on to read the Constitution, let alone understand it, not with what passes for literacy in New York City Education. Teaching majors still making up the bulk of the bottom 30% of university students. Stupid is what stupid thinks, and “think” here is not the imagined image but how the process takes place in the handling of thought in matters of great social importance. You did hear recently how 76% of a Bronx High School graduated, as if that were an achievement, but allegedly only 4% were university ready. However, with liberal arts disappearing and themselves becoming vocations or a grotesque sort of vocational training, reading and writing with any acumen, quality, or advanced standards of achievement will become a monastic endeavor.

The Dark Ages are now.

Trump won’t know how to do what he imagines he wants to get done? Remember, Obama’s biggest problem was his entire absence of CACHE coming into office. No one owed him anything. He owed everybody else because when a virtual political nobody has the banks behind him as he did in 08 and 12, you know he has to deliver favors if he ever wants to do anything he thinks he wants to do when listening to the better angels of his nature. Now, I would rather be happy than right, but this here political quagmire makes me right when for 25 years I have been saying that without the Soviet Union, with the Democratic Party shift to the right of center, with the way we educate, with our contempo-centrist views of history to the point of becoming a-historical, with the decline in literacy and a multi-culturalism meant only to be costume for American Bourgeois Capitalist, we were headed for being in a deep river of shit with only our hands for paddles.

Now, will I unleash the same fury on Trump? Yes, as I have . . . only more so because I like him so, so, so much less than I actually liked Obama.

Charisma is worth something; smooth oratory is worth a lot; being able to lie better than the other guy was something as young men in bars with beers in our hands we respected . . . for some reason I pretend is vague.

XIII

Where have you gone Al Smith?

Politics in America has become a quagmire? I ask . . . we like to interrogate the truths of our world rather than assert them declaratively. I prefer “we” when I requires more courage or confidence than I can muster at the time. Washington is a swamp, we have liked saying; we have repeated this how often lately. I do not agree with Trump on anything else he says, thinks he means, means when he says otherwise than what we hear . . . I cannot imagine an intelligent person thinking he is not as narrow minded as he  appears, is not quite as foolish, or lacking in intelligence, as we seem to lack.

I detest the Donald, as he was called by us, we New Yorkers back in the 80s. New York City media then held an affection for the marketability of his image, for better or for ill or for whatever it was that sold airtime, newspapers—he remained a buffoon more than icon.  I do hate our colloquial thus our media’s use of the word ‘icon,’ just as it sometimes bothers me to hear the colloquial or any medium’s use of Mecca: a Mecca of hockey, a Mecca of entertainment? One of our social Icons? A Hollywood icon? What means anything when we talk like this any qualified Rhetorician might ask?

More questions asked to beget yet other questions: What then means Oratory to anyone raised without a respect for language, her language, his, mine, ours, this American tongue, English . . . at least with how far we have fallen in our esteem for the power and purpose of language, allowing for a degraded literacy to take root in our pedagogy, in our performative value. And this is not pressure for English only; I applaud a multi-lingual society as I applaud the world lingua franca, English. I was talking about native speakers who have allowed themselves, through systematic under-education and the supplanting of alphabetism in place of literacy, to debase their facilities with the spoken word, but most assuredly with the written one. When was the last time you listened to King? No, really, when? When have you ever read his speeches, or the essays of Madison, or the letters between Madison and Jefferson, or the speeches of Lincoln? This is just to name a very select few in the matters of rhetoric in the field of Politics.

I have said this before and I will say it again, in these and in other words, always words themselves around a topic, an idea, an observation concerning our political plight? our political quagmire? our political problems? our political night? We do spin our wheels, pin wheels in the wind passing for what we do when we say we think.

A dark night of the American soul has descended; and do not be mistaken and try to side-step that Trump is taking heed the words of the Alternative Right–as alternative as Kentucky Fired Chicken is no longer fried. Keep saying KFC long enough and it is no longer fried chicken, right?  The American People will suffer; but certainly not the new Public for which they stand for the State, as Publics have always been the People in service of the State. And too many of you who have opted to be a state serving Public, and Obama had his Public as Hilary would have had her Public, as Regan had his and Bill Clinton his, et cetera, et cetera. They will stand with Baron Trump, behind Baron Trump . . . and they will stand at the beck and call of this Baron Von Trump.

Our opening of the Trump era–no! I do not imagine that 4 years constitute an era; I also cannot fathom that this Von Trumpeter of his own manias can do anything especially heinous unless the Democrats allow him; however, most of our Democrats are Republicans from the 70s, as you have heard me say since Bill Clinton–yes, for decades now I have been calling out the Democrats for being Republicans; as had Bernie Sanders, and you saw what that got him: vilification and mockery. Sanders, the Socialist? Only the American media can get away with saying something so false and stupid. I faced an Ashkenazi acquaintance here in Brooklyn New York, an educated man, a former pharmacist, not a stupid person, and that was individually judged through conversations and not by accepting a mistaken face-value for his profession–yes, he looked me in the eye laughing when he mentioned Sanders name and called him an idiot and that Sanders was speaking Socialism. He did say that. Idiot; socialist. So anyone who supports traditional Democrat values integral to maintaining a safety net is a Socialist? Yet another rhetorical question, themselves to beget more questions.

This here is exactly how we have come to Trump.  Where did we think the Republicans would go–could go–if the Democrats moved right along with the monolithic shift to the right in American Politics. And it has shifted significantly to the right of eternal political center. If we were to divide an American political triangle, equally into to halves, Democrat and Republican, and then were to place this appropriately into an equally divided rectangle of eternal Left and Right, the American quadrilateral would have to be situated with all of the Republicans being significantly inside the Right half of the Eternal Political divide between  Left and Right. A good portion of the Democrat half of the American Political Party divide would find itself also to the right of the eternal divide between Left and Right.

A country for let?

Donald Trump is a very dangerous man because it is becoming apparent that there was no subterfuge in his campaign, that he was not being crazy like a ferret, that he was not manipulating anything or anyone, and that he is the one who has been, was and will continue to be manipulated (and by the Proto-fascists)–if there was ever a talking head, Trump is it. It has become apparent that the Donald (he does not get Mr.President, and will not get “the President”) cannot think beyond what he says and how he says it; that what we heard is all of him, that the man said what he meant and meant what he said.

I used to believe no stupid man could become President, but that was before we decided that systematically under-educating was going to free us; that undermining any notions of Truth in a way nearly as intellectually savage as the Bolsheviks or the Nazis before us was going to protect us and our liberty–if you talked to most undergraduates from any time in the last thirty years, you would soon realize that Doubt is the highest wisdom and knowledge is impossible and a universal human nature (thus humanity? thus being humane?) is also a deception. The problem with politics is not politicians but that there are no politicians and only businessmen or lawyers who do not employ bankers and brokers and CEOs and other lawyers except as managers or puppet masters of our politics.

Yes, whenever it was that the American People decided being a Public at the expense of Democracy was okay, that by being a Public they could barter their freedom for a few more crumbs, or what they imagined were more crumbs–whenever it was that we got the idea that politicians should be substituted with businessmen or lawyers being lawyers doing lawyerly things, it was not long before the banks came in and decided to screw politics in America the way they had screwed labor by convincing corporations that they needed to ship jobs overseas (perhaps to receive friendlier loans????), and then by screwing the general public (no longer a People, We the People) with ’08.

We do not have Politicians who operate as politicians within the metaphysics of the profession Politician. The model for me will always be Al Smith of New York. I suggest you examine his track record, a little bit of history can go a long way. FDR learned most of what we love him for from his fellow New Yorker, former Governor Al Smith. And those who think the democrats abandined them may be right in direct proportion with how it abandoned what we learned from the Great Depression–but then there is no Truth, right? There are no Absolutes, right? There is no Human Nature, right? There are no individuals because individuality is also a lie, right? Doubt is the highest wisdom because knowledge is impossible, right? As so many or too many of the Post-Structuralist and Post-post Structuralist and Neo-Liberal design for a new an orderly world have decided. Hypotheses become fact for too many who have been dis-abled in their thinking.

We are like the fool who cuts down all the trees of Law in the forrest of Justice just to get at the Devil, and when the Devil turns to face him, he has nothing left to stand between him and the Devil. Good luck my younger brethren and sisters with your anti-humanity in the guise of half-baked hypotheses extracted or mis-taken from mis-reading far too much badly written theory translated equally badly.

XIV

Totalitarian structures in a society need not only be aligned with Communism, a failure on American Political Science to grapple with this as ideas trickle and seep through the rocks of American ideology (?), American journalism (?), common parlance in America? Yes, and yes, and yes again, only without the gain I would hope understanding could receive.

As long as we allow the Media to become our messages, allow the Monied and Power Elite to remain the Media elite; allow the latter, as Chomsky reminded us thirty years ago, to be “effective and powerful ideological institutions that carry out a system-supportive propaganda function”; yes, as long as we allow this Media (in place of a Folk connection to more traditional and grassroots wisdom) to convince us that Black and White live in mutually exclusive worlds, that is, that we have impenetrably distinct realities apart, that there is no human commonality and that free-will is a lie, we will be subject to the determinisms of State, forming a neoliberal global order managed by Washington Consensus.

As long as these remain, there will be no democmracy, only what is garnered as privilege by the new standing order of an American Bourgeois Capitalist Totalitarianism. This, I would like to say of course, does not make me an American Conservative, but I am sure I will be adopted and vilified by some in either camp(?) . . . more metaphors from warfare? Of course–we are war-like in virtually everything we do societally.

To be iconoclastic is to be narrow, to be far, far less than intelligent, astute, perceptive, sensitive. It allows us to remain inarticulate, unable to speak or write the complexities or contradictions of history. It is born of a reactionary politique to become reactionary politics–reactionary is not only Right Wing. It can and is in America also what calls itself Left Wing, but maybe we need to re=assess just what we are calling Liberal in America, as confused and confusing as it has become. To be iconoclastic is to be hyper conservative. This had already become one of our favorite cultural engagements in America a couple of decades ago. Iconoclasm prevents us from being insightful when confronting history, disallows us from maintaining an astute focus on Truth and the many lesser truths that accumulate when having to examine the depth and complexities of history. It plays into the hands of Power and Monied Elites by allowing us to be satisfied with the visceral instead of the literate, the intelligent. To be anti-Black and even anti-White, which too many African Americans actually are, is to be iconoclastic . . . destroying the icons of history is more grossly absurd than to genuflect without thought or consideration before these icons of culture, icons of history, icons of our political past. The nauseating degree of revision in much of what purports to be corrected history I suspect as I have always suspected one or another brand of this in our past, from whomever, whenever, wherever, however, moreover . . . and now ten reasons you should fear our political contemporaneity––I could come up with ten a week for a year, but let these suffice for an even metric in analysis?

  1. The CEO of EXXON as Secretary of State protecting our interests only brings back in my historical recollection the U.S. Oil companies selling oil from Mexico to Nazis Germany; oil company subsidiaries drilling in the Gulf offshore from Mexico run by U.S. boards of oil companies. Love the idea that oil will not sell us down river, especially as since we have reached an even higher moral ground in politics and business and banking.
  2. Clinton Pro-Wall-Street deregulatory actions . . . began while Democrats were the majority, beginning with the appointments Robert Rubin and Larry Summers in the Treasury . . . does anyone recall his dissolving the Glass-Steagall Law from the Great Depression, barring Investment Banks from Commercial Banking activities? No. Does anyone recall the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, ” which left the derivatives market a laissez-faire Wild West,” according to the Columbia Journalism Review. With Riegle-Neal he gutted State regulations of Banks leading to grotesque bank mergers and the too-big-to-fail mind-set. And yes, responsible directly for more deregulation that lead directly to 2008 than any President . . . recall Obama blaming George W. for 2008? I do. But next to Bill Clinton, there has been no greater friend to Wall Street Greed in the Oval Office than OBAMA.
  3. Recall another post of mine . . . how from as many points of approach as could be imagined, any analysis of our contemporary political quandary refers us to a fact I take to be currently self-evident, and that is we no longer have folk lore, folk learning, folk wisdom, folk knowledge; teenagers do not talk to their parents let alone to their grandparents; the generations do not have a gap, they are dis-connected, dis-jointed . . . we live a totalitarian bourgeois life, a techno/bureaucratic society without any means of customary learning except what we get through the media, what we look to the media to tell us, what we receive from the media packaged by the media, 90% of which is controlled by only 6 corporations. That’s as Orwellian as we could get. Yes, in all anachronism, 1984 is now.
  4. Mainstream media has no partisan bias because it protects Power and Money we never see, who control mass media in itself media for mass consumption. To say that the Washington Post and the NY Times are unbiased because they are not overtly fake, that is, obviously fake . . . only means they are better at disseminating the propaganda of the Power Elite and the Money Elite, the same old same old that corrupts politicians . . . and I’m not one of the nuts who rant about New World Order and being against it because what they are against is only the suits and ties that Power wears today. It is the space created by Power for subversion to emerge to control all subversive change. Please; the BBC, the NY Times and the Washington Post are virtually all Zionist in the most conservative ways that it’s sickening to think they parade as liberal media; and that’s by protecting Reactionary Zionism as if it were the only Zionism politically, as if it were the only way Zionism can take a moral high ground, supporting a kind of Jewish Manifest Destiny in the Middle East. The NY Times is status quo liberal only in a world where Hilary Clinton can be called liberal, as big of a joke as imagining her sickeningly oily husband Bill can be viewed as viably a protector of everyday people. Whether it is the Oil Gangsters or Wall Street Gangsters or other Corporate Gangsters or Media moguls, the CEOs and Boards of the 6 corporations that control 90% of our media . . . please . . . when people talk about the Times or the Wshington Post or any other organ of mainstream media you are talking about power representing Power and Money and managing news and information to keep the People IN Form, that is IN Formation, as shrubs in a garden are in formation, soldiers at attention are in formation . . . what are we talkiong about . . . fools, fools, fools that we are. Remember, when a power nobody like Matt Lauer can buy a home for 30 million dollars, you understand how much the Media has invested in keeping Power in the shadows, how far they are willing to go to preseent themselves as representatives of the people, how willingly they are to buy your IN FORMATION because how they inform has the effect of just that.
  5. In response to a quote from Black Elk (a spiritual leader of the Lakota nation, a confederacy of 7 tribes: Ogalala [“they scatter their own,” or “dust scatterers”], Sicangu or Brule [“Burnt Thighs”], Hunkpapa [“end of the circle”], Miniconjou [“planters beside the stream”], Sihasapa or Blackfoot [not to be confused with the separate Blackfoot people],  Itazipacola [or Sans Arcs: “without bows”], Oohenupa [“Two Boilings” or “Two Kettle”]) found in a post shared by someone on Facebook. The Lakota are one of three groupings of what we call Sioux people; the other, are the Dakota and Nakota, the naming here having phonological reference on how these people pronounce certain cognomen words: /l/, /d/, /n/, which if you want to know, share articulatory features, they are each with either of the other two, minimal pairs, which means they share at least two articulatory features: all three are voiced consonants, which means the larynx vibrates in their pronunciation; and they are all lingua-alveolar, meaning the tip of the tongue touches the gum ridge at the back of the top front teeth.  Now Dakota and Lakota are considered dialects of each other, while Nakota is closely related to the other two, but not so easily understood by Lakota or Dakota speakers. Enough. Now let me say,  With deference to Black Elk’s wisdom and intelligence, to his forthrightness and experience—I read Black Elk Speaks— let us not forget that what Black Elk is talking about when he compares his people and their distinction from white people  is Lakota for Lakota to Lakota people; he is not referring to what Lakota would do to Cree or Crow or Shoshone et cetera. He is talking of the tribe when he talks of “his people,” not his race, which is a confusing term anyway. What Black Elk did not understand without the terminology is that in a society ruled/controlled by the Bourgeoisie, that in a bourgeois capitalist Society, the rich and the poor are from different tribes; this is what we do not understand, which is how wealth understands the social grouping of society. The Monied/corporate/power elite are a different tribe and see themselves as such, and manage their decisions likewise. Tribal warfare has always been metaphysical cataclysms, metaphysical as well as physical conflicts. The Lakota were powerful and wealthy because they were the best horse raiders/stealers/thieves on the Plains. Ironically we look to them as our stereotypical Native American because they did, in part or at times completely, to all surrounding tribes, what the rich in white society do to the poor.Perhaps we still look for a Golden Age in any part of our world past? Maybe some of us have been too enamored with our Romantist ideas informed by Rousseau? Again, let me say that my critique is with deference to the totality of Black Elk’s experience and wisdom. You should read BLACK ELK SPEAKS.
  6. There was something I had been saying, have been saying for a long time, and will continue to say . . . and that is whenever we lower standards of achievement in schools to make passing more easily accomplished (de-accomplished) by students and teachers, we are creating not a pro-populist/People-centered culture but a horribly elitist one. The programmatics of contemporary state sponsored education has nothing to do with aiding the auto-didatic Self, but crippling it.
  7. Literacy and Media IN-formation need not co-join. Media messaging just might be one of the great antagonists to/of literacy as I have understood it. I’m not talking all journalism in print because this can be a part of and a re-presentative of literacy at higher stages of what should we say, ‘develeopment’ ‘achievement’? But info-tainment has almost everything to do with advertising which is clever, not intelligent; different. Advertising runs parallel to propaganda, until on the horizon of being, those parallel lines converge. Remember, the coverging lines on the horizon reveals the curvature of the earth, showing us how light in a curved space bahves in perception. It is actually trueer than the perceived flatness of the ground upon which we walk.
  8. I love when American Political Party-line supporters play ping with each other’s slogans and received ideas, and then tell the other to grow up and check their facts, nothing either one seems willing to do. Hop-scotch with the Truth, anyone?
  9. A note in comment placed after a share from the Facebook page of a former Facebook-friend who unfriended me because of critiques of posts he shared on his page. I guess we all expect smoke blown up our asses on Facebook, which is an extremely disturbing image, especially when having real smoke blown up our actual asses is much more enjoyable, I imagine. Nonetheless, however, moreover I found a post shared on a former Facebook-friend’s page, a post indicating that the NY Times has decided Donald Trump is a threat to democracy . . . but I went on to say that this was a Facebook-friend who probably could not handle the critiques of his syncophantic Hilary worship from my site; a worship, yes, that he finds appropriate in what he imagines in contemporary mainstream Democrat delusion is salvation for America. Anti-Trump might be one point on which we meet. But every solution offered in his site is as tired, as effete, as insipid, as statist, as willing to play ping pong with slogans or hop-scotch with the Truth as the ragged neo-liberalism that allowed Trump to have any validity with maasses of pissed off people. His message (this former Facebook-friend who has de-friended me, yes de-friended, not unfriended) is as horridly elitist as he imagines (and as I know) the Republican extremists are heinous—and I know they are; but he only imagines they are, with what passes for literacy in his rhetoric. I’m tired of semi-literacy pretending to be enough for liberalism to rise to the challenges of whatever you want to call Trump and Trumpism, even if it is now his revealed shell game he played during the election, as if he knew all along what he was doing, just play acting . . . but then, how long have we been saying things like Statecraft is Stagecraft without articulating what the hell we meant by that. And I had been teaching Composition in university for years seeing the stark inability, not only of the students to handle critical thinking on the page, but the adjuncts who were teaching them to mis-handle it—manipulation of the idea of critical thinking accomplished by flipping one received idea after another, effete and insipid I repeat . . . trite slogans regurgitated and then recycled as if turning out former puke in new forms of puke was being Green????????
  10. In reference to Livitsky and Ziblatt’s article in the NY TIMES, “Is Donald Trump a Threat to Democracy?” (the title in the form of a question as if posing a serious problem for the Republic for which we no longer stand, including the organ of Mass Media they work for, The NY TIMES; the latter mostly standing for Power and Money, almost invariably always) Yes, the title is in a question posed, thus indicating a rhetorical posture that can only speak of pseudo rhetoric, handled and offered by those who have no intentions of handling more articulate rhetoric (or a rhetoric challenging of authority,) or by those who cannot do so. Nonetheless, let me now say, Could the New York Times, under the cover of “We the Media have failed,” be taking responsibility for Trump? God I would hope so, but seeing as they are a tentacle on the Octopus that is our media conglomeracy, a part of the Oligarchy of Power, this could be more spin to help Power remain in the shadows. I’m talking about the Power that manipulates authority in government whether it is Republican or Democrat, whether it is authoritarian or perceived as warmly liberal in all the correct postures of presentation in our INFO-Tianment news services . . . shudder to think that there are any people who see Democrats and Republicans as flip sides of the one coin that the Power and Monied elite toss up in the air when they want to amuse themselves, and this does not have to point to grand conspiracies. Conspiracy Theorists and Anti-Conspsiracy Theorists are equally naive and yes, gullible. Donald Trump is a big threat to Democracy, as much as Bill Clinton was, equally with Ronald Regan, Wall Street, Oil, and a Media Conglomeracy where 90% of all media in America is controlled by 6 corporations.

XV

Ludovico Media

I

July 4th, 2016; 7:47 AM EST; New York City.

Labyrinth and abyss.

I have always imagined Alex in A Clockwork Orange singing “London Bridge is Falling Down.” I do not think about why I have imagined thus. I have not asked the questions I would need to be able to–I have no questions ready. I have an idea why I imagine I see Alex singing falling down, falling down . . . London Bridge’s falling down,  my fair lady . . . yes, clealy and distinctly I hear Malcolm McDowell in my mind’s ears crooning this nursery rhyme, similarly crooning “Singing in the Rain,” I know you know this from the film even if you know the story from the novel.

I understand why Burgess’s book might have been disturbing to readers when published; I know how the movie was and is disturbing to many who have seen it, who still view it on DVD, as I myself have several times already. Midnight Cowboy received an X when it was first released. I do not know if anyone who finds this film equally disturbing from among those who are upset by Kubrick’s film. Malcolm McDowell managed to be menacing and charming simultaneously and I still think it is one of the top five performances never to receive an Oscar. Midnight Cowboy adjusted standards–by the time Kubrick’s Clockwork had come out, ratings had shifted. I was twelve when I saw it alone at, I think, the Marine Theater on Flatlands Avenue, just off of Flatbush; there was one around the corner on Flatbush. I am fairly sure that the Marine was the one on Flatlands; I had been at my Aunt Eleanor’s house down the block from King’s Plaza. My mother had given me money to go to the movies if I wanted–we all were watching movies perhaps we should not have been watching.

I do see why some are disturbed by the film–I can see that a film might be or in fact is disturbing without myself being disturbed. There are of course films that have disturbed me to no end. Perhaps I do not actually suspend disbelief when I re-watch the film–how many times I have I cannot count. I can watch it re-watching it while my spouse has barely been able to manage a complete first see without turning away. The thing I have found the most interesting is how the Ludovico Technique was used, what it enabled and how, and just what our media world does to each of us its viewers; spectacle and gaze. All of it amazing and amazed–the Labyrinth awaits, or is it the Abyss?

What opens for a man in his fear; what breaks apart in his trepid pace . . . into the forrest I understood Hansel and Gretel walked, their brainstorm eaten by the birds, the author of their perdition, what roads or paths do I take, did I . . . when I was a boy I walked the winding paths in the woods by my Aunt Mae’s in the Berkshires, how much cooler in the wooded shade, beware of poison ivy and [ poison oak, I never contracted either as carefully as I walked—or was it that I walked with awareness, something I told myself later. ‘Awareness’ as not a word I used as a boy, my diction circumscribed by the unthought notion that word and thing were one, and that speaking was akin to being, pronouncing with creating, how God created the world with a word, how Adam was given the task of naming creation, the first instance of free-will?

Who can watch Alex hooked up during the technique, and how can we not be revolted by the results–effective was McDowell’s ability to gain our sympathy–Burgess, Kubrick and McDowell all have a hand in readjusting our sense of sympathy and revulsion–our sense of social responsibility and our ever changing sense of our place in the world, in our families, our relationship to authority; and our perpetually shifting and projected sense of our selves to our selves, our individual responsibilities to others and ourselves . . . how we abandon we abdicate, how we abdicate, we abandon. How am I not like Alex before the television? Yes? No? Maybe? When? More questions to follow questions, other questions, this one and another and another and another creeping–how many times am I going to use MacBeth?

London Bridge is falling down, falling down–of course it is. You do not recall singing this; I do. Of course they were, falling down, falling down, the towers, tower one and tower two, the twins attacked in lower Manhattan–how the media spent a few weeks bombarding is in one Ludovico moment after another, a montage after another montage—Eisenstein would have been proud? What they had shown us, how so, Eisenstein had showed us, what intensifies experience, intensifies images, imagery, the significance of the signifier and the signified, repetition, repetition, fast cuts, one after another, Hitchcock shows us this perfectly. Ludovico—the media learning from Psycho. I watched and rewatched the framing and re-framing of the event, crop, cropping, cropped.

II

The Fifth of July, 2016; 8:53 AM, EST; New York City.

9/11 and the media.

The Twin Towers have been absent for almost fifteen years. There used to be a hole in lower Manhattan’s skyline, one that smacked me in the eye every time I looked over from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade or the walkways of the Brooklyn Bridge or out a subway car picture window clink-clank over the Manhattan Bridge, or so I wanted to believe–that is, before the Freedom Tower reached a certain height, and has subsequently been completed. I had already noticed that the feeling of being pierced had waned, that the stabbing pain in the eye was fading fast. [I wrote this at least seven or eight years ago and had even revised it several times until 9/11 was ten years old. Since then the Freedom Tower reached completion and the content of this paragraph needed revision . . . vision is one thing, vision again, another; to see and to re-see, look again, what vision did I have for this essay . . . to see or not to see depends on how we stand under what we want to understand].

Nonetheless, this hole, this absence, I speak of here, was still bigger than the Towers were to my eyes, a paradox, perhaps, something about the size or displacing power of absence; that the absence might have greater density in our perception than does the sight of the object as a thing in space. London Bridge is falling down, falling down . . . again and again without gain.

We sometimes see absence more clearly than we do presence. I know I took them for granted when they were there, persistently there, agreed upon by all, forever. How could things so large, so big, so humungous, gargantuan beyond gargantuan, how could buildings so immense–the largest buildings ever built even when they were no longer the tallest–how could they be toppled. Who could have imagined their absence? I would never have thought of it–I do not know if anyone could have–the scenario was never imagined, except maybe by some firefighters that bureaucrats and politicians in Manhattan and Albany ignored?

Don’t trust the truss was a firefighters mantra; it was also the subject of a video broadcast on television soon afterwards, one that had quickly disappeared from anyone’s rebroadcast list. You cannot even find it on the internet. I do find that suspect, yet without surprise.

There came a time when their absence was less than imposing, yet they were never minor in their absence. The initial absence I speak of imposed itself on me with a force their presence could never have had. Even with that absence fading in presence, what exactly was falling down, falling down–all media in America is a variation on the theme of the Ludovico Technique–how we are conditioned to respond through a manipulation of images and a repetition of sound bites. Over and over–maximum effect. How are agents of the media not agents of propaganda–how have the lessons of advertising through broadcast media not informed how news is presented? How has Hollywood filming and editing not also informed how news items are presented or is it re-poresented, or should I say created?

What then am I saying about our media? That they are less than what they are purported to be, that they are not the beacons I have assumed for them, their role in our society, our protectors no more. The media manipulates for power and corporate money. Big surprise. Only in dribs and drabs do we get truth or some sense of standing up for the little man, standing in support of the People–really standing for a state sponsored and media managed Public. But even the Nazis did not lie all the time–there were lies, but mostly half-truths with a sprinkling of truth in the Nazis propaganda machine. Our current media has more in common with Soviet or Nazis propaganda than it does to the media being any imagined defender of democracy and freedom. Do I need to say more, tell more, show more, manipulate other than? What do you need to know to hear to understand—the news is not about understanding. The news is about information, information, in formation—that ism In Formation, all of us, yes in line as long as we get the line they intend. To be on line today is to be in line, to b e straightened out, as once to be straight was not to be queer, only now being queer is to be straight, straightened the ways Power wants us to be straightened—all the crooked shall be made straight. Made to at least appear straight. I wonder what it means to be queer today; yes, of course, Oscar—one should always want to be in love, to feel the joy of love, which is why everyone should avoid marriage. Yes, queers demanding to be like straight people, and now they will have marriage, like straight people, which is also another way to be square.

III

July 5th, 2016; 5:30 PM.

Do you recollect the images set in one montage after another montage after yet another and another and another–deadening the effect or reshaping our sense of doom, alienation, fear? Then, after this deadening, the videos disappeared entirely, thought to be too painful for us to see again. Just in time because maybe we would look for or find by accident inconsistencies with the reported facts–the is flat was once a fact.

I cannot say anything about their absence now, the Freedom Tower has replaced them in space–I do not know if they have replaced them in mind. Certainly they have not been able to replace them in memory. I sometimes, though, wish I could; but then, how much do I actually wish this, another posture set, a pose imposed. I must be content with a certain measured silence, a quiet that also signals for me a time to be self-conscious. All the world’s a stage implies we must be aware of our presence on that stage, at least aware enough to keep our performance organic, what we like to mean by saying more natural. But we must always be careful about what we want to make more natural–nature and civilization are at odds; the former is red in tooth and claw–just look at Wall Street.

But what does it mean to be self-conscious? Is it a reflective pose, but if so, then mirroring what? To be self-conscious or not to be only instructs myself; I impose on myself as much as I do others by the poses I take. How do I take what it seems I am giving? All does fall down; the house of cards we build out of our selves. History; social science or any one of the humanities–how do these help us understand–there was no steel box construction for the Twin Towers–do not trust the Truss, the firemen were sayinbg after the collapse ofd each building–Don’t trust the truss, is a mantra in the New York Fire Department.

Ah, the humanities, the study of humanity without the science purported by the social scientific community–where was the humanity in those heinous acts. Osama Bin Laden’s father and family run one of the largest construction companies in the Middle East. He knew how vulnerable those buildings were. It was no mystery. It was something any Fire Marshal could have told you who had ever inspected a warehouse fire or a supermarket fire. Warehouses and supermarkets are built to maximize interior space–the roofs of these broad and horizontally super-large buildings are attached by trusses on the walls and only an aluminum brace underneath–in the Twin Towers there was no steel box that was the initial innovation and greatest security measure against collapse in skyscraper building.

The Twin Towers were the largest warehouses ever built, stacked one-hundred and ten times high, twice. Collapse under those fire and breach conditions from the crashes was imminent. It was inevitable–and that is what no one in power or authority wants you to know. And the pigs who made billions on the collapse may not have known about the planes and the plan for them that day, but they could have known the possibility of ultimate failure because it was far too easily accomplished for people who could have known about their vulnerabilty not to have known they were vulnerable. Unless there was access to messages from foreign intelligence agencies that alerted the owners of the Twin Towers to imminent threat which allowed then to establish a building implosion under the cover of a terror attack–maybe this information could have been received by the owners as possible and not imminent and the explosions that fire fighters swore they heard in succession as the buildings collapsed were set just in case something like this possibly happened? Questions beget questions; paranoia begets paranoid questions; just because a question is rooted in paranoia does not mean it is not true, we used to say as undergraduate political science majors.

History is the self-consciousness of a culture, a people, a nation, its intellectual elite? Can history be populist without necessarily becoming popular, then subject to the demands of entertainment? What kind of history is a history that is entertaining in the way we mean entertaining in this culture? History confused for historiography is then what?

Childhood was revisited that day into the next and the next one and the next one, each of them creeping in their petty paces as do all the days of recorded time. Chicken Little was I, was you, the sky is falling I said. . . the television screen another theater of a kind, and as in all theaters, we do become children once more, and the sky can fall on our heads. Chicken Little was a prophet. What more is there to say about me, about them, about this day, the event? The impact was the impact; but do we still feel it. I couldn’t say what it was I saw as I looked at the hole in the lower Manhattan skyline about a week after they fell; I couldn’t even say what it was I saw watching the Towers fall over and over again on TV, already one or another cut and paste montage for maximum effect–this effect being how horror-stricken we could become. The image was replayed in mind as on tv. London Bridge is falling down, falling down. My son’s kindergarten teacher talked about it ad nauseum, as far as I was concerned.

Is there a history that does not get written, told, supported through consensus–fucking sheep to be sheared the way consensus is garnered.

IV

July 12th, 2016; Brighton Beach Brooklyn; Happy Birthday I.

The Woolworth Building has not imposed at this angle in almost forty years, I remember having said after the facts. There was a time when it was the tallest building in the world; the Empire State Building was for a time again the tallest building in New York. I was in lower Manhattan to get a birth certificate so we could go to Canada, Montreal, our hostess from the hotel we were going to stay at extending her heartfelt sympathy over the phone, a solidarity she expressed to me in French and English. I cannot however forget the smell, yes, the smell, the horror of burning flesh for a week still recognizable I imagined in the nose, my fellow New Yorkers and I walking the streets around City Hall, Chambers Street and Broadway as the fires below the rubble continued to burn the missing bodies or their parts.

London Bridge is falling down, more rhymes for the nursery, I recollect having hummed then sung the words from childhood, soon after the day they fell, another day that will live in infamy, or so we believe, all the former days of infamy falling below the horizon of memory. Soon after that apocalyptic day, we said how we would never forget. This current revision is nearly fifteen years later. Fifteen years after Pearl Harbor was 1956. What did this day reveal? The Book of Revelation in the Christian Bible is one and the same, The Book of Apocalypse. Apocalypse is from the Greek and means ‘revelation,’ but today means something else because what John revealed was the Christian End Time; his prophecies represent the teleological myth of Christianity. What did we see in those planes crashing into the Twin Towers, the largest buildings ever built, even if they were not the tallest. John’s book owed everything to Hebrew millennialist teleologies; how do we not learn from our mixed cosmogonies and myths of the End. Osama Bin Laden was paying Western Civilization back for the Crusades; I remembered how Milosovich in the fragmented Yugoslavia of the Serbian/Bosnian conflict in the 90s blew up a mosque because the Ottoman Turks had destroyed a church on the same site 500 years before.

The clouds dividing on Patmos; the smoke eventually clearing over lower Manhattan; the smell, the acrid taste in my mouth and residually evident in my throat as far from the site as Chambers Street at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge. I looked to the medieval arches of that bridge, evoking for me again the image of the Crusades. I looked for John the Divine’s Horsemen in the sky when the Towers were falling down, falling down, replayed on the television all week. What do I remember having said? Words never mean what they say at, I recall Addy saying at the close of her narrative in As I Lay Dying. What did we uncover there then? When will we know? Can we?

There were four of them that John saw in the sky dividing the clouds; The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. What then did I say in diatribes unfit to print? I later said their absence was almost as big as were the towers themselves, again, the largest buildings ever built, even after they were no longer the tallest, the debris covering how large an area? We once knew. I forget. We will no longer remember, forgetting more and more of this event. It is natural, I imagine. I felt something I could not name for weeks, for months, how long did it last, this inability to suit word to action? I noticed for a time we shared more camaraderie in our travels about town; I imagined we had become friendlier. Was it myself who had become so and others did not change? Does it matter who changed and how?

It is now nearly fifteen years ago, soon to be more. There are children born after the fact who are now fourteen years old. Will we remember? I ask rhetorically, as if you know what the answer is–no. I doubted it immediately, knowing how we have forgotten so many days that were destined to live in infamy, days I had lived through, only to see them fade. We have not completely forgotten but there are children ready to enter middle school this fall who were born after it happened. Children who were alive that day but who could not possibly have any recall of the facts as they happened as they were made are themselves perhaps entering high school. . . I am not a skeptic; in fact I have been considered by many to be an optimist. The fact is, do we really remember anything? Do we realize a decade and a half has passed. What was the difference between 1941 and 1956; 1961 and 1976; October 1991 and October 2006? It would be other than optimism if I avoided the facts I use to infer our future lapse in memory. I am sure there were atrocities of the Franco-Prussian war that were so infamous as to never be forgotten. The Reign of Terror was sure to live in infamy forever–how far have the French come from the lessons of les Jacobins. The further they get away from the blade of the guillotine, though, the less free they are in face of new power and new elite money virtually fearless in their contempt.

We watched with deadening rapidity day after day, in and out and out again, one montage after another, how many angles, how many cuts, the media trying to rival Eisenstein or Hitchcock. The North and South Towers of The World Trade Center were falling down, first one, then the other, then the first again and the first from another angle, at what range were they taken the videos that the media had in how much footage? The towers were falling down in front of us, over and over as if no one could have seen it however many times they watched. This is the footage that will reveal something true–Revelation. Repeatedly on the television news, one station and another and another in a special pace. The only real gain was our deadened sensitivity. The Ludovico Technique was never so effective. My brother Alex’s forays into redemption aside, and for you, my hypocrite reader, I assume, as I do for myself, we will not long remember. How many people lose the memory of horror? How many people’s minds enforce forgetting on them for things too terrible to remember? Oh, my hypocrite brothers, fellow readers, writers, cases in point made in another rhetoric of contempo-centricity. You know the part. I remember my lines well. I speak about the worst of times and the best of times, how everything seen in the superlative degree is . . . this is where my doubt should be placed, no? What passes for facts is frightening.

V

July 14th, 2016; 7:42 AM, EST, New York City.

Will we come to forget this day, but not through the processes of a collective unconscious amnesia, no. I am sure the answer is yes that we will forget, as certain as I am that we have forgotten Pearl Harbor. We have also forgotten Hiroshima, not a special roll at your favorite sushi bar. I try, though, to remember this day, September 11th, 2001, but the recollection is fractured, fragmented, fading in color, intensity, definition. What I see I am not certain I had seen; what I saw is somewhere I could not go to as I do a dictionary, the internet, an old tape recording or video record of a vacation. Searching again the lost recesses of mind, or is it time–time is only ever a state of mind, at least as far as we have dogmatically construed it. Success in recollecting has become difficult to gage.

To see is to believe, of course, and then it is to know, it is a special kind of understanding, one where standing under is imagined although not really enacted. Of the body, of the mind, of course, we only learn through the crucible of recollection. How we remember today though is equal to being blind. Oedipus set himself on the road to truth after he gouged out his eyes; in blinding himself, Oedipus proclaimed a life of blindness needs no eyes. Eyes were wasted on Oedipus. What are ours for? Would you or I have his courage? Could we be as just? Ah! The tranquility that recollection requires–I remember my Wordsworth. What then is this language of men, which we must extend to women, and to men and women not privy to our language, our sociolect. Can we do such a thing, take Wordsworth’s maxim for poetic expression and make it apply to those who do not speak our language? We must know that Shakespeare spoke to both Kurosawa, the great 20th century Japanese film director and Dostoevsky, the great 19th century Russian novelist. Did he speak to them the same way he speaks to me; he speaks to me in a way differently than he speaks to every other native English speaker.

Anyone born on December seventh nineteen forty one is now nearly seventy-five years old. The youngest possible person alive on that day is a certain member of the elderly. Ask any incoming freshman in college to tell you what happened on that day–ask any one of these freshman to tell you what the significance of August 6th is, what happened on that day in 1945. I have, although I know that I repeat myself. The responses were frightening from my students in Freshman Composition classes in The City University of New York; what was most frightening was how human they were, all too human, in their ignorance, which is dependent on a culture’s forgetting or its amnesia, which amounts to the same thing. Historical awareness in a culture as tempo-centric as ours is terribly foreshortened.

What did happen on that day, though? We know the physical facts of the day; the conclusions to draw from those facts are other things. What lessons can we learn from this event? What lessons do we usually learn from history? Very few, right? This history is one that has been conveyed through a historiography too susceptible to the backspace key. We love the eraser; educated people who resent usually do. Wilde was right when he said a fool can always ask a question that a wise man cannot answer. We imagine ourselves geniuses because we do so on and on and on as we have now for several decades; intellectual hegemony won by those who are no better than that famous emperor whose new clothes were so shocking to everybody’s fashion sense. We all have a new set of intellectual clothes to wear on parade or promenade.

We do not study history as much as we imagine what history might have been as if there were no way to discern facts, to weigh accounts, to manage our research, if we were even to attempt such a thing. We are too in love with doubt as the highest form of wisdom, articulating an epistemology where there are no truths let alone a capital ‘T’ Truth, where all opinions are special simply because they are opinions. But then they are no more than opinions. No one corrects anyone’s opinion because then anyone would not be able to say anything about anything the way they want to be able to say their opinions, off the top of their heads? We would have to know something to be able to judge opinions in their quality, but we do not believe we can know enough for any of us to do such a thing. Knowledge has become impossible, so why endeavor at all. There is no knowledge; there are only an infinite number of opinions which leads us to imagine things like infinite possibility. However, infinity is unreachable, not knowledge. One billion is equally far from infinity as is one. But then knowledge today is confused with facts, facts themselves never knowledge, but who’s to say remains our favorite rebuttal.

All historiography is more l’histoire in one sense of the word, a story told, something to tell, perhaps; or, it is most likely a fiction, again, a thing made. I don’t have as much objections to the makerliness of historical texts as I do to the intellectual dilettantism that rules our social discourse, sometimes, even, discourse in the Academy. Anyone can say because where anyone can say no one can say you can’t say. Everyone respects another’s opinion no matter how ludicrous because he wants his opinions respected whether they deserve to be or not.

On any of the days that fall below the horizon of history, what will happen, what could, or would or should happen? We love saying we do not know; but then, what kind of people draw comfort from perpetually saying I do not know; I cannot know; I will not know; knowing is impossible; knowledge is impossible; my doubt is the highest wisdom I can attain. The horizon of memory, the horizon of time, the one of being too. 9/11 will converge with December 7th and August 6th in a metaphysical parallax. It is inevitable.

One difference today is how few monastic oases of learning, of knowledge, of cultural memory we have in the desert of our waning civilization. As concerns the parallax, there are metaphysical ones as well as physical ones; the railroad tracks converging on the horizon is not an illusion, though; it reveals the curvature of the earth, which we see as flat on the ground we walk on. Perception cannot always be the sole verifier of our reality, but it can aid in gathering information; empiricism has its limits; doubt is something a genuine First Philosophy can start with, but to end with it is a disingenuous philosophy perpetrated on a people in the name of other hegemonies, The Will to Power has everywhere been the will to power.

Soon this day, 9/11, will be below the horizon with all the other days that were once days that will never be forgotten. Who remembers Gettysburg? Who remembers Lindberg? Do you remember when we still called Veteran’s Day, Armistice day . . . the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month? Do you remember anyone using the phrase, the eleventh hour? That’s where it came from. Do you even know what I am referring to when I say the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month? Who remembers 1918? Do we remember Europe’s armies rising at dawn to bombard and shell into a final submission until the 11 AM ceasefire, when all fronts went still. How psychopathic could they have been?

There were limits that day in the skies above lower Manhattan, the limits they set, the ones we had put in place prior to the event, the result had set another set; each differing by varying from the others in ways we have lost to inevitable forgetting–but then forgetting is just that, something for getting, but do we look for what we should be getting?

The limits of remembering had been set too, much by the way we think, by how we react, not what we do, or how we do it, but by what and by how we determine ourselves capable of doing anything. What is thinkable will always determine what gets thought, and in this we have no sense of our limits or our limitations.

I know I would never do what they did that day, never. Or so I say I think I would have to believe that I could not.

A clockwork Alex, I am? What more can I say when I know that this is true for each of us, or so I think I say to make myself more comfortable about my limitations; although I might be saying this in an effort to pander to what I now imagine I might think you want to hear; that is,  if you were what I imagine I am drawing in mind?

XVI

A nose for a witch in a fairy tale . . . and I would like to say something about fairy tales, also about folk tales, are they the same, what do we use to explain them, articulate them, understand them, categorize them, the botany of it, no? Zo-ology? What else or more do I have in my arsenal of critical apparatus . . . is it singular? Apparatuses?

She did, though, have a nose straight out of a fairly tale told by peasants from the Carpathian Mountain. Oh, yes! Witches and vampires and succubi . . . she was selling boots, yes, she was, in a store that many people come to on Broadway, around the corner from Union Square, the B&N we go to most often . . . at the top of the park. What any of this has to do with telling you something of worth about what I see, what I feel, what I know, have done—I am done. To do or not to do has been another question for me in my time, once ago . . . I used to like girls with big noses.

To be done–another question? Are all infinitive constructions questions: to be or not to . . . wherefore art though being? I have nothing more of me from me, yesterday and tomorrow and yet today. Cinderella’s sisters cut pieces of their feet off trying to fit their feet in the glass slipper–the Brothers’s Grimm are what their name says they are. The glass slipper. Another birthday has passed. In relativity physics, the fixed constant everyone forgets. All things cannot be relative . . . who does not do the same as little ash girl’s sister do to fit in here or there pieces of the self cut off or lopped off, mutilation of the selves in the Self I see hear know about have understood for some time now, husbands and wives requiring, parents and teachers and States.

Now, telling tales, tales told, all toll, the narratives exhausted? Nothing more of me from me? Tall tales I tell myself about myself, I could have expressed differently. Am I an idiot? I do not wonder out loud, or even in-loud, asking this rhetorically. I have a specially endowed penchant for asking rhetorical questions. I used to think when I was boy that ‘penchant’ and ‘pension’ were the same, an auditory confusion I perpetuated and currently like to play with; puns turn on homo-phones. . . homophobes turn on . . . how many trees have fallen in a forest I cannot see? If no one is present to hear an ear fall, does it make a sound? No, is the answer. The same is true for a falling beaver. Sound is made in the ear. Compression waves are made in the air. (Pause.) If all things were relevant . . . you know what. You do know that of there is no one there to hear it, it does notmake a sound. Sound made in the ear; no ears? Oh well!

My ears have fallen. What is left for me to discern? All this falling down, falling down. Children’s rhymes I remember. Children I have forgotten saying what I know I used to say, singing what I used to sing. All of us falling down as the dish runs away with the spoon. Hey, you . . . diddle diddle, and all that fool’s stuff on hills or heaths and during thunder storms that rage and blow and knock me down. I remember one afternoon the skies turning nearly charcoal as the wind kicked up and jagged bolts of lightning split the sky in the distance as I stood under the awning of the Shanghai restaurant on the corner of Bath and 19th coming home from work, counting in Mississippi(s) to see how far away the storm was and will be, coming or going.

I think I remember an illustrated nursery rhyme book from when I was a boy, obliquely the living room with the full length ceiling-to-floor, corner-to-corner mirror in out ground floor East Flatbush apartment . . . the dish did run away with the spoon, the dish ran away with the spoon, obliquely, the illustration, I recollect, all about the rosy rings rising on the flesh of the plague victims. You know what we used to sing? She asked me. I shook my head no. More and more memory becoming like a jigsaw puzzle to piece or sometimes, confetti. Imagine having to piece together a jigsaw puzzle of confetti pieces.

Ring around the rosy

A pocket full of posies

Ashes, ashes, 

All fall down

Again and again, over and over, how many times this and others, we would sing as children, five hundred years or more later, still singing the folk/children’s rhyme, Ring around the rosy. Yes, I remember from childhood; what do I recall from childhood; what can I accurately recollect? I think I can see childhood in the images I catch, assuming they are from my childhood, that they feel like my childhood, I say sometimes . . . a pocket full of posies,  yes, flower petals kept in the pocket to ward off the plague . . . one in three died–one in three . . .

Yes, ashes, ashes, I recall having sung, singing as I did as would others as we would together, not knowing what would spawn such melodic outbursts . . . the flea, the flea sucking on the infected blood of the black rat, my friends, all of them falling down, one in three having died, how could feudalism continue—bubonic plague broke the back of feudalism, toppled the feudal hierarchy, created a sparsity in labor, less workers to do the work required pay to work, free at last, free at last, thank the blood sucking flea for freeing the serfs. The true beginning of capitalism. Yes, the lowly flea. Bloodsuckers that they are. Fleas, lice, bed bugs . . .

Irony, you would like to see, to seize, to say; but is it irony or just an inescapable logic that Capitalism began with the blood sucking flea? But please do not mistakenly think that I am calling anyone on Wall Street (who has survived to continue to do the same things they have been doing except in variations revised) a flea because that would make each of them small. Wall Street Investment House CEOs are not small; they are big. They are not fleas or parasites because these are small.Wall Street CEOs are vampires, big, strong, blood sucking vampires, very, very old and very,very savvy wary . . . intelligent, except for the short-sighted semi-litrate under-educated motherfuckers around them whose stupidity fuels the greed that the vampires use to suck more blood out of our social and political life. Freedom does suffer a horrible anemia.

I love hyperbole. I love juxtapositions. I love satire. Irony and satire are not always co-joined. Yes, my brothers and sisters; a New Undead are among us . . . a Nouveau Nosferatu.

XVII

Good Kosher Pastrami is not in the Palate of the Be-taster Alone.

–Jay V. R.

American politics has been played as a match of policy ping-pong between entrenched liberal and conservative elites for too long. Both sides have been serving up as an ideal, one or another version of Publius as Populus, the Public in place of the People we are, the People we must be, the People as the only institution of society that has enough weight to counter-balance that of the State. Nevertheless, Publius first and last and always present beneath the veneer of Populus is what conservative or liberal elites want for US. These less than official officials who are our Congress again wasting their time and our money, are flippant in the buffoonery I see . . . waiting as I do in a place like this County Courthouse in New York State, waiting to serve my time for Jury Duty; poor players strutting and fretting their hour on the stage of State–Publius is today a poor actor who is less than organic in his role. I look at US here and wonder about the future of democracy–or maybe I should see some hope in this? I doubt very much that I will.

[ . . . ]

Waiting as I do again, waiting as I do some more, longer, longer, longer–and then an old woman smiles and erases the time I have spent waiting to be called to see if I am going to serve on a jury or not or just do this for another day and then go home. Populus beams and I have hope mostly because I know that this woman is We the People of the United States, for if she is not, then I am not, and if I am not, then no one is . . . the time has been sluggishly going by—how does time fly by, move by, pass us by? All of it is one; there are no past, no present and no future; there is only all of it, one. No?

[ . . . ]

Looking, as I have, for good kosher pastrami—what means this? I am not at the moment looking for good kosher pastrami—it does have to be kosher. I think I am going to go looking for an authentic kosher deli? There’s that idea again–authenticity is bullshit, how we play it. There is only as it is. Authenticity is often a marketing ploy, no? What is, is, of course, I say. Kosher pastrami–the pastrami at Cousins on Avenue D in Brooklyn when I was a kid was great. I always got pastrami–it took me some time to get to corned beef. I still prefer pastrami.

[. . .]

Each of us is We the People; each of us must be for it to mean anything. But I’ve been saying this for a long time already, how many years into how many decades I don’t care to count. I’ll say it again because it is a truth I hold to be self-evident, but the self-evidencies of one mind need not transfer to another or any other. Yet, I do not offer this as a rebuttal for the truth of what I say concerning our democracy and what we need to believe to hold it.

[. . .]

Thus I woke from a dream only to be in a dream . . .

What do I need to believe to hold a good pastrami on club in my hand? Each pastrami is all pastrami, is every pastrami that has ever been or just as it is now when we say that I am We the People as you are We the People, politically; this kosher pastrami is all kosher pastrami at this moment at this time? Time in the mind; time on the clock; I listen intently in the dark for the ticking of the clock in the hall.

[. . .]

Democracy is as much faith as it is empiricism, perhaps more so. I do have to believe in freedom. I do have to believe that all good Kosher Delis have not gone to Florida (that would have made more sense to say a couple of decades ago). What do we have faith for? Do we have faith in knowledge? Do we have faith in Truth? Do we have faith in the idea of having faith? Do we have faith that we can know something, anything? Can we have faith again for transcendental values? Do we have faith in democracy? Maybe our grandfathers and grandmothers had more faith in democracy because they were able to have faith, period. We cannot. We have only facts, data—facts and data without faith or knowledge.

[ . . . ]

I do have to believe in the preservation of kosher pastrami in order to find it? in order to have it? in order for it to exist? in order to convince myself I am having something that I lost with my childhood? I have faith in my childhood. I have faith in memory? I do not need to believe that memory is a videotape recording of an event, which wouldn’t be the event anyway. And so what if most of memory is a fiction? I have faith in fiction. I have faith in fictional truth. I have faith in storytelling.

[. . .]

To tell a story or not to tell the story, whose story do I tell anyway when I tell my story. How many me(s) are there anyway?

XVII

POLITENESS AND AN ALREADY OLD POLITICK? Perhaps one explication of our immediate contemporaneity was how psycopthically polite we had become . . ., yet we are still so in some ways to this or that certain degree . . . in summary, at least, we psychopathically enforce a psycopathic politeness which amounts to an agreement with about and for any dogma asserted by any camp of any tribe . . . what am I trying to say . . . there is really no complexity’s but plenty of complications––you know that they are not the same, complexity and complication.

We do moo and baa together in one or another social or public forum and call it our Ode to Freedom.  Can we, though, articulate any sense of freedom other than entries by figures and calculations in the ledger books of state? Have we so relativized meaning that we can no longer say anything about anything anywhere anytime other than  Who’s to say? when questions we have been systematically dis-educated to ignore arise. Yes, who’s to say is what everyone says when he wants his invalid assertions accepted without question. This, of course, is rooted in an idiosyncrasy of thinking, or what he confuses for thinking, usually a random passing of images or phrases in the mind.  It’s a great advertising ploy, this who’s to sat, to get everyone to accept anything at any time anywhere; all opinions have become equal in weight, in value–mostly because it’s been the ability to evaluate opinions that has come under the greatest assault in our acceptance of semi-literacy as being good enough; everyone is a genius for fifteen seconds, just as everyone through twelve years of school was special.

If all things were relative, though, there would be nothing for anything to be relative to; so all opinions being of equal weight is absurd. Reductio ad absurdum, more literally a reduction to deafness, which is what the absurd is–a lack of sense or a sense, the sense of hearing, which is what we need to hear an argument–rhetoric being the Greek root word for the Latin oratory, all argument in classical antiquity arising in its forms in orality. Yes, of course rocks must have weight otherwise we would see them floating in the air. But what about feathers? They too must have weight, but what kind of weight in as much as we see them floating about. The steps in the process of inferring gravity can be examined–but we do not want to stay put for any revelation that what we have blurted in opinion is absurd. This is very much where we have arrived, perpetual relativity ad nauseum, ad absurdum. With this, we have reached true nihilism, a nihilism at its purest.  Infinite possibility does bury as I have said before. In our mass media culture, saying anything makes it so, even if only, again, for fifteen seconds, but that quarter of a minute is enough to sustain us in our thinking for years, or ruin us for life.

There is no truth, only perpetual topicality.  If we lived in Bradbury’s world of Farenheit 451, though, all knowledge would be lost, all literature gone, burn all the books–how far from the mob that burned down the library in Alexandria do we imagine we are–not very far. Our Public Schools are reinforcing this nowness and newness as the prime and the last measure of culture, of what we need in what we read. Our Brooklyn Public Library system, where I live, has set its survival, its very existence, its perpetuation, on circulation. All funding and distribution of money to the branches depends on circulation. Books are discarded irrespective of their intellectual worth, of their literary value or theur historical significance.  But as I have said it’s the ability to evaluate that we have undermined.  This move toward gleaning the shelves of the branches of books that do not circulate is contrary to a library’s chief purpose, ay least traditionally. It sets the library in parallel position with bookstores. Circulation alone is as close to profit that a not-for-profit institution like the Public Library can come. But libraries are not bookstores although they are supposed to store the treasure house of our civilization, of our culture and the many cultures of the world.

I should have seen the hand writing on the wall, as a friend of mine had said, when over the last two decades slowly, but inevitably, America shifted, en masse, to the right. Wherever you might have found yourself in the linear gradations, set horizontally in  political spectrum, that American political spectrum has shifted to the right relative to a fixed and constant, albeit absolute evaluation of politically spectral analysis. Therefore, as I have witnessed, black people have stopped telling it like it is–although I have noted that many still might think they do; and in addition to this reversal from the days of my childhood, Jewish people have become more conservative, shifting almost en-masse to the right from wherever they were situated on the political line in America. Even the radicals are less liberal and thus more conservative.

I don’t know what Joe Monte thinks or would think if he were alive.  I have no words for Joe, just as I have no words for any of the victims I have been taught I am supposed to feel something for, although I often do not as I often forget they have ever existed–most of us do not recall or lose the ability to recollect most of the people in our lives. Most of us are fixed on the moment now and our problems eclipse the world’s problems. History is just out of this world. Try as I may to feel for the people close to me in my life, sometimes I fail to feel anything, or most of what I should, imagining some situation where I would be expected to feel something.  This lack arises though, when I think about what I should be feeling, which is always a bit in abstentia in abstentia, a kind of absent-presence or present-absence superimposed over itself, an emptiness lingering over emptiness. This thinking about what kind of feeling I should feel is absurd.

I can see the grocery store where Joe M. worked with his wife and his daughter and his rolled up sleeves revealing tattooed numerals on his arm. I initially did not know what the numerals meant. I subsequently found out and I wondered what I felt. What was I supposed to feel is a question that marks our problems in the world, in our lives; our lives are the world.  Sometimes I can see Joe’s wife or his daughter, but principally, Joe, the grocery store owner, and the man with tattooed numbers on his arm, with the sleeves of his white shirt rolled halfway up his forearms, who sliced my ham on his non Kosher slicer to make my ham hero for school lunch when I was going to JHS 285 across the street from Tilden High School. What does being able to see him mean? What does remembering this mean . . . to me to you to anyone? I still can’t imagine what it was like to have been tattooed as he was, when he was, where he was, and not even another Jewish man born here in Brooklyn, New York, USA, as I was, knows why. The knowing we do, we have is other than Joe’s. Yet, still . . . he had to have been a teenager, the highest percentage of survivors who were not collaborators were teenagers. Children and the elderly were the groups with the highest percentage of deaths. To feel what another feels is called empathy; sympathy is something else–in fact, it is what in a Romance languages is used as a translation of the English ‘nice.’

To be nice or not to be nice has always skirted the acts of foolishness in one evaluation or another. Perhaps there was a time to be nice as we mean nice when we say nice in earnest about someone was to be foolish. Fools are usually nice–business men love fools and their money–flattering customers with ‘nice’ has always been a form of marketing. But just how nice, thus perhaps polite, fits in our pursuit of the Truth or our revelations of truths is a puzzle to me. However, polite has become the new politique, a kind of muzzle put on the people who fear being publicly impolite more than they do the loss of their freedoms and the exercise of their rights that come along with a politique from the people less than straight forward, less than direct, less than honest, less than truthful. We live in a permanent social fog of half-truths and lies, propaganda and advertising.

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