Rosalind’s Espresso Pot [Fiction; a short story]

I hear the pot in the kitchen. It’s almost ready. It’s a pot for espresso. I have an espresso machine. I also have a pot from Italy. The pot’s for the stove and brews espresso on the same principle as volcano’s erupt. My little Vesuvius, I call it.

I’m only discussing the coffee pot and my drinking coffee every day without fail because you, my readers, will insist that this tells you something, that you need these kinds of details in  order for you to know that you are experiencing a human telling of a human experience, otherwise you might not understand my humanity or yours. How we manage our humanity in our interpersonal relationships has everything to do with how humanity is endeavored, is engaged societally, no? Of course it is. How is it that you and I do not see this depends on how much we have allowed determinism upon determinism to displace the idea of Free-will from our minds. You should be able to get this.

Detailing in this way just what your humanity or my humanity is  insures that you and I should be able to imagine . . . what? What is it we should be able to imagine? Imagination, we hope, is not yet dead. Hoping and wishing are nor now; they are not present tense realities, no; nothing indicative about them?

I have been hoping against hope formally things for a long time. We must allow ourselves the room in our minds, create a different space, understand space in the mind, just what metaphysical space is, just what it could embrace . . . what is it we do with our minds? What is it we have done to the space that exists in there? We do or do not have, can or cannot expand, the space in our minds by what we have done to metaphysics, the conceptions we no longer conceive, no longer can contain in our or by our thinking?

You are receiving a representation of human being herein articulated as I have known how to for a long time already; however whatever moreover . . . in light of your prejudices, your preconceived ideas that you have been accepting for as long as you have confused parroting for speaking, randomly passing images or words in the mind for thinking—what? Do not tell me that women do not think this way because in a world of seven point five billion people where more than half of them are women, who are you talking about or for? That’s the biggest problem with our deterministic tendencies; we are forever and perpetually short-sighted in our convictions; our data and statistical analyses amount to faith, a new religion for the insipid. Pronouncements of facts based on data under the aura or umbrella of statistics, this in itself a cultic following, become new dogmas of understanding, determining just what we should think or say or believe, every bit of information itself part of a larger system of propaganda, something every State needs, every State manages, maintains, promulgates and perpetuates.

What is it that I do doubt sincerely concerning your ability, my ability, anyone’s ability to say what it is that is real for the simple separate human, man, woman, child; Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jewish; black, white, other, whatever . . . ? We are complicit.

I doubt that you or I or anyone has the patience or the love–yes, the love–necessary to perform what I might call higher literary election, a higher literary interpretation, a deeper method of deciphering our humanity, the great human humane I have been talking about and talking about on and on as I will until the last syllable of all my recorded speaking, writing, saying, telling whatever I have in with by the words I use . . . I’ve come to question the certainty of my doubt. Yes, find me at the end, shouting, speaking, pronouncing, articulating and laughing into the void, right there at the precipice of the abyss. Why shouldn’t;t a woman speak for a collective humanity, a universal humanity instead of allowing herself to be ghettoized into gender or sex or sexuality, just  newer ways of de-vindicating the rights of women which are the rights of humans everywhere for all time, past, present and future as one. My sex, sexuality, sexual preferences, gender identity are all a part of my being human; but . . .

I am going to go to the kitchen and shut the pot off and have the coffee I need because if I don’t have coffee in the morning first thing after the first thing I have, fruit juice, I am just not myself, whoever or whatever that might be. Who I am that others imagine they know and can tell all about by looking thus seeing thus understanding at times persists as a mystery, but mysterium mysteriae aside, who stands under me, I wonder? Who has, who is willing, who can?  I’ve had men who have laid themselves down under me, along side of me and themselves on top of me, yet the kind of standing under we need to perform gets lost on the stages of life–on, not in. I know women who imagine themselves more understanding because they are women and women have always laid themselves down under men, whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean. Women are more interior than men, why? Because they have vaginas? Identity epistemology and identity ethics have been messing us up for a long time.

To understand is to stand under, I become post to a lintel when I do. Simple. One is better at this when one is better at this, not because one is a woman or a man. So I should understand Cordelia and not Lear?

I remember thinking about why the veils Muslim women wear upset us so much, and they do upset us–they do upset me. I’m tired of looking at the medieval ghosts of women walking on invisible leashes of misogyny . . . and do not tell me most Muslims are not backward because you would be lying to yourself if you did. This I am sure of . . . as I am at times upset by the apparent backwardness of all of us,  just not as I am when I see muslim woman after muslim woman walking with an expression on her face that bespeaks an unhappiness she dare not express . . . a closeted unhappiness like that of closeted sexuality or identity . . . and there are times I am certain of the backwardness of women who cover themselves entirely, all but for a slit for the eyes. Why are these assholes even here?

I’m still confused how hair on the head is sexier than hands or eyes? Yet, as I do understand, Muslim women might be either more overt than we are willing to be about our mask wearing, or they hide the masks they wear in the world and only reveal their masks to their husbands or family. Veils hiding faces which are the morphing masks we wear, no?

I am sure, though, that the day they bridge the gap between themselves and Evangelical Protestants is the day they will vote your rights away as a woman–no doubt about that. I, as a woman, fear this. And don’t be a stupid liberal as most of you are going to be; be strong, be intelligent, be passionate, control your emotionalism, be literate, be educated, be better read, be more fit in your ability to articulate your defense of liberty, democracy.

The stranger is strange, always estranged. I do, though, think it is almost other-worldly for them to be wearing niqabs here in America, but then I am not an apologist for Western Civilization, nor am ever going to experience White Guilt, not that I think I should. What most people of color and black people virtually entirely mean when they say White, I do not; instead, I use  Bourgeois and Protestant, not White.

And that’s the most offensive of remarks, I’ve learned–to say that I have none of the insipid white bourgeois liberal’s affected guilt over the past, especially if he or she is Protestant from somewhere nowhere near New York.

I am neither a supporter of Affirmative Action, nor am I an opponent. I always suspect any measure meant to improve anyone’s lot once it has been subsumed by the bureaucracy and managed by it. It is always going to be a lot less than it could–or maybe that’s the point, bureaucracy only does what it can even if it can do more and does not.

When we not only look to but receive all our clues and cues about Affirmative Action from the State, I can’t help but suspect its design, its motives, or that its results will be other than what we imagine they are. I’m sorry, but I really do not give a shit except in as much as it is integral to any discussion of freedom for all people to examine just how people of color have been screwed by European Colonialism; of course I am of the thinking that most of the descendants of those fucked by European colonialism also do not give a shit either. I have never thought that an under-qualified black man is going to be given a job over a more qualified white man; but I am certain that after a period of adjustment when Affirmative Action was used to separate the Black Bourgeoisie from the Black working poor and poor, that now we have a situation where lesser qualified black persons are given jobs over  more qualified African Americans, for sure . . . and it is almost counter intuitive to think otherwise.

We do not live our lives with a persistent or virtually constant historical consciousness.

I do not hear Americans disrespecting Muslim women as often as I have heard in Bay Ridge Brooklyn, in the past, for instance, Arab Muslim men disrespecting American and European women day in and day out. You would hear it every day if you were inclined to stand about and listen obliquely because there are enough young men in a place like Bay Ridge who hate Americans and America, and do so every day, and yes, they are virulently Anti-Jewish, which is not to say that I think the politics of American Ashkenazi or the politics of Israel are blameless–there is plenty of blame to go around. Now I sound like one of those crazy Republican Nativists?

Yet, I wear masks as well. All the world, you know, the stages we find ourselves on, everywhere, every-when . . . the masks I wear are many: the masks at work, the mask in the classroom, the mask with colleagues, the ones I wear with friends, the ones I wear with my lover, the ones I’ve worn with family, father, mother, aunts, uncles, cousins, where, when, what clothes I wear, the parties I’ve been to, the strangers I meet, yes strange, less strange the more I get to know them–do I get behind their masks?

What about the masks I wear inside–the masks on the selves in the self. I am we; we are, I am, how so the other who I might be, there are many. Estranged? The masks I wear inside are plural too, many selves in the Self to wear within me their own masks. Yes, to get behind these masks I wear inside, now that would be revealing.

The covering of the face Muslim women do does affect me; it bothers me; it offends me as a woman. Yet, being a woman anywhere means wearing masks on the masks that humans wear outside, often on the many we wear on the selves inside, masks on masks on masks on the many selves we are; yes, I am we, for sure, themselves another kind of plurality. Mascara means mask, another and another and another way to make things up, allof these giving new connotations to make-up and what we make up when we compose fiction, itself, a thing made. Check its etymology.

I have come to the kitchen. I have turned off the espresso pot. I wait for the erupting to subside. After, I pour a cup half full of steamed milk–I sometimes have caffe latte. (All double letters in Italian are pronounced, are in separate syllables.)

How many of us imagine that the things we do habitually define us, how many of us need to read details, details and more minutia in the fiction we read in order to believe we are experiencing something real, something tangible, something at least consistent with traditional values of verisimilitude.

We are mostly full shit in this way, and most of us have no clue what we want from fiction, or need from fiction, or could accept from fiction, most of us reading as badly as we do, needing more and more description of familiar or de-familiar places in conventionally framed presentations of the de-familiar in order to think we have read something meaningful.

But then we are the kinds of readers who more often than not skim the pages we imagine we are reading, never performing a deep enough kind of reading the first time we read, so that if we ever do re-read, we might just come closer to full enough first read. Not likely though. But then we look to Hollywood to teach us history lessons–that’s a joke, isn’t it?

The veils we put on memories, the veils we put on Truth, the veil of Maya everywhere– the veils we use to hide one thing or action or word or trait or manner or feeling or whatever have we in the universe of being human, of having human emotions . . . what do they cover or discover? Is there a way to discover by veiling?

I used to take photos with various kinds of stockings over the lenses to capture varying levels of opacity, a photo I have of the old Jefferson Market now a branch of the New York Public Library through a thunder storm from the second floor window of the former B. Dalton Bookstore at the corner of Sixth and Saint Mark’s Place: a building’s tower veiled by the rain. It’s a beautiful photo in shades of gray, a charcoal sketch in photography.

Da Vinci’s sfumato technique reminds me of a form of veiling as does the singularly greatest advancement of the Impressionists: the painting of air, of atmosphere, of atmospheric effects.

To repeat myself–is that what I want to say?

At the risk of repeating myself . . . ? Risk?

I repeat myself: What then must we come to understand about these veils they wear–yes, they, those people, those women, them?

Honesty? Is it about this? Overt? Is it more overt what they wear, more overt about a pan human condition, the masks we wear, and all veils are forms of masks, and everyone wears a variety of masks in a variety of social and interpersonal situations. Then there are the masks we wear inside; inside the Self of many selves we wear masks on these selves: masks that we wear by nature or by civilization are then covered by other masks personal or oppressive, imposed by conditions peculiar to one’s state of oppression. I am not one that imagines the new arrivals love us–I see, I hear, I feel that more of them have contempt for us and condescend to us, as they also must arrogantly assume they are better and smarter than we are here in the United States–I have no illusions that people from everywhere else are here because they love us, want to love us, want to be friendly and not just make more money than they would otherwise be able to do in their country–it does not matter where anyone is from, and this shit that there are good and bad people in all peoples is another trite way of trying to believe that most immigrants to America do not despise, consciously or pre-consciously, everything about America and Americans. I see how arrogant, how racist, how ethnocentric and xenophobic most immigrants really are right here every day in my multi-ethnic neighborhood in Brooklyn. Nobody feels himself in a position to act violently on their manner, perceptions and beliefs, but if anyone of these groups had hegemony, they would be violating the rights of every single other person not of their own. So, enough about how racist whitey is, because if African-Americans had hegemony, all immigrants would be in camps. If the Chinese in my neighborhood had hegemony–I do not want to imagine what would happen to African-Americans, or so I do imagine, and so I think enough times for me to believe, which insures I will feel it and thus hold convictions greater than believing.

I wish there was a resolution to provide. There isn’t. What I have herein said about veiling and masking, covering, uncovering, discovering–again all discovery is a way to keep anyone from covering or re-covering. If the westward Atlantic voyages of discovery had only uncovered this Hemisphere, there would have been re-covering. But discovery disallows recovery, and in this we have our world.

But you do have to listen to Pakistani girls in my neighborhood taunt and insult western girls as these western girls pass by allegedly dressed inappropriately . . . and this is here–there where they are from  it is a horror story how endemic Islamic misogyny affects women and creates in them a condition where they oppress other women to incur favors from men.

Can there ever be peace for the West with Islam? I really do not think so. Does anyone know anything of Honor Killing in Pakistan? I also imagine that many people are here because they know how fucked up things are where they come from . . . why would anyone want to go back to stay–I also do not think so.

To think or not to think, this would determine my to be or not, what I am I become, to become is a very potent way not to be . . . therefore, I am that I am because I think? Or is it true that I am, therefore I think–to be is to think. This man of action shit people are in love with–brutality wins over tenderness? But neither do I want to live in a world of pure and excluding contemplation.

I reheat the remaining coffee in the pot to have another cup. I use regular sized coffee cups. I bought the coffee cups decades ago in Fish Eddy on Hudson around the corner from HB Studio.

I do wish there were not so many Muslims who have moved into my neighborhood, and my mates friends would change their liberal views just as others I know would moderate their conservative views if they had to live with the endemic Pakistani-Village-Mind, made even more backward by their medieval attachment to a Koran they cannot or do not read. I live with this daily. Never have I seen stupider, more systematically undermined, infantilized women–it sickens me as a woman, and I do teeter between contempt and deeper compassion.

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