When I was four or five years old I was standing in the back yard of my maternal grandparents’ house, watching my grandmother as she knelt in a flower bed. The property around this house was an intense and admirable micro-biome that my grandparents had worked for more than thirty years before I was conceived (far away, on the West Coast) and it produced enough fruit, vegetables, rhubarb, chicken eggs and peppery fryers, every year, to justify calling my grandparents self-sufficient. From two kinds of grapes, to tomatoes and sweet corn, and the peach, apple and cherry pies my grandmother baked from the fruit of the trees on their property, the food they produced, and the aromas thereof, is a substantial part of my childhood memories. This particular memory I’m introducing is both sharp at its core and blurry around the edges because I’ve used this memory in my fiction, and autobiographical fiction has a tendency to degrade and hijack the original material.
I think I see my grandmother bisected, diagonally, by the house’s shadow, in the early morning sun light, and I think I can see her breath or mine in little clouds, indicating it was probably Spring, but I can no longer remember if I’m remembering the original event or the way I first described it in a story. What I am sure of is that there were bees around us and I was frightened of the bees and that my grandmother’s remark was either a response to a question of mine or a statement regarding my fear, but it’s my grandmother’s remark I’m as certain of as I am that there were bees present when she made it: “Bees were put on the Earth to punish the wicked.”
The instant I heard and “digested” this remark it made me angry, even at the age of five, because I understood that there was a Lie at the heart of it. I knew I had done nothing wicked enough to deserve a bee sting and if a bee were to sting me (a terrifying prospect that didn’t become real until the mid-’80s, the first time, and in quite a spectacular fashion: riding around Minneapolis’ Lake Calhoun on my vintage Schwinn bike, in baggy shorts, as I did religiously that year, two Autumn-maddened bees flew up my shorts and stung my left thigh, triggering a comedically low-speed bike crash), the “punishment” would be unjust. I wasn’t angry with my grandmother (who was the neutral channel of this information, after all) but I was angry at “God”. What concatenation of diverse genes (my background’s degree of diversity borders on being cartoonish) hard-wired a sense of Truth in me so powerful that it overrode the culture’s saturation-programming of all that “God” nonsense? Considering it was c. 1965, the pro-“God” propaganda would have been considerable, still, but my Truth gene was impervious to that. For that I have to be grateful in the abstract sense. Grateful not to “God” but to the luck of whatever sexual tosses of the dice had ended up creating me in this very particular way.
Likewise, it was not long after… I was probably in first grade when the following took place… that I happened to be walking to school with my then-best friend, Alvin Alexander. I lived a block from school in a neighborhood I very much later discovered was considered the most chemically-toxic ghetto in North America, a place called Altgeld Gardens. As we were near the end of the block, about to cross the street, one of two older boys walking by us said, “This is a garden of shit,” and Alvin reacted with “Ooooooh! He said a bad word!”
“There’s no such thing as a ‘bad word,’ I responded, and I made Alvin follow me back up the street to the door of the apartment where I lived with my mother. I knocked on this kitchen door and my mother opened it immediately, surprised to see Alvin and me standing there. “Tell him there’s no such thing as a ‘bad word,’ I said, triumphantly. To which my mother replied “But there certainly are bad words”. A beaming Alvin was vindicated but a pillar of my conceptual universe (as of 1965 AD) had crumbled: my Mother didn’t know what she was talking about. I remained unshakably convinced then (and now) that there is no such thing as a ‘bad’ (aka factually bad versus culturally/contingently taboo) word, but, even more importantly, I had learned an important lesson that stayed with me because of the pain of the shock it inflicted: never assume that someone else knows what the fuck they’re talking about. Find out for yourself. The only credential is the ability to speak knowledgably on a given topic. The more experience and knowledge one gains for oneself, the more plausible one’s estimations of the credibility of another. Oh, yes, and this, you will find, is one of the most important questions of the Universe: cui bono?
One’s sense of the plausible is limited by one’s lack of certain experiences.
Watch these two videos: combined they represent nearly everything you need to know about NOW…
I just found a poem that I wrote about Frank O’Hara in someone’s comment thread years ago.
frank (not john’s)
appointment in samarra,
on a dune (but not a desert’s)
from a buggy (not a baby’s)
going slower than a poet’s mile
i wrote this poem last week:
so what’s a ‘Conspiracy Theorist,’?
please explain that shit, it’s
the linguistic equivalent of
‘Potential Crime Discusser,’ you
Pedantry is a canoe passing the great ship of Erudition on a moonless night.
More and more often and with less and less ironic distance, I find “business suits” indistinguishable from SS uniforms.
Humiliation and the unvarnished Truth are often inseparable.
Many of the supposedly Existential imponderables that plague and shape Life are, in fact, artifacts of the control structure that imposes itself upon us. No philosophy that omits to address the origins, dimensions, methods and aims of this control structure can be said to be useful… or non-complicit.
LETTER TO SON
Great to read that K___ is on it with you; this works much better with a partner! I realized, a few months ago (well: April) that now, while feeling preternaturally healthy anyway, was a good time to tighten things up, regarding the dietary intake. The stuff that makes us sickest, often, is the stuff that seems like a harmless daily indulgence, which is a call-back to my theory that it was the daily Pepsi that got Granny, in the end. I suspect that guzzling 100% fruit-juice would have been my “Pepsi” if I hadn’t wised up… the pasteurized fruit sugars play hell with your liver/ kidneys, apparently, while also producing subtle (or no) symptoms until it’s too late. The first philosophical problem this forces us to confront is the unprecedented Modern Luxury-Dilemma of Eating For Pleasure/ Entertainment. We can now consume more calories (in largely unnatural forms) in one day than even the most well-fed of our wiry ancestors could consume in a couple of weeks… and they had to chase the food down and kill it (Paleolithic aerobics). If we kept our indoor plumbing, and clean (fluoride-free) drinking water, and added the ancestral diet and exercise, we’d all be Super Human on a regular basis. Time to get the balance right.
I have now started regularly eating lightly-steamed, and seasoned, organic broccoli and cauliflower… paired with something like salmon cooked in butter (that was a myth I overcame in the early 2000s… the margarine myth! Margarine is edible plastic. And healthy fats are a must; a small portion of animal protein is vital). Also the intermittent fasting is a biggie… most days I wait until 3 or 4 pm to eat my first meal.
I started this “IF” regime by skipping breakfast and gradually pushing the day’s first meal later… noon, then 1pm, then 2, etc. And no eating after 9 or 10 pm. That’s a good one to try if you haven’t already! And, obviously, I’ve been steering away from anything with high fructose corn syrup, in it, for over a decade. No McDonald’s-type food in over 20 years. Diet is not stressed in medical culture… all those toxic pills are pushed instead… which forces us to confront the second eye-opening philosophical problem: the profound folly of profit-model “healthcare” (our gradual morbidity is their bottom line)… and the Snackfood Industrial Complex that goes hand in hand with Big Pharma: the CEOs don’t love us (utter indifference at best, eugenic animosity at worst) but if we learn to love ourselves and each other, that’s all we need. We can’t chop the snake’s head off but we can starve it…
Big Hugs to you, K____ and the mystical P____!
Healthier than Ever Dad
Poetry is dead but some keep painting new makeup on the Dandy’s frozen corpse; they want the corpse’s long-gone time on Earth; to try on its clothing, romances and triumphs; they want the out-of-print money it spent before their arrival and the talent it vanished into crumbling books with.
In my long Life I’ve dealt with maybe 6 or 7 blatant instances of conservative Racism (nothing as serious as physical engagement because it quite obviously would be no walk in the park to physically attack me)…. VERSUS… easily a couple hundred cringe-inducing, eye-roll-triggering incidents of what I call “Friendly Racism”… ie: presumptuous, patronizing, bossy, stereotype-slinging, provincial, tone-deaf and clueless “micro-aggressions” from frigging White Middle Class College-Educated Liberals. I’d rather deal with a Nazi, all things being equal (especially in a fantasy arena in which we could indulge in unarmed physical combat without legal consequences). Because the Liberals are so fucking beneficently smug in their overestimation of their place and function in the world and in their self-serving grasp of its meaning. Worry about saving your own precarious asses, Liberals! Stop fantasizing that you’re graciously rescuing/ validating or shepherding anything other than your own hyperbolic self-regard!
on the History (and modern relevance) of the East India Company in an excerpt from William Dalrymple’s book on the topic:
Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like.
—-Edward, First Baron Thurlow (1731–1806)
The Company had been authorised by its founding charter to ‘wage war’ and had been using violence to gain its ends since it boarded and captured a Portuguese vessel on its maiden voyage in 1602. Moreover, it had controlled small areas around its Indian settlements since the 1630s.Nevertheless, 1765 was really the moment that the East India Company ceased to be anything even distantly resembling a conventional trading corporation, dealing in silks and spices, and became something altogether much more unusual. Within a few months, 250 company clerks, backed by the military force of 20,000 locally recruited Indian soldiers, had become the effective rulers of the richest Mughal provinces. An international corporation was in the process of transforming itself into an aggressive colonial power..
By 1803, when its private army had grown to nearly 200,000 men, it had swiftly subdued or directly seized an entire subcontinent. Astonishingly, this took less than half a century. The first serious territorial conquests began in Bengal in 1756; forty-seven years later, the Company’s reach extended as far north as the Mughal capital of Delhi, and almost all of India south of that city was by then effectively ruled from a boardroom in the City of London. ‘What honour is left to us?’ asked a Mughal official, ‘when we have to take orders from a handful of traders who have not yet learned to wash their bottoms?’.
We still talk about the British conquering India, but that phrase disguises a more sinister reality. It was not the British government that began seizing great chunks of India in the mid-eighteenth century, but a dangerously unregulated private company headquartered in one small office, five windows wide, in London, and managed in India by a violent, utterly ruthless and intermittently mentally unstable corporate predator – Clive. India’s transition to colonialism took place under a for-profit corporation, which existed entirely for the purpose of enriching its investors.
I had to post the following in my FACEBOOT social media organ because there are Hippies in my fucking FACEBOOT social media organ:
Well-organized Psychopath Billionaires, in concert with various other Ruling Structures, are oppressing us. They aren’t oppressing us with magic rituals or spiritualism or by possessing ancient runes or holy tablets, they’re oppressing and controlling us with advanced technology, and time-tested psychological techniques. When they make War or declare Martial Law, they don’t use chants or spells to conquer and control, they rely on lethal firepower and the brainwashed compliance of the police and the military. We cannot resist these people with magic or merely by being pure, or “in touch” with spirituality: don’t we think the people the original Nazis rounded up and cremated had special prayers with which to appeal to Divine Intervention? Don’t we think the thoroughly-genocided American Indians had rituals to ward off Death? Didn’t the Africans who were rounded up, for the slave trade, have shamans capable of “invoking the ancestors” and casting defensive spells to make them “powerful”? And yet…
I believe in the psychological benefits of meditation and the efficacy of many Herbal remedies. I believe in the calming aesthetic of certain rituals and the beauty of the pre-Industrial outlook. I believe these things can all enhance the health and beauty of Life… but spiritual tools aren’t weapons. There is no Real World sanctuary in Metaphysics. There is absolutely no power in Witchcraft when it comes to confronting Storm Troopers. Knowing and accepting this can concentrate our minds on the terribly urgent task at hand, which being: getting tens of millions… and then hundreds of millions… of ordinary people to stand up and say “NO!”
Energy that might otherwise be devoted to rituals, ceremonies and star-chart-analysis is best, for the moment, focused on that, don’t you think?
2 Unsustainable Fantasy Beliefs it would be good to grow out of as quickly as possible:
Fantasy Belief #1: “The Government is there to protect and serve me and is concerned with my prosperity and wellbeing.”
“The Government” is a euphemism for “Your Rulers”. Rulers are never concerned with the health, happiness and prosperity of their peasants, because that’s not what Rulers do (in fact, they don’t even consider you to belong to their species), though they are exceedingly careful not to enrage all the peasants at the same time, inadvertently unifying them in Righteous Rage and Revolution. What Rulers like to do (via their minion Media Vassals and Kapos) is enrage their peasants piecemeal, like using controlled burns as a fire-fighting technique, and turn their balkanized peasants against one another. They have been up to this trick for centuries. Historical perspective of this sort reveals the “benign government” delusion to be as singularly improbable as all available evidence indicates.
Fantasy Belief #2: “The Universe is there to teach, protect and serve you and is concerned with your wellbeing and “spiritual development”.
This is akin to claiming that the Taj Mahal is concerned with the hopes and dreams of a particular amoeba in one of its fountains, except the disparity in scale this conjures would still be off by factors far greater than a trillion… let alone the absurdity of treating the Taj Mahal (or the Universe itself) as a sentient entity. Bronze Age primitives had an excuse for hypothesizing their comings and goings as being at the center of Everything, because they had no sense of the planet’s, or solar system’s scale. And certainly no sense of the Milky Way galaxy as a speck in the greater scheme of its place in the mind-boggling emptiness of Space.
I look back on my life and see myself as a tiny figure among tiny figures being directed and re-directed and blocked and scooped up and dropped elsewhere, and so on, by huge semi-visible hands one breathes shallowly, instinctually, to avoid smelling…
Wait for it…