Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Chapter X[XXV]II. The Subject Continued.


From Thackeray's, "Vanity Fair", further describing how to make US grate again.



“I wonder how many families are driven to roguery and to ruin by great practitioners in Crawley’s way?

“How many great noblemen rob their petty tradesmen, condescend to swindle their poor retainers out of wretched little sums, and cheat for a few shillings?

“Who pities a poor barber who can’t get his money for powdering the footmen’s heads; or a poor carpenter who has ruined himself by fixing up ornaments and pavilions for my lady’s déjeuner; or the poor devil of a tailor whom the steward patronizes, and who has pledged all he is worth, and more, to get the liveries ready which my lord has done him the honour to bespeak?

“When the great house tumbles down, these miserable wretches fall under it unnoticed; as they say in the old legends, before a man goes to the devil himself, he sends plenty of other souls thither.”

Friday, June 30, 2017

What a Pyrrhic!


Without a doubt, the ongoing dysfunction of the American political system is alarming to people and national leaders both at home and around the globe regardless of their customary allegiances. The lack of bipartisanship among the people’s representatives and the polarization throughout the nation’s population threatens the country’s and the world’s stability.

This dangerous state of affairs was not brought about by the current chief executive, Donald Trump, although his lack of political experience, and his personal behaviorial manners and quirks have apparently resulted in an inability for him to foster any cooperation between individuals and groups in areas where joint action is critically needed, thus exacerbating the already declining strength of the nation in the eyes of its own citizens, as well as in the view of the leaders and the citizens of our allies and enemies alike.

There is a strong sense of major disasters looming, and a dearth of solutions being formulated to solve huge problems, because of a dearth of quality leadership from our warring political parties. We won't fend off the inevitable conflagrations brewing with any amount of Tweeted falsehoods, incitements, diversions, or hyperbolic Congressional pronouncements. We desperately need leadership, not gamesmanship.

An ill-informed, prejudiced, and short-sighted American electorate, by choosing its representatives in government selfishly and unwisely, has cleared the way for China, Europe, or Russia, either alone, or in tandem, to become the political, social, and economic leaders of the 21st-century.

If limited government and the desire to remain uninvolved and distanced from the universal struggle for the survival and progress of humanity is the goal of those who unflinchingly support our current administration, we are to be congratulated on our Pyrrhic victory, but should be sympathized with for our utter failure to recognize the consequences of having hastened the demise of the greatest hope for mankind in the history of the planet.
     

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Deaf Con 45




The following is an excerpt from John Updike’s gem-studded collection of completely imagined, highly imaginative interviews with characters we’ve all met, but never knew as well as we should have. This interview was with "The Bankrupt Man"


. . . 
Q: When did you first know that you were bankrupt?
A: I think from birth I intuited I was headed that way. I didn’t cry, like other infants.

Q: Do you see any possibility for yourself of ever being non-bankrupt?
A: The instant bankruptcy is declared, laws on the federal, state, and local levels work in harmony to erode the condition. Some assets are exempted, others are sheltered. In order to maintain bankruptcy, fresh investments must be undertaken, and opportunities seized as they arise. A sharp eye on economic indicators must be kept lest the whole package slips back into the black. Being bankrupt is not a lazy man’s game.

Q: Have you any word of advice for those of us who are not bankrupt?
A [with that twinkle]: Eat your hearts out.

 . . . 

This galls us. We wish to destroy him, this clown of legerity, who bounces higher and higher off the net of laws that would enmesh us, who weightlessly spiders up the rigging to the dizzying spotlit tip of the tent-space and stands there in a glittering trapeze suit, all white, like the chalk-daubed clown who among the Australian aborigines moves in and out of the sacred ceremonial, mocking it. We spread ugly rumors, we mutter that he is not bankrupt at all, that he is as sound as the pound, as the dollar, that his bankruptcy is a sham. He hears of the rumor and in a note, on one-hundred-percent-rag stationery, with embossed letterhead, he challenges us to meet him on West Main Street, by the corner of the Corn Exchange, under the iron statue of Cyrus Shenanigan, the great Civil War profiteer. We accept the challenge. We experience butterflies in the stomach. We go look at our face in the mirror. It is craven and shriveled, embittered by ungenerous thoughts.

Comes the dawn. Without parked cars, West Main Street seems immensely wide. The bankrupt man’s shoulders eclipse the sun. He takes his paces, turns, swiftly reaches down and pulls out the lining of both pants packets. Verily, they are empty.

 . . . 

He ascends because he transcends. He deals from the bottom of the deck. He builds castles in the air. He makes America grow. His interests ramify. He is in close touch with Arabian oil. With Jamaican bauxite. With Antarctic refrigeration. He creates employment for squads of lawyers. He gets on his motorcycle. He tugs a thousand creditors in his wake, taking them over horizons they had never dreamt of  hitherto.

He proves there is an afterlife.




Thursday, April 20, 2017

from a Bloom'n' Feathery Aire



Reklektikos, 2017:
It is naught if not Walpurgisnacht, Mr. and Mrs. America, and all the ships at sea.



The following culled from an extraordinarily readable critique:

James Joyce: The First Forty Years
Herbert S. Gorman, 1924
 
"Stephen Dedalus retains his entity throughout but Bloom, more incoherent in his cerebral adjustions and weaker in intellectual intensity and concentration, time after time changes into visualizations of the thoughts which rush across his befuddled mind. All that he has desired or dreaded or dreamt or been fascinated or revolted by takes him and colors him chameleon-like. He becomes a squire of dames, a prisoner in court, Lord Mayor of Dublin, an Emperor, an Irish emigrant, a woman, anything that pops into his mind, anything that is suggested by the most chance remark or situation. The whole day rushes back across his helpless mind, all the people he has met, all the gossip he has heard, all the thoughts which had passed his consciousness. In astonishing garb and blasphemous attitudes all these half-digested morsels of observation and subconscious reception out of his brain, spurting about like bits of colored glass from a smashed kaleidoscope. Part of this is occasioned by the same pathological principle which causes a victim of delirium tremens to see snakes."


"Yet they stand in the silence of kinship a moment at the door before they part while the bells of St. George ring out."--Herbert S. Gorman, 1924


"What echoes of that sound were by both and each heard?
 

By Stephen:
Liliata rutilantium. Turma circumdet.
Jubilantium te virginum. Chorus excipiat.


By Bloom:
Heigho, heigho,
Heigho, heigho."

--James Joyce, Ulysses

Friday, February 10, 2017

Sedimental Journey

From across that Acheron,
heard not with whimpering,
but accursed stomping,--
gwine that hollow man,
sowing seeds of wrath.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

A Hard Class Act to Follow


As I have begun to re-read the works of Dickens the complete set of dried-blood-colored volumes I first encountered as a toddler when crawling I looked up and beheld a towering mountain much like the one the startled apes once saw reflected in the living Kubrick's imagination I have just so happily gleaned from G. K. Chesterton’s 1911 “Introduction” to those works the following that has startled this young ape at least once more.



“Dickens was a very great man, and there are many ways of testing and stating this fact. But one permissible way is to say this, that he was an ignorant man, ill-read in the past, and often confused about the present. Yet he remains great and true, and even essentially reliable, if we suppose him to have known not only all that went before his lifetime, but also all that was to come after.

“From this vanishing of the Victorian compromise (I might say the Victorian illusion) there begins to emerge a menacing and even monstrous thing—we may begin again to behold in the English people. If that strange dawn ever comes, it will be the final vindication of Dickens. It will be proved that he is hardly even a caricaturist; that he is something very like a realist. Those comic monstrosities which the critics found incredible will be found to be the immense majority of the citizens of this country. We shall find that Sweedlepipe cuts our hair and Pumblechook sells our cereals; that Sam Weller blacks our boots and Tony Weller drives our omnibus…

“even Americans are all something, though it is not easy to say what it is; it goes with hawk-like eyes and an irrational eagerness. Perhaps it is savages.”

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Present


Marcel Proust. Can one recall a more practiced conjuror of dots connecting themselves through time’s infinite portals? When asked what he would do if the Apocalypse was, indeed, about to commence, the revered layabout replied, as only he could, wisely, because, somehow, knowingly. As once a certain ghost from Christmas Past did present a gift to the reviled M. Scrooge a gift that changed his world, M. Proust’s gift to us, also, consists of clear and genuine reflections that can change ours.



“I think that life would suddenly seem wonderful to us if we were threatened to die as you say. Just think of how many projects, travels, love affairs, studies, it—our life—hides from us, made invisible by our laziness which, certain of a future, delays them incessantly.

"But let all this threaten to become impossible for ever, how beautiful it would become again! Ah! If only the cataclysm doesn’t happen this time, we won’t miss visiting the new galleries of the Louvre, throwing ourselves at the feet of Miss X, making a trip to India.

"The cataclysm doesn’t happen, we don’t do any of it, because we find ourselves back in the heart of normal life, where negligence deadens desire. And yet we shouldn’t have needed the cataclysm to love life today. It would have been enough to think that we are humans, and that death may come this evening.”