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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Deception Of The Rational

 My Three Nephews, Aydan, Austin, and Aloyius

(pronounced Aloyius as Ah-LOY-shus)

My three nephews stopped by to see my granddaughter, who was now 6 months, 7 days new, Mary Olivia Adenike. They were glad there was an A-name in there. It made them feel that the circle was unbroken.

After a chorus of "goo-goos" and "cutiekins" that would have pressed Handel's Messiah hard for the Oscar for Longest Running Time, the baby became interested in food, so mother and child retired to the lactorium. (I just made that word up... I think. Actually, Seneca probably made it up. Or Cato the Censor, who may have objected to Roman matrons feeding their babies in the forum.)

So we had time to ourselves.
They said "Well, Unkie, quid novi sub sole?"
I mentally choked on "unkie" and said something like "Nihil nisi bonum de mortuis," or other. It was on my mind.

I mentioned that I had not been blogging much lately.
They seemed surprised, saying that they hadn't noticed.
Such is life.

I had not written much because we were in a time when this stuff is current:

How Donald Trump's New Campaign Chief Created an Online Haven for White Nationalists
Breitbart News is "the platform for the alt-right," boasts Stephen Bannon.
Sarah PosnerAug. 22, 2016 6:00 AM
Last week, when Donald Trump tapped the chairman of Breitbart Media to lead his campaign, he wasn't simply turning to a trusted ally and veteran propagandist. By bringing on Stephen Bannon, Trump was signaling a wholehearted embrace of the "alt-right," a once-motley assemblage of anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, ethno-nationalistic provocateurs who have coalesced behind Trump and curried the GOP nominee's favor on social media...
"We're the platform for the alt-right," Bannon told me proudly when I interviewed him at the Republican National Convention (RNC) in July. Though disavowed by every other major conservative news outlet, the alt-right has been Bannon's target audience ever since he took over Breitbart News from its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, four years ago. Under Bannon's leadership, the site has plunged into the fever swamps of conservatism, cheering white nationalist groups as an "electic mix of renegades," accusing President Barack Obama of importing "more hating Muslims," and waging an incessant war against the purveyors of "political correctness."

"Andrew Breitbart despised racism. Truly despised it," former Breitbart editor-at-large Ben Shapiro wrote last week in Daily Wire, a conservative website. "With Bannon embracing Trump, all that changed. Now Breitbart has become the alt-right go-to website, with [technology editor Milo] Yiannopoulos pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers."

Exactly who and what defines the alt-right is hotly debated in conservative circles, but its proponents—who tend to be young, white, and male—are united in a belief that traditional movement conservatism has failed...

Trump's new campaign chief denies that the alt-right is inherently racist. He describes its ideology as "nationalist," though not necessarily white nationalist. Likening its approach to that of European nationalist parties such as France's National Front, he says: "If you look at the identity movements over there in Europe, I think a lot of [them] are really 'Polish identity' or 'German identity,' not racial identity. It's more identity toward a nation-state or their people as a nation."...

The last paragraph is a debacle. Really, a debacle. It is like a Von Schlieffen plan for the future of Mad Max and Thunderdome.

There is nothing in that article that has the slightest attar of the rational about it. It is a cameo appearance of the coming monster that is our life in the future. I always imagined we would end up like Fahrenheit 451, peacefully memorizing ancient books in the first snows of winter, like shipwrecked Ben Gunn-Swiss Family Robinson, cast off from Techno Paradiso and the Weapon Society and partaking of a Moveable Feast Refugee Camp.


August 22 2016

It is day break at Harsens Island, Michigan.

The Right Honourable Paul J. Martin just passed heading downriver

She was brightly lit as the sun had not yet risen at 6:00 AM. One can tell the summer is reversing itself into autumn. When I look up I expect to see flocks of geese flying their routes to the South and following the ribbon of the St. Clair River as far as their next landmark navigational change.

I wonder if geese use ponds and rivers and coastlines as landmarks the same way humans use bars, taverns, and pubs? Or do they spit on the ground, squash it with their feet, and see which way the spittle flies? Or do they roll raven bones?

Soon the Cuyahoga was upward bound

I forget which great iconic freighter of my youth the Cuyahoga forms the modern day re-incarnation of. She was built in 1943 and I think she was the John J. Boland for her first life, but that could be way off. Back then Great Lakes freighters ruled the roost and preened themselves on their spit and polish; steel and the taconite ore needed were King Arthur and the freighters were the Round Table, and we read books based upon their exploits and quests.

Back then, freighters ran on real coal and the smoke was dark and thick. When rain moved in, the smoke hung stepped down from the prominence of the rear stack and descended to the river where it tailed the vessel and you could smell its biting odor.
Flies and insects alit on surfaces, too. The bees got dopey and just sort of sat around in uncharacteristic spots, waiting for a human being to plop themselves down and get a sting... or not... I mean, was it worth the effort? It was a lot like Marlon Brando in On The Waterfront crying that he coulda been a contendah!
I mean, at the onset of a big summer storm, the entire flying insect world acted as if they had started drinking at 6 o'clock in the morn and the bars had unexpectedly shut down at 2 o'clock afternoon and they stumbled out onto the fading sun and were alternately crying Mother Machree and blessing her sainted preciousness or starting a fight at the merest provocation.

The granddaughter is visiting for the first time. Every bit of nonsense and sound and fury of the world fades away at her approach.


Saturday, August 20, 2016

After San Rocco's Feast Day

Corleone watches Fanucci (in the white hat under the San Rocco sign)

The Feast of San Rocco has come and gone again.
August 16 is a great day for remembrance; great folks were born that day and Ob/Gyn staff have looked at each other in wild surmise on an August 16, sure that they would never forget those moments...

I had the pleasant discomfort of people calling me on the telephone and getting as far as "Happy...", at which point I interpolated "... San Rocco's day. Thank you. We are doing the parade this year."
I was referring to the traditional parade held on the feast day of San Rocco in various Italian communities, and even though I am not of Italian descent, I have taken to singing Ghirlandaino Veta Mia and swinging my arms about in the carefree manner of one of Johnny Caspar's thugs walking in the woods at Miller's Crossing.
(As if I were from if I recognized that the cathedral in Modena was that of Santa Maria Assunta e San Geminiano... as if August 15 did not precede August 16 and Santa Maria Assunta precede San Rocco... cycles and cycles!)

If you have seen Godfather II, the parade featured was a parade on the feast of San Rocco;  you know, just before Fanucci has his unpleasantness; the parade with the statue of the saint covered with currency attached by the devotees along the street.

Oddly, Coppola's film has everyone dressed as if it were fall instead of in the heat of summer, but it could have been one of those years without a summer when some volcano in the Philippines or Sumatra blew up and the ash cut down on the amount of sunlight reaching the earth's surface.
Mary Shelley skilfully used such a vulcanologists' trick to write Frankenstein, if you recall.

Shrine to San Rocco in New York, 1888,  photo Jacob Riis
...Writing a decade later Riis said the shrine shown in his photographs was one of many erected on August 16th each year within the "darkest and shabbiest" of the back yards in the Italian neighborhoods. He said one of his few pleasing memories of an area he called "foul core of New York's slums," was seeing Bandits' Roost lighted up in honor of San Rocco:
An altar had been erected against the stable shed at the rear end of it and made gaudy with soiled ribbons, colored paper, and tallow dips stuck in broken bottle-necks. Across the passageway had been strung a row of beer-glasses, with two disabled schooners for a center-piece, as the best the Roost could afford. In sober truth, it was the most appropriate. It made a very a brave show, and, oddest of it all not a displeasing one. At all events, I thought so. Perhaps it was the discovery of something in the ambitions of the Bend that was not hopelessly of the gutter which did it.[1]

and then we read:
...Riis does not mention a practice which a journalist reported a few years later: "Every one of the faithful who has an ache or a pain will buy from the liberal stores kept in the church a wax leg, or head, or arm, or hand, according to where his or her ailment is, and place it as an offering at San Rocco's shrine. Those who are sound of body and limb will offer decorated candles with their prayers and light them themselves at the shrine."[2] The reporter was wrong about the source of the effigies. They were called voti di cera (vows of wax) and were sold by street vendors. In 1906 a reporter told readers of these "hands, feet, legs, and heads, the latter with the flush of youth on their rounded cheeks, the other members painted with gaudy ribbons" that were sold by a street vendor at a make-shift stand.[3]
which makes a connection with vast antiquity, for such images of body parts are found in old shrines to Aesclepius.
I am fascinated by intelligence, in that it unites all things. It takes suffering and disease, gives it symbolic form, and then approaches the powers of the world and creation seeking a return to a memory: that state of wholeness and health.
And I have no doubt there are "powers" in the world. That is fairly obvious. Where this line of thought breaks down is the point where intelligence tries to make an equations between a power and The Holy. I do not think that works too well.

I have not posted for a while.
You would think in this election year I would have a lot to say. Well, it is all too obvious to comment on.

I have a few observations:

1) Donald Trump

The candidate's entrance to the Republican Convention was mortifying; it was directly from the professional wrestling circuit. Applying such contrivances to sports is a silly enough and harmless exercise, but when applied to Politics and Power and Persuasion, it becomes a little too Leni Riefenstahl doing a documentary in Nürnberg for my tastes.

In this juxtaposition of photo and comment, I do not wish to compare Mr. Trump to Herr Hitler. I do wish to say that the glorification of power opens an abyss, and Mr. Trump is but a new form of the American taste for the celebrity of power.

2. Among the Powers of the World in the present day are

(a) Weapons
The moment of silence that the US Congress has for the most recent victims of mass shootings has become very frequent and begins to resemble an invocation to the Aztec gods of death rather than a memorial.

(b) Drugs
Drugs have won the war and drive us on, demanding more and more sacrifice of lives and wealth in a potlach heavily weighted to the dark side of the gods of intoxicating madness.
A saner policy would recognize the beneficial side these powers.

and the last observation is

3. Brexit

As long as the EU covers the area once covered by The Holy Roman Empire, it shall remain integral, unified, and successful. The central dynamics that let the old empire continue are available to be used more efficiently to ensure the success of the EU as a going concern.
The outlying countries are a drag on the EU, and Britain... well, in Orwell's 1984, Britain is merely a small part of Oceania named Airstrip One.

Fonderia USA