Archive for 2006

Premise #1 From The Fitzgerald Files

26 Oct


A New Development


I know artists and writers those latter-day Lorenzos ought to be supporting—if they knew what's good for them, and for their posterity. But they mostly don't. So they whip out the checkbooks for Harvard, for Yale, for Princeton, for "peace studies" and for "art" that isn't art, and for teachers of literature who do not teach literature but rather about the ethnic, racial, and religious background of authors, and so on.


The preceding words of Hugh Fitzgerald, as idealized by this writer, are worth at least a dozen warm meals in harsh times, a triumphant song on an Olympic-sized sound stage, a fully loaded Glock 23 in a plastic picnic knife fight, a grain of sugar in a dirty ocean of whale screams. Don't mock. Just ask anyone who's not invested nostrils first in cherry pits and dark chocolate. Understanding what makes us each different is not just understanding the past but understanding the future each of us will achieve because motivation is always measured in personal steps. Civilizational performances, like the water and blood of life itself, is a snapshot of biophysical strategies—molecules in action—and we, the seventy year set, ebb and flow with or without the consent of our forebears or our neighbors, except to the degree we consent, bow or scrape, a mere pellet melting and mixing into the ocean of time. So according to some, why bother?

My response. If these people claim to be your friends, they are imposters. Know them by the arc of their sucker punches.

Literary Profilers And The Horses They Ride

25 Oct


Sun Setting On Arlington, VA


Gleaned from a online post published by Matthew Z:

Reading is almost always an aesthetic preference, unless it[sic] has permission through certain jargon, both "legal" or "political" to engage in praxis. The politician assumes himself to be beyond art because he actually has the power at his fingertips to physically move his ideas around. The artist has no such power of course and is reduced into the realm of aesthetics—that motionless form of subjective preference.

For starters, despite the strategic blandness of a general political attempt at writing, I think it might be useful to consider their words and actions as more along the lines of an aesthetic preference as well. The artist might gasp at this notion, stupidly assuming, through hand-me-down compartmentalizations, that the "brown bagging suit" is not worthy of being even considered in an aesthetic sense. [But, the politician]... is beyond aesthetics because he can actually make things move.

Art is otherwise, happily motionless and heavily protective of its specialized terms in the name of priority and approbation of course, more than anything else really ("Pick me, pick me, I am the best aesthete in the room! This term belongs to me and me alone in order for me to be able to sell my persona, and if you try to apply to something else, my chances become lowered on this front.").

From the first sentence forward, I detect poor writing, poorly constructed sentences, enough ugly grammar to frighten off all but the strangest bird, and a keen need to escape the mundane by driving straight through it with a Mac truck, but that is it's charm, and I jest, only because this first sentence is not true, but is often directed at me and anybody else who struggles to break out of the box of rote linguistics, or worse, profess literary interests for their own sake, with or without the harsh harness of originality further enslaving the urge to explore.

The message, however, is on the money, and yet, one is left with the question of what's next? Most activist aesthetes eschew art in favor of radical politics, but what has radical politics done for us lately? Today's radicals don't seem to realize the frontier has been vanquished. There are few words, and fewer ideas which require our blood sport devotion. We have long since accepted that the golden ages of idealism have passed us by, and now we are left with little but the grunt work of making our lives count one by one, each to our own strengths of reason, inspiration, and passion to make it so. We have certainly been given fair warning.

This call to action is what Matthew Z means by poetry being replaced or fulfilled by praxis, but like so many others before him, his plea falls not on deaf ears but upon cowardly spirits and the cacophony of competing interests. This is not a resolute failure but the patient and conservative spirit of Nature conferring to us its most preferred role. Time is not man's play toy.

But will the poet of today accept this understanding of his own unspectacular clockwork, keen to the literary profilers and the horses they ride?


Lost & Found Art Cannot Be Put Into Context

16 Oct


Lost And Found Art


Allow me to explain my predicament. Up until March 29, 2003, I had carefully maintained, organized & archived my entire email history from 1993 when I first joined Prodigy, Compuserve, and AOL all within a few weeks of each other, having been instantly smitten with this new world of messaging and self-publication. I hail from a damned near illiterate background—from an alcohol-hardened household, from a band of brothers who somehow esteem reading and writing of little use above that required by law.

This is not an indictment of them, but a tiny spotlight onto the struggles for my own sense of clarity, given my own poetic nature, and desire for pursuing and comprehending the incomprehensible. I had been fortunate that during my ten years of archiving, I had never lost anything I had ever emailed, or had received from someone. Except for obvious and useless SPAM, and lower tier business correspondence, I cherished and kept every bit of communication I had ever mustered.

And I'd been fortunate to have met and sustained along the way a steady string of aspiring authors, so our email wasn't of the dull flat liner variety that would soon cloak the long silences of previous generations who had transitioned from sincere letter writing to the less literary and more immediate telephone call and special event card. Now we had access to a marvelous combination of the two, letter writing nearly extinct, and the telephone call, often as mundane and flawed for its archival challenges as the polaroid in the digital camera age.

But then came the shock and awe of that March 29 data loss. Ten years of treasured exchanges gone in a keystroke! Ordinarily I kept a rather recent back-up of my work, but for reasons of brevity, let's just say I had little to rely upon that day, so in one terrible keystroke I lost my entire hard drive of personal information while visiting the terminal for my first and only peek at the guts of the operating system. After the week long stress, sweat and toil of data recovery magic, I found that I had recovered maybe two-thirds of my email data. I lost so much more other work, but it was my treasured email that mattered most to me at that point, and the process was too inadequate to worry about the rest of the loss. Now, of course, my email did not recover its former glory. So, instead of each individual mail stored away in personal boxes and folders, where I had immediate access to them in plain text, I now had over 22,000 individual files each named, starting at number 1, increasing in value one file at a time, like this:

Email file (generic) 16784

And since it seems as apropos as a summer shower on a blue heat afternoon, given a rather new MySpace friend’s recent smackdown of a type of Internet personality she called the Intellectual Predator, it’s a keeper; here’s yet another redux, circa 1993-4 from my AOL years (when I signed on there I was among a mere 250,000 subscribers. When I left, over 25 million. But I’ll leave that story to later.) Can’t wait to get more of these posted somewhere new. All I can do is work the process with ev’ry muscle I’ve still got in the game…
And to make matters worse, each recovered file, no, did not include just a single piece of mail, but sometimes two, five, or three, point three emails. And these texts were not alone in their new miserable state. Now each file included huge chunks of header and other inexplicable strands of ASCII gibberish, cast off, decidedly boorish digital DNA that I would have to clear away like so many acres of undergrowth in order to isolate a long lost masterpiece from my friend Steve, or a stroll through Landryville with the wit and sarcasm of her spicy Cajun' upbringing, or merely a well-written communication from back in the day, those early days when so many people inside and outside the industry mocked the functionality, or inspirational value of email, while here we were composing masterpieces, detailing small everyday events of those days of our lives, marching to our exciting times with an eye on posterity.

Yes all this, BEFORE THE DELUGE OF SPAM. Before Internet porn. And for several years, before the WWW itself. Ah, yes, we were there, and we were writers, and yes, we could be bombastic or plain spoken. We could lie with dogs, or we could ride elephant ears. Those were the days where great plans ruled the great plains.

Nostalgic, but that's merely the background noise of my original purpose in posting today. Now here's one of those recovered files I just opened this morning, randomly. I did not write this, it seems to be unsigned, but I did save it. And since it seems as apropos as a summer shower on a blue heat afternoon, given a rather new MySpace friend's recent smackdown of a type of Internet personality she called the Intellectual Predator, it's a keeper; here's yet another redux, circa 1993-4 from my AOL years (when I signed on there I was among a mere 250,000 subscribers. When I left, over 25 million. But I'll leave that story to later.) Can't wait to get more of these posted somewhere new. All I can do is work the process with ev'ry muscle I've still got in the game...

Review: Amy Chua, World On Fire

13 Oct


Yet They Hang Homosexuals?


Read quickly this very compelling book a couple of years ago by author Amy ChuaWorld on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. The book documents just how pervasive are the aggressive forces of foreign ethnic division and economic disparity which survive, expand and prosper in the world, and how much each drive the cultural traumas in the news media today.

Chua, a naturalized American whose parents are Chinese, builds upon Thomas Sowell's concept of the middle-man minority—the often-persecuted immigrant ethnic group with a talent for retailing and banking, such as Jews, Armenians, Chinese, Gujarati Indians, Lebanese Christians, etc. She broadens that idea to include other relatively well-heeled groups, such as un-entrepreneurial hereditary landowners, like the Tutsis of Rwanda and the Iberian-descended whites of much of Latin America. She extrapolates in bringing them all together under the useful term "market-dominant minorities."

The author begs off explaining why economic inequality exists between hereditary groups; she just acknowledges it. So let me offer a general explanation. Creating wealth is difficult. The wealthy, even those in highly progressive tax jurisdictions, tend to pass down their property, their genes, and their techniques for preserving and multiplying wealth to their descendents, rather than to strangers.

Blacks were forbidden to vote until 1870; women until 1920; poll-tax debtors until 1964; illiterates until 1965, young people until 1971. And how the U.S. treats its minorities today, as compared to 200 years ago, is like night and day. One remarkable fact remains: where there is a failure of democracy, there is usually a lack of democracy.
In countries without a reliable system of equal justice under the law, clannishness is particularly rational. Businessmen must depend upon their extended families for protection and enforcement of contracts. So they are particularly loathe to do serious business with people to whom they have no ties of blood or marriage and who would thus be more likely to stiff them on a deal.

"Globalization," or economic liberalization, tends to make the poor majorities slightly richer and the "market dominant minorities" vastly richer. Sometimes the masses find this an acceptable tradeoff. But, sometimes it drives them into a fury.

Often, the minority's post-globalization riches are honestly earned, but not always. American-backed privatization schemes in Russia and Mexico put huge government enterprises into the hands of the most economically nimble and politically well-connected operators at give-away prices. Chua suggests that American foreign-policy, with its democratic ideal, is setting many nations up for failure by creating democratically elected dicatators from a dominant ethic group to rule over the weaker groups, often resulting in the ethnic cleansing activities we see across the world.

Let's take an older example. Can democracy be blamed for Hitler's rise? No. Other democratic nations around the world were also devastated by the Great Depression, but none converted to dictatorships as a result. Germany was the oddball among these nations, and an examination of its republic reveals its democratic and constitutional weaknesses clearly enough.

History reminds us that there is actually a spectrum of democracies, with strong democracies on one end, and weak democracies on the other. To the extent that democracies fail, it is because the will of the people is not being carried out. The U.S. offers this lesson itself. Blacks were forbidden to vote until 1870; women until 1920; poll-tax debtors until 1964; illiterates until 1965, young people until 1971. And how the U.S. treats its minorities today, as compared to 200 years ago, is like night and day. One remarkable fact remains: where there is a failure of democracy, there is usually a lack of democracy. The Muslim approach comes to mind.


Nobel Prize For Literature Awarded

12 Oct


Orhan Pamuk


Congratulations to Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk on his Nobel Prize for Literature. This year's selection of Pamuk, whose recent trial for "insulting Turkishness" had raised concerns about free speech in Turkey, continues a trend among Nobel judges of picking writers in conflict with their own governments.

Pamuk, whose novels include "Snow" and "My Name is Red," was charged last year for telling a Swiss newspaper in February 2005 that Turkey was unwilling to deal with two of the most painful episodes in recent Turkish history: the massacre of Armenians during World War I, which Turkey insists was not a planned genocide, and recent guerrilla fighting in Turkey's overwhelmingly Kurdish southeast.

"Thirty-thousand Kurds and 1 million Armenians were killed in these lands, and nobody but me dares to talk about it," he said in the interview.

I find it interesting that even in the United States, it is common that high profile authors who write or talk against certain known facts of American history are nearly always branded as revisionists, liars, and traitors. Of course, in contemporary America, the culture warrior, is rarely prosecuted for such literary or artistic acts of defiance against the status quo. Not since the case brought against Henry Miller and the US publishers of Tropic of Cancer in 1961, has an American artist faced criminal charges for theliterary word.

Ballsy Orhan Pamuk found himself in trouble with the authorities at a particularly sensitive time for the Turkish nation. Turkey, overwhelmingly Muslim. had recently begun membership talks with the European Union, which has harshly criticized the trial. The charges against Pamuk were dropped in January, ending the high-profile trial that outraged Western observers.

Pressures were brought to bear given Turkey has long declared itself a secular state, and desperately wishes entrance into the EU. French lawmakers in the National Assembly in Paris recently approved a bill making it a crime to deny that the mass killings of Armenians in Turkey during and after World War I amounted to genocide, a move that has infuriated Turkey. Europe seems to be having a field day in recent years outlawing certain thoughts and modes of thought. Several EU countries have outlawed speech denying the Holocaust, or praising naziism or promoting its symbols.

Pamuk’s international breakout work was his third novel, “The White Castle.” Structured as an historical novel set in 17th-century Istanbul, it reads as a metaphorical tale about how the ego is generated using stories and fictions of varying pedigree. Personality is shown to be a variable construction,” the academy said.
Nationalists who regard the novelist as a traitor accused the Swedish Academy of rewarding the author because he had belittled Turks. The Academy said that the 54-year-old Istanbul-born Pamuk "in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures."

Pamuk has spoken up for other writers in peril. He was the first Muslim writer to defend Salman Rushdie when Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini condemned Rushdie to death because of "The Satanic Verses," a satire of the Prophet Muhammad published in 1989. Pamuk has also been supportive of Kurdish rights.

Pamuk himself had little religious upbringing. Growing up in Istanbul, his extended family was wealthy and privileged—his grandfather was an industrialist and built trains for the new nation. Religion, Pamuk has said, was considered to be something for the poor and the provincial. The novelist has noted that growing up, he experienced a shift from a traditional Ottoman family environment to a more Western-oriented lifestyle. He wrote about this in his first published novel, a family chronicle—which in the spirit of Thomas Mann follows the development of a family over three generations."

Pamuk's international breakout work was his third novel, "The White Castle." Structured as an historical novel set in 17th-century Istanbul, it reads as a metaphorical tale about how the ego is generated using stories and fictions of varying pedigree. Personality is shown to be a variable construction," the academy said.

Open Letter To A Friend

06 Oct


Traces Of Insanity


Sasha—yes, this is a very sad situation, my friend, the sheer inhumanity of men who claim to know better. And did you know who's committing this massive genocide in Darfur? It's Arab and Arab-influenced Muslims killing, starving, maiming black African Muslims in a sustained action of unobfuscated racism. Malcom X was dead wrong about Islam. No matter which way you slice the historical cake, Islam is the engine which drives Arab imperialism, supremacy and totalitarianism.

And George W. Bush is in bed with these Arabs. That's what turns my stomach. America and her economy is being held hostage to Arabian petrol dollars. If the Saudis convert their billions of US DOLLARS into Euros, as I understand it has threatened to do, and as pesky Iran has already done, it could within days or mere weeks collapse, or most certainly severely thwack the US economy which has given away the farm in terms of manufacturing and drilling, given it over to those who now hold out a hand of friendship while simultaneously plotting undermine the very nature of the American principle (and in this I include China, as well).

And what about Kosovo? Have you kept up with the recent news pouring out of there, of falsified reports, confessions of news agencies, et cetera? It seems America backed the wrong victims in that war too. Milosovic apparently wasn't as bad as we in the West thought, or was led to believe as he fought tooth & nail to stem the Islamic atrocities in that cobbled together hell, and was deemed to be spoiling the best laid plans of the Eurabian cartel, so he had to pay and pay big for his rebellion. Nearly ALL the world's hot spots feature aggressive Muslims tearing into old cultures, demolishing temples, whole peoples and instituting the horrendous sharia law, but the mainstream media, and our leaders tell us a different story. No more guilty than America, they say. The puzzle doesn't make sense when analyzing the stories THEY TELL US, but when the blinders and patronizations are stripped away, the puzzle suddenly appears as whole cloth.

There's something rotten, alright, but it's not in Denmark this time, it's in that woeful caliphate-in-the-making. And it's going to get far worse before it gets better because we are all being whipped and cowered by the mere hint of bootstraps and pursestrings. Of course, I am merely stating my opinion based on the facts and the gravesites I have stumbled upon iun my research which really is only beginning, but I trust my sources, and I'm sticking with this opinion until I am convinced otherwise.

If I gave away or burned everything I have grown to cherish, and wandered the streets, alone, naked, hysterical, could I then convince you to do this as well? Should I choose to live simply, how simply should that be?
Moral equivalency is a crock, political correctness a false flag, and equality before the law a ridiculous sham. It's time we realized that the world is in deep trouble, and that there are far more dangerous people and gruesome ideologies ready to ruin your day as soon as they gain an edge, and whose own guilt has flooded the moon with more blood than meets the average eye, than we can shake a stick at, but I agree with you.

Sin is sin. God is God. And we'd better damn well take notice. However, I also believe in what is called reality on the ground. In my world, liberalism right out of the box is not a synonym of righteousness, but most certainly neither is the emblematic conservativism of those who tend to rest on laurels and bank the remainder. But each concept must rise and fall one idea at a time. So frankly, I have never considered myself a liberal, nor ever a conservative. It's actually rather funny to watch people try to presume my stripes just by looking at me, or hearing a position I have taken which conflicts, or agrees with their own. I am of course judged "obviously you are one of us" which quickly turns to "oh I knew it, you're on the other side" depending on the irstwhile persuasions of the person doing the pigeon-holing.

The jack-hammering truth in life is painful, but how does this long rant of Gabriel's complete the plea for compassion while sipping from the cup of realpolitik of your own blog entry, dear Sasha? I suppose I am merely prompting you for the proper reaction to that most obvious of questions:

How does one indeed change the world by healing all that ails others one sacrificed toy at a time?

If I gave away or burned everything I have grown to cherish, and wandered the streets, alone, naked, hysterical, could I then convince you to do this as well? Should I choose to live simply, how simply should that be? Would any of this change the world when all the great songwriters of our generation have failed to accomplish this? What indeed are we really to do when we can't convince each other that we love them without asking them to follow us or some equally hazardous player into a ditch, a blind alley, or an extremely painful death, of which the words martyrdom or hero no longer apply?

I am at a loss to resolve this mystery. But I am strapped to the deck of its shipwreck, and burned to the core by its consequences...

Yours in irreducible signs,


Jack London's Hundred Years War

06 Oct


Young Jack London


The name Jack London conjures up dreams of the Great Yukon, ferocious wolves, pernicious gambling, alluring dancing girls, and an occasional drunken and bloody bar brawl, timeworn icons of the American taming of the Wild West, and a progressive poltical mind. The common response most casual readers hibernating in the dark, dank literary caverns of America to those rugged writers who lived life as if it were a program of perilous escape and beaconless frenzied abandon, is exemplified by the enduring myth of Jack London, the turn-of-the-century adventurer culturally transformed into a mild sedative for rambunctious boys. A fanciful string of Walt Disney films depicting the tumultuous capers of an innocent lad bent on civilizing his fellow outdoorsmen has enchanted the eager hearts and minds of anyone who ever dreamed of rubbing two wet sticks together to warm themselves and their pals, or to roast a marshmallow and a wiener on a cool October evening without the usual convenience of newspaper, lighter fluid or a half-dozen matches.

These overly-sentimentalized adventure flicks tickled the boyish imagination. Usually told in first person, the stories gave courage to those of us who cowered before the barking voices and effective forces of pounding fists offered by the local neighborhood bully. Introspection by the hero of our stories was always light-hearted, boyish, somewhat protected from the beastly nature of beastly men and women. American film. Always a happy ending.

As George Orwell pointed out in an essay written in 1943, London is one of those rare writers of genius like Edgar Allan Poe who enjoy a more prodigious reputation outside of the English-speaking world than in it. While Poe is critically respected both in England and France, the author of Martin Eden has been greatly admired by German, French, and Russian readers.

Orwell points out that Lenin's widow described in a short biography she wrote of him, of how she used to read stories to her husband on his deathbed as he lay paralyzed. On the day of his death she was reading from Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol, but he was put off by the bourgeois sentimentality of it all. The last words Vladamir Lenin ever heard were from Jack London's Love of Life.

Obviously, Lenin was initially drawn to London's political writings. He remained an ardent Socialist, and, as Orwell points out, one of the first American writers to pay any attention to Karl Marx. His reputation in Europe is mainly founded on another of London's books, The Iron Heel, a remarkable book of political prophecy predicting the rise of Fascism. London understood that when the working-class movements began to take on expansive dimensions and appeared to be taking over control of the world, the capitalistic class would hit back. And until Hitler came fully into his own, most Socialists imagined Marxism would simple swarm over the earth without a resistance.


Martin Eden by Jack London

In London's book, Martin Eden, the protagonist, Martin has weathered a poor working class upbringing‚ his playground was the dirty streets of Oakland in the first years of the new century‚ his pals scrappy street fighting lads like himself, his girlfriends coarse and profligate. But Martin Eden was looking for a way out. As a dedicated merchant marine, he accepts the challenges he places before himself with gusto. Voyages upon the harsh high seas for eight months of the year before docking off on extended furlough took their toll.

When back on the hill he stayed with his sister and her husband to the ambivalent reluctance of everyone involved. Robust yet uncouth, ignorant yet yearning for knowledge, Martin is introduced to a young middle class socialite named Ruth. She is the eternal rose, the effervescent source of beauty and redemption who lights a brilliant flame in young Martin. After hearing Ruth read from a collection of Swinburne's writings, our young feisty street punk, the brightest and the strongest grubbing up from the ribald and murky bowels of nothingness is transformed, in a sense, baptized by the fiery spirit of literature and fine perfumeries Ruth brings to him, and certain chariot wheels of grace for Martin Eden are set in motion. The brittle romance is charted very plainly by the author. Resolving to educate himself, the slate of middle class values and structures make their way into the agenda of the young Martin in search for a group of people he can call his own. Burning the midnight oil, abiding a strict schedule of three to four hours of sleep per night, Martin Eden first feeds his intellectual starvation by devouring the classics. After several alternating tours of duty at sea and in the mimicked words of the masters he consumed, he begins to write down stories of his adventures, pouring his soul and sensitivities into pages which began to mount into an inhuman pile of rejection notices.

His relationship with Ruth began to sour when it became apparent that she was unable to comprehend or suffer the intense struggle against the gods of moral and intellectual responsibility he was grappling with and would continue with until a victor had been proclaimed. Her father and his political friends were hopefully tied down to ineffectual status quo methods and arguments. Their condescension only fueled the young aspirant until a chance meeting with a group of revolutionary anarchists and socialists invigorated his spirits briefly. Before long even this more edgy crowd, edgy to be sure, but just as pompous and pre-occupied with status within the ranks matched only by its endless wordplay dishearted him. Yet he still believed that there was more to life than all this useless rhetoric and senseless destruction-oriented propaganda caught up in a war of words rather than the toil of sweat, blood, and tears. Undeterred, young Martin Eden pressed on.

jack-london-stampTime, however, began to wither the young author's compulsion. It seemed an impossible achievement to gain access not to the wisdom of the sages, which he knew he already possessed but to the class of people who upheld the rules and vestiges of that wisdom. After his breakup with Ruth in a mutual dissatisfaction of personal tastes, and a hasty exploratory expedition to his old neighborhood gang, Martin decided that only the posturing fame and accompanying new fortune society bestowed upon an exciting, freshly discovered, trailblazing young writer could sustain his intensifyingly deceptive thirst for social and intellectual acceptance. He begins to write more earnestly.

When favor finally arrives, the newest bon mot on the literary scene is quick to discourage the usual fare of bandwagon jumpers, those who had rejected his pieces only months before‚ now clamoring for more, more, more! Noting the irony, he held to his guns when certain editors insisted on seeing any manuscripts still lying around, manuscripts already once rejected by these very same editors. More truth was dawning upon our young adventurer.

The novel, Jack London insisted, was an attack on individualism, the fierce individualism of his era. Being aware of the needs of others, of the whole human collective need, Martin Eden lived only for himself, fought only for himself, and, if you please, died for himself.
Suddenly all the wares of the world are at his feet. Old cohorts quickly emerge from the cracks of endless walls he had never been able to tear down with either his bare fists or the restless but youthful energy rolling off his tongue. Now his words were famous. Now everyone understood. Now everyone wanted to be his friend. Jack London was a born rebel whose manipulative personality demanded the immediate gratification of his contradictory wants. His dialectic of appetites wore on without a synthesis of satisfaction. He once confessed to wanting to drive forty horses abreast with the thousand strong arms of an army. He was a heavy drinker. He died relatively young.

Martin Eden is London's most autobiographical novel. His early death at age forty brought on by his excessive bouts of drinking and exposure to the elements is foreshadowed by the character, Eden, who hurls himself into the ocean depths in route to a tropical island he had recently purchased. Although I am aware of no supporting evidence, perhaps this book is where the poet Hart Crane derived his idea for his own self-inflicted drowning some twenty-four years after its initial publication.

The novel, Jack London insisted, was an attack on individualism, the fierce individualism of his era. Being aware of the needs of others, of the whole human collective need, Martin Eden lived only for himself, fought only for himself, and, if you please, died for himself.

An irony of the book resides in the fact that it is the only one of London's fifty books that his publishers, Macmillan, has kept in print in a cloth edition for seventy years, while it has invited the most chafing criticism from the profession as being too pessimistic, denigrating capitalism and self-improvement and ambition without providing any alternatives. London was confused with the hero of his book.

Turn of the Century Writers

Turn of the Century Writers

Indeed, Martin Eden is a clean read, swift in its situational currents and colorfully determined in assessing the problems the individual faces in his exodus from the battlefields where intellects clash and flesh recoils in a never adjourned meeting of forces. To stand headstrong on a frozen tundra against the elements or to bob just above a watery abyss to test the very nature of controversy, measuring the bonds and covenants between life and death, is an event reserved for the rare few who dare engage with full intellect both the demons within oneself and those within the society in which one struggles to comprehend.

In his time Jack London lived and died as a striking contrast to the Horatio Alger and more recent Ronald Reagan myth of hard work, love, success and respect. Whereas Alger inspired, London depressed the readers of early 20th century America. The simple fact is that one must find solace in the tribes as they exist, that one must have faith in the unlovely, seemingly mechanical society in order to prosper. We exist in time and place simply to count out measure until we evolve into something else, hopefully better equipped to face ourselves as we really are individuals marooned on a island surrounded by a sea of hopefuls.

Find a copy of this book. You are probably someone he has written about. A century later, we find little solace in realizing that Martin Eden's impassioned plea for a more redemptive manner of living still remains part and parcel of the ageless quarrel all religion, art, and politics seeks to address: can we really help ourselves once we know who we are?

The Beginning Of My Long, Long Endgame

07 Sep


Is There A Doctor In The House?


Going, going, gone. Here's a letter I wrote a couple weeks ago to an occupational medicine MD practicing at George Washington University Hospital in Foggy Bottom. It got a response. I landed an appointment, but as with four previous doctors all I got for my energies was blank indifference. They didn't even want to hear my symptoms or look at my skin. No blood test. Nor diagnosis. Nary a molecule of relief. I DID have to shell out for a co-pay, however, FIVE TIMES, por nada.

Now I'm on my sixth doctor. A vivacious young Iranian-American woman, whose father is a noted surgeon who fled with his family including a very young daughter, the Khomeini Revolution in 1979. That daughter, now Dr. Pantea Tamjidi, my wife's dermatologist, once experienced a very similar allergic reaction, is now on the case. Finally! Moving into my fifth month of this health crisis. My life has been miserable. Can't even wear clothing. Hair follicles feel like steel wool, clothing pressing down into skin, Flesh burns like windburn. Sleep patterns horrible. My work sporadic in the meantime. Symptoms began in West Virginia, and I have since broken lease, and moved from Wheeling back to DC, but this plague continues. Feels like the beginning of a long, long endgame. Find out results of blood tests tomorrow. She suspects a thyroid problem.

Dear Dr. Guidotti,

I was referred to you by a friend working with PEER (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility). I am not a public employee, but I seem to be suffering from toxic exposure to fiberglass insulation, lead paint, black mold disease, singularly, a combination of these, or something else entirely. Please allow me to briefly describe my situation, as neither my regular internal medicine MD, nor two epidemiologists showed any interest in hearing the roll call of my symptoms, much less any contributing details of my case.

I spent 16 weeks (March 12-July 6) in a house where a large swath of exposed dirty fiberglass insulation was discovered three or four inches from the intake filter of the ventilation system in the 15th week. I had the fiberglass covered with duct tape by the superintendent of the unit, but I had by this time developed a contact allergic reaction to any personal effect which had been exposed to sixteen weeks of dust. Very old windows with confirmed lead paint issues sprayed around the room small particles evidenced by carpet debris and collected piles of chips on the wood floors. While no evidence of black mold has been found, the locale where my contamination allegedly originated (Wheeling, WV) is home to a rather prominent black mold clean-up industry due to frequent flooding in the area.

Frankly, I exhibited no symptoms until the third or fourth week of living in this unit, nor did I suspect ANY problem with the air or my body at this time. Within a week, however, of installing a window AC unit, I began noticing first this rather minor but persistent itching from what felt like pricking, or stiff bristles digging, or being propelled into my skin and clothing. At some point on this timeline, I noticed how much crud I had begun digging out of my eyes each morning.

A reasonably intelligent person, I tried to discover the origin of these symptoms without being an alarmist, but after twelve weeks of skin irritation about the arms, legs, torso, and face, and this rather odd twitching about the face and eyes, and inconclusive guesswork as to its causes, I was forced to leave the unit. I have been away for nearly a month now, and while the symptoms have receded negligibly in a cleaner environment, the roots of my problem still exist. My skin burns and feels puffy.

Of course there are many more details which will have to wait. But while we found the exposed insulation, an initial air quality control test for fiberglass fibers was negative. I’ve had no blood test to determine lead or formaldehyde levels, but my skin is hypersensitive to all personal effects (which have now been relocated to storage) infested with dust from the building in question. A visit to the ophthalmologist just this past Friday, August 11, also proved negative with regards to fiberglass in the eyes. Instead, the doctor said all my tear ducts were clogged with goop and foreign debris. I thought I felt somewhat better for about a day after he cleaned out my eyes, but the “generalized” symptoms have returned.

Please consider my case. I am at my wit’s end trying to “return to normal” or diagnose this on my own with no help from physicians who don’t seem to want to be bothered from the everyday routines of their practice. Frequent showers, eye washes, new clothing, and self- quarantining away from said personal effects have eased but not eradicated my symptoms. Even the electronic field associated with this computer “seems” to exacerbate my symptoms by supercharging the skin irritation and twitching of my slight facial hair and the burning sensation in the hands. I need someone to take me seriously. Perhaps you have room for me in your practice. I am not indigent, nor am I considering a lawsuit against my landlord. I simply want to get diagnosed properly, and return to health, if possible.

If an appointment with your department at GW can be arranged, I would be very grateful.

Thank you,

Gabriel Thy

4707 Connecticut Ave., NW
Third Floor, Suite xxx
Washington, DC 20008

Awesome View of Ohio River, Wheeling Island, and Opportunity

28 May


Watching The River Flow


Okay friends and foes, Chuck [Fithen] has posted a few pix he snapped with his cell camera of me on my first day of sloshing paint against the new Wailing Wall running some eighty feet along the second floor of Yesterday's Draughthouse & Stage, 1054 Main. The new bandstage with its backdrop of floor to ceiling triple-threat of push out glass windows opening onto Main Street a few feet above the marquee is an immediate draw. Once the windows are pushed out to reveal the picturesque landscape below now expanding to embrace the once mighty Ohio River whirling along the edges of Wheeling Island, and even beyond the western banks of the state of Ohio, a visual and spiritual welcoming includes a gorgeous panorama at dusk, a stunning canvas of color, old architecture, and future promise of a mid-America character still the home of the brave and strength of our nation.

Chuck says he's posting only a teaser; doesn't want to spoil the first impressions of all those curious slammers and slackers who pass muster and make it past security into he and his partner Raj predicts will be a seething house of sights and sound worthy of a space where such country music greats as Johnny Cash and Wilma Lee Cooper liked to once gather for a song and a beer.

Breaking news: The following statement will run the course along the top edge above the painting on the wailing wall at Yesterday's Draught House & Stage in Wheeling:

“As a cull poet and loner among the lonesome, I am now determined to speak for myself, to speak from every speck of my ignorance, to speak from whatever’s left of my virtue in the wisdom that I must shoulder my own perspective, or else I die without individuality, landscape, or divisibility by zero (the latter a latter day expense of extinction), a mere sad crack in the sidewalk of battles beneath the cold shadows of others who knew not me in my struggles, but only themselves in theirs.”

True sneak preview. Many of Chuck's close friends have already eyeballed the wall in progress and frankly, response has been overwhelmingly positive. Are they all liars? You be the judge. If any of you out to lunch friends of mine buckle to the highway jones, why don't you swing by and check out the black palace called Yesterday's. Opening soon, very soon...

Just sign me,


Ex-patriate of WDC
(the city that NEVER
speaks the truth,
by it)

Laissez Faire

06 May


Leave Americans Alone


I recall reading sometime in the late 80s or early 90s that the Federal government actually paid good money out of the public coffers to dissuade a vast number of pre-med students from continuing their education in the medical field, or more specifically, to NOT become doctors. Not because of higher standards, or the vastly improved health status of the population, or a glut on the global or regional market of doctors. In fact, during the same time this news was revealed, there was a longstanding attitude that America needed doctors, particularly in the rural areas, and anyone who has experienced city medicine at work would have surely agreed that more choices would have been preferable to the cha ching whiz bam thank you ma'am herd-like manner in which they were now being treated.

This program was conceived and operated as a companion to the program paying a farmer NOT to plant tomatoes, or cotton, or whatever else the government sees fit to control in deference, or paradoxically, in defiance of market forces. Yee haw! So much for the so-called laissez faire capitalism still propped up as the US economy's prime directive in all the textbooks but in reality is now sliding slippery down the greased throats of self-oriented politicians of both stripes. Frankly, I was stunned to see how far the now entrenched American way of keeping the workforce thin, and the prices up, had spred.

Keep standards high. But I tend to think that if every single American had a bonafide medical background, and I don’t mean surgeons, or pharamaceutical pushers, but good old-fashioned or new-aged holistic warriors, we would be a whole lot better off than we are now, facing this pandemic or that one. First, do no harm.
In this past Thursday's Pittsburgh Post-Gassette, the headline reads: FEDS PAINT GLOOMY PANDEMIC PICTURE. This should be no surprise. In this corruptive society of the spectacle, we understand that the media plays up the monsterous, the vainglorious, the wretched, injecting fear into every situation. After all, peddling fear and one's dwindling last chance at sex both sell in the marketplace of dualing opposites. If they don't we as pampered angst-riddled consumers believe that we are getting only one side of the story, that somebody is holding out on us, that the wool has indeed been pulled over our eyes. "Why didn't they warn us?" we bellow. Thus, the media has no choice but to pander to both the addicts of dysfunction and chaos as well as to those addicts of blind happiness and self-contentment.

The article starts like this—The White House yesterday unveiled a foreboding report on the nation's lack of preparedness for a bird flu pandemic, warning that such an outbreak could kill as many as 2 million people and deal a war-like blow to the country's economic and social fabric. It urged state and local governments to make their own preparations beyond the federal efforts.

…the report said a full-blown pandemic could lead to travel restrictions, mandatory quarantines, massive absenteeism, an economic slowdown, civil disturbances and breakdowns in public order. It warned that the health-care system – from doctors and nurses (another blog on that situation) to suppliers of pharmaceuticals—is inadequate to meet the country’s needs in a flu pandemic. In the event, the article continued as if to emphasize, there may be insufficient medical resources or personnel to augment local capabilities.

…critics [of the report] were quick to attack what they said was the administration’s slow reponse. Sen. Ted Kennedy, said the White House report represented the third attempt to write a flu plan, suggesting that no amount of revision can disguise the fact that other nations have been implementing their plans for years, while we are waiting to read ours for the first time today. He added, “The United States is at the back of the line in ordering essential flu medicines, and we’re at the bottom of the international league in having a coordinated national strategy.”

After decades of struggle against the basic unfairness & numerous pitfalls of the American brand of capitalism which leads to accumulation with no end in sight at the top, made possible by a battalion of laws written by the rich for the rich, who by nature of the numbers racket, traffick in warfare against the mere traces of trickle down integrity the lower classes not equipped with brilliant genius or drop dead beauty, both of which tend to open mighty doors that remain closed to the grunts and dreamers—unwilling to sell their dreams for a shekel or two in the tar pits of what's left of American industry—must make do with, and...

...after studying the frosty idealism of failed Communism and all of its sickening abuses and blind alleys, it was philosopher Friedrich A. Hayak who finally convinced me of the superiority of the Western system. The quickening point was a simple one, a mathematical one. In the absence of a omniscient, omnipotent, benevolent dictator who would give to all who asked (don't tell me God is the answer, if God's not the question), a centralized government simply can't REACT to market or intellectual forces with due diligence, in a timely fashion. But in the American system, MOST players, level field or not, have the opportunity to REACT quickly to those UNFORESEEN forces.

So why is America in the business of regulating any industries in terms of how many this, how many that we need at any given moment? Besides, what harm would a few extra doctors in this world have caused? Yes, weed out the bad ones. Keep standards high. But I tend to think that if every single American had a bonafide medical background, and I don't mean surgeons, or pharamaceutical pushers, but good old-fashioned or new-aged holistic warriors, we would be a whole lot better off than we are now, facing this pandemic or that one. First, do no harm.


"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""