Post #223     REVIVING DEMOCRACY (A proposal)

It would appear ungrateful, scandalous, perhaps, secular sacrilege, to characterize the founding fathers of this nation, as philosophically naïve or unduly optimistic. They creditably, put the tyrannical and tired history of Central Europe behind them in fashioning a new nation in which privileged birth was eliminated, a central confederation of States, restrained by checks and balances was created, removed Church from State (and God from government), protected the minority against the “tyranny of the majority” (majority rule), gifted citizens with a protective “Bill of Rights” and in general, functioned as superbly gifted architects and designers of a new and admirable nation.

In addition to popular elections, the founders anticipated constructive debates between literate and informed citizens of differing views, to inform a rational and responsive administration of the new nation; as a result, the country would be administered in accordance with the revealed will of its people.

Our Founders, warmly adrift in their idealistic dreams, especially their philosophy of “one man, one vote,” could not possibly have foreseen the sociological-political impediments looming like great, ominous cloud-warnings transmitted from the future, portending great danger to their wisely conceived and well-intentioned expectations.

Mention, nevertheless, must be made of the tragic American Civil War which not only divided citizens, but resulted in a geographic and social division of the nation and only slowly, thereafter, a painful reunification.

After the mutual, existential necessity of joint survival during a great depression and two world wars, internal conflict reared its insidious head to fracture the American nation in ways never anticipated by the founders. Discreet, highly charged, issues arose dividing the nation, and giving birth to insular groups sharing a common view on issues, in social conflict and divorcement from other similarly insular groups of disparate view. The utilitarian, anticipated practice of constructive debate envisioned by the founders became non-existent due to the consequent demise of civic amity.

Such sharply divisive, issues include, immigration, abortion rights, gun control, gay marriage, climate change, government assistance to the needy and economic justice. Many citizen’s adamant stands on these issues, appear to be greater than their love of country, and most certainly their love of countrymen of divergent views. The proper administration of our nation has been hampered far too long by  ignorant champions of selected, limited and reductionist dogma; whose tactics drown out and obscure the legitimate will of mainstream, responsible citizens, properly dedicated to the general good of the nation. The irresponsible one-issue voter, in ignoring the balance of his candidate’s platform, other than the specific issue, is especially responsible for the regular distortion of the manifested will of the voters.

We require an admittedly, unprecedented, unusual and emergency procedure, akin to medical emergency measures undertaken when the success of orthodox life-saving efforts appears doubtful. Our proposal would require for its legitimate use in every case, a showing of current necessity for the preservation of the democratic republic, and approved as such, by a judicially appointed committee composed of both parties, reasonably in advance of the time for candidate nominations.

In such (necessary) cases, the “hot button,” emotional, knee-jerk issues, such as abortion, gun control, immigration policy and gay marriage, would be reserved and relegated to an official government questionnaire, answerable by all willing qualified voters, and thereafter submitted to the legislative branch of government for its consideration. The candidates, themselves at election time would be given a common questionnaire on their platform [ excluding the” hot button” issues, listed in the bi-partisan questionnaire.] Strange? We might perhaps learn the positions of the candidates and the results of elections would, at long last, be meaningful as democratically representative.

Still shocked? Please consider the following possible scenario.  In a time of great international conflict, a candidate, elected solely based upon his position on abortion by reductionist single- issue voters, rather than upon relevant criterea of mature judgment and gravitas, might prove to be a great danger to the nation.

Our representative democracy has been for too long in serious peril; we urgently need bold and creative solutions.

-p.

Post #222     THE ABDICATION OF MODERN POETRY

May we, at long last, be permitted to say, “We have had enough.” We are fully ready, willing and able to incur any predictable accusations of presumption, arrogance and contrarianism, but it is far too long that we have (painfully) withheld our needed observations on the subject of contemporary “poetry.”

We feel morally and aesthetically obliged, in the vital interest of literature and the fine arts, to remark upon an unreasonable and unscholarly tolerance and of what (even the self-proclaimed literati), tolerate as “poetry.” We, schooled in the traditions of Wordsworth, Tennyson, Coleridge and Auden, feel dutifully obliged to rail against the non-imaginative and lazy examples of what is often publicly accepted as contemporary poetry. Poetic art no longer appears to be the traditional fine distillation of aesthetic thought and image, but more often, amounts to a nihilistic display of pseudo-intellectual gibberish.

It appears necessary to state, that poetry is neither composed of half-masticated words nor arbitrarily amputated sentences and is not the unique shaping of partially expressed images; it certainly is not the impressive selection of remote and archaic vocabulary, whose evident purpose is to feign non-existent erudition, or faux poetic sensibility. Such ersatz verses with their bold pretense to serve as poetry unfortunately, seem now to appear everywhere, even, sad to say, in our “literary” magazines.

So, what is the authentic character of (proper) poetry, and when do you experience it?

Poetry is the magical aesthetic shorthand, the chord music of great thought or portrayed vision. It, like good music, is fashioned to evoke intended sensations and emotion by the diligent selection of suitable words, set in a tactical and artistic form to a suitable tempo. The poet, unlike the novelist, is merely afforded a protracted canvas on which to fully portray his artistic expression.

We, in our admitted aesthetic orthodoxy, subscribe to the classic recipe for poetry penned by the poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge; who observed that poetry is the product of (both) “economy of speech” and “word imagery.” Functionally, poetic metaphor is the vehicle with which this is successfully accomplished. For example, if we wished to poetically portray our uniquely beautiful and gifted granddaughter, in the Coleridge metaphoric tradition, we might choose to describe her as a “red rosebud on a clump of white snow”.  Apt choice of metaphor, particularly in combination with its attendant visual imagery, can be fully savored in the true poetic tradition.

To slowly and enjoyably sip the sweet nectar of this classic art, a writer is mandated with poetic vision, sensitive selection of words, and sufficient familiarity with the contextual impact of tempo, syllabification and length of line. It takes the music of a Walt Whitman, and the images of a Robert Frost, to successfully distill this very fine brandy. Absolutely nothing less will do.

 

-p.

BLOGPOST # 221            THE OLD CHEVY

In an early blogpost, “VOILA, LA SOUPE” we chose to happily recount and extol the veritable cornucopia of true blessings, attributable to human aging. This was done, with full awareness, that by contrast, the stereotypic image universally portrayed by the media, renders homage only to a deified, and  pretended universality of youth; portrayed in its most surreal form of artificially beauty, and  photo-shopped in the interest of a penchant for advertising the sale of the very latest fashions.

The early blogpost observed the temporal obsolescence of earlier causes of anxiety and stress, school grades, dating, marriage and family, rearing children, finances, success and upward mobility. Many retainded  the opportunity to pursue personal subjects of especial interest which conceivably developed, when time permitted, in these early stages of life. Those who pursued such paths of self-improvement and internal enhancement would now have the unfettered opportunity to further their interests and truly achieve a life of pleasure, fulfillment and (internal) happiness.

While we affirm the eternal truth and value of the foregoing, we did, feel somewhat remis in our earlier, tactical avoidance of any reference to the “Old Chevy” stage of life. The motive was to eschew any reference to it which would easily have been devalued and discounted in the glow of the tsunami of public adulation of youth and young bodies, joyfully celebrating the use of consumer products, offered for public sale; transmitted, Pied Piper style, though every media outlet. Let us again state that this purported view of human civilization, together with its allure of everlasting youth and (superficial) entertainment are false criteria for human success and a shameful act of ingratitude for the generous gift, by evolution, of our advanced brain. The “Old Chevy” stage of human life was not at all forgotten, in the early post, but rather postponed by a felt sense of practical necessity.

The purchase of a new auto, requires no especial repairs or maintenance except regular upkeep, gas, oil and the like. As is the case with the human body, for which it is the selected metaphor, the new model which ran beautifully and efficiently will, before long, require adjustments, repairs and multiple required visits to the service station; as the monetary value of the same declines, with its accumulating age and declining physical appearance, major adjustments and repair may become existentially necessary.

But by the most fortuitous strike of Charlie Darwin’s biology clock, we evolved into sentient beings, with potential for inner growth and development, with intellectual and spiritual capabilities for potential self-improvement, societal development and social understanding. Those that had wisely chosen to follow the path of self-growth and life enhancement reserved much to live for and look forward to, in old age.  Physical prowess and youthful appearance, understandably take a remote second place when, for example, qualitatively compared with a uniquely valuable and capable life such as the treasured, Stephen Hawkins. Others of us, far less distinguished citizens, will certainly derive great benefit in our older years from our life-enhancing activities. Others may wastefully morph into car wrecks, Old Chevys, studying decay.

-p.

Post# 220 MY TIME

A cool Connecticut forest morning
Night’s incessant sibilance, finally ended
As if responsive to our rapt attendance–
The ambient silence is explosively shattered,
By shrill songbirds, detonated by bedazzling atomic sunlight,
Infiltrating the divergent tree spaces
Reflecting elongated parallel geometry,
True drawn, like the slant of an hypotenuse.

The nearby brook chokes throaty gurgles
Flora re- agitate lazy sun-driven shape shifts
The Earth, managerially, emits a sweet green exhale,
Sending breezes to dispel residual nocturnal etherea
Stolid trees now reprise their two-step terpsichory
Now is prime time for clear thinking,
A time for pure intense joy— it’s
Nature’s proclamation of dawn’s advent-
It is my time!

-p.

Post # 219       TRUE LOVE AND BULBS (A Valentine’s Day Reprise*)

Caution, dear reader, brace yourself. In less than two weeks, the perennial tsunami, occurring every February 14, will predictably reassert itself, in its traditional surge. The real fans of the stormy weather are the usual suspects, the greeting card companies, the chocolate manufacturers, the florists, the retail jewelry businesses, the pajama industry and the novelty sales folk. The expected tide of Valentine’s Day, judging by previous experience, will inundate all land masses, human population and certainl theiry all human reason. Among other phenomena, the advertising industry will publish a virtual hurricane of notices, in great part, featuring photo-shopped, seemingly amorous couples, in close proximity to their selected sales merchandise.

Since (mercifully) this holiday has only a short half-life, one day, the need for effective, sales propaganda on the part of relevant businesses becomes urgent. Large profits are tactically earned by such companies who presumptuously maintain that there is a realistic (and commercial) need to supplement the interaction of couples who love one another with their paraphernalia. Greeting card companies are especially guilty of this self-serving assumption and hire distinguished (sic) poets to create doggerel consisting of inane expressions of love and fidelity, for thousands of unseen consumers.

The most objectionable of the various Valentine’s Day symbols, is the trite red valentine “heart,” an outmoded and retro configuration, that appears without relief, on all holiday products, greeting cards, gift wrapping paper, stuffed toys, pillows and candy boxes.This  stale symbol is imprinted on all items for sale on Valentine’s Day, as well as on the consumer’s mind, by Manchurian Candidate type propaganda.

Various research people [ who apparently have no more pressing fields of inquiry for the employment of their PHD acumen] have uniformly reported that the subject symbol is derived from an early incorrect understanding by [no less than] Galen and Aristotle, who believed that the heart contained only three chambers. [It may be noted that Dr. Galen and Aristotle were accurate on a great many other subjects.]

The valentine depiction of the human heart, maintains the very same proportionate degree of accuracy, as a wood duck, in appearance, bears to a moose. Nevertheless, it has, over the ages, been imposed upon, and willingly accepted by, the consuming public as appropriate.

In accurate fact, the human heart is shaped like a pear and is the approximate size of a man’s fist. This life-or-death chest muscle is taxed with the job of circulating blood and oxygen throughout the body. It has no time, or noticeable inclination, for holiday Hallmark sales propaganda, as the purported source of love, courage, strength or kindness. The statement, “He has a good heart” should be relegated solely to a positive determination by a cardiologist, and not a positive comment on such traits as a person’s generosity or empathy. We are only concerned with cardiologists and not “cardeologists.” How would you value a positive comment on generosity, like, “He has good kidneys.”

It is certainly inarguable that all human thought and emotion are exclusively functions of the brain and not the traditionally romanticized heart muscle. Admittedly, however, it would be impractical to artistically create a brain-shaped cartoon figure to serve as a symbol of the holiday.

We, however, unlike certain political organizations, believe in repeal and  immediate replacement. The senseless valentine heart is best replaced by a preferable love symbol, the unique and marvelous tulip bulb. Certainly, the outline of the traditional bulb is simple to replicate, artistically. More important, the bulb has always been a reliable symbol of future growth and predictable beauty. Furthermore, relative to the modern conception of true and healthy love, the tulip bulb is independent and self-sustaining, having within its inner self a sufficient systemic source of future nourishment as well as the natural ability and inclination for growth and the achievement of its innate potential.

The tulip bulb, in the Middle Ages, was thought to be magical and priceless. There are historical records of its individual sale for the modern equivalent of several thousand dollars. If you should offer one to him/her and it is refused, we earnestly suggest that you look elsewhere.

ADDENDUM:

Why should it be necessary to dedicate a one- day holiday in recognition and expression of love; and, further, to do so by trite gifts of holiday nonsense? Love, where it is genuine, is experienced on a regular basis, and expressed in tender interaction and caring, personal acts. This one- day holiday is sadly  comparable to gifts of free turkey dinners on Thanksgiving to the needy. Hunger exists year- round and the poor and unfortunate need more than a gratuitous symbol.

(* minor edits)

-p.