Post # 474   PAVLOV IN AMERICA

The behavioral phenomenon, known as the “conditioned response,” is known to have been discovered, in the early 20th century experimental work of a Russian medical investigator, Dr. Ivan Pavlov. His experimental findings revealed that ringing a bell, just prior to feeding a hungry animal, caused (conditioned) the subject animal, to regularly salivate, thereafter, merely, upon hearing the sound of a bell. This automatic reaction, the “conditioned response,” consists of a predictable, reflexive reaction to a specified, stimulus. As empirically observed, it is common to most living organisms, inclusive of mankind, and is of utility in the understanding of behavior. The adjective for such predictable, associatively, motivated behavior was denominated, “Pavlovian.”

The “conditioned” (or “Pavlovian”) response, is discernably, universal and, in humans, is at times, exploitable, in a a variety of ways. It is tactically used, for example, by commercial advertisers, to effect sales, by broadcasting symbols of the subject item, or service, offered for sale, in intimate association, with an item of the target customer’s, empirically, predictable tastes or desires. As another example, it is used, by public speakers, in their effort to portray points of view, by associating the subject views, with tactically selected, common references.

The wrongful manipulation of beliefs and concepts, by the use of the unprincipled, but (sadly) effective, use of the Pavlovian dynamic, is commonplace. There are many people who will react, to a specific concept, image or point of view, by reason of their own subjective associations, with the suggested subject (stimulus).

During election time, as an insidious mode of persuasion, selected and proven, provocative words, are often used, to elicit a desired, Pavlovian-type response from voters. Initially, a word or concept, is tactically denigrated; later, by its adjectival application, or malicious reference, it is used, as intended, to besmirch the targeted party, with the expected blemish, of the previously denigrated word. It appears, that the work of Dr. Pavlov, can be, utilized, not as he intended, for behavioral understanding, but, cynically, as a political weapon.

The intended verbal weapon, “du jour”, as observed in past writings, is the economic word “Socialist.” The tactic, can be effective only among those who are, even at this literate age, truly ignorant of the accurate meaning of the word, and so, accept it, as intended, as an epithet, in denigration of the intended target; in our present instance, a Candidate for President. It is, at times, ignorantly conflated with the word “Communism.

“Socialism” is an economic theory, while, by broad contrast, Communism is a revolutionary political ideation. Pursuant to Socialist theory, the State is the owner and operator of all industry and commerce. It, unlike Communism, believes that people are to be paid, in accordance with their contribution to society. Adherents to the theory of Socialism, believe that such an economic system will evolve, peacefully.

Communism, (the dialectic enemy of Socialism), by bright contrast, holds that there be no government at all, but rather, rule by the common man (“Dictatorship of the Proletariat”) and that each person should be paid according to his needs, (as opposed to his contribution, as in Socialism.) Communist dogma, further, maintains. that its goal can only be brought about, by violent revolution.

There is, absolutely, no candidate, (despite, attempted Pavlovian association), that is a “Socialist” viz., one who believes, or would condone, the governmental ownership of industry and business. The meaning of the words, “Democratic-Socialist”, (compare with classic “Socialism”) as, subscribed to, by one of the Candidates, and, perhaps others, refers, in its proper application and context, to compassionate capitalism; our system, combining economic freedom of capitalism, with government concern for the citizen.

Since the birth of Free Enterprise, the era of Adam Smith, and his theories concerning the reliance on natural laws of economics (laissez-faire), the tragic, dark, revelatory, reformist novels of Charles Dickens, the demonstrated, extreme cruelty and privations of the common man and the tragedy of our Great Depression, things have mercifully, changed, for the better.

Originating in the 1930’s, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in lieu of continuing to heartlessly, abandon the citizen to the cruel and apathetic vicissitudes of Smith’s natural law, America, to its profound credit, verbalized, and undertook, a contractual commitment of governmental assistance to its people. In pursuance of this empathic undertaking, it enacted compassionate laws, making worker’s life bearable.

Currently, we have governmental programs of social security, disability relief, laws on the subject of fair wages and healthy working conditions, retirement benefits, safety regulations, health relief, flood and disaster relief, defense, public projects, federal oversight of medicines, water purity, food and airs safety, regulations covering safety of the environment, preservation of the National parks, and responsible, ecological set-asides, disaster relief, protections for the consumer in the financial and investment area, land, sea and air supervision, and too much additional examples, of empathic, government involvement, to be able to responsibly, continue to list. Every one of such existentially vital, programs, are Federal (Government and State), administered and controlled, and accordingly, can, by some people’s ignorance, and lack of appreciation, be styled, “socialist.” Yet, even those flat earth, reductive, intellectuals and their inciters, could not live the American (“Capitalist”) dream, without them.

We would cordially, invite, those who believe, or simply, use, “American Socialism,” as an intended Pavlovian epithetic, reference, to “Socialist,” to surrender any of their many, gratefully accepted, governmental (social) entitlements.

-p.

Post # 473       SIGNS AND SENSIBILITY*

As a respite from our more usual attempts to create somewhat “esoteric,” essays on humanity, ethics and society, we have elected to project, for this singular writing, a somewhat, humorous, but accurate, context, highlighting a scarcely noticed, and never editorialized subject, to wit, the unexamined linguistic content of ordinary public signs.

There are countless visual subjects, one encounters, on a daily, routine and regular basis, inclusive of public notices, advertisements and signs, the latter, merely noted, as dimly seen objects, perhaps, appearing exclusively in one’s peripheral vision. This phenomenon makes available for consideration, a retrospective, focused, glimpse, at such subjects, like public signs, as a proper source of closer, observational analysis.

The routinely, unexamined and unread language of public signs, may, conceivably, contain (unintentionally) flawed, even humorous or possibly, obscene content, unnoticed by its lax promulgator, yet, mercifully, attaining, undeserved, optical forbearance, as being unremarked by the stated relegation, to one’s peripheral vision.

We did promise a bit of humor, and will deliver the promised commodity, by reference to various, personally, viewed, examples of bizarre, sign literature, but, after the following remarks about the especially notable talents, of the maestros of the art.

When we refer to the subject of authorship, we not dealing with studied and revered, creators of fine literature, poetry or aesthetic art. The literature of public signs, we are inclined to assume, is created by the devotees of the same esoteric school of fine art, as the writers of holiday greeting cards. The latter creative geniuses, are populated by writers of pathetic doggerel, whose assigned goal, on Valentine’s Day, is the enhancement of romantic love, but who, in reality, accrue the effect of the exponential enhancement, of commercial sales of Pepto-Bismol. (See: Valentine essay, “Bulbs and True Love”).

Before we review the unwittingly created, humorous works of art, credited to this class of august literati, we would make a serious observation, concerning a misleading, oxymoronic message, of many banks, insurance agencies, sellers of merchandise, and membership soliciting, advertisements. The very sight of that publically advertised, purported statement of generosity, “Free Gifts,” causes in us, a feeling of personal revulsion, annoyance, and at times, even anger. The artless, intentional, snake-oil, inducement, to do business, appears, virtually on advertisements on the avenues, on television, in newspapers and pamphlets, and seems to be almost universal. Yet, the commonly understood and incontrovertible, significance of the word, “gift,” is the delivery of something, (perhaps to signify an occasion, a relationship, or otherwise) without payment. If the word, “gift,” necessarily denotes a delivery of something, without any exchange, what then can the “generous” public offer, of “free gifts,” possibly, mean? To us it means, that these multitudinous advertisers intend to entice and intentionally, mislead, the consuming public.

Returning to our titled theme, we would observe that the number of artlessly, worded public advertisements is so great, that we have chosen, for reasons of practicality, to cite, a small, but representative, number of typical examples:

At roadside, a prominent sign, fronting, a gas station, which, also features food machines, “Eat Here, Get Gas; The multitude of signs that state: “No Smoking Allowed” which logically, may be read, to mean, that it is permitted (“allowed”) not to smoke, thus, in fact, encouraging smoking; the many signs that read, “Help Wanted, Inquire Within,” which can be taken to mean that to get personal help, you should be introspective;the sign, “We Bake Our Own Bread,” seen the other day, on the Upper West Side, made us question, “Whose bread, alternatively, would they, properly, be baking ? At a large restaurant, “Reservations Accepted,” seems to mean that it will pay close attention, to the undecided, or disappointed, patrons? Notices, using the strange words, “Finger Food,” really sound, like a warning against a pet store’s snapping turtles; “Baby sitting,” could imaginatively, suggest a societally disapproved, alternative, to soft cushions [ what is wrong with, Baby Minding Service?]; A detached sign, at the winter coat section, of a child’s department store:” Little girls, fully lined,” The Notices on most construction site walls:” Post No Bills,” never do specify, the prohibited monetary denominations! [ What’s wrong with, “No Posters!”]; on the window of a lunch bar: “Self Service Inside,” admittedly, with a little stretching, sounds like the establishment’s proclaimed, franchise for a blowhard or prevaricator to continue his rant, but, necessarily, on the premises.

Based upon the foregoing, it conceivably, might be of interest, for the reader to take particular notice of, and closely read, his ambient signs, for purposes of possible enlightenment, and, perhaps, some unexpected diversion.

-p.

* Our sincerest apologies, for this title, to Jane Austin, author of the great, Victorian Novel, “Sense and Sensibility.”

 Post # 472   VESTIGIAL MAN (a suggested theory)

In our view, anthropologically denominated periods of mankind’s past, such as,” The Stone Age”, “The Dark Ages” and “The Age of Enlightenment,” are retrospective markers of analyzed (and by professional consensus), categorized stages, in his forward march to his biological goal. We have, for the purpose of its referential use, relative to our present theme, selected the period, named “The Dark Ages.”

With conceivably, some exceptions, the Medieval, Dark Ages, are presently seen, as an especially retrogressive period, exemplified by general ignorance, superstition, atrocity, [including publicly attended, immolation for alleged witchcraft and heresy] and the fear and loathing of “outsiders.”

Such denominations were developed, undoubtedly, among other anthropological criteria, by reason of the predominance of human beings, whose life and description, are typically seen to signify the denominated category; thus, the “Stone Age” and the caveman’s early development of stone and flint tools, the “”Age of Enlightenment,” by the noted genesis, of the ascendancy of rational thought and science, over religious superstition, such as the heliocentric theory of Copernicus, the wisdom of Erasmus and the brilliant discoveries of Sir Isaac Newton. In keeping, therefore, with such empirical conception, it can be said, that the “Dark Ages” saw a preeminence among its, respective, population of ignorance, superstition and an especially defensive fear of foreigners. [interestingly enough, the French word for foreigner, is “etranger”].

In our contemporary society, education and literacy, love of personal liberty, inclusive of, the concern for human rights, empathy for the disadvantaged, including the plight of needy foreign refugees, [symbolized by our Nation’s, venerable, Statue of Liberty], the common desire for justice and equity, as well as unquestioned individual compliance, with the societal, “social contract,” are emblematic. It is universally implied that representative members of modern society, accept such criteria, as preeminent, and within their perception of rectitude and normalcy, as accepted concomitants of their citizenship. We would propose a denominated category, of those representative of the present era, as residing, in the, anthropological period, “The Age of the Free Citizen.”

In light of of such sincerely held, beliefs, we have been in utter despair, over the current scenario, extant in our traditionally, admirable, Nation. An individual has unprecedentedly, been elected to the Oval office, who is a completely ignorant, unprincipled, immoral and egotistical, autocrat, (virtually, a throwback to the stereotypical despots of Muim iedieval times), and a staunch enemy of our (immigrant Nation’s) historic practice of welcoming the needy person from abroad. He is also, a serial womanizer (and, cover-up, briber), a bigoted, facilitator of White Supremacism, instinctively mendacious, an outspoken opponent of the free press, a friend to America’s foreign despotic enemies, and a foe of America’s traditional allies, an opponent to policies of equity (in taxation, and otherwise), a derogator of science and scientific advancement, (by existential example, climate science), and in all and sundry ways, an immoveable roadblock to human advancement and progress. Such President, legally and shamefully, impeached, by the U.S. House of Representatives, for “high crimes and misdemeanors” (possibly, extending to treason) has, brazenly announced, nevertheless, his confident intention of running again, for an additional term of office.

We have agonized over the conundrum, presented by his successful election, as compared with our maintained conception of the American voter, While Trump did lose in the calculation of the popular vote, he did have enough votes to entitle him to a victory, as assigned by the Electoral College (the latter, a retrogressive, non-democratic institution hopefully, before long, to be relegated, to that dust bin of errant history). Still, we have puzzled and worried about the nature of that substantial portion of our citizenry, who, in fact, did support and vote for, such an uneducated, errant, despoiler of all that has admiringly been, traditional America?

One validly determined reason, appeared to be, that too many, reasonable and informed Americans, normally voters, committed the costly error, of choosing not to vote; founded, foolishly, as it was revealed, upon their dislike of both candidates. However, we still struggled, mightily with the dilemma, as to the nature of the millions of Americans, who did choose to vote for such a publicly known, despicable persona, as Donald Trump.

After much agonizing deliberation, we have, courageously, decided, to reveal our nuanced, esoteric, and unconventional determination, (theory), one that could, despite its novelty, serve the office of an acceptable explanation, for the unusual and widely unexpected, election outcome.

We have (privately) held the [unprovable, but useful] theory that, although mankind has attained its evolutionary goal, in his anatomical or physical, development, he is still engaged, in the more complicated and sophisticated, process, of the attainment of his mental and spiritual, evolutionary goal.

Assuming, our unconventional theory is capable of some acceptability, it would greatly assist, in furnishing an acceptable explanation for the wide variation, extant in our population between educated, advanced citizens, with inclinations to mature prospective, including assistance to the endangered, immigrant and, in general, to the needy, as well as a strict moral adhesion to the social contract, and, by sheer contrast, the ignorant, flat earth citizenry, who oppose immigration [in addition to general human advancement] and for such reason, supported Trump. Pursuant to our daring and newly propounded theory, the latter, like tonsils and appendix, are “vestigial”, humans, in some degree or other, viz., less evolved, and antique replications, remnants, of atavistic stages, along the course of man’s evolutionary progress to a final goal of “spiritual evolution.” Like the homo sapiens, of the Dark Ages, they, instinctively, subscribe to Trump’s rant, concerning the dangers of immigration (admitting strangers) based on his revival of such primitive, and anachronistic fear. There are also others, no doubt, somewhat, “vestigial,” who are racially and fearfully, opposed to immigration, on the tribal grounds, that we are changing the color of America. This, overriding, primordial fear of “the stranger” (immigration), causes these atavistic, vestigial remnants of the past, to opt, to turn a blind eye to the many egregious monstrosities, that personify him, and vote for Donald J. Trump.

Those who would question our newly proposed theory, by positing that (in our era) the previous President, Barack Obama, was, unquestionably, an avatar of excellent rule, might be reminded, that “vestigial” folk, usually do not vote. However, they, uncharacteristically, did vote in the Trump election for reasons, notably, including, snake-oil, demagoguery and shameful, misrepresentations by Trump, and his campaign, as to his stand on immigration, and on his false, purported, social (tribal) similarity to such atavistic voters.

-p.

Post # 471 GREAT EXPECTATIONS

The number of real- life Court Cases, generally embracing the following, fictional fact pattern, are no less than legion.

Let us propose, that there are two sisters. The slightly younger sister, known for her somewhat, selfish character, happily marries and enjoys a fulfilling and happy life; a well to do, doting husband, three darling children, and a pet dog, all of whom reside, together in a well- furnished and comfortable, country house. The older, sister, is less attractive but, widely known for her especially, generosity and empathic nature, who, sadly, has been unsuccessful in her desire to acquire a husband and a family of her own.

The sisters have a wealthy, maiden aunt, who by reason of poor health, in combination with advanced age, is no longer capable of easily caring for herself. The older sister, in keeping with her empathic and loving nature, often visits the lonely aunt, bringing food, willingly performing services for her and often expressing her sincere concern and love for her. The other, “slightly younger,” sister, visits the aunt on rare occasions, and, even then, spends little (“boring”) time visiting with her.

In a few years, the wealthy, maiden aunt’s health further deteriorates, so that she is no longer capable of living alone, and caring for herself. The older, sister, still unmarried, sister, responsive to the special request of the aunt, departs from her own residence, to reside with, and care for, the disabled aunt.  Such significant sacrifice and major life change is, lovingly, but hesitatingly, agreed to by her, fully cognizant of the complete sacrifice of her privacy, the undefined limit of her responsibility, and, of course, the loss of any opportunity for marriage. The married sister, visiting, only infrequently, would, on such occasions, bring flowers or cookies, for which, the sick aunt would, emphatically, express her profuse gratitude and affection.

The disabled aunt, together with the empathic, self-sacrificial sister, live together for an additional period of nine years; nine years of constant requests for daily a d nighttime assistance by the aunt, dutifully and cheerfully, rendered, by the unmarried sister. At the expiration of such period of time, the aunt, unexpectedly, dies in her sleep. The caretaker sister, heartbroken, makes the necessary arrangements for a memorial service and burial, and engages the Aunt’s attorney to handle the usual legal matters, inclusive of the Probate of the aunt’s Last Will and Testament, he had drafted, in accordance with her wishes, five years previous to her decease.

Nothing was said, at all, between the two sisters, when it was revealed that, [perhaps as the reader had anticipated] the aunt’s substantial estate, except for the old house, was bequeathed by the wealthy aunt, to the married, well to-do, sister. We will relate the reason for such apparent ingratitude and major injustice, after noting that, empirically, this unsurprising, grossly unfair, fact pattern is not uncommon. The relative length of this, true to life, stereotypical story, can be contrasted, with our lamentably, brief explanation, which we will offer, as the intended theme of this writing.

The self-sacrificing sister, received, relatively, little, in gratitude, because, in the mind of the deceased aunt, that sister, unsurprisingly, fulfilled her usual and expected role, as the empathic and giving, sister. The unmarried sister’s selfless and more-than generous sacrifice, and her years of tireless service, were fully consistent with the saintly portrait, publically painted by herself, and thus, considered, normal. Stated somewhat differently, she, was relegated to her self-made, saintly stereotype, responsible for her sacrifices and dedicated services, which was therefore, perceived as unremarkable.

The married sister, by comparison, had consistently evinced a persona, demonstrative of a selfish preoccupation with oneself. Consequently, by an unjust, quirk of human nature, the result, was the perception, that the infrequent visits and occasional floral gifts, were particularly noticed and seen by the late aunt, to be especially generous and thoughtful.

Lawsuits involving virtually identical fact patterns, as stated, are numerous, and often based upon some legal theory, such as implied contract; attempting to demonstrate, an unspoken, but tacit, mutual understanding and assumption, that the sacrificing party would be rewarded, for her substantial sacrifice and services, by testamentary, remuneration (“legacy”). To our knowledge, all such lawsuits have been unsuccessful; fairness, per se, or demonstrated devotion, have never been determined by the Law, to be contractual.

If the reader would but take the time, he will, predictably recognize, the nature and degree of the many expectations and inclinations he, himself, takes for granted, relative to his fellow societal, and family members. These fixed assumptions, may be accurate or otherwise, (see previous writing). Examples: A. is “mechanically gifted”, B. is “prudent, concerning investments”, C. is “unfaithful,” D. is “untrustworthy”, E. is ”unaccountably ambitious”, F. is “generous,” G. is “stingy”,” I wouldn’t trust F”., and so on, ad finitum, ad nauseum.

It is difficult, to digest the fact that, similar to the scenario first presented, people seem to be assigned labels, as moral or immoral, loyal or disloyal, honest or otherwise, which designations, appear to define the type and extent of our expectations of them. Expressions, such as, “Well, what can you expect of (name)”, reveal that, like the beginning anecdote, expectations, are unreasonably, and often unfairly or incorrectly, created, concerning the perceived persona, of others.

It is the case, but profoundly unjust, that people, shown to be unquestionably, moral and well-behaved members of society, are granted much less leeway, for any occasional, minor errors or immaterial, mistaken conduct, than others, of whom, virtue is, less empirically, expected. There is illogic and injustice, in the practice of “cutting some slack,” or specifically, tolerating, and even, normalizing, unacceptable behavior, for those those, who we perceive have the natural potential for miscreant behavior, as contrasted with the less forgiving, expectations assigned to the moral pillars of our community.

We have been greatly concerned, that the result of the regular, public, demonstration by our Nation’s current President, of daily misdeeds, interference with the established tenets of American democracy, his incapability, arbitrary and despicable behavior, his unashamedly public demonstration of unmitigated vice, will, consequently, be seen as creating, for himself, a dangerously, unique, low bar of expected  (ergo, tolerated), immorality. Donald Trump’s unabashed trashing, of all that is virtuous and existentially vital, for a free Nation, (like “truth” and free journalism) could, frighteningly, become, in his special case, normalized and expected, and thereby, seen as an acceptable, license for him, to despoil the uniquely admirable, American ideal, and traditional way of life.

-p.

Post # 470 DRAMATIS PERSONAE

Among the myriad of reasons, for justifiably, awarding to William Shakespeare, the title of, the greatest playwright and poet, of Western Civilization, is the observation that his abundant plays and poetry, in addition to their creative and artistic genius, contain valid observations on the universal and eternal nature of man. In his, “As You Like It,” Act II, Scene VII, his protagonist, famously, proclaims: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women, merely players.”

We have entitled this mini-essay, “Dramatis Personae,” (in the original Latin, “Masks of the Drama”) which, as known, identifies the cast of players in a theatrical presentation. We have done so that, with the aid of the selected name’s, analogical utility, we can demonstrate and comment, on an a specific, and questionable human societal dynamic.

If one were willing to, metaphorically, press the “hold” button, on his mundane, daily routine, and meditatively, consider his every day, ambient societal dynamics, he might well discover common behaviors, which ostensibly, appear to be acceptable, even convenient, but, on further examination, are essentially objectionable. One such particularly unjustified dynamic, is the reductive and insensitive designation and assignment of role, persona, or predictable inclinations, to others. The practice seems to be the meritless, product, of ignorance, subjective perception, social convenience, or perhaps, an unjustified projection, from a singular, experience.

It would seem that, a single anecdotal, unique, act might conceivably, result in an erroneous and unfair, albeit, societally shared, perceptive determination, concerning an individual’s characteristic persona. This principle would, similarly, and logically, appear to be applicable, to generous, empathic, behavior, as well as those acts, perceived as selfish and unkind; however, for some reason, it would seem that such reductionist judgments are more often inclined to be made, by human nature, in situations concerning perceived, disgraceful, behavior.

Before pushing on, we would emphatically, declare, our definitive opposition, on moral principle, and otherwise, to the practice of assigning, personal traits, stereotypic type, or inclination for “predictable” behavior (roles), to any person, based on any individually perceived act, or worse, based upon reprehensible, hearsay advice.

The testimony of the witness to the signature event, may be incorrect, motivated subjectively, or otherwise inaccurate, the determinative action might have been subject to misinterpretation, or misunderstanding, and the account of the event may be exaggerated, erroneous, or, perhaps, colored, by personal animus or bigotry. The same limitations as to validity, can be applied to reportedly, attributable statements.

Yet, evaluations of others, are all too commonly made, based upon an episodic or anecdotal event, which, may conceivably, be inconsistent, with the principles, normally operative, in the mind of the person being misjudged. The potential for life experiences is virtually unlimited, and one’s response thereto, may often be the result of a singularly upsetting stimulus, and not representative, of his customary predilections.

So much for any defensive claims of accuracy, for such reductionist, personal judgments as, purportedly, being justified by empirical observation.

In more generalized principle, absent personal confirmation, the willing concurrence, with a community shared determination as to persona, is no less than a shameless exercise in injustice. It functionally demonstrates, a neurotic desire for acceptance, by means of an effortless, and thoughtless, complicity with the advised, “folk wisdom.” The interest of human justice and basic morality, encourages the reasonable person, to make his own estimation of his fellow man, in reliance upon his own personal and regular, empirical experience. Stated otherwise, the evaluation of others, should, eternally, be based on existent reality, as opposed to, simply, an insecure and irresponsible, tribal acquiescence, with communicated societal lore.

In the plays of William Shakespeare, the brilliantly created characters, portrayed in their assigned roles, as specified in the work’s, dramatis personae, will, predictably, live up to their famous theatrical stereotypes. In the non-theatrical realm, by contrast, the judicious assignment of character and persona, should, be the product, of consistent empirical reality, and not the irresponsible and potentially hurtful, demonstration of a too- willing, compliance, with the prevailing, societal scuttlebutt.

-p.

 

.

 

 

 

Post # 469 (poesie) WAKE UP CALL (“Sweet Tremors”)

At this time of year, say, mid- February
Sitting at a great big window
Looking to the Kingston Forest
I again, feel the faintest tingle
I lower the book and stop my reading.
Perhaps, it is the decades of gardening,
And our home in the woodland
Not to mention my Nature versifying.
The soft tremor, like that of a butterfly flutter
Or the blossom sip of a hummingbird,
Distracts my reading, and with its soft, frisson,
Awakens me to the err-long, Springtime.

Each year, at the first sense of tremor
I again dream, of putting ear to earth,
So as to hear the plentitude of roots
From bulbs, bushes, trees and shrubs,
Stretching out, shifting and growing.
Could I but do this, I would also hear
The winter-burrowed, furry sleepers,
Rolling over to stretch and sniff
Standing ready, for their wake- up call.

The tremors prophesize the nascent Spring
And I, in tandem with the forest deer,
Shake my head, in gratitude and wonder.

-Leonard N. Shapiro [ February, 2020]

Post # 468   THE SOVEREIGN NATION OF IGNOMANIA (Fiction no. 8)

Research indicates that despite its easy accessibility, visitors to the Sovereign Nation of Ignomania, are notably rare, with the exception of a monthly supply ship, which, following complete unloading at the designated platform, at the foot of the large wall, immediately departs. Walls are eight feet in height, with supporting wooden beams, steel reinforced, topped with razor wire, and running along the entire border of the island Nation, a circumference, approaching forty-seven miles.  At regular sites, along the broad, encompassing wall, there are official signs, prohibiting immigration, on “pain of long imprisonment.”

A brief history of the Sovereign Nation of Ignomania, may prove to be enlightening. The Nation began its existence, in fact, as a Democratic Republic. In time, it degraded, by subtle degrees to its present description, an autocratic Monarchy, through the offices of, an apathetic public, a decline in the public media, especially the Press, and the exponential growth in population and influence, of its low information, populist citizenry. The factual details of said hapless decline, are adequately set forth in various historical accounts of the period, and it is quite beyond the intended scope of this writing, which is merely, to offer a description of the subject Monarchial State.

Conceivably, due to a nostalgic remembrance of its bygone history as a Democratic Republic, the King, atypically, is elected but, solely within the Nation’s one party system. The term of office, is, in reality, evergreen (perpetual), provided he remains alive and willing to serve. The Royal Constitution contains, virtually, no substantive limitation, whatsoever, to the authority of reigning Monarch; however, regarding the citizens, it does have one utilitarian restriction, specifically, making any and all revolutions, illegal and “unconstitutional”.

The official name, of the new Nation, was, conceived erroneously, based upon a complete ignorance as to the meaning of two words.  It was to have been named, “THE SOVEREIGN NATION OF EGOMANIA”, but the founders, in their respective states of admirable erudition, misspelled the intended name, to read: “THE SOVEREIGN STATE OF IGNOMANIA.” The resultant word, the meaning of which, its founders were completely ignorant, (as they were of the originally intended one) was not discerned for a period in excess of four months, and then, left as is, for purposes of practicality, due to previously printed stationary, forms, emblems, flags, State Seal and the like.

Some information might be useful regarding the King. The President and Chief Executive of the erstwhile, democratic, Nation, was an individual, one, Roland T. Rump, a former circus juggler, who turned to politics, having been financed by industrialists, (whose quest for profits, caused them to oppose all regulations, including those which would ameliorate global warming) and whose votes and influence, when added to the vast number of votes of the flat-earth, uninformed, populists, led to a Rump victory.

 

Rump always yearned for a Monarchial Title, especially, after viewing movies, such as Ben Hur and Spartacus, in which, he was impressed with the, historic fact, that Roman Emperors, and Kings, bore heroic, Imperial names. He then fully satisfied his all- consuming ego, by convening a public, formal ceremony, attended by thousands of citizens, in which, he was, mandatorily, awarded the imperial name, of his choice, “GLUTEUS MAXIMUS”.

The newly installed “Monarch,” ecstatically happy, in contemplation of his brilliant, creation of a new, imperial dynasty, in which his future descendants, would bear the majestic name. He immediately ordered that a Royal Palace be built, (at public expense) and so constructed, as to only have a right wing, to the exclusion of a left wing. The lopsided, palace, still stands, bearing on its lintel, the shiny, formal, gold leafed, words, “ROYAL PALACE OF GLUTEUS MAXIMUS.”

The new Nation, under the glorious reign of its exemplary ruler, wasted no time in establishing nuanced laws and, new (mandated) folkways to engage and solidify, a sense of citizen nationhood, pride and identification. The Nation’s citizens, when outdoors, were legally required to wear red baseball hats, stating, in contrasting white letters, “Make Ignomania Great.”  Such Ordinance is enforced by roving, civic police, sporting AR 25, semi-automatic rifles. At all times, it is easy to spot King, Gluteus Maximus, despite the presence of overwhelming crowds, by his red hat, with the State motto emblazoned thereupon, as well as his unruly, orangutan-orange hair, (there are, on duty, at all times, royal hairdressers, with power hairdryers at the ready), his smiling corpulence and, rather significantly, by the fact that he routinely, carries a partly eaten hamburger, in one hand (often dripping ketchup) and a golf club in the other.

Although the State is Monarchial, its King, Gluteus Maximus 1st, was, as stated, chosen, democratically, by the vote of the Nation’s citizens, under its one-party system.  There are mandatorily attended, weekly, rallies of support for the King, plus other, official occasions, like Official State dinners, where hamburger on roll, soda or beer, and then dessert, are served; the latter, usually consisting of M & M’s (peanuts), or some other esoteric specialty, selected, by the knowledgeable and aesthetic Monarch. The State, as a compassionate gesture, refunds the excess of any subscription paid, over six dollars, by its attending citizens, for any communal event. All money collected, goes into the King’s account, for State emergencies, such as an observed, material decline, in the Royal inventory of M & M’s, and other similar State emergencies.

There appear to be no colleges or universities, anywhere, in the Nation, as well as not one of the forbidden, libraries, museums, galleries or concert halls; but there are six primary schools, affording a “full spectrum of education,” running up to the ninth grade. There is but one newspaper, which is reviewed by a designated, sycophant- employee, of the King (one who can, truthfully boast of a [rare] literacy), for the possibility of “fake” news (viz., unfavorable to King Maximus). Freedom of the Press, however, as a protected institution, is, incontrovertibly, sanctioned, by the benevolent Monarch, as, inarguably, exemplified by the Royally encouraged, publication of twelve, officially approved, “girlie” magazines

As, smilingly declared, by His August Majesty, King Gluteus Maximus the 1st, “Things have never been better.”                                        -p