Post # 485        RUNNING IN PLACE

Like many others, we find ourselves in the extraordinary state of (voluntary) quarantine. This, novel condition of solitude, entailing the material alteration of established daily routines, automatic and volitional, generally renders people, at first, in a state of annoyed disruption, and later, possibly dependent upon nuanced persona, confusion, frustration, and, even personal fear. Such emotional reactions, find their etiology in the abrupt cessation of one’s previously familiar, and therefore, secure and accepted, way of life.  For active people, normal reaction to the status, is akin to a perspiring, heavily breathing, city jogger, energetically, running in place, awaiting the change of an intersectional traffic light.

It would appear, that we have all incorporated, our long established, nuanced, activities, both characterological and mechanical, fixed patterns of regular behavior, so that a sudden, enforced break, in the (previously felt) “daily grind,” can result in feelings of being ill at ease, confused, purposeless and generally, “out of sorts.”

To add kindling to the virtual bonfire of dense and confusing smoke, one needs to bear in mind that we, since the 19th Century, have developed into an industrial society, such that, production and profits have been secular deities. Between certain ages, men (and, recently, many women) have been, and are, rewarded and valued, by society on criteria, relative to their production and contribution, to the financial success of their employer, and ultimately to their Nation. A man who is not working (except for recognized disability) is, eerily looked upon, with deprecation and disrespect. The “doers,” the ambitious, “go getters” the “strivers” in commerce, are awarded the kudos, by an industrially oriented, work centered, society. By such folkways, not working, viz., not productive, is the adjective for a wasted, useless and purposeless individual. However, the retired American, is respected, in this milieu, for his past contributions to our industrial society.

In addition to the possible feeling of frustrated uselessness, and abnormality in one’s daily life, a feeling of confused identity, may well set, in after a dose of unexpected (and unearned) leisure. In addition to a sense of being ill at ease, in not working, and to that extent purposeless, he, in addition to an uncomfortable disturbance with his established, routines, suffers a feeling of uncertainty as to his (new) identity. Leisure was eternally, a valuable aspiration, while in normal performance of his work (“in harness”) but now, it is a disturbing and, even guilt ridden state.

In our productive society, one of the regular, preliminary questions, posed on the occasion of a social introduction to a new person, is, “What do you do? The response, a shoe salesman or a dentist, will suffice to enable a stereotypic, acceptance, for the moment. Should the response to the question be,” I am not working at present,” his acceptance may be delayed, or, unless further explanatory facts are acceptable, within the established context of our commercial-industrial expectations, he may be considered socially unacceptable.

Prior to the “Industrial Revolution” (whatever, and whenever, that was) the commoner and middleclass individual was quite often known by his calling or trade. To illustratively, sample a few names, Weaver, Carpenter, Taylor, Clark, Farmer, Miller, Wheelwright, Sawyer and others. Today, the individual, still, is often referred to, valued or described, by his occupation or profession.

It is not only (interactive) society that identifies an individual, in large part, by his profession or class of work, but, significantly, regarding the individual, it is a dominant ingredient in his personal self-image (or, privately held, inner identity). One’s self-image as a Lawyer, Doctor, Clergyman or Shoemaker, colors much of his thoughts and perceptions of others, and, particularly, (to our main point) himself. Such phenomena, like other routine assumptions and behaviors are implicit and durable, in our thoughts, unless interrupted, as by, the presenting, housebound quarantine.

For the identical reason, many people find the stage of retirement, a challenging adjustment. For so many decades, one had, implicitly, associated his personal identity with what he did for a living. Those of us who have been retired for a while, having already made the necessary adjustment, may find homebound quarantine, somewhat less troublesome; most particularly, those who read, and engage in creative, activity.

It may be, that the present health threat will be with us for a while. Those experiencing a sense of disorientation, as noted above, should endeavor to understand that for the referenced reasons, the experience of coronavirus cultural malaise, is, not personal, but, rather, general and widespread. Yet, it is conceivable that the experience may have some utility in the advance understanding of retirement.

We would, enthusiastically recommend, and not merely for the duration of the quarantine, the undertaking of a new interest, or the further pursuit of a previous interest, to acceptably and pleasurably, occupy the time of the quarantine, and, most importantly, thereafter, for the enhancement of his quality of life.

-p.

Post # 484   DEMOCRACY, ABRIDGED TOO FAR

The assertively and righteously declared, mantra of the Nation, since its very establishment, has been, ‘’ One man, one vote.” If it were but true however, our great Nation would be even greater.

Certainly, it was much less true, before the Civil War, when a substantial number of people, viz., enslaved blacks, could not vote. It was less true, regarding women, until the early part of the 20th Century, when women’s tireless and valiant efforts, finally won them the right to the franchise. It has never been true, historically, by the Constitutional allocation of two Senators per State, regardless of population. Thus, States with comparatively smaller populations, like Idaho and Montana, each have two Senators, while States, with high populations, like New York and California, are unfairly and undemocratically, allowed, only two Senators. It follows, therefore, that the votes of smaller States undemocratically, have impact, far in excess of those States with much bigger high populations.

“One man, one vote,” is most demonstratively, and inconsistently, revealed to be a bold, inaccurate assertion, when one inserts, the shamefully anti-democratic, Electoral College, into the hypocritical mix. There exist some purported rationalizations for its existence, (see below) none of which comport, with any reasonably understood, definition of a democracy,” nor with the proclaimed declaration, a Nation,” for and by the people”

Constitutionally created, the Electoral College,” is an institution, whose existence and composition (the latter, identical to the Senate) irrefutably, belies the principle, that the vote of every American, is equally determinative. The institution is composed, of 538 Electors, a majority (270) of whom is Constitutionally, empowered to select a President. All States are entitled to the same number of delegates, as they have in the House of Representatives, and, additionally, identical to the Senate, undemocratically, allowed two delegates each, irrespective of population. Here again, we are confronted with a jaundiced democracy, wherein American votes are required to be filtered, and worse, through an inequitably constituted medium, established and proven to be, superior in authority and determination, to the total, “equal vote” of all Americans

It is shown, by empirical analysis, that the most productive portions of America, include 15 States, having 30 Senators, while the less productive, (and lesser populated) States, have 70 Senators. The fact that, by far, the greatest amount of the Nation’s wealth is created by the populous States of the East and West coasts, is irrefutable proof, that the mismatches are political, rather than economic or social.

The record indicates, that no less than two, of the last three, American Presidents, received significantly less popular votes, than their respective, opponents, but were constitutionally, awarded the American Presidency, by the (undemocratically constituted) Electoral College.

In addition to fueling reductive arguments about the hypocrisy and the meaningless nature of the vote, and the general loss of confidence in the franchise, in incontrovertible, principle, any editing of the popular vote, to any reasonably minded citizen, unavoidably, gives the lie, to our fundamental conception, of America’s, ideal, intrinsic values.

Based upon our cursory research, regarding the Founders’ basis, for the establishment of the Electoral College, we have confidently concluded, that the purpose and intention, was sociological and paternal, as opposed to political. Our readings indicate that the Founders, while sincerely believing in the principled right to vote of every citizen, nevertheless, paternally, and perhaps somewhat, imperiously, distrusted the common man (“the mob”, the “rabble”). Their perception, of the low level of education, of the common man of their time, was productive of a true dilemma, between their sincere espousal of the morality and equity, of the universal right to vote, and, the fear of the influence of the uneducated and ignorant (“the mob”) on the decisive power of the newly created Nation. The Electoral College was, it appears, created as a protective filter against the influence of the enfranchised uneducated, ignorant, common man. We sympathize with their dilemma, if not entirely, with their hubris.

It is no less than a tragic-comedy, to realize that their considered solution to the perceived problem, perversely, became the direct and proximate cause, of its feared realization. Donald J. Trump, the darling of the (pliny termed): flat earth, ignorant, under educated, and reductionist “rabble,” was anointed, Chief Executive, solely, and only, by reason of the creation (and the vote) of this “protective filter,” the Electoral College; Trump having, [irony of ironies] lost, in the popular election, by substantial numbers of votes. So much for dilemmas, protective social assumptions, bordering on hubris, and, metaphysically, on the eternal futility of human intention.

It is long past due, that America, demonstrate its implicit faith in its citizens, by initiating the necessary procedure, to eliminate that undemocratic, vestigial organ, the Electoral College, and thereby, reestablish, in every American, justified pride, in the recognition of the significance of his individual ballot.

-p.

 

Blogpost # 483  FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD*

We have chosen self-imposed isolation, (quarantine), responsive to the sudden advent of the infectious, viral disease, COVID-9, as instructed by the Nation’s recognized health experts. Ironically, this hiatus of normal activity has arrived, simultaneously, with the perennial, socially unrestricted, college break, the student’s, happily anticipated, reprieve, “Spring Break;” obviously, the comparable scenarios are poles apart.

In stark contrast, to the student holidays,” quarantine” means an enforced lockdown of the context and lifestyle, of the affected individual, since it imposes an impassable detour to his interaction with other members of society, in business, commuting to work, with fellow employees, colleagues, clients or customers, tradesmen and friends.  Thus, it is, as stated, thus, worlds apart from the context of the concurrent Spring Break; the latter, a happily anticipated, time limited, period of social recreation. To submit to the status of quarantine, by contrast, is effectually, to surrender oneself to a self-imposed, indeterminate sentence, without parole, to an unexperienced, restricted, confinement.

The need for the prophylactics of quarantine, was the etiological presentment, of a previously unknown, infectious virus, COVID-19 (“Corona”), easily spread, from person to person, especially, by saliva, or emitted droplets from sneezing, and coughing. The recognized experts on the subject of infectious diseases, including the most prominent of whom, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have uniformly prescribed, general sanitary protocols, for the average American citizen; but the more stringent recommendation, of isolation, or quarantine, for older citizens, especially those challenged with another condition. As indicated, we qualify, under both latter criteria.

In view of the novelty of this previously unknown pathogen, and the consequential absence of relatable scientific data or record of empirical experience, no scientific or medical expert is enabled to hazard an estimate, as to the duration of the threat. Admittedly, human life is ephemeral, and so it would appear salutary, to do something, of personal value, rather than irresponsibly, waste whatever precious time during which the quarantine will be medically, necessary. The sole beneficial point of consideration in the midst of the present hazardous and worrisome period, is that we are not distracted from thought, by the frenetic activity of our usual routine, and so, have the opportunity to use the wait time, beneficially, rather than irretrievably, waste it.

With the intent to furnish the necessary perception, we would offer the following fictitious, (but typical) scenario, of the prevailing profile of observed, routine life, for many people, albeit, free from the necessity of quarantine:

Mr. Joseph Regime wakes up faithfully, on weekdays, 6:30 A.M. for work. He energetically, brushes his teeth, skillfully shaves, showers, dresses for the office, and then greets his sleepy wife, Mrs. Ona Regime, in the kitchen, for a quick breakfast. Their two children, Linda and Joe, Jr., as expected, appear, as ever, at the conclusion of Joe’s coffee, but, in enough time for Joe, before leaving for work, to give a perfunctory kiss to each of them and their mother. At work, Joe morphs into his practiced office persona, and, after greeting his fellow employees with a curt, but friendly, nod, dives into his work, grabbing his pad and the telephone. During the period of mid-morning to noon, Joe casts several glances at the office clock, impatient for the arrival of the lunch break.  The afternoon is equally, busy for Joe, the pendency of which, he furtively, snatches several looks, for the arrival of 5P.M. quitting time. At home, the children being the typified modern, teenagers, little is said of any value, during dinner, the children, both, distractedly focused, on their personal smart phones, and responding to all parental attempts at inter personal conversation, with mono-syllabic, inarticulate, grunts.

Conversation between the adults, themselves, is, as usual, meaningless, robotic and trite.  At some point Joe, retreats, predictably, to his favorite chair in the living room, and when Ona  has fully loaded and switched on the dishwasher she, routinely, joins her husband in the living room, facing the T.V. screen, until bedtime.

Were Joe or Ona, obliged, at any time, to be placed in quarantine, the quality of their life, would not be significantly diminished; having, long go, replaced normal, meaningful, married “life,” with what can be seen as an amicable co-tenancy.

Those of us who are fortunate enough possess more mature and sensitive approaches to our lives and cultivate divergent interests, lead more acceptable, and cerebrally active lives. There is present, in this preferred, marital context, a striving for personal advancement, understanding and acquisition of wisdom. Yet, it is, the sensitive and aware people, that have the danger of experiencing quarantine, in the manner of inmates, doing hard time in solitary confinement.

Certainly, any and all conversations on stimulating subjects, with our spouse, or partner can continue, in quarantine. In addition, there are our, books, recorded music and other worthwhile diversions, now, with adequate opportunity, to enjoy. Moreover, for those individuals with a sense of mature identity, introspection and an adequate degree of sensitivity, the long and joyless sentence of quarantine, might afford, at last, a useful opportunity to, valuably use the personal time, rather than merely endure the isolation.

May we suggest, that this period of solitude, if applicable, may finally, and profitably, be used to (if not done adequately in the past), introduce ourselves; to the internal, private meditative person we, in fact, are; the one that wears the theatrical mask of parent, spouse, professional, close friend, and our societal persona. Is it a good time, at long last, to privately, reach and evaluate internally, examined, private judgments of our self, (kindly and objectively), as well as others in our life. We, in solitude, have sufficient opportunity to examine our long held precepts, political, secular or religious, our assessments of others, and to audit, long term perception of ourselves and others.

The occasion of the current, and unfortunate need for solitude, can  best be utilized, by a person of insight and intelligence, as, a rare opportunity, for an undistracted, analysis, of one’s self and of others. Life has been shown to be exponentially improved, by the knowledge of oneself. Socrates famously instructed, “Know thyself.”

A useful and candid, inner knowledge of the self, may be an achievable and worthwhile endeavor,only, when we are solitary, and away from the “madding crowd.”

 

-p.

* ADDENDUM. Apologies to the 19th Century author, Thomas Hardy, for the title.

Blog # 482       MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE 

The following official “sports” announcement, was broadcast today, in all major languages, by public television stations, domestic and international:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you, in this corner, the all-time champion and favorite, Planet Earth, the well- known, green oblate spheroid, with a computed surface area, exceeding 197 million miles, weighing in at 6.6 sextillion tons. In the opposite corner, the wily opponent, the “corona” virus, officially weighting in, at 20 to 400 nanometers [viz., about one tenth the size of a human cell]. The match will not be confined, as usual, to a designated and advertised, sports stadium, instead, the parties will duke it out at viral- selected venues. The customary, Marquis of Queensbury Rules, not being applicable, each party is free to empl the fighting style and weapon, of his preference.

The designated favorite, and all- time champion, Terra Firma, has announced its intent to employ its customary, highly lauded, scientific prowess, testing protocols as well as, public policies of mitigating infection, by prudent individual behavior [to include the avoidance of crowds, frequent washing of hands, and, when possible, quarantine; the latter tactic, to be employed by the elderly and those with health challenges.] The underdog opponent, “Corona,” has, stated, as expected, that it chooses to keep its intended, (villainous) tactics, secret and undisclosed.”

The foregoing sports announcement, was universally communicated, and, we, being of compliant inclination, senior in age, and to a degree, health challenged, have prudently elected the defensive tactic of voluntary quarantine.

Thus, we find ourselves, presently, in self-imposed isolation. It is admittedly true, that notwithstanding our voluntary quarantine, we in any event, are fortunate to have the wherewithal, to produce essays, poetry, and, more recently, short fiction, in this blog space; yet, such isolated privilege, is inarguably, distinguishable, from the freedom of personal, interactive communication. 

Our ruminations concerning such condition, has caused us to imagine isolation, as depicted in classic literature, featuring, geographically stranded characters, as in Stevenson’s “Treasure Island,” or Defoe’s, lone protagonist, Robinson Crusoe. Questions arise such as: what happens to a typical modern member of interactive society, suddenly obliged to be isolated from his society? One would naturally, assume that such person would be desperate to communicate with other humans, as possible.

Literature and film, in their nuanced iterations of the proposed fact pattern, often portray the isolated and desperately lonely, protagonist, attempting desperately but, unsuccessfully, to attract the notice of visibly passing ships or low flying planes, by energetically, waving a primitively, made flag, or by a smoke signal, emanating from a hastily ignited campfire, and accompanied by loud, futile cries for help. When all such desperate attempts have unfortunately failed, the observed, remaining, final attempt at communication, is the enclosure of a written distress note in a bottle, and casting into the sea, in the remote hope that it will be found.

We hope that we have not transgressed too far, beyond the literary, pale of “poetic license,” in offering this note to the reader, as a figurative, “message in the bottle.” Please be aware, however, of our very material distinction.  Rather than inserting a written cry for our help, in our figurative, bottle, our present intention is to reverse the direction, of the stereotype. By stark and novel contrast, we, as the victims, of enforced solitude, insert this message of hope, directed to the finder of this allegorical bottle, conceivably troubled, by the sudden, worldwide, presentation of threat, by the current virus. We do so, by means of the recitation of a retrospective reflection, of another, long past, personally experienced period of universal, public anxiety, emanating from an entirely disparate source, but, to our point, culminating in a positive ending; consonant with our present expectations, as to the future of our its current challenge.

Those, old enough to remember the dark days of the 1940’s, will recall the universal state of fear and anxiety, brought on by the existence of the Second World War: Germany, attacking Czechoslovakia, Poland, then all Central Europe, the Japanese surprise bombing of Pearl Harbor, destroying much of the American Navy, and its attack on countries in Asia and the South Pacific, all of which, warranted America’s entrance into the (yet another, world) war.

In 1941, the year its of entry into the war, against the “Axis” States (Germany, Japan and Italy), America was not, adequately, prepared for a (World) war, but quickly and successfully, mobilized its factories, and its citizenry for the world effort. The evil megalomaniac, Adolph Hitler, was maniacally raining down firebombs on London, dedicatedly, eliminating Jews from the world and pursuing world domination; while America’s citizens, as a unified, mobilized force, assisted our troops in the war effort, by buying “War Bonds,” by volunteering for needed, civilian services, such as night wardens, firemen and auxiliary police, complying with official directions, and willingly doing without customary items, such as fuel, butter, coffee, rubber, silk (needed for parachutes) and other, items needed in the war effort.

We have, so many decades on, a vivid recollection of, together, with other young friends, pulling a wagon, after school, carrying used and discarded, tin cans (the popular food container of the day) and other discarded metal and rubber, voluntarily and dutifully, accumulated and collected for the war effort. Many women, for the first time, went to work, at defense and other factories, to fill in for men in service, and to aid in the unified effort. Not many readers may be old enough to recall the poster, “Rosie the Riveter” celebrating the contribution to the war effort, by women, (many of whom, had no previous experience of employment), and the many posters and signs, showing a mythical, goateed, “Uncle Sam,” beckoning to young men, to sign up for service in the armed services.

History books attest, accurately, to our being victors, of the long and deadly war. We at plinyblog, believe that America, in actual fact, was successful in two wars, World War 2, of course, but also in the difficult, personally experienced, war against uncertainty and fear. We did so by standing together and confidently, pursuing whatever potential routes were available, for success.

We confidently look forward, in this pugilistic contest, to a timely, TKO, or actual knockout of the malevolent viral opponent.

** ADDENDUM: Following completion of this enclosed message, the reader is welcome to keep the bottle.

-p.

 

Post #481      IT’S ALL ABOUT YORICK!

This mini-essay is a unique for plinyblog, in that it is a comment, regarding a great play, perhaps the greatest play written in the English canon, by the, inarguably, greatest playwright of the language, if not in history. More specifically, it is a criticism of the reviews, read and lectures heard, by us on William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, “Hamlet.”

We, are not, self-identified, experts on the subject, by any measure, and are, merely, lifelong lovers of great literature. Nevertheless, after much reservation and thought, we have decided to brave, the predictable criticism of, presumption and of reductive analysis, in this voicing of our long held, and possibly radical, opinion, of   Shakespeare’s true, intended message, expressed in his greatest work of theater art, Hamlet.

As the reader may recall,in  theplay, stated here, in precis form, a ghost claiming to be the ghost of his slain father, the King of Denmark, appears to the protagonist, Hamlet, with the demand that he exact revenge against the King’s brother, Claudius, his murderer and the usurper of his throne (and wife). Hamlet’s persona, portrayed as a thinker, more than a man of action, agonizes and perseverates, concerning this painful assignment throughout the play, and actually does postpone some opportunities to carry it out for personally, perceived reasons, as related.

Aside from the dynamics, and the action (and inaction) of the play, it may be agreed, by readers, that the most popularly known scene in the heavy dramatic work, is the quiet, “graveyard scene.” In this funeral scene, contrasted with the emotional atmosphere of the major portion of the play, Hamlet is physically handed the of the skull of a familiar, deceased, jester, “Yorick,” his  beloved childhood playmate. Hamlet expresses intense grief at his past recollections of the deceased as a living, entertaining, and unforgettable personality.

We, humbly, and with great deference, to the recognized experts on Shakespeare, differ,  regarding the many communicated analyses of Hamlet, expressed, at lectures on, and in the literature read by us, as to the play’s primary message.

The commonly recognized, intellectual analysis of Hamlet, deals with, the stark contrast between men of action, and the agony and internal conflict of those who simply and neurotically, perseverate. There exist psychological theories, aplenty, disputes between Freudians, neo- Freudians, and many literati, on the subject of Hamlet and of the various ascribed theories of neurosis, and of human persona and the like, which we have noted to our personal dismay, and to our, now confessed, sardonic reactions.

We  bravely and candidly state, that our reading of Hamlet, leads us in an entirely different direction, and articulares a discerned, disparate message of the play. We see intentional purpose and especial significance in Shakespeare’s graveyard scene, above all others in the play. It will be noted such scene is independent and entirely unrelated to the play’s portrayal of action or inaction.

We are thoroughly convinced that the celebrated, “Alas poor Yorick, I knew him well, Horatio” scene, is not a Shakespearean respite, from the play’s tragic drama, in the same way, that the Bard often inserts light scenes for comic relief, in his tragic canon. To us, it is, by far, the most articulate and meaningful moment in the play.  Yorick, the late, beloved, talented and amusing jester, is, now, but a specter of the past, and the scene, an instructive reminder, to Hamlet (and humanity), that life is ephemeral and death certain, and accordingly, the quest for revenge is  misguided and meaningless waste.

Stated, more precisely, Shakespeare’s, properly  intended message to mankind, was, that man’s desire for revenge, is existentially, futile, relative to man’s, inevitable, mortality.

We, would confidently urge the above nuanced insight, on any reader of Shakespeare, and sincerely welcome the receipt of any opposed perceptions.

-p.

 

 

 

 

POST # 480  (fiction # 8)  H.G. WELLS AND THE MIRACLE OF SALUBRIOUS VALLEY

The population the of the rural village of Salubrious Valley, generally does not exceed approximately, 600 residents, [such total, to be enlarged, following the expected birth of a baby, to Jim and Anna Flaxis, in three weeks]. The name, Salubrious Valley, was officially adopted, by unanimous vote of its Village Council, slightly more than, seventy ago, to supersede its former name, Corona Hollow. The change of name was enacted, and has been maintained, by reason of the truly miraculous fact, that not one of its residents, has ever suffered from illness, of any kind. It is, generally, believed that such unusual phenomenon, has been the successful result, of each inhabitant’s faithful compliance, with the mandatory rules of its Village Charter. The factual miracle is the attributable explanation, for the uniform refusal of its successive residents to relocate elsewhere. Any villager, wishing to return home, after an officially approved, brief sojourn outside the village, has to submit to a period of three weeks of monitored quarantine, to prevent entry of disease causing, germs.

The current members of the Salubrious Valley Village Council, are Mrs. Anna Flaxis, Sr., President, Ms. Bella Donna, Vice President, Mr. Sal Hepatica, Treasurer, Rev. Bram O. Seltzer, Executive Secretary, and Mr. Sid Jitalis, recording Secretary. The Council, convenes, regularly, every other Thursday evening at 8 P.M., and enjoys the organizationally, rare privilege, of brief meetings, the reason for which, is the perpetual absence of issues, or contention.

The authoritative, “Charter” of Salubrious Valley Village, commences with an historic and explanatory preamble, consisting of the recounting of its unique and “miraculous” history, and furnishes the rationale, for its all-encompassing, mandatory, provisions, regulating the life, and actions, of its resident members. Included, are, such matters as, appropriate dress, private and interactive behavior, cleanliness, dietary restrictions, and evening curfew. The official document provides for mandatory, universal, observance of its provisions, on pain of ex- parte, summary dispossess. There has been no known circumstance of non-compliance, and, accordingly, no reported event of dispossess.

The requirement for universal compliance, with the Village Charter, to an outsider, may well seem, especially draconian and remarkable, considering that the Charter, includes, the following excerpted, restrictions and mandated behavior:

  1. Handshaking, and all other risky, third party touching, inclusive of, children and other members of the family, relatives and friends, are strictly prohibited. Hands must be thoroughly washed, no less than 8 times, per diem.
  2. Well laundered gloves, and sanitary surgical masks, are to be worn, outside the home. On return, gloves, and protective masks, are, to be immediately, burned.
  3. Hot showers or baths, lasting no less than thirty minutes, and utilizing anti-bacterial soap, must be taken 4 times per day, or more often, as felt necessary.
  4. All unavoidable coughing, or sneezing, must be directed into the bent elbow and inside an empty, closed closet.
  5. Uniform compliance, with the age appropriate, schedule of hours for sleep, as provided in the Village bulletin, are to be strictly
  6. Visits by resident, non-family members are limited to one or two persons (simultaneously) three times per week; and two times, daily, as to related family members; to be followed, in all cases, by the washing and changing of clothes.
  7. All, necessary deliveries of mail or packages, are to be handled with clean gloves and read or examined quickly, immediately followed by the precautionary washing of hands, and, disinfection of the desk, or table top, if used.
  8. Family meals are to be taken, either, one person at a time, or, if desired, together, with the use of loose, easily manageable, face masks.
  9. The practice of kissing or embracing is hazardous, and is to be curtailed, or more preferably, completely eliminated.
  10. There is to be limited holding and personal nurturance of (previously sanitized or bathed) family pets, which should be assigned, weekly, to one responsible person
  11. All switches, drawer handles and doorknobs must be fully sanitized no less than four times per diem. Identical procedures apply to all ground and cell phones.
  12. Romantic interludes, beyond # “9”, above, when unavoidable, should be conducted with surgical masks and gloves; osculation should be limited, as possible.
  13. Bathrooms, including personal facilities, must be completely scoured and sanitized after every use, including, visits for hair combing and brushing teeth.
  14. Clothes are to be changed twice daily and cleaned or laundered, immediately.
  15. Washing machines, dryers and dishwashers, are to be thoroughly scoured, with an anti-bacterial agent, before, and after each use,

Successive, contagion-free, generations of villagers, have, historically, engaged in compliance with the plethora of mandates in the Charter, proudly and happily, attributing their perfect health histories, and perfect record of non-miscreant behavior, to such full time and energetic dedication. There has been, no illness, or sneezing and coughing, no sickrooms or sickbeds, no need for medical assistance, no lost time from work or school, little injury and a universal and perpetual absence of concern, regarding the subject of infectious disease. Disability attendant upon aging, was however, necessarily recognized as inevitable and not proscribed.

Willa Profolaxis, the orphaned, 17 tear old, maternal grand-niece, of the childless, Board President, Anna Flaxis, was adopted, by Anna and her husband, Jim, approximately six years ago, and happily, and (of course,) healthily, resided with her adoptive parents. She has been universally admired, for her intelligence and cheerful disposition, and, in common with all village residents, fully compliant with all of stringent requirements of the Salubrious Village Charter.

Willa was always, an avid reader, and an especial admirer of English Victorian literature. She has read every Jane Austin, Charles Dickens, and William Thackeray novel, in the small village library. In her spare time, from employment as a piano teacher. She has always deeply yearned to experience, more of the period’s authors such as, George Eliot, Anthony Trollope, and H.G. Wells; writers whose works, unfortunately, were not available, in the small village library. Willa was aware of the difficult procedure to leave the village, and the unpleasant requirement following her return, but, in order to pursue her literary interests, was willing to, endure the procedure for permission to leave and the loneliness of the subsequent solitary period of isolated quarantine procedure, to pursue her passionate literary interests.

After earnestly indicating her wishes, and willingness to undergo the isolation period, she easily succeeded in passing her stringent oral examination and required interviews, seeking the necessary permission, (her application, certainly not adversely affected, by the fact that her foster mother was Board President) which was granted. Her revealed plan, which consisted a visit to a nearby College library, and supervised residence, in a room in the College’s female dormitory premises, for three days. was officially approved.

She left the following Monday evening, by the village small, private bus, for the nearby college town of Belle Airs, intending to return the following Thursday, as authorized. In addition to a new notebook, she packed a few changes of clothes and undergarments, and a dozen pairs of gloves and medical masks. Upon leaving Salubrious Village, she dutifully donned her protective mask and put on her gloves. The village bus driver, also gloved and masked, drove Willa to the nearby college town, and left her at the college entrance. The college’s Dean of Women, had been expecting her, and, privately surprised at noting her mask, showed her to her assigned room; it was past 10:P.M. and she wished her a good night, after indicating the route to the library, and the dining room, and left.

After an excited, and restless. night and quick breakfast, (which she had brought, from home) she dressed, and walked to the College Library, and entered, to the surprise of the librarian, and others, (at her mask and gloves) and was directed, as she requested, to the section dedicated to Victorian Literature. Willa was very excited, as she took down a volume of Anthony Trollop, “The Warden,” slipped off her gloves and excitedly, began reading.

After approximately one hour of contented reading, a very handsome young college student, entered the library and began to read. He selected a novel by H.G. Wells, “The War of the Worlds,” and, sat at an adjoining window table, and began to read. He was so engrossed at finishing the novel (which he had frustratedly, come close to accomplishing, the previous evening, when the library closed.)

The handsome, young college student noticed the absorbed, Willa nearby, and despite his anxiety, regarding the outcome of his book, approached her and inquired after the gloves and face mask. Willa, having little experience with young men, naively, explained the complete history and description of her village of Salubrious, emphasizing the lifestyle of its residents, and the complete absence of germs. The young student, whose name was Ian Hardy, smiled, and on the way back to his table, thinking of the rosy picture painted, so naively and honestly, by Willa, had a pang of conscience, as he stifled a couple of soft, involuntary coughs.

The next morning, saw both young people, sitting and reading, at their previous tables. Young Hardy, was excitedly finishing his novel by H.G. Wells, and Willa was half way through with “The Warden,” when the young man, jumped up and quickly approached the reading young lady. He exclaimed, “I remember your description of your village, and their absolute dread of germs.” Willa, still masked, asked for an explanation of his sudden statement. The handsome young college student, explained that in Well’s novel, the Earth was near certain destruction from superior and, invincible forces of Martians who suddenly, collapsed, due to their Martian lack of immunity, for Earthly germs. He then expressed great fear and respect for earthly germs, and acquired more insight into the facts revealed, yesterday, by Willa. He the invited Willa to lunch at the College Restaurant, in the adjoining building, and Willa, flattered and charmed, by the young man, accepted.

At lunch the two diners, discussed the subject of the danger of germs, a subject of especial interest to Willa, who had a uniquely exciting and rarely experienced sense of sudden attachment to young Hardy. He, on the other hand, was fascinated her strange personality, noticing, each time she lifted her face mask to eat, that she had an exotic and very beautiful face. They met at the library and for lunch, each of the remaining days of Willa’s permitted sojourn.

On the third and final day, on one occasion, when Willa lifted her mask to eat, the young man, on impulse, and, apparently motivated by an uncontrolled passion, kissed Willa on the lips. A novel and completely unexperienced pleasure, coursed through Willa’s body, at this new experience, and she, in panicked response, left her lunch, half eaten, and retreated to her dorm room, to start packing her clothes for return to Salubrious Village the next morning. She attempted to forget about the one event, the Charter specifically prohibited, the kiss, and with remorse and inconsistent pleasure, she perseverated about the experience, through the night.

The next morning, Willa was met by the small, white village bus and transported home, to welcoming expressions and her anticipated period of isolated quarantine. During the seemingly, interminable three weeks of quarantine, she dreamed about the young man, the kiss, the bucolic characters of Trollope, the earth being saved from invading Martians, by its germs, in H.G. Wells’ novel, and somewhat later on, her normal life at Salubrious Village and music instruction.

After the termination of the three- week quarantine period, Willa was overjoyed to rejoin her step parents, Jim and Anna Flaxis, and return to the germ-free life of the village, resuming her piano instruction and controlled interaction of residents, as directed by the authoritative Charter. From time to time, she recalled the impulsive kiss on the lips and her, responsive, pleasant bodily response.

About two weeks later, walking to residence of her next pupil, she thought that she heard the unfamiliar sound of a soft cough, emanating from…..

Somewhere, in that part of heaven, where the literary greats are enjoying their eternal leisure, Victorian Section, of course, a heavily bearded chubby vested, H.G.Wells, is shaking his head and ironically smiling.

-p.

Post # 479     A TALE OF TWO SENIORS*

There are those, who, might, with good reason, declare, “These are the worst of times.”

It is, inarguably, a species of tragedy, to see elevated, to America’s historically venerated, Oval Office, an incapable, psychopathically immoral, former television game show host, and real estate “gonif.” This unholy event has, predictably resulted, in the loss of America’s historically, revered stature, and its implicit credibility, domestic and international. Confused American citizens, have noted his continuing love affair with foreign despots, his indirect support of White Nationalists, serial mendacity, his uncountable acts of personal immorality and his consequential, denial of scientifically, proven, man- made, global warming; the latter, having tragic, even existential, consequences. His recent attempts, to diminish the significance of the current, worldwide, pandemic, shamefully, amounts to pernicious gross negligence, rendering the Nation, unprepared and vulnerable.

The Democratic party has been, dedicatedly, focused on replacing this embarrassing, “squatter” President, in the 2020 Presidential Election, and now are close to the final selection of a nominee, to oppose him. The previous large number of candidates, has been winnowed down, to two final contestants, former Vice – President, Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders, of Vermont. This writing is a candid and frank expression, of our personal assessment and nuanced recommendation, as to the two candidates.

Both aspirants are male, white, senior citizens, in their 70’s, and experienced in politics. Joe Biden, a Democrat, served as Senator from the State of Delaware and, thereafter, as Vice President, under President, Barack Obama; Bernie Sanders, a self-described, “Democratic Socialist,” votes with the Democrats, and has is a U.S. Senator, from the State of Vermont.

The candidates do differ, somewhat, on certain substantive points, but then, mostly in degree, and can both be properly described as “liberal”. The degree of variance in particular issues, is responsible for Sanders, in the political jargon, being described as “more to the left,” than Biden. We would not entertain a strong preference, regarding any one of these fine candidates, were we not possessed of an uncertain estimation of the often noted, less than adequately informed nature, of the average American voter.

The discernable differences in platform, seem essentially to center around the proposed health plans. In general terms, one wants the continuance and improvement of the Obama plan (the ACA), the other favors a program of universal insurance for all (single payer). Both are advocates of renewable energy and the amelioration of global warming. Biden seems to favor tax relief for higher education, while the more progressive, Sanders opts for free college tuition, paid for by means of a more equitable tax code.

In our concerned view, that the average American voter, is motivated by somewhat reductive perceptions, and a discomfort with unfamiliar and unexamined concepts. He exercises, his choice, largely, on the basis of stereotypic optics, and perceived, personality. Accordingly, for such empirical, reasons, we have chosen one of these two, exemplary, American candidates; without indulging in a detailed analysis, regarding their platform differences. To be clear, we would have a more difficult task of making a selection, if it were not for this nuanced perception, of the electorate, and emphasizing, that the defeat of Trump, is a goal, second, only in relative importance, to the elimination of the currently presenting viral pandemic.

In this age of virtually, unlimited optical license and facility, the factors of image, and visual perception of persona, (unfairly) play an inordinate role in the evaluation of others. Bernie is a compassionate, emotive, coffee house style, intellectual, an academic stereotype, arguably, less familiar to the average, non-university graduate, than is the business suited, well barbered Biden. Most voters, we imagine, comfortably, know many Biden types, at business, the office, work, or, at Sunday Church services, but relatively few Bernie’s.

To be clear, we are great admirers of Sander’s sincere passion and emphatic expression, regarding the morality of economic justice, and progressive programs for the needy. Biden, the personification of a middle class, next door neighbor, also advocates fairness, but is far from a firebrand speaker. We, emphatically, revere the firebrands who seek equity and justice; but we are of the impression that the average American voter, diffidently, sees them, as a possible threat, to the continuance of their world of acceptable, societal normality.

As indicated, there may be less value in reviewing the differences in platform, such as they may be, than in, disappointingly recognizing, the preeminence of optical and interpersonal, fixed stereotypes, as successfully determinative, over concrete substance.

Bernie has, additionally, not helped himself by candidly espousing “democratic socialism.” The term, “socialism,” has irrationally, become an un-American, epithet, as opposed to, a mere economic conception. Every American citizen has benefited from compassionate capitalism (“socialism”) in terms of social security, disability, home relief, death benefits, health and sanitary programs, regulations, assuring the purity and safety of water, air, medicine and food, programs of disaster relief, regulations assuring safety in the workplace, safety of our highways and infrastructure, the maintenance of a postal service, police and, far too many further examples of empathic concern, for the citizen, by government. At the very time of this writing, government is extending its (“socialistic”?) efforts to ameliorate the effects of the currently presenting pandemic. Bernie, the avowed “socialist” is on the right side of human empathy, and in actual effect, is promoting the continuation of mainstream capitalism, by espousing safeguards against the vicissitudes of want, by unregulated commerce.

However, it is our fear and expectation, that an inadequately knowledgeable and uninformed, public, will hesitate to vote for this compassionate, seeker of equity and justice. There seems to be no feasible way, to eliminate the vocabulary word, “socialist” from their reductionist and ungrateful, list of verboten titles. It is only the superior urgency, of defeating the cancerous pathology of the Trump presidency, that impels us to favor Biden, partner of President Obama, and the familiar image of “the neighbor next door,” instead of the justice- seeking, less mainstream persona of Bernie Sanders.

We have no reservations, whatsoever, in confidently expressing our choice for a running mate, as Vice President. She is Stacey Abrams, a fine, gifted and intelligent, black American, who was, immorally and undemocratically, cheated out of the Georgia Governorship, by a program of black voter suppression, engineered, by the Georgia Secretary of State, (incredibly!) her opponent.

*Apologies, to Charles Dickens, for the above title.

-p.