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.

Blog Post # 218 (poesie)    WHEN WORDS FAIL

Can one describe a chocolate’s taste
Or find soft words for baby’s smile
Can words tell honey’s sweet bouquet
Or express relief to rest awhile

Can one recount a rainbow’s arch
With words that bring to view its sight
Or portray the shadows of the moon
And thus, reveal its pale cold light

Are there apt words to sob relief
When the lost toddler’s tearfully found
That describe the lilac’s inebriate scent
The ocean’s wave’s full basso pound

Is there a word for the brush of lips
On newborn’s cool and silken brow
Or the splatting sound of dripping rain
That strikes the verdant leaves and boughs

Can one describe a rose’s red
The weathered hue of an old windmill
Tell me please, where do such words go
With so many heartfelt thoughts to fill

One need not fret nor search in vain
When it seems, words do not ensue
The sentiment’s so well conveyed–
Most times, a subtle tear will do.

-p.

 

 

 

 

Post # 217     A QUESTION CONCERNING PROVENANCE

The noun, “provenance” is an elegant one and is pleasant to enunciate; it utilizes the lips, breath and a minor bit of nasal resonance. An authenticating concept, it is used in the fine art and antiquary business to investigate and evaluate origin, authenticity and prior ownership (or possession) of a subject item.

The word is most often used to designate origin but can also be utilized regarding issues of sequence. It is in this latter sense of the word that we would devote this writing. For example, the most magnificent feature of Darwinian evolution is its revelations concerning the origins (or provenance) of man, vital to the understanding of the human body, and explanatory of its vestigial organs.

In an earlier post, whose subject was, our sadly underused exercise of natural reason, we cited a true personal experience of ours. When only a young sophomore in high school, we were confronted with a verbalized challenge from a classmate (the magnificent prize being two candy bars). We were asked the apocryphal question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg.” After the expenditure of a few moments of thought, we flabbergasted the challenger with the correct and logically undeniable answer.  Since most of us believe in Darwinian evolution (even as children), and since it is common knowledge that all chickens, without exception, are hatched from eggs, the answer presented itself, necessarily, to be the egg. That first egg, logically, was laid by the creature which was but one step prior to the chicken, as we know it, in the evolutionary process. This example of provenance was cited, in the earlier setting, to show that we can utilize our reason to solve many of our problems, but often, do not seem to bother; as shown by the fact that this famous question is still heralded as among man’s so-called, “unsolvable problems.” The solution was, of course, based on logically understood provenance.

In matters of human experience, the determination of sequence, causal or otherwise, may not be as easy of solution; they are not simply matters of logical deduction (or induction). Events are subjectively attributable to variable causes, agreement as to which, is an additional subject of debate.

A great many American voters were completely nonplussed and blindsided by the unpredicted result of last year’s Presidential election. An egotistic, glitzy, television game show host, who was universally determined by experts to be incompetent in character, ability and knowledge to be the President of the United States (and ipso facto) leader of the free world, was elected to that historic office. Mr. Trump has validated all such prognostications, embarrassing the nation and confusing the entire world with his obvious and overt ignorance as to all affairs, national and international. His unprincipled and unembarrassed use of the office to enrich himself and his immediate family, resembling the corrupt governance of a banana republic, his expressions of support for racial and gender bigotry, his frivolous, unpredictable behavior, his derogation of learning and science (especially climate science), his adolescent predilections, all result in the conclusion that our country is beset with a virtual tsunami of jeopardy.

Despite this summary recitation of many of the concerns regarding the Trump administration, this post is not intended to center on that alarming travesty as such, but rather, to deal with its factual provenance. How did America get here, a subject, certainly relevant to the concern of all ardent citizens. We see two possible scenarios, the first, productive of a more optimistic and hopeful vista, the second, infinitely more pessimistic and indeed, profoundly worrisome.

[The first scenario] The election of Donald Trump, with its attendant pathology, was but a singular, one-off aberration, and based on the ensuing deplorable results, will not soon be replicated. It was an outcome driven in large part by a conglomerate of discontented voters, notably including the low-information, flat earth, reductionist cohort of our population, which generally does not vote, mesmerized by Trumps’ snake-oil salesman’s unspecified promises of a better tomorrow; in tandem with their tactical manipulation by well financed special interests, cynically seeking to increase profits from deregulation, regardless of the impact on the health of the nation and the planet. This was in combination with a lower than customary voter turnout from the more liberal, educated voters, disenchanted with the candidacy of Hilary Clinton.

[The second scenario] The contemporary quality of the American voter has markedly declined to a level, far below the Jeffersonian standard for the successful operation of a republican democracy (the literate and informed citizen). The national tendency regarding its preoccupation with superficial entertainment, in preference to literate and cultural activity, its derogation of scholarship and educational achievement including scientific progress, has resulted in a severely degraded citizen-voter, whose insular ignorance and reductive understanding makes him an easy prey for demagogic legerdemain. The elevation of Trump to the Presidency was not merely an episodic event, but a representative expression of the contemporary quality of the nation, and is predictive of future election outcomes.

In this regard, it may again be worth noting that the creation of plinyblog, two years ago, was dedicated to the goal of personal development and self- enhancement, for the dual benefit of the individual and the nation. It will continue to urge the reading of good literature, participation in the arts, awareness of government issues, the practice of empathy and secular based morality. It sees the avoidance of the virtually unlimited life potential, made possible by the generous gift from evolution of an advanced brain, acts of shameful ingratitude.

Of the two cited scenarios, we are dogmatically inclined to choose the first. We continue to retain faith in the ultimate and redeeming good sense of the American people. While a popular preference for superficial diversion and the tendency to insular and reductive thinking is far from desirable, we hold fast to the expectation that in each era, a substantial number of intelligent and thoughtful citizens will, responsibly and devotedly, manifest the appropriate criteria for useful citizenship, intended and confidently foreseen by our founding fathers.

Most encouraging and heartening is the realization that the quality of the nation’s electorate was recently such that it elected President Obama, an ideal embodiment of the criteria for a capable, intelligent and empathic chief executive and citizen, and did it, resoundingly, twice.

-p.

 

Post # 216     OUR CURRENT TRAGEDY, THE ROADKILL PRESIDENCY

There may be no other more nauseating or disturbing visual experience than  suddenly encountering bloody, animal roadkill, while peacefully driving along a pretty country highway.  The ensuing resolve not to look at it as you get closer is too often, overridden by an irresistible impulse to evoke the horrible experience of looking at it up- close.

Despite our sincere resolve to refrain from further comment on the Trump Presidency, it seems that such resolve, from time to time, is overridden by such an irresistible impulse to express further comment.

Americans have experienced continuous embarrassment from the international statements and actions of our President, evoking complete confusion as well as fomenting great danger. This adolescent President, ignorantly and dangerously threatens foreign adversaries to the effect that our missiles are bigger than their missiles,[ such boast. equivalent to the adolescent jibe, my father can lick your father] , possesses a complete lack of dignity or demeanor in any way appropriate to the office of the Presidency, communicates mendacious and impulsive Presidential messages, not though such dignified formats as fireside chats or official news conferences. but by populist tweets,  derides scholarship, learning and science (especially, climate science), cynically violates the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which proscribes Presidential profit making, violates all considerations of conflict of interest, has converted the Oval Office into a mom and pop retail enterprise, is guilty of actions and statements  manifesting sexual abuse (at a time when such species of misbehavior is being finally, and publicly addressed), expresses bigoted opinions and a subtle support of White Supremacists, demonstrates consistent mendacity, yet attacks the responsible media for their truthfulness, cruelly treats  immigrants (in a nation of immigrants and their progeny), expresses opposition to women’s rights for equity in pay and personal control of their bodies, and has generally, demonstrated a marked level of ignorance, coupled with a false show of supreme confidence without question, continuously adds roadkill to the previous accumulation created by him that has gravely soiled the (previously revered) U.S. Office of the President.

Recently, Trump, arguably, exceeded  the excessive bounds of his previously reprehensible statements, by publicly referring to Haiti and the African nations as s—hole countries. This behavior, which would be unacceptable if uttered by the most disrespectable street person, let alone the President of the United States, supplied the shocking impetus for our current remarks, and is uncontrovertibly qualified to  enlarge the previously growing inventory of rank Presidential roadkill.

The traditional ancient Greek tragedies, authored by such outstanding playwrights as Sophocles, made for great theatrical entertainment, but also communicated an eternal therapeutic message, and a severe warning to the audience. In his plays, the protagonist, always a character larger than life, usually a king (as contrasted with our chief executive, who is of despicable description) ultimately suffers profound personal tragedy, as the result of his excessive pride and arrogance (hubris). During the play’s performance, a chorus, rocking back and forth (strophe and antistrophe), recites the intended lesson, sophrosyne, (moderation), warning the audience of the bitter end, predictably brought on by excess. The tragic denouement, usually so horrible as to evoke an intended catharsis (emotional release and cleansing) to the members of the audience, constituted an enduring lesson to all, concerning uncontrolled prideful behavior. The offending protagonist usually suffers  extreme and horrifying punishment, as plucking out his own eyes, or in the case of a female, the commission of the infanticide of her own children.

In certain of his works, our selected Greek playwright would show merciful relief by the employment of an ancient theatrical technique known as, deux-ex-machina (god in a machine )a mechanical device, bearing a devine personage to stay the horrible, retributive punishment, by its physical removal of a character or element in the play.

We make note of the continuing arrogant excesses practiced by our own despicable chief executive, whose frequent errant behavior is patently observable and well sung by our present day, estimable Greek chorus, especially, The New York Times and The Washington Post. Perhaps we can awake citizen Sophocles to arrange for a divine theatrical apparatus to remove the protagonist, before some horrendous tragedy is enacted.

Foir the present, we are obliged to suffer the daily unavoidable sight of accumulating, offensive roadkill.

-p.

Post # 215       OF THEE I SING

Frances Scott Key would no doubt, suffer a severe bout of apoplexy, were he able to listen in on our school children’s usual rendition of his poem, The Star- Spangled Banner. Written by him during the War of 1812, while a military prisoner aboard a British Warship, Key was exultant in his unexpected discovery that Ft. Sumpter (and, notably, its flag) had survived the night’s heavy bombardment by English naval canons. Key’s resultant poem, later set to music, would become our national anthem. He, if present and listening to those schoolchildren, would hear his poem, as sung, commence with the memorized but, evidently not understood, words, “My Country tisovthee..,” which years later, would properly translate to “My Country t’is  (it is) of thee.” Repetition of such three conjoined and multiply fractured words, are very seriously and dutifully intoned at every primary school assembly.

In similar fashion, many of our teachings, as a regular part of the early curriculum, were dutifully committed to the young student’s memory, if not to his understanding. An interesting illustration is present in the perpetually misunderstood assertion, quoted from the American Declaration of Independence, “All men are created equal….”

The Founding Fathers were, arguably, far above the average contemporary colonial American in erudition and dedicated foresight, and certainly did not intend to assert that all men are equal, in the modern sense of the word. It is the rare scientist that can bravely claim that he is the equal of Einstein or Newton, the rare essayist who can boast that he is the equal of a Faulkner or a Dickens, nor a boastful basketball player who can credibly assert that he is the equal of Michael Jordan. It is simply and empirically untrue that men are all born equal in capabilities and no such interpretation was ever intended.

The born equality, declared by the founders, was the then radical notion of a classless society; a nation without class distinction determined by privileged birth, which was an inequitable feature of the societies of England and Europe for many centuries. No longer, in this new experiment in Republican Democracy, was there to be a lifelong designation of societal status (merely) by the attribution of birth. This, in accurate fact, is the meaning and  the intention of the word “equality,” famously expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

In the interest of a responsible recitation of American history, it is necessary to observe that such declaration of natural born equality, for too long a time, was legally inapplicable to black people, whose status, continuing through the mid-nineteenth century, [especially in the agricultural south,] was no more exalted than that of mere farm equipment. It is also necessary to recognize the plight of women who, until relatively recently, could not legally vote or transact business.  The recognition of equal rights for all Americans, has, at last, become incorporated into our laws and institutional understanding, the application of which, in some cases, still need more satisfactory resolution.

Equality under the law for all citizens, has been the most admirable achievement of our democratic republic and was due to an ultimate societal recognition of equity among citizens [ unrelated to the language of the Declaration of Independence]. The valuable franchise of equality of opportunity, although, concededly, made possible by the founders’ early elimination of class distinction, was nurtured over time as part of the maturing moral framework of American society. Admittedly, more challenging economically or physically for some citizens than for others, success and upward progress, is the undertaken responsibility of the individual, a matter largely left to his own unfettered enterprise.

We have written about man’s unlimited freedom to choose a path which is life- enhancing and self fulfilling. We have often recommended reading good literature, participation in the arts and humanities or any other desired stimulating and enjoyable pursuit. In this area, we all have complete and unlimited equality of choice as to whether to live an insular, unstimulating and limited existence, or to take advantage of the generous gift of evolution, our advanced brain, whose utilization can provide a full and satisfying life. As to the choice of quality of life, all men have eternally been born equal.

-p.