Thursday, July 7, 2016

Back from a Break in Boston

Just back from a break in Boston (some pics here for some of it). I've written a few things and I'll duly post them up. Publishing (of my personal stories and books) will be erratic in the coming months as it looks like we're in for a big move. Or big life change. Big enough that I have a sense of trepidation in my gut. Nothing crazy but it will take me away from that which I love—and away from deadlines of a few books some of you have wanted. Sorry.
Downtown Boston


Nevertheless, I will try to post the shorts that I have written in the past year and are still lingering in written form. Some were even written in the past few days on this short vacation of mine. Thing is, vacation can be great for cutting yourself from the usual zeitgeist (of checking the news, the email), but coming back from that slight hiatus has not been as refreshing as I hoped.

Don't get me wrong: the trip was fine. A positive note was that I have managed to finish quite a bit of reading. The bookstore above, The Brattle, was a joy to visit and wander through. [1] I picked up two books that were interesting to read, but nothing more. Beowulf was a joy, of course, but mainly because I finally struck it from my to-read pile. It was not that great of a saga or tale or what have you. The little enjoyment I got was from the historical aspect of it and how some of the views held then are still held today. [2]

The other book I read was an Irish tale, Sweeney Astray. This too only held my interest as a historical artifact. I'm not sure why these stories fell so flat with me. Probably more of a statement about myself as a writer, and where I stand today amongst the canon (as a reader and writer) than anything. It troubles me, though, that I've connected with so few pieces of work recently, while also throwing overboard so many that I previously held dear (Conrad, for example). [3]
Me looking like I know something about art, but let's be honest, this is really just a middle class aspirant looking at a trophy case of the powerful. Lucky me, then. 

Luckily, I've been reading The Sympathizer. About a Vietnamese refugee, it's at least poking holes in the normal views I find abhorrent, and I recommend you read it today. But I have yet to finish it, and some of it falls flat as well. I'll withhold judgement until it's done, then. 
The views they'll allow a peasant these days!

I've mentioned how essays have grabbed my attention as a writer and how James Baldwin has been the standard. I've been looking for someone contemporary who comes even close, and I have not found anything as incisive as Baldwin's writing. I've reading Cynthia Ozick and though her intelligence is clear, her ability to not stand above or outside of the status quo is saddening—even when she berates others for the same. So it goes, but where are all the brave writers? Why am I surrounded by courtiers?  [4]
Chinatown, one of the best neighborhoods in Boston
But I digress. I came back to the world of news and tweets and the Greek Chorus and, just as with the more permanent forms of writing, I was let down by tribal thinking and cowards marking their spot amongst the throngs. The big news is Hillary's email scandal. 
Boston Sky on Fire

My conservative friends are stuck on trying to charge Hillary [5] while my center left friends are making holy the statements of the FBI. No where do you see someone even question the idea of National Security, or what it's for. If you haven't been paying attention, it's only a bludgeon to be used against whistleblowers and to keep the people at bay.
Sleeping on the Airport Floor. Thanks Obama!

As for turning it against power? Ha! It's there to keep these organizations insulated from the people and to keep power and to keep the people scared enough that they will open their wallets and pay for whatever contraption or ritual is said to be their savior from evil. No one, however, is questioning that aspect. The high priests of "National Security" are here and we cannot question what they do because... Oh wait, there's no answer to that. 

Meanwhile, at least the British have a way to bring their leaders to talk about their war crimes and lying to get them into war. But even the Iraq war is being subject to revisionism. Not that this is new, but it seems pretty early in the game to do so. Meanwhile, the War on Terror [6] continues unabated and innocent people die hideous deaths for... oh yeah, that elusive "National Security". 

And with Trump, we have a buffoon who wants to ban Muslims, and yet no one seems able to take him down in the mainstream media. That's because, since he is successful within their framework, they are stifled. Case in point: his comments on Saddam. Hillary went against this with some crocodile tears about the people Saddam killed. Where were these tears when her husband carried out a medieval siege on Iraq? Or the backing when Saddam was a brutal strongman? Or the other brutal strongmen we back? Is anyone taking this seriously?

Then there's another strand of people: those on the left who seem pissed enough with the system to want to vote for Trump, just so they can watch the country burn and have it rebuilt sooner. Please don't. Watching a country burn, to say nothing of your own, is not pleasant. And most likely those who burn will be down below. We the people, in other words. 

And amongst all this craziness, I must be more silent than before. Ah well. I'll be on the lookout for some contrarian positions from the usual suspects, but from the mainstream and my Facebook page, I'm not holding my breath. Your thoughts on the whole mess? 





[1] I think used bookstores simply have this aspect to them that make them joys to wander. 

[2] A little like reading about Sparta. You can can only approach this as a pseudo-anthropologist. 

[3] Tipping such large sacred cows always carries the risk of the cow falling upon the tipper—me. But I am still doing it, for I know not how else to grow as a writer. And in reality, all of them are falling short of anything I hold in esteem as I read more and more about history and their place in it. 

[4] More jealousy, on my part, I suppose, but come on. Let's just try not to spout the party line verbatim when it comes to being a center of left liberal. Ah, I'm asking for too much. 

[5] Not a hint of irony at all the crap Bush-Cheny pulled off, to include actually outing a CIA agent's identity. 

[6] Damn near the best thing anyone in power ever thought of to keep themselves in power.

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