“Poets are not happy people.”
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. COMPOSITION IN RED AND GREEN:
In a modern upper middle class subdivision community like El Dorado Hills it is difficult to observe, like Thoreau did, the macrocosm in the microcosm, the larger in the smaller, the world in a blade of grass, society in the clash of competing ant colonies. The reason for this is that the novelty and chaos of the microcosm is determinately eliminated in a place like El Dorado Hills and replaced by orderly organization of the environment and the society living in it. It should be pointed out, I am speaking of organization and not regimentation. In fact, regimentation would be antithetical to the appearance of freedom the orderliness intends to convey. Alas, freedom, if one can use that generalization, reflects more in our adaptation and reaction to the vagaries of our environment. If our environment is too organized and orderly we risk being absorbed into it like a fly stuck in wet paint.
For this reason I often find few observations to write about here. How many ways can one discuss an organization or anything that de-emphasizes change.? The same trees appear in orderly rows along the parkway medians, distinctions among them blurred. Change seems slowed and conflict submerged in silence. I expect even the ant colonies have given up their competition over food.
A relief from this organized orderliness lies in the appearance here and there of feral animals who have adapted to this environment, wild turkeys, coyotes, snakes and the like. They romp fat and unwary across the landscape as long as the gates to the subdivision remain closed and the humans within disinclined or prohibited from killing and eating them.
Therefore, I welcome the odd and unknown clank and wheeze in the car requiring me to bring it in to the repair shop, as I did a few days ago, and, until the car is repaired, spend my day in and around Sacramento’s Capitol Park among my beloved trees.
Now, my friend Yeates is quite fond of birds and very knowledgable about them. I suspect that, from a smear of birdshit on the sidewalk, he could deduce the latin name of the avian shitter; the color of its feathers; where it was going and whether it was reading the NY times when it shat.
I, on the other hand, love trees. True, I do not know many of their species names unless I read them on a plaque affixed to the trunk, but I know I can hug them when I want to and which ones give good shade to old men sitting on benches in the park. I can tell the differences between those with rough barks and those with smooth. I know which ones would be good for climbing if I were 60 years younger. And, I can imagine grasping the highest branches and looking out over the countryside while wafting back and forth in the breeze unafraid of falling, confident that the branches will catch me in their arms before I hit the ground cradling me like a mother embracing her child.
Anyway, eventually I left the park and the trees for lunch with Stevie and Norbert where we played “ain’t it awful” while we ate.
B. A PLEASING COMMENT:
Naida West’s thoughtful and sensitive comment on my rumination in the previous issue of T&T about my upcoming 75th birthday pleased me greatly. I though you might enjoy it almost as much as I did.
‘Someone’s 75th birthday seems to me to be an important milestone in life. One should spend those milestones with those with whom they had shared a portion of it, friends and family. Unfortunately, I will not be able to do so. …Maybe I’ll buy myself a birthday cake.’
I’ll go a step further and say: One’s 75th birthday IS an important milestone that ought to be shared with friends and family. I was happy to learn that my Carmel High School class of ’57 is throwing a birthday bash for all of us, since we’ve all turned, or will turn, 75 this year. We’re calling it the “57-75” party — more than a reunion.
I recall my 2 birthday parties — the first a wondrous event with a kitchen table full of kids and my mother setting a birthday cake before me, ablaze with 4 candles. My father and I had held hands as we walked down the alley to the tiny corner grocery store to buy the candles, and I will always remember his loving tone as he spoke to me like I was a grown up. My cousin once removed, 7 at the time, leaned over and blew out the candles before I understood my role. Two of my aunts scolded him; he turned red, and I felt sorry for his embarrassment. My next and last birthday party occurred when I turned 8, with one friend there, and my brother and little sister.
Long ago I told my husbands, in turn, and my children, that I don’t care about my birthdays, that they needn’t bother their heads about it. Yet when I turned 75 in April, I felt it would have been nice to have some sort of shared celebration. Maybe I’m just an unfair old grouch looking back over 50 years of arranging birthday parties for my elders, my 2 husbands, and each of my 3 children from age 1 to about 15.
Yes, buy yourself a birthday cake! And consider me to be a spirit guest, as well as a member of the great class of ’57. In Carmel I’ll raise a glass of wine to you. A classmate who owns the party building, along with nearly every other building in downtown Carmel, has doubtless encountered evidence of your work.
Also from TNT, your dream: “…a reverse nightmare, waking up was the horror.”
I urge all of you who read this, to treat yourself (perhaps on your birthday) to Naida’s three wonderful historical novels set in the Cosumnes River area near Sacramento during the 19th Century. You will not be disappointed. You can order them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pookie says check it out.
C. A MESSAGE TO THE TOOTH FAIRY:
HRM wrote the following note to the tooth fairy which he placed under his pillow along with the detached tooth:
“Dear Tooth Fairy,
Did you ever take John Cena’s tooth? Yes__ or No___
Clearly a future CEO; dynamic and imperious behavior set in an imaginary universe.
Quigley up top:
Carroll Quigley (1910-1977), one of the great but unheralded minds of the latter part of the 20th Century, wrote a book entitled “Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Times” (1965). He believed the explanation for the disintegration of a society can be identified in the gradual transformation of social arrangements functioning to meet real social needs into social institutions serving their own purposes regardless of real social needs.
Perhaps because of what it also revealed, his book mysteriously quickly disappeared from the selves of bookstores to be replaced four years later by a heavily edited version that eliminated much the book’s disclosures. In about 2002, the original version finally was republished.
To professor Quigley’s great dismay, the revelations in the book and the facts surrounding its publication became fodder for the tin-foil hat brigade, including Alex Jones, and inadvertently inspired the conspiracy culture that still infects America today. Although “Tragedy and Hope,” became the wellspring of innumerable conspiracy theories, Quigley strenuously objected to them all. He wrote:
“This radical Right fairy tale, which is now an accepted folk myth in many groups in America, pictured the recent history of the United States, in regard to domestic reform and in foreign affairs, as a well-organized plot by extreme Left-wing elements…. This myth, like all fables, does in fact have a modicum of truth. “
After describing the “modicum of truth,” he continues:
“I have no aversion to it (the organizations and activities that the conspiracy theorists base their conjectures on) or to most of its aims and have, for much of my life, been close to it and to many of its instruments. I have objected, both in the past and recently, to a few of its policies… but in general my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known.”
In this and following issues of T&T, I will write more about Quigley, discuss and at times criticize his arguments and disclosures as well as provide examples of its content and of his other writings.
As an illustration, Quigley, rightly or wrongly, maintained that until the later half of the 19th Century society as reflected in history was the story of the economic, intellectual and military elites. The peasants and proletariat were, other than for the technology they used, of little account.
“it is revealing that the ideological appeal for allegiance in the last two thousand years of Europe’s history (and, indeed, in most of mankind’s earlier history) made almost no effort to reach or to attract the peasants, who were, throughout history down to the nineteenth century, not only the most numerous class in society but were also, of course, the economic support of the power structure. This failure to make ideological appeal to the most numerous and most necessary group in the community was a consequence of the facts of power which are being discussed in this book. Whatever the number of the tillers of the soil or the indispensable nature of their contribution to the community, their power has always been insignificant, except in the few, relatively brief periods when they have been of military importance to the community. Except for the period before about 4000 B.C., and for a few centuries in Roman history and an even briefer period in some areas of Greek history, the peasantry has played almost no role in military life and, accordingly, almost no role in political life of the communities which have made history. This military and political incapacity of the tillers of the soil, so glaringly evident under feudalism or during the Thirty Years’ War, was a function of the distribution of weapons and of military organization, and is a remarkable example of the weakness of economic necessity in contrast with the role of force in any society. As we shall see, the rise in political significance of peasants and farmers in the nineteenth century, a rise which never took them to a dominant position, was a consequence of changes of weapons, a fact almost unmentioned by historians of the modern period. A similar neglect of peasants has existed in most of history, but on a gigantic scale, in Asia and in Africa, and, above all, in China,…”
Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History. 1983, Washington DC: University Press of America.
Be that as it may, according to Quigley this élite produced a society in the West (including North and South America, etc.) that distinguished it from others and, without diminishing the values those other societies, it was something that he approved of.
“it is clear that the West believes in diversity rather than in uniformity, in pluralism rather than in monism or dualism, in inclusion rather than exclusion, in liberty rather than in authority, in truth rather than in power, in conversion rather than in annihilation, in the individual rather than in the organization, in reconciliation rather than in triumph, in heterogeneity rather than in homogeneity, in relativisms rather than in absolutes, and in approximations rather than in final answers.”
Quigley, Carroll. Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. GSG & Associates Publishers.
Quigley believed that the intolerance or rigidity often evident in the religious practices and among some secular groups in the West were in the most part aberrations from its nature of relative inclusivity and diversity. I am less sanguine about this last point. It, however, has been reported that in the last few years of his life Quigley became more pessimistic about the West’s commitment to those ideals.
Quigley also published, The Evolution of Civilizations: An Introduction to Historical Analysis. First edition, 1961, New York: Macmillan, 281 pp., The Anglo-American Establishment: From Rhodes to Cliveden. 1981, New York: Books in Focus, 354 pages, and Weapons Systems and Political Stability: A History. 1983, Washington DC: University Press of America, 1064 pages.
1775: Jeanne Baret of France, became the first woman to sail around the world. She did it disguised as a man so that she could assist botanist Philibert de Commerson, who was also her lover. One of them — quite probably Baret — discovered the Bougainvillea plant.
Ah, those French, always with the love and the flowers…
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
An honest commitment to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights.
“‘Necessitous men are not free men.’ People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security.”
Franklin Roosevelt 1944 message to Congress
Why would anyone be morally bound or wish to be morally bound to a civil society that does not share the goal that its citizens deserve a fair distribution of wealth, income and power? If the civil society is not dedicated to that end what else could it possibly be dedicated to? What is freedom, to those without wealth, income or power?
B. A young man named Oliver:
Oliver’s brilliant response to comments disagreeing with a Facebook post of his.
“Kayleigh Sedlack: Don’t be part of the problem Olivier.. Let’s try to be positive and find peace.
Nick Mojica: He is the problem.
Olivier Tomas Grandvoinet: Heyyyy get that shit outta here, y’all aren’t the demographic I’m rallying with at the moment.”
C. More from Facebook
I just noticed that my time-line has reported my new life event: “started working at retired.” Thank God, here I thought I was only wasting my time.
“Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you’re alive, it isn’t.”
“God is a mean-spirited, pugnacious bully bent on revenge against His children for failing to live up to his impossible standards.”
― Walt Whitman