The Sun Sets in the West #2

December 10, 2018

I remembered something today while trying to remember the title of a book I once read. The book was Stop Time by Frank Conroy, which I liked at the time. I don’t know that I would like it now. The guy who turned me onto it was an interesting conversationalist—well-read, intelligent—and for a few months I sought him out. One day I said something to him about having noticed that some guys think they’re men just because they have a pair of balls. He looked at me straight-faced and said, “That’s what a man is.” At first I thought it was a joke; then I thought he was making some kind of statement about biology—but that would have been almost a non sequitur. Then I realized he meant it. He even repeated it—quite seriously. I knew then that he was tremendously cynical, and it was the beginning of the end of our friendship. His belief was a little unusual at the time, I think. There was still some feeling of the 60s and early 70s in the air. And this was San Francisco.I think his belief is quite common now—so much so that I don’t think it’s a conscious belief for most guys. It’s just “reality”—not worth taking the time to examine. The world is saturated with porn.

A man is someone who disciplines his ego, who doesn’t seek personal advantage at the expense of others, who makes sure that what goes down around him is just. There shouldn’t be any argument with that, and yet I find that people do argue with it. And not just men. A year or so ago I had a long debate with a woman who took the a-man-is-someone-with-a-pair-of-balls side. This is one of the reasons our culture is collapsing.

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Where It All Began

December 5, 2018

During the over-the-top eulogizing for John McCain, it was occasionally pointed out that he was the one who opened the door to a nonentity like Donald Trump by choosing Sarah Palin as his vice presidential candidate. I would like to point out that it was George H. W. Bush who opened that door even earlier by elevating Dan Quayle to national office.

The Sun Sets in the West #1

December 3, 2018

Alexander wasn’t great;
Augustine was not a saint;
Freud was nuts, and that’s not all,
Supply and Demand is not a law.

I wrote that bit of doggerel around 15 or 20 years ago. I called it “The Sun Sets in the West.” Now I want to start a series on my blog with that title. For more than 50 years, I’ve been watching and thinking about our civilization. I came to the conclusion almost immediately that we are heading for collapse. I know this raises the image of a long-bearded nut carrying a sandwich board sign announcing that “The End is Near!” But I am not a nut and I have thought long and hard about the collapse that we really are seeing all around us now. It’s not just America, but Europe too. None of it surprises me. And none of my ideas are unique to me. I learned a lot of them from others. But most of those others are dead now. And since Reagan the voice of warning has been shut up. We’re still living under the fantasies he put in place.

I’d been thinking about writing an essay regarding all this. But it kept getting longer and started turning into a book, and I don’t have the patience for another book right now. I feel the need to get what I’m seeing out there now. Whenever I have time and inclination, I’ll post here about it. (I’ll continue to write about other things as well.) My posts have tended to be relatively short, but I intend to write longer pieces now. It’s a difficult subject. People tend to attack anyone who brings up the things I want to bring up. We’ll see how long I last.

Something is Happening

November 29, 2018

Like most people I know, I was relieved that the Democrats took control of the House of Representatives. In the long run, though, I don’t believe it’s going to make much difference. It should be obvious by now (although I don’t think it is to most people) that this country, this empire, is in a state of collapse. Once an empire starts to go down nothing can stop it. The momentum is too great. All the classic signs are there—endless, expensive imperial wars; high levels of decadence and greed; a population obsessed with frivolous entertainment and celebrity; massive debt, a diabolically dishonest leader, and so on. Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” is evidence of the collapse. But I think we’re seeing something more than the death of an empire, and what that is will be the focus of my blog in the coming months. Having tired of the hostile and just-plain-weird environment of Facebook, I intend to return my attention here now.

Progress Report #117

September 13, 2018

Today marked a milestone in my long journey to get my memoir Street Song out to readers. I handed a spiral bound copy of it to my agent. She reads it now and starts looking for a publisher. (Contrary to what a lot of people assume, I don’t have a contract.) It’s a real relief to get that child out the door. Twelve and a half years of isolation and preoccupation. It’s the last time I do that! We’ll see what happens now.

God and Mammon Again

July 14, 2018

I don’t know if there are any Christians supporting Trump who read any of what I write. But in case there are, I would like at least one of them to answer this question: Trump has said many times that he loves money. In the Bible it says you cannot love both God and Mammon (Mammon means money) for you will inevitably hate one and love the other. So how can it possibly follow that, as many evangelical types assert, that Trump is God’s man?

The Christians are Coming, The Christians are Coming

June 29, 2018

When I was 12 years old I attended, for around a year, a Baptist Church. I was going with the family next-door because I was attracted to their daughter. I went to Sunday School in the early morning and then to the church service in the late morning—all in all, a dismal experience. I don’t remember much except for one Sunday school class. The teacher, a thin, wiry and intense man in his 30s or 40s, with jet black hair and severe glasses, told us boys that if the Russians ever invaded America and started going door-to-door to find out who was Christian, and we denied Jesus to them, we would go to hell. There would be no way of ever overcoming our denial. I can still see his face telling us this. He clearly delighted in what he was doing. And he looked lurid—the way I imagine a child molester does while violating someone. Essentially, that’s what he was doing—violating us. Even though I didn’t know if what he was telling us was true, I could feel that he was doing something horribly wrong. Technically, it was heresy—that is, not spiritually true. Today, that kind of guy is seeking great power. He needs to be resisted and called-out.

Progress Report #116

June 21, 2018

Question: Now that you’ve finished your book, what’s going to happen?

Answer: Actually, I’m working on it some more…I decided to take one last pass, a final read through before handing it off to my agent. It was a smart decision. I’m cleaning up some bad edits and improving the flow. No heavy lifting, though. It’s done in the sense that there’s no more creating to do. Just pruning. I’m also waiting to hear from some readers to whom I’ve given the manuscript. Street Song is not like any book I’ve ever read and I want to get a sense of how various types of people might respond. After my agent gets the book, I intend to start posting to my blog here with more regularity and in greater depth than I’ve been doing. I have some ideas that are more complex and detailed than what one can put on Facebook, and I want to get into them. By August at the latest.

Poem

May 15, 2018

When the world is vicious,
And the path is vicious,
Who can feel welcome anywhere?

Progress Report #115

May 11, 2018

Finished

I finished Street Song yesterday—a huge relief for my poor weary skull. There’s still work to do, though. If I were to compare Street Song to a head of lettuce, I’ve grown and then picked the head. Now I manicure it—pull off a few of the outer, funky leaves—and find a buyer. In prosaic terms, I’m going to make some print on demand copies so that I can look at it as a real book, make a few minor changes, and then look for a publisher. But for the next few days I’m going to do whatever I feel like doing—something I haven’t really done in more than 12 years.