Friday, March 23, 2018

When I was a little kid, my forebears being mostly college-educated white people, the first gods and goddesses that I read about, in Victorian primers,

were the Gods of Olympus.  I didn't have to believe in them, and I understood that I didn't have to believe in them--but I liked them, and I liked believing in them; especially Apollo, Athena, Hermes, Zeus, Demeter, Hera, Hades and Poseidon; my favorites being Apollo and Hermes.  And there was a real sense, when then I went to Protestant Sunday school, that Jesus, for all his strange love of sinners, and suffering little children to come unto Him, lacked both the character and the class--and the wits--of the Olympians.  Frankly, he bored me.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Russia Just Had Something We've Certainly Never Had In America: An Honest, Free Presidential Election

Of course, the Russkis had a head start on us.  They never had an inherently rigged Electoral College.  Much less a totally corrupt, for-sale-to-the-highest-bidder bipartisan system which made it impossible for any honest person to be a politician.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Jimmy Dore is right, of course, that the Times are ripe for Revolution--

But so have they been for a very long time in this country, with its deliberate subversion of democracy by the powers of large land-owners, vested financial interests, and the autocratic centralist authority of the Federal Government since the days of its founding.  How, to begin with, did we lose unicameral legislatures (proposed by Benjamin Franklin)?  Whence comes this otiose, inherently corrupt parody, of the ancient Roman Senate and the English House of Lords, which is the "upper house" of American state and federal bicameral legislatures?  Why, for that matter, have we a president, and not simply a speaker for our parliamentary houses of commons? And, to speak of the unspeakable, what evil genius saddled us with the Electoral College?  It occurs to me that, once the Battle of Yorktown had established our independence, a secret benevolent society (of which there are many examples in the 1780's) might have finished the business of our revolution with the assassination of, say, John Adams, George Washington, and a dozen or so other notable absolutist Protectors of the Rights of Property (but not, of course, James Madison, whose Bill of Rights we would always need)--in whose absence, a much freer confederation of the states, not unlike the Athenian League in the Age of Pericles, might have been joined together, which might, from the first, have permitted the states to position themselves as slave-holding states Vs. non-slave-holding states.  And how many heavy heaps of misery of 19th century American History might that not have prevented?

Speaking of avoidable disasters which were made infinitely worse by refusing to avoid them, what was the American Civil War but a kind of Revolution in which the Wrong Side won?  But of course, states have a right to dissolve their attachments to one another and to secede from one another, and no state, ever, has a right to invade another. If only Lincoln had been assassinated four years earlier: Some 750,000 young men's lives might have been spared; the American West would have been settled earlier, as independent republics; and the tsunami of poor, wretched refuse from eastern and southern Europe (not to mention Ireland) which inundated the United States in the latter half of the 19th century would have been kept from our pristine shores.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Inspiring Rant: Your Democracy Has Been Stolen; It's Time For Revolution

One October Evening in 1965 in Seattle, Walking Home from my first Job as an Export Documentations Clerk,

Up along First Avenue, a couple of blocks down from the Pike Street Market, I halted in front of a beguiling, clean and warmly illuminated little bookstore, and walked in, penetrating perhaps a third  of the way into the establishment, where I saw displayed in a matching four-volume set the Four Yogas of Swami Vivekananda (of whom I had never heard and knew nothing), which I therewith purchased, and which (at least the fourth volume, Raja Yoga, the Aphorisms of Patanjali, with commentaries by Swami Vivekananda) became my meat and drink for the next year or so of my life.  So wise it seemed, and so profound, I virtually memorized it, learning of what the mind is made, how focused, how trained and how mastered.  I did not think till years later to discover who Swami Vivekananda had been, what his credentials as a disciple of Ramakrishna were, nor anything of his tragically short life or his enormously successful and influential career as a teacher and a scholar.  And in a sense, certainly I was right to consider anything and everything but the Raja Yoga as superfluous and inconsequential.

Nonetheless (and howsomever) what I eventually did come to know on a more personal level about Vivekananda--like his devotion to the Goddess Kali, which he apparently learned (albeit with some resistance) from Ramakrishna himself, and his counseling of a devotee of Shiva to "be pure and worthy" of his Lord, and his slavishly respectful attitude towards theism in general, frankly, make me want to vomit.  Kee-rist.  Esti de Tabernacle, as they say in Quebec, meaning approxinately fuck-oh-dear.

CHANTICLEER: L'Amour de Moy - traditional French, arr. Alice Parker/Robe...

         There are many versions of this lovely-lovely song on YouTube, some evidently scribbled down in tablature on the back of old envelopes to conform to the character of wheezily folksy "Traditional French" (whatever the hell that would be).  This sounds as if it could have been written by, say, Guillaume de Machaut, with its clear, heart-wrenching, internal rhymes and subtle melismas--and it's carefully and beautifully sung, so that all you notice when you hear it is its exquisite poetry, which is far too perfect--too simple, too limpid, too polished--to have sprung from some wild-ass rustic "tradition."  I have listened to it three times already, and I'm ready to hear it again.  This really is the food of love.

People Focus Hatred On Trump - Ignore Causes

So far as I can tell, Jimmy Dore is the only completely rational expositor of the plain and simple, albeit complicated and many-faceted, truth.  Saves me a lot  of work.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Ah les crocodiles!

Gotta say:  I like this guy's  exquisitely clear pronunciation of what is, after "l'Amour de Moi," my favourite song in French.  Only it seems to me there's a stanza missing...

Actually there are a couple of stanzas missing.  After Il fredonnait une marche militaire, etc., and (another repetition of) the refrain, should come:

                  Il s'agitait sa grand' queu à l'arrière
                  Comm' s'il était d'avance triomphant.
                  Les animaux devant sa mine altière
                  Dans les forêts s'en fuyaient tout tremblants.

Then the last stanza, before (the final repetition of) the refrain, should be:

                  Et tout rempli d'une crainte salutaire
                  S'en retourna vers ses petits enfants.
                  Notre éléphant d'une trompe plus fière
                  Voulut alors accompagner ce chant.

I grant, or concede, that neither of the putatively missing stanzas is essential to the swift narrative sense of the poem, and that the latter (of the two) is positively defective.  [Actually, both stanzas are fautifs--You just can't rhyme "triomphant" (singular) with "tremblants" (plural); nor, come to think of it, "enfants" (plural) with "chant" (singular).]  Nonetheless, the French child in me is much affected by the beasts trembling in the forest at the intimidating display of crocodile tail; while, as an elephant, I should miss sorely the invitation in the last stanza to blow my trumpet/trunk in triumph.  Perhaps we could, however, forget the iron rules of French poetry for the sake of just this one Comptine.  Or, if we could never do that, we might always add to it, after we sing it, a little leçon in good French prose explaining what faults we've just committed and promising never to commit them again.                


We've spoken (sung high the praises) of Ruby Darjeeling Tea, which tastes and smells, among other things, like an armful of Red Roses--

What are we to say of Margaret's Hope's Spring White Darjeeling, which tastes/smells like a bouquet of Lily of the Valley?  Muguet, as I remember from the song of Guillaume de Machaut (I think it was), as in:

                     L'amour de moi
                     S'y est enclose,
                     Dedans un joli Jardinet
                     Où croît la Rose,
                     Et le Muguet.

Which, when you hear it, will break your heart with loveliness.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

So "Bloody Gina" Haspel, whom Trump proposes to head the CIA, was "just following orders" in running those CIA torture camps in Thailand....

It's still quite clear that she tortured people because she liked torturing them. To hear her taunting a victim of torture affords a deep, horrifying insight into the very nature of Evil itself.  And, of course, that's really the only reason--bullshit aside--that anybody ever tortures anybody: The love of hurting others.  Orders handed down by superiors mean nothing.  As was concluded, I believe, at the Nuremburg trials.

But now, the point is, we are to have an all-powerful (possessed of a secret budget) rogue, paramilitary security agency, headed by an unrepentant, bloody-handed war criminal.  Things don't get much worse than this, until the Sultan himself starts wandering among us, murdering his "one innocent man a day." 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Still more interesting things I'm discovering about music (using my new, end-of-life, technical approach of "Just play the damn Notes in the Order they're written"):

Chopin's still too hard, and Liszt continues ridiculously out of reach (and who'd want to, anyway?); but Mozart and Beethoven sonatas have gotten astoundingly easy.  And, Beethoven, far more beautiful--I should say, far, far more beautiful--than I had ever imagined.  Maybe I mean even, astoundingly, philosophically, from-another-world more beautiful.  And I've always liked Beethoven. So maybe it's time to talk about pedophilia.  

Beethoven, of course, was a pedophile, as people who had charge and governance of their nephews in his day sometimes were, or could be when they felt like it--and there was nothing that the nephews (while they were still in their minority), or that the mothers of the nephews (or the sisters-in-law of the pedophiles) could do about it. Usually it didn't hurt the nephews too much.  You could even say, over all, that it was probably good for them.  And when they came into their majority (turned 18 and were no longer dependent children), they could confront their uncles, and say, "Well, that was then. Maybe nobody would believe what you did to me all those years--but now I'm going to get married, to a woman, and live my own life.  So give me my inheritance from my dead father, and leave me forever the hell from now on alone."  And that's what Karl van Beethoven did and said to his uncle Ludwig (so far as we know) when he turned 18, and went off to found Pullman Cars on passenger railways, and become a happy, rich and successful man in his own right.

Is any of what I have just written true? I urge you to consult your official (say, Thayer's) biography of Beethoven and to seek proofs to the contrary.