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Thursday, October 24, 2013

A WORLD OF VARIETY



For a couple weeks I've paid next to no attention to the news. The most interesting media broadcast came to me by way of BBC radio. In Mogadishu, Somalia, teachers are having a problem enforcing no cell phones in class. That struck me as news worth hearing. We only know of Mogadishu from Black Hawk Down, a fairly good military action movie. Somalia we know of for pirates abducting oil tankers for ransom, a country of extreme poverty without government, the place we'd like the Teabaggers to go where they can live without government and have all the guns and ammo they want. But, as they say, "That's not what we mean." I see Sarah Palin's face and Ted Cruz's face every time I got to facebook. Finally, today I made comment to the source of a Ted Cruz article about what a bozo he is: His game is name recognition and you're helping him out. Fact is, I'm helping them out here using their names while dismissing them. Their advisors have taught them name recognition is all that is important. It doesn't matter that Sarah Palin said Jesus celebrated Easter. A year from now, nobody will remember. Ten years from now, everyone will remember the name Sarah Palin. The real horror story is that she is so popular. Faux tv can't keep her off the air by viewer demands. We who like to think ourselves somewhat rational see Ted Cruz a blithering buffoon. Yet he is wildly popular. Because he's a moron. That's where I scratch my head. I already know anti-intellectualism in America has degenerated to anti-paying attention. And here it is, popular ignorance, the legacy of the Reagan Revolution.
 
 
 
I've become shy of calling my mother. Her new husband is a Faux tv enthusiast. They live in separate apartments in an assisted living facility, but they watch tv together in the evening. Last time we talked, she said, "Obama is ruining our country." It took me back to age 16 when I was listening to Little Richard and she said, "The niggers are taking over." Then, as now, I could only think: What? The woman who has parroted preachers all her adult life is now parroting Faux tv. I wanted to say, Please stop watching that ignorance. But her fundamentalist religion has a tv news channel now. Her new political awareness via indoctrination tv is the political equivalent of her religion. It took me fifteen years to shake off the belief system she enforced. I had to throw out the baby with the bathwater, as they say. I turned my back to all of it by way of education. I went to college to flush the ignorance out of my system. One of the first things I learned studying 20th Century American poetry, dogmatism is not where it's at. Turns out I'd thought it was. It was a shock. One of my initial attractions to Bob Dylan was his dogmatism, which caused me eventually to say good-bye to him. Then his last five albums happened and each one pulled me back  Sitting in front of a preacher several times a week through the entirety of childhood was crazy-making. I'm reminded of a brother and sister I know whose dad made them sit and listen to Rush Limbaugh before they went to school every morning. Daddy was a preacher man. Eventually, I came to see preachers as culture cops. They enforce culture. If they paid any attention to "Jesus' word," they'd be promoting loving one another instead of guilt.  
 
 
 
 
The culture of my developing years was Kansas creationist, before Creationism, fundamentalist. Of course I believed it. But something is amiss when what it did to a kid of a questioning mind was pack him so full of sewage that he had to open the release valve and get rid of it all. That is the process that took fifteen years. Westboro Baptist church that's frequently in the news is Kansas fundamentalism. It looks odd from the outside, but on the inside, that mind is a dynamic force. That the likes of the Koch Bros are from Wichita surprises me not. All my life I have questioned myself and God about why I was destined to grow up in Kansas this time. Could I have read The Wizard of Oz in my former lifetime? Could the horrors of the previous lifetime, Europe subdued by Nazis, have made me long in my heart for the "free world," for Kansas, "there's no place like home." To quote Lou Reed from one of his songs, "Just goes to show how wrong you can be." When I question how I came about my parents by way of karma, then I wonder how they came about me? If I was the torment to them that they were to me, I know they were glad to see me go. Mother lives in a state of denial and I can't get a straight answer from her about anything. Denial is what it takes to keep her equilibrium. I was taught denial in depth, and never to talk about anything that might run a ripple across her smooth lake of denial. Next, I find myself drawn to people of these characteristics. First thing I did was marry daddy. Then came the day I said this will not be the nature of my life. I will not live with him in a woman's body all the way along. I've already done my time with him. I felt like a kid born in prison. I was not going to drag that ball and chain through the rest of my life.
 
 
 
At age 23, as far away from Wichita as land allows without the extreme of Alaska, the checklist of obligations to rule by others, parents, school, church, marriage and military, was done. The marriage was divorced after two years when I realized I was living with daddy and liked it less every day. I turned my back to all of it. Release from the navy, then release from marriage, I started at the College of Charleston because my X had told me I would not be accepted there. Challenge a Taurus. I started the first day of my life that would be my own at the College of Charleston. The entire student body would not fill an auditorium classroom at a state university. It was not a high-powered school. It was still an Old South college. I loved that about it most of all. I had longed throughout childhood to feel the soul of the South. Most of my friends in the South have been non-racist people of several races. The great southern writers are not racist. I know there is a great deal of fervent racism in the South, but I don't care. It's everywhere. It's worse in New York City. In the South I learned not to let other people's belief systems be a problem for me. They allow me mine, I allow them theirs. I've found it to be a Southern code wherever I am in the South. I don't mean to apologize for barbeque culture or any of the parts of Southern culture I don't participate in, only that in the South we allow each other to be who we are. So you think different from somebody. So what else is new? I've found the Southern people best known individually.
 
 
 
From the outside the southern people are judged collectively by abstractions without meaning. People outside the South think they know all about the South. I'm here to tell you, nobody outside the South knows anything about the South. The South can only be known from the inside. Southern people don't care that Yankees think they're ignernt racists. It keeps them away. It's a good thing. When I found out about a Yankee I know who told a sheriff deputy living a couple doors down the street in town to keep his dog at home--it's shitting in his yard, I said, What! Man! This is the South! We don't do that shit! I don't mean the South is Ozzie & Harriet forever. I mean there is a bond between somebody from North Carolina and somebody from Alabama when they meet at a convention in New York. I saw recently in the news that a couple in Johnson City, Tennessee, were renting out their teenage girls to make porn films, getting paid pretty well, subsistence. They started when the girls were 9. Shit happens in the South same as shit happens in the North. We're all a world of people, all of us endowed with human nature, whatever our culture. I love about the South that it continues to be a culture even after all these years of television. I don't like to leave the South anymore. After the second half of my life in the mountains, I don't like to leave the mountains for more than a very short time. I don't like to leave my county anymore. The people of Alleghany County allow me to live among them and many of them have a place in my heart. I've walked my own walk, talked my own talk; I love living among the Southern people and am grateful to them for allowing me to live happily among them.
 
 
 
 I really don't care if somebody is racist or not, whether somebody is republican or not. I've known enough people of other races to see they're racist too. In the South, you take it for granted everybody is republican and leave it be at that. I don't care how they vote. People I like are people I like. I don't want all liberals around me. I don't want everybody around me agreeing with me. I want different kinds of people in my life. Somebody's racism is their own business. Somebody's politics is their own business. Same with religion. In the world of people I know that I live among, it is a wide variety. I like that every person I know is unique among all the others. Last week I saw a friend who is 81, bluegrass bass player, good a man as you'll find on earth, haughtily rejected for his PC insensitive language. He was hurt by it, didn't understand it. I was perplexed. I stood there and watched my friend be rejected by intolerance for his unconscious clich├ęs of intolerance. I had to remind myself this world is not necessarily rational. That I have reminded myself so many times explains why it shocked me to hear Joe in the coffee shop say that something to do with somebody's behavior was not logical. That rang every bell I had. I didn't know that Joe took the logical for the norm. And I'm not sure he really does. It's a conjecture from one word. All I mean to say is it shocked me to hear it, no matter who said it.   


 
 
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