Sunday, February 14, 2021

Mockingbird Court Scene

 An exchange between musicologist, Michael Lee and myself today (2/14/21).  Forgive my prose which is a bit rambling (and maybe not grammatical?):

ML: I heard someone talking on the television this morning. He claimed that watching 43 Republican jurors/senators vote to acquit Trump was like the black folks in "To Kill a Mockingbird" watching powerlessly from the gallery as the all-white jury did the inevitable and convicted Tom Robinson no matter how big a wipe out the actual trial was. I get tearful every time the black minister awakens Scout: "Stand up Miss Jean Louise. Your daddy's passing." While this wasn't entirely a story about race, it was entirely a story about race. Trump's supporters were overwhelmingly white supremacists, neo-nazis, and crackers. They are the Ewells of the story, white trash to a one. But they don't win. The Ewells got shamed in public, just as the rioters are in jail or heading there. But the well-off racist jury wins in both the story and life. Shameful times in America never come or go, they just hang on and on.

CA: I don't know if there is net gain from this episode, but if there is some redemption of value, it might be the clarifying of what racism is, means, does etc.  I didn't grow up here so I my American history education was scant.  But it seems to me that racism is not organic, but is a strategy (conscious or systemic, maybe both) of the ruling (mostly white male) class to keep their minority rule status.  Every ruling class has to come up with some kind of mythology to keep themselves there.  The pigs have to come up with some way to get the dogs to do their bidding.  Racism has been a very easy and obvious mythology to accomplish this.  Particularly since the civil war, non-rich whites have to be prevented from finding common cause with blacks.  Thus, racism, the Klan etc.  Keep 'em busy hating other working people that look different from them and they won't notice you robbing them blind.  I'm not sure to what extent this is common knowledge among smart white people? but they sometimes don't act like it.  The demonizing of "Trump's base" as the principal cause of all of our ills (and they are, to be sure, a really unsavory, hard to love bunch) and the adherence to salvation (justification and sanctification) for smart (and mostly well off) white people from their race and class privilege through a linguistic and performative orthodoxy that they uniquely have access to, makes one wonder.  It starts to look like the intellectual class (unwittingly or not?) provides a sideshow to draw attention from the baleful and unnecessary curtailments of the first right mentioned in the Declaration among the non-rich.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Dangerous Anti-Vax BS

This is from a FB comment I made recently:

We're in the middle of one of the worst pandemics humanity has ever experienced. Vaccination and other kinds of innoculations have prevented millions of deaths. Americans sometimes have a difficult time understanding the very concept of public health, which is that we share most resources, especially air, water, the food supply etc. Americans are somewhat steeped in individualism, fundamentalist concepts of individual liberty which are dumb and bad. Vaccinations aren't just or even principally for the individual. They're meant to stop the spread of communicable diseases which, in human history have ravaged and even wiped out entire communities. People on the right keep on talking about herd immunity. This is exactly what vaccines are for. They create herd immunity without sacrificing literally millions of lives. 90% of the the native american population was wiped out by smallpox because there was no immunity in the population. The virus had already gone through Europe several times, so the European survivors were mostly immune. Had there been a smallpox vaccine then, millions of lives could have been saved and "herd immunity" would have resulted. Side effects are a part of everything anybody does in life to improve or accomplish anything, including, like, driving, having children, getting any medical intervention, eating food, etc. Side effects of vaccines have to be weighed against efficacy for the whole community always. We're not talking about dissent here. We're talking about very bad quacks causing some very bad things. There have always been quacks and conspiracy theories floating around, but they've never had this much sway, nor done this much damage. I beg you not to promote anything that prevents people from receiving vaccinations that will save thousands or even millions of lives. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

No Within No

 talk talk talk talk walk walk walk walden denayoh san thrift bedevilment sanded throughout the lefted leprachaun sous-vide syropy slurp sluffle salty bramble fealty flop

faraigment flat fancy flop
filter
and when the drop comes top
we weather the flop flough
bitter beasts
feasting on festering fallow fortune
receive direct proportion
following frightful bilious blanchment
entrancement through leveraged advancement
with every step forward we advance a pattern backward
with every session backward we pattern a paper scamward
with every with any with always standard
reaction attrition
segment artifice will always requite the labeled
larder
the chelsea hotel
a faster typist
never known nor grown
within the context
of font arrest whistle
plastic cog rename
the relatable character within the context of pretext
pretext of context
precon texttext
restex
brief lex ris rye
wry wrestable rin-sed rascal
which far exceeded the rightful
risible ryance
seeble seeking trite troffure beal believe
feloitable brisome bob reliant gracious
or a portion of a phone
a determinist defuncter
demonizing the past participle
prerequisite to the disciple’s staple

we watch
we wither
we wait
for fate
to dither through
fast function
foiled

I went to Paris to discover cultural artifacts.  More like artificts buried deep in the collective subconcious.  Has anyone dug deep enough to really reflect some soluble salient salivary substance to bring licht to liebe

Lying becomes the norm
in ten minutes reading became obsolescent

is there a fact that has not become transcendent
is there fat factual fatality
ordering freak fight
believe bite
a blight upon all society reduced to anxiety through dire satiety
order over olpoon oonson
feast yer eyes me maties
we’re skating on a merry freighter
feeling bound for perdition not attrition
no suspicion of blindsiding wide abiding
brink of bifurcation
no relation
his song screeched
Scranton, Trenton

is there a lasting lead we can lay our fears on
is there a fasting feed we can rate our tears from
doylies left
orange crates bound for distant lands bereft
of cargo made only available for fractured furniture
luggage baggage rites of passage
savage garbage sealing tonnage

a lump of fowl fenestra
block the cough
lock the fondness off of
soul-destroying lopped leverage
drop de-frilting fryling
dealing lup-king jing thing sing
hating all the wrapped up rollers
seal the morels
roll the foilers, fuller croilers
soothe employers, flingers, parlors
of a type to re-lipe nine five three
suffer through long levered Howard respirators
sand remind deliver crying quiver
sealing sliver, dealing thither
this contempt event
spent salivating, waiting for a rent red dress
spent trusses, under busses
rule the flattened fleeting tumble

I tear the testimony
lop the law
quake the ark
bruise the serpent
fake the vestment
bake the manna
eat the altar

sweet ceremony
sealed eternally for awhile
reveal mystery
honesty
allowance for allegiance to seminal
science explained
not entertained
relatable talia
colored by its relatability in the context of processed, preached privation
it went
it were
weren’t you there
I thought I saw you
I say, you are far
you far-flung fantastical fop
fanatical fable
i’m able to table this label
if you’re stable I’ll attach this latch throughout sentient steely sarcophagi
got you there
I swear you were ‘ware of my subtle brutal deception
‘pon reflection, I feel defection is an option
the fiction that frequents this frond of insurrection
reminds the kinds of depletion are simulation
and realization breeds simplification
dimplement facilitators
not debilitators
fine find raspor
lined crimed sasparillo
an euphemism for factor raptor
a seulement real font
funder of disaster-blaster
flask of foreign matter
for that master
enrailment, details sent into the stratosphere
near heaven
believe I can achieve a modicum of method
I’ve been on record as a recluse
I’ve built recently from refuse
a shelter for suffus-ed colors
dipped in transcendent brother others
smothered pleasant odors folders
fragrant filters
flowers udders

another butter to discover
another southern sweet-laced cover
leather binder
sealed reminder
crafted from remaindered finder

fluff matters
fluff delivers
fluff gave us fuller litters
still deliver waiters, waters
all that watches sitters, squatters
file away the frantic fodder
squeal a saving prophetic letter
arbor, otter
singing harbor
totter, tailer
twiller, trawler

I watch, release
the sealing grease
the singing phrase
released to cease

a surfeit of relaying laies
sung santorially, phrased
to craze and amaze
sing us now a skillful phrase
that all might space and waste our days
in short order we’ll be older
live in order, not a hoarder
sketch a border to deliver

Dispect file forect
dissect file forget
forgissimo diss’em or
faractissimore store floor
out the door
toward normal normative
store gore war

wouldn’t wanton grapes berate
reptilissimo fictissimo dictus
fictus licked loose
sluice sauce fentile the boss
direct hot hoss phantom
bite think light ledger
the height of pleasure censure
the rent retirement syllabent
retrieved some filter feel relief

sprientific: remember: roz’ rebels
they were trebles
they sang with admirable syllables
thankful that vibratory feldspar
abundant though they are
provided ample evidence of divine
providence, profitable for semblance
dissemble factual evidence
forever striving simi-biddance
souris, sourable
sur le table
mistaken frightened flake tendentious
tedium a need which feels fine

Cavaliers comprenez ou gendarmes
je annoncait.
Fabriques attelages non dut peu
car echangent etendards jugements.
Je indus voyez
de fumee cette.
Son est rang sur veut avis.

so quitting, never exiting
is a strategy, not a prodigy
a faculty, not a faulty property
a tendency, not a filigree
labels not fables
erasable linen, not a far-cry from building
substantive fragility, forgotten
in the midst of similitudes
fragile, frequent industry
vicissitudes, vaunted for their symbol sentence
code of reliance
rule of remembrance
fool of forgotten forgiveness
enter ritual remembrance
instead of single fantibulance

I was sent spent rods of rejection and retention
it was within five fathoms of
fictitious schoolmart
viral vobjects
unifarcity, larceny
lobistry, lantern lacking
solemn silosophy bardgosophy
hologram, hard loss, if he
feels faithful lake, like life
hike the heft
left luncher
sift smile dice cruncher
torrendous sieve site-dumper
compure, lissure, fissure fixture
simpering silo trool the fooble
fleet flight-lance phantom

organized by size
alphanumericalshapecolorsignificance
stoop waffling
fill-coughing, flocked, flocking
an order of magnitude notregognized
revising, yanny laurel
panning for sorrel
silt and floral fashion
flashing deploral, storeable norse-while
boasting breedless sky-rile

The key-concept is
a number filed in forgotten
retention mavens
store this frequent stave-favors

All things are distilled for
Razor-sharp entities
Distributed and disturbed
by the requisite reality of
Wrong-headed rifle-reason

Reflect if you will the
plight of the benighted
broom-bomb
greeting the conscious
sentient interpretation of
cat on sail on fail on
flee on be on three on
three five seven to one four eight

greatness met with
barriers behind the
wheel of weather-limbed
life-lob lungberry

throughout reference remembrance
to outside lawn-logged reference
to regulance to regulation
station pluration
tool of the traditional mediated
state of past trait to whit
without reason or rationalization
this nation, frozen as it was
was new to the notion of treason
a season of salvation, relation to
never coming back to the coiled
swift front-mob through fight
and flight-sound, light loud
loopy lesson, is never round
or found to be impounded

soon the oxygenated six strong
weather-beating, through three
things seen eating this season of seating
leave it to reason
sanitation leaves lava-bound
luncheon to munch on multiple
noodle-bound relation, belation
suspension, direction, repression
election sustain a wide-grain
disapproval through thousand thin
think-weight, believe-rate
sustain late

green file is on trial
don’t place trust in confabulated fealty
the real thing is three thin fibers
aligned on laproscpic
lointain, dans l’espace
et dans le futur


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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Imagine A World Where Simple Goodness Matters Afresh

Guest blogger extraordinaire, Michael Lee (OU Musicologist) shares the following:

This morning, I woke early to deal with my dog's sense of time and entitlement. Then I made a grave mistake. I turned on the news. Within 20 minutes, the pending collapse of democracy in America revealed itself with brazen precision. What a scary time. Which is worse: the envigoration of massive racial injustice, a deadly pandemic confronted by no plan, the president promising the end of democracy, or a climate crisis threatening life on earth?

Maybe all four could be fused into a single story about capitalism as a really big mistake. As we discussed, the Soviets and particularly Stalin did the worst disservice to the human race by discrediting an alternative to capitalism so thoroughly as to make all future alternatives far less viable. Maybe we're living through the moment when Donald Trump will so thoroughly discredit capitalism as to make the search for an alterntive vital again. Whatever is going on, it doesn't look like a happy ending is pending unless our side changes tactics. 

A hopeful friend, Jake Johnson, led me in a subsequent discussion of the above to a conclusion worth sharing. As we now find ourselves as human beings half emptied by the current circumstances, we may need to abandon any effort to address capitalism's remaining guardians (the venal, the timid, and the ignorant) with the reason and facts we so cherish. They have abandoned truth, and reason is entirely relative to them. As tools of persuasion, the facts have passed their expiration date with tens of millions of our friends, neighbors, and family members.  

Armed with this knowledge, we may need to reply with fantasies larger and more compelling than those Trump and the greedy monsters who make him possible are presenting. Here the arts and the artists may be at an advantage. The time to dream a better world is now more than ever. Lie more compellingly, artists who love truth. What is a lie but another name for a dream in this fact-free world? Please, artists, present a world where simple goodness matters afresh, and mean braggarts are pitied rather than followed.

We need a wildly attractive and wholly fabricated evangel of the beauty of everything Trump, his angry mob, and the cravens who enable him hate. Trump is piloting the Republic one of two places: oblivion or change. Let's rouse ourselves from our bad-news-induced torpor and use our imaginations to tilt the scale toward change using the tool our times value: fantasy.

--Mike

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Never Watch Fox News Again

I'm sick of the damage this hideous scourge of political pornography, this electronic lobotomy known as Fox News has wrought on the country I love, the only planet I've known, and many of my loved ones. It's become clear that watching it is kind of like a fetish or an addiction that poisons the mind. It's not possible to think critically or empathetically while watching it. I don't think we can solve our problems in any meaningful way while it exists as it presently does. Here's my plea:

 

 I don’t have all the facts its genesis, but it’s becoming more and more clear that Fox News is the great villain that’s led to the mess we’re in.  Great masses of the populace, many that are loved ones of mine and other sane people that I know, have been essentially lobotomized and completely immune to the civic virtues that were the foundation of our society not long ago.  Fox News never should have been allowed to exist.  I know that Reagan eliminated the Fairness Doctrine which would have made Fox News impossible to operate as it does.  I also know that when I first watched a few minutes of it (I can barely stand to watch it even for a few seconds), I immediately recognized the tone as essentially the same as the professional wrestling I watched as a kid, the TV preachers of the ‘80s and the anti-Mormon propaganda I was attacked with constantly on my mission in Central California.  It’s really awful stuff, crappy entertainment, but incredibly toxic if it’s believed.  The truly apocalyptic challenges we face now are directly traceable to people injecting themselves with this electronic excrement and being simply unable to think or decide or distinguish right from wrong or good from evil or to even be able to make the most basic observations of what is around them.  It has seriously challenged the cherished notion of free speech to my mind.  There are certainly abridgements of freedom of expression, such as the fairness doctrine, or those employed in the U.K. to disallow demonization of one's opponents that would seem to make sense.  Many of the evils that seem to be threatening to engulf us presently would make our extreme form of freedom of expression obsolete anyway.

 

If anyone reading this spends any of their precious time on this earth and their precious senses of hearing, and sight and their mind on Fox News, I implore you to turn it off and never tune in again as long as you live and spend your life counteracting the damage it has done.  It is political pornography of the most vile sort, much more damaging to you and to society than conventional pornography.  I know Fox News has taught you to doubt and hate all other media (mainstream media, lamestream media), but you are quite safe listening to and watching pretty much any established media.  The pre-Fox News news landscape in the U.S. was the envy of the world and of history.  Quibbling about mistakes and bias does nothing to the fact that the networks, the major newspapers, CNN and MSNBC, etc. basically adhere to traditional press norms that have protected our information for decades, and made America a bastion of civic involvement and informedness.  (We are, post-Fox News, now viewed as kind of the opposite.)

 

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Abolish/Defund: It's a Trap!

In my 40+ years of watching politics pretty closely, I've noticed that
a. the institutional republican party (that counts as members some lovely people) is evil and want to make the rich richer, and they've got lots of ways to do it and are constantly cooking up new ones
b. they can't win elections fairly so they play dirty
c. every presidential election cycle they form an alliance with unwitting young/well off highly educated/privileged urban lefties to promote a cause that sounds really bad and no one really wants that can serve as their main talking point to scare people out of voting for democrats.

In 2016, it was unisex bathrooms.  I am not alone in saying, this was one of the worst things handed to the right on a silver platter.
It's looking like this year it's abolish the police.
If you ask an abolisher/defunder what they mean, it turns out, like "anarchy", that the words are meant to be provocative and the actual intent is more a kind of much-needed probing reform of an undeniably dysfunctional and often dangerous institution, than actual abolishing or defunding.  I know it's fun for you young 'uns to be provocative and I know there's a lot of peer pressure.  But you may not be aware of the hideous consequences of these traps has been over the decades.  Many of us can remember a time when the the middle class was much larger and included people who worked with their hands.  We remember when there was general agreement in polite company nobody should live on the street and that trade unions were forces of good and picket lines shouldn't be crossed.  The right has thousands of cold-blooded analysts figuring out ways to utilize anything they can get their hands on to divide the public and scare people who don't have graduate degrees.  This doesn't mean self-censoring.  It means mass communication that facilitates and encourages dialogue and teaching.  It means being bold with ideas and slogans that are real winners, that are absolutely true and clear and necessary.  Black Lives Matter is, of course, an excellent example.  Medicare for all is another.  These slogans can't help but provoke deep moral thought and shame in those who oppose them.  Abolish the Police can't help but divide and confuse.  It's a shibboleth.  If you know the "principles" behind it, you get it.  But to a majority of people, this sounds scary and menacing.  And if it's something that has to be "youngsplained", that makes matters worse.  I know "Reform the Police", "Demilitarize the Police", "Fund Social Workers", etc. don't sound as cool, but maybe there's something along these lines that will be almost as snappy and true and inspiring as Black Lives Matter or Medicare for All.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

The Poetic Book of Mormon (sorry, not chloroform in print)

I have been setting to music parts of the Book of Mormon that appear to be or have been in verse in the original languages.  I am aware that the Book of Mormon has been maligned by many, Mormon and not, for its stilted language and lack of poetic qualities.  Setting texts reveals their poetic qualities in ways that no other activity can.  I have found many of these texts to have delightful and evocative poetic qualities that I hadn’t noticed before, qualities that are quite musical.  The Hebraic parallelisms are, of course, striking.  They are not native to English language writing and have thus been annoying to many English speakers who have been taught to value economy and shun redundancy.  But I have also been noticing turns of phrase which have unique delights of sound and sense in their English manifestation.  There are abundant if subtle alliterations, in particular, as well as similes, synecdoches, etc.  I’ve listed a few here from the “Psalm of Nephi”, 2 Nephi 4, which I am in the midst of setting:

behold, my soul
the great goodness
causing them to quake
my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
why should my heart weep and my soul linger
droop in sin
robe of thy righteousness
I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh;
rock of my righteousness
my voice shall forever ascend