The Third Sector – (YOU) – the fargo kantrowitz’z literary campsite peace project

According to the United Nations, there are three sectors: Government, Business and, the  third sector, The People, YOU! It is time for you to understand just how important you really are.

 

What Civil Society Can Do to Develop Democracy

 Presentation to NGO Leaders, February 10, 2004,

Convention Center, Baghdad

Larry Diamond – Stanford University

 

 

Good afternoon.  I want to speak to you briefly today about the role that civil society plays in building and strengthening democracy.  You are all civil society leaders, who are engaged in this effort in various ways, so I am very pleased to be able to share these ideas with you.

 

By civil society I mean the entire range of organized groups and institutions that are independent of the state, voluntary, and at least to some extent self-generating and self-reliant. This of course includes non-governmental organizations like the ones in this room, but also independent mass media, think tanks, universities, and social and religious groups.

 

To be part of civil society, groups must meet some other conditions as well.  In a democracy, civil society groups have respect for the law, for the rights of individuals, and for the rights of other groups to express their interests and opinions.  Part of what the word “civil” implies is tolerance and the accommodation of pluralism and diversity.

 

Civil society groups may establish ties to political parties and the state, but they must retain their independence, and they do not seek political power for themselves.

 

Often in transitions, groups arise that seek to monopolize the lives and thinking of their members.  These groups do not tolerate the right of their members to dissent, and they do not respect other groups that disagree with them.  Some of these groups may merely be fronts for political parties or movements that seek to win control of the state.  These groups are not part of civil society and they do not contribute to building a democracy.

 

What, then, can the independent, voluntary, law-abiding, tolerant and pluralistic organizations of civil society do to build and maintain democracy?

 

The first and most basic role of civil society is to limit and control the power of the state.  Of course, any democracy needs a well-functioning and authoritative state.  But when a country is emerging from decades of dictatorship, it also needs to find ways to check, monitor, and restrain the power of political leaders and state officials.

 

Civil society actors should watch how state officials use their powers.  They should raise public concern about any abuse of power.  They should lobby for access to information, including freedom of information laws, and rules and institutions to control corruption.

 

This constitutes a second important function of civil society:  to expose the corrupt conduct of public officials and lobby for good governance reforms.  Even where anti-corruption laws and bodies exist, they cannot function effectively without the active support and participation of civil society.

 

A third function of civil society is to promote political participation.  NGOs can do this by educating people about their rights and obligations as democratic citizens, and encouraging them to listen to election campaigns and vote in elections.  NGOs can also help develop citizens’ skills to work with one another to solve common problems, to debate public issues, and express their views.

 

Fourth, civil society organizations can help to develop the other values of democratic life:  tolerance, moderation, compromise, and respect for opposing points of view.  Without this deeper culture of accommodation, democracy cannot be stable.  These values cannot simply be taught; they must also be experienced through practice.  We have outstanding examples from other countries of NGOs—especially women’s groups—that have cultivated these values in young people and adults through various programs that practice participation and debate.

 

Fifth, civil society also can help to develop programs for democratic civic education in the schools as well.  After dictatorship, comprehensive reforms are needed to revise the curricula, rewrite the textbooks, and retrain teachers in order to educate young people about the crimes of the past and teach them the principles and values of democracy.  This is too important a task to leave only to officials in the education ministry.  Civil society must be involved as a constructive partner and advocate for democracy and human rights training.

 

Sixth, civil society is an arena for the expression of diverse interests, and one role for civil society organizations is to lobby for the needs and concerns of their members, as women, students, farmers, environmentalists, trade unionists, lawyers, doctors, and so on.  NGOs and interest groups can present their views to parliament and provincial councils, by contacting individual members and testifying before parliamentary committees.  They can also establish a dialogue with relevant government ministries and agencies to lobby for their interests and concerns.

 

And it is not only the resourceful and well organized who can have their voices heard.  Over time, groups that have historically been oppressed and confined to the margins of society can organize to assert their rights and defend their interests as well.

 

A seventh way civil society can strengthen democracy is to provide new forms of interest and solidarity that cut across old forms of tribal, linguistic, religious, and other identity ties.  Democracy cannot be stable if people only associate with others of the same religion or identity.  When people of different religions and ethnic identities come together on the basis of their common interests as women, artists, doctors, students, workers, farmers, lawyers, human rights activists, environmentalists, and so on, civic life becomes richer, more complex, and more tolerant.

 

Eighth, civil society can provide a training ground for future political leaders.  NGOs and other groups can help to identify and train new types of leaders who have dealt with important public issues and can be recruited to run for political office at all levels and to serve in provincial and national cabinets.  Experience from other countries shows that civil society is a particularly important arena from which to recruit and train future women leaders.

 

Ninth, civil society can help to inform the public about important public issues.  This is not only the role of the mass media, but of NGOs which can provide forums for debating public policies and disseminating information about issues before parliament that affect the interests of different groups, or of society at large.

 

Tenth, civil society organizations can play an important role in mediating and helping to resolve conflict.  In other countries, NGOs have developed formal programs and training of trainers to relieve political and ethnic conflict and teach groups to solve their disputes through bargaining and accommodation.

 

Eleventh, civil society organizations have a vital role to play in monitoring the conduct of elections.  This requires a broad coalition of organizations, unconnected to political parties or candidates, that deploys neutral monitors at all the different polling stations to ensure that the voting and vote counting is entirely free, fair, peaceful, and transparent.  It is very hard to have credible and fair elections in a new democracy unless civil society groups play this role.

 

Finally, I want to stress that civil society is not simply in tension with the state.  Because civil society is independent of the state doesn’t mean that it must always criticize and oppose the state.  In fact, by making the state at all levels more accountable, responsive, inclusive, effective—and hence more legitimate—a vigorous civil society strengthens citizens’ respect for the state and promotes their positive engagement with it.

 

A democratic state cannot be stable unless it is effective and legitimate, with the respect and support of its citizens.  Civil society is a check, a monitor, but also a vital partner in the quest for this kind of positive relationship between the democratic state and its citizens.

Published in: on January 26, 2017 at 4:13 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , , ,

Luminos – Joey Kantor

Walk down here
forget about steps
a float down onto a cloud
you down here now
no there, no forward
come down here
and I will show you
where you are

All that no more
of course no more
how could it be
when your love is gone
and you, you, you
just you and you are
not enough

So where, what, how?
Now that love is gone?
Here, follow me
and I will show you
yes, that’s it, down now
float down, forget about
the step, no more steps

What space, huh?
What glorious white space
of the world of nothing
no wonder you can’t do
now you can only be
the ghost of the girl
somewhere out there
up there, but gone
definitely gone and so
you ask about what’s next

Next? What time now
that she’s gone and you
you you do not truly
believe in a next
but here now you are
alive, still you
look around and maybe
you’ll see something

Let’s do.
Let’s see. Look! Over there!
A cloud. A white cloud.
Let’s leap to it like it is love
come on, do do do
ah, feel that, down now
down we go on to this
cloud where we are
but there is no is

She entered the machine
and disappeared
she did not want your cloud
and your mind and your
thought and your you and
your you and your you

Ah mountains distant
perhaps there is ground there
let us go to them and see
ah, fly yes fly but where joy here
not here, at all, no joy in flight
until there, until on ground firm
ah here we are down down down
ah, a mirage, not a mountain
down down down on to another cloud

you thought you saw her there
but she was not there and you
you you must get used to her her her
not knowing you, seeing you, loving you
because otherwise you will disappear
move move move move move move

she holds all mystery
she talks into the ear of God
God loves her and you God
through her
all untrue, but true, no denying
the truth of untruth
when you believe it

let’s journey to the sea
ah krita, the rocky beach, the wind
her spirit flying amongst the other spirits
so full her heart, the sea and her home
no no no no no no no no
don’t fall away for fear
of your loss of God
she no more owns God than you

ah, but i see you don’t believe that
i can see. there! let’s go there.
another mountain. Athos!
there is the mystery.
There she runs like a wolf
free, untamable and you you you
no, let’s not go there
for you lose her there don’t you
or you think you do
but you don’t, well, only
if you think you do

Where else? Back up?
To the world again?
What are you there?
Are you not just a pair of eyes
and a flabby brain
with no understanding?
No not there.
There is no there for you
there anymore

We are together
seeking a happy ending
or just floating
yes, floating, wishing
never to come down
or go up again
wishing because even
our belief is waning

But there is her smile
And her limited promises
that she will see you again
but your heart is dead
because doubtful
because you think her heart
is dead, doubtful

Worship her then
Let her be what she is
Like a goddess
live with that until
she gives to you the right
to see her as she is
until then
take her as you see her
for she can be nothing else
and maybe God will whisper
into her ear.

Mortal mortal mortal you you you
The immortal whispers to her:
Do not turn away from him
Although blind and stupid
Do not turn away from him
For there is more to him than
you realize
The mortal carries a secret store
of mystery and knowledge
And he has seen you
Why not believe until you know?

There there there.
See? Her head turns slow.
An invisible power released
from between her honeyed lips
and she does not look away from
you you you
See? Is that what you came to see?
I think so.
We will take you back now.
Now, you must wait.

Published in: on October 22, 2016 at 3:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Creatures

Creatures

The snow fell in little snow cones, fluffy ones unlike any he had ever seen. They were the pancakes of holey snowflakes, the kind that you saw in memories. They layered themselves upon the earth along with rain water until they took hold and began to pile up and before he knew it the ground was white and he realized he might have to dig his car out again, another thing, just one more on his way to total financial destitution.

It didn’t matter. Just one more thing. The world was swirling up white, high and so wildly above him that there had to be some other way to think of the world than in terms of his own inevitable failure in some way that will send him off the playing field of life, and soon probably, with his head hung in shame. Boredom was the main thing he would have to continue to hold at bay, the very boredom of things that did not exist, but caused him boredom because he wished that they did: baseball games, women, restaurants, movies, bars and the ability to buy a beer inside of them. He spent five dollars the night before on a burrito because he received an extra day’s work at the shop and he figured that if you work twelve hours straight that you should be allowed a burrito now and then. Didn’t quite seem fair that you worked your life away and were not allowed to buy a burrito, which he knew was basically the way that things were.

He was stealing from himself as he ever marched in chase of that ever in front of him ten dollars per hour. He was mostly a loser in the hunt. At times he had made eleven or twelve. Once he made fourteen, but when he thought about it he was mostly under that ten dollar mark. He was one of the ever unworthy and so he would always be. He knew it now after receiving a notice in the mail by his new medicaid provided doctor that warned him that besides high blood pressure he also had high cholesterol and high blood sugar. And to think he did it all for Jesus. Hardly seemed fair.

But he didn’t really mind anymore. It didn’t really matter. Sometimes he thought it didn’t matter because he himself no longer mattered and he had to accept that just so that he could believe that the little things didn’t really matter. All of the tricks of the mind over the years had become convoluted until he could look in the mirror and see someone who even he didn’t quite believe was very worthwhile to be around. Fat, old. At least he wasn’t strikingly ugly. No friends. The only thing that he had going for him was that he could afford his room and that hs car continued to work even though he now had to climb out of the passenger side window to get out since the passenger door finally broke, the last of his doors to succumb, until he was left without a single working door. Such was life. Oh well. he could climb out of the window. He looked at his calendar and counted down the time when he might be able afford to have someone look at it. One week, two weeks. Two weeks. He would have to climb out of the window for two weeks. A forty nine year old man. Oh well. It didn’t matter.

He had a feeling though that some things did matter but he didn’t know how to put a finger on it. All that mattered had something to do with others who had others. If you had nobody, absolutely nobody then nothing could ever really matter, not really, and you’ve got to think that things matter to change your situation, but you can only to do that, well…it is a cycle, mattering not mattering. It gets confusing after awhile as to what is needed to change and soon only the image in the mirror is important, the memory of it, the way that you saw yourself as fat, but slightly handsome, but fat, fatter than you actually saw yourself, you knew, or were coming to know.

He was starting to realize that he was a fat man. He had always considered himself thin, had one of those strange minds that could look into a mirror and see a thin, svelt, young buck when in fact it was the total opposite. This mask was being pulled from his eyes though and he was beginning to see himself the way that other people saw him. In this way he could understand why he had no friends. He wouldn’t want to be his friend either. Too old, ugly, fat, well, not ugly, just fat and tall and old and nothing. Nothing left really to consider viable. A ten dollar par hour forty nine year old man who climbs out of his car window wherever he goes.

He places himself out head first, bends himself at the waist and pushes out and places his hands on the ground. his feet hook on the top of the door itself and he pushes. He was pleased to know that he would not have to roll whenever he got out, that he could just put his hands on the ground and then put his feet through the window and then get out with only his hands and feet ever touching the world. Not too bad. He could do his two to three weeks. Oh well.

Outside, it was a saturday night. He had 84 dollars in the bank and in two weeks he would have to pay rent of 550. He would get paid before then and he would be able to do it. He was glad of this. He also got financial assistance, food stamps, and they saved his life. He would otherwise have to move back to the family property where he destroyed his life for Jesus and he couldn’t do that. Being in exile in a strange new eastern land of Boston was much better. He had found a copy of the New Yorker and read three quarters of an article of an artist who sold toilets for $100,000 and helped fix up the ghetto. The artist admitted that he was a hustler and he seethed when he read that because he himself was a Christian and wanted to fix up the ghetto and always thought that hustlers were what caused the ghetto to be horrible in the first place, but that he should have used that mentality to get what he wanted done.

Just the idea of being slick in order to achieve something irked him. Maybe its Robin Hood-like, but its anti- who he was. He didn’t want to be mean to save the world. he wanted to do it by being simple and simply good. Didn’t work. Everybody hated him in the end. He remembered reading a passage in a novel about a boy who was so good that a Mennonite principal fantasized about putting a meat hook through the child’s eye and dragging him through the city. This is what happens to the good. People want you gone. They can’t stand the good, the nice, the thing that Jesus wanted everybody to be.

He sat and thought about the fact that Jesus wanted him dead and was doing it by making him suffer. That was the jist of christianity. Turn the other cheek. Always be good until everybody slaps you down until you are dead. You are only a successful Christian if you have a rock for your pillow and rocks for pillows is pretty much what he got. They took him apart eventually, the property, made him remove every stick of lumber on the grounds. Sometimes he thought he had started a church, but his idea of Jesus was not like that. His idea of Jesus was one of invisibility. Jesus was spirit and spirit was good and good could change lives and putting a name on spirit and goodness in the world was wrong because some people had different cultures. All cultures should be celebrated, all respected. Even the idea that there is no good should be acknowledged and illustrated through the growth of ideas that he helped to foster at his establishment. Love was more powerful than any ideology and should not be afraid to stand up against all comers. Love can handle everything.

But the reality was that the goody goody thing made people hate him. They couldn’t stand him until his partner destroyed him and took everything away which sent him into a tailspin and he had to move away to escape sheer depression and knowledge of hopelessness. He was tired as he sat there and looked out at the pancake snowflakes falling in front of his window, tired of thinking about it, wondered when this failure thing would end, when he would just fail once and for all now that he had nothing left to give to anybody, had nobody to give the rewards to and had changed everything about himself in a land that didn’t belong to him and didn’t care about him and never would. Oh well. It didn’t really matter.

He waited for the subject to die out in his head. The perpetual crying over spilt milk. Years gone by, fifteen, done, failures everywhere and still chasing that ten dollars and failing miserably. No change. No change ever. Other people changed, grew, made money, but he didn’t. All things stayed the same on that front. Nothing ever changed. He was as he was when he was sixteen years old working at Taco Bell, back when they fried the tacos on the premises. His legs had gone out from working at a standing job too long in the summer and he had that against him too. There was no more upward projection of his hopes and dreams, only a rumination on the ever moving downward crawl. And it was a crawl. It wasn’t even a spiral. it was the slow crawl down the backside of the mountain. Just down. End of story. Oh well. He would be dead soon.

This thought frightened him. When he read about his blood sugar he feared the worst and couldnt think of it. He liked to eat fat and sugar, basically, and stayed away from vegetables and he figured that he would eventually have to pay for this, but the poor eat this type of food to fill holes in their souls as well as their bellies. It was okay. He could start exercising and eat better if he wanted to, but he would just have to find the will, which was the hardest thing to find. The will was never there anymore. There was no will to do anything at all, but he did everything he needed to do, but why? There was no reason to know why. He didn’t care anymore about any of it. He openly admitted that everything he did, everything he aspired to was for the dollar. Was open about it to himself and he knew because of it that nothing truly mattered. He would exchange one dream for another if he could just have enough money to live without worry. He was tired of the whole game. He would never be considered special no matter what he chose to do. Any success he had wouldn’t matter, not really. He just wanted money now. Screw the fame. He didn’t need it because he knew he would never get it. Oh well.

Then one day an alien came down and took him away. He looked up and the sky was black but he was moving forward in it. Beside him was a strange beast, naked unlike anything he had ever seen before, and it was sitting in front of a console of lights like on a tv spaceship. He was inside of a ufo he knew and he didn’t really care about the fact that he might die because at least he wouldn’t have to worry about the mundane reality of chasing after ten dollars per hour anymore. The alien talked to him in a strange voice but he could tell it was english. The alien spoke english.

You are an alien species to my planet and you are going home with me. do you understand? it said.
Yes, I said….I had become the alien.
You were taken away from your world because you are a standard specimen. You are the only one taken and you will be tested upon although you will not be harmed. Do you understand?
Yes. I think so.
He thought about the idea of the tests and spoke up.
What kind of tests?
Mental tests, physical tests. you will not be bisected. You will be allowed to live and eventually we will assimilate you into our society.
Society?
We have a thriving society. My planet is outside of the range of your universe, but our atmospheres are similar, oxygen. You will need a breathing tube for awhile until we can alter your blood properly and then you will be fine.
He went silent. The universe wizzed by and he saw planets off to his right and left, or they were moons or, well, he admitted, he didn’t know what they were. The sky was mostly just black with stars around just like you could see on a clear night on earth. The beast did not speak after that but then he spoke up.
What is your planet like?
Oh, we have various things to do. We have water. Our architecture is different. We have the elements, four seasons, actually, two suns. Like I said we’re pretty advanced in a lot of ways. We have been around about four million years longer than you technologically so we’ve learned quite a bit.
Are you and us the only species?
Oh no. There are millions of inhabited planets around the multiverses. Weve been to many of them, like I said we are very advanced. We can learn languages quite easily, an average one of us knows millions of languages so you will have no problem talking to any of us on the planet.
So you are probably pretty advanced morally too, I mean, you don’t eat people like me or anything, right?
Oh no. weve learned how to gather our sustenance in proper fashion. None of us are hungry as you would say.
Do you work?
Oh no, nobody works as you understand it, but we stay busy experiencing new things. This is just one of the things that I do because I want to. We can all go to other planets and I grew fond of earth long ago as a young being. I would watch the planet and its inhabitants and was fascinated with the way things are. There are many fans of earth and its people, but it is an acquired taste really. There are many more fascinating planets, but few have creatures that are as complex, how do you say, emotionally as earth creatures.

We think a lot.
Yes you do. I was always intrigued by that notion, a creature that thinks and feels deeply. I always compared that to us where we think and we feel, but we do not pine, and we do not do as you do, lament while still functioning in your society. To me it was always like hearing a somber tune and it registered to me as quite beautiful. Earth music, classical works, are some of the most treasured items to all of us. The earth is well known for its musical interludes and for this alone you will be popular. There are a few of you there, but not many. We don’t like to upset the system, but we were watching you and you were on a downward spiral and we knew that you would not mind, and besides, you’re good. I liked that.
You liked that I was good?
Yes. To me that is what matters. Someone who does not have to be bad in order to get what they want in life even if it means that they slowly wither away and die. Thats where you were headed anyway so i thought I would just step in and stop the progression. You’ll see. You’ll be thankful for what I did and maybe you’ll decide to go back. Of course you will be allowed if you choose, but, you wont want to, most likely, unless, but what I can tell, you really don’t have anybody left in your life.
No.
No.
I’m sorry. I know. You are a lonely and confused man with very few good years left before him. Well, you have been rescued. We’ll help you out. You won the lottery.

The creature made a sound like laughter and he smiled. Should he believe the creature? He hoped so. The fact was that he really didn’t much care. The creature was right. He had nothing to really live for on earth and anything was better than waiting around to die while working your fingers to the bone for ten dollars an hour. Nobody cared if he was there or not. Not really. He watched the black sky and stars move slowly by him. The creature and he sat inside of the capsule and he enjoyed the creature’s company although he did not know how to read the beast. He just sensed that the creature liked him, that he was special to the creature and it made him feel proud, proud enough to sit up in his chair and for the first time in a long time hold his chin out and turn his head in just such a way that told him that he was alive again.

Published in: on February 15, 2014 at 1:23 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,

Only You Are Invisible (4.)

Truth be told, I wasn’t always just a sandwich maker. I had my own business or tried to have my own business for several years. This too was after Maggie, and after the dim lights that was everybody after Maggie, dim because without love; false hopes, bright packages that fed my exuberance for the ultra fast shooting star. The business was, lets just say, having to do with words. It was a business concerning the payment of monies for the delivery of words directly into the souls of human beings. My heart was in it. Going into it now is not about how I miss it. I don’t. I’m glad that it is gone. It is about my victimhood. This is the most taboo of subjects, the pain that remains when you have been a victim of a vicious human being. Maggie and I were even then reaching towards each other to perhaps find a way to come back together, but never finding it, and it is because of the pain inside of me after having been a victim of another. Details lie. My tormenter was someone close to me, my partner, actually, a man who it turns out was afraid of his own shadow. Our business fell to us, a long story, and we immediately went in opposite directions each believing that he had a right to his direction. His direction was down. Mine was up. Maggie and everybody else calls this simply the state of the game, but I didn’t see it that way. Were we not supposed to spread goodness upon the earth? Were we not supposed to sacrifice in at least little ways so that the world could be good? Isn’t this what we were meant to do in the social realm and if each of us did our part the world would become a better place? The details were simply ugly until, in the end, long after the business broke apart, the victory over goodness that my partner’s face represented stayed in me like a putrefying sore inside. I became listless. I smoked pot. I cut myself off from intimacy with everybody. And there was his face, always there, my new god that I didn’t know was my god, the god of the vanquished, kind in his own way, loving even, for he spared my very life. I paid homage to him every day after he took away my “other” dream of bringing wisdom into the public sphere. I accepted that I was a clown. I accepted that I was the stupid one. I accepted everything that he wanted me to accept in order for him to have his way so that the war would end. In the process I pulled myself down. I tied a tether to the symbol of his dour visage and allowed it to drag me to the bottom of the sea. I tried to explain this pain to Maggie, but she didn’t understand. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps! Be a man about it! She didn’t say these things, but she said these things and all we did was fight as we sought ways to re-love. Until she met Mike and one too many misunderstandings from too many miles away made something click one day. She said she had an odd feeling all day long, said it in an email. I was feeling anger, which was really just sadness at the hopelessness and reality that I was soon going to be completely and utterly alone. She never called again.
Off she went, another unsuccessful visitor to the planet Me, taking the last taxi out of the universe on a passing meteor. And I truly was left alone. I had pared down everything in my life. My family was gone. If you don’t talk to your family your family doesn’t talk to you. Same thing with your friends. Turn off the tap and the water ceases to flow. As I dried up, the flakes of me arose into the air and I would inspect them like a child would a spider web, collect them in poems and wait for more of me to disappear so that I could perhaps see of what it is that I truly consisted. I still awaited a prize. Always that damned prize for looking inward, for going inward, traveling coursing fleeing flying inward as the outer shell hardens then cracks and you are left standing there unable to move. Your thoughts sometimes go towards the release of death, but you never contemplate suicide. The other day I told myself that I was ready for the end of all ends. This is forty-four years earlier than my father who died at 90 a relatively unhappy old man. How can I say that anything I ever argued about with my father contained wisdom on my part? I was wrong and wrong and wrong again. The proof is in the pudding. All the little children would laugh at the broken man. So stupid. I hope I never grow up! Ha ha. And I can no longer expect Maggie to be there. She wasn’t there to donate her life to a man who could not simply offer his own. She was rescued by Mike. She would not allow my partner to take her soul as well. And I’m glad. My navel gazing was a disease from which she needed to protect herself. She had made a mistake with me and she would have to collect the pieces that were left and move on, which she did. But I am still left alone, a victim, an altogether too sensitive victim who was forced to see that the world is an ugly place, not a high-minded one, that people gravitate down, not up, that we are animals and if God is not dead, he or it or she even gives hard lessons, hard enough to never want to contemplate His being ever again. Leave it to the children to believe so as to stave off their recognition of human animality. But where have I been trying to go by going so low? I guess this is the evil question that perpetuates my pain. Nowhere. There is nowhere to go.

Another week went by and then another and then another and then another. My paycheck is a joke. I live barely. All of the weeks are the same. False hope is a norm, a pretty woman who I don’t talk to, Maggie living in my blood, the anchor weight of my partner’s victory over goodness and me, the corrosive spill at the center of me. I wish I could click my heels and make everything go away. I wish that I could regain my faith in mankind and make it alright and safe for Maggie to love me again, but I saw too much. Couple this with Bush’s war, the flagrant abuse of people’s will in a supposedly good country. Too many things stacking up. My partner was gone. So was Bush, but they both continued to form me. A victim is a victim for a long time. It’s not like you can be a victim and then suddenly be free. Those who haven’t been a victim are the ones quickest with the positive outlook remedies. They’ve never been beaten to the ground. You can never pride yourself on being strong. It may simply mean that you have never been victimized body and soul. You are lucky. Luck isn’t to be paraded around as a virtue.

We read books, but we don’t want to read books. We want to read ourselves. We make mistakes and afterwards we let go the fact that somebody may have been misrepresented forever, that we have been misrepresented forever. We/they scream to be released from the invisible shackles that we place on one another. Judgment is the name of the game in make it land. Poetry circles never forget where the honey is, but they must find it first and that is all the fun. Some of us shy away from it completely. We are in good company, especially in the poetry game. Lots of loners here. We are truly a society, averting our gazes, slinking off to be alone and forgotten, hoping that someday we will be seen and small smiles will be placed upon our faces and we will know that we existed, that contrary to everything we know, that we are not invisible. There are roses upon our cheeks. Here we do what we can by having a reading at the Starbucks on Thursday nights. The cars drive by outside the door and if you sit on the patio you watch and listen to them and try to imagine a world in which poetry mattered. After awhile the poets come out and we act like the cars aren’t there, that we don’t live in an ugly world (for most of us are poor). We sing deep, dark songs about our lives because we know that we have to matter at some point. Some of us are serious, on our way to higher and higher literary heights, forces to be reckoned with. Others realize that it is poetry and it will not be heard outside of the plastic faux wood paneling of the fast food franchise. It all depends on your age. We are all just circling ourselves, unaware that we are in the wrong place if we want to be a literary caricature someday. We should all be in New York smoking pot at parties for the Paris Review, rubbing elbows with Zadie Smith and projecting kindness through comedy like Gary Shteyngart. Poetry is a sideline for most. We are novelists and filmmakers (without money for a camera), photographers, vagabonds, students, workers and dealers, not drug dealers, but those who simply deal with life. I am a dealer mostly. My inability to market my work properly sends me back into my poetry giving me output but no ending in sight. The thought that this won’t end is too much for most poets who eventually seek out laughter, lots of laughter, to make up for the browned corridors of thought that they have alighted upon on their treks into themselves, the ever journey, laughter and escape and money the real things, and I’m not being sardonic, like I’m some real poet and they’re not. I would advise escape at as early an age as possible from the trek of the literary mind. Philosophy is, as they say, a walk on the slippery rocks. My remedy for everybody is to drop out of school at thirteen and go to work. Childish charm will put you in a position of authority by sixteen. By twenty you will be in management. At twenty-five you will be a millionaire telling recently graduated poetry scholars what to do, visiting them at their jobs of scrubbing or serving or caring. Go with the magic while you’ve got it. Education is just another sales pitch. You can get that later. You can always catch up, and when you are older you are actually a better student. Youth believes that it can become king or queen, and it is right. Education questions the notion of what success truly is. Blindness to thought, believing in your existence, knowing that you are not invisible from the very beginning, ego, lots of it, this is the way to succeed and be happy for the trek down the rabbit hole is forever and forever.

I guess a lot of people are waiting for the blowout. They touch me only very lightly, little smiles to the little left of me that they can understand. People from the world of my former business are gone, although I still keep their faces in my computer as does everybody else. Information, it seems, is the replacement for connection, said David Mamet, not in those exact words. It’s true. I can tell you everything you need to know about any number of people, but as to what they smell like, what their mannerisms are, I couldn’t say. They are my friends, but friendship is not what it used to be. As a rebel against social media I am left with very few options. I know I should live in nature, to get away from the ugliness of the totally uncivilized American city, but I never make the move. My real friends I do not talk to because I don’t know if I am the person that they used to know and they are probably somewhat worried about the same thing. And I realize that there is a torpor settling in over me the further down I go to try to form a being that is knowable. To have to move to a strange land and do a strange job among strange people seems like a call for me to live in the outer world, which seems like a deviation from my path. But sooner or later it will have to come to pass. I will have to enter the real world in a much more substantial way, suffer the inconveniences of having to be a part of this melee that we call life. But for now I will sit quietly here and make sandwiches, suffering quietly, desperately in a plotless world where what matters most cannot be seen, is as invisible as I am to myself.

Published in: on June 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: