Never-Ending Persecution, as Seen in “Trumbo”

Jay Roach’s Trumbo addresses the pathetic post-WW II days of Hollywood when fatuous tools like Ronald Reagan, Roy Rogers and Hedda Hopper jumped on the persecution bandwagon to further their own careers and destroy the lives of anyone who was whispered to be a Communist. ronald-reagan-communist-hollywoodThe film ends triumphantly with the sage words of Dalton Trumbo: There was bad faith and good, honesty and dishonesty, courage and cowardice, selflessness and opportunism, wisdom and stupidity, good and bad on both sides. 

28 Oct 1947, Washington, DC, USA --- Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, one of the "Hollywood Ten" targeted by the Un-American Activities Committee, leaves the witness stand shouting "This is the beginning of Amercan concentration camp." He is the second Hollywood personality in two days to defy investigators questions regarding Communist affiliation. He is accompanied by his defense lawyers Robert Kenny and Bartley Crum. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

If only there was a lesson to be learned, for the persecution to cease. And yet, the Reagans (Jeb Bush & Co.) and Hoppers (Megyn Kelly et al.) remain the same, firmly entrenched.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush speaks during the Wall Street Journal CEO Council in Washington, DC, December 1, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

They spout their vitriol about any and everyone – Syrian refugees, Latin American immigrants, homosexuals – anyone from anywhere but within their xenophobic, misogynistic picturesque homes – and smile like they might be a friend when they themselves remain the villainy who should be expunged. Fullscreen-capture-9192014-94248-AM.bmp

Max Frisch’s “I’m Not Stiller”

Max Frisch writes of imprisonment in his remarkable novel, I’m Not Stiller.

My cell – I have just measured it with my shoe which is a trifle less than twelve inches long – is small, like everything in this country, so clean one can hardly breathe for all the hygiene, and oppressive precisely because everything is just right. maxfrischFrisch’s book focuses not so much on physical imprisonment as the meta:

How can anyone prove who they really are? I can’t. Do I know myself who I am? That is the terrifying discovery I have made while under arrest.  I have no words for my reality. 20151024_135741And the impossibility of understanding one another:

As soon as I feel that I am alone with a simple self-evident truth I lose sight of its self-evidence, blurring it with hasty similes that are supposed to help the other person understand me, but in reality only confuse what was originally a clear realization, and finally defending what I ruined with arguments that are sheer nonsense. 20151031_163216This novel is akin to the loss of identity found in other great works, such as Vladimir Nabakov’s Invitation to a Beheading, Gunter Grass’ Tin Drum and the journeys of K throughout much of Franz Kafka’s work. 67064Similarly the issue of identity is addressed much as it is in The Return of Martin Guerre and Luigi Pirandello’s The Late Mattia Pascal. 20140209_123148Frisch is direct on this very issue throughout the narrative:

You can put anything into words, except your own life. It is this impossibility that condemns us to remain as our companions see us and mirror us, those who claim to know me, those who call themselves my friends, and never allow me to change simply so they can say” I know you.”

Ice Friday: Richard Blanco’s Love Poem

Richard Blanco’s Love Poem According to Quantum Theory

According to theory, there’s another
in an equal and opposite world who
dreams into words all I’ve never

captured in a handful of rain, a feather,
or palms swaying under a tarnished moon.
According to theory, there’s another

IMG_4694who’s growing younger as I grow older,
who’ll remember what I’ll forget soon:
every word, every poem, every letter

I’ve written—memories will wither
and disappear into that dark vacuum
where according to theory another

IMG_4633keeps embracing, kissing all the lovers
I’ve unembraced, unkissed, except you
with me in this world of words I’ll never

find for us, yet always reaching further
than Orion to where the stars all bloom,
and according to theory there’s nother
for you whose words are far more clever.
IMG_4665

Ice Friday: William Carlos Williams’ “Stillness”

I never thought I would have a favorite poet, but I do. William Carlos Williams’ Stillness:

Heavy white rooves
of Rutherford
sloping west and east
under the fast darkening sky:IMG_4688What have I to say to you
that you may whisper it to them
in the night?20150714_155446
Round you
is a great smouldering distance
on all sides
that engulfs you
in utter loneliness.20150711_193104Lean above their beds tonight
snow covered rooves;
listen;
feel them stirring warmly within
and say — nothing.

My Skull Island Addiction

I thought it was harmless fun. Screenshot_2015-11-07-07-15-25There were treasure chests to click, jungle to machete away, and lots of silver and sparkle to accrue.skull2 I knew that virtual world building was stupid, and that earning silver coins and sparkle just to get more machetes to cut down more jungle to find more buildings was as facile as facile could be. skull3And yet I couldn’t stop. I needed to check on my island first thing every morning. My time in the bathroom was trebled. Screenshot_2015-11-07-07-37-58Everything else became secondary. The thing was that I had to get my vegetable bazaar built, and that took commitment, and a hell of a lot of finished stone. vegbazaarIt made no sense, none of it. It had become a way of virtual life. Screenshot_2015-11-07-07-38-38And then I realized that the vegetable bazaar would never get finished, and that even then, there would be another building, more jungle to clear. I had had enough. Screenshot_2015-11-07-07-39-07I was sure…unless of course they offered me a dozen free machetes. Maybe then.

Ice Friday: Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound”

Suffering and pain are a constant in this life, as the Greek poet Aeschylus attested almost 2,500 years ago in his masterwork Prometheus Bound.

Oh, it is easy for the one who stands outside

The prison wall of pain to exhort and teach the one

Who suffers. All you have to say to me I always knew.IMG_4851

Wrong? I accept the word. I willed, willed to be wrong!

And helping humans I found to be troublesome for myself,

Yet I did not expect a punishment as this —

To be assigned an uninhabited desert peak,

Fastened in mid-air to this crag, and left to rot!IMG_5005

Listen, stop wailing for the pain I suffer now.

Step on the ground; I’ll tell you what the future holds

For me: you shall know everything from first to last.IMG_4909

Do what I ask you, do it! Share the suffering

Of one whose turn is now. Grief is a wanderer

Who visits many, bringing always the same gift.