Refractions on a Day in Early Fall

Today dawned beautiful here in the city in the sky, nestled at the feet of the Cumanday in the central range of the Colombian Andes, although, as I have for the past few days, I awoke with trepidation, undefinable but perhaps due to world events and the horrible state of my adopted (and now somewhat abandoned) homeland to the North.  A land and a people I also love profoundly. 

Colombia seems embarked on a renaissance, a period of enlightenment and perhaps, even enlightened governance.  A great deal of its polarization has evaporated, almost overnight, a sign of hope to the world, which in its Northern Hemisphere, seems engulfed in hate, animosity and belligerent competition.

I live in both worlds though, and as in the case of apples, the bad negatively impacts the healthy.

So, despite the beautiful dawn, shadows of the dark clouds that blight the land where my sons, distant and silent, reside, impact even the brightest days in this renascent paradise.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Bastian

Sebastian liked his name, it meant “revered” in Latin.  It gave one something for which to aspire, not only a goal but a framework that ought to be followed to attain that goal, if that appellation were to be honorably earned.  And honor too was important to Sebastian, perhaps because of his name.

Not that it didn’t have drawbacks. 

What was its diminutive or affectionate form?  Seb, Sebbie, Baz and Bash came to mind.  Its Spanish variant, also Sebastian but pronounced differently, was both more popular and had easier nicknames, Sebas and Bastian being two.  Sebastian had tried to adopt Bastian, he liked it.  And not only because it seemed cooler than Seb, Sebbie, Baz or Bash.  It had style and not just a bit of power.  To Sebastian, Bastian seemed powerful.  Powerful and revered were as useful as they were complimentary.

Now to live up to the name and nickname, and to have the nickname accepted by his peers and by his future ex-wives (the latter was the trend).  Hopefully beautiful, interesting and honorable ex-wives, ex-wives who did not bear grudges or demand alimony, nor an unfair share of joint property.  Who did not irreparably break his heart or he there’s.  That would definitely not be honorable.

And what kind of an education and career would best suit a Sebastian whose nickname was Bastian and who sought to comport himself in an honorable fashion, but one not bereft of financial success and at least a modicum of fame?  An interesting and productive career following a fascinating education that ought to include a bit of adventure and a good deal of fun, perhaps even a bit of harmless mischief but in a good cause.  And dinosaurs and physics and astronomy too.  Perhaps even theoretical mathematics and study of quanta that might open portals to other dimensions or facilitate non-interval travel anywhere or, perhaps, even any when. 

That would be cool, and it could well be honorable as well.

Tough questions for a nine year old.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Dark and Dystopian Observations, Reflections and Introspection as Autumn Approaches, 2022

Like so many people the world over, I am appalled at the increase in prices and reduction in portions of most of the quotidian things we purchase, something that impacts most of us.  But some, those responsible for inflation, it impacts not at all.  And it has a cause, the idiotic United States practice of imposing economic sanctions that boomerang back on its own nationals, an illustration of biting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.  We are urged to accept the related suffering so that those our government opposes will suffer as well, which of course, only results in spiraling suffering for most of us.

So many of our problems have the same roots.  Take increased polarization and incivility, and the loss of liberty, and the explosion in censorship, not only through governmental means and through governmental allies in Big Tech, but now in our own, interpersonal social interactions.  I am a member of several sports oriented social media sites where those who criticize their team’s management are ordered by other fans to shut up, leave, or are personally ridiculed.  In one case, a person is infuriated by my use of the word “opine”.  And I am tempted to retaliate.  It would be easy for a great many reasons, but so far, I’ve, for the most part, refrained.  But the emotional reaction is there, and if I give in, they would win. 

And that is happening to so many of us that our survival as a species seems miraculous.  Perhaps to miraculous to continue.  Intolerance has been cultivated among us by those who preach the importance of tolerance but whose actions utterly belie their suggestions, if such strongly phrased demands can be deemed “suggestions”.  Our history is erased, destroyed or distorted.  Not that our history is in any sense accurate, but the elimination of its indicia does nothing to correct it, and worse, that with which the “purportedly woke cancel culture” warriors would replace it is at least as inaccurate.  Truth has become even more a victim than reasonable prices.

Manipulation of the means through which we communicate is largely responsible, at least in the form of the tool with which we are bludgeoned.  Democracy in the United States, perhaps everywhere, is non-existent, as are reliable elections, either because of purported gerrymandering or vote rigging or false polling or false reporting or even worse, non-reporting of essential facts.  But even if it did exist and function, it would not guarantee equity or justice or even decency.  After all, the greatest arch villain of the last century, one manufactured by government propaganda, the corporate media and historians, was purportedly “democratically” elected. 

The only solution to our current suicidal dystopia would require a massive change in our attitudes, in our goals, in our hearts and in our souls.  We would need to embrace that which a poor Nazarene preacher once urged but which we criticize as “communist” or “socialist”, with no idea what those concepts involve, or how unattainable they are, or how infrequently their underlying values are espoused, except, perhaps, at Christmas or Easter, or sometimes, albeit rarely, in religious services.  But those services, at least among Christians, mostly focus on the opposite, the maliciously bitter doctrines superimposed on those of the humble Nazarene by the pernicious Saul of Tarsus, a precursor for those who today seek to stifle our most benign, generous and joyous instincts.

Perhaps, fortunately for our planet, solar system, galaxy and universe, it may be that an Armageddon manufactured by our Deep State is about to arrive.  We’ve manipulated the Russians into a war which we are actively promoting and are doing our best to do the same with the Chinese and the Iranians, and as written above, that disfunctionality is affecting even our passive participation in sports, and certainly our politics. 

One wonders at the stupidity involved, and grieves at the destruction of all that is good and beautiful and promising that will disappear with all that is putrid and vile.  Equality attained at last.  And one even dares to hope that, if by sharing our perspectives in a friendly manner, in a respectful manner, “one heart at a time”, the disaster can be averted.  But this morning, it certainly doesn’t look that way, not while the very worst among us revel in their power and restrain no impediment to its retention, regardless of the price.

After all, they’ve grown used to most of us paying the price while they celebrate what they perceive of as benefits; short term though they will in all probability prove to be.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

A Day in the Post Retirement Life of that Famous Former Squire: Sancho Panza de la Mancha

Sancho Panza sat comfortably under the shade of a large tree.  Not seeking enlightenment, he’d had a bit too much of that, at least for his taste, nor the best way to Nirvana without the trials and tribulations, but, ironically, writing his memoirs in a book; a book that his former master had gifted him.  A book with nothing in it but blank pages as his former master had assumed that Sancho did not know how to read.  But he’d been wrong.  Sancho not only knew how to read but obviously how to write.  And he was not an old fashioned buffoon!  Instead of a quill and inkpot he was using a newfangled invention made from graphite imported from Borrowdale in far off England (an uppity Island doing its best to steal everything his native Spain had “acquired” from Ultramar).  The graphite was ingeniously wrapped in string and left markings in the book in whatever shape or form Sancho deemed appropriate.

He’d had occasion to read the version of his adventures with his master supposedly written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, who’d gotten a few things right but way too many things wrong.  But then again, Miggy was a politician of sorts (in his own way) and he was trying to make a point, torturing literature as well as facts as necessary, … a prelude to future journalism. 

A novel!  What the Hell was a novel anyway.  Sancho did not believe that literary vogue would catch on.  Anyway, Sancho deemed it appropriate to make a few corrections, some clarifications and perhaps a bit of creative advocacy to clear his good, or at least pretty good name.

Sancho’s former employer, not really his master, the naïve cavalier Alonso Quijano (also known in some quarters as Sir Quixote of la Mancha), had willed him, if not an Island Princedom (as he’d promised), at least several pleasant hectares reasonably near the old Moorish city of Toledo, which his wife Teresa Cascajo and their daughter, Maria, worked with the assistance of some tenant farmers they’d contracted.  Sancho would have been more active in its management, had Teresa, or even Maria allowed it, but they assured him that he had more of an artistic than agrarian temperament.  And he’d been forced to acknowledge their wisdom.

Old Miggy had made a small fortune with his version of Sancho’s adventures and Sancho felt that he, with his more direct knowledge of the facts involved, might at least do as well, proving to Teresa and Maria that his talents might also prove profitable.  So there he sort of sat, a horn of passable wine nearby, and a straw hat on his head shielding him prospectively from the late afternoon sun that loved to evade the shade of the tree, and perhaps even provided him with a bit more shade, should he somehow happen to doze off, as sometimes, perhaps even frequently occurred.  But those sort of naps were not really signs of languor, rather, they were opportunities to do research in the recesses of his mind that were sometimes otherwise inaccessible.

“And so it happened” he began writing, but was stumped after that for a while. 

He checked his spelling, which seemed fine to him, albeit not always as consistent as it might have been, and then decided that perhaps a bit of wine might help.  He took one gulp, and then another to wash the first gulp down and then a third for similar reasons, and soon, well, he wasn’t sure what had happened, but it had somehow gotten dark.  “Dark magic” he thought, “dark magic again”, assuredly that malign Friston who would apparently do anything to prevent Sancho from getting his side of the story published.

With no other choice for the nonce, Sancho fitfully worked himself free of the damned hammock in which he’d been “working” and undertook the short walk to the comfortable little farmhouse (which also served as his manor), where Teresa and Maria had already finished the dinner they’d made for all three, but which Sancho had evidently somehow, “researched” through.  Somehow or other, the dinner bell they used to call him did not always function properly.  Probably a curse, damn Friston.  So it was a cold, albeit delicious, stew again, with homemade sourdough bread (all bread was pretty much homemade back then).

Ah well, he thought, satiated as well as somewhat satisfied with his effort, mañana is another day, … and always will be.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

A Measure of Sad Times

He is very sensitive to all kinds of external stimuli, which he internalizes and, after profound reflection, synthesizes and sometimes grasps an idle lie.  And he loves music, he considers it the primordial language, the most effective language, one speaking directly to the soul.  But for some reason, of late, he has not wanted to heed it.  An affirmative wanting not to listen to it.  And he is perplexed, he doesn’t understand the why of it.  But, then again, there are so many things he just can’t comprehend.

Perhaps it has something to do with the state of the world.  With the current dearth of truth and omnipresence of vitriol and violence. 

Music, without words, he has long believed, rarely lies, except perhaps for martial music.  In that case, it’s as though music was forced to perform, like a beautiful woman being ravished.  Beauty turned inside out and violated.  National anthems tend to follow that pattern, at least frequently.  Unfortunately, he’s come to feel that, like a virus, that pattern seems to be spreading.  Marketing “jingles” of course almost always lie, as do their political variants.  And they’ve overtaken beautiful instrumentals, symphonies and boleros and gipsy inspired variants of flamencos.

Words can apparently pervert anything, and he wonders at the folk wisdom that claims speech evolved to facilitate deception, and thus, of course, the legal profession, and journalism, and politics. But then, what of poetry?

It has dawned on him that truth is not always beautiful and that beauty is all too frequently dishonest.  Even, he guesses, where music is involved.  Perhaps it’s that epiphany that has him down.  Perhaps it is reflections such as these that are muddling and blocking his instinctive love, indeed his need, for music. 

A measure of sad times. 

Perhaps that’s what Don McLean once sensed when he wrote his epic and second best song (Vincent was the very best), without realizing it.

“A long, long time, ago, I can still remember how the music used to make me smile ….”
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2022; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at https://guillermocalvo.com/.

Reflective Introspections

The central range of the Colombian Andes is beautiful, as is so much of that all too frequently tortured country.  Snow clad peaks overlook a paradise of perpetual spring which in turn overlooks a land of perpetual summer.  The weather changes seasons several times a day, sometimes dawning as a silvered wonderland, clouds blanketing verdant mountains, then a bit of rain quickly replaced by robin’s blue skies and in the evening, the sunsets that so delighted poet laurate Pablo Neruda.  Unfortunately, although nature does its best to provide an idyllic setting, as is the case in the United States and so much of the world, in Colombia we humans muck it up.

Inside a metaphorically reflective crystal mote, trapped within an imagined mirrored globe, a sentience engages in seemingly infinite introspection.  It is a bitterly sad period culminating during two days at the end of February; two days that have usually been very special.  They involve his three sons. It is his eldest son’s last day at thirty-four and first day at thirty-five.  For many years they have lived continents apart but until recently managed to bridge that gap.  The father plays with the new number noting that thirty-five is five times seven and three joined with five and that the son is the first of three, all prime numbers. He finds a strange delight in the magic he perceives in prime numbers.  The number two is special in that regard as the only even prime.  He recalls when his son was about eight and started to change, to become his own person, he recalls how proud he felt, how he believed he’d done well as a father.  Then he reflects on the present, a very different sort of reflection.

Like so many others in a bitterly polarized world, he and his firstborn are profoundly estranged.  On thirty four other occasions the father has written short missives shared with his son, celebrating the past and looking forward to the future.  This year the son has declined to receive them.  He has shut the father out, “ordering” him to refrain from any contact.  The son has judged the father’s political perspectives unacceptable.  They do not mirror his own.  The father does not despise nor deprecate those the son hates but rather seeks to understand and persuade them, and that is anathema in his son’s brave new world.  Not having succeeded through public ridicule to censor the father, the son has expelled him from his life.  His father was not “woke” enough, even though their stated goals may have coincided.  A strange new variant of “liberalism”.

That is the world of today.  But though his thoughts may not be shared this year, the father writes them anyway.  He reflects on what his son has attained, who he has become, gives him credit for his successes, such as they are, but blames himself for the faults.  In trying to make him strong he instead made him self-centered; in seeking to make him proud he planted the now-sown-seeds of hubris.  In seeking to make him love the concepts of honor and public service, he only made him politically ambitious and intolerant.  The father wonders if his son is a reflection of himself.  He thinks not, then wonders what it is his son perceives to the exclusion of so much.  The father recalls that he too was all too frequently sure of his own beliefs and that only when they had changed almost every decade did he succeed in opening his mind to the possibility of myriad verities.  Yet the father had always been open to others’ opinions, has long been aware that logic based on false premises only leads to false conclusions and that if actual results belie logic, then the premises are at fault.  But that logic, in and of itself, divorced from premises and conclusions, always seems pure and beautiful and infallible.  As infallible as Catholic Popes.

Father and son will not compromise their perspectives and while the father, being more experienced and mature can tolerate, or at least ignore the son’s, the son cannot accept that the father beliefs cannot be forced to conform to his.  A conundrum.  Perhaps to both, perhaps not.  Perhaps they will go their separate ways, the memories of each conforming to their decisions until it is too late.  That would be sad, very sad, but not uncommon, especially not today. 

Tolerance and free expression are not in vogue.  This is the age of hypocrisy, of overt manipulation, of censorship, concepts always ascendant but never as universal or blatant as they are today, except perhaps during the decade that started in the mid nineteen-thirties.  No, that’s wrong of course.  Human history and human misery encompass far more than the last century.  The problem is that history is a fiction woven by all too clever artisans so who knows anything but what one has lived, and even that seems all too flexible, memory being fallible and that fallibility artfully manipulated.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, from afar and in silence the father wishes the son a happy birthday and a happy future.  He has no idea what the son hopes and perhaps he now never will.  Then he smiles, somewhat bitterly, in the realization of how self-serving his observations are. 

But they are what they are. 

As are his son’s.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.