Reformed, Recalled or Illusory Memories in the Post-Truth Era: A family affair

Continuing my rereading excursion, last week I started with Tom Robbins’ awesome “Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates” but Amazon, which I loathe and ought not to patronize (as I ought not to patronize Facebook), facilitated my recuperation of a bunch of Robert Heinlein philosophical novels (they really are more philosophical than science fiction) which had been lost to me many decades ago when a former friend’s now ex-wife decided they were demon inspired and confined them to the pit.  And so I’ve ordered duplicates, mostly used (for some reason I like them more when they’re used) and they’ve started arriving. 

I really wanted to delve back into Lazarus Long (as I approach the three quarter of a century mark) but somehow, I got confused and “I will Fear No Evil” came first.  I hope Heinlein`s writing style is not catching.  What was a delight in my youth frequently seems lacking polish and seems tedious now as I too have embarked in the writers’ art, but the themes remain challenging and fascinating and daring, and every once in a while, … a relevant pearl of wisdom drops.  In this case (excuse the long prelude; … I hate long preludes), in the middle of page 174 of an extremely well worn, possibly fifth hand paperback copy, Ace Edition, 1987, the phrase:

“Nobody knows how memory works

except that everyone is sure he knows

and thinks all others are fools.”

That seems so relevant today, perhaps more than ever. 

I know the memories my children and my ex-wife share keep getting more and more strange until they’ve become completely divorced from those I recall.  To some extent, I believe that is based on the deliberate falsification of memory (see “Purportedly Recovered Memories”), now a science engaged in by former spouses (male and female) with the assistance of purported therapists, and of course, on a societal level, by the corporate media.  Political differences translate from the civic into the personal and into irreconcilable pasts that break up families, something I’ve experienced. 

My kids blame me and Trump, I opposed but did not hate him, at least, not enough for their “awoke” tastes.  So now I too am (and apparently always have been) a horrible human being. 

I don’t blame them, or hold it against them, but the consequences are the same.  And since we no longer communicate, the consequences seem unlikely to change.  The truth is not something to be explored lest it not agree with what they or I recall, or what they’ve been told over and over and over and over again. 

Something to think about as everyone around us, including those once most dear to us, morphs into very different beings.

Or is it us?

_______

© 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.

Reflections on Alex

It’s a pretty day in late January, but in a world largely devoid of joy, full of hate and fury, injustice and deception joyfully triumphant, the future shrouded in malodorous mists.  But still, … rays tinged in amber shades of joy break through.

I’m plodding my way through Norton’s anthology of English literature, Volume 2 after fifty or so years, I’m only on my second Poet, William Blake, someone deeply inspired by religion but who contrasted innocence with reality’s depravity, and as so often happens with almost anything, it made me think of my second son, Alex.  Ironic given Alex’s current views, But Alex, unlike so many now, is still open to other views.

Nothing in my life has ever been as beautiful as Alex as a young child.  Generous, full of love, and reveling in delight at the smallest things, almost no matter what.  A cry so beautiful no music compared in stirring my heart and motivating me to succeed.  So sharing and generous he set an example for me which I’ve always tried to follow.  His faith in me, the greatest reward I ever received.  He is very far away and I love and miss him very much.

He’s grown and changed a great deal, at least externally.  He’s a father now, and a husband, and an aspiring author.  His writing is mostly of battles and monsters and gore but I wonder if somewhere there isn’t a beautiful fragile flower full of hope waiting to be born.  Little Alex is still there, not all that far from the surface.  I wonder how he’d enjoy writing poetry instead.  Not in verse, he’s too free, too independent for that.  But his empathy has saved many a friend, and sometimes, a dad as well.

I recall that little children always loved him, and animals did too.  And friends always trusted him even if they’d once been antagonists and treated him poorly.  It’s hard not to come to love Alex: ask Salo and Paula, and now Missy too.  Layers upon layers and dreams upon dreams.  Trials upon trials I wish I could have spared from him, but life’s like that, the best laid plans too often go astray.  But still, Alex is Alex and nobody else, which is as it should be.

Reflections and dreams, rays of sunshine on bitter days, memories to warm the heart.  That was, is and always will be, … Alex to me.
_______

© 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.

Christmas Eve, 2020, in the City in the Sky

It dawns in this city nestled high in the middle range of the Colombian Andes, always beautiful in diverse ways, whether brightly lit in amber rays of light or covered in low lying clouds or drizzling amidst chilly breezes, but always a shade of spring.

Holidays and special days always seem melancholy and nostalgic for me. As always I miss my sons and friends back in my other homes, Ocala and Charleston and New York and Fort Lauderdale and Charlotte and Miami, but I’m grateful for my friends and family here in Manizales. Christmas Eve, once a day of delightful anticipation, no matter how poor we then were, now a day for memories and reflections. And gratitude for the life I’ve been privileged to live, regardless of how often I’ve wallowed in self-pity.

The world seems awful today but it almost always has, with evil (purportedly lesser) in charge, evil setting us against each other, dividing friends and families in fruitless fights over which party will abuse, deceive and steal from us least, driving us to expend energies better spent in savoring the delight of those around us, in helping each other cope, in creating a more equitable and happy world instead of expecting someone to hand it to us on a holiday platter.

It’s been decades since I was comforted by our holiday myths, times when I believed that the Prince of Peace would soften our hearts and open our eyes, and his rotund emissary would bring the gifts I’d been promised while sitting in his lap in a crowded and happy shopping center, bills be damned. But still, hope that goodness is tangible and real survives somehow, just out of reach, as if we were in a nightmare from which we could not yet escape but already knew it for a dream and were fairly sure we’d soon wake.

A few friends will gather here tonight, seven of us, sharing food and drink and memories and aspirations. This will be a quite Christmas in the midst of a pandemic that may or may not be as serious as described but which is serious enough to require us all to take care. I’ll be thinking of Billy and Alex and Edward. I’ll be wondering what magic Candice and Paula have cooked up. And I’ll be imagining the delight that Rosey and Melissa will be feeling as they look at wrapped presents under beautifully decorated trees with mature Salome looking on indulgently; my sons, their wives and my grandchildren.

I’ll be remembering old Christmases when I was the child and my mother and stepfather and brother and sister reveled in that special day in small apartments in Miami, or Queens, or with my grandmother and aunts here in Manizales. Old Christmases when I was the father with my sons and their mother in Fort Lauderdale and Hendersonville and Belleview and Ocala, when Santa’s deer sometimes left hoof prints on our roofs, and when, whether we had plenty (usually) or very little (once) we were as happy as it was possible to be because we were together.

I’ll be wondering what the memories I make today will taste like in some future far away.

I’ve shared so much love with so many people across the years, my family and friends, lovers with whom I’ve lost touch and lovers who’ve always remained nearby (at least spiritually), my classmates and former students at the old Eastern Military Academy and my class mates and ever growing chain of brothers at the Citadel. My colleagues and former students at the several universities in Manizales with whom I’ve been involved during the past thirteen years as well as the civic leaders, journalists and artists with whom I’ve developed strong bonds. I’ve had and am having a wonderful life, one that even Jimmy Stewart and Satchmo, somewhere on the other side of the veil with many others I’ve loved and treasured, might find enviable.

I miss my mother and grandmother and Aunt Carola, who left too early, at least for my tastes, and Pop and my Uncle Pacho who were the first to go. And those of my classmates and friends who have gone on to join them. I’ll be thinking of them today too, and reliving memories, the best of presents when one stops to think about it, gifts that really keep on giving. Christmas, 2020, a terrible year in too many ways until we stop and remember those closest to us, and then, it really is a special time of year.

Merry Christmas to all, or Saturnalia, or Yule, or Chanukah or Festivus or Solstice (winter or spring depending on where you find yourself). May peace finally find a home among us, and equity and justice and tolerance and respect, and may honor and honesty prosper someday soon, at long last.

And may the legends and myths with which we seek comfort bring us together rather than split us apart.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; 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.

Thoughts on a Strange Thanksgiving

November 26, 2020, one more shopping month until Christmas.  A strange Thanksgiving.  But then again, as an American holiday, it is always oxymoronically strange.

This year, at the macro level, orchestrated polarization is the rule, distrust and an utter lack of confidence in the existence or importance of veracity.  Half the population is thrilled that the “despicables” have been taught their lesson and put in their place and who cares what the cost was while the other half is more bitter than ever and their worst instincts are probably honed for a rematch.  Not a pretty sight nor one that generates feelings of gratitude.

At the micro level however, we have our families and loved ones, our hobbies and pet projects, and for many, albeit perhaps not for most, the delight one feels when tangibly helping others by sharing what we have. 

Perhaps the latter defines that for which we can be thankful on this very complex and perplexing holiday, one with distasteful historical roots based on colonists deluding naïve indigenous peoples from whom they would shortly steal everything, spreading murder and mayhem in the name of a beneficent deity who, in their strictly enforced opinion, sentenced all who would not follow puritanical dictates to perpetual torture.

Columbus Day has undergone a drastic transformation in many places, now a day of mourning for the European invasion of the Americas and destruction of indigenous cultures. I ask myself: what will indigenous Americans celebrate today? Or what will the descendants of those Europeans who did not share Puritan religious perceptions and paid for their heresies in flames celebrate? Perhaps someday Thanksgiving Day too will become a day of mourning, mourning our own Holocausts.

The Puritans seem to be making a comeback although on a sociopolitical rather than spiritual level, with condemnation of nonconformance in the name of tolerance in vogue, the nouveaux “enlightened” supporting, with their votes, those who, in the name of democracy and liberty, spread death and destruction all over the world.  An echo from our past that never seems to end.

So, Happy Thanksgiving everyone, history is not everything and sometimes, out of the depths of evil good things come.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; 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.

Thoughts on All Hallows’ Eve, 2020

Circa 1993, Belleview, Florida

All Hallows Eve, in its incarnation as Halloween, has always been my three sons favorite feast day and so, brought me great joy, especially with Alex, my middle son, who loves it the most.  But All Hallows Eve has a deeper significance that becomes more and more meaningful each year as more and more of the people we’ve known pass beyond the veil. 

Many cultures around the globe, in their mythologies and religions (same thing really), hold that the veil that separates the living from those who have passed on is thinnest on that night.  Tonight. 

So, whether or not that is so, tonight I will be thinking of my mother and grandmother and aunt Carola, of my uncle Francisco, of my stepfather Leon; of my mentors like Leo Hedbavny and Jay Kaufmann and my former professors now long gone.  I’ll be thinking of my Citadel classmates and of those from Eastern Military Academy, and of my former students who passed on too young.  It will be a melancholy and nostalgic evening in which sorrow will meld with joys shared, while I also miss my sons and their own children and wives now reveling so far away.
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; 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 consultant 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.

Thirty-Four

He hadn´t realized that thirty-four was old but perhaps she had.

She’d had her first two sons when she was not yet thirty and not yet thirty-two, but the third one had come when she was already thirty-four and that had made a difference, a rather large difference, indeed, all the difference.

She’d suddenly grown and had started on the path that leads to old. But neither he nor she had realized it. They’d thought it was a passing thing, that her body would soon be slender again, yet curved in all the right places, and that somehow, their old world would be back, and that their newest addition would fit right in, and they’d be the ideal family everyone believed them to be, and which they’d in fact been.

He’d not started to grow old yet then. Strange, he’d started earlier, and then, started later too, fighting off the changes that assailed them on all sides, the darkness that kept seeping in and nesting and brooding and breeding insidious offspring. Insidious but frequently disguised as friends and though the disguises were thin, they were thick enough, … unfortunately.

Thirty-four seemed a strange age then.

He’d been thirty-four when they’d met and she almost a decade younger, but he’d not been close to old. Immortality indeed still seemed not only possible but probable, all but certain, but then again, time was not as old as it would be either. Time ages too. And during that first decade she’d not aged at all, or matured. And while he’d not aged, perhaps he’d had to mature facing more and more unpleasant things, unfair things, unexpectedly expected things, and apparently, while he’d been able to protect her from them for a time, when they hit, they’d all hit at once. When she’d turned thirty-four.

Thirty-four. Strange. He’d always believed that twenty-five was the age at which things crystalized and coalesced in the women who’d impacted him. But perhaps at thirty-four things calcified. Time aged. The world shifted in its restless dreams and carelessly crushed hopes and expectations, and opened crevices through which alternate realities crept in. Unpleasant alternate realities.

Thirty-four, an age which neither the Nazarene nor the Macedonian attained, but then again, they were both men.

Thirty-four. Perhaps, in forty years or so, he’d have a chance to start a cycle once again, perhaps with someone who was still just thirty-three, about to turn thirty-four, and perhaps, then things would coalesce in different streams, singing different themes. “Perhaps” is such a fascinating word, full of the inchoate and perhaps of chaos too. Everything possible. Spring and late autumn walking together into winter.

Wishful dreams perhaps, but wishful dreams sometimes come true, just as youthful dreams are too often crushed.


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; 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 http://www.guillermocalvo.com.