Masks and Dreams and ….

“Is there anything behind my mask” he asked himself, wondering whether, if he were writing this, the phrase should have been enclosed in quotation marks. 

Had there ever been anything behind his mask? 

He seemed to remember that once there’d been a great deal.  Once, when most things had been safely abed in the softly yielding world of the inchoate, or, he then wondered, “was that before he’d been born, when he’d been safely ensconced inside of his mother’s womb”?

If a mask, it was a changing thing, dynamic in a negative way.  “Yes”, changing quite a bit, getting older, fading, wrinkling, becoming less relevant.  “Strange”, he observed, that as one grew wiser, more full of knowledge and experience, one was perceived by those one had parented as more and more foolish and less and less relevant.  History seemed to claim that at some point way back when, that had been different and age had been associated with wisdom, and decisions had been made by the wise, but that was probably an inverse temporal mirage, “way back when” a mythical time never to be approached.

He smiled recalling when the shoe had been on the other foot.  How much wiser he’d felt way back, well, not quite when, but way back, … back in the sixties when we had all the answers and the “times they were a ‘changing and “you’d better start swimming” (“you” now being “they” or “them”) or you’ll sink like a stone ….”  And he wondered at the mask he then wore, and the masks that surrounded him, and the masks of those then so out of touch.

Then he wondered about other people, those whom he knew, those he read about, those he saw on television, and he wondered whether there was a difference in that regard between television personalities who claimed to be real and those who knew their characters were fictional, and then wondered which of the two were most real?  Certainly not the journalists, but that was another theme, another story, an anti-reality of sorts.

Masks and faces and masks.  He recalled reading about the handicapper general in Kurt Vonnegut´s prescient 1961 novel, “Harrison Bergeron”, and wondered why it wasn’t mentioned in the same breath as George Orwell’s paeans to dystopia, “Animal Farm” and “1984”?  They should have been the three musketeers of Cassandric literature he thought, but then, who the hell was he to ask?

“Cassandra”, hmmm, … the Trojan seeress and princess who was always right but never heeded, was she a mask as well?

Interesting that now everyone in fact had to wear a mask.  Protection against the pandemic, perhaps a permanent new style given that it might never recede, at least until the Democrats attained the presidency, and the Senate, and the House, and the Supreme Court, and all the state governments too, and all the local governments, in short, the beneficent dictatorship, and, having thrown the rascals out, all of “them”, or at least all of “them” who would not conform, then, as we’ve been promised, as with Nixon and the Vietnam war, the secret solution would be revealed and we’d all be well.  Well, of course, except for the millions who’d died.  Bad timing that.  And it’ll be off with our masks, at least the evident masks, the ones we’ll be fined if we don’t wear, which is fine with me, I certainly want to avoid the latest plague.

Hmmm, so, … about the ubiquitous “they” and “them”?  Were they just masks as well, hollow and empty and perhaps, ephemeral? 

He laughed, wondering how many people thought of “him” as one of “them”.  He walked to the mirror and stared, imagining all those he’d been and wondering how much of that imagining was remembrance.  Was any of it real or had he been born just now, filled with false memories, false emotions, false empathy. 

“Or” he pondered, was he the dream of an insane plant, were we all?

Then something strange occurred to him, profoundly sad he thought, but he wasn´t sure.  Perhaps it was full of hope given what purported reality had seemingly become.  Wouldn’t everything be better if we were in fact all just part of an insane plants nightmare?

But then, he thought, feeling a bit depressed, a bit let down:

What would happen when the plant awoke (or was it woke)?
_______

© 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.

Damned Abraham

Damn!!! he thought, or maybe yelled, he couldn’t be sure.

He was, as always, or at least for a very long time, feeling lonely, very lonely.

Since a nanosecond was as an eternity to him and eons as nanoseconds, feelings could be very confusing.

He relived the good old days in his mind which was the size and shape of the multiverse, at least he thought so, … his mother had told him it was so.

He’d just been one among many back then, each in his or her own domain with his or her own flock. A happy thunder god with a couple of wives and from time to time, intimacy with other divinities, usually female, and with humans as well.

Inanna and Ur, the good old days.

Before that damned Abraham had convinced him that he was alone in his divinity. And then asked him for the world. As if letting him screw his sister hadn’t been enough of a boon. Fuck Abraham and the horse he rode in on, although come to think of it, horses didn’t have humps on their backs.

Back then one could be a god of specific things, like creation, or destruction, or thieves.

Now he was utterly alone except for the echoes, and the damned prayers of all those babbling humans; they gave him migraines. And they wondered why he avoided them like the plague. They were a plague, look at what they were doing to the planet he’d made for them, well, not for the goyem, except perhaps for a few shiksahs. Funny that he didn’t really remember having made it, but all those books said he had, and if it was printed, it had to be true, revealed word of, … well, … him.

It was so damned boring!!!!

Damned Abraham!!!

And when he said damned, he really meant it.


© 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.

Still Life Watercolors on a Now Late Afternoon

“It’s in the nature of immortality” he explained, “or more accurately, potential immortality”.

“One can still be killed by intervening incidents such as runaway trucks, bullets projected from firearms owned by jealous spouses, etc., but one doesn’t die from old age, or from most diseases, nor does one age beyond a point of full maturity, somewhat older than one might like but better than an awful lot of alternatives. But given the flows involved, it’s rather more like livestream than photographs. One tends to be unsatisfied with periodic meals, and periodic drinks, and periodic intimacy. One is sated only when they’re continuous, although sequentially. Not that being sated is essential, or even the norm, it’s just that satisfaction requires a bit more continuity, given the continuous nature of our existence.”

“Repetition is what really sucks”, he mumbled, a phrase seemingly coming from nowhere, although it’s one he interjected more and more as time streamed on.

Her look was odd, the expression hard to define; kind of like jaded incredulity faded by too many inexplicable realities. Nothing about him seemed to make sense, least of all his explanations (all too often couched in the plural or the indefinite person), but then again, they tended to be impossible to disprove. Only death would do that and it seemed he’d been around for a ludicrously long time. And he didn´t seem to age although he’d been verging on old for as long as she’d know him.

She seemed to be catching up to him and she’d been relatively young when they’d first met.

He was certainly far from infallible though, certainly as far as she was concerned. And omniscient? Forget about it. And certainly as far from omnipotent as everyone else.

“So” …, he sort of pleaded, “… can I have dessert now?”


© 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.

Just in Case

“Diaphanous” is not a mood, not really, well, not at all.

Still, if he’d had to express how he felt at that moment, that’s the only word that came to mind.

Or “diphthong”, but that clearly was not a mood. He couldn’t even really spell it without the help of an intuitively clever spellchecker. It didn’t even have a synonym (that he could find). He didn’t believe in absolute statements so he had to leave open the possibility that unlikely as it seemed, somewhere in time and space (or time or space) diphthong at least had a doppelganger.

Diaphanous had a synonym, plenty in fact, and in fact, metaphorically, it could have been a mood. It wouldn’t even have to try all that hard. Not all that hard at all.

Next he wondered what the onomatopoeic inference of diaphanous might be. Then he wondered why he cared. Then it occurred to him that he knew what his mood of the moment, of the instant was.

He was bored! Bored silly. He was not really diaphanous at all, at least not as far as moods went. Then a thought occurred to him and he ran to check his image in a mirror.

Just in case.


© 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.

Deific Humor

If not a “divine comedy”, it was at least a “divine joke”.

Immortal was not “contemporous” with omnipotent; that was the rub.

That made a Hell of a lot of difference.

Perhaps the difference between “divine” and “infernal” although the reality, as with most things, was somewhere in between.

It kept one on one’s toes though; omnipotent not being synonymous with omniscient.


© 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.

Reflections: a parable, or perhaps a fable, or perhaps introspection

“Strange”. 

Strange how often stories start with that word. 

Perhaps that’s healthy, a sign of varied perspectives and an open mind. 

Now, today, the latter is really strange, and uncomfortable to many, to too many, perhaps, really, to almost all of us.

“Lying” was a strange thing to a particularly strange fellow.  He was ambivalent towards the concept, ambivalent to the extreme, to the extreme end of extremism. 

He loathed being lied to and understood that lying destroys credibility when it is most needed, when it is most needed personally, collectively or on a society-wide basis.  Still, he saw art in lying, and while utterly opposed to it, … still, … he divided lying into diverse categories:

Lying as a tool for illustrating verity, as in metaphors and satire and perhaps, metaphysics. 

Lying as a tool for illustrating verity, as in metaphors and satire and perhaps, metaphysics. 

Lying as a tool for illustrating verity, as in metaphors and satire and perhaps, metaphysics. 

He was intelligent and perceptive so he understood the vast difference between lying and being wrong, between lying and changing one’s mind.  He also understood that there were numerous possible attitudes towards truth, from reverence to disdain with numerous shades centering on indifference in between.  And that there were hot lies, instantaneous emotion laden reactions, and cold, preplanned lies full of loopholes, and that the latter were by far the worst, and the most frustrating with which to deal.  The cooler liars tended to be educated professionals, masters of rhetoric, with the means to make their lies stick and to use them to victimize the innocent, and to make the honorable appear dishonorable.  The cooler liars seemed to congregate in the specific professions that most required honesty, in the law, in journalism, in politics, and in the pulpit. 

How strange.

How strange too that although he could not abide being lied to, in fact, that at times he reacted virulently to being lied to, he was not above lying himself, and not only when he found it essential for his protection or for the protection of those to whom he owed a duty of protection, but sometimes, just to win a point, one he did not deserve to win, or for the Hell of it, or in fun, but fun of which he would not have enjoyed being made the butt.

You see, although he did not realize it, or ignored it, or just didn’t care, like too many of us, he was a hypocrite.  Something he also detested.

Troubling reflections in an all too clear mirror.
_______

© 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.

Shades of Cold in White on White

Snow sparkles as it falls from a cloud-clad sky; fields, verdant eons past, now just white on white.

A pale woman, clad in silvery fleece from head to toe, leaves prints on the crinkly ground, pale steam streaming through pearly teeth kisses pallid lips then mingles with swirling mists.

Crystalline trees caked in ice, limbs, too heavy, lie scattered on the frozen ground. Snow covers frozen meres and a frozen tarn, white on white.

A pale old man sits in a snow covered skiff, his hair and beard almost as bleached as the swirling eddies of crystalized rain that beat at his small dirty sail, his breath mixing with the pale mist, stars obscured but a pallid crescent moon peaks down on the homochromous lake-scape.

Shades of white on white cover burrowing elder seeds and ancient slumbering roots still dreaming of the spring they once knew as, from cavernous shadows, sibilant sighs echo, soon lost in the long arctic night.


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo 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.

Dirty Dishes, an Allegory for Political Change

The table was set, real silver flatware, crystal glasses, fine china cups and porcelain plates, but all were dirty, filthy in fact, crusted with food now rotten and beverages putrid, the wine not even decent vinegar.

“Dear”, the lady of the house said to her children, “perhaps it’s time to use the other set of dishes and flatware, the ones in the dining room china cabinet”.

“But mother” two of the children” dared reply, a boy and girl, the youngest two of the large family and thus still a bit brazen, not yet properly jaded, “those are at least as filthy, why not the ones stored unopened in the attic, they’ve been there forever and ever and are brand new”?

“Oh you foolish children” replied the mother, “those just won’t do. Don’t you know that all the fine dining critics in all the best newspapers and magazine and the most popular cooking shows on cable all agree that only the ones on the table and in the china cabinet are the only ones fit to use? At least for now. This is not the time to change them, perhaps someday but not today, this dinner is too important to experiment with anything new and untried!”

“That’s what you always say Mom” exclaimed the littlest girl, “and the dishes keep getting dirtier and dirtier and no one eats what’s served on them so the filth just keeps accumulating, and we have all those other boxes of unpacked dishes and flatware and glasses and cups and everything, … and I’m really hungry!”

“Now, now dear” soothed the mother as she straightened out her hair and flattened her filthy dress, “maybe next time”.

“That’s what you always say Mom” cried the little boy this time, “and I’m hungry too! And every time we try to eat off of these dishes I get sick and throw up.”

“Regurgitate dear” corrected the mother, “we have to watch how we say things, it’s not polite to use crude language, it only makes matters worse and we have to keep up appearances, appearances are what count after all. Maybe next time”.

The other children, all emaciated, looked on bored. They’d all been through the same pre-adolescent stage but had now grown out of it. Change was frightening and one gets used to things they’d decided. Who even knew if there was anything in those old, old boxes? Better to stay the course as the people on television, on the radio and in the newspapers and magazines made so clear. After all, the two sets the family had alternated seemingly forever had been bought on credit and hadn’t even been paid off yet. And they were certainly the top brands and all the advertisements claimed they were made of the finest materials, all tried and true.

“I wonder if we were that naïve when we were that little” the eldest girl whispered to Mark, the eldest brother, coughing as she did so, all the children had been ill for a long time, seemingly forever, but the family couldn’t figure out why. He just shrugged and responded “they just don’t understand yet. Now is not the time. This time the dinner really is too important to experiment with newfangled things”.

“Now don’t you mess with those old boxes” warned the father! The two younger children seemed exasperated and one never knew what they might do.

“Maybe next time”.

“And remember to brush your teeth!!!!”


© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2020; all rights reserved. Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.

Guillermo 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.