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.

The Nevermore

Tis the morning of the night before
and I wake to memories that never were.

Stillborn echoes of inchoate dreams
so certain once but now,

lost in the nevermore,

calling like the ache
of a phantom limb still dreaming
of being restored.
_______

© 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.

Stray Thoughts on an Ides in December

The Ides of March in the year 44 was a bummer, at least for one Senator.
Interestingly, the next day was probably the date set for Bacchanalia. Probably a somber one that year.

But today is the Ides of December and the year 44 is 2044 years in the past, or perhaps 2043.

Mithras’ birthday is now ten days away. A day now celebrated by his adversaries as that of their own divinity. Poor Mithras, most of his attributes appropriated by the once-almost-Hebrew-king.

Siddhartha’s birthday is not as easily defined although it’s said to fall in the late spring.

Mithras, now faded into myth, perhaps joining Isis, once his rival, there. And Rome? Rome is gone but still here, the village on the Tiber grown to Empire, shrunk to parish and now? Rome. Now what?

An idea and a city and a sheath for the Vatican. The Vatican, interestingly once Caligula’s playground.

The Ides of December. I wonder what Gaius did on that date during late 45 when years counted down instead of up, although those living then were not aware of that oddity.

Of course, neither were those who lived in the temporal vacuum at the turn of that millennium.

Yeshua ben Miriam (or ben Yosef, or ben Adonai) would have been about four then. He’d probably been told he’d been born in the spring with the other lambs.

I wonder if he’d have been surprised that his birth was to be transposed to coincide with Saturnalia.

But I guess Bacchanalia was not really more appropriate, although there was the connection with wine, and of course, with bodies.

Come to think of it, it’s almost Saturnalia now.

Time for masters and slaves to trade places and for chastity to be set aside. Interesting that Chanukah and Saturnalia sometimes coincide. And that Saturnalia ends just in time for Christmas to start.

Ides and Nones and Kalends, where are they now?

Perhaps somewhere in time with Mithras and Isis and sox and handkerchiefs that mysteriously disappear through that interdimensional, intertemporal portal we refer to as a washing machine (or is it the dryer).

Hmmm, Saturnalia. Is it possible we misinterpret what Santa is bellowing when he says “Ho ho ho?


© 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.

On Entropy and Evil and Harbingers of Hope

Silly similes, awful metaphors and pseudo allegory abound, wrapping us in fetid mists, trapping our senses which gasp for metaphorical breath.  Trying to swim we find ourselves drowning in quicksand and the more we struggle the deeper we’re bound as if by the Chinese handcuffs of our vanishing youth. 

Emotional entropy seems to be getting the best of many of us.  Unfortunately, probably the most decent among us, but that’s been evil’s plan all along. 

To wear us down. 

Lying and distortion and manipulation are fun: no truth to be bound by and defend, no coherence or consistency required, just perpetual attacks no matter what.  Free to be feckless, unbound and free to parody and calumny and betray, all interest free.  And the result is that some of us are subverted and join the party, while others, despairing, just withdraw. 

And evil wins.

Again.

As it seemingly almost always does.

Still, Sigmund Freud, he of analytical sexual mania, once urged us to recall that when things seem hopeless “in darker days there lived a man who thought as we do”, a harbinger of hope, and these are indeed “darker times. One wonders where that man (or woman) was, … or will be?
_______

© 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.

November 22, 1963

Image for post

Fifty-seven years ago the day dawned normally, and then some hours later, out of Dallas, shocked the Hell out of us, for an instant levelling the walls of polarization that then infected us, for a few days turning Americans into one people, hiding the tons of coalescing ugly realities, realities of the Great Chicago march of the Dead to vote for a handsome young president, and of his subsequent betrayal of the Mafia and the Deep State that placed him in the apparent seat of power, and then, the “unfortunate consequences of that betrayal. 

During the ensuing years of that decade we were traumatized by even worse polarization as the emerging Deep State brutalized idealists on both the left and the right until the traditionalist politicians in both major parties acted like Ray Bradbury’s firemen and calmed things down.  For a while.  But they did not capture all the sparks and today, just like that dawn in Dallas on November 22, 1963, we are at each other’s’ throats, cleverly manipulated by an evil corporate media. And the Deep State, more omnipotent now, moves on over a highway paved in billions.
_______

© 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.

All Hallows Eve as Seen from Differing Perspectives

Ephemerally ethereal gossamer wisps whisper in the wind,
echoes of lost shades and shadows
whimpering morosely in dank, dark, saturnine hollows. 

The last and deepest nightfall of a year
few seek to measure,
at least while living. 

For the departed, it may be different.

It may be sunrise on the first day,
the first hour,
the first instant of a new year,

slender rays of faded sunlight seeping in,
scents of faded flowers returning to life,
the sweetness of remembrances shared with those left behind.
_______

© 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.

Observations from Deep within Dark Shadows in a Blairian World

Given that, unless a truly dark horse emerges amidst a tsunami of voters who finally find their courage and discard their blinders, I’ll need to dull my sensibilities a bit, … so, … I’m about to settle in to abide our continuing dystopia, re-reading George Orwell’s Animal Farm and 1984. Thank goodness for decent whiskey, although Irish is hard to find here so I’ll settle for Scotch.

A prelude first though.  An introductory act to set the stage.

“A rant, a rant, my kingdom for a rant”, although not being a king, or a prince, or a duke, or a count, that may not get me much of a rant.  So, “Observations from Deep within Dark Shadows in a Blairian World”!  What might that mean the week before another ultimate existential presidential election in the United States, where “the sky is really falling this time, …  Honest mister”!  An election too much like the last one albeit with an even worst Democratic Party candidate, but a Hell of a lot more manipulation by the media and pollsters and Deep State operatives, and Hollywood celebrities basking in their self-proclaimed wisdom.  As it was back at the end of the second war to end all wars but which like the first, utterly failed in its mission thus wasting tens upon tens upon tens of millions of lives, now become hundreds upon hundreds of millions, it is again the Russians who are being blamed, although they are no longer Stalinist-communists, or communists at all really.  And of course the Chinese, and the Iranians, and perhaps the Venezuelans and Nicaraguans and Syrians and who knows who else too.  Paranoia???  Who, .. us?  Is there a reason mirror sales are down and those of deceptive self-portraits of ourselves-in-others’-faces are up?  And “selfies”, well what can one say about that phenomenon.  And what is “sexting” all about (and why didn’t it exist when I had something to sext about?)

Or perhaps the title should be different, perhaps something like “Reflections on a Dank and Dark, All Hollows Eve”, but one where Halloween parties are outlawed under Puritan anti-fun strictures in their modern day, politically correct incarnations, and “tricks or treats” are what our major political parties play at, constantly and consistently”, but that seems a bit lengthy.  “Observations from Deep within Dark Shadows in a Blairian World” it is then although, from “Utopia to Dystopia” fits rather nicely as well

Anyway, …

Back to Animal Farm!

Sooo, to start:  George Orwell, a name associated with dystopia, both in fairy-tales-of-sorts and science fiction.  Who and what was he to have become so prescient?  A much more eloquent Edgar Cayce perhaps; a more transparent Nostradamus.  Or a Cassandra for our times.  And politically?  Anti-communist conservatives have loved him for three quarters of a century, but so have anarchists and liberals and libertarians.  So, what was he?

A “democratic socialist”, of course, what else?  Like Einstein and Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.  And, until recently, Noam Chomsky.  But, then, we wasn’t even really George Orwell.  I’d forgotten that George Orwell was a pen name; that he has really christened Eric Blair and thus, instead of Orwellian, our world is Blairian.  That he had transplanted roots that saw first light in South Asia, solid colonialist British Civil service roots, and that he as an “Eatonite”, fabulously incongruous, although not a happy Eatonite.  And I’m only at the third page of the 1996 Russell Baker preface.  This should be fun.

….

So, I’ve finished the preface and wonder how Russell Baker could have been more mistaken in his jubilant optimism at the “defeat” of the dark forces Blair and Huxley and Koestler had identified.  Indeed, Baker’s heroes are, in fact, today’s villains, virtually identical in all too many respects to the bad guys of the second war to end all wars, just more subtly so and with better narrative creative control.  Thus Zionist-Israel, almost incredibly, mirrors the Nazis (how Blairian) and the United States, as it has always been, remains true to the worst of the British, those islanders who have for centuries been as ruthless and deadly as any of the axis powers but have impacted many more people for a really long time, a record the United States seems determined to break.

….

On to the C. M. Woodhouse introduction.  “Woodhouse”, that name has a pleasant populist ring to it but set amidst aristocratic anglophilic echoes.  One wonders at its origins, perhaps in the mists, humble, but then, its evolution steadily climbing, until, ….  Then again, how is the name “Baker” any different?  Blair deserved better “introductors”, although Woodhouse was not bad, just not phantasmagorical or truly prescient, although, unlike Baker who was “prefacing within a decade of Animal Farm’s publication, Woodhouse had a half century during which to observe and ponder, still, it was a meaningful decade, one that introduced us to the GOP’s Joe McCarthy, now apparently a Democratic Party icon.  Interesting that for some utterly inexplicable reason, that makes me wonder what one of my childhood heroes, Walter R. Brooks’ Freddy the Pig, would have thought of his literary species-mate and star of Animal Farm (at least as seen from his own mirror), “Napoleon”.  And Napoleon, of course, makes me think of bees.  No bees in the book though, at least none that I can recall.

So, on to the book itself.  It’s been a decade over a half century since I first read it (three score years I think that is), and, more’s the pity, that long since I last read it as well.  I was a high school student then, also reading things like Ayn Rand’s mysteriously mystical blend of pseudo-philosophy which, for some reason, had no place for widows or orphans or for the residual detritus of endless wars.  I’ve morphed frequently since then, wondering just yesterday whether, in fact, there is anything behind my own mask, or anyone else’s for that matter, except, of course, for very young children, perhaps the only real human beings among us, assuming that being human is a good thing.

“Napoleon”, sheeesh!!!  How British to name the villain after the only real threat the British Empire ever faced, yester-year’s “Hitler”, which makes one wonder if perceptions concerning that most infamous of Austrians will ever change.  Napoleon certainly has, in every direction possible, not surprising given his complex character and even more complex genius, flaws and all, and his apparently acquired taste for arsenic as a seasoning.  But, … in Animal Farm “Napoleon” it is.  Ironic given his association as a porcine with Joseph Stalin (who we are told, Blair intended to excoriate in the novel), the Man of Steel (almost contemporaneously with the introduction of Superman) who did to the Nazis what Czar Alexander did to the French in the preceding century.  But we all have our ethnic prejudices to “bear”.  Perhaps it’s a sort of karma.

“Moses, the tame raven, the spy, a treacherous prophet preaching the importance of accepting things as they are, and of enjoying rewards for such predelictive apathy in the afterlife.  A very clever metaphor without varying the name, just the form.  “Sugarcandy Mountain”, like the Abrahamic variants of Heaven, in this case seemingly premised on a delightfully addictive poison, a Marxian opiate of sorts for the Animalist masses.  Clever fellow that the Moses, the original as well as the Blairian.  Damned apples and milk too!!!  Especially the apples.  Again the fruit at the center of the demise of a fledgling Paradise, the forbidden fruit that the One had reserved to himself now once again reserved to the privileged few, a metaphor morphing into allegory, … but why pick on the milk?

The coup by Napoleon and the subsequent perpetual threat of the return of Jones and demonization of the Trotskyite “Snowball” is, of course, all too familiar, but now, today, it is unexpectedly echoed in the perpetual calls to beware the Russians, and the Chinese, and the constantly replicated Russiagate fraud.  As in Animal Farm, truth in the United States has become utterly irrelevant, hypocrisy rampant, and while Stalin is very, very long dead, as is the Soviet Union, they are still all too useful in ways Blair may have foreseen but perhaps tactically misunderstood.  I wonder if he believed that any of the international political contenders at the time wore white hats?  Certainly none of the principle contenders in the United States have since Blair wrote Animal Farm (although I did like Ike, but I was very young then).  Still, saving the worst for last, sort of, journalists today have assumed a role combining the porcine Napoleon’s trained dogs (my apologies to canines everywhere for the comparison) and “Squealer”, the pig.

….

Finished, yuck!

Done once again, and once again it seems so easy to transpose this inspired collection of metaphors into allegory, and allegory into dismay.  The observation “we have seen the enemy and he is us” comes to mind, both in the sense of our gullibility on the one hand (Boxer the wonderful horse), our pernicious bleating on another (the sheep, so reminiscent of protestors for fun and profit who deprive everyone else of the right to an opinion, while not really holding one of their own), the utterly selfish self-propagating elites (the pigs) on one foot (having run out of hands) but especially, those who so consistently distort the truth and rewrite our history (“Squealer”) and make possible every travesty and betrayal, our purported journalists (I prefer not to speculate to what bodily appendage or part I ought to ascribe them).  Without them, evil cannot prosper, or at least prosper for long.

Eric Blair is beyond the veil, he has been for a long time, but as is the case with the Trojan princess and seeress Cassandra, with Aldous Huxley, Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Gore Vidal and with myriads of other fruitless prophets, possibly watching us, glad to no longer be incarnate among us.

Animal Farm, a depressing fairy tale, but one very worth reading.

Next, a reread of Eric Blair’s “1984”.
_______

© 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.