Indigo Dreams

Lucidity. 

Transcendent in ethereal shades and hues of tenuous verity scented in primordial echoes from both the crystal past and fluid future, elusive memories of primeval music molding our bodies with dances we don’t quite understand but whose impact seems inexplicably profound.

Puppets on strings blowing in eternal winds, motes in infinite kaleidoscopes seeking paths towards illusory heavens; and then, ….

We wake to morning coffee and prophecies almost grasped quickly fade away.
_______

© 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 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.

Monotheism

Synergistic synchronicity:

the paramount range of deific consonance;

concentrating divine entities

while multiplying their attributes.

_______

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

Guillermo (“Bill”, once known as Billy) 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

An Estranged Father’s Optimistic Refrain

The concept of family is, at best, in transition, at worse, just a memory.  Its permanence is surely, in most cases, passé.  While the plight of mothers is often articulated, that of fathers, especially fathers left behind, is virtually ignored.  But some of us still manage to salvage the essence of what might have been.

My relationship with my three sons is strained at best, perhaps in some instances non-existent, but that is the present and recent past.  The more distant past is beautiful from my perspective, and remains, not only vivid, but healthy and alive:  I visit it frequently and its vibrant joy is not dissipated or diminished thereby.  It is seemingly unquenchable, a cornucopia molded through long days and arduous nights in frequently difficult times but with yields too beautiful to adequately describe. 

Living in the past is often criticized but to me that seems to be criticizing fulfillment of the fruits of one’s past sacrifices.  Streams of images of my three sons as they were growing are always nearby, images preserved when hope that everything would turn out positively was more than a mere possibility, as long as I persevered.  All I could ever want was inchoate and seemingly assured. 

It has not turned out that way, not the way I hoped and expected, at least not for me, but the impetus of those joyous times is the wind in today’s sails, echoing with fragrances and mirages of what was and what might have been.  So, rather than dwelling on what is, I revel in what was, insisting that having been real, the past is also permanent and that the love created there may be more than enough to see me through.

And that is true for so many, many, many fathers, most of whom believe that

No matter what,

It was all worthwhile.
_______

© 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 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 Legend of Will of Clan Wisp

William was of clan Wisp, hence will-o’-the-wisp became a moniker with which he became associated, albeit long after his passing beyond the veil, although which veil seems hard to tell, in his case, both time and space being malleable.  And it fit. 

He’d been (or was or is) a contrarian, a libertarian, a thinker; here and there and in every case, quickly gone before the Deep State beasties could apprehend him.  Not the hero-type of which Marvel or DC Comics could make hay but then, their purpose was to distract, delay and obfuscate for the benefit of the unnamable, undisclosed masters.  Rather, he was a primordial architype of the kind Joseph Campbell might have been fond, as of course, was Joseph Campbell himself.  An architype that has become exceedingly rare although, of course, it’s always been rare.  He was (and perhaps still is) the perfect blend of his individual and collectivist natures (natures we all share).  Kind and generous but no one’s fool, charitable but seeking no charity for himself; always seeking to attain his better self rather than being critical of the failings of others.  He found ridicule as a form of comedy repugnant and praise irrelevant.  He tolerated mistakes, whether his or others, as long as they were used as tools from which to learn, knowing they made the best teachers, but he hated to make them.  He expressed his views openly and vigorously but had an open mind and was willing to change them if he became convinced they needed changing, and while he willingly shared his views, he never imposed them on others.  He led by example and, while he did not seek leadership roles, they somehow all too regularly found him, albeit always informally and never permanently, after all, he was (and perhaps still is) Will-o’-the-wisp.

Will seems gone today, when we most need him.  When blaring pseudo victims erase history with poorly structured creative narrative designed to avoid solving the problems reflected in the causes they claim to espouse.  After all, if the problems were solved, what would their roles be, roles for which they were richly rewarded with book deals and speaking fees by the unnamable, undisclosed masters.  Pithy ridicule rather than logic is their stock and trade, malleable tools facilitating hypocrisy, verisimilitude and deception; after all, the shell game is their favorite modus operandi and the naïve and gullible their stock-in-trade.

Then again, many-and-many were the times that foes thought Will gone for good (and good riddance) only to have him show up unexpectedly.  That was his stock-in-trade.  So, who knows? 

2021 was not his year, but 2022, it has a certain rhythmic quality he’s been known to favor.
_______

© 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.

A New Year’s Message on my Wife’s Birthday, December 31, 2021

Is it goodbye and good riddance for 2021? 

Perhaps.  Okay, definitely, but not for the ills that beset us in this tempestuous year.

Were the worst of us really in charge?  Are they still?  It seems that way but experiences teach us that it can get even worse, much worse.  Of course, it could also get better, but momentum does not seem to be in that direction, not in the United States, although in various parts of Latin America 2021 has been very positive, especially in Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Honduras. 

Europe seems putrid as does the Middle East and Africa continues mired in a European designed quagmire.  Antarctica seems to be shrinking and we may soon meet its bedrock after millions of years in hibernation.  The Arctic is shrinking as well, bad news for some but not for the Russians or Canadians who may see not only Northwest and Northeast sea passages thriving but also once frozen tundra become productive farmland. 

Now comes the century which, in the current millennia, will see the second most number of twos, 2022. 

What will it bring? 

Well, in large part that depends on how gullible and manipulable and uninformed we are, as it always does.  No doubt the worst among us (who control the Deep State and its corporate media and Democratic Party as well as traditionalist Republicans) will continue working 24/7 to maintain the status quo ante in many things, all bad, and to polarize us even more, and to keep us balanced on a razor’s edge of nuclear annihilation constantly baiting both the Bear and the Dragon.  Still, left wing populists trapped in the Democratic Party may escape their overseers as right wing populists have done since 2016, and maybe, akin to the Miracle on 34th Street, both may realize that populists of all ilks, acting in unison, can bring us back from the brink of destruction; that they have much more in common than the policies that separate them, all too often illusory and manufactured and maintained solely to keep them at bay, disorganized, ineffective, and, most importantly, safely out of the way.

2022, 2+0+2+2 = 6.  Interesting.  The year of the twos equal six.  Almost but not quite synergistic. 

Might it be the year when, answering the plaintive query in Bob Dylan’s “Blowing in the Wind”, written in ten minutes across the street from the Gaslight in 1962 almost sixty years ago we decide that the time to attain equity, justice and peace is now?

Blowing in the Wind”, listening to it carefully today might bet the best way to bring in 2022.  Perhaps, even singing along:

How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many times must the cannonballs fly before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind!

Yes, and how many years must a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea?
And how many years can some people exist before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind!

Yes, and how many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?
And how many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?
Yes, and how many deaths will it take ’til he knows that too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind, the answer is blowing in the wind!

The answers, my friends, are blowing in the wind, the answers are blowing in the wind!
_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved (except, of course, for Bob Dylan’s lyrics).  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.

Confused Reflections as another Solstice Passes By

“Poignant with loss”.

The phrase resonates. 

Not in the sense of self-pity but perhaps a bit melodramatic.  Can one just as easily be poignant with joy?

Birth is the beginning of death and every gain is also the beginning of a corresponding loss.  A full life, one worth living, one where one has truly plumbed the depths and heights of feeling, one full of useful errors, is full of both loss and joy.  With vulnerability, dominion and confusion in equal measures.  With un-chainable emotions carefully balanced, control lost and regained and lost again.

For a very long time, most of my life really, the twin solstices have been poignant.  More so since I became estranged from my sons.  They are flying on their own, free to make their own mistakes and learn their own lessons.  To be deceived and perhaps enlightened as well.  To make their own joys and suffer their own sorrows.  To betray and be betrayed.  To accumulate and share experiences with their own, unique families.  The permanence for which I hoped proved transitory but in my life, transition has been the only constant.

Perhaps the poignancy I feel so often but more strongly during the solstices has to do with how often I’ve moved, starting when I was around two.  Back then, the constant change of situs was not yet impactful, at least not consciously so, but as I started school at five and changed schools at least once every year until I was fifteen, the changes become more and more difficult.  Friends were made each year only to be quickly lost.  That taught me how to make friends easily but also not to count on them.  Sadly, separations became easier and easier to bear until the seemed almost inconsequential, regardless of how strong bonds had once seemed.

That changed for a while when at the age of fifteen I became a “cadet”, first at the Eastern Military Academy in Huntington, New York, and then at the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina.  Seven solid years of building bonds with schoolmates, ties which have persevered for decade after decade.  Then a return to Eastern as a faculty member; nine more years during which the nature of evolving bonds changed.  Bonding was no longer, for the most part, with peers, but rather, with my own pupils, young off-white tabulas almost rasas whom I sought to mentor.  Apparently I’d grown and passed through several rites of passage.  Some of those students have remained in my life, albeit at a distance, for more than half a century.

Fifteen was memorable for other reasons too.  I’d always had a crush on some girl or other but before I attained that lofty age, they rarely knew (I wonder though whether any suspected what I felt).  That changed.  I started developing intimate ties with young ladies, ties I rarely handled well.  Relationships seemed a game then.  I had so much to learn and they had so much to teach, all too frequently bittersweet.  Especially at this time of year.  Julia Iglesias (my favorite singer) singing “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before” has come to have a special meaning for me, but one more often than not tinged with regrets.  Seemingly, perhaps I stayed fifteen for way too long.  I’m still in touch with some lost loves, but not many.  However, looking back, many more of them have stayed in my heart. 

As it is for all of us eventually, as time slipped by, I lost precious family members and then classmates and students and friends and perhaps former lovers as well.  The other side of the veil becomes more and more crowded so much faster now.  Losses of places and people accumulate in profound pools of nostalgia weaving melancholy tapestries in shades of gray and the colors in rainbows fade.  Melancholy becomes a place, one I visit as accumulated memories croon siren songs and I brood on things I’d change.  Things that once seemed so right but now seem as though they might have been mistakes.  Mistakes I’d correct, … if only I could.

So many people have touched my life.  So many have shared sadness and happiness, ecstasy and despair.  Others have merely crossed my path for an instant.  I recall people I should have met, people who I saw in passing without a shared word and who immediately moved on but who I’ve never forgotten and wish I’d gotten to know.  Roads not taken are always more plentiful than the paths we’ve trod and who knows where they might have led.

Hopefully I’ve grown wiser but wisdom is strange.  It’s an imperfect mirror with distorted reflections and more and more unanswered, perhaps unanswerable, questions.  Time alone doesn’t make one wise but perhaps it makes us more sage than we once were.  Mistakes overcome bring wisdom, and mistakes, I’ve had my share.  And not too few to mention.  My way was not always the best.

This season is not only about gift giving and festivities but more importantly, it has always also been a time for reflection and introspection.  A time to ponder how we’ve become who we are.  As we age, some of us become less egocentric and our contemplation expands to the collectives of which we’re a part, to our future as a species.  Those of us who study history professionally but by some miracle at least try to do so objectively, at some point realize that truth is more than just elusive.  We come to realize that our own memories are at best an imperfect motley, an indecipherable collage, and that our collective memory tends to be even worse.  What we call history, what we pass on to our progeny, is not only usually inaccurate but all too often cynically scored, liveried in beautiful music and soaring rhetoric designed to mold us into sated sheep and lyrical lemmings easily misled.  To our collective detriment.  Apparently, as we age, we become cynics, although the wise among us may attain that status sooner.

Things seemed so much easier to understand when I was very young, so many things seemed so clear, so obvious.  Faith made belief easy.  God was in his Heaven with Père Noel at his side taking notes.  Fantasy seemed as likely to be true as what passed for reality.  Truth and justice were tangible rather than imagined.  One once among us, a Prince of Peace, had ascended to sit at the right hand of his father and certainly would never take sides in wars where we slaughtered each other in his Holy name.  But then faith became more and more elusive and harsh “realities” slowly took its place, purported sanity replacing benevolent chaos.

Like so many others, I wonder: “do we lose cognitive capacity as we pass from the magic era of early childhood into the realm of knowledge acquired”?  Is accumulated wisdom the antithesis of infancy’s faith or are we each a unique melding of instinct and pain, knowledge and joy, deception and rejection, unable to really communicate with anyone or anything else, even with the people we were and those we’ll become?

What a depressing thought!

Can’t we be both unreservedly alone and completely connected with everyone and everything that’s ever been?  Quantically linked since before eternity was conceived, when everything was part of the primordial proto quark?  After all, once upon a time, every part of what we are was joined together at the starting gate of a Big Bang, before we became Magellanic Clouds and then stars and rays of light.  And isn’t light both an isolated particle and a collective wave?

Confused reflections as another solstice passes by.
_______

© 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.

Marina and Teddy and Mom and Pop: a Christmas Carol of Our Own

The aroma of melancholy and nostalgia subtly scent the air and echoes faintly sing as memories flow.

I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas when it was Teddy, Marina and me (in inverse chronological order), and, of course, Mom and Pop.  “Pop” was my stepfather with whom I lived from ages six through fifteen (when he and my mother separated).  Nonetheless, he remained in our lives until he passed away suddenly when I was a few months shy of twenty-six.  He was about to turn sixty I think.

I remember Thanksgiving and Christmas especially in New York; especially during the morning watching the Macy’s Christmas Parade on our small black and white television set with Santa bringing up the rear and sometimes, if it had snowed, I remember making angels’ wings on a common lawn in our small apartment in Queens Village (overlooking Hillside Boulevard).  It was on 215th street as I recall.  I was happy there, at least for a bit; good friends quickly made, especially Bobby, the Italian kid from across the street, then all too quickly gone, as usual.  We moved a lot.  But back then there was always my sister Marina and my brother Teddy, and my Mom and Pop and me.

I remember Thanksgiving as the start of a special season, one featuring various festivals of light, a season which was, then, for me, flavored with introspection and speculation on the nature of the Prince of Peace, the one I so loved and admired way back then.  Then, when I was so blissfully innocent (at least some of the time).  And I remember optimism and hope, and a general feeling of delightful wellbeing, not realizing that we were not all that well off but feeling that we were.  We were all together then; but not for long. 

Those days, like so much else, lasted until about 1961 when the world changed.  The Pope, Pius X I think, purportedly read the last Fatima prophecy and I went off to boarding school (I don’t think the two events were connected, although, who knows), a military prep school, a wonderful place in its own light, and many new adventures began, not all happy but rarely sad.  I remember the gloomy thanksgiving in 1963, when for a second, the world was united in shock, but then, a few months later, the 1964 World’s Fair, and the 20th anniversary of D Day, and then, college, but a very different college experience than most.

And of course, the “police action in Vietnam.  Wars are bad so we didn’t have them after World War II, just like we’ve had a Defense Department rather than a Department of War since 1947.  I recall Simon and Garfunkel’s devastating version of Silent Night; actually, devastation was everywhere but so was change and optimism, even in the face of the Democratic Party’s display of fascism, American style in 1968.  Flower power, and love-ins, and miniskirts and long, long legs slowly fading into the same old us.

Months have merged into years and years into decades.  I’ve met so many people and been so many places.  Made so many mistakes but learned from most.  It’s been a very full and very complex life, one with numerous starts after barely realized ends, as though I’ve been at least five or six very different people, each living in different epochs, in different contexts with different settings and different casts.  Social changes accelerated at a dizzying pace in some aspects but not at all in others.  Some changes were essential and positive but too many now seem just illusory, ugly, even malign.  Right became wrong and then right again, and then, … who knows.  I’ve seen a country that adopted me as I did it dissolve into bickering, polarized factions with the wealthiest, even more that usually, astronomically increasing what they have at the expense of the impoverished many.  I’ve seen our bravest and most noble destroyed in useless foreign adventures and then, all too often, cast aside when some managed to return home.  I’ve seen hope replaced by resignation, but with all that and through it all, I’ve seen a beautiful People still prepared to give thanks for whatever they have.  In fact, those with the least are often the ones who most sincerely continue to believe in the magic season at the end of the year.

Today, I think of a marriage once so bright gone bad and miss Billy and Alex and Edward, now living lives of their own without me but at least together.  And I think of all the wonderful women I’ve known intimately but who just didn’t work out, and as always, I wish most of them the best.  I recall a dazzlingly beautiful young woman who once introduced herself to me as “Diana, as in the goddess, not Diane” and I remember the lyrics “all day, all night Marianne, down by the seashore, sifting sand” and I’m grateful and amazed that some of us are, from a distance, somehow still in touch and every once in a while, still speculating about might have beens.

Places as well as people have treasured places in my heart.  I think of Miami and Miami Beach and of Central Beach Elementary and Biscayne Elementary and of Hellen Mansfield and Maryanne Bass.  I think of Charlotte and Wesley Heights Elementary, an awesome place with great friends, albeit, as usual, only for a season or two.  And then I think of New York and Charleston and then, New York again; and of Fort Lauderdale and Hendersonville and Ocala.  All among the too many places I’ve called home.  I miss them all, now back in Manizales where I began, but I sometimes wonder for how long.  This holiday season marks the start of my 15th year here.

I’ve attended almost too many schools to count, usually briefly, until that fateful 1961 when I enrolled in the Eastern Military Academy college preparatory school, a fabulous castle where I’d spend almost twelve years, first as a student but eventually as a faculty member too.  And of course, the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, is emblazoned in my soul, I think of it daily and even after more than half a century, interact with beloved former classmates and friends, and fellow alumni.

Even before those halcyon days in New York though, before the good old USA, I remember how once upon a time, in another continent to the South, one I now once again call home, my grandmother and my two aunts, and an all too interesting uncle remained, at least for a while. 

What a ride life’s been and it still has such a long way to go.  A seventh version of me now cohabits with Natalia and sometimes with Dalia and Maia, her teenage daughters, and with Maria Elena her mother, and with Caro her sister and Jose Jesus her father and Edwin and Odair, her brothers, and with all my Mahe cousins and with all the friends and colleagues and students I’ve made during the past fourteen years. 

During this season I nostalgically recall Jimmy Stewart at Christmas reevaluating his values and Ingrid Bergman as a Christmas story nun, and Bing Crosby and Bob Hope on the road, and Abbot and Costello, and the Three Stooges with Officer Joe Bolton (before police officers were perceived of as swine) and I recall meeting Perry Cuomo at Eddie Kowalski’s house where his pretty cousin Bonnie, now gone, enthralled us all. 

But I come back to Marina and Teddy, and Pop and Mom. And a very young and optimistic version of me delighting in white Christmases and decorations and Christmas carols, and even in ghosts of Christmases past and present and future, and of Tiny Tim (the original one, not the one tripping through the tulips with a ukulele) wishing us a Merry Christmas,

One and all.
_______

© 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.

Superciliously Serendipity or Serendipitously Supercilious

“What a world, what a world” cried the twin witches of East and West as, soaked in a transparent liquid that may have been water (but smelled a bit like a cheap American vodka knock-off), they melted.  Melted in a land other than Oz.  And of course, wicked though they might have been (and that’s debatable), they were certainly right.  That their viewpoints were otherwise quite different didn’t matter, didn’t matter at all.

Glenda?  She was oblivious, enamored of her reflection in a borrowed magic mirror and Dorothy, well, she was not really what she seemed.  The stories Toto could have told if only we’d understood what he was trying to say.  And of course, the Wizard was not a wizard at all.  Just a tool, a tool like most of us, singing of scarecrows, tin men and cowardly lions, ….

Oh my!

A question or a query or perhaps, an inquisition of sorts?  From the Bizzaro world on the other side of the looking glass, the one from which Alice, now safe with her Cheshire cat and “haberdashered” rabbit, had fled for a second time (after a much regretted but highly publicized return). Evidently a very powerful country was split into at least seventeen furious factions and all they could agree on was that the others were viciously vile, deliberately so, not merely mistaken, but evil, and deceptively so.

To wit, a casual neutral observer, could one be found, might ponder, and verily so.  Images in a purloined crystal ball come into focus, perhaps in a Palantir.  Very hazy images, very difficult to comprehend, not because of their different dictions or registers or accents, but because the cacophony in which they were emerged was so lacking in coherence and logic, so internally contradictory.  The scene becomes wavy the way dream sequences appeared in old black and white television programs, someone from another dimension, perhaps a comic book dimension, apparently a journalist, but a real journalist, not one of the professional entertainers charged with weaving narratives, although ….; anyway, he (or she, or it, gender seems hard to define) seems to be trying to make sense of what is happening, but not all that successfully.  The journalist is observing an apparently sane person separating rival mobs.  And we listen in.

Soooo ….

….  Just how different is believing that judicial investigations into allegations of electoral fraud were conducted improperly from believing that a criminal trial was conducted inappropriately? The truth is that the electoral and judicial systems, like almost all of our governmental institutions, are dysfunctional at best.  The truth is that they have become politicized, as have our means of mass communication.  Perhaps they always were.  Actually, no perhaps about it and such developments are neither accidental not natural but rather carefully and artfully orchestrated by those whom we’ve permitted to attain almost complete control over our lives.  A feat possible only because they’ve become so expert at dividing us and keeping us divided.  Perhaps that’s the real meaning of the allegorical Tower of Babel myth.

We, as a species, tend to be reactive rather than proactive and that makes it easy for those among us willing to plan and to strategize, to develop and implement tactics and then to wait patiently as they take root enabling “them” (the elusive but ubiquitous “they”) to successfully manipulate us.  When their fields have been prepared and carefully planted and nurtured, like good strategists, they cultivate the harvests that most benefit them, usually to our detriment.  Actually, we are those harvests, we are the fruit and grains that they reap, the cattle that they milk and then slaughter.  And like the “good” (a relative concept) domesticated comestibles that we are, we permit ourselves to be herded to our doom while we bicker among ourselves and chew our metaphorical cud

As in the case of any great lie, grains of truth as seasoning are essentials.  Those whose goal is our manipulation first find real social issues that require attention, issues such as racism, xenophobia, misogyny, the environment, inequality, inequity, injustice, corruption and impunity and then, rather than offer us solutions, they rub salt into every fissure to set us against each other while assuring that none of such issues are resolved.  The United States Civil War is a great example.  Elimination of slavery was never the issue, only its transformation and expansion into a caste system of serfs who believed themselves free, set against working stiffs who believed themselves free but somehow superior, all opposed to the huddled masses yearning to be free who invaded our shining shores, to then be en-serfed in their turn, all endowed with illusory rights, especially the right to believe that they controlled their own destinies.  And it all worked just fine, and will keep working as long as most of us never realize that we have other options, as long as we can be kept bickering and polarized and furious.

Racism and xenophobia and misogyny will never be eliminated by seeking to humiliate and ridicule others or by destroying the markers and mementos of our sorry history.  Mirages are not real and neither are sirens (except on police cars and firetrucks and ambulances).  Delusion, whether self-imposed, self-maintained or artificially orchestrated will not solve problems any more than we can successfully groom ourselves by looking at pictures of attractive people and wishing we were they, but then, solutions are not the goal, control is, and emotional manipulation works just fine for that.  Neither inequity nor inequality nor injustice can be minimized by self-delusion.  Nor can corruption nor impunity.  They’ll keep doing just fine in an information sharing system where misdirection is the key.  While Kant’s nightmare, perpetual war, is also key, it is war on every level that counts, not just war against other countries: gender wars and racial wars and religious wars and class wars and cultural wars; each works just fine, even wars against recreational drugs and poverty.  Poor Kant.

Poorer us.

Anyone who seriously believes that elections in the United States have ever been free of fraud is delusional and those who most vehemently insist that is the case are in all probability the ones who most carefully, studiously and assiduously orchestrate electoral fraud (while screaming that what they do is designed to assure that electoral participation is facilitated, common sense be damned, it’s always been overrated).  The same is true of anyone who believes that the criminal justice system actually functions in our best interests, or that the civil justice system will protect the righteous poor from the villainously powerful. 

Only relative power matters. 

But the delusional are many and very thoroughly convinced of their cognitive and moral superiority, whichever side they’re on.  Which is just fine for those who are really “woke”.  No, not the silly, self-centered, self-lauding, something-or-other-wannabes, but rather, their shepherds (and not in a positive sense).  We are imprisoned in cells of our own design, tightly clutching the keys than can set us free, but utterly convinced that to use them is not in our best interest.  That opening our cell doors to other perspectives will taint us and destroy that which we value.  We have been accustomed and acculturated to believe that the illusory security of the static is essential and that change in our perspectives is anathematic treason.  Treason to our masters who protect us from the others, the “others” who are a bit more evil than are they. 

An open mind is a terrible thing, an abomination.

We are a stupid species, let’s admit it!  And the universe might be well rid of us.  Our planet certainly would be.

*                             *                             *

Hmmm, the old fashioned television program again becomes wavy, the color returns, the journalist shakes his head and smiles ruefully at his audience, a perplexed, almost extinct species of fictitious flying simian warriors, now gainfully unemployed.

_______

© 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.

Wither Go We: A diatribe

Identity politics, the purportedly “woke”, the destruction of historical monuments, the illusory #MeToo movement, all addressing real problems but apparently making them worse, continue unabated and uncontrolled.  Reality seems illusory and illusions reality as slogans by those most responsible for the ills of which they complain flood our senses.  Authoritarianism in the name of liberty and censorship in the name of freedom of expression are as omnipresent as are demands to eliminate safeguards against electoral fraud in the name of free elections.  It’s as though all that is required of great poetry is rhythmic sounds without meaning or context and all that is required of transcendental philosophy is that it be confusing.  That seems to be world in which we find ourselves, one where cognitively dissonant entertainment (some labeled news) seeks to mold us into something, but perhaps no one is sure just what.

Perhaps we need some articulate parables and metaphors to clear our minds.  Perhaps a contrast of opposites can bring us together, at least briefly, at least for an instant.  Perhaps something as negatively perceived as cancer can help.  Cancer is not necessarily a negative concept, rather, it involves an anomaly growing in an uncontrollable manner within an incompatible host.  As with so many processes that we as humans denominate “diseases”, cancer is merely an independent biochemical process seeking its own destiny, although when it attains victory over its hosts, its own self-destruction is assured.  In that sense, a metaphorical cancer seems to have evolved in our species.

Or perhaps it’s not really metaphorical.  Perhaps it’s been growing for a long time.  Perhaps it’s always been among us but is now making itself much more manifest, secure in the conviction that its time has come.  Perhaps a societal cancer, one composed of memes rather than genes, has reached the point in its growth where it is impelled to destroy that which we’ve been without concern for what we’ll become.  Its goals would seem subject to differing interpretations depending on whether one viewed as malign or benign.  In one sense, one might perceive it as a lemming-like compulsion to species suicide but in another, as a necessary evolutive climax; back towards nature’s testing, questing formulae of trial and error and perhaps, back towards survival of the fittest; or else towards extinction, which is what happens to evolution’s failures. 

The cancer within our society manifests as a complex of chaotically contrarian groups, each furiously seeking change but unable to agree as to who or what we should become.  It feels like an instinctive compulsion away from something but not necessarily towards anything.  Perhaps, many within its vocal subgroups (where clamor and uproar seem to amplify their numbers and their impact) don’t really care about consequences, the urge towards species suicide being much too strong among them; their self-hate as strong as their disdain for tradition.  And perhaps such self-hate is justified. 

Some such subgroups have a clear perspective of the aberrations we desperately need to discard in our societal and social makeup in order to attain the ideals we’ve created, aberrations such as elitism, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, inequity, inequality, injustice.  Some even have cogent ideas about how to attain such goal but too few have the talent necessary to attain the better world for which they aspire through voluntary means and instead, seek to use the purported monopoly the legal use of force enjoyed (but all too often abused) by government to force compliance with their perspectives, rendering them as destructive to popular welfare as are the concepts they believe that they oppose.  Thus, much of the evolutionary cancer that infects us, for good or ill, seems delusional and generates popular resistance. A sort of counterrevolution led by our societal white cells under multicolored populist banners.

The metaphor of cancer is relevant because cancer, as a medical malady, may be misunderstood.  Perhaps it is nature’s way of forcing us to return to an evolutionary process that we’ve insisted on stalling (if not abandoning), misdirecting it through artificial means which our cognitive breakthroughs have made possible; an aberration accomplished through invention of counterintuitive (at least to nature) ethics and morals that reject the fundamental premises involved in survival of the fittest and which place our human wisdom above that of nature.  It would seem an abomination for those who insist on protecting the environment to eventually come to the conclusion that those deemed most evil among us, villains such as Hitler and his Nazis, agreed with them, but we’re protected against such heresy by a beneficent logical incoherence.  One to which we turn as we struggle with concepts such as good and evil, concepts as alien to nature and perhaps even to nature’s god (if one exists) as they were to those members of our species whose values and conclusions we’ve purportedly rejected, at least superficially, albeit perhaps hypocritically.  A beneficent logical incoherence whose postulates have become so powerful a part of who we claim to be that failing to abide by them is anathema.  Postulates such as the sanctity of life, the importance of honesty, the inhumanity of brutality, and of course, concepts such as equity and equality and justice.

As a species, we are an amalgam of incoherently complex contradictions and perceptions, inconsistency, inconstancy and hypocrisy being the rule rather than the exception.  It’s a wonder we’ve survived, at least until now.  In the future, the forces of evolutionary and social entropy may impose a convergence of our most treasured spiritual values with those of nature and render us once again no more but no less than animals, mere cogs in nature’s unplanned plans, reacting rather than planning, thinking and aspiring.  Herded rather than herding.  Perhaps that’s why so many within the metaphorical societal cancer with which I began this diatribe only sense the need to destroy who and what we’ve been without a firm and coherent idea of who or what we should or will become.  And perhaps its nature’s will that they prevail. 

Perhaps trying to make sense of and alleviate our current polarization is a counterproductive exercise and we should just sit back and let the experience flow over us, slumbering into the future while forgetting the past until neither is relevant and only a brief now exists.  Perhaps that’s the most logical way to face our own extinction, letting bygones be bygones, releasing our inhibitions as we fade away in shades of gray.  The favorite color of the stones we’re destined to join in our planet’s journey towards eternity and humanity’s demise.  It’s been an interesting ride but perhaps all things really must end and who are we to think otherwise. 

On the other hand, perhaps as a species we really are special, and unique, and perhaps there’s a purpose to our lives, and perhaps values are real and truth exists, and perhaps there’s a reason for what we experience, and perhaps its’s even a benevolent reason.  After all, at the crossroads of infinity and eternity, anything and everything is possible.

_______

© 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.

Tenebrously Yours

Somewhere, some-when, someone whom I’ve never met and will probably never meet understands me, shares my values and has aspirations that coincide with mine, knows that I exist without having any idea of who I am and knowing that, derives support from me and I from him or her.  Because of that, neither of us is ever alone, is ever without an ally when times are bleak.  Neither time nor space are barriers because the connection is as ephemeral as it is ubiquitous.  It just is, and being, creates a bond that may well transcend that with those we most love and most trust in our more immediate lives.  It is what I understand Freud meant when he wrote, “in darker days there lived a man who thought as you did”.  A source of solace when one most needs it.

_______

© 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.