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.

Only Beans Count

The 2021 Yankees made clear to me what many others already knew, and which I certainly suspected.  Most winners in sports have soul, it’s more than a mere business, and leadership starts, … well; that’s a good question.  Since the end of the Georgian era in Yankees baseball the Yankees have been led through a lowest common denominator leadership style, one where rather than use subjective factors to make decisions (instincts, hunches, a sense of fairness), only objective criteria matter, objective in the sense that decisions are pretty much automatic.  No extensions, self-imposed spending caps, and analytics, even if those charged with using them don’t really understand them. 

While the Yankees in the post Georgian era have been full of stars on the field, or at least former stars, management has sought to shift the spotlight unto its own, principally onto near-do-well general manager Brian Cashman, a man who apparently seeks to steal the spotlight while micromanaging Yankees coaches, Yankees coaches top to bottom whose primary attribute is obedience; yes men for the most part.  And it renders on the field talent less than potent, it ruins intriguing talent arriving from the minor leagues.  The mania for waiting out opposing pitchers by taking pitches is maddening, disheartening, depressing and de-energizing. 

Cashman’s strategy, supported whole heartedly by a managing general partner too timid to do anything but count beans, seems to be to field a team almost good enough to succeed, one that can be defended in the media so that memorabilia and brand products continue to sell, but not one with real heart.  Not that another World Series pennant wouldn’t be welcome, only that notwithstanding the slogans, it is not really the ultimate goal, at least for the team’s administrators.  And that attitude breaks and demoralizes the players, who, frustrated by the absence of real leadership, underperform. 

Cashman is the antithesis of George Steinbrenner and Derek Jeter and Paul O’Neil and David Cone and Jorge Posada and Andy Pettit and Mariano River, etc., the men Gorge led to championship after championship.  And son Hal, who deprecates his father’s style, is the poster boy for happy mediocrity.  Failure doesn’t really bother him and it certainly doesn’t bother Brian.  Aaron Boone is their ideal manager.  But the Yankees, to many of us, are much more than this team, much more than the mediocre product of the Hal and Brian era.  They are a long chain akin to the long grey lines at the Citadel and VMI and West Point, where pride and tradition and a special ethic keep generating a very special product.

They represent a spirit we love where Ruth and Gehrig and DiMaggio and Mantle and Berra and Ford and so many, many others watch over their successors demanding that once pinstripes are donned, the best the players wearing ever had becomes the norm.  But Hal and Brian and now Aaron Boone have managed to dampen that energy for every year in this millennium but one.  And apparently, given Hal’s indifference, there’s nothing to be done. 

What a shame!!!  But then, shame has no impact on them, only beans count.

_______

© 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.

Ilk

America’s proclivity for constant belligerency is sold to those who, from our perspective, have to pay the price; all too frequently the ultimate price, through the maxim “freedom is not free”.  It is a potent slogan, charged with emotion, especially to those willing to sacrifice everything for a cause.  Unfortunately, it is a slogan used by the worst among us to justify profiteering at any price, whether paid for by us or by our victims, others who also believe that “freedom is not free” and that the defense of their countries from invaders is the highest duty, the “Red Dawn” warriors of other cultures.

We also have another maxim, a moral maxim, one that also requires great discipline, forethought and foresight, one essential for long term solutions rather than emotional reactions, and that is “the ends do not justify the means”.  Something to which we give lip service domestically, but not in our relationships with “others”.  We pay lip service to it within our military services with rules of engagement and penal codes for violations, but they apply only to those doing the fighting, those in harm’s way with life and death decisions a split second away.  But they do not apply with respect to the villains who so cavalierly waste their lives and those of their grieving families, nor, of course, to the lives of the enemies they create and dehumanize and their grieving families.  Think of Bush and Clinton and Bush and Obama and Trump and Biden and their “intelligence” services and senior military advisors.  Think of the leaders of our military industrial complex, think of the leaders of our corporate media, and finally, think of the depraved purported leaders of our cultural offerings, Hollywood’s hypocrites and their ilk.

Ilk certainly seems like the operative word, its onomatopoeic resonance sticky with slime and dishonesty, the perfectly descriptive term.

_______

© 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.

Ignominy

Once again the final call is played and American troops withdraw in ignominy from a conflict they should never have been sent to fight.  Wasted lives and wasted treasure, hundreds of thousands of civilians converted into collateral damage and the same villains, the cowardly politicians back home, still in play.  The ones who deceived the stalwart American public into conflicts not their own, and then, symbolized by one man, first a Senator and now a president, assured that an orderly withdrawal would turn into a rout.  As perhaps it should, were there a possibility it would teach us to mistrust them.

Never having been a proper time to enter Afghanistan it was far too late for the predestined departure, and seemingly, as always, no one to be held to account.  The Nuremberg trials will once again be shown to be nothing more meaningful than the revenge of victors in too many ways as evil as the vanquished, indeed, in many ways they have become the residue and reincarnation of those they once sent the bravest and best among us to die in vain.  Vietnam, where I lost so many friends seems to echo, sending regards from the shadows to the tune of Pete Seeger’s 1955 ballad “Where have all the flowers gone”.  Has it already been sixty-six years and a few million lives ago?

There is despair in Washington, D.C. tonight, and angst and anger, and premature jubilation in Kabul as those initially vanquished and exiled have returned as victors.  One wonders what will happen now to those long imprisoned without trials in Guantanamo.  But there are, as of yet, no winners.  Nor will there be.  The putrid purveyors of misused power sit comfortable in their mansions while their tools in the media and academia are busy spinning deceptive narratives which they are sure will be the history our descendants learn.  Seemingly always the case, which is why we rarely if ever learn from our mistakes and thus keep repeating them.  But for some they were not mistakes, not mistakes at all; not for the vultures perpetually circling like Valkyries and enjoying the spoils derived from no-lose situations, more loans to make and armaments to sell now that so many have been used or wasted.  Taxes and printing presses provide apparently never ending resources, at least for now, and as Luis XV purportedly said, “Après moi, le déluge“.  Future generations can pay.  They’ll just have to find a way, in the meantime, “let’s all eat cake”.

“Saving face” is important to most cultures but some, like the Japanese, have the decency to face their errors with honor in a manner that assures that they, at least, will never personally repeat them.  Here, in the United States, tonight, the political and military leadership riding on the shoulders of their stooges just smile and look away, sure that soon everything will be forgotten by feckless voters in a dysfunctional parody of democracy, and that soon, it will once again be their day.  They’ve planned for this contingency circulating fantasies involving recycled villains like Russia and China and new foes like Iran and Venezuela that have to be addressed, regardless of the price to be paid, albeit by others.  The price to be paid by new generations of cannon fodder and by new “unavoidable” instances of collateral damage; new collaborators to be used and then discarded, as perhaps those willing to betray their own deserve to be.  And when needed, there are plenty of scapegoats available in the middle ranks, those bothersome creatures who demand that those responsible be held accountable.

Of course, ultimately, the fault lies in the voters whose lack of courage or dignity, makes it impossible for them to ever vote their consciences in favor of something in which they believe instead of against a purported lesser evil.  With a voting populace such as we have almost everywhere, democracy will work only for those who most efficiently use and delude them; use and delude us.  Us; whose taxes fund the slaughter of friend and foe alike for the profit of the sophic vampires who, from behind the veils of their Deep State, rule us all as though possessed of the One Ring and we, of obedient trinkets.

Such is our world on this late August eve in 2021, as it has been as far back as we can remember, as it will seemingly continue to be, as Cassandra, the princess and seeress of Troy warned so very long ago.

_______

© 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 www.guillermocalvo.com.

Fathers’ Day Blues

Holidays.  Strange things. 

Generalizing, many are supposed to be festive occasions although all too many deal with profound tragedies.  Like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.  Or celebrate mass murders, like so many Hebrew feast days.  Or, bastardize religious events, like the Easter Bunny and candy and egg hunts.

Fathers’ Day is a strange holiday, like an onion in a sense, with layers of meaning.  For functional families it is a happy occasion with a touch of gratitude for sacrifices joyfully made, but functional families are becoming more and more rare.  Dysfunction, i.e., functioning in pain, and non-function, are becoming more and more the norm, or perhaps it just seems that way.  Perhaps that’s always been the case.  And for many, many, too many fathers and their progeny, Fathers’ Day is not joyous.  The same is of course true of Mothers’ Day under similar circumstances, but I write this on Fathers’ Day’s Eve, so I’ll be a bit more focused on “dads”.

Like the holidays at the end of the year, Fathers’ Day can be a deeply depressing day.  Not a day filled with gratitude but with recriminations and regrets, one where the worst in relationships is highlighted and criticism rather than praise prevails.  That is especially true in those all too frequent cases where families have been torn asunder by parental separation, separation where one parent wins custody and the other is cast aside (except with respect to noncustodial responsibilities like alimony and child support).  In many such cases, the custodial parent creates a false narrative, implanting false memories in order to justify their own serious shortcomings and, in many such cases, the parent scorned disappears and is castigated as uncaring and irresponsible.  And sometimes that’s true.  But at other times, the loss of a family, especially of one’s children, especially when distortion and calumny become prevalent, are just too much to bear, and the only apparent survival mechanism is destructive withdrawal.

That, of course, is a gender neutral tragedy impacting mothers as well as fathers. Still, our purportedly paternalistic society idolizes motherhood and to a large extent disdains the paternal role.  Fatherhood is characterized by responsibility, its sacrifices largely ignored.  In general (albeit certainly not always), mothers deserve the credit society showers on them but perhaps fathers deserve understanding rather than disdain, even when they’ve not fully succeeded in their assigned role.  There is of course a huge difference between fathers who refuse to acknowledge their role, who enjoy their sexual partners and then discard them and absconded.  But what about the millions of fathers who accept their role, try, to varying degrees, to meet their responsibilities, but who, for one reason or another, failed?  Or even sadder perhaps, those who succeeded in their role but were cast out and disenfranchised through our blatantly one sided judicial system?

What does Fathers’ Day mean to them?  What does it mean to their children?

Perhaps the saddest day of the year.

_______

© 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.

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

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

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

“Nobody knows how memory works

except that everyone is sure he knows

and thinks all others are fools.”

That seems so relevant today, perhaps more than ever. 

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

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

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

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

Or is it us?

_______

© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution. Guillermo (“Bill”) Calvo Mahé (a sometime poet) is a writer, political commentator and academic currently residing in the Republic of Colombia (although he has primarily lived in the United States of America of which he is also a citizen).  Until 2017 he chaired the political science, government and international relations programs at the Universidad Autónoma de Manizales.  He is currently a strategic analyst employed by Qest Consulting Group, Inc.  He has academic degrees in political science (the Citadel), law (St. John’s University), international legal studies (New York University) and translation and linguistic studies (the University of Florida’s Center for Latin American Studies).  He can be contacted at guillermo.calvo.mahe@gmail.com and much of his writing is available through his blog at http://www.guillermocalvo.com.

Some Days Are Just Hell, or, My Least Favorite Sabbath

Soooo, ….

It had been a lousy Friday. The worst of my somewhat brief physical sojourn what with being whipped, forced to carry a heavy piece of wood all over town, being whipped again, then nailed to a cross, then, as if that hadn’t been enough, stabbed in the ribs with a spear to see whether or not I’d enjoyed the experience.  I hadn’t but Dad had refused to give me a hand.  Then I’d been taken down from the cross, sprinkled with herbs, wrapped in linen and sealed in a damp, cold cave.  At least it was fairly dry.  Hell of a place to wake up in but in fact, Hell was where I awoke very early the next day, I think it was just after midnight.  For some reason they like midnight there.  It was hot!  Not the ideal place for a rest after a harrowing day.  Interesting people there though, in fact, almost everyone who had ever lived, except for the few Dad had teleported to the penthouse was there.

Lucifer, the old Roman god of light and truth was there complaining that he was being transmogrified into Dad’s prosecutor, Shaitan.  A bunch of Dad’s old, discarded servants were there as well asking me just how long eternity was going to last.  I did my best to ignore them (which wasn’t easy).  Adam and Eve were there of course, with all of their progeny, which, well, included everyone.  Cain and Abel had made up, it had all been a misunderstanding, no one knowing about death and all.  Dad had sort of forgotten to explain just what and how final it was.  Bummer.  For some reason, everyone felt I was there to save them but I really had no intention of sticking around.  I wasn’t too excited to return topside either, not after the week I’d had, but evidently, before Dad would let me return home, I had to finish off a forty day sentence, make a bunch of vague promises, etc.  But after that, I was definitely not coming back, no matter what they expected.

I was thirsty as, pardon the pun, Hell, but no wine was to be had there at any price, just filthy boiling water mixed with Sulphur, and the omnipresent smell of rotting eggs.  For some reason I have to stick around until after the Sabbath is completed.  It’ll feel like more than one day let me tell you!  At least three.

Who can understand Dad’s inscrutable ways?  I confess that I can’t.  He loves being mysterious and never says things straight out.  Hard to know what he wants, which causes a lot of problems because he hates it when he doesn’t get his way!  I remember when he blew up this city, then turned one of his followers to stone for turning around, and then, a while later, flooded the whole place for forty days and forty nights.  He seems to like the number forty.  He stuck me in the desert once for forty days and forty nights to see if I’d break, but after a while, I just kind of blanked out.

Anyway, I’ve got a while to kill here before I’m let out so I think I’ll circulate, maybe chat with Lucifer to find our his side of the story.  That ought to take a while.

Ouch!!!  That smarts.
_______

I was going to write this using a fake name, popular way back then, I had Don Rickles in mind (he was no fan of the protagonist), but, what the heck, he has Santa working for him so he already knows everything.  Here goes nothing.  © Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2021; all rights reserved.  Please feel free to share with appropriate attribution.  I hope “Dad” has developed a sense of humor.

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

Reflections on “Shalimar the Clown” during a Cold Day in Early Spring

A quote from Salman Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown seems to me to capture the political reality under which we live.  Perhaps the reality under which we’ve always lived; at least those of us deluded into thinking we’ve lived in a democracy:

…in this occult soil the seeds of the future are being planted, and the time of the invisible world will come, the time of the altered dialectic, the time of the dialectic gone underground, when anonymous spectral armies will fight in secret over the fate of the earth.

It involves an observation set in 1968, that magical year when everything seemed possible and we were set on changing the world for the better, when we profoundly believed that in our time, the phrase “idealistic utopian” would cease to be a pejorative; the time before the 70s and then the 80s when most of us were tamed by the traditional responsibilities of family life and children and all that that entails and we unexpectedly and suddenly became our parents and grandparents and other things less positive, the things against which we once thought we fought.

Perhaps, based on his own all too interesting life, Rushdie may have been reflecting on that unstructured structure that constantly strives, as do memeplexes of diverse flavors, to survive and grow and amalgamate everything around it, and, as around becomes grander, perhaps merely everything.  Perhaps, even unbeknown to himself, that is what he felt when he published Shalimar the Clown in 2006.  During that 2006 when a deep state within a state within many states, ironically already feeling itself all powerful, or at least more powerful than ever (after the convenient events of September 11, 2001), still concealed, was extending its tendrils through shadows and echoes and deep, dark smog. 

Shalimar the Clown focuses on a paradise gang raped and despoiled by rising powers but mirrored in other places today.  It tastes and smells of divided India invading the body of divided Kashmir and there planting its seed of mixed Jewish and French and American chromosomes in a metaphorically paradisiacal womb generating a disturbing progeny, kin to disturbing progenies planted in too many elsewheres.  Too many times.

As in all of Rushdie’s books, it is rife in sensorial splendor with sights and sounds mixed with flavors and aromas and caresses and blows in a stew of historical facts and philosophical speculations spiced with peppers and in this case, Himalayan salt.  A book in which to lose oneself and wake wiser.

A book certainly worth reading and rereading and rereading again, as I’ve done, as are all of Rushdie’s gifts to us.
_______

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

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

Thoughts on a Terrible Day in January, 2021

Incoherence and hypocrisy seem in total control today. Truth has been vanquished, at least for now. Intolerance in the name of tolerance is the order of the day. Censorship in the name of liberty has become the rule.

Sigmund Freud, perhaps in the throes of depression, seeking solace once wrote “in darker times there was a person who thought as you do”. In the United States these are clearly such darker times and it is time to take stock as to who the real antagonists are.

The civic crisis in the United States today is not between purported fascist right wing extremists and radical leftist communists. That is the scenario that has been drawn to divide and polarize us by those who seek to maintain complete control over us. Today’s battle pits the populist wings, both left and right, against the Deep State and its minions, and, as should now be obvious, there is nothing the Deep State will not do, is not doing, to grasp and maintain power. It does so through Identity Politics which politicizes serious social ills, not in order to resolve them but as a tool to distract us and set us at each other’s throats, to divide us, to divide our families, to generate hate and vanquish empathy. Empathy leads to discourse, to open minds and to solutions, and that is intolerable to the Deep State.

The portion of our populace involved in empowering the total takeover by the Deep State is magnified by its minions, but they too are victims, manipulated emotionally by a constant barrage of propaganda where truth has no place, nor does constancy nor logic. Hypocrisy rules. The sane still exist, they exist on the left and on the right wings of the political spectrum, differing as to policies but with a profound faith in democracy and dialogue. Things seem hopeless today but the United States is not the whole world, nor is today eternity. If we on the left and on the right, those who have woken to the reality that the government is not our friend and that the major political parties, like the corporate media, are all too efficient tools of the worst among us, if we keep dialogue open and seek what unites us instead of what divides us, someday we may prevail and this dark night will witness a new dawn.

To many who have been deluded by centuries of propaganda presented as history, perhaps the injustice they face today, the frustration and impotence in the face raw power, will lead to a metamorphosis in our dealings with the world at large, with recognition that tolerance for differences and the choices of others in other societies must be respected and not merely eradicated. That while terrorism exists, those whom we have labelled terrorists are merely desperate people who have been flagrantly denied access to justice and served up hubris instead. Like the hubris we face today.

Let us not be like those enthralled with power who believe they can change minds through ridicule and belittling while keeping their own minds tightly shut. Today is their day but it needn’t last forever. Don’t isolate and withdraw. Find those with whom you do not agree and with kindness and diplomacy and reason and examples, engage in dialogue; willing to listen as well as to preach, and someday this too will be behind us.

“Someday”, as the beautiful African American anthem proclaims, “We Will Overcome”.


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

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

Reflections on a January Morn as 2021 Spreads its Sullied Wings

Bald eagles tear at white doves, they always have and seemingly always will.

Pandora’s Box has been open for a while now and its contents, for a time useful, at least to some, are now inconvenient.  Tides turn, shoes are exchanged; perceptions change seemingly overnight.

“What’s good for the goose is [not] good for the gander”! “Do as I say, not as I do”!  “Close the damned barn door, all the horses have already left”!

“Shut the damn lid on that terrible box!”  Wishful thinking as roosters come home to roost.

“A nation divided against itself cannot stand”, at least until it’s been taken apart and rebuilt and the divisions healed, … Or perhaps just “eliminated”. 

“Eliminate them all, the lying treasonous bastards” echoes from all sides.

From the grandstands and especially the press box, cheering and laughter eggs the bloodied players on as from deep within the bowels of Hell, Caligula laughs.

“I see” exclaims the blind woman as her deaf mute neighbor ripostes “you obviously lie” and life moves on, the blind led by the deaf and dumb into tombs that once served as echo chambers for deluded mobs.
_______

© 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.