The book of flesh and
Blood hangs by a
Slender thread we cut
To shred the pages
We wish were not —
The days and nights of
sadness, fear and dread
Where death is realReality is now a holo-
Gram for us who live
In cyberspace and Sci-
Fi worlds that wipe
The Black board clean
And White again
As it was before the
Black birds came
The hollow holograms
Float on air they never
Breathe while we and
All that is or ever was
In flesh and blood shine
Light and bright andWhite again but miss
Clouds and rainbows
Between Substance and Illusion
“The line between substance and illusion is as thin as the line between reality and appearance. The history of humankind is a tale of an idiot, humankind’s conscious preference for the ‘sweet illusions’ that glimmer from tinsel, broken glass, and oily rags for the colors of a rainbow.
“It seems to be the contention of the Trump campaign that nothing is really true,” wrote Jack Holmes in the September 26, 2016 issue of Esquire; “it only matters what enough people believe, and whether you can dangle enough shiny objects in front of them until the clock runs out on November 8.” -- Jack Holmes, Esquire, September 26, 2016
Gordon C. Stewart, Brooklyn Park, MN, Feb. 1, 2022
Like Shakespeare’s Hamlet, many a son is driven mad by a father’s ghost. Although most of our fathers were not murdered, as was Hamlet’s, our fathers whisper through the air long after they have ceased to be. We hear a voice that defies us to be as big as they or to exceed their stature, or to fill the void of emptiness and their sense of shame and shortcomings they took to the grave, or to find the love they withheld from us as children. A father’s ghost sometimes drives a son mad.
We are our father’s sons. Appearances to the contrary, madness is never far away.
“That he is mad, ’tis true; ’tis true ’tis pity;
And pity ’tis ’tis true —a foolish figure….”
— Plutonius to Queen Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother.
(William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2.)
The healthier sons among us still see our father’s ghost without being stuck in a room where his is the only voice that keeps us captive. We write a wider narrative that puts the father’s ghost where it belongs within the expanding narrative to which experience over time leads us to write. The less fortunate walk through life in “the hollow inner space where the story should be, but never was.” (Dan P. McAdams, The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump.)
The hollow inner space where the story should be
People without a redemptive narrative of the self — a life-story written in one’s own blood: the defeats no less than the successes, the release from the father’s ghost, the changes that unmute the helpless child’s cry for love and integrate the conscious changes that awake us from sleep-walking — deserve our pity and prayers.
A truly authentic fake
“Trump is always acting, always on stage,” writes McAdam, “— but that is who he really is, and that is all he really is. He is not introspective, retrospective or prospective. He does not go deep into his mind; he does not travel back to the past; he does not project far into the future. He is always on the surface, always right now.
“In his own mind, he is more like a persona than a person, more like a primal force or superhero, rather than a fully realized human being.”
Glitter and compassion
Long before the chairs and drapes in the Oval Office were glittered with yellow-gold, Edgar Alan Poe wrote in his Philosophy of Furniture, “Glitter — and in that one word how much of all that is detestable do we express.”
Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a tragedy too detestable to express: a trail of tears created by a son’s inability to write a narrative that integrates and moves beyond obsession with his father’s ghost.
The hollow inner spaces of others bring a tear to God’s eye, and call us to compassion in hopes that a new narrative of redemption. Truly authentic fakes who hide their emptiness with glitter deserve our pity and our prayers. They do not deserve applause or votes.
Views from the Edge has been unusually silent after the video of George Floyd’s murder under a white Minneapolis Police Department cop’s knee went viral. The silence has its reasons. Sometimes I rub my eyes to be sure the movement of protest is real. Other times I feel I’ve seen it all before, over and over, but most especially during eight years in the cross-hairs of the police and the community as executive director of the Legal Rights Center, founded by black civil rights leaders and the American Indian Movement.
You can’t write or speak without words, or when the knot in your stomach will only let you moan or groan or scream a primal cry of helplessness, or when your head becomes an atom smasher with too many memories. When words come together to form sentences, paragraphs, and pages that speak more clearly, Views from the Edge will break the silence.
Thank you for your moral support and encouragement. Take good care of others and yourself.
Grace and peace,
Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, Minnesota, June 21, 2002.le
Heather Cox Richardson’s Letters from an American: the History Behind the Politics is waiting for me every morning. It brings me up-to-date on news-worthy events that often fly under the radar — like today’s report about the late-night firing of the Intelligence Community Inspector General — another end-run around Congress and further violation of law.
Letters from an American latest newsletter
April 3, 2020Heather Cox Richardson
Quite the Friday night news dump today. At about ten o’clock tonight, Trump notified Congress he has fired the Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.
In September 2019, Atkinson made sure Congress knew that then-acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire was illegally withholding from the congressional intelligence committees a whistleblower complaint. Atkinson had examined the complaint, as required by law, and had determined it was “credible” and “urgent” and so sent it on to the acting DNI, who was supposed to send it to Congress. Instead, Maguire took it to the Department of Justice, where Attorney General Barr stopped the transmission by arguing that since it was a complaint about the president, and since the president was not a member of the intelligence community, the complaint shouldn’t go forward. And we know where it went from there.
Now Trump has fired Atkinson....
Click Letters from an American to read the rest of the story and to subscribe to Letters from an American. Ignore the video at the top of the screen to reading her column. Heather Cox Richardson is Professor of History at Boston College.
“That which is not good for the beehive cannot be good for the bees.“
— Marcus Aurelius (A.D, 121-180), Meditations
60 MINUTES SPECIAL ON AUSTRALIA
”Everyone has known this,” said former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. “We’ve been warned by the climate scientists. Everyone has been aware of this except for those who, well, the climate change deniers are aware of it, but they choose to deny reality.”
The fires in Australia are out of control, burning 27 million acres to the ground, and killing an estimated billion animals and 33 people. He was warned, he said, during his term in office (2015 – 2018) that fires in his country were getting worse because of climate change.
Malcom Turnbull is a member of Australia’s conservative party, whose growing right wing turned against him for braking ranks with his party’s denial of climate change. He was replaced by a climate-denying party loyalist, Scott Morrison, whose hand few people shook after he took a vacation as the fires raged.
“The right wing climate deniers treat an issue of science and physics and fact as though it was a question of ideology, and their conduct is not just idiotic,” Turnbull said. “It is downright dangerous. Dangerous for us here in Australia and around the world.”
“You’re talking about people in your own party,” Williams said.
“Of course I am. Yeah. Absolutely,” Turnbull confirmed.
“Dangerous and idiotic,” Williams said.
“Well, of course it is dangerous and idiotic not to be taking the strongest action to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions,” Turnbull said.
LITTLE BOY BLUE ON AIR FORCE ONE
The 60 Minutes’s special report on Australia competed with the NBA All-Star game in Chicago, and NASCAR’s Daytona 500 in Daytona when the focus on basketball and racing were trumped by an eye-catching stunt.
Air Force One was strafing Daytona, drawing everyone’s attention to the entertaining climate-denying president blowing his horn in the air.
It was a Little Boy Blue scene from “Mother Goose.” –1901 illustration by William Wallace Denslow.
Little boy blue,
Come blow your horn,
The sheep's in the meadow,
The cow's in the corn.
But where is the boy
Who looks after the sheep?
He's under a haystack,
-- Mother Goose
While the Aussies were asking the whereabouts of the Little Boy Blue they elected to look after their sheep and meadows, cows and corn, kangaroos, and koala bears, America’s own Little Boy Blue was strafing Daytona at dangerously low altitude, summoning media attention to Air Force One spewing emissions while the fires burn and the floods rise across his country. It was dangerous and idiotic.
WHAT IS THE ECONOMY?
“This is the greatest economy in the history of the world,” boasts the American president and his party in the U.S.A.
Science and theology now agree with Marcus Aurelius that what’s not good for the beehive is not good for the bees. Economic success is not measured by stock markets or unemployment rates. It is measured by the health of the beehive and the bees.
The origins of the English words ‘economy’ and ‘economics’ date back to the classical Greek words oikos (house), and oikonomia (household management). “Before anything else, economics is a perspective, a frame of reference. Economics concerns the well-being of the residents of the same house. Before it decides anything about household management, it knows that there is only one house. Good household management — good economics — pays attention to the entire house and all of its residents.” –“The Economy: Only One House,” Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness.
THE PLANET IS OUR BEEHIVE
The planet is our beehive. The bees are in trouble everywhere. “In the long-term,” said Mollie Beatty, former director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, “the economy and the environment are the same thing. If it’s unenvironmental, it’s uneconomical. That is a rule of nature.”
“When we forget what an economy and economics really are, we enshrine greed as the essential virtue, ignoring and imperiling everyone else and the house in which we all live.” — Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness)
“‘Do you see me now through my dis-gweeze… dis-gwize? Dis-quize?’ Man! This guy writes some weird letters!” – Hector Carrero
How and why the e-mail came to me is a mystery. I don’t know Mrs. Stone. Or her husband Roger, except for the documentary Get Me Roger Stone. I’ve never known a wife repeatedly refer to her husband by his full name, as a reporter would. I found it curious. Its timing was equally curious.
Department of Justice “senior officials” interfering with the DOJ’s prosecutors’ sentence recommendation is anathema to the administration of “blind justice” under the Rule of Law, especially when the interference immediately follows the president’s tweets calling the Roger Stone case a miscarriage of justice.
The tone and language of the e-mail from “Mrs. Roger Stone” sounded familiar. Who, I wondered, is the ghost writer? Who was the writer in ‘dis-quize’? Then I remembered Ridley Pearson’s line from Hard Fall about the instincts and timing of a cornered snake:
“He had the instincts and timing of a cornered snake.” -Ridley Pearson, Hard Fall.
E-MAIL FROM “MRS. ROGER STONE” featuring DJT TWEET — FEB. 14, 2020
On February 10th, the Federal Prosecutors in the case of my husband Roger Stone recommended a prison sentence of 7 to 9 years! The President himself said it was a miscarriage of Justice in a tweet!
DJT: THIS IS A HORRIBLE AND VERY UNFAIR SITUATION. THE REAL CRIMES WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE, AS NOTHING HAPPENS TO THEM. CANNOT ALLOW THIS MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE.
CHUCK ROSS: PROSECUTORS RECOMMEND UP TO NINE YEARS IN PRISON. THEY CALL ELECTION INTERFERENCE A "DEADLY ADVERSARY" EVEN THOUGH ST....
1:48 AM 02/11/20 TWITTER FOR IPHONE
7008 SHARES 23.7 LIKES
We learned the Forewoman of the Jury was an active Democrat who ran for Congress and had posted anti-Roger Stone and Anti-Trump posts on Facebook and Twitter and lied about it during Jury selection. His whole trial was rigged!
Without a pardon or a new trial Roger Stone will die in prison! The President hasn’t said whether he will issue a pardon to my husband. We must be prepared to file a motion in Court for a new trial immediately.Sentencing is next Thursday! We must act now!HELP US NOW> (link)
Unfortunately, virtually every penny in our Legal Defense Fund was used in the first trial which was rigged by a far-Left Obama Judge who stacked the ALL DEMOCRAT DC Jury!Will you help us raise the badly needed funds for an immediate legal motion for a new trial based on the misconduct of this juror?
Because of the Fake News black-out of Roger Stone’s trial very few Americans know how flimsy the charges against him are, how biased the Judge was and how a DC Jury was carefully stacked with Trump-hating Democrats. Now the truth is coming out!
Few people know that my husband could have saved his own skin by agreeing to provide false testimony against the President regarding 25 phone calls between them in 2016. He was prosecuted because he refused to lie.HELP US NOW>
He was convicted of lying to Congress when there was no Russian Collusion or WikiLeaks collaboration to lie about! It was a total set-up perjury trap by Congressman Adam Schiff!
Meanwhile Comey, Brennan, McCabe, Hillary, Rosenstein and Mueller himself lied to Congress under oath but face no charges.
God bless you for all you have done for my husband and the President. We are fighting for Roger's life
MRS. ROGER STONE
PS – As you know the Judge has a strict gag order on Roger Stone. He is not allowed to defend himself while CNN and MSNBC attack us with lies and smears. This emergency e-mail is from me and I mean every word of it.
PAID FOR BY
THE ROGER STONE
FYI: The links take you to gopfortrump.com.
“You never felt that you saw all around him; you always suspected . . . some ingenuity in ambush, behind his lucid frankness.” — H.G. Wells, The Time Machine
Man, this guy . . . or the GOP for Trump . . . writes some weird letters! But no one can be dis-quized forever!
The phrase “blazing bright” in the 2020 State of the Union Address, followed by the Senate’s impeachment acquittal, the president’s claim of total exoneration, and his promise to take revenge on “evil people” prompt this reflection.
THE ROMAN EMPEROR-ENTERTAINER
Whether Nero ( 37 CE – 68 CE) burned Rome to the ground is disputed, but Suetonius claimed he did, and that’s good enough for me. Suetonius’s claim that Nero was mad, devious, and cruel entertainer remains undisputed.
Suetonius tells the story of the Rome brightly blazing:
Pretending to be disgusted by the drab old buildings and narrow, winding streets of Rome, he brazenly set fire to the City; and though a group of ex-consuls caught his attendants, armed with oakum and blazing torches, trespassing on their property, they dared not interfere. He also coveted the sites of several granaries, solidly built of stone, near the Golden House [Nero’s palace]; having knocked down their walls with seige-engines, he set the interiors ablaze. The terror lasted for six days and seven nights, causing many people to take shelter in the tombs . . . . Nero watched the conflagration from the Tower of Maecenas, enraptured by what he called “the beauty of the flames; then put on his tragedian’s costume and sang “The Fall of Ilium” from beginning to end.
Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (c. 69 – c. 130/140 CE)
Centuries after Nero’s demise, the president of the new republic claimed a greatness that would have reminded Nero and the Roman Senators of themselves and the burning of Rome. “America’s enemies are on the run,” said the president, “America’s fortunes are on the rise and America’s future is blazing bright” [DJT State of the Union Address, 2020].
The president was right. The future is blazing bright . . . in California and Australia . . . . Belittling his predecessor’s belief in the climate change, the president attributes the fires to someone’s failure to rake the leaves.
CANCELLING HIS PREDECESSOR’S EDICTS AND DECREES
Among Nero’s first acts as emperor was to cancel many of Claudius’ edicts and decrees, referring to his predecessor as a “doddering old fool.” To the general public Nero was a welcomed change. Like those before him, the early part of Nero’s reign was considered by many to be a mini-golden age; the populace believed him to be generous, kind, and accessible. There were lavish games, plays, concerts, chariot races and gladiatorial tournaments, and taxes were even reduced. He restored much of the Roman Senate’s power that had been lost over the years, but this restoration had a hidden agenda; it was only done to enable the young emperor to pursue his worldly pleasures, to sing (he did not possess a great voice) and play his lyre. While he sang, no one in the audience was permitted to leave the performance.
Nero, Wikipedia summary of Suetonius and Tacitus.
MICHELANGELO AND THE MASTER OF CEREMONIES
As Nero prepared to commit suicide with the assistance of his aide, he paced rhe halls, repeating the line that boasted of his greatness as an entertainer: greatness as an entertainer: “Qualis artifex pereo!” (“What an artist dies in me!”). First and last, the emperor was an entertainer.
Years later, a REAL artist, Michelangelo, was painting The Last Judgment fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel when Biagio da Cesena, the pope’s master of ceremonies, pestered him for a special privilege: a glimpse of the veiled painting. Michelangelo finally acceded to his request, after which Biagio complained to the pope that a painting of nudes was inappropriate for so holy a place.
When the finished fresco was unveiled, Biagio da Cesena — with donkey ears, and a snake covering his nakedness — appeared prominently among the damned in hell, tormented by devils. When he complained to Pope Paul III, the pope replied, “God has given me authority in heaven and on earth, but my writ does not extend to hell. You will just have to put up with it.”
In 2020, the paint on the fresco is still wet. How “Blazing Bright” will be finished remains a work in process. The American people will finish the painting in November. Between now and then the world is Brightly Blazing while Nero continues to celebrate his greatness as an entertainer: “Qualis artifex pereo!“
— “Morning Mist Over the Creek” by Steve Shoemaker, Urbana, IL Feb. 6, 2013
Steve Shoemaker (RIP) was the Views from the Edge colleague whose verses and poems, written in the middle of the night, were sent to “his publisher” from his iPhone before dawn. Five of Steve’s verses/poems are republished in Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness. At six-feet eight inches, he towered above the crowd. In this photo, his 6’8″ frame rests on a 1,000+ year-old Bristlecone Pine above the tree line. – GCS
“Poetry is the impish attempt to paint the color of the wind.” –Maxwell Bodenheim, quoted in Ben Hecht’s play Winkelberg (1958).
North American culture of 2019 is like a house on fire. Words like ‘holy’ and holiness’ are . . . well… relics of tradition. We’re free thinkers, not … not like that!
It was, I suppose, a coincidence that this post caught my eye while reading G.K. Chesterton’s view of democracy and tradition, yet the two readings strike me leading upstream to the same source.
“Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead,” wrote 34 year-old Chesterton nearly a century ago in a book with an arcane title (Orthodoxy) that sends us free thinkers running from a house fire.
Although it seemed outdated at the time, I now remember with nostalgia the rest I knew as a child on Sundays when the noise and distractions were stilled. We opened the windows, breathed fresh air, gave thanks we were still breathing, and went down for a long afternoon nap.
When my most intimate companion failed to respond as normal, I feared she had suffered a stroke like the cerebral hemorrhage that took Uncle Bob years ago. Uncle Bob was the smartest guy in South Paris, the Harvard Law valedictorian who, against all expectation, had made South Paris his home until he suddently dropped dead leading the Congregational Church’s Annual Meeting. He had shown no signs of stress during worship, directing the Choir from the organ bench as he had for 25 years. Church meetings are like that — they often raise a leader’s blood pressure — but this was different! All of a sudden he was gone.
Like Uncle Bob, she showed no signs of stress before retiring last night. She is the one who has done the most of anyone to encourage my writing and publishing — filing things away until I needed them, flagging a mis-spelled word or correcting faulty grammar. I’ve depended on her every day for the past six years. She is more than an assistant. Since the day we met, I’ve turned her on. This morning is different. Nothing turns her on.
I gently carry her to the garage, cover her with a blanket, and drive to the Urgent Care at the Southdale Mall. They admit her for tests and suggest I return in an hour in an hour or so.
“Do you have the time?” I ask.
He gives me a strange look and checks his iPhone. “It’s 10:30. We’ll text you when we’re done. Where can I reach you? What’s your number?”
“I don’t have a number.”
“Okay, how about an email?”
“I don’t have a mobile phone. You know, there are no public clocks anywhere anymore. Everybody’s in a bubble.”
He pauses and looks up. “Hmmm. You know . . .I hadn’t thought about that! Come to think of it, I guess you’re right. “Okay . . .well, just be back by 11:30.”
Anxious and alone with an hour to kill, I wander the corridor from shop to shop before going into Macy’s. It’s easy to distract yourself shopping, and Macy’s is just the place. You can find anything at Macy’s…except a clock. “Excuse me, do you have the time?” I ask the clerk in the men’s shoe department. It’s not a question he gets anymore. He glances at his iPhone, looks up, and, with a strange look, gives me the time: “10:45.”
With forty-five minutes to spare, I remember Macy’s famous Lakeside Grille and follow the confusing signs to catch a late breakfast or early lunch. I tell the waitperson I have an important appointment at 11:30 and ask for the time. “10:50,” he says. “I don’t have a phone. Would you be so kind as to give me a heads up when it’s 11:15?” He takes my order and agrees to notify me. I scarf down the Oktoberfest special of pork schnitzel, spaetzl, and green beans, wondering what time it is. The waitperson is nowhere to be seen. I ask another waitperson, “I’m sorry. Do you have the time?”
I rush back to Urgent Care, anxious about the test results. “Mr. Stewart,” says the neurologist, “I’m sorry. We ran all the tests and the news is not good, but it’s not beyond hope.” I breathe a sigh of relief, waiting for what comes next. “She’s still alive, but she needs immediate surgery. We have a neurologist standing by.” “What’s the cost,” I ask, knowing she has no insurance. “We can replace her keyboard for $485 so you can turn her on again, but she’s old. It’s only a matter of time before she goes. Or you can buy a new one for an additional six-hundred dollars or so. Your call.”
End of life decisions, like putting down my canine companion after fourteen years– are harder than others. For months after Maggie’s death, I swore I’d never get another dog. There’d never be another Maggie. I couldn’t bear the thought of holding another Maggie in my arms when her time would come.
“I’m a writer,” I say. “Like lots of other writers, I have ADHD and sometimes, like Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, I drink too much. I’m completely dependent on her for filing and saving my work. She keeps it all in her head. Besides she’s the only one I’ve ever turned on.”
“Not to worry, Mr. Stewart. If you leave her with us for 24 hours, we’ll be glad to download her memory to the new MacBook Air. We’ll treat her with great respect. We’ll take good care of things. We’ll be glad to recycle her free of charge. As Hemingway said, ‘Time is the last thing we have.'”
I leave her behind to be downloaded and recycled, grieving my loss, but consoled by the knowledge that, life Uncle Bob and Maggie, she will be in a safe place.