Saturday, May 9, 2020

For the American Literary Historical Society

Witch Hunts' Relevance

     Confabulation sounds accurate in considering our present era’s use of the term, “Witch Hunt.” Except confabulation’s definition - the replacement of a gap in a person's memory by a falsification that he or she believes to be true - doesn’t exactly fit. Because filling in memory with what one believes to be true, implies, at the very least, an element of honest mistakenness without self-serving intent. The discrepancy being America’s public forums have long been primed, as in cultivated, as a means of obfuscation rather than confronting inaccuracies. 
     While obfuscation - the action of making something obscure, unclear, or unintelligible - was how “witch hunt” was recently used, by our president, to influence public perception. In other words, whatever flies. There’s even a Sean Hannity Show episode, some years back, featuring Republican polling strategist Frank Lundtz, demonstrating, before a studio audience, how the truth doesn’t matter when enough of the public believes otherwise. Well? Polls are for guaging what people understand, however encircled we are by schemes claiming to fly. So, in that sense of exacerbation sans circumspection, “witch hunt” probably always applies to framing, and stigmatizing, Americans’ public opinions. Such that, despite fervent polishing, loyalty’s tarnished when an above the law manner abuses patriotism’s role as common cause. 
     After all History’s Cold Cases have never, ever, really been retried. When what’s gotten away with has to be rendered virtually legitimate, for countries, to, even halfway, face themselves? Gambling’s just bandaging something broken that never set. Having President Jackson’s war with indigenous American landholders equated with almost outright righteousness, result’s from arrogance rules. Immorally superseding God’s legitimate desire to forgive. No? Yes, if all participation is nothing but conformity going along, to get along. As if adhering to a Politburo’s rubber stamp. Scary? Part of witch hunt’s meaning is persecution without impartial judgement. Rendering an empathetic future, once visible, forgone if what's ensuing disregards facing the past. 
     The packaged personality has been with us so long, generations lose the ability to distinguish levels of sincerity, from complete to dubious. Because public perspective engaged by indifferent celebrity is, near enough, similar to jokes about historical disaster. Where time heals all wounds overshadowing discrepancies. Smoothed over such that “perfect” and every other adjective thrown at the consumptive public’s portrayably genuine. Suspicion shelved as, not just labelled perspective, honest doubt or wonder, but a matter of taste. And yes, but not but, that’s opinion.
     When what’s meant can’t be considerately perceived as denial, the very ideal of perception can be ridiculed as contrary to patriotic loyalty. Becoming not just trapped inside Plato’s, narrow minded, Cave, but consumed by the team sport’s arrogance. The accusation of fake, only, if ever, quantified through sound bites that wear down all explanation into likewise frivolousness. Popularizing the concept people think comprehensively without the benefit of exercising their minds through reading or, perhaps even, listening over the perpetual mental hum. Instead mesmerized by portrayals of concentrated concern. 
     The first Tuesday following the American November 2016 Presidential Election, I recorded myself reading from my novel, personally regarded as, a competent parody of The Cold War. While the business of literature missed fathoming the necessity to cross cultural barriers. Because, for one possible reason, or excuse, against sound advice, I wouldn’t change the title, The Hammer and Cycle Messenger Service. Because people aren't expected to discern that the title, as a sound bite, doesn’t advocate totalitarianism. Because despite claims to the contrary, about the present mattering most, now is history within the second. And trying to provide the real story is what history’s all about. Political polemics aren’t novels and The Hammer and Cycle isn’t a polemic. But one theme does promote the concept that fully functioning capitalism is socialist and what has gotten away from the mass of exploited, ideologically bound, narrow conservative-ism. The schism separating points of view from having their heads around economics’ evolution. 
     So I filmed myself reading, that November 2016 night. Beside the front doorstep of the decades deceased, but for long-enough, pre-Presidential legal advisor, to the newly elected Chief Executive of our United States, Roy Cohn. Was my choice of places to read due to their alliance to avoid facing the Trump family’s blocking of African-Americans from living in their New York City buildings? As something like that’s a personal concern. The home I was raised in became an African-American funeral home the year, the consistently re-elected, racist, Lake County, Florida Sheriff Willis V. McCall was finally removed from office, by legal means, by the Federal Government. His home a block-and-a-half from mine.  
     No. My primary reason for reading there can be summed up by an overwhelming thought I had, as I rode, the wrong way, away from 39 East 68th Street, underneath the police surveillance cameras, at Madison Avenue, wondering whether, no matter how obscure, I’d look bad if our new president became more independently discerning as “The American People” want to believe our presidents become? While the idea I’d be stigmatized, as against what’s decent, was replaced with remembering a president facing the future faces the past was my entire reason for being there. A confabulation? I most certainly deny.
     When healing an aggravation, understanding soothes. This essay was sparked while rereading Naming Names by The Nation’s Publisher Emeritus, Victor S. Navasky. A relatively broad overview, of the mid-20th Century’s black-listings Witch Hunt, reduce-able to a fair explanation why everyone, then, were victims. An un-rectified result passed down the generations, through us even now, as we speak. As they say.
     Can humanity surpass our squabbling nature? Ever agree on anything other than celebrating celebrities is leadership? Anything’s possible, and eventually something’s faced, whether, or not, it’s ourselves. But certainly a president, if they so chose, can narcissistically equate their victimhood with those of the “Spanish Inquisition,” as composer David Raksin described his endured experiences, with The Witch Hunt, on page 251? Wondering how much of the forty year old “Witch Hunt” book relevantly applies today? I’m most comfortable doubting everyone. 
     Navasky, on page 311, refers, (my phrasing), to the steerers of public rectitude, including Nixon and McCarthy, as having - in common political opportunism and a demagogic capacity to exploit nativism and know-nothing passions. With 319 pointing out - the practical consequences of the naming ritual’s real significance was symbolic. To stigmatize through naming names, intelligence agencies already had. How does our president’s victimization claim relate? That’s the point. No correlation, except vagaries allowing charlatanism to slip between the lines.
     Page 322 Navasky continued, explaining - The degradation ceremonies satisfied the needs of the mass media, which were neither capable, or interested in, exposing the ways in which the ritual distorted truth when it lent itself so elegantly to reproduction on radio and television. Exploiting the peculiar vulnerability of mass media through pseudo-event, coined by Daniel J. Boorstin, at the time Librarian of Congress, distinguished historian and namer of five former Harvard colleagues. Navasky describes the pressures people underwent in giving up their right to free speech. Page 356 noting - Some ex-party members felt ambivalent about the suffering inflicted on their families as a result of activity in a party whose program turned out to be so flawed. Facing down aberrant socialism, Mr. President? Such a billboard you’ve made of yourself. An apparently happy corporate welfare recipient? Shrewd, you admitted in other words. You’re mercurial. Nothing sticks to Teflon Don.
     Page 422/23 cites George Orwell’s naming forged history. While Stalin’s apologists were an excuse to institutionalize blacklisting that, analyzed, was too commercial, an enterprise, vacating idealism for a fear riddled public. Tragically, as is the case, but not a law, the precedent was set, from our country’s start, that the position of president should be one of character. Not an office overrun by characters assuming the mask. 
     A witch hunt is lashing out frivolous accusations from podiums. (Twitter’s a platform, too.) Circling the troops in defense of authority rather than authority looking out for ALL THE TROOPS is not how America was founded for the inducted and, or, otherwise. Autobiographical protectionism in the guise of defendable history is mystification, the enemy of enlightenment, as page 426 highlights - the dynamic of victimization and scapegoating across history. Stating on 427 - We have seen what happens when the citizen delegates conscience to the state. Deep state shallow state, same conspiratorial difference?
     So why not conclude thus. That the brand of obfuscation expressed by our president, through irreverence and hostility, is his style. Yet as page 311, of noted socialist Irving Howe’s autobiography, A MARGIN OF HOPE, figured, about that earlier political era - each triumph of publicity chipped away at the slender remains of good sense. So, as accused, mass media’s guilty of incapacitating us? Though, as Shakespeare long ago, indirectly, noted, the fault’s within ourselves. 
Equal rights do not attack traditional values. Traditional values are less authentic without equal rights.
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Dear Reader,
The Hammer and Cycle Messenger Service was written to broaden society's commercial outlook. "Capitalism from the bottom up," becoming a catchphrase decades before this novel was figured out. Hank Greenway's noble capitalist, Moscow, adventure during 1991's Soviet August Coup
And this film, 
is, an hour reading, from chapters One and Four. Including the last, imagery laden, 24 minutes next to Roy Cohn's 39 East 68th Street townhouse. The first Tuesday following the 2016 November Presidential Election.
And
In Case Anyone’s Not Seen The
that continues Chapter IV by Roy Cohn's townhouse doorstep. Followed by my Summer of 2017 Sit-In  
The Hammer and Cycle Messenger Service 
UNDERGROUND HAPPENING
While this film
BICYCLE FILM FESTIVAL Submission
and from when Keegan Stephan asked me to speak in The Great Hall of Cooper Union. After screening the 1987 documentary, Fifth, Park and Madison, and before the panel discussion, a picture appears of Lake County, Florida Sheriff Willis V. McCall with three of the Groveland Four and "Sheriff." Meaning face history. Through age 15, his house was a block from mine. His dog bit me when I was five-six, and all the older kids laughed hysterically when I cried screaming I'd sue. I was too young to know of track records. Just that he was Sheriff McCall. My mother, uncomfortably, received his call the next day inquiring whether I was ok. 
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