Posts Tagged ‘anarchy’

The Calling of Anarchy

January 5, 2016

The calling of anarchy says:

Tear down, tear down the Old way, for when it is destroyed, the New way will be brought in, and when the New way is set in place. . . when the New Order is instituted, then all things will be made right and wise people such as yourself will be in charge of things, and your troubles will be over.

But that surely is gobblydeegoop. I mean, isn’t it?

I myself have, in my life, encountered the power of this deception. I have heard that Siren call of anarchy. It is a cry familiar to me. It arises not so much in me as in the world out there somewhere, with some instigator’s persistent call to rage, rage against the machine. Somewhere in between my ears, it beats a drum of discontent that would compel me, if I were to follow that terrible summons, to do terrible, destructive things.

Although I have never succumbed to it, I know its voice. It is the insidious voice of rebellion that would compel men into the abyss of anarchy, and women into the chasms of despair.

Harken not to it, my brother. Heed it not, my soul. For it leadeth not where thou wouldst want to go.

I’m not making this up; this is a very real thing in the world today. But it is nothing new.

In the final chapter of his 1971 journalistic book, Kent State, James A Michener describes the strange experience of a troubled young woman. She’s a runaway teenager; she had forsaken the comfort of middle-class life to wander the streets and cities of America in search of something, possibly a magical place called “California.” But during her journey to the elusive place, the girl found herself one brisk Friday night in Ohio, kicking around in Kent, looking for some excitement, or some meaning in life, or just something to do, when, about midnight, she came across some “trouble on the street.” As Michener describes the scene in which rioters were protesting Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia:

” ‘Cambodia,’ she says, ‘Cambodia did it. They built a fire out there (on a downtown street, ed.) and were circling around, chanting’. . . (She) joined them, dancing about the trash fire in the street. It was what was happening and she wanted in.”

And so the young women was caught up in that moment, and caught up in the excitement and the gravitas of the protest, having answered the call to meaningful action, which can, in the heat of human manipulations, sometimes slide into the calling of anarchy, and so one thing did lead to another and then a couple of days later, the young woman found herself suddenly fallen upon a parking lot, with shots ringing in the air around her and when she looked up there was a young man lying next to here with his head down but blood flowing out of it because of the fatal gunshot. But then  she dragged herself up. In the misery and tragedy of that moment, she cried out. . .

Also in that moment, the photographer who happened to be nearby quickly snapped a picture. A little while later, through a series of electronic wonders beginning with the photographer’s pic as published in his paper’s next issue, the mournful, confused face of the wandering teenaged girl was flashed around the world for all the world to see.

The look on the young woman’s face documents the utter dismay of a generation, my generation. Millions of people around the world have seen, and wondered about, that picture. James Michener calls her the woman with the “Delacroix face.”

Her face does resemble the face of Lady Liberty, as rendered in “Liberty leading the People,” a famous painting by Eugene Delacroix that depicts an idealized image of the French Revolution.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Delacroix

I guess there is a fine line somewhere between Liberty and anarchy. Only those who have suffered in the fog of war or in the great Struggle for justice can know the difference.

The poet W.B. Yeats mentions this dangerous tendency of our world in his poem, The Second Coming:

“Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned”

The “ceremony of innocence,” is, in our present American culture and this historic time, the ritual of going to college or university. In our case study above, Kent State, the “ceremony” was not drowned, but rather, mortally wounded. This happened when duty-bound Guardsmen, who were generally the same young age as the students, were pressured, in the midst of frantic, anarchic circumstances to fire into a wildly unpredictable, rock-hurling crowd. Historic research reveals that “somebody” had fired a first shot, the fatal result of which that anarchy was suddenly catapulted  into tragedy.

Tragedy. Life is tragic. This is one outcome of anarchy.

It makes me wonder, and I find myself thinking of that old Moody Blues tune, Melancholy Man. . .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uO3IG-oRpis

In our present day and time, anarchy could–and already has–generated tragedy. . .in Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, Paris, San Bernadino, Riyadh and its aftermath, and in many other places. I am reminded of the prophet whose words still ring true after after twenty centuries:

“Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”

His words were spoken about a religious building, but it seems that the anarchic spirit of our age is bent on terrorizing and destroying  many diverse persons, many places near and far, and a multitude of buildings and things.

It’s the calling of anarchy. Don’t get sucked in.

Here’s a better response: Do what is right, and pray.

Glass half-Full

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Zeitgeists and the King of Soul

October 21, 2014

People talk about “the zeitgeist” of an historical period as if it were one spirit.  But in reality, the events of any particular epoch reflect several spiritual compulsions or visions that hover amongst the human hearts and minds of that age.

With that in mind, I have begun writing a new novel, my fourth, which is named King of Soul. The story will examine the teen years and coming-of-age of a young man,Donnie, who is growing up in the South  during the 1960s. The novel is only mildly autobiographical.

Donnie’s personal development is of course shaped by the familial, political, philosophical, economic and spiritual condition of that era. Within these influences, I Identify four zeitgeists that are especially potent during the turbulent 1960s. They are what might be called “spirits of the age”, or what Gordon Lightfoot called the “visions of their days.” But I like to think of these historical forces, each one, as collective “Souls. ”  For the decade in which I was a teenager, they are:

~Soul of Bounty

~Soul of Discontent

~Soul of Escape

~Soul of Anarchy

So that you can better understand my “Souls” concept, here are some earlier “Souls” that were dominant in former ages of the American Experience:

Soul of Exploration, Soul of Liberty, Soul of Slavery, Soul of Industry, Soul of Reform, Soul of Progress, Soul of Labor, Soul of Consumption, Soul of Entertainment.

As the story develops in my novel, King of Soul, the reader will detect in Donnie’s experience:

~The Soul of Bounty, which thrives on security and wellness. It favors the individual, rather than a collective, although its community aspect is based on abundance: plenty for everybody. The Soul of Bounty values Family, Faith, and Work for Gain. Religion is beneficial. Heaven is a good ending. Hierarchy and authority contribute to Law & Order, sometimes at the expense of equality. Self-discipline and smart work are admirable.

It is a conservative attitude. Leave well-enough alone. Soul of Bounty manifestations for the 1960s may be: Republicans, the “Establishment”, the “Powers that Be, Young Americans for Freedom. On its fringe are the John Birchers and the Ayn Rand group. Prominent movers in the Soul of Bounty during that time were: Nixon, Buckley, Reagan, Mayor Daley, Gov.Rhodes of Ohio, most suburbanites.

~The Soul of Discontent, which struggles toward justice and rightness. The collective will is higher than the individual; society is based on ideology, not religion. Activists within the Soul of Discontent are forever striving toward progress. Utopia is a real possibility.The Marxian version includes a dictatorship of the proletariat. Equality of all will be achieved  at the expense of Order. These people are purposeful,  existential in their motivation. Disruption of the established order is necessary for societal correction to be imposed. Organizations of the period include: Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Southern Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Students for Democratic Society (SDS), Free Speech Movement and the generally widespread Antiwar movement. Leaders of the 1960s manifestation include, among many others: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Stokely Carmichael, Malcom X,  Mario Savio, Tom Hayden, Joan Baez, the Berrigans, Daniel Ellsberg, Betty Friedan. The Soul of Discontent was most clearly expressed in: Civil Rights movement, Feminism, Berkeley, Chicago protests at 1968 Democratic convention, lethal uprisings at Kent State and Jackson State, student movements at San Francisco State U, Yale, Columbia, and eventually the Democratic party and 4th estate of 1970s-200. . .s

~Soul of Escape, which craves pleasure, ecstasy and distraction.  Expressions of this Soul are both collective and individual. Community is hoped for to afford leisure, pleasure, celebration, art and expression.  Minimal work is tolerated for the sake of these fulfillments. Utopia is cool, and Love-in is even better Serendipity is prized, at the expense of structure. Enjoy. In the ’60s, these people were known as hippies, who followed in footsteps of their 1950s predecessors, the Beats. You know who they are, even if you were not one of them for awhile, because you read about them in Time and Life: Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Allen Ginsberg, most rock musicians, but most notably Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead. They sought a trippy kind of stoned-out degenerative sensuality that occasionally masqueraded as spirituality. Summer of Love in ’67 and Woodstock in ’69 were their high points.

~Soul of Anarchy, which struggles to tear down the old order so that a new something can arise. Destruction is not only necessary, but cool and glorified. These people were the epitome of  Shiva Rage: Panthers. Weathermen, Yippies on a bad day. The catch-all was “Revolutionary.” John Lennon sang about them but only skirted along their fringes. “. . .but if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain’t gonna make it with anyone anyhow.” (They didn’t make it.) Their flash in the pan came late, in ’69 and the ’70s. Heroes were Eldridge Cleaver, Huey Newton, Stokely Carmichael after he got tired of moderation, Rudd/Dohrn/Ayers. They were violent revolutionaries who might have done much more damage if the Establishment, personified by Richard Nixon, had not decided to wind the Vietnam War down and follow through with some serious programs to fulfill Johnson’s Great Society before going down in a blaze of humiliating presidential glory.

In a turbid decade called “the ’60s”, my young protagonist Donnie attends middle school and high school, enters college in 1969, avoids the draft, checks out a few antiwar happenings and tries to make sense of it all, in a nation being torn apart by the interference patterns generated when these four (Bounty, Discontent, Escape, Anarchy) encountered each other. That’s the scenario of King of Soul.

I should have it ready for you to read in a year or three.

King of Soul

Hey man, carry the sacred flame

July 11, 2011

There is a sacred flame that passes from generation to generation, and this is how it happens:

Every man carries deep within himself a volatile liquid; it is an essence of who he is and who is destined to be.
That volatilte essence can be ignited into a passionate flame when a spark of desire flies between him and a woman.

Something mysteriously exquisite about the shape and presence of a woman produces the spark.

The man does not understand the chromosomal power of his desire, but he feels it. The sight of the woman–just about any woman–sets the spark flying. But that does not mean that the potency of his essence can find its best fulfillment in just any woman he lays desiring eyes on.

Herein is the difference between civilization and savagery:

The sacred flame is passed from generation to generation when a man and women unite for the purpose of protecting that flame, and tending it with love and purpose. She is the temple in which his holy fire burns continually, if he trims the wick faithfully.

But if a man seeks self-fulfillment by setting fires any old where at any old time with just any person, he becomes a sexual anarchist, tossing out firebombs that ignite jealosies and confusions and untended children wherever he goes.

DNA, and the One who wrote the DNA code, has designed all this, and ordained it. But its powerful built-in yearnings can operate in one of two very different ways. The One who wrote the code programmed in choices for us, and this is what makes true love possible.  The way of holy fire establishes a warm, bright environment for the good life to flourish; the other way lays IEDs of  trouble and mayhem that maim this generation and the next.

So, hey man, don’t wander around tossing out firebombs. Find a safe haven for your sacred fire; then tend the flame with love and care.

CR, with new novel, Smoke, in progress