What the Trump Is Going On???


When Trump took the stage as a Republican desiring the nomination for Presidency, I was intrigued. What Trump is was a mystery. What shows is showmanship, but why does one of the most successful independent businessmen this world has ever seen want to take on the Presidency of the USA? In Trump’s case, the only consideration is personal. What really is in this thing for the Trump? For me, the skepticism level was very high. Some sort of showboating going on here… But then…

Trump takes the stage literally and effectively during the Republican presidential debates and behaved in ways quite atypical of the typical politician. Saying things one would expect to destroy his possibilities. Trump says things which the media and the analysts interpret as racist or offensive, but his popularity soars. Something is going on here, and it damn sure is different. My intrigue evolved into a serious curiosity… because…

This country, founded on the principles of independence, freedom and the exercise of responsibility, is crumbling into a cesspool of whining, crying, “it’s not faaaiiiirrrrrr” liberalism. Here comes a gentleman who embodies many of the very principles the whiners are whining about. He’s fabulously… no, ridiculously wealthy. He’s a capitalist. He says what he wants to say without any apparent regard for hurt feelings. He has a bizarre hairdo. He has a sense of humor. Most importantly, when he runs into a problem, he conquers it… but…

Where does one go to find out who Donald Trump really is? Turns out that in the case of Donald Trump the record is clear and the path is easy to follow. Unlike our current pRESIDENT, who we know very little about. We don’t don’t even know for sure if he’s an American or even if his wife is a woman. Donald Trump is anything but, transparent. He has a clear and easy to follow record of accomplishment. What we don’t find in the investigation, is a history of dishonesty. His business relationships and his relationship with those he employs is positive and productive… however…

Donald Trump is also an author, and as an author myself, I can testify the the truth of a soul can be seen in his writing. So I’ve been reading, and yes I’m impressed. Here’s my recommendation for those who would like to look inside the head of a multi-billionaire striving for… for… well…

Read the book! “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again” It resonates with a rational that is impossible to deny. It brings to my mind remembrance of the words of some of the political greats of the past, John Locke, or Thomas Paine…

Our freedom was won not by the lowly or the common, but by highly successful businessmen who cared more for independence and freedom than they cared for their own wealth and security…

Obviously Donald Trump has a towering sense of self importance. What goal could afford a more guaranteed heroic move into the history books than rescuing the mighty magnificence of America from the hands of liberal “fairness and equality” and professional politics which has brought us to our knees? And what quarterback would have a better chance of crossing the goal line?

Pull up your damn britches and READ THE BOOK!!

Weapon of A.S.S. Destruction

A.S.S. Destruction

I must preface this  with my intent, which is to promote what may be the most remarkable piece of literature regarding the relativity between politics and humanitarian values that I have ever read, “Weapon of A.S.S. Destruction,” by Alfonzo Rachel. A full painting will require some lead-in. So bear with me. I really will get to the point which goes far beyond religion, eventually.

One ever present aspect of human nature is the curiosity about our own eternal (or not) nature. Is there a God? Of course! (not)! Naturally I share this universal curiosity and have taken approaches ranging from absolute atheism all the way through the gamut to  the committed following of organized religion (Mormon). None of this seemed satisfactory, comforting, nor truly fulfilling. Thus none stuck.

Agnosticism is certainly the easiest route, being quite similar to the political belief referred to as, “independent.” It requires very little in the form of commitment and is the “faith” I have adhered to throughout most of my life.

Atheism can be logically compared to political anarchy, which is one of it’s lures. People are at least tempted to believe they are individually capable and responsible and that they don’t need to depend upon “fairy tales,” “magicians,” nor Gods. Most of us deny it, but there is an element of narcissism that naturally resides within us which makes this type of independence look appealing. This is one of the reasons I took a stab at atheism. I lost interest as my realization grew that atheism leaves us with true, non-self centered reason for nothing. I do like to think of myself as reasoned, yet I also confess to a propensity towards the dark side. It is largely because of my lingering fear of eternal damnation that certain individuals remain alive today whom I believed the world would be better off without.

The study of Christianity, particularly the pursuit made outside the reigns of any particular religious organization (Catholic, Protestant, Mormon etc.), the aspect of Christianity which claims to be the actual teaching of Jesus Christ (the red letters, as it were), ignoring the human manipulations of his doctrines, leads the student to some of the most sound and loving humanitarianism imaginable. Although I am far removed from the typical view society has as to what a Christian typically is, I am never the less sold on the fact that it presents us with a philosophy that guarantees such a broad range of freedom/responsibility empowering beliefs that no political philosophy can compare. Even if there actually were no Jesus Christ (that there was is historically provable), or if the man were nothing but a magnificently talented philosopher (which may be the case), the result of following his teachings leads to true freedom, the truest respect of humanity, AND an appreciation for our own existence, that no secular philosophy can approach.

It is easy to argue against torturing and burning witches, cutting the tongues out of “blasphemers,” the idea of multiple wives, or religious socialism. However none of these perversions can be traced directly to the words of Jesus. These were manipulations for personal gain made by humans holding up their own interpretations or even their own generation of words they attributed to Jesus. The ultimate core of true Christianity boils down to “My command is this: Love one another the way I have loved you.” The simple fact of the matter is if humanity actually followed this teaching alone, every one of the legal and political problems we face would fade back into the Hell holes from whence they came.

The flip side of this coin is the fact that humanity is distantly removed from the nature of Christ. Thus it is quite unlikely that we can be successful in imitating his behavior. Our best hope is to recognize it and hold it up as motivation for our higher intentions. This, beautifully, is the point of Christianity. It is a set of logical, reasonable, and purely humanitarian ground rules to strive for. Failure is certain but the attempt will naturally build good principle and strengthen morality in the heart and soul of the person who sincerely makes the attempt. Thus the failure becomes a success.

One of the greatest disappointments with atheism for me was the atheist arguments for morality. There is no doubt that atheists are perfectly capable of completely moral behavior, and atheists who do live morally, (there are many) can logically be seen as actually having a more personal form of morality than those who pursue moral behavior in order to earn a mansion in heaven, 70 virgins, 30 wives in heaven, eternal existence, or whatever payoff is being played/prayed for. However the ultimate question still remains. Why be honest? Why be fair? Why help the weak? The unfortunate answer which the atheist will employ volumes of words to present, boils down nicely and cleanly to one, “because.”

Now, down to the nitty gritty:

According to Plato, Socrates referred to democracy as the “politic of mediocrity.” Rachel’s book is a brilliantly written, shoot from the hip look at historically verifiable facts about the development of democracy in our American republic. He Illuminates beautifully all of its brilliant absurdity, and backs up Socrates’ observation made almost 2500 years ago with indubitable evidence. He ties it all together beautifully with the relativity between proper principle, morality, freedom, responsibility and Christianity. All of which are rapidly being lost in America.

Rachel begins with the “so called party switch,” where he illuminates the true roots of racism in America, revealing startling, verifiable truths about slavery, the Jim Crow laws, the Dred Scott decision, the KKK, the truest opposition to Martin Luther King, AND the truest roots of the growth of civil liberties in America.

From here Rachel moves on to one of the most coherent descriptions of the difference between liberalism and conservatism, which alone makes the book a masterpiece. He states quite plainly and simply, something I’ve been trying to relate in my writing for well over a decade.

He moves into the association between religious thinking and effective politic. “Facts have little effect on the opposition because everyone has an interest in confirming what they already believe,” the very foundation of my own philosophical interpretation of one of the core aspects of human nature, egoteneoism. He illuminates the difference between conserving the freedom to do for yourself, and the political hunger for voters’ dependency. The difference between voting for what’s popular and voting for what’s “right.” It is this portion of his book which will cause the most consternation for the liberal thinker, but careful consideration of its premise reveals a beautiful philosophical basis.

Next he attacks another liberal bogeyman, capitalism. By clearly describing what it is and the power that it implies, “capitalism is freedom of money.” The innate differences between capitalism, socialism, and fascism. He examines modern absurdities such as “minimum wage,” “unionization” (the stepping stone to communism), pulling into focus the “render unto Ceasar” statement, so often used to Biblically support taxation.

State run healthcare, abortion, Constitutional protection, homosexuality (including a very illustrative historical look at the real physical dangers which inspired the the anti-gay mentality which still exists. (Rachel presents a very logical case in justification for including homosexuals in the military) Immigration, back to racism “Democrats still have you on the plantation. They farm blacks for votes like ballot cattle.” Which brings to my mind a quote of L.B.J., “I’ll have those niggers voting democrat for the next 200 years.” Environmentalism, “Our government currently makes laws respecting the religious establishment of environmentalism” (back again to egoteneoism).

Rachel takes a look at libertarianism, which was somewhat uncomfortable to me since I have often referred to myself as libertarian. “A Libertarian is typically just a liberal that doesn’t have a love/hate relationship with capitalism and the free market.” He presents a case which is now a new bug under my saddle.

One of the most important points Rachel makes is in reference to the American media, who I see as the biggest enemy the American tradition of freedom/responsibility has ever faced. “People vote democratic, not because of principle, but because of feelings swayed by the media.” There is a rising surge of resistance to the media lies, based on the growing recognition that it is going on. Tis one of the most important aspects of Donald Trump’s popularity, his refusal to kowtow to the whims of the liberal American media.

Bottom line… buy this book, read it, buy copies for your friends, give it out as Valentines, donate copies to charity, slide copies under your liberal professor’s doors, read it to your children at bedtime. Thank you Alfonzo Rachel (http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=mpg&mpid=84 ) for a true breath of fresh air and a rekindling of hope!

King Animal

06  King Animal (Deluxe Version)

With age indeed comes change. Typically in the music business the change is in the direction of a more jaded, repetitive, unemotional, professionally produced grind. Not so with Soundgarden. With age has come wisdom, talent, and their work has definitely stepped into the very rare world of true art. Maturity often comes at the expense of “soul,” but the heart is beating in these bad boys. Their entire collection is brimming with brilliance in many hues. Every release has been a masterpiece and each has been a step atypical for the genre.. hard-rock? grunge? They’ve been an inspiration to the entire modern musical community. This work has the same reverberating soul you find in everything they’ve done so far, but the years have polished their craft into genuine art. This is a full step above typical, and then some. I have a hard time hearing what’s being said because it’s being delivered on such a beautiful platter. Pay attention to this one, you’ll be more than rewarded. “…I’m addicted to feeling… I’m a ghost and a healer… I’m the shape of the hole inside your heart… yes something is being said, and holy Hanna, what a magnificent listen. Amidst the tripe typically being served up today, this is an absolute sparkling beauty!! Thank you Soundgarden for the most magnificent revival I can remember. I pity the soul that can’t connect to this one!

ps… Don’t steal it, buy it! These boys deserve a reward for this magnificent piece..

The Handsome CabinPerson


Apologies.. I can’t help it. Seems I always find my way to the point from which I recognize that the only thing that matters is what I think about it, and here it is: I stumbled on to Jack London at 8 years of age. It was in the midst of a Mark Twain frenzy. (I was much more intelligent at the age of 8 than I am today). Jack London’s Call of the Wild reached out to me from my father’s library (with my father’s help, as I recall), and my love of Jack London began. My initial reaction was from somewhere in the same neighborhood as the one I see people reporting after having read scripture. A kind of an “Oh my God! This is true!” sort of thing. Jack London took a firm grasp on the soul of an 8 year old boy which 50 years later remains unscathed.

Call of the Wild, White Fang, The Sea Wolf, Burning Daylight, all read in awe by the son of a hunting, fishing, trapper who lived and breathed personal freedom. The power and majesty of London’s hero characters were inescapable. These were tales of independence, adaptation, defiance and the mastery achievable by the power of individual will. At 8 years old I recognized the independent love of which London spoke between Buck and Thornton. A love that was is a natural truth many human beings never comprehend. It was a love that lived London’s soul and he breathed it into the pages he wrote. Those pages breathe the soul of Jack London into the heart of heart of the reader. In this case, twas me.

In later years I began hearing of interesting aspects of London’s personality. One’s mate should be selected by good breeding, not love? Stories of drugs, alcohol and suicide. And most astounding to me, his anti-capitalist, socialist bent.  Jack London, one of the first celebrities used to endorse commercial products, such as grape juice and men’s suits. A man who made a personal fortune, on his own. A man who took life by the balls and lived the dream most aren’t capable of even imagining. Jack London opposed capitalism? Now wait a minute! Here’s a mystery.

It wasn’t until the tender old age of fifty-something that I stumbled onto “The Handsome Cabin Boy.” Being the musician that I am, it was the name of the story which caught my eye. “The Handsome Cabin Boy?” Wasn’t that Jerry Garcia? Kate Bush? Roger McGuinn? No wait, it goes even deeper, further back, Martin Carthy, John Roberts, Aberdeen’s Jeannie Robertson (one of the greatest ballad singers of all times). Ah, still further it goes. Indeed, “The Handsome Cabin Boy” is the tale told by a traditional folk ballad coming from many years before London wrote his tale.

The traditional folk ballad has an interesting history. It usually includes certain aspects of life most are taught to avoid. Crime, booze, drugs, sexual adventure, wealth. Ballads tell colorful tales and carry messages of the rewards these culturally inappropriate behaviors can deliver to the unwary. In this case we have a common sailor’s dream that among the crew is a girl dressed as a boy. In the ballads based on this fantasy it’s always an officer, typically the captain who discovers the girl’s identity, thus the plight of the pregnant cabin “boy” would be seen as tragic from the girl’s point of view. Yet to sailors and those of any type similar (male), the power of the tale is comedic. Oh my goodness! They’s a gal on board. I’ll be damned, the cabin boy’s a girl! How convenient and boy howdy!

The actual possibility of such a turn is not all that far fetched. A girl in pursuit of some real adventure, wanting to see the world, wanting to touch the life the boys lead, trying on the testicles, as it were. Quite believable, and what could more natural than slipping into the position of “cabin boy” for a young lady with such ambitions? No problem, I can do that. And then the adventure begins. The original ballads end up with the cabin boy becoming pregnant  at the hands.. well.. something, of someone in the crew, and thus the folk, “mind yer damn p’s ‘n q’s” lesson is delivered. The little wench is undone by childbirth. The boy is a girl after all, and now a pregnant girl to boot, and hundreds of miles from home. What is such a poor, unfortunate girl to do?

It’s all well and good, and fascinating it its own way, but what is an adventurous young gentleman hanging out in the Klondike, writing tales of wolves, dogs, mushers, miners, indians, mountaineers, ice, snow, cold, gold and the lack of matches, doing writing a tale, right in the midst of it all, about a girl pretending to be a cabin boy on a trip to Hawaii? Knowing London’s interest in the sea and his adventurous nature, it’s no surprise that he was aware of the old folk ballad itself. In fact London actually mentioned the ballad as one of the Klondikers’ songs in his tale, “In a Far Country.” But to write this particular tale at all, let alone at the time he did?

London ends up generating his own literary version of the old folk ballad, but he spices it up more than a bit, with a new added twist which totally disrupts the traditional folk lesson told in the original ballad. Rather than, “Don’t board a ship pretending to be a boy, girl, er you might end up far from home and pregnant,” changes quite dramatically into something more akin to, “You know it all eh? A girl’s a girl, ‘n a lad’s a lad ‘n don’t tell me I can’t tell the difference? Well try this, you not only lose your bet, you fall in love with a girl, pretending to be a boy, who actually IS a boy. You are in love with a boy and you owe me dinner, and aren’t you the wise one? The captain of what?”

This is indeed outside the norm for Jack London. We don’t have the powerful individualism, the successful against all odds characterizations, no wolves, no dogs, no sleds, no Nietzschean supermen, but we do catch a glimpse of the ambivalence of nature presented with a magnificently comedic flair.  In my head I see a film version with John Cleese playing the role of the yachtsman, “my arm had strayed in forbidden pastures too often to be mistaken now.” (London)

Almost half a century after an 8 year old boy discovered Jack London, he now finds himself as an aging ex-biker, a rebel who’s been just outside the realm of “normalcy” for near half a century, now enrolled in a university class, studying London’s work. Searching for the true root of the man’s majesty. He has recently attended a Jack London symposium and doubts Jack London would have foreseen a Jack London symposium being held in Logan Utah in 2012 which would be attended by academics from far and wide. Notably, one thing which became out repeatedly from speakers and attendees at this symposium, was that Jack London was and remains something of a mystery to us all.

I finally read “The Handsome Cabin Boy” forty-nine years after I had first discovered London’s magic in “The Call of the Wild.” “Cabin Boy,” written well over 100 years ago opened my eyes  not only to the very root of Jack London’s personal power, but it also delivered, to me at least, the thinly veiled answer to the Jack London mystery.  I was finally awakened to the method in his madness. Many saw in this tale more Jack London mystery, “”The Handsome Cabin Boy” is not a very good story, but it certainly is another piece in the puzzle of Jack London’s sexuality” (Smith). A statement marvelously illustrative of a dull mind which is certainly worthy, even if incapable, of embarrassment. This statement was also fairly typical of the comments I was able to locate from widely scattered quarters.

So here it is.  Jack London the result of the same impetus that drove all London’s deliveries. It is the “nature” that drove him out of the factories and waterfront dives of Oakland California. It was the same “nature” that drove him into oyster piracy, that drove him to the Klondike during the Alaskan gold rush, drove him to the sea aboard his own custom-built sailing ship, the Snark, drove him to support the underdogs in society, drove him to farm, drove a boy with an eighth grade education to write a thousand words a day and find fame and fortune in his pen.

“I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather that my spark should burn out in a brilliant blaze than it should be stifled by dry-rot. I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet. The proper function of man is to live, not exist. I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them, I shall use my time.” Would that I had mouthed that before a group of my radical, biker friends at a gathering in South Dakota, but no, I must hobble on remembering that was Jack London’s “Credo.” Socialism, naturalism, ativism, irreligion, individualism… These were the teeth of a rebel, and that, by God,  is what Jack London was.

To Jack London

Oh, was there ever face, of all the dead,

In which, to late, the living could not read

A mute appeal for all the love unsaid–

A mute reproach for careless word and deed?

And now, dear friend of friends, we loke on thine,

To whom we could not give a last farewell,–

On whom, without a whisper or a sign,

The deep, unfathomable Darkness fell.

Oh! Gone beyond us, who shall say how far?

Gone swiftly to the dim Eternity,

Leaving us silence, or the words that are

To sorrow as the foam is to the sea.

Unfearing heart, whose patience was so long!

Unresting mind, so hungry for the truth!

Now hast thou rest, gentle one and strong,

Dead like a lordly lion in its youth.

Farewell! although thou know not, there alone.

Farewell! although thou hear not in our cry

The love we would have given had we known.

Ah! And a soul like thine-how shall it die?

~George Sterling (Sterling)

Suicide? I rather suspect not!

Works cited

London, Jack. “Jack London’s Credo.” London Sonoma Edu. london.sonoma.edu. Sonoma State University. 1999. Web. 24 Nov. 2012

—. “The Handsome Cabin Boy.” The Complete Stories of Jack London. Stanford: Stanford University Press. 1998. 164. Print.

Smith, Daniel P. “Pricey But Worth It.” Amazon Prime. Amazon.com, Aug. 2000. Web. 24 Nov. 2012

Sterling, George. “To Jack London.” George Sterling. George Sterling.org, n.d. Web. 24 Nov. 2012

Sincere of the Sin


Does “The Strength of the Strong” reveal the answer to the question of Jack London’s true philosophical perspectives? Marxist? Socialist? Individualist? We know what he claimed, but but what were his actual core principles? Did he know or even understand it himself? This question is reflected in his response to Rudyard Kipling’s anti-socialist, “The Mother Hive,” this story clearly illustrates the very challenge in which London’s own professed philosophy of socialism is bound. The greatest hurdle socialism faces is that It must exist under the helm of human nature. Rather than pointing out the flaws in Kipling’s work, London muddies the very waters he is defending by pointing instead at the natural weaknesses of humanity. “The Strength of the Strong” has been called “A ridiculously lame story … Social Darwinism at its silliest.” (Tidwell) which in fact, it is anything but. “The Strength of the Strong” actually challenges much of what we take for granted as the structure of family and community. Nevertheless the attitude Tidwell is not rare and it is understandable because Tidwell, as have many, missed the point, which is not Darwinism. The point of “The Strength of the Strong” is actually the weakness of all humanity, which is its nature.

The silly social darwinism seen by Tidwell and others is actually the product of London’s creative genius. In this story Jack London has constructively applied his true genius as he captured human nature and gave his readers a very comprehensible and relatable reference point to the naturalistic world he loved. It is much more than a hat-tip to Darwin, in one very short story London has painted a quintessential picture of the ever rotating history of humanity which includes human nature, roots, trunk, and branches, spiced with the ultimate and ever present humanitarian condiment, a god.

Ironically the very magazine which published the tale, Collier’s Weekly, was put out of business in a manner quite reminiscent of the destruction of civility the reader sees in “The Strength of the Strong.” The strong (capitalists) consuming what is perceived as an infection (truth) using various techniques (religion, shortages, market floods, and mendacious control) which remind one of the tactics used by the American industrial oligarchies, during London’s day, and pursuers of tyrannical power throughout recorded time. It could have been another paragraph in London’s story which still would not promote socialism so much as it focusses it’s crosshairs on unregulated capitalism, which was indeed the reign of the day during the progressive era during which London lived. Unregulated capitalism which brought the response of unionism, which many believe is currently destroying the U.S. free market and free enterprise in America as production moves to foreign shores and domestic businesses crumble (Hostess being a recent example).

Long-Beard (Marx?) never does let go of the dream. After the evodevolution of his society he predicts to his children as they converse in their cave, a time “all men will be brothers and no man will lie idle in the sun and be fed by his fellows.” (London) He attributes the social failure to “the fools” which indeed, unfortunately and historically humanity, outside of its words, tends to be.

In the end, the strength of the strong is all that really matters.

“We must take human nature as we find it, perfection falls not to the share of mortals.” ~George Washington

Works Cited

London, Jack. “The Strength of the Strong.” Hampton’s Magazine. Vol. 26, Mar. 1911: UP. Print.

Tidwell, Gregory. “Science Fiction of Jack London, The by London, Jack, 1901.” Omphalos’ SF Book Reviews (NPR). Sept. 24 2012. Web. Nov. 2012

The Call of the Wild Is Jack London?


Message to my American Authors Professor:

Am I What I Am or What?

Good gravy..  If you get two of these, ignore the first one. Yes, the one you already read.. unless you didn’t already read it, in which case all is well…  well.

Since time can’t exist, neither can it be frittered away.. I suppose… Still, the bus ride home seems an eternity.
Some things need to be said most when one knows not to whom to say them. I am the guy who fights cocks, hunts.. well.. everything, runs hounds, climbs impossible mountains, skis the chutes, builds and rides choppers, drinks lots of Irish whiskey and Scotch, and so on, then gets his leg tore off, his brain scrambled, and says, “fuck you!” to the rescuing EMTs. Not that much of a touchie-feelie kind of guy… and proud of it! However, I find myself sitting in a classroom full of children, thinking about Buck, and straining every fibre of my being to keep from weeping like a damn baby.
Call of the Wild is the finest work of art to ever go on paper. What London had was “soul.” There are magnificent musicians by the bundles, but when you listen to the radio, certain pieces reach out of that little electric box and grab you right by the heart horns. As a listener, and even more so, as a musician, one can literally feel the soul (when it’s there, which it usually isn’t.. even for a magnificent musician like me). It has nothing to do with talent or ability. Demons or angels perhaps, but whatever it is, it is spiritual and magic. When you read “The Call of the Wild” you do recognize artful phrases, heroic romanticism, descriptive distinction beyond compare, the talent is indeed there, but the magic of “The Call of the Wild,” is Jack London grabbing your soul. Gone neigh one-hundred years? Nope. He’s still here. There is life on that paper. “The Call of the Wild” is a book with a pulse.

As Mercilessly As a Man


Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” paints a very ingenious picture of the independence of human nature which resides in us all. The impact of her image is amplified by its setting; a black, single mother and her two daughters. Characters of three very independent personalities in spite of the apparent similarities in terms of culture and background. It is not an extraordinary tale. In fact it is somewhat common. The grace and wonder in “Everyday Use” is not the ordinary story of conflicting values and differing senses of identity. This is the very sort of story one sees over and over again. The magic in “Everyday Use” is Alice Walker’s artful telling of the tale. Walker injects a solid dose of realism which is effective even in a casual perusal, but shines quite brightly upon further study.

Her canvas is painted with brilliant colors from a broad brush. It can actually be difficult for one to become fully engaged in a creation such as this; seeing the big picture, focusing the lens, adjusting the tone. These can be such a bother, and the diamonds won’t retract their claws. Mama describes herself along with a daydream image, “I can kill and clean a hog as mercilessly as a man.” along with a daydream self-image, “I am the way my daughter would want me to be: a hundred pounds lighter, my skin like an uncooked barley pancake…  Johnny Carson has much to do to keep up with my quick and witty tongue.” (Walker 424/5) Indeed, Mama, the reader has much to do in seeing your story through the blazing image of your you. Her words portray her rural, self-supporting life graphically and with a comedic irony which makes them a rare pleasure to read.

Mama’s description also primes the reader’s imagination of Dee, who she describes as a “cute shaped” young lady who wears “a dress so loud it hurts my eyes… I feel my whole face warming form the heat waves it throws out.” (425/20) A daughter who possesses, “scalding humor that erupted like bubbles in lye.” (425/15) Thanks to a boy-friend of Dee’s, Mama tells us, “she didn’t have much time to pay to us, but turned all her faultfinding power on him.” (425/16) Need the reader wonder about the innate character of Dee?

What of Dee’s younger sister Maggie, the damaged and much more reserved daughter who lives at home with Mama? “Have you ever seen a lame animal, perhaps a dog run over by some careless person rich enough to own a car, sidle up to someone who is ignorant enough to be kind to him? That is the way my Maggie walks” (424/9)

Rich and robust! The contrast between the two sisters is painted with vivid luminosity, as is Mama’s perception of it. The magnificent independence of Mama, the good looks, intelligent, radiant, yet greedy and arrogant nature of Dee, the injured, unlucky, possibly even abused young Maggie, all sing from the pages in dulcet tones.

There is also stunning symbolism woven into the tale. The quilt, a symbol of family heritage which also reflects the sewn together aspects of this particular family, the differing desires in terms of what is to become of it, and the disparate values in which it is held. Reviewer Judith Hatchett noted this and commented, “the two views of quilts represents mutually exclusive lifestyles” (Hatchett 550) The quilt, the symbolic center of the tale, was woven from patches of clothing worn by ancestors of both girls, treasured by Maggie for sentimental and useful reasons, seen as a cultural treasure to own by Dee.

The image presented here is palpable. “Everyday Use” is a good story made great by the artistic wordbrush of Alice Walker, “as mercilessly as a man.”


Works Cited

Hatchett, Judith et al. American Icons: An Encyclopedia of the People, Places, and Things that Have    Shaped Our Culture. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2006. Print

Walker, Alice et al. Compact Literature, Reading, Reacting, Writing. Boston: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2010. Print

May Swenson Told It Slant

The underlying biographical honesty inherent in art is unveiled by May Swenson in her poem “The Truth Is Forced”. The reader is introduced to a poet who tells the reader that this poet’s desire is to “be honest in poetry” (Swenson 2), but the reader will learn rather more than this particular poet’s desire for honesty. The poet didn’t force honesty into the words, as the title of the poem seems to imply, the poet ends up telling the reader that this production of words has actually forced honesty into the poet. The poet is revealed to, “…you (all or any, eye to eye)” (45). Swenson made the point that consciously or not, poems like all art, are acts of self discovery.

The poet describes the abstract dilemma faced by any artist desiring absolute honesty yet a sense of seclusion, “…eye to eye, I lie / because I cannot bear to be conspicuous with the truth” (Swenson 3-5). A dilemma compounded by this particular poet’s reticent nature “I would be exposed. And I would be / possessed” (10-11). Beyond a simple self introduction, the poet has set up the prerequisite for a foundational idea. The poet is not a self-centered seeker of attention, not a proud circus act, nor an intentional performer at all. This poet is private and reserved. This poet is not writing with the conscious intention of being spread naked upon the frontal lobe of the reader. “Really I feel as if / one pair of eyes were a whole hive” (19-20). Bees collecting the nectar for their own devices as well as being quite capable of delivering a sting. The poet tells the reader, my business is mine and so it shall remain, thank you very much.

Yet the poet does have something to say and can avoid the stings: “…say in symbol, in riddle, / …under masks / of any feature, in the skins of any creature” (32-36). Obviously the poet is not planning to walk naked down the page and here describes the clothes the poet can wear. Poetic line provides a veil behind which the truth can and does lurk unabashedly and without shame. The wish to “become naked in poetry” (40), will be fulfilled, and much more comfortably behind the veil this poet recognizes and describes to the reader as being provided by the poetic art of words. The individuality of the poet remains absolutely present yet mysteriously obscured.

Alicia Ostriker makes note of this in her section of the book  Body My House : May Swenson’s Work and Life, in which she makes comparisons of the works of May Swenson and Walt Whitman, into which she brings Emily Dickinson, ““Tell all the truth but tell it slant,” with fear battling the yearning for disclosure” (Ostriker 46). Which we were set up for by “Both the reticence and the desire for candor that wrestle with each other in Swenson’s eroticism are hinted at “(45). She elaborates, “…the poet twists and turns all through the poem; the poem does not state something known, but discovers its truth in its process” (46). She enhances this perception based on Swenson’s lines, “Whether you are one or two or many / it is the same” (Swenson 18-19) “Truth, forced through symbols and riddles and finally the naked self, into the poem, revealed to the poet herself, is a burden borne and born” (Ostriker 46). The poet in this performance was not only exposed to “one or two or many” (Swenson 18), the poet was exposed to the poet, “tells me / and then you (all or any, eye to eye) my whole self, / the truth” (45-47) So the poet is “eye to eye” even on the page after all, and what the poet tells turns out not to be a lie.

On paper, canvas, marble, or the sonic vibrations spawned from the keys of a piano, in art the naked truth resides. It may well not be perceived, and misperception may be the artist’s intent, yet the truth is there.  May Swenson recognized this and exposed what many an artist fails to recognize and may resist telling. Whether by design or inherent nature, however covert, the artist is always revealed in the art.


Works cited

Ostriker, Alicia. “May Swenson: Whitman’s Daughter.” Body My House: May Swenson’s Work and Life. 2006. 40-54. All USU Press Publications. Book 16.  http:/digitalcommons.usu.edu/usupress_pubs/16

Swenson,  May. “The Truth Is Forced”.  Nature: Poems Old and New. Boston: Mariner Books, 2000. 11-12. print

A Raisin in the Shade of Human Nature


Often interpreted as a statement on racism, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun actually delivers a broad presentation of human nature, of which racism can be one possible aspect. Hansberry paints individual images of the stubborn inflexibility in the nature of her characters which is also central to the human condition in general, and is rarely overcome. Hansberry’s characters exemplify the human determination to justify and support one’s own behavior based on individual beliefs and interpretations of the world.

The beliefs and dreams seen here vary from that of Lena Younger’s (“Mama”), maternal, spiritual, house with a yard, and the anchor of family. Her daughter, Beneatha Younger, dreams of independence and rebels against her mother’s traditions, favoring a much more progressive, atheistic philosophy. Beneatha dreams of herself as a youthful adventurer who’ll one day be off to Africa, the land of her roots. In her brother Walter Younger, lies the very typical view of the masculine mastery of ones own destiny, a dream for which he is willing to risk everything. One of the play’s main antagonists, Karl Lindner, feels a loyalty to his neighbors, who happen to be, as is he, not black, like the Youngers, but white. The dreams and beliefs are as desperate and true to those who hold them as are the witchdoctor’s beads to the Bechuana. While the reader is not brought to an actual resolution, Hansberry delivers a series of very telling lessons on the individuality which burns within them all. The core differences and the challenge of overcoming them shines brightly from her stage.

Mama is driven by traditional beliefs, the strength and love of family and spirituality. At the core of Mama’s dream resides her God. Yet from her daughter Beneatha we hear, “It’s all a matter of ideas, and God is just one idea I don’t accept… I don’t believe in God… I get so tired of him getting all the credit for all the things the human race achieves through its own stubborn effort. There simply is not God! There is only Man, and it’s he who makes miracles!” (51)

This statement earns Beneatha an enthusiastic slap in the face from Mama. A slap which invokes from Beneatha not a change, rather a softly spoken, “…everybody thinks it’s alright for Mama to be a tyrant. But all the tyranny in the world will never put a God in the heavens” (52). Two closely linked people who absolutely love one another yet hold diametrically opposed beliefs as to the ultimate source of truth: for Mama it’s God, for Beneatha it’s man, for each it is equally the truth.

Racism, as obnoxious yet powerful a persuasion as has ever been devised, is demonstrated by one of the victims of that very conviction, Walter Younger, who utters to his wife, Ruth, as a result of his disappointment in seeing his own immediate dream of liquor store ownership slipping away, “Cause we all tied up in a race of people that don’t know how to do nothing but moan, pray and have babies” (87). Walter has obviously heard the white supremacist doctrine and here regurgitates it at his own black and pregnant wife. He sounds like a Kleagle for the Klan. But he’s really lashing out at his newly obvious lack of the mastery of his own family.

Karl Lindner is also sets up a justification of his own behavior when tells the Youngers, “…most of the trouble exist because people just don’t sit down and talk to each other. That we don’t try hard enough in this world to understand the other fellow’s problem. The other guy’s point of view” (116). He then makes this justification by pointing out that he’s actually looking for the younger’s best interest in suggesting a segregational alternative for them moving into a white neighborhood: “Negro families are happier when they live in their own communities” (118). Obviously Lindner is a racist, but does he know that? Does Lindner believe he can fool the Youngers? No, he is really fooling himself, “I sure hope you people know what you’re getting into” (149). Racism? Egocentrism? Benevolence? Has Lindner a dream? Certainly, yet his belief conceals the very lack of reason upon which it is grounded, and conceals it from himself.

Hansberry also shows the reader the possibility of conversion after the exchange during which Walter, as his son, Travis watches his father turn down Lindner’s offer. Mama, referring to Walter’s radical change of attitude says, “He finally come into his manhood today, didn’t he? Kind of like a rainbow after the rain…” (151). Mama believes that Walter has finally seen the light that she’s been aware of all along. The reader is not told whether it will last, but the possibility is certainly evident.

A Raisin in the Sun is the perfect example of a section of Hansberry’s work referred to by Olga Barrios in The intellectual Spear where she says Hansberry’s “concern with the human being went far beyond any barriers of color, race or culture” (Barrios 28). Hansberry has given us a portrayal of significantly varied beliefs, dreams, and behaviors and the logic used to justify them, to themselves and one another. Ultimately the tale ends up with no winners, no losers, no resolution, nor clear cut image of what the future holds. Yet Hansberry shows very clearly, human nature with its often irrational magnificence, portrayed in a light the typical audience might not have imagined, but Lorraine Hansberry did, and portrays it vividly.

Works cited

Barrios, Olga. The Intellectual Spear: Lorraine Hansberry’s Les Blancs. Salamanca: Atlantis, 1996. Web. 24 Apr. 2112

Hansberry, Lorraine. A Raisin in the Sun. New York: Vintage Books. 1994. Print.