An entry in my Journal seemed like ingredient for a poem: So... Finally waking up from a couple of days of bizarre depression. Fear actually.. Fearful depression. I suspect I’ll never know who I am, no how to behave. Worrying about it is futile, it is and always will be... Today in Literature I witness the fading of certain illusions. The realities in my fantasies sometimes come into focus and it came rather closer in the case of one of my little dreams. In any case, that little dream has faded and I’m feeling much better and the two are completely unrelated.
One of the greatest heroes of independence, freedom and responsibility passed this morning. She was fought at the time and is increasingly viewed as a “radical” extremist today. And this she was, in the world of socialism, statism and those paving the road toward Marxist communism. She appeared at a time in Great Britain which was even further advanced on the trail towards socialism than we are in the US today. As the US is fast in the process of the government takeover of one of the largest segments in American business, the medical industry, we can examine an economy under the effect of privatization. Margaret Thatcher said, “privatization shrinks the power of the state and free enterprise enlarges the power of the people… we understood that a system of free enterprise has a universal truth at its heart: to create a genuine market in a state you have to take the state out of the market.” We can actually examine the effect of the very principle so hated today, in all its successful glory. Although she was far from being a “feminist” in the way we see them today, she literally broke ground in the field of thwarting the logic of sexual discrimination which had been almost constant since the dawn of humanity.
Margaret Thatcher appeared during the “Winter of Discontent” in the UK, where the economy was drowning in an ocean of socialism. The government accounted for over 30% of the workforce. The government red tape, just like in the US today, was strangling the free enterprise that remained. Thatcher privatized telecommunications, railroads, steel and more, and the course of UK economy immediately took a new and much more positive direction. Her wisdom in stating, “The lesson of the economic history of Europe in the 70’s and 80’s is that central planning and detailed control do not work and that personal endeavour and initiative do. That a State-controlled economy is a recipe for low growth and that free enterprise within a framework of law brings better results…” Can scarcely be denied, yet America is flocking down that very path and following a leader who is the diametric opposition of Thatcher’s wisdom and is rapidly destroying the independence and freedom of us all.
“We should back the workers, not the shirkers.”
“When you hold back the successful, you penalize those who need help.”
“There is no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.”
“To cure the British disease with socialism was like trying to cure leukemia with leeches.”
“What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner ‘I stand for consensus’?”
“When all the objectives of government include the achievement of equality – other than equality before the law – that government poses a threat to liberty.”
“In the Conservative Party we have no truck with outmoded Marxist doctrine about class warfare. For us it is not who you are, who your family is or where you come from that matters, but what you are and what you can do for your country that counts.”
“During my lifetime most of the problems the world has faced have come, in one fashion or other, from mainland Europe, and the solutions from outside it.”
An interesting aside; listening to the news reports today, each one refers to her greatness, but not a one I’ve heard from the “main-stream” has neglected to point out something quite negative “many believe she kicked the poor into the street,” for example. It’s damn hard for statists to show her the respect she deserves.
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!
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
I recently got a message on Facebook which linked to the Forbes site (yep the rich we’re supposed to be hating so much), the headline being, “Who Is the Smallest Government Spender Since Eisenhower? Would You Believe It’s Barack Obama?” The article was spawned (surprise surprise) by Marketwatch, a “Wall Street Journal” entity (another surprise surprise). Wall Street loves the oBuma! Who can believe that the Administration who increased the national debt by a larger amount than all the administrations from Washington through Reagan isn’t the “smallest government spender since Eisenhower”? And to whom would the comparison between the oBuma and Eisenhower not spring to mind?
To people with the ability to think and reason these statements are worse than absurd, but to the members of the Church of the Black Jesus, the trillion dollar a year increase from Bush to the oBuma is explained by inflation. One helllll of an inflation but there ya go!
Admittedly the Bush administration was absurd in many ways, including spending, but the oBuma administration has done NOTHING to cut the Bush spending which makes that spending now theirs as well as the increase of that spending. Over 200 billion increase (annual). So according to the Wall Street boys, INCREASING the absurdly high Bush spending by 200 billion per annum ties the oBuma administration as the cheapest administration yet. Of course much of that spending has gone to Wall Street, Occupy indeed!
There is no mystery in seeing the Demonrats working their asses off to pull the rug out from under the greatest economical giant in history. The mystery for me is the media. The main-stream American media is indeed a propagandia. There is no longer even an attempt to appear honest. Why? What is the benefit in helping to flush America down the toilet?
The media is a huge comedy show! It literally brings me to fits of laughter almost every day! The only comedy more tragic is the American people.