Holy Shit, a screenplay

Holy Shit

 

a screenplay

 

 

 

 

We begin with God.

 

God is everybody and everything – so, God can play all the parts, and God can be all the scenery, all the settings – time and place. Obviously, we begin in medias res.

 

We begin with God.

 

Ontology.

 

God doesn’t come first because there is no first in eternity.

 

But there is a creation myth, a story of what did not happen.

 

 

 

 

It’s a hangover. A hangover from a dream. The residual effects. Long after the dream has passed, we remember the dream. Very slight on facts and long on feelings and atmosphere.

 

You’ve got all these scenes with God in them.

 

I don’t know if I’d call them scenes. Dialogues. You know, like Plato.

 

But you got God in them. So, is he like a character in your story, or what?

 

God impersonated by a human being?

 

God comes down here, turns into Jesus, impersonates a human being.

 

He wasn’t just impersonating.

 

What do you mean “just”? You demean the craft of acting.

 

He was human. That’s the mystery. It’s one of your sacred mysteries.

 

Just shows you how good he was.

 

 

 

And the Shroud?

 

The blood has been submitted to DNA tests and it appears to be someone who lived in the thirteenth century.

 

We need to track down that person’s kin.

 

What for?

 

To tell them.

 

 

 

When you say you prayed, what exactly do you mean?

 

I asked God’s forgiveness and –

 

In your mind?

 

I spoke. I spoke the words.

 

You said them aloud?

 

I did.

 

You said aloud: God –

 

Dear Lord.

 

Dear Lord?

 

What would you say?

 

God.

 

That’s how you’d talk to God?

 

Why do I have to talk to him? To tell him what I’m thinking?

 

To beg forgiveness.

 

That’s ridiculous. In my mind? I’m begging forgiveness? I could be reading a book.

 

 

 

 

The Church is a lie.

 

The pope is a liar.

 

Priests are perverts.

 

The whole world turns into a prison.

 

Where the greatest sinner is the greatest saint.

 

And the Devil is God.

 

 

 

Pray, tip down your jug that I may drink.

 

Drink, and your camels too I shall water.

 

 

I consider the question of God to be open.

 

As in there is no solution.

 

I didn’t say that.

 

No solution has been presented.

 

As yet.

 

 

 

Look, if you just went by the assumption that religion – all of it – is fucked up, then it would stand to reason that it gets more and more fucked up as it goes along. On that basis alone you have to hand it to the Jews as being the oldest as being the least fucked up. The Christians come along and think they’ve got some bright new idea, but it’s crazier than the first shit. Then Mohammed comes along and his shit is the craziest yet. But for sheer comedy though, you’re never gonna beat the Mormons.

 

Jesus.

 

Jesus walked the earth.

 

With Kane.

 

Kung Fu.

 

In Godspell.

 

 

 

People don’t like the idea of evil actually being in their God.

 

So, their God is able to discern evil.

 

And cast it out.

 

Cast it the hell out.

 

 

 

Ghost riders in the sky.

 

Them motherfuckers been riding a long time.

 

 

 

 

Ex nihlio. You know what that means? Out of nothing.

 

What a concept.

 

The novelty alone was enough to jog the world off its axis.

 

Turns out the axis is imaginary.

 

But out of nothing.

 

Be a neat trick, wouldn’t it?

 

Couldn’t top it.

 

That’s the point. Could God make a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it?

 

That involves a negativity.

 

Nevertheless.

 

 

 

 

Jesus being God was the Greek’s idea. They were used to gods taking human form. It would never have occurred to the Jews.

 

Didn’t Buddha do something like that?

 

I don’t know. Hey, any of you guys know Buddha?

 

Buddha Who?

 

Buddha Who – how many Buddhas do you know?

 

 

 

So the west becomes more rational.

 

And the east more mystical.

 

 

 

Why do we always think the end of the world as a sad thing?

 

The world could have a happy ending.

 

How?

 

Watch.

 

 

 

 

Darkness within darkness.

 

The gateway to revelation.

 

Down, down into the filth and the mud and the blood and the feces. It takes your breath away. And you have to wait for eyes to adjust to the darkness. Up ahead a cave is being guarded by a dwarf. To get by him you have to wade through the icy water of the stream, but it’s clean and purifying. Inside the cave a red crystal glows.

 

 

 

 

I keep having the same dream.

 

If you want everything given to you.

 

Give everything up.

 

 

 

 

 

When the walls of Jericho came a-tumblin down, the Israelites killed everything that moved – men, women, children, cattle, donkeys.

 

Donkeys?

 

And that was all cool with Yaweh. He wanted it that way. Because he was a War God.

 

 

 

And maybe your job is to be the King’s enemy.

 

I’ll probably never see you again.

 

Yeah, well, I’ll be right here.

 

I’ll see you on the other side.

 

 

 

 

 

A paradise of pleasure.

 

 

 

Do you believe in fate? If God has a plan for you, are you free then to follow that plan or not, as you choose? And God is going to let you?

 

He’s God.

 

He?

 

God.

 

But we have free will. Every moment there are decisions to make. And you make them. Things that could go either way. Things that could go another way. And everybody else makes their choice too. And then you throw in hazard, blind luck, chance, and what happens happens.

 

But once something happens then things cannot be other than they are.

 

We live in the effect of some cause.

 

Many many effects.

 

Of many many causes.

 

The effects transform into causes and vice versa.

 

The cause inextricable from the effect.

 

Like form from content.

 

Free will is a sham.

 

Maybe you can do whatever you want, but what good is that if you have no control over what you want?

 

 

 

Isaiah wrote: God is high.

 

Well, that explains it.

 

What?

 

All the bad shit that’s ever happened. What sort of God would allow the Black Death?

 

The Holocaust.

 

Turns out God was high.

 

The Holocaust? I did that? Oh shit, you’re kidding. Damn, was I wrecked.

 

 

 

Execration texts.

 

You mean Shit Writing?

 

No, no. They’re curses. They were written on this pottery and then deliberately smashed and the shards were buried here.

 

 

 

 

You think you can solve your problem with magic?

 

Faith in God is not magic.

 

What’s the difference?

 

There is no magic.

 

 

 

 

I am God. You can have no other God but me.

 

That’s reasonable.

 

Do not take my fucken name in vain goddamnit.

 

What name?

 

Keep holy the Sabbath.

 

When?

 

Honor thy father and mother.

 

In that order?

 

Aint gonna be no graven images.

 

Graven images? Of what? Of anything?

 

I am Everything.

 

So much for art.

 

Thou shalt not kill.

 

I hadn’t thought of that.

 

Or commit adultery.

 

Without a very good reason.

 

Or steal.

 

So much for Primitive Accumulation.

 

Or lie.

 

I never lie.

 

Or covet.

 

You mean want? How am I not supposed to want? Hey, wait a minute, where are you going? Wait!

 

This stone is a witness to it.

 

To what?

 

This stone saw and heard it all.

 

A silent witness.

 

 

 

 

Do you want to die?

 

Yes.

 

Why?

 

I want to find out what happens. I can’t wait.

 

Nothing happens.

 

Something happens. Nothing never happens.

 

 

 

 

Faith in anything. It doesn’t have to be religious.

 

She’s on a cross – how can it not be religious?

 

A woman on a cross is not so unusual. Women were crucified as well as men. By the hundreds, by the thousands even.

 

Her faith transforms the ugliness of death into beauty.

 

Anybody who thinks death is beautiful is full of shit.

 

Maybe not. You can have faith in anything.

 

Maybe you can, but I can’t. I can’t have faith in shit.

 

Now shit is one thing I can have faith in.

 

 

 

 

Tell me what you don’t remember.

 

How can I tell you what I don’t remember if I don’t remember it?

 

What?

 

What what?

 

What don’t you remember?

 

I don’t remember.

 

Sure you do. You remember being born?

 

No.

 

Well then, that’s one thing.

 

That I can’t remember?

 

Yes.

 

How about Creation? I don’t remember that.

 

Then how do you know it happened?

 

Same way I know I was born. I’m here, I musta come from somewhere. Everything else is here – it musta come from somewhere too.

 

That’s ridiculous. You think everything came out of your mother?

 

 

 

The Virgin is the Bride of Christ.

 

Wait a minute, how can . . . ?

 

An incestuous relationship between the Son of God and the Mother of God?

 

This is the Oedipus Complex brought to Divine Life.

 

And it is going to make God the Father very angry.

 

 

 

Happiness you consume.

 

Sadness consumes you.

 

Happiness you devour until it is absolutely gone.

 

Sadness eats away at you, nibbles, gnaws, bites, but when it is finished it is you that is gone.

 

There’s nothing left but sadness.

 

 

 

And they lived happily ever after . . .

 

In the Ever After.

 

Not here.

 

Not Now.

 

Not ever.

 

Never.

 

 

 

 

If you want to go back to the beginning, we have it on good authority that Cain’s father wasn’t

 

Adam, but the Devil.

 

The Devil fucked Eve?

 

You’re surprised?

 

Why?

 

Who else is he gonna fuck?

 

So the Devil fucks Eve, and then what?

 

Jews.

 

Jews?

 

Jews ensue.

 

Jesus.

 

We’ll get to him.

 

 

 

 

I just rolled in on a cloud of shit.

 

 

 

 

 

I walked with the guy for three years, all the way to Jerusalem, and I never once heard him say he was God.

 

Maybe not in so many words maybe.

 

At all. Nothing like it.

 

You were a man who knew another man, that’s all.

 

You’re telling me you never met him.

 

Not while he was alive, no.

 

Not while he was alive?

 

That’s right.

 

What the hell are you talking about?

 

I never met him while he was alive.

 

What’s that supposed to mean?

 

I met him after he had risen from the dead.

 

You met him after he had risen from the dead.

 

Yes. You can’t see love or hope, but you can’t see the wind either. You can see the sun, but you can’t see heat. Maybe he was God without knowing it.

 

That makes no sense.

 

It’s possible.

 

It’s not possible. By definition, God is omniscient, all-knowing. He couldn’t actually be God and not know it. He knows everything. He’d know.

 

Yeah, he would know, but maybe he didn’t know it then.

 

Jesus.

 

You think? Maybe it begins to dawn on him –

 

Like Spiderman.

 

Hey, I can work miracles.

 

Like Superman.

 

It’s possible.

 

Maybe he never knows it, you know? Maybe he doesn’t figure it out until he comes back.

 

From the dead?

 

And he says: Wo! I must be God.

 

I can’t believe how naïve you are.

 

Believe it. I believe it. I’ll believe anything.

 

 

 

 

What are you doing?

 

I’m praying.

 

That do any good?

 

Can’t hurt.

 

Sure it can. Remember Saint Ignatius prayed so hard he almost went blind.

 

I don’t pray like that.

 

How do you pray?

 

Like this.

 

Is it ok to drink beer and smoke dope while you’re praying?

 

In some religions it is.

 

I’m joining.

 

But you have to believe what they believe.

 

Who cares what they believe?

 

You have to care.

 

How’re they gonna know?

 

Now you’re just being silly.

 

Now?

 

 

 

 

Is or is not the Bible the Word of God?

 

The words of the Bible are the Words of the Bible.

 

Are they the Word of God?

 

The Word of God?

 

Do you believe in the Word of God?

 

I guess.

 

Is it in the Bible?

 

The Word of God?

 

Yes.

 

The Word of God isn’t written down.

 

You’re saying the Bible is not the Word of God.

 

I’m saying the Word of God isn’t something written down. That’s not the way God talks. That’s the way we talk. God talks like God.

 

How’s that?

 

(Thunder.)

 

Like that.

 

And what does it mean – what is God’s message?

 

It’s going to rain.

 

If you say the words of the Bible are not the Word of God, you blaspheme – and there is no greater sin.

 

If you say the words of men are the Word of God, you blaspheme – and there is no greater sin.

 

Somebody’s doin a bunch of sinnin round here.

 

 

 

 

God could talk like a man if He wanted to.

 

He? That makes no sense.

 

Just like when God sent his only son Jesus . . .

 

God sent his only son?

 

Jesus became a man.

 

What do you mean, he became a man? He was a man.

 

Jesus was God, I mean, Jesus is God, but he took on the nature of man.

 

That makes about as much sense as saying a circle could act like a square if it wanted to.

 

This is why Solomon says that the instruction of fools is folly.

 

 

 

You think when God prays He prays to Himself? Think again. God prays to us, just as we pray to Him. It’s a two-way street.

 

You enemy of God and his saints.

 

What’s it mean when they say: God helps them who help themselves?

 

Means God doesn’t want to help anybody.

 

Why not?

 

Because he’s a mean bastard.

 

 

 

 

Praying.

 

That’d be good.

 

That’d be funny.

 

Can’t make fun of people praying.

 

Heaven forbid, but is praying actually a productive use of your time?

 

Time spent with God?

 

So: Praying would actually fall under Consumption rather than Production.

 

You’re buying what God is selling.

 

Which makes God rich –

 

Er.

 

Befitting the Lord and Ruler of the Universe.

 

But if you don’t pray.

 

And your time spent with God just sits there.

 

Then God is going to take His services elsewhere.

 

To the faithful.

 

And to Hell with your sorry ass.

 

 

 

 

His surgery is scheduled for today. Been scheduled for three weeks. He decides he’s not going. He’s going to have faith that God is going to cure him.

 

God is going to cure him of pancreatic cancer.

 

What he believes.

 

Why?

 

Just what he believes.

 

No, I mean why is God going to cure him?

 

Because He loves him.

 

Oh.

 

Because he has faith, because he has trust in God.

 

Doesn’t he have faith in doctors?

 

No.

 

Medicine?

 

It doesn’t matter.

 

It’s going to.

 

You can’t tell him what to do. He’s putting his trust in God.

 

Then God should tell him to put his faith in doctors.

 

And you sure as shit can’t tell God what to do.

 

Why not?

 

Well, you can, but I bet He won’t do it, He sure as shit won’t do it just because you say so.

 

God’s not taking orders from me.

 

No sir.

 

 

 

 

Well sometimes I just wish –

 

What’s the difference between a wish and a prayer?

 

God.

 

God could grant a wish as easily as a prayer.

 

Don’t you wish.

 

 

 

 

Don’t despair, say a prayer.

 

If you say a prayer –

 

You are in despair.

 

 

 

 

Caligula wants us to worship him as a god.

 

I can live with that.

 

And we’ve got to vote for his choice for Consul.

 

Consul of Rome?

 

None other.

 

I can live with that, who’s his choice?

 

His horse.

 

Say again.

 

His horse. Caligula’s horse.

 

Did you say whores?
Horse. Horse.

 

His horse?

 

You got a problem with that?

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve got three great bands of warriors on this Crusade to recapture that goddamn Holy Land. One is led by the fucken king himself over there, and one led by myself, a brave and worthy knight, and one led by that kid.

 

Yes. And a child shall lead them.

 

No. That kid.

 

You mean the fucken goat?

 

Don’t that beat all. They say it has magical powers. Well, spiritual.

 

 

 

 

We could if we wanted slaughter all the Jews as usurers.

 

Usurers?

 

But what’s the use of it?

 

What’s the use of usury?

 

I mean, somebody’s got to do it.

 

 

 

There is no disguising the crapshoot nature of the game we are all playing.

 

Interest is vital.

 

The wheel of fate cannot turn without credit.

 

 

 

 

History’s greatest villains are all gathered together.

 

In Hell.

 

Caligula.

 

Hitler.

 

Who’s that guy?

 

I’m innocent.

 

Is this prison?

 

It’s Hell.

 

Bullshit.

 

These villains are the repressed aspects of the self.

 

The dark side we all have.

 

Called chaos by many.

 

Jung called them our shadows.

 

 

 

 

The Jews are the Chosen People because they chose themselves and more power to them. For the life of me I can’t see how that’s any different from God having chosen them.

 

Except that there is no God.

 

This is what I’m saying.

 

What if there are no chosen people?

 

But there are.

 

Then let me change the mood: what if there were no chosen people?

 

Subjunctive.

 

Conditional.

 

Circumstances contrary to fact considered hypothetically.

 

They’ve got their own demons.

 

Their Golem.

 

Their own magic and mystery.

 

Kabbalah.

 

But that God would single out one race. . .

 

Forget about God.

 

What if God forgets about me?

 

You’ll know.

 

Not a race. A civilization. A culture.

 

And to say it alone is chosen.

 

That’s right.

 

 

 

 

 

Well, I’ve read the Bible and the Koran and the sayings of the Buddha and the Upanishads and the Tibetan Book of the Dead and I know what Zen is all about, and I’m not saying it’s all shit . .

 

Good.

 

But taken altogether, it’s just a fucken mess.

 

 

 

 

Israel and Judea.

 

Who’s got first dibs on the Holy Land?

 

God gave us this land.

 

We’re back to that, are we?

 

And it’s ours.

 

Providing we can take it.

 

And hold it.

 

That makes it ours.

 

In the eyes of God.

 

You can’t just turn up after two thousand years and say This is Yours. We fucken live here.

 

And Marx felt otherwise as well.

 

The Jewish Question.

 

As did Proust.

 

And Freud.

 

They didn’t even believe in God, so what has being Jewish got to do –

 

With anything?

 

If there’s no God.

 

What’s anything got to do with anything if there’s no God?

 

Everything.

 

Marx wouldn’t be living in Israel.

 

He might. Why wouldn’t he? All he did in England was sit in the British Museum and read. He couldn’t do that in Israel?

 

Can’t see Proust living in Israel.

 

Or Freud.

 

Because it’s a religious state.

 

 

 

The Secret Life of Ideas.

 

 

 

The Dream of Life.

 

 

 

A Jew should be concerned with the Talmud and Torah.

 

Not Arabs.

 

Not Christians.

 

Except in business.

 

And culturally.

 

Secularly.

 

But the main thing –

 

Is the Covenant.

 

Because that’s not between Jews and Arabs or Christians.

 

That’s between Jews and God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s in the Bible.

 

Not life.

 

Not now. Things that are in the Bible happened in biblical times.

 

Bible Time.

 

This is not Bible Time.

 

To some people it is.

 

 

 

 

 

You make these casual references to Hitler and the Holocaust. . .

 

 

 

Break their teeth, Oh God, in their mouth.

 

 

 

Nightmare? People – our people – lived in those camps and they didn’t have nightmares. You know why? What kind of nightmare do you think they’d have? They’d rather be in the fucken nightmare than what they woke up to.

 

 

 

The Jews finally proclaimed the Christians heretics.

 

I don’t know about that.

 

I was there.

 

What happened?

 

James, the brother of Jesus, was killed by the Sanhedrin, that’s Jew against Jew.

 

This was like throwing the Christians out of Judaism.

 

Christians? Did they call themselves Christians?

 

That was Paul’s idea.

 

And the Christians wouldn’t fight with the Jews against the Romans.

 

Can you blame them?

 

Hell yeah.

 

That’s because you’re a Jew.

 

So were they.

 

No, you threw em out, remember?

 

The risen Christ appeared to all the apostles.

 

So you say.

 

I was there.

 

 

 

 

Christ is an invention of mythology.

 

 

 

 

Jesus was a peasant revolutionary.

 

 

 

And the more they smoked from the magical pipe, the more did they come to believe.

 

 

 

Look, if Good is stronger than Evil, then Good will win – sooner or later.

 

And if Evil is stronger than Good?

 

Then Evil will win.

 

But if Good and Evil are of equal force.

 

Which only stands to reason.

 

Then this shit could go on forever!

 

Could?

 

You mean . . . ?

 

This shit is going on forever.

 

So, get used to it.

 

We ought to be used to it by now.

 

Been going on forever.

 

Far as we know.

 

 

 

 

We’ve got to rebuild this city!

 

Whore houses over here, saloons over there, dope houses down the street, freak shows, dime museums along the avenue – a glorious stirring site.

 

 

 

 

John of Patmos, high on mold, having visions in his cave.

 

 

 

 

The Demogorgon is the father of the whole fucken race of gods who live in caves in the bowels of the earth.

 

With his nine kids, and two broads named Eternity and Chaos.

 

I reach into the belly of Chaos, whom I have fucked and impregnated, I pluck out our kid, whom I will name Discordia, and the little bitch immediately takes off and starts flying around the cave like a balloon with a hole in it. I’ve got no time for this folderol. I snatch her out of the air and cast her down.

 

Attaboy.

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to say which is more ridiculous – the living praying for the dead or the living praying to the dead.

 

Praying for the dead as if there were something we could do for them.

 

Praying to the dead as if there were something they could do for us.

 

 

 

 

What an extraordinary collection of ugly and stupid people.

 

Fascinating deformity.

 

Breathtaking ignorance.

 

But their ugliness is closer to beauty by far . . .

 

Than their ignorance is near to wisdom.

 

 

 

You are the Enemy of God and you must die.

 

 

 

Whores have kids too, you know. To be the Son of a Whore is not that uncommon.

 

Still I wouldn’t go around calling someone that.

 

 

 

 

Solomon gives away a parcel of the Promised Land – beach front property it was too – and nowhere in the Bible does anybody say boo about it.

 

Why’d he do it?

 

He needed the money.

 

 

 

The Lord will smite you with boils, with scurvy, with blindness.

 

What, is He out of fire?

 

 

 

 

I can see how you misplace your keys, how you lose your wallet. How the hell do you lose the Ark of the Covenant?

 

The last we hear of the Ark is in 586 BCE when Babylon strafes the Kingdom of Judah.

 

What year is this?

 

586 BC.

 

BC?

 

Before Christ

 

BCE.

 

BCE? What the hell is BCE?

 

Damned if I know.

 

Before Christ Everlasting.

 

 

 

 

The False Warning.

 

 

 

 

The Righteous Teacher.

 

 

 

 

The Wicked Priest.

 

 

 

 

And do you pray?

 

Oh yes.

 

And does it help?

 

I don’t know. Sometimes, I guess.

 

Well, you pray to God, don’t you?

 

God? No, that never occurred to me.

 

Then to whom do you pray, if I might ask?

 

Why, anybody.

 

Anybody?

 

Yeah. I just pray. Aloud. Please help me!

 

To anybody?

 

Yeah. I don’t care. Why would I care?

 

Does that include God?

 

Does it?

 

Why else pray?

 

I told you, sometimes it works. I don’t know how.

 

How can it work if there’s no God?

 

Who cares how it works?

 

 

 

 

 

Because everything living dies.

 

And everything dying lives.

 

Till it dies.

 

And then it is no more.

 

Except that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.

 

Same energy.

 

Same air.

 

Same air that Jesus breathed.

 

 

 

 

It’s funny, the closer you get to death, the further away everything else seems to be. Are you prepared to die?

 

No.

 

Too bad.

 

Are you prepared to die?

 

Yes.

 

Good.

 

Don’t worry about dying

 

Why?

 

Nothing happens.

 

 

The Spouter of Lies.

 

 

May 1606 sees the passage of the Act to Restrain Abuses of Players. Example: A fine of ten pounds every time a Player uses God’s name in a joke.

 

You say the name of God and you either gotta do it in reverence or in fear.

 

Goddamn.

 

Now that’s OK.

 

 

 

So I figure I’ll climb up to the top this column, sit there, isolated, alone, maybe fifty feet up, expose myself to all the cruelty of nature, not to mention any critter who wants to have at me, and maybe I can escape these diabolical temptations.

 

Suppose for a moment that you are just like any other drug fiend alcoholic. And these are all just thoughts pissing through your mind. . .

 

Passing?

 

What? No. At any one time.

 

Any one time.

 

Moment by moment, thought by thought.

 

One thought at a time.

 

That’d be something, wouldn’t it?

 

If you’re lucky.

 

Luck has nothing to do with it.

 

 

 

 

Now look down and see what you’ve got on the page.

 

In most cases, words we all know.

 

Trying the best they can to make their meaning clear.

 

As one might think, or hope, or wish, or pray that God would.

 

Unless God is trying to play some sort of game with us.

 

Make things difficult for us.

 

Wants to make things difficult – on purpose.

 

To show us how smart He is.

 

Or maybe . . .

 

The Thing is difficult all on its own.

 

That’s the thing.

 

Logos.

 

And the word was made flesh.

 

Do we cavil at the use of the passive voice in this sentence from the Word of God?

 

 

 

 

Saint Ignatius cried so fucken hard at Mass that doctors warned him he might go blind.

 

 

 

 

We walk in darkness.

 

We hear voices.

 

What we think we hear is actually a collectivity within the central nervous system.

 

The voice of God.

 

Is the way we perceive it.

 

If we’re schizophrenic.

 

There’s God.

 

In your brain.

 

And once your mind gets hold of God.

 

There’s only one other way to think of it.

 

That all of this is just a part of the Mind of God.

 

And who wants to think about that?

 

And how would you do it?

 

You’d use your causal operator.

 

Anterior convexity of the frontal lobe.

 

And the inferior parietal lobe.

 

And their reciprocal connections.

 

Rub em together, wudiya get?

 

God.

 

 

 

 

See there. In the triangles.

 

You mean up above the spandrels.

 

The ignudi twisting and squirming in dark places.

 

Inarticulate.

 

Irrational.

 

Animals.

 

We are animals.

 

 

 

What happened to Jesus?

 

He was crucified, and he died.

 

And he was buried.

 

No.

 

And rose again.

 

No. He was not buried. People who got crucified didn’t get buried. That was the point. They got crucified by the thousands. Didn’t you see Spartacus.

 

What do you mean, he wasn’t buried?

 

He wasn’t buried.

 

Sure he was. It’s in the Bible.

 

I’m just trying to tell you what happened.

 

He wasn’t buried.

 

No.

 

What happened to him?

 

You mean what happened to the body? Same thing happened to everybody else got crucified.

 

What’s that?

 

Dogs ate em.

 

Dogs ate them?

 

Dogs ate him. Sorry.

 

 

 

 

They go in there.

 

He goes in there.

 

He goes in there.

 

Or she. It doesn’t have to be a man.

 

Could it be a child?

 

Whoever.

 

So they go in there.

 

Into the cave.

 

Into the labyrinth.

 

He knows where he’s going?

 

He’s seen it before.

 

In his dreams.

 

In he goes.

 

He doesn’t know.

 

He thinks he knows.

 

He’s seen it in his dreams.

 

He’s making it up as he goes along.

 

But he’s not making it up out of nothing.

 

In the cave.

 

Which one?

 

They’re all connected.

 

You mean the cave in your mind?

 

You keep asking all these questions.

 

 

 

 

Paul roaming around from Corinth all way to Rome.

 

Spreading the Word.

 

And the Jesus people start to turn into the Christ people.

 

They start putting together their mythology.

 

 

 

 

The mind enters the cave.

 

They go in there.

 

The artists would go in there without a lamp.

 

Without a lamp.

 

Till they figured out how to make a lamp.

 

And how would you make a lamp if you couldn’t buy one at Wal-Mart?

 

You’re going from thirty thousand years ago?

 

When the first humans appeared.

 

And what happened before?

 

Before we were here?

 

Before we were.

 

Before we can get outside of time.

 

Beyond time.

 

There’s all this time that needs to be accounted for.

 

 

 

 

Josh and the Prodigality of his Tongue, did he say?

 

The Prodigality of the Son.

 

Let us rather now become personal and autobiographical to the point of inscrutability, if you know what I mean.

 

I’ll go first.

 

 

 

The Church won’t allow dissection of the dead.

 

No, no, because what’s inside the body is a divine mystery.

 

 

 

 

And you start to get this feeling that all things are directed toward their ends.

 

You don’t have to kill yourself.

 

I don’t?

 

Not yet.

 

You mean nothing’s wrong?

 

Did I say that?

 

 

 

 

I will not be party to the assassination of God.

 

Well, you’re not gonna rat us out, are you?

 

 

 

 

It suddenly occurs to me: I may not be fit to operate a vehicle.

 

What do you want me to do about it?

 

I may be bipolar, but we’re all in this together.

 

 

 

 

 

Why make the meaning a secret? You see what I’m saying?

 

What you’ve always said.

 

Why crawl deep into a cave, where no one else can go, and paint a picture on the wall?

 

In the dark.

 

How else can you make a picture of the dark?

 

 

 

 

Drink long and deep from the Cup of the Lord’s Vengeance.

 

 

 

 

Death isn’t something that’s waiting for you.

 

Death is something you have inside you.

 

 

 

 

Who brought death into the world?

 

Tell me.

 

You did.

 

Nobody’s perfect.

 

Don’t you get it? Everybody’s perfect.

 

This is just perfect.

 

 

 

 

Do you have any idea where we are?

 

I’m guessing we’re at the bottom of a deep gravity well.

 

Bizarre.

 

We appear to be on the surface of a gas-covered planet.

 

What’s that in the sky?

 

A nuclear fireball.

 

Kind of close, isn’t it?

 

I’d say it’s about ninety million miles away.

 

And this is normal?

 

To us it seems that way, but our perception is skewed.

 

 

 

 

So you’re not asking for much.

 

Just your essence.

 

But if you go back, to that moment, you remember, you were only a child. How old were you, six, seven?

 

Yes.

 

You can go back there any time, to that moment, to that summer, and what happened, the very moments, be there, go back, the way it felt, the way it smelled, every nuance, every sound and sensation. But you weren’t there.

 

I was. It’s the most real thing in the world to me.

 

But it isn’t in the world and neither is the you who was there. Every single particle of you is different now. Not a single atom remains of the you who was there. You’re all new.

 

I just remember it is all.

 

Whoever you are, you’re not you.

 

I’m not.

 

Not what you think of as you. You may think of yourself as this collection of experiences, but you are not the collection of atoms that experienced them.

 

That’s a relief.

 

How so?

 

Don’t blame me for my life being all fucked up, I wasn’t even there.

 

 

 

Converting itself into helium by nuclear fusion.

 

You gotta start somewhere.

 

Originally formed by a disc of gas.

 

You gotta be kidding me.

 

Out of which the rest of the solar system, including the earth of course. . .

 

Of course.

 

Condensed.

 

Condensed?

 

It’s a small world after all.

 

Now we are heading back in time.

 

No. Now we are heading out of time.

 

Obviously this is the kind of planet that is capable of generating and supporting our particular life forms.

 

Well, we live here.

 

As long as there’s water. It gets so cold that the water freezes, we’re fucked. Gets so hot that the water boils.

 

We’re fucked.

 

We’ve got this thin band of an orbit, that if we stray the slightest bit.

 

Almost circular.

 

Almost. An ellipse.

 

Got Jupiter out there, intercepting asteroids that could easily obliterate us.

 

Got the moon, just one of em, stabilizes our axis of rotation.

 

Sun is not binary, which is good, otherwise sun’d be locked in a mutual orbit with a companion star.

 

That’d make our orbit too radical to sustain life.

 

 

 

 

Your mind has the power of its affects to the extent that you are able to arrange the affects in order and connect them.

 

What?

 

Picture reality.

 

 

 

 

Yeah. I don’t know. Maybe

 

See, you always end up depending on somebody.

 

This is because we cannot live alone.

 

Shit no, if we could, we would.

 

All the other Cyclopes on the island . . .

 

And we each live in our own cave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was all that, and autumn was suddenly chilling the air outside, telling nature, if not humans, that death was surely coming, and maybe it would be spring again thereafter, but, surely, for some, if not for many, spring would never come again.

 

And now it is transmuted into a fiction.

 

This isn’t fiction.

 

It’s not?

 

No.

 

You’re sure?

 

I’m real. You’re real.

 

You sure?

 

What’s wrong with you?

 

I know I’m real.

 

You know it, huh?

 

I think . . .

 

 

 

 

Leaves fall, wind blows, people die, and this is the only possible world.

 

The only way things can be.

 

That’s why our brave young fighting men take such heavy-duty drugs.

 

This is not Amsterdam, my friend.

 

No it is not.

 

It is somewhere else entirely.

 

We’re still in a war, you know.

 

It’s a different war.

 

Different wars for different times.

 

They could kill all of us.

 

Safety in numbers.

 

They could kill us all.

 

A certain numerical assurance.

 

A world we’re not in.

 

And what might have happened.

 

Speculative fiction.

 

You might have been happier never having been alive.

 

If, never having lived.

 

Trying to see just how happy you could be.

 

By never having lived.

 

In the world.

 

The more joy we have, the more perfect we are.

 

The luckier we are.

 

Things could have been different.

 

Things cannot be other than they are.

 

 

 

 

 

There may be, there probably are, hundreds, maybe thousands, maybe millions of universes.

 

So what?

 

We use these maps to find our way back in time.

 

Backwards forwards, what’s the difference? You think it’s like an elevator, that you can only go up and down, but you can go sideways in time too. You see, everything is moving, and that includes time.

 

It’s all fluid.

 

Past present and future are really all happening at once.

 

You think cause comes before effect, but that’s not necessarily the case.

 

That is logically absurd.

 

Nevertheless.

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen Hawking wants to figure out how the universe started before he dies, bless his heart.

 

I hope he does, God bless him.

 

I’m cheering for him.

 

I’m praying for him.

 

 

 

 

Look at him. His face all screwed up, crying his eyes out, wrenching his whole body into a physical plea.

 

Now, that’s praying.

 

That’s nuts.

 

You hear about people going crazy all the time.

 

You don’t just hear about it,

 

Look on the bright side.

 

The bright side of insanity, the bright side of mental illness?

 

 

 

 

 

You don’t understand – this man is my friend. My very friend. He hath got this mortal hurt in my behalf.

 

 

 

This movie is being shown to dead people.

 

 

 

 

 

And a grand old year it has been, looking back on the year just past.

 

Hell of a year.

 

The year of the year.

 

That it was.

 

Year after year.

 

A year like no other.

 

 

 

 

 

Previously having dealt with Jesus in these pages.

 

Juxtaposing the sacred and the profane.

 

Mixing them together.

 

This is what got that guy into trouble with his Piss Christ.

 

Not to speak of those Dutch cartoons.

 

No, they are not to be spoken of.

 

So much the better.

 

 

 

 

 

Perfection and reality are synonyms.

 

 

 

Which agency of the government are you with?

 

I’m sorry?

 

I see you’re taking notes.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s so funny?

 

I was just remembering how much I used to love my wife.

 

Really?

 

I was getting all misty-eyed. Then reality set in.

 

Comedy is built on incongruity.

 

 

 

The Real. That’s another name for Terror.

 

 

 

De Sade fantasized about an indestructible victim. Now that would be fun.

 

 

 

The preacher walked out of his own sermon and went across the street to the bar.

 

 

 

 

There’s no rhyme or reason. You see? It’s a choice. Rhyme or reason. It’s a choice, one or the other.

 

So rhyme displaces reason, or the other way around.

 

Otherwise there would be chaos.

 

You’re describing reality.

 

Thank you.

 

 

Shall we stop by the Museum of Whores?

 

Right on our way.

 

 

 

God & Man

 

Don’t feel guilty.

 

That’s easy for you to say.

 

This has nothing to do with what I say. Guilt is bad for you.

 

Same as you told us not to eat that fruit.

 

The fruit of that tree?

 

Yes.

 

What did I say?

 

You forbid it.

 

I forbid what?

 

What, are you getting senile, the fruit of that tree, you forbid it.

 

No I didn’t.

 

You did not forbid it.

 

I did not forbid it, no.

 

You didn’t.

 

No.

 

I thought you did.

 

You misunderstood.

 

I . . . ?

 

You seem to have a certain propensity for that.

 

You didn’t forbid it?

 

No.

 

The forbidden fruit.

 

What did I say?

 

You said Don’t Eat It.

 

And now you know why.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t mean to be critical.

 

No, no.

 

I don’t.

 

Of course not.

 

But I would be less than honest if I . . .

 

I understand.

 

Do you?

 

I do.

 

It’s just that, well . . .

 

You didn’t like it.

 

It’s not that I didn’t like it.

 

Did you like it?

 

No, but it’s not that.

 

What isn’t?

 

I just don’t think . . .

 

What?

 

It’s just, I, I, you know what I mean.

 

I think I do, yeah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joy and sadness. That’s all there is.

 

And joy is preferable to sadness.

 

Infinitely.

 

Which comes in different sizes.

 

Eternally.

 

Which comes in different lengths.

 

 

 

 

 

Now you’re going to have to be careful how you stand up.

 

Why?

 

So everybody can’t see that you have a hard-on.

 

I don’t, oh, I guess I do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anything, anything at all that distracts us from what is eternal and infinite can be fatal.

 

So you’ve got to pull yourself out of that moment.

 

You can’t.

 

No. Don’t let it.

 

It will pull you in.

 

You smell her perfume and you’re a goner.

 

Someone says her name.

 

She . . .

 

You cannot let the finite have control over you.

 

Only what is infinite,

 

And what might that be?

 

 

 

You have to be God. How else are you going to be one with God?

 

That’s important, is it?

 

To be able to live with yourself.

 

If you’re a philosopher.

 

One of those truth-telling professions.

 

The only one.

 

You’re saying philosophers are the only people who tell the truth?

 

For a living.

 

What about priests?

 

Liars.

 

What about artists?

 

Artists are philosophers. Unless they’re liars too. But a philosopher can’t be a liar and still be a philosopher. Mutually exclusive.

 

A philosopher can’t be a liar any more than God can be a liar.

 

Why couldn’t God be a liar if he wanted to?

 

Think about it.

 

 

 

 

Did you go to church today?

 

I’m sorry?

 

Did you?

 

To tell the truth, no.

 

Do you believe in God?

 

Hell yeah.

 

That’s a facetious answer to a very serious question.

 

It would probably be more offensive to you, if I tried to explain to you that I am God.

 

That would be blasphemy.

 

Not really. You’re God too.

 

Everybody’s God – is that what you’re saying?

 

Yeah, and so is the air we breathe, and so is the shit that comes out of your ass.

 

 

 

 

 

Did you just say what I think you said?

 

I don’t know. What do you think I said?

 

I won’t repeat it.

 

 

 

 

 

What’s happening to me? Tonight? Tonight I’m going to die.

 

Worse than that.

 

What could be worse than that?

 

 

 

 

To love what is infinite and eternal.

 

You mean, as opposed to your ass.

 

 

 

 

A miracle, you see, would be . . .

 

Miracles are not consistent with the nature of God.

 

 

 

 

What does it matter, the pleasures of the flesh that someone else had?

 

Where are those people?

 

Who are those people?

 

A lot of those people are fictional.

 

A lot of them are dead.

 

Like the boy said, I don’t put no stock in dead people.

 

 

 

 

Everybody finally comes to the same realization: I haven’t done anything wrong.

 

When they have.

 

Doesn’t matter. They have to set themselves free. They have to free themselves of their guilt.

 

Otherwise?

 

They drown in it.

 

 

 

 

 

If you mean, by a miracle, a suspension of the laws of nature, this would appear not to qualify.

 

No, no. I lost my cell phone and this woman found it in her bags when she got home from the mall.

 

Yes.

 

And I had not even been to the mall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miracle after mircale.

 

Miracle upon miracle.

 

Well, the odds are against it.

 

In the sense that there are so many millions of people.

 

Billions.

 

So, the chances of any two in particular interacting is extremely remote.

 

But the chance of one person interacting with another.

 

Is virtually assured.

 

It’s like the lottery. The chance of any one particular number being drawn is minute.

 

But the chance that some number will be chosen is assured.

 

And that’s all we want is a chance.

 

Sucker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometimes a philosopher is like a hermit.

 

Not when they need the guy.

 

Who needs a philosopher?

 

You’ve got to be kidding me. Socrates? Who needs Socrates?

 

 

 

What are you looking for?

 

Looking through this . . .

 

Lost?

 

Lost? I’m in the library.

 

Labyrnth.

 

 

 

 

 

How you doin?

 

I’m doin, how you doin?

 

I’m livin.

 

Don’t be so sure.

 

 

 

Your life. You keep talking about your life as if it possessed some sort of singularity.

 

Well, it’s the only one I have.

 

Yeah, you. You ever think of anyone else?

 

What for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moses was Pro-Life, you wanna talk about being Pro-Life.

 

Not particularly.

 

Have to promote the propagation of the race, you know.

 

 

 

 

And you regard the entire world as an udder to be milked dry.

 

You either rule your passions.

 

Or your passions rule you.

 

How about a truce?

 

That’s called death.

 

 

 

Don’t you get it? There’s only one set of rules for reality.

 

No. Reality is different for everybody.

 

But it’s the same thing.

 

There’s only one reality?

 

 

 

 

There’s a difference between a cave and a library.

 

And a labyrinth.

 

But not much.

 

All the answers are there.

 

And, if you’re lucky, you find out the questions later.

 

You go through life wondering what are these the answers to?

 

 

 

 

It’s not like a watchmaker being the cause of a watch. It’s more like the nature of a circle causing it to be round.

 

There’s no creator standing outside creation?

 

Because there was no creation. Eternity and infinity stretch in both directions, you know.

 

Both?

 

All.

 

Simultaneously?

 

Infinitely.

 

Eternally.

 

No beginning. No End.

 

In the beginning.

 

Nuh-uh.

 

There was no beginning.

 

The origin of things.

 

Is their natural order.

 

 

 

 

Got any money?

 

I would, but I just spent a trillion dollars on a war on terror.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uraboros.

 

What?

 

Not what. Who.

 

Uraboros?

 

The serpent that devours its tail.

 

 

 

 

Pain is longitudinal.

 

How.

 

By hurting now over what happened some time ago. What happens now suddenly seems to replay something that happened before. It’s only now that we can assess the damage.

 

To realize what it meant.

 

Better late than never.

 

 

 

No unfathomable mystery.

 

No other world accessible only through divine revelation.

 

Epiphany.

 

Not necessary.

 

No hidden power.

 

No judge.

 

No secret truth.

 

There is nothing that cannot be known.

 

Oh my God.

 

Nothing.

 

So plausible.

 

 

 

The Bible is for children. Intellectual children.

 

 

 

For all we know, we are all nailed to the cross.

 

We all feel, we all intuit. . . .

 

You’ve got the thing equidistant, the crossbeams, and that’s giving you a genital perspective.

 

 

 

 

Historical Jesus, Rabbi Joshua, who walked the earth in the first century of the common era.

 

That guy.

 

You doubt his existence?

 

Only to a certain extent his divinity, which I do not believe he possessed to any greater extent than you or I.

 

One substance. Back to that are we?

 

Back to the Long March.

 

There’s nothing outside the march, so nothing is lost.

 

Not in the long run.

 

 

 

 

Maybe I’ll feel better after a beer or two.

 

Worth a try.

 

Or three.

 

Can’t hurt.

 

 

 

Jesus Fucked Up

 

It was a terrible mistake, don’t you see?

 

You mean by whoever crucified him.

 

The Romans crucified him.

 

Doesn’t matter.

 

Does matter. Jews don’t crucify. Romans crucify.

 

He should of never let em crucify him.

 

He’s fulfilling prophecy is all. He’s gotta die for all our sins.

 

What sins? We’re not even gonna be born for another two thousand years.

 

I don’t know. The sins we’re gonna commit. He’s gotta be crucified and be buried and after three days, he rises again.

 

He shoulda never been crucified in the first place. Doncha see how that fucks everything up? He shoulda just lived. He should have just kept on living. All this time. He should still be walking around. I mean, don’t get me wrong, rising from the dead is pretty damn good.

 

Shit yeah.

 

And appear, you know. Appear to people.

 

Certain people, yeah.

 

Certain people, yeah.

 

Transfer of Power.

 

You see what I’m saying? You wouldn’t need any of that. And now, all this religious hatred and intolerance and violence. It’s so unnecessary. And it’s not our fault.

 

Whose fault is it?

 

His. All he had to do was not die. Is that asking too much? From God? Rising from the dead is great, but not dying would have been a hell of a lot better. You want people to believe that Jesus is Lord – don’t die. Then you’d see. Ask anybody. You believe in Jesus? Yeah. Why? Well, let’s see, he’s thirty-three years old and he was born in the year 1. See? Nobody would have a problem with that. Wouldn’t need any more prophets, wouldn’t need the Pope or Imam or any other authority on earth, we could all just go about our business. That’s what he should of done, if you ask me. But, what do I know? Just seems to me, if you were God and you really had everybody’s best interests at heart – that’s what you’d do. Instead of playing this insane game of making us kill you so you could rise from the dead.

 

Jesus fucked up?

 

In my humble opinion.

 

 

 

 

The seasons change, and with them our psyches alter.

 

Our fecundity withers.

 

All is autumnal.

 

And the lengthening shadows reveal rather than conceal our darkest thoughts.

 

Assuage our soul.

 

And torment can lead to peace.

 

But you’d never guess it from the candy display at Publix.

 

A joyful fear before the unknown.

 

It was not a conversation, but rather some mysterious communication.

 

Kismet. Turkish for doom, appointed lot, fate, pre-determined fortune.

 

 

 

 

So, it’s no longer time to die?

 

Not today.

 

What’s gotten into you?

 

What a funny thing to say?

 

Tell me.

 

Happiness. Happiness has gotten into me.

 

 

 

He felt all over the tension of happiness.

 

 

 

You really are free. You can start to use your God powers the moment your belief that you actually have them takes over.

 

What are you doing, like some quasi-religious thing?

 

What do you mean? This? You think it’s a cross, don’t you?

 

You telling me it’s not a cross?

 

You can call it a cross if you want to.

 

What would you call it?

 

I wouldn’t call it anything.

 

 

 

 

All the while, thinking: there’s nothing wrong with dead people.

 

What, after all, can be said about the dead, except they are no longer with us?

 

But they are.

 

 

 

Many people, many, many people feel profoundly alienated from the world they live in. They hope and dream and pray for some miraculous escape.

 

God.

 

Why not two Gods? One all-good, one all-powerful.

 

Mom and Dad.

 

 

 

So what is the meaning of life?

 

You’re kidding me, aren’t you?

 

No, no, I’m not kidding. I’m serious. What is the meaning of life?

 

What is the meaning of life?

 

Yeah.

 

I told you.

 

Tell me again.

 

There’s no meaning to life.

 

That’s such a comfort.

 

It’s just cells.

 

A stress-reliever.

 

Trying to reproduce.

 

And that’s it?

 

That’s it.

 

 

 

 

Do you believe in creation or destruction?

 

Both.

 

Why? How?

 

Because they are the same thing.

 

 

 

Hi, I’m Dale, I’m your neighbor.

 

Hi, Dale.

 

I’m hear to spread the word of the Lord.

 

Where – on my lawn?

 

And about the fellowship of faith. To invite you to join our congregation, and come celebrate, and make a joyful noise.

 

Farting?

 

And we can pray for whatever particular . . . . Let me ask you, neighbor, what are your prayer needs?

 

I don’t know.

 

Anything.

 

World peace, I guess.

 

Neighbor, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did not come to earth to bring us peace.

 

I’m sorry?

 

That’s not the deal.

 

It’s not?

 

It’s not about peace. I mean, everybody’d like to have peace in their life. I’d like to have peace in my life, you’d like to have peace in your life. But you can’t use that as an excuse.

 

An excuse to . . . ?

 

Just lay back . . .

 

Lie back. . .

 

And let things happen. Too many people do that without realizing that what the Lord taught us is that you have to pick up the fiery sword.

 

The what?

 

And you have to be willing to wield that fiery sword.

 

The fiery sword.

 

Yessir.

 

Jesus.

 

Yessir.

 

You don’t have to hit anybody with it, do you?

 

With the fiery sword?

 

Yeah.

 

Lord Amighty yes! And they will be smote . . .

 

Smote?

 

With the fiery sword, yessir.

 

You don’t have to kill em, do ya?

 

Kill em? If that’s all we did in life was go around killing people, where would we be?

 

Where are we?

 

If you think this is a long process. . .

 

What, evolution?

 

Think how long it took to kill off the dinosaurs.

 

 

 

 

 

In the dream there is no time.

 

Then how can you be late? I’m always late in my dreams. What do you mean there’s no time?

 

 

 

You’ve been found by . . .

 

The snake with no eyes.

 

 

 

 

And we have all these dreams.

 

We don’t all have these dreams

 

We all have dreams.

 

The organism, yes, it does dream.

 

 

 

 

 

Exposed to the vulture’s beak, like Prometheus, or cast fettered into the serpent’s den.

 

 

 

 

The saying In God We Trust doesn’t mean a damn thing to a Buddhist.

 

And that’s a good thing?

 

That is a good thing. Man preaching the word of God.

 

According to his lights.

 

Best he can.

 

To say it’s God’s will is not enough. It’s got to be the will of the people who carry out God’s will.

 

So he said, so he said.

 

And in time of need, God draws near.

 

In a time of need.

 

There’s a difference between needs and wants. Your needs, when you think about it are not all that many.

 

You gotta eat.

 

True. But you don’t have to drink.

 

Thinking about the preacher’s daughter while the preacher’s preachin.

 

Thinkin about her pussy, with the Lord Jesus looken on.

 

What’s up with that?

 

Our needs are few. Food, shelter. I think we need security. I think we need to love and be loved.

 

I don’t know what my unconscious is up to. That’s what makes it the unconscious – you can’t be conscious of it. But my fucking conscious mind is thinking about sex, I wanna be conservative here, I’m guessing about ninety-five percent of the time, so my unconscious must be going fucking nuts.

 

Wants, oh we have a lot of wants.

 

Desires.

 

God does not draw near for wants. He draws near for need. The risen Jesus.

 

Jesus.

 

Fucking freaked em out. They’re out there fishing all night, professional fisherman – do it for a living, been out there all night, and haven’t caught a fish all night.

 

And there he is.

 

Who?

 

Isn’t that him?

 

Who?

 

On the beach.

 

I’ll be God . . .

 

That’s him, isn’t it?

 

No.

 

It is. Look. He’s waving. It’s him. I swear to God, it’s him.

 

How? He’s dead. He’s been dead for . . .

 

Lord.

 

Have you caught any fish?

 

What’s he asking us for? He doesn’t know that?

 

Cast your net on the other side.

 

What?

 

Cast your net on the other side.

 

Can’t hurt.

 

Just watch out for the fiery sword.

 

 

 

 

They want an Islamic state, what’s wrong with that? If Israel can be a Jewish state, what’s wrong with being an Islamic state?

 

What’s wrong?

 

After all, we are a Christian nation, are we not?

 

What?

 

In an Islamic state, you see, they’re followers of Islam.

 

Followers.

 

What do you follow?

 

My nose.

 

 

 

In the beginning, people worshipped stones.

 

In the middle ages, when you’d ride up on a town, first thing you’d see, you’d see the churches, or come to a city, see the cathedral sticking up, later on, it’d be the palace you’d see. Now it’s all factories, commercial buildings. That’s architecture, but it’s also a new world.

 

If you believe in time.

 

Then you maybe believe you can outlast it.

 

She did.

 

And the more you make some deity out of her. . .

 

Nobody worships women anymore. I wish they did. They could start by worshipping me.

 

One piece at a time.

 

What do you mean?

 

They might start, your worshippers, just by worshipping one aspect of your divinity, say, your ass.

 

A fitting object of adoration.

 

An ass that people could look up to.

 

Providing they were lying down.

 

 

 

 

 

Either he rose from the dead, literally, physically, historically. Or he didn’t. So which is it?

 

No, he didn’t. Not physically, not literally, not historically. What happened was: it didn’t happen.

 

Definitively?

 

Definitively.

 

Did not happen?

 

Did not happen.

Just try to keep the order straight for starters: There’s creation. It’s topped off by man. And then wo-man – out of man. Then there’s the Garden of Eden, which we fuck up. Then there’s Cain killing Able, which makes things worse. After a while there’s the Flood and Noah and his Ark – with God complicit, as much as admitting that He fucked up this time. So let’s start over. And we do. And that’s where real historical people, it would seem, start to get involved.

 

Hearing voices?

 

Hearing a voice.

 

Here we go again.

 

Can’t even say his name. If you say it . . .

 

Then what?

 

You can’t say it.

 

Why not?

 

It doesn’t sound like anything. It’s just, it’s just like, I don’t know, it’s just like a breath.

 

A breath.

 

 

 

You look affected.

 

In what way?

 

As if you were trying to draw attention to yourself.

 

How?

 

The hat?

 

The hat?

 

The hat is an affectation. You’re indoors. What is the purpose of the head covering?

 

To be the only god.

 

Come again?

 

 

 

 

So, what have you been up to?

 

Just preparing to die.

 

That’s cool.

 

To be prepared to live without God.

 

No one thinks like you. Doesn’t that bother you?

 

Why should it bother me?

 

 

 

There’s always that moment when God looks down and sees that you are happy and decrees that this must not be so.

 

Are you happy now?

 

Within reason.

 

And this cannot be.

 

 

 

 

Listen to this. Woman enters a convent, becomes a nun, but one night she runs away from the convent and turns into a party girl, and she wastes her whole life, and when she’s just a drunk old hag, she goes back to the convent, expecting to be reviled.

 

I hate when that happens.

 

But guess what happens.

 

What?

 

Turns out that all this time, this whole debauched lifetime, the Virgin Mary has taken her place as a nun, and she just morphs, does like this shape-shift thing . . .

 

No.

 

And she’s right back in her life as a nun. Hasn’t missed a beat.

 

No.

 

It could happen.

 

 

You have arrived at the Gate of False Dreams.

 

 

It all comes out of patriarchal despotism.

 

What does?

 

Civilization.

 

How civilization began.

 

How killing. . .

 

Assassination. . .

 

Of the father.

 

Becomes the supreme crime.

 

So after they kill him, they make a god of him.

 

And the sinners repent, so they can sin some more.

 

Repression dominates life. You become fat and miserable.

 

That’s civilization. And so, our longing is always for sexual satisfaction.

Is that what drives you?

 

Me and everybody else, and if you don’t think so, it’s only because you’re repressing it.

 

I don’t think so.

 

Think again. You keep talking about how bad what’s his name smells, this stinks and that stinks, and it smells bad in here, and this smells like pee and this smells like cat pee and this smells like dog poo and that smells like shit, and it smells like somebody threw up in here.

 

So?

 

What do you think that’s all about?

 

Tell me.

 

Your neuroses. They reveal themselves in your animal nature. That’s you at your most basic, and what you think is refined, turning up your nose because something stinks, is really just you using your sense of smell, the basest of all the senses, left over from when we had our noses near the fucking ground.

 

How do you know I . . . ?

 

Next thing you know you’ll be telling me you’re not neurotic.

 

I’m not.

 

 

 

Jesus walked into Jerusalem with three thousand followers. Three thousand. Policed by four hundred Roman soldiers. Jesus had an overwhelming force. All he had to do . . .

 

 

 

Are you gonna eat that?

 

I don’t eat meat.

 

You don’t know you’re missing.

 

Yes I do. It’s just. . . the whole meat-eating thing.

 

What about it?

 

I just don’t get it.

 

What don’t you get? It tastes good. Don’t you see that nothing that enters a man from the outside can make him unclean?

 

Oh really?

 

Since it doesn’t go into his heart.

 

Oh.

 

It’s what comes out of a man’s mouth that makes him unclean, not what goes in.

 

How is that?

 

Because it is from within the human heart that evil flows.

 

 

 

(They are holding hands in a circle. Their heads are bowed in prayer, and then the meeting is breaking up, people begin to leave. Ensemble #1, 2, 3 linger.)

 

Could you, maybe, if you really want to do a group prayer thing next time, could you maybe make it a little more nondenominational?

 

What?

 

A little more, you know, ecumenical.

 

What the hell are you talking about?

 

I mean, if you believe Jesus is Lord. . . ?

 

What do you mean, if?

 

Well, you do, and that’s wonderful and all, and I’m truly happy for you, but, then, since Jesus is Lord, maybe you can just say Lord and not say . . . you know. I mean, instead of saying, you know . . . Jesus.

 

Wait a minute.

 

And that way . . .

 

Wait.

 

You can . . .

 

Are you telling us . . . ?

 

You know, for the people who don’t . . .

 

Don’t say Jesus?

 

Yes.

 

Well, I’ll be goddamned.

 

No, you don’t have to take it that way.

 

Like we’re gonna cut Jesus out of the goddamn prayer.

 

I didn’t say to cut Jesus out of the prayer. Jesus is Lord.

 

Goddamn right he is.

 

I’m just saying . . .

 

Jesus is Lord.

 

That’s right.

 

Then why can’t he be in the goddamn prayer?

 

Because of the different faces of God.

 

Jesus Christ.

 

That’s one of them.

 

 

 

 

 

What if abortion had been available to the Virgin Mary?

 

Let us pray – so that the laws of the universe might possibly be momentarily annulled in our behalf. Is that too much to ask? Virgin Mary in the abortion clinic.

 

She’s got a pretty good case.

 

Unwanted pregnancy.

 

Through no fault of her own.

 

She aborts Baby Jesus.

 

Surely God can trump that card.

 

Everybody makes mistakes.

 

Nobody’s perfect.

 

To err is human.

 

To forgive is divine.

 

 

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Backstage on Angel Street

DSC05453Gaslight cast Angel Street (Gaslight) by Patrick Hamilton, the parenthetical title refers to the play’s historical setting on Angel Street in Victorian London when gaslight was used as illumination before the advent of electric lights.

Gaslight also turns out to be a telling clue in solving the case in the classic detective yarn. It’s got five roles, and they’re all good ones.

The detective story is a branch of melodrama, where plot dominates character, although a great playwright, like, say, Sophocles, could turn a detective story into a tragedy. Sophocles did that by turning the detective into the perpetrator of the crime, turning the whole thing upside down, making the detective not the first to solve the crime, but the last.

Gaslight is right side up, which makes it easier for all involved to handle, simpler, which is good, because it’s one of only two ways to succeed in the theatre (Always Do the Simplest Thing), the other being to do Something You Already Know How to Do.

You can neatly apply those two rules to Gaslight, which also comports with the category of Well-Made play. Gaslight is demonstrably that.

There are five parts, each with its attractions for both actor and audience. There’s the older, comical maid-servant and there is the young, saucy maid-servant, who’s having it on with the master of the house, the villain of the piece, befitting melodrama, while the former is loyal to the lady of the house, who is the villain’s latest victim. The setting is the scene of the crime, but it is not until the arrival of the detective that the crime begins to be revealed and, at the same time, in real time, the crime is solved. It’s neat. That’s the set-up, and it works like a Swiss watch, but it’s got to be in capable hands. The fact that it’s a good script, in terms of plot, character, and language, doesn’t mean squat – or we’d be seeing great productions of Shakespeare all the time, but we don’t, mostly because actors have trouble learning and speaking the lines, and whole companies ignore the Two Rules of Theatre, abandoning the simplest things and plunging headlong into something they’ve never even tried before, and consequently most Shakespeare productions are a mess.

Gaslight could be a mess too, unless you stick to the rules, but that’s what makes it thrilling, like walking a tightrope, don’t try to get too fancy; just get to the other side.

Shakespeare is the best there is, the best training an actor can have. I say this as a self-made Shakespearean actor, not exactly unassisted, because I certainly benefited from the guiding hand of the great Shakespeare scholar and fine director in Sidney Homan, there’s something about the way Shakespeare chose words and put them together, something about rhythm and rhyme and talking and breathing, that if you study your lines and learn them, the lines practically say themselves. You open your mouth and out they come, not only rich and round, but syncopated.

Minus the richness and dizzying depth, Gaslight’s language is something like that. It is simpler, but it is still cadenced, still crafted consciously and skillfully to offer the actor clear signposts to guide him or her through the intricate plot to the conclusion.

Being a well-made play, Gaslight is precisely divided into three acts, beginning, middle, and end.

My journey is that of the retired police detective, Sergeant Rough. Rough’s journey is a joy. My objective couldn’t be clearer. I’m trying to solve the case. Every word I say is a step forward, a necessary and inevitable step forward, in solving the case.Rough

The trick to playing Rough is to articulate each word precisely and find the cadence and music in his speech, and to think the plot through from beginning to middle to end. Once you’ve put it all together, the only thing left to do is to connect the end to the beginning, so that it plays like a continuous loop in your head:

“I came in from nowhere and gave you the most horrible evening of your life, didn’t I, the most horrible evening of anybody’s life, I should imagine – ah, thank you, good evening, Mrs. Manningham, I believe, how are you, Mrs. Manningham?”

Sgt. Rough exists between those two lines. He’s a man who looks exactly like me, except he has short hair and a mustache, so I’ll need a shave and a haircut, and that will be Sgt. Rough.

 

Justin Clement is the versatile, engaging, attractive, funny, explosive, and charming actor playing the part of Jack Manningham, the gaslighter, who is a slick player, a cold-hearted, brutal womanizer, and secretly a thief and a murderer, so he’s got a lot going on. Justin uses his marvelous physical attributes – he is indisputably tall, dark, and handsome, not only to good effect, but to continually surprising effect, as tools of both his wit and his temper. He moves like a dancer, speaks in a rich and varied articulation of London talk. Jack is gaslighting his wife and Justin shows you exactly how it can be done.

Anne Rupp is Bella Manningham, the victim of Jack and his gaslighting. You feel sorry for her – because you look into her home and her life and see what the rest of London can’t see, what only the servants can see (Servants! We look at lives none of us lead, lives that have not been led for a hundred years, where those who went to the theatre were accustomed to returning home at the end of the evening to be waited on by servants, just like the people onstage.)

No one wants to be a victim. To be a victim is nothing to be ashamed of, perhaps, but it nevertheless causes shame, and the sad fact is that Bella is a victim, and that is what Anne Rupp makes very real, that Bella is a victim and Bella does not want to be a victim. It is a perversely difficult and ironic acting trick, meant to reveal the mind of someone desperately seeking to keep the focus off herself, who avoids confrontation, who would gladly fade into the background, if only she weren’t being gaslighted.

You watch, now knowing in 2018 what gaslighting is all about, and every moment of Bella’s life reveals with vibrant present tense intensity: This is just the kind of shit men do to women!

Laura Jackson directed These Shining Lives and produced a similar effect there, an empathic bond between the audience and the protagonists, women made victims by male greed and cruelty. You had to care about them. Here, Bella doesn’t want to be the center of attention, but she is, and Anne makes you watch her very carefully because she’s trying to keep a volcano of emotion from exploding.

Sgt. Rough spends no stage time at all with the Manningham’s maid Nancy, pertly play by Ashlyn. Although it is never specified whether Rough and Nancy have ever interacted, it is likely they have not, and that all Rough knows about Nancy is what has been reported to him by his man Booker, one of Nancy’s boyfriends.

Ashlyn Busscher plays Nancy as alluringly and saucily and wittily as you’d like, Nancy’s game being to see what she can get out of her situation. She becomes Jack’s willing accomplice, whatever his crimes might be. But she not only spices things up. She’s dangerous.

Then there’s the great Jan Cohen, the legendary Jan Cohen, whose star turn as Bette Davis wowed Ron Cunningham into acknowledging her as one of the best actors in town. It’s true. She knows how to play. Jan’s performance as Elizabeth, the good soul maid, is as finely crafted as a hand-stitched glove. Here are two tiny details that exhibit the economy and precision of her technique, which I can glean onstage and then hidden, spying, offstage, in, regrettably, the only scene I share with Jan.

 

The maid is trying to think of a place where the detective can hide, and Jan and I make the scene full of fits and starts, and she sends me this way and then that, and in the midst of it all, so quick and perfect, she pronounces the word “come” with just the right cockney, absolutely nailing it.

Not long after that, Sgt. Rough is hidden away, spying on the scene between Elizabeth and Jack, when the wicked villain tells her to “walk about like a cat,” and before she concedes to his request (what the hell), there’s just the slightest adjustment in her expression, a narrowing of her eyes, that instantly conveys her unspoken response: What the fuck?

The denouement of this well-made melodrama cycles rapidly to a conclusion that affords us a cameo appearance by actor/playwright Chuck Lipsig, adroitly handing a nonspeaking role in a manner that speaks clearly in what brech would call his gest. Chuck plays a cop.

This is what they call Hell Week in the theatre, implying that you are going through Hell before you can open your play, completing your set construction, tech-ing it from cue to cue, fumbling through the first No Line-call rehearsals, dress rehearsal, final dress, the preview, Jesus! But it’s really not Hell at all, if you’ve been doing your work all along, and we have. We’re not even doing a tech run today, Super Bowl Sunday, because the only lighting effect of Gaslight is the gaslight mysteriously rising and falling. The set is entirely and beautifully in place in 1880’s Victorian London, floating in black nebulous space all the way to the Acrosstown’s back brick wall, the old Baird Hardware wall, built in 1890!

The set and lighting design for Gaslight is the work of Michael Pressley Bobbitt, who is married to Laura Jackson, and here he has joined seamlessly the setting and lights with the precise and flawless technique of the well-made play to aim at the dramaturgical apex, the unified effect.

Always worth a try.

Mrs. Manningham: Anne Rupp Mr. Manningham: Justin Clement Rough: Shamrock McShane Elizabeth: Jan Cohen Nancy: Ashlyn Busscher Policeman: Chuck Lipsig

Angel Street (Gaslight) by Patrick Hamilton, directed by Laura Jackson, February 9 – 25, 2018, Friday & Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm, Acrosstown repertory Theatre, 619 South Main Street, Gainesville FL. Tickets on sale at accrosstown.org.v

Counter Punch

The Royale by Marco Ramirez

The Royale by Marco Ramirez

Directed by Lauren Warhol Caldwell and Ryan George

Hippodrome January 10 – February 11, 2018

 

“He remembered the Battle Royal, the brutal contest where eight or more black men fought in the ring at the same time. Often naked, blind-folded and wearing Sambo masks, they would swing wildly at each other until one man was left standing. His reward: loose change thrown from the crowd. Although dating back to his early career, the Battle Royal was a stinging humiliation Jack Johnson would never forgive.” – Sal Fradella, Jack Johnson

 

It’s a week before opening and co-directors Ryan George and Lauren Warhol Caldwell are putting the finishing touches on the Hippodrome’s production of The Royale by Miami playwright Marco Ramirez. The rehearsal starts at noon and will go for six hours, fine tuning a show that will play like a boxing match in six extended rounds. I say extended because these rounds are not like the three-minute round a fighter faces on fight night, but rather the surrealistic rounds that last past the bell, as in training, when your trainer’s goal is to push you past the limits of your endurance.

 

 

This ensemble is made up of Ryan George (actor/director, like player/coach, one thinks of Bill Russell coaching the Celtics to the NBA title), Bryce Michael Wood, E. Stanley Richardson, Dylan Kammerer, and Renata Eastlick.

 

The tight ensemble rolls into in a physical and vocal warm-up before plunging into a drama akin to a ritualistic rite of passage that will leave all participants spent, physically, vocally, and spiritually.

 

 

Robert Robins, lighting designer, strides down a side aisle and into the house. He’s looking at Mihai Ciupe’s spare, polished, functionally beautiful set. This guy is a workman. He’s eyeballing it, studying it. One thing you notice about Bob is that he doesn’t look up at the lights. He knows where each one is and where it’s pointing and what it looks like when it’s turned on, and he’s got a pretty good idea of all the combinations, and if you don’t think that’s amazing, the next time you’re sitting in the audience at the Hipp and waiting for the show to start, take a look at the lights, try to count them all, and the show will start before you get to the end.

 

The backstage area is open, adding depth to Mihai’s set.

 

The Hipp’s thrust stage – like Shakespeare’s offers not just the variety of viewpoints, but a three-dimensionality that makes plays performed on a proscenium stage seem flat.

 

Warhol likes plays that make you think. The Royale is not only a play that makes you think, but a play that makes what you think matter. “Now more than ever,” Warhol says, “unfortunately.”

 

I am seeing the play as well through a lens brought into focus through Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning, The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America, and so the forces at play in the drama are sharper than ever.

 

Kendi defines the forces as these: Segregationist, a racist belief in the superiority of white people, and a practice of separation of races; and assimilationist, a racist belief in the present inferiority of black people, and a practice of assimilating black people into white culture, teaching them, if only they will learn, to be white. Opposing these two forces is antiracism, a belief in equality and diversity, and a practice of equal opportunity.

 

Kendi’s book is a revelation because it studies not the consumers of racist ideas, and lord knows we’ve had enough of them, but the producers. Who are these guys and what are they really selling?

 

Is this a sporting event or Armageddon?

 

 

The set is the squared circle. Brecht loved the idea of the theatre as a boxing arena, where the audience members were like fight fans. Every fight fan is a critic, making judgments round by round.

 

Fights don’t happen just in the ring. They happen first in the mind.

 

 

The ring, the squared circle, encloses a paradox, a seeming contradiction, because it presents itself as a determinant of superiority, but nobody wants to buy a ticket to even see the damn fight unless it’s a battle between equals.

 

 

That is what makes this such a high-pitched battle between antiracism and racism – both strands, segregationist and assimilationist.

 

Once Jay steps into the ring, antiracism wins, because that’s the fight, gaining equality now, not eventually, not even inevitably, but now.

 

 

Not if he loses, not if he suffers an ignominious defeat, not if the white man thrashes him and proves white superiority.

 

But he won’t. He can’t. Because it doesn’t exist.

 

You don’t know what you’ll do under pressure.

 

Yes, you do, and this is where Wynton comes in, Jay’s trainer, played by the estimable E. Stanley Richardson – because he’s the only one who knows with absolute technical surety that Jay is going to win – because the easiest thing in the world to predict is what someone will do under pressure. He will do what he’s been trained to do.

 

 

Warhol and Bob Robbins make plans for a light show to illuminate The Royale on Sunday morning. Such is the work week of the professional theatre. Nine o’clock Sunday morning – dry tech. Ryan and Warhol and Bob are going to look at the effects of every moment of the play in light, shadow, chiaroscuro, and color, to move its mood from beginning to middle to end.

 

Bob Robbins has yet to add his light plot to the mix. So what I would see on stage was bare bones, actors in rehearsal clothes, house lights, tables mounted over the seats here and there to accommodate note-raking and script study.

 

 

How did Warhol Caldwell, the Hipp’s artistic director, come to direct this play?

 

“I read it and fell in love with it, “she says simply. “It reads beautifully and it plays even better than it reads.”

 

Warhol likes plays that don’t conform to the rules of naturalism, a slice of life. Her preference is for drama as ritual, stylized, expressionistic. Warhol.

 

 

The playscript announces itself as a play for 4M/1F, four males, one female. Three of the males are black, one white. The female is black. Gender and race are significant.

 

The Royale is the story of Jay “The Sport” Jackson, a black boxer seeking the heavyweight crown in the first decade of the 20th century when Jim Crow was in raging full effect, just as the great Jack Johnson did. The Royale is the story of Jack Johnson mythologized.

 

 

Let’s put this in historical perspective, shall we, since the event portrayed only took place in the previous century. Teddy Roosevelt was president at the beginning of the 20th century. Teddy put the usual racist spin on current events, attributing the wide-spread custom of lynching black people to black crime.

 

Here’s how Kendi sees it.

 

“Teddy Roosevelt did not become toxic in white communities. His groomed presidential successor, William Howard Taft, cruised to victory, weeks before African Americans landed a victory of their own on December 26, 1908. At the center of the victory was a Texas-born colored heavyweight champion, the first counter punching boxer in a sport of brawlers, who had finally received his shot at the heavyweight championship and knocked out Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia. ‘No event in 40 years has given more satisfaction to the colored people of this country than has the signal victory of Jack Johnson,’ reported the Richmond Planet.”

 

Do the math, 40 years, since the colored people got their first taste of freedom.

 

“The most famous Black man in America quickly became the most hated Black man in America.” – Kendi

 

 

Ryan George has in-the-ring know-how to apply to The Royale, intimate experience of playing it in a hit production in Coral Gables, Warhol has Hipp know-how, expressionistic chops and a social conscience.

 

 

Ryan and Warhol have a simple plan for today’s rehearsal. “We’ll start in Two going into Three, all of Three, and then the top of Four. Then we’ll do a run.”

 

Everybody is keyed into the starting point, in medias res, and: Go.

 

What a rush. You’re not going to be prepared for what happens aurally and visually in The Royale. Well, now you are. Beats. Double-beats. Rhythms and movement. Classic structural elements, like a Chorus – performed chameleon-like by Dylan, counterpoised with hip-hop

 

 

Stan Richardson is playing the Hipp for the first time. A year ago Adam Lishawa stepped out of the Gainesville independent theatre scene and onto the Hipp’s main stage. Now Stan gets a shot. Ryan George happened to see a video of Stan play Big Daddy in our Black Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the Actors’ Warehouse, directed by Carol Velasques and me. Now Stan is working with the pros, and he more than holds his own, gives as good as he gets, because, as we all knew when he played Big Daddy, when he owned Big Daddy, Stan is as good as it gets.

 

 

 

Rapid Fire Impressions

 

Precision. Fighters work together.

 

Inner monologue of a fight.

 

No space between lines. This is a Fight song. Boxing crowd. Your eyes and ears have to work. You find yourself not only on the edge of your seat but ducking and weaving. You circle the ring, you jab and move.

 

Stan plays the guy who knows the ropes, the trainer, Wynton.

 

Hitchcock trick w/ time. Stop action tricks. Slo-mo.

 

Chorography is heavy at beginning and end.

 

Stan: I was scared to death. I mean, words are one thing, but the clapping, the moves, my God!

 

Audience reactions to the rhythms – we want them to include them in the ha’s (the James Brown audible explosions of breath).

 

Pace. Round structure is made to tire you out by accumulated blows and spent effort.

 

“It’s the worst of what we’re made of.”

 

What it’s really about. A little boy looking for his sister. Childhood. Crying. Vulnerability.

 

Presentational/Representational.

 

Counterpoint. Two things happening at once.

 

Split focus.

 

He must defeat something within himself, and when he does, he will lose. He can only win by losing.

 

Be frozen. An inner moment between them.

 

Dylan – accents, voices

 

Remember Warhol’s surrealistic Frankenstein – its hypnotic stylized movement.

 

Overlaps. Robert Altman.

 

Dissolves.

 

“How hard it is to keep the pipe dream alive – the world’s only interracial fight promoter.”

 

Levels. Stage pix of continuing shifting perspectives and dynamics.

 

Sports history.

 

Weight of history makes us seem like we’re at the bottom of an hourglass.

 

Where the pauses within the lines go – without it just being air.

 

Brechtian values, episodic, crowds, arts standing forth separately as well as supporting each the other.

 

The plays is many voices, many sounds, alive aurally, alive visually with a kaleidoscopic grace, power, shadow and act.

 

 

 

 

Jay’s manager, as played by the versatile Dylan Kammerer, is a young man too, as wide-eyed in his yearning to grab the world by the tail as Jay is.

 

Max sees the title as an end, Jay sees it as a beginning. What gives the play its beautiful ambiguity is that Jay does not fully understand what it is the beginning of. Nina knows what it means, and, it ain’t good. One victory, even the heavyweight championship, is only going to unleash the full fury of racism, when the segregationists and assimilationists join forces in an uneasy alliance, mindless that their inherent contradictions can never be reconciled. Hatred and greed can do that, even if greed is destined to win out in the end. That’s the way capitalism works.

 

“We’re going to work three or four scenes we don’t quite have under our belts just yet, and then we’ll do a run,” Warhol had told me before the rehearsal began.

 

There’s a reason the actors don’t quite have these scenes under their belt yet – it’s because this is the crystalized conflict each character feels, and if they can crack this nut, solve this puzzle, live through these beats truly, and breathe with it as one, as an ensemble, then the whole play will adhere, come together.

 

They are each of them polished pros, so what they think is not quite there yet strikes the eye of the casual observer as performance-worthy. Stan, despite his distinguished gray hair and regal bearing, is the neophyte here, our Big Daddy, the child is father to the man.

 

In the play Ryan is Jay’s sparring partner, Fish, who is learning a trade, but in rehearsal Ryan is a teacher, the exact opposite, directing blocking assignments and crafting the interaction between players. The contrast is sharp because his performance as Fish is so immediate and visceral, full of new impressions blossoming in his expression, all of it marking someone who is just starting to figure things out. Such a fine actor.

Ryan’s arresting, expressive features are always holding the frame our attention. He tends to his

bag, his back turned, and when he turns around his gaze fixes sharp on its object.

 

 

Angles. Drama across the stage between Ryan and Stan.

 

 

“Don’t break eye contact with me,” he coaches Stan, and they lock in on each other the next time

through, with riveting results.

 

 

Gender Racism

 

“Racism has always been a divisive force separating black men and white men, and sexism has been a force that unites them.” – bell hooks

 

“Jack Johnson’s ‘heartaches’ with two Black women had caused him to date primarily White women. Johnson loathed that ‘no matter how colored women feel toward a man, they don’t spoil him and pamper him and build up his ego.’ White women did, and thus they were superior partners, in Johnson’s version of gender racism.”

 

You can clearly see these forces at work on Nina.

 

“In actuality, some White women refused to build up their man’s ego, while some Black women catered to their man’s ego. But by 1909, the gender racism of the submissive White woman and the hardened Black woman was attracting patriarchal Black men to White women – just as the gender racism of the weak Black man being unable to handle the hard Black woman had attracted some Black women to the strong White man, and just as the gender racism of hypersexual Black people, embodied in the large penis or buttocks, attracted some White people to Black people; and just as the assimilationist belief that the whiter and straighter the skin and the hair, the more beautiful a person was, attracted Black people to (light and) White people. All these racist myths only hardened over the next century as Americans became better able to act on their interracial attractions in public.”

 

 

The manager is the bridge to the white world, to the world at large. Max is an assimilationist, the best possible vantage point for the exploitation of racist ideas that are being consumed like hotdogs at a ball game, to the point that the whole turns into Nathan’s Fourth of July Hotdog eating contest, with Max getting a percentage of concessions.

 

Bixby, the champ, is in the unenviable position of having to placate both the segregationists and assimilationists, which means he can’t win. He either stays out of the ring altogether – and he can’t. Or he enters it and wins – and he can’t.

 

In most plays that are hits, that are entertainment, everything presents itself as real, as so true to life, except the ideas. That’s the way naturalism can provide a satisfying illusion.

 

On the other hand, epic theatre reverses this, and nothing is real except for the ideas – so that two fighters parallel to one another can recount their altercation in syncopated movement and sound, a scene in a hotel room requires that the audience imagine the hotel room, or the changing faces in a crowd of reporters, and all the reporters morphing into one, embodied by Dylan.

 

 

Renata Eastlick is the wild card. She portrays Jay’s sister Nina, who has already suffered severely from the terrible trauma unleashed by racist ideas, and so she knows full well the world of terror Jay is plunging everyone into when he steps into that ring. And because she plays Jay’s sister and because she is black and because she is a woman, in the hall of mirrors that is Jay’s mind, she comes to play the part of Jay’s opponent, Bixby, who is white a man who stands for racism. What does it mean to substitute Nina for Bixby? It means first and foremost that she is strong, powerful, in fact, his equal.

It takes a mighty actress to play all those parts, and Renata Eastlick is all that. She is a powerhouse.

As Jay, the subtly of the performance rests on the same tightrope Jay walks, so Brice goes beyond charisma, which is not really what he’s interested in anyway (which forms the basis of his charisma), he’s only after “specifics”. That’s what he asks Warhol to look for is his performance. She does and finds each of his beats separated and articulated cleanly. The result is graceful, powerful, razor sharp, and tragic – it’s 1910, they’re all going to die, and what’s worse, they’re all going to lose – Trump will eventually be president.

Brecht didn’t believe in catharsis, the purging of the emotions of pity and fear at the end of a tragedy. He believed in a play that empowered the audience to act – on the truths revealed onstage.

That’s what I think The Royale is aiming at.

 

 

Race in America

Notes and Thoughts on Stamped from the Beginning, the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (2016)

Racism is not caused by ignorance. It uses ignorance to advance its goals. It is an attempt to rationalize inequality.

“Hate and ignorance have not driven the history of racist ideas in America. Racist policies have driven the history of racist ideas in America.”

“Racially discriminatory policies have usually sprung from economic, political, and cultural self-interests, which are constantly changing.” – Kendi

Kendi shifts the focus from consumption of racist ideas to the production of racist ideas.

“The principal function of racist ideas in American history has been suppression of resistance to racial discrimination and its resulting racial disparities.”

“Black Americans’ history of oppression has made Black opportunities, not Black people, inferior.”

The first major debate between racists was over the Cause of Inferior Blackness. Was it a curse? Or was it the climate? Nature or nurture?

The segregationists sided with the curse theory. The assimilationists with climate theory.

Pirates stole African captives off a Spanish ship headed for Vera Cruz, Mexico, in the Gulf of Mexico, and 20 of the Africans ended up being sold to the Governor of Virginia, George Yeardley, in August 1609, just in time to help with the tobacco crop.

Numbers Game

That’s 288 years of Slavery in America (1609 – 1864), 88 years of Slavery in the United States (1776 – 1864). Translate those numbers into work hours, labor power.

The assimilationists tried to introduce the idea of Voluntary Slavery, but it never caught on.

Romney’s notion of Voluntary Deportation suffered the same fate.

Racists could divide and conquer poor whites who sided with Blacks by establishing more and more white privilege.

In 1690 the Salem Witch trials really did happen. Fake witches, but not fake news. But it did not happen in the USA, just in the colonies.

Lots of Black folks became Christian just so white folks wouldn’t think they were the Devil.

A law was passed so that any property somehow accumulated by a slave was to be seized and sold, and the profits were to go to the poor, the poor being white Christian servants and non-slave-owning whites. White privilege.

There was the straight-up racist view that Blacks were inherently and naturally inferior, and there wasn’t a damn thing anybody could do about it.

Then there was the paternalistic assimilationist view that Blacks were inferior largely because we made them that way through slavery, and now our task was to purify them of their inferiority, in other words, to whiten them.

Slavery made Black people different, not inferior. It made white people different too, and certainly not superior, in fact, morally inferior, in so far as they were racist.

“I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.”

“How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from among the drivers of negroes?” – Samuel Johnson

Not: All human beings are created equal; but: all human beings are equal.

Not: Creation; but: production.

Vermont and Massachusetts banned slavery.

Jefferson owned 200 slaves when he wrote: “All men are created equal.” “. . . endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“For these rich men, freedom was not the power to make choices; freedom was the power to create choices.

“Only power gave Jefferson freedom from England. Power came before freedom, not the other way around – as the powerless are taught.” – Kendi

Abolishing slavery was a restraint of trade, an assault on the free market.

Adam Smith said that the wealth of a nation came from its productive capacity – and Black people in Africa didn’t have any.

Racist ideas are consumed both by fools and those who benefit from racist policies, but the ideas are not produced by ignorance or stupidity, on the contrary, they are produced by a reasoned thought process, seeking to rationalize an existing hierarchy, to justify it.

There is not one racist idea; there are two. The first is segregationist, and sets forth the premise that Black people by nature are inferior. It posits the distinction between the races as biological – an evolution in thinking from the biblical explanation that Blacks are inferior because they were cursed by God. The theory that races of human beings could be as distinct and different as different species is called polygenesis.

Monogenesis is the theory that all races developed from a single source – which lends the assimilationist approach to racism its foundation. Human beings have been molded by their climate and environment and history and culture to different degrees of civilization. What began as equality turned into inequality, but Blacks might still become equal through assimilation, if not be becoming white, then, at least, by becoming like white people.

No one knew better than slaves that Blacks were the equals of whites in every respect – because the slave owners employed Blacks in every position that required consummate skill, judgement, talent, and intelligence – as engineers, craftsmen, physicians. They entrusted slaves with their lives and their livelihoods, but not with power. That was the point.

Assimilationists became abolitionists and promulgated the advice that freed Blacks should apply uplift suasion – an attempt by Blacks to persuade whites of their equality through good behavior.

Negative Black behavior, so this theory went, reinforced racist ideas: white people see Black people behaving in a negative way and take it as evidence of their inferiority: See? They’re trashing their own neighborhood. . . . Why do they always loot the liquor store first?

As if the behavior produced the inequality: “If Black people didn’t act that way, we wouldn’t be racist.”

The whole idea of uplift suasion is racist. It asks that each and every Black person behave positively every moment of their lives. In effect, slavery.

Minstrel shows were the first American theatre.

What produces racist ideas is the need to rationalize and justify an existing power structure. The ideas are produced by an interest in the power relationship or hierarchy, in preserving it. But all the ideas are faulty, based on false premises. They may follow logically from the premise, but the premise is unsustainable.

The ideas are consumed by those who share the interests of the producers, and the ignorant, who can be duped by inadequate ideas, and mollified by white privilege.

When slavery’s death knell started sounding in the South, racism was raging in the North, while at the same time capitalists wanted to free all those slaves to become cheap labor.

Racist idea from the slavery era: Blacks are actually healthier and saner as slaves than they are as free.

We know from history that racist ideas defending slavery would eventually collapse. But do we know why? It came from economics, not morality.

The ideas would be refined and recycled for Jim Crow.

Slavery’s racist ideas were completely countered by Frederick Douglass’ Slave Narrative.

 

“Ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! Ain’t I a woman? I can outwork, outeat, outlast any man! Ain’t I a woman!” – Sojourner Truth

 

Black people are perfectly capable of believing racist ideas – just like white people.

Both white and Blacks, persuaded by racist ideas, could be both anti-slavery and racist.

Kendi examines history through the narratives of individuals intersecting with the nexus of the three forces forming the antithesis of racist thought: segregationist, assimilationist, and antiracist. Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois, and Angela Davis.

The Jeffersonian mindset dictated that Blacks were inferior, but all white men were equal.

“When men oppress their fellow men, the oppressor ever finds, in the character of the oppressed, a full justification for his oppression.” – Frederick Douglass

Douglass was conflicted, an abolitionist and an assimilationist Black man, believing in racist ideas.

“The view which most naturalists entertain, and which I formerly entertained – namely that each species has been independently created – is erroneous. I am fully convinced that species are not immutable.”

“In the recurring struggle for survival, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress to perfection” – Darwin

Perfection being adaptability.

Adaptive behavior.

It becomes clear as the narrative unravels that, at the time of the Civil War, racist ideas were being used to both support and abolish slavery, and the ideas were so pervasive, they even snared Darwin.

Lincoln to the South: “You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted.”

South Carolina was the only state where Blacks were a majority of the population. If slavery were restricted, then slave-owners couldn’t spread their slaves out, and a rebellion would be an inevitability.

“Florida’s secessionists issued a Declaration of causes, maintaining that Blacks must be enslaved because everywhere ‘their natural inclination’ was toward ‘idleness, vagrancy, and crime.’” – Kendi

The Confederacy was transparently based on racist ideas:

“The great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man and that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition, this, our new government, is the first in the history of the world to be based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This great truth is the cornerstone of the Confederacy.” – Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy March 21, 1861

Ok, maybe you thin it was about states’ rights, but, for me, I think it was about slavery.

At the beginning of the Civil War, when Lincoln still hoped to reconcile with the rebel states, runaway slaves were still returned to their masters, under the Fugitive Slave act. And at the same time, slaves in the rebel states were made to work for the rebel army.

The racist idea of Black docility gave way in the face of Black resistance – when the shooting started. Blacks joined up and fought like hell.

Racist ideas could flip. At one moment, when their physical strength was needed to work the fields, Blacks were said to possess superhuman strength, but then they could not be soldiers because they were physically incapable of it. First, they were docile; then, they couldn’t take orders.

Spinoza would term racist ideas as inadequate.

Racist ideas produced the seriously proposed and considered proposal of colonizing – relocating all the Blacks somewhere else.

Send them all back to Africa.

Ship them back.

Like property.

Instead of respecting them as fully free and equal human beings. Citizens.

That notion died in the war too. If Blacks were going to fight and die for this country, they had a right to live here.

An equal right.

They were born here.

You know when that particular idea might have half-assed worked – colonization? In the 17th century. You might have offered those Black people a chance to go home.

There is nothing Blacks can do to undo racist ideas. Only the beholders, the consumers of racist ideas can undo them in their own minds, see them as inadequate.

There was a difference between abolishing slavery and setting people free – because if you removed them from slavery, and they had neither capital nor land, they would never be free.

“Black squatters on the land Jefferson Davis used to own formed their own government and made a cotton profit of $160,000!

Blacks coined the term white trash to refer to whites who didn’t own slaves. They had been convinced by the inadequate racist idea of white superiority. If poor whites were trash, then what were rich whites? Non-trash, anti-trash, the opposite of trash, they were value itself, quality at its finest. Whites adopted the term because it conveyed the idea that whiteness naturally expressed value and quality.

Slavery is a kind of inversion. The slave-owner is one man, his slaves are many. One man has power over many others. They do the work, he reaps the profit, and yet he brands them lazy. He calls them shiftless, irresponsible, undisciplined, and yet it is they who accomplish every task that requires skill, talent, and concentrated labor. It’s a mirror image, a shadow play.

Why all this talk about slavery? Slavery ended in the USA 150 years ago, for crysakes.

That’s not very long. That’s two lifetimes. That’s all.

Slavery in the USA ended up in the trashcan of history. Capitalism determined that slavery had become outmoded. What was needed was a more efficient method of exploiting human labor.

Racist ideas allowed Blacks to discriminate among themselves between darker and lighter-skinned people.

States in the Confederacy: South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina

The logic of racist ideas did not dictate that just because Blacks were not slaves that they should be able to vote. Here was something segregationists and assimilationists could agree on. The segregationists meant that Blacks should never vote, while assimilationists meant that Black just should not vote now, not until they became sufficiently white, which presumably meant voting in a sufficiently white manner.

The KKK was formed as a social club in Tennessee in 1865.

“Hypocrisy normalized the American reform movement. Race, gender, ethnic, and labor activists were angrily challenging the popular bigotry targeting their own groups at the same time that they were happily reproducing the popular bigotry targeting other groups. They did not realize that racist, sexist, ethnocentric, and classist ideas were produced by the same powerful minds,” – Kendi

In response to Black people getting the vote, white segregationists formed terrorist groups.

Racist ideas could of course be expressed without the use of overtly racist language, or without the use of language at all: The image of White Jesus.

Sharecropping was capitalized slavery. Here’s a piece of land you don’t own. Live here and make it turn a profit and give the profit to me. Now stay there.

The object of racist ideas was to obtain and maintain control of power economically, politically, and culturally.

Trump’s base is segregationist, hardcore racists who believe Blacks are inherently and naturally inferior and never will be equal.

The majority of Trump’s voters are assimilationists who believe that Blacks can only become equal by acting white.

The second slavery that went with Reconstruction and Jim Crow was worse than the first because it came with the awareness that racist ideas could adapt perpetually to maintain control of Black lives no matter what progress, real or imagined, might present itself. Separate but equal meant: separate but unequal.

Blacks didn’t need or want land or money to be given to them after slavery was abolished, they just wanted to be paid for their work, for services rendered. Figure it out in manhours, over a period of 300 years.

Free stuff is when somebody picks your cotton for you and you pay them nothing.

The same subterfuge that allowed racist ideas to control the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the face of the complete contradiction of its principles evidenced in the existence of slavery was now used in the 14th Amendment to uphold the liberty of capitalists to dictate wages and enforce Jim Crow, separate but unequal, policies that protected businesses, but not workers.

Racist ideas are an excuse, a rationale, for discriminatory practices and policies. A scientific study that showed that Blacks weren’t as healthy or didn’t live as long as whites meant you didn’t have to sell them insurance.

Racist ideas are false ideas put forth to achieve, maintain, and extend political, economic, cultural, sexual, and psychical hegemony.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, they all come from the same place.

Racist ideas are tools. Racist ideas are weapons.

Inherent contradiction: The segregationists and assimilationists can never be reconciled; theirs are competing, mutually exclusive racist ideas.

W.E. B. Dubois philosophically worked his way through assimilationism to antiracism, in the process discovering that the producers of racist ideas could not be persuaded by reason out of their false and inadequate ideas, because those ideas were not simply misconceived, they were deliberately and purposefully false, indicating that the producers of racist ideas know that the ideas are false, but that they are nevertheless useful, and that their very falseness will make them attractive to consumers.

Instead of combating the producers and consumers of racist ideas with evidence of the falseness of racist ideas, the producers of antiracist ideas began to focus on action, mobilization, organization, collectively attacking both segregationist and assimilationist polices and cultural norms.

“The Communists theorized that if they killed capitalism, racism would die too – not knowing that capitalism and racism had both emerged during the 15th century, and sine then they had been mutually fortifying each other while developing separately.” – Kendi

Dubois studies Marx, separating out Marx’s racist ideas. Racism could go to work in the workplace and in the workers’ union.

“There was nothing inherently tolerant or intolerant about Americans voluntarily separating themselves or integrating themselves.” – Kendi

“A cadre of Harlem’s young and talented Black artists refused to take direction from Dubois. They called themselves the ‘Niggerati’ in 1926, clearly showing little interest in assimilation or in media suasion. The Niggerati included the novelist Wallace Thurman and Florida native Zora Neale Hurston, who would study with Frank Boas, reject assimilationism, and become the premier antiracist mouthpiece of rural southern Black culture.” – Kendi

If there were persuasion to be attempted, it was not the persuading white people of the falsehood of their segregationist or assimilationist views, it was the persuading of Blacks who were hoodwinked by assimilationism.

Racist ideas are produced, consumed, and digested. They nourish racism. As Blacks moved out of the south and into the north, away from slavery in both time and space, the confines of domestic and agricultural labor disintegrated into urban and industrial production. Capitalism had found other uses for Blacks.

“After the Civil War Black and white commoners came together to build democratic-style governments providing public resources for masses of southerners. White elites overthrew the governments by securing the loyalty of white commoners, a feat accomplished not by offering them higher wages, but by holding up the rewards of lucrative ‘public and psychological’ wages. From DuBois, historians now term these rewards ‘the wages of whiteness’: they were the privileges that would accrue to Whites through the application of racist ideas and segregation.” – Kendi

See: Black Reconstruction by W.E. B. DeBois

Racist ideas took a hit from the Depression, when it became obvious that it wasn’t racial progress that was causing the economic and financial disasters.

“Labor in a white skin can never be free as long as labor in a black skin is branded.” – Marx

The Depression made it clear that neither black nor white labor was the cause of the crisis.

Tarzan and King Kong are racist fantasies.

The USA, DuBois said, was a “post-Marxian phenomenon, with a white working-class aristocracy.”

“Instead of a horizontal division of classes, there was a vertical fissure, a complete separation of classes by race, cutting square across the economic layers.”

“The vertical cutting knife was constructed of centuries of racist ideas. This flat incontrovertible fact, Russian Communism ignored, would not discuss.” – DuBois/Kendi

The color of your skin is just the color of your skin. It doesn’t go any deeper.

But our hair, our features. . . ?

Only that. Nothing more. Just your hair, your lips, your nose, your skin, my skin, your hair, my hair, your nose, my nose, your lips, my lips.

That’s just what makes two people different.

But Race?

It’s just a bad idea.

The Nazis at least turned some white intellectuals off to Jim Crow.

Ruth Benedict, a student of Franz Boas: “Racism is an unproved assumption of the biological and perpetual superiority of one human group over another.”

Perpetually, get it? The is an assimilationist definition of racism.

Naming and defining racism did nothing.

See: Islamic Terrorism

Birth of a Nation, Tarzan, Gone with the Wind, King Kong. Racist Cinema.

Richard Wright’s assimilationist Native Son is followed by James Baldwin’s antiracist Go Tell It on a Mountain.

“It is the peculiar triumph of society – and its loss – that it is able to convince those people to whom it has given inferior status of the reality of the decree.” – Baldwin

“Race differences arise chiefly because of the differentiated action of natural selection on geographically separate populations.” Dohzhansky & Montaga

Racism became problematic in the US ideological conflict with Soviet Communism, making it difficult for the US to project its role as leader of the free world, when minorities were so obviously discriminated against in the US. If polls could be used as an indication, on 6% of eligible voters supported immediate correction of civil rights abuses, meaning 94% of the voters were either segregationists or assimilationists. The civil rights movement was largely a contest between these two racist factions.

The apartheid party took over in Africa in 1848.

Israel, same time.

All of this happening at once.

When Oak Parkers sealed their unholy oath to Refuse to Sell a Home to Black People, it perpetuated poverty – because a home is the only sliver of capital a worker can own, and without it there’s no base to your economic existence. You have nothing. Go live in the projects, where you belong, go back to your shack in the south, go back to Africa.

That was Oak park in the 1960s.

The GI Bill gave birth to the white middle class and widened the gap between Blacks and whites economically.

The assimilationist method of dealing with antiracist evidence of racist discriminatory policies and practices was to refer to the past and the “progress” that had been made in race relations, and to point to the end of racism as a goal to be achieved in the future, conveniently side-stepping the present.

Studies were undertaken to find out why Blacks had not assimilated or were not assimilating – assuming of course that they were supposed to, all of them.

Brown v Board of Education – an assimilationist decision. Separate schools were inherently unequal because Black students were deprived of the benefit of white classmates.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 managed to bring on racial progress and the progression of racism at the same time.” – Kendi

Racist ideas are useful to rationalize and justify your behavior and actions.

To Kill a Mockingbird is racist literature promoting the white hero brand of assimilationism. Blacks are like mockingbirds – all they bring to life is a beautiful song.

“You don’t stick a knife in a person’s back nine inches, pull it out six inches, and say you’re making progress.” – Malcolm X

If you’re white and antiracist, your role in the struggle is not in the Black community. It’s not about having Black friends. It’s about white people for you, white people and their faulty racist ideas, so your role is to subvert.

Malcolm X was called an ambassador of hate by the New York Times. The New York Times! Why? Because he put it out there that Black people didn’t separation or integration; they just wanted to live in a free and open society.

Racial progress and the progress of racism proceed simultaneously. Each tends to pick up speed, gather momentum.

Polarization.

Until finally everybody has got to be on one side or the other.

Language symbolism allows racist ideas to perpetuate like a shadow reality, where minorities represent something other than numerical groupings.

August 5, 1966, MLK marches through Cicero.

A distinction was made by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton between individual racism, which assimilationists wanted to stamp out, and institutional racism, which the assimilationists claimed to have already stamped out.

Planet of the ApesKing Kong on steroids.

Coded language: law and order = police brutality.

“The police are the armed guardians of the social order. The blacks are the chief domestic victims of the social order. A conflict of interests exists, therefore, between the blacks and the police.” – Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice

Still, Cleaver couldn’t escape his own gender racism.

MLK was shot on April 4, 1968. I was primed to launch my assault on the 2:10 half-mile in a track meet in the city of Chicago, but the meet was cancelled because of the rioting that took place in the wake of MLK’s assassination. I was pissed.

Racism had killed MLK.

It was not hard to refuse to believe in your own racism. You could refuse to believe you were a racist. You could live in denial, be persuaded by uplift suasion to an assimilationist view of yourself as the white hero and of Barack Obama as the exceptional negro and Black folk as mockingbirds.

You are free to produce, espouse, consume, and believe in inadequate and false racist ideas, and you are free to deny that you are racist, even to yourself, in fact, beginning with yourself.

A debate between segregationists and assimilationists is a debate of racist v racist, which antiracists will lose every time.

Unproven theories could be applied to racial disparities to arrive at racist ideas resulting in racist conclusions, all proven, of course, except for the unproven premise at the beginning.

“Racism has always been a divisive force separating black men and white men, and sexism has been a force that unites them.” – bell hooks

Reagan started the War on Drugs in 1982.

Let’s get this straight. We know now that the CIA backed the Contras in Nicarague, and then the Contras smuggled heroin into the US.

Cocaine

Poor people couldn’t afford cocaine, but by breaking it down and turning it into crack, it became affordable. 5 grams of crack = 5 years in prison v 500 grams of cocaine = 5 years in prison. Racist idea = racist policy.

Wherever there are more police, there are more arrests. Wherever there are more arrests there is apperception of more crime, which leads to more police. Racist policy that confirms racist idea.

Put people in prison – where they can’t vote – and when they get out, don’t let them vote – because they’ve been to prison.

Trump wants to talk about a rigged system – as if it were rigged the other way!

Reagan declared a War on Drugs after Lenny Bruce had joked that there were about five junkies in the state of New Jersey, and three of them were narcs. Meanwhile drunk drivers were killing more people than drugs and murderers combined.

“Statistical evidence does not prove these suppositions, and yet even the most casual observer of public assistance programs understand there is indeed some relationship between the availability of welfare and the inclination of many young women to bear fatherless children.” Gary Bauer, Reagan’s domestic policy advisor

He begins by saying he has no proof at all for his racist equation.

Uplift suasion and media suasion unit in “The Cosby Show” to support assimilationists.

Crack babies! Turns out there was crack, and there were babies, but studies now show they were much more severely affected by poverty than by drugs.

Intersectional theory. Synthesis. Demarginalizing the Intersection of Sex and Race by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw

Critical Race Theory.

Racist ideas found a home in Black-on-Black crime.

“I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” – Sister Souljah

The hook of this book is that the premise is correct, sound, and adequate. It supports a history of cause and effect in the evolution of racism.

For whites, it may be a long journey from racism to antiracism, and most of us, sadly, never get there. You may have to extricate yourself from the lap or luxury and privilege or its illusion in the land of the segregationists, and you learn you can take your white privilege with you into the country of the assimilationists, keeping to the suburbs, staying out of the cities and parts of the south, but you can’t get off at Nonracist, because there’s no such place, you have to keep going until you can finally see other people for who they are, with the racist portrayal stripped away, see them without the distortions and falsity of racist ideas. It’s the only way you’re ever going to come face to face with your own humanity.

Or, you could just start out poor, and skip all that, know right off the bat about class racism, or, if you’re a woman, you could instantly find solidarity with victims of gender racism.

Why must we identify with victims?

As opposed to oppressors?

Bill Clinton passed his Crime Bill with bipartisan support, a huge win for racist ideas that would fill the prisons with Black people. By the time Hillary Clinton ran for President if was officially called mass incarceration.

The best magic trick of all was the employment of racist ideas to convince segregationists, assimilationists, and even antiracists, that racism didn’t exist, that it was over, gone, part of history, that we were all living now in a post-racial society. Everyone would agree to be color-blind.

And if someone still didn’t believe in magic, well, then it was an easy jump to: the antiracists are the ones who are really racist.

Angela Davis quit the Communist Party in the 1990s. In the 70s my mentor, Marvin the Marxist Rosen, lamented that CPU wouldn’t let him join because he was queer. We voted for Gus Hall and Angela Davis when they were the CPU’s presidential ticket. Angela Davis stayed true to women, to the prison population, true to the blues, true to antiracism, all those years, all the way through, into the present.

Ebonics is the study of Black speech and language. It is the fertile garden of playwrights and poets, and the same language development took place in Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, French – the languages of all the colonizers.

Marvin: Do a history of it, a critique of everything.

The best, most effective communicators of racist ideas would be Black – John McWhoter, Herman Caine, Ben Carson. Most alluringly, you could get a job as a Black racist.

“The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.” – Craig Venter, genome scientist

Fact. To be combatted with racist ideas, introducing a different version of genome science, in which .1% of genetic variety in different racial groups accounts for any and all variations in perceived abilities, characteristics, behaviors, traits, in fact every domain in which power might be employed to gain an advantage. Racist ideas could apply the genetic identity of all racial groups, a category without any genetic or scientific basis, to turn equality into inequality. They could use science to prove exactly the opposite of what was discovered.

“race is not a biological category that is politically charged. It is a political category disguised as a biological category.” – Dorothy Roberts, Fatal Invention

You could not only replace slavery with prison, you could replace voting with prison, and there were many racist ways to prevent Blacks from voting or at least from their votes making a difference.

Randall Robinson: The Debt, What America Owed to Blacks

I arrived in the chronology of the book in the 50s, intersected with Angela Davis in the 70s, and I would battle bravely in the War on Ignorance, battling against No Child Left Behind.

The inquiry into Obama’s birth certificate was not produced out of ignorance, and it would not be deterred by knowledge.

Obama’s election allowed racists to proclaim The End of Racism, while preserving it by removing all the safeguards against it as no longer necessary. The groundwork was laid for the rise of white supremacy. Meanwhile, gaining mainstream approval, the segregationists re-branded themselves as post-racialists.

“Defending racist policy be belittling Black folk: that had been the vocation for the producers of racist ideas for nearly six centuries, since Gomes Eanes de Zurara first produced these ideas to defend the African slave trading of Portugal’s Prince Henry. The slave-trading came first, the rationale – racist ideas, came second – in fact, were produced by the policy, not the other way around.

Like a lot of things in life, we do things, and make up the reasons afterward.

It is the producers of racist ideas that profit from the consumption of their ideas, not the consumers. The consumers are saps, sopped off with bullshit white privilege, like a tip on their minimum wage check.

Slavery kept most white people poor.

Kendi arrives at a conclusion that Spinoza would endorse: “Antiracists do not have to be selfless. Antiracists merely have to have intelligent self-interest, and to stop consuming those racist ideas that have engendered so much unintelligent self-interest over the year.”

“Although uplift and persuasion and education have failed, history is clear on what has worked, and what will one day eradicate racist ideas. Racist ideas have always been the public relations arm of the company of racial discriminators and their products. Eradicate the company, and the public relations arm goes down too.” – Kendi

That’s the way history works.

And history is now.

 

How did we lose the War on Ignorance? We were schooled in Ignorance. Hear the Trump Train coming down the Hall of Fools. https://www.amazon.com/Hall-Fools-Shamrock-McShane/dp/1542928419

 

 

 

 

                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notes and Thoughts on Stamped from the Beginning, the Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America by Ibram X. Kendi (2016)

Racism is not caused by ignorance. It uses ignorance to advance its goals. It is an attempt to rationalize inequality.

“Hate and ignorance have not driven the history of racist ideas in America. Racist policies have driven the history of racist ideas in America.”

“Racially discriminatory policies have usually sprung from economic, political, and cultural self-interests, which are constantly changing.” – Kendi

Kendi shifts the focus from consumption of racist ideas to the production of racist ideas.

“The principal function of racist ideas in American history has been suppression of resistance to racial discrimination and its resulting racial disparities.”

“Black Americans’ history of oppression has made Black opportunities, not Black people, inferior.”

The first major debate between racists was over the Cause of Inferior Blackness. Was it a curse? Or was it the climate? Nature or nurture?

The segregationists sided with the curse theory. The assimilationists with climate theory.

Pirates stole African captives off a Spanish ship headed for Vera Cruz, Mexico, in the Gulf of Mexico, and 20 of the Africans ended up being sold to the Governor of Virginia, George Yeardley, in August 1609, just in time to help with the tobacco crop.

Numbers Game

That’s 288 years of Slavery in America (1609 – 1864), 88 years of Slavery in the United States (1776 – 1864). Translate those numbers into work hours, labor power.

The assimilationists tried to introduce the idea of Voluntary Slavery, but it never caught on.

Romney’s notion of Voluntary Deportation suffered the same fate.

Racists could divide and conquer poor whites who sided with Blacks by establishing more and more white privilege.

In 1690 the Salem Witch trials really did happen. Fake witches, but not fake news. But it did not happen in the USA, just in the colonies.

Lots of Black folks became Christian just so white folks wouldn’t think they were the Devil.

A law was passed so that any property somehow accumulated by a slave was to be seized and sold, and the profits were to go to the poor, the poor being white Christian servants and non-slave-owning whites. White privilege.

There was the straight-up racist view that Blacks were inherently and naturally inferior, and there wasn’t a damn thing anybody could do about it.

Then there was the paternalistic assimilationist view that Blacks were inferior largely because we made them that way through slavery, and now our task was to purify them of their inferiority, in other words, to whiten them.

Slavery made Black people different, not inferior. It made white people different too, and certainly not superior, in fact, morally inferior, in so far as they were racist.

“I am willing to love all mankind, except an American.”

“How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty from among the drivers of negroes?” – Samuel Johnson

Not: All human beings are created equal; but: all human beings are equal.

Not: Creation; but: production.

Vermont and Massachusetts banned slavery.

Jefferson owned 200 slaves when he wrote: “All men are created equal.” “. . . endowed by their creator with inherent and inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

“For these rich men, freedom was not the power to make choices; freedom was the power to create choices.

“Only power gave Jefferson freedom from England. Power came before freedom, not the other way around – as the powerless are taught.” – Kendi

Abolishing slavery was a restraint of trade, an assault on the free market.

Adam Smith said that the wealth of a nation came from its productive capacity – and Black people in Africa didn’t have any.

Racist ideas are consumed both by fools and those who benefit from racist policies, but the ideas are not produced by ignorance or stupidity, on the contrary, they are produced by a reasoned thought process, seeking to rationalize an existing hierarchy, to justify it.

There is not one racist idea; there are two. The first is segregationist, and sets forth the premise that Black people by nature are inferior. It posits the distinction between the races as biological – an evolution in thinking from the biblical explanation that Blacks are inferior because they were cursed by God. The theory that races of human beings could be as distinct and different as different species is called polygenesis.

Monogenesis is the theory that all races developed from a single source – which lends the assimilationist approach to racism its foundation. Human beings have been molded by their climate and environment and history and culture to different degrees of civilization. What began as equality turned into inequality, but Blacks might still become equal through assimilation, if not be becoming white, then, at least, by becoming like white people.

No one knew better than slaves that Blacks were the equals of whites in every respect – because the slave owners employed Blacks in every position that required consummate skill, judgement, talent, and intelligence – as engineers, craftsmen, physicians. They entrusted slaves with their lives and their livelihoods, but not with power. That was the point.

Assimilationists became abolitionists and promulgated the advice that freed Blacks should apply uplift suasion – an attempt by Blacks to persuade whites of their equality through good behavior.

Negative Black behavior, so this theory went, reinforced racist ideas: white people see Black people behaving in a negative way and take it as evidence of their inferiority: See? They’re trashing their own neighborhood. . . . Why do they always loot the liquor store first?

As if the behavior produced the inequality: “If Black people didn’t act that way, we wouldn’t be racist.”

The whole idea of uplift suasion is racist. It asks that each and every Black person behave positively every moment of their lives. In effect, slavery.

Minstrel shows were the first American theatre.

What produces racist ideas is the need to rationalize and justify an existing power structure. The ideas are produced by an interest in the power relationship or hierarchy, in preserving it. But all the ideas are faulty, based on false premises. They may follow logically from the premise, but the premise is unsustainable.

The ideas are consumed by those who share the interests of the producers, and the ignorant, who can be duped by inadequate ideas, and mollified by white privilege.

When slavery’s death knell started sounding in the South, racism was raging in the North, while at the same time capitalists wanted to free all those slaves to become cheap labor.

Racist idea from the slavery era: Blacks are actually healthier and saner as slaves than they are as free.

We know from history that racist ideas defending slavery would eventually collapse. But do we know why? It came from economics, not morality.

The ideas would be refined and recycled for Jim Crow.

Slavery’s racist ideas were completely countered by Frederick Douglass’ Slave Narrative.

 

“Ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! Ain’t I a woman? I can outwork, outeat, outlast any man! Ain’t I a woman!” – Sojourner Truth

 

Black people are perfectly capable of believing racist ideas – just like white people.

Both white and Blacks, persuaded by racist ideas, could be both anti-slavery and racist.

Kendi examines history through the narratives of individuals intersecting with the nexus of the three forces forming the antithesis of racist thought: segregationist, assimilationist, and antiracist. Cotton Mather, Thomas Jefferson, William Lloyd Garrison, W.E.B. DuBois, and Angela Davis.

The Jeffersonian mindset dictated that Blacks were inferior, but all white men were equal.

“When men oppress their fellow men, the oppressor ever finds, in the character of the oppressed, a full justification for his oppression.” – Frederick Douglass

Douglass was conflicted, an abolitionist and an assimilationist Black man, believing in racist ideas.

“The view which most naturalists entertain, and which I formerly entertained – namely that each species has been independently created – is erroneous. I am fully convinced that species are not immutable.”

“In the recurring struggle for survival, all corporeal and mental endowments will tend to progress to perfection” – Darwin

Perfection being adaptability.

Adaptive behavior.

It becomes clear as the narrative unravels that, at the time of the Civil War, racist ideas were being used to both support and abolish slavery, and the ideas were so pervasive, they even snared Darwin.

Lincoln to the South: “You think slavery is right and ought to be extended; we think it is wrong and ought to be restricted.”

South Carolina was the only state where Blacks were a majority of the population. If slavery were restricted, then slave-owners couldn’t spread their slaves out, and a rebellion would be an inevitability.

“Florida’s secessionists issued a Declaration of causes, maintaining that Blacks must be enslaved because everywhere ‘their natural inclination’ was toward ‘idleness, vagrancy, and crime.’” – Kendi

The Confederacy was transparently based on racist ideas:

“The great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man and that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition, this, our new government, is the first in the history of the world to be based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth. This great truth is the cornerstone of the Confederacy.” – Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy March 21, 1861

Ok, maybe you thin it was about states’ rights, but, for me, I think it was about slavery.

At the beginning of the Civil War, when Lincoln still hoped to reconcile with the rebel states, runaway slaves were still returned to their masters, under the Fugitive Slave act. And at the same time, slaves in the rebel states were made to work for the rebel army.

The racist idea of Black docility gave way in the face of Black resistance – when the shooting started. Blacks joined up and fought like hell.

Racist ideas could flip. At one moment, when their physical strength was needed to work the fields, Blacks were said to possess superhuman strength, but then they could not be soldiers because they were physically incapable of it. First, they were docile; then, they couldn’t take orders.

Spinoza would term racist ideas as inadequate.

Racist ideas produced the seriously proposed and considered proposal of colonizing – relocating all the Blacks somewhere else.

Send them all back to Africa.

Ship them back.

Like property.

Instead of respecting them as fully free and equal human beings. Citizens.

That notion died in the war too. If Blacks were going to fight and die for this country, they had a right to live here.

An equal right.

They were born here.

You know when that particular idea might have half-assed worked – colonization? In the 17th century. You might have offered those Black people a chance to go home.

There is nothing Blacks can do to undo racist ideas. Only the beholders, the consumers of racist ideas can undo them in their own minds, see them as inadequate.

There was a difference between abolishing slavery and setting people free – because if you removed them from slavery, and they had neither capital nor land, they would never be free.

“Black squatters on the land Jefferson Davis used to own formed their own government and made a cotton profit of $160,000!

Blacks coined the term white trash to refer to whites who didn’t own slaves. They had been convinced by the inadequate racist idea of white superiority. If poor whites were trash, then what were rich whites? Non-trash, anti-trash, the opposite of trash, they were value itself, quality at its finest. Whites adopted the term because it conveyed the idea that whiteness naturally expressed value and quality.

Slavery is a kind of inversion. The slave-owner is one man, his slaves are many. One man has power over many others. They do the work, he reaps the profit, and yet he brands them lazy. He calls them shiftless, irresponsible, undisciplined, and yet it is they who accomplish every task that requires skill, talent, and concentrated labor. It’s a mirror image, a shadow play.

Why all this talk about slavery? Slavery ended in the USA 150 years ago, for crysakes.

That’s not very long. That’s two lifetimes. That’s all.

Slavery in the USA ended up in the trashcan of history. Capitalism determined that slavery had become outmoded. What was needed was a more efficient method of exploiting human labor.

Racist ideas allowed Blacks to discriminate among themselves between darker and lighter-skinned people.

States in the Confederacy: South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina

The logic of racist ideas did not dictate that just because Blacks were not slaves that they should be able to vote. Here was something segregationists and assimilationists could agree on. The segregationists meant that Blacks should never vote, while assimilationists meant that Black just should not vote now, not until they became sufficiently white, which presumably meant voting in a sufficiently white manner.

The KKK was formed as a social club in Tennessee in 1865.

“Hypocrisy normalized the American reform movement. Race, gender, ethnic, and labor activists were angrily challenging the popular bigotry targeting their own groups at the same time that they were happily reproducing the popular bigotry targeting other groups. They did not realize that racist, sexist, ethnocentric, and classist ideas were produced by the same powerful minds,” – Kendi

In response to Black people getting the vote, white segregationists formed terrorist groups.

Racist ideas could of course be expressed without the use of overtly racist language, or without the use of language at all: The image of White Jesus.

Sharecropping was capitalized slavery. Here’s a piece of land you don’t own. Live here and make it turn a profit and give the profit to me. Now stay there.

The object of racist ideas was to obtain and maintain control of power economically, politically, and culturally.

Trump’s base is segregationist, hardcore racists who believe Blacks are inherently and naturally inferior and never will be equal.

The majority of Trump’s voters are assimilationists who believe that Blacks can only become equal by acting white.

The second slavery that went with Reconstruction and Jim Crow was worse than the first because it came with the awareness that racist ideas could adapt perpetually to maintain control of Black lives no matter what progress, real or imagined, might present itself. Separate but equal meant: separate but unequal.

Blacks didn’t need or want land or money to be given to them after slavery was abolished, they just wanted to be paid for their work, for services rendered. Figure it out in manhours, over a period of 300 years.

Free stuff is when somebody picks your cotton for you and you pay them nothing.

The same subterfuge that allowed racist ideas to control the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the face of the complete contradiction of its principles evidenced in the existence of slavery was now used in the 14th Amendment to uphold the liberty of capitalists to dictate wages and enforce Jim Crow, separate but unequal, policies that protected businesses, but not workers.

Racist ideas are an excuse, a rationale, for discriminatory practices and policies. A scientific study that showed that Blacks weren’t as healthy or didn’t live as long as whites meant you didn’t have to sell them insurance.

Racist ideas are false ideas put forth to achieve, maintain, and extend political, economic, cultural, sexual, and psychical hegemony.

Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, they all come from the same place.

Racist ideas are tools. Racist ideas are weapons.

Inherent contradiction: The segregationists and assimilationists can never be reconciled; theirs are competing, mutually exclusive racist ideas.

W.E. B. Dubois philosophically worked his way through assimilationism to antiracism, in the process discovering that the producers of racist ideas could not be persuaded by reason out of their false and inadequate ideas, because those ideas were not simply misconceived, they were deliberately and purposefully false, indicating that the producers of racist ideas know that the ideas are false, but that they are nevertheless useful, and that their very falseness will make them attractive to consumers.

Instead of combating the producers and consumers of racist ideas with evidence of the falseness of racist ideas, the producers of antiracist ideas began to focus on action, mobilization, organization, collectively attacking both segregationist and assimilationist polices and cultural norms.

“The Communists theorized that if they killed capitalism, racism would die too – not knowing that capitalism and racism had both emerged during the 15th century, and sine then they had been mutually fortifying each other while developing separately.” – Kendi

Dubois studies Marx, separating out Marx’s racist ideas. Racism could go to work in the workplace and in the workers’ union.

“There was nothing inherently tolerant or intolerant about Americans voluntarily separating themselves or integrating themselves.” – Kendi

“A cadre of Harlem’s young and talented Black artists refused to take direction from Dubois. They called themselves the ‘Niggerati’ in 1926, clearly showing little interest in assimilation or in media suasion. The Niggerati included the novelist Wallace Thurman and Florida native Zora Neale Hurston, who would study with Frank Boas, reject assimilationism, and become the premier antiracist mouthpiece of rural southern Black culture.” – Kendi

If there were persuasion to be attempted, it was not the persuading white people of the falsehood of their segregationist or assimilationist views, it was the persuading of Blacks who were hoodwinked by assimilationism.

Racist ideas are produced, consumed, and digested. They nourish racism. As Blacks moved out of the south and into the north, away from slavery in both time and space, the confines of domestic and agricultural labor disintegrated into urban and industrial production. Capitalism had found other uses for Blacks.

“After the Civil War Black and white commoners came together to build democratic-style governments providing public resources for masses of southerners. White elites overthrew the governments by securing the loyalty of white commoners, a feat accomplished not by offering them higher wages, but by holding up the rewards of lucrative ‘public and psychological’ wages. From DuBois, historians now term these rewards ‘the wages of whiteness’: they were the privileges that would accrue to Whites through the application of racist ideas and segregation.” – Kendi

See: Black Reconstruction by W.E. B. DeBois

Racist ideas took a hit from the Depression, when it became obvious that it wasn’t racial progress that was causing the economic and financial disasters.

“Labor in a white skin can never be free as long as labor in a black skin is branded.” – Marx

The Depression made it clear that neither black nor white labor was the cause of the crisis.

Tarzan and King Kong are racist fantasies.

The USA, DuBois said, was a “post-Marxian phenomenon, with a white working-class aristocracy.”

“Instead of a horizontal division of classes, there was a vertical fissure, a complete separation of classes by race, cutting square across the economic layers.”

“The vertical cutting knife was constructed of centuries of racist ideas. This flat incontrovertible fact, Russian Communism ignored, would not discuss.” – DuBois/Kendi

The color of your skin is just the color of your skin. It doesn’t go any deeper.

But our hair, our features. . . ?

Only that. Nothing more. Just your hair, your lips, your nose, your skin, my skin, your hair, my hair, your nose, my nose, your lips, my lips.

That’s just what makes two people different.

But Race?

It’s just a bad idea.

The Nazis at least turned some white intellectuals off to Jim Crow.

Ruth Benedict, a student of Franz Boas: “Racism is an unproved assumption of the biological and perpetual superiority of one human group over another.”

Perpetually, get it? The is an assimilationist definition of racism.

Naming and defining racism did nothing.

See: Islamic Terrorism

Birth of a Nation, Tarzan, Gone with the Wind, King Kong. Racist Cinema.

Richard Wright’s assimilationist Native Son is followed by James Baldwin’s antiracist Go Tell It on a Mountain.

“It is the peculiar triumph of society – and its loss – that it is able to convince those people to whom it has given inferior status of the reality of the decree.” – Baldwin

“Race differences arise chiefly because of the differentiated action of natural selection on geographically separate populations.” Dohzhansky & Montaga

Racism became problematic in the US ideological conflict with Soviet Communism, making it difficult for the US to project its role as leader of the free world, when minorities were so obviously discriminated against in the US. If polls could be used as an indication, on 6% of eligible voters supported immediate correction of civil rights abuses, meaning 94% of the voters were either segregationists or assimilationists. The civil rights movement was largely a contest between these two racist factions.

The apartheid party took over in Africa in 1848.

Israel, same time.

All of this happening at once.

When Oak Parkers sealed their unholy oath to Refuse to Sell a Home to Black People, it perpetuated poverty – because a home is the only sliver of capital a worker can own, and without it there’s no base to your economic existence. You have nothing. Go live in the projects, where you belong, go back to your shack in the south, go back to Africa.

That was Oak park in the 1960s.

The GI Bill gave birth to the white middle class and widened the gap between Blacks and whites economically.

The assimilationist method of dealing with antiracist evidence of racist discriminatory policies and practices was to refer to the past and the “progress” that had been made in race relations, and to point to the end of racism as a goal to be achieved in the future, conveniently side-stepping the present.

Studies were undertaken to find out why Blacks had not assimilated or were not assimilating – assuming of course that they were supposed to, all of them.

Brown v Board of Education – an assimilationist decision. Separate schools were inherently unequal because Black students were deprived of the benefit of white classmates.

“The Civil Rights Act of 1964 managed to bring on racial progress and the progression of racism at the same time.” – Kendi

Racist ideas are useful to rationalize and justify your behavior and actions.

To Kill a Mockingbird is racist literature promoting the white hero brand of assimilationism. Blacks are like mockingbirds – all they bring to life is a beautiful song.

“You don’t stick a knife in a person’s back nine inches, pull it out six inches, and say you’re making progress.” – Malcolm X

If you’re white and antiracist, your role in the struggle is not in the Black community. It’s not about having Black friends. It’s about white people for you, white people and their faulty racist ideas, so your role is to subvert.

Malcolm X was called an ambassador of hate by the New York Times. The New York Times! Why? Because he put it out there that Black people didn’t separation or integration; they just wanted to live in a free and open society.

Racial progress and the progress of racism proceed simultaneously. Each tends to pick up speed, gather momentum.

Polarization.

Until finally everybody has got to be on one side or the other.

Language symbolism allows racist ideas to perpetuate like a shadow reality, where minorities represent something other than numerical groupings.

August 5, 1966, MLK marches through Cicero.

A distinction was made by Stokely Carmichael and Charles Hamilton between individual racism, which assimilationists wanted to stamp out, and institutional racism, which the assimilationists claimed to have already stamped out.

Planet of the ApesKing Kong on steroids.

Coded language: law and order = police brutality.

“The police are the armed guardians of the social order. The blacks are the chief domestic victims of the social order. A conflict of interests exists, therefore, between the blacks and the police.” – Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice

Still, Cleaver couldn’t escape his own gender racism.

MLK was shot on April 4, 1968. I was primed to launch my assault on the 2:10 half-mile in a track meet in the city of Chicago, but the meet was cancelled because of the rioting that took place in the wake of MLK’s assassination. I was pissed.

Racism had killed MLK.

It was not hard to refuse to believe in your own racism. You could refuse to believe you were a racist. You could live in denial, be persuaded by uplift suasion to an assimilationist view of yourself as the white hero and of Barack Obama as the exceptional negro and Black folk as mockingbirds.

You are free to produce, espouse, consume, and believe in inadequate and false racist ideas, and you are free to deny that you are racist, even to yourself, in fact, beginning with yourself.

A debate between segregationists and assimilationists is a debate of racist v racist, which antiracists will lose every time.

Unproven theories could be applied to racial disparities to arrive at racist ideas resulting in racist conclusions, all proven, of course, except for the unproven premise at the beginning.

“Racism has always been a divisive force separating black men and white men, and sexism has been a force that unites them.” – bell hooks

Reagan started the War on Drugs in 1982.

Let’s get this straight. We know now that the CIA backed the Contras in Nicarague, and then the Contras smuggled heroin into the US.

Cocaine

Poor people couldn’t afford cocaine, but by breaking it down and turning it into crack, it became affordable. 5 grams of crack = 5 years in prison v 500 grams of cocaine = 5 years in prison. Racist idea = racist policy.

Wherever there are more police, there are more arrests. Wherever there are more arrests there is apperception of more crime, which leads to more police. Racist policy that confirms racist idea.

Put people in prison – where they can’t vote – and when they get out, don’t let them vote – because they’ve been to prison.

Trump wants to talk about a rigged system – as if it were rigged the other way!

Reagan declared a War on Drugs after Lenny Bruce had joked that there were about five junkies in the state of New Jersey, and three of them were narcs. Meanwhile drunk drivers were killing more people than drugs and murderers combined.

“Statistical evidence does not prove these suppositions, and yet even the most casual observer of public assistance programs understand there is indeed some relationship between the availability of welfare and the inclination of many young women to bear fatherless children.” Gary Bauer, Reagan’s domestic policy advisor

He begins by saying he has no proof at all for his racist equation.

Uplift suasion and media suasion unit in “The Cosby Show” to support assimilationists.

Crack babies! Turns out there was crack, and there were babies, but studies now show they were much more severely affected by poverty than by drugs.

Intersectional theory. Synthesis. Demarginalizing the Intersection of Sex and Race by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw

Critical Race Theory.

Racist ideas found a home in Black-on-Black crime.

“I mean, if black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people?” – Sister Souljah

The hook of this book is that the premise is correct, sound, and adequate. It supports a history of cause and effect in the evolution of racism.

For whites, it may be a long journey from racism to antiracism, and most of us, sadly, never get there. You may have to extricate yourself from the lap or luxury and privilege or its illusion in the land of the segregationists, and you learn you can take your white privilege with you into the country of the assimilationists, keeping to the suburbs, staying out of the cities and parts of the south, but you can’t get off at Nonracist, because there’s no such place, you have to keep going until you can finally see other people for who they are, with the racist portrayal stripped away, see them without the distortions and falsity of racist ideas. It’s the only way you’re ever going to come face to face with your own humanity.

Or, you could just start out poor, and skip all that, know right off the bat about class racism, or, if you’re a woman, you could instantly find solidarity with victims of gender racism.

Why must we identify with victims?

As opposed to oppressors?

Bill Clinton passed his Crime Bill with bipartisan support, a huge win for racist ideas that would fill the prisons with Black people. By the time Hillary Clinton ran for President if was officially called mass incarceration.

The best magic trick of all was the employment of racist ideas to convince segregationists, assimilationists, and even antiracists, that racism didn’t exist, that it was over, gone, part of history, that we were all living now in a post-racial society. Everyone would agree to be color-blind.

And if someone still didn’t believe in magic, well, then it was an easy jump to: the antiracists are the ones who are really racist.

Angela Davis quit the Communist Party in the 1990s. In the 70s my mentor, Marvin the Marxist Rosen, lamented that CPU wouldn’t let him join because he was queer. We voted for Gus Hall and Angela Davis when they were the CPU’s presidential ticket. Angela Davis stayed true to women, to the prison population, true to the blues, true to antiracism, all those years, all the way through, into the present.

Ebonics is the study of Black speech and language. It is the fertile garden of playwrights and poets, and the same language development took place in Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, French – the languages of all the colonizers.

Marvin: Do a history of it, a critique of everything.

The best, most effective communicators of racist ideas would be Black – John McWhoter, Herman Caine, Ben Carson. Most alluringly, you could get a job as a Black racist.

“The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.” – Craig Venter, genome scientist

Fact. To be combatted with racist ideas, introducing a different version of genome science, in which .1% of genetic variety in different racial groups accounts for any and all variations in perceived abilities, characteristics, behaviors, traits, in fact every domain in which power might be employed to gain an advantage. Racist ideas could apply the genetic identity of all racial groups, a category without any genetic or scientific basis, to turn equality into inequality. They could use science to prove exactly the opposite of what was discovered.

“race is not a biological category that is politically charged. It is a political category disguised as a biological category.” – Dorothy Roberts, Fatal Invention

You could not only replace slavery with prison, you could replace voting with prison, and there were many racist ways to prevent Blacks from voting or at least from their votes making a difference.

Randall Robinson: The Debt, What America Owed to Blacks

I arrived in the chronology of the book in the 50s, intersected with Angela Davis in the 70s, and I would battle bravely in the War on Ignorance, battling against No Child Left Behind.

The inquiry into Obama’s birth certificate was not produced out of ignorance, and it would not be deterred by knowledge.

Obama’s election allowed racists to proclaim The End of Racism, while preserving it by removing all the safeguards against it as no longer necessary. The groundwork was laid for the rise of white supremacy. Meanwhile, gaining mainstream approval, the segregationists re-branded themselves as post-racialists.

“Defending racist policy be belittling Black folk: that had been the vocation for the producers of racist ideas for nearly six centuries, since Gomes Eanes de Zurara first produced these ideas to defend the African slave trading of Portugal’s Prince Henry. The slave-trading came first, the rationale – racist ideas, came second – in fact, were produced by the policy, not the other way around.

Like a lot of things in life, we do things, and make up the reasons afterward.

It is the producers of racist ideas that profit from the consumption of their ideas, not the consumers. The consumers are saps, sopped off with bullshit white privilege, like a tip on their minimum wage check.

Slavery kept most white people poor.

Kendi arrives at a conclusion that Spinoza would endorse: “Antiracists do not have to be selfless. Antiracists merely have to have intelligent self-interest, and to stop consuming those racist ideas that have engendered so much unintelligent self-interest over the year.”

“Although uplift and persuasion and education have failed, history is clear on what has worked, and what will one day eradicate racist ideas. Racist ideas have always been the public relations arm of the company of racial discriminators and their products. Eradicate the company, and the public relations arm goes down too.” – Kendi

That’s the way history works.

And history is now.

 

How did we lose the War on Ignorance? We were schooled in Ignorance. Hear the Trump Train coming down the Hall of Fools. https://www.amazon.com/Hall-Fools-Shamrock-McShane/dp/1542928419

 

 

 

 

                     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Actor Prepares

 

Gaslight – Rough’s Beats

Act One

1                    Rough enters with Elizabeth and meets Mrs. M. Rough has already spoken with Elizabeth. They have a whole back story.

2                    Meeting Mrs. M., Rough makes himself at home. He must gain her trust. He shows her no badge or ID, yet he conveys an air of benign authority. He’s there to help, and he has studied her situation, as he quickly demonstrates. Only then does he identify himself as the celebrated Sgt. Rough.

3                    Rough has some questions. How long has she been married? Where have they lived? Why does her husband leave her alone in the evenings? Does she have free run of the house while he’s out? Rough is interested in the house.

4                    When Mrs. M mentions the top floor being out of bounds, Rough knows he’s on to something.

5                    Rough throws her another curve ball by revealing Nancy’s indiscretions – Rough and Nancy have a whole back story too, of which Mrs. M must remain in the dark until Rough can find out more.

6                    They drink tea. Rough wants another lump of sugar. Back to the house. The top floor.

7                    It’s out of bounds – until the M’s have children, a sore spot. It’s getting personal, so Rough turns therapist and asks her about her doubts of her own sanity. It’s the house. She’s afraid of the house. The top floor. She’s afraid there are ghosts walking about up there. Really.

8                    Or, Rough suggests, it might be her husband. Let’s see. How would he get up there? Easy.

9                    Mrs. M doesn’t want to admit to herself that it is her husband, not a ghost. Her husband scares her more than a ghost. She better sit down.

10                  The gaslight. Mrs. M has a scientific clue that it will take Rough a beat or two to figure out. She should have been a policeman.

11                  Mrs. M thinks Rough is merely trying to mollify her, but he reassures her. He wants another clue. What else is there?

12                  Mrs. M tells Rough of her husband’s cruelty to a puppy. She’s about to really crack up. So Rough gets her to drink some Scotch with him.

13                  Scotch and Water. Not in tea cups! Mrs. M gets two glasses. Rough explains the uses and purposes of drinking whiskey, directly applied to this case, to give one faith in one’s reason.

14                  Rough asks another question: Have you ever heard of the Cabman’s Friend? The Case of the Cabman’s Friend. Who was Alice Barlow? How was she murdered and why? What became of the Barlow rubies? Rough narrates the crime in detail. It is a cold case. The killer is still on the loose. Rough has a theory that might solve the crime.

15                  Mrs. M says: So what? What’s this got to do with me?

16                  It is Rough’s theory that has to do with the house that has to do with her. The killer has waited until he could get into that house again – to search for the rubies.

17                  The gaslight! He’s up there now!

18                  Yes. Because this is the house. And Mr. M is the killer.

Act Two

1                    Rough connects the dots. This is the house. Mr. M is the killer. His real name is Sidney Power. Rough has done his research, and not only that, but he remembers Power’s face.

2                    Mrs. M doesn’t want to believe her husband is Sidney Power, that he has lied to her and used her and is deliberately trying to drive her insane.

3                    Rough produces more proof. Power is not really married to Mrs. M. He has another wife, whom he abandoned before he ever met her, living in Australia. And he cheats on Mrs. M even now.

4                    Mrs. M finally accepts the truth about Power. How can she help?

5                    They begin the search for evidence. They look for Power’s “papers,” evidence to prove his deception. Perhaps they are in his locked bureau.

6                    Rough is good at this. He could have been a burglar, with his skills. He takes coat off to get to work, revealing a saucy shirt. He’s a show-off. Now to get to work.

7                    And that’s when the lights go down. Mrs. M notices immediately and knows that it means that Power is in the house. He may walk in.

8                    Rough alters his plan. He needs Elizabeth’s help to put the new plan in place. Quickly, he puts on his coat and covers his tracks. Mrs. M helps.

9                    Elizabeth enters. Rough needs her help to conceal himself somewhere in the house. The kitchen, he suggests.

10                  There’s a problem with the kitchen, Elizabeth tells him; Nancy’s down there.

11                  Nancy has thrown a wrench into the works. This was supposed to be her afternoon off. (Back story.)

12                  Elizabeth directs Rough to a doorway leading to a wardrobe, where he can hide. Rough formulates an excuse for Mrs. M and sends Elizabeth and Mrs. M. to their separate rooms, and moves to conceal himself, almost but not quite forgetting his hat as he departs.

13                  Elizabeth/Power Scene

14                  Rough listens to their interaction. Power is trying to get Elizabeth’s assurance that she will be complicit in his indiscretions and misdeeds for a price. He changes his collar and tie and heads out for a night on the town.

15                  Rough comes out, acknowledges Elizabeth’s prudent sallies with Power, and sends her to fetch Mrs. M. Rough gets out his tools.

16                  Mrs. M arrives, Elizabeth leaves. Rough wants to get back to work, but Mrs. M is afraid that Power might come back unexpectedly.

17                  Rough decides to go for it, jimmying the lock on the bureau. They hear a noise from another room, which must be Nancy entering by the front door.

18                  Rough opens the bureau. Inside is a brooch and a watch and a letter, each playing a part in Power’s manipulation of Mrs. M toward insanity, but seemingly not evidence, no “papers”.

19                  The letter is from Mrs. M’s cousin and the pain of discovering that her family has been deceived as well brings her to tears. Rough is moved to console her. If she will be brave and trust him a little longer, it will all be over soon.

20                  There is one drawer yet unsearched and the only way to get into it is to break it open. Mrs. M is more anxious than ever that Power might return, but she allows Rough to proceed.

21                  Rough breaks into the drawer. There is nothing inside.

22                  What to do? Rough assumes he’ll think of something, but, for now, they must put things back where they were, try to cover their tracks.

23                  The brooch is a nice piece of jewelry, Rough notes, but Mrs. M tells him it’s just second-hand. Rough is intrigued. How does she know that?

24                  The brooch gives up its secrets! It is Alice Barlow’s brooch. Rough has seen it before, while on the case as a young man.

25                  Rough examines the brooch, reads its inscription, and Mrs. M reveals that it has a secret compartment. Rough opens it, and though it is empty, Mrs. M tells him there were some beads inside it. Rough deduces that this is where the Barlow rubies were kept – if only Mrs. M still has them, and she does!

26                  Case solved! Rough hugs Mrs. M, and he could kiss her – but he’s got to run. He’s got to get word to none other than Sir George Raglan, “the power above all the powers that be”, to set up the capture and arrest of Power.

27                  Mrs. M is understandably afraid of having to deal with Power on her own while Rough is gone, but Rough instructs her again on the uses and purposes of Scotch, and they say their goodbyes.

Act Three

Power/Nancy

Power/Mrs. M

1                    Rough enters at the height of Power’s confrontation with Mrs. M.

2                    Power is taken by surprise. He wants to know how Rough got in, and who he is, and what he is doing in the house.

3                    Rough answers his questions evasively and identifies himself as a ghost, a figment of Mrs. M’s imagination. He suggests that she return to her bedroom.

4                    Power browbeats Mrs. M again and then dismisses her.

5                    Rough begins to confront Power, calling him “Manningham” (no Mr.), offering him a cigar, while needling him.

6                    Power threatens to call the Police to have Rough removed, and Rough encourages him to do so. Power declines.

7                    The lights go down. Rough knows now that Raglan’s men are in the house, but for Power, Rough imputes the darkness to the arrival of kindred spirits. Rough starts seeing ghosts.

8                    Rough sees the ghost of an old woman getting ready to go to bed, who is then murdered by a tall handsome young man, who might be Mr. Manningham!

9                    Power is compelled to hear more – because he’s got to know what Rough’s got on him, if anything.

10                  Rough sees the ghost of the killer ransacking the house, searching for something he can’t find. For 15 years.

11                  Something Rough has found in an hour. Rough produces proof, culminating with the Barlow rubies.

12                  Power threatens Rough.

13                  Rough counters with Raglan’s men, and places Power under arrest.

14                  Mrs. M enters, and, catching Rough by surprise, she wants to speak to Power – alone.

15                  Rough grudgingly concedes.

16                  Mrs. M/Power   She gains a measure of revenge, giving Power a dose of his own medicine before turning him over to the Police.

17                  Rough apologizes to Mrs. M for having brought her the most horrible evening of her life.

18                  No, Mrs. M counters, she rather liked it.

 

 

 

Rehearsal & Performance Schedule

Gaslight                                              ART

Wednesday, January 10, 7pm             (28-45)

Thursday, January 11, 7pm                 (49-57)

Saturday, January 13, 2:30pm            (Act One)

Monday, January 15, 7pm                  (57-66)

Wednesday, January 17, 7pm             (66-77)

Thursday, January 18, 7pm                 (scene work)

Saturday, January 20, 2:30pm            (Act One & Act Two)

Wednesday, January 24, 7pm             (97-108)

Thursday, January 25, 7pm                 (Act Three)

Saturday, January 27, 2:30pm            (Full Run)

Monday, January 29, 7pm                  (Run)

Wednesday, January 31, 7pm             (Run)

Thursday, February 1, 7pm                 (Run)

Saturday, February 3, 2:30pm            (Run)

Sunday, February 4, 12:30pm             (Tech)

Monday, February 5, 7pm                  (Run)

Tuesday, February 6, 7pm                  (Run)

Wedneday, February 7, 7pm               (Run)

Thursday, February 8, 7pm                 (Show)

Friday, February 9, 7pm                     (Show)

Saturday, February 10, 7pm               (Show)

Sunday, February 11, 1pm                  (Show)

Friday, February 16, 7pm                   (Show)

Saturday, February 17, 7pm               (Show)

Sunday, February 18, 1pm                  (Show)

Friday, February 23, 1pm                   (Show)

Saturday, February 24, 1pm               (Show)

Sunday, February 25, 1pm                  (Show)

 

“It’s such a guy play!”

DSC04751.JPGDSC04749.JPGThese were trying circumstances, a cold hard rain, a sky lit with lightning, the first winter storm of the year arriving in the night, so why venture out to see a play? And especially if you have to drive all the way from, say, Hawthorne to Gainesville?

Only a couple dozen or so playgoers braved the elements to attend the one-night-only staged reading of Boston Baked Bean at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, starring George Whitehead and Scott Gross, but among them was the real-life model for Coach Renko in the play, Jerry Lorenco, and there was the legendary coach Sonny McGraw. They had seen the play back in 1994, and they wanted to see if it would hold up.

 

The real-life Coach J, Kent Johnson couldn’t be there, we were told, because he was coaching, of course, in Tallahassee.

We were all very different people 25 years ago, and the world was different too. There’s a shelf life to works of art that doesn’t equate to how long they will last on the shelf. They can go bad overnight.

There were also the hardcore theatre devotees and practitioners of discerning opinion, the playwrights Jane Arrowsmith Edwards and Chuck Lipsig, the esteemed Professor of American Literature Andrew Gordon, and that most knowledgeable of all Gainesville’s theatre journalists, Noel Leroux, and the theatre artists Anna Marie Kirkpatrick, Laura Jackson, Tyson Adams and Cat Adams, all would weigh in with their observations.

Everybody wrote down on a piece of paper how good they thought it was, what they liked about it and didn’t like.

They liked George and Scott. They liked their chemistry, which was natural and empathetic. George and Scott, Coach J and Renko, operated as a team, which made the sports metaphor of the play come to life for both the characters – and the audience.

“How do you know so much about coaching?” Andy Gordon asked me – because we’ve known each other since 1984 and he’s never known about that part of my life. “Because the language is precise.”

George Whitehead told me at our second read-through that he took issue with the play’s use of the n-word. And he was right. So I cut it. And it made the play better.

George said that it didn’t ring true, that no white friend he had or ever had would have felt like he had the license to drop the n-word, and that you could tell it would never happen in real life and that it probably never had happened in real life and that it was just some shit I made up – and he was right.

People said there was too much cursing, and they were right. The guy who wrote the play must’ve been heavily under the influence of David Mamet. I’m not disowning him, the guy who wrote the play, or Dave.

We still think we can make a movie of Boston Baked Bean, that we should make a movie of it, simply because George and Scott are so damn good in it, and it’s not like being good at Stanley Kowalski or Brick, it’s better, because they own these parts. They are well-matched in their he-manliness. “It’s such a guy play,” Anna said. But beyond that, George and Scott showed depth in their portrayals of Coach J and Renko, emotional range that made an indelible and immediate connection with the audience. It’s called presence.

How well did it work?

If a play is right, it’s like an equation, there’s a symmetry to it.

I always go back to what Hemingway said, that what is right is what you feel good after, and this felt right. It was just three guys reading from a script, but we made the audience feel like they were seniors in P.E. class sitting in the bleachers because they weren’t dressed out, and they laughed, and it was all real to them, the characters, the setting, the situation, the conflict, especially the conflict, so that the laughs played off the conflict so that it could be funny and awful at the same time.

What’s the point of the play?

Stephanie McGraw, Sonny’s wife, a legendary teacher herself at Eastside High School, said, “The point is that nothing has changed. The Hawthorne schools are about to get shut down because of bad grades. And they get bad grades for the same reason the town is poor – because Gainesville drains all the resources, sets up magnet programs to pull in all the best students. How is that supposed to help schools in the country?”

So, you see, beyond whatever dubious literary merits Boston Baked Bean may have, to separate form from content, the play really has something to say.

“It’s more relevant now than ever,” Stephanie said.

Thus, Boston Baked Bean fulfills the first rule of Hot to Write a Play, which is: Have something to say.

Otherwise, shut the fuck up.

There I go again.

The conflict in the play was real and intense, and I could feel it, playing the part of Carlucci, the play’s third character, the straw man. He feels the heat. He makes everyone uncomfortable, including himself. He’s every problem that you don’t want to talk about.

All the set pieces worked like a charm, Renko’s jokes, his monologues.

Carlucci’s monologue about the kid he maybe should’ve killed had a properly chilling effect.

George’s rendition of the Story of Boston Baked Bean was worth the price of admission. It sent chills up my spine, as I sat on the stage as the narrator and watched the audience when George said the words Boston Baked Bean for the first time near the end of the play, and everyone leaned forward!

That’s why it’s called Boston Baked Bean! That’s why it couldn’t be called anything else!

Oh yes, it felt good.

It hurt the people.

As for me, it took me out of myself, for a moment, and I cannot but be grateful for that – to my dear friend Michael Pressley Bobbitt and the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, to those brave souls who came and responded, and to those many many, I don’t know, dozens maybe, who wanted to come but couldn’t.

http://www.gainesvilledowntown.com/2017/12/one-dozen-playwrights-to-showcase-their-work/