Saturday, January 1, 2011

1.1.11 Turtle Soup

With our artificially imposed collective observance of the Gregorian calendar signaling a new beginning to the continuing cycle of reflections on the information age, here are a few exerts from the Jumel Terrace Books annual holiday greetings compilation of personal, profound and not surprisingly alarming observations on the state of our global clumsiness.

It’s something that occurred to me while trying to read and write history and couldn’t believe I hadn’t read somebody else saying the same thing. Facts are seldom what they seem. The plainest fact, in my experience, is dubious. Call me Doubting Thometz but in plotting histories writers are constantly confronted with facts that don’t add up to what happened. Like statistics they can be made to say what you want.

Truth is so hard to prove, fictions win.

Truth can’t be done justice without imagination. Amongst the best written histories are some of our most famous fictions and there are fictions that have succeeded failed fact-ions. Complicating matters is the virtual aspect of the electronic word as opposed to the concreteness of print on paper. As a bookman, this is a peeve of mine. Non-fiction novels, fact-ions, and infotainments are nothing new but poetry and quality lit are in far shorter supply. What Velvetta does to cheese word processing seems to do to literature.

I’ve heard a lot of 14 carat crap about the negligible difference between the virtual and the actual. The new media hasn’t proved itself capable of creating art, which seems lost in the transition. And art’s what’s best capable of grasping and expressing ‘truth’. As Pound put it: “If you think the trade gains by putting poetic quality below pedantry or even below scholastic distinction,” yr an asshole. The court of mid-town editors and academics are at the end of their ignominious history. KT

“I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies… If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations will grow up around [the banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered… The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.”

Thomas Jefferson – The Debate over the Recharter of the Bank Bill (1809).

Jim Fouratt: RIP Solomon Burke. “I remember having Mr. Burke play the new Peppermint Lounge on West 46th St in Times Square. He demanded being paid his fee prior to performance in $10 and $20 dollar bills. Despite my partner Rudolf's objection I agreed. So we sat in the dressing room as he counted his $5000 in $10's and $20's. When finished this huge bear of man stood up, put his arms around me and whispered into my ear "God protects all his children but the devil controls money." Then he walked on to the stage and stopped time, chatter and cruising.”

“Why have we substituted the arrogant undertaking of policing the whole world, for the high task of setting one’s own house in order? All of these questions remind us that there is a need for a radical restructuring of the architecture of American society. For its very survival’s sake, America must re-examine old presuppositions and release itself from many things that for centuries have been held sacred. For the evils of racism, poverty, and militarism to die, a new set of values must be born. Our economy must become more person-centered than profit-and–property-centered. Our government must depend more on its moral power than its military power.

Martin Luther King. The Poor People’s Campaign, 1967.

...I say we have been Post-Literate since September 11th, 2001. We’d been building up to it for a decade, since the introduction of the word processor and the internet. Since then most people here get their information electronically. It has effected a change of consciousness. We’ve a generation that’s known the internet from first consciousness and, trapped in a the web they’ve wove, can’t tell the real turtle soup from the mock. KT


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