Tyler, Texas: Biopsy of a Red, White, and Blue Cancer

Believe me when I say that I don’t really want to write these words—and I most certainly wish that the events behind them had never happened.  But they represent what’s on my mind to the point of crowding out other thoughts… and this reflection as a whole poses a contrastive kind of bookend to the promise of independence that my new residence held out during our July 4 visit. I usually like contrasts. I wish this one weren’t so stark.

We returned to Tyler, Texas, for one last span of packing and waiting.  At some point, a bad dream degenerates into a nightmare… and it is along that seam that our present lives appear to be unfolding.  Ever since an “inspector” stuck his nose into every corner of our 50-year-old house, things have been malfunctioning.  The oven’s light fades in and out according to cryptic rhythms.  A strange wet spot has appeared under the bathroom sink.  Now we find that one of the hot water heaters (no, I don’t know why we have two, and nobody can tell us) will not keep its pilot light ignited.  Perhaps the man who charged me $370 to replace a “faulty part”—only to leave the tank in the same cold coma as had gripped it before—was a con artist, or perhaps he was simply no more competent than I at knowing how to resuscitate this mysterious model.  I wish I’d never met the guy…

And I wish the “inspector” had never whirled through our house.  In the light of all the failed lights, etc., I picture his time on our property as a re-enactment of the scene in the Tain Bo Cualnge where Cu Chulainn first takes arms.  Seventeen spears are rattled to splinters before the frightful lad finds one to his liking, and seventeen chariots are shaken to shambles before one finally withstands his “inspection”.  Our “inspector” must have some ancient Celtic DNA in him.  The paces through which he put our old warhorse left her more dead than alive.

And why an inspection?  We never had to jump through this hoop before, though we sold three houses within ten years as I struggled to generate some kind of career out of the Ivory Tower slaughterhouse.  I think it’s because the buyers in this case have no interest in actually inhabiting our digs.  Though a few years shy of thirty, the couple seems to me far less concerned about starting a family than about being the next pair on Flip or Flop.  Because they seek a loan not just to buy the property but also to gut and transform it—for a regal profit—the bank is insisting on ironclad assurances that its money is being well invested.

I can understand that—and I’m not unappreciative of the realtor for reaching out to this couple immediately rather than slapping a lockbox on our door and forcing us to bail out of the house every time some home-hunter wanted to take a little fantasy voyage through it.  But my wife and I have begun to feel somewhat “played” on several occasions since the all-too-easy deal went down.  At this very instant, a squad of roofers is pounding and hammering just above my.  The roof doesn’t leak anywhere… but the “inspector” decided that it needed to go.  That’s another $1,700 of deductible before State Farm will pay anything.  (The property is worth nowhere near the almost 200 grand that SF plugged into its formula to ratchet up what we have to pay: I’ve never received an adequate explanation of the figure.)

This has to be what a wildebeest feels like as it lies dying and watches the first vultures peck at its ribs.  What I hate most about the feeling is not knowing if I’m being hoodwinked or if, after all, I’ve just grown a little paranoid in the flurry of activity.  The poor fool who “repaired” the hot water heater was probably just in over his head.  The “inspector” was probably just a bit overzealous in shaking joints and stressing connections.  The realty/roofing/insurance complex… there I start to assume a “cornered prey” posture.  And while I’m sure that the two future stars of Flip or Flop Tyler have no particular flim or flam in their young minds just yet, their relationship with our realtor strikes me as extraordinarily cozy.  He negotiated the price… will he, perhaps, stand to benefit in some way when they put the face-lifted Taj Mahal back on the market?  I wonder.  I can’t help but wonder.

For this is Tyler, Texas.  Without money, you don’t exist—and everybody wants to exist, to be somebody.  Twenty years ago, my humble family was quickly assessed (by various “inspectors”) and cast into the bone pile.  Actually, frugality has left me better-heeled than many of the city’s distinguished citizens… but they don’t know that, precisely because I don’t advertise it.  On the contrary, an old guy who mows his own lawn, cuts his own hair, drives a second-hand car, and wears his clothes until they fall off… who would consider him advantageous to know or enviable to contemplate?

I would have liked to sell the house to another young family—for it has a generous back yard which I modeled into a pretty passable playground for my son.  (The buyers want to dedicate half of it to a pool.)  As I was digging up my movable trees in a bid to save them from the impending purge, I sometimes got a little choked up.  Three of my apple trees, and certainly my two almonds, have prospered far too well this past year to endure uprooting and transport.  I raised them from seeds and sticks… as I did my son.  In this back yard, we fashioned baseball contests, one against one, that we played with tennis balls (until he was consistently knocking those over the fence).  The ghosts of a boy and a young father linger about permanent bald spots where we had a pitcher’s circle and a home plate.

And then the boy played Little League… and his love of the game was almost destroyed by a man who ordered him to stand up on the plate and try to get hit by pitches.  I dared to gather a few of the team for a practice at our local school one afternoon… and then I, too, was issued orders: stay away from The Man’s team.  He had a cabinet full of trophies and a dream of big scholarship money for his grandson, whom he was pitching in alternative tournaments—against the rules—over weekends.  That’s why we never practiced.

So the boy played in another league the next year—Tyler’s “Negro League”, the YMCA.  For one year, we had the time of our lives.  The following year, the league was forever ruined when its organizing elite decided to arrange games all over East Texas, the plan being to draw families onto the field (a series of fields) right at supper time and rake in big bucks from the concession stand—cold cash, money in a form that could go missing from the drawer without a trace.  Same venality, different cultural approach.

Then the boy played high school baseball—very successfully, until his senior year.  We were unwise enough to secure him a college scholarship at that point and to let our success be known.  The money-bags dad to whose son the coach had often promised Division I scholarship offers was furious, especially since his golden child encountered arm problems (another case of gross overuse in tournaments) and received no offers at all.  The coach, infuriated in turn, took it out on our son, bullying him for a while and finally benching him for good.

All of these adults, by the way, are active in their churches.  All profess that they have given their lives to Jesus Christ.  Same for the headmistress of my son’s first school—she who kept a Bible prominently centered on her desk.  When I transferred the boy in mid-spring to another school because of an abusive teacher whose snarling, glaring practices were not being modified, the staff were immediately told not to buzz in any of my family under any circumstances.  At the time, I was giving Spanish lessons gratis to several grades.

Tyler, Texas.  A predatory hunt for profits in every nook and burrow of the forest, coupled with an ostentatious but skin-deep piety that magnifies mere money-lust to a different category of depravity… how could I ever miss anything about this place?  I want to miss something.  I raised my son here; we spent the twenty most important years of our lives here.  Yet every time I trap a moment of nostalgia as I box up the house’s contents, the bittersweet pleasure is at once murdered by assassin recollections that surround it.  I would like to be able to bundle up a few fond memories… but all of them would conceal the bug of an infectious and fatal disease.  And so I leave them lying in empty closets and worn-out carpets.

As an academic of thirty years, I wish I could make the proponents of conservatism see that every problem in our society cannot be reduced to a) the propaganda of a progressive left and b) the grotesque dreams of that progressive left.  We have a sickness.  The rise of leftism has exacerbated it by distracting us from it and forcing us to treat superficial varieties of progressive lunacy… but it was a preexisting condition, that disease, and it cuts to the heart of our national soul.  Boys should be able to play a game without adults circulating sordidly around its edges to turn a profit.  Old men should be able to retire without packs of young jackals descending upon them to nip at their life-savings.  Government intervention isn’t the answer: we can agree upon that.  Practiced manipulators will always figure out ways, not only to skirt around the rules, but even to collaborate in making rules that favor their interests.  We’re all enduring an evolutionary stage now wherein we have to fight off the intrusions of a do-gooder Nanny State—intrusions that only leave the poor poorer and the rich richer.  We haven’t enough energy left over to address our impoverished spirits.

For what we really need is an uplifting of the spirit—something such as might be provided by… oh, I don’t know.  Maybe the Christian faith? But where is that faith?

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Keeping Bambi and His Mom Together… in the Snake Pit

Back from a whirlwind trip to collect the keys from the builder of our new house almost 800 miles away.  Quite exhausting… but what wears me down more is pondering how much brush I have to clear.  The crew pushed things around to create space for their construction—not to leave space for my garden and orchard.  And to think that the Master Builder marveled at the number of snakes he had seen about the site!  When you produce brush piles, O Rugged Captain of Joist and Beam, you get snakes.  (Which is just as well… because you also get rodents.)

And there were other, more minor nuisances… our builder set out a mailbox post with a street number because the Fire Department requires it, but didn’t bother to add the non-requisite mailbox.  We hard-working, home-grown Americans don’t go the extra mile in business dealings any longer, apparently: we sidle up to the legally stipulated boundary and then stop.  The builder, I hasten to add, comes highly recommended and is overworked (“If you want a job done, find a busy man,” runs an old adage that—of course—none of my students had ever heard). And he did lay all the joists and beams with admirable precision. I’m not griping… I’m just sighing.

It’s a start: the beginning of my life’s last chapter, after I have wasted so many intermediate pages trying to live out a hopeless narrative in the academic world.  I got the first of my long-suffering, probably dead-on-arrival fruit trees in the ground… and my cactuses fared much better. Nopales mean antioxidants at my doorstep if… if our socio-political train finally runs off the track. I stared down a deer through the kitchen window with the same grim reassurance.  I’m neither a hunter nor, on most occasions, a carnivore… but it’s nice to know that Bambi’s mom is in the larder if I absolutely need her.

Speaking of neglected work, cultural meltdown, does and fawns, and slimy serpents… I’m not exaggerating when I say that much the most annoying part of last week’s adventure was having to listen to CNN carry on in the hotel breakfast room (a hotel, because the house wasn’t quite ready on the evening promised).  Oh, I’d heard plenty of protests about CNN’s “fake news” coverage… but I had shrugged them off as the hyperbole of competitors, since I myself hadn’t regularly watched cable news for years.  The phenomenon, it turns out, goes far beyond mere bias.  It leaves me more determined than ever to ready the drawbridge for cranking up, because some of us are obviously losing our minds.

Now, what I’m about to write is based on the five-minute walk-through needed to soak up two cups of tea.  (I postpone breakfast and squeeze it almost into lunch—the so-called “starvation diet” that’s actually done me a lot of good).  Yet the very fact that my sampling was so brief and casual raises its own alarm: at any given moment, this is what you get.  Alisyn Camerota was leading a chorus about how frightened those de-parented toddlers along the border must be.  There were storms in the South Texas forecast—and, and the storms would bring thunder… and, and the little children would be so very terrified because they had been wrested away from Mama and Papacita!  Oh, my God! Oh, it was all so uncivilized and beastly!

Yes, Alisyn (keens another Woman of Corinth), and I talked to one person (one person of many, none of whom had names… but what would a border-jumper’s name mean to you, privileged Americano?  We’ll call her Maria…) and… and she was in tears, and she said that she didn’t know where her child was!

Hrrrumph… yes, Alisyn (as we switch to Clive Coat-and-Tie on the steps of the Capitol).  It seems that there are some advisors surrounding this president, and indeed many Americans among the president’s supporters, whose philosophy is that immigration is bad for the nation and should be brought to a complete halt for the indefinite future….

At this point, I growled over my tea, “No, we just want the damn laws enforced so that not just anyone gets to wander into the country!”  It was a very audible growl… but I was on my way out, and anyone who wanted to savor the anguish of the cuddle-your-child advocates further (a team strangely silent on the public funding of Abortions ’R Us Planned Parenthood) was instantly relieved of my presence.

I’m just not getting it. I have seen the edges of the Chihuahuan desert, and I will hazard this generalization: anyone who either leads or sends a child across hundreds of miles of that terrain is very likely a child-abuser of the first order from whose influence the toddler ought to be liberated permanently. Or if the situation in Mexico is really so bad that mothers are fleeing with their babies in arms—fleeing into a yet more lawless vacuum than their native village where they will be that much more likely, both mother and child, to be raped or murdered—then we should approach our southern neighbor and announce, “You have a civil war going on, and your refugees are spilling into our nation. We insist upon intervening. You need help.” When the refugees do reach American soil, by the way, the good-faith option would be to go straight to the authorities rather than to attempt sidestepping them under the expensive and criminal guidance of the very cutthroats whom you claim to be fleeing.

Dividing kids from such adult “supervision” seems a very good idea to me, even though it has now been scrapped and we’re right back to “catch and release”. Why not put the kids up for instant adoption? My wife and I will take one. Will Alisyn Camerota? Will Chris Cuomo?

Meanwhile, certain municipalities in Canada are swooping in and placing children in foster care if their parents protest the school system’s LBGTQ agenda. Several cases in our own cities have lately involved children being forcibly separated from their parents after hospital visits, not because physical abuse is suspected, but because the white coats want to experiment and observe. Where were the mainstream media on these stories?

Remember the body of the toddler lying face down on a beach that stirred such a surge of compassionate border-opening in Europe two or three years ago? No one has ever explained to me why there were no footprints around this lamentable little corpse in the soft, wet sand. Did the photographer really snap the shot without first checking to see if the boy had vital signs? Or was the whole thing staged?

Are we really such an irrational, impulsive mob now that an image without context and a talking head wearing crocodile tears suffice to advance the cause of major criminal enterprises?

The answer appears to be “yes”. Naturally, it has always been so with respect to a minority—a large minority—of the republic. Any republic.  Our imbecility is now approaching critical mass, however. It scares me a lot more than snakes… and snakes, remember, actually eat rats.

The Propagandistic Caricature of Slave-Day History: Part Two

My maternal grandmother was the most extraordinary person I’ve ever known.  Though her family had inhabited a small area along the Rappahannock for three hundred years, the household’s dissolution upon the death of her mother more or less forced her to accept an offer of marriage from a Texan who happened to be stationed near Norfolk during the First World War.  The life to which he transported her in central Texas wasn’t remotely similar to the cultural setting she had left behind.  The dissonance that resulted did not send harmonious ripples through subsequent generations; I trace a lot of the complexities of my own character back to a schizophrenic kind of tug-of-war between a nearly antisocial independence and an invincible attachment to fine creations that “have no use”.  I suppose my emigration to Georgia, now in its final stages, is a compromise between the Texan and the Virginian in me.

One priceless bequest I owe to my grandmother is a small (all too small) amount of oral history that roots in times far preceding the Civil War.  I recall, for instance, a story that concerned the childhood of her own grandmother.  The girl was privy once upon a time to an exchange between the adult womenfolk and a slave girl called (I think) Sally.  The women were chattering over a rumor that so-and-so whipped his slaves.  They were scandalized, and quickly reached the conclusion that the reports were malicious.  Nobody whipped slaves!  I imagine they treated the talk just as you would if somebody whispered that the strange man down the street had two Thai girls locked away in his basement.  Such things were thrilling to talk about in their Gothic horror but not to be believed in the light of day. Sally overheard the discussion and ventured to disagree with its conclusion.  Oh, such things did indeed happen, Miss Anne!  Oh, no, Sally, you shouldn’t be so gullible—that’s all just vicious gossip.  Oh, no, Miss Anne, I know what I’m saying!

And this went back and forth until Sally at last, in an argument that could not be rebutted, dropped her blouse and exposed her back.  It bore the cicatrices of old lash marks from a previous owner.

My grandmother’s intent was to illustrate through the story that her family, at least, did not maltreat slaves.  I recall thinking at the time that it also revealed a disturbing degree of isolation from ghastly realities needing to be faced and addressed.  I now understand, further, that the vignette confirms what I’ve often read about slaveholders: that the bullies among them were held in contempt by their neighbors and socially ostracized, so that they would go to great lengths to conceal their sadistic practices.

Merely accepting the institution of slavery, you may counter, should disqualify anyone from entering heaven… but in that case, my friend, it may be you who inhabits a fantasyland.  Our world, unfortunately, is colored mostly in shades of gray.  You and I like to believe that our own lights shine bright—but time will humble us, I guarantee you.  If moral perfection is a prerequisite for heaven, then it’s a very lonely place.

My grandmother, for instance, would often vigorously point out that the Yankee slave traders made a handsome profit off of a commercial activity forbidden in most of their states.  (Not all of them, by the way; states like Maryland and Kentucky not only permitted slavery, but were not prohibited from the practice by Mr. Lincoln’s glorious Proclamation.)  I would add on the basis of my own reading of slave narratives that simply setting your bondsmen free wasn’t always a clear benefit for them.  Sometimes a freedman would run into a couple of ruffians who would tear up his documents and put him back on the selling block… and the result might be trying to survive on a big plantation’s chain gang rather than currying Mr. Jones’s horses and feeding his hound dogs.  These outrageous recaptures, besides, could occur in northern territory, and even in Canada.  Yankee laws didn’t seem to be overly concerned about the problem.

I’ll close for now with one more ambivalent vignette that my grandmother proudly repeated.  After the war, her father was down at the waterfront as evening gathered.  (He captained a small fleet of boats that harvested menhaden from the Chesapeake, primarily for fertilizer.)  A strapping young black man appeared from nowhere and approached him on the lonely wharf with a plainly unfriendly purpose in mind.  “Papa” had no arm with which to defend himself—but he did have his trusty pipe; and in the gloaming, as he pointed the pipe’s stem deliberately, it must have looked very like a Derringer or a “pepperbox”.   The menacing stranger lit out with his hands over his head and was seen no more.

Why do I share this story?  Well, it shows us that a) casual robberies and murders took place routinely far east of the Mississippi even in the 1870’s; and b) that not all Americans of African descent were angels, just as not all European DNA was diabolical.  With the freeing of the slaves came an uptick in violent crime.  How could it have been otherwise?  The South was destitute: the economy into which the slaves were freed had been shattered.  (Many sought jobs in the industrial north—and the bigotry and race riots that ensued somehow don’t reach the threshold of interest in most history books.)  Organizations like the KKK are a permanent stain on our cultural legacy; but it’s not a moral equivocation to observe that some naive souls may have been seduced into sympathizing with them thanks to a perceived link between freed slaves and more dangerous streets.  In the same way, the Bolshevik objective of exterminating the Catholic Church, with wholesale murder of clergy, persuaded more than a few distressed French, Spanish, and Italian bourgeoisie to embrace fascism in the Thirties.

I wish we could collectively remember, in these rabid and downwardly spiraling times, that we are complex beings whose history is a tangle of mixed motives and bad calls.  There are no angels among us; but there are, indeed, a few devils—the very behind-the-scene puppeteers who would have us all choose a tribe, a camp, for the most simplistic of reasons and then raise barricades.  No good can come of such non-thinking.  We still have a little time, maybe, before it sucks us irresistibly into a vortex that will pull apart the last vestiges of our civilization.

Leftism and Sexual Predation: As Closely Connected as Carnivores and Steak

S.E. Cupp is considered to represent views on the right side of the political spectrum, for reasons that evade me.  A few days ago, I read something of hers lamenting that girls in bikinis and stiletto heels (the participants in the Miss America pageant) were being chided by other conservatives for sharing their #MeToo moments, as they seem to have done during the contest’s few seconds dedicated to rhetorical skill.  The crusty right-wing position of default is that girls who wiggle lots of bare skin in public should expect the occasional pinch or lewd proposition.  Unlike Ms. Cupp, I don’t find this association of ideas pernicious; I’m afraid I find it perfectly sensible.  By way of analogy, say that I claim a right to walk in any part of town I choose at any hour of the day or night without fear of molestation. I may indeed enjoy that right in abstract; but in most cities today, no sane adult would dare to act as if it were in effect. In a fallen world, rights must be tempered with common sense.

Cupp, however, is among those younger female intellectuals who don’t understand why a woman shouldn’t be able to wear whatever she wants (more or less including the wardrobe choices of Lady Godiva) and still endure no wolf-whistles or fanny-pats.  I deplore bad manners as much as anyone, and probably more than most; but I also find something marginally insane about supposing that a girl should be able to engage in displays and behaviors explicitly designed to arouse men—then enjoy complete insulation from any little expression of arousal.  If a lion-tamer loses an ear after thrusting his head into an ill-tamed lion’s mouth, who’s at fault?

Full disclosure: I paid my “gentleman’s dues” many times over during the Seventies in dark scowls and snarled rebukes after holding doors open for “ladies” or offering them my seat in a crowded space.  In other words, men of my generation remember the days when women were wholly uninterested in mannerly conduct, and even aggressively opposed to it.  The “enlightened” girls of those days also, all too often, refused to shave under their fully exposed arms or to use deodorant on a hot day.  That, too, was their “right”, and to begrudge it was to cast them in the bonds of cruel servitude.  So to hear of supermodel-caliber lasses now seething because their generation has decided to flip all the male hormonal switches to “on” instead of “off” while expecting every onlooking man’s vital signs to flatline… I’m confused.  If a girl’s wearing a skimpy bikini, does the revised feminist code now allow you to hold the door for her?  Does it now require you to do so?

Of course, I don’t think most of the confusion is on my side.  I think the #MeToo tornado has been largely generated by decades of circular thinking on the part of women themselves. Girls don’t seem to understand men nearly as well as their grandmothers did.

But even many a grandmother, if she was a revolutionary in her youth, was probably making the same errors. Poor judgment may be less a sign of the times than of ideology. In the wake of the Weinstein and Schneiderman scandals, Rush Limbaugh lately opined that leftist men are quite often sexist pigs who talk the feminist talk just to have their way with their marks farther down the road.  This is very droll, and probably somewhat true; but it doesn’t come close to the heart of the matter.  Leftist males, after all, subscribe to an ideology every bit as self-contradictory as that of leftist females.  If the feminist female wants to be treated indistinguishably from a male in all circumstances yet also expects insulation from bad manners, the “feminist male” wants his women to be “pals” yet also to understand that, as females, they have something he needs.  That something is a cozy garage for his little sports car.  It’s not a lifetime of conjugal bliss, or even a shared apartment for two weeks (unless she pays the rent); it’s not children to bounce upon the knee and to comfort one in one’s declining years.  It’s sex: it’s “pleasuring”.  It’s a need on the same level as having to go to the bathroom.  You go, you relieve yourself… then it’s over and you can get on with your life.

The female “pal” is supposed to get all this.  Several characters in Jules Romains’s epic series of novels about the twentieth century’s first decades, Les Hommes de Bonne Volonté, model the behavior from within Bolshevik cells or nihilist artistic circles.  There’s no God, no life after this one, no values except those created by society, no society except what power and privilege have assembled.  Truth, therefore, lies where the last layers of conditioning have been stripped away: at the primal level, where male and female are beasts with needs and urges.  A man needs a woman to have sex.  A woman who embraces the revolution lends herself to satisfying a comrade’s need, even if it means being passed around in the group like a bottle of cheap wine.  In my day and long before, much of avant-garde feminism was invested in the idea that women have identical sexual needs—and so “educated” women were supposed to scratch their itches with the same indifference to circumstance and consequence as their hairy-ape counterparts.

The inequity that cannot be eradicated from these arrangements, however (and has hence fueled an explosion of lesbianism among “educated” women today), is the essential quality of sexual pleasure.  For the fully initiated leftist male, the woman remains a toiletry, though she be ever such a good “pal” about it.  Use, flush… and get on with the revolution’s business.  Though female initiates may also approach this state of depravity, they cannot redesign their role as receptacle in the exchange.  They are the object into which the maddening poison must be discharged—and, as such, they acquire a certain guilt by association with the interlude’s inconvenience and vileness.  They are the consumed butt of the smoked joint, the empty bottle after the last drop of whiskey is coaxed out.  Empty whiskey bottles rarely end up in curio cabinets.

What a man gets from sex is release—and the man of action wants a quick release.  What a female hopes to get from sex, even in its most degraded form, is a sustained experience of pleasant sensation.  The difference is very like that between a flask drained in a foxhole and a glass of rare Château Mouton-Rothschild savored over a candlelit dinner.

Given these irrefragable facts, the leftist male has not even the degree of sentimental affection for his casual sexual partners as he might feel for a dog.  With the dog, there is no physical contact in the relief of a burdensome need (after the fashion of a sheet of toilet paper), but rather the side-by-side warmth of a good blanket, unfailing devotion, and unthinking self-sacrifice in moments of high danger.  And the dog’s big loving eyes show a dumb oblivion to the future that a woman might try to imitate but can never match.

Now, to the extent that our contemporary, self-styled Che Guevaras in the broadcast-entertainment-legal complex have to mouth proper phrases about health care or gun control to keep their human puppies in a fawning posture, I’m sure they do so without a qualm.  What’s false in these professions, after all, is not so much their content as their degree of concern.  A Harvey Weinstein probably does believe that women should have condoms paid for by public health care—not to preserve their personal health, however, but to render them more readily amenable to his “needs”.  And what revolutionary would not vigorously endorse the confiscation of all firearms from law-abiding citizens?  A lion who bites off ears is all in favor of Q-Tips and aural hygiene.

I wish I could see young women making some progress in figuring this all out.  Hey, if you want to show off your beautiful body, fine… but it’s beautiful especially (if not uniquely) to males, and most of them are not sculptors.  Among men who claim to champion your long-denied rights as a woman, in particular, exercise caution.  Many tracks lead into the lion’s cave, but you will find none coming back out.

Abortion, Human Sacrifice, and Satanism: The New Woman Travels a Very Old Corridor

On Friday, May 25, Irish voters elected to repeal their Eighth Amendment, which stood as one of the few remaining legal restraints upon abortion to be found anywhere in Europe.  As I observed the “discussion” from the sidelines of Twitter, I felt far more disgust than shock—though, I must admit, I was unworldly enough to register much of the latter.  I had not realized that so many young Irish women had become such a cesspool of mutating slogans and ostentatious plangency.  I might as well have been overhearing the casual chatter of coeds in a graduate English program.

I can understand that a dutiful Catholic wife who has borne six children might not wish to bear a seventh.  I saw no indication that the referendum reflected her anxiety.  After all, this is 2018, not 1818.  The number of Irish wives held prisoner in some “pregnancy dungeon” by Sean the Terrible can probably be counted on one hand.

Judging from the language used on Twitter, I at first concluded that the Emerald Isle must have a substantial residue (from centuries of economic suffocation) of what we call “poor white trash” down South.  One heavy-hitter mused, “Now the Church has learned not to f**k with gays and not to f**k with women.”  The devil in me wanted to write back, “My guess is that the Church may be the one thing in Ireland that is not f**king with you.”  No, I didn’t indulge that salacious inspiration; it’s not classy to kick a girl when she’s down, and young women who verbalize in the terms of drunken sailors tend to be the barefoot tenth children of some dumpster-diving hag in the trailer park….

Or do they?  Then I remembered my experience of graduate school, already decades in the past, and also my late exposure to undergrad “literature” majors in the somewhat rural outlier of a red-state university system.  For about forty years now, educated young women have been egged on to talk like soldiers in a foxhole.  Why is that?  Is it simply because whatever outrages bourgeois values and expectations is good by default?  Or is it (in a closely related chain of reasons) because doing whatever you damn well please and speaking as though you suffered from Tourette’s Syndrome are viewed as maximal assertions of individual freedom?

Many of the young women who voted down the anti-abortion law apparently flew in from parts abroad where they had preserved Irish citizenship in self-exile.  Such affluence doesn’t fit the profile of “trailer trash”.  Here I was thrown into an even deeper perplexity, then: if these girls are so well educated and affluent, why can they not ex out three days on the calendar during which to abstain from sex, assuming that the intricacies of contraception stymie them (or that, like Sandra Fluke, they don’t have five bucks in their bank account)?  Indeed, heterosexual sex has grown very passé in the lanes traveled at top speed by these lasses.  So why does abortion remain such a pressing issue if so many of their partners are so seldom contributing sperm to the encounter?

I keep returning to the phrase “young women” because pregnancy is actually rather difficult to achieve for females over thirty who haven’t borne children previously.  In trying to apply a little basic logic to the profile, I was emerging with a subject in her mid-twenties.

But applying logic clinically to a Dionysiac behavior without admitting any nudge from intuition produces little enlightenment.  Here’s my ultimate best guess about what’s going on.  Abortion is our contemporary version of human sacrifice.  It is the initiation rite into the inner circle of true believers—of “illuminatae” who reject all natural limitation and claim the right to make themselves over however they wish.  Though female, they mate with other females.  If they conceive in a heterosexual episode, they choose NOT to be pregnant.  If their hair is blonde, they’ll make it purple—and they may just shear it all off.  They will not be told what words to speak.  If presenting a doctoral thesis, they may decide to pull all their clothes off (have you not heard about that one?).  In their somewhat understated version of Satanism, they modify, “Evil, be thou my good,” to, “Obscene and profane, be ye my beautiful and sacred.”  They have no original, unconditioned objective, you see: they can only invert and parody mainstream practice in an effort to create “free space” that turns out to be an utter vacuum.

Our “young women” need abortion because their religion demands that they deposit a chunk of flesh into an antiseptic bin, just as their distant ancestors were required to toss a bound victim into the peat bog at a given time of year.

Two concluding comments: one is that you cannot confine this rabid cult to a diseased pocket of society, as a libertarian like me might tend to think.  I’ve said and written before that the gays should be given all of San Francisco in which to play, if they have the votes: let them make of it their Promised Land, as the Mormons did of Utah.  But that won’t work.  Neo-Satanism is as much a faith of proselytizing zealotry as is fundamentalist Islam.  The human-sacrifice crowd will never be content with any given piece of real estate within which to practice their dark cult unobstructed.  Permission must be extended universally.  They must be allowed to perform their rites in your neighborhood.  The existence of a single resistant city block is insufferable.  Prominent among the abortion-crusader Tweets was a smoldering fury at having to visit other shores of Europe to have to victim lanced.

And speaking of Islam, finally… there is much consternation in parts of Germany over the coercion of female children—well under the age of puberty—to cover their heads at all times in public schools.  I cannot disagree with the frequent observation that, if such practice truly reduces the sexual titillation of males, then we must be talking about a culture of pedophiles.  Yet with what moral authority can the West lecture Islam any longer?  When our most educated young women exhibit the behavior of sex addicts, spew obscenities like demon-possessed harpies, and murder their children with such gusto that they appear to seek out pregnancy only to that end, then how do we find the nerve to turn our attention from them and wag a finger at the hijab?

Denver, Part Three: Graveyard of Western Civilization

Gravitational center of nineteenth-century mining booms, cattle drives, and railway expansions… contemporary continental military hub, global tourist Mecca, and universal sporting paradise… scene of Indian massacres (Sandy Creek is just down the road) and anti-colonialist leftwing zealotry (the next Democratic convention may well happen here); home to a Christian revival movement flourishing alongside the newly legal pot industry… Denver is in microcosm the soup of incoherence which is American society past, present, and future.  But how long is our collective future to run, with so many strains pulling it in different directions?

As if in dramatization of all these worrisome paradoxes, the city’s international airport has for years been rumored to sit upon vast catacombs covertly and regally equipped to be a Dr. Strangelove kind of super-bunker.  The bizarre murals sprawling fully above ground at the same venue are said to encode an apocalyptic vision of how evil imperial forces will exterminate common humanity.

The business climate here is explosive, for the moment.  None of the city’s many skyscrapers dates beyond about half a century, and mega-engineering is ongoing to handle nightmarish traffic congestion.  Small shops in various subdivisions reap a bonanza off of selling sugar-free doughnuts or beef-rich burgers, kale salads or over-caffeinated coffee, mountain bikes or noisy ATF’s, exotic bongs or leathery cowboy boots.  Millionaire refugees from West Coast socialist republics converge upon the opportunities as fast as campesinos from Chihuahua; and both groups, in some perverse fatality, import the taste for paternalistic government whose consequences have driven them from their homes.  The nearby utopianist haven of Boulder has just banned “assault rifles”, indifferent to the phrase’s vacuity as a definition and also to the fact that most gun crime is perpetrated with pistols.

You don’t do things in our progressive urban centers because they are undergirded by logic or have a promise of practical success: you do them because you’re smarter and better than ordinary people, and it’s important for you to produce evidence of that superiority in every legislative cycle.

The girl who serves you at Mad Greens may show exemplary patience with your struggles to choose between a “Poe” and a “Ty Cobb” and even tender useful advice politely; then the same girl, a few hours later, may flip you off if you dare to park a car along the scenic boulevard where she’s biking.  There are rules that good people, the right people—the “better” people—all know, and you don’t belong here if you can’t divine them out of the thin, clean air.  Oddly and superficially, they seem to encode a high regard for rulelessness; but if you do not shred expectation and inhibition in just the proper way, you’re likely to suffer the fate of the clueless yokel who dares to take a Sunday stroll in the Puritan New England dissected by Toqueville.

I’ve been hard on Denver in my remarks over the past weeks; but what I’m really chafing at is the incoherence of our entire contradictory and (I fear) suicidal society.  Denver, like so many great cities, simply represents the vanguard of our rush to the abyss.  The traffic is horrendous and insane, infinitely more dangerous than any Rifle from Hell—and I’m sure that Big Oil is much to blame for landing us in this outer circle of Inferno.  But the “green” alternative is always to produce more mass transit, which invariably invites more waste and corruption as politicians and contractors feel each other out in the frontier whorehouse of “progress”.

An acceptable coping mechanism for the trauma of modern living is to get high in one of several ways—and this, too, is good for business. Not just pot-growing and selling, but Hollywood’s parallel universe, video games, the paraphernalia-cluttered option of sports fandom, the kaleidoscopic music scene in nightclubs… the gear-intensive hobbies of camping, hiking, and biking… let’s go anywhere, as long as it’s out of this world (in Baudelaire’s phrase); and, by the way, let’s be sure to bring our wallets.  Don’t let us forget to take the checkbook to church, either.  For even our contemporary version of Christianity (and I reiterate that I’m not just talking about Denver now) is marijuana without risk of lung disease: love everybody, peace everywhere, judge no one and nothing, fly and sing and swoon!… and even our churches, with their multiple ministries and high-tech delivery systems, are big business.

What we all need at the most basic spiritual level is stillness, quiet, and a welcome predictability that comes of benign routine… and I don’t know if Denverites find any of these or not as they bike up bare slopes in constant view of other trekkers (and their dogs).  Whatever epiphany they access in their churches seems to me certainly more akin to last night’s multi-decibel nightclub adventure than this afternoon’s race to hike across the park before the next cloudburst brews up from nowhere.

What we all need at the most basic material level is food, water, and shelter; but the twenty-first century has decreed that these needs may be supplied only through wages or through highly centralized and impersonal delivery systems to which we have a “right”.  Not only can we do nothing directly for ourselves: we’ve forgotten what it is that we need to do.  Most of us can’t grow a potato, collect and filter rainwater, or repair a leaky roof.  Instead, we clamor for jobs, jobs, jobs; and then, when the soul-numbing drudgery of racking up designer clothing or flipping burgers overpowers us, we demand a guaranteed minimum income.  We wave in destitute Mexicans to perform the tasks that “Americans just won’t do”.  Eventually, however, even mopping out toilets will be rendered obsolete by a robot named Hazel who sterilizes surfaces with a laser.  Our “guest workers” are already insisting upon their shared human right to “live with dignity”—and we can scarcely counter that the work we ourselves disdained was dignified before Siri and Alexa and Hazel took it over.  So…

So where do all these downward spirals end?  If we do not recover the power individually to produce food and water from the earth and sky and to make clever adjustments to our living conditions with our own hands, what good will it do us to puff away and listen to some contemporary John Denver croon about his Rocky Mountain High?

Denver, Part One: Beneath the Shifting Smile of Unfriendly Skies

My wife and I appear to have survived our semiannual trip to Denver for a visit with our son.  Since we’re still picking up physiological and psychological pieces, I can’t guarantee that Humpty Dumpty will be back together again by the end of the week.  In fairness, I cannot lay this trauma at D-Town’s mountainous doorstep.  A fifteen-hour drive would be a tall order for two sexagenarians even with the Pearly Gates as its destination.  Neither of us has flown in years—the slaughterhouse chuting and prodding and penning up that goes with air travel these days makes my libertarian blood boil.  Yet car trips of long duration in any direction tend to give me horrible migraines.  The Extremely Low Frequency Waves transmitted constantly by the vehicle’s motion do something really painful to my nervous system.  This time I kept a bag of quartz crystals behind my neck to draw off some of the energy, and that worked pretty well (quartz is an All Star conductor of electricity); but I’d still rather be on foot in strange places, as I was when I walked two different 600-mile tours of the British Isles in my twenties.

About now, you’re thinking, “Gee, this guy sounds like he should fit right into Denver culture.”  I know, I know: it has been my lot as a true conservative throughout my life to puzzle people on both sides of the aisle.  Faux-cons can’t understand why I don’t warble excitedly about the benefits of technological progress for the free market and individual economic opportunity.  (But wouldn’t such excitement indicate… oh, I don’t know—maybe progressivism?)  Meanwhile, what has very carelessly come to be called the “liberal” manifests a concern for preserving life’s natural rhythms… up to a point.  The trouble with “liberals” (and I wish that faux-conservative propaganda would allow me to call them “progressives” without ambiguity) is that they know little about nature and nothing about life.  They play at knowing and loving both; and in their childish fantasy, they usually end up destroying one without soaking up any wisdom from the other.

Which brings me back to why I just can’t stand Denver (or, for that matter, contemporary Austin, where I passed the happiest years of my childhood): The place is a Disneyworld sitting on the crater of a supervolcano.  This is quite literally true, inasmuch as the next eruption of the subterranean dynamo upon which sits Yellowstone Park will most certainly prove a Hiroshima event to Colorado.  Yet what I have in mind is more figurative.  Denver society is a stew of fantasists.  Like Austin, it has a substantial hippie-refugee population; and the abuse of the word “refugee” reminds me that both cities are also “sanctuaries” for adventurous migrants in search of tax-free cash and tax-funded freebies.  The old hippies, to the extent that they recognize the eventual collapse of the commonwealth in open-border politics, cheer the ruin of the capitalist system.  The younger ones…

I know you don’t call them “hippies” now, and I haven’t heard “space cadet” used for years.  I have no single word for them.  They wear rings in any or all portions of their face, sport tattoos in places that clothing used to cover, design their hair with hedge-clippers before dying it with whatever’s among the kindergarten art supplies, select mates for a week or a month without any apparent attention to gender, devote most of their loving attention to small screens in their palms, and will probably bequeath whatever wealth they may amass in life to their dog.  Dogs… wow!  Mates come and go, children are a rare sight unless trailing after a Third World migrant in staircase order—but the shaggy canine is lover, child, and very best friend.  (I think the Denver word for that is “bae”, a term to which I was first exposed through a Littleton  billboard that showed a white chick and a black chick in lip-smacking embrace).  If a dog’s legs could only pump pedals, you’d see human-canine pairs, both helmeted, on their Schwinns all around the town.

So what’s my big problem—I who drive balancing a bag of quartz behind my neck—with thinking outside the box?  My problem is that I don’t perceive the thinking: I see only children dressing in outlandish combinations of clothes while Mom and Dad are away and the babysitter is taking a nap.  Question: if you have to overhaul city streets expensively amid great swirls of dust and pitch in order to create biking lanes, how is bike-riding a boon to the economy or the environment?  Or if you drive up into the Rockies three times a week with your bike strapped to your 35-mpg buggy, aren’t you nevertheless contributing to tremendous traffic congestion while also overrunning the wide-open spaces along with other cycle-meditators of your faith?

And as for religious faith… why are Denver churches never Baptist or Methodist or Episcopal?  Why are they the Gopher Gulch House of Love or the Cowboy Christ Worship Family?  Just because you can’t abide subordinating your thoughts and inklings to any established designation doesn’t mean you’re a free thinker or a true believer.  It may mean you’re a mush-head who has no notion of how to think or feel about anything profoundly.

And speaking of marijuana… one really devastating, perhaps fatal, unforeseen consequence of legalizing weed may well prove to be the legislative magnet thereby created for unproductive social leaches.  As a quasi-libertarian myself, I understand the appeal of the general argument; but the practical effects of making “artificial paradise” readily available include drawing in people dedicated to fleeing reality.

I’ll bet native Denverites are every bit as dismayed at what has happened to their homeland as my grandfather was by what happened to Austin.  I feel for them.  Their dream—yesterday’s reality, now a fantasy as remote as any socialist utopia—is irreparably shattered.

I’ll close this ramble with one more example of reality slamming into Playtime at Daycare.  I’ve always dreaded Denver weather.  The bottomless violet dawns are invariably traitors: by mid-afternoon you may be running for your life from a hail storm.  During this trip, however, I began to notice how many contrails immediately start collecting across the sky as the sun strokes the mountain peaks.  There are two commercial airports and one military strip in the Denver area.  It’s unimaginable to me that the dizzying accumulation of cirrus streaks from all the jet activity plays no role in the region’s schizophrenic weather.  While all the conscientious young liberals are denouncing us as planet-murderers for not outlawing industry and legally requiring of everyone the purchase of a 35-mpg Virtue Buggy, a much more credible and observable engine of weather change (who knows what long-term climatic effects it may have?) is air traffic.  What would the “wee brainy things” (as a Scots woman aptly termed them during one of my European tours) do without their jets?  How would they get to the next climate conference?  How would they get home for Thanksgiving, or how would they get to Seattle to rekindle an old flame for a weekend?  With 87,000 flights per day in U.S. (out of 100,000 worldwide—and those figures are likely just commercial jetliners), we are directly and immediately seeding the upper atmosphere with heat disruptive of natural pattern.  Yet we’re supposed to be worrying about SUV’s?

What a place.  It has its charms, as do all amusement parks; but as a viable major metropolis whose influence increasingly dominates the Midwest, Denver is a nightmare-in-becoming to this tree-hugging conservative.