The thing about working in the genre and style of the dramatic poem is that it allows for a rather intense exploration of the human condition. I mean, that is its purpose. The whole use of Gods as the main characters is designed to allow such metaphors (as say hey – birds falling from the sky) to begin to explain human foible, to hold up our patterns to the light and show them for what they are – be that good or bad.
I am at a point in the City still that I am spinning in circles, but with a better understanding of why. There comes a point in which you, the writer, can no longer be the sole source for the content and instead have to act as both conduit and translator. An artist who restricts themselves or remains the sole source of their content and theme eventually hits a wall that is sometimes called – navel gazing. Other people’s navel gazing is only interesting for so long.
The next step is when the artist gets tired of their own navel gazing and begins to look outward toward other people’s navels. That usually results in an expanded body of work that is a repeat of the original navel gazing only now, the artist is relating to other people’s navel stories and it gets more interesting but again, only for so long.
It’s when you hit the point where you realize that the power of the story lies not within the navel but in what the hands do (and how that may create a contrasting head/heart story to the navel) that things begin to take on a sort of sublime quality. The artist becomes the tool of the story, not the subject.
This brings me to a side comment I feel the need to make about all my ranting and posting about removing the Internet from my house and backing away from being constantly wired. There is a counter surge of people who take great pride in being disconnected. You can usually spot them because they tend to use the term “Luddite” to describe themselves in a self-deprecating way.
Denial of the technology is not the answer either. Isolating oneself merely isolates you from participating in society. But we have built a strong counter culture that emphasizes the denial of presence in life. Meditation is typically taught as a means to “empty oneself” and to ” cease to be present,” any true student of meditation knows that getting rid of the self is not the intent of the practice. Neither is it to subsume the self to nature. The intent is to discover the alignment of self to the natural order to better understand the role of responsibility the individual life plays in relation to the whole. It is why, as you advance in meditation, the goal becomes to do it with your eyes open and to not shut out what is around you, but to take it in and discover its harmony (and disharmony, for these sessions help you understand how to help).
Our world is divided into two camps of self – the absolute narcissist and the pathological altruist. The third camp, which is scattered, is the pragmatic realist, who contains elements of the other two but is governed by a sense of responsibility toward life as is beyond their own mortality and presence. Oh wait, there is the fourth camp, and that is the ‘lost,’ people who are pathologically incapable of developing into either kind of person because of fear (this is where you find your passive aggressives, hedonists, perfectionists, purists, dogmatists and general ignoramuses).
But I digress.
So anyway, as I move toward the City and progress in my other writings (much more on the lines of social theory and human rights activism) I am going deeper and deeper in learning about how our world functions politically. While I live in the US, I am only minimally interested in what the US does, I am more interested in how we function globally because I do believe our economies et al are very intertwined not to mention, as the Internet continues to connect us, our societies are acquiring similar influences.
That is how I came across the recent story about the orphan earmarks. Earmarks are the things that are tacked on to Legislation claiming money for (usually) unrelated projects. They are also called ‘pork.” Legislators on behalf of special interest groups and companies located in their home states typically promote them. This way the legislator can come back and say “see what I did for you, I got a special 1.2 million dollars for your project.” Brownie points all around.
Now, the problem is, according to the rules (especially for transportation) is that if you get an earmark after the project has started you are not allowed to use it. However, the amount of the earmark is then also deducted from the total federal amount of monies that you may be receiving for projects of a similar nature. In other words:
Congressman A’s district wants to repave all their roads and add a special on-ramp to the highway that is more convenient.
Congressman A, thinking in terms of re-election, tacks an earmark on a bill to approve a federal judge claiming 1.2 million for the project. The bill gets approved, a check for 1.2 million is cut and given to A’s state.
However, the state already had enough highway funding to begin the project while the bill was in the approval process and that is what they did.
By federal law, A’s state cannot cash the check and use it because the project began. Moreover, when the government goes to release the next round of highway funding for the state, it deducts the 1.2 million from the amount as “already received.”
Congressman A just cost his state 1.2 million dollars.
Typos, misfiled paperwork, wrong address – anything can freeze a cheque, but the paperwork to deduct the amount from the total funds goes through.
In Rhode Island (which has a 200 million plus deficit), there is over 100 million in so called “orphaned earmarks” that have been issued to the state, deducted from other funding amounts and yet cannot be used.
Before you start chanting about too much government regulation the process does make sense, except for the fact that there is no process to track and account for earmarks after they have been included in an approved bill. States can submit paperwork to correct problems with them but, as it turns out, the same legislators who were willing to hold up bills to make sure their earmarks went through, are disinterested in doing the work to correct the problems that would allow them to “adopt” their orphans.
Looking into all this led me to a site that listed all the earmarks requested by RI Legislators for the past 3 years and let me tell you, it was like being hit in the stomach. I have been living in absolute ignorance about the amount of special interest the defense industry has in this state. Neither was I aware of the sheer amount of pork that the state legislators had devoted to the industry (which by the way contributes 3% of our jobs to 1% of our population and makes up less then 2% of our income).
From there, I was reviewing voting records, which meant I was looking into what exactly both houses spend their days discussing.
In a word, war. 90% of all the activity in both houses was focused on the industry of war.
You wouldn’t think so to watch the news, now would you? Or to listen to your local representatives about what they are doing down there.
Like the froufrah about the recent planned defense cuts. Read the information carefully; there are no cuts being made, but rearrangements.
This is important to me, after all, because my main character, Sadima, in the City of Love is, after all – the Goddess of War.
And she is done with being used by mankind.
(from ‘the City of Love’ by Cassandra Tribe)
City and Mountain
rise like spears to hold all at bay.
There is nothing welcoming here.
Everything holds its’ tongue as if waiting for me to leave.
Even here where no life shows,
a presence is felt wanting me to go.
Man’s desire wants all things accounted, but no heart that beats.
Idols they prefer to living things.
In every city and every country they picture me in shining armor,
wreaths upon my hair, and Justice at my feet.
My children they carry on biers,
weeping as if t’was any other destiny.
“Tell us!”they cry and listen not.
Each Man a sudden sayer, visions must flavor their water,
revealing things I have yet to say with more breath then I am want,
to bless them keep them promise them as they march,
that the grooves they wear are roads unbuilt less gutters for blood.
By the time I speak, they would rather believe the words they have given me.,
then the words I would say,.
In breathing I am unnecessary,
yet a fine still valued statue I make.
Even when I cry,
“Here I am!
All that I will ever be!
One lonely body in front of a vast, unknown sea.
There is no gold,
there is no armor,
there is no honor,
only blood and tiredness and pain.
That is what I am.
That is all I will ever be!”
They hear not.
It is no use.
I am not what they think me to be.
It is no use.
Even standing amidst them I am unseen.
Perhaps Memory, from disappointment, has deserted me.
Is it from being not what I am imagined?
Or from being incapable of being seen?
c.2011 Cassandra Tribe All Rights Reserved.