Tuesday, August 31, 2010

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

On the fourth of July we went to the Swiss circus. The lions and tigers were gone. The elephants are next. Animal rights. Nobody took time to ask the animals how they wished to vote. The final act was the wire walker Freddy Knock. We were slapped in the heart by the performance. We were pulled into it; lifted up. Federico Garcia Lorca called it Duende: “dancing on the rim of the well.” Freddy Knock danced on the rim of the ancient well and he took the crowd with him. Freddy Knock walked up the diagonal wire, from the ground to the high wire; backwards. Over the crowd. Lorca sat up in his grave. Lorca declared Duende is experienced only in music, dance, spoken poetry, and bullfighting. Those were his original words. The word “bullfighting” has now been expunged from his internet profile. Our world is being edited down and out by and political correctors and terrorists of the modern soul. Guardians in the watch tower. The truth has gone the way of elephants and tigers. Gone south with the side shows. My summer vacation in the box. Stifling tho' it was becoming.

Dear Teacher: My summer reading included “Furious Love” about Liz Taylor and Richard Burton. The tale is one long passionate song of the Welsh coal miner’s kid and a grown up child actress, drinking their way across the Shakespearean stages of modern history. Ah! Virginia Wolf! This ain’t Brad and Angelina, kids. This ain’t no paper moon under a cardboard sky. Burton drank because: “life is big and it blinds you.” Taylor drank because she could. They married twice; the flunkies at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London had to keep moving the Burton’s wax figures in and out of the display to follow the romantic changes. Two art lives. Burning. Blood in the water.

I kept thinking about the circus. And our moral watchdogs. Left Wing. Right Wing. Up Wing. Down Wing. We live in a box, and point fingers at the other box. We are protected by flimsy bullet proof vests of moral and political superiority. We save animals and recycle our wine bottles; or we praise our white God as we curse Obama as a Muslim. We watch MSNBC or Fox News, we take sides. The fake spit of outrage runs down the pancake-painted chins of our puppet-faced talk show hosts and newscasters. We create new forms of faux-concern at floods, earthquakes and cartel wars. We are good, and our goodness is slipped into an envelope addressed to a benefit funding. Tax deductible. But we can’t find our pulse or heartbeat, and soul is something that died with James Brown and Otis Redding. We can no longer paint or write songs or novels. The emotions of our artists and writers are cartoonish; fleeting. Politically corrected. We whine; therefore we are. Our blood is kool aid.

And Freddy Knock, Liz Taylor and Richard Burton danced up the diagonal wire. Backwards. On my summer vacation.


Johnny J said...

Ah, just what I have been waiting for most of the summer...the (a) truth as seen and written by one of our few remaining honest cynics/life seers.... "terrorists of the modern soul"/ "guardians in the watchtower"/ "blood in the water"/"flimsy bulletproof vests of moral and political superiority" ..... yep, it is "hurricane season on the homefront" still.
Suggest readers check out Robbie Fulks' site to see how his summer went @ www.robbiefulks.com ---> TORPID.
Thank god for literate song-writers.
JSJ, Aledo TX

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... I have taken the time to ask squirrels how they wish to vote. They are intent on destroying my house, so I've got one of those traps that keeps 'em alive so I can relocate them. But I've found that if I don't get right to it, they will die trying to find a way out of the trap. That's right, squirrels would rather die than live in a cage. Two days max, even if they've got food. I suspect that's true for other animals as well, unless you keep 'em sedated. Same with people, really (perhaps echoing Chomsky): keep 'em sedated with television, sports from baseball to boxing, circus performers, organized religion, and they'll keep living in their workaday cages...

GodsDog55 said...

Always enjoy your ruminations Tom, thanks for 'em all. Would challenge you, however, to learn a bit more about the manner in which animals have, and are treated by circuses, Vegas acts, and tv/movies. Facts have been out in plain day for some time - not fit for prime time or lily-livered middle class audiences. Only real men who can watch unnecessary pain inflicted without flinching.

Removing non-domesticated animals from these entertainments is no more a case of "political correctness" than than the gracious "granting" of civil rights to brown skinned people, yellow skinned people, or any of the other human beings that we for so long kept from being recognized under the law as being fully human. No, not saying animals=humans, but as fellow travellers on this little hunk of rock hurtling through space, can't we afford to give them some dignity, and let those that do remain live lives in which they have opportunity to realize their genetic potential - rather than make us laugh? While I find our collective and individual histories as a culture fascinating, and enjoy your wonderful pieces which bring it back to life, I cannot mourn for everything that is past history. A lot of it needed to go in the dumpster.

Scott R. said...

Right on Tom..., write on.

I sometimes wonder why I keep watching this circus..., when so very much of it is so very disgusting and reprehensible. I know now that it is because I still believe that every once in a while a Great Act will come along and lift my spirits and reignite my passions. You are one of those few and far between Great Acts Tom. Thanks.

Carry on..., write on.


FallGuy said...

Couldn't love your music more and I typically agree with you on many things. But GodsDog55 calls you out fairly on at how animals are treated in these environs. If they could vote, a hell of a lotta them woulda been gone years ago. Progress ain't always romantic.