THE IGNORANCE AND POLITICAL IN-BREEDING: YOU DON’T FIND IT THAT WAY IN “ELSEWHERE, AMERICA” … plus … “CASSANDRA” SPEAKS THE TRUTH, EVEN THOUGHT THE FOOLS REFUSE TO LISTEN
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, MONDAY, OCT. 29, 2012) — When you experience folks in other parts of the country, as THE PLANET did this weekend on sort of a whirlwind journey through more cities than we can count, one is immediately struck with the observation that rudeness, hostility, impoliteness, and a certain civic ignorance is not the case with folks in “Elsewhere.”
In Elsewhere, America, folks smile at you. They hold doors for ladies. They go out of their way to offer assistance. They keep their streets clean. They have pride in themselves and their public life.
It is a Northeast thing, a Massachusetts things, a Berkshires thing, a Pittsfield thing — to narrow down the factors — where the crimped attitudes of ignorance are on best display. It is, of course, a symptom of the fact that too many good people in the city of our birth have been driven behind the closed doors of their home. They are afraid to wander out. They can’t do “upstreet” any longer, because there’s little to nothing there for them, unless they can afford upscale clothing, furniture, or food … or unless they do crack, take handouts, and think that the world owes them a living.
The good people are in retreat, and the incompetents, freeloaders, and recalcitrant have taken over. We speak the truth. Though few will believe us, we speak the truth. We are Cassandra (see below).
Pittsfield, Guess What? It’s OVer for You
It IS over for Pittsfield, of course. All that remains is the unfolding of the end game. It won’t be pretty, and even now we are seeing it play out.
It didn’t have to be that way, and a traveler familiar with so many cities and towns elsewhere can see what might have been in the Land of Benigno Numine. One shares this, however, as one does the latest news with a lamp post. The words of warning have been long issued and ignored. Pittsfield chose not to listen. That form of active ignorance typifies an area where the leaders — civic, social, economic, political — have been fornicating for to too long within the same closed, public gene pool. Over the past generation, this in-breeding has formed too many mutants and produced too many deformities.
In plain English, Pittsfield has not had the kind of leadership that comes from broad experience. Pittsfield possesses what me can only call a degraded form of parochialism, a civic and political mindset that believes if it closes its eyes, no one else can see.
That is what several days touring the country can do. A whirlwind is on its way, but it shall bypass Pittsfield. And so it shall come to pass.
A POEM FOR THE TIMES
With that, we share this wonderful poem by Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) called “Cassandra.” Jeffers wrote this gem in 1948, and it nails — absolutely nails — a truth about truth. The poets, at least, “honey their truth with lying” simply because they know most other people “hate the truth.” The poet and artist operates from a compassion that loves people so much that they can’t bear to lie, and so, knowing people hate the truth, “honey” what they say in a coat of dissimulation, coated the way one might put a sweet coating on an aspirin so it can go down easier.
The “politicians and vendors,” on the other hand, pour their lies straight “from the barrel.” Their lying is praised, while the poet’s truthing is ignored. The poets are reduced to mumbling their widsom from the corner.
THE PLANET has known this ever since we began mixing with the world.
WHO IS CASSANDRA? SHE’S ME
Cassandra, well, we fell in love with her in 1973, taking Prof. Sampson Ullman‘s fabulous course in “Absurd Theater” at Union College (the best course from the best professor: what bliss). Part of that course was an intensive in Greek mythology. There, we met Cassandra, whose beauty moved Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy.
Things went wrong, though, as they often did with the Greek gods, and somehow she incurred Apollo’s wrath. To punish her, Apollo let her keep her gift of wisdom and prophecy but made it so that no one would believe anything she said. Her deep understanding and knowledge were thus tainted with powerlessness. She had all the answers, but the fools wouldn’t believe her.
Needless to say, we fell in love with her and, and she and we became one.
The mad girl with the staring eyes and long white fingers
hooked in the stones of the wall,
the storm-wrack hair and screeching mouth:
does it matter, Cassandra,
whether the people believe
your bitter fountain? Truly men hate the truth; they’d liefer
meet a tiger on the road.
Therefore the poets honey their truth with lying: but
Vendors and political men
pour from the barrell, new lies on the old, and are praised
Wisdom. Poor bitch be wise.
No: You’ll still mumble in a corner a crust of truth, to men
and gods disgusting — you and I, Cassandra.
WHEN THE GODS’ GIFTS BECOME A SOURCE OF ENDLESS PAIN AND FRUSTRATION, ONE MUST TAKE THE GIFT AND SPEND IT NONETHELESS, FINDING SOLACE IN THE MADE BEDS OF THE COMFORT INNS.
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.