“Hi. I Am My Father’s Daughter. NPR Would Call Me a Consumer. I Think If It Does That One More Time, I Will Become a Predator and Eat NPR.” 2016. Acrylic on discarded press-cleaning sheet, 7 x 17″
Here is a letter to you elder daughter, a lá Capricornus. Save it. Store it in the top drawer of your dresser. The gibberish of it now may bring some meaning to your adult future…
It is the first night of February. Some small storm burst has covered the branches with merry snow. I shall type out this graduation message to you now before the spring calls me to do marvelous things with some seeds and soil. I feel the need to bequest more than an electronic toy or some cash in a card on graduation night.
Prophetic warnings are the least a father should offer to his well fed and clothed daughter at this significant rite of passage.
Prophecies need not all be dire. Yet since I’ve used more than half of my allotted 2½ billion heartbeats, and it’s the dead of winter, and, I am typing by kerosene lamp from a wood hut in the woods…
Dire for certain.
In an interview Noam Chomsky once admitted that he did not expect, nor even encourage his children to share a similar world view. I don’t think that is possible considering his fame and misfortune as a world renown humanist. Perhaps by stating publicly their ignorance of his politics, he would prevent future Army Ranger raids on the cribs of his grandchildren. Either way it is wrong thinking. Here is a man alive today who wants to drastically change the public’s perception of the American Empire, yet leave his children “off the hook”.
Geez, if he can’t persuade his own flesh and blood at the dinner table, then how is he going to achieve moral revolution to the millions of minds of a sick society? Doomed to failure, don’t you think, if his own spawn cannot be convinced?
Well, I am no Noam. Sure I have opinions, but most are formed in the gut. My gut persuades me to believe that it is a more reliable reader of our political world than the eyes, ears, and encyclopediac inner wanderings of Noam Chomsky’s well documented gray matter.
Surely there is something to be said about his ignoring the kids. Is Noam any different kind of careerist than the bank vice president? I mean it takes a lot of time out of a person’s day whether he is an astute member of the board or a genius in sneakers. Loans to sign, books to read, lunch to eat, books to write, desk arrangement, office hours, thousand dollar plate fundraisers, speech invitationals, an immoral philosophy to uphold, a moral philosophy to uphold… So much in common when there is not a minute of free time to teach the children. Really, why have kids if there is no intention to pass on a philosophy?
Here is some cheap advice.
Don’t worry about paying your bills. Give what you can to the collectors if their pressure is not too cumbersome, and nobody near and dear to you is in desperate need. Corporate entities are poisonous scum, and should be treated as such. You did not choose the culture and economy of your birthplace. It is difficult to step out of the moving picture and look at what it has done to our families and friends. As a people we are not generous, not sharing or caring. Oftentimes we do good deeds, but only if our own tools and toys have absolute, guaranteed protection.
At present Mother Earth knows I am a despicable bum. And you’re a bum’s daughter. But not because we won’t pay our bills to her fiendish corporate caretaker. We are the bums of want and waste. These are the vices which contribute rapidly to global flora and fauna extinction.
In 1800 Mother Earth was encumbered with a billion human beings burning carbon to heat their huts and cook their food. Suddenly the Northern Europeans perfected industry and its byproduct greed, which scoured the earth tree-clean to fuel its fire.
Now nearly everyone on the planet wants to live at least as high as a 17th century French monarch, with indoor plumbing and personal computers to boot.
Impossible to sustain at the 8 billion over-eaters mark.
We have entitlement issues. Unfortunately too severe to be psychologically managed without an upheaval of society. You and I both wake up expecting eggs, cereal, orange juice, sometimes even an onion bagel. The “radical” historian Howard Zinn likes Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. Sure the U.S. government murders thousands of children a year with its policies of extermination. Likewise, the humble individual mammal, Howard Zinn, via the marketing miracle brought to him by corporate earth filth, feels entitled to take his caffeine fix from the depleted forests of Mother Earth’s tropical latitudes. Is he not just one poisonous vanity expecting his fair share?
So who is the bogeyman? How much damage would Howard Zinnabu, the Kalahari blowdart specialist, do to a corporatized earth? As a boy from Brooklyn Zinn managed to land a job as Air Force bombardier, pulverizing the environment below while poisonous gassing the sky above. All in one idyllic French afternoon of the past he slaughtered human babies, hare babies, badger, boar and blue finch babies, flower babies, insect babies, tree and shrub babies…He bombed his only home and human family, yet did not mourn about it until much later, after addiction to caffeine got him thinking about a conscience. His guilt caught up to him, like it always will to the sensitive ones. But he tried to treat it with a change of heart. He picked out a greater guilty party, and spent the rest of his life protesting his socks off.
The earth and its inhabitants suffer for it.
My big complaint about this type of celebrity vanity preaching morality is that Howard Zinn had two career choices after being an accomplice to mass murder.
Suicide or born again “Earth Avenger.” For his own protection he chose a much safer in-between career. And I bet he always pays his bills on time.
As a young earthling he could kill non-combatant life by pushing a button that dropped a bomb. The order came from distant, corporate chiefs of his national tribe. Next door in Germany innocent villagers were being gassed to death by young men, the latter also ordered to press buttons and pull levers. All this earthen dead because dumb kids did the bidding of conspiring corporate thieves and cowards. Howard Zinn, like millions of other “shoot to kill” veterans, chose a career which he thought entitled to after executing his orders perfectly. In earthen terms, Howard and his warring contemporaries were the beginnings of a new virus infecting the planetary immune system. It procreated exponentially and fed upon its host enormously. You and I are here dear daughter because of elders who believed that the birthright of twentieth century humanity was a long life at any cost, plus a dollar-sixteen for a cup of Dunkin’Donuts coffee.
We are lucky to be alive, but unlucky to have had families that believed a life of chocolate cake and professional sports was a fair trade to make for the end of our world.
The Iroquois were a good thing. They burned carbon and procreated too. They knew that the winter festival began five days after the new moon of Orion. Tonight on a safer earth I’d burst full of pride and joy watching my daughters dance by the firelight.
Please take the quickest steps you can back to the Iroquois structure of society. As often as possible take cover from a corporate world. Just to live a couple days a year with a hundred other earthwise hopefuls might make bearable this hot monkey barn we’re fermenting in now.
So put this letter in your junk drawer. Save it for a later date. You are not ready to look at the world with your father’s critical eye. I need you to be aware though that something is very wrong. Someday you will see things a lot like me, my eager apple. Know that when you do, Dad was trying his darnedest to communicate. There is always a choice. And you will choose poorly most of the time. Threats of starvation and disease for our ancestors brought along huge opportunity for communion. Science and economy have lessened the threats significantly, but destroyed the religions and superstitions which nurtured our communal happiness and well being. There are good reasons why the Seneca willingly traded skins and maize for western beads and tools, yet refused to harness the awesome energy of Niagara to run their own mills.
I think they had souls.
There are known reasons why we fear the car-driving, chicken roasting, baby-making people of our neighborhood. One of them is the cotton gin reformation of society.
We are formatted to become interchangeable parts in a corporate blueprint. A pow-wow lasting for several days would, under the present conditions of an atomized community, amount to no more than an extended block party of endless juice boxes and rum and cokes. No dancing and singing, no conjuring spirits, no room for the storyteller to awaken our wisdom. A lot of loud, drunken babble to make the new year bearable, and then everyone back to work in the morning. A local pow-wow for our serial numbers to get scrubbed and oiled over, that is all. I don’t write this to change you. I write to commune. For our ancestors, starvation was an excellent opportunity to come together. I don’t predict that fortune befalling us anytime soon. Just look around you. There’s food everywhere!
Hard times regulated by nature’s unpredictability was, once upon a time, rich communal nourishment. Everyone laughed, cried, birthed and died together. No such luck nowadays. Not even a religion. The industrial mind survives on the waste products of manufactured culture, which is set by whatever trends the fashion designers at Coke and Pepsi pick this year. The clutter adds up. Hand-me-downs from the plastic goo-gods of industry. The industrial mind cannot help but become a junk yard to the soul.
The human soul is mirror of its society. And all the poor brain can do is compartmentalize this tremendous amount of useless gobbledygoop.
Enough said about the desolation. Middle age is a cleaning up time before the doors open out to the great “What if?” After finishing the attic, I‘ve tackled the basement.
What a mess!
I believe we share an excellent father/daughter relationship as far as modern ones go. Millions in the Western world aren’t so lucky. There lies a generation gap, which is just an industrial age purchasing phenomenon. Dads can’t respect the things daughters want to buy, and vice-versa.
I have long been an arty fool. I think this is why you are fortunate to know me mostly for who I am. I speak for Marie too, and Janie. Actually, it’s quite the anomaly that our nuclear unit lives nearly as care-free as a modern-day eighteen year old. Although we reap the joys of a successful fringe philosophy, the slightest hint of change today could upset the flow in some drastic way. The family is cohabitating in a very fragile state. We are content, for now.
The twentieth century buried the extended family. After decades of experimenting in concrete fall-out shelters, science, funded by industry, created the element fam238. It is highly unstable, radioactive, volatile, explosive even in its most gentle, natural state. Father, mother, children hold it together with thumbtacks, refrigerator magnets, layers of Scotch tape, string, and a gob of Elmer’s glue. Fear of the unknown is its only molecule of stabilization. It can counter the volatility of fam238 for at least a lifetime.
So what happened to the clan village of our dreams? How did it come to be that I am silent with my neighbor as we stand outdoors on a perfect autumn day? All the beauty and tragedy of life internalized, laid to rest in the mind beside the circus insanity of modern communication. Like me daughter, you are condemned to know more about a celebrities’ love life than the haunted and happy dreams of your next door neighbor. That is a manufactured truism for all fam238’s. A huge atomic weight to bear. We pretend not to care, yet since neither I nor my neighbor will challenge each other toward mutual acts of loving kindness, we are doomed to live out the rest of our lives caught whistling despair in the backyard. Avoid copying nuclear family false dreams. They usher in the plague and rely upon medicines anathema to the true family state. Money is a pill. Wealth, status, career… all sugar pills. Kurt Vonnegut believed that the nuclear family, no matter how loving, is too vulnerable to fight back the plague. It’s a dead duck right from the start.
I’m not through yet.
Two Nuclear Families
Here is how your two families have labored over the past several years. It is a social account of mental derangement, beginning with a rough guide of your parents typical weekday…
These daily routines are a spit in the eye to freedom, love, compassion, and overall well-being. They become ever more mucus forming in their predictability. Your mother, Frank, Marie and me are the characters in this chaotic play. The couples in The Bald Soprano are enjoying quite a sane evening by comparison:
Your Mom drives a monster truck east 50 miles to a far away village to teach art to the children of strangers. Frank drives west 50 miles in a more monsterish monster truck to perform stultifying roof labor that shares no common ground with his wife and family in Red Creek. Marie heads east 12 miles in a compact car to manage a department at the college. She will work the best hours of her day copying other people’s meaningless chaos onto recycled paper. All three will exchange labor, creativity, and time for some acceptable amount of money that will seem satisfying enough, to keep them at it week after week, year after year. By the end of the day, three of your parents have traveled a combined 225 miles as part of their illusory contract made with conformity.
My partially sane choice is to stay put, keep house, homeschool Janie, and prepare meals for the family. We have spent incredible amounts of energy for what exactly?
In the human history of the world before the coming of the Industrial Revolution…
No sane mother ever dreamed of giving the best of her time and attention to the imaginative play of another tribe’s children. No sane father preferred to build rooftops on other people’s homes while neglecting the leaky palace ceilings sheltering his progeny. No sane mother ever nurtured a career path sodden with minutia and monotony to imprison her maternal instincts eight hours a day. No sane father desired the heavily lopsided responsibility for education and family management.
Families are not strong if separate the majority of the time. Especially if we do not depend on each other for survival. One spouse supports the other’s distant occupation for the pretended comfort and social status it maintains. The 50% divorce rate in the United States is proof that we do not need each other anymore. Role playing survival games ended early twentieth century. The old marriage contract was made under duress of a very difficult future without the expected help of another. Try turning a field of corn with a spade shovel, and heating a tub of water to brew your tea and wash your under clothes, all in the same afternoon.
Today’s marriage is based on the foundation of good companionship. And no creature of earth need travel twenty-five or a hundred miles a day to support a friendship. In today’s economy, a supermarket chicken is made available to all young couples in love. Unfortunately the status-starved heads of the nuclear family need to eat too. For the next several years they’ll try by hook or crook to convince you that a good job will secure for your future a lifetime of Sunday chickens-in-the-pot.
It will. Yet my gut instinct tells me that the good job chicken only poisons the family, and gobbles up desire like an insatiable fiend.
We modern parents must be very frightened of life. For an artificial, acceptable place in society we have traded the future health, education and overall well being of our children.
A drastic trade in a warming world.
A diabolic trade by the standards of some cultures struggling to nurture tradition. For the sake of industrial fashion, millions of nuclear families with great jobs generate billions of tons of atmospheric CO2. I crave economic disaster will come. It is youth’s cosmic revenge upon these clowns we call responsible parents.
Sustainable poverty for all might set the brakes on doomsday. What do you think?
Stay local. Work to eat and groom yourself. And if you cannot find work, I’ll teach you and a loved one how to plant seeds and cook over a wood fire. Fortunately, at present, you need not survive a stressed out existence. Your few cubic feet of self-responsibility can be a joyful pastime. College will provide for you an artificial extended family. You and your friends will live like royalty in a Palace of Versailles, with few expectations beyond getting good grades and staying alive. Hundreds of young people enjoying their own personal staff of servants. Cooks, maids, butlers, tutors… College is set up in a Feudal society, and students are its lords and ladies. Faculty, staff, administration are the villagers and serfs toiling for your health and prosperity. Enjoy the fantasy while it lasts. This marginal, often very joyful existence will give you a glimpse into the past, when high born people lived well and played together in a stone castle on the hill.
Lucky you. Give these upcoming days of happiness your best face. Take in deep breaths on cool autumn days. Hum a favorite tune on your walk to class. Dream about being someone’s girlfriend at a party on Friday night. Maybe by graduation time, the majority of earthlings will have come to terms with the immense challenges of the future. Denial will gradually give way to realism. Some bright ideas might be born out of the gloom and chaos of tomorrow. Maybe you and some close friends will want to forego a career in massive CO2 production, and commune on a farm. A kind of extension of your extended family vacation. The gang will have to take on new roles, however. There won’t be anymore maids to wipe your girlfriend’s vomit off the toilet seat. Some of you will need to learn how to cook kohlrabi and milk a cow. You would think that the college would offer a course in threshing grain. Maybe make it a physical education requirement. Since that will be a common exercise of the future.
Either Books or Children
The nuclear family is a symptom of the 250 year old disease called “The Industrial Revolution”. Marie and I never asked for the conditions it has set for our lives. Not even close.
We were born onto cold tables in hospitals. There were electronic machines and white-coated strangers surrounding our post-womby cries of fear and discomfort. Thus began the great conditioning.
We all suffer. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, house pets… No one is to blame because everyone is the same. As a father I beg of you to disregard thoughts of getting a good job. It won’t happen anyway, no matter how hard you strain. The competition is too gargantuan and grotesque. Sensitive people make for horrible individual viruses in a pandemic plague of the soul. To acquire a great job means to dedicate your life to something besides people whom you love. The anti-industrialists tell us that “careerism” is the fuel that feeds all the horrors of society. Intelligent bombs are made by sober middle class people with “great” jobs. Your Cousin Tom has a good job torturing ferrets for the military. His house is very big. He travels the earth bimonthly in airplanes, drives an SUV, and eats chocolate by the pound. Compared to you, his carbon footprint is like that of a Sasquatch to an amoeba.
Searching for a good job is another symptom of hyper-individualism, a post Social Darwinism that just reeks stinky of intense loneliness. At what expense will you finally obtain the job of your dreams?
Listening to National Propaganda Radio, I was amazed recently to hear the stories from a sample of college juniors across America. Several mentioned the need for “networking” in order to survive the many challenges ahead. It sounded to me like each interviewee was stating, “I have leprosy, and want to spread this disease among as many people as possible.” Young people talking about networking? Eww. Gross. Shun them. Laugh at them. Point at them. They represent our gated community thugs of the future.
Communities are destroyed by individual self-promotion. It is the beginning of the end when young people are persuaded by their elders to network. How far is that advice from the following I would give to you?
For once in your life wipe an old person’s ass, or kill, skin, cook, and eat a wild animal. My fatherly advice welcomes you into the community. Networking wants you to persuade an old woman to buy its robotic prosthetic arm, and a three-ply role of toilet paper. That afternoon you’ll meet for lunch with a band of other pirate networkers. It’s important to remember their names. Otherwise they might sense that you’ve become an empty nothing too.
Every old person you know has failed. Some artists and clowns pretend immunity by clinging stubbornly to their dreams. They don’t fool me. No one is immune to industry.
Yet you are still the hope of our future. Buy a mule, build a shelter, acquire a manfriend. Initiate a community of hard-working artists and clowns. Share a communal garden, dig a well, fashion useful tools with your hands, and during the cold months boil lots and lots of lye for the renewed art of soap-making.
Now back to the nuclear family…
If later this week China dropped a rain of 2000 lb. bombs on our town and country, then the revival of the extended family would begin immediately. We are poorly prepared.
Once, basic common dreams were shared and nurtured throughout the clan. These are impossible to regain until some long-lasting natural or man-made disaster strikes.
Our relationships are so fragile. The easy life has made us very vulnerable. Not much longer will we rule atop the food chain. Can we even claim title now? What happens when the electricity gets cut? Candlelit trips to an altar might sustain us with the moral courage to fight back. But with what weapons exactly? Don’t look to the family for help. Is anybody capable of teaching you to live with just your wits about you? When the bombs start falling later this afternoon, who will you trust to instruct about the many practical uses in the design of a birch tree? Uncle Fred? Jesus? All those two selfish brats ever nurtured was their vanity.
Who knows the path the moon will take? How can the sourdough be kept alive in February? Will the miller grind the amaranth for a bag of its flour? Where the hell is the miller? What’s a mill? Will a mortar and pestle work? Which is which, anyway? Oh poo, we’re all gonna die!
Just a few generations ago Americans experienced a year of a hundred seasons or more. Today we’ve streamlined them down to four, and barely pay any attention. They are thermostatically controlled climate events, thanks to the acquired knowledge of several generations and millions of deceased peoples. Unfortunately no cell phone towers exist in oblivion. The intelligent dead cannot be reached for repair.
And how is it politically and philosophically that a father/son, mother/daughter can be at confused, moral odds? This should be the only spiritual question of our day, to bring frequent reminder that the nuclear family is very, very sick. “One generation abandons the vessels of another…” This was Thoreau’s individualism and the beginning of the end of man being humbled by nature, yet sustained by the strength of the extended family.
How did it come to be that you and I would have different visions of past, present, and future reality? Opinions sure, but visions? Who can I depend on if not my own father? Why won’t he depend on me? Who have been the mentors and “heroes” of my life thus far? When I was twenty I believed Keith Richards to be the ideal man. Twenty-two, Walt Whitman. Twenty-seven, Henry Miller and Henry Thoreau duking it out in my mind… Modern media communications was indifferent to my drift toward insanity. No one alive came to the rescue. Honoring gifted, specialized (usually dead) strangers became a swift method of disassociation to the living world around me. Bitterness followed, and soon I was matching all the “living dogs” of society up against the exclusive club of “dead lions.” I was comparing myself and all peoples to the champions of art, literature, music, etc. “Aristocrats of the spirit,” as Henry Miller called them. Like distant yogis hanging themselves upside down from a tree. The great, creative masochists of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Yet none of them, Henry Miller especially, strove to regain the instincts we are born with. Trust of the pack. Need for the pack. Put two or three wolves in a zoo, feed them regular meals, house them easily, make them friendly…Their wolfness is destroyed in a generation.
That is how I feel today. We give birth to our babies, feed them with other people’s foods, read to them stories from all over the world, house them in palaces built by specialized strangers, and then say “goodbye and good luck” on their adult journey into nuclear oblivion. Not even a lesson on canning. The internet will take care of that.
No longer do I admire the human symptoms of our disease, no matter how talented and inspired their works of art be. Henry Miller’s father was a tailor in Brooklyn. Not many life survival or reverence tips to share while stitching up the trousers and shirt sleeves of stinky thousandaires. So Henry jumped onto his bike and pedaled around New York City, pretending to be Dostoevsky — Russia’s own version of the urban hangman to the extended family. Makes a great story, but a rotten path to follow while dodging razor sharp Chinese shrapnel.
On a spiritual plane…
Nothing you do now will upset me. I honor your character. You have made me so proud so often, that I grant you lifetime immunity to my criticism. I will be content with whatever life path you take.
If you choose to marry, a lasting mate must warm you in every way. I can see now that you’ll be eager to please, and you are apt to blame unrequited love on some handicap of your own. As I often explain to Marie, love is a verb. How arrogant to say to someone, “I love you.” True love will confidently shout out to the world at large, “You love me so well!” Teach children what you believe their future needs will require. Sounds basic, but near impossible without a large, nurturing familial base. Do your best anyway, and joy happens more often than not.
A knowledgeable note…
The nuclear family is enslaved. We toil on an economic plantation of mind misery and woe. There cannot be freedom without mutual need. What species ever desired individual freedom at the cost of overall clan health? Bears shopping for Cheetos? Wolves up late watching television? Worker bees drowning their sorrows in a mug of mead?
Humanity cannot remain in a position of power for long. Mother Earth won’t allow it. She’s bigger than us. And I think a little bit mad too.
Know your true needs. Status and its faux-security will not bring contentment. You must keep an eye out for strong, like-minded people, and together take the path to paradise. I want my grandchildren to live closer to the bone than I have. It will mean instruction in life-giving subjects. Axe forging, goat milking, seed saving, well digging, grain threshing, bread baking… It will give you great joy and feelings of true freedom knowing that you’ve passed on a knowledge of living. You will be loved, honored, but most of all, needed. At the communal fires stories will be told of the great change that came, and the wisdom of the few who redefined the purpose of the only species to ever claim a purpose.
From a practical perspective…
Sing freedom always, and take pride in all things you create, whether that be a painting, a loaf of bread, a new child, or just a darn good time.
I love you more than a million stars,