shame & ignorance in an election year

Shame & Ignorance in an Election Year

Ignorance is bliss. Ignorance is holy. Ignorance wins the day. Ignorance seizes the moment–by the throat, by the gonads, by its spindly arm. Twist and snap and still no recognition. Ignorance buries its head so deep in the sand it bursts out in China.

China was not down under until the world went global. Some disgruntled Italian pulled that one off–he died with a diseased cock and a sick brain at a Caribbean resort…drinking rum and Coca-cola…working for the Yankee dollar…

Another Italian said the sun circles the earth and got blacklisted from the Science Academy and thrown out of the Church by the Holy Inquisition that really wanted to cut off his balls. But he was a prudent man, knew about discretion and valor, and so he said:

“I see your point, get your drift. The human spirit is flat as a pancake and everything full and upturned like a young girl’s breast dances circles around it. The earth is our hostage, our pack mule, our midnight cowboy. Mea culpa, boys, pass the altar wine, let me kiss the hem of your cassock…”

His wife left him and his children ran off with the circus–the three-ring circus, revolving around an under-fed lion in a cage with a man with a whip.

***

It’s a hard world to get a break in. Doctors with dirty hands. Midwives with warts. Babies birthing like banshees. Italians selling ice cream on the street corners of Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love.

This is a confession. I don’t know which way is up. When the world was flat, pizza made more sense. When gunpowder existed before guns, all life was a celebration. When my mind was in Buddha’s limbo, there was no discernible problem. And then this harsh incarnation.

Ignorance is bliss. Ignorance is trance. Ignorance is organic absorption into primary color. Turn color into flags and you’ve got a fight on your hands.

There is no big picture. There’s a war on as galactic as pinpoints of light. As universal as a gene, as a genre, as a beef-jerky dream. The Italian and the Chinese connection, networking for freedom. Pizza and gunpowder. The Pope and the Buddha. Invention and convention. The news was made to be censored. Smile for the camera. Wink at the giant mouse. Don’t even try to understand.

Bear with me. I’m coming around about as fast as I can. It ain’t so easy, this confession thing. To leave anything out puts you back where you started.

The show’s been cancelled due to protests. Inch into the labyrinth. Negation is the path to Ground Zero. Sail into the harbor on the Santa Maria with your cannons blazing. A concept can beat you down like a club.

***

This is a confession. I don’t know. I am afraid.

***

A man sat down on my porch this morning. “In Philadelphia,” he said, “they had a convention.”

(Kenneth Patchen sits bolt upright in bed, awake from a horrible dream. “Bring me my chalks and my ink well!” he calls to his wife who is asleep on the sofa not ten feet away. She stirs and then drifts back into dream. Kenneth is bed-ridden with no place to go.)

A boy came along and sat down. “I got me a new video game,” he said. “It’s rad. Hey dude, are you listening?” He turned his baseball cap around backwards.

“In Philadelphia they had a convention,” the man repeated, ignoring the boy. He took a deep breath. “The Italians broke heads,” he said. “The Chinese came out from down under. The sun began spinning in tight circles. The police filled the jails. They carted off everyone. They dragged them naked thru urine and excrement. They broke their balls and denied them their phone call. They set bail at one million dollars. Jesus! And then they established Free Speech Zones!”

“China’s a long way off,” I said. “And the Mafia didn’t come out of nowhere.”

“Jesus!” said the man. “Are you insane? “

“What?” said the boy. “Has something gone wrong?”

“Total mainstream blackout, but it’s on the Net,” said the man. “Mussolini and Hitler all over again. Third World gestapo. Death Squads. Don’t you see? How can you sit there talking in tongues? There’s work to be done! A stand that needs taking…”

“What’s going on?” said the boy.

***

My head began spinning. Slowly at first, creaking on its rusty axis, sending shock waves out into space.

“I know,” I said. But I didn’t.

Facts have stampeded my dreams. Fantasy has gone down on the master. I long to confess. I sense conspiracy everywhere.

***

Anyway you cut it, it has little to do with the statue of Ben Franklin looking down from high atop Constitution Hall. Little to do with the cracked Liberty Bell.

I know a little something. It’s not like I’ve never been touched or like I don’t long to be happy. It’s not like I don’t cradle love like a premature baby. It’s not like I’ve never raised my hand in salute.

***

Outside the door, tanks rumble by. Planes fly overhead and pamphlets fall from the sky. An anthem blares from loud speakers, and my neighbors step cautiously into the street and look up.

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