Archive for August 29th, 2010

Fat City

My short-story teacher at the University of Oregon was a guy named J.B. Hall. He was a controversial character there because he wore white shoes. At that time, wearing white shoes meant that you were either a faggot or a commie, or maybe both. Anyway, he at one time pointed out to me a part in a short story called “Soldier’s Home” by Hemingway in which this guy Krebs has come home from the war and he’s sitting there in the morning wondering what to do with the day—whether to go watch his sister play indoor baseball or just exactly what. His mother wants him to go get a job, but he doesn’t want to move. As he’s sitting there, he watches the bacon fat harden on his plate. And J.B. Hall says, “See, that’s what it is. There’s where it happens; right there.” And I saw it. I saw, “Right! That’s what it’s about! That’s what literature is about!” And a door opened up to me and it’s never been closed. I thank this man from the bottom of my heart. It’s a turn-on like—it has nothing to do with intelligence. It has to do with somebody grabbing somebody and saying, “I know something that’s good. I’ll give it to you for nothing. You’ll have it all your life.”

—Ken Kesey, “Earthshoes & Other Remarks”


Woman Scorned

Not many people are aware that Eve was not the first mate to Adam.

First Adam got jiggy with the various beasts, birds, and other living things that Yahweh paraded before him. As Robert Graves and Raphael Patai record in Hebrew Myths:

When they passed before him in pairs, male and female, Adam—being already like a twenty-year-old man—felt jealous of their loves, and though he tried copulating with each female in turn, found no satisfaction in the act. He therefore cried: “Every creature but I has a proper mate!”, and prayed God would remedy this injustice.

Yahweh then presented Adam with Lilith, a human female. A being run up from the same sort of dust from which Adam was created. Rather than yanked from Adam’s own flesh as a rib, as was, later, Eve.

Adam, however, proved a boor, and Lilith left him. Graves and Patai recount what happened:

Adam and Lilith never found peace together; for when he wished to lie with her, she took offence at the recumbent posture he demanded. “Why must I lie beneath you?” she asked. “I also was made from dust, and am therefore your equal.” Because Adam tried to compel her obedience by force, Lilith, in a rage, uttered the magic name of God, rose into the air and left him.

As Lilith was not around or involved when Adam and Eve consumed the forbidden fruit, she was not subject to the penalties inflicted by Yahweh upon the rest of the human race: death, the pain of labor, enmity between wo/man and nature. Some say Lilith lives to this day in the Edomite Desert, among satyrs, pelicans, owls, ostriches, arrow-snakes, and unicorns.

“We Protect The Taliban”

The Wikileaks release of classified documents involving the War on Terra in Afghanistan contained no surprises for anyone who has attentively followed Operation Enduring Fiefdom. Among the non-surprises: that the government of Pakistan, America’s putative ally in the War on Terra, has in fact ignored, enabled, or actively assisted the Taliban, throughout the latter’s nine-year fight against the United States.

Last Sunday, the New York Times printed one of the more provocative stories yet involving this Pakistani-Taliban relationship.

It involves the capture in January of Abdul Ghani Baradar, identified as one of those ubiquitous “number two” most-wanteds, in this case “number two” to Taliban chieftain Mullah Muhammed Omar.

Throughout the War on Terra, it has generally been the “number twos”—of which there seem to be an unlimited supply—who get snatched or snuffed . . . never, it seems, any “number ones.”

In any event, number-two Baradar’s capture was at the time heralded as a model of US-Pakistani cooperation, as well as the usual “breakthrough” in the crusade against Wrong People.

Now, however, we learn that Baradar’s capture was engineered by Pakistan, and its purpose was to shut down peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. Talks from which Pakistan had been excluded. And which it feared might in some way benefit its bete noire, India.

Around the same time, Pakistan also rolled up some 23 Taliban leaders inside its own borders, people whom the Pakistani government had been protecting for years. Because they too had the temerity and effrontery to consider ending the conflict, without first consulting Pakistan.

“We picked up Baradar and the others because they were trying to make a deal without us,” said a Pakistani security official, who, like numerous people interviewed about the operation, spoke anonymously because of the delicacy of relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. “We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai and the Indians.”



When I Worked

August 2010
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