When I think about how my career as a writer/editor has gone, and how only one aspect of it has hit a nerve with historians, as a media historian, I should have quickly known the reason why. What we call history comes alive in its fullest just before, and the immediate uncertain aftermath, of a major event like a bloody war or a revolution, sometimes bloody, sometime not.
A case in point: The Lost Generation.
I started Black Creation: The Quarterly Magazine of Black Arts and Letter in 1969, in the aftermath of the Civil Rights movement. Blacks had endured 277 hundred years of slavery and 100 years of Second-class citizenship. So, the key questions were who were we now? And what direction should we now go?
In the end, these two major ideas were what the magazine was really all about. That is why it ended up in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; and so far, I have counted 55 textbooks that have cited, reprinted or given the magazine full chapters.
So, if you want to be a writer for the ages, pray for trying times.
We now live in a world of Social Media, not exactly trying times, just a lot of noise where anyone can sound off about anyone and anything. The problem that I have is that I now have a literary/arts magazine that includes WASPS, Jews, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, mixed race people, my personal favorites, the mighty Irish, and everyone else.
We have folks logging on to us from every country on earth, and I want every one of them to see a part of themselves in our magazine.
I just can’t call them all kinds of obnoxious names as some folks gleefully do with abandon on Facebook or other social media outlets. I check myself because of all of them that have made Neworld Review what it is.
Much of this was started by the election of Donald Trump to the Presidency. And, of all groups in America that disliked him and there are many, the so-called Liberal Elites hate Trump with so much passion that they even started a “resistance” movement to run him out of office, and are the major sponsor of the bile that is spewing on social media.
I can’t abide by all of this. For reasons unknown, I have always hated with a passion name calling. I would never hurt anyone’s feeling by calling nasty names to the people that are their mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, cousins, husbands, wives and friends.
I just wish that others would follow my lead.
—from your friendly, even-tempered editor, Fred Beauford
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Carmen Gentile is a freelance war reporter who has been embedding with U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq for years—places that will continue to be battle zones whether the U.S. adds or subtracts troops.
As he describes it in his new memoir, Blindsided by the Taliban: “I insert myself into situations that will make for tantalizing reading so folks will pay attention to what’s going on over here. That doesn’t mean I’m not scared shitless when I do it. I just leave that part out of my stories.”
He has video footage of what could have been his own death; “blindsided” is a strictly literal reference to the scene he depicts from September 9, 2010 in Kunar province. Gentile, accompanying a platoon of soldiers, turns to see a man walking down the road.
“He’s shouldering a rocket launcher that’s pointed right at us.”
The next line is “WHOOSH!”
In a whoosh, a rocket-propelled grenade hits Gentile in the face, shattering part of his skull and leaving his right eyeball lacerated and semi-detached. With surgical reconstruction, he now has partial vision, but he wears an eyepatch, as the cover portrait on his book attests.
When I talk with him, Gentile, now 44, is in the safe confines of his house in Pittsburgh, not far from where he grew up. How he found his way back home is more or less the sequel to the story he tells in Blindsided, a tale of adventure, love, loss, and how a disabled eye leads a brash young man to look inward in a most self-effacing way.
He opens the book with a quote from George Orwell: “Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful.” Since he has sold movie options-- to screenwriter Daniel Blake Smith -- I’m imagining who would play Gentile. An actor with a neo-Robert Mitchum demeanor, I’d say, a bad-boy type whose inner sensitivity emerges slowly.
The acknowledgements page of Gentile’s book is the most telling glimpse of all into that tough/tender persona. He thanks Skyhorse for taking on a story that others thought might not warrant a book-length recounting “with explicit, embarrassing detail and swearing, i.e. how I talk in real life.” And he offers an apology “to all those I hurt along the way…. I was a dick, plain and simple.”
The screen version will, presumably, include the fiancée who seems to have become furious with him for reasons that aren’t fully clear – “Hindsight being 20/20 I definitely could have handled it better,” he says now. Also the colleague with whom he had a casual affair while recovering from his injuries, his fiancée most conspicuously not at his bedside.
And the ice-cold parting from the colleague as he took off for Australia and New Zealand while still on the mend, confessing a few paragraphs down that the trip included a rendezvous with an ex-girlfriend.
But he’s completely modest when we talk about the shoes he walks in. I bring up a celebrated war correspondent who also wore an eye patch—Marie Colvin, the subject of the biopic A Private War with Rosamund Pike, also known for a tumultuous personal life and for being at her best when she was searching for truths from war zones.
That’s where the similarity ends, Gentile demurs. Colvin, who was killed in Homs, Syria, was a great correspondent, he says, as was Floyd Gibbons, who covered World War I for the Chicago Tribune and lost an eye in German gunfire while he was.....Read More
Frederick Douglass was one of the most remarkable figures of the 19th Century. This new biography by David W. Blight about the runaway slave, Frederick Douglass, who became one of the most effective, accomplished voices against slavery, hammers home that notion.
Blight, a noted Yale University history professor, knows the importance of a black man rising out of bondage to proclaim the cruelty and immorality of slavery by appealing to the conscience of America. Douglass, with the experience of oppression, gets the stellar precision of a master biographer determined to place the life of this political firebrand in proper historical context, into the complicated mix of slavery, the abolitionist movement, the Civil War and the Reconstruction.>
As the celebrated writer Joyce Carol Oates once wrote in her book, Soul at The White Heat: “Biography is a literary craft that, in the hands of gifted practitioners, rises to the level of art.” Blight’s masterful biography of Douglass accomplishes that high standard. There have been many books about the life and times of this man. Of that number, William McFeely’s 1991 biography stands out from the pack, although some critics noted the University of Georgia professor seemed to discredit him with inferences of taboo sexuality, personal defects, and controversial opinions.
Why is America so bewitched with this black orator with the wild mane of hair, tall in stature and booming voice? Why the canonization of this historical figure? Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey on a tobacco plantation in eastern Maryland, he witnessed the torment of slavery daily. He knew the dream of freedom was only reserved for white souls in these times. However, the rebellious slave, disguised as a sailor, fled slavery for the shelter of New Bedford, Massachusetts, on Sept. 3, 1838, to set about the quest of bringing others out of chains.
Reflecting back on the journey to freedom, Douglass realized the most significant event in August 1834 when his master loaned him out to Edward Covey, “the nigger breaker,” with a reputation of making slaves docile. The young Douglas, proud and strong, refused to let Covey strip and whip him. He realized the other blacks would be looking, for he was their shining example.
“I had reached the point, at which I was not afraid to die,” Douglass later noted. “This spirit made me a freeman in fact, while I remained a slave in form.”
Fearful that the slavers would capture him, Douglass settled among the free Black community, changing his name from Frederick Bailey to Frederick Douglass, named for a leading character in a Sir Walter Scott tale. He embraced the abolitionist movement, especially the writing of William Lloyd Garrison but repudiated the aims of the American Colonization Society, which promoted a goal of resettling blacks to Africa.
Crowds turned out to see this man of moral resistance. White women, such as activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, were mesmerized by Douglass: “He stood there like an African prince, conscious of his dignity and power, grand in his physical proportions, majestic in his wrath, as with keen wit, satire and indignation he portrayed the bitterness of slavery.”>
Blight is careful to detail the many challenges confronting the abolitionist movement and the depth of racist principles of slavery engrained in the young American democracy. Douglass traveled around the nation, getting the secondhand treatment .....Read More
The ongoing, nonstop harassments were getting to both of us. Walking out the door, although we lived in the liberal 70s, on the Upper West Side, we didn’t know what to expect. If we were in the supermarket together, there may be an angry black woman glaring at us. If we walked down the street, especially at night, there was the chance that white men would get into the act and would shout nasty words at us as they rode by in a car.
I quickly left Essence after Ida Lewis was fired but continued to run Black Creation. I also started working for the first black public relations firm, Jim Booker and Associates, on Madison Avenue. Interesting enough, my girlfriend’s magazine was only a few blocks from my office.
After long conversations, my girlfriend and I decided to move to California. We had heard so much about San Francisco and Berkeley that we decided to move to the Bay Area. Also, for me, the second largest market I had for Black Creation was the Bay Area. I could tell from that I was already well known there.
I told Jim Booker that I was planning on moving. I made a deal with him that he not pay me each week but hold my salary for the next two month and give it to me in a lump sum. Although he was sorry to see me go, he agreed. He absolutely loved the profiles, press releases and features that I churn out for our clients.
My thinking was that I still had my salary from the Institute of African American Affairs at NYU, which would last as long as I was still running the magazine, no matter where I was. Plus, my girlfriend had a well-paying job and was not a spendthrift, so, when we left for The Bay Area, we were loaded with dough.
I also learned, to my surprise, that my girlfriend was afraid of flying, so we decided to take Amtrak. Little did I know that this would be the first of countless trips over the years, back and forth, from Los Angeles to New York, and from New York to the Bay Area. The night before we left, we went to see the Joffrey Ballet at Lincoln Center. This was the same night that the Vietnam War ended.
At the curtain call, the dancers got loud curtain call after curtain call. It was nothing I had ever seen before. The audience would not let them leave the stage.
For me, after seeing so many dance concerts, thanks to my girlfriend and our free, best seats in the house press tickets—this was just a so, so show. But, I sensed that this out pouring of sheer emotion had little to do with the dance concert, as good as it was, but was a shout out to the long, contentious war that few wanted and that changed America almost beyond recognition; and the folks at the concert at the Lincoln Center were overjoyed that it was finally brought to an end.
We spent most of our time in the observation car on our way west, watching our America pass slowly by, especially after as we left Chicago and after we had changed to the larger, more comfortable cross-country train, the.....Read More
Instagram? Seriously? I thought not. I have now transitioned into a participating and enthusiastic fan. I love the window it opens to show us a big new world. Images and information displayed on animals, fashion, beauty, food, travel, art, literature and so much more.
One of the people I have been following with great appreciation for her magnificent photographs of birds is Marcie Begleiter. (@mbegleiter) When my friend, Winter Hoffman, a champion ‘gatherer’ of people she likes who don’t know each other, invited me and four of her friends, some local and some from across the country, to join her for a casual little coffee, I never made the Instagram connection when I met Marcie, one of the guests.
When she pulled out her phone and showed me photos of her birds, I realized I had already been admiring her unique talent for months! And now, we who might never have crossed paths with each other, share a connection. It was this coffee that brought me to Marcie Begleiter, one of Winter’s friends and now, with pleasure, one of mine. And like Winter, I am delighted to share her with you.
—Marcie Begleiter, February 2019
In her own words:
I’ve been practicing photography for most of my adult life, sometimes as part of a professional undertaking and other times as a passionate pastime. For the most part, the taking of pictures was of a Read More
If you think of coming to New York City in 2019, you should plan carefully the shows that you want to try to see. There’s nothing in the world like theatre in New York City, but, do you want to see a production that can change your life, or, do you want to see something that will dazzle and entertain you, or, do you want to experience something so original and so different that you have to see it over the course of two, four-hour parts, sitting in the same seat?
“Choir Boy” has some of the best, heart-felt, acapella singing and exciting step moves you will ever see on a Broadway stage! “Choir Boy” demonstrates how well Step electrifies a Broadway stage, as seen at the Samuel J. Friedman Theatre on W 47th Street in Manhattan. This phenomenal Broadway debut for playwright, African American Tarell Alvin McCraney, tells the story of Pharus, a young gay African American student at an all-male, Black Prep school and the trials and tribulations he goes through due to being gay.
This play will grab your heart, touch your soul and make you realize the unfair treatment that a gay young man can face when in an atmosphere of non-acceptance, even if it only blatantly comes from one person. The play also shows how society as a hole can be less understanding with the pain that a homosexual youth can go through.
Each of the students at Drew has their own personal struggles that they are dealing with and you will find yourself engulfed in wanting to learn what is happening in the lives of these young men. The actors in this play are beautifully cast and share their struggles and issues in stirring performances, often releasing their frustrations through group, acapella gospel numbers and almost seemingly spontaneous step numbers. This exceptional cast includes Jeremy Pope as Pharus, along with J. Quinton Johnson, John Clay III, Nicholas L. Ashe, Caleb Eberhardt, Chuck Cooper, Austin Pendleton, and ensemble members Daniel Bellomy, Jonathan Burke, Gerald Caesar, and Marcus Gladney. It really does make you realize the beauty of Step in Black academic institutions of learning. McCraney’s creation is captivating, original and inspiring, but also dark, sad and thought provoking.
It also has glorious direction by Trip Cullman. This impeccably written, performed and directed production will play through March 12, as it has been extended. Make it your business to see “Choir Boy”, it is something that will affect you! After the performance I attended there was a talkback and that was also very interesting. It’s funny the things that people take away from a deep play like this. Hopefully there will be a talkback after the performance you see. It’s a chance to sit and talk with this amazingly talented cast, share your thoughts and hear their opinion of their characters and what they feel the story is saying. McCraney has given Broadway a relevant theatrical gem!
If you are in the market for dazzling.....Read More
As a young reader I was drawn to stories told from the perspective of the immigrant experience, in which writers wove their own ethnic heritage into the lives of protagonists navigating life as newcomers, or the sons and daughters of newcomers, into what used the be called the American melting pot. As a Californian I was fascinated by William Saroyan’s Armenians in and around Fresno, California. Later I was devoted to James Baldwin, who struggled as a stranger in his own country, then to the many Jewish writers of the post-World War II era.
I think this interest was fueled by my own uprootedness as a Navy brat, and the fact that my own mostly Irish compatriots had no real body of literature. No one spoke for a descendent of two great grandfathers had escaped the Irish Potato Famine to eke out new lives in the promised land.
When I went to the university and studied literature I mostly focused on modern European writers, but I was also inspired by a wonderfully kind and funny professor from the Bronx whose American Jewish Writers class introduced me on to Roth, Bellow, Mailer, Sontag, Paley, and Malamud—giants who were arguably the American writers of the latter 20th Century.
Clearly not every wave of immigrants enters the literary pantheon. Perhaps there may be a sociological study in this. But I won’t expose myself to the censure that may follow from asking why certain ethnic groups have made no significant contribution to the literary corpus.
There are now ample reasons to believe that major contributors to a future literary canon are likely to be found within the generalized ranks of Asian and Latino writers. These umbrella labels of course don’t allow for the obvious fact that both of them subsume vast numbers of ethnicities and national experiences.
In a recent conversation at UCLA two stars of the American literary scene, Viet Thanh Nguyen and Luis Alberto Urrea, talked about their writing from the perspective of an immigrant raised in a Vietnamese section of San Jose, California and a Mexican-American born in Tijuana, raised in San Diego and living for some time in the Midwest.
Both could be said to be immigrant California writers. But what does that mean?
Nguyen, 47, was born in Vietnam to.....Read More
Take it now, this metaphor, your bread.
You’ve seen God bleeding in the streets,
but the militia couldn’t help, sooty faced
themselves, disoriented by the shrapnel
lodged beneath their right to choose
a peaceful life. Take these words flowing
like wine. Let them salve where hands
gripped too tight, where teeth broke the skin,
where fists beat your notions of freedom
and equality flat as powdered dough, flat
as grapes crushed beneath the.....Read More
Almost simultaneous with the news that Marc Lamont Hill, a CNN commentator and professor of media studies at Temple University, had been fired by the US cable network shortly after delivering a speech at the United Nations on the occasion of its International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, I received a book, Black Power and Palestine—Transnational Countries of Color, from a former university colleague.
During his speech Professor Hill, in a reference to the geography of Israel or historic Palestine, called for a “free Palestine from river to sea.” This prompted an immediate response from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), and the group interpreted the words as the extermination of the state of Israel. Later, Hill apologized for the comments and insisted that he wasn’t calling for the destruction of Israel.
Hill’s situation would have been perfect fodder for Michael R. Fischbach, the author of Black Power and Palestine. Hill’s comments, however, he meant them, evoked a longstanding issue between Blacks and Jews, and Fischbach, with a focus on Black Power, traces the origins of the problem. In his Prologue, the author notes that, “Much has been written about the black freedom struggle, yet black Americans connection to the Middle East conflict, and the ways it affected them, and their conceptualization of identity and agency have largely been overlooked.”
With Fischbach’s thorough probe and analysis, that oversight is no longer neglected, and his merging of Black Power and the Middle East crisis adds an additional.....Read More
For five years, I and Kannan Menon have conducted a series of workshops based upon our training in the visual arts and theater. Participants in these workshops included, undergraduate illustration student as well as students in a socially responsible street theater group. Though both of us come from different disciplines, we combined elements from the core training curriculum of each of their disciplines. Our effort was directed at providing a broad base of practical training tools particularly for students with limited training in such disciplines.
The work began to take shape in the spring of 2015, with BFA illustration students at Montclair State University in New Jersey. They were asked to create a story board of illustrations on any one of the short stories in a recently published collection (St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell).
While the students were gifted at drawing, they had difficulty developing images of the characters in the stories that supported their narratives. In order to free their creative imagination, they began by doing simple relaxation exercises drawn from yoga, and improvisational theater training. By working with such simple exercises, the students unblocked their creative energies which allowed them to leap into the imaginative life of the characters they were trying to portray. In fact, the students were actually drawing from their own imaginative lives to respond to the needs of the assignment.
My teaching syllabus was focused on what I identified.....Read More
The day Lin Mee blew up her house, with husband Wei inside, she made sure their daughter, Ming, was at a sleepover. And that was the very day Ming, 15, decided to “go all the way” with her boyfriend, forever conflating her transgressive act of lying atop him in his small attic room, pumping away with all her might, with the death of her father, and presumably, her mother.
Since she was far from being a chemist, Lin’s mixture was a bit unstable and she found herself flung far and wide into the wood which ran behind their house. Broken, burnt and bruised over whole sections of her body, her windpipe scarred, she could only crawl about like a wounded toddler, uttering nonsense syllables. All sense had been knocked out of her by the blast.
Though Lin’s body was never recovered (not even a shrunken-head type corpse like her father’s), Ming was sure Ma was gone. She felt she needed to be punished so when she was shuttled off to the People’s Rest Home for War-torn Victims and Others, she resolved never to see her boyfriend again—especially since he showed no intention of curbing his wildcat ways, not while there were still virgins in the town to be had.
And that’s how all was lost for the Mee family one spring evening in June.
Or was it?
One Year Later
Ming, on Wednesday market day, inevitably found herself facing The Veil. Even if Ming had gone shopping for thread, she would be drawn to the little stall in the furthest back corner. The Veil stood rearranging the apples and pears and peaches and plums, hiding their imperfections from view, trying to deceive the customers into thinking they were buying perfection straight from the Garden of Eden. (Of course no one was fooled.) Ming patiently picked up each piece of fruit to reveal the bruise, the wormhole, the flaked-off skin.
“No touching, Miss,” the Veil softly admonished her, in her peculiar rasp of a voice, casting a backwards glance towards the depths of the stall.
Finally, one day Ming confronted her. “Why do you look back there? No one’s here but you.”
“Oh— just a nervous habit. You’re right. Go ahead.”
Unaccustomed to being rewarded for her insolence, Ming hesitated but.....Read More
What happens when humans tamper with nature? My explorations in Human Potential, including psychotherapy, the paranormal, and psycho-biology, have led me to the unique novels of Thomas Page. Not exactly science fiction, but science-based fiction, his novels, The Hephaestus Plague, Spirit, Sigmet Active (aka, Skyfire) and The Man Who Could Not Die, challenge notions of humanity and possibility.
Page's first novel, The Hephaestus Plague (Putnam 1973) about a mutating fire-starting insect, has been made into a movie entitled BUG, produced by the horror specialist, William Castle. In The Hephaestus Plague, the scientist, Parmiter, is called to consult about a strange phenomenon, the fast that the insect seems not to
I've since become interested in the unique way Page uses science in fiction.
The Man Who Would Not Die (Trashface Books, Ireland, 1981) raises the question of the nature of death. “Suppose we have death all wrong.” It is a doctor speaking (or a con man), a salesman for the Stendhal Holmes life support system, a machine designed to keep a body alive after the heart stops. Except, we don't know what death is, so the “corpse”, a salesman for the machine, named Daniel Forrester, keeps coming back to haunt the medical investigators and a woman with whom he had a one-night stand. It seems that the machine keeps jump starting Forrester's vitals, yet, somehow he has left life as we understand it. Is he dead or alive, or neither? Can ghosts or apparitions manifest physically? Where is Forrester's soul while all this haunting is happening? The Eskimos understand life better than we do, one of the doctors asserts. They know when to walk out into the blizzard. Thomas Page’s provocative masterpiece keeps the reader on edge as he explores the possibilities of bio-physics, ghosts, reincarnation, resurrection and the nature of Summerland, or wherever we go afterward. This is a book ahead of its time (it was originally published in 1981) and especially important today, as more and more of us have end of life decisions to make for ourselves and others.
In Sigmet Active (Times Books, 1978) a storm seems to be the protagonist. A Japanese fisherman senses something wrong. A different kind of storm. A storm that will transform into a kind of monster, exacting the.....Read More
Of the season’s new books, Circe by Madeline Miller taught my eye because of its attractive jacket cover. I recognized Circe’s name as among the Patheon of Greek gods and goddesses but didn’t remember exactly which one she was.
Circe, as it turns out, was a witch who lived mostly alone on the island of Aiaia; she was the daughter of Helios and the nymph Perse. In the Odyssey she turned Odysseus’ men into pigs, but more about that later…
Usually I read history. When I read fiction, I prefer realistic stories, so to delve into a book of fiction, supposedly narrated by the goddess Circe, was a bit of stretch for me, however, not far into the book I was hooked and remained enthralled until the story’s end.
Circe had unusual powers. She was banished to Aiaia for the offense of pharmaka—she gathered flowers, herbs and roots and ground them into potions, which she used to turn lower gods into monsters and humans into lesser mammals. Jealous of the nymph Scylla, she turned her into the monster who hid in the cave on one side of the straits, across from the whirlpool Charybdis, and devoured sailors who passed through. Threatened, Zeus banished Circe to the deserted island, where she continued to ply her craft, tame wild beasts and crossed paths with some of the most famous figures in Greek mythology—Hermes, Athena, Dionysus, Achilles, Daedalus, Heracles, and, of course, Odysseus.
She witnessed her sister Pasiphae, queen of Crete, giving birth to the Minotaur.
She lived in lovely home on Aiaia, possessed a loom made by Daedalus, and had pet lions as her favored company, hiking about this paradise, gathering herbs to use for her spells. It’s probably not hard to see why Ms. Miller picked her to narrate her story and why it appeals especially to women—how wonderful it might be to command the winds and, above all, to be able to turn offensive men into pigs!
One of the things I noticed was neither Circe nor any of the other characters in the book ever seem to be cold, even when washed ashore or nearly drown, but then being cold must be a characteristic reserved for humans alone.
I am reminded there was a time when Greeks sincerely believed in this panoply of gods and goddesses. From them, we inherited some of our deeper understanding of psychology—the word itself from Psyche and the Oedipal complex from Oedipus. The Romans likewise admired them and renamed the gods, giving them Latin names, but when their practical mentality won, they deemed all this so much poppycock and were rudderless until Constantine established Christianity as the state religion in the.....Read More
When Michael finds it impossible to think about anything else, he knows it’s time to visit John, his doctor and old friend from college. The itching is starting to interfere with his life. Lately, he goes to bed itching, wakes up itching, and several times during the last week he’s had to excuse himself from meetings at his law office so he could go scratch.
“It’s some sort of rash,” Michael tells the receptionist at John’s office when he finally calls to schedule an appointment.
“Where exactly is the rash?” she asks. “I need to note it on your chart for the doctor.” Just then, Stephen appears in the kitchen doorway waving a flyer about wood flooring that he’s just picked up at a building supply store for Michael to look at.
After dating for three years, Michael and Stephen are finally going to live together. That’s what all their friends said when they broke the news: “Finally!” and “It’s about time you two got married,” even though at this time, for two men, marriage isn’t something that’s going to happen. No matter. They’re a couple, and that’s what couples do; move in together. Or in their case, more specifically, Stephen is moving into Michael’s house, the house Michael shared with Kevin before he died.
But before that happens, they’re adding some extra space for Stephen, a room with plenty of light, with hardwood floors to match the rest of the house. Stephen, an architect, wants to use it as a home office. He spends most of his time at Michael’s anyway. But before they make it official by moving the last of Stephen’s clothes, books, and furniture that will “work” in Michael’s house, Stephen wants to have the room completed. “So I know right away there’s something that’s just mine, that I can put my mark on.”
Michael readily agreed, letting Stephen work out the specifics.
One of the specifics is picking out the floor, something Michael would just as soon leave to Stephen, just as he’s left everything else about the room to him. But Michael’s input is important, Stephen insists. The room has to look like it was always part of the house: seamless.
“Just like I want to be,” Stephen said, intending it to be a joke. But Michael knew it was important to him.
For now, though, it’s the itching and not the floor that consumes Michael. He thought he had a good half hour to make the call, get off the phone, and start dinner before Stephen came back. But he’d wasted the first twenty minutes dialing the phone, then hanging up, telling himself that the whole thing would probably clear up on its own anyway. Why go through the hassle of taking time off from work and the $10 co-payment for nothing? But he couldn’t go on like he had been, trying to get in a few good scratches when no one, especially Stephen, was looking.
“Where is it?” Michael repeats, trying to buy time, hoping Stephen will assume it’s a work-related call and go find something else to do. But instead, he puts the flyer in front of him and waits by the kitchen table, his arms folded.
“We have to decide soon,” Stephen whispers.
“The rash. The one you want to see the doctor about?” the receptionist says. Michael can tell she’s getting impatient.
“Um, it’s . . . sort of all over.” He picks up the flyer and nods at Stephen.
“All over. I’ve noted that. We’ll see you tomorrow at 11. Okay?”
“Thank you.” Michael hangs up.....Read More
When errors thrive dangerously in the wilderness of discourse, it’s judicious to issue a writ of coram nobis. In his timely book The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2017), Dr. Tommy J. Curry, Professor of Philosophy and Africana Studies at Texas A & M University, issues such a writ and makes a sterling contribution to intellectual history.
One can't praise the excellence of his anatomy of dilemmas, however, without noting the bane of academic writing. For a writer to be deemed serious, worthy of attention, in academic territory, she or he must use jargon, the very language of the tribe that itself nurtures error.
Curry isn’t culpable, and is, to be sure, not complicit. He’s quite aware of what might be called the rhetorical traps of the academic writing and publishing. A small number of scholars have published scathing critiques of those traps, but their criticisms have yet to be digested by their colleagues, who hold fast to conservative definitions and standards of excellence; and by publishers who insist that civilization will be annihilated if the standards aren't preserved.
Curry provides an essential insight into the situation that metaphorically incarcerates his project in the concluding chapter:
“Black males are not thought of as sociological beings that have existential relevance for theory. Because theory is the abstraction from the empirical—the attempt to establish the idea as causally related to actual phenomena—there is the risk that theory will remain disconnected from the world and from the relations the selves in that world share. Sometimes the idea becomes self-justifying and thought of as determining the phenomena from which it was initially derived. This is the problem with Black masculinity. It is an idea that obscures how Black males actually live and die in the world.”
The situation is systemic, and it’s not a matter of historical accident. It’s a matter of Western intention, malice, and denial. It’s an act of courage for Curry to have written The Man-Not by using the tools of the system to demystify and deconstruct the system. Nevertheless, in the chaos of actuality and cognition, systems do not die; they merely change their costumes. There is no exit from existential absurdity, despite belief (usually religious) that a better.....Read More
Nothing seems real
on the wrong side of life.
and sleeping days.
Time has no meaning
when everything flips,
everyone you know
on a different schedule.
Loneliness invades every
pore of your being.
Footsteps echo back .....Read More