“One day the last portrait of Rembrandt and the last bar of Mozart will have ceased to be – though possibly a colored canvas and a sheet of notes will remain – because the last eye and the last ear accessible to their message will have gone.” – Spengler, Decline of the West
“Suddenly all those individuals who yesterday felt that "we" meant only their families, their professions, or perhaps their communities, become men of the nation. Their emotions and thoughts, their egos, that "something" within them, all are transformed: they have become historical.” – Spengler, Decline of the West
11. Accurate description is the revelation of character without explanation, theory, or justification.
12. A story is a theory of why something happened, the descriptions being pawns in a series of causes and effects. Man looks for the story beyond the description; he makes description into something ornamental and secondary. He can no longer see the connections made by accurate descriptions set alongside each other (the blindness of autism).
15. ¨Philosophers constantly see the method of science before their eyes, and are irresistibly tempted to ask and answer questions in the way science does. This tendency is the real source of metaphysics, and leads the philosopher into complete darkness.¨ – Wittgenstein
16. The criticism that description cannot stand on its own is nonsense. Man has been so conditioned by theory that he remarks: ¨But there was no story.¨ He cannot accept that character produced from accurate description comes from nowhere.
17. A story is a craving for generality. The darkness of this age is that story is looked to for revelation rather than character.
21. The Greek fascination with tragedy was the fascination with justice: a rightness of conduct which could not be made legible by the laws of the State, that even ran contrary to those laws. A rightness of conduct that men felt but could not make legible. Tragedy: the confrontation of purity in character with the historical argument of law; an insoluble confrontation.
24. The question is two part: Whether one can accurately understand the development in ancient Greece from a making of poetry about the world to a scientific breaking it down into law (both natural and moral/state), and, secondly, with this understanding, whether someone captured and enthralled by science and the state, born into it, can walk himself back into poetry. Can this development be undone?
29. The bourgeois attitude in philosophy is that which accepts implicitly the structures and confines set up by legibility: the subject-object dichotomy; the responsibility of the individual; the protection racket of the State; the written word; Reason and explanation; the tyranny of science; the naming and the breaking down of the world into elements. These bourgeois philosophers are dependents of the state and its program of scientific legibility and so are unwilling or unable to see outside it. Their work only confirms the State, making it an a priori assumption about life.
38. Even descriptions are shot through today with implied explanation. No one takes an accurate description seriously – it cannot stand on its own. They would ask for something more. It must be combined in narrative and made reasonable: things held together in the world by a string of arguments, equations and stories. Man sets out to prove that ¨everything happens for a reason.¨
41. In a scientific age, tragedy becomes impossible. The last eye and ear accessible to its message has gone.
27 January 2015
Invidia. Envy. That the Colombian should be permitted to obtain that for which he has never worked. But there was a second element to it: that this obtaining should also cause harm to he who had formerly possessed it. Not only to have it for himself, but also that he who previously had it should feel its loss painfully. It was a particularly acute and malicious feature of Colombian daily life. It resulted in the seducing of novios to injure a girlfriend; the constant chiseling for pesos; all sorts of lies and deceptions; the continuous threat of thievery even among family members.
7 October 2014
“We live, in these days in the open, the same ecstatic fearful life. We shun men. We hate their suddenly uplifted arms, the insanity of their flailing gestures, their erratic scissoring gait, their aimless stumbling ways, the tombstone whiteness of their faces.” — quote of unknown origin
28 July 2014
Neither hobby nor career, I was never interested in their tourism. Rather to live it out however it went, however it ended, however good or bad, whatever it led to. To recognize what waves bear a man up instead of ignoring or fighting against them, is to have found his metier.
9 June 2014
Credit surplus is the outpacing of life on earth. Men racing ahead tearing out ahead past the earths natural edges. The earth is not a limit but is instead a home. To tear it apart is to make men homeless.
Surplus man is linked to the earth through various proxies, each proxy erected upon another, higher and higher, further and further from the soil, ever more tenuous and unstable at this height. Surplus man topples falls back to the earth. What appears tragic in his fall is looked back upon as comedy, that only a fool would try to live beyond his home.
6 April 2014
Believe in Jesus they said. That was all. There were other doctrines to be agreed to. A man had a whole framework of ideas it was first necessary to accept before belief was possible, before he could become faithful in act. But religion of the axial age was behavior, not doctrine.
It appears the axial age focus on religious behavior was a response to a new behavior, perhaps brought about by the revolution of farming and urban life. These holy men of the axial age were translating older ideas in an effort to sustain how men had lived before agriculture. This latest age seeks to sustain how men were before agriculture through Reason and the law of the state.
But a surplus of men chasing a tiny bit of capital for ownership can only cause competitive and warlike behavior. Even the hunting tribes would become violent when their hunting grounds were threatened.
Man today lives in continual threat.
13 March 2014
The divinity in men was eradicated long ago as men learned farming and the skills of the city. But the divinity in women, denied those urban skills, lived on. The female became mans reminder of what was divine, she was the looking glass of gods. Only when cities became built for women and ruled by women were the gods finally banished.
5 March 2014
For more than 30 years The Xtratuff boot has been the official footwear of Alaska fishermen and cannery workers. A seasoned worker brings his own or goes down to the True Value for a new pair. Nobody who knows and can afford them wants to be caught in the free cheap black company issue throwaway boots offered to workers.
In 1988 in Chicago you weren't really on the school basketball team unless you wore the Nike Air Jordan sneaker. My parents refused me them on account of their price—I can still recall my dismay—and me and another boy were the only ones on the team without them. But here in Alaska with no parents to defer to, I buy Xtratuffs and make myself part of the team.
I did have some concerns as the boot disappointed all of Alaska last year. Honeywell bought the Xtratuff, eliminated the old boot factory in Rock Island, IL and moved production to China. The boots were now $30 more to purchase. The plastic failed. The heels ripped apart in the first month of use. Fishermen and cannery workers across the state were furious. Boots that once lasted a decade now sometimes lasted a week.
¨I denounced him this morning,¨ she told me as I entered the shop. ¨Es una plaga, el,¨ she said. ¨Ese malparido viejo is a plague upon the block and I have denounced him to the police.¨
I realized she was talking about the owner of the minutos shop next door.
¨But we have nothing against him,¨ I said.
¨Sure we have. It is this one of ill-birth who provides the false notes that are passed.¨
I had never seen the shop owner sell anything. He stood out front on the sidewalk drinking beer and guaro with a wretched assortment of thieves and addicts. Throughout the day bazucheros went up to the apartment above the shop and came down later with a blown look in their eyes. He was running a perico lab and even if I didn´t like him I understood him. He didn´t need to pass off false bills on his neighbors.
¨I called the police and gave his address and that he sells bazucho and in his apartment has fake notes. I spoke with a paisa accent so that they will not know me.¨
I shook my head. I didn´t like this denunciation but perhaps it would be a good thing. It meant we wouldn´t need to sweep up the broken aguardiente bottles and beer cans in the morning. It would mean no more crackheads whistling for the shop owner and throwing pebbles at his window to let them come up.
The minutos shop was shuttered a few days later. There was no gossip of a police raid but during the week we did not see the owner. That Sunday, after Señor Roberto had closed the bicicleteria, a young kid who was clearly a thief passed by on the street and looked into the panty shop. Ines was alone in the shop and when the kid walked by a third time she came out with her pepper spray and cursed him and he ran off.
The children´s clothing shop three doors down was robbed the following day. Just after lunchtime two professional appearing men in suits entered and asked about boy´s pajamas. One pulled a knife on the shop girl and the other shut the door. They advanced upon the shop girl demanding money and her cellular. Then she realized they intended to violate her too and it was only when she protested that she was pregnant and they had her shirt off and saw her stomach that they left.
The old man at the corner mercado said that for six months now the block has not put money together to pay for a vigilante. And when the thieves do not see the vigilante in his security uniform and baton they return again to rob us. Without the vigilante there is nothing to do but to give the ladrones what they demand.
¨It was safer for the cuadra when the minutos shop was open,¨ I said to Ines. ¨The thieves and addicts that gathered out front were a security for the block. These other thieves arrive from beyond the barrio. Because no sensible thief performs his thieving in his own neighborhood.¨
¨Tienes razon, negro. It was a mistake to denounce el viejo,¨ she said sadly.
But later in the week the minutos shop reopened. The owner had been on vacation in Baranquilla and Ines was quick to welcome him. She now greeted him with a friendly ¨vecino¨ and he was much angered to learn of what had happened while he was away. He and his friends would watch to make sure nothing further would happen, he said. Of course it was unacceptable that there should be any sort of crime occurring on the block.
¨Qué triste, negro. What sadness,¨ she said to me over the phone. ¨All the 50,000 peso notes are false. Even the 20,000.¨
¨I went to buy the hangers and the Paisa told me the two 50,000 peso bills and the 20,000 were false. What sadness, negro. What sadness.¨
The hijo de puta malparido Paisa had switched the good bills for fakes, I thought. In the market in the centro, and at Christmas, it had to happen all the time. She must have missed what that ill-birthed, son of a whore had done. I didn´t say anything. It didn´t matter now.
¨I still had enough for the ganchos,¨ she said, ¨And for the yellow underwear that the Rolos have asked for.¨ It was believed in Bogotá that golden underwear brought prosperity in the new year.
¨Just come back,¨ I said calmly. ¨I´ll meet you at the shop.¨
I considered it and then I thought maybe it hadn´t been the Paisa. I went in the bedroom for the 50,000 peso note I had taken from the shop the day before. I compared it to a note withdrawn from the ATM and immediately I saw the difference. The paper was wrong. The ink bled at the edges of the bronze ¨50¨ in the corner.
I held both bills to the light as they do at the supermarkets. The forged note did not have the thin strip embedded in the paper that said 50 MIL COLOMBIA. It was also smaller than the real note. Someone was working the panty shop and had passed off a fake 50,000 peso note each of the four days we were open.
I hurriedly put on my shoes and left the apartment. No doubt they would try it again today. I had to get there in time. I hurried up the avenida in a rage, thinking about what I would do to him. I´d blind him first with the pepper spray and then drag him into the bathroom and beat him until the police arrived. Maybe I´d carve something on the fucking ladron with my knife.
But the pepper spray would make a mess of the shop. And what if it wasn´t a guy? There hadn´t been any guys in the shop that I remembered. Probably the counterfeiter was sending women. He was sending women with 50,000 peso notes and telling them to come back with the change and to keep the panties.
When I caught the woman I would keep the note and detain her until the police arrived. Or better I could tear up the fake and tell her to take the message back to the hijo de puta counterfeiter. That would make things clear.
¨¡El patron llega!¨ shouted Señor Roberto as I came up the block. He was putting out bicycles in front of the bicicleteria.
¨¿Qué más, amigo?¨ I shook his hand and then the little man hugged me tightly, his face pressed against my chest.
I went into the shop and told Ines to show me the false notes. The fake note I brought and the two of hers were identical. They had come from the same counterfeiter.
¨There will be another falso today, amor. Es cierto. The counterfeiter will send someone again.¨
I showed her the differences between the false and the real. She insisted it was the paper which made the difference but I explained a new bill might also appear too crisp. Then I held a fake and good note to the light and she picked the good note as the fake. I held two fakes to the light and she picked one of them as real. She wasn´t seeing it. I showed her the ink bleed around the bronze ¨50¨ on the fakes and she nodded that she understood, but I tested her and she missed that too. I would stay to catch the thief anyway. We could practice at home tonight.
¨But you cannot do anything to the one who comes with the falso,¨ Ines said. ¨They will send others to harm us or pay someone. What will happen when you leave and I am here alone?¨
She was right. I couldn´t do anything. It was the Colombian way to sneak up on someone, or hire a stranger. Colombians did not confront you. They were cautious and kept their distance. They even fought with belts instead of their fists. Anyway, the fault was ours. The thief had only acted in accordance with his nature and we had allowed it. We had given the papaya, as the Colombian expression goes.
In the afternoon a woman and a young girl came into the shop. They selected a top and panty set and two thongs. I watched the woman give Ines a 50 mil note and she came behind the display rack and gave it to me. It was a forgery, the same as the others. I came out and confronted her.
¨Es falso, mamí.¨ Her face was rough and she didn´t make eye contact with me. The young girl with her looked entirely innocent and unknowing.
I gave her the note and saw the tattoos on her hands. Then she rubbed the bill to show me the ink did not smudge.
¨That signifies nothing,¨ I said. I pointed at the ink bleed around the 50. ¨Mira. Look. It is badly done. And the strip inside the paper is missing.¨
The woman´s hands were shaking. It surprised her to be confronted by a gringo.
¨No más pendejada, mamí. You will have to do better next time.¨
The woman put the fake note in her pocket and turned to leave. But the young girl still wanted the thongs. She paid with 4,000 pesos of her own and they left.
That night we were walking home and Ines wanted to stop at the drycleaner to pick up the bed spread. She wanted to pay with one of the false notes. I didn´t say anything. The drycleaner was closed. Then she wanted to buy some nail polish. She wanted to pass a false note there. Again, I didn´t say anything.
I stood at the entrance of the shop and watched as she selected different bottles of nail polish and brought them to the woman at the counter. She passed the bill and the woman quickly pronounced it a fake and handed it back. She passed it back as if she had been receiving fakes all day. The counterfeiter had probably tried them at shops throughout the barrio. Ines paid with good money and we left.
¨Let´s just forget about using the false ones,¨ I told her.
¨Yes,¨ she said. ¨It doesn´t feel right.¨
¨It was our fault anyway,¨ I said.
¨Yes. We should have known.¨
¨Tonight we will practice so that you see clearly the difference. So that it does not happen again.¨
¨Nunca más de esa mariquera.¨
¨No, mi amor. Never again that faggotry.¨
¨Falta el aviso. When will you put up the sign?¨
It was Señor Roberto. He had ducked under the roll-up door and come into the local.
¨Ya, casi,¨ I told him. We were almost finished getting the panties and tops stretched onto hangers and put on the display racks. We were almost ready to open the shop.
¨You fault only for the sign,¨ said Señor Roberto. ¨You should put up the sign now. You should have put the sign up first.¨
The long, pink sign that read in white block letters PANTYS A $2.000 was leaned against the wall. It was stretched upon a flimsy balsa wood frame held together with staples.
¨Voy a ayudarte con el aviso,¨ said Señor Roberto, ¨I will help you to put up the sign. Vamos.¨
I followed him outside the shop with the sign. Above the entrance was a thick metal plate. It was smaller than the sign and it also wasn´t flat. Even if the sign was screwed into the plate it would not lay flush. Señor Roberto went into the bicicleteria and returned with a drill and two foot stools.
¨How will you do it?¨
Señor Roberto climbed the foot stool and held the sign up above him against the metal plate. He wanted me to step up on the other foot stool and begin drilling through the wooden frame and into the metal. Then we would put the screws in. But the sign was moving all over the place. Señor Roberto couldn´t hold it straight above him. If I drilled holes none of them would line up. With the sign moving I´d probably destroy the wooden frame by drilling through it.
¨Do it! Begin the drilling!¨ Señor Roberto´s thumb was pushed into the plastic, deforming the sign. There was bike grease on his other hand that he was smearing onto the sign. Señor Roberto was ruining it.
¨No. No,¨ I said, ¨This will not work.¨
¨Yes! Yes! Start the drilling!¨ The sign was moving all over the place.
The young bike mechanic from the bicicleteria had come out to watch.
¨Start the drilling! Start the drilling!¨
¨The sign is moving. The holes will not be aligned for the screws.¨
¨¡No importa nada! It matters for nothing! Start the drilling!¨
¨Tell him this is a failure,¨ I said to the young mechanic. He looked at me and said nothing.
¨¡Vamos! Begin the drilling!¨
¨You are destroying the sign, Señor Roberto. Come down.¨
Despite all this commotion women had begun to enter the store. They stepped around us on the stools at the entrance to get inside. They went in and came out cautiously with their bags of panties and tops.
Señor Roberto was tired of holding the sign over his head and came down from his stool and went into the bicicleteria. I had the drill now to myself and made measurements on the metal plate and on the sign where the holes should go and marked them with a pen. I got on the stool and tried to drill the first hole through the plate but the bit wasn´t strong enough. The young mechanic was still outside watching and I asked him for some wire. Perhaps I could wire it to the metal plate.
I was turning screws into the wooden frame of the sign to which I could wrap the wire when Señor Roberto returned.
¨Utiliza este torneador.¨ He had a very long screwdriver.
¨No, señor. Todo va bien.¨ I was screwing easily through the balsa wood.
¨This has increased power.¨ He held the long screwdriver before my face. ¨Use this one.¨
I continued turning a screw into the frame as he held the long screwdriver in front of my face.
¨It will be better to use this torneador for its power.¨
¨Goddammit!¨ I shouted in English. ¨Goddammit! Just get the fuck out of here!¨ and I spiked my screwdriver on the sidewalk as hard as could. I didn´t see where it went. I didn´t care what the women in the store thought. Señor Roberto and the young mechanic hurried into the bicicleteria.
I found my screwdriver and finished putting the screws into the frame of the sign and then stood on the stool and wired it to the plate. The sign hung perfectly above the entrance. PANTYS A $2.000. Ines came out and admired it with me. We had already sold 50,000 pesos worth of mercancia, she said. She was very happy.
In the afternoon Señor Robert came into the shop. I felt badly for yelling at him and spiking the screwdriver. But Señor Roberto was smiling. He didn´t seem to remember what had happened earlier.
¨We should mount a bicicleteria together,¨ he said. ¨Será el patrón. You will be the owner of a panty shop and a bicycle shop.¨
¨Oh, yes,¨ I said. ¨In the future we will mount a bicicleteria.¨
¨Peugeot. Gitane. LeMond. We will sell only French bicycles.¨
¨LeMond was the greatest of the French cyclists,¨ he said. ¨I remember watching the marvel that was LeMond. You must be very proud of him.¨
¨El es americano. LeMond is an American.¨
¨Nonsense. Qué tontería,¨ said Señor Roberto. ¨Of course he isn´t.¨