Sunday, November 30, 2008

Are Citizens of the DisUnited States of America Intelligent?

Proof That Citizens of the
DisUnited States of Northamerica
Are So Sorrowfully,
So Sanctimoniously Stupid

In 1994, when my DisUnited States of Northamerica’s passport expired, I prepared plans to renounce my citizenship. Months later, I traipsed into the DUS’s consulate in Firenze, Italia and signed three documents realizing my political preferences. I felt relieved and pleased. I had acted to be free. I believed that, as any ex-drug addict might, a monkey had been taken off my back. My decision had been long thought out and logical. I had left the DUS on 31 December 1975; and, I have never returned to it since. My self-imposed exile has saddled me with numerous physical and emotional frustrations which I must admit have dowered me with neither crippling obsessions nor hopeless wretchedness. I am frequently asked if I possess any degree of nostalgia for “home,” and to such questioning I respond with an emphatic “no.” Curiosity does niggle me, but what I construe from news reports in the print and electronic media and others from my satellite dish, I am persuaded to think that my decision to leave the DUS for good was a judicious one. In fact, I understand the DUS much better than I ever did when I lived in it. Glimpsing at the almost eight years I sojourned in Venezuela and the now more than twenty five that I have put away in Italy, I am wont to pat myself on the back for following that adage of David Hume (Knowledge is the assurance arising from the comparison of ideas) which has enthused me unremittingly in my search to find The Truth not only about the DUS, but other enigmas I hap to come across. I have had ups and downs similar to everyone else’s, but I am convinced that my highs and lows have been very much more exciting, and disheartening, than those of the majority of other individuals with whom I tarry and have tarried. More direct observations are to come. I am generally optimistic about myself and my future although less so about most others. I am happy I am not happy. Such is my Life.

What qualifies me to label my ex-cohabitants with such crotchety wording? I want to help them! I want to provoke these imbeciles who call themselves “Americans.” I want to abet others to understand them the more. Of course, this hold out is compromised by many acrimonious sensations long ago sublimated into the lower pits of my psyche. The handling of these distant sentiments, luckily, have encouraged me to be steadfast yet not stone-like. I feel exceptionally self-assured about my assessments which have been calculated for many years, with many analyses and even more dissimilarities of ideas. I am grateful for the countless opportunities offered me to compare my own first impressions with those of other peoples and nations not my own but my own. It all has been my doing.

What I will relate in this brief essay, sucked out of the accumulated cognitive contents of more than thirty years, must be short but not sweet. My thoughts will evolve from an enormous emotional need, some categorical imperative, that will suggest to me some relief and, hopefully, will spur others to be subjected to some of the same. I have collected oodles of thoughts and notes which could fill volumes. I have referred to the annals of philosophy, economics, philology, psychology, psychoanalysis, poetry, history, sociology and, above all, politics—probably the least exact of all these “disciplines.” I am not an expert in any one of these fields. I simply always went to them to corroborate my own intuitions and, frequently, to find solace with characters with whom I could obtain sympathy. I belong to no school. My “philosophy” is a mosaic of the many viewpoints upon which I have contemplated. I am a writer, a poet. No one knows better than me that I may fail at this endeavour. Nevertheless, I must try.

1. Throughout the world, hundreds upon hundreds of millions of people—perhaps billions—think “Americans” are stupid. I could rest my case alone on this single philosophical tenet: the argument of common consent. But, I will not.

2. “Americans” behave stupidly because they are stupid. As a being is, so it acts.

3. “Americans” are stupid because they are exaggeratedly overconfident—especially so when they interrelate with others. The DUS is a hodgepodge of competing ethnicities that emigrated from horrible states of war, famine, economic tragedy, religious persecution and other sufferings too terrible to bear. For these downtrodden individuals, the DUS functioned as a panacea, a wonderful source of hope. While the émigrés assumed the mantle of “Americanism,” whatever that might mean, they also lugged with them the customs and thinking—even philosophical and religious—of their now very distant homelands. Whether they are German-“American,” Irish-“American,” English-“American,” African-“American,” or Italian-“American,” these racial groups, and the so many others like them, constitute a minestrone of mores that cannot be, any one of them, the dominant national faction in the DUS. There is not a German, Irish person, English subject, African or Italian who will dare deny that his line’s contribution to the development and even prosperity of the DUS was genuinely significant and indispensable. But, none of these conglomerations of human beings, except in folkloric manifestations, would have the cheek to seize the helm which would steer their own nationality’s way on behalf of the DUS. These personalities, callow and irresolute, are “Americans,” and before others they must not only speculate about that indistinct reality which is themselves, they must authenticate their very beings in the guise of a quasi-nation unfulfilled, pugnacious and “virginal” in order to affirm their substantiality and physical existence. Haughtiness, at the ready, is a handy expedient for them—just ask any Department of State foreign affairs’ officer! The ancestors of these individuals are in via d’estinzione in Europe, and in the DUS they, too, according to the United States’ Census Bureau, are losing the population domination they once maintained and enjoyed.

4. “Americans” are stupid because they are pretending, ever so tenaciously, to be that what they are not. All over the world there are representations of some economic, political and/or military sway corresponding to the DUS. For the most part, the properties of “American” holdings are closely guarded, bullet- and bomb-proofed, and “Americans” dwelling in them are often in fear for their lives. With the verve of missionaries, these overseas personnel grin and bear it with a stoicism that saps their vitality. They refuse to accept the fact that more and more recurrently they are thought of as unwanted guests if not intruders. Wherever they go, they strive to make squares out of circles—sometimes with success! But now the winds are blowing from another direction. Still, “Americans” just do not want to go away! They have unrelenting, often rabid, faith in the notion that theirs is the best of all possibilities. Ever so obstinate, they seek to attract, persuade and constrict others to abide by their imperatives. The criterion, the “bottom line,” almost without exception, the one alluded to to interpret the success or failure of the DUS’s policy to extend its rule over foreign nations, is a happily-adverted-to pecuniary achievement which time and again practically always neither considers the living standards and traditions of other peoples nor enquires about establishing binding relationships which might foster respect and admiration for the DisUnited States of Northamerica.

It has been a veritable simple exercise to demonstrate the stupidity of the “Americans.” It would be unfeasible for anyone to contradict my premises. Yet, I must come clean that explaining “The Why” “Americans” are so stupid remains, at least for me, a greater quandary. I beg you, my dear reader, to relieve me of this encumbrance and put light on “The Why” “Americans” are preposterously stupid.

Let us go back in History—to start. Who did the most to cultivate the contemptible trait of stupidity so prominent in the DUS’s DNA? Was it the Neanderthal Man? The Egyptians? The Hittites? Spartans? Babylonians? Romans? Alexander the Great? The Visigoths? Attila? Charlemagne? The Normans? The Mongols ? The Turks? Cromwell? Bonaparte? Bismarck? General Grant? General Lee? Who, may I ask?

Or was it rich Chianti wine? German Rhine wine? Dark Irish beer? Pale Dutch beer? French champagne? Russian vodka? Portuguese port? English gin? Scotch whiskey? Canadian whisky? Marijuana? Heroin? Cocaine from Southamerica? Greasy fast food? Medicines from Swiss drug-pushing pharmaceutical companies?

I implore you! I beseech you!! I plead with you!!! Please enlighten me. Make my day and tell me why “Americans” are so fabulously stupid.
Thank you.

Anthony St. John

7 October 2008

Calenzano, Italia

* * *

On the Road to Happiness

On the Road
to Happiness
with the Novelist
and the
Analyst of the Mind

A Lecture Delivered by Anthony St. John
15 March 1978
Under the Auspices of the Instituto Cultural Venezolano-Britanico and
The British Council
Caracas, Venezuela

* * *

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, distinguished members of the audience, and all my friends who have chosen to be with us this evening…

I am pleased to present to you this evening my lecture, On the Road to Happiness with the Novelist and the Analyst of the Mind. I hope you enjoy its significance.

Happiness brings to mind a term which is difficult to define but easy to intuit. The word very often attracts attention in Literature and Moral Philosophy, and it has been deliberated upon by Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, Jeremy Bentham and by the here and now authorities of psychology—to name a few.

Most of us will admit that happiness is, as a goal, equivalent in value to the highest good attainable by man, and to seek happiness is the mandate implored by family, friends, lovers, the clergy and politicians.

When one thinks about it, the term happiness conjures for us a myriad of meanings. Whatever, it is possible to be happy in different degrees. I may be happier than one of you; a year ago, I may have been less happier than one of you. It is possible that happiness might become less happiness or even unhappiness. It is possible for someone to be happy when he or she is not happy with certain conditions in his or her life. It is possible for someone to possess numerous sensory pleasures and still not be happy.

Philosophers agree that two elements are a constituent in making us happy: In order to be happy it is necessary that one likes those parts of one’s total life pattern and the circumstances surrounding it which one thinks are consequential; and, happiness must possess certain feelings or emotions. The first component implies a “measuring up” of the many facets of a person’s life, and the second precludes, obviously, continuous states of depression, guilt, anxiety, restlessness, confusion, anger, and other antipathetical emotional resistances.

Happiness is not an all-or-nothing condition, for sure. We may love our work but hate our manager. We may adore our children but not love their mother or father. We may take pride in our country but wish to live in another. Here, a problem presents itself to the philosopher. To be happy do we have to be happy with all the attributes of life we consider of great consequence? Then too, how happy do we have to be with each feature? Nonetheless, philosophers do agree that a life which adheres to moral principles, is not given to excess, and which is imbued with an understanding of the world and one’s position in it, makes for a happy life. And it helps if we are interested in other people, in good causes, in positive gratifications, and in life itself.

Whether this happiness is valid or invalid poses still another philosophical subject of dispute. For instance, our children might find a delusive happiness in the adventures of some cartoon character when they try to satisfy an urge for unmediated violence and an attempt to allay paranoia by identifying with an invalid character rather than his or her victim or even the heroic protagonist. Happiness, when valid, subscribes to those conditions which represent, in a fair way, the tendencies in man to seek validity in what is understood to be the good—to seek it in such a way that it objectifies our place in the world.

Who makes us happy? Ourselves, naturally. Your happiness depends on yourself (Marcel Proust). But let us not assume we are prevented from looking for happiness in others. We poke around for life’s touchstones all the time. Man is a social animal, an imitative being. The universal consent of millions of people throughout thousands of years, has handed down to us multitudinous truths, happinesses, about life. We probe for happiness every day. Traditionally, individuals have gravitated to the leaders of institutionalised systems of religious attitudes, beliefs and practices. But, modern society has frequently rejected these persuasions. With no sect to fall back on, association with one’s fellows has become a disinheriting retrogression—often nihilistic, often steeped in despair, certainly confused, certainly anxious. And always unhappy.

Because the ecclesiastics have failed us, we have been tempted to give up. In this transitional phase, we delve for incorporeal resuscitation not from within ourselves, but from that which is outside of us. We are at a loss to relinquish life no matter how meaningless the world’s condition might appear to us, yet most of us are convinced that we cannot be happy because of ourselves. With the most pressing economic and social knotty points the world has been faced with through the ages, most of us strive for happiness as often as not it is an invalid type of happiness. Very few individuals grope for happiness from within their own being.

Tonight I wish to discuss the role of two characters whose purpose it is to interpret human experience for us and whose rationale, very often, attempts to lead us to happiness. The novelist and the analyst of the mind deal exclusively with human behaviour. And each has a function of his or her own when he or she sets about to understand the human condition. The task of dissecting human behavior is a difficult one. The novelist and the analyst of the mind occupy themselves with human experiences which in themselves are often irrational, mysterious. In fact, human behavior can be explained only in the most malleable and unscientific manner, and it yields few secrets under objective analysis. The assignment, then, is a formidable one.

It would appear that the novelist and the analyst of the mind have usurped the long-held, front-running position of the religious leader. Without a doubt, to many they are the new trail blazers of a “new” religion—if it can be said that a “new” religion does in reality exist. Mathew Arnold predicted that literature would become religion, and today it is to the writers and novelists and psychologists and psychoanalysts—not the priests and ministers—that the television producer turns to for observations regarding what is valid. Reading is frequently referred to as “therapy.” Psychologists, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, psychiatrists, group therapists and clinical psychologists have their offices brimming with those in search of a personal spiritualism they feel has been denied them because of anxiety, depression, guilt, and other forms of antipathetical emotional resistances.

I believe the novelist and the analyst of the mind have been burdened with an enormous challenge, and although they have not been able to reckon with this bidding efficaciously, they have, notwithstanding, mellowed into something important for us. To present this idea to you, my dear listeners, I wish first to discuss the roles of both in modern society, go on to talk about their functions, and finally, query you—in a parley of idea exchanging—about the places these characters play in our lives. Both of them are guides on the Road to Happiness; both of them struggling, obviously, to find their own happiness.

I cannot think of a better description to apply to the novelist than the dictum of the Cambridge Platonist Henry More who believes that “the soul sings out the whole song upon the first hint as knowing it very well before.” The novelist is the soul and the song he sings out upon the first hint is the creative work of literature which he renders to us as a vital force. In the inherited pattern of thought, the novelist is the acting cause of an individual life gifted to a group of other individuals. The siring of the novelist is at once unique, but his original work of art is something which has fermented in his soul in a state of incipient development before reaching the boiling point of realization where it becomes necessary for the novelist to express himself in order to influence others—whether for valid or invalid happiness. Thus acting, the novelist invents prose narration which is usually long and complex, delighting and enlightening, and has as its subject the human experience—whether or not given voice to through a connected sequence of events. Characters are portrayed, actions are developed, scenes are represented. Novelists generally write about men and women and they very often deal with society. If the novelist’s examination of human character does not concern public or social ruminations, it might very well treat the rational and irrational depths of man’s personality as far as the writer’s imagination might take him or her. All things considered, the novelist has the capacity to weave the backgrounds of a host of characters and their differing life situations.

When he or she is ready to create the written imaginative expression, the novelist embarks on a long journey which, when completed, can be an art form that offers a valuable addition to Literature. To achieve this tour de force, characters, who will engage our imagination, are selected. Disparate types of interesting personalities are needed to maintain the reader’s interest and dab the work with conversant colors appealing to the thought processes of the reader. When the novelist has perfected the technique, an engrossing relationship between him or her and their readers takes root. The reader is free to take part in the creative method of the writer, and if he or she is willing, to embrace what is perceived as worthwhile from the extended prose narrative. The acceptance of what the novelist articulates—usually because the reader finds his or her ideas and character analyses plausible in light of the reader’s common sense experiences with life—makes for a “holy alliance” of writer and reader, one, because the writer receives appreciation for his or her creation from the reader; and, two, because the reader has been delighted and enlightened by the writer. Once this entente has been clenched, the novelist goes on expecting a sufficient return of book royalties which will permit him to write still another novel—if the author does not live in a Marxist state.

The novelist is extremely sensitive to the mysteries of life and he or she is usually not attached to any one interpretation of them. His or her ability, unique as it is, has been cultivated by many years of reading, by inordinate attention to the nuances of life, and by his or her own personal experiences which have shaped their attitudes and interpretations of episodes as they appear, without design, in the scheme of reality. It is not surprising then that in our own time the best of writers do not produce their best works until they are beyond a point of judiciousness. In the complicated world in which we live, it takes considerably longer to achieve the maturity needed to deal capably with the difficult task of interpreting and recounting the complexities of human behavior. Point of fact, the best writers are philosophers—usually non-professional ones. Some critics have called their products “wisdom literature” because in order to satisfy the requirements of an ever-increasing sophisticated audience, the novelist has had to bring himself or herself to a higher level of refinement where he or she must have the sufficient mental facilities to take the reins of the intricacies of the arduous time in which we live. As mankind advances to new heights of intelligibility, the novelist must keep pace with the upward thrust so that he or she might be able to interpret it properly and with an enormous degree of sophistication. The greatest of writers, from any age, have given us the “wisdom literature” we need to understand and decipher our position in this world. They have pointed out to us the ways and the means that enable us to relive our own doubts and fears through the representation of others, to separate fact from fiction in our lives, and to broaden our horizons in a spirit of freedom and intellectual equitableness.

I wish now to turn to the analyst of the mind. Let us assume he or she possesses two functions: First, the analyst of the mind deals with individuals in whose lives conflict or weakness has become seriously enough an integral part of their temperament so as to produce inhibiting mental discomfort. In this role, the analyst of the mind acts as healer. Regardless of the school of psychic analysis, the process utilised to rectify this condition that stalls is generally a prolonged engagement, and for our purposes it is a one-on-one, patient-analyst relationship. This qualification does not intend to exclude any particular school of psychoanalysis, and it considers the commonly-accepted stereotype of the analyst as a point of reference only. In this primary impersonation the patient is taken by the analyst of the mind into therapy and the patient begins the journey along the Road to Happiness sufficiently certain that psychologically inhibiting factors—which in the mind of the clinician have been diagnosed as serious impediments and warrant some sort of corrective action—will be melted away. Simply put, the patient is acutely depressed, guilty, anxious, confused, angered or endures other negative emotional reactions—or combinations of them—which cause the patient to feel desperately unhappy. The métier of the analyst of the mind is to lead the patient to an awareness of his or her problem in a way that he or she can deal with it successfully.

The second task of the analyst is the one which concerns itself with the on-going study and research into the intricacies of the human mind. Whether this is effectuated in the differing schools of analysis, in the experimental laboratories of the psychologist, or in the methodologies of the psychological philosophers, the study of the mind is—as a relatively new field—one which is forever expanding in discovery and accumulating new applications of untried techniques.

I now wish to review synoptically two traditional schools of analysis in order to point up, one, a feel for the technique of the analyst of the mind and, two, to explore—in an ever so gingerly way—the facets of human behavior which have been revealed to us by the analysts of the mind.

The Freudian and Jungian schools are well regarded as pioneer schools in the field of psychoanalysis as much as their methods, nowadays, might be under scrutiny, even attack, by those seeking new directions and propinquities to psychoanalysis. Regardless, both schools are important foundations of psychoanalytical theory and study no matter what use is made of them by the analyst of the mind. The genius of Freud is obvious to all of us, and his impact on contemporary society is far-reaching…perhaps more extensive than Freud himself would have cared his theories to extend.

The institutor of psychoanalysis devised a system of dream analysis designed to enable the patient to become aware of motives which, before analysis, were unconscious, unknown, to the patient. These hidden, painful emotions were considered by Freud the source of the patient’s neurosis, and to relieve them Freud experimented with various methods—including hypnosis—before he settled on the use of free association and dream interpretation. In Freudian analysis, the patient discusses his thoughts in a general way, and from time to time, the analyst offers an explanation of what the patient is experiencing. The Freudian analyst’s purpose is to get the patient to recover lost memories with which the patient might return to the point where conflicts or weaknesses had become so forcefully emplaced in the patient’s character. Only by facing his or her problems will the patient improve. The process takes time because at first the patient is reluctant to go back to those disturbing unconscious motives. The analyst must help the patient to overcome his or her initial resistances. We must realize that this process is not a purely intellectual event. The patient is actually brought back to the painful experiences of his or her life, and suffers during this regressive passage often becoming worse before becoming better. When the patient ultimately transfers to the analyst the attitudes and emotions which were originally directed at his parents in childhood, a successful Freudian analysis might be said to be achieved and the patient can be thought of as having come finally to confront the difficulties which were embedded so powerfully in his unconscious.

Carl Gustov Jung interrupted his collaboration with Freud in 1914 and founded his own school which today is referred to as the analytical method of psychoanalysis. Jung modified Freudian psychoanalysis to suit his own purposes. One difference he had with Freud was that he believed the neurotic symptom should not be explained only in terms of the patient’s past. In Jungian analysis the present of the patient is crucial—even prone to elicit compensating experiences—because it is in the present that the neurotic symptom can be confronted by the patient attempting to solve his problem in medias res. In Jungian analysis the patient is encouraged not only to recognize unconscious motives, he is brought to acknowledge unseen-before parts of his personality during the process of his analysis. In identifying these segments of his personality, the patient joins in a procedure set in motion to bring out his or her individuality and to participate in an harmonious synthesis between himself or herself and the functions external to them. In Jungian analysis, much of the patient’s unconscious is explicable in terms of his or her own life history, but that unconscious has features which are common to all individuals and they do not derive solely from the patient’s personal history. The patient’s personal unconscious comes to agree with the collective unconscious to which we all belong. The departure point for Jungian psychoanalysis is when the patient’s ego has failed to achieve this acquiescent coupling by identifying too strongly or too weakly (extrovert or introvert) with his or her self—their persona.

These brief sketches of two different schools of psychoanalysis serve to point up to us the intent of the analyst of the mind. They refer to two systems of examination of a complexity, its elements, and their affinities. The intricacy involved is the human personality, and it is the task of the analyst of the mind to decipher the blocked passages of the human intellect on behalf of his or her patient so that he or she may continue on the Road to Happiness without encountering inhibiting obstacles which impede progress. By assisting the patient, the analyst of the mind brings about a confrontation between the patient and his or her ideas which are not marked by conscious thought, sensation, or feeling. The encounter serves to make the patient face his or her problems which hitherto had been hidden in the depths of his or her psyche—haunting and dreadful, irrational and unhappy.

The skill of the analyst of the mind depends greatly on his or her ability to adjust the knowledge he or she has of the system of analysis he or she prefers to serve the individual, peculiar needs of the patient. In doing so the analyst depends a great deal on his or her imagination, and he or she must be a versatile, discriminating individual who, in devising explanations of his or her patient’s symptoms, couples ingenuity to the soundness of the theory he or she has studied with diligence for many years. An understanding of a patient’s experiences and world view must be approached with a careful consideration of the proven terms of the psychoanalytical school the analyst has chosen as his or her forte and the specifically human aspects of the patient’s human needs and idiosyncrasies.

One of the underlying themes of this discussion has been the supposition that the novelist and the analyst of the mind are capable of ushering us along the Road to Happiness. I have hinted at similarities, some differences. Let us now attempt to contrast the two by studying their methodologies in a generalized overview.

The novelist, as an artist, is apt to proceed with a method akin to inductive reasoning whereby he or she processes thoughts from a part to a whole—from particulars to generalities, from the individual to the universal. Permit me to be more specific. The novelist places himself or herself before blank pages, comes to them with an inclination in a line with the direction he or she intends to pursue. His or her work is created as he or she proceeds. He or she builds upon the sequence of events that have passed on previous pages, and he or she struggles to lead up to a successful conclusion of these events. When the work is finished, the essence of the creation might then be finally understood. We may guess at the eventual conclusion of a novel midstream the manuscript, but we may never know the author’s purpose until he or she has written the last pages or page. When a novel draws to a close, it is left to the scrutiny of the public and the critics who determine its artistic relevance. The novelist’s creation, then, is one which commences as a tabula rasa, an empty state of the mind, directs itself along a path of development and complication, and soft lands with a conclusion, resolution, that is satisfactory to the author first and ultimately his or her readers. The novelist, through this process, has taken a piece of the drama of life and has molded it into his or her own ideal of the state of reality. Once this has been accomplished, he or she offers it to their readers for their deliberation, their advantage.

This effort is burdened with intense difficulties. The novelist is forced to adhere to the shadings of human behavior with all its subtle distinctions and variations and, at the same time, gel his or her composition into an acceptable art form. We are often reminded of the struggling artist, the suffering literary thespian, the man or woman alone in his or her room cut off from society, glued to the typewriter. There can be no greater misconception of the novelist. For like anyone who revels in the fruits of his or her enjoyed labours, like anyone who loves his or her labor for its own sake, there can be only satisfaction and enjoyment upon completion of a triumphant work of creative fiction.

The analyst of the mind guides us along the Road to Happiness employing a different series of actions or operations showing the way to a closing stage. His or her method is deductive—conclusions follow from premises, necessarily. The clinician comes to his or her patient equipped with the theories and principles established by the school of analysis, or combination of schools of analysis, which he or she has determined suit the requirements most conveniently. The analyst of the mind toils within the framework of the doctrines which have been advanced by his or her school. With these supposedly time-honoured propositions, the analyst directs his or her patient to conform to a well-recognized approach to the understanding of human behavior. The analyst of the mind—in order to reach his or her level of proficiency—has studied psychoanalytical theory and practice for numerous years under varying sets of circumstances which have afforded him or her the chance to gain the skill needed to function solitarily. In analysis, the fruits of the analyst’s labours are reaped as he or she guides their patients to a successful understanding (analysis) of their complicated lives. The psychoanalytical process is an educational process. Education and therapy work hand in hand as the analyst endeavors, ever so assiduously, to explain behavior by means of what happened before rather than by what might yet befall. The end of the analyst’s effort comes with the fruitful readjustment of the patient to the realities of life which before had been clouded by states of depression, guilt, anxiety, restlessness, confusion, anger, and other antipathetical emotional resistances.

Thank you.

* * *

Anthony St. John
Casella Postale 38

In Response to a Rejection Letter about My Vietnam "War" Poetry

A Letter—Never Answered—to
Mr. Owen A. Lock of
Random House

1 July 1999

Mr. Owen A. Lock
The Ballantine Publishing Group
A Division of Random House, Inc.
201 East 50th Street
United States

I hope you are well, Owen? Are you?

I got your 4 May 1999 jotting down—and the book that went along with it—on 15 May 1999.

I wish to repeat that little flash for the benefit of those who will read this my snappy comeback to you: “As I do not see any market for poetry about the Vietnam War, I do not see how I could publish such a book. Thank you for thinking of me. Good luck elsewhere.”

I was not thinking of you, Owen! I was thinking of my book!

Be that as it may, I find it irksome to believe that there is no appeal (for the Truth?) for a poetry book (see my A Book of Vietnam “War” Poetry manuscript) about the Vietnam “War” when, in fact, a total of 8,744,000 individuals did duty in Vietnam from 4 August 1964 to 27 January 1973! I suppose not all of them are constantly glued to their TV screens, are time and time again bug-eyed before their computer videos, or are always oiling their pistols, shotguns, automatic weapons, rifles, machine guns, bayonets, hunting knives, stilettos, brass knuckles…. Have I forgot anything that can kill?

What I am convinced about is this: My poetry does not copycat the official, evangelistic bent of Six Silent Men which you passed my way with your rejection slip, presumably to put across that “underlying meaning” you did not have the pluck or warm-heartedness to elucidate upon in your fleeting billet-doux. That really is a shame, Owen. But is it not “shame” the best word to describe all that has come to be thought of together with the Vietnam “War?” I think so.

I did not read all of Six Silent Men because what little I did was so disgustingly pompous and doctrinaire, I knew at once there was no sense losing more time reading it. Let me quote from the back cover for my many devotees: “Author Reynel Martinez, himself a 101st (Airborne Division) LRRP Detachment veteran, takes us into the lives and battles of the extraordinary men for whom the brotherhood of war was and is an ever-present reality: the courage, the sacrifice, the sense of loss when one of your own dies. In the hills, valleys, and triple-canopy jungles, the ambushes, firefights, and copter crashes, LRRPs were among the best and bravest to fight in Vietnam.”

Then: “’Lurps’ served God and country in Vietnam.” Very touching. And what would The Supreme Being have to say about the millions of Vietnamese civilians carpet-bombed to death Henry Kissingerly by high-flying B-52s?

You do not have to be a psychoanalyst or even a clinical psychologist to opine that many of these “brave warriors” were drunken psychopaths, seriously disturbed individuals, and that some of them had suicidal tendencies. (Lucky us?) There was even a sprinkling of the criminal element there. (“Private, how did you find your way to Vietnam? Well, lieutenant, the judge asked me: ‘Do you want to go to jail or to Vietnam?’”)

I did read one entire part from the book: “Sgt. Victor Cisneros Asskicks in a Kontum Bar,” pps. 91-97. (From whom did you get that title? John Wayne? Please change “Asskicks” to “Murders,” Owen. In that way we will be—at least—verbally principled.) I waded through that portion because I also had been in Kontum in the autumn of 1967, and I had a yen for what author Martinez had to say about it. Sergeant Cisneros’s butchery of three Army of the Republic of Southvietnam soldiers and one Vietnamese “prostitute” (woman?) in a bar, epitomizes that which was, often, Standard Operating Procedure in Vietnam. No unit was without its fiendishness. The time and time again arrogant and violent gait of the United States’ military “occupational forces” in Vietnam, frequently dealt with Vietnamese nationals wielding a high-handed, barbarous methodology. The spirit of these olive-drabs-with-a-license-to-kill was not one that distinguished them in any salubrious fashion. Rather, their animating principle was dangerous, mettlesome, intimidating. They recurrently abused and cross-questioned that unprecedented mandate which had plopped them into a foreign land to defend innocent souls against the all-intrusive threat of the “evil,” unknown-to-them Marxism. They disgraced themselves and their nation.

Owen, I am certain you would not want your daughter to marry a “Lurp”. You would be as crazy as they—if you did. “Lurps” spewed from the “lower classes.” Uneducated. Gruff. Filled with hate for authority. They were not the sons of CEOs, CFOs, politicians, editors of National Review, munitions manufacturers, State Department simpletons, Hollywood producers, book publishing magnates, et cetera. Not corporate mettle—such as yourself. (Sometimes, Afroamericans constituted 50% of the units I served with on the “battlefield.” A The New York Times statistic: 14.5% of Vietnam veterans did duty on the “battlefield;” 85.5% of them were useful in base camps—where most of them did not even carry a weapon—thank goodness!)

Six Silent Men glorifies rare birds who, having been brainwashed into believing they could cross, at will, that fine line dividing sane actions and mindless bloodlust, went about their way promiscuously. The book’s bent is outrageously misleading, and it does no justice to those of us who, with heads bent down, came back from Vietnam with clear consciences and the knack to sleep soundly at night in peace and quiet. The tome distorts both reality and yesteryear, and it kowtows to a larger duping of the United States’ citizenry which, sanctioned by the United States’ Department of State, used pretentiously selected or falsified information—both at home and abroad—to lie its way through to its truth. (See Diplomatic History, Vol. 21, No. 4 [Fall, 1997], “Clearer than Truth: Public Affairs Television and the State Department’s Domestic Information Campaigns, 1947-1952,” pps. 545-567. Blackwell Publishers, Boston, Massachusetts & Oxford, United Kingdom.) How could you have been so obtuse, Owen?

I prefer, now, to help you instead of letting you pickle in the juices of your doltishness. How? Sit back and listen to me, please. I want to give you three random inklings which I doubt not will help you to loosen up on your hard line hug around the Vietnam “War,” thus enabling you to think free-wheelingly and, maybe, come to a better understanding of what went on there while we were there. These are not often-heard-of tidbits, but I am sure they will lend a hand in melting you down—so energizing you to be high-minded about Vietnam:
1. In the Fourth Division, Pleiku, all of us were obliged to read—and sign that we did—the Geneva Convention. Further, we all were made to pore over—and sign again—mimeographed sheets expounding extensively on the frame of mind we, occupational forces, were to assume when confronting indigenous personnel (sic) and, in particular, Montagnard villagers who were, more frequently than not, referred to disparagingly as “Yards” for all the time I served in Vietnam. (Not “Nam,” Owen!) The explicitness of these directions was so intense, I remain impressed with them even to this day. Let me give you one, as an example: On the paths leading into a Montagnard village one might chance upon different systems of rock formations or pilings of them. These denoted a death in the family, or a sickness in it, or a marriage, et alia. We were uncannily ordained to respect and abide by the wishes of these humble natives. (Cover Your Ass?) “Asskicking,” Owen, was stringently precluded!
2. Both Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre expended countless hours protesting against the Vietnam “War.” In fact, they listed, documented war crimes committed by United States’ forces in Vietnam, and their records are substantiating factualities that negate the rose-colored interpretations regurgitated by your “Lurps”. Remember that Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre have earned such a lofty philosophic reputation, they belong to that sphere of thinkers which is distinguished in the annals of worldly, philosophical history. And, it is not once that I have heard that they are probably the two greatest thinkers of this century which now, disgracefully, comes to its close, Owen. Read what they have written about Vietnam. Wind and weather permitting, you will find your “Lurps” in their indictments.
3. I want to tell you why Vietnam veterans are so pissed off. As reported on CNN (check it out!), two-thirds of United States’ casualties in Vietnam received their wounds or deaths in mine-related accidents. Well, 90% of the ordnances—goes the report—were captured United States’ rounds! As a “redleg” in the Fourth Division and the Americal Division, I remember when coming to a new unit always asking: “What’s the dud rate here?” That is, what percentage of our own shells—produced in the United States by flag-waving American “patriots”—would not blow. Often, the disgruntled rejoinder was a as-high-as 40%. Of course, defective artillery high explosives were not the only things wanting in Vietnam. Red, white and bluish in the face United States’ businessmen, opting to overturn the nineteen-sixty-twoish world recession, sent us other military junk that did not function. Now can you understand, Owen, why you did not see the sons of the editors of National Review in Vietnam?

* * *

I have my own LRRP (Long Range Reconaissance Patrol) story for you. But before I narrate it for you, you must promise me you will read it in the presence of a psychiatrist and two psychiatric orderlies holding ready a straitjacket for you in case you come upon the idea to jump out of your corner office on East 50th Street. I do not want your heirs blaming me for your Final Action. (Americans are always suing the shit out of themselves!) This story—sad as it is—will be very rough-going for you, Owen, if you believe all that bullshit shoveled in Six Silent Men. FASTEN YOUR SEAT BELT: When I was studying (1973-1975) at the University of Florida in Gainesville, the only job I could find—at that time and place—was selling whisky and wine (FULTON DISTRIBUTING COMPANY, Jacksonville) in the northcentral confines of Florida—one of the most beautiful places on Earth but very hot and muggy in summer. (No wonder GATORADE was thought up there!) On my “runs” through my territory, I came upon in the pines a small, run-down bar with a drive-in window not very far from the city limits of the horse-breeding Ocala. In it, I found my friend John who—you guessed it, Owen!—served as a L.R.R.P. in Vietnam. I was a bit older than he was, he having served later on in the “war” when I had been already home shaking off the vigors of that experience. There is a certain “shining” when you meet someone who has shared a poignant ordeal resembling yours, and when we both slipped into the jargon we two together knew from use in the fields and rice paddies of Vietnam, there gushed out stories and memories that were, in a sense, uplifting and therapeutic for both of us. Whatever we had gone through in Southeast Asia, John and I were still alive, and the two of us did not possess any physical damage that many of our confreres were wont to have. On this, we had reason to celebrate. John was very much “screwed up” mentally, however. Towards the Afroamerican people who stopped by to buy half-pints of SMIRNOFF VODKA and little cans of BLUEBIRD grapefruit juice, he held a great resentment and—like many others in the northcentral part of Florida—he was hostilely prejudiced and his rancor against Afroamerican people often went back to Vietnam where, John said, they there were often cowards and not valiant soldiers. One day, he turned his back to me and showed me the .45 pistol tucked into his belt. Then he pulled out, from under the counter, a sawed-off shotgun. He swore he would use these articles if any of those “nigger bastards” tried to rob him. As many paranoid personalities are expected to act, John divined that the Afroamerican people were out to get him for one reason or another. I sold John cases of liebfraumilch which he told me he was drinking at the rate of three bottles a day. Slowly but surely, John’s ugly story was onion-peeling bit by bit in front of me. Weeks passed by. John, as it turned out, was a mental out-patient. He let it be known to me that he had “to go in”—every once in a while. His urge to kill was so compelling, he went out of state and sat up high on the pylons supporting high intensity wires looking for animals to shoot with his rifle collection. John lived in a house trailer, and his neighbors were always calling the sheriff to complain of his raucous, drunken binges during which he would “shoot it up” in the trailers’ park. He had a problem with authority. When he was a LRRP, he was sent on long recon missions deep into enemy territory, and it was his habit—refusing to do what he had been ordered by upper division brass—to bring back a newspaper or a highway distance indicator to show that he had gone on and beyond where he had been directed to go. As many of his fellow LRRPs were quick to tell you, John, too, was invested with an excessively high opinion of himself, and he thought he was better than the ordinary troops, including Marines. In many ways he was. John liked to rebel. Once, after a general had chewed him out, he went back to the recreational room of his unit, and when he saw a high-ranking officer on the Armed Forces Television station, he took out his pistol and shot the television to death. John’s friends would take him to other rec rooms and bars throughout the division base camp to see him “replay” his “slayings of colonels and generals.” John had become famous standing up to those who had rank on him. (I saw many other violent individuals like John in base camp when I served in the Central Highlands. So many so, the commanding general of the Fourth Division in Pleiku had to order all arms locked up to stem the many shooting incidents among all the drunken defenders of democracy. Imagine, Owen, if the Mayor of Littleton, Colorado had ordered the lock-up of the entire city’s weapons’ collection!) In his rantings and ravings one late afternoon, John confessed to me that he hated all officers. He knew I had been a first lieutenant. After a great deal of mind-wrangling, I concluded that seeing the off-again, on-again charming, romantic John—who had the most affable of smiles—was not the best of ideas. I felt he might become violent with me in one of his drunken stupors. I had put Vietnam behind me and, sadly, I had now to put John, too, behind. I remember feeling very downcast then. And from that time on, whenever I saw on a television news program a violent massacre perpetrated by a Vietnam veteran gone beserk, I wondered immediately if that was John gone—finally—over his limits. John, Owen, was full of rage and hate but—most of all—GUILT.

* * *

I wish to wind down this my little White Paper on Vietnam written by me and for me at the end of this century with the hope that the next ten decades will bring more that creates and, at least, much less than that that was destroyed during the last one hundred years.

Vietnam has bequeathed something very important and that which is now frequently taken for granted. For some twenty-odd years after the end of World War II, the United States of America had been often referred to as “the liberator of Europe,” or “the leader of the world,” or “the leader of the free world.” Today it “enjoys” more dubious epithets at best among them these: “The Policeman of the World; The Greatest Economic Power on Earth; The Best of the Worst.” (We all know what everyone thinks about policemen!) Someone may not like Northamericans; nonetheless, everyone likes dollars! What is clear these days is that the United States is tough with its virtual sort of military supremacy, and it is in possession of the wealth needed to sustain its point of view. (For how long?) But, there is also something lacking in this identikit of United States powerfulness. Respect is what is missing. That void dilutes Northamerica’s potency rather drastically.

Living in Europe for more than sixteen years, I have been singularly bedazzled by this want of admiration. The United States is not looked up to anymore, and it has not been so for a very long time. This coupled to the fact that the United States’ post-World War II military presence has exaggerated its stay (and still does), one begins to wonder whether or not Northamericans are, in fact, welcomed in Europe. Surely one sees businessmen and diplomats and media execs and other members of that golden n’ holdin’ class cavorting as if they were bosom buddies, but deep down in the doldrums of European society, as a whole, there is not very much enthusiasm regards the United States of America—and rightly so. Why?

Earlier this year, flying from one European capital to another on her broom, that little fat witch, Madeleine Albright, almost single-handedly, split Europe right down the middle, set brother against brother, and lit a slow fuse on behalf of World War III. Before this vulgar and insensate hostile exploit, there existed the fine glimmer of optimism that, perhaps—with the fall of the Berlin Wall—European nations were on their way to progressing towards a new fulfilment, were shedding their grief and shock over the deaths of millions of people during World War II, were beginning to pull together to achieve something lasting, something they could say they had accomplished for their betterment and the improvement of others in this world. Nowhere does that aspiration now draw breath.

In the present, prevalent aura of deceit and sanctimoniousness, no one has the stout-heartedness to reflect on the sad fact that dog-eat-dog depredators began to ransack Russia in the early 1990s cajoling Russians to switch immediately from one modus operandi lived under for seventy years to that of another almost entirely incompatible with theirs. Business administration professors and State Department imbeciles led the charge; but, Northamerican businessmen, as it turns out, invested the least! The other G’s followed the mother hen, and the bacchanalia of democratic capitalism went wild with glee and toasts to laissez-faireism. Today, with dizzy hangovers, investors are smarting from the resilience of the Russian people. All of Eastern Europe is furious with the unattained, pie-in-the-sky testimonials and promises made on their behalves. Owen, the United States did not go to Kosovo to save downtrodden people. It went to shore up its defences against a seething Eastern Europe. (I know the case of one big fish who lives near me. Roberto drove to Moscow with a truckload of $50,000 worth of condoms. He told the Russians he was a member of the Italian mafia—to scare them! Then, he went about trying to convince potential buyers that now, since they had entered into a new, capitalistic way of life, they would have to protect themselves against the diseases that are “bound to come with free enterprise.” Roberto, sullen and comfortless, came home empty-handed, but today he is very happy to be alive!) Europe, for sure, has had enough of war. But, it also has had now an abundance of the slick way of doing things. It wants to change, but it refuses to become a colony of maverick capitalism.

The United States of America has been breathing down Europe’s neck for far too long. Its full nelson on Europe has done more harm than good, and this stranglehold should let loose as soon as possible. When is the Department of State going to realize this tragic faux pas?

On shithouse walls throughout Vietnam, I often spotted this pithy statement: AMERICA LOST ITS VIRGINITY IN VIETNAM. In other words, Northamerica lowered itself to the same barbarous levels its enemies had done before it. On this very day, fascists, totalitarians, revanchists, dictators, and chauvinists all cluster around one precise conceit: “The United States is just as depraved as we are. In the end, all that matters is that might is right.” I have heard this adage time and time again for more than six years in Venezuela, and for more than sixteen years in Italy.

It is here that I see a crucial turning point for our times. The United States speaks for international law and order, but its mandate has been seriously compromised. Anything and everything spoken by Northamerican politicians to the world, ring like a lead coin striking a marble floor. There are few takers left. There is no esteem for the United States in the air. In Europe, right-wing fanaticism is taking hold ever more increasingly. Youth are mobilizing over and over the standards of racism and violence. Soccer stadiums are filled with semi-unarmed storm troopers without a Hitler or Mussolini to tell them what to do. Ironically, the rebel flag of the Confederate states is frequently a symbol of their loathing, and metre-high banners hanging from stadium guard rails trumpet this thought: WE HATE EVERYBODY! (I remember in Vietnam, on the day of my arrival, newly-assigned to an Armored Personnel Carrier unit. About four of five of the antennas on the vehicles in the company held high the “Bars and Stars.” I wrote immediately to Governor Nelson Rockefeller in New York protesting the situation. He sent, lickety-split, by cover letter from the Commanding General of the New York State National Guard, a New York State flag! I raised mine ceremoniously—joking as I did so. The next day a division S.O.P. ordered all flags down.) A good part of Europe is still looking for a fight, and the likes of that little fat witch, Madeleine Albright, are wont to bring the United States, once more, to that distressed footing where cruelty and self-flagellation are the order of the day, and nations go about trying to outdo each other in the art of mass killing.

Owen, your Six Silent Men gives a boost to war because it condones what is wrong, and it sets your enemy to thinking that you are the same as he is. (You root but ask others to shoot, to boot!) You give your enemy a justification for stimulating himself to the state of self-immolation, and you accept his invitation to be sucked into his delirium of destruction and rage to see which one of you two will come out “the winner!” It would have been much better for you, for the United States of America, had you sought to reveal the truth about Vietnam without ennobling those who committed crimes against humanity in their endeavors to demonstrate American military mightiness—in their frenzies to bully innocent Asian people into submission, sending millions of them to their deaths.

* * *

Now for my grand finale! I wish to quote from my essay, The Entrancing—But Perilous—William F. Buckley, Jr.: Intimate Glimpses of a Dogmatic Timocrat and His Family, taken from my Politically Philosophical and Philosophically Political Writings: A Book of Essays (1979-1982):

“…Northamerican conservatives have had too much a share of pessimism and negativism to offer. They have grouped together to form palsywalsy social, cultural, economic and political ties which serve the inclusive general concept that a government should dole out political and civil honors according to wealth. The conservative is not interested in offering a fair shake to his fellow man, and he excludes him from his power circles with the justification that life demands a political philosophy which exalts the nation and a select group of individuals above all others, and that severe economic and social regimentation, and the forcible suppression of the opposition, are necessary measures to exercise stringent control over the masses who are considered inferior to the nobler and more privileged conservative.

I deny this philosophy and its aspects of myopic gloom. I look for programs which show liveliness and interest in good things. Which look with hope to the future. Which signal danger, but communicate love and understanding. ‘Human behavior leads to make-believe, disequilibrium, frustration, lies, or, on the contrary, it becomes the source of rewarding experiences, in accordance with its manner of expression in actual life—whether in bad faith, laziness, generosity, and freedom,’ said Simone de Beauvoir.”

I wish that all people enjoy their lives in a spirit of generosity, lucidity and freedom; and, I beg William F. Buckley, Jr., you, Owen, you little rascal! and all others of this ilk to come to your political and human senses and yield to the ideal that all men and women belong to the same community where equality and justice for all is the common goal.

You just don’t have the balls, do you, Owen? Toodleoo.

Anthony St. John Casella Postale 38 50041 Calenzano FI Italia

Soldier to Soldier

Musings for My Friend Andy
British Air Force Fighter-Pilot

15 February 2001

It was nice to meet you, Andy, and Sara your wife Monday evening, 12 February 2001. Being a terribly curious individual, I was enthused to know about your mission in Italy and some of the workings of a modern military force perched on the threshold of the new century. By just talking a bit with you, I was able to ascertain that things have changed enormously—as I might have expected—from when I was an artillery officer in the United States’Army in the 1960s.

There are a few of my observations that I wish to share with you and your comrades in arms. The first is that it is very much obvious that military engagement is no longer executed in the way it was during World War II even though reactions to political conflict are still very often cornerstoned on the thinking which predominated foreign affairs more than fifty years ago. Except perhaps for Korea, the Vietnamese, Falkland Islands, Gulf and Kosovan-Yugoslavian incursions have been more akin to massive police actions than old-fashioned textbook wars, but the rallying cries have remained quite similar to those of before: “We are the good guys; you are the bad guys.” And, unnaturally, these new forms of hostility all have had to bear the brunt of a prodigious opposition—for us, Andy, at home in both the United States and England—led by dissenters who deemed the intrusions unjust, illegal, undeclared legislatively and, after Vietnam, discharged by professional forces and not volunteers taken from the mainstream of Northamerican and British societies. These irruptive actions have not generated the “will to win” (Why?) that others of their kind in the past took satisfaction in having: World War II citizen reaction was both compelling and overwhelming. As a consequence, defence departments have been forced to upgrade the quality of their personnel and keep marijuana-smoking schismatics at home far away from the troops isolated and indifferent in relation to their make-love-not-war leftist-minded peers and, consequently, more gung-ho as do-gooders are often wont to be.

The arms used by the Northamerican and British forces are the most technologically sophisticated ones, and in no other period in history has the world seen so much disbursed for so many different kinds of weapons bent to mass destruct. At the same time, the trumpeted enemies of the United (Disunited?) States and the United (Disunited?) Kingdom (a declining communism in Vietnam; a bravio nationalism in Argentina; a religious zealotry in Iraq; and, a who-knows-what in Kosovo-Yugoslavia) have had to defend, very often courageously, their points of view with six-shooters very much more rudimentary than the swinging ones you, Andy, carry attached to the holding racks of the phantasmagoric jet bomber you pilot. I ask simply: Is this fair? Is right only might? Do your actions conform to international law? Andy, when was the last time you read the Geneva Convention? Have you read it?

At one point in modern history, the United States and England were under the aegis of some somewhat moral authority—however indistinct—and this was recognised as being what was the best for the moment by even some of the two military giants’ enemies of today. For example, their actions were “sanctioned” more or less on a world-wide scale during World War I and World War II (World War III?). No more does this “privilege” exist. Nowadays political dissension is often more pronounced in Washington and London than it is by the enemy on the battlefield! Military power’s aggressiveness is blessed very often these days only by the “lifers” themselves—much as if they are too busy mirroring their images in the self-reflecting pools of arrogance and pride. Northamerican and British military hierarchies medal themselves just as members of The Academy of Motion Picture Artists do. No one else would ever think of doing so! Where is the overruling entity ready to shrink their egos—if necessary? Or, are our leaders god-like, without faults, technically perfect as are your computer-guided missiles, Andy? Then, too, are our leaders making very big political mistakes? Did it make common sense to pluck on the nationalistic heart strings of the Falkland Islands and incense 500,000,000 Southamericans or do the same in Iraq and Kuwait and taunt 1,000,000,000 Islamics throughout the world? And, of course, what do Asians think today about the bombings of Northvietnam in the 1960s and 1970s? You can find people all over the world who fear Northamerican and British soldiers. But, I keep asking, where are the people who respect Northamerican and British soldiers? Only in Northamerica and Britain?

You have been selected, numbered, tagged, inspected, bar-coded, examined, analysed, scrutinised, instructed, trained…and what have you? You, Andy, are the best specimen from the crop. Your abilities guarantee that that multi-million dollar jet aircraft you jockey will return safely and soundly and unscathed and unscratched. The investment has been insured through your intelligence. You know what is expected of you, you know you are programed not to err. Your superiors control every moment of your life. There is probably nothing they do not know about you. They think for you. You, my friend, are the last stage in the passage to The Robot Soldier.

If you are called upon one day to attack and risk your life for the United States and England, there is one thing you must know. Not one citizen of the United States or England—in his or her right mind—would want to trade places with you during that moment of danger. (Just ask Bill Clinton and George W. Bush!) Citizens will say they would want to, but they are not being sincere with you. And the most vociferous of them will scream chants and national anthems and will demand that you be given medals galore. Even your own wife would balk, Andy! Imagine for a minute she is with you on a bombing raid on a pre-selected target which you have been told is a munitions depot but yet just might be, mistakenly, a building full of children praying to Allah or Buddha or Christ or studying the future perfect tense of the English language. You go in for the kill. Bullets ping off the canopy of your cockpit when your wife intercoms you with this: “Andy, turn this aircraft around and go immediately back to base.” You protest instinctively: “Love, I have a mission to carry through!” She raises her voice: “Love my foot! Andy, you go back now! If you don’t I’ll hit you over the head with a rolling pin when we get home!” Andy, do you not see that you are doing something that most people, in their right minds, would not dare even think about? Quod erat demonstrandum: Are you a pazzo? Are you a misguided missile? (You are a man. You are a problem. You are a challenge for swivel-chair warriors. Soon there will be a robot to replace you!)

I have been always nonplused by the unpremeditated support given by the British government each and every time the United States decides to flex its muscles on behalf of its interests anywhere in the world. The Northamericans attack; the British knee-jerk their approval! The C.N.N. and the B.B.C. make their announcements as if the rest of the world might suspect that this time round the British just might not comply with the United States’ desires of them! Incredible! The Northamericans and the British are so much in sync, you would think they should wear the same uniforms. (Andy, if a Northamerican general, walking across the Thames with you, ordered you to strip and jump in, would you?) Why not The Northamerican and British International Constabulary—ready to serve all causes just and democratic, to keep our cherished democratic values safe from whatever sort of negative influences which may exist in any part of the world. NAMBRINTCON would keep the world bulletproof for all of us. Imagine the headlines: NAMBRINTCON DISARMS DRUNKEN DELINQUENTS IN RUANDA IN FORTY-EIGHT-HOUR SWEEP; NAMBRINTCON HALTS COLOMBIAN COCAINE TRAFFIC IN ONE MONTH; NAMBRINTCON ELIMINATES ITALIAN MAFIA IN WEEKEND CLEARING OPERATIONS; et cetera. The NAMBRINTCON uniforms will be created by the very best of fashion designers to give that “military look” but with that “peace-keeping” feel. The world would be grateful and the President of the United States and the Queen of England could share the Nobel Peace Prize on magazine covers all over the globe insuring an Earthly Coverage—well-photographed and subject to continual BREAKING NEWS stories. Wow!

The habitual interference by northamerican and british military forces in the internal affairs of other nations in the world without any mandate whatsoever is not an intelligent international policy and should be carefully re-examined both by the united States and England. What we have here is the creepings of a timocracy. A strong desire to take hold of the world situation for the benefit of “ALL,” for the honor and glory of the “GOOD.” If this tendency is left unchecked, the world will be closer still to an implosion of estrangment, passive-aggressivity, pan-anarchism and hate which will make the middle ages appear to have been happy times. One commands with respect—not fear.

* * *

The first paragraph of my trilogy The Hippie Lieutenant, about the Vietnam “War”—concocted by Washingtonian imbeciles, Vintage 1960s, who unabashedly called themselves “the best and the brightest”—is what I want to leave you with today, Andy:

“John Wayne imbued in me the killer instinct.
There is no question about it in my mind. Watching
his movies on the “Early Show,” “The Million
Dollar Movie,” and “The Late Show” inoculated
my disposition with the diseased germ of ducking
bullets, tossing handgrenades, running for cover,
hitting the dirt, smelling for the enemy,
anticipating the attack with all five senses keyed
to war’s main event and, finally, offering the
toast to celebrate the end of the tension and
danger which accompanies it.”

When I saw the drunken revelries with which United States’ Air Force pilots celebrated their B-52 bombing missions over Northvietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, my stomach turned in disgust. From 30,000 feet on high, they had dropped their bomb loads killing only who knows who and who knows what. The same revolting “good times” were again enacted after bombing missions during the Gulf police action. I have never been competent enough to understand this conviviality which belauded the deaths of hundreds of thousands of powerless women and children, and when I had come home from Vietnam in August, 1968 I enjoyed one of the happiest days of my life because I was finally able to take off my uniform—for good. From that day I have been constantly remorseful that I even ever had put on a uniform of the United States’Army.

Each and every one of us possesses the obligation, I think, to defend himself or herself when our lives are in danger. Perhaps nations may no longer subscribe to the out-dated stipulations for initiating hostile actions because today there exists other methods to achieve some measure of justice, and if these are used judicially, loss of life will be the fine result of everyone’s efforts to delay and seek more rational solutions. I regret that the United States and Britain are so trigger-happy. They must be very wobbly.

And yet I have something more in mind for you, Andy: Remember that if you really believe in what you are doing and take responsibility for your actions, you will be more interested in winning your enemy to your side than you are concerned with snuffing him or her out. Maybe you will be defending yourself in those moments of insanity when the choice to kill is made, but you have no good reason no matter what to relish in the prostration of your fellow human beings. If you enjoy killing your enemy, you lower yourself to the level of his or her thinking: He tried to kill you! Now you try to kill him! I hope you do not have in mind the thought to be exhilarated over the killings of your enemy.

Good luck, Andy! Don’t forget to duck when you have to. And I sincerely trust that for you, your wife, and your family, you will not come home in a rubber bag with your dog tag jammed between two of your front teeth.

Anthony St. John

Southamerican Generals and Sunglasses

Southamerican Generals
and Uniforms and Sunglasses
and Tailored Italian Suits:
Trying to Make Squares
out of Circles

During the intoxicatingly, capitalistically-maverick democratic years (1974-1982) when some Venezuelans binged on the lucre culled from the exorbitantly high prices of their liquid gold, I curried favor in an affinity with one of Accion Democratica’s most highly-puffed ministers and overseer of Venezuela’s Ministerio del Ambiente y de los Recursos Naturales Renovables. My job for him was to translate, to correct old speeches penned in English, and to help write new ones. Just as two other ministers I knew before him had done, he too slipped me, under the table, freshly-printed bolivares—paper without much value…any longer.

Venezuela was in the pink of graft and corruption and Caracas was their capital. A time when all—except Venezuela’s poor—were drunk on spending and buying. All you needed was a telephone, a telex, and a rented room—your mini “office.” People were importing and exporting unrestrainedly. Whisky, cars, electronic equipment, clothes—even two snow ploughs! If you named it, you could buy it. Venezuelans were so rich, they qualified to take out billion dollar loans in the United States and Europe which they still have not been able to pay back. The feverishness was so overstated, my friend Fernando, a government official, came running into my office one morning at the Ministerio de Informacion y Turismo brandishing a copy of El Nacional with the new, higher posting of a barrel of Venezuelan petroleum, and blurted out—his eyes flooded with tears—for all, including me, within ten kilometres, this Spanish squawk: “We’re going to fuck you gringos for good!” Fernando could not forgive and forget—as millions of his compatriots—the decades of exploitation suffered under the thumb of foreign oil companies. His hate was such that when I asked him, to calm him down, how he was going to go about “fucking” the gringos, he retorted: “We don’t know yet, but you can be sure we’ll do it, gringo!” Little did we know, at that time, a Hollywoodish actor was waiting in the wings of the White House soon to play his most important part, soon to bring down the curtain on the Venezuelan bacchanalia of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Our leading man, the minister, came from a very well-to-do Venezuelan family, and was a Central Stupidity Agency’s dream: He had been brainwashed at a United States’ university, wanted all Venezuelans to vote their brains out, and was as Roman Catholic (Opus Dei?) as the United States Navy. Before he set out for Stanford University to study for a Master of Science in hydraulic engineering, he had frequented posh private schools run by the Jesuits in Caracas. (Stendhal: “Herein lies the crowning achievement of a Jesuitical education; the formation of a habit of paying no attention to those things which are clearer than daylight.”) He also had received training at the United States Bureau of Reclamation and the University of Manchester in England. He was part of that Venezuelan upper crust very far removed from the heartbreaking poverty that most Venezuelans were beleaguered with. As we shall see, he had a grandiose blueprint to save his people from their despondency.

His curriculum vitae, eight jam-packed pages, includes eight awards and decorations; fifteen professional and teaching experiences; ten ad honorem titles; membership in five professioinal societies; attendance at twelve international meetings; the publication of twenty seven scientific papers; and, three books dealing with water resources in his Venezuela. All his life had to do with hydraulic engineering and all things connected with it. His C.V. defines him so: An in toto hydraulic engineer. How he got to be minister, is anyone’s guess. In the C.V. there is not one reference to his party, Accion Democratica! So far, so good.

Taking into account some of the speeches he had me compose for him, we get more than an inkling into his thinking. Our political plumber wants to flood Venezuela with a new social order based on the earnings his country derives from petroleum, iron and diamonds—those riches his ministry “watches over and protects” for the Venezuelan people! He has a mission and he is glowing with determination. He wants to make radical transubstantiations as they say at Mass time. He wants to lead his people to a new way of life. (Presidential timber? You bet!)

The minister, the zealot, in one of his speeches not seventeen pages long, guides me to make him gurgle the nomenclature of the Nazi Party: decrees, regulations, measures, frameworks, plans, policies, guidelines, controls, strategies, techniques, schemes, priorities, plans of action, massive approaches, surveillances, applications of sanctions, zonal directorships, training efforts, environmental wardenships, ad nauseam. He wants to regulate all thirteen million of his people who in 1977 have an annual per capita income of $1,346—the highest in Latinamerica! He yearns for a new economic and social order for his poor people “without ignoring our cherished principles of democracy.” Nothing could be sweeter than that to the ears of Langley, Virginia’s government officials—themselves keen on progress and homogenisation, always keeping in mind Jeffersonian “pursuits of happiness,” through the vagrancies of presidings over and systematisations.

In effect, the minister’s compulsion is to make of his nation a sort of “universal machine” (Alan Turing, Cambridge fellow) that can perform the function of any other machine provided the right program is fed it. His people are the instruments that will comprise his gigantic social plumbing system. When all is connected correctly, all will flush in harmony. There is never mention of what Venezuelans need most: hospitals, schools, adequate transportation facilities, et cetera. (Ugh! Thank goodness Ronald Reagan came along?)

I never spoke to Carlos Andrés Pérez, but I came to within speaking distance of him six or seven times at governmental functions or in Palacio Miraflores which I could access via my M.I.T. ID card. One time our eyes locked and I held myself from blabbing out this to him: “I’m one of those to whom your staff sends your speeches for correction before they are sent to the printer and the telex machines!”

C.A.P.’s irksomeness was not hydraulic engineering, but a good dose of personal omnipotence and grandeur probably planted in him during his years of exile and then torture generated on account of his muscle-bound political convictions. He might have survived—carried his charade—even farther had he had the good sense to bring, unassumingly, his cause to the Venezuelan people themselves instead of resorting, self-importantly, to pan-Central and –Southamerican political alliances; instead of referring to the political ideals of such illustrious statesmen as Roosevelt, Churchill and Kennedy who were considered gringos by his people; and, had he stayed far away from the United Nations General Assembly where in a brilliant speech, “A New Economic Order is Essential for World Peace,” delivered 16 November 1976, he zeroed in so well on what was really happening in Western Hemispheric Machiavellianism, you could just sense his demise was in the making. In New York that day, C.A.P. let fly and accused the United Nations of being manipulated or governed by those industrialized nations which retain the power of decision; by saying that international hypocrisy has a name: Aid; by reminding all in the hall that for centuries Venezuela had been enraptured by powerful nations which gave Venezuelans many long words along with many trinkets; and, by prognosticating that the United Nations was doomed to failure if it continued to be used only when the great powers deemed it appropriate. In those days, there were two “loose cannons” on the Northamerican-Southamerican political battlefield: Jimmy Carter (“President Pérez has become one of my personal, best friends.”) and Carlos Andrés Pérez. Jimmy was spineless; C.A.P. was cruel. My lawyer friend Ramon, son of one of C.A.P.’s arch-rivals for the presidency of Venezuela, told me several times: “C.A.P. is a megalomaniac, a thief, and a murderer. He also sniffs cocaine!” Both Carter and Pérez—the latter gave lip service to the former when they dawdled about what to think about the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries—would be shot down by that Californian cowboy intent on beating down those high petroleum prices.

C.A.P. blew it. He cannot be defended. Yet it must be said that on what was the Venezuelan political scene at the time, no one could have expected him to be “red, white and blue” perfect. C.A.P. wanted to present his cause to the international community. He felt frustrated politically in Venezuela. And with the ideas he had, he knew he was fighting against the oligarchic grain of the Washington-Caracas connection and he could not count on help from his neighbors to the north—especially two-faced peanut farmers.

The pressure groups in Venezuela, always conniving with the United States’ Embassy, did all they could to put up with C.A.P. Washington “biggies,” such as Henry Kissinger, David Rockefeller and Arthur Schlesinger, Jr, came to Caracas to give “Invitation Only” conferences and to solidify their economic bases. All hoped secretly that C.A.P. would turn out to be a “Vote and Go to Church” supporter of democracy, and not the leftist kook that he was. What did they care about what was going on in Caracas’s Petare jail? What they did care about loan money—destined for Venezuela’s destitute population—finding its way to Miami banks and luxurious waterfront condominiums? C.A.P. was a rascal, for sure; but, he touched the nerves of those profiting preposterously from Venezuela’s natural resources. It would be my friend’s father, confidente of Maragaret Thatcher, David Rockefeller, the obnoxious Henry Kissinger, Harvard University political science professors, et alia, who—as Ministro de Justicia later on—would level the final, fatal blow against C.A.P., the Venezuelan Fidel Castro.


Jimmy, our bon vivant, slimes all over the White House rug. There are (LAUGHTER)’s, (APPLAUSE)’s and (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)’s dotted all over my copy of his toast script. Jimmy is a cocktail party stand-up cornball. (“I thought about the cartoon I saw, I think in the Milwaukee paper, which showed me talking to Jody Powell, my press secretary, Mr President (“Carlos”), I was saying: ‘Jody, I don’t give a damn about Idi Amin; where is Rosalynn?’” (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE). Further: “We have a chance to learn about one another…We share a great deal…Venezuela’s representative (sic!) is a man who epitomizes the finest aspects of our country’s hopes and dreams and aspirations and ideals…” Ad nauseam…

Then this seemingly impossible pronouncement: “For nineteen years now, there has been an absolute, total and pure democracy in Venezuela.” Quod erat demonstrandum: “Everyone is privileged to vote and is urged to vote. The decisions of the people on election day are binding and without question.” Only a nincompoop or a false friend could be so soulless. The President of the United States of America an idiot? Impossible! A liar? Gulp! Jimmy has categorically passed his adjudication upon the state of affairs in Venezuela. Nothing could be further from his “truth.”

Now comes C.A.P.’s turn to clink White House glassware. Only one (APPLAUSE)! No (LAUGHTER)’s; no (LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)’s. Listen to C.A.P.: “…the United States can no longer separate the traditional issues of war and peace from the global issues of justice, equality, and human rights…But we also believe that the Latinamerican dictatorships have a reason for their existence because of the economic instability generated by the unjust economic order in the world…You, Mr. President (“Jimmy”), with real vision, have begun to speak another language. Without expressly saying it, you have come to realize that selfishness has presided until now over the tepid conduct of the great nations…The technological civilization which exists today, could well be called, unfortunately, the civilization of waste…Exploitation cannot continue in its present mode giving more and more to the industrialized countries thus maintaining irritating levels of waste and consumption…At this friendly dinner with so many kind people in attendance, I have referred to fundamental aspects that commit nations and governments to the creation of a new world order, just and equitable…We want a democracy which will serve high ethical standards and humanistic principles. With that trust, Mr President, Mrs Carter, I propose a toast to the success of just and noble ideals, to the great nation of the United States, and to democracy in the Western Hemisphere.”

Where did C.A.P. get those ideas? From Marx? From Engels? From a freelance cocaine-sniffing White House speechwriter? Did he actually believe that President Carter—up for re-election one day—would pander to the citizens of the United States to suffer higher gasoline prices to oblige Carlos Andrés Pérez’s ideal of a new economic order that should impose a code “that regulates the actions of transnational companies which have weakened and usurped the national sovereignty of the developing countries and have deeply eroded morals by a systematic use of bribery?” Listen to what Jimmy Carter says to C.A.P. after the Venezuelan tough guy has turned the stomachs of all in the White House dining room: “PRESIDENT CARTER: Thank you very much.”

My friend Nicola, son of a Tuscan clothes designer, was in Caracas in late 1996 and he told me he never left the Caracas Hilton during his three-day stay for fear of the Caraquenos. In the 29 October 1994 issue of The Economist: “Caracas’s 4m people have generated 200 killings a month this year…Youths killed for designer sports shoes…Around 60% of Caracas’s population lives in the barrios (slums)…Venezuela is sitting on a “social bomb”…Real income has been falling for 17 years…The bloody riots of 1989 claimed 2,000 dead in the crackdown…” When I left Caracas in 1983, about seven bolivares bought a dollar. The Union Bank of Switzerland’s Global Economic Outlook for the third quarter (Q3) 1997 predicts a 1998 dollar at 690 bolivares. The perfect ambience for a military dictatorship—in the most expensive Italian business suits, naturally!

* * *

Written by:

Anthony St. John
Casella Postale 38

1 October 1997

St Bonaventure University

St. Bonaventure University:
A Gulag of
Militaristic, Sexual &
Philosophical Indoctrination

I enjoy a daily morning routine which I have followed for more than two years and hope to hold forever. It is always being interrupted by one event or another, but never broken long enough to make me lose it or forget it.

I awake at 5:45 a.m. and listen to the radio until six when I sit up and meditate for twenty minutes. Up to the time that it is eight o’clock I perform a series of exercises including calisthenics, jogging in place, and light weight-lifting. After these ritualistic performances I head for the shower continuing to think about ideas for living, for writing, for studying, for whatever.

At times, the shower conjures many intense feelings: they can be very frightening or euphoric in construct. I have self-analyzed these sentiments through some psychoanalytic systems of thought, and I know why they come about—even, when they will happen. The reasons are not crucial to this writing. My subjective responses spring out of the mucky imprints of my life which lie fixed below my consciousness and, as the years pass, occasionally melt away wholly involuntarily. Nonetheless, there are many of them simmering, and they do not disappear as quickly as I would wish. They are down there, and every so often signal to me—through bodily tremors and nervous tension—their desire to find release in a definition of their reality. The screams for escape tell me I must begin to assort my notions, because if I do not attend to these hidden predilections which may not pass away with time, I will suffer painful consequences for my neglect. These psychic reactions demand immediate attention.

The action or process of stating, of describing, of explaining, or making definite and clear is best done for me when I take pen in hand and write. I do not know why. And I am not always prompted to write when I am psychically destroyed of tranquillity or composure, but when I do write about what I am cajoled emotionally to create, I feel a sense of well-being for both confronting what I could not have faced before, and for explicating something which others may enjoy braving with me and which they may find relief in as much as I do.

On 7 June 1981—a balmy, cloudy Sunday morning in Caracas, Venezuela—I emerged from the shower with a bevy of horrifying reminiscences of the years I spent in a predominantly men’s Roman Catholic university (St. Bonaventure University) in upstate New York. Excitedly, I mulled over these bits of impressions knowing only too well that they would eventually find their way to these pages expressed in an interpretative literary composition dealing exclusively with my limited, personal point of view. For years I had had darts of thoughts about a very terrible experience, but on this tropical June morning all became “co-ordinated” for me. The way to catharsis had been set in motion, and when I went out to have coffee and mineral water in a local snack bar, I fidgeted and shook with anxiety about my recently-discovered repressed ideas—now discharging and soon to be defined. The urge to commit them to paper for myself and my audience gave me a confident, good feeling. After many years I was finally going to react against and defy the terrors of buried bad memories. From this act I would become stronger and more satisfied. My being would be cleansed further. I would go beyond, and in doing so, come closer to the core of my existence. My act of purifying would enfold, and I would present it as a gift to my listeners.

A purgation of the emotions that brings about spiritual renewal or release from tension is not easy to achieve. Firstly, it involves work and keen, unrelenting dissection of the passions. But this effort is not as difficult as is the struggle to keep a mental balance during the unburdening. The strength of the checked passions—once they are ready to let loose—plays havoc with good sense and clear thought, and its power demands excruciating self-discipline on the part of the self-analyst. The hidden turmoil must be liberated gradually; it cannot burst forth as it wants to. The battle drains one. It leaves the emotions rent of any might. I remember when I ousted the appalling mental souvenirs of the death of a comrade killed in Vietnam, I had to stop every fifteen or twenty minutes in between the paragraphs I had written about him. The ordeal was so exacting for me, I napped to gain my verve back and only then was I recharged and ready to continue. Fortunately, the rewards outweigh the rigors and throes. A sense of well-being and courage forever remain to delight and fulfil once this torturing road has been tramped to emancipation.

The undercurrents of pain which have seethed below my good sense until now, far exceed the pleasant memories I took away with me from St. Bonaventure University. It cannot be said that there were no real happy recollections. But those are not what occupy my mind. The wretchednesses of my psyche admit little of what was good in that institution. Suffice it to say that most things were bad for me there.

The alarming glimpses at these unfortunate mental records did not, until now, appear in any organized pattern—they were disjointed and they were spontaneous. They repeated themselves intermittently, and throughout their lifetimes, there were lapses of long months when they did not surface to vex me. I have collected these revolting memories for almost twenty years, and they fall into three general categories: militaristic indoctrination, sexual indoctrination and philosophical indoctrination. I attest that the four years at St. Bonaventure University was a time lost in the worst of prisons: the state of confinement where the mind is worked over to be bent into shape to conform to an ideology. My four years were dissipated in a “gulag” of emotional and mental restraint, and the cold winds and blinding snows which blew down from Canada into the western New York State “snow belt” to chill living beings at the foothills of the Alleghany mountains, frosted likewise my heart’s desire to love and my mind’s longing to ripen in knowledge. The panic which soars today when I think of years wasted under the grips of a negative constraint more powerful than I was, rips bitterly at my temper. I console myself with the thought that I had both the courage and the chance to disentangle my very being from such terrifying experiences without losing my zest for life and my mental stability, which before my “escape,” was often bulldozed within the thought and emotionally controlled environs of St. Bonaventure University.

Now to begin. What is coming is the elimination of that which has lain dormant in my subconsciousness for many years. It is poison to me and must be spewed out. I proceed by reflecting on the four years (1962-66) I was a member of the St. Bonaventure University student body. I invite you, my dear reader, to come along with me to share in my contest to elicit the truth for myself and others.



About military indoctrination, I have the following mental images:

A. I am in Military Science class (201), and the sequent quotation from Clausewitz’s On War is being championed by a United States Army major not to defend the idea of military preparedness, but to tout the glory of battle: “War…is a wonderful trinity, composed of the play of probabilities and chance which make it a free activity of the soul, and of its subordinate nature as a political instrument, in which respect it belongs to the province of Reason….” Intellectually, I am stunned by these words. The thoughts sink deep and penetrate my character. My awe is profound. I am a believer.

B. It is the season of Spring and Thursday afternoon. The fifth day of the week is both “steak night” in the dining hall and drill day for the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. I am the S-2 (intelligence officer) for the corps, and I have just passed two hours sucking in the fragrances of freshly cut grass and blossoming flowers momentarily made groggy by the stench of puffs of gun powder smoke floating away from a battery of six 105mm howitzers. Blasts from the cannons saluted the presentation of the Star-Spangled Banner. The schedule of military activities has been boring and ordinary, but both our green uniforms—proudly worn to impress the crowds and ourselves—and the beautiful mountain backdrop on the edge of the drill field/football field, harmonize to make the effort a worthwhile occasion. As I return to my dormitory unloosening my black tie and unbuttoning my mustard-colored shirt, there are screams and taunts from voices within the halls of ivory: “R.O.T.C. sucks!!! Fuck the Army!!! Eat shit, faggots!!!” I am angered. Those irresponsible, immature creeps! What do they know of Clausewitz? What do they know about defending their country? Who will it be who goes to the battlefields to fight and protect these ingrates? Who will it be who assumes the responsibilities they refuse to accept? I am of a cause more important and more potent than they are. I will survive, and those pathetic creatures will die by the wayside ambushed by weakness and disloyalty. I lock my heels and brace my body against this unenthusiastic attitude. I am a soldier.

C. It is time for the military ball and we are snuggling up to a United States Army lieutenant-colonel who is tipsy after his fifth martini. Vietnam is a reality which haunts all of us wearing the green.

“Sir, why are we in Vietnam?”

“To defend innocent peasants against the perils of communism, dummy!” (“Cardinal, is there a devil? Of course, there is a devil, dummy! And where is the devil, Cardinal? Where is the devil! Why the devil is in Hell, that’s where he is!”) “It is a noble venture, and it is one which will reap rewards for the American people. We are determined to stop those fucking commies at their own doorstep. We will not be harassed. We will not cater to the dictates of ideologues possessed with a propensity to cause disruption. Democracy is the best mother-fucking system, boy, and don’t you ever forget that!”

“And, sir, what if you are sent to Vietnam?”

“Son, I will be in Vietnam in less than six months. And I will fight for my country. I will defend the principles of democracy, and the God-given right of all men to live in freedom and peace.”

I wished for my turn to go to Vietnam. I wished for my turn to fight against the perils of communism. I wished for my turn to protect innocent Asiatic peasants. I wished for my turn to help secure freedom and peace for all individuals.

D. I am receiving a lecture from a full-bird colonel who is a veteran of two Northamerican wars. His uniform is weighted with ribbons and decorations and commendations. He is an “old-timer.” What is fascinating about this high-ranking officer is that he is a puny man—smaller even than my own medium-built frame. He is bald, and he chain smokes Camel cigarettes at an astounding rate.

He is telling us about an experience in World War II combat when he—as an artillery forward observer—called direct fire on his own position to ward off a flood of attacking German infantrymen who had penetrated his lines. The colonel is pallid with seriousness. I am glued to his nervous being which appears to want to explode at any moment, but is spared this disintegration by the artificial opening and closing of a mental safety valve: the rough inhaling and exhaling of his unfiltered cigarettes. Later, when I will come to know this man better, I will watch him gulp tremendous swigs of cognac to calm his ragged World War II and Korean War nerves.

This chicken colonel is living taut. Is it that his shell-shocked body hardens from the memories of exploding artillery rounds? Those same sounds I myself will come to know in less than two years?

Now to the realities…

A1. Clausewitz’s ideas about the nature of war have been refuted time and time again. They are famous for their contrarieties, and they have received enough negative interpretation to keep them from having potent influence except among die-hard military fanatics who are on the verge of extinction—very slowly, but very surely. I wish to make some personal observations about the “philosopher of war” with reference to his belief in the reasonableness of war and my own combat experiences in Vietnam.

This Prussian logician of bloodshed belongs, fortunately, to another age where his respect for national mythologies was able to play ruin with historical forces, and his haphazard aptitude to idealize any cause, was free to take firm root among those whose lives were beset by troublesome boredom and susceptible to his dogmatism. Clausewitz, as effective as he was in the use of war speech, spoke with a flippancy—a forked tongue, if you will—that served only too well his middle-class ambitions to hop up to those noble birthrights he so embarrassingly lacked. And so, with pen in hand—it has been said to be more powerful than the sword—Clausewitz devised a quasi-philosophical nomenclature to outwit and dominate those of the snobbish military establishment who had made his military pretentiousness at first so trying and frustrating. And from this intellectual recklessness, we obtain notions that war is a mathematical principle, a complicated piece of machinery, a profound technique!

I knew men in Vietnam (1967-68) who valued his concepts. They understood war to be the way he envisioned it—the result being uncannily unreal. I have seen majors and colonels and generals—in freshly-starched fatigues, sipping whiskies, and comfortable in well-fortified protected areas—pulling out red pins and white pins and blue pins which moved hundreds and then thousands of individuals into situations war philosophers themselves would have preferred to avoid. And they did this, naturally, with the consent of a president, senators, House Ways and Means Committee members, journalists, priests, actors and stockbrokers. They did this also with a vengeance for what they themselves had to endure as young buck soldiers pissing and moaning in the rice paddies of another age where they too were up to their necks in roily waters with leeches sucking on their scrotums.

War belongs to the province of reason? Whose reason? Is reason an attack near the Cambodian border where a United States Army infantry company, under “attack” by its own artillery, has gone so berserk one grunt is on the ground in the fetal position—his rifle discarded—saying the rosary? Is reason the death of thirty men who, attacking a hill, are hit by their own air force’s 750-pound bomb? Is reason fighting for all this when within a man’s army there exists a weapon which might end—in a matter of seconds—all conflict for the soldier and the zealots who direct him? (Oh! Then it is unreasonable to have atomic weaponry, you ask?) I found little reason in war, and what was requisite ground of explanation of a logical defence of it served not those in combat, but those who would benefit from this play of probabilities and chance by being as far away from it as they and William F. Buckley, Jr, Gore Vidal, Al Gore, Noam Chomsky, William Clinton, et cetera, themselves could be!

I conclude that Clausewitz and his ilk would better serve mankind by sublimating their unnatural and perverse instincts to dominate and rule to the playing of chess or Monopoly. These warped characters need to divert their rudimentary forms and thwarted desires to another destination: healthy for them and all men and women. They need to know what motivates them. They need to know why they make the most formidable of cowards, for it is these same individuals—so convinced of the reasonableness of battle tactics and campaign charts and standard operating procedures and planning specialties (artistic war experts!)—who fall apart the easiest during the duress of battle. When their by-the-book rules and regulations fail to serve not only the realities of battle and war, but the actualities of life, do they then sink into the quagmires of frustration and despair which for so long they have fought to sidestep through their fastidiousness and resolute spirits.

B1. A uniform is an anomaly. Whether it is the pompous shield of a five-star general, or the blue jeans/sweat shirt outfit of a university student, something which is in consonance with a higher order offers a neither true nor right strength and belongingness especially to those in search of identity and devoid of a feeling of inner stability. Frequently short of the sentience of an interior steadfastness when I attended St. Bonaventure University, I wore my military garments, which presented an unvarying appearance of surface, pattern or color, seeking a proper situation which I had felt the want of. In varying degrees, my military garb made me consistent in conduct or opinion, and offered me the security and comfort of the United States Army. I wore my greens proudly as a cadet in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps at St. Bonaventure University and later as a second then first lieutenant in the real (regular) army. (Paradoxically, a uniform is a potentially dangerous instrument. It commands “respect,” automatic duteousness. And it serves propagandistic causes very well. If one knows not what doctrines or causes surround the appeal of the uniform, the uniform may serve to hoodwink and confuse. Adolf Hitler, a dandy dresser in his pre-war activities, wore a simple—emperor’s uniform, so to speak—when he lead Germany along the path of his perverted destructiveness.)

My uniform attracted women, gave me a raison d’etre, and helped me surface above the childishness of basketball euphoria, drunkenness (illicit drugs were not on the scene as yet), and Playboy masturbatory sojourns in the lavatory of Devereux Hall.

It was exhilarating to polish brass with Brasso, and spend hours spit-shining my shoes and boots until not just the tips but the whole outer coverings of my feet glistened with the caked layers of black polish which had seeped into the pores of rough leather to assume a glabrous, glass-like finish. Even the visor of my officer’s cap was spit-shined! My gig line (the belt buckle aligned with the fold over the trouser’s zipper)and the placement of my officer brass insignia were STRAC (Stategic Air Command, but also jargonish for “in perfect order”). Ready for inspection. On line. Combat serviceable. Perfect. I was the best of adherents: loyal, believing, proud, sensitive, and bored with life and St. Bonaventure University.

I needed to belong. I needed my identity. I needed to be devoted to something. I needed to cause, to effectuate. The uniform of the United States Army temporarily satisfied this existential craving. I needed to show my mother and father, my sister, my brothers, my girlfriend, my neighbors, my society, my country, my world purview…MYSELF!!! My uniform helped me participate in a cause beyond the simplicity of my own indifference and loneliness. It helped me cover myself with a fixture designed to protect not only my being, but the essences of the fraternity of individuals in this world who required my supervision and leadership and support when I played the role of officer.

In Vietnam, in the field, our fatigues were exchanged and burnt after seven to ten days’ use. The armpits were stained with patches of white—salt tablets having sweated on through the santeen material to blotch the hollows under our arms. Boots were never shined, there was no brass to polish, we wore scratched and dented steel helmets, and most of the time we were unshaven and dirty—stinkingly soiled.

Above and beyond the illusive look of the uniform—in combat or out of it—I had incorporated the ideals of a conduct which I would defend in razzle-dazzle regalia or in putrid-smelling military work clothes. I took seriously my pledge to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, and it was always my intention to try to help innocent people fight against the horrors of centralized control by an autocratic authority. I learned quickly in Vietnam that I had been suckered into another form of totalitarianism, and when I left Camh Ranh Bay and Vietnam never to return once more, I hoped that I would not have to wear my uniform again, and I was ashamed that I had ever put it on.

C1. After the military ball, I searched exhaustively to meet a United States Army officer who expressed verbally ideals which would “defend the principles of democracy, and the God-given right of all men (and women?) to live in freedom and peace.” And if actions speak louder than words, I never saw an all-out effort to help people in Vietnam, but I did see actions to abuse them and to exploit them. I witnessed violations of the Geneva Convention and I witnessed illegal liberties—taken under the pretext of war condition red—to commit inhuman, immoral and insane deeds. And to point further to this ridiculousness, I saw Roman Catholic chaplains bless B-52 bombers!

Most officers I encountered in Vietnam were interested in their promotion opportunities, their next duty station, their whisky and beer, their pay checks, and their futile efforts to make a year’s time pass faster than it was meant to go by. The Vietnam tour was a thing to get over with. No one approached the Vietnam ordeal perceiving it to be an action of salvation and redemption. Everyone knew that the excuse to penetrate violently the sovereignty of Vietnam was just a political smoke screen to induce others to participate in the imperialistic manipulation of a decidedly weaker group of peoples and nations who lacked the ability and force to preserve their own cultures and destinies against intrusion by the two desperate superpower totalitarianisms of this world: defunct respect for the inalienable rights of the individual, and passé deference to the equitable distribution of economic goods.

In Vietnam I lost respect and love for my country. I came face to face with the idea that I had been conned by my own people. I had been lied to over and over again, and in Vietnam this fact became so obvious, I could not tolerate accepting any longer deceptions from my people, from my country. I broke with them emotionally and finally physically. I refuse to accept their lies and untruths. I cannot live in the aura of stupidity and greed which supports so well the aims of a knavish imperialistic capitalism which I was instructed to defend to my death. I feel as if my country is a girlfriend I once loved deeply and then lost: she is dead to me…I wish her well…I have no feeling for her…I want to avoid her.

D1. I have come to know the faces of war veterans whether they be drug-addicted Vietnam vets helping to overthrow the Somoza regime, or World War I and World War II and Korean War castoffs who are drunk in Veteran of Foreign Wars’ beer halls. They all possess the same emptiness. And I do not think their vacuous expressions come from the memories of exploding artillery rounds or 122mm rockets.

I remember ducking mortar and rocket rounds one night in Pleiku, and I believed the display to be quite funny and very thrilling—once cover had been taken! Everyone was out of his mind with excitement during the attack, and we tripped over each other like kids scurrying out of school at the ringing of the three o’clock bell. Not a single individual was hurt, except when some of us fell and scraped our hands and knees running to seek cover in a bunker. A captain even tape-recorded the event—as if he had been on vacation—to send back to his family and friends!

No, the looks of despair emanate from the knowledge of how stupid war is, and the shrewdness that everyone knows it is crass, but will do nothing to stop it. One is induced to enlist under pretenses which do not exist in fact, but which sound logically convincing: as if that is the way things ought to be. And then the worst happens: your family members and your loved ones abet the idiocy.

I know why there are so many drug and alcohol addicts in the armies of the world. These harebrained organizations are so emasculating and unnatural, they are bound to drive anyone to drink who stays long enough under their spells of belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility. This viewpoint which says, ultimately, that there is no basis for any truth, is a state which incites depression and nihilism in turn temporarily assuaged by the abusive use of narcotics and alcoholic beverages. It is amazing to see how high the reliance is on these sham inducements to unreal joy. The armies, the navies, the marine corps, the air forces, all of them, instilling boredom, unfriendliness, emotional instability, loneliness and fear, pave the way to these artificial escapisms. And with such a powerful sense of scepticism for things which are productive and healthy leaning on the crutches of substances that produce addiction or habituation through drugs and alcohol, and affecting so many men and women, one is made to think from where comes the body of persons having a common activity—people: sane, sober, skilful, and secure—to guard, control and protect the arsenal of the thousands of atomic bombs we are told exist to guarantee the survival of democratic principles? Can there be so many thousands of atomic bombs if there are not the thousands of responsible individuals to control them? Do these bombs actually exist? I was trained to launch missiles with nuclear warheads in them, but I never ever saw a nuclear round! (Do you think I exaggerate? My dear readers, my dear political science professors at Harvard and Georgetown, even you! Stanley Hoffman and Henry Kissinger! Swoop down into the nether-nether land of the soldier of the United States Army for two years and wear the fatigues of a private and not swivel in a chair in a Pentagon war office! See for yourselves! Ask to see the thousands of atomic bombs. Study the calibre of men who are entrusted with the national security of the United States of America! Then write about what you think is causing the vanquishment of the spirit of the United States of America. Or do you, too, want to put your feet up on your desks and wait for better days?)



About sexual indoctrination, I have the following mental images:

E. On the second floor of Robinson Hall (a dormitory built with United States’ government funds St. Bonaventure University received for incorporating the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps into its curriculum: a Christian, Roman Catholic/military business deal; the trade also included the luxurious Friary for the school’s Franciscans, and this edifice was affectionately referred to as “The Hilton” by all on campus) there is a select group of individuals who practice anal-hoarding, and graph, competitively, the number of days they go without defecating, and the number of times they must flush the toilet to rid the bowl of their enormous, I suppose, turds. Dino, the present leader of the cultists, has affixed with a magic marker, ceremoniously and with the greatest feeling of pride, “63X!!! 7 March 1964” to the door of the toilet stall where he broke all St. Bonaventure University flushing records heretofore held to dispose of large, constipated stools.

F. I have reported, as I do every week, the number of times I needed to surrender sexual tension the last seven days, and the priest has given me the following penance: I must say a complete rosary for each time (three or four weekly) that I masturbated. And in order to avoid sinning in the future, I must “grab hold of my beads” when “that sensation arises again” and “pray to the Virgin Mary to seek her intercession and special grace to thwart the temptation to commit a grievous, mortal sin.” Lighting a candle—now and then—is also a good idea. I will never enter a confessional again in my lifetime.
G. It is three o’clock Sunday morning, and on the third floor of Fal dormitory, a drunk senior is banging at the door of the 3rd Fal prefect, a young Franciscan monk who is a brilliant philosophy teacher in the process of completing his doctoral dissertation:

“Father, father!!! Help me!”

He acts frantically.

“I have that tingling sensation again.”

He smirks at his friends.

“What must I do?”

He bangs harder at the door.

“Father, can you give me your rosary beads?”

He looks at his friends and covers his mouth to muzzle his laughing.

“I need to pray. The tingling sensation is getting bigger and bigger, and so is my cock!”

He takes out his penis and begins to jerk away in front of his friends. There is no response from within the office of the prefect.

H. I am walking along a section of unused railroad tracks behind the main campus of St. Bonaventure University, and I am with a pretty “townie” high school senior with whom I have been kissing and embracing for the last two hours. It is a beautiful Spring day and the fresh breezes flowing down from The Hearth make it “an almost” sweater afternoon.

In front of us, almost two hundred meters away, two Franciscan monks are promenading our way enjoying the wonderful Seedtime afternoon and the Alleghany mountains. At first I can only make out their brown uniforms which are distinguished by huge white cords jostling against their sides.

In a while I begin to cringe with a gust of anxiety which hits me fine in the intestines and forces me to think hard about the impending meeting between us and the very words I will utter to pay respects to my metaphysics’ teacher—one of the Roman Catholic church’s most important Scotistic philosophers and a William of Ockham expert. An impulse to drop the hand of my girlfriend moves with sudden speed across my mind, but I will not be a traitor to myself or to her.

We meet, I bid an adieu to my philosophy professor and his friend, and then come upon a railroad switching place, where I am reminded that I may take one of two directions: the way to follow in the footsteps of this sparkling representative—also holder of an agrégé from Louvain University—of Roman Catholic philosophy; or, the way to follow in the footsteps of this beautiful, kind, young girl who has given me her attention, her passion, her sense of humor, her friendly smile, her love.

Now to further realities…

E1. The anal-hoarding character is stubborn, orderly, cheap, punctual, obsessively clean, rigid and deficient in ideas and originality. Because they see the world as hostile and dirty, they preserve their mental balance by keeping things at a distance from them, by controlling external events as forcefully as they can, by rejecting that which does not agree with them, and by holding in what they do not want to release so as to please others. Anal-hoarders are fanatic conservers of time and space, seeking order and security in their lives which they feel is victimized and beleaguered by forces which are against them. These characters have no sense that their psyches flow through a series of ups and downs in between which they may collect their strength to prepare to meet more of life’s onslaughts. Anal-hoarders are always safeguarding themselves because they believe their lives may be destroyed at any moment. They persevere to prevent things from going out, and in the process defeat their own purposes, for things rejected physically (feces and other waste products) and mentally (fears and doubts) no longer serve life in the human body and spirit and, eventually, find their departure routes from that which impedes. This personality often crosses into the domain of the perverse impulses of sadism.

I can only speculate why an anal-hoarding cult would come about at St. Bonaventure University. (There were other cults there: military games players, black mass liturgists, athletic specialists, students who studied to attain superior grades, heavy drinkers, and more.) I cannot “prove” that it existed as a result of the Roman Catholic university’s effort to exploit women, but I suspect this. (I remember one Franciscan monk, my world history professor, instructing five girls in our class, whom he had placed in the front row, to “cross your legs and shut the gates of hell.”) I think it would be easy for another researcher to corroborate this theory.

The ratio of men to women was approximately 1:15. A predominantly all-men’s university—or all-women’s university—is an institutional contrivance which can only find existence under the sway of a large force: a religion, a government, a multinat company, or another powerfully influencial entity. That the Roman Catholic church continues even at this writing to institutionalise the separation of the sexes in a highly awakened sexual time, attests to its political strength. Trying to keep “control” of the feminine sex is part of the gargantuan organization’s modus operandi.

Dino was expressing—in a perverted, regressive way—his reaction, his protest, against a larger influence which was emasculating his genital responses in order to perpetuate its depravity. In doing so, he became an exploitative character, who had to manipulate in order to achieve a pleasure he was denied in an abnormal social ambience. Dino’s rebellion found adherents to the cause because so many others shared in its dissent against sexual frustration.

The Roman Catholic church may have had the mission of aborting normal sexual enjoyment at St. Bonaventure University, but beneath the subconsciousnesses of hundreds of men, and a handful of women frightened by a massive, uncontrolled, misdirected sexual energy, emotional beings coped with a life devoid of sexual adeptness, hoped for the day when they would enjoy normal heterosexual relations, and sobbed for St. Bonaventure University’s four years to pass by at which time they would seek with ardour their sexual freedom and prolific sexual experiences.

F1. There are two generally-accepted concepts of guilt: moral guilt and legal guilt. The first derives from the commission of a breach against the ways of conduct which encourage what is commonly considered good; and, the second from the violation of a law which involves a penalty.

But a third, feelings of culpability for imagined offences or from a sense of inadequacy, often tortures minds so persistently the sense of guilt, grossly out of proportion, keeps individuals in a state of constant unhappiness. This phenomena is caused in part by the tension which exists between traditional concepts of conscience and the new which promulgate less complex explanations vis-à-vis the manifold proclivities of psychoanalysis. The remorse for violating God’s law is now defined, generally, as disapproval or punishment in the superego. Yet “modern” psychoanalytic theories acerbate this conflict because superstitious moral ideas (particularly those affecting sexual mores) still hold formidable sway and influence among people who are not aware of psychological fundamentals or even interested in knowing about them. There is a conflict that exists between the two.

While many men and women are burdened by a personal, individual guilt, others, perhaps less affected particularly, share indirectly in a contrived sense of collective guilt. For example: The actions committed by man against God in the Garden of Eden; the notion of man’s original sin; the first sins of man. We are thought all to be sinners; even the saints are tainted slightly with something putrefying.

The principal location of the idea of collective guilt is organized religion, but in many ways other persuasions (patriotisms, corporate behaviour codes, political parties, et cetera) are usurping religion’s tight hold over superstitious morality and are redefining, transposing, and streamlining the knowledge that man desires to expect things from certain acts, that he experiences tension while waiting for these deeds to terminate, and that he can—while delaying in hope of a favourable change—suffer anxiety which in turn precipitates guilt. Whether it is a mother’s admonition to her child who wants to play with his penis, or the soldier’s refusal to participate in the slayings of women and children, the feeling that one has gone against the “herd” induces irrational feelings of blameworthiness and senses of deficiency. These aggregated sentiments of complicity have not their points of reference in anyone or anything particular, but in the concept of the whole of society and the totality of human beings.

While the Roman Catholic church and other religions possess the patent for inducing specious senses of guilt in the individual and organized groups of humans working together, the slow losing of their grips on guilt to social technicians of the totalitarian ilk, offers small consolation. One must not lose sight of the fact that this phenomena is a dangerous entity and is subject to extreme abuse. In all cases, these emotions of guilt have the potential to lead to the victimization of countless numbers of ingenuous individuals. Within the hierarchy of twentieth-century political machinations, the individual is considered both expendable and in need of control for the common good. Nothing substantiates these notions more than the idea that this world is inferior in design compared to a mythically divine world, that men are sinners worthy of punishment, and that happiness cannot be achieved rationally in our own time. The disciples of these assumptions are those among the truly guilty for they abrogate and ignore the challenge of all men to join together in freedom, peace and friendliness in order to build a better life in this world, which according to them, is always destitute of a happiness which can only be found in life after death.

G1. It was often bragged about at St. Bonaventure University that in addition to having, seasonally, a good basketball team, the St. Bonaventure University student body drank consistently a higher percentage of beer than most other universities. In fact, this interesting statistic had been once advertised in a popular men’s entertainment magazine. The sights on the faces of youthful men at brunch Sunday mornings indicated that alcoholism among the young was a serious problem at this “institution of higher learning.”

Yet I suppose that if statistical accounts about masturbation could have been taken, these records would have also revealed another highly used self-gratification to escape the abnormal social ambience established at St. Bonaventure University. And the definite but often vague awareness or impression of guilt which was foisted on these hundreds of frustrated young men and women in favor of the guise of the hypocritical ethical teachings of the Roman Catholic church, caused a high degree of inauspiciousness among individuals seeking a graceful place in this world. This “heroic” distich, found carved in a door of the bathroom closest to Room 235 Devereux, attests to the exasperation and is a comical retort to a morbid way of expanding intellectually and emotionally:

“This is a tepee to do your pee-pee;
Not a wigwam to beat your tomtom.”

I do not suppose that if all men and women at St. Bonaventure University had had access to normal sexual activity, a kind of utopia would have flourished. But I do think there would have been less heavy drinking and a pleasanter atmosphere within which to study and grow more contentedly. The mental and physical age of the undergraduate university student is sensitive and impressionable. To live in an environment of sexual normalcy contributes greatly to the healthy formation of minds and bodies.

The contrary was too much the reality. Scores and scores of young men and women were feeling sensations of in-appropriateness. There was a common consent of sadness. It was as if there was the conviction that in being unhappy one possessed some extreme, important advantage. Depression and long hours of afternoon “escape” sleeps were common. These wretched minds sought rupture from a source more powerful than them, but there was no way they could create their identities unless they rebelled or left St. Bonaventure University. (A high percentage did after freshman year.) The spate of rock throwing against the new administration building on graduation day, 6 June 1966, signalled the intensity of the pent-up hatred which had to find expression even minutes before the university diplomas were handed over, I assume, very grudgingly. Directly under the repressed selves of hundreds of men and women kept social, emotional and intellectual prisoners for four years, there was the knowledge that the manipulative forces of the Roman Catholic church sought not to seek a future of promise for men and women, but hunted, rather, to impinge upon everyone’s freedom—by way of its necrophilic reliance on superstitious morality and erroneous philosophic premises—a controlled servile system. And what is a greater indication of a symptom of perverse influence than the attempted control of a particular person’s sexual activity?

H1. Before I met my metaphysics’ teacher along the railroad tracks holding a girl’s hand, I had enjoyed a satisfying professor-student relationship with an almost legendary Roman Catholic thinker who was also a kind, gentle, and personable man. In my last year at the university, I had under my belt sufficient Philosophy course hours with which to tackle the difficult—probably the most arduous of all philosophic disciplines—metaphysics (ontology). I was fortunate to have an individual well-versed in this difficult subject and his knowledge of it was indeed impressive. Unfortunately, the metaphysics I was to try to digest was metaphysics à la Roman Catholic church.

The chosen book for our course was Jesuit Leo J. Sweeney’s A Metaphysics of Authentic Existentialism. I remember being lead judiciously but remarkably genteelly through the pages of this incredible textbook at which I eventually threw up hands in frustration. The mental effort was formidable, and each class left me drained and perplexed. I resisted passionately my instinct to reject first hand what I did not understand more or less after a second or third reading. If I could not understand what I was studying, why was I studying it? I wanted to dominate this subject. I could not. I feel lucky today that I had the good sense to abandon this mental jigsaw puzzle that was leading me nowhere.
The vocabulary of Roman Catholic metaphysics is implausible. The subject is not a viable discipline. It is constructed on its own jargon, and to master even that special lexis of ambiguous terms is in itself an abnormal task. Roman Catholic church metaphysics is a mysticism, and in the hands of narrow-minded Thomists, it is a barbarous mental indoctrination falling short of denying the existence of God, falling short of dropping off a mystical cliff, and falling short of permitting at least the mental expansion it so tantalisingly encourages.

When I was “caught,” then, in front of my metaphysics’ teacher holding a charming girl’s hand, two incompatibles surged: Roman Catholic church metaphysics and the acceptance of the sexuality of my girlfriend—the second being a rejection of the defenders of the principles of Roman Catholic philosophy. My break with Scholasticism was a break with anti-feminism, and it was an ascetic self-denial of the gullible falsities of the Roman Catholic church. I was on my way to being intellectually free.



About philosophical indoctrination, I have the following mental images:

I. The ecclesiastical law of the Roman Catholic church (Canon 589:1) requires that students for the priesthood study two years of philosophy and four years of theology “following the teaching of St. Thomas.” Further, another (Canon 1366:2) instructs teachers in seminaries to structure their lectures “according to the method, teaching, and principles of the Angelic Doctor.”

Thomas Acquinas (1224-1274) played a daunting part in my Scholastic philosophical training at St. Bonaventure University, and aside from a few intellectual explorations into Scotism and Ockhamism by “rebellious” Franciscan monks who knew very well how far they might proceed, Thomas Acquinas, the reworker of Aristotelianism, in 1966, still defended his control over the interpretation of Roman Catholic philosophy and theology. The famous methodologist of sacred doctrine, after more than seven hundred years of influence, today rules supreme whether through conservative sorting-outs of the Holy Doctor’s dogmas, or “revolutionary,” limp-wrist decipherments of them. The Christian Stagyrite, I was repeatedly told, embodies the “true philosophic way,” and if there was any doubt about his philosophical conceptualisations, he had on his side the dictums of Roman Catholic theology which re-substantiate his questionable precepts of which there are many. Roman Catholic church students of life believe there is no more potent voice in the annals of philosophy, and Acquinas enjoys ex cathedra status.

J. I am in theology class with my fellow students seated alphabetically so the theology professor may count absentees more easily and monitor the three “cuts” each student is allocated before dismissal from the course may be adjudicated. Theology courses are not popular with students at St. Bonaventure University, and a number of them are mandatory for graduation.

The Franciscan friar fidgets with the enormous rosary beads which dangle at his side, attached to his big black belt, and he grins sadistically as he impresses the class with his strictness in keeping attendance. There are frowns and looks of disgust on the faces of most of my classmates.

The priest introduces us to his theology class explaining that the belief in an ever-lasting God who rules the universe and harbors moral communication with all men, is both a theologically and philosophically defensible position.

K. I am in another theology class, Bible Studies, again sandwiched between men and women whose last names begin with letters before and after the first letter of my surname. I am being told that the New Testament, the important historical relic which is one of the bases for all the great Western religions, is totally accurate, is the exact word of God, and is for all men and women to use to help them live a good—naturally Christian—life.

The class is so dull, students regard it as a penalty to pay in order to graduate. The eight o’clock class is usually full in order to get this hardship course over with as quickly as possible. The books we use are insipid and traditional. And within the hearts and minds of bright men and women, there is the frustrating desire to see some continuity between these ancient words and the realities of the “falling apart” world they abide in. It becomes a relief to do away with the “theo” course requirements.

L. I am again “alphabetized” in my cosmology class which is instructed by a nun who is said to have been taught physics by Einstein at Princeton. The petite professor is adorned in a religious habit of black and white, and she galvanizes everyone with her wit and charm. A feisty one she is.

Her philosophic message is this: If we admit to the extraordinariness of things and events in our world, we must acknowledge a being (God) whose reality is absolutely necessary to explain these complexities. There is a mysterium tremendum et fascinans which makes us aware of our “experience.” We feel very intensely about this because our intellect is too weak to take hold of such a grandiose concept. (Her intellect, of course, is not so enfeebled to explain it!) Without a doubt something out there makes us feel humble and groping. We are in awe at our minuteness in the Universe, and what else is there for us to do but submit to the belief that a unifying being (God) orders and controls the balance of our limitedness in a vast sea of space and time. In class my hands often sweat and tremble as I listen to these conjectures. She has put not only the fear of God in me, she has included the cosmoses, too!

Now to more realities…

I1. I acknowledge there is no way to deny Acquinas’s intellectual tour de force in synthesizing Aristotelianism and Christian dogmatic principles. His effort is unique, and his knowledge of Aristotle surpasses most Roman Catholic thinkers who came before him and, too often, after him. His manipulation of Aristotle to fit the dictates of Roman Catholicism has earned Thomas Acquinas a pre-eminence which has forced many Roman Catholic philosophers to submit, often unwillingly, to the power of a traditionalism entrenched in centuries of single-mindedness and uncritical devotion. To venture beyond this “establishment” is both intellectually suicidal and emotionally trying for any Roman Catholic thinker.

But those who do not accept those declarations of Roman Catholic faith which buffet Acquinas’s ambiguousness cornerstoned on a philosophic/theological safety valve of “divine revelation,” have rendered Acquinas philosophically impotent. These thinkers, legion in number, have reduced Acquinas to a philosophical non-entity. Recognizing his brilliant coupling of Aristotle to Roman Catholic dogma, they have pointed critically to his philosophic “cop out” into theology—into the mindless, inconsistent and insincere dogmatism of the Roman Catholic church. For those who wish to dwell thoughtlessly in the trappings of maxims and hocus-pocus “divine realities,” Thomism serves well. For others who desire to forge beyond and seek philosophical truths based on reason and the genuine philosophic spirit of inquiry and fearless analysis of the study of life, Thomism holds out small consolation. I bemoan the fact that Acquinas did not have the intellectual courage of some of the great philosophers, and I deplore the fact that he made so many intellectual genuflections to satisfy the demands of Roman Catholic princes.

J1. I do not believe in a supreme being—even the Easter Bunny—or a good God, for the following reasons:

J1a. From what I see in this world, with all its injustices, evils, and irrationalities, there is more proof that if a supreme being did exist, it would have to be a devil and not a good, just creature. I do not believe in a devil. I believe that the troubles which beset man are caused by man, and that man—given the opportunity to express himself freely and naturally—would choose to lead a simple, rewarding life. Man does not do so because he is ignorant and frustrated. It is not for lack of a God that man is not lead to a happy life. It is because of man. In order to achieve joy in this world, it is for man to pursue his state of happiness on his own initiative and not through the fantastical notion that this possibility will be fulfilled only in a rewarding afterlife of eternal happiness after a brief, but bitter, sentence to despair and suffering. Nothing perpetuates man in a state of unhappiness more than his belief that a state of well-being and contentment in this world is unattainable because it exists in another realm of reality. Man is God.

J1b. There is no god because all things must not be caused by one cause. If a god is the cause of all things, who or what is the cause of a god?
J1c. I do not believe in a god because most people I know do not and they do not show me that they have faith in a god, nor profess—through their actions—that they find comfort in a supreme being who occupies a life in another world where they would be willing to go as quickly as they could. Most people I encounter, happy or not, quest their blithesomeness in this world, they do not wish to die, and they take Cyclopean precautions to extend their lives if they have the means to do so. If there was another domain where eternal happiness dwelt, people would act entirely different on this planet, and they would leave here jumping for joy to enter that kingdom.

J1d. I do not believe in a god because there are no facts to prove his/her existence. I believe in cold winds, headaches, restaurant bills, the need to get up in the morning, work, and the oxygen I breathe. If a god existed, it would be ridiculous to deny that it did. Yet many people deny its existence. They do not deny that Paris exists if they have never visited Paris. A god’s subsistence is not taken for granted just as we take for granted death or the love of another person. If a god existed, there would be absolutely no doubt about it—as there is no doubt about the largeness of the Atlantic Ocean which is incomprehensible to most. A god “exists” in the same way Santa Claus or witches or UFOs
or the Easter Bunny “exist.” We look for them, but we never come upon them even unexpectedly. We want the spontaneity of invented fantasies. (For children, this might be good.) We want God; but, He does not exist. We once needed God to explain the reasons for night and day, to define our limits in an unknown world, to give reason for our fears and loneliness, and to justify our indiscriminate entrance into a world whose rules and regulations will decide our haphazard departure. All of these matters are now better explained without any reference to God, and the abracadabra of the supernatural. Each day we find more reason to believe in the naturalness of our Earth and the elements that surround it. Before, we could only speculate and we contrived reasons which we thought had to be beyond our own understanding. I am happy to know my life is controlled, for the most part, by forces I know have their bases in reality and fact, and not in causes which I must accept are outside the limitations of my reason and understanding. And I know each day brings me closer to knowing more about my world and myself.

K1. I enjoy reading the Bible and its plethora of moral homilies and short, pithy statements which are both enjoyable and helpful in living a good, sensible life. Of course, not all sayings of the Bible are intelligent and propitious, but these make some sort of sense when taken in the contexts of the times the “sacred” scriptures were written. The Bible is a marvellous inventive prose narrative, and the King James version, in particular, is well-finished literarily.

Now to attest that the Bible is the word of some supreme being is ludicrous and inopportune. The Bible reflects keen insight and much wisdom, and it is a credit to its innovators that they sought so cleverly to devise a master work whose theme converged to profess not only that one God exists, that a religion with faith in a God without a name is the best type of religion, and that the notion—that all men may be joined someday in a “happy hunting ground” of peace and eternal joy—is a viable alternative to the frustrations and confusions of a life wallowing in “sin and unhappiness.” This is tremendous fiction. Prevarication at its best. The Bible sells well. There are bibles for Islamics, for Roman Catholics, for Protestants, for Jews. Nevertheless, few religious adherents read these texts. All of the works lead individuals who read them along a primrose path of hope in an eternal life much the way cheap novels lead lonely hearts to believe that romantic love is the silver lining of that dark cloud which hovers over the desperateness of people without affection and tenderness.

The Bible is a literary placebo given to millions of people to assuage their feelings of psychological separateness. It is time we value the Bible for what it is: a compilation of wise and unwise sayings written by men over the centuries during which time the experiences of life seemed consistent, during which time wise men accumulated wisdom, and during which time intelligent individuals began to proscribe axiomatic expressions about their relation to an unknown world beginning to teem with explanation.

L1. My cosmology “teacher” was not the first runt of a nun to frighten me with the awesomeness of the eerie, but she was the first to do so with ideas of science. The impression—once so terrifying to me—that I fit so minutely in a system so complex it had to be invented by a supreme being (my cosmology teacher’s Roman Catholic god), fits well with the Roman Catholic church’s penchant to instil fear and guilt in the hearts and minds of millions of people in this world. Guilt! Such an effective control device! But just as psychoanalysis emptied, finally, the confessional boxes, I am assured that meteorology, oceanography, geophysics, seismology, planetology, and other pure sciences will descend on all churches throughout the world and close their shrines of foolhardiness and false notions.

It is estimated that our Earth began 5,000,000,000 years ago when the Solar System was formed from a cloud of dust and gas in interstellar space. The Earth, our Earth, orbits around our Galaxy which is one of millions of other galaxies in the Universe. Each day more information is accrued to define our place in the Universe. Stout-hearted men venture beyond our planet to secure more technical data. These men and women are not impeded by worries which would shackle them to Earth with millions of other individuals—content with their religions—believing that the profoundness of our physical position in this world lends itself to the need to genuflect before a supreme being. No, gratefully, these folks press for scientific realities, and find strength in their rationality and unwavering respect for the potential of the individual to understand and grow in intelligence. These persons reject supernatural trappings, and they look to the cause of things. They do not stumble into
the abyss of closed-mindedness and nihilism—contrary to that which is progressive, variable.

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We are finished, my dear reader. Have I delighted you? Have I enlightened you? I would be pleased to know that I did. As I review this essay, I feel that perhaps I have not expressed enough the anguish and uncertainties which for so long have tortured my psyche often so full of militaristic, sexual, and philosophical lies. My heart has pounded many long hours under this stress, my hands have sweated many days with these tensions, my mind has endured many sleepless nights with depressed thoughts and beliefs. Believe me when I tell you it was difficult for me to live in a Roman Catholic gulag.

I must leave you now to follow my convictions which cry out for superior actions. I cannot advise you what to do, but I will tell you what I am going to do. My responsibility and yours are great, indeed.

Firstly, I formally renounce my belief in God and the Roman Catholic church’s idea that it is the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church. I respectfully excommunicate myself from this daft organization.

Secondly, I present this composition to the Embassy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Caracas, Venezuela to inform Soviet officials that just as there are concentration camps in Siberia surrounding people with barbed wires, there are gulags of educational indoctrination, gulags of unemployment lines, gulags of racial discrimination, gulags of waste and inflation and deflation, gulags of pleasure-seeking, gulags of drug and alcohol dependence, gulags of mass media control, gulags of obsessive life styles, gulags of boredom, gulags of management control, gulags of unhappy marriages based on obsolete moral ideas, and gulags and gulags and gulags à la United States of America. These gulags are not designed with fences with twisted wires armed with barbs and sharp points, but they are distinguished by the barbwires of fear, moral superstition, and the “great” falsehood that something or someone beyond the limits of our own reason and nature gives us cause and manipulates us.

I present this article to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to dispel political hypocrisy, and I wish that it will help in the building of a bridge over which both Soviet and Northamerican might walk to eventually join each other in an embrace of goodwill and friendship. I wish that all people might enjoy their lives in a spirit of generosity, lucidity, and freedom.

Anthony St. John
Apartado 51357
Sabana Grande 1051
Caracas, Venezuela

23 August 1981

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Since my “release” from St. Bonaventure University on 5 June 1966 and the writing of this essay which was presented to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ embassy in Venezuela on 23 August 1981 and the excursus you, my dear reader, are now reading in 2003, the Roman Catholic church has received so many blows and from so many sides, I cannot believe that it will ever recuperate enough to regain its top position in the ratings as the Number One World Church—a standing it had benefited from for centuries. The damage it has brought upon itself has been almost fatal.

There is not a diocese in the world which has no difficulty in recruiting men and women to serve as priests and nuns. There is not a Roman Catholic teaching institution in the world that has not been constrained to assume lay personnel to carry on its efforts. There is not a Roman Catholic hospital in the world that has not been forced to rely on the laity to administer its services.

In Italy Roman Catholic churches, neglected and un-nurtured by parishioners, are falling down. Non-visited confessionals are used to stock brooms and cleaning paraphernalia and other church supplies often gone unused. Some Italian mothers and fathers decry their Present wishing that commanding priests and nuns of the Past existed once again so that those clerics could beat their spoiled children into a Roman Catholic obsequiousness instead of seeing them waste away in states of boredom, unemployment and highs brought on by legal and illegal drugs.

The air is filled with hopelessness. One Italian racist of world renown, Oriana Fallaci, filled with rancor and frustration, from her mid-town New York apartment, is calling to arms complacent Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish Roman Catholics cautioning them that their very lives are in danger from an Islamic invasion! Beating her pots and pans, she is demanding that Roman Catholic spineless men, many of them in their 60s, 70s and 80s and dying to know from where their pensions are to come in the very near future, form a sort of New Crusade to do battle against those she calls heathens! This is only one of the many pathetic overtures un-embarrassingly proffered to salvage the smacks of the European Past sucked upon incessantly by neo-Fascists and “neo-Liberalists” in their reckless endeavour to reign supreme throughout the continent during one of the world’s most trying times. (Do you smell Opus Dei-like machinations here? I do! [Opus Dei is a secret organization of Roman Catholic oligarchs across the world one member of which is Giovanni Trapattoni, coach of the Italian national football team, who sprinkled holy water on the football pitches in Asia—seeking divine intervention—before his encounters with opposing teams! According to Central Intelligence Agency (The World Factbook) figures, an almost whopping 70% of the populations of the eight European countries, who offered their blessings and lighted candles to the United States of America in support of its intention to wage war with Iraq, is Roman Catholic!]) Fallaci knows very well that it will be United States’ troops, hoodwinked and blackmailed by Europe’s nauseating history and the ghosts of its sordid Past, who will shed their blood to prop up corrupt, heathen Vatican, Inc. cardinals in their positions of economic supremacy, who will protect empty, cob-webbed Roman Catholic churches, and who will give more entrée to the Roman Catholic church to avail of Time to let its sins slip into the Past denying all the while, naturally, that the Roman Catholic church’s pedophilia scandal—like The Inquisition—is as stupefying as one might imagine! Fallaci, a most dangerous cryptic-religious demagogue, not only feeds very well the fires of hate and intolerance against Islamic peoples, she serves up to us also—with her invective and disdain for others of different races or religions—the extreme anxiety of the Roman Catholic church in decline, in enormous difficulty.

Other events bear me out. In Southamerica, once considered a bastion of the Roman Catholic faith, NEITHER CHRIST, NOR MARX signs are inked defiantly on corporate and embassy walls throughout the continent. Southamerican bishops and cardinals, pals of dictators and bank presidents and television executives, have left poor Southamericans to wallow by themselves in their gruesome living conditions while the churchmen collude with oligarchies girded by bribes offered by multinational corporations which, in turn, are braced up by the United States’ Department of State and other self-seeking maverick economic interests (Opus Dei) spread throughout the world.

It is not history or the weak flesh of the Roman Catholic church that will eventually do it in. The final punch to the guts of the Roman Catholic church will come from Science and what It will do to eradicate the potentate’s superstitions and false precepts. (The time will come when Bill Gates will change water into wine!) Already, Science is on the move. For example, if we examine the history of the birth control pill, we see immediately how much “faith” Roman Catholics have in their church once a sensible—always controversial according to church princes—product is produced to help individuals lead a more rewarding life. The Pill has served very well to threaten the authority of the church fathers who are always contrary to new scientific investigations and studies—those realities which challenge their dogmatic proclamations. Science will pull the rug out from under the Roman Catholic church. It will show that there is hope for us. It will show that ancient church concepts were based on fear and the impetuosity to understand. It will also give a warning to the Roman Catholic church that it no longer has carte blanche to terrify its members into submission or to crash through the line with its wealth garnered from tax-free properties and stock portfolios filled with equities that remain anonymous to Roman Catholic parishioners who were the ones who at first supplied the funds to purchase them—Roman Catholic, blessed nest eggs which would be used to silence victims of priestly sex offenders in preference to bringing them to Justice in non-Roman Catholic courts.

Anthony St. John
Casella Postale 38

31 January 2003

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