The Broken Road July 1, 2015Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, The Journey, The Narrative, The Odd, The Pointness, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
As the statistics dwindle and more and more followers of this blog are simply hoping for a reflexive return on my part, to build their numbers for whatever racket they are running–probably blogging hollow consumables for a penny a word–I wonder what I am doing here.
Here is not even here. I have not lived on Toulouse Street for most of five years. I cling to the tenuous position of having once, long ago, beat out the Doobie Brothers on Google. Toulouse Street is broken with the marriage, the beautiful Craftsman house sold, and all that remains is the banner picture above these words and a street sign my daughter’s kleptomaniac friend once brought to the house, which once graced my office and now hangs in the kitchen on Fortin Street. The ex- is now No. 2, intended as the least emotionally charged term I could come up with, no scatological pun intended. The children are grown. Others walk the halls of Toulouse Street. All I have are ghosts, Dickensian visitations of Christmas Past.
Perhaps the statistics dwindle because Toulouse Street has lost its way, lost it purpose to capture Odd Bits of Life in New Orleans. Now it is the Odd journal of The Typist (and so long since I used a capitalized Odd). Perhaps I am just become a whinny old man, and no one cares about the sidebar description: “the life of a man of late middle age racing frantically towards and away from death.”
Perhaps my words have lost their power
Perhaps all words have lost their power.
I don’t believe that.
“You got to be a spirit! You can’t be no ghost.” Words of power, from a movie most people have forgotten, a cautionary tale from a decade or more ago of where America is today. Bulworth was ready to kill himself until he discovered what it means to speak truth to power.
“and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive”
― Audre Lorde, The Black Unicorn: Poems
Words are powerful. What is lost is the audience for words, even words spoken on a screen, particularly uncomfortable words. And Toulouse Street has become an uncomfortable place, a reflection of the uncomfortable world I (we) live in. Oh, there is discourse civil and uncivil enough on places like Facebook, which has largely supplanted general purpose blogs, but the discussions there occur in the echo chambers we have built for ourselves. We talk to each other when we agree, past each other when we do not, and admire the kittens and the side show characters. One can spend hours on Facebook drowning in words and learn a few things. You can hear a thoughtful explanation of the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement and the death of human democracy, or the news that America’s trillion-dollar fighter being built in as many Congressional districts as possible to ensure its survival is a piece of junk. You can also learn by the simply arithmetic of counting Likes and Comments that most people do not care for such things. They care about the Confederate flag, as if the flag itself matters to Black lives. Flags, like guns, do not kill people. People kill people, often because of the power of words amplified by the echo chambers. What is more important: removing a single statue, or removing a single sociopath (be they an isolated hater or a commissioned police officer) from the streets? Which will save more lives?
If I have grown weary and turned inward it is in part that the external, public world of words makes less sense, seems to serve no good purpose, more and more so every day. I believe my ramblings here have their purpose, even if you think me narcissistic and a bit unhinged. I am Surplus Labor Incarnate, and I rant against my job because my service to Moloch is to facilitate our enslavement. Hey, I tell myself: I am only in it for the Benjamins. A daughter in New York at Columbia, well launched in life, is a considerable expense. I have bills to pay, the cost of stepping away from Moloch for nine months to finish a generally useless degree in English Literature. I hoped to be an example to my son. He is doing exactly what I did at his age, stepping away from college to figure out what he wants from life. My return to school, and my voyage to Europe are not so different from the decision he has made. I abandoned my degree thirty years ago, and so did his grandfather, and we managed to push our way through life to comfortable middle class positions. Still, both my father and I received considerable education before we walked away. I want him to understand that college is not a stupid recapitulation of everything he learned in high school. That’s just the freshman year price of admission to the real learning.
The price of admission. That’s what I am working for, the descendant in one branch of slavers from Haiti, slaving for Moloch to enslave us all in hopes my well- and liberal (arts)-educated children can escape enslavement, to equip them to have a chance to be a little more free, to give them choices.
Irony is an immutable law of the universe.
If there is a purpose to my navel-gazing ramblings here it is to make a record for posterity, even though I know how transient and impermanent electronic words are. The Typist struggles against Irony with it’s own sword with the diligence of Prometheus, and if you find that boring I am sorry, I can’t help you. You have lost touch with the power of words, traded that magic for the magic of toaster Jesus or imaginary vampires. It is OK if you do not care to hear about my Fridays or Mondays, the book ends of a very minor tragicomedy, the struggle against ancient humors and modern entries in the Diagnostic Manual that are like pervasive allergies: reflectively symptomatic of a diseased society. If I have lost the power to enchant you, perhaps another’s words in the very same vein might.
“They say there is no Fate but there is. It’s what you create.” I will go on creating, chronicling the consequences of my own choices good and bad, and the occasional moment of joy, in the hope that someone out there is listening. “No one wants to hear about my misery, because they have their own.” Of course they do. I just want them to know they are not alone.