Tuesday, July 23, 2013

On Right-Wingers.

WW II Universal Carrier, (mortar) as used by Canadians. (Paul Hermans.)

“If you don’t want to stand behind our troops, feel free to stand in front of them.”
So goeth the popular and even fairly common bumper-sticker here in Canada; which as you may know; sort of lies there sideways, snuggling in close and spooning with America.
If leftists are so unpatriotic and perhaps even cowardly, why was the former Soviet Union such a big threat during the former Cold War; a former phenomenon of the upper northern hemisphere?
Was the place formerly being run by a bunch of leftist right-wingers?
And why does the People’s Democratic Republic of China have to be perceived as such a big military threat, an issue which pops up from time to time in popular media coverage? People’s news coverage.  Democratic news coverage. Sometimes even Republican news coverage. It even turns up in Chinese news coverage.
(I think you’re onto something here. It might even be some kind of secret code. Careful you don’t sign away those film rights. I’ll call Tom Hanks right away. –ed.)
In Afghanistan, or Iraq, or the former Northwest Frontier Province of Kiplingesque, Khyber Pass memory, are the Taliban or Al Quaeda; are they like the right-wingers in their country?
What does a left-winger look like in Afghanistan?
(An ineffectual puppet installed by some superpower. –ed.)
Well, I guess we got it good here then, eh? We install our own ineffectual puppets.
You know, with D-Day type news presence from the TV, Marcia Kirck-Schmedlowzitz would look good in a pith helmet and a beige bush jacket with all kinds of handy pockets…you know, the pleated pockets with matte buttons that don’t shine in the moonlight.
    (Quite frankly you lost me somewhere old boy. –ed.)
What’s this? Oh, sorry. Togoland, dummy. We’re going into Togoland. Get with the program. Holy crap. So anyway…
Um, when we send troops over there to fight them, are those people our right-wingers?
Because I can see the poetic justice in that.
The trouble with the left-wingers in this country is that they have a vast military-industrial complex, very well connected (yet it’s an illegal hook-up,) in the outhouses of power. And essentially, they’re using it to grow pot!
You’d think they would try to build a better bomb or something, or even a bigger, more expensive multi-role attack plane. Something useful, maybe show some reverence for something greater than themselves.
(A big corporation? –ed.)
You know? What a curious misapplication of resources.
I just don’t know what this old world is coming to sometimes.
All I can say is, sometimes the middle ground is highly-contested by parties who seem to forget that us normal people have to live somewhere.
    To coin a phrase; it kind of inhales rapidly.
    What we should do is to set up some kind of international institution, one where all parties can come together in mutual accord, and provide everyone with a kind of forum or arena where our bad people can fight their bad people.
Now that would really be something.
(Out of the mouths of babes sometimes come pearls of wisdom. But more often it’s just a little bit of vomit or maybe some of that foamy, yellowy, gucky goop. –ed. )


Saturday, July 6, 2013

The legend of Dr. Faustus: Truth depends on who you ask.

Faust, etching, Rembrandt van Rijn

The figure of Faustus is both fact and fancy.

The legendary figure of Dr. Faust has fascinated philosophers, theologians, spectators and audience members for centuries.    

According to ancient lore Faust was a traveling fortune-teller and wizard.

A learned man, he may have taught in the universities of his era, ultimately living in Cologne.

Contemporary scholars depicted him as a charlatan, unscrupulous, yet hard evidence on his life is lacking; and they may just have been jealous.

Whispered stories of supernatural powers helped create the legend of Faust in his own lifetime, (1480?-1540?).

One tradition has it that Faust was a respected, prominent citizen living under the patronage and protection of the Archbishop of Cologne. Alchemy and magic were not that far removed from sorcery and witchcraft in the minds of the common people; any kind of knowledge was suspicious.

Doctor Faust may have been employed by the Archbishop to get a psychological edge on his enemies. The Renaissance was in full swing thanks to Gutenberg’s printing press.

This helped to spread revolutionary new ideas, yet it was also a time of great ignorance and superstition.

One widely held folk belief at the time was the notion that the Jews, in league with Satan, had conspired to crucify Jesus. It coloured public opinion.

Faust the man may have been a victim of anti-Semitism, or who knows, he may have been a genuinely rotten fellow. It is possible he was Jewish, yet it is a known fact that both Martin Luther and Melancthon believed him to be in cahoots with the Devil.

The “Historia von Dr. Johann Fasuten,” (1787) was published in Frankfurt. In this compilation of tales, Faust makes a deal with Mephistopheles, who grants him magic, knowledge and power, but only for twenty-four years. After which, his soul belongs to the devil…Eventually Faust repents having “bartered his soul for illusory knowledge and pleasure.” Well, we all have to grow up some time, eh?

This collection of legend and fact appeared in English verse in 1587 and German verse in 1588, and was released in French and English prose versions in 1592.

Playwright Phillip Marlowe produced a “Tragedy of Dr. Faustus” in 1589. But it is the great poetic drama ”Faust” (written and re-written between 1808 and 1832) by J.W. von Goethe, which is the best known to the world. In his version Faust is not damned, because he genuinely desires to expand the boundaries of knowledge.

Possibly von Goethe thought a person could play poker with the Devil – and win.

Goethe’s story became the definitive version; later writers did not tamper with his outcome. Other classic works include the dramatic epic “Faust” (1835) by Nicholaus Lenau; Heinrich Heini’s ballad of the same title appearing in 1851 and “Doktor Faustus” (1948) by Thomas Mann.

The average person on the street might tend to identify Faust as “The man who sold his soul to the Devil.”

Thomas Mann. Portrait by Carl van Vechten
They say history is a generally agreed upon thing. That really depends who you ask.


Author's Note: my short sexual memoir 'The Note' is now free on Smashwords. here is my profile, below that is the link for the book. Use coupon code SSW75 on checkout. Offer ends July 31/13.

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> Ian