Sunday, April 11, 2021

Xero: Thoughts on a new pair of shoes

As I was growing up, when I was nine years old, my family got relocated to Germany. We lived in Germany for three years. During those three years on Saturday, my father and I would get up early before the rest of the family and head off to a Volksmarch. For those of you who are not familiar with the German volksmarch, it is a 10 or 20 kilometer hike Sponsored by a local town in which you would receive a medal and brat upon your completion. I absolutely loved these Saturday mornings. Looking back now they are among my most treasured childhood memories. I am able to look back now and I understand that my father was building between us way more than a love of hiking, way more than a love of nature, way more than a love of that brat at the end of the hike. He was building the love of love. A love that has matured into him as my best friend. Because of this, it is nearly impossible for me to separate love and hiking from each other.

I have spent the past two weekends in Denver Colorado. At work, we are moving one of our offices to a new larger location. Last weekend I was here so that on Monday and Friday I could prepare the new location for the big move this past Friday. This weekend, I was here once again to complete that move. Last weekend, since I would not have work on Saturday and Sunday my girlfriend Ellen came out with me so that we could spend time with her brother and his wife. On Sunday while her daughter was napping with her sister-in-law, we snuck out for a few hours together. Our choice for spending that time included a walk in confluence park along the riverfront trail and a visit to an REI that was so large our St Louis REI could fit inside one of their departments. Ellen needed a new pair of her minimalist hiking shoes, and I just wanted to see all the cool camping stuff.

Anyone who knows me knows I am super obstinate when it comes to my feet. In my ideal world, I would never cover my feet at all, it would be all barefoot all the time. Since I do not live in that ideal world I settle for sandals as my usual compromise with the world. So as we perused for her new shoes this woman I have recently fallen in love with suggested that with my love of hiking and hatred of shoes I should try on a pair of minimalist hiking shoes myself. At first, I planted my minimally clad feet in the ground and refused to even give the shoes a try. After some persuasion and her reminder that being REI I could easily return the shoes if I went hiking in them and totally hated them I reluctantly tried on the Xero minimalist hiking shoes and had to agree they really did feel like almost no shoe at all. I purchased a pair in anticipation of trying them out this weekend if everything went well on the move and the time for a hike presented itself.

The office move went amazing and between working late Friday and all day Saturday everything was completed and ready for employees to return to work Monday morning. This left today as an open hiking day. I intended to fully maximize my day. Ten Kilometers in nature, turning today into my own personal volksmarch.

I started my day with a big breakfast while I searched All Trails looking for the perfect hike. I needed a hike that would challenge me, but also not completely overwhelm my mid-western lung capacity. I need a hike that would stimulate my mind with learning and my eyes with the grandeur only Colorado can offer. I found it in two trails about a half-mile apart from each other. First would be Morrison Slide / Red Rocks Trail, a 3.1-mile moderate hike in Red Rocks park with a 600ft elevation range. The second would be Dinosaur Ridge a 1.7-mile out and back walk in the Morrison Fossil Area, a National Natural Landmark filled with fossils and traces. This would be right around 10K and would meet both my desires perfectly.

Now it is evening. The hiking is completed. I am back in my hotel room feeling renewed after a shower and dinner. I am left thinking about the day. I am thinking about the shoes, which proved themself as definite keepers, they provided the freedom of almost feeling like I was wearing no shoes at all while also supporting and protecting my feet. I am thinking about the first trail with its intense first-mile climb which took me to the brink of giving up only a half-mile into those initial stairs. I am thinking about the glory of the second and third mile as I took in the vistas from the mountain tops and meandered back down the winding path's return. I am thinking about Dinosaur ridge where I touched footprints that were over 70 million years old. I am thinking about how my personal volksmarch embodied that ongoing climb toward a most beautiful future and also the vastness of our greater history. I am thinking about how hiking and love are nearly impossible to separate from each other. I am thinking about those Saturday morning hikes in the German hills with my dad. I am thinking about the challenges and rewards of building a new love and family with Ellen. I am thinking about hiking. I am thinking about the fossils of my own history. I am thinking about the climb to a beautiful new future. I am thinking about love. I am thinking about God, the universe, or whatever you call that reality which is greater than our understanding. I am thinking about how all of us always need exactly what these new shoes provide, the feeling of being almost free while also knowing we are completely protected. Maybe that is the best definition of history, love, and God I've got.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Juniper & Cleansing Bowl

My middle daughter made this beautiful bowl in ceramics and I thought it looked like it needed to be a cleansing bowl. Our home has recently been a place of some sickness, myself having just recovered from Covid-19 and my oldest currently fighting it. Personally, I have experienced some minor trauma in my frightening car accident this past weekend. So this afternoon it seemed like the new bowl and situation called for a cleansing ritual.

I choose Juniper because of its history. It has been used as an incense in religious ceremonies going all the way back to Sumerian, Egyptian, Greek, and Druidic practices.

I choose Juniper because in the era of the black death my Germanic ancestors would have hung juniper in the homes, burning it to ward off rats from entering their homes protecting their families from the plague.

I choose Juniper because of its agricultural usage to my anglo-Saxon ancestors. Historically, juniper would be allowed to overtake fields that have been farmed fallow. Unlike here in the Americas where juniper is often viewed as a noxious plant, to this ancestral culture it was known for its ability to heal, renew, and revitalize the land so it could again be used for producing the food and resources farming allows.

I choose Juniper because of its connection to one of my favorite stories from the Christian canon. In 1 Kings 19, the queen has ordered the assassination of the prophet Elijah. So Elijah finds himself wanted by the oppressive power of the state is on the run. Alone, hunted, and exhausted Elijah collapses under a Juniper tree and begs his God to let him die peacefully. To use Campbell's language in the hero's journey, this is Elijah's abyss. Rather than permitting Elijah to die physically, he is instead met with hospitality, rest, and an invitation for an audience with the Lord himself. In meeting with his God Elijah experiences his rebirth and the apotheosis in his God's command to, "Go back the way you came." The lesson of the story is that our healing work will always return us to be agents of healing in the very places of our past fear and pain.

I choose Juniper for this cleansing ritual because it reminds me that I am a protector, a healer, and an agent of the work of love in the universe.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

White Fragility and Facebook

 Two posts in one week. I don't think my blog has seen this much writing since like 2016.  I responded to a person's I did not know comment on a friend's Facebook post this morning. Then I followed up this evening with a second response to their reply to my initial comment. I am including redacted screen shots of both of the other individuals comments and the full text of mine.


If by chance the Electoral college worked as designed in constitution where each state had one representative per 30,000 people then it would be more reasonable to argue both its value and our need for it. However once the unconstitutional permanent apportionment act of 1929 unfairly separated aportionment from a consistent population ratio it has completely become a way for rural mostly white states to assert their percieved supremacy over more urban racially diverse states. As with most everything in the United States, it was white supremacy all along. 

But white intellectuals defending white supremacy while denying it is white supremacy and pretending it is just rational logic rather than personal bias and bigotry is as American as apple pie too.

So it is no surprise the "We NEED the electoral college" argument is going nowhere.


I wonder if you are aware of the term White Fragility? It is a term that has been around for while now within the communities focused on thinking critically and intersectionally about race and its role in our society. Robin DiAngelo is credited with inventing the term. Her NY Times Best Seller on race is titled using the term. DiAngelo attempting to define White Supremacy writes, "In a nutshell, it’s the defensive reactions so many white people have when our racial worldviews, positions, or advantages are questioned or challenged... And that defensiveness serves to maintain both our comfort and our positions in a racially inequitable society from which we benefit."

I bring the term up because your response to my earlier comment was not to consider the position I offered and respond with a rational rebuttal, but instead to insist you were proven right because I called you a white supremacist. Rather than be willing to consider how the Electoral College operates as cog in the systemic problem of white supremacy, you instead chose to become defensive in order to distract from the very real and very intentional system which protects the, "inequitable society from which we benefit." 

In her book, "White Fragility" DiAngelo writes, "The most effective adaptation of racism over time is the idea that racism is conscious bias held by mean people.” This adaptation allows white people the luxury to find it more offensive that they were implicated as benefiting from a racist system than the offensiveness of the racism itself. 

Racism and White Supremacy is not about you as an individual. Racism and White Supremacy is a systemic problem. It is singularly the greatest existential paradox of the American experiment. Our founding principle that, "all men are created equal," was written by a man that enslaved over 200 people on his estate. The absurdity is that "All men" has never meant ALL in the construction of our government and economic systems. For many people who have been privileged, by circumstances of their own whiteness, to not experience disenfranchisement and oppression the incongruity seems trivial. So they can comfortably assure themselves that they are not one of those evil racists; this is white fragility. 

The electoral college was designed to privilege slave states. James Madison admits this in his own justification for the substitution of electors over the direct vote. The 3/5 compromise enshrined this privilege by granting an over 40% boost in electoral power to just five slave states. Over time other strategic manuevers, like the addition of block voting by the states, would be made to protect the institution of slavery. As times changed and cotton replaced tobacco as the country's top export, even nothern economist were able to recognize the need for a disenfranchised labor force to pick, process, and ship this commodity which was the most important piece of the nation's economic engine. With that power threatened in a post reconstruction south further manuvering setup the stage for unequal apportionment.  At every stage the EC's purpose has been a White Supremacist purpose.

Oxford philosopher Terry Eaglton wrote a textbook in 1991 titled "Ideology." In it Eaglton writes, "[It] is not just a matter of what I think about a situation; it is somehow inscribed in that situation itself. It is no good my reminding myself that I am opposed to racism as I sit down on a park bench marked “Whites Only”; by the act of sitting on it, I have supported and perpetuated racist ideology. The ideology, so to speak, is in the bench; not in my head." 

Your reply subverts any discussion of the ideology of the electoral college by refocusing the discussion as a personal slight. I don't know you and have no personal slight against you. I have no intention of labeling you as a racist. You have been the beneficiary of systemic white supremacy; [Shared Friend] too, myself as well, and all our white peers. So in no way is my earlier comment intended to accuse you of that "conscious bias held by mean people." Instead, I am merely attempting to show how defending the Electoral College perpetuates racist ideology because, the ideology "is in the bench."

Monday, November 16, 2020

Stardust and Stories

This morning as I was doing laundry I decided it was time to move the Biden / Harris face mask from usage to my memory shelf in my bedroom. I walk past the shelf all the time, but as I added the mask today the memories and stories these objects represent to me just filled me with love and nostalgia. There are good memories and painful memories both, but that is the tapestry of life. 

The shelf holds pieces of old costumes, thank you cards from friends, small gifts I have been given, stolen props from old shows, inside jokes, mementos of failed romances, important moments with my kiddos, possesions of loved ones no longer with us, and a bevy of other trinkets and echoes. 

Erin Morgenstern in her newest book "The Starless Sea" has a line I really want to get as a tattoo, "We are all stardust and stories." This shelf holds the portals to so many of those stories for me. Some pieces I could explain with a short recital of a single moment. Others are entire tales with all the backstory and nuance of fiction. Still, others would be told with such a yarn that they have crossed the memoir line and actually become complete fiction. Collectively and individually they each remain stories.

Looking at this shelf you may see something I held onto from an event we did together. There are pieces far too small to make out in a photo from this distance that might just contain a fragment of our relationship too. Some people are in one item and others are in many, as the fingerprints people leave in my life are as varied as the people I love and call friends.

In some ways, this newest addition of the Biden/Harris mask may seem an anomaly. The shelf already has the first mask my daughter sewed when the pandemic started, so it was not that the shelf needed a mask to represent 2020. I added the Biden/Harris mask as a chronicle of when the metaphor for the shared community we are in as humans became a piece of fabric. I do not like masks, they fog up my glasses and disturb my sensory issues. I did not like voting for Biden/Harris, I wanted actual progressives. So like wearing my mask, voting for the Democrats was active participation in protecting the most vulnerable members of our community the best I can. The Biden/Harris mask like all these other tokens is a story, a history of how I and so many others chose the community's collective needs while another segment of our society chose their individual selfishness. 

With time my shelf will acquire new relics because my life will acquire new stories that need to be remembered. There will be new testimonials to the love of my friends, new remembrances to loss, new trophies of shows completed, and more keepsakes that I do not know yet why I will find them worth keeping.  All the pieces there now, and all the pieces still to come, and all the people in all the stories past and future will share one thing, we are all stories of the universe made from the same stardust. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

History: Free of Charge (Copied from a Facebook Post)

Last night an evangelical Christian friend whose spirit for loving people I adore vented about her inability to understand the complicity of the white evangelical American church with the open support of white supremacy in their support of Trump. 

I found her statement most interesting because white supremacy is the historical catalyst for the formation of nonsectarian evangelicalism in the United States. One needs to know and understand history to know and understand the present. So I present to you the shortest history possible of nonsectarian evangelicalism in the United States and its complicity with white supremacy.
In the years leading up to the civil war many of the country's denominations split between Northern and Southern councils over the issue of slavery. Most importantly noted is the Southern Baptist, which today is the largest segment of nonsectarian evangelicalism in the United States. The largest portion of this movement had the protection of the institution of human slavery as its conception point.
After the war however one needs to look at the man most associated with the Evangelical origins today, DL Moody. DL Moody's complicity with white supremacy in order to unify Christians under a single banner of revivalism is well documented. Racial Segregation for the sake of interdenominational unity is the womb for the movements gestation.
While studying the history one needs to look up names like Jerry Falwell Sr, Francis Schafer, and Bob Jones and the role White Supremacy plays in the formation in the late 1970s of the Religious Right. The catalyst for this final unification of nonsectarian evangelicalism in the United States is to protect the ability of Christian colleges to keep their tax-exempt status while still upholding their teaching on segregation and Miscegenation.
Religious freedom as defined by evangelicalism in the United States has been about the freedom to uphold white supremacy since its official birth in the late 1970s.
From conception, through gestation, and into its modern birthing Evangelicalism has always been intertwined with this "first sin" of American nationalism which is white supremacy. The racism changes its face, but never its history and intent.
That history is lesson is provided free of charge and effort, but if you are willing to put in the academic work of understanding the larger movement of all these pieces there are many wonderful scholarly works I would commend to you.

Lastly to my beloved friends and family who remain a part of that movement, and yet understand that the love of God and white supremacy can not coexist, I want to say, the future is yet to be written.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Holy Ground

I wrote this a couple years ago and submitted it to be part of the official St Lou Fringe blog.  The editor was not a fan and so it was never published.  Being that we are all trapped inside and can't go to the theater I thought I would publish it myself in honor of our 2020 Virtual Fringe Festival.


The Hebrew and Christian holy scriptures share a story of a man who after living as a refugee in the wilderness for forty years encounters a bush that while actively burning is not consumed. The miracle becomes even more fantastical when a voice speaks from this brush fire, "put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place where on you stand is holy ground." I have been fascinated by Holy Ground since I was a child in Sunday school. As I have lived life my understanding of God has changed drastically. I do not think of God like I thought about it in my youth, and yet my search for Holy Ground has not wained.

It was one afternoon three years ago inside the Kranzberg Black Box as I was alone in the space and waiting as the lighting board powered up. In just a few minutes Michael Hagmeier would be arriving to perform his 2015 Fringe show "Digeridoo In The Dark." For that moment though, I was alone in a dark room with 80 seats, 600 square feet of performance space, forty lighting fixtures, and a day scheduled full of theatrical productions.

The room I was in would be filled with the tones and reverberations of Michael's instrument. It would host the rhythms of Tapman and his team of dancers. It would be teleported to Moscow as Lucy and her troop presented a Chekov drinking game. It would host Patrick's high school students presenting a surreal production of Alice in Wonderland. Carl would tell a story of a lonely man and the rental of a dissatisfied sexbot. All these stories would fill this space that in this moment glowed with the just the dull blue of a computer boot screen.

This space I was standing in at that moment, this was Holy Ground. Moses stood before a flame in the desert and learned the meaning of his life. I stood in that dim blue glow and recognized the meaning of these spaces we call theaters.

It has been over three years since that first cherished moment. I have traveled between venues and producers. I have watched puppets skewer the US political process. I have seen other puppets address the struggle of infertility. I have now seen Elizabeth take her audience into the emotional core of two mothers; one who lost her freedom the other who lost her child. I have cried in these theaters, as Jackie told a story of two sisters very different worldviews. I have laughed in these theaters, as Taylor told a story of dinosaur erotica and human vengance.

Fringe is about the sanctity of the full human experience. Last night another staff member shared a song, "A Little Bit of Everything" by the band Dawes. The song's last lines are

It's not some message written in the dark.
Or Some truth that no one's seen.
It's a little bit of everything.


I produce theatre and work as the production manager for the St Lou Fringe Festival because I believe that theater is a sacred art. The art we create, the stories we tell, the voices we unleash into the world have the potential teach us all together what is the meaning we are searching for. For me this festival and these venues are my reminder that there is holy ground in this world if we listen to the voice from the voices speaking inside them reminding us there is something greater than our individual selves.
The reason this art of theatre embodies the divine is that it reaches inside the soul of the producers and exposes that "little bit of everything" we all need to see. Come take off your metaphorical shoes, and share this pure moment with us, because this space is holy ground.


Lets make some Zoom Rooms Holy Ground 

Thursday, July 16, 2020

I Am Becoming

As today is my 45th birthday I have been thinking a lot about the brevity of our human existence. When my time on this earth concludes and I have crossed the barrier from this existence to whatever, if anything, lies on the other side of the grave I hope as those left behind who loved me will read this series of paragraphs, from Daniel Keyes, as they plant a juniper tree and bury my ashes

"But this was the counterweight, the act of binding and holding. As when men to keep from being swept overboard in the storm clutch at each other's hands to resist being torn apart, so our bodies fused a link in the human chain that kept us from being swept into nothing."

"Finding out who I really am-the meaning of my total existence involves knowing the possibilities of my future as well as my pasts, where I’m going as well as where I've been. Although we know the end of the maze holds death (and it is something I have not always known-not long ago the adolescent in me thought death could happen only to other people), I see now that the path I choose through the maze makes me what I am. I am not only a thing, but also a way of being - one of many ways - and knowing the paths I have followed and the ones left to take will help me understand what I am becoming."

"This was the way we loved, until the night became a silent day. And as I lay there with her I could see how important physical love was, how necessary it was for us to be in each other's arms, giving and taking. The universe was exploding, each particle away from the next, hurtling us into dark and lonely space, eternally tearing us away from each other - child out of the womb, friend away from friend, moving from each other, each through his own pathway toward the goal-box of solitary death."

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Ideology Is In The Bench (A FB Post)

 "[It] is not just a matter of what I think about a situation; it is somehow inscribed in that situation itself. It is no good my reminding myself that I am opposed to racism as I sit down on a park bench marked “Whites Only”; by the act of sitting on it, I have supported and perpetuated racist ideology. The ideology, so to speak, is in the bench; not in my head." - Terry Eagleton "Ideology" 1991

This quote from Terry Eagleton's "Ideology" has been rolling around in my mind all day, or at least since I read the Amy Cooper "apology" this morning. I am completely unable to believe her apology as anything near genuine. 

On the video when Amy Cooper says, I'm going to tell them there's an African American man threatening my life." It is obvious her intention is to sit down on the bench marked whites only. 

In the apology she writes, "I’ve come to realize especially today that I think of [the police] as a protection agency, and unfortunately, this has caused me to realize that there are so many people in this country that don’t have that luxury." But her actions show this is patently not true, she 100%  used the risk of Christian's death as a tool against him. She chose to sit on the bench.  

Whatever thoughts she has about "not being a racist" in her head, the ideology is in the actions.  This becomes most important to point out to my fellow white liberals when we accept the fact that Amy Cooper is one of our own; a donor to the Obama and Buttigieg campaigns. Yet with the privilege and power of white supremacy at her beckon she used it to her perceived advantage.

This is not an attack on Ms Cooper, it is instead my own rolling thoughts about my participation and complicity in the system of white supremacy. It is a reminder to myself once again of Eagleton's quote, "The ideology is in the bench."

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Christian Ex-Pat

I am Kevin, an Ex-Pat of Christianity. My grandfather was an itinerant preacher and I grew up being told from my youngest ages that I was going to be a preacher like him. I pursued that destiny into early adulthood despite the fact that I was always a weird fit with Christianity. I could speak the language, and preach in a way that inspired many but infuriated those ensconced power.
Leaving Christianity was the hardest thing I have ever done, it is my homeland and its language is my mother tongue for speaking of the sacred. Christianity was also an abusive lover. I was thrown out of churches for questioning and others for claiming love too radically and others for taking Jesus too seriously. Over and over I felt Christianity’s loving embrace by communities that would later be weaponized against me.

As I experienced repeated abuse at the hands of the church I became more and more aware of others who were too often at the receiving end of Christianity’s “loving” beat downs. It became more and more clear that women, people of color, the LGBT+ community, and other oppressed group were the church’s targets. America’s racism and bigotry was much more clearly on display than the Christ who said, “love one another,” and “the last shall be first.” In the end I could no longer see God at all within its boundaries and I became a spiritual refugee, dispossessed from my homeland.

But I have always been a seeker, and I can no more stop chasing after God than I can stop breathing. So I have made it my discipline to see the sacred in everything and everyone. If God is Love, which I believe and affirm, then every act of love is a sacred interaction with God. If God is just, then living in a way that seeks restorative justice is a sacrament.

So now, ten years after leaving Christianity where am I? I am still a refugee, but I have found a residency that feels a lot like home. My church is a stage. I produce theater, since I find that theater is the most honest place to both question and to inspire. I have love, acceptance, a voice, and a community. I practice live performance as worship of the divine.

I am not landed, I am still seeking, and still discovering myself and God both. I know like that lesson there are many others waiting and so much more to experience and learn.

I am Kevin, dispossessed and seeking the sacred.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Literary Quotes Too Good Not To Share

"Sometimes I write to keep from going crazy. There’s a world of things I don’t feel free to talk to anyone about" - Octavia Butler
"Sometimes the only choices you have are bad choices; but you still have to choose" -The Doctor
“To me, religions are like languages: no language is true or false; all languages are of human origin; each language reflects and shapes the civilization that speaks it; there are things you can say in one language that you cannot say as well in another; and the more languages you learn, the more nuanced your understanding of life. Judaism is my mother tongue yet in matters of the spirit I strive to be multilingual. In the end, however, the deepest language of the soul is silence.” - Rabbi Rami Shapiro
"God is change and in the end God prevails; but God exists to be shaped." - Octavia Butler
"Inevitable is not the same as immediacy and love does not mandate forgiveness."- N.K. Jemisin
Less Is More - Content Dictates Form - God is in the details - Stephen Sondheim
"Only a fool is not afraid. Now Go" - Madeline L Engle
"We are all Stardust and Stories" - Erin Morgenstern

Monday, February 03, 2020

Some Older Poems

I have some time this Saturday
I think we are compatible
I'd like to discover if I'm right.
I've typed a message to you
Asking if you're free at that time
Sadly you have not responded
To the missive I composed you.

Did you have some other plans that evening?
Is my presumed compatibility misjudged?
Are you just not interested in this discovery?
I have yet to receive a reply
Letting me know if you are free
Most likely because I never faced my rejection fear.
So the note I wrote is still here with me unsent.




I fought for your healing
Even when it cost
You walking out my door.


If life has purpose at all
then that purpose is to love.

No, not the safe
sanitized love for
a transcendent being.

the messy
vulnerable kind
for our concrete
carnal surroundings.

Love is embodied,
anything else
is just philosophy.


Dot Dot Dot
Dash Dash Dash
Dot Dot Dot
Hard Stop

I need a hole so deep
Where light, sound, even thoughts
Can not pierce inside.
A hard stop.

I need a blanket so heavy
Fear, worry, loss, regret
Are crushed out of me.
A hard stop.

I need a clock so broken
The past, present, & future
Fail to tick.
A hard stop.

I need a whole rest
Nothing, total and complete.
Just one beat will do.
A hard stop.

Dot Dot Dot
Dash Dash Dash
Dot Dot Dot
Hard Stop


I understand the cutter.
Loving you is
My self-harm.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Thoughts From The Night You Said Let's Be Friends

 Two years ago I had a romantic relationship end that had popped up between myself and a good friend.  The ending was absolutely the best thing, but something being best doesn't mean it is the easy thing.  I wrote quite a bit over the following days and this script comes out of the general ideas from that writing.  When I was asked to write a performance to submit for a 10-minute micro-festival I instantly knew I wanted to go back to those journals and work them together into a single script that read as if it was the stream of consciousness from an evening where one can't sleep. The script was initially accepted but the idea for how it was going to be used within the festival changed and I never got to perform it or see it performed.  

So oddly enough with it being almost two years since that relationship ended it was weird to me when the script turned up while searching for something unrelated in Google Drive.  Distracted from what I was intending to find I read the script again and personally, I still think it captures the emotions of something romantic ending that wasn't really defined.  I decided it was time to go ahead and post the script here in case anyone else would like to read it.


Saturday, October 19, 2019

The Librarian and The Witch (a Facebook comment)

So here is my theory. In all ancient cultures the village witch, served as the protector of the community’s sacred knowledge. She was healer, teacher, therapist, and priestess. Her role was materialist, transcendent, and sexual. Our collective unconscious has not forgotten this despite Christendom’s best effort to drive this woman out because her role was co-equal in power with the chief. As the chief preserved the sacred masculine the witch preserved the sacred feminine.

Western modernity with its roots so deeply in Christendom patriarchy has attempted to excise the sacred feminine. However, despite all that work, our collective unconscious knows the need for the sacred feminine by both genders.

Call me crazy, but this is where the librarian fetish comes from, it is a fetishization of an unmet unconscious need. The librarian in her role as guardian of information is an illusion for the witch. She is the arbiter of the sacred feminine for our modern culture.

Sunday, October 06, 2019

Uncommon Women And Others

A friend recently asked me to read and review "Uncommon Women and Others" by Wendy Wasserstein. I liked what I wrote so I am putting it here.


This is a story of five women. Five women are suspended between two impulses. The mechanism of society and upbringing has predisposed them to fulfill their role of patriarchial feminity while the exposure to these early works of feminist literature is an incitement to reject this societal impetus. However, the college though exposing them to an education that can be a catalyst against the societal expectation placed on them is complicit in the discouragement to do just that.
Professor Chip Knowles an unseen male character teaches women's history. As if this does not illustrate the dilemma clearly enough Wasserstein goes further when Muffet recounts her conversation with the professor, "Chip’s wife, Libby, graduated first in her class from Vassar. When I told Chip I was a senior and didn’t know what I’d be doing next year, Chip told me that Libby doesn’t really spend the day mopping and catching tadpoles with Chip, Jr. She may be mopping with her hands, but with her mind she’s reliving the water imagery in the Faerie Queene” It seems important to note that the piece his wife is reflecting on is "The Faerie Queene." Since the dragon is only defeated by virtue Professor Knowles reinforces that she in her role as mother has chosen the virtuous choice. This enlightened male professor of women's history illustrates how their education is still secondary to their primary function as wife and mother.

Man's Voice (The School President) is the most clearly patronizing voice of the male dominated society. "Am I saying that anatomy is destiny? No, it is not destiny. Providing a setting in which these subtle constraints can be overcome is particularly the mission of a college for women." Although the voice is an attempt to inspire the assumption of the speaker is that womanhood is a deficiency that must be overcome. The result of that condescending encouragement is a deep anxiety, a disquiet that forces restlessness by its demand that uncommon women be super heroes. Throughout the play Man's voice presents this both implicitly, "The college fosters the ability to accept and even welcomes the necessity of strenuous and sustained effort in any area of endeavor," and also explicitly "The real problem for many educated women is the difficulty they have in recognizing whether they have been a success... Women will be part-time mothers, part-time workers, part-time cooks, and part-time intellectuals [...] Just like the pot of honey that kept renewing itself and educated woman's capacity for giving is not exhausted but stimulated by demands."

There are two other male characters that play into this complicity as well the Fathers and Robert. The fathers ostensibly are the ones paying for the Holyoke education, yet the pledge that the "girls" are saving themselves for Yale show that in the eyes of the family their virtue lies not in the education they are receiving but in the role they are to fulfill at home. Robert too is revealed to repeat this with his success and parties in which Samantha is expected to succeed vicariously.

There are of course the men not addressed directly within the play, all men. The unconscious privilege that a system designed for you allows. All men are represented here, because all men are benefitting from the system. As Rita points out men are recognized as experts even as the speak to women on issues addressing women. "The only problem with menstruation for men is that some sensitive schmuck would write about it for the Village Voice and he would become the new expert on women's inner life."

Over and over again the play circles back to two key lines. "I don't know what I am going to do," and "When I am [age]." These two recurrent ideas illustrate the condescension of society toward young women. This confusion between their role in the nuclear family unit and their role in the wider public sphere is presented as an attribute of their immaturity rather than as a consequence of the insatiable demands placed on them by a patriarchal society.

This play is not written then for women to commiserate about the problem. Instead, it is a polemic against that burden. By illustrating how each of the five women have been damaged she convicts the entire system for its injustice.

This is best understood by looking at the women through Galen's Four Humors. Muffet, Rita, Holly, and Kate each represent one of these archetypes. Muffet is the Sanguine, Rita the Phlegmatic, Holly the melancholic, and Kate the Choleric.

Muffet's nature is to be amorous and carefree. She is presented as the optimistic encourager of the group. She plays the role of ditzy fun friend while recognizing it does not bring any fulfillment "I feel so so confused. I mean this chick is an obvious imbecile. But I didn't think she was entirely wrong either. I guess the truth is men are very important to me... Sometimes I know who I am when I feel attractive. Other times it makes me feel very shallow like I am not Rosie the Riveter. I suppose this isn't a very impressive sentiment, but I would really like to meet my prince. Even a few princes. And I wouldn't give up being a person." Though she meets the society demand of women to "Smile" she is left an anxiety that questions what submission to that ideal of feminity has achieved for her.

Rita is the living embodiment of overthinking. The enormous nature of the world and the challenges it presents have left her in an avoidant anxiety. She is a lost soul because there are no solid footholds. "The New York Times, Walter Cronkite, all the buildings and roads, the cities, philosphy, government, history, religion, shopping malls, everything I can name is male. When I see things this way, it becomes very obvious that it is very easy to feel alienated and alone for the simple reason that I've never been included because I came into the world without a penis." In adulthood she is still a coward avoiding the future.

Holly is the most introspective of the five lead characters. She has desires, and sees them for both their positive and negative both. "Yes, except if I fall in love it would be because I thought someone was better than me. And if I really thought someone was better than me, I'd give them everything and I'd hate them for my living through them." As an adult she remains unsettled and has still not left graduate school. Holly has an anxiety of being an incomplete entity which results in an apathy toward progress.

Kate is ambitious and driven. Yet she is part of a society that praises those characters in men while shaming them in women. So she is trapped by her aspiration and her need to remain being seen as feminine. "Carter, I'm afraid that I'm so directed that I'll grow up to be a cold efficient lady in a grey business suit. Suddenly, there I'll be, an Uncommon Woman ready to meet the future with steadiness, gaiety, and a profession and what's more I'll organize it all with time to blow dry my hair every morning." In the end Kate has all the success of the uncommon woman and yet settles for Kent who still condescends to her.

Samantha like the other four women serves an important character as well. Samantha has chosen the "other path" the traditional woman. Like Professor Knowles' wife she has rejected the promises of feminism. "Robert says I never grew up into a woman. That I am sort of a child woman. I've been reading a lot of books recently about women who are wives of artists and actors and how they believe their husbands are geniuses, and they are just a little talented. Well, that what I am. Just a little talented at a lot of things. That's why I want to be with Robert and all of you. I want to be with someone who makes a public statement." This rejection does not leave the audience with any sense that her life appears more fulfilled.

Wassertine's goal then is for the play is to illustrate to the patriarchial society itself the burden that it places on the women. The inevitable end of this is an ingrained mistrust of the woman to herself. No woman is allowed to be confident in herself. As Rita says, "Do you know what Samantha? If I could be anyone of us, first I would be me. That's me without any embarassment or neurosis - and since that is practically impossible, my second choice is, I'd like to be you." This impairment afflicts every single character, including, in the eleventh hour reveal, Mrs Plumm, who is the model of feminine sensibility.

At the begining of the last scene Man's Voice fades and is replaced by Woman's voice, "Women still encounter overwhelming obstacles to achievement and recognition despite gradual abolition of political and legal disabilities. Society has trained women from childhood to accept a limited set of options and restricted levels of inspiration."

Wasserstein does not offer any solutions to these issues. Instead at the final climax of this play she uses this paragragh to ask the viewer if she has proven the statement to be true. If the statement is true then western society is found guilty of its injustice against women. As a woman enters adulthood the constructs passed from one generation to the next through family, education, civilization, and religion have already played their role in shaping her into the person they are and will become.

Despite almost 40 years having passed since the play was written Wasserstein's question remains relevant to be asked today. Perhaps more achievements have been made, and more disabilities have been aboloished; but the work is far from complete. Women are still expected to desire their traditional role in the marriage relationship. In the heteronormative majority women are still expected to be caretakers of their home, children, and spouses; the mental and emotional labor of a relationship still falls primarily and often exclusively on the woman. Women are still being asked to choose between their own desire and the desire of men. "I don't know what I am going to do," to navigate that space between her own goals and her role demanded by these old definitions of femininity remains a central challenge and point of anxiety to women today. The expectation to put off their own desires to some unnamed later point in time repeated in the "When I am [age]" lines are no less relevant.

Until women no longer encounter overwhelming obstacles to achievement and recognition in a male dominated society then the production of this play remains a culturally meaniful act. These five women are as representative of the challenges facing women in 2020 as they were in the challenges facing women in 1980.

Friday, April 05, 2019

The Historian (a Facebook comment)

As a "historian" surely you are aware of the "Southern Strategy" which began in the late sixties and continued as the main growth fact of the Republican party through the mid-eighties.

As a "historian" surely you are aware with the Republican party's marriage to the evangelical right to promote the control of women by limiting their access to the basic liberty of bodily autonomy and access to make their own healthcare decisions.

As a "historian" surely you recognize that the "Rockefeller Republican" which supported strong labor markets, the establishment and growth of the state university system, and the largest infrastructure projects in American history were all excised from the party by the Goldwater Republicans in the 60s and 70s.

I would love to have an engaged debate about the merits of how the Republican platform is the platform of classical liberalism, but it needs to involve the actual present platform not the accomplishments of those who would be labeled RINOs today.

However, let's debate the merits rather than use NewSpeak terms like "post modern neo marxist" which mean absolutely nothing but sound scary to those without a degree in philosophy.