Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

On a related note, on this day as we remember with sadness and loss, those who fought and/or died in the name of human endeavor, it is a fitting time to reflect on the human condition,  the suffering and destruction we have wrought viciously,  needlessly and without long term meaningful purpose against each other, for millenia.  As a species we are a horrible contemptible species with no redeemable qualities.  We need to hire police to make us behave,  keep us from mayhem and double parking, and empower them to "neutralize" us if the need arises, like when you are the wrong color in the wrong place at the wrong time.

While we are potentially capable of good, the evil we do far surpasses it.  We have developed the technology to destroy the earth and each other and are doing a first rate job of it.  But the earth will have its revenge and will cleanse itself of us soon enough with apocalyptic fury.  Good riddance to a social experiment gone horribly wrong.  When God expelled Adam and Eve from the state of cosmic consciousness that was Eden, the true curse He inflicted on mankind was self consciousness, a loss of oneness with the universe, leaving each of ourselves walled up inside of "fortress me"  locked and loaded with fear and paranoia, surrounded by the alien world of others about whom we need to be vigilant and against whom we need to protect ourselves.  And the epiphenomen of speech, the capacity to use language as a weapon against each other in the name of peace and understanding,   Today we mourn humanity and the infinite capacity for hate and suffering we are capable of.

James Falkner famously said (in referring to the postbellum south) that the past is not dead, in fact it is not even the past.  Jung could have told you that if you had listened.  But we don't listen, we just talk.   In driving through Mississippi and Alabama, I came to see that the spirit we Americans could not crush during and after the Civil War, is now being ethnically cleansed by proxy, by the bland, deformed face of corporate America that embodies the new gospel of nondescript commerce at all cost, hallaluya,  praise be the holy spirit, son of Sam (Walton) in case the allusion was somewhat vague!!!! .

Driving through Gulfport, Mississippi, the final home of Jefferson Davis, and the beginning of the Jefferson Davis Memorial Highway which begins at the gulf and heads north,  I had the feeling that if he could have seen the anti-climatic future of shuttered downtowns and abandoned villages subsumed and crushed under weight of a corporate/industrial juggernaut landscape shaped by strip malls full of McDonald's, Walmart, Walgreens, Appleby's, Sonic, Waffle House and on and on and on, he would have either fought harder or given up sooner.  The south is not dead, it has just become the north, with grits and waffle houses.   So whether we agree with their cause or not, the confederacy fought for their beliefs and unknowingly in the defense of someone else's profit motives and died as senselessly as all the others that preceded them and followed.  But in the end,  but they too were Americans.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Richville, New York, Monument to the Unreturned Soldiers of the Civil War

Further along Highway 812/11 in upstate New York north of New Bremen...

is the town of Richville, which is on a small hill east of the road somewhat off the main drag so that it would not catch your attention if you weren't looking for it.  It is large for an upstate town and appears to have been quite prosperous and well populated at one time and they had the good fortune of being off the main road and basically bypassed by progress.  Now there is little left but the churches, the cemeteries, the fire department,  and houses and empty shops in disrepair.  No bar, no stores, just a quiet isolation from the world zipping by below which is probably just fine with them.  As you are driving north on the 812 you will see the Welsh Society Building at the beginning of the turn off to the right, up the hill.  You can't miss it, and you shouldn't.  

What made this town so interesting was a monument in the Wayside Cemetery..."In Memory of the Unreturned Soldiers of the war of 1861-1865", a war so recent that it did not yet have a name.  There are 36 names on the monument,  a great number for such a small and out of the way place that was so distant and detached from the conflict yet such a part of something that cannot conceivably have touched their lives except in the abstract at first and then the loss.

It is the word "Unreturned" that sets this monument apart.  A poignant  euphemism for the unspeakable.  What happened to those "Unreturned" as their mothers, fathers, wives, children, families waited forever for the return of the unreturned that would never happen.  Did some of the families is this isolated outpost of America received some sort of notice from the army one way or the other.  The empty years of waiting, living in hope, clinging to a prayer in a time when people often never traveled more than 20 or 30 miles from home and  lived never knowing and never wanting to believe.  36 young men, "Unreturned" from a war that was not theirs, not so different from the Viet Nam, the Missing in Action.  Men who marched off into oblivion.  I ache for those families who sent their sons off to never return.  For what?