Americana

The Nazis Changed Their Uniforms


My paternal grandfather Mordecai Goldkind (Morris) was a Polish Jewish immigrant from outside Lodz. He came to the US via Ellis Island fleeing the Czar’s Cossacks first working on the New Jersey shipyards and then opening a successful shoe-maker’s shop in ’30s Brooklyn.

My father grew up listening to Hitler’s speeches on the radio as every other Jew living in America at the time did. When he turned 17, he enlisted.
There was no choice in the matter.

My grandmother’s heart broke packing her son away to boot camp but even she knew that there was no choice. The Nazis were coming after us and we had to stop them or die trying.
The war crippled my father.
Emotionally, psychologically.
I know now that he had to kill other men, German men at close hand.
I knew that speaking fluent German he loved the German people and their culture. I know that killing another man killed part of himself.

He told me that he survived by giving up the idea that he would.
The story of what happened after his return includes the story of his son, my life. My father was broken by that war fighting the fascists in Europe so that we would not have to fight them here in America.
There was no choice.

When I was a boy and my grandparents came to visit or we visited them, my grandfather Mordechai would talk about Israel but he and my father would sometimes talk about the Nazis. I remember my grandfather pointing his finger at me in the middle of my silent witness of their conversation:

“Igor, don’t you ever fool yourself into thinking that we beat the Nazis and they all went away. They never go away. They wait for the right time and then they just change their uniforms.”

Was I 6, 7?
I don’t know.
All I recall was the deep bootprint of my father and his father warning me down the generational ladder to be vigilante. To watch for the signs. That the Nazis do not go away. That oppression, power, cruelty and inhumanity does not evaporate. That they linger waiting patiently for the right time to put their new uniforms on.

Now is that time.
I can see the MAGA uniforms.
I can see the detention camps, the forced hysterectomies, the torture by negligence of thousands of children.
Can’t you?

I can see the exploitation of a pandemic for deliberate eugenic population control under the mask of ‘herd immunity’.
Can’t you?

I can see dissidents and protestors being criminalized and imprisoned for 10 years for defacing a statue.
I see our civil rights being teargassed into the ground.
Can’t you?

I can see the violent racism on the streets, the white power fanatic infiltrating lawful protests to vandalize, destroy and cast blame on the citizen protestors.
Can’t you?

I can see the police getting more and more aggressive, shooting more and more unarmed citizens, jailing more and more dissidents like in Russia or China.
Can’t you?

I can see America’s future as a giant, fat man’s golf shoe stomping on the face of freedom and justice forever.
Can’t you?

Can’t you do something?
Vote Biden/Harris 2020
There’s really no choice.


Riding Johnny’s Train



I’m on your train,
Riding through the lower melodies like
Cars crashing through steel
Leaving twisted steel in our wake.

The speed of thought is a battering ram;
It’s momentum builds mass.
The faster we think the thicker we get,
The heavier gravity’s pull.

Can we escape our bodies?
Why can’t we just take our bodies with us?
Eternity surly has enough room
Our bodies are vinyl cartwheels spinning after us,

The tails of burning meteors.
We burn atmospheres so fast and hot
We don’t even know we’ve arrived
Until after we’re long gone.

And now that we’ve arrived, we’re much too early
For supper.
For the show to begin.
Unless of course, it’s already ended and we missed it again.

Riding Johnny’s Train

TAKE A DEEP BREATH by Igor Goldkind and Frederic Iriarte


The Cure for Pandemania is Here! 

An Album of Original Spoken Contemporary Poetry and Music

– Making Sense Where Nothing Else Does –

Original poetry by Igor Goldkind
Music by Frederic Iriarte and Igor Boyko

Launching September 5th at The 2020 International Beat Poetry Festival (Normally in Boston, now virtually everywhere!) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCilhqGXf2CAARg7N7EjwNQg

The Festival Will be streaming 3 original music videos from the album for the first time.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH is available for download  exclusively on Bandcamp 

9 Tracks, 40 Minutes, $18.00   $15 EU

Original Words, Music, Video and Antidotes for Living With Uncertainty


Internationally renown fine artist and producer Frederic Iriarte and American Poet Igor Goldkind have collaborated on 9 original tracks of musical interpretations based on Igor Goldkind’s forthcoming collection of poetry also entitled TAKE A DEEP BREATH
The album of 9 tracks is being launched as a complete work at this year’s International Beat Poetry Festival and will be released for download at midnight  this coming Saturday, September 5th.

This unique multimedia work was written and produced during the pandemic in Stockholm, San Diego and Moscow.  It is intended as an artistic attempt to help us live with uncertainty and survive catastrophe living.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH is most important piece of Spoken Word Art to come along at just the right time: right when we all needed it the most!” 
–  Henry Rollins

TAKE A DEEP BREATH and step out of your comfort zone.
Just don’t look down.

2020 has been a year of both social, economic and psychological upheaval.   Humans have been required to adapt to drastically changing circumstances without forewarning and without certainty as to the outcomes. 

We are being challenged as a species to adapt. 
Adaptation is our genus but it is also painful  and exhausting. 
TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a guidebook:  a pause for a moment of reflection.   Take a break from panic and get a clear view of where we are as individuals, as a people and as a species.

Covid-19 has literally attacked our humanity however in doing so has done us the service of reminding us of our shared humanity, our common mutual vulnerability.  These are hard lessons to learn and uncomfortable changes to be made for us to survive.   TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a pause in the gloom  and a chance to regain our strength and resilience to  all carry on.

TAKE A DEEP BREATH is a step backwards in time when poetry and music were used  and appreciated as tools for contemplation, meditation and reflection on the most crucial factor in our lives.  Now that we are being confronted and overwhelmed with multiple catastrophes,  is the time to return to using  poetry for what it is designed for: 

Reflection, Meditation, Contemplation
Self-Healing and Recovery

We will survive.


Pandemic: The Cure for Panic in the Face of Uncertainty


What if we thought of this uncertainty
as the Jews consider our Sabbath—
As a sacred space in time?
Stop travelling
Stop buying and selling.
Stop working.
Give up for now,
trying to make the world
better than it is.

Instead, Sing. Dance. Pray.
Write songs and read poetry.
Paint the pictures from your eyes.
Walk amongst the leaves and the stars.
Touch only those to whom you have commited your life.

Sit down.
And when your mind and body have become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected in ways that are both terrifying and beautiful.
No one can deny that now.

Do not reach out with your hands.
Reach out with your heart.
Reach out with your words.
Reach out with all the curled tendrils
of compassion that connect us invisibly,
where we cannot touch each other.

Promise this world your love
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
For as long as we all shall live
In this time of mass uncertainty.


On Poverty and Consciousness


A new acquaintance asked me why I endured relative poverty and uncertainty in California when I could easily take a tech copywriting or PR job and be living comfortably.

I answered, for which I’m sure someone reading this might wonder the same.

The answer is not simple and all has to do with my commitment to art and to the art of writing. It’s somewhat like a religious or spiritual calling; certainly as requisite of sacrifice and discipline as a monastery. (Read James Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, if you need further elucidation on the subject). To become a great artist, which is what I believe I am becoming at this late stage of my life (or will at least die trying to be), takes total focus and constant dedication.

Not just to creation but to observation. Many of my best friends are not just poets and artists but scientists and mathematicians because they are processing their own observations through their own disciplines. When we talk and share words they read me and hear me, they comprehend how we’re all pursuing the same thing: the truth about life and the lives we are living.

Science and Art are really just two different vantage points in the same universe. During our Rennaisance there was no such separation between science, engineering and art. Just look at Da Vincis’s sketches if you don’t believe me. And this underlines the true failing of the formal education systems. No purely structured system can account for, much less process the unstructured data of experience.

But one truth I have learnt along this way is that we are all connected; both as a species and as sentient beings. Not just to those existing in the moment we all share but for all of us, from the very beginnings of awareness and rational self-consciousness. We are all brothers and sisters of the same mind, the same awareness that is awake and cognicent.

We all share the same biology of the mind.
I imagine that when extraterrestrial sentient life is contacted, it will be the poets and artists most open to the new who will not only best describe and communicate qualitative meanings with them but decipher their language(s) to communicate with them (more of “us”?), before the actual scientists can interpret their data and the military can rationalize the threat.

From the point of commonality; this sentience itself has a common shape or form in all of us throughout time and geography. It is our human nature.

My words try to sketch its outline.

Without needing to name a god, the Buddhists have been attempting to describe this commonality of all sentient beings, for thousands of years. In art and yes, in poetry too.
It’s what poetry is for: to describe the indescribable that is true for all of us, to all of us.

The known shining its single torch down a darkened corridor to the unknown.
The unknown (not the unknowable), has always been our mind’s final frontier.

We weren’t born yesterday. We did not just become aware of consciousness. The history of consciousness is the history of us, of the ‘you’ that is reading and comprehending these words.

You are no different in awareness than the Neanderthal who stumbled out of her cave and looked up at the stars in wonder. Every astronomer I have ever known harbors that exact same wonder. Our tools maybe bigger, faster and deadlier but our minds haven’t changed, just adapted to our tools. They’re physiologically still the same; and only enhanced by the evolution of language, both associative, symbolic and metaphoric.

This is where we alll connect. The commonality of our senses’ perception and their comprehension. This is what is meant by ‘realisation’. When we make the world real. When we realise that the truths we know from our senses connect us to the world as intimately as to each other.

These are the materials I use to create art.

But why not get a day job?
I will have to.
I have learned all I can stomach for now about the tangible reality of poverty. I have made some great and tragic friends outside my walls of privilege and comfort. But when I first detected my dwindling resources, I panicked. I borrowed gas money from friends, slept in beachside campsites for free and spent too many days in chic cafes nursing one cup of coffee and a refill just to write, just to connect with the non poverished. I. applied for every job I was qualified for and hustled my books even harder.

But this did not avert my panic and the fear, until it passed of its own. And you already knnow: nothing is ever as bad or as long as we first imagine it to be. That’s when I understood how many of my needs, weren’t needs at all and that I could live without the comforting requisites of a middle class existence, just fine. In some ways better.

Less consumption = less waste.

There’s what I want and what I can have and if I diminish my wants, I can have have everything I want.

When you don’t have any money, you don’t spend any money and that initself is a good thing.

The last argument that pursuaded me of the virtue of experiencing this lifestyle is that if I really wanted to write for wider audience in a profound and meaningful way, that I might need to understand and empathize with the truth of our human condition across the entire economic spectrum, not just those who can afford to buy books

And the truth is that the vast majority of “us”do not live a middle class lifestyle and that the majority of “us” struggle every day to earn what is called a living and yet seldom ressembles it.

I have met so many, so many poor people living on the streets in one of the wealthiest cities in the wealthiest state in the union, in the wealthiest nation in the world.
None of us can afford to rest within our illusion of justice and freedom until poverty is no longer the default state of the human condition in America. Remember, poverty is a prison from which escape is difficult. But if we truly want to say that we live in the land of the free, then we must free our citizens from the prison of poverty.

They are “us” as well. Not charitable”us”, not pitiful “us”, not lazy, drug taking, alcoholic “us”.

Just us.

I have talked in depth with enough of the so-called “homeless”. to recognize them for who they really are: The Poor. You know, those people Jesus was always talking about and Charles Dickens and Emile Zola wrote about? The idea that those without homes choose to live that way is a bigoted urban myth that need to be quashed.

Yes, may of the poor have real problems with alcohol, drugs and severe mental illness. But so does every other group and class of people I have ever known. The rich and the middle class aren’t exempt from alcohol, drugs and craziness; in fact they can afford more!

How then are we less connected as human beings?
Or is “humaness” only measured by level of income?

When I moved back to California to look after my mother, I was immediately struck by the avalanche of poverty that had engulfed my home town. As is every other foreign visitor to California, by the way. No tour of Balboa Park or visit to Sea World can eradicate the open poverty that everyone can see on the streets of San Diego. Which now more closely ressemble the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti or the extreme poverty that can be found in some places in Mexico, than any American city.

The first thing that went was the last vestage of regional or even national pride.
It is a crime against humanity for so rich a city as San Diego to maintain the level of homeless poverty that is evident to anyone who visits us. It is “our” fault. Because we are also connected to the impoverished and the socially weak.

You know, what Jesus was saying.

If I am to write the truth for those who want to read or hear the truth, then I ought to know what is lying outside the walls my middle class habits and worldview. What is it really like, not just for the impoverished but for the vast majority of Californians who also now live beyond the walls of middle class sensibilities, paycheck by paycheck?

Haunted by the memories of its long gone comforts.

What does it mean to be a human being living in America right now, in 2020. Aren’t we all supposed to have jertpacks by now?

What is the Truth of our American selves?

As Tony Morriosn said “The whole point of freedom is to free others”.

To my friends who have offered their support, I thank each one of you.
I will never forget your kindness and your humaness.


Yes I have a new book coming out in the fast approaching Spring.
It’s entitled TAKE A DEEP BREATH, A Book of Remedies and will feature much of the writing and accounts of experiences of truth that I have had living in California these last 5 years.

I hope that you will take a look.


San Diego Beats Poets

Igor Goldkind

San Diego poets are wet gutter snipers
Taking pot shots at frivolous affluence and misspent eternities
From the street corners and back alleys of our prematurely grey dementias.

San Diego poets cast lines like fishing reels
Screaming curses at angels in heels while
Humming blues tunes to the damned, under our breaths.

San Diego poets spit surreal spiels into ribbons of unfurling images
That rain down like bright pathetic confetti
Against a blank horizon of an empty human empathy.

San Diego poets slide their wild, horse hair bows
Across taut, tied strings that sing
Above a psychedelic landscape of the gradually worsening human condition

You and me are not blind instruments of self-immolation.
We do not have to sit at the center of the fire to make it our home.
We can play our songs on sad air violins
And dance in the rain to drown our sorrows in the sea of greater uncertainty.

San Diego poets press our runny noses against
The pained windows of badly lit coffeeshops and crafty bookstores,
Hosting poetry readings for the over groomed;
Those educated only in the blind arrogance of their own judgements.

San Diego poets litter the streets with our menial typewriters
Preaching doomsday fire sales to tourists and
Liberation to those still hounded by carnivorous ambitions
In the current climate of fear that tries to pass itself off as survival.

San Diego poets never have enough money to buy you a drink
But will spare you a cig-regret –
–if you’re willing to spare the change you need you to make
–to make your tomorrow just a little bit better.

San Diego poets are all clowns, fools and charlatans
Keeping ourselves amused on the ragged streets of cold hangover dawnings
Whilst skipping around and dancing through the circus of mediocrity that pervades us.

San Diego poets migrate like flocks of hummingbirds
Seeking warmer climes and heartfelt compassions.
Blurring our wings the whole distance in getting there.

© Igor Goldkind, January 2020


Go Fuck Yourself!


Go Fuck Yourself, you pathetic failure.
Leave the arts to the poets, the dancers and the painters
Go get yourself a real job, a real vocation.
Fuck off and leave those of us who fight for our culture alone.
Fuck off and stop leeching the creative spirits of the secular martyrs who have sacrificed their lives on the holy altar of Art, Truth and Freedom.
Go Fuck Yourselves!
And each other in your sleazy stinking orgy of self-gratifying bigotry and weeping pustule aesthetics.

Go Fuck Yourself in the Ass With Your Own Extended Nose
Go let yourself get fucked in the ass by all the bogus arts nonprofits that pocket tax money to further their own finances while cheating artists and reviewers out of their livings.

Go write yourself a grant.

Write up your mission statement in day-glow gold-gilded writing.
Put on your ‘supporter-of-the-arts’ makeup
Keep counting the coins in your bookseller’s till
While prescribing the rules that determines who is in and who is other.

Go Fuck Yourself and try reading a book for a change.
Go read Whitman, Bukowski, Anais Nin and Henry Miller on art.
Let William Burroughs into your dreams.
Go get yourself a self education.
In the meantime, shut up, sit down and just listen:
You are the enemy of art, the enemy of poetry, the enemy of life.
And we’re coming for you.
Because all you are is in the way.


What He Said She Said (v2)




She said Hii!
I said hello
She said let’s go for a drink.
I said sure.
She asked ‘what are you having’?
I said, whatever you want.
She said, thank you for thinking of me first.
I said your pleasure is all mine.

Later she sent me a text.
‘Have you ever tried phone sex’?
She said.
I said ‘Sure’.
She said how about now?
I said I need to go home.
She said she did too,
She sends me a naked picture of herself.

Are you hard”? She asks
‘Sure’, I said.
“I want you to fuck me”, She said.
‘Shall I come over’? I say.
“No”, she said. 
“Let’s meet and fuck tomorrow. 
But for right now, just this moment 
Can you just talk to me”?
‘Sure, ‘I said.

Right now I just want you to tell me how you’d like to fuck me.
‘Do you want me to come over,’ I said again.
“No,” she said, 
“Don’t come over 
Just talk to me and make me cum.
I just love the sound of your voice”.
‘Sure’, I said. And she did.
‘Are we still getting together tomorrow by the fountain in the park’?
I asked, after a while.
‘Of course’, she said.
‘Great’, I said.

The next morning she sent me a message:
“I’m sorry but your age is something 
I just can’t get past, 
I’m not meeting you next to the fountain, I’m sorry.
You’re just too old and I shouldn’t have let things go so far

I just can’t get past that; your age”
‘Sure’, I said. 
‘Neither can I without fatal results’.
She did not laugh
“I’m sorry, but that’s how I feel” She said.
‘That’s how you feel’, I said.
Later that morning I died my hair black

and left dark stains in the sink.


On the Southside of Border Town


13,200 brown children are detained.
Taken from the arms of their parents by American immigration authorities.
Infants are held tightly, cared for by other children
In dirty, neglectful, and dangerous conditions
That scar the southern border of the American Dream
The SCOTUS Jenny Flores settlement mandates by law that children must be held in safe and sanitary conditions,
“Moved out of Border Patrol custody without unnecessary delays”.
This is the Federal Law
Except children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town

The conditions the human lawyers found, they found inhuman
Flu and lice outbreaks left untreated,
Children filthy,
Sleeping on cold floors,
Guarding each other from the guards.
Most have been there for weeks.
Constantly switching blankets between covers and floor mats.
Everyone is crying, crying all the time
Only children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town

Across El Rio Grande; across that lazy river
A scared little girl stands on the safe American shore; then jumps back in El Rio
To reach her father and cling to him as he swims back to Mexican shore to retrieve her mother.
El Rio’s currents care not of human intent;
The river just flows and it flows and it flows,
Until the little girl and her father are washed up, facedown on the shore.
Her arm still protecting him, curled around his neck.
You know, just like your daughters and mine have done countless times before.
Dead children are taking care of their dead parents on the south side of Border Town.

A treacherous river divides this nation
There are twisting bends and perilous nationalist waters to traverse.
When death took the scared little girl and her father, I hope he took them together
So that they can be forever together
If only in the little girl’s dream.
When will we stop murdering the poor just for being poor?
The only document you need to prove you’re human is the record of your deeds
While children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town

A 2-year-old boy locked in detention, wants to be held all of the time.
He has wet his pants and has no diaper
He is wearing a mucus-smeared shirt.
He does not speak.
Two detained girls, ages 10 to 15, have been doing their best to feed and soothe the clingy toddler.
Children taking care of children
The 10 year old girl speaks for the quiet boy:
“A Border Patrol agent came yesterday and asked me’:
‘Who wants to take care of this quiet little boy who nobody wants?’ So I said us.
Because only children are taking care of children on the south side of Border Town



“Nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property,
without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” ~ The US Constitution


So You Think You’re Going to Shoot Me?


The real blood libel.

So you think you’re going to Shoot Me?
I got news for you goyim,
You’ve been shooting at me for 900 years
From arrows to bullets to canon and you still haven’t hit me.
Because I am no other than you.
How can I replace you when I am you?
Open your eyes, you are shooting the gun at yourself.

You don’t get it.
This must be the trick of the devils’ twisted tongue, right?
The one that tries to deceive you
With the facts of truth
Poured from the grail of reason.
Go on, have a gulpful .

No, you can’t shoot me, you can’t even aim straight.
Your hatred is so predictably boring,
Always looking for someone else to blame
For your failure as a human being.
Anyone should do, but
Just like a bad movie cliche, you pick the Jew.

How can you shoot me,
When most of us are already dead?
Replaced, misplaced, driven from your nations’ borders.
Baked in your ovens.
Never even pausing
To wonder what the difference ever really was.

Now we have nations, guns and missiles and
Our own black-booted armies, to protect us from bad shots like you.
To protect us from everyone but ourselves.
Now we can sip from the same blood cup,
While hating then shooting,
All of the Other Jews.


Notes from a Facebook Exile


Once again the ghostly powers of Facebook have judged me and found me wanting.

Or wanting of the veneer of non threatening, amiable posts. Nothing that would offend a Humming Bird of nerve endings. A Calvinist shaking in their boots. I’m not a Facebook post, you don’t have to like me!

My grave offence was to post a photograph of the great American poet Allen Ginsberg standing naked on a Moroccan beach. The original naked poet; metaphor and literal combined into one. His words, not his images were deemed obscene way back in the last century. There was a public trial and unlike Socrates, Ginsberg (and City Lights, the publisher) were both found not guilty of obscenity. Howl was deemed a work of art and protected under the first amendment. Why doesn’t Facebook abide by the first amendment instead of hiding like a coward behind their Emerald City curtain of Community Standards?

And why don’t Americans know their own history?

I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Allen Ginsberg during my Freshman year, when he had come to do a reading and lead a group meditation paying his dreadful table accordion. Was I 17 or 18? I was studying Heidegger and Charles Olsen, the Action Poet; Kandinsky’s New York roommate right round 1959 thereabouts, when the photo of Ginsberg on the Beach was taken. But I knew all of his work, inside and out. I was never gay but Ginsberg made me want to be!

I had stopped Allen in an outdoor corridor lined by lawn between two campus buildings. I was armed with my copy of the first edition City Lights Kaddish epic that I had found by blissful chance in the long gone used intelligentia bookstore at the corner of College and El Cajon Blvd, in San Diego, over a lifetime ago.

Allen looked at my book and gladly signed it. “I haven’t seen a first edition of these in years!” I told Allen about the used book store in San Diego where I had gone through all of his poetry and Kerouac and Cassidy’s First Third and Dylan’s Tarantula, Alan Watts, D.T. Suzuki’s 3 volume Essays on Zen, all bought and consumed at this temple to beatitude at the cross roads of the world. I didn’t tell him how in high school we used to climb to the top of Cowell Mountain and howl the words to Howl at the valley unfolding beneath us. We didn’t know what hungry junkies were quite yet, but it sounded good and it was real. As real as the suburbs of San Diego can ever be.

In the past present, Allen handed me my book, more of a pamphlet, back and looked me up and down and smiled. It was a genuine smile and not the least bit lecherous considering what he said next.
“Would you like to come up to my room, it’s just over graduate housing? I can show you some poem books you haven’t seen. I knew what he meant but I was so stunned dumb by the proposition (Allen Ginsberg!). I stuttered something still trying to make up my mind before I spoke. But alas, fear of the unknown vanquished my curiousity or perhaps it was my vanity to be loved by a star that was defeated.

Nonetheless I must of said something because we went on our merry ways, my thanking him a little too profusely and the back of his bald head bobbing down the corridor.

So when I posted the photo a young Allen standing nude on a Morrocan beach, I kind of felt like I had earned the right to share his image, naked and vulnerable for the sake of a poetry reading which it was more than certain that someone would recite a Ginsberg-eque poem.

The Philistines may have conquered the machines but not me as of yet.

Allen Ginsberg 1959
The Eye Has It

Facebook is Anti-Culture


Facebook is Anti-Culture

I’ve started this post after returning from a 60-day ban from Posting, Liking, Communicating, Joining, or Connecting with anyone else in the Facebook Community.

Censorship, the suppression of words, images, or ideas that are “offensive,” happens whenever some people succeed in imposing their personal political or moral values on others. Censorship can be carried out by the government as well as private pressure groups. ~ The ACLU

What Was My Crime?

My posting one of my own published poems from my book Is She Available? that had been posted in Facebook at least thrice before without repercussion. and is currently available in dozens of libraries and bookstores throughout California and soon to be released in the UK. The visual interpretation of a love poem by the Designer/photographer and internationally renown artist/typographer Rian Hughes entitled:

I Missed Your Scent in Paris

Although his image was a black and white stylized photograph of a woman where if you squinted and looked real close you could make out the shadow of half a nipple showing, (which is exactly what a Facebook employee would have had to have done in order to render judgement that Tian and my work contravened Facebook’s community standards.

Words by Igor Goldkind – Image by Rian Hughes
Censored by Facebook

The Poem and Rian’s photo interpretation of the poem were not obscene, disgusting nor gratuitously offensive in any way. Unless of course, you consider the human body in itself to be obscene, in which case I strongly suggest you seek therapeutic help as you clearly entertain unhealthy, self-hating, anti-social thoughts.

Instead, if not the poem, then certainly the photograph of the semi-nude woman is a work of art. It is obvious to anyone who reads and looks that it had no other intention. Not being able to distinguish between pornography and erotic art is one of the great threats Facebook’s dumbed down lack of discernment poses to the thriving of a culture.
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
Art is the science of culture. Both are experiment–driven.
Igor Goldkind
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––
As community-oriented and community-sounding Facebook professes to be (in its language and self-justifications of its censorship), Facebook is the enemy of culture. As well as the enemy of the community of humanity that shares the values that a free society comes hand in hand with expression free from censorship; as long as the expression poses no harm. Otherwise, it is not a free community.

“To destroy a people, first destroy their culture. 
~ Mario Torero

What is it exactly about the half shadow image of a woman’s left nipples poses a threat to anyone? The last time I checked, a woman’s nipple is the source of nourishment for all of us, male and female at one time or another.

To censor the image of a human nipple is to censor the truth of what it means to be human. How can I prove this? Look for yourself! Apart from a minority of our fellow hairless apes who have lost them in accidents or horrific burns, we ALL OF US HAVE NIPPLES! It is the truth of who we are and as an artist, as a poet, I am only interested in the truth of who we are. Not the twisted Calvinist attempt at reversioning a reality where angels never fart and genies have no belly-buttons.

We Must Protect You From Yourself

I know for a fact that genies do have belly-buttons, I’ve seen them with my own eyes! And as far as angel farts go, they smell better than your own.

Article 10 of the United Nations Human Rights Act protects our right to hold our own opinions and to express them freely without government or private interference.

This includes the right to express our views aloud (for example through public protest and demonstrations) or through:

• published articles, books or leaflets
• television or radio broadcasting
• the internet and social media
• AND WORKS OF ART
• The law also protects our freedom to freely receive 
information from other people.

The US The Supreme Court has interpreted the First Amendment’s protection of artistic expression very broadly. It extends not only to books, theatrical works and paintings but also to posters, television, music videos and comic books and personal social media pages including FACEBOOK — whatever the human creative impulse produces.

The right not to be censored by an arbitrarily superimposed moral hypocrisy of a minority…. is articulated in the Human Rights Act signed by the US as treaty and thus bound by US federal law in 1964. In the late 1960s and 1970s, the United States renewed its commitment to the international human rights system by signing, though not yet ratifying, several major human rights treaties.

Including the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and the INTERNATIONAL COVENANT ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS (ICESCR).

Liberty, Freedom & Justice
But Not From Facebook

These are the laws of the land that FACEBOOK has violated in unceremoniously and without warning censoring my work. Judgement without respite and only the cosmetics of appeal.

Facebook is not a community in any shape or form as long as its private owners impose their narrow, petty, puerile, and juvenile morals on us without listening to everyone, not just the complainers, who make up that community. That includes us good for nothing, when-are-you-going-to-get-a-real-job? artists.

There is no one to talk to at Facebook. No one to appeal to; no one to reason with and no one that takes responsibility for its actions. Human beings wrote the algorithms, built the servers and the browsers to increase the human bandwidth, not to distance us from ourselves!

There is no reason to fear the takeover of robots, algorithmic judgements and machines, for we have already surrendered.

Please repost this in part or in full on your wall and please share with your friends across all social media. Maybe Facebook will recall what it means to be a human with nipples one day and stop emulating the machines (who have no nipples).

Thank you,

Igor Goldkind
Still Human & Nippled

PS You think that I’m overreacting? Just another crazy, good for nothing artist making pointless noise? The Modigliani nude, the Picasso, the Rubens and all fell foul of Facebook and are all pictured as depicted after being defaced by Facebook in the name of their hypothetical Community Standards.


I Want To Be Just Like Socrates



Ever since I returned from England, and discovered to my consternation, that no real path to a teaching career was open to me without a specifically California teaching credential, I’ve been looking for fulfilment outside of a cubicle inside a cubicle, inside another cubicle…you get the picture.

This in spite of my teaching for some years at the University of Liverpool at a full professor’s salary and the Oxford University Internet Institute at a considerably less salary. As well as guest lecturing at St. Martin’s School of Design, the London School of Printing and the University of Lincolnshire’s graduate program),
As I have not the means to afford to both pay and live for a year’s teaching credential (nor necessarily would agree with the manner and criterion by which that credential is achieved), I have made a point of teaching any and everyone who wants to learn and will bother to listen.

Education should not only be free to those that cannot afford it, but it should flow freely from those that have it to anyone who wants it. Teaching is not a skill, it’s a disposition. It’s an interactive sport. Not all great achievers in the arts or the sciences have that disposition.
Teaching in the Starbucks forum is my revenge on what has become since I departed the US in the early 1980s, the Business of Education. The California educational system has become a money making scam by institutions colluding with banks to profit off of student debt.

A Scholarly education is no longer relevant or desirable; it’s about acquiring credentials which of course must be purchased more readily than earnt. Thinking originally or independently of a hiring institution poses a threat to that very institution. Thinking differently might bring about change and the risk of losing power over others.

Of course, there are many exceptions, I have friends from high school and college who are to this day conscientious, curiosity-driven teachers, researchers and college professors. In that sentence distinguishing between the teacher and professor, I expose my level of submission to status and accreditation. Neither of which has anything to do with the scholarly pursuit of knowledge in order to cultivate wisdom.

The sure sign of a good teacher is not their credential, status or the number of degrees, but if they are focussed enough on continuously learning and re-learning their subject through their students and the actual experience of teaching.
Teachers and professors who are in education for the status become administrators and bureaucrats, ironically adding to the very obstacles teaching teachers must surmount just to do their job and teach their subject.

Teaching is not a job like selling insurance to the elderly who are too confused to know they are signing their life savings away; teaching is a vocation. It takes endless study and self-scrutiny. It takes listening to and learning from students outside of the educational caste system.

So since the institutions won’t accept me without taking the prerequisite bank loan so as to accumulate debt and pay interest to the banks, Starbucks and the streetcorner are my classrooms. The park, the beach, a dive bar, a brewery, an art gallery, the library and yes, even the streets where the public and members of every class are allowed to circulate freely without being hassled by the authorities.

Everywhere I go I strike up conversations with the people around me. (No, not everyone. I’m not a public nuisance.!) Instead, I stay in one place until the carousel of human activity aligns someone into non-threatening social proximity. Even then, I am cautious, seductive. I really don’t want to disturb anyone, just engage them.

The old and the young are the best. The old because most people ignore them as they have nothing to offer the perpetually youthful society. The young because they are not yet quite jaded and curious as to why someone twice or nearly sometimes nearly thrice their age would want to talk to them. I treat most people the same and people younger than me find that attractive. I don’t condescend, rather I enquire. I ask a lot of questions and most people do like to talk about themselves.

The characters I have written and are currently writing all stem from what I am able to capture in the wilds of a Starbucks or a sidewalk street corner. And then I teach. I teach people how to think. Not by telling them how to or what to think but by taking their trains of thought and passing them through my station and asking a lot of questions.

Some folk disembark and stroll around my lack of conformity. They breathe the rare air of freedom as there is nothing that I prohibit them from doing or saying; unless of course, it causes harm. My lack of inhibition is contagious and people tell me things, particularly the elderly that they would never tell a stranger, although I am one. Those that linger become my friends over time.
Others just can back on board their train and depart my station.

We don’t always agree but we do respect each other which grants another kind of freedom. The freedom to be yourself a reprieve from having to perform your self for the estimated sake of others.
A psychiatrist once asked me if I considered myself a nonconformist. I assured her that I wasn’t, that I was normal it seemed to be everyone else that was a little off centre. Besides, I continued, I am always trying to conform. Not to convention or others but to myself.

I struggle to conform to the person I strive to be.


Nobody Talks to Me Anymore


 

Today was every other day.
My boss says,
“Hey, Joe, where you going with that staple gun in your hand?”
I draw a blank on my face and turn to face his.
“You don’t really know, do you, Joe?
You don’t know where you’re going.
You don’t really know who you are.
You don’t know much of anything anymore,
Do you now, Joe?”

Then he laughs at me
In front of everybody
He laughs and points at
What everybody but me can see.
And everybody laughs and they laugh and they laugh
But nobody talks to me anymore.

My boss don’t talk to me anymore.
My neighbors don’t talk to me anymore.
My doctor don’t talk to me anymore.
My mother don’t talk to me anymore.
My father don’t talk to me because
He’s long since gone
Flown far away from the words to this song.

I call my girlfriend up on the telephone
She says, “Joe, I’m not your girlfriend anymore”
And hangs up the phone.
Nobody talks to me anymore.

I call my doctor on the telephone
He says, “hello, is there anybody there”?
I say, “it’s me, Joe, doctor help me, nobody talks to me anymore!”
My doctor coughs and hangs up the phone.
Nobody talks to me anymore.

I call on my priest in the church down the road
I say “Hello, Father? my Father, is that really you?”
“Please tell me, dear Father, what should I do?”
My priest says “Joe, God don’t love you anymore”
And throws me out through God’s front door.
Even God don’t talk to me anymore.

So, I go down to a bar to have a little swim.
There’s a bar stool there where the X-mas tree should have been.
The bartender looks at me,
But he doesn’t say a word.
I hold up two fingers and point at the sky
So he pours me a double, ten-year-old rye.

Which I toss down and motion for another
While calling him “my brother”.
The bartender stares at my face.
As silent as the stones in his wall.
Nobody talks to me anymore.

On the street, the headlights blind my blinking eyes.
Strangers push past me, some I know, most I despise.
A cop car pulls up and flashes his bright light on me
The cop points his flashlight in my eyes so that I can’t see.
There’s nothing he or I need to say.
He won’t arrest me.
It just ain’t worth his time to talk to me anymore.

A ghost walks up and stares into my face.
He doesn’t say a word; just hangs there in space
Instead, he spins ribbons of colored lights
Inside my head.
There’s no knowing with ghosts no more
The dead don’t even talk to me anymore, either!

Suddenly I see an explosion of lights
There are trumpets and harps and angels in sight
A liquor store, a neon vision of light
Promises me spirits of salvation and delight
If I just step inside….
While next door, a gun store slowly cracks open its door . . .

I am my father and my mother’s son and
I’ve never before bought me a gun.
But nobody, nobody talks to me anymore.

©Igor Goldkind 2018


Being Banned From Facebook for No Bloody Good Reason: The Moral Failings of a Computational Society.

In vino veritas.

I write this mainly for my regular readers who may be concerned about my apparent absence from FB.   I’ve always used FB as a fencing ground and now I’ve been fenced out, temporarily, for 3 days.

My account has been public for the last 5 years because I always fully intended to provoke,  and attract engagement particularly from those that find offence or challenge here or just take exception to my posts.

But mainly, I use this platform to hone my writing skills in real time.

It’s a form of art activism, Artivism.

Bringing the origins of my work; the emotions, the outrages, the political anger and the moral dismay I feel directly to confront on their walls, in their replies and in their faces, those who are morally failing.

Who do I mean are morally failing?

Well, anyone who still says they support the treasonous weasel in the White House, is a start.  But more generally Americans who should be more French than they’re English but unfortunately share more with the English propensity for worshipping dogs and traumatising their children.

The present generation of “youf”; be they white, black, Chicano, Native, Vietnamese, Gay, Chinese, Transitioning, Korean, Japanese, Indian, African, Middle Eastern (and every combination of the above), have more in common with each other than they will ever have with any of their previous generations.

Revolution needn’t be violent they just need to turn things around.

But to the point in question, I have not been in touch because I have been barred from both Facebook and Messenger for not following community guidelines, poor dears.  Except that I am as much a part of that community as anyone. Not of an algorithm that flags random posts to FB ‘s appointed moral custodians.

My crime against the community?

Reposting the profile photo of a woman’s breast dripping with red wine into a crystal goblet.  In fact, her nipple is obscured as it is drenched in wine.

You can see it for yourself here below.

What is the algorithm’s crime?  Well nothing, it just follows and acts on long lists of tedious commands; executed in the blink of time

No mind, I’ve been a naughty, naughty boy and my shrilling mother will not allow me to save the human race from amnesia.

I can’t stop the algorithm from making a moral judgement that supersedes mine, or any human’s.  I can’t have a quick word with the algorithm or anyone at FB to teach them what a juxtaposition of symbols that create an allusion to the truth.

Such as the sweet wine depicted being the mirror of the sweet mother’s milk as is symbolically conveyed by the nude breast.  You cannot make that visual allusion with a bra.

It doesn’t work.

The breast must appear as nude as it is to the baby that seeks its nourishment.  Sweet breast milk, sweet primal nourishment, sweet wine that I sip in the middle of my night to remind myself that I was once a child, protected and loved by my mother.

As were you.

Algorithms have no mothers.  And those who are the masters of those algorithms long ago put their mothers out of their eye’s way, in homes.

Please Share,
Everything.

In vino veritas.

In vino veritas.


Image

A Short History of Poetry Therapy: Practice and Perfection by Igor Goldkind


On FaceBook, a discussion where questions are posed and answered:  https://www.facebook.com/realpoetrytherapy/

The healing effect of words has long been recognized. As far back as 4000 BCE, early Egyptians wrote words on papyrus, dissolve them in liquid, and gave them to those who were ill as a form of medicine. In more recent history, reading and expressive writing have been employed as supplementary treatments for those experiencing mental or emotional distress. Pennsylvania Hospital, the first hospital established in the United States, employed this approach as early as the mid-1700s. 565263b60c258b2297259258628f7262

In the early 1800s, Dr. Benjamin Rush introduced poetry as a form of therapy to those being treated. In 1928, poet and pharmacist Eli Griefer began offering poems to people filling prescriptions and eventually started “poem-therapy” groups at two different hospitals with the support of psychiatrists Dr. Jack L. Leedy and Dr. Sam Spector. After Griefer’s death, Leedy and others continued to incorporate poetry into the therapeutic group process, eventually coming together to form the Association for Poetry Therapy (APT) in 1969.

Librarians also played a major role in the development of this approach to therapy. Arleen Hynes, one pioneer in this area, was a hospital librarian who began reading stories and poems aloud, facilitating discussions on the material and its relevance to each individual in order to better reach out to those being treated and encourage healing.  In 1980, all leaders in the field were invited to a meeting to formalize guidelines for training and certification. At that meeting, logo-with-pegasus-and-sloganthe National Association for Poetry Therapy (NAPT) was established.

As interest grew, several books and articles were written to guide practitioners in the practice of poetry therapy. Hynes and Mary Hynes-Berry co-authored the 1986 publication Bibliotherapy – The Interactive Process: A Handbook. More recently, Nicholas Mazza outlined a model for effective poetry therapy, also discussing its clinical application, in Poetry Therapy: Theory and Practice.

The Journal of Poetry Therapy, established in 1987 by the NAPT, remains the most comprehensive source of information on current theory, practice, and research.skeleton_hand

There is also a relationship between psychological healing and incantations; either repeated as a musical chant by the patient or in fact recited by the attending medicine man. Modern medicine and science of course scoff at the notion of magical incantations having healing or restorative powers as so much superstition. But this, of course, begs the question that if recitations and incantations had no evidential resort and no beneficial property then why would every single human culture have adopted the method and repeated it for several thousand years? Surely if there was nothing to vibrating air with the sound of one’s breath as well as the added stimulation of associative meaning being read cognitively by the patient’s mind; we would have given it and its sisters, singing and chanting aeons ago.

I am 30123926_10215993633815156_874551244336406748_nnot advocating a supernatural or spiritual causation for the effectiveness of poetry as a healing agent but rather the supra-natural mystical cause which is grounded first in human nature and behavior for which can be a myriad of imprecise explanations; none of which explain why it works.

Today, poetry therapy is practised internationally by hundreds of professionals, including poets, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers, educators and librarians. The approach has been used successfully in a number of settings—schools, community centers, libraries, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and correctional institutions, to name a few.

How Does Poetry Therapy Work?

As part of therapy, some people may wish to explore feelings and memories buried in the subconscious and identify how they may relate to current life circumstances.    Poetry is beneficial to this process as it can often be used as a vehicle for the expression of emotions that might otherwise be difficult to express

•Promote self-reflection and exploration, increasing self-awareness and helping individuals make sense of their world

•Help individuals redefine their situation by opening up new ways of perceiving reality

•Help therapists gain deeper insight into those they are treating

• In general, poetry therapists are free to choose from any poems they believe offer therapeutic value, but most tend to follow general guidelines.

It is recommended selected poems be concise, address universal emotions or experiences, offer some degree of hope, and contain plain language. Some poems commonly used in therapy are: “The Journey” by Mary Oliver “Talking to Grief” by Denise Levertov “The Armful” by Robert Frost “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud” by William Wordsworth “Leaves of Grass” by Walt Whitman “Turtle Island” by Gary Snyder The poetry of Alan Watt, Allen Ginsberg and others.poem.brown_

Although the selection of material is often by the therapist, those being treated might be asked to bring to therapy a poem or other form of literature they identify with, as this may also provide valuable insight into their feelings and emotions.

My Technique in Poetry Therapy

A few different models of poetry therapy exist, but the  one I’ve had the most success with is a Four Phased Progression of Attention:

Recognition – Focus – Intention – Action

In the receptive/recognition phase, the poet therapist merely guides the subject to focus on their issue. The aim is to establish concentration and cognitive focus on the details of the issue which are not revealed to the poet/therapist. Only until the poet/therapist feels confident that the subject is cognitively attuned to and non verbally focussed on the problem or issue of concern that they begin to ask suggestive questions as to how the subject feels, not thinks about their subject.

00404_jYm78IsVoM9_600x450

This provocation of emotion usually comes in three distinct phases of emotional content:

I. First is the one of the predicament, then the subject first becomes aware of the existence of the issue. This is the gateway phase where anticipatory feelings are registered and ideally conveyed through the prompting of the poet/therapist.

II. Then there is the full throttle stage when anticipation of the issue has given way to full experience of all emotions related to the issue. This is usually overwhelming (or it wouldn’t be “an issue” in the first place), and it is tantamount that the poet/guide leads the subject through distinct words to describe the layers of emotions experienced by the subject. Language and the use of the words is the key here because emotions always come in clusters of complexity that make it difficult for both poet/therapist and subject to distinguish and focus on underlying and suppress emotions.

“What kind of anger do you feel?”

“How would you describe your sadness”

“How much shame do you feel?

“What would you compare it to?”

IMG_433100l0l_kJFj2yv382Z_600x450

Are typical of the questions a poet therapist would ask the subject.

This is a sophisticated method of word association but rather than creating bridges between seemingly disparate words, the goal is to drill down to the core emotions about the issue by uncovering and refining the language the subject has chosen.

Achieving exactitude of description is the task at hand. The Poet/Therapist makes careful notation of everything the subject says towards describing their emotion. It is important to keep them focused and not to succumb to intellectual distraction. Thoughts are illusions, emotions are facts.

Getting the subject to correctly and precisely describe the emotional facts of the matter at hand  is the objective

III. The final phase is the exit strategy.

How do the feelings commence to recede? How does the issue recede back into the background? What are the parting emotions? Is there anxiety about the leaving? The anticipation of an issue yet unresolved? Or is the issue impermeable and subject to a rhythmic return?

Again, the subject’s wording, their adjectives, adverbs and phrases are the material of the poem.

At this point, there is usually a short break to give time for the subject to recover from the emotional transitions and for the Poet/Therapist to briefly skim their notes and begin to focus on the flow of adjectives. It is preferable if possible, to compose what amounts to a first draft, a flow of words which the poet can read back to the subject to confirm the accuracy of the flow.

At this first reading stage, it is possible to start interjecting logical bridges between the emotional descriptors. This is the creative factor unleashed. The Poet must be led by the subject to link coherent sequences between the emotional states. The poet suggests and the subject confirms or vetoes the phraseology, one line at a time.

Now we arrive at a second draft which is the property of the subject. It is their poem for which it is crucial that the subject now read the poem aloud and take ownership of its content. The subject can redraft the poem a third time in making it their own.   But the physicality of uttering the words they have chosen to express their emotional state is an act of ownership and closure.

The Poet/Therapist can either email the finished poem to the subject, hand them his/her notes or rewrite the poem into a legible form.  In any case, it is important that the Poet/Therapist ascribes the authorship of the poem to the client.  If the client is hesitant to put their name to the poem than something is lacking in the poem and must be redressed or indeed started over again.

The key to the entire exercise is freedom of expression, honesty and then refinement; exacting the poem.IMG_4323-1

Other Approaches and Other Models

The process of writing can be both cathartic and empowering, often freeing blocked emotions or buried memories and giving voice to one’s concerns and strengths. Some people may doubt their ability to write creatively, but therapists can offer to support by explaining they do not have to use rhyme or a particular structure. Therapists might also provide stem poems from which to work or introduce sense poems for those who struggle with imagery. A Poet/Therapist might also share a poem with the individual and then ask them to select a line that touched them in some way and then use that line to start their own poem.

In group therapy, poems may be written individually or collaboratively. Group members are sometimes given a single word, topic, or sentence stem and asked to respond to it spontaneously. The contributions of group members are compiled to create a single poem which can then be used to stimulate group discussion. In couples therapy, the couple may be asked to write a dyadic poem by contributing alternating lines.

The symbolic/ceremonial component involves the use of metaphors, storytelling, and rituals as tools for effecting change. Metaphors, which are essentially symbols, can help individuals to explain complex emotions and experiences in a concise yet profound manner. Rituals may be particularly effective to help those who have experienced a loss or ending, such as a divorce or death of a loved one, to address their feelings around that event. Writing and then burning a letter to someone who died suddenly, for example, may be a helpful step in the process of accepting and coping with grief.

How Can Poetry Therapy Help You?

Poetry therapy has been used as part of the treatment approach for a number of concerns, including borderline personality, suicidal ideation, identity issues, perfectionism, and grief. IMG_4328

Research shows the method is frequently a beneficial part of the treatment process. Several studies also support poetry therapy as one approach to the treatment of depression, as it has been repeatedly shown to relieve depressive symptoms, improve self-esteem and self-understanding, and encourage the articulation of feelings. Researchers have also demonstrated poetry therapy’s ability to reduce anxiety and stress in people.

Those experiencing post-traumatic stress have also reported improved mental and emotional well-being as a result of poetry therapy. Some individuals who have survived trauma or abuse may have difficulty processing the experience cognitively and, as a result, suppress associated memories and emotions.

Through poetry therapy, many are able to integrate these feelings, reframe traumatic events, and develop a more positive outlook for the future. People experiencing addiction may find poetry therapy can help them explore their feelings regarding the substance abuse, perceive drug use in a new light, and develop or strengthen coping skills.

Poetry writing may also be a way for those with substance abuse issues to express their thoughts on treatment and behavior change. Some studies have shown poetry therapy can be of benefit to people with schizophrenia despite the linguistic and emotional deficits associated with the condition. ravenskull_1x

Poetry writing may be a helpful method of describing mental experiences and can allow therapists to better understand the thought processes of those they are treating. Poetry therapy has also helped some individuals with schizophrenia to improve social functioning skills and foster more organized thought processes. It is important to note in many instances, especially in cases of moderate to severe mental health concerns, poetry therapy is used in combination with another type of therapy, not as the sole approach to treatment.

Training for Poetry Therapists Poetry therapists receive literary as well as clinical training to enable them to be able to select literature appropriate for the healing process. While there is no university program in poetry therapy, the International Federation for Biblio-Poetry Therapy (IFBPT), the independent credentialing body for the profession, has developed specific training requirements. Several studies support poetry therapy as one approach to the treatment of depression, as it has been repeatedly shown to relieve depressive symptoms, improve self-esteem and self-understanding, and encourage the expression of feelings.

Concerns and Limitations of Poetry Therapy

In spite of its widespread appeal and broad range of application, some concerns have been raised about the use of poetry therapy. Some critics have pointed out it is possible for people to analyze a poem on a purely intellectual level, without any emotional involvement. This type of intellectualization may be more likely when complex poems are used, as a person might spend so much time trying to decipher the meaning of the poem that they lose sight of their emotions and spontaneous reactions. Poems that are unoriginal or filled with clichés are unlikely to stimulate individuals on a deep emotional level or challenge them to think in ways that promote growth. Just always keep in mind that poetry therapy may have little or no value for those individuals who simply do not enjoy poetry.

The Advertising Pitch:

IMG_4325 copy

Words are the Most Powerful Magic There Is

Sometimes Your Mind Has a Will of Its Own

With PEGASUS POETRY THERAPY you can

Learn How to Read Your Own Mind!

Confusion bringing you down?

Is manic depression touching your soul?

You know what you want, but you just don’t know how to get There?

Poetry therapy is what you need when the medication, the yoga, the guided meditation, the crystals, the chakra alignment and other Somatic treatments just aren’t working.

Some things only work when you let them work:

• Restore Self-Confidence

• Achieve Closure from Painful Relationship Breakups & Lost Loved Ones

• Find a More Meaningful Direction to Your Life

• Get Unstuck and Out of Your Own Way

• Overcome Fears and Anxiety

• Control panic attacks

• Change  Addictive Behavior Patterns, like OCD

• Re-Write bad Scripts

 Recognition > Focus > Intention > Action

cc3a9851_origThere is no trick to listening to yourself and learning how choosing and rearranging your words can unlock darkened doors, de-clutter basements and clean out the attics of your life. Sometimes in merely one session.

Every Tuesday from 11:00 am until 6:30 pm at the

Inner Temple Inner Healing Center

at Eve’s Vegan Cafe 575 S. Coast Highway 101 Encinitas, CA

Contact:   realpoetrytherapy@gmail.com or

Call 858 349 6429 for an appointment.

$50- 1/2 Hour $80 – 1 Hour eve-logo

EXAMPLES & ENDORSEMENTS

PEGASUS POETRY THERAPY  has only recently launched its online version via FaceTime, Skype or Facebook video.   downloadJust add <poetry therapy> to your Skype contacts and schedule a date.   Payments accepted through PayPal or Facebook cash.  Here are some examples of the poetry achieved through PEGASUS POETRY THERAPY:

I.

Narcissus in a Nutshell

I’ve lost the person locked within the situation

Like a nut dwells within its hard shell of fearful anger.

Escaping vulnerability

Hiding from the unknown.

Hard shells, hard feelings, hardness itself

The excitement of living days in the present

Belonging to the past

I will not let go of what I can recall but not relive

My belonging to that which encompasses myself

Another nut within its shell.

To belong is to exist

Without belonging there is Nothing and

I fear nothing most of all because I do not know it

And I fear what I do not know more than

I would remedy the pain of this loss  with trustworthy tools

When two liquids are bonded  as one

A single drop of poison poisons the whole glass

And betrayal  is always poison no matter how little or how much

The glass of Narcissus’s tears is now empty

He has blinded himself rather than drink his own poison.

Instead he has left me to sip the bitter poison

Of fading better days.

Like a cat

Poised in stillness

Distracted by nothing

Ready  to pounce

I will not surrender the pain.

I will not surrender the pain.

Because the pain is my memory of the happiness

We’ve now lost

A sweet nut within a bitter shell.

II.

The Martyr

Last night I saw you beatify a martyr

With a magical brush of gold belief.

You were serious and determined

But your brush strokes were light caresses

On a sky blue span of canvass

As you gently coaxed another image into being.

You remind me of my mother earth

Stern in her compassion

Willing to tolerate just so much from me

Before reining in my love

With her brushes.

And where you have drawn your line

‘Be careful’, you said to me on parting

But all the care in the world could not stop

My bulb from bursting

Rendering me blind in the speeding night

But still seeing with the golden light

Of the martyr you have shown me.

III.

Snake Heart

This sadness, this hopelessness

Will not be swatted away

Nor drowned by the busy work

Of the day to day.

It persists

Even when I am submerged in my bathtub.

The warm water rising from the bottom of my lungs.

Until I lose the will to breath

And the sadness becomes anger

Rising to the very top of my horns

Of my red-hot raging exhaustion.

How good to be angry!

I used to be afraid of snakes but no longer.
I am hissing from the centre of my snake-heart

As you try and step over me.

Your eyes fail to see as you tread on my tail.

On my snake heart.

On my resolution without confrontation.

Without the owning of emotion

All that’s left for us is the hissing sound of machinery.


The Last Refugees: Syria in Crisis


Protest Poster
The time has come,’ (I am) the Walrus said,
To speak of many things:
Of shoeless children — and refugee ships — and the things
that all of us need…
Of arresting civilian protesters — and blood-letting priests and kings.
–– And why the sea is filled with fleeing families
And whether falling bombs have wings.’
This is the time of confusion perpetrated by those whose power is built upon the bedrock of our confusion.
We are told that all information are biased lies. To not trust what anyone says; apart from the words of those who tell us not to trust what anyone says.
In America and around the world there is a crisis in the authority of information. Never in the history of our tribe, the human tribe, has so much information, so many facts, so much data been at the command of so many of us.
The World Wide Web is truly an amazing thing, as is its name: World Wide.
And yet too much is never enough. With such abundance comes scarcity. Scarcity in the reliability of what we read, hear and see. We can no longer afford to listen to simply one voice. Uncle Walter is no longer alive to comfort us with the nakedness of facts, disrobed from opinions.
That’s just the way it is.
So we listen to the many voices inside and outside of our heads and try to tune into a signal through the rising noise levels. That signal, that wavelength, that fleeting photon of energy we’ve always known to be the Truth. What is the Truth? I don’t really know but you and me can always recognize it.
Right now the truth comes in the numbers:
In 2016, from an estimated pre-war population of 22 million, the United Nations (UN) identified 13.5 million Syrians requiring humanitarian assistance, of which more than 6 million are internally displaced within Syria itself at the mercy of the Syrian authorities, and around 5 million are refugees outside of Syria.
5 million refugees! 1.5 million in Lebanon alone. This is the biggest refugee catastrophe the world has seen since the millions of Jews who fleeing the Nazis were denied entry, turned away from this ‘Great’ nation of ours. To be deported to the death camps that awaited them and at the time no one believed were real. How could they be real? How could this be real again?
Never Forget really means Never Again.
How could a booming population of 22 million be gutted of 13.5 million civilians, more than half the country, of men, women and their children?
How could we, our tribe have let this have happened? Why didn’t somebody do something before it got this bad?
Where was our compassion deported to?
Pasted Image 0
But I’m not answering questions about how we got here. Instead, I’m asking you to do something about it right NOW. Set aside the luxury of your political opinions and focus on the reality, the facts. What we know to be True, right here and right now. There are children crying out in the desert. I can hear them, believe me, I can hear them and if you pay close attention, you can hear them too.
The facts are that families, just like yours, fathers and mothers just like you and yours and children, yes children exactly like yours are living and dying in unimaginable squalor. Right now, today. And there is something you and I can do:
syria3
They need medical supplies, doctors, and nurses to treat their external wounds and trauma counsellors to tend to their internal wounds.
images
The teenagers’ survivors of Florida school shooting were transformed from children into adults in the course of a few short hours of a single death-defying day. Being American, they were treated and counselled for the trauma caused by the actions of one young man and a single gun he should never ever have obtained.
These young adults’ transformation, Emma Gonzales, David Hogg and the others, was miraculous. They took the worst trauma they had ever experienced in their lives and changed it into action; an effective action that has yielded results. Like alchemists, they changed rusting iron into gold. They are an example for us all, especially us adults.
I’m telling you here that we don’t just have to admire our children, we can, we must follow their lead.
Now imagine, hundreds of fully automatic guns being fired around you, at you. Imagine the infernal thunder of bombs falling all around you, decimating your home and the streets of your childhood, obliterating your school, your neighborhood, your city and everything you have ever known to be safe and solid. The destruction of your entire your life while leaving your body if injured, still intact.
Please imagine this with me now, right now.
Stop reading this.
Close your eyes and use your mind to
Reach out beyond yourself and you will hear the bombs dropping and the sound of never-ending gunfire.
Now open your eyes and do something to answer the cry of that child in the desert. Follow the children, they know the way, the golden road into a better future.
Finally, please forward this post, share it with your friends.

 

 
We’ve all got to make the effort to be the human beings we would like to imagine ourselves to be.

31131198_586517128397710_4498561291429871616_o


The Holocaust Survives


 

Today is #YomHashoah, the date on the Hebrew calendar in which the Jewish people around the world recall the memory of six million Jews and more who were murdered because of who they were, and to rededicate ourselves to prevent another genocide.   #WeRemember    #AskWhy
Unfortunately, it hasn’t been working lately, the remembering nor the preventing. Assad’s continued gassing of his own civilian population with chlorine and nerve gas is nothing short of homage to the Nazi death industry.
So you see remembering the holocaust isn’t a Jew-thing, it’s a human-being thing. 12046767_10204811838007626_7843537198296988521_nNo other single event in history had more of an impact on the 20th century and by consequence the present 21st, than the mass brutalisation of families or men, women and children in the camps and now in the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon.
We are all part of the same tribe who fall victims to those who hate their own humanity.
What follows is my little piece of the Holocaust and why I can never forget even if I wanted to.  My mother told me a few days before she died, addled with dementia but suddenly lucid that the most painful, heartbreaking memories are better than no memory at all.   Better to be reminded of the experiences of who we are rather than to disappear completely; from the world and from ourselves.




download

L’Chaim

F E A T U R E S     
W I R E D Issue 2.09

 

Master of Puzzles

 

By Igor Goldkind

 

Ivan Moscovich has created more brain-teasers than most people have solved crosswords. Igor Goldkind set out to piece together his fascinating and harrowing life.


Ivan Moscovich has his life’s work wrapped up in a bundle of about 10,000 pages of A4 paper. On those pages there are some 5,000 separate puzzles, puzzles that range from the hang-on-let’s-look-OK-I-see to beyond the fiendish. Some are variations on themes, some utter one-offs. Some are to be made on paper or card, some are designs for tricky little – or big – devices. Moscovich calls them the S.A.M. archive – science, art and mathematics. The puzzles use the techniques of bafflement to teach, and they use beauty to bemuse.

Moscovich has been making puzzles since the 1960s. Now, at the age of 70, he’s looking to transform that life’s work into new formats. He and his colleagues have started up a new company to take the ideas on those 10,000 pages and put them to work in the digital arena. Moscovich is sure that there is room for them. Having looked with interest at hits like Seventh Guest, which friends told him were bringing new life to the world of puzzles, he was profoundly unimpressed. The puzzles were hard, sure (if you weren’t Moscovich, that is), but they were variations on a small number of underlying tricks, and they didn’t add up to more than just a set of puzzles. Moscovich thought that he – or people mining his archives in digital form – could do better.

“In digital media you can build overlapping linear trees, using the media to interrelate the concepts for the user. It’s important with any problem to see – at the same time – the different paths that can take you to a solution. Certainly this is the best way to explain scientific and mathematical concepts.” The collection of puzzles becomes a sort of puzzle itself: a maze, something to find one’s way through, something more than the sum of its parts.

Ivan is looking forward to trying to put all this into practice – not least because he enjoys the attitude of the people he’ll be working with. The way that games designers and programmers think fits into his world perfectly. He loves to be with people who are bored when they’re not trying something new, even impossible, when they’re not seeking a new solution. And he can make sense of himself by being part of a group; in fact, it has saved his life before now.

Ivan likes people who try to make sense of the pieces. That, in part, is how he got into puzzles – his delight in their ability to teach eager minds. As well as making puzzles for books and toys, he has used them as serious teaching tools for engineers – and pioneered the art of transforming the counterintuitive insights of puzzling into science museums with interactive displays. Putting together the pieces of an idea is much more important than putting together the pieces of a puzzle. The wonder is that by getting someone to do the latter, you can let them do the former.

A life in fragments

Moscovich’s own life is a bewildering array of puzzle fragments. Having met him on a CD-ROM project and learned some of his history, I started to wonder how to reassemble the fragments – and what they could be made into. One of the answers is a charming, brilliant septuagenarian. Another is 10,000 pages of A4. And a third might be a technological passage through the 20th century, from the industrialisation of death to the pursuit of pleasure. A journey that charts the territory of the 20th century’s technological revolutions and its human upheavals, from the Balkans to California, from museums to the Israeli defence industry, from the ruins of Austro-Hungary to the digital age, from railways to death camps.Moscovich’s parents were Hungarian, but he was born in Novi Sad, a small Serbian town. He still retains a central European accent that, to my ears (and probably to yours) sounds like the definitive voice of modern science and mathematics. “My father was a Hungarian who escaped from Hungary into Yugoslavia after the First World War. He was a painter by profession, but in order to make a living at that time he opened a photographic studio which became very successful. He named his studio Photo Ivan, after me.”

His description of an everyday childhood in Novi Sad paints a familiar 2017-09-01 19.56.25portrait of a middle-class craftsman’s family, complete with Yiddish grandmother and old-world family meals – and none of the hothouse intellectual atmosphere that produced Leo Szilard, John von Neumann, Kurt Gödel and other thinkers who left Budapest to dominate 19th-century thought. There was little to suggest Ivan’s strengths in science or mathematics – except, perhaps, a boyish infatuation with model aeroplane kits. He had, however, inherited from his father an inclination for drawing, and his father’s habit of tinkering with various gadgets – including an early air brush – to enhance his pictures was a constant delight to Ivan.

But when he reached technical high school, Ivan fell under the influence of a mathematics teacher given to explaining the precepts of science by means of science fiction. Ivan’s teacher opened up the world of mathematics by making problem solving fun. Ivan was entranced by the maths – and, later, showed that he had learned the method, too: rigorous scientific thinking through the lens of art and storytelling.

By then, though, the Hungarian fascists had invaded. They met with little resistance. And, soon afterwards, they took Ivan’s father from him. “Before they took him, he asked a Hungarian officer if he could say goodbye to my mother and in their final embrace he slipped this ring onto her finger.” Ivan holds up his hand and shows me an ornate gold band studded with eight small diamonds. It is the only surviving memento of Ivan’s youth; everything else was lost in the Holocaust. Ivan’s father joined 6,000 Jews and 4,000 Serbs executed en masse and thrown beneath the ice of the frozen Danube. All in one day.

Ivan continued his studies until the end of 1943, when the Hungarians “got cold feet” and the Germans invaded. “We really didn’t have any knowledge of what was happening in Poland in the ghettos or with the Nazis. We all hated the Hungarian fascists, but I still knew and liked Germans and, you know, communications were very different then; telephones didn’t work internationally. We were really disconnected from the rest of the world.”

When a Hungarian Jew escaped from Auschwitz and fled to Budapest to warn the Jewish community of the death camps, few believed him. So Ivan Moscovich was deported to Auschwitz at the age of 17.

“It meant stepping out of one world into another one. I was sent with my grandfather, my grandmother and my mother. When we arrived, my grandparents were immediately taken to the crematoria. My mother stayed in Auschwitz the whole time. After three or four weeks I was taken out of Auschwitz into one of the surrounding work camps. Young people were sent to work. I worked at laying rail lines.” The Nazi system was to provide rations for six months survival, after which the workers were supposed to starve to death in order to make room for new inmates. The meticulousness by which the operation was organised was not lost on Ivan. Nor would the memory escape him when two years later he found himself again working on train rails.

death-listens-1897.jpg!LargeBy that time he and, miraculously, his mother were back in Novi Sad. An acquaintance in the Ministry of Transport offered him a research position in the effort to repair Yugoslavia’s war-torn railway system. The post involved testing an enormous German machine that used high electrical wattage to weld rail lines together, a then untested invention. Mounted on a train carriage, Ivan travelled with the machine throughout Yugoslavia, in charge of the welding team. The machine was so successful that Ivan soon found himself elevated to a lofty position within Tito’s Ministry of Transport, accountable only to the deputy minister himself.

“There I was, a simple technician, at the age of 20, and I had all this power and no boss, really. People thought I was a top-shot communist because everybody had to do exactly what I wanted. The project became more and more successful, our production was way up and I was given orders to enlist more and more technicians for my team. One day I was called in by the deputy minister and was told that in order to create a 24-hour work shift, I was to take on 50 German prisoners of war.”

So, two years after surviving the German work camps, he was given control over a work team comprising high ranking German officers and regular soldiers, some Wehrmacht, some SS. He could have done anything he wanted. He could have shot them all and easily justified his actions to the authorities. He could have tortured them to death with gruelling work. He could have snapped his fingers and made them all disappear. But Ivan Moscovich had responsibilities, a quota to fill and a marvellous welding contraption to keep running.

“I had ten kilometres of rails to get out that week and it was a real dilemma whether to screw the Germans or to try to get the best output from them. I decided to increase their rations to get more work out of them, and sure enough they were grateful and worked even harder, which increased the output. I was very, very tough with them and I think they were scared of me. But I never revealed to them that I was a camp survivor. They worked for six months and then Tito released the prisoners.”

As it happens, Moscovich only worked on the German railways for six months. “I was lucky for the first six months. It was very important for survival in the camps to be with your people, your clan of friends and family; death in the gardenit made life easier. You couldn’t get ill, because that meant execution, but curiously, if you could show a work-related injury, a visible wound, you could be seen by the SS and granted a day or two of hospital. One day I announced myself with a bad wound. While everyone else went on work detail I was left in the enormous courtyard with a broom to clean up, completely by myself. Suddenly the gate opened and a commandant’s car stormed into the courtyard and headed straight for me. The German officer jumped down from his car, grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, threw me onto the platform of the vehicle and drove off. I was kidnapped.” Later Ivan learned that there had been an escape from a neighbouring camp and the camp commandant had stolen Ivan to make up his tally of inmates. The mathematics of death had to add up.images-1

“Up to this point all of my feelings had been one single feeling: an enormous outrage. Rage that somebody, anybody, another power, could take me away from my decisions, my everyday life, and put me in an environment where whatever happened was not under my control. I was young and maybe too strong an individualist, but it was rage that kept me alive.” In the new camp this life-sustaining anger was broken, until he discovered a distant images-10Hungarian cousin running the camp’s kitchens and being the “godfather” of the camp. Then he found some school friends of his father’s. For several weeks Ivan rebuilt his spirits and his body. Then the Russians pushed back the German line, and the SS made their lethal preparations for evacuating Auschwitz.

The problem to solve was – how to survive.

The Museum Man

In 1952 Ivan found a new clan – and became a leader. He set out for Israel to join his now remarried mother. On the boat to Haifa, Ivan was approached by Israeli officials interested in his skills and qualifications. The new state was hungry for skilled technicians. By the time Ivan reached Haifa he already had a position in the Ministry of Defence waiting for him. “In my group there were mainly these Yugoslav and Hungarian technicians without any training in science and mathematics. The language problem was enormous, and here was this group of technicians involved in scientific research without any basis in the field. I don’t know how it happened, but I was selected as someone who could teach the other members of the group some basic science.

My boss wanted me to instruct them outside of a formal classroom using demonstrations, models and visual means. That was really the start that put me in the direction of puzzle making.”Ivan found himself playing around with visualisations and experiments. He worked hard to come up with ways in which complex ideas could be explained visually, not so much to convey a deep academic knowledge of science and mathematics but to engender an intuitive grasp of the subjects and, most important of all, to instill the knack of problem solving needed to tackle more important scientific and technological puzzles.

By the end of the 1950s, Moscovich was creating puzzles almost all the time, and practice had revealed a rare gift for making puzzles that could be revisited, puzzles that retained a depth, an impact, even after they had been solved. “I tried to design models that were compact and effective, and in which the experiments could be repeated a number of times. This required completely original design conceptualisations. My boss, Ernst David Bergman, was the leading scientist in Israel at the time, and founder of the Weizmann Institute. He loved my work, and it was he who had the idea that some of those objects I had designed could be exhibited. That was the basis of the founding of a science museum.”

In 1959 Tel Aviv established its Museum of Science and Technology, the first of its kind in Israel. Ivan worked non-stop for two-and- a-half years converting five disused British barracks into a museum, begging and borrowing every available resource. The museum finally opened in 1964 with Ivan as its curator and director. It was the first science museum to emphasise hands-on, interactive exhibitions, and it quickly attracted international attention. His position as curator became a springboard from which to explore and express his interest in art, science and mathematics, and to do it all with the benefit of a growing international reputation.

In 1965 Frank Oppenheimer, brother of the more famous Robert, having heard of Ivan’s fantastic museum to science, visited Tel Aviv with Admiral Lewis Strauss, chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission. The two became fast friends, sharing a childlike fascination for technology and science as well as knowledge of the darker side of machines and technology. This was four years before the opening of the Exploratorium in San Francisco, for which Oppenheimer imported many of Ivan’s installations. Some remain on exhibit to this day.

The puzzle of death

In 1944, while Oppenheimer was working with his brother on the problems of designing the first atomic bombs, Moscovich was on the death march to Bergen-Belsen. Here, too, the problem was how to survive. “Everybody said those who stayed, declaring themselves ill, would be shot. As it happens, they were liberated by the Russians two weeks later. And we walked barefoot and nearly naked through the worst winter of the century, westward to Bergen-Belsen.”At Bergen-Belsen, the last stop for the Final Solution, Ivan gave up all hope. He had been assigned to a work detail in the then still beautiful city of Hildesheim, near Hanover.work will set you free “Near where I worked was a statue of the mathematician Leibniz with beautiful writing on it.
And it was so strange that after so long in hell, I am seeing that statue. I felt I was being visited by a ghost, an image of the real world I had left behind. It was then, only then, that I remembered my previous life, my teachers, my studies of mathematics and all that. Up till then my memories had been blocked out. It’s impossible to imagine that every minute, every second of life in the camps, you were only thinking of survival; there was no room for any other thinking. But here was this beautiful statue of Leibniz that reminded me of the real world.”

After two weeks working in Leibniz’s shadow, “I heard this strange noise … mmmmmmmmmmmm … that filled the air, and we suddenly realised that the sky was filled with planes. The next second everything was on fire. It was the Allied carpet bombing of Hildesheim. I saw German soldiers burning, running, and everything became chaos. I ran. After a while I stopped and looked back at the city, which was one big torch. I found myself alone in a giant field, a free man. But a free man in pyjamas, a free man with nowhere to go. I weighed 45 kilos.” Ivan turned around and started walking back to the depot. With his camp clothes, his inverted mohawk, there was nowhere to run. A German woman ran out of her house and thrust a chicken leg into his hand; she never said a word.

Recaptured, he was beaten and sent back to the camp. The dead lay in their thousands. “One barracks the Germans were using to fill with dead bodies, hundreds of dead bodies. After work one evening, I decided that instead of going back to our sleeping area that I would crawl to the top of this mountain of bodies and find myself a horizontal place. There was a slot at the top where I could see what was happening outside. I slept there for five, six days; I don’t have any notion about how much time passed. It was bliss to sleep; quiet and beautiful. It was no problem sleeping on a bed of a hundred dead bodies. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have lasted.greetings-from-my-mind-human-tragedy-1413423286063

“One day I awoke from my sleep to complete silence. I looked through the slot to see the camp was completely deserted. Suddenly through the main entrance, which I had in my view, drove a single jeep with four English officers that stopped in the middle of the square. I rolled down the hill of bodies like a log and then I felt like I was running but I must have been moving very, very slowly. I was, I think, one of the very first to reach the jeep, and you know those guys were looking at us like they were seeing aliens for the very first time. Like first contact.” He collapsed into the arms of an English officer.

Moscovich was deathly ill. By the time that English officer caught up with him again, in a local hospital, he looked unlikely to survive. So the officer found a German doctor and frog-marched him to Ivan’s bedside. The Englishman pointed his revolver at the terrified doctor’s head and said, “If this patient dies here, you die here.”

Ivan Moscovich did not die – nor, at that point, did the German doctor. Ivan was transferred to a Red Cross hospital in a small town in Sweden – a town so boring, he now swears, that the local newspaper actually ran daily updates on Ivan’s weight gain for lack of more interesting scoops. Ivan describes his slow recovery as matter-of-factly as everything else.

“At a certain moment you know, the organism decided,
‘OK, we’re going to stay in this world. ”

30123926_10215993633815156_874551244336406748_n

Toy story

In the mid-1960s, as his fame grew in Israel and beyond, another new world opened for Ivan Moscovich. “I was working on a puzzle at my desk one day when one of the ushers came in and said a couple of tourists wanted to see me. I was busy and didn’t have the time. The usher came back and said they only want five minutes of your time and they wouldn’t give up. So I agreed to see them, Mr and Mrs Eliot Handler. I wasn’t very enthusiastic but we talked and then Mrs Handler said ‘I would like our chaps in California to see your puzzles; are you ready to come over to California?’

I didn’t take them very seriously. Two weeks later I received a call from a travel agent who had a ticket waiting for me to go to California to visit Mattel.”Eliot and Ruth Handler founded and owned Mattel Toys. Its twelve-storey building in Hawthorne was the centre of America’s toy industry. Sales of their Barbie dolls were colossal, but the Handlers were keen to expand the Mattel range beyond just dolls. When Ivan came out to visit them they immediately offered him a three-year open contract to create games and puzzles for US$25,000 (£16,000) a year. His “Brain Drain” puzzle game promptly sold a million copies worldwide. This success was repeated with a series of puzzles including “Play It Again Fun”, “Visual Brainstorms”, “The Brain Power Decathlon” and “The Hinge”. Soon toy and games manufacturers from Japan to Europe were clamouring for more and more puzzles from the master. Ivan Moscovich’s gift had found the most widespread of all its expressions.

Fitting together the pieces

Somehow, all these pieces add together to produce a remarkably creative man, and one with a unique vantage point. Ivan has seen countries destroyed, reconstructed and created afresh. He has faced the most utterly depersonalising totalitarianism ever attempted, and rejoiced in the individual quirkiness of children’s imaginations. At an age where most seek nothing new at all, he is embracing the digital world with the enthusiasm of a seven-year-old offered a Game Boy.

How does he see the end of the century?
“At present we are in a greater need for a fresh creative spirit than in any other period of human history. Less and less experience is being gained directly through activities. Sensations tend to reach us increasingly only after passing through layers of media filters. Children manipulate electronic gadgets and play with computers, which is all very well, but ultimately lacks perspicuity and full sensual enrichment.
I hope to create open-ended concepts that trigger chain reactions. Ideally, the player plays my game, solves the problems and is motivated to invent his or her own variations of rules, ultimately creating his or her own games, puzzles and aesthetic structures.”

He has an avowed predilection for the physical. You can see it in his hands as he solves his puzzles. But Ivan sees unique possibilities in the digital world, possibilities that flow from the nature of his puzzles. “I’ve already published several books of my puzzles, but in a book you are restricted to the lin- ear progression of page after page, without much freedom. To interrelate the conceptual links between problems and solutions you need to be able to cross reference non-linearly, which is what a CD-ROM does.” After all, this is the point of his S.A.M. archive – that it combines science, art and mathematics as different paths to the same goal. The trajectories can be changed forever; the solutions will still provide the improvements of the self that Moscovich cares about.

“You know, humanity has been defined in various ways. For instance, as Homo habilis, skilful man; as Homo sapiens, wise man. I prefer Homo ludens, playful man, as the best definition of modern 20th-century human beings.” It was a hopeful definition that Johan Huizinga came up with in the late ’30s, at the time that young Ivan was learning science through science fiction – but the hope was serious and fearful. Huizinga was quite aware that playfulness had its dangerous side, and that the coming war would be a great, dark game; it was peace, he always said, that was the serious business.

These days, Ivan Moscovich is at peace. He lives a quiet life with his wife Anitta in west London. Within him, though, you can sense the machines within machines working, a vast inner factory of the abstract. It is hard to imagine him without them – even in the worst places the century’s history has to offer. I asked him whether his puzzling mind had helped him in Auschwitz, in Belsen; whether he had made his retreat into a private world of abstraction and pure thought.

“No. You know, it’s very difficult to explain, to understand. All of your time, all of your energy, all of your thinking is just focused on one thing: surviving.”

He did. And from the simple fact of survival he has pulled together the fragments of his life into a living inspiration for the rest of us – a puzzle worth thinking about.

Igor Goldkind writes science fiction, comics and essays, and lectures on technology and culture.

 

 

If you are concerned with the Syrian refugee crisis, the largest forced mass emigration of refugees since the Jews escaped Germany and Poland, there is something you can do.  Inform your self through the  Syrian American Medical Society who are running projects and providing medical supplies to the victims of the dictator Assad’s brutal and genocidal war against his own people.

 

Participate, if you live in southern California by attending  a special exhibition of protest art at The Misfit Gallery in La Jolla California on April 21st.,
@ 565 Pearl Street. 92037 6-10 pm
I will be reading my published and unpublished work in the Spoken Word progamme as well as performing with The Third Act of Creation.  But there’s much, much more.  It’s a celebration of human rights and protest art to raise money for SAMS and also to join others in Mindful Resistance to the tyranny, bigotry and corruption in our present government and around the world.  WE are THE PEOPLE, so instead of just complaining or getting depressed,

Let’s  do something!

Protest Poster 

 

 

 

images-1 02.27.03


“We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names, of symbols, signs, conceptions,  ideas and numbers.”  ~ Alan Watts


The Numbers Game

In the end, it was the numbers that did us in.
They lined us up into military rows
And assigned us all numbers
One after one after one after one after one….
How many, nobody knows.
You see, it’s a numbers game
It’s all the same
You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Let me explain how it’s done,
And how this game can never be won.images-1

See, there are good numbers and bad numbers
High numbers and sad numbers.
Sometimes high numbers are good and low numbers are bad
And sometimes low numbers are good and high numbers are sad.
It all depends on who is counting.
Not you or me
Not the numbers either.
They don’t know, they’re just numbers after all.
Although…
The numbers are counting on each other.
Just not you or me

Because we will never be free
Of Big Numbers and small numbers,
Negative numbers and imaginary numbers,
You see, it’s a numbers game.
It’s all the same
You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Let me explain
How it’s done.
And how this game can never be won.
downloadPrisoner number…

Credit Score number
GPA number
SAT Number
Zip code number
Blood pressure number
Heart rate number
DOB & TOD numbers
House number
Gas number
Phone number
Electricity number
Room number
Water number
Dog tags number
Social Security number
Bank account number
Table number
Sibling number
Temperature number
Flight number
License number
Vehicle registration number
Alcohol level number
Height, weight and age number

I hear you scream:
“I’m not a number, I’m a human being!!”
Sure you are,
Now take a number.
It’s for your own protection
There’s safety in numbers.

Numbers can answer all of your questions:
How far, how long, how deep, how high, how many,images-2
How often?
Just not ‘how come’?
Anyone can count,
But you can’t count on anyone.
See, it’s a numbers game
That can’t be won
It’s a numbers game
It’s just how it’s done.
It’s all the same.

You’re not your name
You’re your numbers.
Now count to ten
And start all over again.

For Rob Thompson who asked me if Numbers occupy Space.


Why Thomas Paine Would Shoot Donald Trump if He Were Alive Today


Yes, indeed that’s a provocative title; but this ain’t click-bait my friends.  This is the real deal.  If Thomas Paine were alive today, he’d be in the nation’s capital with a pistol waiting for the selected president.  Of course, he’d be waiting a long time considering as far as he knew, the capital of these United States was in Philadelphia.  I have a vision of old globalist Thomas standing outside Ben Franklin’s door, knocking as hard as he could, shouting

“Benjamin!  Benjamin!  Come out, our nation’s in trouble and its much worse than the British.  Forget the kite!’’.  Kind of like the scene in Street Car Named Desire where Marlon Brando is standing outside Stella’s window in the pouring rain in his soaked white T-Shirt.

JA11_Page_18_01_webMarlon Brando would have made a good Thomas Paine in the film, the graphic novel and the computer game but this doesn’t answer the question embedded in the title of this diatribe. Why would Thomas Paine if he were alive today,  track down Donald Trump and put a bullet in the back of his head?   In principle this would require Donald to be on his knees, facing away from Thomas with his tiny hands wrapped around the back of his head.  I suppose you, dear reader, are ‘en-titled’ to an answer as the to why and the wherefore; but stay with me as we savour the moment.  The ultimate retribution of history: to be shot in the back of a head by one of the Founders of this revolutionary nation, ironically with a pistol no less.  One that Thomas didn’t have to register or submit to a background check to acquire from the antique pistols and muskets booth at the gun show a couple blocks away.

So before Thomas pulls the trigger and the tiny lead ball propels from the pistol’s mouth through his dense skull and lodges somewhere in the soft tissue that Donald referred to at his “brain”, let’s pause and assess the situation.   Let’s skip over the time travel details as to how Thomas Paine got from the late 18th century to the early 21st.  We’ll leave it to the graphic novel to explain that bit; him jumping a little over two centuries in time.  Although we really don’t have to figure out anything at all.  Thomas Paine’s words, his ideas and his rebel spirit not only jumped but survived intact more than 2 centuries and the soul of our national sovereignty.   So if Thomas Paine were brought back from the dead by some mysterious force, it could only be due to his words, his ideas, the nation he fought for being under threatened.

And that, my reader, is precisely the point being made by my title and the words you are reading now.  Today, not 2 decades into the 21st century, the essential values that built this nation, this American experiment by a motley crew of post-enlightenment landowners, orators, tradesmen and inventors is at risk of being destroyed.  Not by Trump himself, you realise.  But by Us, by We the People in our impotent complacency to stop him.  

We are not revolutionaries, we are the revolution Thomas and his friends dreamt up, drew the blueprints for, and built on the hot blood that soaked the green countryside of Virginia, Pennsylvania, Carolina  who’s names are only possible because of the stubborn bravery of these idealists, these socialists, these men of vision that had the hubris to build a nation founded not by the right of kings or church or even the wealthy, but by the enlightenment values of Liberty, Justice and Freedom. 

These values, of course, aren’t just American, although they are the foundation stones of our democracy.  Thomas Paine author of Common Sense, The Age of Reason and the Rights of Man who’s title alone reveal the nature of his philosophy:  to build a nation on Reason, not religious superstition.  It’s not that Thomas Paine didn’t believe in the Divine, he just believed in Reason more:

“It is by the exercise of reason that man can discover God. Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything.”hqdefault

Later, a member of the French Senate, he would lend his hand to writing the Jean-Jacque Rousseau’s version of the Declaration of the Rights of Man in 1789, along with Thomas Jefferson.  Rousseau’s Rights of Man became the basis of the UN Human Rights Charter as well as the EU Human Rights initiative.  So next time you hear some jackass complaining about Liberals going on and on about Human Rights you might want to mention that they’re disrespecting the  Founding Fathers, two of whom (Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine) contributed to the declaration.

In fact, Universal Human Rights is the soul not only of our Constitution but the Declaration of Independence, the UN Charter and the adopted law of all members of the European Union.    Human Rights is the one thing that Donald Trump can’t abide because he has dedicated his life to the accruement of power, power for its own sake.  Trump really isn’t that bothered by actual money in spite of his public persona.  What he is dedicated to is what money buys:  people, power and governance; and this is exactly where we have gone astray from the origins of our nation.  We have handed our own governance over to banks, corporate interests and the uber-affluent who can afford to buy a Congressman or a President.   

Mueller’s investigation will very shortly reveal the origins of the money that bought Trump his presidency.  We know already that the NRA contributed 30 million dollars early in his campaign.  Do you remember that lie about how Trump said he was incorruptible because he could afford to fund his own campaign?  I know, I know, it’s hard to remember all the lies Trump has spouted.

Do you know why the Truth is better than a lie?

Why? Because it’s easier to remember.

But going back to the pistol Thomas Paine is holding against Donald Trump’s head; no, I didn’t forget my premise.  Imagine it with me.  There’s Thomas Paine, his hand steadily holding the cocked pistol, fully powdered and loaded with a small lead ball.  Tiny, but big enough to leave a good sized hole at such close range.  And there’s Donald Trump on his knees, shaking.  He’s already wet the pants of his the suit he’s wearing.  He tries very hard to hold back his urgent need to defecate and fails. 

Now Donald Trump is soiled.  Soiled himself the same faeces he’s been feeding to the American voters for years.  Soiled by his indifference, his empathy deficit, his reckless, unfeeling impulses, his sociopathic disconnect from the human race.  Remember, Donald, to say ‘I hear you’.  It fools them every time and leaves plenty of time for self-gratification at the expense of others.  Trump is soiled by his own inhumanity, his unbridled carnal greed to accumulate, wealth, power, women.    He assaults women not because he can get it up anymore but because they have power which he needs to dominate. 

Look at his wife.  I haven’t seen such a blank dead look of a hostage to circumstance since Patty Hearst.  It was the money that bought her and (like some particularly gruesome episode of Back Mirror), she got exactly what she paid for, with her integrity her  and self-respect.   Imagine the morning she awoke to the dawning denouement.   Sure she could leave any time, with her child.  But where would she go?  What would she do?  In the afterlife of existence everyone writes a book and sells it.  When things go badly; when the world seems to be against me; when I lose; I always remind myself – it could always get worse and at least I don’t have to fuck Donald Trump. 

The thought makes me feel better but my heart tears up when I think of her suffering.  It is the suffering of the affluent.  The ones who have accommodated everything they were told they needed to be happy.  Everything they worked hard to acquire in lieu of happiness only to find that very object  eluding them.   That’s the horror of the denouement, you reach the summit of your life’s ambition and now the only thing left to do is jump off.  Because Happiness is not an object or an objective.  It flits effortlessly in and out of our lives like a butterfly, briefly lingering on a flower and moving on.  Ever try to chase a butterfly?   Exactly.

Back to Donald Trump having shit and pissed himself while one of the Fathers of our country held a pistol to his head.  Perhaps at this point Donald would beg for his life.Like the scene in Miller’s  Crossing.  “Please, Thomas, Please.  Look in your heart, look in your heart.  You don’t want to do this.  You’re not that kind of man.  Look in your heart, for godssake !”.

bb5357582397e9a25fc3653a7b4a5232dfc079fbGod is a natural place to go to.  After all, the divisions we are now facing in our country are by no means recent.  They’ve been brewing for decades.  The divisions are not entirely geographic although the 3 states that assured Donald of his electoral victory does have a concentration of post-calvinist  evangelicals.    No are they solely cultural; after all, Donald Trump is the epitome of the urban gangster.  A smooth talking, wheeling dealing property developer soaking in the comfort of Manhattan luxury.  He should be anathema to his base of supporters.  But he’s not, instead he speaks their language; the language of PT Barnum and Charlie Chan both as fake as a wooden nickel but master showmen to a ’T’ (Only white actors played Charlie Chan which ironically was invented by Earl Derr Biggers as  an alternative to Yellow Peril stereotypes and villains like Fu Manchu).

And Trump talks about God.  He doesn’t so much talk about his beliefs (if he has any), but about the threat that nonbelievers and other religions pose for Christian Evangelists, particularly targeting Islam.  Trump runs his own Circus of Fear and the punters are more than happy to pay to be scared or at least have their irrational fears affirmed. Donald Trump should be played by the late Robert Mitchum (if he were still alive. Hey, we brought Thomas Paine from 2 centuries ago; a zombie Robert Mitchum should not pose too many difficulties).  To be exact, Robert Mitchum in his role as the greed-laden preacher in the class American Gothic The Night of the Hunter in which he plays a psychopathic man of the cloth bent on money and murder (in that order).  He pursues two children who hold the secret to a hidden fortune down a river in the south, riding a donkey and singing hymns.    A fake, a demon, a creature of merciless malice.
images
So is Thomas going to shoot Trump in the head for using religion to accumulate power?  Of course not.  Thomas was a believer but not in God, in Reason.  “It is by the exercise of reason that man can discover God. Take away that reason, and he would be incapable of understanding anything.”  The reason Thomas Paine is holding a cocked pistol against the back of Donald Trump’s head is not God; Trump hasn’t blasphemed against Faith; he’s blasphemed against Reason.  Trump has spent his entire career disseminating the appearance of things, not the truth.  Truth is the enemy of Donald Trump, because in Truth, he is an insignificant man in the scheme of things just as we are all beholden to the significance we manufacture and some of us have made peace with that.  Donald Trump has not.   Like a Hungry Ghost Donald is compelled by desire, call it lust, a lust for significance.  This is why he builds towers, not to house offices or hotel rooms, but to prop up as high as he can his name: Trump.

At the start of this year, we had a crisis

in authority due to the steady lies being pumped from the Whitehouse by Tump.  The first rule of autocracy is to shake people’s belief in authority so that they only can believe in you.  Donald Trump is attempting to destroy the pillars of the 4th estate.  Now we’ve entered a period of  crisis in competence.  When the very ability to address real-world problems by Trump and his stooges is dubious at best. 

Remember that the balance of powers  in the Constitution is all beholden to having a Free Press in which people can report the truth and express their opinions of their government.  That’s what Thomas Paine counted on in drafting our rights.  Each right has a corresponding duty. Paine said our first duty is to be kind to others. Paine also said that a person’s corresponding duty is to allow the same rights to others as we allow ourselves. From this basis we can use our abilities to promote mutual understanding. These expanding circles of reciprocal duties and rights weave a tapestry, built on democratic norms, of liberty in the context of societal interdependence.  It’s called a society based on equality.

Did you know that Thomas Paine was the very first American abolitionist? In 1775 he wrote “To Americans: That some desperate wretches should be willing to steal and enslave men by violence and murder for gain, is rather lamentable than strange. But that many civilized, nay, Christianized people should approve, and be concerned in the savage practice, is surprising; and still persist, though it has been so often proved contrary to the light of nature, to every principle of justice and humanity, and even good policy, by a succession of eminent men, and several late publications.”

“Our traders in MEN (an unnatural commodity!)  must know the wickedness of that SLAVE-TRADE, if they attend to reasoning, or the dictates of their own hearts; and such as shun and stifle all these willfully sacrifice conscience, and the character of integrity to that golden idol.”

Thomas Paine was the first white citizen Member of Black Lives Matter.  He and his pal Thomas Jefferson originally included an amendment to the Constitution ending slavery.  They wanted to create a revolutionary society in which ALL men are created equal.  As usual, women would have to wait.   Ofcourse this amendment was vetoed by the southern slave owning states.  The same states suspiciously from which Trump derives the concentration of his base support. 

But the point being that the Founding Fathers, if not all, enough wanted to establish an egalitarian society in all respects.  Paine referred to this, as did the other Framers as ‘the common good’ something the alt-right abhors the notion of as they translate it into control by some body that isn’t them.  Nonetheless, contrary to Constitution literalists the “common good” involves a mental posture taken by citizens in their deliberations where they account for, yet transcend partial interests to look at the good for each and all in their decisions.

Even in business, Trump’s claimed turf,  the right of commerce was seen as transforming the mind-set of feudal, dependent relations between men and their government. It helped transform subjects into confident citizens. Trade was viewed not as laissez-faire, but in a web of social interdependence. It was seen as a major modality for individuals to use their Reason (not Faith), to develop better mutual understanding of others interests in society. While aware that too much indulgence in commerce could lead to the decline of spirit and patriotism, making reason subservient to commercial interests,   Paine felt that man would use his religion of reason to place commerce within a broader quest for lifelong education in the arts, sciences, engineering, and philosophy in order to progress to a universal society and universal happiness.

Paine believed that man’s highest spirit of reason in its motives and applications such that it does not have to be concentrated solely in pursuit of commercial interests. Art, science, and commercial enterprise can be placed in service to humanity and universal happiness.  Moreover, each individual deserves minimal dignity and a minimal economic base to pursue their natural rights. Like Paine and Edward Bellamy advocated two hundred years ago, some form of guaranteed minimal annual income ought to be adopted for each citizen, regardless of wealth or other distinctions.   Imagine what Thomas Paine would make of the modern day commercialized medical establishment!

Sounds like a socialist that Thomas Paine, don’t he?  Not at all really, just your average post-Enlightenment philosopher and thinker.  Or only as far as Socialism is dedicated to the fairer distribution of resources so that everyone might enjoy Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness more equally.  “Some men and women, through greed or disproportionate natural or social advantages, will contribute to others being systematically impoverished in the imperfections of manmade civilization”

”The earth is the common property of the human race”; thus each human being is equally entitled to have dignity and minimal share of the earth’s bounty, including clean water, air, and access or rents from land  Thus, men and women must discover those laws operating in society which will create a greater harmony of overall interests. Democratic communities will have to choose to redistribute some minimal baseline of societal resources to those at least most vulnerable not as charity, but as a right in the name of social harmony.”

Paine conceived of autonomous democratic nation-states forming alliances of mutual aid. Mikhail Gorbachev has said that we ought to have a balancing of interests, not a balancing of power on the global stage internationalization, with the primacy of nation-state alliances, is a major alternative to the trends of corporate economic globalization. In the myth of a “flat” world of economic globalization, where the world is made safe and frictionless for capital expansion,

Citizens and nations do not vote for corporate influenced governmental-military-industrial-media alliances and trade agreements which establish “the rules of the game” subtly conditioning the thinking of the masses. 

These are not ancient words.  These are the principles America was founded on and without which we would have early on taken the road to the same form of despotism and autocracy  that Donald Trump is trying to lead us into.   Trump only wants power.  Power to control what is true and what is not.  Power to determine the fates and existence of as many people as he can.  This is why he loves the idea of a wall, the decoration of undocumented long term residents and the border checks at airports that targets people of the Muslim faith, as well as people that white people think look like Muslims!

In his own way, from his visionary perspective, Thomas Paine was what the right wing calls a Globalist or even more bizarrely a statist.  Of course the founding father were statists, they constructed the blueprint for the United STATES.

Bernie Sanders was right. Trump isn’t Conservative or moderate, much less liberal; he’s an autocrat who has no respect for the Constitution and has failed as commander and chief to protect this country from a foreign antagonist.

Back to the curb where Paine is holding Trump hostage to the imperatives of history and the gentle squeezing of Thomas’s trigger finger.   Because Donald Trump is a traitor to his state.   He has been under the influence of a foreign antagonist Vladimir Putin since at least 2014, shortly after he first announced his attempts at the Presidency.   He needed money to run a campaign for President and he didn’t have any.  No bank would loan him money because Trump always welched on his debts.     So he had to turn to Deutsche Bank, the same bank that Putin and his oligarchy use to  make money disappear and reappear wherever is most expedient.  In this case it was the Presidential campaign of Donald J. Trump. 

This will all become very shortly apparent as soon as the next wave of indictments are issued by the DOJ.   Trump is in a jam that he can’t get out of.   Mueller’s investigation on behalf of the federal department of justice is very far from being a witch hunt. Read the indictments, all the evidence is published there, enough to hold up in federal court. Mueller, if you recall, is a conservative Republican of impeccable integrity.

BTW, I don’t detest Conservatives; some of my best friends…etc. But Trump isn’t really a conservative, he’s a con man playing the GOP for whatever he can get away with. I don’t hate conservatives, I hate liars who shamelessly lie every day they open their mouths. I hate incompetents who can’t even keep one national security advisor on board during his first year and whose family and campaign advisors were meeting with Russian intelligence during the 2016 campaign.

At this point in the event, Donald Trump moves his head slightly.  Thomas steadies his hand.  Testing Thomas, Trump slowly turns his head enough to glimpse Thomas’s steely stare.  As unflinching as Mueller’s investigation.  Once again Trump pleads, begs for his life.  “What do you want Mr. Paine?  I’ve got money tons of money.  What about women?  I can get you the most beautiful models in the world.  What about an audience with the Queen of England, she’s easy.”   Thomas pauses and for the first time speaks to Donald J. Trump:

“I want my country back.  I want the nation myself and my brothers built out of Reason, Compassion and Equality back.  I want what this nation is meant to be, not what you have defiled it as.”

Trump knows his goose is cooked.  He can’t repair the damage he’s caused.  It will take others, long after he’s gone to rebuild our country.  Others who are younger than a 70-year-old patriarch.  Others who have grown accustomed to being one nation in a physically interconnected  world.  Others who aspire to rise above the fumes of spiritual superstition to the level of what Paine himself called “our living awareness of the Infinite Presence.” by means of Reason.  Science, the Arts, the cooperative nature of our fellow hairless apes.  The high school students who have stood up and proclaimed “enough is enough”  The women who no longer cover their mouths and stifle their words when being subject to interpersonal tyranny.  These are the children of Thomas Paine.  These are the people he fought for and wrote for.

As a species we survived and dominated this planet by virtue of our complex means of cooperation, not competition.  That complex is what we refer to as a Society and those who reject the notion are, well  just anti-Social.

Donald Trump speaks to Thomas Paine one last time.
“Please Thomas, I promise to be better, I promise to live up to your virtues, I swear I’m a changed man.  Look in your heart Thomas, look in your heart, Please!….”

He speaks his  last four words to the man on his knees in front of him:

“I have, you traitor.”

Thomas pulls the trigger.

©Igor Goldkind 2018


Victory is Ailing but Still Not Defeated!


11895232_10153652408982755_5922705933682661300_o

This blog is now my sole cognitive link to the outside world.
At least today it is.

I can’t physically be where I need to be so I’m posting here thinking that if enough people read my status, that it somehow puts me in the real world of social transactions and mini Games of Thrones.

Victory is not defeated but ailing.
I put my black steel steed in the hands of Spencer, the young mechanic who plays my Sancho Panza in this story. He’s humble because all of Victory’s afflictions are his fault. But I don’t rub it in.
“Sancho,” I say. “There’s no point in wasting time in pointing fingers. It’s never really just one cause, usually a combination of factors. I’m just glad that you’re willing to drive out here at 7 in the morning to take a look”.

I help Sancho Panza push my bike up into the back of his truck.

One good reason I’ve found for being nice (or civil, as I used to call it), is because so few people really are. Oh, they want to be taken for nice people alright; and would be highly distressed to find that others might think otherwise. Being nice provides a tactical advantage.

Although, I liked Spencer the young bike mechanic. An engineer in practice if not in credentials. My bike is first up this morning so if it can be fixed, it will be fixed in time for me to hit the 5 for San Diego and the Pancakes and Booze Art Market where I’m exhibiting some of my mother’s works for sale right next to Mario Torero. Sell some watercolours, some pastels and loads of books I hope.

I enjoy the role of an “art-barker”.
It feels like an honest effort for very little pay; however, the rewards are luxurious.

There are so many jobs that aren’t so and so many professions that once were and have since gone astray into the mercenary end of pure commercial exploitation. Marketing people use the term ‘exploitation’ to refer to the product they’re peddling but what they really mean is the market they want to buy it.

“Don’t say you support the arts, buy some!” is my shill.

So if my Victory is assured and returned to me by 3, I will make my way south on the 5 lane asphalt ribbon to the City on the Bay.

Last night I missed the ceremony for the official induction of 3 copies of IS SHE AVAILABLE? into the central library’s local author collection. Not just me, but that of my historic friend Chris Ernest Nelson, as well. His book Harvest lying right next to IS SHE? in a glass case.

Just like William Blake at the British Library when it used to be a separate building from the British Museum. And Joe Orton’s mutilated library books for which he spent prison time inside, now under glass inside the Islington Library in London, the very library he stole them from in the first place. In England, they put both the author and the work behind glass. In England, people go to jail for unpaid library fines. And mutilating books into art collages.

So I missed by success at convincing the library to take my book which they rejected at least twice. Once because it didn’t fit into their category system, the second because of Michael S Kane‘s Andy Warhol/Jack Kirby Madonna and child. But no child, just Mother Mary nurturing a revolver.

It’s been the image that has caused the most alarm and offence amongst bookstores, book buyers and of course libraries. I have been closing high order deals with chains on more than one occasion, only to have the buyer happen to land on Shaky’s spread and immediately handing my book back to me. Atta-boy Shaky, I’m living on desperation row thanks to you!

Shakey KaneThe irony is that our intention from the beginning was to apparently offend. There is nothing specifically offensive or pornographic about the image of a pre-pubescent blond girl holding a big pink gun. Not even the word ‘Vagina’ standing out in Rian Hughes‘s sculptural typography of the text to the poem.

In fact, there’s nothing offensive or shocking about the image at all, just the impression that one will be shocked. And of course, the real content, the real meaning of the poem and the illustration is that gun-violence is what we should really be offended and shocked by and yet are no longer. Judge for yourself below.

At any rate, I am home alone; sound but unsafe, calmly nervous by events beyond my control that are inevitably unfolding. G/d will pretend, when the time comes, that the end of the world was what he had planned all along.

Everybody improvises their intentions.

Just wait and see.


Nobody Talks to Me Anymore   


Has been entered int the Realistic Poetry Contest and thus is no longer available on my blog as it is defined as non-exclusive or previous publication by the contest rules.

Who knows, I may even win.

Either way, it returns once the contest is over in February
Tune In.

DLKBRPMWkAIXppy


Speculative Realism: What It Means, What It Is and Why You Need to Know About It


Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is really the best TV on your screen. It quite literally holds up a black mirror not just onto our society but to each one of us as components, now data-cogs, of the society we can no longer see anymore without the aid of mirrors.  We are like goldfish in a goldfish bowl kept rotating by the shortness of our attention spans and never even realising the wetness of our environments.

Charlie Brooker, his cast, co-writers and the producers at Netflix are doing us the moral service of reminding us of the remnants of own moral outrage and how our own ethical boundaries have long since been trespassed by the dark consequences of convenience and more efficient processing.

The machines never took over, we just surrendered.

Andrew-Ostrovsky_George-Redhawk_GIFWe are like commuters stuck in traffic complaining about the traffic that we are actually both part of and complicit in. Even though from our subjective vehicles, we cannot see it. Traffic controllers retain the power however it is a remote distributed, bureaucratic, systemised power that is no longer subject to one human’s judgement. Who do you alert when the traffic lights stop working? You don’t have to, they already know.

I have as of late, paraded the term Speculative Realism, borrowed from the French post-idealists. Who understand that the only way to view ourselves clearly is no longer as mere individuals but as components of a larger neuro-ecology that contains, constraints and ultimately defines us. We are the furniture that a system beyond our own subjectivity keeps rearranging “on our behalf”, “for our own safety”. “for your security”.images-1

I have only slightly re-engineered the term in the context of a literary genre, of storytelling, perhaps the sole remaining respite of human freedom. A story is a purely human phenomenon untainted by machine efficiency as machines don’t need to tell each other stories. But we do, and in doing so we may be flexing the last quiescent muscle of our humanity. A story is comprised up 3 interlocked elements: The storyteller, the story and the audience (or to whom the story is told). At least two of these components are human, subject and object; the rest is merely synaptic grammar.   images

When a story is told and heard, a condensed complex of information, human knowledge and near spiritual wisdom is transmitted in a compact instant well beyond the speed or circuitry of a microchip. Remember, we are the minds that created and defined data. It is that creative mind that is both alert and receptive to the information that is vital to our survival, as a species and as sane human beings. Storytelling is our salvation and Poetry is better than prayer because you don’t have to pretend that someone is listening.

Speculative Realism is just my tag for vital, survival information being conveyed by storytellers. As essential as where the next herd of buffalo might be. Speculative Fiction has here to provide the luxurious canvas for our imaginations to ponder possibilities. But Speculative Realism is not what you might do ‘if…’ but what you will have to do ‘when…’ To survive, to retain your own identity and perhaps even your sanity. Speculative Realism is imperative, it carries the mental equipment we need to survive.

imagesBlack Mirror is a series of short cameos of Speculative Realism. The term is beginning to gain traction since I first observed the emergence of this genre in film, fiction and screen entertainment. I have since read a reference to Neil Gaiman‘s work described as Speculative Realist in his use of double vision, (the seeing of two apparent contractions as one), in his characterisations. I don’t know if he thinks that, you’d have to ask him.

Cyberpunk auteur Bruce Sterling, in Wired, refers to Speculative Realism as Philosophy Fiction, which is as good a handle as any because Speculative Realism defends the autonomy of the world from human access in a spirit of imaginative audacity.

In his recent Edinburgh University Press publication Speculative Realism and Science Fiction, Brian Willemsuses a range of science fiction literature that questions anthropomorphism to develop the Speculative Realist position. He looks at how nonsense and sense exist together in science fiction, the way in which language is not a guarantee of personhood, the role of vision in identity formation and the differences between metamorphosis and modulation.

hqdefaultThese are useful critical and academic insights. But the real meat is in the eating and Black Mirror takes you to the centre of the Speculative Realist banquet, piling your plate high with outrage, moral panic and cautionary tales of horror. I suggest tasting a sample as we’re all going to be eating from this same table for the very foreseeable future,
the future that has already arrived.

© Igor Goldkind 2016images-2


A Drinking Song: The Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present


 

Last night was kind of my XXXmas eve, being a Saturday night, with no ghosts to placate until Monday morning. So I took my Victory out for a long ride, 46 miles down to Chula Vista to drop in on my drunken-angel-poet-brothers Alex Bosworth and Chris Vannoy. As I told them, I’ve never stopped in Chula Vista before,  only passed through it; well on my way to crossing the border between Mexico and Madness.

Back in the Beatnik Days, when America was still a Great Shining Beacon of Golden Intentions and jail-breaking freedoms, going south of the border was a euphemism for leaving the straight rational world and exploring the psychedelic corridors and hallways of the unconscious mind, where the muses played poker to the sound of Gabriel’s saxophone under a streetlamp, playing for spare  change, playing for the end of time. Kesey, Cassidy, Timothy Leary had all spent time south of the border, hiding from the authority.

But I wasn’t going all the way south or crossing any borders. Instead, like a Boddhisatva practising the discipline of worldly compassion, I was riding south on the great American highway stopping just short of going over the edge. Stopping long enough for the rest of my sentient species to hop on board and cross over with me.   How long I gotta wait?   The blur of the wind in my eyes transforms Inter-state 5 into a two-lane river of white headlight diamonds on one end heading towards but past me and on the other end,  a torrent of glistening rubies speeding with me, flowing around me,  carrying me forwards in one high speed direction.

I was carried on a slipstream of glistening rubies last night.  Chilled legs wrapped around my angel in flight, carrying me aloft above all thought, beyond all hesitation, in that dangerous living moment when every half second of thought is solid and real with consequence; and any distraction is a trap door thumping open under the hangman’s rope.

That is the fury of mediation. That is my arrival in this moment that we all share. The calm at the center of chaos.  Join me, dear reader, at the centre of chaos.

So I’m heading south armed with an unopened bottle of rye, the spirit of the season travels with me. Good whisky is about as spiritual as I get these days.  It is my usual Xmas tradition to grab a bottle of good booze and head down to the Greyhound station, or the street corner, outside a homeless shelter or an alleyway or anywhere I can find and join a cluster of the disaffected, the homeless, the pointless, the ones left out of family portraits. Just to share a drink, a joke and the dregs of our mutual humanity.

But this year, not particularly in contrast,  I’ve chosen the company of Deadbeat poets, failed self-construction workers, mental hospital misfits, suicide skippers and gravel-voiced prophets capable of predicting the present with uncanny accuracy. Cassandra’s children muttering under their condensed breaths, scratching their prophecies from the oracle down for the benefit of anyone who still remembers how to read; or how to listen. Tonight these are my brothers (and sisters), in arms. Raging against a sea of struggles, believing that by opposing them, we will end them and wrap our soiled blankets of peace around this cold, shivering world’s shoulders.

Chris Vannoy &amp; Alex Bosworth

Dead Beat Poets

I make it to Main Street much too early and agree to meet my comrades in a bar called Sanctum. I have no currency apart from my still untried bottle of rye so I stand outside on the pavement near but not too near two young women smoking butts and laughing. ‘Merry Xmas’, I venture.

‘Merry fucking Xmas to you too’, is their reply.  So I listen. A skill I am still mastering.   The raven-haired beauty of the pair is recounting her love life to her friend. Telling her how she had met her intended’s eyes at work, a burning penetration in time and how happy she was that at least she knew, that she knew that she knew that there was an unstated passion, thrilling at the unstated, as yet unenacted attraction between them.
The bittersweet anticipation of passions yearned for but still yet to come.

I wanted to tell the dark-haired young woman how lucky she was to be free to express such yearning to another woman. Jealously,  I wanted her to pity my poor lame masculinity and the political mindfield I had to traverse to even come close to sharing such a pure moment of true emotion and affection.   But I didn’t. Who wants to hear another pitiful man’s story anyways? This was the year of raised female voices. Voices raised in anger, in righteous retribution for all the wrongs accrued., in demand of recognition. Voices of freedom insisting on justice, insisting on equal treatment without unwanted trespass.

Poor me, poor me, pour me another drink. . . .

So instead I pulled out my weapon of virtue, my great equalizer of man and woman, my bottle of rye from my bag and asked if ‘You ladies would like a drink”. “Hell yes”. And for a brief instant, I felt just like St. Peter patrolling the earth and giving comfort to lost souls.

This murdered the time until my wordly brothers finally arrived. We poured from the bottle into bright red dixie cups, swigging them down in the parking lot before entering the warmth of Sanctum Ale House to talk poetry, performance, and what we were going to do with the rest of our lives.  This was beginning to feel a lot like a rendezvous of fallen angels pausing for a drink and brief reflection before hitting Hell.

Beatnik Approved!

Beatnik Approved!

There was no reason to take a picture or a selfie or even take note of the time. We drank, we talked, we tried to make each other laugh and we indulged in our common humanity; a focus on what we shared more than what we didn’t.

My mind spun back in time to the many drinking conversations I had with my late great friend, the writer David Halliwell.   The only man I had ever met who had got drunk with Sam Beckett.   So David told this story of buying a bottle of good Irish whisky and taking the train to London, from Yorkshire. Easily a 4-hour journey.  On the trip, David got nervous opened the bottle and drank half the contents on the way down arriving completely cut up the King’s Road party where San Beckett would be.  He did find Beckett apparently and immediately sat down to finish the rest of the bottle he’d brought.  David got so drunk he couldn’t remember a word that Sam Beckett had said to him.

Last night, I told Chris and Alex about the year that David called me up to join him for a Xmas drink and The Bull Tavern in the little North East Oxfordshire village of Charlbury, whose village council insisted on calling it a town because it had 4 pubs, a pharmacy and a post office.

Advance Review pdf of IS SHE AVAILABLE_Page_50

I walked down the unpaved bumpy road to the tavern, past the Egyptian cottage with the papyrus reeds of Isis, the Goddess, not the terrorists.  I reached The Bull pub and Inn, Opened the heavy oak door and walked into a movie. The pub was nearly empty save for the bar that featured David on his bar stool holding court with his mates. Only his mates were images burnt on my retinas since childhood: John Hurt, Ben Kingsley, David Warner, Freddie Jones and his son, then unknown now better known than him, Toby Jones. I remember blinking in disbelief. I might as well have walked in on Lewis Carrol, Tolkien and CS Lewis downing pints all who had also frequented this pub some hundred years previously.

I remember David smiling, laughing his phlegmatic cough and motioning me over to introduce me to these faces from the screen. “This is Igor, he’s another writer; he’s a Yank but he’s alright”. I was just another writer in the company of actors, everyday workers taking a break from toiling in the star-maker factories behind the popular film. I was handed a bulbous goblet of glowing ruby wine and the rest is hard to remember. But I do recall making them laugh and David Warner towering over me and reminiscing about his one appearance in a two-part Star Trek opposite Patrick Stewart that had earned him enough to comfortably return to the stage for 7 continuous years. Apart from young Toby, these were board strutting actors; indifferent and virtually contemptuous of their movie work save for the vast sums Hollywood paid them for peddling their trade of packaged emotions.

The next year most of them would be dead, David Halliwell included. I would empty his cottage with a Scottish actor of his while his Yorkshire sister wept inconsolably on his stairwell. In England, people let you weep and leave you to the dignity of your grief out of respect for the exceptional display of emotion. If you openly weep in England its because the pain is so hard that you really can’t hold it in.

Back in the Sanctuum, I explained to my companions how David had taught me the true meaning and value of the literary arts, which for David included actors who tell stories with their faces.    Storytelling’s  place in the human universe, keeping the stars locked in their firmament and the cosmic spheres in perfectly balanced and meaningful rotation. David Halliwell wasn’t famous. He died a virtual pauper, alone, estranged from his sister, a Yorkshire man with an RSC accent from wanting to be an actor, who wrote every day of his life before heading down to the pub to argue with me.

But he was a great success, albeit not by any kind of American Calvinist standard. Rather he succeeded in staying true to his art. He never sold out to better-paid mediocrity.  He stayed true to his art, to himself and he survived with the respect and admiration of his fellow artists. When he died, I wrote and read this eulogy at his memorial, after Harold Pinter came up from Hampstead to say a few words about his departed friend. As did Stephen Frears and Scott Hampton (author of Les Liaisons Dangereuses).

I read this poem to David to my friends Alex Bosworth and Chris Vannoylast night. And in my mind, I went hunting and visiting my own xmas ghosts to remind me of the true joys of this season.

Daedalus Afraid to Fly.jpg

 

Daedalus Afraid to Fly

David, you bastard, you’ve left me
Understanding here alone,
With only these words falling out of my hands
When it is yours I want to hear again.

Words of your mastery, not mine.
So what was all the swearing about then, David?
What were all those Northern fumes really burning from?
I told you the songs of Yorkshire would never play in LA

Or London for that matter):
Two cities equidistant from your Yorkshire mother.
Tell me, David, why didn’t you just sell out?
You could have bought yourself a much better pint of beer

With all that money for old knotted ropes and
Still, have coughed up the phlegm to laugh at us all.
Is death your idea of some kind of joke?
Did you finally track down the film rights to Malcolm, David
And cash them in?

Are you really, secretly living in Barbados,
Making beautiful women miserable?
To think of all this wasted sorrow and
Empty glasses of beer.

You did say that you always wanted to visit other places.
But Daedalus, you were afraid to fly.
If you had been born upside down in America
You would have been a southern writer living in some Northern town.

Spilling your southern drawl over a rum and coke in a New York City bar.
Sitting elbow to arm with Williams, O’Neill, Baldwin and them all.
Your America was always an America of the mind.
So why fear the flight?

Your America David was where Charlie Parker
was forever sharp shooting pool with Humphrey Bogart
in some room behind a neon-splattered bar
Where Chet Baker never jumped or fell but flew, man!

He just flew away.

Just like you.

So you’re off then, David?
Back up the bumpy road,
Turning the corner around the Little Egyptian cottage
Navigating the reeds of Isis, Long past the close of time.

A brown duffle coat ship, bobbing on an unpaved surface,
Weaving a few well-spoken thoughts into your
Captain’s cap.
Can you tell me, David:
Were you X-Centric, or
Merely Eggs Essential?

How about this time I tell you, David:

The spark was always there.
But not like Daedalus, like Prometheus.
The living punishment of Truth,
Chained to your bar stool,
That eternal pint of Carlsberg lager gnawing at your liver.

Like Prometheus David,
The spark is always here.

 

For the late, great David Halliwell; poet, playwright,

author of Malcolm’s Struggle Against the Eunuchs.

I can only miss you when you’re gone.

 

David Halliwell (replacement).jpg

 

 


Insomniac Awareness


Recent rewrite. When I first wrote and posted it, no one seemed to know what I meant by it. But now it’s becoming a favoured read aloud piece:

 

Insomniac Awareness

We who are hiding in our second bedrooms,Image may contain: plant
Licking the silver from the backs of our screens,
Are living in a different time zone
Of Insomniac Awareness.

Sometimes two, sometimes three, sometimes four or more
Lives are lived and lost each night.
In our rooms, by ourselves
Sitting precariously on the edge of our beds.

This is our legacy
The lasting perpetuity of our sensory species:
The glow that contests the light that once shone from our eyes,
Right up to the surface of our understanding.

What is not yet known.
Or what was known and long since forgotten.
Dances across the screen you stare into.
Tripping over your coded memories; in Real Time.

Who are you reading this?No automatic alt text available.Do you know
What perturbs your sleep-walk into the night?
Or are you merely waiting for the screen to pull you through?

Into your own quiet world,
Where things that count never change.
And no one is dreaming you but your mother,
Who has left you now for another child.

©Igor Goldkind 2017


IS SHE AVAILABLE? Get My Book and FIND OUT.


NOTHING has prepared you for This.  Nothing ever will.

Because whatever is happening Now has never happened before.

This is  a web-nurtured collaboration with 27 artists, sculptors and musicians from the world of Comics, Fantasy, Fine Art and Jazz, including Bill Sienkiewicz, David Lloyd, Liam Sharp, Glenn Fabry, Shaky Kane, Lars Henkel and the cutting edge sculptural typography of the highly acclaimed book designer Rian Hughes.

IS SHE AVAILABLE?  Cover

by Bill Sienkiewicz and Rian Hughes ©2014

This illuminated book is a contemporary Dante’s Divine Comedy; a journey through the confessional landscape of a masculine identity. It uses poetry to construct a narrative that explores themes of death and loss, sex and love, and the modern American and Jewish identity design: by the UK’s eminent graphic designer, typographer, illustrator Rian Hughes.

The music is composed and produced by iconoclast, ex-Israeli, Middle-Eastern jazz virtuoso Gilad Atzmon, along with five other jazz artists.

Written by San Diego native Igor Goldkind, this illuminated book will revolutionize the way you view poetry by meshing comics, art, music and animation in a truly unique way. It uses poetry to construct a narrative that explores themes of death and loss, sex and love, and the modern American and Jewish identity. The book is available for download on the iTunes Store and Google Play, as well as in a 166 page,  fully illustrated in colour hardbound edition available  ORDER HERE.10689672_732000606836698_9129833884739632966_n-1Advance Review pdf of IS SHE AVAILABLE_Page_29

The eBook edition pushes the edge of what is possible with present EPUB3 technology. It is not an App, it is a true book that marries pop art, comics, avant-garde, jazz, spoken word poetry, video and animations, and type design in a manner that we have not seen before IS SHE AVAILABLE? has the feel of an artefact from the near future – a seminal work of a new genre-fusing poetry, graphic art, music, and animation.

Sample interior pages:

Advance Review pdf of IS SHE AVAILABLE_Page_08

What We Do

IS SHE AVAILABLE? RRP is $34.95, SHIPPING INCLUDED
Educational Discount for Students and Teachers: $29.95

Both deluxe hardcover edition PLUS  animated and musically scored eBook App edition of Is She Available? bundle:  $39.95

Go to http://Paypal.com/issheavailable/ and place your order directly through PayPal with all Pay Pal assurances and protection.

Shipping included in orders within the US and its territories.

If you are in Britain and/or Europe, please contact my European wholesaler Fanfare Productions who will take your order and dispatch to your address the same day:  stephen@fanfareuk.demon.co.uk

Reviews ?  Sure We Got Reviews.  Why You Wanna See Them?  Be my guest.

“Igor’s “Illuminated Book” is like a new genre.  It is a wonderful ekphrastic expression; a fusion of the arts.” — Poet Mel Takahara

“His collection Is She Available? has the feel of an artefact from the near future – a seminal work of a new genre-fusing poetry, graphic art, music, and animation.”             —(San Diego’s) City Beat

“Is SHE Available?” is an experiment, and reading it feels more like an act of discovery… nonetheless there’s a thrill to scrolling through its pages. It’s an ambitious step toward what digital media can (and will) be.”—The Chicago Tribune

You Tube samples:  https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLRnmT_aE0acoowdNBvFtK_VW2OkNN2wWp

SoundCloud samples : https://soundcloud.com/igor-goldkind/sets/is-she-available-spoken-word

The  166 full colour, fully illustrated hard cover deluxe  edition is available in discerning and eclectic independent bookstores everywhere.  Including Fahrenheit 451 in Carlsbad, Soulscape Bookstore in Encinitas, the Upstart Crow in San Diego, Verbatim Books  and Mysterious Galaxy also in San Diego, City Lights and the Cooperfields chain in Marin County and Sonoma County, amongst a growing number of independent book stores.

Order direct from PayPal and shipping is included!

https://www.paypal.me/issheavailable

PAYPAL

Https://paypal.me/issheavailable

images-4

 


Sleepy Mind; Awake Mind


And Zen-some!

The only way to explain Zen is by describing the sleepy mind. The sleepy mind describes a tree in terms of attributes and data: the number of leaves, the leaf shape, the number of branches, thickness of the trunk, the colour of bark. Which birds make use of the tree etc.il_570xN.270252441

All these observable and measurable attributes are assembled as data by the sleepy mind and voila! the sleepy mind thinks it knows what a tree is. The sleepy mind can give arguments with citations about the validity of its data. The sleepy mind works well with other sleepy minds.

And the sleepy mind isn’t totally wrong, the data it compiles in reference to ‘tree’ are all real and quantifiable features of the tree. But no matter how exact or comprehensive, the data is not the tree nor even the experience of the tree.

The awoken mind merely says “Look, a tree”, and points.
Because there is no data that conveys the experience of that tree in the moment of your apprehension. The awoken mind, sees the leaves, the branches, the colour of the bark, the thickness of the trunk, which birds fly in and out of the tree as much and as well as the sleepy mind does.

But the awoken mind also sees that the spaces between the leaves are part of the tree. The negative space surrounding the tree. The unseen roots spread beneath the ground are part of the tree. The sunlight reflecting off the green of the leaves are part of the tree. 4518466f7d0a7be63357a972e6f5fca6The seat waiting to rest your back against the trunk is part of the tree. The awoken mind ‘see’s the tree; the form of the tree; the tree itself in all its ‘tree-ness’, the tree as a child sees a tree; not what the sleepy mind contrives to substitute as its surrogate.

I think this is the closest I can come to describing the Zen disposition. I say disposition because too much is made of practice and the philosophy of Zen when all are merely aids to assist in the unravelling of illusion and self-deception. Zen is not an acquisition of skills, rituals, garments or ideology; instead, Zen is relinquishment. It is a reminder to keep paying attention.  Not acquiring but letting go: unravelling, stripping away layers of calloused skin, leaving your baggage behind and not looking back over your shoulder. In the words of the bard:

“My senses have been stripped, my hands can’t feel to grip
My toes too numb to step”.

Zen TreeBuddhists will talk about the Buddha-nature as universal, the same as our original nature. Don’t listen to them. The face that first looked up at your mother’s face is still there, submerged and (sometimes suppressed), within you. All that Zen suggests is that we are encumbered by needless worry, anxiety, expectations, daydreams and nostalgias that have buried your true self under the rubble of your crumbling castle and keeps you from seeing the world and your place in it, with any clarity.

We are all distracted by anxieties and worries about money, about jobs, about partners and children. That distraction is manufactured by the powerful in the society we live in to keep us consuming, acquiescent and very sleepy! It doesn’t matter if you meditate or not; if you read poetry or not; if you drink tea or practice martial arts or not. It doesn’t matter how you get there or what you wear; just that you wake up and experience the miracle of persistent and unwavering creation. The universe is created, then destroyed then resurrected millions of times a second, faster than you can blink; so try and keep your eyes open!
I leave you once again with the immortal words of the Nobel Prize laureate:

“Then take me disappearing through the smoke rings of my mind

Down the foggy ruins of time, far past the frozen leaves

The haunted, frightened trees, out to the windy beach

Far from the twisted reach of crazy sorrow.

Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free

Silhouetted by the sea, circled by the circus sands

With all memory and fate driven deep beneath the waves

Let me forget about today until tomorrow.”

– With Compassion, Igor Goldkind, 2017

Please feel free to share and copy this.

I’m just trying to help anyone who’s read this far.f4a36a1a7f69fa29bbd2d7bf3f66cdaa


Burt & Astrid


 

 

 

Burt and Astrid had sat down at one of the outdoor tables outside the  Encinitas Cafe along the Pacific Coast Highway.

I sat down at the single table next to theirs

Burt, from his wheelchair, had noticed the bundle of books

I had dumped from my shoulder onto my breakfast table,

Startling some spoons and a left behind saucer, and remarked:

“You’re an author, aren’t you?”

“Why would you think?”  was my reply.

“I don’t think, I know”.

Astrid tucked Burt’s napkin under his chin.

She was his nurse and his wife.

“Because nobody but an author would carry so many copies of the same book around”, Burt said.

“Burt used to write before he got sick”, Astrid explained.

Burt coughed long into his napkin.

“I’m sorry’, I said, just because I meant it.

Burt finished coughing and reached with his hand gesturing

To pass him my book.

 

I did and Burt leafed through the pages,

Feeling the clay surface of the paper with his fingers.

“You’re a poet!  Very brave.”, Burt pronounced.

And then we talked about poets ancient and new.

We compared reading Rilke, Neruda, Pushkin,

and others both living and dead

I felt like I was visiting my old college roommate

Who had studied the exact same subject as me.

We spent nearly 2 hours over breakfast

Until Burt began to speak Yiddish to Astrid.

Astrid replied in kind.

The moment we shared peeled like a bell across time.

Awaking the ghosts of my ancestors.

Astrid  rose from her chair to roll back Burt’s wheels

And then they just  left

With my book on Burt’s lap in his chair.

 

Hi Igor

This is Astrid we had the pleasure to meet you my husband and I in Encinitas this summer and had a most pleasant conversation.  You gifted us a copy of your book I just wanted to let you know Burt passed away August 23 We really enjoyed meeting you especially Burt….

God bless.

Astrid


The Women Inside of Me Are Always Available to Me


Had a good night last night drinking cask barrel wine with Anneke Doty at Solterra Wine Bar in Leucadia, California.  We were trying to recall how and when we knew each other 40 years ago at John J Pershing Junior High. We knew all of the same people, some still alive and obviously were on the same general childhood network but for the life of me, I can’t recall any specific interaction with her.

Is that because I didn’t pay much attention to girls in junior high?

Am I gay?Solterra-Outside.jpg
Who knows?  Better late than never, I suppose.  
Passion is always a matter of imperfect timing.  
I’ve always preferred the company of women, on a spectrum quantum levels from physical to mental.   I don’t really think that I’m gay (not like there’s anything wrong with that!), because I’ve never appreciated the scent of a man the way a woman might.  Instead,  I’m stuck in a blind Al Pacino movie.
Nonetheless, Anneke Doty does seem familiar to me as if we’d been friends for years. I think rather than having a submerged feminine nature, my feminine characteristics have alway been in the foreground, especially around other women.  Don’t get me wrong, women can be just as troublesome as men but usually in a slightly kinder way.
 
5718636537_f504c250b9_b.jpgI am nurturing in the sense that I get a kick out of helping my friends, or even those I don’t know, sometimes just with honest conversation.
I’ve always appreciated the aesthetic of something even before knowing what it was for.
I love to cook and serve a superb meal to the people that I love.
I suppose this is the way I’ve always expressed love to others, alongside my sardonic sarcasms.
I like plants and flowers and those things that grow, peak and then die.
Like me.
Perhaps it is decay and entropy that universalizes us all with common purposelessness.
For what else could this absurdist’s moment be but the peak of experience; the very pinnacle of existence? The infinite in a nutshell in an easy to swallow form.
Never bought into the notion of degrading a man by calling him a woman, even when I was young and being overlooked for sports team choices. To me being called a woman meant being called someone who could birth to a man. And endure the pain of doing so.
What could be more worthy of aspiration?
 
My feminine side has always been front and center, especially in interaction with other women. It just seems like the human place to go is female. Women define the best of humanity in my mind.
If aliens landed here they’d really only want to talk to our women; don’t you think?
download.jpg
My uncle used to cast bronzes of mountainous women holding a small child to her breast. A universal archetype and the symbol of our species nurturing the relationship to our Earth.
We are merely our planet’s child, no better, no worse than any offspring.
 
I miss my mother; she taught me so much about the divine experience of our senses reflected in the colours and sounds that curl over us like a crashing wave. I guess I’ll have to cling to her planet, the one she taught me to love, for just a little while longer.  All I need is one breast bloated with milk to keep me subsisting . . .
 
Long enough to see the most beautiful fount of my being reach the sky above me.
 
goodnight.

Breathing Time


I am not a connection.

I am a conjugation of every verb you have ever uttered,
Before the action you took, just now.

Hidden and mistaken
Slipping between your shadows,
Your ideas,

And a Reality that long ago,
Left you way behind:

The moment you thought you were in.

I am not your connection,
I am your conjugation, So
Stop spitting out your words

And start breathing in time.

46fc84fcf9e45dafffb0ea2b92376a36

IS SHE AVAILABLE? Hardcover edition

IS SHE AVAILABLE? Hardcover edition


YES, I AM AVAILABLE . . . . . . for a price . . . .


OK, you can buy it now.

My book that is, the one I have been going on and on about on these pages for the past 9 months.

It took awhile, a little longer than I planned on.

Igor Goldkind

Author/Poet/Producer   Igor Goldkind

But it’s here now: SHE IS NOW AVAILABLE!

My apologies to everyone I have kept waiting, but I think you’ll find that the end result was well worth it.

You really haven’t seen anything like this before.

Somewhat in recompense, my publisher is offering a SPECIAL INTERNET OFFER to my FB and blog followers:

As of tomorrow, you’ll be invited to pre-order the 164, fully illustrated Hard Cover Edition designed by Rian Hughes featuring an original cover by Bill Sienkiewicz for the regular price of $24.99 and

Get the eBook Download RIGHT NOW FOR FREE.

This offer starts tomorrow for a limited time only. The hardcover edition ships this month and will be available in May. This is your chance to get a copy before your friends can steal theirs from the library, for a LIMITED TIME ONLY.

This is a book of Poetry and a book handcrafted by love, tears and the visions of 27 artists, musicians and animators.

IS SHE AVAILABLE? Hardcover edition

IS SHE AVAILABLE? Hardcover edition

Poems are a way to talk to a side of ourselves we cannot talk to and a way to take pictures of things that we cannot take pictures of. But like a picture, it also holds moments in time. It works in the space between words, where connections are made, meaning is formed and the poem is ultimately owned by the reader.

And still, for so many of us, you only notice poetry when you need it.

Read poetry.

Because while all the poetry in the world might not be worth as much as one good doctor, if there is a reason we are alive, if there is a reason we’re here, it can be found in poetry. It is the barest bones of the human experience and it captures the soul in flight.

Kind Regards, and please may I ask that you share my words with your Friends.

http://is-she-available.com

BUY IT NOW! Even the Truth is For Sale

BUY IT NOW!
Even the Truth is For Sale


THE BORDER IS YOUR MIND

Yes, I am Available Now!

Yes, Available. 1267915_10152977966392755_3846847922395520293_oMicrosoft Word - New Poem-THE BORDER IS YOUR MIND.docx


THE WHEELS OF HATE by I. Goldkind (illustration by Mario Torero, muralist, teacher, poet)


  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

  • The Wheels of Hate
  •  
  • The Wheels of the Bus go round and round, round and round, round and round
  • The Wheels of the Bus go round and round, all day long.
  •  
  • The Wheels of Hate go round and round, round and round, round and round
  • The Wheels of Hate go round and round all day long.
  •  
  • The Wheels of Hate put niggers in the back of the bus, niggers in back of the bus,
  • Niggers in back of the bus!
  • The Wheels of Hate put the niggers in the back of the bus
  • Until we said: No Fucking More!
  •  
  • The Wheels of Hate go round and round, round and round, round and round
  • The Wheels of Hate go round and round all fucking day.
  •  
  • The wheels of the hate touched up the woman, touched up your woman, touched up our women
  • The Wheels of Hate touched up all women until they said: NO MORE, YOU DICKS!
  •  
  • The Wheels of Hate exploited the Latino, exploited the Latino, exploited the Latino
  • The Wheels of Hate exploited the Latino until we made the union strong.
  •  
  • The Wheels of Hate burnt all the Jews, burnt all the Jews, burnt all the Jews
  • The Wheels of Hate burnt all the Jews and now burn the skins of the schoolchildren of Gaza.
  • Those same Wheels. . .
  •  
  • Ohhh, the Wheels of Hate dug all the Killing Fields, dug the Killing Fields, dug the Killing Fields
  • The Wheels of Hate dug the Killing Fields until there was nobody left to kill.
  •  
  • The Wheels of Hate beat the Muslim woman, beat the Muslim woman, beat the Muslim woman
  • The Wheels of Hate beat the Muslim woman because she covered her face.
  •  
  • Yes, the Wheels of Hate took me for a fool, took me for a fool, took me for a fool.
  • The Wheels of Hate took me for a fool until I said:
  • Enough is Enough!
  •  
  • The Wheels of Hate make us all hate each other, all hate each other, all hate each other.
  • The Wheels of Hate make us all suspect each other because this way we are easier to rule.
  •  
  • The Wheels of Hate go round and round, round and round, round and round.
  • The Wheels of Hate go round and round until we make them . . .
  •  
  •  STOP!
  • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Image

IS SHE AVAILABLE..? by Igor Goldkind A Collection of Poetry, Art, Music and Motion in eBook, Hardcover and CD Spoken Word Editions COMING FOR THIS XMAS!!!


THIS IS THE HOLDING PAGE FOR THE OFFICIAL IS-SHE-AVAILABLE.COM WEB-HUB LAUNCHING DECEMBER 6, 2014

On this page you will be able to order the book directly in time for Xmas; Download the eBook; pre-order the Wall Print Portfolio and the Music CD IS SHE?  

BOOK MARK THIS PAGE AND GET SPECIAL DISCOUNTS FOR BLOG-FOLLOWERS AND FACEBOOK FANS

CHECK OUT SAMPLE FROM THE EBOOK AT MADEFIRE.COM   HERE

THIS IS THE COVER ILLUSTRATION FOR THE BOOK AND THE POEM THE DARK CLOUD

by BILL SIENKIEWICZ  © 2014Copyright Bill Sienkiewicz 2014 for the collection IS SHE AVAILABLE? by Igor GoldkindI

am

the

Darkness.

I

am

the

Darkness.

I

am

Oblivion.

I

am

the

MeaningDK4

of

Meaning,

Which

is

Nothing!

I

am

contempt

incarnate

I

am

the

self-loathing,

the

wriggling,

The

squirming

of

your

soul

I

am

the

reason

you

are

suffering

Because

IDK1

enjoy

the

show.

I

am

the

Darkness.

I

am

the

Darkness.

I

am

Oblivion.

I

am

the

Meaning

of

Meaning,

Which

is

Nothing!

I

am

the

dropped

eyes

and

fallen

smile

of

your

mother

When

she

realizes

what

a

little,

masturbating

shit

you

really

are!DK2

I

am

sickness.

I

am

despair.

I

am

the

hope

you

hide

behind,

Strangled in thin air.

am

the

Darkness.

am

the Darkness.

am 

Oblivion.

am

the Meaning

of

Meaning,

Which is

Nothing!

You

are

the

particle,

I

am

the physics

You think

you matter?

Am the Matter,

Dark Matter!

I

am

where

all

energy

goes.

Entropy is my mistress

and

fuck her every day!

DK4

I

am

Where

you

come

from

Where

everything

comes

from…

am what comes to you all.

I

am

where

you

go

when

you

don’t

really

know,

When

you

can’t

recall

Who you are anymore.

am the Darkness.

am the Darkness.

am Oblivion.

am the Meaning of meaning,

Which is Nothing!

Stop

talking

now.

Stop

thinking

now.

Stop loving and living and dying.

Come with me now.

Come with me now.Raven and Woman Branch

Come with me now.

There’s

no

denying

what

you

already

know,

What you’ve known all along.

I am the Darkness.

I am the Darkness.

I am Oblivion.

I am the Meaning of Meaning,

Which is Nothing!

There’s

no

You.

There never was.

It was always

Me.

YouMan pulls cloud are just trick of the

lights that

own.

You are nothing,

You are the 

                                                                 Nothing

You are me

You belong to

ME.

Now come quietly now,

Come take my hand, now.

Out of the darkness,

Out of the darkness,

Out of the darkness,

Out of the darkness,

Where you belonged.

Out of oblivion,

Out of the Meaning of Meaning,

Out of the darkness,

into your Light

And come

Home.


CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY


My work in the late 80’sand 90’s in the British publishing industry led to the engineering and successful marketing  of the Graphic Novel genre; a new format of  hardcover and trade paperbacks of graphic fiction that bookstores would stack on their shelves.  It was my job at Titan Books to do so, for which I was paid some £7,500 a year by my employer Nick Landau, to do.

After I was given a raise by Titan Books to £8K per annum , I learnt solely by chance, that my work had increased the revenue for my employer by some 7 figure sums and that the rest of the publishing industry were all cashing in on the work I was doing in promoting 9-5, the new publishing category.   Cashing in, but not adhering to  to the implicit quality standards the likes of Moore, Gaiman, Morrison, Speigelman and other auteurs were actively pursuing.

The Medium, as we used to call it back then, had failed to live up to its own promise.

So I got out; for that and personal reasons.

Now when I read the interviews with my former partners in CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY crime in the press complaining that the industry had failed and that the term Graphic Novel  was just a manipulative tool wielded by the Moloch of Comics Publishing932f83ea7108237da3f82c1b8ec82261

(Batman in MOLOCH!  Wonderwoman in MOLOCH!  The Avengers, the Guardians of the Galazy, Superman and the Xmen are all drowning in the vomit of MOLOCH!)   

Which I believe, the premise of the new cross over series written for DC by Grant Morrison.Tree-Man-A-1000x1000

The most admired (and crafted), writer in comics ever, in particular; (someone I worked with closely with on the presentation of his seminal forensic crucification of the American superhero genre to a mainstream audience, refrains from even addressing me by name in print when he lambasts the CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY that still pays him a living), has repeatedly condemned the  publishing category Graphci Novel, as  effectively, just another  CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY from the publishign industry.

I have news for the revered scribe:  you may have relegated me to the dark side, but take a look in the mirror, man: you’ve been here with me all along.

[Added 9.18 for context], I realise now that the above might be interpreted as some kind of opening volley against the distinguished author.  Far be it.  I will always both  personally  and publically assert that Mr. Moore was the change in comics back in the late 80’s.  No single other artist in the medium at the time was so intelligently treating the medium like a literary and artistic platform for expression.  Most craftsmen (and women), I met at the time were desperaely trying to hustle their next wok commission.  Not Mr. Moore.  His posture was different:  he related to editors, collaborators and others  as an auteur sans pretension.  Intelligent, articulate and demanding of  ones wit and focus.   And from I observed, never intimidated or swayed  by the money or more often, the promise of money from publishers.

Just to make absolutely clear about my statements regarding this author:  I learned everything I know about comics by just listening to him, during interviews, casual conversations and direct discussions.  A the time, this man was a walking sandwich board for the the new comics,  the Graphic Novels, chiefly because it was only his writing (and that of a handful of there), that even came close to qualifyng as a novel or even literature.   I never was nor have ever been a Comics Fan (Senator and members of the committee), but I have always been a fan of literature, drawn or undrawn.    Which is why I cntinue to read, enjoy and learn from Mr. Moore’s work.

Although I do take exception (mildly, not really that seriously), to his most recent public damnations of the Graphic Novel, and it’s origins; it’s not that I object to his opinion as much as I question the accuracy of his recollection of events and of the times that he was actually there.    I don’t take issue either with Mr. Moore’s take on the industry  and publishing in general; in fact the more experience I gain the more my views align with his.

But regardless of the vocabulary used (or the fact that I was being paid a paltry wage at the time), I accomplished my task to his and his collaborator’s direct professional and financial benefit.  Not to mention the real world benefits: the successfull dissemination of the term Graphic Novel into the mainstream brought to literally thousands of other free lances in the form of royalty checks for the graphic novel edition of their work; a  now standard of the comics industry throughout the world.

I do not benefit from the use of the term of from the money generated by its use.

Bird-With-Letter-A1-1000x1000But I do not regret not hiring that CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY lawyer that would have secured my trademark on the use of the term and perhaps a penny off of every new Graphic Novel sale; which is what the business side of the industry tells me I shoudl have done.

I did not “create” the term graphic novel; as an outsider to the industry, I found the term on the back of a Will Eisner book and used it as the keystone of a campaign to bring new comics, well written, adventuerously drawn comics.    But yes, I coined the term Graphic Novel; having borrowed it from the back of a low print-run Will Eisner compilation of The Spirit.  His clever NYC publisher was struggling to get Eisner’s work into the bookshops too and had tried the term connotating Literary fiction: a novel.   My use of the term was different as messieurs Gaiman and Moore can both attest to; Grant got it about the same time but more remotely, in Glasgow.  Graphic Novel  was meant to mean  NEW Graphics, new graphic literature, new comics.

Coining, (in the sense of creating common usefulness; IOW: monetizing a vocabulary term into the common currency of language of transactional communication).  It derives from the coining of money by stamping metal with a die. Coins (also variously spelled coynes, coigns, coignes or quoins), were the blank, usually circular, disks from which money was minted. This usage derived from an earlier 14th century meaning of coin, which meant wedge. The wedge-shaped dies which were used to stamp the blanks were called coins and the metal blanks and the subsequent ‘coined’ money took their name from them.

{Coining later began to be associated with inventiveness in language. In the 16th century the ‘coining’ of words and phrases was often referred to. By that time the monetary coinage was often debased or counterfeit and the coining of words was often associated with spurious linguistic inventions; for example, in George Puttenham’s The arte of English poesie, 1589:

“Young schollers not halfe well studied… will seeme to coigne fine wordes out of the Latin.”

Shakespeare, the greatest coiner of them all, also referred to the coining of language in Coriolanus, 1607:

“So shall my Lungs Coine words till their decay.”}coin a phrase

Tree-Man-A-1000x1000

The NEW comics of the late 80’s and early 90’s that derived from Moore’s early work for DC, Spielgelman’s dabbling at biography in NYC, Miller’s pushing the edges out on Dare Devil and most of all (for me), Bill Sienkiewicz’s explosive rendering of ELEKTRA ASSASIN!  I had never seen anyone take the convnetions of comcis illustration like Faugere Egg and take a sledge hammer to it the way Siekiewicz did, literally splattering the edges of the pages and frames with the remnants of comics conventions.  Sienkiewicz brought commercial  art and later fine art sensibilities to Graphic Novels, something his admirer and pioneer in his own right Dave McKean would further in his career just like in a real popular arts medium.

These were the Makers of New Works.  I’ve forgotten everyone:  Brendan McCarthy, Jamie Delano, Pete Milligan, Frank Miller, Joe Sacco, Harvey Peckar, Gilbert and Jamie Hernandez . . . .  they all were making, new different work outside the stulpifying conventions aesthetic conventions.  So like superheros, they need a new name and Guardians of the Galaxy was taken, so instead you got Graphic Novelists.

I resent nothing.

It was my own fault for being more naive and less carnivorous than my employers.

So instead I have to work for a living; for which I have no complaint as at least I have work to do.

I did learn something valuable (whenever someone fails, they  always say that they learnt something valuble),  and that is to sell a product whatever it might be, you have to create a place in people’s minds and desires where they want that product.  The most intimate and subjective of products: the books we read, the music we listen to , the films we watch: you must give people a reason for looking an understanding for what they may see.

That is why a coded term like Graphic Novel works; it’s a cut through, short cut signifier that puts anyone who wants to know or needs to know in the picture immediately: you know what you know and now you know what it is.

In the case of Poetry, we have a different problem.

Everyone knows what  Poetry is, right ? It’s that stuff you had to memorize in school and  analyze with Mrs. Humphries who always crossed the naughty words out like ‘sweat’ and ‘blood’ and ‘toil’ with a thick, black, fascist marker pen.38_image_v2

Or it’s what you penned to your wife when you were courting her; or received form your husband, your boyfriend, you lover.  Anyone one of those people in your life who felt such passion, such ardour for you that they could not tell you, they had to find words from some magic place to convince you, to persuade you, to seduce you into the beauty of the passion they could see in you.

Perhaps a Poem was the only form your shattered thoughts could take at the loss of someone so precious to you that you would choose the pian of being hewn by swords than endure the truth of their permanent absence from this world.

Perhaps you have nearly gone mad and found Poems, like steps out of the abyss of self-loathing into the stark light of realisation and hope for your self.

There is no greater hope to lose than the Hope for Yourself.

So Poetry has a signifier, a pretty universal one; unfortunately it doesn’t point towards anything like what Poetry actually is.

Poetry is an art form, not a craft.

Poetry an aspiration to derive music and pattern from our deepest thoughts, the language of our dreams and the whispering, the lamenting, the singing, the moaning and the laughter of our souls.

Poetry is Liberation.  The words will set you free.

I am a Poet and to sell my ware  (my GRAPHIC POEMS ;~),   I must show people what it is that I do, that others do that is so far removed from the common currency of the term Poetry.   So this is not only a CYNICAL-MARKETING-PLOY, but a sinister sales strategy as well!   To get you to read my words, I must first who you what they are ouside the barriers of  your preconceptions.

So, come to a picnic and hear what Poetry is and the vital importance it has always played in our social and political lives.

*Poster for Marathon Rimbaud-100-THOUSAND-POETS-4-CHANGE-by-Henrik-Aeshna

September 27th, 1 pm Balboa Park, World Beat Centre/ El Centro Cultural de la Raza

Come One and All, Come All in One, Come to the 100,000 Poets-for-Change Marathon!  (Picnic & Reading)

79-penseefasciste-mauriziocattelan-fotopedia

It’s your duty ;~)


SUICIDE IS PAINLESS!


mash_-_suicide_is_painlessThis morning I did cry for Robin Williams.  Not for long, I didn’t know the man except through his acting and performance persona.  

But he was such a familiar fixture in my tube zone from the 70’s onwards.  First as the alien Mork who merely by being an SF element on mainstream TV made me an instant fan.  it was a silly show but reeked of that 70’s innocence I would pay hard currency to recover.  

It was a memory and then I grew older and so did Robin and he became a hyper-ventilated, hyper-active, hyper-real stand up and I related to him.

By the time of Good Morning Vietnam, I knew and loved Williams as part of the anarchic fraternity that embraced  him, Andy Kaufman, Eddie Izzard, Lenny Bruce, Groucho Marx: that fearless plunge into the surreal.    Riding what we considered normalcy into its logical outcome: the absurd; he surfed that beach, skated that ice.   Late,r I grew to like him less but forgave the absorbing amoeba of Hollywood we succumbed to; he deserved success, what of it?  The drugs made him seem dangerous to me; that was atttractive once and then repulsive.  Now I’m more indifferent.  If I had been in his shoes, doing his career; sure, I’m sure I would have been a coke head too.  And the Alcohol?  I’ve got my own ghost stories to tell.

What made me cry for Robin Williams was that occasionally, during his film work or  talk show appearance, he would let the Harlequin’s mask slip and we would briefly gimpse this quiet, very contemplative man, honing his sense of attack, thinking his next line . . . the timing.  And I recall distinctly that look of vulnerable humanity and I felt touchd by him, like he would be someone I speak to if in the same room.  It was this Robin Williams I wept for, because I knew exactly what he was feeling as he took his own life.  

Or maybe it was nothing like what I felt when I took my own life at 16.

I felt  bad for Robin because I could imagine the moments as he decided, as his intent hardened to resolve, and the long run off the short cliff of the emotional, psychic plunge that he took.  I felt I was there with him like a ghost; out of reach, trying to connect—trying to just have a word with him.

I took my own life with  a cocktail,  over dose of my mother’s medications including lithium and barbiturates.  What my father’s doctor had prescribed her for her anxiety and perpertual angst from living in a perfect suburb.  

I say I “took” my life even though I am still alive writing this (barely).  Because the intent was there.  I was not pretending.  I was not seeking attention.

I waited until my mother had left the house to go shopping.  I crept upstairs to her medicine cabinet, took out all her plastic jars of pills and empied them into my mouth.  Just what the doctor ordered.    I then went downstairs to the den where my teenage years were to end.  Lay down on my bed, crossed my arms and prepared to die.  My typewritten note still in the manual typewriter on my desk.  I was prepared.

Then my mother came home.

She had forgotten something and then noticed that I hadn’t done the dishes.

Se knocked on my door.

I ignored her.

[I’m dyng here, for chrissakes!]

She banged on the door, yelled at me and then came into my room.  She wasn’t going to leave me alone to die or anything else.  I was still her child, her responsibility, her burden of karma.

She made me get out of bed and go do the dishes.

I did.

You had to listen to my mother or a metal spoon might find your bottom; or the back of  your neck might attract an open palm slap.  Once my other slapped me full in the face in front of others.  When I asked her why she told us that she didn’t like the look I had given her.  My mother has always lived the intuitive life, dangerously.

I started to wash the dishes, laughed and then woke up in hospital.

That’s what it seemed like at the time.

I survived.

And recovered.

It was my mother’s insistence on engendering my self-discipline that saved my life.    That, and the unwashed dishes.

I so deeply regretted my stupid, solipsistic, life-changing attempt to die, that I subsequently trained and worked as a suicide counsellor in San Fransisco in the early 80’s, while I attended SFSU.

A saw a notice on a board and I answered it.

I used to work shifts in a call centre-like set up near the Haight.  I would spend 4 hours taking calls.  Random calls.    Calls from women mainly, but then there would be evenings, usually Saturday nights when it would be nearly all male voices. Long, lonely voices.  Soft voices.  Tearful voices.  I took it all in.  I was a young man but I had been where they were and I figured I owed dues.  I owed dues to my mother, to my sister and to the ever loving pack of hairless apes that share my cage on this muddy spinning marble.  I oed dues to the life I had so nearly come so close to squandering.

At first I was shy and repeated the same “I’m Listening” cues, over and over.  But the one woman who’s husband came home each  afternoon and beat bloodly her in front of her toddler.  The patient dying of cancer.  The executive who stole money.  The teenager, like me: hurt, confused, in pain; not knowing where the pain is coming from.

Then, I got good at it.

I left the Suicide Center script behind and began to ask my own questions; harnessing Socrates and my own empathy and expereince of suicide to try and connect.  I spoke to suicides from the place of wanting to kill your self, not trying to talk you out of it.  When I left the center, the director gave me a certificate, a thank you and shook my hand in front of the team.  He looks like Alan Watt’s in my mind’s eye, but I’m sure that I’m confusing images.  He shook my hand and said “We are all fortunate to have had such an old soul amongst us”.  I had no idea what the hell that meant.

sisyphusIllustration for Sisyphus Shrugs (from IS SHE AVAILABLE?) ; by DIX

Suicide is never a cold, calculated choice.  But it is a choice.

I’m sure there as many reasons as there are suicides; but the step that one takes across the line from intent into action is a huge ascent.  It takes every fibre of ones will to align onesself to a task that goes against ones own body, one’s being.  This is precisely what is so incomprehensible to non suicides ; that the act of taking ones life takes such a great force of will.  If will is Life how can it will its own end?     Your body will fight you every step of the way; *it* wants to survive.  You, on the other hand, can think of better alternatives to merely surviving.  

There are classes amongst suicides and we don’t rate religious or insane self-immolators at all.  In fact we think they’re chicken-shits.    They tell themselves a story or someone does and next thing they know, they think they’re getting off at 25th street when it’s actually the upper east side.  KA-BOOM!!! 

No.  That’s not real suicide.  

Real suicide is when you know absolutely that you have no idea what happens next.  THAT’s the step into the abyss that takes a force of will.  A will, an intent borne into action more often than not as an alternative to the fact of ones existence:  A bully, a spouse, a bank statement.   How can I describe the agony of hating the world?  Chasing the orbit around the source of the confounding pain round and round like a mad dog chasing its own tail.   Try chasing your own tail for year, two years, five years in agonizing concentric circles of self loathing and pain and self-repulsion and then tell me how selfish suicide is; ok??

Most of us contemplate or will contemplate suicide at one time or another in our lives.

Fact.

But when’s the last time you shared any of your darkest thoughts with anyone?  What’s the matter, scared you won’t get an invite to the Prom?  Well yes, precisely.

You may be thinking about it right now as you read these words.

It can just cross your mind, a wandering Jew of a thought.   A casual, whimsical speculation that takes shape and form into something viable, no: necessary.  Necesssary to allieve the agony of this existence.

It’s time to speak out about this.

It’s a good thing.

it’s a natural thing.

Yes it is, it’s a natural thing to contemplate killing yourself; people have been doing it for thousands of years.

It’s part of the process we go through in becoming human beings, in gaining a greater depth of understanding of what it is that we are so willing to chuck away.  Life and Death are a mirage; it’s just 2 sides of the same deal, baby.  

But what exactly is the deal, huh?

Do you know?  

No, neither do I so who are you to tell me that you understand the value of my life better than I do?

I’m happy  to reveal what so many of us hide from their own polite eyes: that we are deeply unhappy with our lives, that we do not know why and that we are suffering, mostly in silence.  So many of us.  So many of us continue and persevere; so many of us don’t.  That’s the way the cookie crumbles

I am fortunate that I can translate some of these dark thoughts, impotent cries of anguish into words, poems that might invite you to open your heart and reflect: on your self, on your life, on your neighbor.  What’s his or her life like, I wonder?

But I am just one lonely poet.

An obnoxious one, at that.

This existential torment I describe is the privilege of the intelligent,  the sensitive, the insightful, the visionary, the artist, thinker, the Artist: All High Suicide Risks.  Robin Williams was an artist and an artist uses their metier not so much to exorcize their demons, as uncover them.    Williams crafted his art,  I’d like to think, as a shield, as his own private shelter against the raging cold of indifference that surrounds us.  

But we who lurk  at the center of the cyclone, where our care and concern  huddle at the tranquil center, are perplexed and confused.  “He had so much to live for”.

That is why I  try and describe these thoughts and  ideas and  sensations as best as I can,      I do so not out of exhibitionism; on the contrary, I’ve kept these facts about myself  secret for some time; I want to inform anyone who has been affected by suicide, either someone you knew or a loved one, or in fact yourself, what kinds of thoughts may cross your mind that make you want to take your own life.  If this gives some small respite or comfort to someone in their moment of profoundest grief, then it is no chore on my part.

It may seem displaced; it may even seem selfish and insensitive; but there’s an arrogance to the suicide  that does place us one step removed from the lives you are living.  Impulse and sheer clumsy stupidity aside, the intent to take your own life, with all the thought that that act entails, is not an easy course to stay.  

It is not, to the suicide, a real choice.  In the Camus-like sense of choosing every day to either commit suicide or NOT commit suicide as an exercise of free will.  To NOT committ suicoide is of course to choose Life and whatever else happens to you that day as something you have willingly chosen.  No, the existential blanket is often clung to but the act itself requires more desperation than merely a wanting to know how to live.

The same with the code of  honor or Bashido that motivated both Yukoo Mishima, Japan’s greatest post war poet and the executive in charge of compensation to the 400 families of the Japanese Boeing jet that went down in the water with no survivors.  The verdict was pilot error and the compensation payments were in the millions.  After filing the paperwork for the 400th claim, the airline executive neatly arranged his desk and then committed ritual seppukaas his personal apology to the families.  In this way the samurai, the man of honour makes his entire life a gesture, a conscious act of volition in ending it.  He knew what he was doing.

I did not.

I was a child growing up in 70’s San Diego.  Down the street from me was the school where the shootout that gave Bob Geldof Why I hate Mondays.  And of course there was Danny Alstadt.

Death-is-not-the-End_Wallpaper_1gtcz

I published my first poem entitled UNDER THE GIZMO in the California State Education Poetry Anthology describing my experience when my French teacher, a former Playboy bunny, discovered my poetry journal that had my imitations of Baudelaire and Nerval.   She called the school counsellor who called my mother who then got browbeat her into taking me to a child psychiatrists.  Upon the first ten mintues of meeting me and suggesting that a French Symbolist’s lifestyle was not compatibel with an academic career, he prescribed  medication.  Apparently, a 14 year old with a morbid interest in late 19th century French Symbolist poetry does not conform to the cirriculum standard and I was sentenced to be drugged.  

Fortunately my father had returned from his conference and was able to intervene where my mother’s English could not.

So I wrote a poem about the dehumanization of the state educational system.

So the state educational system published it in their journal state-wide.

My long term social alienation had been  augumented by my parents disintegrating marriage.

It was the summer of 1975 that my father moved out and it was later that summer that I took my own life.

When I went to 10th grade, before I was expelled for organizing a student demo (another story), I fell in with a group of older students who seemed to appreciate SF, poetry, classical music and art as much as I did.  They adopted me as a sort of odd mascot and I took pleasure in finally have found a social niche I felt welcome in.

B became my best friend  and it was B who enthisiastically invited me to the library after school one day to introduce me to S, his new girlfriend.  I had never met anyone like S before; half Armenian, half Jewish; S was the girl I had been dreaming of since I first started dreaming about girls.  And she was my best friend’s girlfriend.  And beautiful.  And intelligent.  And she new everything about Matisse!

Needless to say this fated triangle would not hold.  That summer was a Shakespherian torture of frustrated libido, yielding to honour.  Eventually B “gave” S to me.  It was during one of those ridiculous emotional roller coaster rides that S had called me to tell me that she had reached a final decision and was choosing to stay with B.  

We were all children at 16 and 17.  Children playing with fire.

I accepted this, hung up the phone and sat down to my typewriter to write my goodbye.

When I awoke in hospital, stomach pumped, having endured the enagelism of an all night Christain nurse wo kept waking me up to tell me how much I had disapppointed Jesus.  

[HE”S disappointed?  I would shout at her now.]

When I awoke to the pair of clear blue confused yes of my little sister looking at me, anxious and scared I realized like a freight train what my life was really worth.   At the time, it seemed like the only thing to do.  That morning, I hated myself and when I looked at the hurt confusion in my mother’s eyes, I knew that this could never, never ever happen again.

These days it merely takes a split second of my daughter’s face in my mind to assure my immortality.

But I’m with Robin Williams.  I know what that step entails.  I know what it means to make the final choice.  And it is something we must air out.  It is something we must allow to enter the public sphere.  We are all masters of our own destiny and the ability to choose to take our own lives is an act of assertion; an act of identity.  To label it as weak or sick or wrong is to deny your own awareness of your own identity and the need to control and detmin who and what it is that you are on your terms.  There are many things worse than death and there are at least a billion living it.  But is life is deemed to be precious, indeed the only value there is, then that value must be defined by its limits.

It is my life to choose to live it as I choose and to choose to die as I choose to.

Robin’s chocie may be tragic to us, but it is also a reminder that death rests waiting on all  of our shoulders.  There is no way out, is what we all share in common.   

Peace, and an ease to all suffering.


IT’S NICE TO BE 15 AGAIN . . .


hitchhiker. . . in nervous anticipation of the world.  Curiousity, tempered by peer acquired knowledge  butts against the barricades of adulthood.  We’re ready to storm the Citadel of your privilege!  We are the next generation and that world you’re holding hostage belongs to us!  (Now hand it over before anyone gets hurt.)

My daughter, Olivia is 15 and visting me from just outside Oxford, England where she lives with her mother and has never had less than a straight A+ report card.  She just took a flight by herself from London Heathrow to San Diego, at 15.

When I was 15 my parents were getting divorced, badly.

So I ran away from home.

I told my mom, my dad  had moved out, that I was going camping with my friend Barry Alphonso for a few days and I asked her if she could give me a ride to Pacific Beach where Barry lived and where his mom was driving us from.hitchhiking-1

I didn’t see my mother again for another 12 weeks. I met Barry alright in PB near the freeway on-ramp onto 5 heading north.  I had an overstuffed backpack, a golf club (for walking and protection), about $40.00 I had stolen from my mother’s purse: the source of all comforts.  At  15 I found myself standing on an on-ramp in Pacific Beach  holding my glof club in one hand and sticking out my thumb with the other.  Barry lingered, somewhat doubting I would hitch a ride and curious as to my sticking my toes over the precipace into the unknown.  Would I really jump or just go home?

hitchhiker-2

 

Me, all I had was the certainty I needed to leave my broken family behind.  There was too much incomprehensible grief, the loss of our house, our income, our home.  My mother and father’s loving looks twisted into evil eyes of anger, hatred and contempt for each other.  But me and my sister couldn’t help but suspect that we were the root of the problem.  After all, if they hadn’t had us; they could split up and both be happy somewhere else, with someone else.  Idiots think that children are somehow less responsible.

That’s not the problem.  A child is much too responsible, in our minds we feel responsible  for the world.

A delusion I have heartily welcomed back into my life at this late age.

At 15, I find myself standing on the verge of an open highway with my thumb sticking in the wind: the greatest gesture of hope and faith I have ever made in my life.  I had never hitchiked before and all I had were vague images of an Emerald San Francisco where my dad had driven us to years ago and near where my older brother was dodging tear gas on his way to class at Berkeley.  I had the swirling images of Bob Dylan songs and Paul Simon melodies to sing to my self on the side of the road.  If you really hit the groove on the song, you were always guaranteed a ride.  The joy of music and singing is infectous and hits the bubbled drivers like a laser, traveling 80mph!

This was also  still the time of war and the rice paddies and tunnels of Vietnam were making their way  underground into the California bread basket.

Hitchhiker JerichoLots of people I met on the road were veterans.  I hear its the same on the road today.  An army comes home to a lost highway.   Damaged souls with haunted eyes.  Hanging with  flea bitten ex fighting dogs and still wearing their green fatigues.  Some even still wore their dog tags that flickered in the sun and the sterno-light alike;  chained butterflies at the end of a beaded  neck chain .

Some of the sad were mad and would wander way from the fire or the on-ramp or under the bridge and howl at the sky.  No one ever paid them any mind.  it was impolite to comment on a soldier’s anguish.  These lost souls, these fragmented  men taught me so much about hitchhiking and rail car hopping, how to get a free meal at a road side McDonald’s in exchange for picking up the litter . . .  th

Which Jesus shelters were tolerable and which to steer away from.  (Generally, a meal, a sermon and a bed were tolerable.  Anythng more than that was considered risky.  I had a Christian woman visit me several times in one night in my bunk bed trying to convince me to accept Jesus while she  roamed her hands under my bed clothes.

Religion is allot like sex except that unlike sex, it gets it wrong.)

Most of all those lost soldiers, ghosts of events everyone wanted forgotten, they taught me how to forgive my father, another broken soldier who had taken out his white light rage on me and my brother, with his belt and with his fists.  Those men, may killers, taught me at 15 what I needed to know for real, so I could later tell my father what he had done to me  and I could look him I the eyes and forgive him because I knew and understood that  wasn’t his fault.

It was the War, the same fucking War that had crippled him.  The same War that crippled the ghosts from Iraq and Afghanistan.  The same War that is manufacturing new ghosts in Israel, in Gaza, in Syria.  It’s the same fucking War peeps, the same fucking War from the desert to the frozen tundra, through the jungle, to the rice paddies, to the streets of downtown LA.

It’s the same fucking War, peeps: when we going to call  it quits?

How much more do we have to endure of your arrogant greed, your inhumanity, your thoughtless disregard for Life?

I had adventures on that road to Oz.hitchhiking

Through the valleys of the Jesus people.

On the highway, pulling all sorts of motorised vehicles with my magnetic thumb.

Drinking beer for the first time at the cowboy ranch Bacchanal after the rancher’s hand picked up 5 of us hitchers in the back of his pickup truck, just to give us beer and music at the farm.  Being kissed by a girl who’s name I never would know, or need to,  for the very first time—There is no thrill greater than a fleeting one.    In the back of the Wizard’s goatee-ed van who dressed his poodle in a bright green doggy sweater and  offered to buy me dinner  later if he could show me his doggy tricks.

The biker under the bridge who’s hog had broken down in the downpour near the Oregon border.  And me, a drowned puppy carrying a golf club for protection, drenched to my bones and shaking like the Devil at Communion.

The big, bearded, bike-bear stared at me under the bridge for awhile and made me nervous.

This was his bridge.

HitchhikingAfter awhile, he broke his stare and waved me silently over across the road.  The only bikers I knew anything about were the ones that put Hunter S Thompson in the hospital because they didn’t like what he had written about them in his book.  Shit!

But ‘Lucky’ was a quiet mountain.  He gave me a green wool army blanket from his bike’s saddle bag and a Camel straight from his half empty pack; my first ever.  The rain was coming down steady, heavy and cold.  I had “smartly” chosen the month of November to make my break to freedom.  Lucky had a can of sterno, a metal cup and Nescafe.  There was water, water, everywhere and more than enough to drink.

Lucky didn’t say much but when I stopped shaking he poured from a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 into the hot metal nescafe cup and we shared it.  I did not know this quiet dark bearded man, where he came from, what his story was or even it was safe to hang  with him under this bridge in the rain.  But he was my older brother  in the moment we were in and when Lucky finally did say something to me it was a 3 word question:

“Do you play?”

I glanced down at the the minature wooden chess set Lucky had extracted from his saddle bag.

“Sure, I play.    I play ALL  the time”.

Paying chess with a leather suited biker under a bridge under the pouring Oregon rain.

That was what I was doing  when I was 15.