Tuesday, July 14, 2020


I’ve been ignoring Pinterest for years, assuming that it was sort of like Etsy — girly little fondnesses and cute homemade stuff.  Certainly there are no Native American people posting that I’ve seen and the photos that individuals collect about “Indians” are miscellaneous, misattributed, and old 19th century stuff.  They're on the edge of being offensive due to stereotyping.

These are from Popovy Sisters.

But then I ran across “art dolls” which includes jointed, posable, incredibly slender and idealized dolls suitable for clothing and adorning.  They were sophisticated versions of the paperdolls I amateurishly drew as I approached puberty.  Many of them are remarkable.  Closely related are artist-augmented babydolls, so realistic that it’s hard to believe they aren’t real.  Both categories are very expensive.  

Next I found old friends: cloth doll children.  We had a family friend who made them and dressed them in little bib overalls or dresses.  We could play with them at her house but never take them home.  In high school I made some to use as marionettes.  How nice.  How non-threatening.  

Then I finally got nudged into Pinterest because I was thinking about octopuses and a whole new world fell open.  Little pastel octos and entirely terrifying tentacled monsters.  Whole other genres appeared: clusters of middle-aged women having a visit, extremely fat women with tiny sweet faces, and. . . gay boys.

from Raven Chronicles

Boys.  If you’ve been reading me a while, you may know that a decade ago I wrote with a cluster of boys in Paris who had formed a family based on photography and art.  AIDS was just arriving.  Boys this age are obsessed with two things: personal relationships and universal justice.  (Reversals also count: I mean, enough anger can turn these to destruction and cruelty.)  They’re all grown men now and we’re not in touch.

But on Pinterest I discover a whole new genre, writing with drawing, something like cartoons except about the lives of a special category of boys: gay, in need of family, falling in love with each other, trying to understand risky survival.  The narrative is as clear as the drawing but I still don’t understand a lot because I’m not them in their world.  I have no advisors.  My brothers are dead.

“Ronan wasn’t that different. Well, he could seem not that different. He could move to follow the guy he loved, like anyone else. He could live in a city, like anyone else. It could work.”
• • •
“Then he reached out and wiped the tear from Ronan’s left eye. He showed this finger to Ronan, too.
It was smeared darkly with black.
“This won’t work, Ronan,” Adam said.”


So I get my Google fingers going and discover there are real books, published by Scholastic, about this kind of boy in this kind of tale.  https://theravenboys.fandom.com/wiki/The_Raven_Cycle.  The author is Maggie Steifvater.  First book in 2012.  NYT best seller  #1.  https://theravenboys.fandom.com/wiki/The_Raven_Boys_Wiki    This is so wildly amazing that I can hardly believe it.  Of course, none of these Raven fans know anything about me — why would they?  But I’m still curious about them

There are two related literary genres that I do know about, though I’m not spending time on them right now.  One is “lone” and romantic figures, usually male, who may be associated with wilderness and always has a “spirit animal” like a wolf associated with him.  In the Raven Chronicles, it is a raven, of course, which makes for remarkable art.  This is an old trope in Europe and elsewhere, but it is reinvigorated by being gay boys which pulls in some of the cowl-and-cape brotherhood of monastics.  I also think of Neah Bay -- vampires are not far off.

The other genre, which is not recognized as a genre, is that of women — often gay — who write about gay men — often historical.  I’m thinking about Mary Renault, who was gay and oppressed in England in WWII but found family as a nurse caring for soldiers and later in South Africa among a community of liberal ex-pats.  And I’m thinking of Patricia Nell Warren whose “The Fancy Dancer”, is a much beloved novel about a priest and a Native American, which is a Montana book that both men and women love — quietly.  Neither writer wanted to be known as “gay” or any other restriction on the right to simply be a human who writes.  So many times and places to explore, so many differences that turn out to be samenesses.

Here's a puzzle.  Rowling's Harry Potter is portrayed again and again as a grown man, always a dark and handsome figure, often seeming scholarly and always seeming probably Irish and sometimes suggesting Jesus.  Kenner's question:  What does it mean?  


Monday, July 13, 2020


This batch of papers to sort, discard, and file turned up three things:  Lorraine Caldwell Scriver’s obituary; a letter setting the story straight about Bob Scriver being a great hero cowboy during the annual  Moiese Bison Range Roundup; and a woman asking if she could work with me to write my biography  It was an old offer and I had told her no.

I’d tell her the same right now.  She can’t possibly know anything about me — then or now.  I don't mean facts -- I mean opinions and goals, education and experiences.  At the time the Scriver name was famous and she thought it would carry over into making money.  By now I’m several more lives down the road, each one totally different from anything previous, with fewer and fewer witnesses or even readers of my multiple blogs, many of them gone now. 

This realization that there is a white “oral culture” as powerful and as unscientific as any indigenous culture’s language means that what people say/hear is entirely different from what can be nailed down by recorded facts on paper or even made rational by a time-line.  Some people won't admit what they think; others will become very angry.

Too many people have turned out to be entirely different from who I thought they were — or maybe they changed.  I look in the mirror and see someone quite different from who I thought I was.  See?  Here’s what I look like in my secret inner dimension.  (It’s one of the Popovy sisters’ art dolls.  Wonderful stuff.  http://popovy-dolls.com

It’s just not accurate.  My skin is loose over my bones, but none of my bones are broken.  My skin is puckered and pleated from loss of weight but my waist is the same size as before.  I don’t think I could get a tattoo that would be legible and no one would want to see it anyway.  When I first came here, women would stop me on the street (truly!) to advise me on where to buy “proper” clothes.  By now they’re just grateful I’m wearing something.

As for my former lives, no on here knows anything about my life on the rez because there’s a wall of glass along the boundary.  Back where I grew up in Portland, the Black young are claiming 15th and Alberta has always been their homeland.  Even less they even suspect life as a ministerial candidate in Hartford, Connecticut; or as an animal control officer knocking on doors in Portland; or a clerical worker in Portland — they might come close on that last one.  These days not even the library board reads my blog, as far as I know, and why would they?
Do we ever really know each other?

But that’s me.  As noted above, writing about Bob Scriver was full of errors in the view of many.  Lorraine, my successor, has an obit that is pure fantasy, but how can a person tell the truth when it is as ugly as hers?  A desperate, sodden, self-pitying life even after marrying Bob.  Her relatives wrote the obit and no wonder it is very rosy.  They ended up with the house she built in B.C. plus a big share of Bob Scriver’s millions.  I'm not sure they ever met him.

Some people were upset that “you’re in this book so much — it’s supposed to be about Bob.”  Well, cripes, I was THERE, Charlie!  Most of this was eyewitness stuff. Was I supposed to be objective about all this wildly melodramatic theatre in which I was a player?

Here’s something I found from about ’89 or 90.  The kids at Heart Butte sometimes could be persuaded to write poetry, though they preferred the words to their fav songs.  One day they said they were tired of me giving them topics to write about, so they wanted to role-reverse and tell me what to write.

“Write one about love!”

Love is a silver fish
Leaping in my heart.
It lives in another world,
Liquid and cool and sometimes blue.
If love is dragged out into the light,
It dies gasping.

“No, no!  One about TEENAGED LOVE!”

I was only a trembling leaf until you
     came like a wind
     and sent me sailing.
Now I lie over your heart, greeen and tender
     and ready to grow.
Your heart is thumping under me, as red as
     I am green.
Our tender time together will grow to a great
     branching tree of love and shelter.

“Now write a sexy one!”

I was hanging out the wash.
     He handed me the pins.
I shook out his worn workshirt
     and he put his arms around me.
The wind slapped the wet shirt against us
     and we both laughed.
It took both of us to spread the sheets out in the sun.

“Now one about love ending.

This morning the world died.
The sun plunged into a coal mine.
Now I hardly remember how it was —
     only that I loved you
     and you loved me.
But what could it have meant?
The world is dead.

“Now write one abut how it feels to be me, us.”

Unseen, I mingle with you —
     tip-toeing through your lives.
What are you about?
What do you have that I could take for mine?
I hear your secrets and see your skins.

But you can’t say that last about everyone, esp. the most complicated and elusive people.  You might have it wrong, it will all change in days or weeks. you might only see part of the picture.  All fact is at base really fiction.  Science is telling us that we always construct the world from what our brain networks have invented, maybe not even from the same brain network since they tend to overlap but that’s only a tendency.

Every individual is embedded in a situation, a culture, a way of being.  One behaves differently in an institutional sacred place.  One behaves differently if a different skin color because other people have different expectations which they impose, maybe with deadly consequences.

But then when you write out a biography it has to fit on the page, follow some kind of order, consider a certain kind of audience.  Even all these things I’ve saved, in hopes of having proof, can be sorted fifty different ways or simply discarded.  Many would recommend burning the lot, going with memory, pretending that memory is accurate or at least relevant.

Sunday, July 12, 2020


It’s four AM and the wind is rising on this Sunday morning.  I’m often up at this hour.  It’s a bit of a tradition among writers.  In my case it’s mostly the result of two histories.  The cats in this house want me to get up at first light and open cans of catfood, the equivalent of hunting small prey.  The other factor is that I once wrote daily with a group of young men in Paris in spite of the time zone difference.  They didn’t write — they made videos and other photos, often socially motivated.  Doesn’t get more romantic than that.

As it turns out, I moved to Valier in 1999 just as the US began a major change, both political and economic.  I had reduced my monthly “nut” to about $600.  My income is on the poverty line which is about double that.  Thanks to my mother’s bequest, I own my house.  I have enough books and old clothes to last to the end.  The cats are a debit.  I’ve escaped most friends and relatives, who keep dying of old age anyway.  House maintenance soaks up my discretionary income.

Thinking in terms of political parties makes no sense to me and I think I’m not alone in believing that, but also not alone in wanting explanations.  Many people here turn away from knowing national stuff.  They say politics are corrupt, dirty, impenetrable, and impossible to impact.  We have almost no consciousness of the big issues of black/white.  No African-American lives in this town.  Here we are red/white and quickly becoming taupe except for those who defend themselves by saying “at least I’m white,” as though that were a “thing.”

I’ve been getting through the days by depending on the explanations of Rachel Maddow, though she’s too “coastal” to be totally satisfactory.  She’s very much like the UU denomination, which is as close as I’ve come to a political affiliation.  Even that has changed from rigor to mush.  This morning — suspended from Twitter, evidently because I don’t own a cell phone— I stumbled upon Vox and its clear tracing of histories.

Where the Republican Party came from and how it has changed.

The history of the horrifying political polarization we’re living through.

This morning, awake too early -- don’t worry, I’ll go back to bed in a bit -- I am much rewarded by finding this website, which is focused on explanations and not hung up on trying to say, “Oh, there are good folks on both sides,” a thought that made rigor into mush.  There are two major forces that I resist: the New York Times and YouTube.  The NYT controls people who read and YouTube controls the oral culture of the US even in print.

There’s quite a bit of thought about the oral culture of indigenous people which for many years was ignored as primitive, childish, and the preference of women — quite unlike the dignified rationality of published white men of considerable age and impressive visages that they earned with their behavior.  Aside from being ineffective these days, this point of view and labeling tries to escape from change, pointing to the Rule of Law in “originalist” fashion, meaning freezing the Constitution in definitions based on 1776.  Much change depends on thinking out loud, which is collaborative.  But not when it degenerates into shouting, which spreads germs.  Why can't we talk?

There’s a great story told by Hugh Dempsey, an historian married to an indigenous woman and living in Calgary.  In the pre-white-man days, the tale goes, the Blackfoot tribe dominated the east slope of the Rockies and therefore access to the mighty herds of bison which were such an excellent source of food.  Occasionally the Kootenai and Kalispell tribes, who are from the Flathead Valley, would crave that meat and want to parlay for permission to cross the mountains to hunt.  

The protocol was straightforward.  A small band of hopeful hunters would come to a ridge where they could look down at the Blackfoot camp and one of them, the designated diplomat, would sit so his silhouette could be seen as he waited for a reaction.  If the camp leaders were feeling mellow and generous, they would call him down for a discussion circle while smoking.  If the camp leaders were unhappy, maybe because of smallpox or bad losses in skirmishes, someone went out and shot the diplomat dead.  Unless he was fast enough to get back over the horizon safely.

So that’s where we are, divided by politics instead of mountains.  The Repubs are irritated and sending out the snipers, though they’re the ones who are dying.  In fact, BECAUSE they are dying.  Time is picking them off right in their lodges.  We knew this was coming.  We knew that no amount of money or power could make them live forever.  Bob used to jokingly say,  “We killed the Indians but they refused to fall down dead.”  Something like that is finally happening to Repubs — they are falling and intent on taking everyone else with them.

Sweeping across the world the way smallpox once swept across the Americas and the way plague emptied Europe, Covid-19 is a version and consequence of growing population, only one of an intermittent recurrence of viruses — H1N1, SARS, MERS, Ebola . . .  just variations of the life codes in genes.  We’re beginning to figure out how all that stuff works and even to occasionally intervene but it’s slow.

If a person defines his or her self via labels and tries to stand apart as an individual who is self-determining and responsible, that’s a bit like positioning oneself on the horizon of time.  I don’t really know what that means, but it’s a metaphor that might be useful to ponder as we try to return to some kind of relationship to the larger community.  I mean the REALLY larger community, all the beings on the planet.  We are each a little link between the past and the future, even the briefest existence being another ripple in how everything unfolds.

The cats in this house are neither pets nor feral. They are a colony with new kittens growing up to have new kittens if half the litter doesn’t die of local cat corona viruses.  Since 1999 when I came, my original neighbors have died of old age or cancer but I will not forget Rose or Pinky or Old Dave.  Since I am of the written culture, I’ll put them in print in electrons like this.  The wind is rising and falling.  The two mamacats are in the window watching everything move.

PS:  Another explanation.

Saturday, July 11, 2020


Normally, I would put this on Twitter, but maybe it will work here. I have no plans to write books about the Blackfeet, though I might group some posts into manuscripts to self-publish.  Anyone is welcome to use my posts as resources.

If you are a publisher looking for a "real" Blackfeet writer, here is a list:

1.  Woody Kipp was a journalism professor and has already had a book published.

2.  Carol and John Murray are academics who have traveled to Washington, D.C.  John is the official historian of the tribe.

3.  Marvin Weatherwax, either Jr. or Sr. are informed, eloquent, and easy-going.

At this point I have no idea how to find them. Pow-wows are shut down so there's not so much summer travel.  Try the Blackfeet Community College   https://bfcc.edu
The tribal offices will probably not be much help.  The real way to find people here is to get in the pickup and drive over to their mom's house.


“ Today's other big SCOTUS case: The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a large chunk of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation, a decision that state and federal officials have warned could throw Oklahoma into chaos. The court's 5-4 decision, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, means that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants in parts of Oklahoma that include most of Tulsa, the second-largest city."

July 9, 2020, 9:01 AM MDT / Source: Associated Press
By Associated Press
“WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a large chunk of eastern Oklahoma remains an American Indian reservation, a decision that state and federal officials have warned could throw Oklahoma into chaos.

The court's 5-4 decision, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, means that Oklahoma prosecutors lack the authority to pursue criminal cases against American Indian defendants in parts of Oklahoma that include most of Tulsa, the second-largest city.

The court's ruling casts doubt on hundreds of convictions won by local prosecutors. The case, argued by telephone in May because of the coronavirus pandemic, revolved around an appeal by an American Indian who claimed state courts had no authority to try him for a crime committed on reservation land that belongs to the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.”


In the excitement over the ruling on Trump’s resistance to subpoenas for his records, I missed another challenge to the Rule of Law that is quite different.  The Supreme Court voted to uphold laws governing the sovereign status of tribes in Oklahoma.  These laws were written generations ago without any grasp of how the world would change and in the blind faith that they would go on being relevant.  Or possibly be solved by time, that Indians would simply dissolve. (Where have we heard that idea?)

We’ve drifted far away from the world the way it was at the time treaties were written and don’t much like what the Rule of Law requires today.  If we literally do as we declared we would, half of Canada would belong to the indigenous people, right?  A big part of Seattle would be indigenously owned.  No one can define “Indians” without dispute and it’s a misnomer anyway.

Media were reluctant to point out the origin of the lawsuit because it is incendiary given our cultural attitudes toward “pedophilia.”


“The case the justices decided Thursday involved 71-year-old Jimcy McGirt, who is serving a 500-year prison sentence for molesting a child. Oklahoma state courts rejected his argument that his case does not belong in Oklahoma courts and that federal prosecutors should instead handle his case.

“McGirt could potentially be retried in federal court, as could Patrick Murphy, who was convicted of killing a fellow tribe member in 1999 and sentenced to death. But Murphy would not face the death penalty in federal court for a crime in which prosecutors said he mutilated the victim and left him to bleed to death on the side of a country road about 80 miles southeast of Tulsa.”


One problem with the Rule of Law is tied to its purpose in the first place, to try to escape cultural emotion about offenses as they originate.  People are like the puppy who doesn’t look at either a treat or a danger to which you are pointing, but devotes all his interest to the finger.  A written law is meant to be consistent and dependable.  But even college educated people (for what that’s worth) give their basic attention and reaction to the offense itself.  It’s a human response of empathy, which is the source of compassion.  Why would we want to discourage that?

In considering indigenous people’s responses, a complication is millennia of oral discussion as a group, which pulls in the people of the specific persons concerned.  This gets complicated again when anthropologists try to defend cultural wholes that are indeed disappearing over time.  In my half-century of contact with the Blackfeet I have seen the People change.  The larger national culture has also changed radically with the “old people” just dying out now.  

But we hate change.  We’re uneasy with laws, esp. the written ones.  They can be unevenly enforced, not enforced at all by friends of the government, or reinterpreted.  We’re in too much of a hurry to hash out things like definitions.  They say that if one looks at how people survive, more people are in slavery today than when it was the law to be owned.

Which is another problem with the Rule of Law, which is the definition and recording of boundaries. How can murdering a child by sexual mutilation be prosecuted on one side of a line and not on the other side?  Why isn’t there a universal human law, a commandment for everyone?  An unforgivable atrocity?  And yet a thing happens again and again, regardless of location or culture, because the structure and capacity of the human mind and emotions have recurrent dynamics that go back to mammals — tomcats and lions killing cubs and kittens.  Can a Rule of Law even be understood by all humans?  Is incarceration meant to be a punishment or a zoo for dangerous animals?

Reservations were not originally meant to be anything very clearly defined — mostly a political solution going back to the original idea of defining lines between kingdoms so they wouldn’t be always at war — just when the boundary was challenged.  But how can there be rival kingdoms when Lewis and Clark traveled through the continent where the people had no idea that France had just sold them to the United States.

There were some idealists who believed that if we “bought” the land, then we owed the indigenous people the kind of support we would give citizens.  Treaties were meant to define a mercantile relationship.  Over time the pre-existing dwellers became more and more citizens, but their tribal citizenship began to compete with US Rule of Law in a lot of careless or ignorant ways — mostly on the Euro-defined side. 

The truth is that we have very little idea what we’re doing.  Merely writing down sales and product definition is not enough.  So where’s the next thing?

Friday, July 10, 2020


Every morning I wake up suspended somewhere between weeping and laughing.  Don’t we all these days?  In an attempt to return to idealism about government, I went back to watching “The West Wing” but it was the wrong move.  Netflix ignored the point where I left and threw me into the last episode about the Sheen character’s end and the Smits presidency beginning, which didn’t happen.  Once again I was suspended between sorrow and cynicism.

My constant bamboozlement over internet computer issues, esp. those coming from changing my email address, has included the loss of the feature of Blogspot that sends the comments on my blog points to my email.  I forgot to check, thinking there were none, but then I got curious and looked.  One was a comment from Sam Vaknin so I answered it.  Then he answered me.  His work has been a big help to me and I got a thrill out of contact.  Today I watched two of his vids on YouTube, as follows.

Vaknin on "Physical Abuse, Rape, Battering:Victim, Perpetrator, Society Collude"

“Embrace Nothingness: Antidote to Narcissism”

More weeping and laughing, but this time not alone.  Sam is as good at the rant as Tim is and I like both for about the same reasons.  Sometimes I even get into it myself.  Ranting does restore proportion (which is sanity) sometimes.

Here’s where I jump.  Watching and thinking about these guys does not have the effect they intend because whatever else I’m thinking about, I’m always thinking about writing and how to break up old categories and predetermined methods.  After watching Vaknin, it occurs to me that he is a philosopher of human life as it reflects on itself.  The "psych" categories are up for grabs.  Some claim they are actually genres of literature, stories.

Humans are obviously a form of temporary, coded, creaturely existence governed by internal systems of proteins and other molecules captured in little balloons, fluid streams, and oxygen exchange, enclosed over-all in a skin that allows limited and coded permeability with the environment.  It arises in a meiotic collision of codes between two people, carried internally as long as possible by one of them and then expelled into a world of chance.  From then on it is controlled by confrontation with the environment, which includes other people.

It is this actual-and-real unsorted stream of chance and its effects on individuals that is described by various humanist disciplines which are divided from each other arbitrarily:  the various psychologies, many philosophies, histories, narratives and other art forms, and even theologies, moralities, and liturgies.  These interweave, explain and challenge each other and can change our arrangements for existing on the planet, even hosting viruses that can destroy us all.

When I was in undergrad college, I ignored my technical assignment to “speech education” by inventing a combination of theatre and comparative religion classes.  It was driven by a felt need, a curiosity, not out of personal hope but just for knowing the ideas.  I was not the only one.  We had excellent teachers.

We forget and resist that environments are expressions of existence quite apart from humans, life, and substance — subject only to time.  Not God/Not Science.  They determine the existence of us all.  Disease, climate change, volcanoes, earthquakes, unknown cosmic forces, maybe gravity itself.

Vaknin’s psych is a form of theory between philosophy and narrative, esp. novels   Also theology.  His anchor is the individual’s self-management or compensation for chance so that he or she may exist as long as possible.  His insight has been the idea that there is a boundary to one’s psychological self (self-generated) and that this boundary might be mismanaged as narcissism, which takes many forms from being defensive against invasion to being predatory intent on destruction.  I would love to read any novel he wrote.

I’d forgotten the term “decompensation” which Vaknin used in the second vid linked above.  I’ll define it to keep us on the same page.

Decompensation may occur due to fatigue, stress, illness, or old age. When a system is "compensated", it is able to function despite stressors or defects. Decompensation describes an inability to compensate for these deficiencies. It is a general term commonly used in medicine to describe a variety of situations.

decompensation 1. any failure of homeostatic mechanisms. 2. inability of the heart to maintain adequate circulation; it is marked by dyspnea, venous engorgement, cyanosis, and edema. 3. in psychiatry, the failure of defense mechanisms, which results in progressive personality disintegration. 

So now I’ll say that this planetary human life is being challenged past its ability to compensate and consequently we are all pressed to compensate for some major disfunctions of our own, more so than usual.

At seminary — which could be defined as “practical theology” meaning ideas that really work — we were asked to participate in sharing circles, guided by a very big, black and Baptist counselor, not particularly liberal.  Reacting to me, he once said,  “You seem to have no defenses,” as though it were a problem.  I thought defenses were bad, that they were an evasion of the truth which is always guilty, a shortfall.  I had been denying them, trying to be defense-free.  The consequence was my psychological decompensation.  I burst into tears.  He was startled and the others were scornful. They passed the Kleenex box.  And sat quietly while I fell apart.

My narcissism -- constructed boundary -- was meant to keep other people out of my identity, to be mine for myself. I came from two people who were meant to be exceptional so that they would “save” their families.  The Blackfeet were a people who lived for the group as survival.  It has been an echo to me that no one should be above the others, though they’re beginning to catch on to personal narcissism.  But many tribal members still put family ahead of most everything.

Eric Fromm, philosophizing about love, drew circles representing individuals and proposed that some stay apart, others overlap, and many try to swallow any other circle that comes close.  I’m just competent enough that others try to swallow me in order to use my energy and skills.  This is how men treat women in our society. It worked well for Bob Scriver for a decade.

If I wrote novels, which I do not, this would be the issue.  All in the shadow of the environment and dressed in the memories of previous experience, I would tell how comfortable it is to be swallowed up for a good purpose — at first — but how eventually some can no longer compensate.  The embrace is a cage.  As in marriage or ministry.  And then how trying to swallow up other people, related or not, can also cause a dreadful decompensation.  While I was in seminary, Jonestown happened.


In the on-going attempt to pry apart the stubborn clichés and stereotypes that are outdated and even mistaken from the beginning, I’m taking several approaches.  One is that every stigma, race or assumption is a continuum rather than a binary, that the continuum is anchored by high prestige at one end and permission to abuse and even kill at the other.  Vividly, a person who provides sex for money might be a consort of a king or the mistress of an international corporation CEO.  This applies to males as well as females, and to ambiguous sexualities as ascribed to someone like Wallis Simpson.  

Let’s look at skin color.  Given the TV exposure of well-educated and well-spoken black people in popular drama series as well as in news segments about doctors, it appears from their grace and intelligence that they are far more naturally high status than some Republican senators.  But away from these assimilated people are dark street people who are barely existing.  No one knows quite what to do with the high prestige African personalities who remain colorful and energetic to the point of seeming garish and outré.  Some love ‘em, some hate ‘em.  

One moral narrative in this country is that immigrants and low income people can ascend the culture continuum through education and virtue.  But it is challenged.  For one thing, only the predominate highest class decides who IS educated and makes it easier for some to ascend.

The other major lever in prying apart such stigmas as race is the realization that global unity is rapidly erasing the reality and concept of “race.”  Maybe we’ll all be beige.  This complex and changing world has left many criteria behind.  For instance, a delinquent kid may have educated himself to use the Internet to a far greater extent that professors and legislators.  The gizmos are meant to allow self-teaching.  This takes time and experience with the issue, but grown professionals with pressing jobs are not likely to have those “privileges”, those luxuries.  At the same time "populism" is cheapening and coarsening our judges and representatives.  From a rather Nordic white perspective.

In one way the internet is a great leveling force so that kids in China or Australia can theoretically talk to anyone anywhere unless their governments shut down the machinery, which they are not likely to do if they don’t know it’s happening.  The internet grew up around porn — everyone doing it and no one admitting it — so secrecy and unexpectedness is built in, but so is “aggregation” as was described in “A Billion Wicked Thoughts”.  A basic contributor to stigma is not having the facts because they have been suppressed to keep them from disturbing the status quo, particularly if someone loses profit or control.

But the “facts” are easily changed into damn lies by tinkering with obvious things like place of residence (gerrymandering) or shopping — or subtle hoaxes like shell companies.  It’s interesting that that there’s so much revelation about shell companies, empty identities, but none of the outrage that accompanies traditional disguises like “noms de plume”.  People are convinced that sex and romantically squalid identities make narratives more marketable if they are presented as real.  This has been true since “Fanny Hill” and “Robinson Crusoe.”  Combat and prison stories also tempt “shell identities”.  But that doesn’t mean that “The Red Badge of Courage” is bogus.  It’s still a good story.

Consider three stories edited and defended by one particular publisher who shall be nameless.  One was Sherman Alexie whose audacity has finally gotten out of hand.  Another was Alice Randall who wrote “The Wind Done Gone,” a Black counter-story to “Gone with the Wind”.  That went to court.  The third was Tim Barrus who sent a first-person fiction story about “Nasdijj” to Esquire magazine where it was taken by the “white boy” editors to be actual testimony, so that's the way they promoted it.  But they knew that Nasdijj had no mailing address.

It is a great crime in America to jump ethnic groups.  Barrus was not Navajo — he was Delaware, a tribe scattered by the States and then more recently regathered after being moved to Oklahoma.  The Barrus line is named in order by the Miskawest people.  The sequence of descent — nothing to do with blood quantum and everything to do with pedigree — was traced back individual by individual.  So what are the consequences to the critics who accused Barrus of being non-native?  

This European concern for who begat whom comes from the 19th century development of animal husbandry breeding but also, to some extent, from the Biblical begats that justify the pedigree of Jesus.  Maybe that’s why it’s such a moral issue.  Therefore, I was surprised when a respected female rancher/writer just accepted the media’s accusations without reading the book in question or even — as far as I know — the original story in Esquire.  She was equally surprised that I would defend such a stigmatized person.

Sources and sequences are fascinating and even useful, but unreliable as moral indicators, unless you accept Trump’s use of “hoax” and “witchhunt” to exonerate his dubious actions.  We are no longer reluctant to use the stigma of “mafia” against Trump — with proof.

Several stigmas are denials of privilege, like anti-elitism and anti-intellectualism.  In this small town they are very often in play.  Most disconcertingly, if one comes from a faster urban life, the idea of what an elite or an intellectual might be like is much different than what it is assumed to be where not many people go to college.  Shouting and stubborn insistence are often confused with true knowledge, and a motivated ignoramus can take over an entire meeting.  

Mayberry is often mentioned in comparison to Valier, but people forget how people in the story often went off on tangents — a little like white people’s Naapi stories, illustrations of stigma and mistaken assumptions.  https://www.tribdem.com/news/bill-eggert-the-andy-griffith-show-turns-60/article_8a61d0e0-b82c-11ea-91e9-8f4232b1c52b.html

Experiments with birds (who, of course, have bird brains) show how deeply and biologically the exceptional individual, the white crow, is attacked in an effort to drive it off, even kill it.  This is true of many humans, esp. if money or prestige are involved.  Of course, authors take the brunt of accusations because no one knows much about publishers really.  Unless they create a stir of controversy through "their authors", as above.

I’m not trying to defend any particular author.  I’m just deploring that any individual is defined by color, provenance, or even things like stupidity, which may be very revealing and emotionally compelling stupidity.  But it shouldn’t be judged without reading the work.  Otherwise, where on the continuum of stupidity would one locate it?  Holy fool or pain in the butt?

Thursday, July 09, 2020



I regret that I haven't been keeping up with comments because when I changed my name on my address, it broke the link to my email.  I'll try to remember to check back.

Also, it isn't always possible to get Arabic alphabets to Google translate, so I don't know whether to allow them or not.

Wednesday, July 08, 2020


Twitter suspended me days and days ago and promised to look into the reason “soon.”  When I call, I’m given an impressively long “case number”, but then nothing happens.  There are some reasonable reasons: I changed my name on my email, but not my provider, and there is no provision from my provider for moving messages — they just get dumped.  Those who are resourceful, simply go to the Valier phone book and call me up on the landline that is another reason for Twitter trouble.  They will only accept the restoration of my Twitter account if I give them my cell phone number.  

I do not have a cell phone.  I have never had a cell phone.  I have no intention of getting a cell phone.  There are some very subtle and sinister aspects of cell phones, like being able to trace your whereabouts and travel.  Not that this last affects me since I don’t go anywhere.  Cell phones are vital to writing a modern crime series for the screen.  But they have an effect something like watching traditional theatre movies on a TV screen.  They make life small and over-accessible.  They promote business but not actual achievements.

The upshot is wanting to live without Twitter.  I am curious about why I was suspended.  Was it my quick quips at the expense of Trump?  Or was it being on the verge of exposing a hoaxy Indian?  Didn’t everyone know Mr. HWM was really just Sterling Schildt, raised in the resort town of East Glacier where his dad ran a laundromat and his mom was a bank clerk?  Or was it just me, who taught both his parents in my English classes decades ago?  They were good kids.  I know several Schildts.  They are all ambitious, wanting fame and fortune.  Even Rinks, his mom’s family who were stable workers, much respected, have come upon hard times two generations later.  Lots to write about for those who aren’t pursuing a white-facing identity.

The main reason I was on Twitter was to publicize my blog, prairiemary.blogspot.com, which is where I do my main work:  a thousand-word essay daily.  I just posted the title and subject each day.  I still haven’t figured out how to make them automatically email to people, unless I create an email mailing list.  I resent having to spend so much time on machinery rather than writing.  This is why I don’t publish.

But the pandemic has changed everything.  My living circumstances are deteriorating rapidly, partly neighbors, partly wall-to-wall salsify weeds and volunteer poplars, and partly a colony of cats that scorn kibble.  At the same time my level of energy and strength is sinking.  Death is all around and sometimes it seems a good thing that the world has shrunk so much, that the government — which wasn’t doing anything helpful in the first place — is doomed.

It doesn’t seem like smart remarks on Twitter are useful anymore.  The simplest transition, like buying more toner ink for my printer, is made complex by popup suggestions I don’t want, promised gifts good for secretaries with a sweet tooth, and refusal to operate a simple website. 

My Mac Operating system has become an arm of Apple.  My formerly trusted and convenient Pages App has become a pseudopod of the company, pitching “Apple Books” and structuring jpeg storage in ways I don’t use. Things I thought were in this computer, like my address contacts, turn out to be in theirs.  I have never signed up for iCloud, considering it unreliable and insecure by its very nature.  I’m glad I’ve printed out on paper so much of what I keep, but even what’s on CD’s is useless without using that app.  If Apple discontinues Pages, it all dies.  Apps mean vulnerability to chance.

Today’s mercantile and governing systems aim to leave no one free-standing.  Noticing that we cocoon instead of visiting, they want to guide us all into organized cocoonery so we don’t even know others exist.  I’m glad I’ve kept my typewriter, but it’s electric and the grid can go down.  Luckily, I still have a pencil and a stack of legal pads.


I’m reading Steve Benen’s book, “The Imposters”.  It doesn’t address the Pandemic because it was written too early.  But it is highly relevant to the federal decision to simply declare the catastrophe nonexistent and none of their business.

Last night I watched the Maddow Show, about the excruciating battle to save too many lives too suddenly with not enough supplies, time or beds.  In city after city the revels of ignoring the safety measures have led to a medieval scene of death.  The reason there are not rows of corpses on the sidewalks is that we can at least afford refrigerator trucks to be morgues.  We are a civilization of suppression, frozen.

People keep saying, “Only four more months of this” but we’re already a week into July and I still haven’t found anyone to fix my roof.  First blizzard is usually on Memorial Day.

No one has said anything about overpopulation as a connecting cause, though I’ve always been impressed by the experiments where rats were confined to a “rat ranch” too small for their proliferating, where they grew crowded, competitive, delinquent, criminal, and murderous.  The Aesop tale about the dog that wouldn’t let any of the livestock eat their hay does not include the part where the dog dies of starvation because he can’t eat hay.

The media is loving the whole drama of it, how it can be fitted into their versions of mass ball-games with winner and losers and lots of beer at the tailgate parties.  No news goes untweaked and even unhinged.

So far Benen’s book is not proposing malice or complicity with Russia, but rather pig-ignorance and bog-stubbornness of people standing in the trough barking, full of not-knowing — neither how it all works nor why it is raw cruelty, to say nothing of the treason it amounts to.  Because people, when they suffer enough, will want revenge.

When I was working in the Portland Bureau of Buildings there was a strong impulse to preserve secrets.  An intelligent, attractive divorcée, formerly a doctor’s wife skillful at soothing and distracting people, was hired specifically to deflect the contractors and planners who wanted the right permissions to what they wanted to do and wanted those answers fast because there was money at stake.  She hated her job but had to have the income.  She spoke of this frankly.

In fact, my experience with Montana is that they keep the medical ethics standards low because otherwise doctors — or maybe it’s their wives— won’t come here.  Because being a doc is the same as having enough money to live the good life and if you’re the only doc, no one asks questions.  Of course, the Maddow vids of medical people desperate to save lives, even their own, argues against that.  Maybe that’s why so many of those dedicated people have roots in countries where people have dark skins and high ideals, different cultures.  Their educations show in their eloquence.  The contrast with legislative hearings is stark.

Mike was the guy in the Bureau of Buildings who made decisions about building in flood plains where there had to be an assurance of safety in emergencies.  He struggled with the task because Portland was growing and the pressure to use every bit of land was intensifying.  Developers looked at the land cleared of homes by the Vanport Flood and wanted to build there again, arguing that if the buildings were prisons, no one would care if the inmates were drowned.  He was also a free speech sort of guy.  

But when I prepared a flyer and put at the top the law summary the part that said every building and planner had the right to know what and why decisions were being made, he urged me to destroy it.  “Do you realize how under attack we will be?  The political consequences?”  

He was right.  The builders who came to my counter were determined to do what they wanted and when logic, emotion, and so on interfered, they could become violent.  I kept a can of bear spray in my desk.  We were threatened with bombs.  

Even in peaceful little Valier the mayor and council are constantly telephoned or visited by irate citizens demanding that pot holes or derelict cars be addressed.  No explanation would satisfy them and even the oldest could become violent.  At one point there was a flurry of activity on the lot at the intersection by the lone traffic light.  Men were driving test bores into the ground and measuring something.  I asked the mayor.  Told something bogus about possible sale, none of my business, I walked over and asked the men what they were doing.

The land had been a service station that developed a leak in the underground gas tank that contaminated the land.  The state said no one could build there until the levels went down far enough, so that’s what they were measuring.  It had not gone down enough.  No one said anything about contaminating the water aquifer.  When I asked, they said it was tested and was okay. It was a lie.  But that brought up the next cause for citizen irate attitudes:  distrust of government.  But they lied to protect themselves and their investments from citizen attacks.

Revelations now come daily about how the Republican party has kept secrets and lied.  If there were safeguards — and there were — the Repubs simply ignored them.  When a horse can no longer be guided, it is said to have “taken the bit between its teeth.”  Sometimes race horses go crazy, jump the fences, dump the jockeys and speed towards the horizon.  The newly elected in the US Congress were so ignorant that they didn’t even realize there was a bit in their mouth, so unruly that they bucked, all but starting fistfights on the floor, never recognizing the idiocy of what they were doing as anything bad.  When people criticized them, they just went hidden.  The hundreds of thousands of deaths and impact of Covid-19 were ignored.  It’s all unreal.

My cat-bitten thumb is healing but still sore.  My diabetic feet are stinging.  The aging of my joints and need for sleep betray my years.  I have not forgotten that my brother has died estranged years ago and his death was not even relayed to me by his distraught wife.  What does death have to offer except relief/not-knowing and escaping what begins to be an international whirlwind before we get to the hard work of rebuilding with people who are uneducated about government because they grew up in a world where merchandize and profit were the only things that worked.  Should we be watching “Startrek” and taking notes on Quark?

This scary story is about the state of the “manger” in the Aesop story.