What Ails You?
“Mama? What’s a welkin? Is that like a pickle?”
“No, dear. It’s the vault of the sky. The firmament, you know?”
“Is that like something permanent, Ma?
“No… It’s Satan! Satan! Satan! Satan!”
The clouds part and harp music ensues. Celestial bodies retreat to the edges, and the terminal point of the universe is revealed.
It’s merely tinsel with a corrugated cardboard backing holding this all up …
… and the choirmaster is a washed up, combed-over, carnival barker who loves tanning beds and all the best words. He has the best words, and all the chicks dig him, or so he says.
Ain’t we lucky to be living in the here and now?
… and now back to our episode:
“But, Mama, you made the Shake ‘n Bake without letting me help you!”
“Aw, go to bed already, you pain in the ass!”
And here are some scenes from next week’s episode…
What I’m Reading, or: What I Just Finished Reading (a continuing series)
Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Rascist Ideas in America / Ibram X. Kendi (2016)
A big serious book, on a big serious matter. It’s breathtaking in its scope and research. Time and time again I wondered why we get shortchanged in our history, literature, political science, sociology classes — at least I did and I spent over ten years at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. We, as Americans do ourselves a great disservice when we continue to WHITEwash history — especially in a country founded on the backs of black Africans and black Americans. This was slow going, especially compared to Kendri and Jason Reynolds (YA) take on Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You (also highly recommended). But well worth the effort. I can only hope that kids in schools and universities are getting a fuller picture now — or else we risk another 400 years of needless pain and suffering.
Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present / Harriet A. Washington (2008)
Tough and disturbing read that turned my stomach a dozen times. A massive and painful, and excellently researched, history of the pathological trend in American medicine and research of using Black Americans as subjects. A rogues gallery of unethical and inhumane doctors, scientists, and government agencies rationalizing away their ethics for the bottom line. Now, Washington tells us, the problem has moved on to the less regulated environs of Africa and Latin America.
A Small Place / Jamaica Kincaid (1988)
Sharp anti-colonialist travelogue opening with a brief tour of Antigua (Kincaid’s native country)-cum history-cum screed against the old Bristish rule, American hegemony, tourist entitlement, and corrupt post-colonial rule. Sardonic, righteous, and a quick read.
Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design and Pattern in Narrative / Jane Alison (2019)
I’d love to be a student in one of Alison’s literature classes because she’s great at exegesis and open to alternative formal constructions.
I think my problem was that I listened to the audiobook (which was included in my Audible membership) — even though I don’t have any issues with the subject matter. As I listened to this book I kept on thinking how much I’d like to see the text Alison was referring to. Or, how the topic may have been improved if she were covering short stories in their entirety, as opposed to short excerpts of novels — a number of which I haven’t read.
(Think of how George Saunders solved this in A Swin in a Pond in the Rain by focusing on seven classic Russian short stories and including them in their entirety.)
I think this is a very good read — my to read list grew by a few books, and I’m currently reading Mary Robison’s Why Did I Ever thanks to Alison’s hermeneutical take. This would make a great textbook in a class covering these novels.
Kingdom Animalia / Aracelis Girmay (2011)
Sharp images as in “Self-Portrait as the Sanke’s Skin”
“I’ll miss you deer, / but I choose my head / & carry it out of doors:
a bucket of eels / to set loose / in the dark, December sea.”
Attuned to liminal moments as in “Elegy”
“Listen to me. I am telling you / a true thing. This is the only kingdom. / The kingdom of touching; / the touches of the disappearing, things”
And a bit of a gauzy collection.
“I’m thinking, This is not like reading Alfred Lord Tennyson but neither is it like inhaling from a bag of glue.”
— Mary Robison / Why Did I Ever