Too Deep

I’m now going to read several mystery novels and fluff like that because after The Siege of Krishnapur and Go Tell It on the Mountain in close succession I’m experiencing a profoundness overload.

I thought I was deep but these writers are so much deeper. I feel like beelining it to Sephora to reconnect with my vapid consumer side.

Book Notes: James Baldwin’s Go Tell It on the Mountain

This is a classic of American literature that I read for my book club. Baldwin is extremely talented, and this is a great, great novel. I don’t think it’s possible fully to appreciate it or even understand it if you aren’t a very religious Christian. This is African American literature of the early 1950s, and the novel is set in the 1930s, so of course, religion is everything.

I grew up in an atheist country, and I feel a huge, gaping hole inside myself and my culture in the place where the characters in Baldwin’s novel have religion. It’s something so central to American culture, and eradicating it isn’t going to lead to a nice place. The characters in the novel suffer but they live. The only character who has no faith and despises Christianity kills himself because there’s nothing for him in the world.

The characters in the novel are Pentecostal, which is obviously extremely different – much more exuberant and outwardly oriented – than Orthodox Christianity. I’m not into it but it’s described so beautifully in the book that it’s impossible not to feel attracted to it.

A Narcissist in Old Age

There’s strong evidence that on the eve of his death in 1953 Stalin was plotting a new war. He knew it wasn’t a good time. The country was still in ruins after WWII. People were hungry. A massive new purge was going to be needed to stamp out the feelings of freedom in the soldiers who had returned from the war. Nationalism in the republics had been allowed to manifest to motivate people to fight the Germans. It was going to be necessary to put the brakes on all that. Stalin also knew that Americans were richer, happier, much better fed, and farther ahead on the nukes. Fighting them was. . . not the best idea ever.

But still he prepared. Because there was a much more important factor than all of this. It was his age.

Stalin was getting old. He knew this was his very last chance to fulfill the dream of a lifetime, his most important goal. Even a bloody dictator is a person. He has dreams and he doesn’t want to face death knowing himself to be a loser.

It was easy to guess what he was planning. His closest collaborators figured it out and were terrified. Not because they cared about the survival of millions (they didn’t) but because they cared about their own. They knew that Stalin liked to precede a war with a massive purge of his inner circle, and they didn’t want to die. I don’t know if they conspired to kill him but what’s undeniable is that when Stalin had a stroke – whether it was natural or drug-induced – they left him lying on the floor for hours and didn’t get him medical help. For a 70-year-old stroke victim, this is a death sentence. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving fellow, of course.

So when people ask if Putin is really going to start a war, they have to remember that he’s getting on in years. He’s no Stalin but he’s a person without a profound spiritual life, let’s put it that way. This is somebody who has no lower bulb in his hourglass (I had a great post about the hourglass a while ago.) He can’t approach old age philosophically any more than a cricket can.

Recently, Putin started making references in his speeches to death and afterlife. So mortality is on his mind. “If I have to die, then all of you should, too” is not an impossible conclusion to reach. There have been cult leaders who have done just that. It’s a miracle that Stalin died before getting there.

I’d like to say, ha ha, it’s all empty sabre-rattling but. . . I just don’t know. Putin might freak out and go nutso boom-boom in his dotage. Let’s hope the bastard didn’t get a bad diagnosis recently and that his Viagra didn’t misfire in one of his famous orgies.

After Putin croaks, the problem doesn’t disappear. You still have 140 million people armed to the teeth with nukes in a mega-meltdown. Putin is a feature, not a bug. Just like Stalin. If you know what a narcissistic injury is, this is a whole culture with a gigantic narcissistic injury. Rage is inherent to the nature of the injury.

Meeting Grumpiness

What is it with suggesting work meetings for evenings and weekends? It’s particularly annoying that it’s an association of feminist scholars that’s doing it. We are supposed to be aware of the existence of motherhood. What am I supposed to do with my kid on a weekend or in the evening? Put her in my pocket? Even if I could find a way to get rid of her, I don’t want to. My time outside of work hours belongs to her, and that’s the way I want it.

I am yet to meet a male colleague who’d try to get me to meet on a Saturday evening. It simply never occurs. Also, Zoom is teaching people bad behaviors. They think that if you can meet on Zoom, then everybody should be available outside of work hours. Why am I supposed to work outside of M-F 8 to 4? How is this normal and why are we doing this to ourselves?

Leave the Abuser

My friend left her husband because he was abusive. He beat her and raped her for years. Then, he started getting abusive towards their little girl in weird, sexualized ways. (Bit her on the neck, leaving teeth marks, for example).

So my friend left him. The ex continued being abusive. Not physically because she wasn’t there any more but he stalked, threatened, appeared out of nowhere to make threats. He once appeared at my parents’ house to threaten me. A huge burly guy. (No, I didn’t call the police because Canadian police were always extremely passive and uninterested until COVID. Now they have found their calling.)

The last time I saw him was at my friend’s funeral. She died of cancer. The ex got aggressive with me while we stood over her body. I’m sure he has some story in his head about how he’s a victim in this situation and was forced to do what he did. I’m also sure he’ll be abusing somebody until he’s in a coffin.

At least, I never heard anybody justify him. Yeah, but he felt threatened, yeah, but it’s his upbringing, yeah, but he was provoked. Thank goodness, we’ve evolved past that.

With Russia, though, we haven’t. Since 1946 globally and since forever locally, we are sitting and wondering, will they start a war? Will they get peeved over something? Have we done something to provoke? Has someone else done something to provoke? Are they feeling threatened? Upset? Maybe the time has come to stop doing it, is what I’m trying to say. There’s a great relief attendant on realizing that nobody is causing the abuse except the actual abuser.