Family vs. State: Scrapbook keywords family, state”> Recreating (and advancing) pk’s censored domains: Macroinformation.org & Knatz.com / Teaching / Society / Survival / Family /
@ K. 1998 07 02
Featuring still the theme of
2006 01 03 The other night I watched the DVD of The Godfather. I loved the novel when it came out, ditto the movie, the other movies almost as much, and now I adored seeing the first in the series again. It’s a story about more then one thing, but the concept of family is core.
Notice that I’ve placed my Family folder in the Survival section of my Society division; not in Social Order. Nations, states, democracies, tyrannies … markets … are political territories; family is biological: not that family too doesn’t have political, tyrannical, democratic, marketing … dimensions.
The movie gives us a taste of the godfather as a secretive power figure while also showing us an upscale Sicilian-American wedding: good device, we get to meet everybody. Michael shows up with his WASP girlfriend, she looking totally Other, Michael, in uniform, too looking half an outsider. Michael explains to Kay who the “scary man,” Luca Brasi, is. She’s both intrigued and shocked. “That’s my family, Kay, not me,” says Michael.
We come to understand more and more that Michael, and Kay too, are part of the Don’s plans to integrate his family and business into mainstream America. The Don wants Sonny to replace him, Fredo being a noncom incompetent wimp. The Don wants Michael, or at least Michael’s son, to be senators, CEOs of Enron … The most profitable businesses in any society operate largely within the society’s prevailing morality. If doctors and cigarettes kill legally, lawyers, generals kill and imprison legally, why then it’s silly to remain a hood one second longer than you have to to succeed. But more and more we see Michael getting involved in family business as more and more we see Fredo’s incompetence and Sonny’s shoot-quick/think-never temperament. The Don has brains and tempers his willingness to do what’s necessary with discretion and a huge helping of old-fashioned Catholic ethics. Michael has brains, has executive ability, and starts showing a capacity to learn the strong-arm stuff.
Michael himself shoots the drug lord and his rent-a-cop. Michael flees to Sicily where he learns first-hand the Sicilian thunderbolt, Kay totally eclipsed.
Michael asks one of his Sicilian bodyguards where all the men are in this part of rural Sicily. “All dead from vendettas,” he’s told. Hell, that’s why, we later learn, both novel and movie series, the future Don had fled Sicily for America in the first place: surviving a vendetta, after killing his man, trying and succeeding.
I mention all that to make a proper setting for this: Michael, escaping new tentacles of vendettas but minus his bride, returns to America, is busy for a year or two, and seeks out Kay on her neat New England Protestant home turf, where she seems to be teaching school: the perfect kleptocratic American-smack-dab-in-the-middle-of-the-moral-muddle role for a woman.
Now dig this: we first meet Michael in uniform, we first meet the Don wearing a tux, much of the rest of the time the Don is wearing invalid whites — he’s been shot, and shot — or is dressed very down-to-earth blue-collar, tending his garden. But here, in New England, emerging from his limousine to manipulate Kay into becoming the second Mrs. Michael Corleone, Michael — Al Pacino perfect — is in his wop gansta trousers, his guinea-gansta overcoat, his dago-goombah hat. (I incorporate the insulting diction of the novel/movie’s Hollywood mogul: also noting the irony of Sicilians being thought of as “Italians”, and especially the illiteracy of the term dago, which showed WASPs’ inability to distinguish Italy from Spain, or any other Latin culture. ie. “dago” is a shortening of “Diego”: you wanna dismiss an Italian from humanity? call him a Spaniard!)
[2015 06 14 Ethnic Confusion: delicious example in today’s news: the cop who shot the black guy was a Puerto Rican!]
In movie II Michael wonders if his father had worried about his business ever somehow losing him his family. His mother, wonderfully cast and played for the movies, assures him that one can never lose one’s family.
Meanwhile, as before, Michael’s brother-in-law beats Michael’s sister, Sonny gets riddled, the Don had already been shot, Luca Brasi is stabbed, garotted, thrown in the river … Michael’s bride gets blown up, Michael kills his brother-in-law, will kill his eldest brother Fredo …
One can never lose one’s family? !
Don’t we send our sons to war? in ever greater numbers than they go by themselves no matter what we did? Don’t we send our sons away to school? where, when they come home, they don’t want to know us? Don’t we encourage them to work for corporations that will relocate them again and again, before the whole corporation changes its name, relocates, stops manufacturing cigarettes and starts selling contraceptives?
Didn’t my son’s mother kidnap my son from me once he was five, nearing school age, so that the father need not be consulted, would get no further say whatsoever in how the society mauled him? in what context his values would form?
The family, for all its faults, is a basic survival strategy of the species. But civilized families side more and more with money, with Big Brother …
2005 01 07 Part II incorporates stories of Vito Corleone as a boy and as a young man intercut with Michael Corleone working to expand the business in Nevada and Cuba. Vito’s power and wealth grew with his family; Michael’s power and wealth increase as his family self-destructs. A few days later I’m still marvelling at the contrast. Vito is forever holding his children, showering them with love and strength. We never see Micheal touch his children. He’s never there for their special days. His presents are selected and presented by proxies. Kay aborts his son.
Michael strips her of the children. When we see them, they behave: stiff as dolls.
We do see Michael embrace his brother Fredo: with great fervor, as he plans his death.
Another nice peripety: as Part II commences Sister Connie is behaving like a whore; by the end, she is taking care of Michael: the only one.
We are told throughout that the Mafia business is called “family”: and we think crime. Ironically, The Godfather truly is a strong story about family: meaning the basic human social unit.
Marriage: the single biggest enemy of love
Which could a species better afford to give up: family? or love?
2005 07 26 I’m just watching the TV movie of Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge. In that story, right off the bat, both novel and movie, the guy gets drunk at a fair and auctions away his wife and daughter. I would really like to discuss that scene with a non-nitwit anthropologist. Even if the drunk were willing, would the auction/fair tolerate it? Hardy is celebrated for pre-Christian traces in his scenes. Well, I can’t imagine the Druids tolerating wife-selling either. But that’s just my sense: senses need to be compared to (accurate) knowledge about other practices before one goes about pronouncing on what’s natural, possible …
2015 06 14 Or: that would be true if we were reasonable.
I didn’t fit much Hardy into my high school reading. Throughout much of college Hardy was my favorite modern English poet. I didn’t know the novels at all well until graduate school where I read several fairly carefully: and did some research for a paper on Jude the Obscure (which I despised). Ah, but when I came to The Mayor of Casterbridge: THAT is a great novel: except for its absurd premise.
What business have people to get children to plague their neighbours?
2004 12 29 Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Dekalog was made for Polish TV in 1988. That’s “Decalogue” as in “The Ten Commandments.” I’m only just seeing it for the first time: seeing them in their numerical order, whether that’s important or not, not taking a chance. The seventh commandment we all know reads “Thou shalt not steal.” What the master gives us is a situation in which the mother of a pregnant sixteen year old arranges to raise the child as her own, the natural mother being like a sister to her daughter, grandma remaining the mommy. Not uncommon, no? Here the natural mother, no longer sixteen, her mothering of her sister / daughter, spurned, interfered with, not allowed to develop by the grandmother, decides to take her child away: taking back what’s been stolen.
Once we’re in the middle of theft overlapping theft, is it possible not to be a thief?
The Jews were well along in kleptocracy when they wrote God’s commandments: what can they possibly have meant? To tolerate no new thefts, I presume. The Englishman may keep the Cheyenne’s land; the Puerto Rican must not take it from the Englishman.
If you know Kieslowski but don’t know the Dekalog, do whatever you must to see it: any one, two, three … to ten of them. If you don’t know Kieslowski (then how can you possibly have found Knatz.com?), do whatever you must to correct the situation. You’d do well to start with the Dekalog, but I warn you: #1 is a bit strong. Start with #2, or #4, or #6 … and then see #1: and certainly #7. Or start with Three Colors: Blue.
Family members stealing children, parenting, from other family members, family members becoming ex-family members … reminds me: Homo sapiens would not likely have ever burgeoned out of the Great Rift Valley were it not for substitute parenting. The individual, the group, finds a lost child, a sick child, an orphan … and cares for it, raises it, keeps it alive, gives it a chance. Back when, the lost or dead or injured parents typically had the courtesy to stay lost, dead, gone. There would have been few conflicts between past-parent and present-parent.
Now everything is an unholy mess. The grandmother interferes, the state interferes, the junkie whore interferes: she wants more money, she’s changed her mind … and she can change it again.
We live in interesting times: too interesting for many of us to be able to stand: let alone to fathom.
I’m not sure God could fathom present social complexity.
It would be even more interesting to somehow still be alive, or at least semi-sentient after death, one hundred, five hundred, a thousand years from now. Would we still be here in our billions? Would we be spreading everywhere? dozens of billions? What would the “family” look like?
A son is the promise that time makes to a man, the guarantee every father receives that whatever he holds dear will someday be considered foolish, and that the person he loves best in the world will misunderstand him.
The Rule of Four
2004 06 07 Last week I saw Kaagaz ke Phool (1959, Hindi). I don’t recommend it, though some of the images were brilliant, indelible. I mention it only because the protagonist is presented as a successful Bombay movie director who’s been cast aside by his snooty wife and her family. The father, though rich himself, is not allowed to see his daughter. The state, the British, the Indians, the daughter’s school … all cooperate in the kidnapping. The father doesn’t have a chance.
He discovers a working woman and elevates her to star actress. Now she’s rich too. They fall in love. The daughter wishes her family — mom, dad, her — were united. So she attacks the actress. No, honey. Attack your mom, attack your grandparents, attack the state … The actress was only giving him what his family had denied him.
2002 04 02 Once upon a time I invited readers to send their views on family and state. I promised to publish a digest of the feedback. Well, I sure found the right article today, but it was not emailed in response to my invitation; it was written well more than one hundred years ago and published by Benjamin R. Tucker in his Liberty [#235]: Relations Between Parents & Children by Clara Dixon Davidson.
find the link, look it up
Children, because of their ignorance, are elements of inharmony, hindrances to equal freedom. To quicken the progress of their growth is toward the equilibriumization of social force.
Then, liberty being essential to growth, they must be left as free as is compatible with their own safety and the freedom of others.
2001 05 23 Last night I caught part of a PBS documentary on an endemic of syphilis among economically well off American teenagers. The investigators were finding twelve years old girls with syphilis who’d had one hundred and fifty sex partners. The documentary showed houses with swimming pools, curved stairwells with golden chandeliers, multiple bedrooms, each with its own TV … Did the families own drug companies, car dealerships, were they the Marxist bourgeoisie? No, one father was superintendent of janitors in a school system, the wife there was a school teacher. Many of the parents were reported to work sixty and eighty hour weeks to live in that neighborhood.
The girls weren’t whores at age twelve: they’d just get stinking drunk and thirty boys would line up to fuck them: up to three at a time, three being the girl’s maximum number of useable orifices. After a few hours the girl would be bleeding from her pussy, from her anus, and have cum all in her hair, all over her face …
The authorities gathered the testimonies, established “facts,” diagrammed liaisons … and assembled a meeting which the parents attended. Cut to some social worker, some institutional employee with a degree. She says the parents were stunned, wanted to attribute blame … They just didn’t get it. It was them.
Beg to differ. Sure it was them, lady, but more than them, it was you. It was the school, the economy, television, advertising, employment … It was the pathological proliferation of professionalism. Fill the road with cars, build more roads, fill them with more cars … [2015 06 14 Internet article yesterday on the world filling up with new cars abandoned as unsellable! Reminds me of the first time I ever say a zillion battle ships in a mothball fleet!]
The show talked about parents, families, homes … It talked about “the community.” Meaningless babble. Sure there were biological fathers and mothers; but there were no parents. There were houses, but no homes. There were “schools” and “teachers,” but what have those words come to mean? Industrial products for more industrial production.
It’s several years since I sketched this module and promised to come back soon on a number of things only partially developed. Well, Knatz.com as a whole continues the development [as of 2006 it did, now does again: 2015]. This file is just one underdeveloped fragment. Put the fragments together and the whole is a deal less underdeveloped. Here I have to repeat a theme that will appear more, not less: If the state, the economy, democracy … are devices nature has invented to rid the earth of the cancer of mankind, why should I try to stop it?
But it’s OK. No matter what I say, the state, the economy … go right on: destroying everything that had once made a viable species.
2000 01 11 Currently there’s a story in the news of a kid picked up on a raft fleeing Cuba. The kid’s father in Cuba wants him. The kids relatives in the US want him. It’s now in the courts. Courts? Until there’s one uniform international law, what business is it of their’s? I’m for the father. But let the relatives fight him without our interference. Now if you see the kid, any kid, on the street and he’s hungry: feed him, cloth him, take him home if you want to. Parents show up? Give him back. Kid wants to run away again, that’s his business.
Then Erin’s daughter would be delivered into the custody of the great state of Florida, which was not known for its attentiveness toward children.
Carl Hiaasen, Strip Tease
1998 07 02 I’m well overdue to get back to this piece. But for the moment just let me observer that I’ve found the most marvelous fictional treatment of these themes in Piers Anthony’s Geodyssey. We see the human family form over the eons in his narrative. Brilliant performance.
since the censorship of 2007:
2011 05 13 The StraightDope today reprinted an old classic: Is it true half of all marriages end in divorce?
I’ve been railing against state coercion all my life. I’ve included universities in my condemnations since 1962. In 1970 I offered a prototype internet (hoping) to replace government, school, university … media, government record keeping … In 2006 the fed arrested me. In 2007 the fed censored all of my writing at all of my online domains. Dig it, this was after the society hadn’t published my writing since 1948 (the year my writing was first recommended for publication)!
Now I want to add my fillip to any statistics on divorce:
I met my wife Hilary around 1961. I married her around 1965. She skipped out, kidnapping our son late 1973: tired of the society not supporting my prototype internet: Hilary was the only one paying any bills for any of my projects: the colleges having fired me illegally, blackballed me (also illegally), etc.
Hilary and I are not divorced. But we’d barely spoken from 1973 till 2003, when she phoned me for my sixty-fifth birthday. But Hilary and I hadn’t been communicating for long before 1974: if we ever had.
After 1974 she wanted a divorce. I wanted to see her go to hell. I wouldn’t cooperate with anything she wanted: that’s one of a series of reasons why we’re not divorced.
Oh, i said plenty of (funny) things about not believing in divorce. I don’t really believe in marriage either: I don’t believe in any thing state- or church-controlled. I believe in mating, I believe in love, I believe in procreation, I believe in caring for children, in training childred … i just don’t believe that kleptocratic institutions should be allowed near any basic human behavior. The interferers will destropy everything they touch.
Good. Soon we’ll go extinct: but not for my not trying to help us survive.
If we’re damned, don’t blame the (sabotaged) savior on the cross.
2013 01 28 I rented a DVD of Peter Sellers in The World of Henry Orient to share with Jan. She’s known Sellers since the Lady Killers, 1955. I expected to enjoy Henry Orient with her, but we both loved it, it far exceeded my expectations and hopes. The cast was marvelous, bunch of good character actors: the two teen girls were fabulous. Anyway, trouble in paradise, the poor little rich girls have problems, Sellers is fabulous as a sleeze Don Juan, murmuring Italian to other phonies while relapsing into his Brooklynese, Sellers himself being none of those things.
One of the girls’ parent groups says that in this world the children belong to the parents: “Who thought that up?” the girl wants to know.
Exactly: that’s what I want to know too.
Except that I’m 100% in favor of the parents owning children compared to the state owning any part of the children.
The parents are boiling the kid in oil? Too bad, but don’t let the cops boil the kid, or the orphanage, or the church!
Let God kidnapp the kid, not any social worker.
2015 06 14 scrap rescued from modules lost to censorship in 2007:
Meantime, in sum, I don’t trust the family as a survival tool, but nevertheless believe that it’s the best we have. My youth became infected with a wishful hope for a wise, benevolent collectivism: a human family. Blame Steichen’s great photography exhibit at MOMA, mid-1950s, GBS and perhaps another Fabian Socialist or two. Now I have no faith in any socially derived institution, and thus must trust the least flawed of the patterns that evolution gave us before we became civilized: the family.
It’s not that the family is good: it’s that everything else is worse.