I’m reading Don Quixote, as several recent posts attest, loving it, marvelling, seeing applications everywhere. I’ve been at this reading for coming up on sixty years, losing my sight, my hearing, my teeth gone, I’ll finish dying before I’ve finished this great book; but if I finished it, I’d only have to start reading it again, because already I can’t hold all the details to my liking. But it doesn’t matter: it’s not like religion where we’re fools for not having done it right, or democracy: it’s not a marketplace that we botched with our interferences; it’s like Hamlet: it’s like the Bible: all you have to see is 1% of it, or 99% of it, to get it, to get it deeply.
OK, what about my silly title: DonQ USA?
The human imagination can relate to any history, any fiction, any myth. We see ourselves as Hamlet if not Jesus, we see the guy down the block, across the pond, as Hamlet if not Jesus. Cervantes’ story shows us an old guy who’s read himself silly with tales of chivalry, a minor hidalgo who promotes himself to a don (like Colonel Sanders) and transforms in his own mind his inept misperceived adventures into fables of chivalry with himself as the all-conquering hero.
See yourself in that? I do. I see me, and you … and Jesus, and Christianity, the west, the east … and the USA: institutions, vast abstract entities, as well as individual dreamers.
I’ll illustrate briefly this morning, get the ball rolling, then add to it, scrapbook style, my style, while I breathe.
It’s so huge, so clear, so close, few of us will see it, which is why I write, why I’ve always written, which is why all I’ve written (perhaps all anybody has written) is perhaps a waste of time: unless it’s amusing. One thing that’s so funny about this story is how helpless we are with how true it is. Ferinstance: the clown who dubs himself Don Quixote is I repeat, a hidalgo, a minor land holder. Right away, we recognize: civilization: the human reorganization of nature’s order into a stratification by classes: the exploiters and the exploited: the landholders are the exploiters, the non-owners the exploited. Peasants, citizens, consumers are born into it, we don’t see any choice (unless you count Coke and Pepsi a choice). When real choices came, as with the crucifixion, as with my offer of an unregulated internet in 1970, we wasted them, actually sabotaged them.
Now this aging mad man names himself “Quixote,” promotes himself to Don Quixote, appoints a thief to knight him, mistaking the thief for a noble (all the nobles frauds anyway), appoints a girl he doesn’t even know as his ideal beauty and love, scrapes some rust off his family’s centuries-out-of-date armor, and goes tilting at windmills: which he insists are giants. The windmills knock him to the ground, but he doesn’t learn. By the time of the windmills DonQ had picked up a “squire”: Sancho Panza tells our hero that they’re not giants but windmills; DonQ tells Sancho, No, they’re giants. DonQ tells Sancho that the inn is a castle, that the pickpocket is the governor, that the syphllic whore is a beauteous maiden.
Tilting at Windmills, Gustave Doré
Dopy little me, I’m born, I’m told: This is a school. Here we educate you. These are teachers.
Go to a store, something in plastic is supposed to be food.
I was put in a university. Here is wisdom, I was told, Here is opportunity.
I’d been making my own living, doing what I wanted to do, making money, hearing jazz, and I’m stopped, put back in more classes. You’ll get more than your fair share, of everything, if you just let us manipulate you some more.
Then I’m put in the army: Here is service. There are your enemies!
Enemies? I’ve never seen them before in my life. I still can’t see them, they’re over there.
Bomb the shit out of them! Nuke them. They’re Commies, they’re gooks, they’re not Christian, not white. Bomb them for Christ.
Do the Salem witch burners, the Plymouth missionaries, the foreign aid people, the draft board, the generals really know that they’d insane frauds? blindly serving the state, feeding it the poison it demands … They do see that they’re insane, don’t they? while they insist on the mislabeling and destruction of everything?
DonQ appoints himself a knight errant. (Errant is right: he errs in every single thing he says or thinks.) He empowers himself to tell right from wrong and to act as accuser, judge, jury, and executioner.
That in itself is near infinitely funny: DonQ thinks it’s right to interfere: in anything.
A people who wanted to live would take these hidalgos and shove their lance up their ass, would have done it ten thousand years ago, never allowed the dictatorships of Chaldea to develop, never accepted the state running the class society as the only option, not even when it became run by the merchants. (Maybe the merchants are worse than the slave drivers.) It’s way too late now; but never too late to laugh about it.
(This basic political pattern for civilization is raw Albert J. Nock, Our Enemy: the State.)
I’m sure that the very name Quixote is in itself funny as hell but my Spanish is so shallow it doesn’t cover my toes. My old roomie, Spanish-speaking-born, laughed continuously when DonQ was in his hand.
The US told the US that the children it was bombing were Communists: people who said “They look like children, stop it”, got dumped on: heavy. The Nazis decided who was a Jew as well as deciding that Jews were to be burned: Jews weren’t consulted, I wasn’t consulted … What will happen at Judgment when the Church’s convictions of heretics get reviewed?
The worst possible thing would be if God himself is like DonQ, exercizes judgment like the priest, the barber, the niece in DonQ‘s delicious book burning scene.
But certainly God is like DonQ, just like him: he’s born six thousand years ago into a four billion year old world in a fourteen billion year old planet, laws in existence all that time, and he thinks, prompted by us, that he made it?! that he owns it?! that he can take it and give it?!
Life will become sustainable, livable, when God says, “Don’t trust DonQ’s judgment, don’t overly trust your own judgment (though you do have to make decisions), and don’t trust mine either. If it tastes good, eat it, but don’t be surprised if you get sick.”
Reality Fights Back
Still in Part I after six decades I just read a very famous scene: DonQ and Sancho Panza see clouds of dust, moving. Sancho Panza sees two huge herds of sheep, moving in opposite directions, toward each other. DonQ identifies them as armies, names the principals, declares that he’ll aid one side or the other, that he’ll thereby determine the winner. Sancho Panza says They’re just sheep, DonQ says No, and charges. Laying into the poor sheep with his sword and his lance, doing real slaughter.
That’s the thing about man men’s delusions, the slaughter is often very real.
The slaughter is often very real.
Now one of the many delicious things about this fiction, throughout (thus far, what I’ve read) is that DonQ is the only nut sharing his particular delusion: everybody else laughs at him, counter attacks, Sancho Panza is caught in the middle. The pickpockets, the whores, the inn keepers may play along, for laughs, but they are independent of DonQ’s manias. (Oh: Wind and the Willows too: I keep thinking of other things influenced by DonQ that I hadn’t thought of in those terms, my ignorance being unconsciously biased, like any ignorance, any knowledge.)
So, DonQ is slaughtering the sheep. The teams of shepherds take exception and hurl rocks at DonQ with their shepherds slings. At every conflict DonQ or Sancho Panza (or both) take a beating.
Einstein denied that humans know reality, I deny it too. Einstein suggested that there may not be any reality; till very recently I’ve still been clinging to my Christianity where at least God knows the score.
For the medieval Scholastics (Realism) only God was real, everything else was illusion. Here I’m playing with the idea that God too is another DonQ, he and his manias bumping into things, dragging us into the collisions with him: menstrual manias, foreskin manias, menu manias … a female-born male trying to deny the female. Like Communists denying Capitalists (but far more fundamental than economics).
We’re all insane, I love it. Anyway, believing that God knows the score even if no one else does, has been my default setting for most of my life. Now my settings are slipping and sliding around: that too is interesting.
Gotta breathe, take care of a couple of things, but then I want to resume: contrasting DonQ, a feudal nut, with USA, a collectivist opportunist with a purely hallucinatory morality and ego: just trying to do good, while destroying culture as well as biomass. USA institutionalizes everyone till market age (where the market age keeps increasing, like the quotas in Catch-22). Reality fights back (the cigarettes really do cause harm, kill), but anyone who notices outloud gets put back in the homogenizing, silencing-all-non-orthodox-cosmologies institutions. I went to school, then college, then the army: then I was blackballed, finally complained (in joke-form of course, that’s what I am, a comedy writer, dedicated to truth), got put in jail, smashed, ground to pulp.
2015 02 27 Just stumbled here today, preparing to say something about Keats, I fix a few things while here, and notice: Jeez, what a great post!