Albigensian Heretics

/ pk Stories / Chronological / Art Dealer Years /

In the mid-1970s I met some Albigensian heretics. I’ll say something about them, their history, and my experience of them in a moment: first, a word or two of background.

There are more fables told about Lincoln than facts. There may never have been an American harder to establish facts about. (See Thomas DiLorenzo, The Real Lincoln.) Here’s a story I don’t know the truth of, but I love the story:

Civil War. The Confederacy seceded, the US president wouldn’t let them. Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln, by executive order, would “free” the slaves of states not held by US force. The slaves would be the property of the US. Like Julius Caesar saying that the slaves of all Germanic tribes not yet conquered by Caesar, where Caesar had no control, were now free (meaning owned by Rome).
Lincoln passed copies to his Cabinet. They all read it. They all met. Every secretary argued against it. Lincoln held a vote.
Secretary of State: Nay.
Secretary of the Treasury: Nay.
Secretary of … Nay.
After all had voiced their dissent, Lincoln announced,

The Ayes have it.

Want a vivid image of tyranny? There it is.

My point is … simple, but uncommon. Rather, common, but unacknowledged. Fractured cultures pretend to be whole, unified, integrated, allies, friends, on the same page. When push comes to shove, it’s all Hatfield and McCoys: or, every man for himself.

The US pretends to be one nation. And so it is, from a standpoint of federal power, the fed with its hand in your pocket. But travel here and there. Here’s Johnny Reb, claiming loyalty to the Confederacy. Here’s me, pk, whose secession decades ago has merely been ignored.
Such division is the rule, not the exception. Schools tell us about “France,” “Germany” … “China” … Look at last year’s map, look at next years … All fictions.

France is no more “one” country than the US is. France is at least two countries, that hate each other. One, the northern culture, is the conqueror, the administrator. Northern France makes sure that children in southern France go to schools where northern French culture, history, propaganda … language are taught.
Once upon a time Algonquin would have been spoken among Algonquins. Then Dutch. Then English. French in Canada, then English … Once Spanish, then English … then Spanish!

Is there anywhere in the world where natives wouldn’t cast off conquerors if they could? How about Chechnya?

In a word, the Albigensian heretics were “French”men who wanted their southern Frenchness acknowledged. They had their own secession from France, from the Roman Catholic church … I put this up while I draft the remainder.

An experience from the 1970s just came to me that I’d seldom remembered but now I just can’t resist telling at least a bare bone or two of. 1975ish I shared time at a Fire Island beach house. Parties in Ocean Beach, one of Fire Island’s heterosexual singles communities spilled back into heterosexual singles parties in the Apple. pk had always gotten into dating bollocks where his passivity yielded to female aggression. At this Manhattan party the hostess was all over me as we sat on a couch: but she kept jumping up to flutter everywhere, over a variety of her guests. I was lusting for the blond with the jeans cut low all around, showing the tops of her buttocks, but I didn’t chase her out onto the dance floor. I remained on the couch. The cushion occupied by the hostess received a series of visitors; next to me on the other side sat a boring mother of two. BareBottom flashed me a look: but, I was busy on the one hand trying to ignore the hostess who made the fatal mistake of handing me her pot kit instucting me to roll joints for everybody, me the total non-druggie; but also my other hand was occupied on this and that surface of the boring mother of two.

I never saw the hostess again, except as she removed her drug paraphernalia from my lap to the hand of some other draftee. BareBottom I saw one more time, in her loft, where she made jewelry. (I bought one of her necklaces for one of my artists.) BareBottom had met a guy at that same party who did pursue her onto the dance floor, and he’d moved in with her: grr and alas, my own stupid fault. Though my hangover on that (and many another occasion) reminded me feebly that I really had no healthy business ever again with any women. The mother of two however, whom I’ll call Barbara, I saw several more times. She fed me, she poured me scotch, I took her on weekends to New Jersey to visit friends, I borrowed her car, her car was stolen while I had it … it also went missing when I couldn’t remember where I’d parked it. I was remembering less and less in those days, defeated after offering a cheap unregulated internet to a kleptocratic public without imagination, understanding, or gratitude: that is, they knocked Santa Claus down to steal the presents he was bringing (that is, Illich, me … Noreen): now their plagiarized internet is thoroughly regulated (censoring me, getting me arrested …)

Barbara and her kids lived in an apartment on Madison Avenue: a street much known, but not for residential qualities.

One day Barbara issued me a strange request: she was about to be visited by some Albigensian heretics.

Albigensian heretics
Herding Heretics
thanx churches-of-christ

The heretics didn’t speak any English: would I translate their French, please?
Actually, the Albigensian heretics, no surprise, didn’t want to speak French either: they prided themselves on speaking Occitan! Well, I didn’t exactly speak French myself, let alone Occitan: the lang d’oc, the language in which the word for “yes” was oc, not oui. But, I could sort of limp along in French, better Barbara assumed than she could (or her two children). Would I please try?

pk the Translator

Now: I’d already had an experience translating a language I had no competence in. The Army, having stationed me at Whitehall Street Recruiting Station after drafting me, ordered me to act as translator to the Cubans the US was silently drafting to invade Cuba. What? I didn’t know three words of Spanish! Or maybe three, but not five.

thanx hispanicmarketadvisors

It was explained to me that since I tested semi-competent for French, I was therefore their best linguist, therefore, I’d be their best Spanish translator. (My buddy Mike whose mother was a Spanish teacher and who’d further immersed himself in Spanish by marrying a Dominican girl, had been grabbed for the doctors to translate for Puerto Rican draftees: I was the only one left.) Well, I was fairly helpless until someone provided a Spanish version of the induction form. Thereafter I just pointed to 1, 2, 3 questions on the Spanish version of the form and the Cubans struggled to translate into a guess at English. Within a few hours I’d picked up the dozen most relevant terms in Spanish, they’d picked up three or so dozen relevant terms in English … In fact it turned out that they spoke English a lot better than they’d said, and I could sort of intuit the Spanish: with a lot of help from them! (and forbearance on the part of the fed.)
(I add: the FBI I was given to understand would hold me accountable for the truth of their answers!)
The Army after a few frustrating days brought in a bevy of Puerto Rican WACs. (Carmen was one of the most beautiful, sexy women I’ve ever been close to!) But the ploy backfired. The Cubans absolutely would not talk to the Puerto Ricans! One really ugly Cuban called Carmen (!) “ugly”! The WACs withdrew, and pk went back to limping around in Spanish.

Responsible for the Truth

I recreate two questions from the form:

Do you know any Communists?
How many of your family members are Communist?

Cheez: They were Cubans! This was 1962 or so.
There couldn’t possibly be a one of them who didn’t know any Communists. And everyone in their families would have had to be Communist, including this Cuban candidate for the US draft! Everyone had to be a Communist in 1962 Cuba!
But: the correct answer, for the Army, for the FBI, was No: I don’t know any Communists.
And I, who testified to lie after lie, was not challenged: not then. The FBI waited till 2006 to arrest me. And of course it was for telling the truth: a lifetime of telling the truth: to people who only hear lies. (Ponder: if the Romans hadn’t crucified Jesus, once the Jews’ Temple wanted him dead, how long would Jesus, the preaching Jesus, the over-turner of money tables, have survived in Jerusalem?


Tolstoy has been my most worshipped novelist since I read Anna Karenina in the late 1950s. I resented the reputation of War & Peace believing in my ignorance that nothing could possibly be half as good as Anna Karenina. Only past sixty did I hear of Tolstoy’s last novel: Hadji Murat. Why didn’t I read it the first six seconds I’d heard of it? Why have I still read only part of it? (It’s been hailed as his best!) ‘Cause life is complicated.
Why hasn’t Tolstoy read my novels? Or, if he has, how did he? and why don’t I know it?
Regardless, you want to know about Chechnya? Stalin and his Communists repressed it, mercilessly, as had the Tsars.
In your school in Boston, Texas, New Mexico were mentioned: what were you taught about the Apache? How many residents along the Rio Grande today speak Chiricahua?

Back to the Heretics

The main speaker for the Albigensians that day said he was an artist, said he was a great artist, said his name was “Pigasso.” “Hey, like Picasso,” I said. “Pigasso,” he said.

Pigasso told how he and his associates, numerous but not the majority in Occitan Europe, wanted to establish their culture without interference from Paris. Their neighbors to their south, the Catalonians wanted to do the same with regard to Spain. Both were conquered cultures.

Free everybody, it would be chaos. Yes! Good! That’s what I’m for. The ground might clear, some mght survive, maybe the suvivors would have a chance to be human, to be Christian: meaning free; not Christian meaning slaves.

And that’s the part I love. The Albigensian didn’t just despise the French, they specifically despised the Roman Catholic Church: not because it was Christian; no, because it had failed to be Christian!

Well, I just loved these people. I made little attempt to explain to them who I was in all this: Barbara had been told, a little. Everybody I know has been told a little, but people don’t absorb, let alone repeat unflattering truths. It doesn’t matter how clearly I told them, they just don’t get it: like a ’49er having no idea who this Sutter is who keeps telling them that they’re on his land, eating his cattle, taking his gold.

I’m a disciple of Ivan Illich. In the 1960s I was imagining digital data bases, writing short stories about digital data bases, cybernetic credit systems, satellite coordinated banking … about people using card-catelogued interest-matching for sexual pairings …
In 1970 Illich proposed learning networks, a cyberneticly-aided free market, where anyone could advertise their skill, no one could compel anyone to employ or attend any of the skill models, where people could be matched by interest, where the resource people could be rated: both by their fellow experts and by their clients.

Illich had been an Roman Catholic priest. I heard God’s voice, and heard Jesus’ compassion, in Illich’s scheme. I heard Tolstoy’s Christianity, I heard my own. As vibrantly as God had spoken to me, I heard God’s voice even louder and clearer in Illich’s prose. Illich was so right, about everything!

But when you overturn the money tables, you don’t have to be Jesus to find out: the kleptocrats will knock you down, strip you naked, burn and pour salt on your fields.
Worst, any of your ideas that appeal to the kleptocrats will be freely stolen (perverted and stolen). The US stole our internet, perverted it, pay royalties, subsidies to the corrupters, knock out the teeth of the inventors.

The people … don’t stick up for the saints; the people only want to buy the counterfeit money at discount prices.

Anyway, I hope you’re seeing my implications about churches claiming to be The church. It’s not that there is no true Christianity among individuals; it’s that Christianity leaks from institutional containers. Churches claim Christ but don’t hold him.
The same goes for kleptocratic governments: they all claim to serve the people. They all used to claim to serve God, the people had no claim. What they serve is greed, myopia, degradation.

Democracy is inappropriate for ethical questions.

Image of Tyranny

Of course that “vote” by Lincon’s cabinet was complicated: Lincoln was the elected official, the cabinet was just advisory, Lincoln was obliged to listen to them, not to obey them. Maybe it was the public he should have consulted: but the public elects an executive to make decisions where democracy can’t apply. Further, democracy is utterly inappropriate for ethical questions. If God says murder is wrong, then it doesn’t matter how many majorities vote for it: it’s wrong, opinion can’t make it right.
And if a people can hold a territory, “own” it, as it were, then Lincoln taking native land and saying This is for white people, is as bad as any other crime of kleptocracy.

We can’t talk sensibly about our Twentieth-century wars, don’t expect sense in talk about the Civil War. Eighteenth Century, Nineteenth Century, Twenty, Twenty-One: all bull.

2014 03 06 Ooo, it’s happening again, right now: Crimea wants to secede from Ukraine!

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About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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