Minding Each Others’ Business

/ Evolution /

Today is August 16. Among other uncountable things, we mark the anniversay of Elvis’ death. I remember his wiggle: damn like my own, which was locally famous in the early through middle to late 1950s. But I also picture Memphis in 1957, picture the nightclub life: see the chicks throwing themselves at the rockers, some whites casting off the inhibitions of some other whites. Now I was a Christian in those days, thought I was anyway. What that means I’ve written about for sixty years, my explanations becoming ever less-ready and less familiar: till I’d say that no one understands them at all, never has and never will. Regardless: I responded to the sex even as I retained my virginity — but even sex has limits (or should I say everything, especially sex, has limits. See, Jerry Lee Lewis had a couple of hits, became famous, then he became infamous: for marrying his barely-teen cousin! Everyone was upset, inclduing me. But today I ask: what business was it of ours if he marries his cousin? How was it our business how old she was?
(Compare marriage ages around the world. Uniformity comes and goes.) (Will schools ever tolerate honest anthropology?) (Just realize, schools are run by Aquinas, not Francis: Horace Mann academic, not Newton academics.)

Notice: when something like marriage is institutionalized, that automatically means some group is minding some individual’s business.
I’m having such a great time reading Joseph Campbell’s Myths We Live By: he seems to be an atheist when it comes to individuals: in civilization, nature loses.

As a libertarian (lower case, ’cause I don’t vote), I say it’s none of our business. But the majority can’t conceive of anything not being their business: can’t conceive that EVERYthing isn’t their business!

scrapbook, lots comin

Elvis became popular like few before him in history. Even I with my head always in the sand, contemplating God and my navel, heard that Elvis didn’t drink! didn’t smoke! Christ, he must’a taken a lot of pills though!
I remember being shocked on visiting my best friend’s room where he showed me a hypodermic kit. I was repelled: I had no mythology about medicine or injections: I didn’t want anything getting into my body that didn’t belong there: no bayonet, no arsenic, no opiates. But Dick was obviously fascinated: and thought I would be. (Years later I heard Dick died young: who knows what he put in his body.)

Elvis didn’t drink but he popped all those pills. His buddy Johnny Cash popped all those pills. All those girls hitting on these hippy teetotalers popped all those pills. How come anytone’s still alive? Does culture help? or hinder? Yes, to a certain extent: culture may overcrowd the world, then sterilize the world, and we’ll all too self-excited to make any intelligent plans.
Oh, we’re intelligent enough to package plans and call them intelligent, but only survival followed by survival followed by survival offers any real answers.

When I was a kid my older friend Rudy and I would bicycle way east on Lakeview Avenue, where, at Malvern, we’d come upon a swamp right at the side of the road, across the road from the state park, a big reservoir there, the one the cops would hide behind and nap. Rudy and I hunted for fresh water mussels in the creek. Rudy wanted to carry them home, I made no objection: until I saw him throwing the helpless shelled creatures in the road. Then Rudy would stand witness, till the mussels, one by one, were pulverized by cars! I screamed and protested, but he was bigger than me, stronger, had a simpler conscience.

Now my heritage was English / German: 3/4 of the latter. I was baptized Anglican (by my godfather, the bishop of Brooklyn, in his Brooklyn cathedral): but I went to Sunday school at the convenient Presbyterian church. Rudy was 100% German in ethnic heritage, American kraut, from Brooklyn. I was never aware of him going to church, ever, but it was clear he was Roman Catholic. (I bet his mother sneaked off to church at least once a year.)

Did Rudy care if Jerry Lee Lewis married his thirteen year old cousin? I don’t know: by that time Rudy was completely crazy. No one, not his Catholic Church, not me, stopped him from torturing the muscles. But Jerry Lee Lewis, an alien, from the south! got socked in in opprobrium.

Even before I met Rudy I wanted to be a caveman. I didn’t mind being sent to church, I sent myself to church, but I did mind, like hell, being sent to school! By what Authority? Not God: there was no God in the school: except when they so hypocritically rewrote the Pledge of Allegiance.

Jefferson told us we were free, having told us we were equal. But Jefferson himself lived in a society where any discussion of theology not specifically Church of England (the ancestor of my Brooklyn AnglicanP) could get you killed! jailed! shunned. tarred and feathered.

I encountered Ivan Illich in 1970. That’s when I read Deschooling Society pre-pub. That’s when I told him I’d found the Free Learning Exchange. That’s when I did found it, and ran it, through 1974, in some senses through today. But 1970, 1971 is when I was on my public soapbox everyday. That’s when I was invited regularly to be interviewed on radio, AM, FM, public, private … That’s when I teamed up with other Peoples’ Yellow Pages, other anarchists: they’d be invited to speak here and there, I’d be invited, would be given a share of the podium. And I remember one day at Hunter College, some woman was saying how she wanted to protect abused children. She wanted to break into abusing home, snatch the abused child, clutch the abused child to her bosom. She didn’t take kindly my suggestion that she should mind her own business: unless invited.
The crack-head whore mother says, Here, taken my child, I’ve abused her, she’s already a junkie just by chemical inheritance …
Things seemed clear, black and white, to that woman. They didn’t to me then, and they really don’t to me now. Except for my wish that things were simple, that we could tell exactly when law became stifling, when liberty turned toxic …

Our behavior is group prescribed. If the group is too too wrong, why it will have no surviving members, no?

Groups have never tolerated individuals. Americans pretend we do, but try it: you won’t: ’cause you already know: we don’t!


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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