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Writers Notebook
In The Jury Box;

By David Eide


"....when you decide a case you bring in all your experience, knowledge, and common are not a robot."
Instruction of a judge to a jury.


What premium can be put on opinion? It emerges when the liquidity of the time rushes in and attempts to drown the seed of wisdom. Politics is the dominant source of fluid.

Yet, one is a citizen. One must take part in the affairs of the society.

Yet, one is a man conscious that he is a piddling thing as against the angry beast of society, hungry for victims.

So, we are here in this place, the trees dripping a fine winter rain, contemplating a new horizon of politics. This calls for alertness even as we happily contemplate the future.

* * * * * * * *

Citizen is King but also Fool.

* * * * * * * *

The worms, bees, and chitters of the spacious architecture of our government move the law onto the people.

Who the King hires, the Fool must ridicule with a smiling intelligence.

We start with an idealistic state of mind and find nothing but disorder. Without a harmonious family there is no harmonious political state. Those who look to a harmonious political state are looking for the family they wished they had had. Only people who have achieved that sense of harmony can go out beyond the pale of the family and attempt to harmonize political and social situations.

Here I stand, on the space I occupy, and am connected to the objects, laws, customs that roll around me; insolent at time.

I know who is responsible for any trouble that descends into the space. When there is a conflict of interest I know who will mediate it. I know who buys and sells. Into this space I open to those who inspire me. Into this sapce I open to the President and the mechanisms of power. Into this space collide dream and nightmare as I wake to the sound of owls in the rain.

Into this space I fit the citizen to the great land and the multi-features of the inhabitants and structures.

Into this space I hear the chants of the discontented, the disaffiliated thrown from the womb with rats teeth and threatening to turn earth into blood.

Into this space I invite the universities, their books and professors.

Into this space are the sounds of genius.

Into this space are the insolent comedians.

* * * * * * * *

In the spaceless avenues the bitter collide.

In the spaceless avenue the chants of revolt are heard.

In the spaceless avenue the madmen roam.

December 24, 2012

* * * * * * * *

There should always be a playful dichotomy between the 'system' and what is not the 'system.' Most of the arguments against the 'system' are class conditioned.

What one wants to escape is the demoralization of power.

If you cut into the crap of any complexity "too far" nothing is left; its resources are really limited despite all the human fodder thrown into it and it is at that point that very crucial decisions are made. It is at that point that the hardline of ideology can color judgment.

What should bother the citizen is that fellow people don’t want you to know any more than they know. There is great resistance to “know the world,” in a way that would benefit a liberal democracy. When was it more imperative to “know the world?” Now that it has grown in some complexity with so many influences streaming together to make it up it is simply a necessity. I can understand the intuitive distrust of knowledge, book learning and these sorts of things. It is based on superstition and confirmed, willfully or no, by experience. Intuition fears the unknown. That is, what is known to its own way of knowing. The intellect presents dramatic meaning to them so , sometimes it appears as if the intellect is denuding the intuition of its meaning. At the same time the people, educated or not, are very sensitive to “effects” and they perceive – to the point of feeling the effects- that the intellect creates those effects through a hundred different agents. And many point to the very incomprehensibility of the world as proof of this current perception.

It's my understanding that democracy and freedom demand the most exacting models whether they happen along today or five thousand years ago. To wear the stimulating models through time is as fine a learning curve as exists and certainly demanding enough for the putative free citizen in America. Of course, these things are either learned in the motions of life or nowhere, most especially in the classroom where the models for students exist on the surface of screens.

The more I learn, the less I fear, the more I do, the more I open up for knowing new things, the more I do the right things. And on and on it goes. What other model would exist for the free, liberal democratic citizen but that? The only alterative would be to wave a magic wand over everyone and tell them they are all knowing and equal and don't have to do or know anything else. "And if a prick is trying to show you up or tell you something then shoot him down."

July 20, 2012

Big Dreams and Liberalism

"But, what did they build?" That is what a writer, finally, only cares about. Yes, in a macro-way the building of the Constitution that has lasted this long is impressive. Great engineering works like the railroad or computer system create new freedoms and values. The endless gadgets and varietal products; the immense space adventure, certainly, contribute to a sense of things happening and moving forward.

This must always be a nation of big dreams, big impossible dreams. Anything less puts it on the slide downward.

Liberalism will come back when it rethinks through all the big issues. It will come back when it has a bold vision that captures the imagination of people. It will come back when it is divested of all the former radicalism.

I suppose the real, personal question is,"are you ashamed of your liberal leanings as a young guy?" No. I did what every good literary imagination does. I held the utopian vision high above everything else and wanted all of reality to push upward to achieve it and then got broken and disillusioned of the idea. Both are part of the deal as far as literary consciousness. You record both. Both have meaning. A nation that would simply squash under foot its dreams of perfection is a dumb and backward one. But one that tries to live as though it is here, with us, is a very foolish one.

I tried to build some level of tolerance in myself. I thought that people should be free to pursue their aspirations. I wasn't going to interfere or criticize any aspiring citizen. I thought government would or could be a useful tool in the development of social goals. I did believe we were headed in the wrong direction as far as the environment, burning of fossil fuels and more than a few other things. Experience has taught me that little can be done unless you have an affluent culture. Affluence is dependent on many things including a strong economy. A young guy hardly recognizes this.

Experience has taught me that government can be an honorable institution but then, so can an old, doddering uncle. It's just that he doesn't know how to do the things you need to get done. And while affluence is a "good" the paradox remains that a culture hypnotized by that snake called money is one that will fail when it is really tested. I am also certain that whatever happens in the future, we still live in a nation-state system and that, ultimately, we must know what it does. The region is the best way but it's also necessary to know how the damn govt. got there in the first place. It's necessary to know the full history of the land from one coast to the other.

It's necessary to know the important things that have happened. It's important to have pride in what has happened; for the good and for the bad that has been rectified.

The body politic shifts slowly but when it does it is a tsunami that can't be stopped by mere words or machines. There are assorted "good" people or people with good characteristics. One is the guy who makes things well, dreams big, sacrifices and so on. Another is the person who works hard, takes care of kids and simply wants a decent life. Another is the professional who wants to improve the profession and uphold its integrity. The variety of good in human beings is enormous and should be noted and celebrated.

I'm not ashamed of my liberal beginnings because I'm not afraid of rectifying mistakes or taking on huge problems or dreaming impossibly large. I never see the conservatives do this because they are spending all their energy on protecting what they have and defending a kind of cartoonish view of the nation, its history, and people.

However, they taught liberals a very valuable lesson. You must have utter loyalty to the foundations which made this country what it is. If you say the foundations were illegitimate because the past had slaves or kept women in the kitchen or cut down forests you will be rejected by the majority of people. There is nothing the people fear the most than the nihilist, whether political or cultural. That is, the person who believes in nothing and will destroy everything to achieve his aim. That is the lesson of the past 40 years or so.

January 9, 2012

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