After watching the first presidential debate two weeks ago and the vice presidential debate last night this is how I felt — an inhabitant of a Surreal Hell.
Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, painted in 1937, is an appropriate image of hell that applies to today’s America — American politics in particular.
Picasso did the painting after the Basque village of Guernica in northern Spain was bombed by German and Italian warplanes during the Spanish Civil War.
Hold the Front Page
And this drawing by British artist Ralph Steadman reflects my impression of the media’s coverage of the debates and of U.S. politics in general.
This election year is a nightmare. As if the Covid wasn’t bad enough, politicians outdo themselves as lying, smirking, obnoxious vermin. At the end of last night’s debate there was little difference between a politician and the fly on Více President Pence’s head.
Sometimes I miss so many people it would take a galleon of angels to bring them back.
Since that’s never going to happen I find myself thinking of ways to go to them. Not in any real sense of course but I have found from experience that if one becomes sufficiently imbued (as in high as a kite) there is little if any difference between the real, the surreal and the unreal.
Several months ago a former colleague of my wife from our Miami Beach days called me out of the blue when she heard my wife had died and told me that what my godless lost soul needed was God. This old friend has an unshakable belief in God and offered to be my spiritual guide, so to speak, and take my hand on the “road to God.”
It sounded like a good idea. In the long span of my life I have never been this alone. Death has taken my wife and my son and two brothers. A few remaining relatives are scattered far and abroad and contact is infrequent. The few friends I had disappeared one by one.
Open mind, closed heart
So with an open mind I set out toward the road to God.
As the quest proceeded, I realized that although my mind was open to “believing,” my heart was not and I knew I could only find God through my heart not just in my mind. The discovery had to be heart-felt, not just cerebral.
But even while sparks of positive energy were being triggered in my brain, my heart was not responding. I didn’t know why and I didn’t know how to remove the roadblock. Nor did my godly guide. She became discouraged.
“I can’t help you anymore,” she said. This surprised me. I expected more of a Jesus-type commitment to my cause. In any case my quest ended on a dark cul-de-sac to nowhere.
Not enough Xanax in America
So here I be in my lowly dark bungalow, just me and the cat, reading a lot, drinking too much, watching movies on television, sleeping late and writing stuff like this.
Sometimes I write about society’s ills but when the stories involve the lies and hypocrisy of politicians it becomes so sickening there’s not enough Xanax in America to numb my revulsion.
So I’m back at the old pop stand writing 500-word memoirs, mostly about people I’ve lost and most of all about my wife. The memories, both great and grisly, the joy and the regrets, unresolved matters that I still need to talk to her about, that is to say, with her invisible presence.
And so in that sense I’m not alone, and as long as I have some brain cells still functioning the memories will grow like wildflowers.
The world used to be a dance floor full of sensuality, a sports stadium crowded with excitement, a beach packed with pleasure, a tavern cheerful with camaraderie.
The world has shrunk. It wears a mask. It is chaos incarnate.
The world is now the inside of a house. For many it is the inside of a room. People are prisoners. The sports stadium and the tavern and the dance floor and the beach are empty.
Prisoners are permitted to go outside for food and necessary supplies but they must wear a mask and keep as far away from their fellow humans as possible. Essential workers are allowed out to go to their jobs but it is a double-edged sword for they run the risk of getting the deadly disease and infecting their families.
The fools who are in charge, the so-called leaders of the world have no idea how to deal with the crisis. People are going insane. They are rioting in the streets, killing each other, setting fire to buildings, torching police cars, tearing down statues. They say they are raging against racism but many of the rioters are racists themselves. They say they are fighting a revolution for change but the result is chaos.
NO WAY OUT
Peaceful citizens do not join the revolution. They stay inside and watch the madness on television. Many go mad just watching it. They see no way out.
Beautiful young women who used to have fun on the dance floor and at the beach and in the taverns kill themselves. Men who are laid off from their jobs and cannot feed their children kill themselves. Nurses who have caught the disease and are afraid of affecting others kill themselves.
In the midst of this insanity despicable politicians obsessed with power fight among themselves and issue contradictory dictatorial rules and regulations and lie through their teeth that a vote for them will stop the virus and heal the country and blah blah blah.
But the rampaging mobs in the streets yell bullshit and the people locked away in isolation see no hope and buy a one-way ticket to oblivion.
I never thought I’d die alone I laughed the loudest who’d have known?