Did you hear the one about…

Did you hear the one about the homeless person who was carrying a sign saying “Will work for Food,” and Donald Trump walked by and asked what he could do to help, and the homeless person said, “If I could just work for a few hours for minimum wage, I’d have enough to buy my daughter something to eat.” And Trump said, “Here – go get your daughter and the rest of your family and we’ll get you cleaned up, get you a good meal, a place to live, and we’ll help you find a full time job that pays a living wage.” And the homeless person said, “Thank you, but why are you doing this?” And Trump said, “Because we’re all human, and life doesn’t always offer everyone the same opportunities, so as someone who has been lucky in life, I know that it is my responsibility to help my brothers and sisters in any way that I can.” Did you hear that story? No? Well, that makes sense, because it would never happen.

©2016 Stuart Dummit Fair usage permitted.


there is nothing in the title worth spending any time with

—a particularly troubling element of my evolution


I have gotten this far in my life by luck and the aegis of others. There is no way for me to plumb the truths and realities that conspired to bring this salvation about, but it is not for me to do in this place nor at this time. I will acknowledge it and let it sit, alone, unexplained and wanting of a cover to keep it moist and warm.

Reading Homer lately, and Joyce, and Aristotle and a bit of Calvino, some Grimm and McCarthy, I have amassed in my brain a host of voices that aren’t at war with each other, but neither do they always mix well, like cocoa and sugar, peanuts and salt, gin and Retsina. These voices and their peculiar frames of reference have taught me things that continue to gestate in my head. They have led me down paths that peter out into thin and meandering bare spots on the ground that fool me into thinking they lead somewhere, when in fact, they may not. It occurs to me that those ways have never been trod and I am exploring new ground, but then doubt makes my sphincter itch and I turn back in search of civilization and something to wipe my butt with. And then, still, I am tempted to try that way again.

Some elements of my reading continue to cycle through my brain, the temptation to explore those faux paths again (and again,) and so I discuss them with myself from time to time. I would talk with others about them to get their reactions, but I’ve not found anyone with a clean enough mirror to reflect a lucid and cogent argument or rejoinder. I wonder about punctuation. Too much or too little? Why quotation marks when the text indicates so clearly who is speaking? And if not, then is there value in the idea that the idea represented by the words has been cast out into the world and exists independent of a speaker? The question mark is good, as is the period. Omission is key. I use exclamation marks too much and I’ve been criticized for my use of the ellipsis, but they help me map the ebb and flow of words as I hear them in my head. Would I be a better orator than writer? Are the two so very different? Perhaps I should consume more Aristotle. Nevertheless, my study of Joyce brings those things into focus, and my study of Joyce harkens me back to Homer. And from Homer, or rather, with him, I’ve explored the frame stories of the Arabian Nights and the folk tales of the Brothers Grimm. And then, and you see it there, my want of beginning a sentence with a conjunction; what reason would I have to do that? and what does the conjunction join? but I digress…and then I turn my attention to McCarthy who is more an artist than a story teller, and the role of story teller is often linked to the role of writer, not artist. But no, an artist tells a story, but in a different way. Thus, McCarthy’s oft used second person present tense voice; the reader does not follow the speaker, but accompanies them, experiencing as they experience, only a time delay measured in letters and spaces within the sentence. Brilliant.

Frame stories, layers of fiction, told and seen from the side of one who experiences it, remove the other and all that is (left) there is the reader. Allow the words to move (right) across the page at their own pace, let them wander, even down paths that thin into bald patches on the ground and disappear into sparse underbrush — no path now, only terrain either alluring or menacing. Either of those might entice a reader or writer or artist to follow.

What is the purpose, though? Why write? Why read? Why art? Why establish any fiction? If it is for escape then each person must evaluate their position in life. Why are you escaping from something so limited? What happens if you die while you are not there? Do you know what you’ve wasted? Stupid shit. Bad wager you hairy cunt.