ELIZABETH KERLIKOWSKE : Decades Away, the Checkered Flag
JOHN HORVATH JR : Notes on Literary Activism
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Decades Away, the Checkered Flag
  At fifty, you'll need to decide how to spend the second half of your life. The first is recorded on your skin; the second half can only grow deeper. You can't be a dyed woman, a shuffling woman soft and curved into a petal just before it drops off the stem.  You've seen a handful of driven women stride into oldness the way you plan to, and you can follow their footsteps, which are boot prints, compass in hand instead of a paper fan.  Pockets replace purses, life stripped to essentials; working muscles sheathe the body. Frame trued. Brain well-lubed, desire still fires and backfires, and  you're not afraid to use the horn.  Step on the gas, old girl. Make it a race from the post to the ghost line. Big finish. Big finish.
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I have many things to write unto you but   I will not write with pen and ink
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Decades Away, the Checkered Flag Essence  
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Notes on Literary Activism

Literary Activism is neither Social nor Political Activism but they sometimes borrow each others' clothes. Activism is essentially “Messianic revolutionary literature” that calls for a new type of hero and a new type of human being, the collective individual” who, beyond historical constraint, serves the community by awakening it to injustice, corruption, or other attack upon the community. It is partisan literature that

A—ADVOCATEs the autonomy of art, autonomy of the artist as Avant-garde
C—CAUSES political and social(from a dissident point of view) (CODE hero)
T—TEMPORAL Historicism: it is ALWAYS the case that it is now time for a form of hitherto unknown or unspoken unity, or some cosmic or universal brotherhood of human suffering,
I—INDIVIDUAL service to the community is heroic—HERO stands against oppression. This individualism is validated on three levels:
  1. in Heroic self-sacrifice,
  2. in personal identity set aside for group identity (on this level, even Superman is an activist hero), and
  3. in assuming the mantel of victimization by social wrong.
  1. Vitalism is a dynamic style, phrases reduced to single terms – near slogans, visionary details; its goal is not to portray experience but to elicit anger, indignation, violence against the perpetrators of
  2. Victimization whose central figure is less a narrative hero But more of a representation for all those in kind suffering as victims of real or perceived wrong.*
*A model of the activist hero, Consider Bigger Thomas, an American of African Descent is also "the Victimization of all blacks, historically and among social contemporaries": the dialectic of being from two disparate locations or two cultures, two norms of behavior, two social strata is essential to being a victim. Indeed, all of “us” suffering because of “them” may be the dialectic or suggested dialectic as in Silent Spring or The Jungle.

I—Ideological and Image/Imagery iconic and suggestive of the good cause against menacing evil (such as a system, group or social anomaly). Often the 'good cause' gives aide and solace to members of a genetically identifiable group.

S—Symbolic/Symbolism both in use of symbols and in content—Bigger Thomas is “Doubting Thomas” the disciple who must be shown objectively but also “Tom, Dick, and Harry”--the common man whose self-discipline is challenged by an objective world; He is “Bigger” because he is surrounded by the “symbols” of American success —steady job, income, money, beauty, intellect (you know which train and tracks).

M—Marxist Dialectic as authority and as purpose
  1. If individual rights are overwhelmed by social structure, favor the individual;
  2. If the social collective is overwhelmed by individual anarchy, favor collective action.
Thus, on-going revolution.

Literary activism IS always the Avant-garde* of change, the writer and hero and individual or social group are its front-trench troops, but activism is a cloak, an attitude, one may put on or off. Thus the activist is capable of understanding the oppressor and the oppressed.
*Avant-garde: the part of the army that marches in front of most of the troops

(next month: 'Discussion of THE AVANT-GARDE in Activism')

Poetry endangers the established order  of the soul - Plato

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Decades Away, the Checkered Flag Notes on Literary Activism  
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Somewhere around 1960 or thereabouts, (these dates are never precise, much like an old lover loved lost seeking to regain the sphere) the poem changed, lost meaning, Eliot, Yeats, Stevens, out of fashion, not to mention Tennyson, the metaphysicals, or Shakespeare, jolly giants, deemed too tough. A dreary half century muddling along without a voice: merely doomsday imagery, the mushroom of Bikini island, a strand of concrete splintering Berlin, horrific mummified Stalin still seeking to be buried, laid to rest beyond an air conditioned coffin where peasants stroll by eating only the nothingness of Lenin, Marx now long rotted by syphilis, Mao Se Tung a dreaded Chinese negro nightmare brought into full light by Tienamen Square. Only the blanks remain to be filled in. Children taught by CNN, MTV, the latest nihilo news on the brightest Turned channel. There is no substance here, no essence beyond the milky shadowy photosultry images haunting the mind, the spirit, like the just turned local news. Where have all the poets gone? What heroes remain? How can enticement beyond the mundane reach the dead brain zombies that don't even eat cornflakes anymore? What Vegas dancing girls can bring back the Haunted hush of centuries, beplumed, sequined, a pyramidal sequence beyond the painted flesh? Can it be in something as simple as Chevrolet, baseball, apple pie? These are twisted images for the hungry to hunt, the bold to embrace, the fortunate few dancing Circuitous in lightning that seeks the splintered sphere: only to be reminded where you are=where you will be. Those are serpentine terms to be regarded in the day or night--both embracing--till the soil no longer speaks, loam silenced while waiting for another whispering voice that has nothing to do with an abstract millenium.

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  • Decades Away, the Checkered Flag © ELIZABETH KERLIKOWSKE . editor: .
  • Notes on Literary Activism © JOHN HORVATH JR . editor: Deszo Kosztolani, Lajos Kassak, et alia, deserve much credit for these 'Notes' based in part on their original works.
  • Essence © RALPH MONDAY from poetryrepairs MM.01:011.
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