This is just poetry. It won't save you, but it may locate you so that a rescue party can be sent out. — Dean Blehert

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Note: A slightly longer poem -- you get extra credit. But it's a very simple poem.] [Further note: I may have sent this out as a daily poem before a few years ago. It's one of my favorites. One of the things I like about it is that I find the violins and cellos of most poetry begin to bore me, so that I feel refreshed when I can produce a piece that is, more or less, a drum solo, pure percussiveness. Sometimes I prefer the music I find in raw, but energetic and positive, statement.]

On Resisting Evil

Because the evil have made the trains run on time,
we are wary of efficiency and accomplish nothing.

Because the evil have misused force,
we hesitate, hoping for miracles.

Because fools have thrown away their lives for madmen,
we imagine there is nothing worth dying for
and, dying anyway, live in fear.

Because the evil have created formidable organizations,
we dream of standing alone, swallowing that swindle
(dreamed up by the weak to subdue the strong)
that organization must be abhorred.

Because the evil seem driven by destructive purpose,
we are wishywashy, lost, as it were, in qualifications,
lest we be tainted by zeal.

Because the evil rely on solid stuffy citizens
(who can best be governed by fear of loss of status)
and call them sane,
we think we must be crazy to be creative,
so create only self-destruction.

Because madmen have equated love of our own country
with hatred of all other countries,
we try to love mankind by despising our country,
as if love of neighbors could grow
from hatred of self.

Nothing is left to us if we try to be good
only by being what evil is not,
nothing but evil itself,

which is, perhaps, a violent effort
not to be evil.

Note on Stanza 4, above: I say that the idea that organizations must be abhorred is a swindle dreamed up by the weak to subdue the strong because I think it can be shown (by someone with huge scholarly ambitions and a better grasp of historical detail than I command) that the idea that organization is a bad thing and that a real mensch stands alone has been used by those who fear strong and creative individuals -- used to neutralize them, so that groups of fearful people can isolate and control social mavericks, each of whom stand alone, despising organizational skills. Thus free beings are enslaved.

Part of the scam is to equate organization with criminal organizations and fanatic organizations. Another part of it is to equate organization with conformity to majority rule on all matters, to set up organization as the enemy of individualism.

It's true that when individuals decide to work together, they must do things to keep their differences from getting in their way, but this needn't mean a rejection of individualism. It simply means that they look for goals they share, and concentrate on them. It also means, sometimes, compromises, but in a sane group, the compromises pay off for the individual, meaning that the ability to live as a free individual is preserved and even expanded via the organization. In other words, one sacrifices a relatively small amount of individualism to enable the increased survival of individuals.

A strong group is made up of strong individuals. Such a group will always be able to handle a mob huddled together out of fear of standing alone. As has often been pointed out over the centuries, one twig snaps easily, but a bundle of twigs tied together is hard to snap. That's the byword of fascism (derived from a Latin word for such a bundle). And it's also a model for communist totalitarianism.

What's missing from that concept is that to destroy such a group, all you need to do is cut the string, then snap the twigs. A bunch of strong individuals working together (no strings attached!) is far more powerful. Each is capable of standing up to attack. Each has initiative. And, working together, they are far harder to break than the bundled twigs. Also, it's hard to break the "string," since it contains no compulsion exterior to each individual. It is each individual's intention.

A relatively small, but organized group of strong (spiritually strong -- people of character) people can control a huge mob. By "control," I don't mean that the small strong group aims at manipulating or tyrannizing masses of people. I mean, simply, that it is capable of control. If the mob is panicking, the small group can calm it. If the mob is breaking up into small groups bickering with each other, the small strong group can organize that mob into functionality or disperse it.

More to the point, just the small group's ABILITY to control gives that group a calming PRESENCE, an ethics presence. The mob feels this and responds to it. This isn't a hypnotic thing. Just as certain people (said to have a commanding presence or charisma) can walk into a room, and just by their being there, bring order into disorder, so an organized group of able people, just by their presence and their capabilities, bring order.

This is true of a strong individual, whose presence brings order, but when this presence is amplified by the united purpose of a group of individuals, each of whom, singly, is a leader, the capability is greatly increased. It's not that a group of, say, three such individuals has three times the power of one. It will have far more power than that, since the abilities of each resonate with the abilities of the others. A group of weak individuals tends to reduce the power of the group (the ability to bring order) to the lowest common denominator of the group. A group of strong individuals brings an amplification of power that is something like the square or cube of the number of individuals (say, 3 people, 9 or 27 times the power).

(An interesting study of both sorts of groups: The Beatles. Four musicians, at least three of them, John, Paul and George, brilliant song-writers and performers. (Ringo has his own brilliance,but song-writing isn't a big part of it. But he was part of the creative ambiance of the group.) When they were able to work together, in the early years, they strengthened each other, their brilliance as individuals amplified by the association.

As they got increasingly into drugs, formulaic social outrage and other distractions, while they increased in musical sophistication, some magic drained gradually from their work, and they began to feel oppressed by one another, limited by being Beatles. What they did, each on his own, is still remarkable music, but (to my ear, anyway) far less magical than what they were able to do as a group.

It's not that each produced music one quarter as powerful. Far less than that. George, perhaps, gained a bit, since he'd been overshadowed, in the group, by the brilliance and dominance of Paul and John. And each of them produced a few songs that are of top-grade Beatles quality. But something priceless was lost. One of the great post-Beatles Beatles song, George Harrison's "When We Was Fab" (on the Cloud Nine album) says all this better than I can. [The Fab ran out on the Tide?] [That's a joke, for those who don't know that Fab, as well as Tide, is a detergent.]

Of course, tastes differ. It never ceases to amaze me that so many people think Lennon's maudlin "Imagine" is a great and profound song. It has it's brilliance, if you can stomach a secular humanist manifesto and glaringly false innocence, but "She Loves You, Yeah Yeah Yeah," for all its hints of adolescent zits and apparent simplicity, is a far greater and far more profound piece of music. Of course, sometimes Lennon tries for profound and achieves it (e.g., "Strawberry Fields,") but that's still a Beatles song, giving him the scope to stand apart from his ideas and view and turn into music his own thought processes ("That is, I think I disagree" -- the musical equivalent of hair-splitting Talmudic reasoning and indecision), whereas, post-Beatles, he became a relatively shallow, programatic dogmatist -- until his last album, where his playfulness and warmth emerged again.

(Note: I say "relatively." He could still think, change his mind, etc. But I think he let Yoko create the space wherein he worked, and it was a relatively airless space, claustrophobic, compared to the ecstatic back-and-forth riffing between Paul and John that yielded in one legendary weekend (approximately) some nine songs that eventually hit number one on the charts (something like that -- someone will correct me, but the number was stratospheric). They needed songs, quick, for their first movie, "Hard Day's Night," so in that weekend, they produced nine great songs -- so many that two of them (both later huge hits) couldn't be fitted into the movie.

["Hard Day's Night," "Ticket to Rye," "Can't Buy Me Love," "I should have known better," "Eight Days A Week," etc.]

That surge of creative energy is with us today, not only in their songs, but in many other offshoots. For example, Keith Richards and Mick Jaggers, watching how easily John and Paul were conjuring new songs into existence, decided maybe they could do it too, and that began their song-writing.

McCartney's most recent album (Memory Half Full -- or is it Memory Half Empty? -- no joke intended, I keep forgetting which it is!) has one song that seems to me comparable in power and depth to Eleanor Rigby. It's called "Mr. Bellamy." As far as I know, it hasn't gotten much notice. But then these days McCartney tends to get dismissed by the hip as a writer of slightly saccharine songs. He ain't the Beatles, but he's what's left of the song-writing Beatles, not one quarter of a Beatle, a much smaller fraction (as were John and George, separately)-- but even a 20th of the Beatles is still better than anything else around. Check him out!)

Among those less capable, always there are a few who fear capability in others and encourage others to fear this too. These are people who, if they could control others, would oppress them, keep them down, so they fear the strong, assuming that others, given power, would do to them what they would do to others.

[Some people must have feared the Beatles....]

Thus, always, there are those who stir the weak to keep the strong down. And one of the weapons of such people is to put the idea of "organization" into opposition with the idea of "the strong individual." This is a false opposition. Beware of those who praise you for standing alone and refusing to be part of any group. It's true that schools overstress "Works well with others" and that society too often punishes originality and stifles initiative. It's also true that those who would overcome such obstacles had best be organized themselves. It's a matter of working out what your goals are, then finding others whose goals align with your own. It's a matter of knowing who your friends are. It's a matter of being able to evaluate the intentions and activities of others and then make decisions.

Some of these points are based on the "ethics conditions" (see -- particularly the steps required to resolve the conditions of treason, enemy, doubt and liability.)

One last note: In my opinionated discussion of the Beatles, above, I don't mean to condemn Yoko Ono. I wasn't there. When I say she created a relatively airless space for John, I mean relative to the bigger-than-planet-earth space in which John, Paul, George and Ringo were working together. As far as I can tell, Yoko was NOT operating at their level. She was/is an artist. The Beatles were among the greatest artists of the Twentieth Century. She wasn't and isn't of comparable magnitude as an artist. (If she is, I haven't seen the work, and the stuff she did with John is his weakest.)

Her own art -- for example, her movie of a bunch of naked human buttocks -- is trendy and shallow. It might appeal to a pop singer, if enough artsy people -- in Yoko's avant garde circle? -- have convinced him that his "Beatles" work is insignificant and doesn't confront the important issues and abuses of our time.) He seems to have limited himself to her, unwilling to be other than contained in her space, wanting, always, that sort of security -- not to go Freudian on you, but listen to the poignancy of the song addressing the mother who deserted him (Julia) on the White Album.

Nobody, certainly not Yoko, brought Lennon down -- no one but Lennon, addicted to drugs for many of those years with Yoko -- and she helped him get OFF those drugs, enabling him to write his last album, which is a vast improvement over the Imagine album and the others (miserable stuff, mostly -- especially Two Virgins) with Yoko. But Yoko helped him to move on.

The words were "All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance" (or rather "Our Chants"), but the melody and mood of those lines (so lugubrious and hypnotic) seems to me to be saying "Someone shoot me, PLEASE!" Lennon killed Lennon long before anyone could shoot him. He was starting to come back to life when he really got shot. That's the usual way of it with people mistaken by others for saviors or arch-villains or both. The awful Tsar gets assassinated, not when he's most oppressive, but when he starts to liberalize, frees the serfs. When you start to put in order in an area, a lot of suppressed confusion is likely blow up in your face and overwhelm you. Lennon's physical death was part of his spiritual revival, which I suspect continued, since I don't believe we are mortal, though our names and bodies are changed to protect the ignorant -- I mean innocent.

Yoko's probably OK. In fact, Yoko spelled backwards is "OK -- Oy!" She was a gun John used to shoot himself. Guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people. Actually, John used Yoko to kill a Beatle. He decided he needed to kill off Beatle John, a role that he felt had constricted him. Actually that role expanded him. The drugs had shrunk him to a point where he felt lost in that huge role. He was no longer up to taking responsibility for hundreds of millions of people on planet earth via aesthetics. The four of them, working together, had done that for years, effortlessly, it seemed. Hundreds of millions of people became happier, more hopeful, younger, more alive listening to them, watching them. And many of us, still, can reawaken that joy by thinking of their music or re-hearing it.

To be on a planet where people have created such work is a marvelous thing, like looking at a tree and watching how its branches twist and spread (the moon caught in them) and realizing one shares a world with such beauty.

You can yell at people "Peace! Freedom! Love!" or you can love them enough to put them in touch with their own joy, their own creativity, as simply as that tree does it for me. The Beatles did the latter. Post-Beatles, Lennon yelled "Peace!" George got kind of holy and sermony(though he often transcended that). And McCartney? Glib, I guess. He made an effort to be a Beatle on his own, and one can usually feel the effort. No, glib is a bum rap. He kept doing what he'd done as a Beatle (and a few other things), but some of the joy went out of him, and mainly, the magic that he and John had together wasn't quite there. I think George and John (especially John) tended to repudiate whatever they thought "Beatles" stood for, while Paul tried to keep it going. But years of pot attenuate the ability to feel. One has to force it a bit. Hence the endless songs that riff on and on, seeking an adequate closure (the overrated "Hey, Jude" is an early example).

Poor Paul, going on going on, producing fine music, but having to live in the shadow (hanging over him) of the Beatles (of yesterday), who happen to include Paul. Poor fellow, he's only half the great he used to be. But while he sings, the Beat and the Beatles goes on. Better Beatles then beatless.

Dean Blehert
Blogs: (short poems) (essays and longer poems)
New book (Deanotations, Volume 1) available at

No comments: