Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Ghost and Hemispheres Cover Vol. 2The following is an excerpt from my novel, The Ghost and the Hemispheres, Volume 2, currently available as an e-book on Amazon.com.

As the students watched TV in the University Club, for the first time, Patroclus noticed that some 95% of the content came from the United States. There was Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie, two television shows about wives possessed of magical powers, but rather than using the magic to free themselves from sexual slavery, penury and exploitation, the women instead served the monetary interests of their human slaveholder husbands. All they would have had to do was snap their fingers and their masters’ heads would have popped off like champagne corks, but instead they were alienated from that head-ripping-off potential by the awesome power of ideological hegemony. There was also Bonanza, a serial that humanized and normalized the rape of the American West by white expansion and subjugation (and let us not forget the dialogue wasn’t too bad).

When he sought reading material from the Balladares Pharmacy he found Time and Cosmo and Reader’s Digest and the Saturday Evening Post. He found pictures of a woman draped over a box of Pall Mall Gold 100’s, claiming that “You make out better at both ends.” A Lipton tea ad asking him if he was feeling “fagged.” Delco “Pleasurizer” shock absorbers for a better ride. “Husband pleasing” coffee. Sugar, which “turned into energy faster than any other food.” A car called a “Swinger.” White go-go boots. Half-nude bodies used to sell aspirin, women in suggestive siren poses meant to sell Pepsi. Pills for “tired blood” and women’s anxiety. He studied the cola and beer advertisements with deep post-structuralist curiosity.

The more girls buzzed about him, trying to confuse him, get his attention, diffuse his energy, raise his sap, get his blood up, dilute his prana, etc., the more Patroclus began to read from the books that Father Cuadra suggested: Hegel, Marx, Paulo Freire, Antonio Gramsci and Chairman Mao, and then finally, the book about the Crazy Little Army—Augusto César Sandino and his war in the Segovias. That war had taken place around Patroclus’s hometown. Yet nobody up there ever talked about Sandino. It was verboten. Like other young proto-revolutionaries, Patroclus also read Che Guevara and listened to the recordings of Radio Rebelde.

Every new Marxist walks about with a different set of eyes from the ones he had before. Everywhere Patroclus now saw things differently. One day he was out with Rosemarie and she asked him, “Should I get the chocolate-covered cherries or the chocolates with nothing in them?”

“Your choice is an illusion of freedom.”

She pinched his cheek.


“I’m serious. This is meaningless.”

“What are you saying, exactly, when you say this is meaningless?”

“I want to see other girls.”

She started to cry and he stood listening with a stone face, knowing he must take responsibility for the pain he had caused her, but also willing to live with it for the sake of his new conviction, which required pain if it were to be genuine—his girlfriend’s pain if necessary.

All the material wealth he saw others chasing convinced Patroclus that he somehow did not really live in the world at all—or at least that he was living in more dimensions than he was seeing. Those advertisements, those nude bodies, those TV shows made him realize that his heart and body had been colonized. That every move he made was the act of a puppet dancing on a string. As he sat in the hot, dusty railroad colonial corridors of his dorm studying his medical books, dust motes flowed sideways and down and from off the floor—in a space without gravity. Every song, every coo of every silly coquette—everything was fabricated, he realized, to hide the truth of things. A woman once raised her finger to Patroclus to argue with him after she had shortchanged him at the pharmacy. He stopped listening to her and regarded her finger. As it rose, it also fell, and went sideways at the same time. Her voice was high and low at the same time. They were speaking a script somebody else had written for them. They had divided themselves to keep the owners in power.

His life was now seen in a kaleidoscope. And the more he was at odds with reality, the more he saw proof of his other self emerging.

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What is Francis I’s agenda now that he has been elected Pope?

–*He heads off to the Room of Tears to don his papal vestments and remove the cleaning ticket.

–*To prove he is infallible, he must predict tonight’s meal, which must then be served.

–*He can pick out 10 people from the crowd and canonize them on the spot, hopefully a few hot chicks.

–*He should make up with a few new completely arbitrary and physically painful rituals just to win the respect of any cardinals who did not vote for him.

–*He must get even with Don Barzini and the heads of the other five families as he baptizes his nephew.

–*He’s got to pray a lot in front of a lot of important statues, keeping the language specific so that it doesn’t look a little superstitious maybe.

–*After inspecting the papal apartments, he must observe in Latin, “Either this wallpaper goes or I do.”

–*After hour six, maybe he could lighten the mood with a little joke. How about remarking at Castel Gandolfo, “None shall pass!”

–*He must thank Harvey Weinstein.

–*On Thursday, he must blame the preceding Pope for the failed economy, as per tradition.

–*He must give a speech adhering to tradition and resisting outside forces of modernization that corrupt our souls–like premarital sex and fiduciary transparency at the Vatican bank.

–*He should set to work on a 20,000 word ex cathedra encyclical taking a stand on eros versus agape, tradition versus modernization, or the Beatles versus the Stones.

–*He should take a ride in his new fancy ass car.

–*Sugar doesn’t make you fat when you’re infallible. He should eat like a pig.

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… this week, but it somehow disappeared from my WordPress blog. I am not sure why that is. It wasn’t a terribly blasphemous blog or anything, certainly not as mean spirited as, say, what The Onion did on the Pope’s resignation. Mine was tiny and silly. And yet it has vanished. I am not the sort to think Word Press deemed it offensive and took it down on purpose. I’m almost 90% sure that didn’t happen. But if it was a technical glitch, then it was sure unfortunate because the blog is lost forever. I do not have a copy of it.

Unless …

If for some reason one of you, my regular readers, got it in an e-mail, maybe you could send it to me. Better yet, you could repost it in the comments section here. Maybe I would still find it funny. I don’t know, because I can’t read it anymore. I can thank Word Press and their new interface (or something more sinister) for that.

Please, WordPress, do not lose my blogs in the future. Get your tech ship right. You don’t want to make me as angry as MySpace did.

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