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Heinrich Himmler: A Life

Heinrich Himmler: A Life

By Peter Longerich

Kolyma Tales

Kolyma Tales

By Varlam Shalamov; John Glad (Translator)

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Arts and Culture

Who’s Your Mummy?

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Posted on Sep 15, 2011
Photo by Mr. Fish

By Mr. Fish

(Page 2)

Then there would just be me and the faint chirping of dying frogs from the far end of the alley where the sidewalk came to a dead end at a green wall of crumbling slate shingles.

It happened at the close of every summer, this huge migratory die-off of frogs. Beginning sometime in late August, just as the great majority of the frogs living in a nearby lagoon reached maturity, they would hop through the weeds in the middle of the night and flush out the massive indigenous cricket population and drive it into the shopping center, past the drugstore and past the hobby shop and past the pizza place and past the dance studio, and slaughter it against the green wall. Then, once all the crickets had been chewed into tapioca, the frogs would gorge themselves on disoriented mosquito hawks and palsied moths and black beetles driven mad and rendered flightless by the caged floodlight bolted to the wall above. Glutted with the spoils of their conquest, the frogs would notice the approaching dawn and begin wearily throwing themselves forward into the crumbling slate shingles of the dead end, over and over again, as if the real world had absolutely no precedence over the self-edifying folly of their wills.

After several weeks of this, the lagoon would eventually be empty of anything larger than a water strider, the forest would be shimmering with the exalted symphony of happy crickets and the alley would be fetid with the dehydrated bodies of frogs, many of them little more than flattened patties of amphibious scrotal jerky wrapped stiffly around tiny skeletons frozen in spirited jazz poses of exultation.

Of victory!

What captivated me most about the mummy model wasn’t its wicked cool ugliness, nor was it the exquisite paint job and the ghoulish enthusiasm with which the artist applied blood to the monster’s hands and closed right eye, but rather it was my own moral sense of fairness and the affinity for anti-establishmentarianism that seemed to come so naturally to me. After all, whether one was considering the unique circumstances of the Mummy or Frankenstein’s Monster or the Creature from the Black Lagoon or the Phantom of the Opera or the Hunchback of Notre Dame or King Kong, there was no getting around the fact that these poor souls, many of them merely starved for love and companionship, were innocent victims of either intolerance or blatant discrimination from the dominant culture. Simply put, those monsters who weren’t trying to gain acceptance from the status quo were merely trying to exclude themselves from society’s thuggish judgment and demand for acquiescence, both positions reflecting, I would find out later, the completely coherent and morally cogent opinions of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. 

And Jack Kerouac and Mario Savio. And Kate Millett and Geronimo. And Bugs Bunny and Noam Chomsky.

In fact, what made monsters menacing to the world was either their inability—or their ballsy refusal!—to conform to stringently myopic doctrines of behavior and belief, their hair-raising spookiness coming from the wretched fight that they usually put up before being violently killed by, essentially, popular opinion.

In the end, my stepfather bought me the mummy model, believing it to be the perfect antidote against my turning gay one fiendish relevé at a time.


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bodhidharma's avatar

By bodhidharma, September 22, 2011 at 5:44 pm Link to this comment

Yes, it is very edifying that who the monsters are may very well depend on whose eyes you are looking through.  Which is why it is so important that we maintain our ability to empathize. This is so easily lost when looking at the world through the lens of a particular ideology, whether it is conscious and well defined or not. Also it is important not to let fear cloud our vision of those we consider our enemies.  Sometimes a little understanding of the fears motivating the other side can go a long way to resolving our differences. I am reminded of when McNamara talked to the North Vietnamese 20 years after the war.  McNamara said we were trying to prevent Vietnam from becoming a communist Chinese satellite. The Vietnamese ambassador said “We had been fighting the Chinese to remain free for 400 years. Don’t you know anything about our history?”

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zonth_zonth's avatar

By zonth_zonth, September 22, 2011 at 1:00 pm Link to this comment

In order to disarm the envious, we must take to the street on crutches.  Only the sight of our collapse can humanize.”  Cioran

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, September 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment

While Mr. Fish’s reminiscence is delightful for what it is,
but seeing the Mummy with a different mindscape, in the
movie of the same name the Mummy, who prowls the
world leaving death and destruction in his quest to find
the means of reincarnation for his equally ancient lover,
a princess, it depicts a resurrected ancient Egyptian priest
who was mummified alive but who becomes a metaphor
for the indestructible monster marauder that lays waste to
whatever stands in its way or intentions.

The ancient dramatized tale of immortality is provided by
sacred (magic) tana leaves that when brewed can provide
eternal uninterrupted existence).  This is vividly remindful
of modern alchemical Tea Bags and the obstinance of the
current political Tea Partiers.  It is my opinion that
Republicans are Mummified one-time humans whose only
intention is to dominate the American population for their
own clannish self-serving corporatocratic purposes. 

The Republican Mummies are only stoppable by a ray of
light that in the original story…from a stone goddess, will
burn the rules of Republican conduct, that in turn will crumble
the Party into a heap of babble (that might now describe them
but becomes intensified beyond their salvation).  Translation
of what that ray of light means in the context of today’s reality
is the re-animation of the Democrats to unite themselves as
liberals whose primary concern is and always has been the
common welfare of the American people.  Unrelenting ugly
Republican Mummies speak in choral unison to destroy the
democratic process of the Constitution of the United States by
destroying the Constitution itself, its Amendments and Bill of
Rights in their attempt among several lethal objectives to
decimate the voting rights of millions upon millions of
Americans.  It is going to take a concerted effort of
Democratic factions:  the poor, the middle income wage
earners, supporters of unions, teachers, small farmers, the
returning military, the law enforcement, the firefighters, and
others slated to be disenfranchised such as women and their
right to their own bodies, all non-Christians, non-whites
(brown, black, red, and yellow), gays and lesbians, immigrants,
college students, etc., to consolidate and find the means to
stop them.  The Republican Party is the Party Against the
People.

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By john crandell, September 17, 2011 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

Jack Kerouac? no no no no..  There was truly something pathetic about that guy,
despite the eternal genius of his words, wordsaying.

I’d say Allen Ginsberg, instead.

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Queenie's avatar

By Queenie, September 16, 2011 at 8:20 pm Link to this comment

What beautiful children you and Dawn were, Mr. Fish! And that dog on the bed in back of you with his eye on the picture taker. I bet you miss him/her.

I was in New Jersey at the same time you were just a kid, giving birth to my daughter (at Mt. Holly) who is now 40 years old with twins of her own. Small world.

May I just say that your writing is wonderful. Right up there with Steinbeck and Dickens.

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By gerard, September 16, 2011 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

No,  my dear.  Chomsky is very much alive.  The tribute was to all those mentioned—alive in the spirit if not in the flesh. I frequently run across him on Amy Goodman.

I’m thinking here of one polio kid I very much knew who is still very much alive.  There was no Salk or Sabin for him, unfortunately.  I remember rushing my three kids to get injected with something which wasn’t a vaccine, but it was all there was at the time.  Then waiting in fear and trembling for three weeks or so.  Three kids on the block were afflicted. The next year the first vaccines became available. It was a sad time. That generation deserves memorializing.

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By gerard, September 16, 2011 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

No,  my dear.  Chomsky is very much alive.  The tribute was to all those mentioned—alive in the spirit if not in the flesh. I frequently run across him on Amy Goodman.

I’m thinking here of one polio kid I very much knew who is still very much alive.  There was no Salk or Sabin for him, unfortunately.  I remember rushing my three kids to get injected with something which wasn’t a vaccine, but it was all there was at the time.  Then waiting in fear and trembling for three weeks or so.  Three kids on the block were afflicted. The next year the first vaccines became available. It was a sad time. That generation deserves memorializing.

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, September 16, 2011 at 4:16 pm Link to this comment

@ Gerard

CHOMSKY ISN’T DEAD YET!!!

Here is a link to one of my favorite recent lectures….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iebK7VVDayY

It is from April 20, 2011 (420 dude… Hitler’s B-day) which I suppose might qualify it as old-timey, but I am fervent in my unqualified insistence that it is worth viewing anyway.

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By gerard, September 16, 2011 at 3:31 pm Link to this comment

Addition suggested for the sake of unity and heart:

“And Jack Kerouac and Mario Savio. And Kate Millett and Geronimo. And Bugs Bunny and Noam Chomsky.”  Add:  ... and all the little polio-crippled kids screaming in the corners of dance floors all over that once-upon-a-time America.”

(in memory of and tribute to the “polio-generation” before Salk and the Russian guy)

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, September 16, 2011 at 8:26 am Link to this comment

Doesn’t mesh all that well (in my mind) with Allende’s “Jump if you aren’t a mummy” (mummy=facist), but a fine article nonetheless.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YUx5Zp0Z9A

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, September 16, 2011 at 6:16 am Link to this comment

I am quite fond of Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo.

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