A sleeping viper it sits upon the shelf waiting the call. DANGEROUS.
One could envy Damocles his sword.
A breeze might bring quick death; the
File is slow, tortuous.
A whim and it uncoils. DANGEROUS.
Serpentine lies. Venomous. Deadly.
Offspring of fear: Ancient female.
Ancient Jew. Chthonic. DANGEROUS.
Where is the danger? The wrong?
Who suffers and who has fun? DANGEROUS.
Where is the heart that harbors danger?
In the file? The file’s victim?
The file’s author? DANGEROUS.
Who is dangerous to whom?
Who is afraid? Of What?
Evil force or Evil’s victim? FEAR.
The wrongs one suffer pass.
Those one inflict never. FEAR.
Phoenix victim bears evil deeds forever reenacted. FEAR.
Having some fear, Ancient, Chthonic,
How easily is a bush supposed a bear.
Having some fear, Ancient, Chthonic,
How easily is evil supposed a right.
Having some fear, how easily the
Fear in one heart becomes the danger in another. DANGEROUS.
First warm day of the new Spring.
Lazing alone by the river,
The breeze cool against my moist head,
Feet burning slightly in old sneakers.
Ft. Hunt ripples in the water below.
Strollers nod and pass. We understand.
A Fable or So
When I was a boy growing up during the period of World War II, our small community in North Georgia included among its members the usual complement of local characters such as the old maid, neighborhood drunk, brawler, thief and not least among these colorful citizens, the local whore. This last person was a young woman (for obvious reasons I hesitate to say “young lady”) in her early twenties of average build and light colored hair. She was neither especially pretty nor was she ugly. She was sort of average you might say.
For reasons known only to herself this young woman steadfastly refused to practice her craft on Tuesdays. Perhaps Tuesday was a holy day for her, like Sunday for the rest of us, or perhaps it was just a personal quirk to help her maintain a unique identity. I never knew. At any rate, local wags drew a connection between the young woman’s Tuesday abstinence and the wartime shortage of meat we sometimes experienced. The result was to dub her “Meatless Tuesday.”
Whenever we small boys would see her nearby we would call out, “Hey, Meatless!” as she strolled past. She never seemed to mind, and may have thrived on the appellation, for the only response she ever made was to smile benignly on us as she passed by.
* * * *
Emerging from a wood a deep meadow lay ahead of me. To the left about midway of this Elysian Field of clover hovered a giant rainbow pointing downward to a fig tree. I approached and as I reached the tree the rainbow quivered, as if to say, “Dig here.” I dig. For long hours, deeper and deeper, until at last as despair becomes unbearable, my sore bleeding hands unearth a perfectly circular, perfectly clear crystal mirror.
I lift the mirror from its lonely tomb and head across the meadow toward home. The rainbow follows, its iridescence gradually fading until it hangs colorless above my head.
* * * *
Once upon a time a man was walking in the wood when a tree fell on him. A neighbor passing by and seeing him lying under the tree said, “Lift it off.” No one can deny that that was precisely what needed to be done. Unfortunately the tree was bigger than the man and he couldn’t lift it off.
Is this not the situation when people tell you not to be afraid, or not to get angry, or that you should love your fellow man?
* * * *
I have a little friend I haven’t introduced yet. His name is Harvey the Bean. Master has only just now met him, too. Harvey stays in my pocket most of the time, although on nice days he likes to sit outdoors in the sunshine and talk. He tends to be introspective. He also has to avoid water, for he will sprout if he gets wet. Neither of us wants that.
When Harvey and I quarrel I always respect this vulnerability of his. Otherwise, I would have nobody to either talk to or quarrel with. This is a chief mark of an honorable man, that he respects the fatal vulnerabilities of others. One of the reasons the female sex is so execrable is its inability to grasp at all the concept of honor. That odious breed knows only desperate fear.
The formal structure within the bureaucracy centers around the two worker castes: professional and clerical. Duties of the two groups shade imperceptibly into each other so that most of the time an outside observer could not tell one from the other. The distinction, let me hasten to add, is not supervisory versus worker, for there are supervisory and nonsupervisory workers in each group. Nor is the distinction based on education, for there are highly educated clerical workers, although few non-college graduates are classified as professional. The classification is largely arbitrary and usually determined at entry. In terms of activities, the so-called professional may spend a little more time on outside business calls and in contact with various divisions within the agency and with other agencies.
Professionals tend to be insular and to remain aloof from the clerical group, which they look down upon. Little social intercourse takes place between the two groups. Rarely does a clerical and a professional worker go to lunch together; even rarer do they socialize outside of business hours. Some professionals establish a minimum grade level below which they will not invite a coworker, clerical or professional, into their home. At times this rule becomes ludicrous, as when a supervisor of professionals refuses to invite a subordinate professional below the minimum grade level into his home, but as soon as he promotes the subordinate up to an acceptable level, invites him to dinner. Other professionals will not invite clerical workers into their homes under any conditions.
Clericals generally dress much better than professionals, who are pretty sloppy, especially the younger ones who try to affect such disdain for the minor middle class values of cleanliness and conformity, while practicing assiduously the major middle class vices of arrogance and stinginess. Professionals take long lunch breaks, get haircuts or shop during official time; clericals are generally more closely supervised. Being usually of middle class background, professionals are exploitative.
Movement from the clerical to the professional caste is theoretically possible, actually but few manage to convert. Until just a very few years ago, the Agency would pay costs of job related schooling for professionals but not for clericals. In principle, at least, the policy has changed. The Agency now maintains a sizable office whose purported function sets standards and conditions for progression of employees from clerical to professional status. In practice, again, the office functions to prevent or greatly reduce the number of eligible for conversion. With the bureaucracy’s inimitable facility for euphemism this new gatekeeping staff is called the Office of Upward Mobility.
Lordy, lordy, is it any wonder that my poor master, after putting up with such imbecility all day, comes home at night irritable. People cannot grasp the simple truth that the way to build up oneself is to build up other people, not tear them down. Let a bureaucrat get a little grade and he immediately tries to make himself look big by belittling all who are of lower GS-rating.
GAMIN is handset and printed by Jerry T. Jennings at Alexandria, Virginia 22308.