[a flash fiction polemic]
When he was an undergraduate, on all forms to fill out for the college bureaucracy, there was a choice labelled “other” when the question of race or ethnicity was raised. He used to check this choice “other,” and in the line provided would write Non-White Caucasian. There are essays he has written explaining what he thinks; however, herein is offered a quick look, a scan of what he might mean by Non-White Caucasian. Let’s follow her who had known him–yoiu need names, don’t you? Well, none will be forthcoming. Another mile traveled.
. . . and so she said he had said:
I find it amusing, if not sometimes also annoying, when younger, white Protestants, living now in NYC, from somewhere outside of NYC no one from anywhere in the world not interested in agriculture, or being a rabid Trump supporter, or hunting deer, alligator or students (on days when the world seems bleak) would want to visit, ask me if I know what the Day of the Dead is, having themselves recently discovered it, and in their protracted adolescence of mind assume they might be some of the earliest finders of such knowledge, exactly the kind of thinking that lead the West to call Columbus landing on what he later called Hispaniola, a discovery.
She added that he had said,
“I once in a while ask if they are really asking an Italian Catholic, who is also Irish Catholic, that particular question because the Day of the Dead and the festival of All Hallow’s Eve (the origin of Halloween) and All Saint’s Day, November 1st and All Soul’s Day, November 2nd, have all of them been familiar to me since childhood.”
And she said he had said that these were
“. . . familiar to my Irish Ancestors since the fifth Century A.D., as Catholics, and centuries before that, as Celts, in Ireland, celebrating their Ancient Festival of the Dead that coincided with their New Year, which coincided with what became our November 1st. Our October 31st was Celtic New Year’s Eve and was a time when the Here of the Living converged with the There of the Dead.”
She paused thinking of what it was he had said after what she just said he had said. She then said he had said:
“Patrick Christened it, and November 1st became All Souls Day until it became All Saints Day, a day commemorating the lives of Saints and the Death of Martyrs.” She had an incredible memory, powers of recollection few I have ever known possessed.
She then aid he had said:
“The following day, November 2nd became All Souls Day, and thus there were two days commemorating the Dead, the two principal days of the three days of Mexico’s Day of the Dead Celebration.”
To say or not to say has become her question? Another to be or not.
. . . and he continued, she said, saying what she thought she recalled, sometimes apart from what she would and could recollect, recollection and recall not being one and the same thing, just as all recollection is remembering but not all remembering is recollection . . .
When White Protestant farm boys and farm girls from Nebraska, Iowa, North Carolina or anyplace else where everyone is, how should I say it, pasty-faced–yes! Whenever these pasty-faced White people come to Brooklyn to gentrify black neighborhoods, and then reconstruct out of their own guilt the term ‘White’ so that a new-found rhetoric of outrage gets adopted by other really stupid White people, to include all the Caucasians the term had never included before–yes, there are Non-White Caucasians. Let me then say that White-White People had never allowed inclusion to me or mine in any kind of real or imaginary America before; and so they now reconstruct Whiteness, principally, so they can then condescend to Northern, Eastern, Urban ethnic Caucasians, most often Catholics because in their Protestant uptightness, greed and prudishness, they found themselves compatible with Northern Urban Ashkenazim, allowing the Neo-WASPS to point a finger at these Non-White Caucasians as if these non-White Caucasians were like their pasty-faced Protestant Grandfathers–whether Klan members or not, or whether among those who benefitted from Klan or not . . .
I do not mean Anglican when I say Protestant–yes, whenever these contemporary Brooklyn White-People assholes talk to me like they are going to educate me in the ways of my own culture, it reminds me of college students I’ve met over the last thirty years talking to me in their half baked, pseudo intellectually managed third-hand dis-coveries of Post Structuralist or Post-post Structuralist critique, as if they were the first ever to think what they were parroting in one American received idea after another, all or some of it, most assuredly usually, from some pseudo intellectual rehashing of French anti-humanism. Enough!
Yes, real White people parroting received ideas about diversity while remaining truly terrified of races other than their own . . .including all the ethnic Caucasians they manipulate the image of in order to deflect critique of white people and hopefully get them to share some of their over-burdened WASPy guilt–and fuckin’ WASPS are not just the Old Money WASPS, nor are they the old New Money WASPS trying to lace curtain themselves away from their cracker red-neck ancestors. And after shitting where they live and eat here in Brooklyn, they mostly go back to their White People lives, the fucking closet Crackers!
He paused, she said.
She then said he said, I am Italian and Catholic–there’s nothing contemporary White Protestant Americans can teach me in just about anything, especially concerning Passion and Death.; that is, as far from their traditions as too many of them are, becoming as heinously bourgeois as too many of them have, even when they think they are continuing traditions, only managing to make one grotesque bourgeois revision or another, themselves lost to their Folk wisdom, and Folk traditions and culture, succumbing to one semi- or il-literate notion or another, half-baked as they persistently are, always criminal as illiteracy is in bourgeois terms; but then, as mentioned above, they want to forget their Folk and so become even more insipidly bourgeois. But then, I can’t even begin to ell you how many people share one or another of my identities who are equally lost to their traditions, their culture, their Folk . . . or so I have begun to think as of late.
. . . and he said,
Being a man who used to walk around with a copy of the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, a transcription of the Papyrus of Ani which was nearly 4000 years old at the time of Christ, myself chanting some of the Hymns to Aman Ra and Osiris in an invocation to the rising sun on the sands of the beaches in Rockaway when I lived there how long ago now I will not count, having viewed as many corpses and carried as many coffins as I have . . .
“I really do not suspect that the pseudo intellectual, systematically under-educated college under graduate has a whole lot to offer in the ways of understanding Death, or any of the ways people deal with death, as grotesque as his being has become, crassly bourgeois, insipidly Wonder Bread, hopelessly materialistic, ahistorical, contempo-centric, emotional rather than passionate.”
Don’t puzzle too much over the use of quotes and absence of them in other places.
She said he had said as much. The when and the where and the to whom are not important, are they? He said:
And you want more, I can suspect, have suspected, do know from experience–I cannot say that I really cannot stand fucking Protestants–I grew up imagining that Protestantism might be a disease, at least one of culture . . . crackers are WASPS, red-necks are WASPS, the KKK are fucking WASPS irrespective of the pretenses many white Anglo-Saxon Protestants want to evoke . . , of course, I cannot say all Protestants are uptight, pasty-faced, narrow-minded, fat mother fuckers–although a whole lot of them are . . . but there is something metaphysically incompatible with me and mine and them and theirs, something I know I have felt, have seen obliquely, understood intellectually, historically, interpersonally in incidental and other than incidental communication . . . mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, I want to say in order to say that I understand I should have another understanding, the ability that comes from having stood under what I need to carry, hold up, a variation on walking in another’s shoes? I do not want to walk in any other’s shoes.