An Appeal for the Mafia
“Who in his or her sound and reality-based mind, striving toward the promise of a civilized culture, would not ardently applaud that such a judicious syndication exists?”
He does not ask this in jest; he is not posing the question as a hyper-ironic Sopranos fan. He does not wish to be patted on his pig-skinned back for having the gall to side with an outlaw element. Believe it or not, even amongst us who’ve been zoned-to-dismay by the post-truth-bolstered sense of civility prevalent here upon this devaluating subject matter that is God’s “trusted” America—believe it not, Chalice Sinclearly does not wish to be profiled by the FBI.
“Any true poet of the dying working-class character should thank his or her lucky fucking blessings that the mafia poses an actual menace to the rats and the FBI within the confines of our baseball-caps-left-on-at-the-dinner-table culture; that the mafia acts as a tangible guiding spirit towards how to purposefully possess the old school mentality of a pitcher who knows how to protect his hitters.”
For Sinclearly, the nucleus of the mafia’s secretive craft roils within a blind faith in nostalgia. He has long held great expectant stock in nostalgia. Long before he applied it to the mafia, that nucleus – a blind faith in nostalgia – came into focus for him the year he acquired a mortgage with his wife, when his eyes self-servingly sucked up the words Don DeLillo has his character Murray speak within the novel White Noise. He read,
I don’t trust anybody’s nostalgia but my own. Nostalgia is a product of dissatisfaction and rage. It’s a settling of grievances between the present and the past. The more powerful the nostalgia, the closer you come to violence. War is the form nostalgia takes when men are hard-pressed to say something good about their country.
I don’t trust anybody’s nostalgia but my own. Nostalgia is a product of dissatisfaction and rage. It’s a settling of grievances between the intellect and the imagination. The more violent the nostalgia, the closer you come to poetry. A Lone Wolf Poet is the form nostalgia takes when poetry is too comfortable placating its poets.
… Bearing this mindful mis-reading in mind, I will here nonetheless provide Sinclearly with a podium from which he can express his beliefs as to how in this day and age the mafia (if this underground organization actually exists; I am not as convinced as Mr. Sinclearly is on this matter) might more awakenly enrich its endurance – survive. … So without further adieu, won’t you please welcome to the podium Mr. Lone Wolf Poet himself. … Chalice; all you:
“Thank you, Hoz, you little piece of chickenshit. … That’s it, that’s it little man, get over here; get up here all tucked up behind my back. … Fucking wuss. …
“Anyhoo, let me begin by saying my intent here is to articulate a sincerity-weighted counsel. Your very best interest is in mind here. You must trust me. There is absolutely no sarcasm here. …
“A) Speak amongst one another within your organization only in the motherland’s language. Not that that would camouflage the criminality embedded in discussions – no, of course one’s blood is easily translatable by the authorities. I promote this with a great appreciation for the feel revealed by the Orwellian suggestion that ‘If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.’ So then, it’s my hypothesis that by keeping hold of the mother-tongue within your organization, each member’s cultural identity, his needed sense of being centered, of feeling he is an indispensible tick within an ancestral pattern, will remain unbound by a righteous conscience. It will infuse each member with the very much needed attribute of trusting nobody’s nostalgia but the mafia’s. In this, you’d have to have your offspring visit the motherland often, spend time upon that land to soak in Italy’s culture, away from Chicago’s, absent of America’s.
“This naturally transgresses into B) Do not let anyone begin being a soldier until the age of forty. That’s right; do not let anyone begin his life of criminal activity in association with your organization until the age of forty. Sure, he can practice a life of crime up until then, but his apprenticeship must have no ties to you, must bear upon the mafia no jeopardy. By the age of forty hopefully enough life lessons have accumulated to have sufficiently maneuvered one’s sense of humility into a more constant than not state of being the settlement of grievances between the intellect and the imagination: it’s called being honorable; honor, the grande dame by-product of humility. A vow has a greater value, presents a more tangible sense of consequence, to one at this stage of life. Besides, with life expectancy rising, you’ll get say at least ten to twenty good years out of someone – plenty of time for that person to rise from Associate, to become “Made” and more. And here’s the “Aha!” moment: imagine how fucked up the FBI will become if you start allowing only those forty or older to become a member of the mafia. The FBI will need to completely rethink their thinking to try and nail you, get to you.
“Oooooh shit. Take a look at this, paisanos. Show your face, Hoz. Poke out from behind me. … Look at this look on our man Hoz. …
“Hoz, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking of that one passage we came across in our unending study into our hero Sherwood Anderson, aren’t you? The one where that smarty-pants said: ‘To me the most important fact about his career is that his first book appeared when he was forty. It was difficult to learn after forty. He needed badly the apprenticeship which most writers go through in their twenties and thirties. After forty, men do not usually write because they are writers. They write because they are bothered, upset; because writing offers an escape from a disturbing reality or because it seems to provide a method of clarifying their personal problems. Thus the softness and sentimentality of Anderson’s work is not that of youthful confusion—which may be succeeded by clarity and order—but of middle-aged bewilderment, the bewilderment of a mature man who has suddenly been forced to think.’”*
“I know that one scares the shit out of you, Hoz. Eh? The whole thing about not being a writer after forty, not learning, just becoming an old fart who’s perpetually bothered by something. … Kind of sounds like the whole Lone Wolf Poet thing, eh? Bandwagoning on about ‘real’ poetry, what it means to be a ‘real’ poet. … Well fuck Mr. Smarty-pants, Hoz. We got Chandler, Bukowski, Miller; we got Clinch, Pollack, Fountain. We’ve got those who truly shined after the age of 40, 50 even; we got Wallace Stevens, Twain, Iñárritu, Frost, Cezanne, Williams Carlos Williams.
“GAY! William goddamn Gay, period. …
“Late bloomers, baby. Late bloomers, their art is in the search, not in the find.** Late bloomers probe; they do not satellite. Didn’t you have me write something to that degree before? Smarty-pants got it all wrong, brother. No way, man. No way. I absolutely stand behind my proposal to the mafia; stand behind all my sincerity-weighted applause for the mafia.
“And by the by, idiot, that’s you mis-reading DeLillo. … All you. Get off my back about it already. It’s all about you serving you – you servicing you. You. All about you. DIY, self-publishing-blogger, you. You, you, you, you, you, you, you, you—”
[Well, I have nothing to say here after Sinclearly’s piercing outing of my ever-mounting paranoia – after being side-swiped here, mugged really, believing for days now while working under this episode’s title that I was going one way with the Lone Wolf Poet, but then without warning being bulldozed over from an entirely unexpected direction by the Lone Wolf Poet himself. … Damn. … I can’t speak over his “You”-ing me; I won’t. … Eventually, I imagine, the Energy Saver will dim this world before me. The Energy Saver’s Plugged In settings are too conservative, I sense, but I’m not techno enough to feel I should ever really give a flying fuck about them. Besides, why?]
* “Sherwood Anderson: The Search for Salvation” by Clifton Fadiman, Nation, November 9, 1932.
** This sentence’s origin is based in the Malcolm Gladwell article “Late Bloomers: Why do we equate genius with precocity?” New Yorker, October 20, 2008.
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