A Series of Flights, Fancies, and Facts

e at the Society – and certainly our readership – stood and cheered upon learning of the following commercial intercourse: a publishing contract has been extended to a certain incomparable and inimitable artist (or in the plain – nay – Seussian words of the trade publications: Snooki sells a book).  When the thick and, no doubt, illuminated tome appears on the center shelves of the ever-rarer local bookseller, we at the Society are certain to pant after the elegant and peaceful writings of her expert quill, as the heart panteth for lemon blossoms.

Her words shall fall upon our ears with a peculiar yet indescribable charm, like the gentle wave-driven sands as they grate against and polish the refuse of the previous morning’s bacchanalia into sea glass and oblong, reservoir-tipped balloons for the children to scavange; or the soft, innocent, and well-meaning kisses of a feral canine that has – immediately precedent – successfully orally expressed its posterior scent glands.

Temple at Olympia (Restored)

Learn and remember, gentle reader, the name Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi. Where once it seemed impossible to conceive of how the so-called Titans could be surpassed, equaled, even approached in the celestial literary stadion; today, the Society has every confidence that the industry’s Jovian gravitational pull toward ethereal fiction for the minor celebrity will eclipse the once decided  superiority of all previous generations. To paraphrase another Italian of transcendent mental superiority, Vizzini:

Let me put it this way. Have you ever heard of Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Joyce? . . . Morons!

Fear not! Their heiress presumptive hath arrived.

Never has there been a more apt moment to give requiem – by parting quotation – to those that came before, for when the population collectively skims this newly-pressed Polizzi-rature, indubitably, it will – in one motion – cast aside and forget the deformed prose dwarfs of the last century:

. . . if our civilization were to sober up for a couple of days it’d die of remorse on the third.

– Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano

Yet let us speak not of talent; for it is a quality which fades as quickly as the delicate, raw sienna coating of simulated exposure to ultraviolet radiation. Indeed, talent protrudes as the hirsute, superfluous papilla on the chest of America: a thing of no utility, and one from which the eyes are invariably averted.

Two hundred years of democracy, peace, and artistic freedom – limited only by voracious mercantilism – and what did it produce? The Untold Delights of Sodom and Gomorrah Revisited.

(The Society is acutely aware that much of its own writing is not immediately ready for the great wide world, and so we continue the difficult work of honing that skill to a keen edge.)

Thus Time brings all things, one by one, to sight

And Skill evolves them into perfect light


And thus too the Society proposes a toast: To this Pyrrhic victory for brick-and-mortar publishing! Whose integrity of purpose is yet more transparent and respected the higher it ascends the ladder scaled by the likes of those visionary generators of the summer reality television.

For money will make the pot boil, though the devil piss on the fire!


A Special Editorial Comment

f the many items holding great import for us at the Society, none is greater than the health of our readership. The subject is exciting a great deal of interest, especially with the editors. For no country in the world consumes so much sweetness as our own, in proportion to its population. It has, furthermore, come to the attention of the Committee that the legal persons who have force-fed the United States high fructose corn syrup for the last forty years would like to giggle their way into an adorable new namecorn sugar.

How suaviloquenti. How plush, cuddly, and harmless. He he, ha ha: that is the sound of HFCS-55‘s viscous tittering as it coats your gulliver, dissolved in your favorite bi-carbonated soda en route to its final destination.

While its proprietors and paid spokespersons may insist that high fructose corn syrup is ‘natural,’ and that ‘it’s made from corn,‘ do not be misled, gentle reader. The word natural is used most often used to mislead potential consumers, as it is virtually meaningless. Corn – or maize, for our British cousins – does however, have many useful applications. In addition to Fritos and the efficient production of human belly fat, plastics and gasoline can also be manipulated from corn.

Here is a simple test: squeeze a piece of sugar cane (squeeze really, really hard), and the resulting cane juice is sweet, and when evaporated, is sugar with a little bit of molasses; squeeze a piece of genetically altered corn (squeeze as hard as you like), and the resulting corn juice is starchy, for corn is merely the starting point for corn syrup, requiring several chemical industrial steps to turn it into your favorite sweetener. (The editors are aware they did not mention the enzyme conversion treatment process, nor the other steps. Nor do the editors mention that we know exactly what you are up to, crystalline fructose).

There is no doubt that corn syrup is plentiful, and is available at minimal cost because of massive farm subsidies — $73.8 billion from 1995 – 2009 — held in place by corn lobbyists. Yet this has resulted in an entire generation of once fit and sporty Americans becoming thickly infused with corn syrup. Our fine, fleshy race loads up on enough in beverage alone to meet an entire day’s energy needs — then piles on the rest of the valued meal.

High fructose corn syrup converts to fat more willingly than cane sugar, and increases the so-called ‘bad’ cholesterol. Our collective fondness for hamburgers and sodas makes enjoying a well-balanced meal very nearly unheard of in corn-fed America. Certainly corn on the cob is delicious, yet HCFC gives the reader an accumulation of fat under the integuments or in the abdomen, or in both situations, to such an amount as to embarrass the several voluntary functions.

Our cows eat corn, to their antibioticized detriment. The same corn that factory farmers feed to fatten their cows is heaped – unseen – upon the people. It is no surprise we slump in our swivel chairs so abundantly.

This next comment may provoke ire, but it should be stated, nonetheless. These are grand and interwoven issues, so far as the experience of the editors is concerned, so please indulge the following: The obesity problem in the United States is an indirect result of the Cuban Embargo. (Now calm down or we’ll never get through this.)

Prior to the Embargo, the U.S. purchased a good deal of sugar from Cuba. Indeed, the United States imported the bulk of the Cuban sugar crop. And so their economy became almost  entirely based around sugar. Though economically speaking, one does not want all one’s eggs in one basket. The precarious predicament prompted Jean-Paul Sartre to question: ‘eez eet better to build on sugar than on sand?

President Eisenhower stopped importing Cuban sugar, and – because of this – Cuba’s annual production of several million pounds soon piled up at the docks. Out of necessity, our estranged Cuban brothers turned to the Soviets — the only nation large enough to take on the whole lot, and about the only country not beholden to the United States at the time. As retaliation, Eisenhower threw up the Embargo.

Morro Castle. Entrance to the Port of Havana.

Missile crisis and whatnot aside, in the meantime, the United States continued the Embargo, and shifted its reliance from cane sugar to sugar beets and corn syrups — products producible within the non-Caribbean homeland.

At this point, every product formerly containing cane sugar switched gradually over to a sweetener entirely made from corn syrup. Practically everything: the great majority of your canned fruits, condiments, sodas, breads, ice creams, and other processed foods — whether that food needed sweetening or not. The populace was not meant to notice. Eat fresh, indeed, Subway.

A frog, when thrown into boiling water, leaps out. Yet if the heat is turned up slowly, in regular intervals, soon one has made frog soup.

With its Embargo, the United States forced the Cubans to move their main export to the Soviet Union, made them no more than a Soviet dependent, and unknowingly doomed the United States to a future of corpulence and heart disease. Even Castro has discredited the Communist system as an economic ideology, yet the United States has continued its obtuse embargo and its obese revolution.

Have a little faith in the capitalist system: rather than isolating Cuba, the inhibitions should have been worn down with a little Coca-Cola and McDonald’s. Look how capitalism took down the U.S.S.R., changed China, and brought the HFCS-eating world to the brink of financial collapse. Greed, in any form, is unfortunate.

Mayan maize god

Fat equals happy — the lotus for the masses. And the happy are far less likely to exercise their First Amendment and whatnot when proudly carrying to term our collective cheeseburger-baby bellies, fed in situ by anything labeled “ultimate.” Such an epithet is a plain and sly warning from the caring souls at Applebee’s: this is the last in a progression of morbidly unhealthy meals you will eat, for tomorrow you’ll die.

Perhaps not all this chest pain resulted from the small act of switching the United States from Cuban cane sugar to high fructose corn syrup. This is simply a hypothesis on its way to theory — tested and proven on our population for the last forty years. If you like, call it corn sugar. Better still, call it Castro’s Revenge — just as Montezuma has taken credit for traveler’s diarrhea, Fidel can take pride in making your Gap trousers so uncomfortable that what was once a size 36 now measures out at 39 inches. No one noticed that one either.

Frog, water, soup.

. . . Et quasi musaeo dulci contingere melle

Mistakes of a Night

September 2, 2010

tragic tale has come to our attention in recent days: that of one who shall be generically known as “artist,” and those editors of a certain medium we shall refer to as “publishers.”  The artist submitted his art to the publishers, and though it was prettily inscribed, the publishers timely rebuffed it. The artist, rather than shrugging the pain of this (no doubt) crushing rejection from his narrow shoulders, took to arms against said publisher, crashing their gate, and falsely imprisoning the lot. As one would imagine, the fruit produced of this ill-conceived violence was as bitter as the inedible Curaçaoan laraha. The local constabulary came upon the scene and, using a form of stinging leaden music, subdued the savage artist. Thus the publishers, though filled with dismay, lived to reject another day.

Cloaca Maxima. (In its present condition, 1879.)

We at the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge have had many a manuscript, spat upon, torn to tiny bits, and cast into Cloaca Maxima with such sweet-penned form letter excerpts as: We are sorry to report that we won’t be able to use any of your work at this time but hope you keep in touch with us in the future — as a reader as well as a writer; Thanks for sending us your work, but it’s not right for [our publication]; and We regret that we are unable to use the enclosed material.  Thank you for giving us the opportunity to consider it.

Out of context, the words are innocuous. To press them against one’s precious work is bound to evoke the poet’s ire, momentarily. Yet rejection of art should never lead to actual violence; rather, a new audience ought to be sought.

Figure 405, Peel of the Laraha, quartered, cross-section, and dried

And even after all the audiences in all the great wide world seem to have been exhausted, there is hope, gentle artist: recall the stunted citrus of the Curaçaoan laraha. While its fruit is pungently aromatic, the dirty green peel of the laraha – when dried and its essential oils extracted – can be turned to a cordial which is highly esteemed and quite palatable.
So too can your rejected art be foreshortened to produce a publishable work.

Please allow our good friend Æsop to add his timeless wisdom, as
translated by George Fyler Townsend.

The Oak and the Reeds, Giovanni Maria Verdizotti, 1577

The Oak and the Reeds

A very large oak was uprooted by the wind and thrown across a stream. It fell among some Reeds, which it thus addressed: “I wonder how you, who are so light and weak, are not entirely crushed by these strong winds.”

They replied, “You fight and contend with the wind, and consequently you are destroyed; while we on the contrary bend before the least breath of air, and therefore remain unbroken, and escape.”

Moral: Stoop to conquer.