Monday, September 5, 2016

Other Stories

In your role (is it a role or a guise?) as a writer, whether knowingly or not, you are dealing with the depiction of Reality. This was as true in the beginning of your own personal journey into writing as it is now. 

In all probability, your journey would have been even more perilous, had you been aware of this aspect of writing. Thus you were spared yet one additional thing to keep track of as you danced and pounded your fingers over a series of manual and electric typewriters, followed by early manifestations of computers.

For the longest time, Reality held for you the simple meaning of a place where a story you were writing took place. What you needed more dancing and pounding of fingers to realize was the need of the individuals of whom you wrote to have their own visions, however murky or pellucid, of Reality. Thus the beginnings of your education concerning the nature of Reality, the characters who inhabit it, the go-car aspects of true Reality,and the visions of these elements you were attempting to squeeze into the matrix of story.

Independent of such drama-defining studies, you were also going through a number of trial memberships in social and cultural organizations such as The order of Demolay, a fraternal order for your men from ages twelve to twenty-one, stressing leadership and civic responsibility, leading to the broader reality of Masonry. 

You were also toying with AZA, also known as Aleph Zadfik Aleph, a fraternal order for young men, organized in the belief that young men of your faith would not be allowed into the more traditional fraternal organizations at the university level.  For period of six months or so, you spent time with the emerging George Gershwin chapter of AZA, but you left after your discovery that participation had almost nothing whatsoever to do with listening to and discussing the music of George Gershwin, whom, you announced in the sort of dudgeon you were capable in those years, would not likely have joined AZA, had it been available to him as a youth.

More to your liking and with great certainty more influential in many of your future beliefs and ventures was an organization known as AYD, or American Youth for Democracy, which at the time of your interest was the youth wing of Communist Party, USA, In your association with the AYD, you met individuals with whom you were indeed able to discuss the music of George Gershwin, among others, and the poetry of Langston Hughes, who was a sponsor of AYD, and you were able to read, them meet yet another sponsor, the novelist, Howard Fast (which led you to read, then meet another writer, Dalton Trumbo, who, to add to the digressive nature of your concept of Reality, became the father-in-law of a classmate of yours at the university). You later met William Alland, who appeared in the motion picture Citizen Kane, as a newspaper reporter.

The great subtext to your association with AYD was the continuing notion of it and, thus you, as an outlier, even, as time proved, an outlier of the larger Communist Party which, itself, had as many fault and fracture lines as a rock with numerous cleavage planes.  

You attempted to digest Marxism and dialectical materialism, emerged with a sense of class structure, a respect for labor unions, for workers, for men and women who wrote, performed, taught, argued. Your father first, then the rabbi who prepared you for your initiation into your birth culture, suggested that your experiences with AYD were embodiments of the kind of Talmudic logic and heritage of your culture. 

For a considerable time, your association with the AYD instilled within you the notion that words, ideas, and experiences needed the quality of being subversive in order to earn the respect of those who encountered them. At the time of your enrollment at the University of California at Los Angeles, such associations as the AYD were seen not only as left or even far-left but as unAmerican, suspicious to day the least. A major weekly magazine ran a cover feature about UCLA, entitled "The Little Red School House."

By degrees, you found no obstacles to your vision of Reality having more in common with the basic economic concepts as illuminated by Karl Marx, even though your writing  associates and mentors often used the words "whimsy," "notional," and "surreal" in connection with your work. The two realities often bumped and collided as you sent one individual character after another forth on his or her journey to discover what reality meant.

Now that you think of the matter, you did not invent the evening when, during a class break, you were perusing the rank and file of sandwiches and dire-looking pastries at the coffee truck, a man of about your age, dressed in utterly crisp tennis shorts and Izod shirt approached you to voice in BBC-diction English his approval for what you'd said in class, then wondered if you'd care to collaborate on a work of television drama based at The Beverly Hills Tennis Club. You are neither fan nor foe of tennis, nevertheless the scenario in real time or, as they say, Reality, is something you could have invented.

You could have also invented the fact of the dapper, five-nine, blond hair, British blue of eye man being among other things an ardent Marxist himself and the originator of one of the most popular humor shows in America. To add a bit to his characterization, you could well have portrayed him as a one-time stand-up comedian, who for a time was the opening act for a group of emerging young musicians known as The Beatles. To add a spin to it, as you are wont to do, you could have even caused him to have at one time been the host of the Australian version of "What's My Line," but you did not.

You were content on that evening to allow Reality to do its own casting. You and the man would, over the next several years collide with at least the side effect of you understanding how to reconcile humor with Marxism, irony with Reality itself, and in the process cause said individual to cash out his membership in the Beverly Hills Tennis Club and move to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he would flourish in yet other ways before losing to the most unforgiving audience of all, Death. 

But those are other stories.

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