Cassandra of South Carolina

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

Boleman Herring Banner 2019

“In daylight, one person in the house—the straight, white male—regularly storms out to rage impotently at the squirrels. In the night, the insomniac (I) goes out to startle the raccoons on the largest feeder. Delicately, balancing like equilibrists, they lean out on ample haunches from the porch rails, gathering in seed with their sapient paws. Beyond this porch, in the night, not often enough, I remember (dimly) what it was like to be in wilderness places in this country, and on my beloved Aegean islands, off-season, looked down upon by nothing but a generous alphabet of mute stars set in the deep wine-darkness. Will I ever, really, leave this house again?”—Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

Weekly Hubris

By Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

Panel from the Ludovisi Throne.

Panel from the Ludovisi Throne.

“Cassandra: One thing left. I want to sing my own dirge. I pray to the sun, to this last minute of life: let my enemies pay with blood for what they did to me—I’m just a killed slave, easy fistful of death. But you, o humans, o human things—when a man is happy, a shadow could overturn it. When life goes wrong, a wet sponge erases the whole picture. You, you, I pity.―Aeschylus, “Agamemnon”

2019 Boleman-Herring Weekly Hubris

PENDLETON South Carolina—(Weekly Hubris)—1 June 2020—From where I sit, virtually housebound, on a still-unfinished and haphazardly built wraparound porch, on a little-used, badly-paved road, in a tiny Upcountry South Carolina town, I look out on a massive oak in full leaf (my neighbor, Davie’s, pride) and a hoary magnolia in full bloom; the latter, one of the primary reasons we bought this acre of land some three years ago.

There are bird feeders to which purple finches, downy woodpeckers, tufted titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, and all the local varieties of hummingbird are attached, all day long. Doves and thrushes and the occasional towhee peck at seed spilled from the feeders. Hawks and owls overfly us, in their assigned hour.

In daylight, one person in the house—the straight, white male—regularly storms out to rage impotently at the squirrels. In the night, the insomniac (I) goes out to startle the raccoons on the largest feeder. Delicately, balancing like equilibrists, they lean out on ample haunches from the porch rails, gathering in seed with their sapient paws.

Beyond this porch, in the night, not often enough, I remember (dimly) what it was like to be in wilderness places in this country, and on my beloved Aegean islands, off-season, looked down upon by nothing but a generous alphabet of mute stars set in the deep wine-darkness.

Will I ever, really, leave this house again?

Off to my right, here, is a small, spanking-new vegetable garden, strung about with monofilament at various heights (said to ward off deer: thank you, Genia), and guarded by a hastily-erected scarecrow wearing an ancient Clemson University “Band” shirt.

An entire day can pass without my seeing anyone on our street. Still, three blocks away, the town square in Pendleton is thronged, these early summer nights: customers stand in tight queues at the ice-cream shop and sit at café tables, beneath umbrellas, outside three busy restaurants.

Terra cotta copy of a detail from the Ludovisi Throne.

Terracotta copy of a detail from the Ludovisi Throne.

I cannot be blamed for feeling as though, in strict quarantine here, I inhabit a dystopia out of Kafka. Three blocks away, people are un-masked, un-gloved, un-distanced: in the rest of our little hamlet, it might as well be Spring Break at Myrtle Beach for all the blithe locals seem to care about catching SARS-CoV-2 or carrying it home, special delivery, to their witless families. (Few of them are old enough, I grant you, to remember Alfred E. Neuman of “Mad” magazine: “What, Me worry?!” But most of them resemble Neuman in almost every way, though none of them do I find amusing.)

I have not written about Trump since my columns of 2016 and early 2017 (“Quislings in Pinstripes,” The Face in My Nightmares: Trump, and “Our Evil, Our Shadow, Our Trump”). There seemed no need. Certainly, my words about him could have no effect. At 68, I know one small simple truth: most of the time, when I write or speak, I am pissing into the wind. The very fierce headwind of my times.

I knew this pandemic was coming. I knew because I am one of the 40-something percent of Americans with a functioning passport. I knew because I have lived in the so-called Developing World (now, there’s a misnomer disguised as a euphemism for the ages!), and I have been desperately ill, at various times in my life, with diseases not seen on my home shores in a long lifetime.

I have not written about Trump, because I saw him coming, too. What is there to say, really, about the train that hits you?

Or the tsunami?

As the tsunami approaches, one writes while it is still way, way out there on the distant horizon: when the seawater is sucked up and the fish are left flapping on the shore, one . . . is at a loss for words.

I bombinated in the pre-tsunami void about Reagan, both Bushes, the Koch Brothers (et al), both complicit political parties in the US, and the parade of sleazebags of both colors, red and blue, in Washington; about capitalism (and other held-to-the-bosom American -isms), etc., etc., etc.; about what has long been leading up to Trump.

Bombinating does no good, I opine. My bombinating has done no good.

Let’s see if commiserating, if simply describing as opposed to railing against, does any good. Who knows, it might?

All things considered, though, Cassandra’s bone-tired.

This little piece of writing, in no discernible genre, comes simply as a place-holder to say: I’m still here and, apparently, so are you.

If I have a useful little something to share with you today, on the 1st of June, 2020, it is this: I am trying not to use the word “Trump” any longer. I’m seeking synonyms. Testing them. Trying them out.

“Doom” appeals to me, as do “The End” and “The Abyss” and “The Ultimate Horror.” “The Terminator.” “Plague.” “Pestilence.” “The Black Hole.”

When you see, as I do, on those rare occasions I’m out and about in a car, “Trump 2020” stickers or banners or, God help us in South Carolina, billboards affixed to barns, “translate them” using some of my hypothetical terms: “Doom 2020”; “The End 2020”; “Pestilence 2020”; “The Terminator II, 2020.”

I know: it is an exercise in futility.

I expect Doom to do anything now. Declare martial law. Suspend elections. Descend to a bunker and then have loads of live virus dropped on all of us still standing from high-tech crop-dusters. Chain himself to a bedpost in the Lincoln Bedroom. Slip Biden an envelope of sarin on his way in the door.

Doom is capable of anything. Doom will do anything. See if he doesn’t.

I knew Doom was coming: I just didn’t know his name. I’ve been writing about Doom, under his many aliases, for decades.

With Doom running things, Colin Kaepernick is barred from taking a knee, but the men who murdered George Floyd can kneel on his neck and snuff out his life in broad daylight.

With Doom in charge, 100,000-and-exponentially-counting Americans are dead of COVID, and the rest of us, those still vertical, are out getting or giving haircuts, waiting in line for ice-cream, or (some of us) walled up in our houses, knowing how our immune systems will respond to this infection.

With Doom in charge, the line between the ignorant-and-damned and those with a brain in their heads is an obvious one.

The line—between those who voted for “The Abyss 2016” and who will vote for him again in 2020—and me and mine is brilliantly lit.

Thing is, with Doom at the helm, I and mine, too, are probably, most probably . . . doomed.

All Cassandra can say, at this point, is, “Vote. Vote if you can. Vote if we’re allowed to vote; hope that our votes are then counted.”

Vote, and hope that Putin is not, once again, in full-on, obvious control of Doom, Pence, Barr, McConnell, and all our doomed Red-state governors. In control of our ballot boxes.

Meanwhile, I’m going to fill the bird feeders and harvest the tomatoes and wave at you when you pass in your car, its windows rolled up.

I’m here, but I’m damned if I have anything else to say to you about Doom.

Till November, or till such time as the votes in the presidential election are cast and counted, you know where to find Cassandra. She’ll be here on the porch or just behind the front door, silent, and shaking in her shoes.

Author’s Post Script: For those whom I love and will not or may not see again, Billy Joel’s 1983 love song, “And So It Goes,” by The Stay at Home Choir with The King’s Singers.

To order Elizabeth Boleman-Herring’s memoir and/or her erotic novel, click on the book covers below:

Elizabeth Boleman, Greek Unorthdox: Bande a Part & a Farewell to Ikaros

Elizabeth Boleman Herring, The Visitors’ Book (or Silva Rerum): An Erotic Fable

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

About Elizabeth Boleman-Herring

Elizabeth Boleman-Herring, Publishing-Editor of “Weekly Hubris,” considers herself an Outsider Artist (of Ink). The most recent of her 15-odd books is The Visitors’ Book (or Silva Rerum): An Erotic Fable, now available in a third edition on Kindle. Thirty years an academic, she has also worked steadily as a founding-editor of journals, magazines, and newspapers in her two homelands, Greece, and America. Three other hats Boleman-Herring has at times worn are those of a Traditional Usui Reiki Master, an Iyengar-Style Yoga teacher, a HuffPost columnist and, as “Bebe Herring,” a jazz lyricist for the likes of Thelonious Monk, Kenny Dorham, and Bill Evans. (Her online Greek travel guide is still accessible at www.GreeceTraveler.com, and her memoir, Greek Unorthodox: Bande a Part & A Farewell To Ikaros, is available through www.GreeceInPrint.com.) Boleman-Herring makes her home with the Rev. Robin White; jazz trumpeter Dean Pratt (leader of the eponymous Dean Pratt Big Band); Calliope; and Scout . . . in her beloved Up-Country South Carolina, the state James Louis Petigru opined was “too small for a republic and too large for an insane asylum.” (Author Photos by Robin White.)
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10 Responses to Cassandra of South Carolina

  1. Avatar judy pearce says:

    I refer to him as Caligula.

  2. Avatar Daniel Carr says:

    Thank you for all that! And thanks to my downstairs neighbor, Claire Bateman, for posting this to Facebook. You had me at, “At 68, I know one small simple truth: most of the time, when I write or speak, I am pissing into the wind. The very fierce headwind of my times.” I am pushing towards 70 (on election day!) and approve that message.

  3. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Elizabeth Boleman-Herring says:

    Judy, a cross between Caligula and Nero? And Daniel, I envy you living upstairs from Claire Bateman, a great source of inspiration for me. Thank you for writing in: it means a lot to me. And now, I know exactly where I’ll be on your birthday this year! xoxoxoxo e

  4. Avatar Vassilis Zambaras says:

    Half-way around a world going mad, I’m writing you from the inner sanctum of the garden of The “Milk and Honey” House, in the boondocks of the southern Peloponnese to let you know we are not yet mad as hatters and that despite the insanity that is threatening to turn us all into berserk zombies, here in our little out-of-the-way corner of the universe, we still cling to a small ray of hope that this miasmic anomaly that has taken over much of our once “safe and sane” world will soon be behind us. What to do, what to do in the meantime? Keep safe, keep railing into the void. . . . . .and vote blue.

  5. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Elizabeth Boleman-Herring says:

    Vassilimou, and Family, I like to think of you all, in/on that island of sanity and peace, where good food, great conversation, and the sounds of poetry (in two languages), and music (in one language, primarily) abound. Things over this way are dire, dire, dire, and bitter, bitter, bitter. I spend most of my time wringing my hands: there seems no way to suspend my disbelief. But . . . I miss you, I treasure y’all: while I breathe, I hope. Geia Hara!!!! elisavet

  6. Avatar judy pearce says:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/06/17/greeks-are-gone-troy-sure-by-mike-pence/?utm_campaign=wp_for_you&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_personalizedforyou

  7. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Elizabeth Boleman-Herring says:

    Yep, JudY: shared that wonderful piece on FB yesterday. There are a lot of unheard Cassandras out there just now, alas!

  8. Avatar Don says:

    Elizabeth: It’s the tone of your piece that grabs me most, the utter despair. But now, at long last, so many are rising up. Maybe there’s a crack of light in the darkness opening up. Maybe.

  9. Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Elizabeth Boleman-Herring says:

    Dear Don, today, Trump is holding the first of his 2020 “rallies”–his Volksgemeinschaft-fests–in Tulsa, OK. Then, 20,000 or so of his rabid supporters shall go forth . . . and infect, with Trumpism AND COVID. In Upstate SC, no one is masked, and our infections rates are skyrocketing. Living under the Junta, in Greece, I could, always, just barely, see the light at the end of the tunnel. In America, there’s just . . . more tunnel. At 68, I am too tired to go out and mount a barricade, any of the numerous barricades.
    “Cassandra”
    By Louise Bogan
    To me, one silly task is like another.
    I bare the shambling tricks of lust and pride.
    This flesh will never give a child its mother,—
    Song, like a wing, tears through my breast, my side,
    And madness chooses out my voice again,
    Again. I am the chosen no hand saves:
    The shrieking heaven lifted over men,
    Not the dumb earth, wherein they set their graves.

  10. Avatar judy pearce says:

    Impotus. Some use the term Scrotus, but that is reserved for the voyeuristic Jerry Falwell, jr.,

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