Sunday, May 10, 2020

Long Day's Journey

....Into Night was an amazing play by Eugene O'Neill and for most illiterate Americans (and I mean that  with due respect as your education has been badly underfunded and neglected in pursuit of which I am unclear) was about The Tyrone family.  They are at their summer home during the month of August in 1912.  Can the timing be more close to reality on the eve of WWI and the Pandemic that follows and of course they are wealthy, white and well sick in more ways then one.

 The first act unravels that Mary has returned to her family recently after receiving treatment in a sanatorium for morphine addiction. Edmund, meanwhile, has in recent weeks begun to cough very violently, and we learn later on in the play that, as Tyrone and Jamie suspect, he has tuberculosis. Throughout the course of the play, we slowly find out that Mary is still addicted to morphine, much to the disappointment of her family members.The gradual revelation of these two medical disasters makes up most of the play's plot. In between these discoveries, however, the family constantly revisits old fights and opens old wounds left by the past, which the family members are never unable to forget. Tyrone, for example, is constantly blamed for his own stinginess, which may have led to Mary's morphine addiction when he refused to pay for a good doctor to treat the pain caused by childbirth. Mary, on the other hand, is never able to let go of the past or admit to the painful truth of the present, the truth that she is addicted to morphine and her youngest son has tuberculosis. They all argue over Jamie and Edmund's failure to become successes as their father had always hoped they would become. As the day wears on, the men drink more and more, until they are on the verge of passing out.

In other words the typical American family down to opioid addiction and instead of TB you have Covid.  The play plays out over a series of meals the idea that repetition and circularity are what families are about and in turn so is addiction, a metaphor if you must.  But we are in the same dark times and the head of our family is of course a white male who daily scolds, the Grandfather is a doting idiot who watches Fox News hourly and the varying family members are ineffectual to serious idiots.  Sounds like a great next act.

Most families are ruled by Matriarchs and the family dynamic is one despite the American ideal or myth of the nuclear family, women run the home. When I was married I made my husband pay me a monthly allowance which I spent or saved as I saw fit and when I worked during our marriage I kept it and used it to pay for our travels.  We quit traveling together early in our marriage and I still did as I am a loner and don't mind being on my own.  And that has lent itself well of late.

Women are going to be the most significant hit in this pandemic recovery as they are primary care givers as well and will have lost family members or put into a serious situation of economic risk as the type of jobs and work were in the fields the hardest hit - Retail and Hospitality.  With that whatever wage gains made during that time will be lost as those industries will use this opportunity to restore wages to 2008 levels as a way of regaining their own profitability.  Some will never come back and that will be another leveling of the playing field not seen by anyone of this generation.

Women are used to having it all and leaning in and clearly now for the first time have figured out that they never did. From not being compensated nor respected at the work place, the MeToo movement highlighted another aspect, then came Trump and the Women's March that much like its predecessors about injustice, Occupy and Black Lives Matter and yes even the Tea Party fell into the proverbial dust heap.    It suits when it suits and we all march, protest and demand change and well nothing comes of it. Name one leader who emerged and secured a sense of place at the table? Come up with one name? Three names, one for each group? No, me either.  (Actually one without even looking was a young man, and I knew his name sort of, of St Louis, but I had look it up eventually,  DeRay Mckesson) Fear runs deep with competition and need for attention as all three were obsessed with leaderless organization and that worked out well didn't it?  Changing the conversation is something that one does at family dinners as McNeill so eloquently covered in his play and it shows nothing changed.

But America is like the Tyrone family or the Loman family in Arthur Miller's, Death of a Salesman. The idea that sons must be like the Patriarch and that women are relegated to child rearing, family care taking and of course backroom fucking is where we were and where we are going.  Watching Mrs. America on HULU has reminded me that women were in-fighting, debating and crossing color and party lines when they had a united goal of passing the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) but it was a hausfrau who ruled them all with her playing to fear, once again proving fear works well to both unite and divide. So Happy Mother's Day.

This road we are on is one long journey into night and it is road less traveled by any stretch of the imagination.  I read this on The Guardian website about Mississippi, America's poorest state, and once again the gender and political divide is quite clear. These are people whose primary education came again in public dumpsters that are schools and then the Church that supplements that to again foster fear and compliance.  I truly lived in a bubble despite all my best efforts to not and that burst when I moved to Nashville. Being there enabled me to travel in America and see the poverty, the displacement, segregation, isolation and sheer ignorance that dominates the cultural milieu.

This sums up the mentality of most residents I met there, a self centeredness and faux religiosity that somehow enables them to have zero empathy:  “I don’t have time to worry about it,” he said. “I have to take care of my family. I just have to lay my faith in God.”

But you see a contradiction in that by one who has professional credentials and is on the front line:

 Campbell is a physical therapist at a hospital, “People are making a willful decision to put other people at risk, and I have seen the consequences of doing that,” Campbell said, as a gentle breeze wafted over her garden. “If they had seen what I have, I think their behaviour would be different.”

I try to think about the idiots I met there and well some here as well but they are at least less fake with the Jesus shit, and one particular idiot comes to mind, who said to me once: You can be articulate without speaking.  Again she claims to have a college degree and wanted to be a Teacher. Okay you see the problem.  She was the epitome of cum dumpster desperate for a man, possibly molested as a child and was also her own version of a predator regarding men.  One of the most disturbing individuals I ever met there and I met a lot of disturbing individuals.  But it was perhaps the most upsetting realization that most of them were women.  They never could own their evil and they were evil.  So yes as a Woman I can hate women but like the Christians do with their Book of Myths I pick and choose.

So as we travel down this highway to hell I will meet you there with a Bourbon in hand, the finest thing to come from Kentucky, other than horses.  So if we want change we vote and frankly another Kentucky export can take a hike down the road - Mitch McConnell.  He needs a horse to kick him the head.

No folks this is not good nor will it be for a long long time. Long Days Journey ran for over 3 hours on Broadway, dysfunction and destruction takes time a long time in which to (re)cover.  Mr. O'Neill's life was the story of the Tyrone's and his life did not end well either. One daughter married Pedophile,  Charlie Chaplin, and  his youngest son, Shane, was arrested for drug possession. Two years later, his eldest son, Eugene, committed suicide. And in a prescient manner, O'Neill who had Parkinson's died of bronchial pneumonia on November 27, 1953, at the age of 65, in Boston, Massachusetts.  No one ever has a happy ending when life is full of tragedy and this will be the true tell in most families.  Glad I don't have one.

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