22. "Double Play"
"The Rimbaud who hangs out on the streets...has but one passion: poetry, for which he invents an apparently lazy lifestyle that is actually a blend of actions, meditation, frenzied intention, and experience on the move."
- Jean-Luc Steinmetz, Arthur Rimbaud - Presence of an Enigma
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by Edward Lacie
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During a last rewrite, I judged the text previously considered for this "episode" as disappointing. So I've deleted it and inserted instead the e-mail "Letter to the Editor" and the subsequent poem in their entirety:
On January 18, 2003, while still in my captivity, Baysans wrote this poem in response to a local (Seattle, Wash.) television news story about students staging a protest in Salem, Oregon, regarding proposed cuts to their education, including decreasing the length of the school year.
I watched as he composed that e-mail and sent it, my gun ready in case he attempt to send messages saying he's being held against his will.
Within an hour he asked for access to the copy of the letter I'd kept on Jim Post's computer. I gave him a printout only (no access to keyboard or internet). Two hours later he brought out the poem.
Rewrite note: The education in Oregon topic has gotten national attention now that Gary Trudeau has included it in his "Doonesbury" comic strip.
With the Rimbaud reference, it's obvious that the poem was written to impress me.
To the Editor, The Oregonian:
If I had a soapbox at tomorrow's student protest (at the Oregon state capitol) of educational spending cuts, I would have this disappointing message:
My dear students, commendable though your desire for a better education is, this will not help your advancement in Oregon's (and, I presume, the country's) employment market.
Judging by my experiences of the past decade since
moving to Oregon from the Midwest, education is the last thing a prospective employer wants in an employee.
Specifically, a local newspaper, The Daily Journal of Commerce, employs an English-illiterate person, Ali Hassannia, as manager of its typesetting department. A local class-action lawsuit ambulance-chasing company (Poorman Douglas in Beaverton) rewards temp employees displaying superior performance with advancement of position but not of pay. I shudder to think of how non-temp employees are treated. After advancement to a more complex position, skills are no longer a factor of employment but allegiance to a "kill the towel-heads"-spouting supervisor is necessary.
In short, students, education is not what employers will be looking for. Subway does not care if you took band, only that you know how to turn on the Muzak.
Enron does not care if you think it is acting unethically, it wants you to be in the top percentile of its profit-makers.
The education you should be focussed on rather than Literature is how to kiss up to the paid-for diplomas of higher-ups such as our C-average Commander in Chief.
Instead of protesting today, you'd be better entertained at the movies, even reading a book!¹ You don't really want or need an education, and no one knows it better than legislators in Salem.
The poem Baysans crafted from this source has the same title as the portrait of Rimbaud, Verlaine, and a few literati whom Rimbaud had never actually met, Un Coin de Table. The painting was executed in 1872 was included, much to teir surprise, in an art exhibit they attended in London during their first residence there.
The form of the poem is a further corruption of Verlaine's "inverted" (upside-down, the sestet before the octave) sonnets:
Un Coin de Table*
by Greg Baysans
Heads: tomorrow at the state capitol
students will protest a budget shortfall
that will affect the length of the school year.
Imagine: students wanting not less learning, but more.
Tails: a newspaper where the typesetting
supervisor is English-illiterate, Subway
doesn't care if you took band, only if you
know how to turn on the Muzak. I worked
for a class action lawsuit ambulance-chasing
firm in Beaverton where what mattered most
was allegiance to a "shoot-the-towel-heads"-
spouting supervisor, paid more for being married
with children. Call it. Heads or tails, you lose
depending on which side of the coin you choose.
*"A Corner of the Table" - the title of a painting by Henri Fautin-Latour, 1872, of several French writers including Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine
The poem makes me think of Rimbaud's dictum in his "seer letters" that "The inventions² of the unknown demand new forms" (translation by Schmidt).
The enjambment of "married/ with children." firmly cements the octave to the sestet.
The seemingly secondary concern of the sestet is given primary attention by being the poem's beginning and end.
Extensive hacker damage to file found here. - ewl
...Baysans's hands are tied by threats of legal action: DJC has threatened a libel suit claiming intent to disrupt DJC's on-going business should Baysans continue to publicly allege perjery on Ali Hassania's part when the problem was the system.³ In the BCTI matter, a confidentiality agreement puts a curtain between the Wizard and Dorothy.
The Emerald City is in trouble and the citizenry have no idea! The Wizard himself gives out loans to qualified students and charges interest! Scarecrow was, of course, the first to get taken.
DJC is contriving a fiction. BCTI is maintaining a fiction. President Bush is living a fiction. The media are contributing to the fiction that David Berkowitz acted alone as the Son of Sam.
Where the Department of Education is in regard to BCTI I can't imagine. The government, remember, is being repaid for loans it concurs are worth something they are clearly not. How can there be a complaint when so many are in the same pay-check line?
And still and yet and all, none of this should combine to spell his unemployment. Not Oz, not Kafka's Trial is that perverse or twisted.
Rimbaud has gone from symbol to metaphor to allegory; can't be good.
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