How women’s reproductive words become flesh
I had my third conversation with the disarmingly self-deprecating yet profoundly assertive and politically potent Crossroads Women’s Center founder Selma James on Wednesday, February 21.
Essentially in the form of an interview, this conversation, our first, “fleshy”, face-to-face engagement, focused mainly on communication challenges and the careful listening and speaking that is required to avoid the pitfalls that bedevil all human communication: pitfalls that stem at least partly from the arbitrary, patently conventional yet unpredictable character of spoken language and its written representations.
James and I agree on the obscurity of language.
In fact, when I suggested that even at our best, human beings cannot communicate beyond certain parameters, James went further, saying “We can’t communicate at all”.
But James obviously did not intended for those words to be taken literally.
Why would she do the interview if she did not think there was some chance of getting her message across?
However, her intensification, one might even say excessive affirmation of the point that I had made, may prove true of the apparent Utopian Marxist James’ most careful and cared for communication in the long term, ironically.
Tragically, the considerable good that James and other Marxist feminists have accomplished in underscoring the value of women’s so-called “invisible work” risks being overshadowed by Utopian, group think expectations of what the visible valuing of women’s or anyone else’s work should entail.
As I argue below James and other Marxist secularists seem prone to the very excesses of religious “heaven on earth” or “pie in the sky” thinking that they rightly associate with the “opiate of the masses”.
Yet if millennia of religious and secular ideology based pursuit of a perfect world has taught us nothing else, has it not taught us the impossibility of perpetual, pervasive peace on earth?
Much as I applaud James’ apparent unfailing optimism, which in many ways reflects the pragmatic hope and sense of purpose that powers my own often thankless “invisible” work, I cannot help but be uneasy about the prospect of her and others’ work ending in frustration, or worse, for them and others.
Fundamentalist evangelical feminists may be happy to blame men for all the communication failures that have culminated in wars and other forms of conflict, but most people will agree that in the “battle of the sexes” both sides are at fault and at risk.
What I hope this analysis of James and my careful conversations makes clear are the challenges that we all face if women’s and men’s words are to be fleshed out or incarnated fruitfully and have their intended inter-generational, “carnal knowledge” curating and harmonizing, creative outcomes.
It was toward this end I that referenced the idea of the “banality of evil”, popularized by political theorist Hannah Arendt, during my interview with James, as a counter to her selectively pessimistic, self-fulfilling prophecy risking, mainstream media modeled view of communication challenges.
The danger of this morbidly mechanistic, deadly digital view, the price that women, men and children are all paying for superficial, corporate deadlines driven news coverage and analysis, with its simplistic secular-religious dichotomies and antagonisms, can hardly be calculated.
But persons familiar with the views propagated by Canadian nationalist Harold Innis (November 5, 1894 – November 8, 1952) about threats posed by the American advertising industry and wider media machine to Canada’s culture and economy will appreciate the point I am making.
So too will those familiar with the warning of Karl Jung, often quoted by me, regarding what is lost by “modern man’s” simplistic rejection of the existence of a spiritual realm. Here is Jung’s warning again:
“Modern man does not understand how much his “rationalism . . . has put him at the mercy of the psychic “underworld . He has freed himself from ‘superstition’ (or so he believes), but in the process he has lost his spiritual values to a positively dangerous degree. His moral and spiritual tradition has been disintegrated, and he is now paying the price for this break-up in world-wide disorientation and dissociation.”
The inclusion here of the above “Beast from the East” video, references to the Jewish festival Purim, with which the Jewish James may be familiar and my employment of cricket language and themes is part of my attempt to not only demonstrate the validity of engaging with the spirit world “metaphorically” but to explore its metaphysical, Caribbean creole communication continuum resembling reality.
James batting on a ‘sticky wicket’
In the brief essay “A Word About Words”, one of the introductory segments of my book The Bible: Beauty and Terror Reconciled (subsequently TBBTR), I briefly address the kind of conversational pitfalls that make communication perilous for persons like James and I, who speak the same language – in our case, English.
As I note in TBBTR, citing Jamaican linguist Merlene Cuthbert, same language speakers are at times in danger of misunderstanding each other because they make assumptions about what each other means to say when they use shared words.
This perverse potential of spoken words was no doubt a key factor behind the Marxist feminist James’ decision to have her own recording of our conversation created.
Another key factor, probably, was the way the conversation was going at that moment, approximately 1 minute 20 seconds after I had started recording it, using the camera on my mobile phone.
I was forced to use my phone after another camera I had borrowed specifically for our interview turned out to be inoperable because it needed charging.
And when my phone camera’s capacity was exhausted I used its audio recorder to capture another 29:12 minutes of conversation with James.
And the ‘siesmological’ or, in technical creole linguistic terms, the substratal, yet richly symbolic significance of these recording gadget gymnastics will become apparent as this written record of James’ and my careful conversation progresses.
The manner in which James and I marshalled and utilized our respective Marxist and “Christian” (I prefer the term Christocentric) experiences to converse both collaboratively and competitively, like cricket captains exploiting climatic and other atmospheric conditions on the field of play, certainly makes for an engaging cosmic cricket commentary.
For now though, it will suffice to say that like that borrowed, “dead” camera, something of James and my own cryptic, potent-yet-impotent cerebral capacities are demonstrated.
The clearly confrontational, possibly irreconcilable Marxist and Christocentric experiences and ideas that underlie her and my respective linguistic competences rise to the surface in rather intriguing, continuum of character revealing language performances.
A “Beast From The East” like Siberian silence and chill can be detected in all of the three recordings (two video, one audio) I did on my phone in James’ Kentish Town, London office that day.
Links to those recordings, in their unedited entirety can be found here, here and here. And a transcript of all three recordings is also being prepared for publication.
So why post another video recording, created a week later at the start of this article?
As I state in that video, shot in the predawn hours of March 1, I was struck by and wanted to capture something of the deadly, silent assassin character of the heavy snowfall we were experiencing in Norfolk and other parts of England: a silence that I felt was not only refracted in or paralleled by James reluctance to discuss details of her marriage to the late Caribbean Marxist and cricket historian CLR James, but also linked to a wider, cosmological yet particular, peculiarly enigmatic “carnal knowledge” marital reality.
I had actually begun to explore this simultaneously attractive yet destructive and therefore repelling, lily-white-yet-deep-night, shadowy capacity of snow in the winter of 2012-13 with a series of articles referencing Norfolk’s deep frieze.
But back then I only had a very limited, hazy sense of how a frosty silence could share features with a God Father and Earth Mother mystique and related Yin-Yang possibilities.
I had only an elementary understanding of how an Anglo-American meteorology mediated, Mediterranean modeled matrimonial “silence of Omerta” could be reconciled to Purim bacchanalia to produce the “substratal” narrative about creole Caribbean cricket and speech that I am attempting here.
And then there are these “waking night” shifts I have been doing, in my Holistic Homecare and Hospitality brief.
Sleep walking as I have been some days, I could be forgiven for not fully appreciating how the emergence of the phrase “Beast from the East” in mainstream Western news reports might be linked to my long running “Mouth of the Beast” series of articles.
Asleep and awake simultaneously, how could I have known that I was metaphysically reconstructing a scene from the movie Zero Dark Thirty?
But notwithstanding my own occasional Ben Carson-like brain fart or brain freeze, I usually know a deathly chill when I have encountered it in another’s speech.
And James’ welcoming warmth and hospitality clearly gives way to beastly chilling, at times abrupt speech and dismissive sentiment – especially when I offer what for her seems to be an intolerable, capitalism excusing take on the causes of the deadly dissolution and failure of the 1979 Grenada Revolution in 1983 (7:21 to 9:23 of the audio recording).
Grenadian descended Barbadian Marxist David Comissiong and his ideological twin Sir Hilary Beckles, a Marxist economic historian, could not have responded more icily!
James’ strident, and from my viewpoint, disappointingly one-sided, ideologically puritanical response can be heard from 7:29 of the audio recording.
In the first video recorded segment of our conversation though, James was playing a more defensive Calypso cricket.
Her thought tango with me was more tentative.
The clearly visible rolling of James’ eyes and a brief, cryptic smile on her face suggest that she is batting “on the back foot” or on a “sticky wicket”, as her late Trinidadian husband CLR, a passionate cricket enthusiast and writer, might have said, if he was in attendance.
James’ ideas are articulated or become flesh rather haltingly and less compellingly at that moment.
Her verbal batting is more reminiscent of the hyper-defensive West Indies batsman Jimmy ‘Pad em’ Adams’ game than the lightning quick master blasters Vivian Richards’ and Brian Lara’s, in that instance.
James’ ideological Kadooment and Purim
James seemed unprepared for my first question about the paradoxical situation that currently exists, where the International Wages For Housework Campaign that she is best known for overshadows the actual housework that she has done and, I imagine, is still doing.
I remain somewhat surprised that the Jewish James, born Deitch, formerly Weinstein (according to Wikipedia) had difficulty responding to that question, not least because I had raised it in the first article I had published about her and my evolving acquaintance.
As I recall, I had also sent James a copy of that article and suggested that she read it ahead of our meeting.
To be fair to her though, I also have a vague recollection of James saying that she may not have been able to access that article for some reason.
Anyway, it was as she was haltingly framing her response to the Purim mask mimicking paradox of her public persona and private praxis, which I had now raised a second or third time, that James’ colleague Sarah Calloway entered her office with refreshments and, simultaneously, proposed that they do their own recording, presumably as a kind of security against James being misquoted by me.
As seen at the end of the first video, James agreed with Calloway, saying “I always like to know what I’m doing, you know.”
This comment is telling, highlighting the fact that despite our previous two telephone conversations, and the publication of the article referencing them, James felt that she did not know enough about me to trust my reporting.
I might as well have been an unknown, masked reveler ‘latching on ‘pon she bumper’ on a Bajan Kadooment morning, as far as she was concerned (those familiar with my Barbados Crop Over festival based Lewd Logic project will have some appreciation of the light-hearted language and imagery I am using here).
James was clearly having second thoughts about my intent.
And this arguably legitimate concern about my identity and possible motivation for seeking her out had been indicated earlier, before I had started recording, when James asked me “Who are you really?” or words to that effect.
But my answer, briefly summarizing my evangelical Pentecostal Christian background, subsequent religious disillusionment and current critical yet empathy emphasizing and evoking, Christocentric (more so than “Christian”) metaphysical outlook on life seemed to fall on deaf, or at least, hearing impaired ears.
The lifelong writer James’ considerable powers of mental record making, information recall and application seemed to be inoperable just then, like that camera that I had borrowed to record our long sought, keenly anticipated, carefully negotiated conversation.
That camera was not the only thing that was not performing at optimum capacity, apparently.
And in addition to a recharge of battery, there seems to me to be an even more urgent need for an adjustment of James’ Marxist feminist lens.
Whether it is a question of her age or a consequence of the widely attested obscurity of the current social media transforming, fake news foggy playing conditions that political activists like James, and indeed all of us who would change society for the better are now obliged to perform in, the faltering of James’ vision is unmistakable, sadly.
In particular, the “bad light” or poor visibility that James labours under, through her idealistic interpretation and application of Marx’s teachings, is apparent in her inflexibility on the causes of the failure of the Grenada revolution, as previously noted.
Her dogged denial of my suggestion that Maurice Bishop’s New Jewel Movement “splintered from within”, suggests an idealistic, Utopian Communist inflexibility that is worryingly reminiscent of the ideological rigidity that I have observed among some puritanical Pentecostal and other evangelical fundamentalist Christians, militant Muslims, juridically jaundiced Jews, bigoted Buddhists, hate peddling Hindus and other religious persons.
Areas of incoherence and inconsistency that challenge the authenticity of the very important and valuable work that the autonomist James has done and, remarkably despite her age, is still doing also come to the fore in the equation of money and power in her matriarchal materialist dialectical analysis of women’s “reproductive work”.
I believe that one of the most dire consequences of this clearly unintended, antisocial socialist anomaly, not just for James, but for many women she has influenced directly and indirectly, is evident in the ideological hijacking and political prostitution of womanhood that James herself has lamented persistently.
Moreover, I believe that in assessing the Marxist matriarch James’ legacy, careful consideration needs to be given to her and other clearly well meaning, but excessively ideological feminist activists’ contribution to the opportunistic homogenization or ‘bulk packaging’, politicization and commodification of mothering.
Even as I noted my own paid and unpaid, especially parental caring work, and thanked James for her role in facilitating the financial measurement of unwaged care, thereby allowing for it to be remunerated, I was nonetheless constrained to ask James if she thinks there will ever be a point when there will be “universal agreement” on what a parent’s patting of a son’s or daughter’s head is worth (video recording number 2, from 1:32 to 4:40)?
That is because from my fatherhood and more widely informed point of view, the possibly catastrophic current commodification and politicization of mothering, and fathering latterly, is behind much of the anxiety that British children and parents are suffering, as successive World Happiness Reports published by the United Nations suggest.
Moreover, I believe this conscious or unconscious ideological-political hijacking, excessive monetizing and related undermining of family values, and motherhood in particular, reached a nadir in the public attack of “matriarch” Sir Elton John on the designers Domenico Dolci and Stefano Gabana, when they publicly voiced their reservations about legalistic efforts to make homosexual parenting normative.
Again: “The letter killeth.”
Now, those who know of my ongoing efforts to get legal redress for human rights abuses I have suffered at the hands of the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, the British Labour and Conservative parties and other institutions and individuals implicated in a Barbados-sown, globally grown conspiracy to undermine my knowledge trading work and impoverish me can attest to the fact that I value the law highly.
However, if I have managed to communicate nothing else through TBBTR, I should at least have made clear my profound agreement with the ancient dictum that “the law is an ass”, a denunciation of legalism usually traced to Charles Dickens, though rather inaccurately.
Dickens’ deployment of this denunciation by his character Mr Bumble, in his classic novel Oliver Twist is nonetheless very fitting in this article, because Dickens used it to underscore the potential mothering, marital power of women that James and other feminists ignore or undervalue, consciously or unconsciously.
Hence, as one source explains, when Mr. Bumble, the unhappy spouse of a domineering wife, is told in court that “…the law supposes that your wife acts under your direction”, he replies: “If the law supposes that…the law is a ass – a idiot”.
Does Mr Bumble’s denunciation of “the law” differ fundamentally from the biblical denunciation of the lethal capacity of the Jewish scriptures (in the original Greek “te gramma”) in 2 Corinthians 3:6, which I repeatedly stress: “the letter kills”?
Are we not confronted here with the very problem of clouded consciences and hazy vision that Joshua of Nazareth addressed when he is said to have declared “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:39-40 KJV)
Yet the anti-Zionist, supposedly secularism grounded, grass roots reality stressing, philosophical speculation denouncing writer-activist James and other feminists often treat the writings of Mary Wollstoneraft, Virginia Woolf and others as inerrant and infallible holy writ.
They thus fail to engage authentically with the phenomenon of matriarchal marital monopolizing, especially the passive-aggressive guises in which it can masquerade.
“Panty government”, as some Caribbean people crudely call it, is not always openly domineering.
Criminologist Rachel Stuart, an advocate of women’s autonomous agency and culpability in illegal activity has been convicted and imprisoned four times herself, and therefore speaks to these matters with personal authority.
Stuart, Dr Susan Batchelor, I and other members of the British Society of Criminology recently spent an entire day discussing the involvement of women in crime as “victim-offenders” and only managed to scratch the surface of this paradoxical situation.
In the meantime, while James and other women ignore or undervalue women’s soft power, it seems to be finding bold, biological orthodoxy challenging assertion in the pop icon John’s and other gregarious gay men’s conscious or unconscious matriarchal ambitions.
Note that Sir Elton caused a stir in the US in 2010 by describing Jesus as a “compassionate, super-intelligent gay man who understood human problems”.
Also note the coincidental timing of United States president Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election motivated gay marriage endorsement, and Sir Elton’s advocacy of it.
John had previously been content with the notion of “gay partnership”.
And Obama’s links to my native Barbados, through his gay marriage endorsing attorney general Eric Holder are also noteworthy, given Barbados’ historical role in propagating British cultural mores in the Americas, as British economic historian Tristram Hunt has documented in his book Ten Cities That Built An Empire.
But I hardly have time to explore the role of prominent Barbadians like political scientist Peter Wickham and Barbados Labour Party leader Mia Mottley in propagating an emergent homosexual “reproductive work” orthodoxy here.
Sufficeth to say, it seems that what legalistic inflexibility and intolerance in feminism catalyzes, like legalistic inflexibility and intolerance in fundamentalist religious and other spheres, is the “poverty of imagination” (as South African Nobel Prize winner Nadine Gordimer has called it) that the gay parenting rights crusader Sir Elton exhibited even as he accused Dolce and Gabana of a lack of grace.
And those who assume that women’s “sovereignty” over their bodies justifies the capitalist codification and commodification of abortion, making it an absolute, virtually sacrosanct woman’s right, suffer similar literalistic, fundamentalist feminism clouded lenses.
It also seems clear to me that the “rights” of prostitutes advocated by the probable James satellite Motley and other Barbadian and Caribbean feminist socialists, with scant regard for the demoralizing, dehumanizing potential of the sex trade for women and men, can be just as counterproductive and antisocial as the crass clumping and capitalist commodification of marriage by excessive, intrusive Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other binary “block chain” labeling, homosexuality homogenizing, holiness monetizing religious interests.
Readers following my “Mouth of the Beast” series of articles may recall my use of the term “Clump”, a combination of Hilary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s last names, to draw attention to their stormy marriage mimicking ideological morphology or political co-dependence.
The “Beast from the East” like, turbulent environmental conditions that their traditional and new media intensive political campaigning generated, with the help of their respective Randolph Hearst recalling, huffing and puffing media allies, inevitably undermined the radical rooting in reality that makes any marital “carnal knowledge” communication or exchange authentic.
It is a numbers thing, essentially.
Think of Chinese Whispers, the communication distortion game.
Like the diffusion and distortion of the Jewish reformer Joshua (Jesus) of Nazareth’s message across temporal and spatial boundaries, the sheer number of “personal” commitments that Clinton and Trump made, or that were made for them, implicitly or explicitly, by authorized or unauthorized members of the Democratic and Republican parties, ensured the obscenity and unreality of their Messianic persona incarnating, political capital amassing activity.
And the inauthentic and deceitful character of the ostensibly woman empowering, but actual sexual slave-making sex cult of which the apparently self-deluded American actress Allison Mack was allegedly the matriarch comes to mind here forcefully.
I have noted the probable roots of Clinton’s and Trump’s messianic complexes in their relationships with their father and mother respectively.
Similarly, I would not be surprised if the Superman star Mack’s relationship with her father has contributed to her alleged co-dependence with the cult leader Keith Raniere, a virtual “Mack daddy”.
But however we view Mack’s and Raniere’s victim-offending, in terms of criminology, it seems clear that an inflexible, intolerant, fundamentalist Marxist lens, like an inflexible, intolerant fundamentalist Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Capitalist or any other excessively ideological religious or secular lens, generates bigotry, prejudice and potentially catastrophic stereotyping.
It produces and perpetuates the “gang mentality” or “group think” that I expect James, Galloway and other socialists find abhorrent – at least in theory.
Could anyone who knows James imagine her becoming a Mack-like “groupie”?
Yet it could be argued that James devotion to Marx does not differ from Mack’s devotion to Raniere, substantially.
James salvation, from this perspective, would be the capacity of her brand of Marxism to problematize its own atheistic, materialist cosmology – much like James’ capacity to engage, as fellow Marxist Bettina Aptheker has done, with the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her father critically.
Aptheker revealed that abuse in Intimate Politics, her autobiography.
And Aptheker’s openness on this crucial matter contrasts with James’ unwillingness to talk about her relationship with CLR poignantly.
There is certainly ample theoretical, specifically written evidence that James is aware of the dangers of the gang mentality generalizing that has come to the fore during the Brexit referendum in England and around the battle between the matriarch Clinton and patriarch Trump for the United States presidency.
Her colleague Nina Lopez emphasizes James’ insistence on precision, which I applaud and share, in Lopez’s foreword to Sex, Race and Class – The Perspective of Winning, a 2012 publication of a collection of James writings dating back to 1952.
Unfortunately, this insistence on precision was not as much in evidence during the “oracle” James and my conversation.
In fact, James’ chilly response to what she apparently sees as capitalist stereotypes make her insightful writing on class crossing grass roots activism and similar incisive analyses that reflect her insistence on precision seem like Purim masquerading.
Was James mirroring my Columbo-esque performance?
Again, keen to allow James the benefit of the doubt, I am willing to consider the possibility that I am to some degree responsible for that.
Having initiated the tango with James, there is a degree to which my moves dictated her missteps.
She did say after our interview, and unfortunately, off the record, that the question I raised about social media was beyond her competence.
Could my rather relaxed, casual interviewing style, punctuated with long pauses and some half-finished and disjointed sentences, reflecting the fact that I was somewhat sleep deprived after one of my weekly carer night shifts, have induced James into some sleepy or sloppy thinking?
I readily admit to a rather sleepy or sloppy, detective-Columbo-like speech performance that morning.
I believe I was able to demonstrate the Barbadian fast bowler Kemar Roach approximating speed and penetration of thought, word and deed that our compatriot, historian Trevor Marshall has labeled a “pursuit of the quintessence of spirituality”, in his foreword to TBBTR.
As volatile as Kurtly Ambrose, potentially, when my ire has been ignited, my salvation, so to speak, has been a “pastor” Ridley Jacobs recalling, Christian humility: a humility that I believe was manifested in Jacobs’ consistent stewardship as the West Indies’ wicket-keeper batsman, as I recently told him.
While probably differing with Jacob’s conventional Christian world view in significant ways (I am more likely to pray prostrate rather than kneeling, for one thing), the curiously competitive, yet compassionate and collaborative motivation that informs my relatively open-minded interaction with James shares fundamental Christological, empathy and reconciliation focused features with the Wesleyan wicket keeper Jacob’s theology.
My eclectic, interdisciplinary academic exploits and ideological labels transcending activism resemble Jacobs’ improvisational, unorthodox batting style in some ways.
Basically, despite at times patchy, inconsistent speech production, I was able to maintain conversational coherence and consistency as I interacted with James because of my underlying, time and space tested commitment to something approximating cricketing fair play.
Put alternately, I am able to maintain my interlocutory line and length in complex, at times inhospitable, windy conditions because my in many ways favorless, politically abused and exploited life experience has equipped me with reservoirs of empathy and resilience.
Playing through the line
I first got a firm sense of how much the fossilized or frozen, inflexible thinking patterns of Marxists like James and other secular ideologues can have in common with rotish religious thought patterns and systems when I read Understanding Secular Religions, by American Christian apologists Josh McDowell and Don Stewart in the 1980s.
But it was while pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Linguistics, under the tutelage of Caribbean linguists Korah Belgrave, Peter Roberts, Martha Isaacs and others at the Barbados-based University of the West Indies’ Cave Hill Campus that I was introduced to fundamentals of scientific language analysis, like the distinction between judgmental prescriptive and more objective, open-minded descriptive approaches to language analysis, and could therefore apply these fundamentals to my then already advanced study of religious and secular belief systems.
The main ideas of TBBTR had already been established by then, as copies shared with American International Publishers, SCM Press and other interests can attest.
My studies of Linguistics reinforced and enriched those ideas.
The sociolinguistic and sociopolitical parallels between the evolution of Standard English and other “ruling class” language varieties and canonical or conventional Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Capitalist, Communist and other dominant, literary canon established and enforced religious and secular knowledge systems thus became apparent to me.
Similarly, my use of the term “fossilization” above, to describe the hardening of opinion that James demonstrated on the Grenada revolution question derives from and is dependent on my familiarization with the technical, language learning concept of “interlanguage fossilization” sometime between 1995 and 2005, when I was pursuing my Linguistics degree.
This combining or coalescing of language acquisition and development theories and religious conviction shaping experiences and ideas can also be detected in my criticisms of the Marxist Corbyn and other “sleep-walking socialists”, on one hand, and carnivorous capitalists like Theresa May on the other.
It has also contributed to my label transcending coupling of the superficially, albeit significantly opposing ideologies of “capitalist” icon Margaret Thatcher and her “socialist” rival Tony Benn.
And the same concern with the semantic substance or core structures of outwardly differing beliefs and thought systems dictates my “clumping” of humanist views held by James, Corbyn, my local MP Clive Lewis and other apparent evangelical atheists with the religious prejudices and presumptions that these and other humanists characteristically, and rightly, challenge and protest.
And this ethical efficacy and truth focused, religious and secular language penetrating mode of analysis is in fact mirrored by James’ own preoccupation with precision, mentioned above, and as documented by her colleague Lopez.
Lopez notes James’ determination to avoid generalizations, quoting her where she declares “I hate imprecision. It’s the enemy.”
And Lopez underscores how the kind of conversations that James and I have been engaging in contribute to the degree of lucidity and precision that James has achieved in her activism.
Noting that training has been “a two-way learning process”, Lopez shares this account by James of her process:
“I trained myself by training others, trying to be useful to them, to understand what they were having trouble with. I still do. It’s a big discipline.”
And in words that recall the typical faith-knowledge deficit that the late Barbadian evangelical fundamentalist Christian preacher Holmes Williams sought to address through his booklet Know What You Believe, James continues, “To explain myself I had to find out what I thought. I can never just sit down and think things through, but as I speak and try to find the right words my thoughts become clearer.”
So, thankfully, if her colleague Lopez can be believed, James is “always updating herself”.
Will we meet again?
And that is why as I reflect on the whole process of getting to know James so far, I am strengthened in my previously expressed view that she is a kind of oracle and that our interaction, like that I share with artists-businesswomen Janice Lear-Gurney and Deborah Liversage was divinely destined.
The question, raised in the previously cited article, is destined for what?
Noting the coincidence of James and my second telephone conversation occuring on the anniversary of the first, and her and my involvement in the “care industry”, I wrote “I feel both a sense of indebtedness to James and a sense of unease. Where might these signs of serendipity and synchronicity lead?”
Certainly, considering the differences in our genders, ages, races and ideological orientations, some clashing of opinions between James and I once we had actually met seemed inevitable.
Despite the mutual interests and acquaintances in Barbados and other Caribbean countries that we discussed during our second telephone conversation, she and I seemed destined to collide, like the arctic anticyclone Hartmut (as the Beast from the East has been dubbed in Germany) and the cyclone Emma that collided with it on and around February 24.
Despite our best intentions and mutually respectful aspirations, we seemed destined for a collision that would compound her, my and others’ confusion and deepen our respective ideological assumptions and prejudices, thereby deepening each other’s relative detachment from reality.
And James and I might be in for a major falling out yet.
I will have a better idea of whether or not she will agree to meet with me again after this article is published.
For the time being though, I am not only enjoying the calm before any possible storm but I am in some ways looking forward to the “Beast from the East” heavy snowfall that may be coming.
And that is because I deeply believe that James and I have more in common than our differences suggest.
I believe a dialectical synthesis of our views or thaw of our thoughts, if you will, is inevitable.
And this is despite James’ demonstrated “take no prisoners”, winner take all, tragically Trump-like conversational tendecies, which she defiantly displayed in a conversation with former Conservative Party politician Edwina Currie.
I have a deep sense that whether or not I one day have the honour of changing her “adult nappy”, literally, I will be able to claim the honour of perhaps gently waking James from the kind of elderly Marxist socialist sleep that I may have awoken Labour Party leader Corbyn and my local MP Lewis from rather more abruptly.
I certainly sense that James and I can collaborate to bridge the, Brexit-attested, Trump-election-win-reinforcing generation gap without too much of the clashing and clanging communication of ideas that risks disturbing her and my own necessary nocturnal carers’ napping.
I am keen to work with James and others at the Cossroads Womens’ Center to address the very serious challenges facing both our generations.
The group think tornadoes behind London violence
From my semantics and seismology intersection monitoring point of view, the stabbing deaths of two young black men in the vicinity of James’ office less than 10 hours before she and I met is a peculiarly ominous oracle.
And the fact that neither James, her colleague Calloway, a black woman, nor I (a black man) mentioned those deaths during our meeting at her office concerns me deeply.
I am awed by the fact that during our careful conversation, we were all silent about the tiny, yet terrifying, life threatening group think tornadoes that have been touching down around James Kentish Town base and in other parts of London with flesh ripping ferocity.
That is part of why I chose to open this article with the foregoing “Beast from the East” night time video recording.
It locates my conversations with James in the wider dialogue or dialectic of carnivorous conversation through which character can be molded or mortally wounded, as the case may be.
It connects the gun and knife crime courting conflicts currently flaring up in Camden and other London boroughs to the time and space transcending cosmological conflict that touches down or is incarnated in every human psyche, as the recently deceased Guyanese writer-mystic Wilson Harris may have put it.
Of course, in a profoundly personal sense, my emphasis in that video on the potent, deadly silent assassin character of heavy snowfall, the fact that its gradual, frosty build up can end life, effectively, attests to my own experience of relative isolation and silencing by the conscious and unconscious designs of Margaret Gill, Charmaine “Lie-e-lah” Gill, James Carmichael, Harold Hoyte, Al Gilkes and other Barbadian political conversation shapers who, like James, arguably, contradict themselves dialectically.
It attests to my experience of being “frozen out” of conversations by the Marxist myopia and other imagination insulating, vision limiting lenses of my local MP Lewis, a journalist-turned-politician, and his supporters, including BBC Norfolk’s Rita Johnson, who, from my perspective, seems guilty of an extraordinary failure of empathic vision.
Rather like James and the “musical” matrix John, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Mother of Chapel Johnson and other Norfolk-based journalists seem oblivious to how much their secular, possibly atheistic ideological fixations and fossilizations may have in common with the precision and specificity trampling stereotyping and generalizing of Buddhist, Christian, Islamic, Jewish and other “block chain” generators or “bump stock” triggerers of religious bigotry.
(And time and other constraints will not permit me to elaborate here on the link I have previously made between apparent Google-like information gluttony generated self-delusion and the murderous myopia of the millionaire real estate magnate and gambling addict Stephen Paddock, whose fear and loathing was incarnated in Las Vegas last October.)
They and Lewis, who recently rejected an effort I made to find common ground with him and work collaboratively despite past tense relations, seem intent on relegating my ideological labels transcending, linguistics and theology combining work to the margins and shadows of British, Caribbean, American and other societies’ academies.
Indeed, Lewis, a “bookish theoric” if ever I have met one, seems so intent on erasing any trace of my cutting edge contribution to contemporary British society that he is willing to undermine Labour leader Corbyn’s claims to be leading a movement for a new, more deeply democratic, authentically socialist political ecology and economy.
How else might one explain Lewis’ ongoing rejection of my now six months old peace offering even as Corbyn denounces Theresa May, Amber Rudd and other Conservative Party members for their “hostile environment” immigration policy toward Caribbean and other minorities?
Having been the target for more than a quarter of a century of the deadly Beast from the East snowfall recalling, tribal political silencing and character assassination that is a feature of both secular and religious, socialist and capitalist political capital accumulating strategies (like the gender, race and religious racketeering that I have been denouncing persistently in my “Mouth of the Beast” article series), I see the Windrush West Indian immigration scandal currently making headlines in England as just a symptom of how British politicians and their monetarily overpaid, ethically underachieving media allies tear at and undermine the bonds of British society.
To be continued….