Readers will recall that two weeks ago, on the last full moon, I speculated on the effect moon phases have on us humans, and the difference between the force of the full moon compared to the new moon, and I told the story of a maternity nurse who said there are more births on new moon than full moon. I promised to return to the subject on the next new moon, which was last night.
I wanted to do justice to this effort and recalled that the New Moon Club, of which I'm a proud member had not met in many moons, not since one of our members, Robert the Telepathic Gila Monster, suffered serious mental trauma from the Communication Death Ray, said by some to have been personally invented by President Trump (see below, The Babel of Trump Tower). So I made a telepathic call for a New Moon Club meeting which was answered (telepathically) in the affirmative within minutes by all members: Robert, Betty the Coyote Creator Goddess, Jesus and Gandalf the Wizard.
At 7pm last night I set out from my weathered cabin in Pearblossom, walking over the soft rolling desert carrying water, a Nature Valley Sweet 'n Salty Granola Bar (which I find enhances my telepathic abilities) and a flashlight, since the new moon entails no moon.
After trudging for some minutes I came over a mound and there were my companions, seated around a smoldering fire tended by Gandalf, who poked it with his staff. Robert was speaking when I arrived.
...so it's a brand new struggle, replacing that between Trump and national capitalism...."
Robert became silent and turned to look at me as I approached, seeming to resent my interruption. The others smiled. They sat on leveled chunks of stone in this order: Gandalf, Betty, Jesus and Robert, with a stone reserved for me between Jesus and Robert.
"Continue please, Robert," I said, as I settled on my rock, "By the way, did you say that Trump struggles against national capitalism? I thought he represented national, or nationalistic capitalism."
"No," retorted Robert, "He represents global capitalism. That's why his policies are so destructive to the nation."
"Trump's response to the coronavirus would seem to argue your point, Robert," I said quickly. You don't want to start a conversation with Robert by implying that he is wrong. Gilas don't have an equivalent in their language for "wrong." The closest term literally means, "mortally wounded."
I continued: "Robert, what struggle are you talking about?"
Robert explained: "Reports indicate that the White House, in its evolving policy on the coronavirus pandemic, is divided between what I'm calling national interests, which include making people's health paramount, and global interests, which define 'health' as global cash flow."
"Remember," asked Gandalf, "when 'global' was a positive term? Everybody wanted to tack "global" or "international" onto their institutional names."
"The connotation is changing," Robert said. "The current struggle in the White House regarding pandemic policy, between supporting stay-at-home orders in states like California and New York, or ending them by Easter in order to keep the Dow pointed to the heavens, is as much a fracture in America's polity as the north-south divisions of its Civil War. In the same fashion, if nations are led into a general war (which may happen when the virus recedes and everybody remembers how much they hate their neighbors) it will be under nationalistic banners, but the hidden perps will be international interests intent on undermining nation states."
Readers might find it implausible that a retired nightclub mind-reader would be out in the desert absorbing ideas about human society from active or semi-retired deities, a fictional character from a novel and a talking lizard, but it just shows the lengths one has to go to these days to find decent conversation.
"Robert," said Jesus, "Your thesis reminds me of the dichotomy my followers faced between personalized, small groups and the mass following that developed - no pun intended. The term 'Catholic,' after all, comes from the Latin: Kata, 'with respect to,' plus holos, 'whole,' meaning the whole of everybody are members of a catholic church. It turns out that spirituality comes in local and international forms too."
"Which way represents your views best?" asked Robert.
"That's not easy to answer," said Jesus.
Betty intervened, "Robert, you can find deficits and benefits inherent in both small and large human organizations. I don't think you're implying that large organized religions are always spiritually inferior to small ones."
"No, I'm not, " said Robert, "and large corporations are not inherently bad; many have been creative, inventing and developing critical human technology. It is not automatically bad to be big, or global."
"Then what's bad about the current assault by 'bigness'?" I asked.
"What's bad, " explained Robert, "is that this invasion of global interests into America's response to the pandemic is disguised as domestic policy, much as people's obsession with the Dow Jones is disguised as a domestic focus. Money itself is no longer domestic. And as noted- your foreign policy is as much impacted by global interests as your pandemic policy."
Gandalf, who I think tries to overcome his origins in a fictional place (Middle-earth) by making occasional germain comments about our universe, did so: "I agree, Americans face a paradox: If they go to war, they will think they are being nationalistic, but they will not be serving nationalism."
"Gandalf," I asked, "You lived through a type of world war in The Lord of the Rings. How was that different from our wars? When you arrived at Frodo's hobbit hole that day and told him of danger abroad, were you an internationalist or what?"
Gandalf was unruffled: "The point is that I told the hobbits the truth. I did not mischaracterize the protagonists. Sauron et al were exactly the threats I made them out to be. You didn't need to wonder if it was an international concern or domestic; it was both. But when you hear about your enemies, you are given cover stories to disguise who they actually are."
"This particular cover story may be coming to an end," said Betty, "as it is now plain that the Trump White House is balancing human lives, which in Robert's formulation are a national interest, against "productivity" and "growth," terms which, thanks to your media, have acquired strong positive connotations, but which can now be identified as global interests that are not necessarily positive."
"Amen," said Robert.
"If I may change the subject slightly," I said, "I'd like to point out that tonight is new moon, as the title of our club suggests. I called this meeting to address the question on everyone's mind: 'Do moon phases affect human behavior?'"
"That question has not been on my mind," Robert mumbled.
"I know. I was being funny," I explained.
"Oh," said Robert.
"Sorry, Robert, I forgot that gilas have no concept of humor. For humans, the world would be unbearable without it."
"Yeah," Robert said, and spat (gilas have toxic saliva so spitting is a meaningful social cue), "but I've studied your humor and I know what it is. The latest science is that humor comes essentially from electrical impulses coursing through the corpus callosum, the bundle of nerves connecting the left and right hemispheres of the human brain, which control, respectively, logic on one side and artistic, poetic thinking on the other. A pun is "funny" because it makes a connection, picked up by the corpus callosum, that neither hemisphere alone would make. Gilas don't need humor because our mentality is logical and artistic at the same time."
"Robert, " I responded gloomily, "you will be gratified to know that you are not at all funny."
Robert said nothing but stared into the fire and spat. He was clearly insulted.
Betty, who usually acts as our moderator and peacemaker, said, "Robert, I think all Harry is suggesting is that the struggle between global and national interests has reached a head exactly on a new moon. That's interesting enough, don't you think, whether anything is funny or not?"
Robert spat and remained silent. I wondered if there was any point, after all, to this meeting. We settled into our private thoughts, and it became comforting just to sit around a fire in the middle of nowhere with friends. Words are overrated, sometimes.