A.B.C. SMITH AND THE POST-OBIT BOND
January 23, 2009
“Post-obit bond, a bond paying a sum of money after the death of some specified person.”
Surely you know the history of General A.B.C. Smith, of Brevet-Brigadier General A.B.C. Smith, hero of the Bugaboo and Kickapoo wars. He is one of the most unique proponents of progress, science and enlightenment ever produced by this nation’s men of letters. Most horrible, those Kickapoos, the veritable bugbears of the frontier once upon a time, and the suffering of Brevet-Brigadier General Smith delivered us out of their hands. Moreover his direct lineal descendant is in the ascendant, Venus is aligned with Mars, and that means …
Panic and Terror; at least, that’s what Hesiod said about their mating. Reading the Greek source one can see how, what with mother and child allied against the father and all the many forms of uprooting that follow from this paradigm. “We are wonderful people, and we live in a wonderful age”: Venus in blue jeans and Mars in a skirt, “nation-building.”
The age of terror in culture began simultaneously with feminism in Britain in the 1790s and while we are paying that particular post-obit bond, we also celebrate the descendant of the great General in the title, supra: “A Nation Awaits” exults 48-point font. “A nation turns its lonely eyes to you…” “After years of political divisiveness, a note of national reconciliation”; “Oh, who owns NY…” .
This essay will find direction by indirection, the necessary mode of truth in dark times “when we are traitors and do not know ourselves,” so before we pursue the problematic meeting with Brevet-Brigadier General A.B.C. Smith, also known as, “the Man that Was Used Up” let us note that the post-obit bonds with which we now are blessed are a kind of death sentence that our creditors follow with great interest, so great that they wish to hasten our demise . But it’s not clear who we are, anymore, or who the General is…
Poe’s General was all but immortal; the only problem was uncertainty about how real he was or the degree of his heroic suffering at the hands of the Bugaboo and Kickapoo. Being that we inhabit the age of bugbears and terrors real and virtual, uncertainty about his identity brings stress like those headlines about Bank failure. Governments all over the world demand that their investments be protected and folks in usa.inc must pay interest on the Republic’s post-obit, by the book and under color of law, so be it.
Habeas Corpus has been an integral part of our law and freedoms and it indeed is good to have a body; this helps prevent bugbears arguments about personality, personae and texts. The Bugaboo wonder if we each have a body; what is a body anyway, after all is said and done, dead and buried? What is a text but a weaving, a structure or pattern of design, for example by designing women or men?
Tex (ere), to weave plus ‘tus,’ suffix of the verb of action….
If you believe what you hear in most lit classrooms the past few decades or at meetings of the plenum of the central committee of pc platitudes whence these notions are hatched, then you know that all texts are composite narratives most of them abrading, critiquing or re-imagining established traditions of male identity, etc. Actually, what these hatchet-wielding wombats preach in their faux literary covens describes the hard facts of their softening of male identity in the institutions, laws, advertising, imagery and narratives of the modern State. The result of this assault on male identity has produced much genuine suffering and damage from the individual to the cultural level: indeed, the West is dying of its Aphrodite complex.
It also has produced a President as text, an assemblage of woven narratives; a beautiful blanket of bilge in which drowning voices mingle as the Titanic goes down. “She Stoops to Conquer” as a Restoration playwright wrote and now all stoop in homage to the stridently erect Aphrodite, “Philommedea, for she was born of loving members,” perennial leader of “the monstrous regiment of women” now established in all institutions .
Not that one need suggest that America has been castrated by profligate spending to establish a Nanny State, no. One needn’t say it…it would come out in soprano anyway; whereas General John A.B.C. Smith had “a voice of surpassing clearness, melody and strength” and “the most brilliantly white of any conceivable teeth. He was an especial favorite too, with the ladies” had we mentioned that – “chiefly on account of his reputation for courage.” If one is not real, terrors only increase.
I cannot just now remember exactly where I first made the acquaintance of this nonpareil, perhaps I was in a trance, something about the voice, perhaps, or those legs, “the ne plus ultra of good legs. Every connoisseur in such matters,” all the talking hairstyles, the female-males and males in females hid “admitted his legs to be good,” all accept that virtual man, Schwarzenegger and nothing he says is meant to be believed. He is what Mae Busch would have called “an inflated tadpole” . Consider the analogies…
The nasty thing is the terror about the Banks collapsing, alone or into each other’s arms like exhausted spendthrift lovers. Then there’s the loss of jobs, at least in America from which most productivity has been lend-leased for some time. That’s a bit of a bear, not just a Bugaboo to strike terror into the hearts of ordinary depositors. Thank goodness we won’t have to pay anymore taxes and that health insurance will be free. If only cranks would stop insisting there’s a difference between practicing medicine and providing disease management. Some say these distinctions are merely virtual, some even say that terror is a disease. But when Brevet Brigadier General John ABC Smith says it, you believe it because of that voice.
“Hey day, freedom, freedom high day; high day, freedom…” When one has been to the mountaintop there’s no place to go but down.
“Someone did introduce me to the gentleman, -- I am sure, at some public meeting, I know very well, held about something of great importance, no doubt – at some place or other, I feel convinced, whose name I have unaccountably forgotten. The truth is…” the truth is they’ve confused me about just what exactly his name is; but don’t you think he seems a bit British? After all, “there is a primness, not to say stiffness in his carriage, a degree of measured and, if I may so express it, rectangular precision attending his every movement” which in any other man might “savor of affectation” but in this great hero of the Kickapoo campaign “may readily be placed to the account of reserve, hauteur, of a commendable sense of his dignity” which is indeed, beyond compare; and in him, may he be blessed, we all should have “a confidence sans bounds.”
But I was just now reading a play “by that great tragedian Climax, doing Iago for a packed house including Misses Arabella and Miranda Cognoscenti” who are the idols and cynosures of the real American Idyll and who both are intimate friends with the General, or so they would have one believe: “oh, but look at that leg!” And oh, “those savage Bugaboos.” Nevertheless, “we live in a wonderfully inventive age…the age par excellence – ‘did you say diamonds, Mr. Tattle’” asked Kathleen O’Trump who soon may do body language for Malarkey.
“Weep, weep my eyes, and drown yourselves in tears; half of my life has put the other in the grave.” 
Alas Babylon! As the General defied the Bugaboos and sauntered down the boulevard, the old dynasty of Hyannis sagged like a pierced dirigible. “Weep, weep my eyes…” Yet still he may fill his double-wide Senate seat; and then there’s his niece, Ms. Tattle...
But who is “Smith” and whence cometh this avalanche of green paper? “The slightest appearance of mystery puts me at once into a pitiable state of agitation.” Perhaps it was his eye; yes …”he was a remarkable man” despite his apotheosis as the ultimate post-obit bond. “Weep, weep my eyes.”
The West itself is a text, the most audacious in history. There is a grim propriety in the dead-end it has reached, following the road of force and fraud, of identity theft, a very expensive crime, culturally speaking: “the Prince of Darkness is a gentleman…” .
“We are a wonderful people, and we live in a wonderful age: “electromagnetics. The most truly useful mechanical contrivances are springing up like mushrooms,” so to speak, “like grasshoppers all about us,” like locusts of trance induction. Miss Bas-Bleu, do you say the great man wears a mask? “What a bitterness of spirit one attains against the whole race of the Bas-Bleus,” these female-male pseudo intellectuals and the anti-erotic chill of their pseudo-ideas .
“Weep, weep my eyes,” so I sought out the General myself to dispel all mystery about the excellence of his several parts. “I would go to the fountainhead” for Brevet Brigadier General Smith had led his militia into battle and conquered, albeit at a price not yet determined nor even discernible beneath his much discussed excellence, his credentials suited so well to these wonderful days.
We have a most remarkable composite man whose origin is within the layers of the global onion and meriting a new, four day holiday: “freedom, high day; high day, freedom, freedom!” 
I barged into his room intending to get to the heart of the matter, be it ever so dark. “There was a large and exceedingly odd-looking bundle of something on the floor” and in my vexation, “I gave it a kick.” And out of the bundle came “one of the funniest little voices, somewhere between a squeak and a whistle that I ever heard. The nondescript was performing upon the floor some inexplicable evolution, drawing a sock on its single leg.” The horror! The horror!
“Meet the General…” 
Assisted by his irreplaceable and long-suffering valet, Pompey, General ABC Smith was a virtual alphabet in his own person: his legs, arms, hair, eyes, rib cage, even his palate were prostheses, artificial, assembled by the finest artists money could buy: no skill is too great, or too dear to reconstitute the ultimate hero we’ve been taught to revere, the conqueror of the Bugaboo.
“Oh yes, by the by, my eye, here Pompey you scamp, screw it in... Butt end! Ram down! My eye!!” “Pleurez, pleurez, mes yeux...” We are the world; we are the people. And Fanny may, well, what may not fanny do when the bond comes due? “Drink up, servant monster” ; freedom’s just another word, “it is as easy as lying…”
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We have years of length unknown to the uninitiated before the corpse is laid and post-obit presents his bonds due and payable. We have years to watch “the nondescript” perform entrancing turns upon the grand stage of screen-world. As a text he has passed the bounds of mortality and like a palimpsest can be perpetually revised. All errors are misunderstandings his assemblers, the Pompey of today, will say. Textus-supreme has the most august ancestry: descended not only from General ABC Smith, a techno-alphabet, but of Charlie on the MTA; but in this case, Charlie has returned to feed the multitudes like the Jokerman, his prototype, a weaving, a structure or pattern of narratives made of whole cloth, “groping for trout in a strange river,” angling like Nero in the lake of darkness.
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As to the perpetual tease-and-rejection, financial and sensual, “keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lenders’ books and defy the foul fiend.” They have overdrawn us; let us efface the lines. The wind is cold and we are “but poor, bare forked animals” in their inventory. As for my music, “you can fret me but you cannot play upon me” .
The king is dead. Long live the king to be eternally re-written while we pay the piper post-obit.
Simon and Garfunkle, “Mrs. Robinson,” the Boston Globe,
A1 above and below fold, 1-20-09, Columbia alumni magazine,
winter 2008-09, “Politics for Grown Ups” [sic] cover story,
Paul Hond with cover photo of the man. “O, who owns NY”
is the unofficial CU – Rockefeller fight song.
2. Edgar Allen Poe, “The Man That Was Used Up” c. 1839, the Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe (Doubleday NY), 350-57, a satiric tale.
3. Hesiod, Theogeny (“the generations of the gods”), c. 540 bce, lines 80 – 240; John Knox, “First Blast of the Trumpet” (1558), e.g. “For who can deny but it is repugnant to nature, that the blind shall be appointed to lead and conduct such as do see? That the weak, the sick and impotent persons shall nourish and keep the whole and strong? And finally, that the foolish, mad and frenetic shall govern the discrete and give counsel to such as be sober of mind. And such be all women, compared unto man in bearing of authority. For their sight in civil regiment is but blindness; their strength, weakness; their counsel, foolishness; and judgment, frenzy, if it be rightly considered.
4. Laurel and Hardy, “Sons of the Desert,” (MGM 1933)
5. Verse couplet from the French playwright Corneille chosen by Poe as epigraph to this tale.
6. Shakespeare, King Lear, 3.4.146, Edgar speaking, disguised as “Poor Tom,” a humble and wholesome man, in exile from his heritage.
7. Her name might be translated, “down-low blues” with some of our contemporary connotations of blues. The “bluestockings” were lady would-be intellectuals, who hosted tea and card-gatherings to discuss ‘serious topics,’ flirt and network in England and France, two centuries ago. Often satirized, they have evolved and now lay down the law, syndromes, set-asides, emoluments, penumbrae and emanations.
8. Shakespeare, The Tempest (1611), 2.2.194-5
9. Laurel and Hardy, “Men O’ War,” (Hal Roach Studios, May 1929)
10. the Tempest, 3.1.5-8 passim; Hamlet 3.2.365
11. King Lear, 3.4.146-9, 109-110; Hamlet 3.2.379-80
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