Joseph the Lyricist

I’m not very interested in the details on this one, but in the over-all structure, although, I’m willing to admit, if pressed, that one of the features of the structure, in this case and maybe all, is the specific way in which the details are accomodated.

In the 1700s there had been a civil war in a country that neighbored Josephs.  The partisans of the True-Knowing Psychologist (as the leader was known) were promised homesteads in Joseph’s country in exchange for their support in the conflict.   This was considered an affront by the druids of Joseph’s homeland, since they considered there was a mystical connection between sperm, the spinal fluid of children born from that sperm, and the sap of certain trees that grew in their ancient forests.

When the True-Knowing Psychologist (Eduardo XVII) achieved victory his soldiers arrived by train in Joseph’s country to claim their land.  Joseph’s country men picked off a few of them in night-time attacks (looting, rape, arson) and blew up train tracks and trains.  Eduardo sent troops who massacred them with curare blow darts.   Now Joseph’s country is about 15% descendants of the psychologist’s troops, and 85% the indigenous inhabitants, although the descendants of the homesteaders have more money and political power.

Joseph was a lyricist for a popular drum and saxophone minstrel band.   An irredentist movement “The Glittering Sons” had begun marching and blowing up gas stations hoping to drive off the descendants of those loyal to the psychologist.  A game of chicken ensued.  Protesters holed up in a children’s toy store threw burning puppets at the police.  The police responded with incendiary bombs, burning the toy store to the ground.  Thirty seven people died.  Joseph heard about the massacre while his band was performing in the capital city.  He wrote a song about it which became the anthem of the protest movement.  The song used evocative imagery of blood spattered on children’s toys.   His drum and saxophone circle acquired electric instruments and a recording contract and became a global phenomenon.  Joseph spent half his time in the United Sates.  He was a rich man.  His music was divided as follows: 25% about the plight of his people, 40% about love and longing, 20% about other global struggles for justice, 15% miscellaneous.

Several decades later there came into Joseph’s possession a document which revealed that the umbrella group which provided strategy for “The Glittering Sons”, “The Wheel of Liberation”, “Women of Wood and Fire” and other irredentist groups had planned the violence with an eye to Joseph writing a song about it that would inspire the fence-sitters to their cause.  They had deliberately had a confrontation with the police from inside a toy store in order to create the material for a song for Joseph to write.

For a period of time Joseph became a bitter critic of his country’s incessant civil war bestowing his sarcasms on his erstwhile friends and enemies with an equal snideness. He sold his skills as a lyricist to the highest bidder.  At night he erased his consciousness with deliriants.

Later when he was a very old man theorists at the institute cast doubt upon the authenticity of the document that had caused him to lose faith in the movement.  Like so many others he began to live in the institute’s lending room, hoping to get a researcher to take his case.

Finally a beneficent researcher told him that his lyrics, the massacre in the toy store, and the bitter struggle between the psychologist’s inheritors and the indigenes were simply instantiations of a pattern that shows up throughout the history of modernization.  Lyric, massacre, history were made for each other.

He left the institute and wrote a beautiful final lyric before dying.

I was the researcher.


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