By: Dennis Rohatyn

The New York Times published a statistical study to determine what proportion of the American population regularly wear masks in public to protect themselves and others against coronavirus.[1] Several institutes and “think tanks” have examined attitudes toward masks, both in the United States and abroad.[2] Theories abound, especially about why many people don’t wear masks. Some simply mistrust authority; others see it as an encroachment on their rights as individuals. Still others don’t believe that they are effective in preventing the spread of disease, or that they work as advertised. Some feel uncomfortable or ill at ease wearing a mask; some think it makes them look ugly or unattractive. And no one likes “being told what to do.” No one-size explanation fits all dissenters, except the last. So let’s look at that one, and search for clues. It may help us to unveil the mystery, all by itself.

People resent being told what to do. That is obvious, and only natural. But that isn’t all. They resent being told what to do, even when it is “for their own good.” They resent it even more when it is for their own good. They resent it when it is for their own good, yet they ignore it, only to learn “the hard way” that they were wrong. They resent being told “I told you so,” and having to “live it down” for the rest of their lives, as they repeat it to themselves, even if no one else does.

They resent learning “from bitter experience,” while having to bear all of its bitter fruits. They resent the person who tells them what to do, both because they resent being “bossed around” but because the boss (parent, or teacher, spouse) was right. They resent losing or forfeiting their free-will, but they resent losing it and losing—being wrong, and paying for their mistake. They resent having to apologize or atone for their sins: as Ralph Kramden said every week on The Honeymooners, “me and my big mouth. You were right, Alice. You were right. Can you ever forgive me?” She always did, but without gloating or being self-righteous about it. She wasn’t a scold, like Aunt Polly in Huck Finn, Mrs. Crabapple on The Simpsons, or Hillary Rodham Clinton, the archetypal shrew, termagent and castrating witch of misogynist political discourse in America. She didn’t tell you to wash your hands—with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds—brush your teeth, wipe your nose with a fresh handkerchief, clean behind the ears, comb your hair, sit up straight at the table, not lean your elbows on it, use your utensils, say please and thank you, not slurp your soup, not emit gases, make loud noises, or give off foul odors, not talk (if talk at all) while you are eating, not leave the table without permission, not fail to put your chair where it belongs, not fail to do your homework, say your prayers, and obey the curfew, not use slang or vulgar language of any kind, not molest children or “pick on” anyone, not pick your nose, not scratch (or touch) other parts of your anatomy, not fail to do your chores, not take the Lord’s name in vain, and (by the way) stop being a racist, or at least stop acting like one in public. Keep your thoughts to yourself, and if you can’t say anything nice, shut the fuck up.

And you ask why people (male, female, and non-binary alike) don’t wear masks? It’s not because they’re ignorant, or “don’t know any better.” It’s because they know, but don’t want to be told, and especially by a professional scold: someone cruel, impersonal, and cold.

Like Alcibiades in Plato’s Symposium, they would rather be wrong than right, because being right would cost them their souls, whereas being themselves might only cost them their lives. As St. Augustine said at a later date, si enim fallor sum: if I am wrong, then (at least) I am—that is, I am myself, with my own identity, not a slave to someone else, living in the shadow of their will. “I gotta be me,” even if being me is self-destructive, suicidal, and contrary to reason (‘virtue is knowledge’).

Knowledge will not make you free. It will kill you, long before you’re dead. Freedom is the freedom to be wrong—dead wrong—as long as the mistake (and the penalty for it) are mine, and not yours. That may be all I have to show for my existence. But that is my essence—ask Dostoievsky, Huxley, Sartre, Camus, or for that matter, Socrates, whose own death proved the point through willful martyrdom.

The same thing happened to the former First Lady, erstwhile Senator and Secretary of State, albeit in less august circumstances.

These fictional examples tell us something about ourselves, even as we gaze back at them through a tube darkly. But if you seek self-righteousness, you need only look backward to Aunt Polly (Huckleberry Finn) and then forward to Edna Crabapple (The Simpsons) to see the stereotype in action—and animation. Both Polly and Edna are vintage “school marms,” spanning generations of mischievous boys who vehemently resist being “sivilized.” The female is Mom, in charge of domesticating the wild animal nature in us. She hectors, lectures, wags her finger, shames you into submission: brush your teeth, comb your hair, clean your fingernails, wash your hands (see how important that is), sit up straight, use your utensils, don’t touch food with your hands, use a napkin to wipe your lips, be polite, do your homework, do your chores, say your prayers, share your toys, bless the Lord, and don’t fart (release intestinal gases) during the weekly sermon in Church. There is no immediate penalty for violating the rules, except for being reminded about it and warned about dire consequences that may ensue at some later date. But “boys will be boys,” so the hijinks continue, and warnings ring hollow: “a broken record.” The more that Huck, Bart and their respective playmates rebel against feminine authority, the more they enjoy it—until their habits catch up with them in later years. Then repentance sets in: “why didn’t I listen? My whole life is wasted!” Conversely, Mom—or in some cases, Dad—complains “you didn’t listen.” (East of Eden, The Adventures of Augie March, and many other patriarchal scenarios follow the same pattern. King Lear is a special case: Dad repents, but not in time to save either Cordelia or himself. Even the fool could not teach him those differences). The broken record mirrors the shattered life.

In 2016, Hillary Clinton ran for President. She was the favorite, yet she lost. To this day, she remains something of an enigma, not because of who she is (or isn’t), but because so many people hate her—that is the right word—for reasons that seem unfathomable, especially in light of what has happened since. When Donald Trump won the election, there were countless explanations of his startling success: everything from Russian interference (which is unprovable) to Trump being a born winner (which is circular). But the common electoral denominator, both in the polls and at the polling place, was the cry “I just couldn’t stand Hillary.” Why not? Is it because she’s a woman? Is it because she’s “smart” (intelligent, educated, well-read, well-prepared on every topic and every concept of political discourse); indeed, “the smartest person in the room”? Perhaps. But the thread that goes through the needle is “she talks down to us,” “she lectures us on race,” “she is so condescending,” and (accordingly) “she makes us feel inferior.” Nowhere was this more apparent than in her most combative debate with Trump. He baited her repeatedly, hovering over her, menacing her space at the podium, trying to unnerve her (“stamina”), but she was unmoved: haughty, aloof, an “ice queen” whose dignity could not be perturbed by someone so vulgar and boorish as The Donald. If she felt an emotion, she didn’t show it. She wore a mask, without needing one. And she referred to “half of Trump’s supporters” as “a basket of deplorables.”[3] That alone may have cost her the election, Vladimir Putin notwithstanding. Nobody uses a word like “deplorable,” except Brahmins, “Eastern elitists,” and “Main Line” aristocrats of yore—“the Vanderbilts have asked us up for tea” gentry that Fred and Judy slummed around with on stage, and in their Depression- era dreams. That word didn’t “resonate” with the masses—on the contrary, it told them that Hillary was a la-de-da, a puritanical princess who wouldn’t deign to be seen in public alongside such ill-mannered slobs, lest she be contaminated by their lack of decorum (the purity taboo is as alive in progressive circles as it is among “primitives” and their devoted interpreters (Mary Douglas, Claude Levi- Strauss, Bachofen, Fraser) So they wallowed in their misogyny, and she paid the patriarchal price. What what she left unsaid, unspoken yet all but explicit, wasn’t merely an insult; it was aristocratic disdain: in effect, ‘those people are beneath my dignity.’ Which indeed they are. But that conveys an unmistakable aura Of smug superiority that places the speaker in a different world from her auditors. As Aunt Polly or for that matter, Miss Ophelia in Uncle Tom’s Cabin might say, they belong on the lowest rung of the social ladder—the weakest mental link on the human chain. Boorish, bigoted and tasteless: not worth a second glance, or even a first one. Conversely, from the point of view of the dissed and dispossessed, the message is unambiguous: mine doesn’t stink, but yours does. That is what people hate about Hillary, whether they dare to say it out loud (which would prove her point) or not. They resent her for that, and perhaps they should. Consciously or unconsciously, She gives off an aura—and the odor of sanctity that goes with it. Wellesley College and Yale Law School didn’t help; despite her middle-class, Midwestern origins, Hillary “comes across” as a parvenu, which is even worse than being to the manor born, since it reeks of pretentiousness, affectation, and vaulting ambition. Poor Hillary. Even when she tried to act “folksy” (as she often did during her tenure as First Lady of Arkansas), it backfired—imagine Margot Fonteyn driving the pace car at the Indy 500, if that will help. But Margot had grace and style, whereas Hillary, through no fault of her own, is dull and plodding. However, that is not why people hate her. They hate her because she is a scold, a busybody, a self-righteous prig, an Aunt Polly, a school marm, a la=de=da, and the incarnation of Puritan piety—certain that she is a member of the elect, and that those who are less virtuous than she is are damned to hell—deplorably, but as is only just, since they are deplorable. The “elect” part didn’t go as planned or predestined, but that’s proof that we’ve come a long way, baby, since the Salem witch trials. And if there is one word that suits and describes Mrs. Clinton, it’s the word witch, or its profane echo (and secular equivalent), the B-word. A B- word (termagent, ball-breaker, frigid, castrating B-word) is a matronly-looking female who, like Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, tells you to eat your vegetables, put away your toys, go to bed, mind your manners, use a handkerchief to wipe your nose, keep your nose clean, keep your elbows off the table, and (above all) not play with yourself, lest you go mad (or, like Huck, straight to hell for thinking impure thoughts). The pagan rites of witches were child’s play compared to the strait-jacket of etiquette, moral propriety and sexual self-discipline required to be a good boy (or a “nice” girl). Last but not least, the Nurse insists that you wear a mask at all times, both to protect yourself against marauding germs (deplorable, yet, like the devil or a stealth bomber, invisible to the all-too-naked eye) and to demonstrate your ascetic ascent to heaven, right here on earth. It’s the right thing to do, so listen to your elders, and obey the law of reason that Mother Superior has generously revealed to you, to save your deplorable soul from itself. And you wonder why people don’t wear masks? I wonder if you wonder why. If you do, it’s because we have lost touch with our Calvinist inheritance. It is still there, of course, but we are utterly unaware of it, unless we perform ritual (or verbal) exorcism to bring it back to life. It is lodged in our collective unconscious, in a place too deep for the inhabitants of the secular city on a suburban hill to notice. Just as the colonial mentality does not follow but precedes colonization, grounds it, makes it both possible and conceivable, so the booing and hissing of (not by) the scold is an avatar and an archetype of deep-rooted anxiety. It masks (sic) underlying fear of judgment—and of the divine judge, as well as of the mere mortal who sits in judgment, be it the Virgin Mary or the Dynamo Hillary. Women are the bearers of life, hence their primal powers are both reviled and worshipped, in overlapping waves of love and hate, dread and desire. Someday that may change, especially if life is wholly reproducible, be it in a lab or on an assembly line, by mating “hardware” with “software,” in an ecstasy of algorithmic conquest and mechanized mastery that fulfills the fantasy of animal fertility without human vulnerability. Technology is grammar; discourse shapes reality; words create worlds. Hillary is a castrating bitch. Aunt Polly is an old maid. Both are Puritans, at heart. That is why they are so heartless: they believe in the wages of sin, and hypocrites that they are, the price is palpable to them, as a consequence of their own loneliness and self-imposed exile from the ordinary joys of everyday existence. Wearing a mask is no pleasure. In fact, it’s something of a nuisance, even for those who do it routinely (doctors, nurses, dentists, etc.). That’s just the point. There’s something sado-masochistic, not about wearing it, but about ordering people to wear it. It brings out the “prison matron” in all (or some) of us. Of course, Trump gives orders, too: like Ahab, he would strike the sun if it insulted him—and nearly everyone does, sooner or later. But because he’s a man (and a sinner), he gets a break, just as Bill Clinton did: “just one of the guys.” You can take the Puritan out of the country club, but you can’t take the C-word out of the Puritan Mother of us all. The mask won’t come off, but the underlying premise is bare. And it’s as plain as the letter A, for sober Adult Authority. If you don’t wear a mask, you’ll go straight to hell, Huck. Yet the threat is idle. For as Huck knew, we’re already there. And the masked bandits have lighted out for the territories, leaving Jim and his long-lost daddy no place to go but home.

I am not suggesting that people who don’t wear masks are aware of these things, even subliminally. No doubt some of them are, but that is not the issue. As Wittgenstein observed, we do not experience gravity, yet it governs our lives. In the same way, those who resist an order (mandate) to wear a mask may have a variety of stated reasons, be they evangelicals claiming that it is against God’s will to do so (God’s will is more veiled than any masks, yet apparently he has spoken to us from behind it, like a surgeon or an anesthesiologist to whom we have just been introduced on the operating table, as we are being put to sleep), or Good Ol’ Boys determined to kick back, party hearty, and guzzle as many six-packs as possible before sundown, while the wimmin prepare all the food for the Monday Night football feast, featuring a replay of Super Bowl III in its entirety, live on botched tape. Whatever our background, calling or ideological mass persuasion be makes no difference; the instinct or impulse to refuse is the same, like Bartleby saying “I prefer not to,” albeit with less composure. What besides rebellion against Matriarchy (sic) is at stake in such defiance? Or is “dollar- book Freud” (or “third-wave feminism”) neither necessary nor sufficient to strip it bare?

The answer lies in a single word: fatalism. Not in the hoary Calvinist sense of predestination, though that is certainly a large part of it, especially in America, whose collective conscience is devoid of scruples, save for credit conveniently defrayed to Last Judgment. More in the sense of que sera, sera—sung by Doris Day in a Hitchcock thriller (“The Man Who Knew Too Much,” 1956; song by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans), both as a soothing off-Broadway lullaby and as a bow to the gloom of the Cold War, whose “atmosphere” prompted world-weary bourgeois resignation to inexorable nuclear annihilation. The melancholy baby of colonial domination conducts foreign affairs in the language of cheerful despair that diplomats use to hide their angst. But the Suez crisis (or the Hungarian Revolution) mocks her attempts to put the children of the greatest degeneration to blissful sleep, even in the comparative safety of London—or Hollywood.

Ay, there’s the Hitch. Fatalism belies belief in progress. Like the thugs, low-lives, and gangsters in those Damon Runyon stories, immortalized in Frank Loesser’s musical “Guys and Dolls” (1954), it relies exclusively on Lady Luck: or whatever gender that Luck just happens to be. Luck is the antithesis of reason, revelation, or the gospel of hard work and prayer. It is the antithesis of official piety, and thus has no connection to either Reformation or Catholic (Patristic) tradition. It is superstitious, hence as unscientific as science itself, in its blind worship of power and progress. It is unenlightened and incorrigibly pagan in its habits. Its roots lie in a mystic reverie of folk tales, ceremonies, dances, and sacrificial rites: animism worthy of the river gods ridiculed by Twain, only to be revived (and revered) by “new age” sensualists without spirit, seeking to reenchant the universe by combining polytheism with power-worship: the Tao of Poof. It comes in two forms: the ruminations of Joseph Campbellites, and the less pretentious version of fatalism, sans heroes, saviors, plans or blueprints for steady improvement, or anything resembling a future not based on aimless drift, lassitude and dull torpor. The opiate of the masses is still the narcotic stupor characteristic of “great fellaheen people of the world,” as Jack Kerouac would say. The belief that ‘when your number is up, it’s up,’ that ‘there’s no sense worrying about it, ‘cause there’s not a damn thing you can do about it,’ that ‘we all gotta go sometime, so what’s the use?’ and (conversely) the dream of winning the lottery, hitting the jackpot, and the quixotic get-rich-quick schemes peddled by “self-help” gurus and quacks appealing to born suckers and Ralph Kramdens in our nationwide audience, all testify to our mythic madness. Like the widowed Sara Goldfarb (Ellen Burstyn) in Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Requiem for a Dream’ (2000; novel, Hubert Selby, Jr., 1978), we stare at the screen, and see nothing but a reflection of the blankness of our own lives. That is why the screen is filled with games: wheel of fortune, the symbol of all symbols. Spin the dial and determine your destiny—because you can’t. You have no control over it, any more than Schroedinger’s cat.

Spinoza said that if a stone could think, it would imagine it were free as it fell to the ground. Perhaps it thought too much. That is a mistake most people don’t make. For they know—instinctively, intuitively, and from sad experience—that they haven’t got a chance, let alone a chance. They’ve been dealt a bad hand (or the hand they’ve been dealt), and now they have to “play it out,” or “go through the motions,” which are irreversible, much as fate is immutable. If Spinoza were a stone, he might realize that he had no control—that no one does. Hence (if logic exerts any sway) he would stop trying to change people’s minds, or shut up, instead of disproving his point. For there is nothing in people’s drab and dreary lives to convince them otherwise. Hence they cling to their myth, because the myth is real, whereas the reality we believe in (wearing a mask will reduce your chances of getting the coronavirus) is a myth—that is, a myth in the sense that in the end, as President Trump said, “what differences does it make?”[4] “You’re born, you suffer, and you die”—that’s all, folks.[5] Everything in-between is a crap shoot: full of crap, and always shot to pieces. You win or you lose. Most of us lose, if only because we are born losers, exactly like Charlie Brown, Don Quixote, or the rabbi from Galilee: fictional characters all, yet no strangers to fact. Trump subscribes to the same view, or at least he pretends to do so, since he measures the public pulse far more accurately than pollsters, in agonized thrall to pandemic paranoia.

Indeed, Trump himself is proof of our distaste for losers, and thus our lack of self- respect. After all, he was born rich. He is rich. He will always be rich, even if (perchance) he is hounded out of office, prosecuted, tried, convicted, and sentenced to a prison term which he actually serves—and how likely is that? Who is the realist, and who the fatalist, when it comes to the realm of politics, Constitutional law, and the future of so-called American democracy? Trump’s cynicism (“what difference does it make?”) is reprehensible, but then, so was his advice about drinking disinfectant—or did I miss something? He might as well have said “fuck you” to 331 million people simultaneously, yet the Emperor wore his new clothes, barren and threadbare, with no shame, while we sat there, motionless. Judge not fatalism, lest ye be prejudged. A gesture of such utter contempt for the electorate and for the world at large should have been met by having to drink down the entire goblet—where is Hamlet when we need him to make a hit or else get off smoking pot: or does he suddenly feel Providential today? Trump also said that if he opened fire on everyone while riding down Fifth Avenue, there would be no consequences. Last I heard, no one fired back, whether in New York or in Washington, DC. Why is that? Maybe he knows something Spinoza didn’t. Or maybe we don’t believe (in) ourselves.

The question that arises is, what about our duty to our fellow human being? Aren’t we all in this together? Isn’t this about the common good, not the individual’s right to pursue happiness, in whatever way they see fit? Isn’t it about what we owe each other, rather than what we want for ourselves? Isn’t it about responsibility, not license? Isn’t it about reciprocity, not rapacity? Isn’t it about mutuality, not mutual misery?

Isn’t it about wearing a mask in order to protect others, even if I don’t care about my nonchalant self? The answer is no. Why not? Because in life as in love (sic), you’re on your own. Que sera sera, and the devil take nearly all, in any zero slum game played by absentee landlords wielding “legal” eviction notices, even during the COVID crisis, to scare their “noncompliant” tenants into total submission. Ragged individualism rules. Or as Bambi learned the hard way, “your mother can’t be with you any more.” In a word, tough. Take all your bourgeois conceits and put them where they belong. Take your categorical imperative and shove it up your unpaid utilitiarian principal. Nobody owes you a living, or a dying. And you don’t owe anybody anything, Not even the time of day—and since time is money, pay me or get out of my way. No more free advice, either. When a you’re self-alienated jet, you’re self-alienated all the way. So, tough. Everybody’s got Problems. Quit whining, and Get a job (if only Donald would Do that—but then, that’s why he’s on top, and we’re bottomed out). Nice work if you don’t need it.

Don’t give me that “original position” Garbage. Forget Rawls, and forget Nozick, too. Life is its own justification: that is, it has none. As Y-h was the first to observe, “it is what it is,” or a tautology to that effect, as he told Adam and Eve where to go—the first Absentee Lord in history, but not the last. Job in exile, Joseph K. dying like a dog, John Wayne in the Searchers: the door is open, the door is closed; there is no door, but don’t walk through it, or you’ll be sent back where you came from— nowhere. Ask any slave about that, or any Cherokee, or any woman in labor, with no money and an absentee father. Who protects anyone from anything? The police? The National Guard? You?

No veil of ignorance shields us from the worst, or blinds us to the fate we have in store. Only philosophers think that they can escape from it by erecting a priori theories and creating hypothetical cases, as if we could start from scratch and be given a second chance. Life is what it is—uncompromising and unredeemable. That is what people know in their bones. They don’t need a theory, be it original sin or the myth of meritocracy, to figure that out, or to understand that wearing a mask does not protect you from poverty, iniquity, or disgrace—or from being stomped on by the police, every day, or from being gang-raped, or from being homeless, or from being poor, naked, unaccommodated fool, thrust out upon the heath, in the cold, with no crown except the concussion from playing football or being beaten with a lead pipe by an ex-spouse, or being unnatural heir to a thousand shocks, both large and small, as you eke out a meager existence amid a thousand points of blight, with no end in sight, except the one we all dread, but are powerless to prevent.

Wear a mask? What for, Kemosabe? As Melania might say, let ‘em eat coats. That is, if they won’t shut their traps. Losers. God must love them, for she made too many of them. And if they think they’re going to finish first, they think too much, and are worth far too little, even to abort.

Who is that unmasked man? You know him, Gertrude: see the mirror?

Long live the virus—it’s a winner.[6]

[1] Josh Katz, Margot Sanger Katz, and Kevin Quealy, “A Detailed Map of Who is Wearing Masks in the U.S.,” NYT, July 17, 2020. The Times commissioned the demographic survey.

[2] Sharon Begley and Andrew Joseph, “The U.S. is the accidental Sweden, which could make the fall ‘catastrophic’ for Covid-19,”, July 15, 2020.  Offers many conjectures.

[3]  Speaking at a Democratic fundraiser (September 9, 2016), Ms. Clinton said “You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.  Right?” She continued, “The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic–you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that.  And he has lifted them up.” She threw an olive branch to “the other half,” characterizing them as people who “feel that the government has let them down” and therefore are quite “desperate for change.” (Thanks to Dr. Gilbert Traub for jogging my memory as to how she wove her demotic basket). A “senior communications advisor” to Trump (Jason Miller) retorted: “Just when Hillary Clinton said she was going to start running a positive campaign, she ripped off her mask and revealed her true contempt for everyday Americans.” (My impression has always been that, like Mae West, she did her best to hide it. But Trump never wears a mask, unless the hospital insists). The exchange occurred almost a year prior to the “Unite the Right” rally  (August 11-12, 2017) at Charlottesville. Before the election, a friend in Louisiana complained that “Hillary just loves to lecture us on race.”  I looked at him and said, “The problem is, we badly need the lecture.”

[4] Interview with Sean Hannity (Fox News), July 23, 2020.   Emphasizing indifference, Trump added “you’re not going to lose with it.  So do  it.”  A mock-Pascalian wager, recalling those snide appeals to black voters (“what have you got to lose?”) in 2016. It was also a faint echo of what then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said about an attack on the American embassy in Benghazi in 2012 that killed two CIA agents and two U.S. diplomats stationed in Libya: “Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night and [they] decided they’d go kill some Americans?  What difference—at this point, what difference does it make?” Hillary’s adversaries pounced on this last sentence, as did Trump during his 2016 campaign.   But the context of utterance proves that she was far from blasé about the incident. Her next words were “It is our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from happening again.”  (House of Representatives, jan. 24, 2013.  Brackets supplied.  Ms. Clinton’s testimony was her last appearance as Secretary of State, although she testified again before the House on Oct. 22, 2015, at another session devoted to the same topic, this one lasting eleven hours. By then it was clear, both that she was running for President the following year and that her opponents were determined to hold her solely responsible for Benghazi, three years earlier).  Even if that was pro forma piety, it hardly resembles Trump’s verbal shrug, though he may have had that in mind when he decided that it was prudent to wear a mask. Slyly, Trump did not commit himself to anything: “some say it’s patriotic.”  Many fine people say it’s not, so what difference does it make?  Trump is dedicated to just one proposition: as Jed Leland (Joseph Cotton) said of his former boss, “he never believed in anything, except Charlie Kane.”

[5] Epitaph for Harvey Korman (1927-2008), Woodlawn Cemetery, Santa Monica, CA.

[6] Doris Day, Baruch Spinoza and Max Weber all helped me to write this paper.  They are not responsible for any mistakes in it. King Lear is to blame for everything. Donald Trump will not be indicted, unless by mock trial.  Horatio will draw breath in pain, as did George Floyd. Ol’ Man River keeps rollin’ a-long, God only knows why. My poor fool was hanged at birth.

A native New Yorker, Dennis Rohatyn took his PhD at Fordham. He moved to the West Coast in 1977. His works include “Out of My Mind,” “The Flight of Theory” and “Cartesian Requiem.” He writes about everything, but his true vocation is the inhuman condition.