GAITHER STEWART: left journalism four years ago in order to write fiction full-time. Originally from Asheville, North Carolina, he has lived most of his life in Europe, chiefly in Germany and Italy. For many years he was the Italian correspondent of the Rotterdam daily newspaper, ALGEMEEN DAGBLAD. His has been a varied life: from university studies in Slavistics and political science in the United States and Germany, to intelligence officer in Europe, to correspondent for European and American radios, to public relations for Italian corporations, to full correspondent for a major European newspaper. Today, he lives in the hills of north Rome with his wife, Milena. His debut short story collection, Icy Current, Compulsive Course was released in March by Wind River Press. Its companion volume, To Be a stranger, will be published this winter. (on critique on writing II).
Gaither Stewart is a Senior Contributing Editor at Cyrano’s Journal and a seasoned professional journalist and essayist. He has lived in Europe for several decades, and currently resides in Rome with his family. In addition to Cyrano, his essays and reports are widely read on many Internet venues, including Online Journal, The People’s Voice, and other sites. His collections of short stories, “Icy Current Compulsive Course”, “To Be A Stranger” and “Once In Berlin” are published by Wind River Press. His new novel, “Asheville,” is published by Wasteland RUNES.
Gaither Stewart – USA
He says: … “What is so bewildering is the conviction—and it is becoming more and more general—that in all the perils that confront us the direction of affairs is given over to a way of thinking that no longer has any understanding of itself. It is like being in a carriage, descending an increasingly precipitous slope, and suddenly realizing there is no coachman on the box.” … (full text).
Gaither Steward’s To Be A Stranger, a book review: Summary: Displacement, exile and return haunt the pages of Gaither Stewart’s second short story collection, To Be A Stranger. Though most of the sixteen stories are set in the author’s hometown of Asheville, North Carolina, the stories touch only lightly on the real Asheville, today’s renowned tourism destination. Stewart says, “The Asheville I depict rather hazily is the misty, intangible town I imagine from a distance or see when I visit there. It is a strange Asheville, an Asheville of great secrets, an Asheville of a distant past, an Asheville removed from the present. It is also an Asheville as a destination and a hope. It is the hometown of the exile, seen now close at hand, now in the past, now as in a dream … (full text).
He writes: A peculiar dualism marks the peoples of the Italian peninsula: the conflict of their enduring desire for order with their destructive attraction to anarchy. The consequence of this unresolved twist of character has been Italy’s historical stumbling block: the necessity of some strong-armed authority—whether a homegrown dictator or a powerful foreign occupier—to provide the cement to form a cohesive nation of the diverse Italic peoples. And today … to make them feel more like other Europeans. Similar to Italy’s permissive attitude toward Fascism last century, many Italians today perceive of the Right led by Silvio Berlusconi and a nucleus of neo-Fascists as a protective shield against the persistent perverse disorder. In effect, protection from themselves. Promises of security and more security, police and more police, are reassuring to those who see today’s enemy in immigrants and crime and above all rules … (full text).
He writes also: … “It is fact that more and more peoples of the world consider America evil, distant and cut off from the rest of humanity. I believe American people too, no less than Europeans, could bear up under the reality that the message of Americanism is not true. You know, people do not need to be lied to. Most can take the truth. Or they might prefer the truth after they get used to it; our minds after all have the task of distinguishing between true and false. Still, it continues to be bizarre that we live our little lives inside our shell and have no idea of what is taking place on the outside. Only a thin wall separates our shell of comfort and ease from the exterior world where torture continues. In my mind, the kind of Americanism spoken of here, a life style based on comfort and ease, reflect anti-reality, anti-man, anti-life. If anything, we have to learn to live without illusions … (full text).
It is a paradox that the Americanism of which Americans are so proud is the source of the pandemic anti-Americanism throughout the world. Precisely the same Americanism of which Americans boast generates a worldwide antipathy toward them. And today, not just toward the US government, but in many places – to begin with in Iraq, as testified by blog writers from there – that antipathy, that hate, is directed against Americans in general. “We hate Americans!” One wonders if there is some great misunderstanding at play. Is this a cultural matter? A lack of true information about Americanism and what it stands for? Are Americans simply misunderstood in the world? … (full text).
And he writes: … Karl Marx is credited with coining the phrase “social justice”. However since the times of absolutism no one has been be able to conscientiously oppose the pursuit of social justice in a just society, of which the Left has been the vanguard. Opposition to social justice is, as one says, like shooting at the Red Cross. In Marx’s vision – as demonstrated in English history in his times and much more so in the USA and multinational-capitalist Europe today – the more powerful a state, the less inclined it is to seek out the causes of social ills by examining the principle of the state itself and the organization of the society of which the state is the official expression. In fact, history shows that the sharper is political power, the more incapable it is of comprehending social problems. Populist Berlusconian Italy today in an era of “home, car and TV for the masses” is destined to be emblematic of that condition. The Italian electorate is no smarter than American voters. It is simply not true that “the people” is always right. Modern propaganda is too powerful, popular understanding too weak. French Revolutionaries held social ills to be the source of political problems, not the political state as the source of social ills. Robespierre regarded both great wealth and great poverty—precisely the economic situation in the USA and Europe today, in Mississippi as in Italy—as an obstacle to pure democracy. Paradoxically, after years of political anarchy, Italy suddenly finds itself in a theoretical two-party system modeled on the USA, and likewise headed toward a one-party system in practice. The electorate’s exclusion of the radical Left from Parliament has set the stage for the arrival of a modern form of authoritarianism in Italy, as anyone with an eye for history knows is contagious. The new era has already been dubbed a “gentle dictatorship.” … (full text).
… One might wonder why one of the world’s richest men wants to continue in what in chaotic Italy’s reality is a backbreaking job? As of many dictators, one says that Berlusconi above all wants to be loved. A dangerous cliché indeed. Not for a minute do I believe that being loved is the point. Not for Silvio Berlusconi. In his world, love is for sale. He wants to be admired … and envied. But above all it’s a question of power. As others of his ilk Berlusconi suffers from an insatiable need to command. In the final analysis he wants it all. Humility and measure do not exist in his character or vocabulary. In his every manifestation Berlusconi appears as an unlikely Saviour of the nation and the statesman he so wants to be. The total egoist, he recognizes no differences between what he controls politically or what he possesses. As Italian philosopher Norberto Bobbio once wrote, “Berlusconi is the classic tyrant who thinks that what common mortals only dream, for him is permitted. The characteristic of the tyrant is the belief that he can do anything.” The identity of the Italian has been shaky since the unification of Italy a century and a half ago. For that reason the Fascist state which ruled Italy from 1922-1944 remains in the dna of many Italians, the eternal puppets of unpredictable power. If one speaks of the erosion of civil liberties and a nascent police state in Great Britain, so much the more so in Italy today. In these times of uncontrollable immigration, globalization, the loss of jobs and lack of opportunities, dwindling incomes and pressures from the European Union itself to obey the rules, the images of an Italy that once counted on the world scene remain fixed in the popular memory. That fabled Italy is Berlusconi’s obsession. And a majority of Italians seem to believe he can bring it back … (full text).
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