Why Hillbilly Elegy Is A Bad Title

ABOUT HILLBILLY ELEGY: I refuse to read this book by JD Vance nor will I watch the movie. A “hillbilly” is “an unsophisticated country person, associated originally with the remote regions of the Appalachians.” I am one of them and I’m proud of it. I’m more self-educated than not, having come from a “hillbilly” family who believes reading books and “larning” things is so much fun it don’t leave any room for foolishness.

Where JD went wrong is he blames his terrible treatment while growing up on what he calls the “hillbilly culture” There ain’t no such thing. Bad people and bad treatment are everywhere, probably more so in the cities and towns than in the mountains. Why slander “hillbillies!” It’s a misuse of the word through blaming the lowest level of society on the mountain people.

His title and the book’s premise are both wrong.

I did watch his interview with Megyn Kelly and my heart went out to him. I could see he had withstood terrible hurts from his past. To be completely healed he may have to hold those who mistreated him accountable, cut them from his life. After all, there is no excuse for the mistreatment of children, not due to drugs nor anything else. Instead of him forgiving others at his own cost, the ones who injured him should be the ones made to suffer.

I made a previous post about JD Vance’s book before I watched the Megyn Kelly interview. Watching him respond to her many questions aroused my feelings for him. I wish him a true healing from what was obviously a horrible childhood.

A Little Bit of Nonsense

This is how the world ends, not all at once, just a little bit at a time.

 Why is J. D. Vance’s little bit of Jabberwocky making such a big splash? Twas brillig and the slithy toves –you know the rest–doesn’t everyone?

I’m appalled by this pandering to an opportunistic quasi-hillbilly who has indecently laid claim to the name. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised since it’s simply more of the same: disrespect for a people who fought to independently carve out a life for themselves and their children in the wilderness through their own labor.

Although I left eastern Kentucky many years ago in order to find employment I continue to be proud of my heritage. My ancestors were pioneers in eastern Kentucky, several generations (including one great great grandfather who was about two years old) coming into what is now Letcher County in the Adams Wagon Train.

I’m proud because I know what we stood for in the beginning and still do. I took my heritage with me when I left, passing my values along to my own children. I taught them to take pride in our ancestors who built this country from scratch. There may be a few bad’uns somewhere in our lineage but if there are, then God Bless Them.

THUNDER ON THE MOUNTAINS

If you wonder how the modern world evolved to the point where we’re allowing the beautiful mountans of Appalachia to be blown off and discarded like trash in order to more profitably and easily extract the coal—-perhaps this long quote from Richard Tarnas’s book COSMOS will provide you with the answer.


RICHARD TARNAS:
“…the course of history brought about a deep schism between humankind and nature, and desacralization of the world. This development coincided with an increasingly destructive exploitation of nature, the devastation of traditional indigenous cultures, a loss of faith in spiritual realities and an increasingly unhappy state of the human soul, which experienced itself as ever more isolated, shallow and unfulfilled.
In this perspective, both humanity and nature are seen as having suffered grievously under a long, exploitative, dualistic vision of the world, with the worst consequences being produced by the oppressive hegemony of modern industrial societies empowered by Western science and technology.
The nadir of this fall is the present time of planetary turmoil, ecological crisis and spiritual distress, which are seen as the direct consequences of human hubris, embodied above all in the spirit and structure of the modern Western mind and ego.
This second historical perspective reveals a progressive impoverishment of human life and the human spirit, a fragmentation of original unities and ruinous destruction of the sacred community of being.
Something like these two interpretation of history here described in starkly contrasting terms for the sake of easy recognition, can be seen to inform many of the more specific issues of our age. They represent two basic antithetical myths of historical self-understanding: the myth of Progress and what in its earlier incarnation was called the myth of the Fall. These two historical paradigms appear today in many variations, combinations and compromise formations.
They underlie and influence discussions of the environmental crisis, globalization, multiculturalism, fundamentalism, feminism and patriarchy, evolution and history.
One might say these opposing myths constitute the underlying argument of our time: whither humanity? Upward or downward? How are we to view Western civilization, the Western intellectual tradition, its canon of great works? How are we to view modern science, modern rationality, modernity itself?”

Memory From Good Old Days

Once, when I was a young girl at the age of nine, I dreamed I wrote a book. When I saw the title on the cover with my name beneath it, I was amazed! For days afterwards I would try to remember the title, but couldn’t. Although the dream had planted the idea in my mind I told nobody about it. I believed it was foolish to even think I could do such a thing. Others would shame me if they knew of my conceit, that I even dared to dream I had written a book! Who was I to think I could write something others would want to read?

Forward thirteen years to age twenty-two. I had recently married and was also expecting my first child. I confided in my new husband, telling him I’d always wanted to write (the first time I’d ever dared to tell anyone!). “Then why aren’t you writing?” he said, as if what I’d said was not outrageously ridiculous! Duh! Don’t ask me why I didn’t know that if I wanted to write I should be writing! Perhaps it was the result of an inferiority complex. But after that I began taking pen to paper. When I later read what I’d written I blushed with embarrassment. The writing was full of cliches. As much as I had read, and I’d always been an avid reader, I knew too many cliches meant poor writing.

Forward to age thirty-three, the mother of four young children, all in school. I dared to enroll in a writer’s workshop. We had this wonderful teacher who had us put our writing on a large blackboard and the class would critique what we’d written. Thankfully, sharing our writing with the class was not required. Perhaps Mr. Young (bless his heart!) knew I was very insecure about my writing and did not draw attention to me or pressure me. I remember thinking one evening that my writing was just as good as some of the other writings on the board and I began posting mine.

That’s how my first written piece (besides all the ones I’d rejected and thrown away, of course) was written. Mr. Young told me it was publishable and to send the mss to Good Old Days magazine, a nostalgic publication. My piece was called “The Log Train,” a short story about my siblings and I watching for the log train to come out of the hollow where we lived in the Kentucky Mountains, how we played in the meadow beside the old tracks and called “Log Train’s Coming” when we heard the screeching of the iron wheels on the metal tracks. It was during a glorious yet short time in our young lives after our dad had died leaving a widow and eight children, the older children caring for and providing for the younger ones, my baby brother age six and me age eight.

March 1973 Issue

I cannot tell you how that short piece of writing, taking up only one page in the magazine, changed my life. No, I didn’t become a “writer”, so to speak, except for a few pieces here and there and finally a family book in 2006 called “Stories of a Kentucky Mountain Family As Told by Two Sisters and a Brother,” in which I also included many of my eldest brother and only sister’s writings.

Back to the day I received two copies of the March 1973 edition of the magazine: I hadn’t heard back about my submission until the day I received the copies. My little story was on page 11 (my birth path number in numerology). I looked at the printed page in wonder (I later received a check for $9.00). What it did for my self-esteem was unimaginable. As if it confirmed to me that I was still alive. And I still marvel at the change it made in my life, which is too much to go into here. But the latest thing that’s happened regarding the outcome of the story of The Log Train may be hard to believe. Although I saved the magazine for a while, during several moves and interruptions it disappeared. I had lost track and forgotten how important it had once been in my life.

Click image to read the story

This July (2019) 4th my daughter Teresa, her husband and two of my grandchildren went to Des Moines to celebrate the 4th with my son-in-law’s family. On the way home they stopped at a place called Brass Armadillo Antique Mall in Altoona, Iowa, and were browsing. They came across some Good Old Days magazines and Teresa called me to find out what year my little story The Log Train was published in the magazine. I can’t believe it took me awhile to remember (I’m getting old so I had to dig deep!) but I finally timed it because I suddenly remembered that when I began studying Astrology I learned I’d had a progressed New Moon that began the very same month the story appeared in the magazine, which was March, 1973.

Teresa learned someone on eBay had the Good Old Days magazines for that year. She bought them for me. I can’t tell you what a thrill it was to hold the copy with my story in my hands. I hadn’t realized fully until now how such a “small” thing (in many ways) had changed my life for the better. It’s also amazing that Teresa, who was only nine years old that year remembered that pivotal time and that she sensed how important it was to me. I am blessed in so many ways.

Lost Yet Found: My Inner Journey – Part 3

“We are born at a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage years of wine, we have the qualities of the years and of the season of which we are born.  Astrology does not lay claim to anything more.”    The Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Jung was one of the major forces responsible for bringing psychological(having to do with the mind and its processes) thought and its theories into the twentieth century.

My timid search for what lay behind the door in the back of my mind eventually led me to the study of Astrology: I’m now an advanced student, still learning.  Over the past few years professional astrologers have explored the meaning of newly discovered bodies called Dwarf Planets or  minor planets, along with specific asteroids and Trans-Neptunian (Kuiper Belt) Objects.  When I checked the ephemerides for their positions at the time of my birth I was amazed at how they tended to explain my natal chart.  Indeed “as above so below”.

Today Huya the Rainmaker, a TNO,  is transiting both my Lunar Return Midheaven and my natal Moon.  A New Moon arrived a few days ago, following my Lunar Return.

Although Huya was named for a Venezuelan rain god, different tribes of indigenous peoples throughout many countries have been adept at making rain.  The shamanic or spiritual way was once practiced worldwide. It used intention, prayers and ceremony to open the heart and mind of the seeker to contact unseen forces that exist in nature.  Most Native American tribes also included a rainmaker. In the shamanic tradition a person could become a rainmaker after a long apprenticeship.

I have a long way to go but I feel I too am working on an apprenticeship. Whatever gains I may make in this life, I hope to carry over into my next incarnation.

My American Indian heritage is very scant. As far as I know it began when a great grandfather took a young Cherokee bride way back in the pioneer days in the southern mountains of Appalachia.  Her name did not survive in our genealogy yet a legend was born.  Traces of her has appeared ever since through one descendant or another.  Not only in physical traits but also in spirit.

For instance I had a great grandmother who was a “Bee Charmer”.  My mother told me Great Grandma Polly Stamper could walk among the bee hives unprotected, talking gently to the bees and they gave her all the honey she wanted.  Whereas Great Grandpa could cover up from head to toe and still get stung. 

I’ve never felt an affinity with bees but I have always loved the rain.  The crashing thunder sending a thrill through my body, flashes of lightening across the sky bringing anticipation of things yet to come.    

I have hope for the future.

To be continued.