Pushcart 2022 XLVI: Richard Hoffman, “Remembering the Alchemists” (non-fiction) from Consequence #12

Image from Seattle Artists League webpage
In the essay I ask this question: “What does it mean to be the foremost arms dealer in the world? The health of our American economy presently depends upon the murder of other human beings. How did we get here? When did we make this deal with the devil? How long have we been addicted to this poison?”

Richard Hoffman, online blog

If a theme is emerging in the early part of this volume, it’s more of a list, a Hit Parade of Contemporary Issues that keep (some of) us up at night. And now for your reading pleasure, an essay on gun violence, from neighborhood shootings and children accidentally shooting themselves to global warfare.

If I sound a bit peeved, it’s not because I have any dispute with the article. I’m just tired of reading another analysis, another examination of the problem, in the absence of any solution.

The title comes from a poem:

In the early 1970s, with the exuberance and promise of the antiwar movement and counter-culture turning to disillusion, the poet Charles Simic asked the question I am circling here:   Poem Without A Title
  I say to the lead
Why did you let yourself
Be cast into a bullet?
Have you forgotten the alchemists?
Have you given up hope
In turning into gold?
  Nobody answers.
Lead. Bullet. With names
Such as these
The sleep is deep and long.

The incidents Hoffman includes will break your heart. Again. And again. And we deserve the heartbreak, because we will not change.

As I started writing this post, the article was available at Consequence magazine. It appears it no longer is. I have no idea how to interpret this (maybe they, like other print magazines, make articles available briefly on a rotating basis, and its turn was up), but it just adds to my frustration.

*  *  *  

  • Author’s blog post about the essay, quoted above.
  • Smithsonian Article about Basil Zaharoff, “an arms salesman who made a career out of selling to both sides in a conflict”

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