~About Eric Chaet

The Turnaround Artist

///

What can one person do, versus the varieties of normal madness, mass psychoses, & periodic brief or longer-lasting tyrannies of incumbent or insurgent individuals or groups?

How can one person break out of & transform this unjust & insane humanity-molecule?

When I don’t know, which is most often, then my religion is “How?”

///

I am far from satisfied with my efforts so far, but I’m no more satisfied with others’ efforts so far, even those whose efforts I admire.

///

I’m a long way from where I’m going—& I don’t know if I’ve got what it takes to get there.

///

Eric Chaet Old Buzzard
Old Buzzard of No-Man’s Land
book of poems
Coach House Press
Toronto, Ontario (Canada)
1974.

///

billboard

“WHAT
YOU DO
OR DON’T DO
& HOW
HAS ITS
EFFECT”

Billboard
along north-south
Interstate Highway 51,
Wisconsin, USA—
mid-1990s.

///

I’m an American—born (1945) & raised in the USA.

I’m Jewish. My father’s parents immigrated to Chicago from Belorus, when it was still part of the virulently anti-Semitic pre-Communist Russian Empire. My mother was born in Ukraine. Her parents brought her out of the Russian Empire, to Chicago, when she was 2 years old.

I was raised in a polyglot neighborhood, of Eastern, Western, Central, & Southern Europeans, mostly children of immigrants, mostly housewives & men who worked with their hands & muscles, on the South Side of Chicago, just south of the huge Polish neighborhood, & just west of the huge Black ghetto.

I knew nothing of the more upscale neighborhoods north of the Loop.

My father sent me, after public school, to Hebrew School. My mother sent me, via bus, elevated train, & subway, downtown, to Art School, & arranged for me to have piano lessons, too.

I don’t know how much they understood their parts in playing tug-of-war with me. (I didn’t understand what I was doing with or to them, either, of course.)

What I liked to do was play hundreds of hours of baseball, on the gravel yard adjacent to Marquette Elementary School, a block from my parents’ little house.

For 13 years, I attended public schools in which most of the teachers, like most of the students, held yearning to learn & learning in contempt.

Sometimes I was punched at school. And I feared worse, not without reason. No doubt, many others’ situations were worse.

///

While a boy, I was exposed to newsreels of the Holocaust, the half-successful attempt to eliminate Jews, which had ended only weeks before my birth. (Hiroshima & Nagasaki were bombed a couple of months after my birth, & the Second World War ended.)

///

I watched the newsreels, alone, on the television set my father had grudgingly purchased.

As, since, I’ve grudgingly purchased recently-invented & widely-distributed equipment, & developed the necessary skills to use them, that enabled new activities—tho what I had started, attempting to improve my pathetic position & turn around on-going injustices & screw-ups in the world, hadn’t been satisfactorily resolved.

Tho, since I was a million miles from where I hoped to arrive, I had far from sufficient money to waste any.

///

As a teen, I stumbled on the writings of William H. Prescott on the brutal conquests of the Incas & Aztecs; of Upton Sinclair on the horrible conditions of those working in the carcass-disassembly, sorting, & meat-processing operations associated with the Chicago stockyards around 1900; of Mohandas Gandhi on his principles & private struggles & on the non-violent revolution he led in India; of George Orwell on the subtleties of collective mind-control; & of Howard Fast.

My favorite Howard Fast novels were about George Washington & those who didn’t desert him, during their hungry winters at Valley Forge, clinging to survival & preparing to re-emerge to confront imperial British forces; & Citizen Tom Paine, about that incorrigible rebel against all injustice & normal cooperation with it.

///

I try to contribute to the well-being of the people of my township, county, state, & nation, & to its governments operating beneficially, rather than detrimentally.

I don’t think it is shameful to be an American, as many of my generation have thought—reacting against the propaganda fed them, as history, in school—since the racial violence of the 60’s & the Vietnam War, then, also, the invasion & occupation of Iraq—any more than I think it is shameful being Eric Chaet.

Tho on occasion I am ashamed of being an American, or ashamed of being Eric Chaet.

///

I worked my way thru college feeding a giant printer-slotter in a box factory. My fellow-workers were like the boys I’d gone to school with, only more dangerous. I also caught 80 pound sacks of parcel post off a giant slide, downtown Chicago, nights, & threw the sacks into appropriate carts or down appropriate chutes, per their destination.

I was undernourished, malnourished, underweight, short, scrawny, with little to no sense of physical fitness, or confidence in my ability to face my situation. I lived in dread.

At college—supervised learning—I took every course I could take without paying extra, & studied far more than was required of me. For instance, I read most of the writings of Tolstoy & Dostoyevsky—unsupervised learning—tho I was taking no course involving either of their writings.

For most of the rest of my life, I avoided supervised learning, but engaged in unsupervised learning approximately to the same unusual degree as I earned unusually few dollars.

///

There are many tense interludes—months, years—in which I achieve little in the world, while resources, however carefully & slowly, are consumed, & others’ triumphs, actual or merely performances, are celebrated.

Will the learning & re-organization of thinking, the preparation, the neural re-wiring—be correct & sufficient—not mere fearful hiding & rationalizing—before events or some disease disables me, & during my allotted breathing & production of proteins?

///

Solid and Sound cover

Solid and Sound, vinyl LP album of songs, Country & Urban/Eastern & Western, Tick Crick Records, Lee’s Summit, Missouri (U.S.A.), 1977.

///

I participated in civil rights “demonstrations,” including a sit-in in Missouri & a march in Mississippi, &, in Washington, D.C., in a big demonstration against what the United States government of the time had the army, navy, air force, & CIA doing in Southeast Asia (“the Vietnam War”).

///

While at college, I bought, for $1, a used Bible, in which the words of Jesus were printed in red.

Hey, I thought, this guy believed more of what I believe than anyone I’ve ever met! And he was brave & wise, & expressed himself just about perfectly, too!

That didn’t make me want to become a Christian, tho. It was still apparent to me that approximately everyone calling themselves Christians were conformists, seeking one another’s approval, & allowing the injustices of our time go by without bothering themselves about them.

I’m guessing that at least a significant proportion of those living in lands considered Muslim, are Muslim in the same way, either just saying they are Muslims to avoid getting into trouble, or believing that they are Muslims, without seriously considering the story of Muhammed’s life & his successors’ lives, or their meaning; or considering the nature of Allah, or submitting themselves to Allah—rather, going thru the motions, maybe mentally as well as physically.

It’s probably so of a significant proportion of those considered Buddhists & Hindus, too.

And probably most tribal religions & national & international political & economic ideologies—& even popular forms of skepticism & cynicism.

It’s something like humming a popular tune—maybe over & over—with only a sliver of your attention involved.

Not being Christian, I can admire Jesus without believing everything Christians require themselves to believe about him, as I admire Benjamin Franklin & George Washington, without believing everything many Americans require themselves to believe about them; & Newton & Einstein, without believing what many mathematicians & physicists & teachers of mathematics & physics believe about them.

I have occasionally met someone righteous & kind who considers himself or herself a Christian, & for whom, I’m sure, the life & teachings of Jesus serve as a powerful inspiration in the midst of prevailing base behavior. The life & teachings of Jesus serve as a powerful inspiration for me, too.

///

Decades later, Dr. Pierre Slightam, who had many opinions he was eager to express, who sometimes broke into song, & who ran a one-person general medicine practice out of a shabby office in Wrightstown, Wisconsin, USA, when private general practices were already nearly as extinct as dinosaurs—& who wanted to be paid in cash, but a lot less money than his colleagues operating in immaculate bureaucratic palaces with a lot of staff support & the most recent equipment & algorithms on their computer screens charged—was delighted to learn that I’m Jewish, & asked, “Reform, Conservative, or Orthodox?”

“Completely unorthodox,” I told him.

///

I believe in being righteous & kind.

///

In the months immediately after I graduated from college, broke, but not indebted; with a lot of knowledge & understanding—& ignorance & misunderstanding—when I was draft age & the Vietnam war was raging & I saw no future I was eager to work to realize—I read Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. A revelation! The world beyond people interacting, & beyond people’s productions. The world people are a part of. A whole amazing world, & I a part of it!

The antidote to despair!

///

I might have learned this for myself, without having to find it in a book—but I didn’t.

Books have taught me a great deal, but before I learned much that was truer & more useful than what everyone around me knew, or imagined they knew, I was already addicted to books, whether profound or trivial, helpful or inducing pathologies.

There are books I treasure, & I have written a few, & likely will write more. But I am as suspicious of books as the most anti-intellectual of my contemporaries.

Even most books that are not pathological, are almost entirely imitative—tho the authors rarely realize that that’s so—&, therefore, more obstacles than helpful. I try not to write such.

I want to lift my eyes from the pages, & live on my two feet & in the world of nature & of human doings—& I want my readers to do likewise.

I want to thrill to life, not just to words on pages, which are sometimes thrilling. I want to improve my situation.

And I want to change the world of human doings—partly, but not entirely, via words on pages—before I no longer have the chance.

///

Of course, I’m equally suspicious of web-sites, radio & television programs, “news” in newspapers & magazines, correspondence via the internet (“social media”), & conversation.

///

To avoid being drafted to kill & be killed in the insane & immoral war, I accepted one fellowship, then another, & continued my formal education, tho I had had more than my fill already—from professors whom I thought (& think now) were, on the whole, unwise—some of whom were competing to prove themselves more clever than I was, & that they had power over me, rather than trying to help me become the best, most useful, & fulfilled person I might become.

///

Do I imagine that I am more powerful in relation to my situation than I am? (Because I am so much more powerful than when I was a bit younger.) Do I imagine that I have earned an advantage I find I have, when it is mine by luck?

Conversely, do I imagine I am helpless, & therefore bear no responsibility, when I only have less power than would be convenient, but have enough power to attain more power (with work)? Do I use as proof of my helplessness, attempts that have failed to achieve their desired outcomes—when at least some of the failure was due to factors I had no way of being aware of til then, let alone learning how to deal with them effectively—but am aware of now—& can at least begin to deal with them, til I’m dealing with them effectively?

Fortunately, I’m not dead yet.

///

As I find it difficult to get my work into wide circulation, I imagine that there are works produced as valuable as I believe (careful not to delude myself) mine are, that I have never heard of, & may never hear of, as well as works I’d greatly benefit from, that I’ve heard of, but only via people who didn’t understand them, & were denigrating or praising them, for untrue or only partially true, partially false reasons.

///

No one yet has said what needs saying, except fragmentarily. Humanity is still crazy, frequently cruel to those who can’t prevent it, & don’t deserve it, & unwilling to do what’s necessary to transform itself. Thinking, then behavior, needs changing.

Of course, most people who try to change others’ behavior either misunderstand the world & humanity, or are secretly or not so secretly striving for domination—or both. And, of course, it’s necessary to change oneself, primarily—& as long as one lives.

///

During a period of about 10 years, & interspersed with other activities, I taught rhetoric, Western & non-Western philosophy, & American & world literature, for a few months to a couple of years, at 5 colleges, from Pennsylvania to Nebraska; & mathematics at the middle school of the first Navajo-run school on the Navajo reservation, in Arizona.

And in the early 1980s, I quickly studied bookkeeping, in order to teach the subject at a business college in Los Angeles.

I also supervised a 20-person research team providing attorneys in a big, swanky L.A. law firm with information regarding methods of litigating computer companies—intellectual property & anti-trust issues.

///

Someone, intelligent & kindly, with whom I interacted for a few minutes a couple of times, imagining I’d found my niche, asked me, “How do you like the law?”

I said, “I prefer justice.”

///

1984 to 1994, I silkscreened posters on rectangular scraps of cloth—Brenda, later my wife, showed me how, & gave me old sheets to start with—& I hitchhiked back & forth across the U.S.A., stapling 1500 to utility poles. Others posted some in public places in South America, Europe, Asia, & Australia, too.

Sayings on “the signs” included: “You’re like me in this respect, what you do has its effect,” “Seek truth, develop capacities,” “Help one another succeed,” & “Anxious to serve.”

///

Michigan Talk Radio: “What were you trying to do?”
Chaet: “Change the United States.”
MTR: “The people? The government?”
Chaet: “Yes.”

///

how to change1990, How To Change the World Forever For Better, brief book of philosophy—what an individual can do—self-published; 2nd edition 1994. If you send me $25 (U.S.) or the approximate equivalent in foreign currency, I will send you a copy via U.S. mail. (Outside North America, please add $10.)

Price includes shipping & handling, inventory management, tax, bookkeeping, accounting. A zillion dollar bargain! Don’t wait til I’m dead, or you are, or both! Order before you are required to focus your attention on something more stupid, less advantageous—swiftly!

If you want a copy, but can’t afford it, write me a careful request, describing your current situation, your hopes, & your preparations—plus the address to which the book would be sent. Or send me an old fashioned letter, to the address toward the bottom of this page.

///

From 1991 til 2016, I was lucky enough to get occasional assignments doing research identifying technologies, methods, suppliers of industrial, agricultural, biological, & chemical equipment, processes, & services.

Someone more ignorant of such things than I was would have been difficult to find. But I did my best to fulfill assignments, while making myself generally more competent, then good at the work.

What I earned, & a habit of spending very little, helped keep me from having to compete for the privilege of writing & publishing what there was a ready market for. (I hope I am creating a new market.)

I was glad for the assignments, tho they disrupted my studies & writing. Sometimes I couldn’t find what the client hoped for. Sometimes, tho, I’d find exactly what was hoped for, or, I was told, even better.

When I accept assignments, I work at them conscientiously.

///

My researches for one engineer in particular, over a period of 25 years, forced me to realize how little I understood of all the machinery around me, that I was dependent on, for good or ill—which motivated me to study physics & chemistry, thoroughly, & the mathematics upon which they were, in turn, dependent.

Integrating biology & physiology as well, plus my earlier studies of history & the greatest works of the various arts, religions, social & psychological analysis including macro & micro economics, & rhetoric, led, over a period of decades, to the current Chaet Happens Lab, out of which emerges whatever I produce or do that is made possible by my current & evolving understanding.

///

I was retired until I was 14 years old, but I didn’t like it. Many people around me, judging me by my grey beard, or by how much I earn or don’t earn, or by my lack of status, consider me retired—but I’m as far from retired as it’s possible to get.

///

We don’t just want to be clever among ourselves, do we?

///

In 2006, Barb Gagnon, of the taiga forest of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA, took it upon herself—asking my permission—to purchase a copy of my LP album of songs, Solid and Sound, on-line, then get & master equipment enabling her to make CD copies of it, which she sells one at a time, when people order them.

When she asked about sharing revenues. I told her that if she makes $1,000 profit in a year—unlikely—she should send me 25%.

If you want to purchase a CD, please email her: wolves_baby56 (at) hotmail (dot) com. Be nice!

///

I am, mainly, less powerful than a hydrogen bomb, ICBM, the Chinese, Russian, or United States armed forces, a loaded assault rifle, an F-15, a billionaire, a psychopath at his or her trigger-point, a large & healthy young man, a splendidly educated & well-funded engineer, a financier to whom capitalists turn to arrange billions-of-dollars mergers & acquisitions, Trump, Putin, Xi Jinping, Jack Ma, or Jeff Bezos—tho more powerful than William the Conqueror, Genghis Khan, Beethoven, Napoleon, Bismarck, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Watt, Newton, Cortez, Pizarro, Clive, Darwin, Hitler, Stalin, or Mao—all of whom are dead.

///

Unable to provide better for myself & what I’m doing, I try to learn how & to maintain a house & the equipment within it faster than they disintegrate, & to get along better, rather than worse, with my wife & neighbors (human & other species, too), who are, in many ways, wonderful creatures, but in many other ways, obstructive & refractory. They find me refractory, too, often.

///

I’m competing with political partisans, violent insurgents, sectarian clergy, “experts” of all sorts who understand less than they imagine, educators, heroin, beer & wine, obsessive compulsions, & anti-depressants—to change people’s thinking & behavior, &, therefore, outcomes. I must also compete with artists of every genre, idealists & cynics & all in between, whose comprehension, intents, technical skills, finances, & status all vary—& anyone with an ego, mouth, or internet connection—for attention, cooperation, & allocation of resources.

hitchhiker

///

People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways: a few so-called poems, but mostly prose narrative, 2001, Turnaround Artist Productions, De Pere, Wisconsin, U.S.A. If you send me $25 (U.S.) or the approximate equivalent in foreign currency, I will send you a copy via U.S. mail. (Outside North America, please add $10.)

Price includes shipping & handling, inventory management, tax, bookkeeping, accounting.

///

For $1,000 or the equivalent, I will send you a signed copy of either How To Change or People I Met. But don’t worry—the work itself, at $25, is the signature it took me almost all my life to learn to sign.

///

I’m the janitor, millwright, & IT trainee at the Chaet Happens Lab & Turnaround Artist Productions. Also accountant, scheduler, purchasing officer, file clerk, & vice president of fitness, operations, & marketing. I’m also the nutrition officer, dish-washer, & in charge of compliance—that is, staying legal, & paying what I’ve contracted for. I’m a regular slave-driver. I’m also in charge of research, training, strategy, execution.

When you contact us (me, so far), I’m the customer service representative.

What can we do for you?

I’m anxious to (truly) serve.

///

As far as I know, I’m the most simple-minded person in the world—& I want to keep it that way.

Sometimes, in order to remain simple-minded, I have to seek out, concentrate on arrays of details, & integrate them into my mind-til-then.

To some people, it must seem that I am a book-worm, who will never apply what he learns. Sometimes it feels so to me, too! That’s a bad feeling.

It keeps me working at as rapid a pace as possible, while still able to absorb what I have decided I need to know, or is advantageous to know—so that I can emerge, enabled, again & again, & change the world forever for better, more effectively.

///

Meanwhile, I manage the slight body of articulations I have managed to deploy slightly in the world so far, & organize to deploy whatever I’ll manage yet to deploy, more effectively.

When, occasionally, I understand something I think useful for those also attempting to survive & thrive, while causing humanity to behave more wisely, justly, & kindly—something neither I nor anyone else I’m aware of has articulated before—I try to express it as simply as I can, & get it into as wide a circulation as possible, in order to reach them.

This site is among such efforts.

///

Tho it is difficult even to continue articulating what I realize would help, if people understood it, & deploying the articulations, that is not all I hope to do in my remaining time.

It’s a good specialization & contribution, but it’s not all the situation requires, or that I’m capable of, I hope.

///

I regret that my efforts have had such slight effect so far.

///

When I was younger, I was more who I was born plus who I was programmed to be, than who I aspired to be—& people treated me accordingly.

Now I’m more who I aspired to be than who I was born plus who I was programmed to be.

But there’s a lag in people’s perception, especially if they have not much become who they aspired to be, or if who they aspired to be was an infantile idea, or if they imagine they already are who they aspire to be, &, so, haven’t gone thru the necessary work of evolution, & can’t recognize it in others, or realize that it’s never as complete as publicists or historians make it out to be, or that it only ends with death.

///

The so-called poems have appeared in periodicals & on web sites from the USA, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, China, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Sweden, Spain, Ireland, France, Scotland, England, the Netherlands, Belgium, Colombia, Brazil, & Cuba—often in translation. Some appeared in the 1974 print collection, Old Buzzard of No-Man’s Land, by Eric Chaet—Toronto, Canada, The Coach House Press; & a few in People I Met Hitchhiking On USA Highways (2001), which is, otherwise, a book of narrative prose.

In 2013, The World Academy of Arts and Culture (Seoul, Korea) “conferred upon” me the “Prize of Corea Literature.”

///

Many have climbed higher, on hills or smaller mountains, than I have climbed, so far, on the biggest mountain.

You, too, likely—since here you are, at the base of the big mountain with me.

Tho we don’t covet the prizes for reaching the top of nothing worth reaching the top of, we have to climb (or be buried by the stuff & pollution others throw down from just above us) to the top of something that is actually worth the climb—to where we can breathe & see & initiate useful deeds & follow thru til their effects live without our further nurturing—whoever else notices, mis-notices, or realizes what we’re doing, or imagines we’re doing other than we’re doing, or that we’re just fooling around.

And it’s one big mountain.

///

I am still who I have been, however much I’ve tried to be otherwise.

But I am also absolutely who I am right now—the given from birth, residual from earlier life that I’ve tried to overcome, & what I’ve managed to create.

I am who I will be, as well as what & who the universe insists I am, as well as what & who my contemporaries & those yet to come insist & will insist I am.

I am as complex & dynamic as what I face & am immersed in.

I can’t imagine a greater adventure than what remains of my life, tho I can imagine a more pleasant one—but that more pleasant imagining is infantile.

I won’t survive forever, & I won’t create the entire effect I hope to create. But I will survive a while, depending on my efforts, & likewise, I will create something like the effect I hope to create, right in the midst of the history I inherited—which history has been evolving all the time til now, when, once more, I’m ready to grapple with it, from a position of not quite total helplessness.

I would say that my contemporaries have by now revealed all they are going to reveal to me: meaning that approximately all available cooperation is cooperation to do evil or to be complicit with evil for a bit of the spoils & approval, & to be left alone for a spell.

But I know that, since, more often than not, I hid myself away as safely as I was able to manage, unable to do more for the moment (which moment was sometimes years, even decades), others, something like myself, may yet find the courage & will power & ingenuity to contribute something to the situation with which I can cooperate advantageously—both for my own, & for others’ good.

I won’t wait for it, or count on it, but I’ll be alert for it, while I proceed as tho it won’t show up while I’m still capable of interacting with it.

I will be trying, among other things, to extend the time of my ability to improve the situation, solo, & to cooperate with others’ advantageous contributions, should they deliver them & I become aware of them, in time.

Extending the time of my ability to operate so, & refining my ability to operate effectively, have been the main thrusts of my work in the world.

That surprises me.

I imagined what I was doing in terms of achievements.

But achievements were very rare—unless you’d count as achievements not surrendering—day after day, moment after moment—not doing evil for personal gain; not doing evil to relieve anxiety, humiliation, or discomfort; not doing evil in order to share moments of belonging with whoever was nearest to me at the moment.

Such work—not surrendering, & extending the time of my ability to operate, & refining my ability to operate effectively—is likely to continue to be my main work.

Occasional achievements are, I suppose, like the fruits of a tree, the roots of which are that work.

There isn’t edible fruit every growing season. There are plagues of pests, bad weather, etc. And, between growing seasons, there are always winters.

Still, fruit happens.

///

Please use, &—with others likely to use them, & without changing them—share the 100 so-called poems.

If you let me know you’ve done so, that will help me, more than zero.

///

Also, please email encouragement or constructive suggestions to:
echaet (at) gmail (dot) com.

If you can, will, & please, send $1 cash, once or occasionally, to the address below.

Or, if you are willing & able, send $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, or multiples thereof, once, or occasionally.

Personal checks for dollars would also be welcome.

If you send non-U.S.A. currency, please add extra, as I’ll have to pay a fee to exchange it.

This plea is for a limited time only—that is, while I’m still functional.

Eric Chaet
The Turnaround Artist
1803 County Road ZZ
De Pere, Wisconsin 54115-9629
U.S.A.

Advertisements

3 Responses to “~About Eric Chaet”

  1. Lawrence Gauthier Says:

    The best thing about your stuff is that, despite uncertainties, you’re careful to not mislead. I remember 40 years ago when I told you that I wanted to be a writer, the first thing you talked about was the awesome responsibility.

  2. Francis Maka Says:

    Hello Eric ! i’m glad to read about you again! We’re still alive .
    N’abandonne jamais !

  3. Mark Prellberg Says:

    Hi Eric-
    …Found a copy of Solid And Sound LP last year, I dig it muchly…
    Thanx & best,
    Mark Prellberg

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: