To Delia Bacon (first letter)

Dear Delia,
Your assertiveness could serve you well these days. You might cultivate an ambitious entourage, your own Mafioso fiefdom. You’d be fast-tracked, deftly networked, stuffing all challengers with your accumulating capital (through each and every orifice).
If only the world around you had been less concerned with verifiability, with accountability, with some sort of correlation between thoughts, actions, and their representation.
Ohio reminds me of DEVO or Pere Ubu, captured on long-abandoned super-8 reels (angry, manic, high on the danger of publicly expressing disenchantment with the way things are, in the middle of an unemployed and culturally insecure Midwest, limping through the oil crisis, ongoing minority rights abuses, the end of a manufacturing economy and any illusions of an ethical framework for Society). They bash it out with no expectation of affirmation, in some industrial park speakeasy, teetering on the artificial bank of a toxic river on fire.
I want it to make sense for me that you came from there too, this place in my mind that I think I know so well, so personally (what might sometimes be referred to as the Middle Of Nowhere). That short-lived log cabin on the frontier, perhaps your father’s most important mistake, seems such an apt beginning.
You needed to realize your amateur ambitions, a homespun sense of potential. You cultivated a sheer bloody-mindedness in lieu of other resources. You weren’t gonna be no Cracker.
From tutoring lice-ridden farmhands to hobnobbing with the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Thomas Carlyle — surely you’ve possessed something of quality, something more, something very special, something beyond an inflexible will.
You’ve theorized with passion, with confidence, without remorse. Your Higher Criticism has demanded sacrifices and absolute faith. William Shakespeare (go big or go home) is the necessary victim in a veneration of your lineage. Why shouldn’t you be the bearer of Truth?
You never reveal the real author of the Bard’s works, not once throughout The Philosophy of the Plays of Shakespeare Unfolded. You’ve tried to ensure that readers connect the dots, that they speak his name for you and for themselves, through their own bodies and minds.
Sir Francis Bacon wasn’t even an ancestor. Can established authority ever really be trumped by ability, and what does it matter if this only serves to insert you within the very order you’ve tried to debunk? It’s as if your ends and means negate each other. I keep getting the two confused so easily. No wonder you lost your mind.
While in England (on other people’s money) it was enough for you to be where he could have been, sensing an ambiance, “absorbing an atmosphere”, intuitively recognizing an acknowledgement of your own desires.
Reality hasn’t mattered, except as an idea.
jeremy