It's all around you, like smog. This train isn't bound for glory.
Background by Deak Ferrand, who pwnz.
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While racism of any type or degree is usually supposed to be an occasion for hand-wringing and self-flagellation, I can't deny that this fact gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, insofar as it may cause a whole segment of our population to conclude that John McCain is icky. (Oh, and has everyone forgotten the Keating Five?)
Okay, so I have officially gone down the Low Road. I feel dirty, but optimistic. How are you?
So, I was browsing in the local library, because that's how I roll, when I espied a volume on Spinoza and Leibniz, full of juicy academical dish about what a hypocritical sell-out Leibniz was - oh, snap! I flipped more or less at random (if such a thing be possible) to the middle of a chapter titled "Bento". I am a bit embarassed to admit that I have no idea what that means - I assume that it is a proper name, and probably of a place or person, and I further assume that it is something that I should know already. I hang my head in shame. In any case, I am fairly confident that it has nothing to do with artfully contrived Japanese box lunches.
Or does it? For what to my wondering eyes should appear, concealed intralibrally, but two white pills in a sandwich baggie. Like any jaded pill-head would, I took out my loupe and considered the little rascals, seeking for identifying marks - ideally, a Dobbshead. (Okay, I didn't take out a loupe, but I would have if I had one; in spirit, I took out the loupe of intention, if you get my drift, which you don't.) Finally, the elusive goal was realized - positive pill ID!
Like any good disciple of Fort, I abjure any final explanation, and ultimately prefer to leave the mysterious in its pristine intermediateness; but, of course, I can enjoy the game of explanation while it lasts. My presentation is that a joke was being made of such arch subtlety that it - like Bento - lies beyond my limited grasp. Duly humbled, I returned the book - pills intact and in place - to the shelf, and checked out the latest by Slackjaw instead.
Our civil libertarians have a lot to complain about, and theirs is a righteous struggle. But, candidly, there is very little that is forbidden in America. And yet...
There are things that, while not exactly forbidden, are nonetheless very effectively prevented from happening. There are many things that simply... fail to occur. People are not exactly robots; and they are not exactly not robots. Predictable results arise from a steady diet of the right stimuli in the right context, buttressed by lightly applied rewards and punishments. Politics is only an afterthought to the real motive forces of our collective life - culture and mass psychology. Put your hand on the throttle of culture, and you can let the guns - and the dollars - take care of themselves.
We do not have anti-war anthems of the Phil Ochs or Bob Dylan type - at least not in the top 40. There was a time when an effectively couched political sentiment could penetrate popular culture to the extent that it would shape public opinion and discourse. Not any more. Song was not exactly legislated out of existence. It just - stopped happening.
We do not have mass protests. What's that? Oh - you were at one? Well, it doesn't matter if you and a hundred - or ten thousand - of your scruffy pals marched around all day making the scene. If it wasn't on TV, it doesn't count. I'm sure it was gratifying, even exhilirating, but what result is going to follow from a protest, exactly? Unless you get the whole town shut down, you're not making it onto TV, Clyde. And Mr. Man is not exactly shaking in his cowboy boots over traffic getting disrupted for a day or two.
The most visible protests of late around the Pacific Northwest have been the puerile Critical Mass rides - and while I agree that ecology is the greatest single issue facing the world, and I agree further that more bicycling and less driving would be a good response to this - well, at the end of the day, a bunch of penii on bicycles is a fart in the wind.
Of course, there are the Anonymous-driven protests against Scientology to consider - which I am on record as admitting to be just swell, thanks. And yes, I am well aware that Anonymous is not my personal army. But shit, kids - have you no opinion about the war at all? Or torture, domestic spying, violation of the Constitution, war profiteering in the White House, impeachable offenses galore, and the erosion of our freedoms? No opinion? None? It's no skin off my back - when the draft hits, it's your ass that's next, not mine. And it will serve you right.
But, really, none of us had a chance - the machine was tuned up decades ago, and it just keeps getting better. Free will is real, insofar as our actions are internally determined by our motives - but those motives have their own histories, as do our habits. And those histories are shaped by every event, and every signal, that has touched us. After a culturally-prescribed upbringing, a government-sponsored education, and the 100,000th hour of TV, there's nothing really left inside us but a sense of tedium that can only be relieved by the intoxicants and distractions sold to us by the same people who sold us the culture, the government, and the TV in the first place. A vague hankering for novelty, for sex, and for self-assertion through periodic increases in status and income are all that remain of your original desire to make your true will actual. It's pitiful, in all senses.
Americans are sitting down in the basement of a house that's burning down, reassuring each other, "It's okay - we're safe down here." Now and again, one of them sends a can of gasoline upstairs.
Or, as they used to say in the Sixties: Don't you know there's a war going on?
Giants walked the Earth in those days; what can I say? He lived in San Diego's Ocean Beach - "OB" to the cognoscenti. He was a talented musician and artist, (even after he became blind) and he was from Outer Space. There were certain delicate rumours that LSD may have been implicated in this, but I think this is a red herring.
All I know for certain is that, in a town of a million or so, everyone had heard of him. (And also of Cliff, the drunk guy on the bus. How does a city that large manage to have a town drunk? And yet, we did.)
What is Space, anyway? Some centuries ago, an odd child might be thought to be a changeling - offspring of fairies or bogles, left on the doorstep like a cuckoo's egg to be raised by the hapless Normals. It stuns me to think of how many friends and allies I have had over the years who claimed to be from Outer Space... or to be non-human, anyway. And each one discovered it on their own, with no outside prompting. So what is Space? Sun Ra would say, Space is the place, and so it apparently is - our place. All of which makes the Church a lot more comprehensible (regrettable as that may be). Somehow my memory folds this in with Sun Ra and, always, with the OB spaceman.
Ah well. As Robyn Hitchcock said, "Watch out all you space cats - Clean Steve is a mineral man."
I already used up the Carl Panzram quote, so I'm a bit at a loss for words. Well, as Robert Zimmerman said, "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the winds blows." Therefore, this posting brought to you by our fine sponsors, Uncle Chunk's Syrup of Ipecac, and their lovable mascot, Hurly the Clown, who remind you to brush your teeth daily, and please, Kill Whitey.
I wish you all had one neck, and my hands were around it. - Carl Panzram
News flash!! This just in!!!!!
Barack Obama loves his wife, and his children, and his parents, and America, and God and shit!
And also he has children! They love him back! Also his wife!
And he is in the proud tradition of a bunch of people, some of whom you also really admire!
And we are a great country! Really, really great! Because you can have a great life here, even if you once had a really shitty life here because people hate you because you aren't like them! Thanks to the deforestation of the planet, and a liberal killing program, occasionally relieved by interludes of mere torture, we're the Happiest Place on Earth!!!
Also, he is very tall!!!
And he loves America! And God!! And his wife, who loves God and America too, even if she said she didn't!!!!
Also, emotion always triumphs over substance and the real has become defined as that of which an equivalent simulation can be made!!!
And the mediated image controls us!!!!! And God bless America, which He also loves!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It's become the most elephantine of elephants in the living room - and the Lord knows that we have plenty of those, these days. (Did you know that the American family is held together by money and incest? Oops. Move along - nothing to see here.) In fact, of all the mammals infesting all the rooms of all the metaphorical buildings you can conjure, it's the mostest. Or - in case you've forgotten, the United States has been at been at war for over five years now - and that's just the current Iraq war. Never mind the previous one, or our military bases in hundreds of countries worldwide, or all of our other engagements, most of which rate a back-page blip on the collective radar, if that.
Never Mind, indeed.
Despite everything, I haven't had much to say about the Iraq war. I think this is partially due to the fact that, what with everyone talking about it, there's no danger that "the message" isn't getting out. So far as "the public good" is concerned, I am plain not needed, and, being dirt ignorant in many relevant areas, I have nothing special to contribute.
I suppose the majority of my remaining reluctance derives from the very problem indicated by the scare quotes above. There is something repulsive about concerned citizens and other right-thinking people of conscience. They inevitably turn these sorts of things into topics for Serious Discourse.
Consider that by "these sorts of things", I mean, in this case, a huge writhing mass of human misery driven largely by the sick imperatives of the sort of evil creatures who inevitably turn up on top of whatever this year's steaming pile of blood and shit turns out to be. Consider also that by "Serious Discourse" is indicated that process wherein some sort of heavy pundit shows up on TV to pontificate about how this just goes to show how morally superior she is, and how right about everything her pet theory is, to boot.
Now, perhaps, you can understand my reluctance to blog about it. There's something plain ugly about sitting here in my bathrobe, sipping coffee in my comfortable house - which is not being blown up by psychotic mujahedin or psychotic "Christian" mercenaries - while I smugly denounce the venality of America, which I will probably spell "Amerikkka" in order to show how cleverly "progressive" I am. Wait - did I just manage two redundancies in one sentence? Do I win a prize? (And no, I'm not in a house or a bathrobe, and I have no coffee, but you get my drift.) I suppose there is something sad about someone of my convictions disliking most of the people who agree with me, but this is not half so sad as being the sort of person I dislike, so there. Now, get off my lawn!
Or, let's put it this way: the word for this is tragedy. Tragedy. Not a talking point, not our opponents' flawed agenda, and not leverage for the upcoming polls. It's pain and evil and viscera and rape and torture - and death of all kinds.
And so, I have had little to say. But, in the end, there are villains to be denounced - principally, you. I'll let you work that one out on your own. Also, the President. Fuck that guy.
And, finally, I can't not say something - I've been trying to find a way for weeks now to respond to this, and, so far, I haven't found one. Read it, follow the links, and then tell me I'm crazy, because you will know exactly what I am thinking by the time you are done, and fuck you if you disagree. The short version: the Anthrax scare circa 9/11 was (apparently) propagated by a now-conveniently-dead researcher working high up in the U.S. gummint's biological weapons program, and was transparently meant to be blamed on mulsims and linked to the WTC attack. Eat that, motherfuckers.
Anyway, I don't even know how to summarize what is directly in front of your faces so that you will understand. But, I will try.
The world is largely administered by people who, in any sane society, would be euthanized along with anyone remotely suspected of carrying any of their genes. Our "enemies" are, of course, as guilty of this as us. In the meanwhile, the commoners of the world are used up and discarded as regrettably-complicated precursors to the production of raw materials and finished consumer goods, while other commoners are skillfully manipulated into buying same. All of this is orchestrated, with no consideration of the ecological or human cost involved, in such a way as to gratify the unfathomable and wholly pathological urges of those in a position to administer the relevant apparati Their motivations are utterly obscure, because no sane person would want that. Noöne needs a sold gold toilet, or the ability to control others. Noöne needs slaves. No human being who remains human even wants them, John Norman aside. But, in order to avoid inconvenience, and to retain such comforts as we have been granted by our owners, we expend most of our energy in pretending that nothing is wrong.
We live in a world in which a large number of morons are duped, bullied, or sacrificed by a small number of psychopaths. And, perhaps, there are a scant few human beings left standing on the sidelines watching it all melt. These are distinguishable by a certain distincitive gallows humor.
There's a young couple, no kids, across the street, and I was looking across at their yard from my balcony when something about it struck me as odd - a little cartoonish. I at first thought my ragged neurons were to blame, but, comparing their yard to the others around it, I realized that it wasn't me, after all - there was actually something off about the yard itself, though I couldn't nail it down.
And then, finally, I really saw it.
The white picket fence.
Perhaps this is something specific to Americans of a certain age and older, but I feel very strongly that the white picket fence has long since changed from what it once was - something decorative, and perhaps practical, that was a commonplace because it made sense in its time and place, due to reigning aesthetics, available materials, or whatever it was - and that it has become something else entirely.
It has developed into a symbol, a glyph, and, ultimately, like all our most cherished symbols, like the skull and the crucifix - into a cartoon.
I remember being small, and a child, and knowing something instinctively in the way of children. I told my mother that I wanted, someday, to have a house with a white picket fence.
And that is what it is - the visible sign of the incohate fantasies of those who choose it. A caricature, a puerile vision - tranquil domesticity, and the bland serenity of settled - safe - marriage. A fable, a Hallmark card, a soap opera, and, of course, a scam.
I give them 2 years at the outside.
Ah, but smart money says my love and I last until one of us kicks it.
I know exactly what I mean to be doing here, and I have no idea how to do it. I want to strip all the coating off my skewed view, my experiences, what I have seen of the world and made of it. This is all one can do with words, after all - or most of what's worth doing. I am no solipsist. I have strolled my proper span of the world - and I am including the real world in this, O generation of gadgeteers - and I have listened to all of you, and I have been magnified, uplifted, transported, inverted and involuted by all you have chosen to share - in accidental conversation at bus-stops, in quiet moments at work, in drunken confessional overdrive, in books noöne but me remembers, in song, on walls, and even here in tubeland. I'd like to do the same. And I have the material at hand.
But I have no idea how to speak plainly but worthily, somehow to explain:
What I learned from my mother, and why everything is the exact opposite of what it appears to be, and why you might want to trust noöne, but befriend everyone, and why the felonies of the evil should be downgraded to misdemeanors, and why virtues and vices as the opposite edges of the same blade and why our grandchildren will look on us with contempt when we try to explain how we could live in these times and not simply scream in horror and claw out our own eyes.
Why a hero is a villain with a good publicist. And how it is that people don't think, but they somehow don't perish.
And the wars between spiders, and how it is to be frail and afraid. And how we all conspire to suppress what we don't know, and to protect what we think we do know. And why people tend to kill their betters - and that there are such things as betters.
And how a bird that dwarfed the ostrich is now gone, but only recently. That the sky is full of marvels, and the earth conceals others - mazes of bones, fungi acres wide, prodigious worms and inexplicable warmth. I wish to remind us that "fantasy" is pretty weak tea compared to reality.
And why the problem is really, at base, that people keep buying things, which is because they refuse to use properly the things that already exist. And how we will all die horribly because of this.
Or: That the world has been misrepresented, and everything is marvelous, but splendidly grotesque. And then again, that people are routinely small, evil, and foolish. And how so much of it reduces to these facts. And yet - our venality and pettiness - our fundamental brutishness is somehow a facet of the jewel, a phase of its splendour.
Or I wish to hold up a garish Victorian mirror, and show you a race of goblins inhabiting a goblin universe.