09 December 2018

Cloaks of gold

Dear diary,

I feel very far behind; I need to catch up: the people are way out ahead of me. I’m attracted to the most forward-thinking and forward-acting minds, and here I find myself almost totally backward. Great movements in humanity and experiments in democracy have been taking place in the NOW (not to be confused with the NEW), and I’ve been missing out... I’ve been fast asleep forever.

My problem is that I’m most attracted to utopian thinking; so my energies have been routed toward contributions that will matter most when humankind is at PEACE, when all problems (at least governmental, structural, etc.) have been solved & we’re all enjoying our cultural zenith cuz we brought paradise down to earth. I always assumed that this perfection was just around the bend; that eternity is about to make its landing, and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop this from happening. Now I tend to think the opposite: it feels more likely that humankind will vanish as a species and follow the dodo, rather than resurrect a Golden Age.

Wise minds in this very generation have understood the dangers, and they’ve been acting upon their knowledge and clearsightedness; that’s why I said that I feel so behind: it’s not that I’ve been blind, but I didn’t understand how desperately the foundation of society still needs to be built. I thought that the frame was already erected. I’ve been working on parts of the upper tower, and we haven’t even got the first story finished. I was only able to levitate up there in mid air, scribbling out literature, the way it works in cartoons: if you walk off a cliff, you won’t fall, so long as you refrain from looking down. But once you recognize the fact that there’s no ground supporting you, you begin to freefall. So I feel right now like a puff of dust on the ground, becuz I’ve freefallen. I just hope that, also according to the physics of animated cartoons, I can fail in this one sequence, even expire violently, and yet appear in the next sequence whole, as if nothing ever happened: God bless the non sequitur.

So like I told you before, I’ve been reading David Graeber. His book Debt: the first 5000 years. He was also closely associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement; and right this instant there’s a movement in France, which seems to be running along the same lines, and Graeber is there, in Paris, so this feeling of MISSING OUT is eating me up. I missed Occupy Wall Street — I didn’t understand what the whole thing was about. Now I’m worried that I’m gonna watch all the good stuff in life pass me by, if I don’t smack myself and tell myself “Wake the heck up!”

Just a few minds among millions have left me enthralled. You know how it feels when you encounter, for the first time, someone who seems like a heaven-sent exemplar? Maybe you’re not as obsessive as me; but I’ve experienced, a handful of times in my life, this total hero-worship, which commandeers me like a spell. First it was Ludwig Wittgenstein. Because I thought philosophy was the answer, I sought out the best philosopher: L.W. transfixed me. Then, without my enthusiasm waning for Wittgenstein, I grew wary of philosophy: I noticed that all the philosophers were always quoting poets and novelists, and drawing their ideas from the realm of creative literature. So, after Wittgenstein, I sought out the finest mind writing on FUN-TEXT; & my only caveat was that I wanted someone who could explain not only the past but the strange new works that were luring us to the future (I call the present the future because friendly artists are always up ahead waiting for us), and that mind — I still think I’m right about this — belongs to Harold Bloom. I should mention again, cuz by now I’m sure you’ve forgotten, that I was raised as a Reformed Protestant Christian, and my family was plagued with a bent towards literalism and biblical fundamentalism; so this was always a burden to me in life: I didn’t see it as a burden back in the days when I believed in the church doctrines, but I was always wasting a lot of time trying to figure out why my family’s views never quite lined up with the World’s Truth — I mean Science and also the Plain Regular Everyday Life (most movies and TV were prohibited in our household: why oh why!?) — and Harold Bloom’s biblical & religious criticism was the only force powerful enough to break my thick-headed faith. It wasn’t Bloom alone, but his essays on the scriptures challenged me to read my own Holy Book more closely, and I ended up having to admit that my religious views were bunk. A good try, but bunk. (I could talk about this until the cows come home, but I’ll leave it there for now, so that I can get back to the topic at hand.)

I had read Nietzsche before Bloom, and I really admired Nietzsche, but Nietzsche’s anti-church talk couldn’t make it to the processor in my brain, until Bloom had cleared the channel. So, tho I knew and loved Mr. Nietzsche before I knew Bloom, after Bloom Nietzsche took me over completely. I’m still basically a Nietzsche robot, and if I bite you, you’ll become a Nietzsche-bot too. So these four horsemen — Wittgenstein; Bloom; Nietzsche; and David Lynch (did I forget to mention Lynch? Well he’s always been around, for me — he’s the artist of my age, which is to say, OUR age, cuz I just bit you) — these minds created the monster named Bryan Ray.

& now, after moving from philosophy to creative literature philology and art in general, I pop my head up out of the ground like a hermit who’s been living in an underground cave for millions of years, and I look around at the world above, and I’m dismayed: I see that everyone’s sick and poor, despite the obvious abundance of riches available. So we have a distribution problem. This maddens me, because I require a populace that is healthy, so that it can grow obsessed with my own literary masterworks, as the LORD God intends.

So, after falling from my top floor in Utopia, I pull myself up by my bootstraps and begin to look into politics. The first thing that happened after I finished writing my collected self-amusements was the 2016 U.S. primary elections. It’s hard to float from philosophy all the way up to Art Heaven and then back down to stupid politics. But the world runs on stupid politics; and we don’t have a choice but to grasp it by its tail (and hope its tail does not fall off): the question, which I think I’m stealing from Joseph Campbell (another hero) is always “Can I eat that, or will that eat me?” Well politics will eat you up if you don’t learn to lasso it. Cage it or kill it; box it and ship it.

What I’m trying to get to is that David Graeber is the next big mind in my life: he seems to fit that “best top cat” position in my personal ratings-system; and that’s why I’m interested in the uprisings happening in France now.

But first let me add one more word about my political development, because you NEED to know every last goddamn detail about me:

As I said, the 2016 primary offered us the choices of Bernie Hillary or Trump. Well I liked Bernie, and he called himself a Democratic Socialist, so I began looking into what those words mean. Socialist seems to mean that we let social needs determine where resources go (as opposed to letting money itself make the decision); and if you ask: “But if the money market doesn’t dictate all decisions, then exactly WHO DOES get to decide which ‘social needs’ get the population’s resources?” — that’s where the word “Democratic” comes in: WE THE PEOPLE make the decisions (as opposed to some private corporation or so-called representative who is chosen by a wealthy minority). Then after Social Democracy I began to look into Communism, because that was always a scary word here in the U.S., for they teach us that Communists are our enemies who deserve to be killed. People boast about fighting Communism; regular people that you meet at church will brag to you and tell you that they themselves killed many Communists in this or that foreign war: and they did this for your protection; because if Communists are not killed outright, they will come and invade your country and make every single person miserable.

As it is, nobody’s miserable here in the U.S. And the reason for our all-pervasive bliss is that on principle we hunt down and annihilate all Communists. (Sorry — I’m getting carried away by sarcasm: this is a hard subject to write about straightforwardly, due to the climate of our culture.)

It seems that a fair amount of people define Communism as a system following the simple formula: “From each according to their abilities, to each according to their needs.” Now this is obviously dangerous: it is the system adhered to by every infant-nursing mother; and also most families and friendships follow this formula unthinkingly: it is practically instinctive. Stomp it out. (Sorry: sarcasm again.)

Even my explanation of these terms above is heavily influenced by what I’ve recently read of Graeber; and Graeber himself, when asked to give himself a neat political label, says “I am anti-capitalist and an anarchist.” This sounded very scary to me, at first: even scarier than Socialist or Communist. The word anarchist, I assumed, meant “one who believes in spreading confusion everywhere” — but I was wrong about this (why would anyone value confusion outside of art?); I realized that this term is another one that has been the victim of a successful, multi-generational P.R. campaign. (Public relations = propaganda.) The word “archon” was familiar to me from the gnostic scriptures; I understood it to mean something like “ruler”; so I deduced that “anarchist” must mean “being against rulers”, or “anti-authority”. This is just what I thought when I reasoned it out in my head. Now the idea of being against authority appeals to me sincerely. Not that authority should always be eradicated; only that it should not be ENFORCED rigidly, coercively: there should be no hierarchy, no artificially established echelon of beings who are inherently, permanently higher than the rest of us simpletons; rather, authority should always come from personal persuasion: Bloom is not the best because the rules say so, but because his writings and ideas convince me of his high worth. If Bloom seems not the best to you, so be it: you can go find a best of your own; and maybe you’ll persuade me to change my top-cat spot-holder; but neither you nor I should FORCE another to hold any person as other than our equal.

I’m getting lost in the weeds, here. Graeber himself explains anarchism better — I’ll paraphrase by memory what I heard him say in an interview. He said that, as opposed to protesting the government to do this or that for you (which is like asking your parents for help: it presupposes an existing authority) (plus parents just don’t understand), anarchism is simply acting as if you are already free. So if anyone needs anything done, you just do it; you don’t stop to ask for permission to improve someone’s life. Like Gandhi, with the whole salt fiasco. The rightness of your action will be manifest to others, naturally; as well as the wrongness of your oppressors’ violent re-action.

Graeber also says this other thing I find catchy: He says, regarding the strange aversion to anarchism among the (modern) U.S. populace, “It’s strange, because everyone in the U.S. says they love democracy” (we love it enough even to kill others so as to help spread this best-of-all-ideas to other countries) “and everyone’s always criticising the government: it’s dysfunctional enough to be hateworthy. — Well, if you love democracy & hate government, then you are an anarchist; because anarchy is basically democracy minus the government.”

So right now Graeber is in France, and the things that are happening there are both scary and heartening.

There’s this big vague general take on the 18th-century revolution that abolished the French monarchy — it’s thought of as something that began with promise but ended disastrously; its aftermath was unfortunately ugly or nonsensically reckless… Well I have my own skewed romantic view from poets like Wordsworth, who impresses his own reaction to this Revolution in his famous Prelude; and of course the prophecies of William Blake come to my mind (Europe and others); and it’s hard not to tingle with optimism and think to myself “Maybe this thing that’s happening in France will magnetize all the caring souls of the world,” and I also wonder “What if it becomes the new French Revolution, and they actually do it right this time?” Why not think big? Why not expect the best?

But anyway, like I said, I’m only an infant in world-politics: I barely understand this chimera that now dominates my vision; and Graeber is way out ahead, over the horizon, sending missives from the front line, the avant garde. (Actually it’s the people whose names I don’t yet know, who’re most truly on the cutting edge — even Graeber had to fly out there to meet them: so they were up yonder waiting for him — but it is only from my own perspective that can I speak of the blurry forms in my crystal ball.) Now, in reading up on the current French events, I’ve learned about something called “Nuit debout”. Can Wikipedia be trusted to inform us? Her entry says:

Nuit debout is a French social movement that began on 31 March 2016, arising out of protests against proposed labor reforms. It has been compared to the Occupy movement in the United States and to Spain’s anti-austerity 15-M or Indignados movement.

Now here’s what I really love: the imaginative capabilities of the phrase itself:

The name “Nuit debout” has been translated into English as “Up All Night”, “Standing Night”, and “Rise up at night”, among other variants. Commentators have noted that the word debout has “significant resonance” in French political culture as it is the first word in the socialist anthem “The Internationale” (“Arise…!”).

Night come alive, like Christ rising to eternal life. Also my favorite box set of movies that I own is called “Up All Night with Robert Downey Sr.” Plus I’m reminded of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s short poem “The Two Spirits”, where the first spirit voices the refrain “Night is coming!”; and it has these lines:

Some say when nights are dry and clear,
      And the death-dews sleep on the morass,
Sweet whispers are heard by the traveller,
     Which make night day…

Also the quote from Theolonious Monk that Thomas Pynchon used as the epigraph for his tome Against the Day: “It’s always night, or we wouldn’t need light.” And although I don’t care for the film itself (I’m not a horror buff), I can’t stop thinking about this outburst printed in all-caps at the top of a Night of the Living Dead (1968) poster-ad: “THEY WON’T STAY DEAD!” — That must be how the Financial Powers feel about their pesky French population.

Wikipedia quotes Graeber in its section on the 2016 events — I find all this thrilling; just hearing about it inflames my fancy and leaves me eager to see the upshot of all these acts.

Over the first week the protests spread to over 30 cities across France. By early May the movement had had at least some presence in nearly 300 cities worldwide. The academic David Graeber, a leading figure in the Occupy Wall Street protests of 2011, said that the protests had spread much faster than those of 2011. Explaining the spread of the protests, Graeber was quoted as saying, “There seems to be this sense of betrayal. [It’s] the fact that it is an ostensibly left-wing government that did the state of emergency, that did the labor law, that’s done a whole series of different things. These [the protestors] are the people that voted for them… [They] assumed that such a government would somehow speak for their concerns. They’re just really pissed off.”

And when anyone makes such a large display, it’s natural to ask “What is it that these people want, specifically?” So here’s another quote from the same online source:

The Nuit debout movement coalesced from the beginning around a broad set of themes, among which are: calls for a universal basic income; opposition to labor arrangements which place workers in competition with one another (as enshrined in trade treaties such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership); amnesty for undocumented migrants and solidarity with refugees; and feminist issues including the gender pay gap and the safety of sex workers.

I can’t imagine this stance not appealing to absolutely everyone. But our perfect world has surprised me in the past.

Only now am I realizing that I have no point to make about any of this — I’m just excited, and I wanted to tell you about it. I’m like a puppy that just ran forward to meet you and now I’m standing before you panting and wagging my tail, not knowing what else to do. YOU need to do something; after all, you’re my owner. Can’t you see I’m starved for adventure? Let’s have fun! Let’s go run around somewhere, or play fetch with a tennis ball. I don’t know where you keep the awesome supplies — I’m only a dog. So I’ll close with this quote from Graeber’s own article which just got published, about the “Yellow Vests” movement that is happening as we speak:

One way you know that a moment of global revolution has indeed taken place is that ideas considered madness a very short time before have suddenly become the ground assumptions of political life. The leaderless, horizontal, directly democratic structure of Occupy, for instance, was almost universally caricatured as idiotic, starry-eyed and impractical, and as soon as the movement was suppressed, pronounced the reason for its “failure.” Certainly it seemed exotic, drawing heavily not only on the anarchist tradition, but on radical feminism, and even, certain forms of indigenous spirituality. But it has now become clear that it has become the default mode for democratic organizing everywhere […] the fact that a movement originally of rural and small-town workers and the self-employed has spontaneously adopted a variation on this model shows just how much we are dealing with a new common sense about the very nature of democracy.

Amen, and I say: Long live all idiotic, starry-eyed and impractical pursuits. Also I quote my good friend Jesus, when he gasped “Those bless├Ęd pataphysicians are liable to reclaim Possibility!!!”

07 December 2018

Trying to find the good in all this bad

Dear diary,

What is our meaning? For what purpose are we lost in space? I know how naive and simple this question sounds, nevertheless I sincerely ask it: these are my first words, upon awaking this day. — I never claimed to be the most original philosopher; my reputation as a thinker can’t get any lower (I’m a blogger on the Internet, for crying out loud); so I can ask “What’s human life all about?” and not feel ashamed.

The correct reply, which we know is right because it appears in the Answer Key at the back of the Textbook, is that life has no purpose or meaning; but this truth, like most truth, is boring: truth is something to be cleverly evaded, not something to tout. So my mind keeps returning to the idea of a tree casting its seeds whithersoever. That seems to me the right metaphor; and it scares the hell out of me. I wish I knew the right word for it, I mean the scientific name for the tree that casts the type of seeds that I’m envisioning, because trees have such interesting names. I’m thinking about the tree that develops pods of seeds, and the seeds are fluffy and they float in the air real slow, almost like movie snowflakes (I’ve heard they use potato shavings to simulate snowfall in old films, cuz actual snow never looked authentic — that’s another lesson: fake things always trump real things: thus art beats life, tho life IS art); I say, these fluffy seeds burst out of their pods and flood the atmosphere. They dally about in the air for the duration of their human existence, and then they land. Now, like Jesus says in his parable, some of the seeds land on fertile ground, and they grow up and become healthy trees themselves, and develop rich pod bay doors that emit little spacecrafts and populate worlds with new star-children. But some of the seed falls on concrete sidewalks and doesn’t get a chance to grow. Jesus also says that certain seeds fall on so-so soil whose dirt tastes flavorless, thus it does allow the seeds to sprout, but they cannot grow into healthy trees: they straightway wither and become sere. They produce bad fruit and crown themselves with flowers of evil. They’re nutrient-poor cultures, such as feudalism or even worse capitalism, which are averse to poetry and instead produce computers whose poor shriveled souls blog nonsense daily. And think about the seeds that fall on radioactive landfills. Or have you ever seen a snowbank where a dog just peed: What if seeds land there? Probably they would enjoy this environment, because plants are different from humans: our waste is their sustenance, and their trash is our treasure: we exhale flames, and they inhale our fire and expel an alcoholic frost, which we then suck up greedily & roar back more flames…

But the idea of zillions and zillions of seed-pods bursting into space & setting up shop haphazardly anywhere: THAT seems to mimic the purpose and meaning of life. Cuz otherwise how do you explain babies that are born with addictions to harsh drugs. Just because the parent made certain decisions, their kid now has to foot the bill? It’s like that maxim often quoted in the Bible: The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge. Ezekiel talks about it in his eighteenth chapter. Jeremiah mentions it too (31:29). Both prophets argue against the idea of offspring shouldering their parent’s burdens. But then you have the scroll of Deuteronomy, which sez, amid the so-called Ten Commandments, right there, smack dab in the middle: “I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me…” Now, to be fair, Jehovah also says he’ll show mercy to whoever follows his orders; but it’s plain that he’s more like an irate military commander than a kind-hearted guru, let alone a hugging and loving bed-fellow who sleeps at our side through the night and then withdraws at the peep of the day with stealthy tread, leaving us baskets covered with white towels swelling the house with their plenty. (I’m quoting Whitman’s “Song of Myself”.) So if God created all life, the way an artist creates a painting, then what would the artist itself concede was the intent of its creation?

Say Jehovah really is God, and he deigns to pay us a visit, like the one he inflicts on unfortunate Job at the end of his book, and God appears before us driving his late-model tornado, so we can address him directly; and we say “Well, LORD, it looks like we meet again. Here I have a question for you, which appeared on the instant-chat message board: it’s from one of the popular bloggers who tuned in to our program and is viewing it from the live stream; the account’s named Bryan Ray — I assume that’s a pseudonym, for I doubt the Real Me is actually online — anyway, he writes ‘Dear Jove, what was your intention in painting our world in a style midway between Impressionism and Mannerism so that it resembles a tree bursting with seeds from pods upon a landscape overrun with lava?’ — I think the questioner means ‘a landscape replete with potential, and which is inherently beautiful’ (because your great volcano has yet to even explode); but I assume you get the gist. So, do you have an answer?”

And the LORD says: “ . . . ”

What should we have the LORD say? I had half a mind to make him give a rude outburst about wanting to watch things writhe & thrive & DOMINATE & fight like baited cocks; then he’d close with a quote from his forerunner King Lear: kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill! But I don’t wanna make fun of Jehovah anymore. Everyone knows he’s a warrior god; there’s nothing wrong with that. Let him have his fun. I’d like to keep circling that original image of the tree with its abundance of seeds: Is life really so arbitrary? Like a writer’s room on a sitcom, where you walk in and ask the team “Hi whatcha doin?” And they say “Just throwin ideas at the wall and seein what sticks.” That, however bathetic, seems closest to the genuine essence of life.

In a dream, something significant may occur, but then the scene and characters and even the physics all shift so freely that you can’t recall what you registered as PROFOUND about the foregoing experience. Even if it terrified you, you remark to yourself “Why exactly did that dream seem so darn scary?” Things fade away and leave no evidence of their ever having appeared; like species now extinct. I imagine a scientist exclaiming “Did I dream the dodo?” And this same scientist tells me that oil, at the moment, is humankind’s primary source of energy: we use it to fuel our autobuses and aeroplanes, and we even use it to power the mechanisms that build those solar panels that are scheduled to render all oil-based machines obsolete; so it’s like a father bearing a son who’s destined for patricide (Jehovah and Jesus again: or even Saint Oedipus) — moreover our scientist claims that this same oil is all that remains of the great race of lizard-folk who preceded us, here on Earth. Larry says (I’m christening our pretend scientist Larry, after my uncle-in-law) that the giant lizards got hit square in the planet with an asteroid, and this caused The Big One to erupt, so there ensued a global flood of molten magma (which, if I’m not misunderstanding Larry’s sermon, is LIQUID ROCK), and this smashed all the reptiles flat. Then it basically squeezed them down until they were fuel. My point in relaying this fairy tale is to provide further evidence for our hypothesis “Life is but a dream”: for one thing turns into another, and you forget how all the stuff ever got here, or even if it did. Have you read the affidavit? Yuge thunderlizards are volcano’d to smithereens, & now we’re sipping them as Texas Tea in Purgatory. For mankind’s present stint is the sauroids’ afterlife, and they’re not in Dante’s Inferno, which is a place of eternal punishment; nor are they in Paradiso with Lucy and Beatrice; instead, these lizard people are expiating the sins of their former existence by passing their disorders on to us. They’re “paying it forward”; with “it” being frenzied wanderlust. Our forefathers wept over their spilt wine, & now OUR fangs are set on edge.

Yeah, I can see why Christian Fundamentalists are against the idea that the dinosaurs were our globe’s legal owners for millions of years before we humans inherited it. Cuz if God is truly in charge of space and time, then whatever happens on Earth is like a channel that God can watch on his TV; and you have to ask yourself: Why would you wanna watch a show about reptiles who can’t speak French but only grunt and scream and bite each other all day? And you watch this show religiously for millennia; then one afternoon you get bored and bomb the planet into the stone age, and you wait a while — the screen is just snow for a spell — then you craft bare naked bipeds to trash the place. And this new show is totally meta and postmodern, in that its characters are constantly turning directly to the camera and addressing the viewer behind the screen and saying, “Dear God, we know you’re out there watching us; we praise you and worship you, we love you, we want you to save us: Why don’t you ever send us any messages, or just get up off your couch and come rescue us! We want to live with you, in your house, where your snacks provide permanent health and defy mortality. We don’t believe that you had anything to do with producing that show that aired before us and got cancelled. We don’t think that you desired to watch such lowbrow material — mainly sex & violence. But why do you allow us to suffer so intensely, and for so long? Don’t you get the picture; can’t you grasp the plot of this new series? Humans act out of hatred and jealousy and selfishness; they rape and kill each other; they steal as a rule, and then, to add insult to injury, we formulate moral theories to justify our behavior: portraying what is obviously foul as fair. Plus this place where you have us performing, it’s getting worn down. The set’s falling apart. What are you deriving from watching us, all these years? We refuse to consider the possibility that you’ve fallen asleep in front of the TV set. For we believe that you are all-powerful and all-knowing; so, like Judge Holden from the novel Blood Meridian, you never sleep and will never die. But if you have unlimited power, then why don’t you use a little bit of it to ease our constant pain? And if you have unlimited knowledge, then why did you green-light our show? For you surely knew that it wouldn’t end well.”

Maybe God is like a skyey filmmaker, and he’s collecting a whole bunch of raw footage right now, with the plan of editing out all the bad parts later. So, when we see the finished project, we’ll say “Ah, that’s wonderful! I give this movie two thumbs up. Or if we employ little images of refreshments as a rating system, I give it a perfect score: five out of five bags of popcorn, plus one large soda.” But this only shifts the position of my original question without actually answering it — so now I say: Even if the result of our life in this world will ultimately prove to be a pleasant masterpiece, why can’t it feel harmonious right from the get-go? What’s the meaning and purpose of all this pre-recorded misery? Why must we live thru and experience all this raw footage? Even if our present, temporal life is but a drop in the ocean of eternity, I want that drop evaporated: I don’t want it tainting an otherwise attractive body of water. It’s a blemish; get rid of it.

I know I sound like an ornery king, complaining like this. But I AM an ornery king. That’s my purpose in life. I abhor injustice more than your fussiest connoisseur, so I berate it superlatively.

Aha,

that’s it! — by Jove, we’ve solved our puzzle: My denunciation is so exuberant that it justifies the existence of the stigma.

06 December 2018

The entry that I owed you

Here's the next page from my book called 6,969 Drawing Prompts. (Link to last page here.) What happens is that you receive this book as a gift from your cousin, and you open it up and notice that all the pages are blank; but then you notice that the pages aren't exactly blank, for each one has a phrase written in its top left corner, urging you (Earth's finest artist) to draw a picture that brings that particular idea to life. As you can see, the prompt for this latest masterpiece was "Pac-Man video game".

Dear diary,

Why is it illegal to overwrite, and punishable by death to articulate harebrained theories? If I wanted to be perfectly rational, prudent, intelligent, and sensible, I’d have chosen to be born as one of the straighter animals, like an owl or flamingo. Look at owls: they have all the answers, but their canny knowledge comes at the cost of their posture; for they are very stiff, they stand in one spot customarily, with their hands rigidly at their sides, and they look around and blink sternly surveying the field, and they mentally criticize all of the mice for being too small and too dashing & tasty. What a bore. And flamingos just stand there for hours on one foot, cuz they’re scared to let loose and dive into the pleasures of conspiratorial theorization. You never see a flamingo writing a wild book like Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons, which tells about our world. Plus neither owls nor flamingos laugh well.

But if you pay a little extra in the spirit realm, you can get yourself born as a human. I think the human form is a gas. You can be wrong all the time, and yet it’s fun, cuz you assume you’re still right! I think that deciding to walk up tall by standing on two legs is what really helped us. Think about the disadvantages of four-legged travel: first, it’s degrading — how could you let your face come so close to the ground!? All four limbs relatively doing the same job, too: Why don’t you just take the next logical step and grow round wheels with rubber tires at the end of your paws. Cuz you’re basically just an automobile with fur. A hairy car.

The other place where humans have the upper hand is in the mouth and tongue area. Our mouth and tongue is not good for biting and chewing: that’s why we’re mostly fed intravenously or via nutriment baths, but because these facial features are vestigial, which is to say, leftovers from a previous age that have severely dwindled in their practical viciousness, we use them to lie. And so we end up talking a LOT, and many creatures care what we say.

This advantage of being a wily sub-genius among much smarter species is what got me into my house. None of the mice in the nearby fields could get into this house, and none of the owls that I hear in the night. They might have tried to open the windows or creep in under the shingles of the roof, and maybe they did infiltrate the attic area, but nothing of worth is up there besides insulation and a whole bunch of cobwebs. But I know how to turn a key in a lock, which opens the front door. That’s how I got the door open. And all the owls and mice looked on in jealousy as I moved all my junk into the house. Yes, I claimed the place as my own. And now I sleep in the bed, instead of out on the lawn. And here’s a fact you probably didn’t know: My house’s bedroom window overlooks a public street, and the street is on a steep hill, and I live in Minnesota, and we get a lot of snow here, and there are supposed to be plows that come thru and plow the snow away, but I don’t live in a very high-traffic area, so the plows don’t get around to plowing my steep snowy hill-street often or at all effectively. So, like I said, my window is seven meters from the street, and the panes are very thin, so I can hear everything that happens out there on the road. And I’m here in my bed, trying not to fall asleep, because sleeping leads to dreaming, and dreaming is like being born again. Now, along comes a truck: it’s a big truck, driving up the street. And its engine roars when it approaches my bedroom window; so now there’s this roaring truck veering all over the road, slipping on the snow and basically trapped just seven meters from my head (because it’s driving uphill on a snowy road that is quite ill-plowed). So this helps me not sleep. And soon this truck loses control and tears thru the grass of my lawn and crashes thru the closest wall of my house; so now there’s this vast grille of a semi truck in my bedroom; and it would be awkward not to attempt a conversation, so the truck’s pilot opens her driver-side door and says “Sorry — I lost control coming up the hill.” And I say “It took me a long time to figure out how to get in this house; and I ended up using a key; but you got in here pretty quick, using your vehicle as a makeshift battering ram.”

This dream’s going nowhere, so I’m gonna change the channel. Let’s talk about reincarnation for a spell. Do you believe that you’ll come back to spacetime as some other living thing, after you die? I sort of don’t. But I love to imagine what type of critters the personalities among my human friends would prefer to be reborn as, if they could care. I don’t like to imagine my friends being reincarnated as animals that they abhor: I’m not attracted to the punishment aspect of rebirth; I’d rather muse about the compatibility of certain existing forms that possess proclivities similar to those of my imaginary friends…

Like Cheri, who’s always plotting and scheming, but she’s very passive about her trickeries — I think that she might really enjoy life as a spider. Cuz she could weave her web and just sit there and wait. She could live in my attic. She’d love it. “Haha,” she’d think, “I got my web set up here, and tied down securely to the rafters. Thank god for this tiny boat-winch that the previous owner left me: that really helped to tighten the strings of my deadly web: now flying creatures will get trapped in it. So now I’m gonna just sit here and wait, and dream with pleasure of all the beasts that I’ll catch. I’ll probly catch an unsuspecting wasp, when he hatches from his nest. And I’ll catch one ladybug; and I’ll catch one cricket. I’m glad that I went to college and planned my future out properly. And if I find a husband, fine; but if I don’t find a husband, that’s fine too. I’m not gonna go out searching for a husband. Let the husband come to me, if fate demands that we bear two children together. We can snap a family photo on a Sunday, depicting the four of us happy souls all smiling together while raking leaves in autumn-time; and we’ll set this pic to display as the “cover image” on our social-network page. But if God has some other plan for my life, then I’ll not complain: I will take to my calling with relish. Even if he wants me to find employment as a social worker, and my job is to help people who have served time in prison (for committing armed robbery) rejoin society: I’ll do that, no prob. I’ll just be nice to them. Odds are, they didn’t actually commit the crimes that they were jailed for, anyway — they probably accepted a plea bargain cuz the cops set them up.”

Another dream down the drain. Apparently this entry is resistant to interesting thots. Maybe I’ll cheat and just quote another passage from David Graeber’s Debt. I say “another” because I copied a passage yesterday. If you missed that episode, what happened is that I proclaimed my deep love for Mr. Graeber’s book. It’s a real revelation. So here is an excerpt from the chapter called “Cruelty and Redemption” (p. 78):

...it is because of our feeling of debt to the ancestors that we obey the ancestral laws: this is why we feel that the community has the right to react “like an angry creditor” and punish us for our transgressions if we break them. In a larger sense, we develop a creeping feeling that we could never really pay back the ancestors, that no sacrifice (not even the sacrifice of our first-born) will ever truly redeem us. We are terrified of the ancestors, and the stronger and more powerful a community becomes, the more powerful they seem to be, until finally, “the ancestor is necessarily transfigured into a god.” As communities grow into kingdoms and kingdoms into universal empires, the gods themselves come to seem more universal, they take on grander, more cosmic pretentions, ruling the heavens, casting thunderbolts—culminating in the Christian god, who, as the maximal deity, necessarily “brought about the maximum feeling of indebtedness on earth.” Even our ancestor Adam is no longer figured as a creditor, but as a transgressor, and therefore a debtor, who passes on to us his burden of Original Sin…

At this point, Graeber quotes Nietzsche, as he’s been doing throughout his text at this point in the book — one of the things I love about it is the choice of material that Graeber draws from: the Hebrew prophets, the biblical law, the Vedic texts, the Gospels, modern anthropological studies, and thinkers like Nietzsche. As I said, a quote of the latter immediately follows the above passage — Graeber cites my favorite Nietzsche text, On the Genealogy of Morals, so that’s a bonus — but because the topic is the transference of Original Sin, I want to return, here in my public-private blog-diary entry, to my nemesis St. Paul (Saul of Tarsus), who did a bang-up job of developing, or at least of disseminating, the idea of inherited sin in his epistle to the Romans; where he couples this Super-Debt with the concept of Super-Debt Cancellation; in a word: REDEMPTION, by his trademarked bloody Christ, son of the Super-Creditor:

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

[...] death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression [...]

For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.

[...] For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. [...]

As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5:12-21)

I skipped forward over many parts of this passage, leaving it holy as swiss cheese, because I cannot tolerate an author as scatterbrained as myself. You can tell that Saul dictated his letters and neglected to read them over or revise them before pressing the “Send” button, because he’s constantly flying off on tangential details and then returning and repeating himself. If his epistle were a grocery list, it would sound like this:

Pick up vodka, yes, for vodka is what we’re going to be needing a lot of next Saturday when we meet with the in-laws for their celebration, and how unfortunate that we all must hide our adult beverages because the in-laws are sternly against all manner of enjoyment, yes, so we’ll also need something to use as a mixing agent, say, cherry juice, and a little tonic too, but vodka first, yes, that’s first on the list: buy vodka; and, what else do we need when we shop for food but black beans and whole wheat tortillas…

Actually, now that I’ve ventured to flesh out my analogy, I realize that my grocery list does not at all resemble the Apostle’s writings. I admit to having failed, this time. So the score is: Saul, one; Bryan, zero. But I’ll get his ass next time. (Watch out, Saulus, I’ll clobber your ass in round two.) But I do think it’s funny to learn that the Apostle’s favorite meal is bean burritos and vodka. I guess I won’t mind dining with him in the afterlife, when we find out that we’re related by way of celestial marriage and baptism of the dead.

All things shall be subdued unto Christ. Once this is accomplished, then shall the Son, Jesus, also himself be subdued and made subject unto the Father, Jehovah, who put all things under him, so that GOD can finally be made all in all. No more skulking about in the shadows and creeping and hiding as if nonexistent: GOD will at long last appear and be tangible, very huge on the horizon. Even Jesus will look like a tiny speck, next to GOD. For Jehovah is the only one who can collect on all the interest; HE’s the one who owns all the deeds to all houses, even your last house: the grave underground; HE’s the Big Caesar who’s face graces the obverse of ALL coins — all spiritual coins, that is: the only currency that’s backed by TRUE tax-power. For if the strength of your kingdom’s money is proportionate to the ruthlessness of your kingdom’s army, then think what it means to have your coins backed by the godawful HOST OF HEAVEN. That gang of angels. Eternal warriors. Yes, we have nothing to fear, if we sign our souls over to my Christ, for he’s the only form of payment that GOD will accept, to balance the sacred columns of debit and credit. My Christ is so alive that he paid off all death! If I’m wrong about this, then what shall all those poor souls do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15:28-29)

05 December 2018

Unsharpened blades produce narrow kerf causing excessive friction

Dear diary,

Has anyone ever said “It takes a village to raise a child”? Then I think it’s safe to call my village sere: withered. Bone-dry of knowledge. How sere was my village? Everything they taught me, I had to unlearn.

They taught me the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis; and that’s dead wrong. They taught me the Reagan-Thatcher “trickle down” supply-side economics; and that’s dead wrong. And all the other stuff they taught me was dead wrong, even their math and their science. I had to unlearn everything, in order to become a Wise Prophet.

Let’s take these charges one-by-one...

On second thot, let’s take the first charge alone, then forget to address the other charges and meander instead to fresh woods and pastures new.

As I said, my sere village raised me Christian. It took me almost thirty years to find Gnosticism. All the orthodox or fundamental versions of the big-box religions are false, whereas the esoteric versions are true: that is my teaching. This means that one raised Christian, like myself, must find Gnosticism, and one raised Jewish must find Kabbalah, and one raised in Islam must find Sufism.

By the way, I called them “big-box religions” after the concept of the big-box retail outlet, also known as a super-center, fancy-store, or mega-mart, which is defined by Bryan’s Encyclopedia of Dull Faiths as “the physical universe of a vendor, usually part of a great noose of such markets”. The term sometimes also refers, by extension, to the company that operates the establishment, which is often wicked but can lead to good, as Uriel says in the poem by R.W. Emerson:

Line in nature is not found;
Unit and universe are round;
In vain produced, all rays return;
Evil will bless, and ice will burn.

That’s why, even if you were raised on the King James Bible, all hope is not lost. You might grow up to write the book Moby-Dick. Or the collected poetry and prose of William Blake.

Now the second charge against the village that raised me is that they taught me to worship scientists. Personally I’ve always hated the practitioners of science, but it’s not for the reason that you assume. You assume that I hate Barack Obama because he’s milk chocolate, and that I hate Hillary Clinton because she’s vaguely feminine. But a Wise Prophet will look beyond the obvious, physical form of the scientist he’s hating, and discover the hidden flaws within, such as: whether each god’s navel is concave. Just look for yourself: Obama and Clinton both sport the same convex navel: this disqualifies them from earning the smoke of my sacrifice. So the fat and the smoke and the bones get blown to Jehovah, whose belly button is properly concave.

Now if I were a scientist with a convex navel, and my ex girlfriend accused me of sexually assaulting her, I would think a double-thot simultaneously: I myself am both blameless and wholly aghast at whoever did you wrong. In other words: We’ve got to help YOU first and foremost, for the fact of your blaming ME (mistakenly) is just a minor detail that will fall by the wayside once the truth is established.

This idea was on my mind because I recently read a statement responding to allegations of sexual assault by the popular scientist (whose navel is convex) Neil deGrasse Tyson. He mailed a letter to Facebook, “On Being Accused”, which I intercepted via Twitter and read with perplexity. I was bemused by Mr. Tyson’s stance: instead of saying “Hey this woman has accused the wrong man but the important thing is to help her and find out who committed this atrocity,” Tyson kinda subtly passively makes fun of the victim. I’ll copy-paste a quote (the style or lack thereof is his own) so you can see what I mean — here’s a part of Tyson’s official argument:

More than thirty years later, as my visibility-level took another jump, I read a freshly posted blog accusing me of drugging and raping a woman I did not recognize by either photo or name. Turned out to be the same person who I dated briefly in graduate school. She had changed her name and lived an entire life, married with children, before this accusation.

For me, what was most significant, was that in this new life, long after dropping out of astrophysics graduate school, she was posting videos of colored tuning forks endowed with vibrational therapeutic energy that she channels from the orbiting planets. As a scientist, I found this odd. Meanwhile, according to her blog posts, the drug and rape allegation comes from an assumption of what happened to her during a night that she cannot remember. It is as though a false memory had been implanted, which, because it never actually happened, had to be remembered as an evening she doesn’t remember. Nor does she remember waking up the next morning and going to the office. I kept a record of everything she posted, in case her stories morphed over time. So this is sad, which, for me, defies explanation.

I’m tempted to criticize this excerpt clause-by-clause, especially the remarks on memory, which is one of my favorite concepts to wonder about, but instead I shall let it stand for itself. Now just think about the man who wrote this text. Perhaps he is blameless, perhaps he is guilty; at the present moment, we cannot know. But we know that he desires us, his readers, to consider him as blameless of this crime. He’s either truly blameless and wants us to see him as blameless, or he’s guilty-as-charged yet still wants us to see him as blameless. (Note how rare it is for a person to be blameless and yet want others to see him as guilty.) Now maybe it’s precisely the certainty of your own guiltlessness that causes you to fumble so carelessly when making your case; like, if you’re accused of stealing a cookie sometime in the past ten minutes, yet you’ve been standing in front of live cameras reading a nationally-broadcast propaganda report for the whole last hour, so, in almost bragging confidence, you reply to the charge with a smirk: “But those cookies are not even the kind that I liked in my youth; plus, look: the jar that they’re kept in is decorated with paintings of tuning forks: how goofy!—what does the music of the spheres have to do with my astronomical appetite? To each his own, I guess.” But I’d think that even a dense thickheaded scientist would have at least a modicum of compassion for anyone who suffered such brutality. Yes, I’m saying that Tyson’s statement lacks compassion.

Now I can imagine a certain type of heckler responding to my own words above: “Hey idiot Bryan, you say that this woman ‘suffered such brutality’; but she only CLAIMS to have…”

Here I interrupt you: “Get thee behind me, Satan.”

II

I’m sorry to transition so abruptly from that thot to this next one, but the truth is that I dislike remaining depressed: I prefer uplifting topics. So let’s talk about DEBT. I’m serious, this book that I’ve been reading, called Debt: The First 5,000 years, by David Graeber, is the most fascinating scholarly work I’ve ever encountered. It’s pure genius. I can’t do justice to it with one quotation, nevertheless I’ll copy this passage that I highlighted with my gold marker because I love it so much — let this outbalance all the bad thots above:

...We owe everything we are to others. This is simply true. The language we speak and even think in, our habits and opinions, the kind of food we like to eat, the knowledge that makes our lights switch on and toilets flush, even the style in which we carry out our gestures of defiance and rebellion against social conventions—all of this, we learned from other people, most of them long dead. If we were to imagine what we owe them as a debt, it could only be infinite.

This is a beautiful recognition that I wish we would all keep sharp in our minds continually. All the problems of our day, which have been problems too long and thru countless ages, like hunger homelessness warfare inequality — all these things result, in one way or another, from our being too concerned with “squaring relationships” by “paying what is rightfully owed” or honoring DEBT. I’m always arguing that we should balance the nightmare of rich-vs.-poor simply by transferring the excess from the side of the haves to fill the lack on the side of the have nots. I know this is a simple idea that’s been traditionally ridiculed, but that doesn’t stop it from being absolutely correct: the redistribution of wealth is the sole righteous option. Tho naysayers claim that it’s unfair and that it’ll kill incentive, it’s actually ultra-fair because, as the quote above shows, the only meaningful fairness in an infinite world where all wealth is absurdly disjunctive is MAD LOVE; and far from killing incentive, the paradise that will result from a freely shared abundance will afford every individual the energy to attain self-actualization, which aids the entirety & not just a tiny percentage at the tip of the pyramid: and the self is actualized in WORK, and the greatest boons bespring from experiment. (Forced labor equals slavery; and bare usefulness is tedium.) When you have what you need, you begin to feel the desire to perform some action, and the best type of work is indistinguishable from PLAY, which is goofing around, aimlessly experimenting, the results of which are necessarily unexpected and often immeasurably fortunate. Just to take a lowly example: Diseases are not cured by scientists who keep injecting animals with toxins and then noting the specifics of their agony on meticulous charts; no, the cure for any given disease is always discovered by chance, when a poet dabbling in alchemy mixes strange fermented beverages that surprise him by exploding like a volcano and engulfing the neighborhood in a custard-like foam, which ends up mysteriously curing every ailment. The blind now see and the deaf now hear.

III

The last thing I wanted to tell you about in this entry is my circular saw. I had to read about how to change the blade yesterday, because I need to use a special blade to cut the mock-wood flooring that I plan to install (yes, I’m doing this job again; last year it was for our old apartment, this year it is for our new-old house); and when I opened the instructions, many jewels caught my eye. But first, let me define the term, for those who are not yet in-the-know:

A circular saw is a power-saw equipped with a toothed or abrasive disc that cuts materials using a rotary motion spinning around an arbor. Circular saws, like the Baptist faith, were invented in the late 18th century and are now most commonly used in mills – see the lines from the preface of Blake’s brief epic Milton:

     And did the Countenance Divine,
     Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
     And was Jerusalem builded here,
     Among these dark Satanic Mills?

In an example of a genericized trademark, portable circular saws like the handheld one that I own are often called “Skilsaws” because the company named SKIL Power Tools, in the ancient days of December 2018, was elected by popular vote to be the leader of the Portable Electric Accessories Junta, a political faction serving the do-it-yourself consumer. SKIL can trace its heritage to the saw’s inventor, Edmond Michele, so this company really takes us back to The Essence: it might as well own the copyright for the Primordial Abyss, which is basically the Womb of Existence. Yes, we’re all in SKIL’s debt; so much so that the only way to square this company’s relationship with the rest of the developed world is for SKIL to don the fleshly form of a human and stand before itself as a potential customer, then commit self-slaughter & cannibalize its own corpse, thus barring further pristine record-keeping: unfortunately, however, every time this feat is accomplished, the company forgets to save its receipt. Even worse, I, Bryan Ray, the blogger of this blog that you are now skimming, was born in 1977 — a fact that I’ve mentioned repeatedly, for, like all corporations, I’m a self-loathing narcissist who cannot abide the embrace of my own sea-reflection (it’s far too protean) — & this mammalian birth, by the same logic that prohibits particles from entering existence unless accompanied by anti-particles, prompted the development of SKIL’s Ever-Spinning Model Seventy-Seven, now referred to as “the saw that built New America”. This device set the industry standard for handheld worm-drive circular saws, and it remains in production almost unchanged today: for its worm cannot expire, even if it drinks itself to oblivion.

OK I realize that I don’t have much to say about my Skilsaw. So I’ll just copy some of the passages from the instruction booklet which I thought were pretty good, and leave them as a list here at the end while I coast away. Cuz, tho I’ll go on, I can’t go on.

THE PROVERBS OF SKILSAW

  • Cluttered benches and dark areas invite accidents.
  • Do not operate power tools in explosive atmospheres.
  • Keep all bystanders, children, and visitors away.
  • Rubber gloves and footwear will enhance your safety.
  • Contain long hair.
  • Do not abuse the cord.
  • Keep your hands away from moving parts.
  • Proper balance enables better control in unexpected situations.
  • Holding the work against your body is unstable and may lead to loss of control.
  • Do not force tool.
  • Any alteration is a misuse and may result in a dangerous condition.
  • NEVER place your hand behind the blade.
  • An untrained person may cause the saw to walk backwards, cutting whatever is in its path.
  • Distractions can make you lose control.
  • Do not hold piece being cut across your leg.
  • A moment of inattention may result in catastrophe.
  • Contact with a “live” wire will make exposed parts “live” and shock the operator. [“My knowledge my live parts.... it keeping tally with the meaning of all things” —Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”.]
  • When ripping, always use a rip fence.
  • Blades that do not match the mounting hardware will run eccentrically.
  • Lower guard may be opened by contact with your clothing.
  • Wet lumber requires special attention during cutting operation.
  • The “ON” switch may not last the life of the saw. If it should fail while the saw is running, the saw many not shut off.
  • Large panels tend to sag under their own weight.
  • Do not overreach.

03 December 2018

Some thots are resistant to polishing

Dear diary,

If you’re a handyman or any type of contractor who repairs houses for a living, then ripping carpet out of a room maybe feels humdrum to you because it’s routine work; but imagine you’re just a regular stupid person like myself, & you rip up your carpet & tear it off the floor: you grab it by the corner & pull upwards, it releases its grip from the ground & exposes the scary subfloor beneath:

Don’t you wish you could see the world thru my eyes? The smallest task feels like an adventure.

If you were me, you’d never leave your home. For, what’s the use of going out into the street and joining the multitudes, getting hit with rubber bullets and sprayed with pepper spray and injured from tear gas canisters, when you could just stick to performing regular carpentry and yet feel like you’re experiencing the end of the world?

What are all these corporations that everyone’s protesting, by the way? Didn’t people formerly protest their government? (I mean to contrast the fact that aforetime it was the government that received backlash from the population whereas now it is the private corporations.) Back in the good old days, a mob would gather in front of the king’s residence and threaten to burn the place down. Then, after kings went extinct, representative aristocracies came into fashion, and they did a swell job of treating the people badly, so the people would rise up and gather outside the Parthenon contraption, which, according to the encyclopedia, is “the most important surviving building of Classical Greece, generally considered the zenith of the Doric order”. Yeah, so the masses of voters would gather outside of the Parthenon, and each individual would be holding a knife, and this mob would collectively thrust their blades into Caesar’s back. That’s how votes were cast, back in the day. And that title “Greco-Roman Caesar”, in case you’ve never heard of it, means the same thing that “hockey coach” means to a hockey team, or “dance instructor” means to a gang of ballerinas. It’s basically the person who gets murdered when the team is upset. Alternately, a mob might gather in front of a big hut with an onion dome, like they did in the days of the Russian Serviette — I’m talking about the Russia in my dreams now, not the real one: for I know practically nothing about the real Russia; that’s why I’m making stuff up about it for this paper here — and this mob would shout “Down with the Russian Serviette! We’re sick of choosing representatives to serve us; instead, we want businessmen to be appointed to govern us!” And the bureaucrats in the onion hut would peek out of its windows at the raging crowd and remark one to another, “Well it looks like our days are numbered. We can’t get any paperwork done with that angry mob chanting catchy slogans from nine to five daily. For those hours overlap our work shift. Therefore let us stand up and exit this building, all together, holding our hands high, to show the people that we’re unarmed: let us simply surrender. Or, if you would rather not greet them empty-handed, let us all wave little white flags. The idea is to convey the message nonverbally that the populace has nothing to fear from us, its bureaucrats, with regard to retaliation: on the contrary, we’re willing to roll over and play dead; so long as the revolution can transpire nonviolently.” (For the Russia of my dreams really knows how to get things done.)

I’m being too long-winded: I only intended to say something like: After the days of kings, when people revolted thus and so, during the days of kingless governments, people revolted otherwise, and here are a few examples of such revolts: the Parthenon, the Russian Onion Pub, and the U.S. White House. But I didn’t get to the White House because I ran out of fuel. So let me establish the last of these three illustrations, before moving on to the main subject of this entry: modern civil unrest.

The way that the citizens of the United States achieved their goals, when their appointed leadership left them dissatisfied, was similar to the case of the Russian bureaucrats: A vast multitude of people would gather together and march in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, which is parked at the end of a spire on top of the White House. And the reason it’s called the White House (instead of, say, the Executive Mansion, or the King’s Quarters, or the Royal Harem, or Heaven’s Nucleus, or the Imperial Fortress, or the Place Where the Interns Offer Their Praise and Worship) is because power-mongers are partial to unprepossessing titles. Like when someone compliments your Robe of Many Colors, and you answer “Oh, this old thing?” as if it’s nothing special, when you can clearly see that your admirer is mad with jealousy. Sort of how “Department of Defense” sounds better than “Department of Offense” because the latter name, tho more accurate, would cause the populace to think twice before bombing innocents; whereas, when the bombs are perceived to be defending the homeland, the populace can assume that those innocents were probably extremely dangerous and most likely just about ready to attack. So we had to bomb them before they could make their move, cuz we’re smart. So it’s not even a lie, because we ARE defending our nation, albeit preemptively. It’s the same reason that Jesus killed so many passersby: he could tell that, if he did not strike first and wring their neck, they would maybe have lunged at him and tried to wrestle him to the ground. Lo, if Christ wouldn’t have been on his guard against the evil government of his day, he would’ve risked getting arrested on some trumped up charge. They might even have crucified him.

But back to the Second Coming, or rather the days just before Christ returned. Like I was saying, the king of the U.S. lives in the White House, and when the citizens are fed up with his style of governance, they put on gray flannel suits and silently march. They hold signs that declare their reason for marching, hence the silence. It is eerily effective, for it reminds one of the calm before the storm. All you can hear, from sea to sea, is the click and whirr of the television cameras, which are recording the event. (Audiovisual media are sacred to U.S. politics.)

But all these forms of protest are a whim of the past now. They’re like a daydream that, moments after waking, one begins to doubt even occurred. For our memory of history fades fast; that’s why I’m recording this info for the future. Yes, the times have now changed: Just as kings gave way to misrepresentative plutocracies, so this privileged class gave way to corporate personhood. Allow me to elaborate:

Consider how one single skin cell acts on its own: it just sits there obediently upon the slide of your microscope while you ogle its cytoplasm. Thus one cell alone is helpless; but if you fasten together a whole slew of such skin cells, you create a living organ: the epidermis, which is arguably the most important aspect of a human, as beauty is exclusively skin-deep. Now the same phenomenon governs the concept of personhood: One soul is nothing on its own; it’s basically just a worker bee, sitting at a computer inside a cubicle, like a hive-less honeycomb. Yet combine this single soul with a board of directors, and behold: a corporation comes to life. (He is risen indeed!) The advantage that a corporation has over a country or homeland is that it is not bound by borders. Corporations are multinational. If you’re a nation, you have to build a big beautiful wall to keep out dangers from the surrounding environment: this type of border wall is the first line of defense from external factors, such as the migrants from nearby nations, especially places that you’ve preemptively attacked. Much like skin, the border wall plays a key role in protecting one’s country against pathogens and loss of blood-money; it can also serve as a secondary sexual characteristic or camouflage. Take, for instance, that cartoon where the coyote repeatedly chases the roadrunner: in one iteration, the former paints upon a wall the image of a road extending beyond the horizon, employing techniques from perspective drawing such as the concept of the vanishing point, in an attempt to trick the latter into speeding straight at the bricks of the wall and dying from the impact. One presumes the coyote’s plan was to dine on the roadrunner, if he ever managed to trick him in this fashion, but only the beast itself knows what it is thinking. (And even this is debatable.) The roadrunner, however, instead of colliding with its physical surface, simply avoids the wall by dashing into the distance of its picture — seriously, I saw this with my own eyes. So a corporation is more like the roadrunner than the coyote, because the normal rules of reality don’t apply to it. If you legislate a trap with the intention of hindering a corporation, the corporation will just eat the bait from the trap and the trap will not spring: so you watch the corporation go meeping off into the future, care-free and well-fed. This is due to the fact that they have better lawyers.

Now we’ve reached the modern moment. Poor single individual souls are bound by spacetime and nations, and they’re forced to work every day for their basic necessities; whereas corporations, as just explained, are wholly transnational (that is: unhindered by love of country or any patriotic impulse or morality) plus super-real (that is: above the laws of reality; the opposite of sur-real, for corporations lack both creativity and imagination). Now recall that when the people hated their king, they engaged in civil disobedience, and the king resigned from leadership voluntarily. Then when the people wanted to overthrow their Aristocratic Taskmasters, they either chanted outside their offices, or stabbed the Executive Officer, or loitered in silence. But the modern multinational corporation remains impervious to these techniques. They’re more like a legion than a king, so there’s no single entity to depose; and their CEO and the board members are replaceable, so, even if you cut them off, the lizard just grows a brand new tail. But there’s still hope:

Despite the fact that corporations are devoid of an Achilles’ heel (thus no one can harm them or abolish them or even lessen the rate at which they spread evil), there is one course of action that an irate population can employ which offers at least a degree of satisfaction: that is, one can bug them. The problem is that they will kill any soul who bugs them; but if the citizenry can learn to accept this price, then fun might be had.

A deacon at the Baptist church once told me: Tho salvation is eternal, it nevertheless takes place in space and time: so there’s a point, a measurable moment, an actual date that can be circled on the calendar, during which the Lord Christ saved your individual soul: this is your spiritual birthday, the day that Jesus’ blood cleansed all your sins: so, happily ever after, you are saved from damnation. And he added: Now do not forget, tho your reception of this divine gift occurred during an instant that was temporal, the change itself is permanent; for you can never lose your salvation. Then this deacon wrote with his pen on a page in my Bible the date “Dec. 3, 2004”, since that was the moment I accepted Christ into my heart. Or maybe it was “Dec. 5, 2004” or a little later — I forget; for I don’t believe in Jesus anymore. (I sold my salvation for a shot of red pottage.) But I mention this concept because corporations are kinda the same. Corporations are also eternal. But, as William Blake always sez, in his Proverbs of Hell:

Eternity is in love with the productions of time.

So here is what we can learn from my deacon’s wise words: Although transnational corporations are too big to be contained by time and space, they nonetheless must build their physical headquarters here on Earth, just like us lowly humans. So, vast sinister private banks and firms will own glass skyscrapers filled with gold furniture. And people can gather outside their metal doors, just like they used to gather before old Abe’s effigy on the White House’s bell tower. Look at him, perched there like a solitary gull atop a church steeple! No doubt he’ll repose like so for eons and eons. Perhaps he will stand as our culture’s sole testimonial, once the broad-browed son of Kronos has gathered his clouds and overthrown Christ the Second.

Anyway—back to the subject—so the people peaceably assemble outside corporate headquarters. And heavily armed police stand menacingly blocking the entryway. (This is the point I was trying to get to, all along: the stage of modern civil unrest.) But the people step forward, friendly and peaceful, toward the metal doors, which look like the vault of a bank, they’re so enormous and strong, and the armed guards aim at the people and shoot the people; they maim the people and kill the people; meanwhile waves and waves of polite multitudes remain approaching the headquarters, and, as each wave reaches the entrance, the guards mow them down.

My question is this: If the entire populace were to get so annoyed with a given corporation that they (the populace) actually did gather thusly and march at the corporation’s business address in waves, and allow themselves to get mowed down without retaliating, like a billion fallen christs, then who’s gonna clean up all these cadavers? Does the corporation make the armed police do THAT too? Are the armed guards gonna have to grab mops and mop up all that blood? There’s a lake of gore outside the corporate headquarters, after this slaughter. What if the police find this cleanup work degrading? Are they going to follow the order from the corporation’s board members, even tho the job sucks to do? Cuz shooting all the protesters was a thrill, but cleaning up this mess is tedious. As it is written: It is easier to rip up a carpet than to install new wooden plank flooring. You can’t tell me those cops are gonna mow down all those waves of people who dared to exercise their right to protest, and then just put down their weapons and become the janitorial staff, once the board members command them. Or do police officers really hold the orders from their uppers as respectable? Maybe they really would become the new working class, once the old working class was done away with.

But another outcome, instead of the one just imagined where all the protesters are plain whacked, is that one or two of the protesters successfully make it into the building. Now, if three protestors get their foot in the door—the big metal door flanked by guards—then maybe at least one wave of regular people would follow them into the skyscraper. The first thing they see is all the gilded furniture. Maybe they waste a few moments sitting on the golden settee, and touching the keyboards of the golden computers at the golden desks. And rubbing their bare feet on the bearskin rugs. Cuz each office has a different type of rug, and they’re all made from the pelts of exotic beings. It’s understandable that the protesters are a little awestruck at first; but after a spell, they’ll start to slack and goof off, which will surely bug the corporation. So they find important papers and fold them into the shape of airplanes and toss them around. And they pick up the telephones that are ringing, and they answer them, but they give nonsensical replies to the voice on the other end of the line; so the conversation, if lightly edited for comedic effect, would make decent filler-material for a variety show. And a lot of the protesters would begin waltzing, right there in the office. I mean literally performing that well-known dance in triple time (for once, I’m not using the term “waltz” as a euphemism for copulation).

But, sooner or later, even the wildest office parties grow boring. So what I suspect is that, after the armed guards have backed away in compassion, finding that they don’t have it in their hearts to shoot all their peaceful fellow citizens at point-blank range, and the golden offices of corporate headquarters have been ravished by the curious infiltrators, our protesting populace will address itself, like a giant contemplative party-animal, and say “Dear me, what have I done? I’ve trashed this office: it’s a mess now: there’s paper everywhere, and all the furniture needs straightening. I should tidy up a bit. And hey, now that I understand what the reins of power feel like, why should I not help my oppressor with his work, instead of making all these production graphs into Pop Art? I think that, after a couple hours of well-deserved merrymaking, we protesters should re-stack all the papers and place them in their appropriate baskets (ingoing memos; outgoing receipts), and man the workstations, and answer the telephones properly: no more crank calls, but actually listen to the mogul on the other end of the line. Get the place back running efficiently; make sure everything’s shipshape.” You (the populace) find that these corporations that you presumed were your enemy are actually just like you: a humble poet trying to make ends meet. And they have landlords of their own, who hound them for rent. There’s no difference at all between A and B, if A stands for suffering a paycheck-to-paycheck existence as a retail clerk who makes less than a living wage, and B stands for facing the world as the head of a monopoly who must decide how to invest the billions of profits that keep piling up. For, in either case, you have to worry about how to survive; only you’re mingling with different company: In the first case, you’re swimming among small fish, away from a big fish; and in the second case, you’re chasing after the small fish. “With great power comes great responsibility” says the Comic Book Narration.

We penniless multitudes should be thankful that we were born without the burden of wealth weighing us down. We should also be nicer to our congresspersons and senators — those people have a tough job to do.

In closing, imagine a pair of children: they are the only two children in existence. One is in poverty, and the other is rich enough to sustain whole nations of people. Thus saith the LORD: The first child should learn to accept with patience the suffering that she was born into, and she should never talk; whereas the child born wealthy should be able to enjoy his riches: he should not have to learn how to share. Sharing is tantamount to stealing.

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