Friday, April 9, 2010

Time to cash it in.

The most important component of an experiment is knowing when it's failed. "Musings" was such an experiment and it looks like it's not going anywhere. So, I'm reviving "Short Shots." For those of you who followed "Musings" I say thank you. Hopefully, you'll find the same snark and bite at Short Shots.


Those Bucolic Fifties

Anxiety is a wonderful instrument of social control. Keep ‘em on edge and the corporate state can pretty much do anything it wants. Terrorism, disease and dirt are the props in the paranoid drama that is played out daily in our media. But I must admit that today’s anxiety is a diluted affair compared to that benchmark for fear and paranoia, the bucolic 50s.

Then, the fear was palatable, concealed as it was behind ranks of grey-suited fathers and white-gloved mothers. But, by God, it was a great time to be alive. What wonderful memories I have of the late 40s and early 50s, especially those summer nights with the window wide open and a gentle breeze bellowing the curtains. How well I remember the snugness of my bed where I lay awake at rapt attention in a fetal position with my hands locked between my thighs, afraid to fall asleep for fear I wouldn’t hear the distant drone of approaching Soviet bombers carrying the nuclear holocaust in their bellies.

Then there was the time Civil Defense had all us children blood typed. They gave us plastic tags attached to chains we hung around our necks so they would know what type blood to pump into our charred bodies after radiation levels lowered enough to retrieve us from the rubble. (The effort failed because when a boy and girl started dating, the first thing they did was to exchange tags.)

The great ethical debate of the era was whether or not it was okay to shoot your neighbor if he tried to break into your bomb shelter during a nuclear attack. Even Billy Graham got swept up in that one.

It was a time when life was perfect and the fact that it wasn’t gnawed at the soul like a creeping rot; when father knew best but wasn’t sure what he knew; when mother popped her Valium and parents lived in fear of a disease called Juvenile Delinquency. And everybody, but everybody feared their own thoughts lest they’d been subverted by the unseen scourge of Communist infiltration..

That was The American Century, those pastoral days when porn was kept underground and the poor and the wretched were kept out of sight. O, to return to those glorious days of fear and uncertainty when we buried them beneath layers of cheerful optimism. It was a time when children had everything and nothing. Time-Life and the three television networks were the mainstream media and they modeled how we were to behave and what we were to think. But it was okay. As long as there were two cars in the garage and the lawn was mowed, all was well with the world and with God in his Heaven.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Velvet Prisons

The Corporatist State thrives and prospers by internalizing a polite professionalism in its suburban youth that executes but never questions. The greatest threat to this professionalism is the creative spirit. While the State is represents discipline, the creative spirit represents disorder because the light of this spirit blinds and disorients. Those touched by this light are cast out to wander the back roads of society. The journey gives them a fatal clarity of vision, which could destabilize the State if it ever found expression. All of the institutions of the Corporatist have but one purpose, and that is to serve as a curtain between the masses and the creative spirit.

It is our good fortune that the light of the creative spirit doesn’t stand a chance against the wiles of the Corporatist State. The Corporatist State is a seductress with deep pockets. Some who manifest the spirit end up squandering their talents on the marketing of unnecessary commodities. Others prostitute themselves in an orgy of grant writing, creating to please the grantors even as the clarity of their vision clouds. With each paycheck, with each grant, the light of their spirit is tamed and brought under control.

Unchecked, this light could threaten the state as it comes to view all institutions with a skeptical eye. The result is disrespect for authority. Luckily, the State is able to immunize itself against those few who refuse to conform. For them, drugs and booze snuff their light as they become increasingly self-absorbed. Should they escape these, the State reaches out, embraces their rebellion, and markets it to the masses. Because the State is without meaning, it is infinitely adaptable. It can change its colors to reflect the mood of the day. Nothing distracts a suburban youth from the State’s injustices like bling and a hip-hop wardrobe. This enables the young to “put it to the man” while they master the techniques of polite professionalism that will earn them McMansions and Beemers when they reach maturity.

The State has constructed a velvet prison so beautifully appointed the masses don’t even know it’s a prison.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Black White-Black

Patriotism walks a thin line. It is invaluable for bringing the national bile to a bubble, but doesn’t dare have this passion boil over into a blind worship that is directed towards the Homeland. If too much attention is paid to the object of adulation it is only a matter of time before the defects of the idol come into focus. Were the proles to raise their adoring eyes towards the temple of the Homeland they would soon notice the three running sores on Liberty’s face: Wall Street, the Beltway and the Pentagon. No hatred sears like the hatred directed towards a falling idol.

What is needed is a diversion that redirects their attention outwards towards the void that is the world of the Other. And this diversion is a Manichean worldview. We’re good; they’re bad! With this mindset, one achieves the euphoric serenity of the fool. Manichaeism is the opiate for those who are numb of nut and dead of brain.

A belief in an absolute truth frees an individual from critical thinking, analysis, changing the mind, or admitting mistakes. There’s comfort for the individual in the feeling surrounded on all sides by evil sonsofbitches. It gives life meaning and direction; it justifies the basest impulses. The function of the well-managed State is to glow white in a black and white world. If a person doesn’t glow white, they’re black by definition. There is no room for grey in this manly spectrum.

Under this scheme, the masses can worship the State with impunity if they believe they live in a world surrounded by the forces of darkness. The State can do whatever it pleases as long as it keeps this bright light of blackness at bay. People would much rather be screwed by good than by evil. A pious shaft is a better fit than an impious one. And if they believe in the purity of the State they become willing victims.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Maggot Vision

Stoned and sucking on the pipe, dreaming of group sex with grasshoppers, I am Lilith, devourer of burnt babies and in my vision I see maggots writhing in the mountains of Afghanistan, each one a sizzling, popping explosion of fire and hot metal, eating away at the dead whilst singing demented songs of resolve and the staying power of the drugged Oligarchs, sheathed in their air-conditioned offices, thrombulating with charred bones and skewered flesh of kabobs dripping with the red sauce of the free and the brave, and the wail of children is music to their ears, their wingtips tapping out a Danse Macabre to the rhythm of flashing graphics tippy-toeing across a broken screen in 4/4 time to the music of motets sung by the dysfunctional men-boys of power to the backbeat of death-rattling gold coins, and, O, I’m flying so free on this cloud of bad shit.


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Good Good Friday

God, I love Good Friday! It’s the one day of the year that places a bulwark between Christians and the teachings of Jesus, and in doing so it neuters the faith.

The whole Holy Week thing is an exercise in theological egocentricity in which Christians reaffirm their belief that Jesus died for “Me! Me! Me!” In doing so they reduce His teachings to a petty concern with personal salvation. We have St. Paul to thank for this. He was given the mission to destroy Christianity and he did so by deflecting attention from Jesus’ radical teachings to an obsession with saving our sorry souls.

Personal salvation is the great deadener. Feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? Shelter the homeless? Turn the other cheek? Love thy enemies? These are all secondary considerations to accepting Jesus as our personal Savior. Do that and all we need is a couple of hours in a soup kitchen or a thrift shop and we are being good Christians. This means they will never even consider the structural defects that are keeping the poor hungry, naked and homeless. A hot meal makes it all right with the world.

The best thing is that with their emphasis on personal salvation they will never follow Jesus’ example and drive the moneychangers out of the temple of democracy.

Good Friday rocks!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Linguistic Oppression

Few people realize the importance of language as an instrument of oppression. You crush natives by taking away their language and insisting that the language of the oppressor is the one “true” language.

The beauty of language as an instrument of oppression is that, over time, the oppressed come to embrace it as a status symbol. They will never embrace the dungeon or the torture chamber, but they will come to believe that to speak the oppressor’s language is to take a step up the Great Chain of Being.

To proscribe a language is to proscribe behaviors. Language reflects the rhythm of a people’s life. In its cadence is their heritage and their culture. To insist that they speak in the plodding cadence of American Technocratic English is, in the words of Paulo Freire, to promulgate a myth of oppressor ideology: the absolutizing of ignorance. Freire goes on to say:

This myth implies the existence of someone who decrees the ignorance of someone else. The one who is doing the decreeing defines himself and the class to which he belongs as those who know or were born to know; he thereby defines others as alien entities. The words of his own class come to be the “true” words, which he imposes or attempts to impose on the others; the oppressed, whose words have been stolen from them. Those who steal the words of others develop a deep doubt in the abilities of the others and consider them incompetent. Each time they say their word without hearing the word of those whom they have forbidden to speak, they grow more accustomed to power and acquire a taste for guiding, ordering and commanding. They can no longer live without having someone to give orders to.

Let a man, no matter how brilliant, speak with an accent, and he is marginalized as ignorant by those who are fluent in the homeland’s language, even though they, themselves, are drooling Neanderthals. This is why the right is so spastic about having to, ”press 1 for English. For the oppressed, their native tongue is their protection against forced assimilation into a world that is both alien and threatening.

Yet, to allow the immigrant to keep his native tongue is to court disaster, for it is a given that new immigrants are among the most oppressed in any given society. By allowing them to keep their language the state increases the probability that they will, with time, come to articulate their grievances, and it is a short step from articulated grievances to a movement that could easily rock the carefully balanced status quo that is the warp and woof of our corporatist state.

This is why I, Belacqua Jones, in all my stoned glory, demand, beg and entreat that we seal our southern border completely. Dig a moat, string barbed wire, scatter landmines like they were so much birdseed, do whatever is necessary to keep the Hispanic contagion south of the border because this Hispanic flow is carrying with it venomous seeds thrown off by Mexico’s Zapatistas Army of National Liberation (ELZN).

National liberation? The last fucking thing America needs is national liberation! Our democracy is an embalmed corpse hermetically sealed beneath a glass dome. And the last thing we need is some Zapatistian doing a Jesus/Lazarus routine and raising it from the dead.

When the real becomes real is when we will see the collapse of our oligarchy.

Or something like that…