Friday, December 21, 2012

Dripping Viking Blood On Every Page


Also, reading what I was writing...

What Stopped Us…Who Did We Think We Were?

[Note: The original version was written in the present-tense. I changed that to the past-tense as it feels truer to the present situation. I think this scenario is also relevant to the issues of gun control and the so-called “fiscal cliff.” What it all comes down to is how negotiable is one’s way of life in light of a new reality? In many ways, this date does seem close to a tipping point on a number of issues. Regardless of which side you take in any given argument, ask yourself what would be required to change your position. The shared situation of our moment is the successful re-negotiation of how we’re going to live together. A new day is dawning whether we like it or not. The past tense is used to convey my cynicism re: the survival of the “American way,” which has come to be defined by militaristic consumerism and ignorant religiosity, and just doesn’t even begin to address the present necessities of human life on Earth. So here are my rather brief thoughts, for what very little they’re worth, on the biggest issue of our time. Naturally, putting them in the past tense puts this in the realm of “fiction,” which might, with your leniency, provide it with certain liberties…]

Imagine a wood sprite appeared before you while hiking and, assuming you loved nature and possessed a heroic character, it informed you that if you sacrificed your life forthwith you would save an entire species of indigenous plant.

Explaining, the sprite told you that if you took another step in any direction, you’d permanently disrupt the delicate balance comprising the habitat of the final patch of blackjack trillium anywhere.

If you relented, the wood spirit would have simply made you disappear, ending your physical existence in this realm, or transformed your mode of energy—whatever it was you chose to believe in at the time.

What would you have done, assuming you had had faith that the offer had been genuine? Just how important did you think you were? Where did your sentiments and sympathies lie, and why? Were true heroes self-indulgent? Did they believe in the superiority of their kind, or did they serve a higher purpose than their own self-interest, expanding their identity to include everything they related to with love and reason?

These questions seemed preposterous to many, and were perhaps as unnerving as asking a chemical corporation’s spokesperson whether or not that company’s product—Tupperware—was worth endangering the life and health of the surrounding community, which shared in the risk of [but not the profit from] its production.

Yet, the very reason it was impolite was the very reason it was so important. Who we thought we were dictated our behavior and defined the choices we made. That behavior and those choices, psychologically motivated, had profound material effects on the ecosystem that maintained us, and the story that defined and conceptualized our sense of self, which allowed us to function.

My guess was that such questions pricked us with profound discomfort because they pointed out the degree to which each of us in some way had sold out to the amoral philosophy of the free market system, and then rationalized that corrupted sense of self with an incoherent, toxic form of sky god monotheism validated by space age military technology. In other words, we were as moody and agitated as any heavily armed addict whose supply was threatened.

The fact was that each of us was who we were, and did what we did, because of America’s superpower status. Each and every human being in America had materially benefited from the nation’s military budget in some way, either directly or indirectly, and the price paid for this was made painfully aware to everyone but Americans themselves—at least until the end—in the form of the primacy of American national interests, politically and economically defined, around the globe.

The fact was the prices we paid for goods were artificially low across the board, as the true costs of their marketing; production and distribution were externalized or socialized. American politicians of both parties, to remain in power, necessarily ensured that this continued for the duration of their terms in office. Any deviation from that unfair advantage would’ve landed them in hot water with workers and investors alike, and most likely would have cost them their prestigious livelihoods.

In other words, Americans didn’t realize that they paid less for things at the store than people in other countries did, but would end up paying more in the long run for a suite of problems associated with that imbalanced cost-benefit formula. American military might perpetuated our advantage, allowing us to go to Wal-Mart or have a pizza delivered to our door in 30 minutes. It allowed us to go anywhere in the world and feel at home with the golden arches just down the road and the latest products from Hollywood and New York filling the airwaves and movie screens. It was an advantage we took at gunpoint. Did that make those who supported such a political economic system guilty of armed robbery, even if we were merely unwitting accessories after the fact? Was ignorance of a law an excuse for avoiding the consequences of violating it? That may have been so in cases of human jurisprudence, where sympathy might be taken, but was certainly not a valid excuse in wild nature, which operated by the immutable laws of physics and raw transfers of data.

One of the things I was required to do to get my dolphins when I was on a nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine during Reagan’s first term, was to trace the path of a water molecule in the ocean through the submarine, which was to be viewed as a living organism, the chemical changes that water molecule went through, and how it was dispersed back into the environment and in what forms. From there it was only a matter of reading a few ecology books to realize how the sub’s poop ended up back in its mouth again. It was the way an ecosystem worked. Ironic I’d learn about that, or begin learning about it, in the place I did.

Another, perhaps deeper irony, was that one wasn’t recognized as a citizen on the boat until one recognized how the air one breathed was made and where the water that one drank came from, and who and what was responsible for the whole process. The submarine was a mini-ecosystem. Sailors had virtually no rights or no means of escape until they recognized their function in that system, which could not be fully understood until recognizing the functions of all the other ingredients that made the organism tick. This level of enlightenment was attained because everyone recognized that education, training and awareness were literally a matter of life and death. The true freedom to act in one’s enlightened self-interest was an absolute necessity within the authoritarian program that operated the boat’s life support systems. Poseidon was unforgiving when it came to submariner error.

Now, let’s return to the original question, but rephrased: Imagine for a minute that you were on a submarine and the captain said you had to go into the torpedo room to battle a fire and fuel leak that you were specifically trained to handle. If you went in there it would be certain suicide, but you might save the boat and your shipmates if you did. If you didn’t, the sub was most likely going down and then you’d all end up dead. What would you have done?

Most of us would have said we’d have gone in there and done our duty, but it wasn’t that simple. Unless one was trained to fight, it was a 50-50 bet whether or not they’d take flight or do so. Of course, training also made one more effective in a crisis. Everything actually depended upon what one’s mind contained and its potential capabilities in the moment before the crisis occurred. Life was, in part, maybe mostly, a preparation for behaving responsibly when one had to behave that way. Those who lacked the discipline perished and failed to reproduce, and their traits were lost to history [like everyone else’s was].

Unfortunately, most people didn’t view their lives on land as being equivalent to life aboard the sub. They failed to see that we basically inhabited a space ship that had evolved its own degree of self-consciousness, an organic self-awareness or nascent sentience in the form of humankind, as opposed to an artificial intelligence, made manifest in holding faith in something that did not exist in and of itself. It was our ecological function, therefore, to be hyper-sensible and responsive to the system’s needs. If an asteroid had been headed for Earth, we could have been the planet’s defense system. If we were causing it to die of fever, we were a virus hoping to communicate its disease elsewhere. Truth was we were both contagion and anti-asteroid defense mechanism. Existence was the friction between chaos and entropy, death and desire, which warmed and lit our universe.

Yet we lived in a society in which hardly anyone would be willing to sacrifice his or her life for an entire species of weed. We instinctively valued our individual lives over that of a complete strand of life’s web because we were human, lord over nature, and deep down believed the world ended when we died. Our lifestyles and standards of living had to be maintained at all costs. We were so perverse that we’d kill and die for the convenience of microwave ovens and the lizard brain pleasure of an SUV in heavy traffic, but not to ensure the healthy future of life on the planet. We committed genocide against dandelions and grubs, poisoned birds and contaminated groundwater, triggered asthma attacks in our neighbors and caused their mother’s breast cancer and child’s leukemia for the sake of a green lawn. And we disenfranchised billions of people worldwide through the international financial system that our nation’s elite private interests clearly dominated.

And now we’re dead, the result of our perverse national belief system. It was probably already too late to save the planet by the time we became aware of it. America, which was seen by its citizens and many around the world as humankind’s best hope, nailed nature to the cross for its own short-term profit. The effects of global warming accelerated beyond scientific predictions. Our sub had sprung too many leaks and too many vital systems were crippled by fire. We were in deep water with no backup, no rescue in sight. It was time for a deathbed conversion before it was even too late for that.

Since humankind was, perhaps, Earth Mother’s ego, it would have been nice if she had had some sort of realization about herself before she lost her mind, her madness, her pathology and healed. Her life and ours might have meant something had we bothered to live by It.

Finally, I was honest in the early version of this piece, in which I confessed I wouldn’t have killed myself to save the last specimen of a species of wildflower. To save the last individual of a great ape might have been another story, but to say the least I would have made a concerted effort to change my lifestyle, which I did and continued doing with varying degrees of success, in an effort to tread as lightly as I could on the Earth…despite my considerable appetites.

The bottom line was if one didn’t strive to function responsibly as an individual human being within the ecosystem and seek to overthrow America’s amoral political-economic dogma, one might as well have done the world a favor and dropped dead [which we did]. The preferred response, of course, would have simply been for one to alter their lifestyle, to decide to curtail their comfortable mode of being in favor of a better, more meaningful one.

But it didn’t happen. It couldn’t have. The fact was, everything alive had been convicted and sentenced to death. Our response to that news dictated what our existence felt like. How did we want to be and what stopped us from being that way?

Those were the questions. Our responses were complicated, but the problem wasn’t. And now we’re dead.

Originally published as “Looking for a Deathbed Conversion” in Dissident Voice, August 2004; anthologized in The Cost of Freedom, Howling Dog Press, 2007.

Related Links:

Climate Change: It’s Even Worse Than We Thought
http://www.newscientist.com/special/worse-climate?cmpid=NLC%7CNSNS%7C2012-1911-GLOBAL%7Cworseclimate&utm_medium=NLC&utm_source=NSNS&utm_content=worseclimate

Telemorphosis: Theory in the Era of Climate Change, Vol. 1, edited by Tom Cohen
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ohp;idno=10539563.0001.001

Impasses of the Post-Global: Theory in the Era of Climate Change, Vol. 2, edited by Henry Sussman
http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ohp;idno=10803281.0001.001

Friday, November 30, 2012

A NEW TRUTH COULD BE AROUND THE CORNER

OPENING BLURB:

Imagine the scene: the President of the United States of America [Bill Clinton] has just addressed the nation on television from the White House Rose Garden, officially informing us that strong evidence has been found suggesting we’re not alone in the universe. He opens the floor to questioning. The reporters have a once in a lifetime opportunity to ask the leader of the free world, and arguably the planet, one of the most profound questions ever asked and answered at a pivotal point in human history…the press jostles to be recognized by the leader. He looks searchingly through the crowd, then points to a man in the back. Magnanimously, the President has picked an ordinary Joe to ask this most momentous question. Eagerly, the plebeian queries: “Mr. President, how do you feel about Senator Dole’s flip-flopping about the abortion plank to the Republican Party platform in San Diego?”

Related Update:


What are we doing?

Most people truly aware about global warming know time has run out and we lack the space to deal with the consequences. It feels like the accelerating rate of change is beyond our ability to cope. It feels like the feedback loops between self and system are dissolving beyond repair. Whether it’s technology, lifestyle or world events, people are tiring as we become materially exhausted. Many would love to migrate, but there’s no place left to go. This means we’re reaching a breaking point, and when it’s reached we’ll find out what we’ve actually become. As it is today, nobody really knows.

Candidates in “democracies” around the world can’t and won’t talk about global warming and what it means because the interests they represent won’t let them. It’s interesting that people will riot and kill over a cartoon, or shoot somebody over abortion, or burn them at the stake for witchcraft, but not get too stirred up over how they themselves are killing the planet with their lifestyles and attitudes.

Today I’m posting an excerpt from a work in progress. Though the narrator is a fictional character, the story about the alien abductee actually occurred pretty much as related here. The views stated are not mine but those of the abductee. This is an extremely rough draft, so please, no comments on its fictional quality. Its relevance becomes apparent if you replace aliens with Gaia and global warming [or at least add them as the piece’s essential ingredients]. Rather than being livestock for aliens, in my fictional Gaia theory humans may have evolved as instruments of the planet’s cognitive evolution. We’re an emergent function of the planet’s cognitive evolution into a mindful defense system able to shoot down incoming that have hurt so much in the past. Perhaps.

Of course, all this is coming from a teleological perspective, as in things come into existence intentionally, and when you think of it, intention of some type does inform everything. Consciousness exists. Therefore, if it’s perceived, if it exists, intention is involved in some way. Or maybe not. Everything’s open to debate, though for some reason we won’t discuss this on a large scale.

Global warming is symptomatic of something our Emerger—whether it be God in Heaven, an alien race, Mother Earth evolving us or some exotic combination of the above—is rejecting. Any way that one looks at it, global warming is a sign that the “gods” are not happy. We’re ignoring the signs. These “gods” are slowly revealing themselves to people over time and will do so on a grand scale once the human population—the human superorganism—is mentally ready for that kind of awareness. There are signs all around us. We’re like livestock to the aliens, an emerging organ within the global organism to Gaia… “What’s that?” she might wonder…

What all these “others” have in common is their possession of a consciousness above and beyond anything we’ll ever grasp on this dimension alone. It’s approachable by us only through our minds.

When the alien abductee’s  ideas were first presented to me I was humiliated. But after awhile, it took some years actually, I came to realize that “good,” if it’s anything, is that which humiliates the worst tendencies in people. I’ve come to believe that “worst tendency” is the belief that the Earth exists for human use and life revolves around us. I believe in a cosmic biocentrism where mind in human form is but a single strand of mind within a conceivably infinite fabric. Quite often these negative, anthropocentric tendencies fight back with a vengeance [it sucks being humiliated], but they always lose [as animus must always lose to anima, being sapped by it], and expended of the excess, which is to say negative energy, our worst tendencies have no fight left in them. That’s because at the heart of these negative tendencies appears the denial of another person’s truth, a rejection of another’s reality because it doesn’t resemble one’s own.

To think humans are the most important species in the world is a lie we can no longer live with.

Continuing this kind of dishonesty is leading to Armegeddon, which is what happens whenever humans ignore their “god’s” desire.

I write hoping for a more peaceful apocalypse…or more loving revelation.

There are multiple layers of delusion/narration involving the narrative of this fiction-in-progress. Any disagreements you may have with what you’re reading will be with the narrator[s], not “me.” As all the novel’s narrators are delusional, none are reliable. And what about the readers? The truth is up to you. And remember, please, this is only a rough sketch, an initial draft to get something down…who knows if it will even make the final cut…but I’m sharing it because I think it’s relevant and kind of interesting:

Wednesday, August 7, 1996—Journal Entry: HE BELIEVES WE ARE NOT ALONE

At 11: 35 p.m., Tuesday, August 6, 1996, while tuning in to Nightline for the day’s final dose of moral outrage after laboring to remove the rubble foundation from a friend’s old country house all afternoon in ninety degree heat and fishing all evening for worm thieving prey in a bug infested swamp and spending the post-funk, pre-midnight hours in my Jacuzzi with the friend whose house I had earlier helped demolish, I sat alone in the dark before the boob tube and learned from Ted Koppel that supposedly solid evidence had allegedly emerged from scientific studies that life, albeit in a microbial format, once dwelled [and still may] in our nearest planet neighbor’s crust at the same time that life for we earthlings began developing here [for all the details read the newspapers, etc.]. Setting aside my skepticism that an asteroid hit Mars 16 million years ago sending a micro-corpse infested fragment of its surface into solar orbit until it entered the Earth’s gravitational field finding its way to the South Pole some 15,987,000 years  later[1] only to be discovered in 1984 by a NASA sponsored Antarctic expedition hunting space debris and getting stowed for twelve years in a warehouse somewhere before being analyzed and declared mind-blowing, I think that at the very least the possibility of its being true, or real, is exciting enough. What a fabulous story! This essay is going to analyze the meaning of this story if it is true, as well as the meaning of the “discovery,” or news, in the event it turns out not to be.

*****

One Saturday in the fall of 1991, I was canvassing a neighborhood in Sierra Madre, CA, for Greenpeace. I noticed in my clip that I had a card for a member who consistently contributed $250 each year, and it was time for her to contribute again. Her address placed her high up on one of the mountains [I don’t recall the name], and I decided to work from its base up, which would mean she would be one of the last people I’d see on my initial run up the street.
When I arrived at her house, I had yet to receive any donations from the people I had spoken to. However, most folks weren’t home so I wasn’t bothered that much by it. The neighborhood was nice and I had that $250 card. Her house was a one story structure nestled neatly into the side of a cliff. From the street out front one could see the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. It was a beautiful setting choked by smog. I approached the door and knocked. A stocky woman in her mid-thirties with dark hair and penetrating eyes opened the door.
She was all business, eyeing me suspiciously. I introduced myself and asked if the woman whose name I had on the membership card was at home. She turned out to be the woman in the doorway. After looking out into the street, she nervously invited me to wait on her doorstep while she retrieved her checkbook.
She returned a few moments later with a check for $250, which I eagerly accepted, and an envelope in her other hand. As I began informing her about the issues our local office was working on, the woman said she had something I might be interested in seeing. Believing she had evidence of some local environmental atrocity, I eagerly agreed to see whatever it was she wanted to show me. Without a word, she handed me the envelope. I opened it up and inside were ten instamatic photographs of a flying saucer hovering in the sky over her street. There were two Army choppers circling it [I assume they were circling, they may have been hovering]. She took me by the arm and led me to the spot in the middle of the street where she had taken the photographs. I stood there and watched the landmarks in the pictures form before my eyes. She then informed me that she had been in contact with aliens her entire life, that she was under 24-hour government surveillance and that she had had a respectable job with a big California bank and that she was a person who believed in reason and logic, that her experiences had cost her her job because of a nervous breakdown… Things were going too fast and getting too far afield of Greenpeace and ecology, so I politely let her finish and then thanked her for her contribution and left.
However, further canvassing proved impossible. How does one doctor instant photos? She seemed so intense. I was certain that she believed what she was telling me was real. And how does one doctor instant photos? With two and a half times the day’s fundraising quota in my hip pocket, I decided to take a seat on a rock and try to absorb what I had just seen and heard. If it was real [how could it be?], what did it mean? I decided to return to her house and see if she would answer some questions. To my relief, she was glad to see me, and not at all surprised. She invited me into her house and sat down in her living room. It was a dark, wooden interior that was rustic and charming. She served me a glass of ice water, invited me to sit down, and said ask away. Here, to the best of my recollection, are the highlights of the interview that took place:
Q: Do you have any further evidence?
A: Look at that beam in the wall. Do you see anything? (I see what looks like the face of an alien: large head and eyes, small mouth, skinny neck…formed by the grain in the wood). They’ve been here many times. But do I have physical evidence? Just the pictures, and the coincidence of that face in the wood. They’ve been here many times. Last time was just sixteen days ago. It was in the middle of the night and I was in bed sleeping. When I awoke, I sensed that something was present. Through my bedroom door over there I saw a very tall, very dark, emaciated figure standing right about here (she gestures at the space of floor in front of her). She was obviously the leader. She was very black and for some reason I refer to her simply as Cleopatra. She had a lot of little grey helpers with her, about six of them, three feet tall or so. Their large heads peaked just above the top of the counter over there (she points to her kitchen counter, which could double as a living room bar if she wanted it to). She told me not to worry, that everything would be alright. But how would you feel? I just want to be left alone. But they won’t leave me alone. They keep coming back.
Q: Who are they?
A: There are three races: the greys, the browns and the blacks. The blacks, like Cleopatra, seem to be running the show. The greys are their immediate assistants, and the browns seem to be manual laborers. They come from a planet in the solar system surrounding Alpha Centauri, and they’ve been coming here since the beginning. They are responsible for many of our major technological breakthroughs, which they only helped us with once we happened upon the theories behind what made them work. Plastic is an example of an alien-wrought consumer good. We had help with World War II, but they didn’t help us with the bomb even though Hitler drove them crazy, because they hate to interfere. They have an underground base in the desert near here and they’ve been helping our Air Force in the Cold War. You can go out Route 87 any night and see things in the sky. You should go some time (I have changed the number of the route, and never went there, not really wanting to be confronted with more information—I wish I hadn’t done that).
Q: Why are they here? Why do they interfere?
A: To expand their gene pool. Their species is dying out due to a lack of genetic diversity. The human species was basically made in their own image and planted here with the intention of growing diverse strains of DNA which would enable them to survive the purity of their own genetic structures. In other words, they are using humans to breed. We are nothing more than very precious, semi-conscious livestock. They are watching political events closely and have told the world’s leaders that they had to either shape up on their own or face a takeover. The aliens can’t afford to let us destroy ourselves, but they would prefer that we live freely because freedom, and all the responsibility that goes with it, generates the strongest strains and widest variety of genes. However, any genes is better than no genes so they’ve given our leaders an ultimatum. Either straighten up, or get straightened out.
Q: Did they give them a deadline?
A: Yes. But they wouldn’t tell me. I don’t have a need to know. All they would say is that time is running out, and that things are coming to a head. They will reveal themselves to the masses if and when they must, but they’ll do it gradually so the people can be somewhat prepared for it. There will be signs. When they do come, some people will be fed up with the world and welcome them. Others won’t. Since we’re nothing but livestock, I pity those who won’t. What’s happening in world politics is directly related to their ultimatum. From their perspective, abortion is the worst crime.
Q: How did they get here?
A: My knowledge of science is too weak to give you a good answer. All I know is that they’ve learned something about space-time warps and how to manipulate them. Their spacecraft use a form of energy that has not yet even become a theory or a dream for human scientists. It has something to do with the mind. That’s all I can say. We’ve got a lot to learn, and we think we know so much.
Q: What philosophy or religion is closest to their own?
A: Orthodox Judaism [she appears of WASPish descent]. The ancient laws of the Jews were laid down by aliens as rules the herd should live by, so that they should be fruitful and multiply. It is this tradition that rings truest to their ears, since it was they who created it for us. Orthodox Jews today practice pretty much their original religion. One might just say that the Orthodox of most religions live closest to their teaching.
Q: What about Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Native American spirituality?
A: Orthodox Judaism is the purest surviving form of what they originally taught that has any kind of political influence in the way they intended. The other religions have all, for the most part, wrongly [implying that there’s a right way] adapted with the developments of civilization over time, or perished [adapt, even if it’s wrong!]. Christianity came much later and was immediately hyper-politicized and popularized by the Romans. It also tended to tear down cultural differences and mix gene pools, which was alarming from the alien standpoint of diversity, but nonetheless necessary because the aliens knew that differences, implacably perceived among the livestock, which was psychically programmed to remain “pure” for the sake of the survival of its diverse gene pools, would someday threaten their existence: thus, the queer, paradoxical alien teaching of Christ [one of them who walked in our shoes] to “love thy enemy.” Islam focuses too much on authoritarian matters and worldly affairs with its big and little jihads, and what passes for orthodoxy is really just a political machine. However, Mohammed was one of them. They used him to put the rest of the house in order in that region of the world. Buddhism is very close, and can get you there, it’s the way of the future, but today it lacks the socio-political organization within the world powers and thus the ability to fulfill, at least for now anyway, the inherent purpose of the religion given to them by the aliens: to be creativity in the population and thus expand its mind, so that it may live peacefully with itself upon the earth. However, it should be made clear that members of all religions or spiritual temperaments, especially those individuals whose sensibilities hearken to the original message [such as those humans who forever noster with what Chief Seattle called “the seventh generation”—see Jim Nollman’s Spiritual Ecology], are in good graces with the aliens. Aboriginal religions are on the mark, and like Buddhism they are a big part of the future wave but lack the influence of Judaism, and thus fail to fulfill the global political purposes of all religions—harmony with the ways of the gods. There is no one true religion, just one that’s closest in its practice to the original provided by our alien progenitors while fulfilling its political purposes more than the others. There’s even a debate between the blacks and greys as to whether or not a culture so strongly traditional as Orthodox Judaism, and that one so obsessed with purity, might not be damaging to the general intent of their harvesting the broadest range of compatible genetic strains. A multiplication of diverse spiritual sentiments is what they are now harvesting in the abstract, which is very real to them, and they are extremely pleased with the results of their policy of minimal interference with close surveillance.
However, the answer to your question is that Orthodox Judaism is closest in its practice to the religion they gave us, or at least what I’ve been able to ascertain of it by observing them and carefully considering what they’ve told me. I have a feeling, though, that our God is their God and that there is only one God, and that It definitely exists, and is indeed bound up in a single reality that includes all of us put together. It is with God that all consciousness must strive to harmonize itself. Its essence emerges from its intra-relationships with Itself.
Pray. 

Unable to dismiss the encounter, I brooded alone over it in my Hollywood apartment for two weeks, unable to work or concentrate. The idea that we were livestock was unsettling. My misanthropy and sense of poetic justice prevented me from dismissing her claims, no matter what it meant for me. And what did it mean for me? All I could feel was a sense that I had been cheapened, lessened. What she told me was humiliating. It was far worse than when I had originally read Freud or discovered that very intelligent people, folks much smarter than me or my parents or my pastor, believed we evolved from apes. I could not assimilate that information with my arrogance, even though it fit in well with my self-loathing and hatred of the human race. I guess I really didn’t hate myself that much, maybe even loved myself a little more for being so pathetic. My hatred of humanity melted into sympathy. I could empathize. We are so pathetic. I certainly felt more tolerant toward my fellow humans after that, for awhile anyway. I came to the conclusion that I could no longer work for Greenpeace.  My self-righteous rage and mortal fear of environmental suicide had been extinguished, for the time being. I slowly decided to change the course of my life, and packed this experience away in the back of my mind, not being able to bear the conscious humility of it for a prolonged duration, until the month of August some five years later when the rage and fear had rekindled itself…
How does one alter instant photographs?

*****

The response to the discovery of the alien microbe fossils intrigued me. I, myself, was intellectually stimulated but strangely bereft of any excited emotion [yes, I’m aware of how that sentence sounds; it’s a fictional voice speaking…sometimes “bad” writing can be a part of adequate writing]. I guess for me the existence of microbes in space had become a foregone conclusion. Yet, at the same time, those for whom it was not a foregone conclusion, seemed to respond with a similar apathy, which I found unsettling. Why weren’t people more impressed? Why wasn’t I more impressed? [This question, which I have asked myself many times, is an example of extreme denial on my part…I still can’t except the idea that I’m a domesticated stud cow for ETs, my sex life is too lifeless for such a possibility].
I think that the main discrepancy in any response to these allegedly alien exposures is directly related to the difference between intelligent or conscious life, and non-intelligent or unconscious life. Unfortunately, the more highly developed a creature’s sentience, the more sensitive humans are to its existence. Regardless of the fact that plants have plant consciousness, and beetles have bug consciousness, unless the creature breathes and sleeps as we do, eats and shits in similar fashion, fucks and dreams in related forms, loves and hates, fights and plays, makes decisions that serve the pleasures of their existing senses…we can’t get too excited. To get excited, we need creatures we can relate to. The more related we are, the more excited we get. Just compare the difference in pleasure people get, say, in frolicking with dolphins or chimps in a free but safe environment, and people lining up and paying several shillings to sniff a giant stinky plant in London. Pleasure is experienced by both groups, but which seems more exhilarated and why? Could it be that humans subconsciously envy the unconscious liberation of most of their fellow creatures, envying most the unconscious ones, thus dismissing them as afterthoughts in God’s creation [man was created last in Genesis], while consciously longing for everything to be like them, in their image? Could it be that our investiture in the quality of our experience is simultaneously a denial of our lack of ability to grasp reality, and an affirmation of our conscious desire to live while alive? What are we humans trying to accomplish in life? What do we, our achievements, this life-world really mean?
Regardless of the absurdity of my questions and corresponding assumptions, I believe my general apathy in response to the discovery of fossilized Martian microbes is directly proportional to the degree in which I did not experience them. I received the news of their discovery over television. Whereas I was informed of the existence of humanoid beings visiting us in flying saucers by an actual eyewitness, I was not only at the press conference but I was at the scene. This brings up the second point—relationship. The degree of inter-relationship between the observers and the observed within an event is directly proportional to the relator’s [observer’s] level of experience [first-, second- or third-hand, etc.] [At this point, I could digress on the repercussions of the Heisenberg Principle to deconstruct the reality of our topic, but I won’t, at least not in this essay]. The Sierra Madre incident vibrated with inter-relatedness, whereas ABC News seemed unrelated and distant in comparison. Of course, I would yawn at such late night news, no matter how dramatic in the privacy and darkness of my own living room, far, far away…even from my next door neighbor…
My primary interest evolved finally to the responses of my fellow humans upon hearing the news. At about 1 p.m. Wednesday, August 7, President Clinton made a brief but eloquent statement regarding the discovery and then opened the floor to questions. The first and only question asked, stunned the President, and stunned me. Imagine the scene: the President of the United States of America has just addressed the nation on national television, officially informing us that strong evidence has been found suggesting that we are not alone in the universe, he opens the floor to questioning, the reporters have a once in a lifetime opportunity to ask the leader of the free world, and arguably the planet, one of the most profound questions ever asked and answered at a pivotal point in human history…the press jostles to be recognizd by the leader, he looks searchingly through the crowd, then points to a man in the back, magnanimously, the President has picked an ordinary Joe to ask this most momentous question, eagerly, the plebeian queries: “Mr. President, how do you feel about Senator Dole’s flip-flopping about the abortion plank to the Republican Party platform in San Diego?” The opportunity was there and the chance was blown. So be it for Shakespeare on CNN. At least this time [then again, maybe there is something Shakespearian about it…]. This, coupled with my 86-year-old uncle’s angry intonations later on regarding the bureaucracy of NASA manufacturing this crap to siphon more money from his wallet, and my mother’s disgust at hearing of my inordinate interest in the whole thing, led me to ask myself the questions: Who cares? Why do they care? Who doesn’t care and why don’t they? What kind of event is truly “earth-shattering” to them? Was the birth, life, and subsequent crucifixion and alleged resurrection of Christ “earth-shattering” at the time to most of the planet’s population? What about Tathagata Buddha’s life, was it “earth-shattering” at the time? Let me take these questions one-by-one.
Who cares? People with active minds hell bent on using them care. Hopeless romantics in love and little tramps waiting for Godot care. So do the paranoid and anxious, the open minded and the childlike, princes and paupers, mailmen, presidents, cowboys, welfare moms and bankers, athletes, artists, philosophers and golfers, hunters, chemists, environmentalists…humans.
Why do they care? Evidence of extraterrestrial life expands their frontiers immeasurably in a time of severe constraints. Life, once believed unique to Earth, is actually ubiquitous in the cosmos. Rather than it being anomalous, it’s routine. Rather than it only emerging here, it also emerges elsewhere. In fact, it may be trying to emerge everywhere, but can only find nurture in some places, and among those places only a few can sustain evolution, and among those yet fewer still witness evolution sustaining itself to the point that It becomes sentient, and fewer still…but then, when calculating the size[s] of the universe[s], one comes to the inescapable conclusion that we are not alone. And our mind expands, we become a bit more fruitful, and gain a somewhat greater dominion over our precarious existence here. This is the greatest reason in this world, or any other, to care.
Who, then, doesn’t care, and why don’t they? People who are hungry and dis-eased don’t care. People with anger, sorrow, hate, suspicion, envy, pride, arrogance, ignorance, selfishness… humans, they don’t care. All of us at one time or another doesn’t care. But just because we don’t care doesn’t mean it’s not important. Therein lies a seed of tragedy: the failure to see what’s really important, because we’re human and won’t. The initial response for most people at such times is intolerance. We tend to treat like with like, adding to our consternation, rather than reaching for diversity, change and constant flow. Anything that represents diversity, change and constant flow [perpetual motion] tends to upset people, so their minds put on the mantle of apathy. The mind will always seek its pleasure [Freud]. Just look at my response to the flying saucer lady of Sierra Madre. What’s really good, what’s really important, always seems to humiliate the worst tendencies in people, and quite often those tendencies fight back with a vengeance. The best thing is to leave such people alone, because tomorrow they’re liable to be more open to it, and if not tomorrow, sometime, elsewhere, they will, and they’ll begin caring. When the human heart is open, it cares about everything; when it’s mind is open, it’s willing to believe.
What kind of event is actually “earth-shattering,” and what kind is really people-shattering? People’s lives make sense as stories. Every adult alive is a walking autobiography. In their heads swirl the stories of their lives. Their minds [possibly those of most people; the postmodern mindset is still a minority, but like Buddhism and indigenous spirituality, it is the wave of the future] construct these stories in traditional, Aristotlean patterns, filled with binaries and linearities, causes and effects, all emanating from the consciousness of the thinking-autobiography, its self-awareness, its hand in writing its own story, and the choices it makes in doing so. “Human-shattering” events are those that rupture the perceived material fields of thinking-autobiographies. The death of a loved one, a divorce, loss of a job, a move…all these things are “human-shattering” events. They change the story of our lives, our scene changes, the mood and tone with it. But life on the grand scale continues on its course as the materials of singular lives are forever altered. But somehow, when people use the term “earth-shattering,” it is meant in a more global, or common, sense. This is something difficult for walking-autobiographies to contend with. It is something that emanates from the larger context, from the broader current, of the world they occupy. Quite often events such as these are not immediately felt. How many Cajuns drowned themselves in the swamp on the stock market crash of 1929? Then again, how did the Great Depression and the federal programs it necessitated change their lives in the long run? How many people on earth mourned when Christ was crucified? How many were enlightened by the teachings of the Buddha when he lived? These were all, certainly, “earth-shattering” events, but they did not change the stories of the walking-autobiographies who inhabited the world when they did.
So there are two magnitudes, at least, of “earth-shattering” events. An “earth-shattering” event of the first magnitude, is one that has global proportions. An “earth-shattering” event of the second magnitude is one of personal proportions. Both, however, affect each other. The degree to which they do, of course, depends upon their inter-relatedness and the way in which their experience is perceived. Ultimately, therefore, all “earth-shattering” events must be personal and global if they are to be completely “earth-shattering.” The discovery of possible microbe fossils from Mars is an “earth-shattering” event of the first magnitude lacking second magnitude resonance on a personal scale. Therefore, as a star, it has a very bright surface shine, but seems to lack a certain depth to its radiation. The excitement, therefore, is primarily intellectual, it is not visceral, rising up from within. The flying saucer lady of Sierra Madre, however, represents an “earth-shattering” of the first magnitude that is almost overwhelmed by it second magnitude, or personal significance. Any way you look at it, the very real existence of extraterrestrial life is “earth-shattering.” The degree to which it is so, varies from person to person. Denial of the truth of others, who come from elsewhere, is a lie we can no longer live with.
So, the real questions are: How “earth-shattering” will the discovery of possible ET fossils from Mars be in the long run? How “earth-shattering” did it prove to be when the sun no longer revolved around a flat plain of land surrounded by Ocean? The answers to these questions, though obvious, take time. Lots of it. No one singular discovery ever changed the wholesale view of mankind. It always took a series of discoveries, each with its own magnitude, to conjure up the emergence of a new reality, of a new world, of a new mind. Could these fossils just be the beginning of a chain of discoveries that will definitely conclude that we are not alone?
 
CONCLUSION
 
Any way you look at it, the very real possibility of extraterrestrial life is “earth-shattering.” The degree to which it changes reality varies from person to person.
 
However, the same isn’t true of global warming. It’s a fact, not a possibility. It’s actually human shattering. Edward Abbey wrote that you can’t change human nature without mutilating human beings. But that’s what evolution is: constructive mutiliation.
 
Death is the fundamental fact of life. Denial of this truth, like the denial of the truths of others who come from elsewhere, is a denial we can no longer live with.
 
I hope the best is yet to come. But it won’t be if we won’t stop lying to ourselves about ourselves.
 
A new truth awaits us, and it’s more beautiful than we’ve ever dreamed…
 
Stay tuned.

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[1] Altogether a dozen of these alleged meteorites were found, only the first one collected has yet yielded what might seem to be evidence of life.

Friday, November 9, 2012

AN UNCERTAIN MAN MAKING ODD NOTES TO HIMSELF #1

Marx’s definition of ideology: “They do not know it, but they’re doing it.”
Zizek: “The fundamental level of ideology…is an unconscious fantasy structuring our social reality itself.”
How do we account for this paradox that the absence of law universalizes prohibition?
My voice is that of an alien imagination perceiving the world from its own felt dimension. However, it’s humans who seem alien—NOT the narrator.
…like some heifer moseying into the man cave…
My poems are impersonal expressions of our species’ cosmic conscience fully cognizant of their biocentric situation and anti-spectacular function.
As a cosmic-spiritual anarchist, I am by definition a-theist. If one particular God’s in charge and has too much authority, lording it over all the rest of us like Assad or any other type of megalomaniacal cocksucker…S/he can kiss my fat, hairy ass!
Brecht may have said something like an event is the smallest unit of a situation. The audience functions as the event’s random conclusion. Fluxus braces uncertainty, an aesthetic that makes sense.
God is the universe’s mindful affect.
Consistency is the hobgoblin of nincompoops. 
Dark energy is the force of perception on an observed object.
Fun Stuff: Alex Jones…Prometheus…Bohemian Grove Moloch Cult/Ancient Aliens as Globalist propaganda/Directed panspermia…/the paranormal/sasquatch-yeti-gigantopithecus.
Frank Wilczek: The Higgs particle is the “quantum of ubiquitous resistance”…It’s a universal medium—kind of like the 11th dimension or branes
Extreme Moral Considerations in [some] French Literature: Bataille, Sade, Celine, Genet, Robbe-Grillet, Barthes, Honore, von Trier, Noe…
Dreamlands: 3 Fictions—An example of derive, or drift. In psychogeography an unplanned journey through landscape, usually urban, where an individual travels where the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture and geography subconsciously direct them with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic experience.
Is dying alone the ultimate failure or success? The final rejection or the last acceptance?
Does the Moon Ever Shine In Heaven? A tale of the Bardo Plane [a weird little novel looking for a publisher] is a Tibetan Buddhist crime and punishment told by a first person suicided narrator…
Hell is other writers.
If a man doesn’t hate himself, he’s not a true misanthropist. Narcissism is the first step toward loving your fellow man. Ayn Rand-type thinking is a perversion of narcissism in that its psyche is cloven by the fear it will evolve, improve and change. To someone who believes themselves self-actualized, such evolution would be fruitless if it were possible. Therefore, anyone calling for change becomes an existential threat. I think Ayn Rand projected her self-hatred outward onto those she subconsciously sensed were her superiors at thinking, living, writing and having sex, etc.
Ayn Rand, the Koch brothers, Tea Party...embody a malignant pseudo-narcissism repressing its own self-hatred, which is likely to appear as an uncanny emergency requiring an immediate response…formation of a terror group…a corporate-sponsored militia that’s actually “Blackwater” pulling off false flag operations…
It’s not what you know that counts, but how you handle it. In TheFool’s Progress Edward Abbey states several times, and I paraphrase, you can’t change human nature without mutilating human beings. Abbey’s protagonist humanizes himself in this mutilation, evolving from an abusive husband to a soul worthy of the kingdom of heaven, or at least going home. The right wing wants to mutilate others. That’s a difference that matters.
Theory—Fiction Is A Way of Knowing
1.      The Paranoid Medium
2.      In A Dimension That Doesn’t Compute
3.      Evolving New Tribes
4.      Becoming Your Own Spectacle
5.      Rebellion & Renaissance
6.      Obsessively Drifting Toward Apocalypse
7.      Not Burned At The Stake; But Ablaze, Drifting at Sea
 
qualia [pl.]—def&etym—antonym for “quanta,” s. “quale”—A property considered separately from a thing having that property. Latin “qualis”—what kind, condition, of what kind. English “quality.”  

John Cage: “…all things are related. We don’t have to bring about relationships.”

Bartleby is a post-apocalyptic sensibility coping with a socialized ignorance of the fact, be-ing felt from the inside-out…mentally coping with the birth and evolution of what will become the Armageddon event…knowing that wickedness has entered the world and begun its mission. It’s no coincidence he works on Wall Street.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I’m voting for Obama because I’d rather be tased than shot

PREVIEW: With 7 billion people in the world and counting, it’s absurd that we should all compete against each other not just for survival, but the simple pleasures of living. But such is the case in the reality of Republicans, in the me-first/you-last Social Darwinist hostility of their goddess, Bride of Moloch and Queen of Hell, Ayn Rand…

*****

I’m voting for Barack Obama.

We don’t have time for leaders whose minds need complete changing. We don’t have time for people who don’t get it.

If a house is on fire, and you know it, but people are in your way just standing there, not even paying attention to the fire, preventing you from getting to the hose, most of us would remove them as obstacles. Hurting them is better than letting the house burn down, which would not only kill us, but them, too.

There are lots of ways of removing obstacles, some better than others. I’m sure we can be more humane removing the political-economic elite who would prevent us from trying to save the planet and live the lives we deserve to live, striving for things that deserve striving after, than they have been considerate of us in extracting wealth from our existence to live in a way they don’t deserve. Maybe not, it’s likely we have to be as ruthless as they are if there’s to be any hope for the future. Some histories suggest that’s the case.

And of course, there are valid arguments against ruthlessness, regardless of its motivation. That’s why I hope we can be more humane in achieving our “lifestyles” than the capitalists have been in achieving theirs.

I wasn’t going to vote because, quite frankly, the Democrats disgust me. Their feckless idealism is nauseating. The Democratic Party has also been in the way of necessary reforms, but the Democratic psyche could be more quickly altered, relative to the Republican mind, due to its greater empathy. The more suffering they perceive, the more Democrats want to do something about it. In fact, Democrats seem to alter their way of thinking much more than Republicans do in the face of reality. Do I really need to cite evidence supporting this opinion? Really? Republicans are less rigid than Democrats?

Most of you reading this would agree Republicans are far worse in dealing with reality and making life better for most than Democrats. I knew several talented artists who committed suicide during the most recent Bush-league regime. They couldn’t take the day in, day out cynicism of it. The daily grind of a white, right-wing culture under constant attack from facts. Defeating reality with its malicious fantasies eroded whatever hope these decent, sensitive human beings had of having any hope.

Romneyites will be more of that same hopelessness until the real world starts biting them in the ass. I hope that bite takes the form of a lost election rather than a lost civilization. I’m no fan of civilization, what the civilizing process has wrought, but the falling action from such a climax would be catastrophic. Hubris inevitably begets tragedy. I would prefer to mitigate it by deflecting the hubris from its charge. Better, I would prefer to annihilate the form of hubris that is the Republican Party, and change the nature of the drama, making it a tragedy of my own making. I know that’s ridiculous, so I’ll drop it. It will never become a “program” [or pogrom]. I don’t give a fuck about my will triumphing, nor do I want someone else winning at my expense.

The most important issue, of course, is global warming. It’s teeth are big and sharp. If I were a biocentric Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell or Rev. Graham, which is to say if I were an inflexibly ignorant ass, I could claim Gaia’s naturally reacting to the pain caused by her red state regions. You think it’s just a coincidence there’s a blizzard in coal country? That Texans can’t go outside from May to October? That Wall Street’s going to be deeply inconvenienced? That the Show Me state is being illegitimately raped and mind-fucked by moneyed religious interests?

Anyone with half a brain knows that global warming’s going to kick ass [it’s only getting started folks], that the right wing in particular and capitalism in general are finished, that the people at the bottom are tired, hungry and thirsty and the people at the top have lost legitimacy. Our social positions are no longer valid, whether we’re on the top, bottom or disappearing middle. No one deserves their systemic advantage or disadvantage. Not fair really means something, whether you want it to or not. It becomes a matter of life and death when there’s not enough stuff for everybody to live [equally or not; people who are fed and watered will tolerate a lot, but once they’re exposed look out].

Anyone with three-quarters of a brain knows we ignore this situation at our own peril. Do the one billion haves want to face six billion starving have-nots driven by the survival instinct? Most with full brains understand that human civilization has evolved itself into a trap. We know, like Edward Abbey, that changing human nature means mutilating human beings. That’s the way it is when the rubber hits the road. I can smell it, can you?

Mitt Romney can’t, or at least we’ll never have any way of knowing. He contradicts himself too much for any real understanding of him on our part. His word is poisoned because of it. At least with Obama, he’s been true to his word if you’ve been listening to him carefully and not projecting your own ideals into his language. His relatively darker skin has made too many of us blind and deaf to what he actually says and does. Yes, he’s felt a need to back down on a number of things. But what are his options? Civil War? What does one do with people who can’t be reasoned with while they’re literally burning up the planet? How does someone save the village from them without destroying it?

We can’t change the nature of Republicans and corporate libertarians [laissez-faire capitalists] without hurting them. If you’re a decent person, and you know they’re human, and you might actually like their company during a football game or some other sporting event…what the hell are you to do? You can’t really go about damaging their interests without inflicting damage on one’s self [as opposed merely to one’s interests]. It’s inhuman not to feel the ramifications in advance. It’s psychopathic to not even be able to imagine how it’s all going to feel…not only for yourself, but others.

Obama may be a killer, but he’s not a psychopath. This is what makes him a different president more than the mere shade of his skin. Like Jimmy Carter, he’s decent enough to try to see the decency in everyone. He struggles, usually in vain, to raise our overall dignity as a nation the same way Carter did after Vietnam and Watergate. Obama shows a respect for these conservative jerks  in a way I can’t. He sees a form of human dignity in them. Whether it’s true or not, I respect it as a way one treats others with the appropriate humility [yeah, sometimes you bow—Jesus would’ve washed their feet].

I’m voting for Obama because I’d prefer to prefer democracy, and if not democracy, at least the hope for some semblance of a republic. If Romney gets in there, I suspect the rich will be emboldened enough by their greed and selfishness to accelerate their efforts at lowering the planet’s population to a level that’s less threatening to their way of life, which isn’t negotiable. If that happens, it will be my responsibility and the responsibility of humane people everywhere to drive them into negotiations. Either way, we’ll have to find a way of herding and coralling them, keeping them out of the way and far from the levers of power. This must be done regardless of who wins the election. Obama will talk and negotiate. Romney won’t. Obama understands America more than Romney does, which makes him more American than Romney, not less. Democracy is all about compromise. Romney and Republicans are all about authority.

Fuck them. The planet can’t be saved as it is. Its existing regime is no longer tolerable. So which way will things go?

Global warming and debt are forcing civilization to adapt or perish. The former is the planet forcing all of us to evolve with it; the latter is the rich coercing the poor to adapt themselves to their conditions, and by doing so accepting death.

What Republican interests desire is inhuman and unnatural. The nature of civilization itself must change if people are going to make it in any way worth making it. This means the systems of the old civilization must evolve because they’re no longer working toward the common good. We can see corporations and their people operating in their own private interests, and the havoc that’s begetting all over the planet. The Republican leadership represents these private interests that are out to enrich themselves regardless of the suffering it causes. They represent the same old order. Mitt Romney wants to be Julius Caesar as much as Haffez al Assad does.

Philip K. Dick wrote repeatedly of how the Roman Empire—the black iron prison that descended over humanity two-and-a-half millennia ago—never went away, it’s still here, everywhere. It’s a frame of mind…a delusional definition of progress. The Roman elite and citizenry are as nasty as they are because they know their way of life is doomed and pointless, which means their psychological advantages as rich people have eroded. So they commit suicide for fun, but only after they’ve used everything up.

When tomorrow comes, would you rather be a Roman or a Hun?

This, of course, is a bizarre equation. With 7 billion people in the world and counting, it’s absurd that we should all compete against each other not just for survival, but the simple pleasures of living. But such is the case in the reality of Republicans, in the me-first/you-last Social Darwinist hostility of their dollar sign-sucking goddess, that Bride of Moloch and Queen of Hell, Ayn Rand.

I’m voting for Barack Obama because he’s at least talked about “being on the right side of history.” As all the shit goes down and we find ourselves thrown up, I prefer Obama over Romney.

History shows that when a Democrat’s President, it’s tear gas and billy clubs deployed against the hungry masses. When a Republican’s in charge, it becomes bullets and bombs [yeah, Tea Partiers, Clinton was an exception when it came to the Branch Davidians and Ruby Ridge; but when you think about it, Homeland Security’s pretty nonpartisan because it grows its job regardless of who’s elected—in other words, the national security state remains in power despite the will of the people].

So, I guess you could say I’m voting for Obama because I’d rather be tased than shot, bro. Either way, we’re in for a shit storm down here at the trailer park…
 
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“You Are What Consumes You: A Review of The Corporation”

Monday, October 1, 2012

BEYOND BEAUTY: Roberto Bolano’s The Savage Detectives and 2666

Rebels are often attracted to storied lunatics and repelled by oppressors’ intuitive designs.

It also appears [anecdotally] that rebels throughout history [Diogenes, Thersites] have felt bourgeois methodologies irritated their sensibilities.[i]

Such radicals, being human, usually prefer running in their own circles, hoping to avoid the imaginary yet actual herd, which simultaneously defies the center while clinging to it. Everyone believes themselves a radical. Few see they’re in the herd, fewer still know the etymology of radical.

Among those who do see are some who linger open-eyed, squatting on the margins in Roberto Bolano’s The SavageDetectives and 2666, inspecting the fringes, discovering a numbing cruelty and complacency that becomes, in scope, a semblance of the whole species…a metaphysical super-organism existing for its own ends.

The reader reads the drip-drop-drip of a lunacy running amok in the imagined world[s] affected by particular cruelties and a generalized ennui, holograms that no longer coalesce over the old mythologies, re-imagining the emptiness of old rituals overturned by the arrival of maquilladoras, narcos and NAFTA, a post-communist unraveling of a previous order that reveals a mind trying to make sense of all the disintegrating contradictions—the cruelties of self fighting to exist in a multi-polar world—before being overwhelmed by the entropy of its own open-ended demise or conclusion [note: Bolano was dying while writing 2666, succumbing to liver disease shortly after finishing it].

The term “savage detectives,” like 2666, suggests more of a riddle than something concrete. Who or what are they? What’s savage about them? What are they trying to detect?

Arturo Belano and Ulises Lima, semi-fictional leaders of Mexico City’s self-proclaimed “visceral realists” of the 1990s, flee with a whore from her enraged pimp into the Sonoran desert of northern Mexico hoping to find their poetic mother, Cesarea Tinajero.

These savage detectives are described as “sovereigns of sadness,” exploring the postmodern world’s slow-motion, metaphysical collapse. Belano [who’s also the alleged narrator of 2666] and Lima and those who follow them, read them, know or feel there’s no point to anything, nothing worthwhile, really, beyond rebellion for the sake of doing something visceral, something from the gut, something real that goes beyond mere semblance…to prove to one’s self that one’s really alive, to do something that asserts one’s existence in an irreversibly brutal mode that totally fucks with the man’s head while allowing the transgressor to spot something, anything, that might be construed as meaningful.

Over the course of the two novels, an amoral aesthetic based on youthful desperation and hunger [see “Mexicans Lost in Mexico”] gradually evolves into a magical fatalism as Lotte, Archimboldi’s elderly sister, informs the aging giant his nephew’s an accused serial killer in a Mexican prison, and though Archimboldi’s just a man, he’s done some amazing things, and may still do something amazing. The first novel begins with romantic writers in their youth searching for something real and the second ends with the greatest visceral realist of them all—Benno von Archimboldi—boarding a plane for Santa Teresa [Juarez] and a mysterious legacy, a magical fatalism where something is done when nothing’s possible anyway.

Abel Romero, a character in Detectives, says “…the heart of the matter is knowing whether evil (or sin or crime or whatever you want to call it) is random or purposeful. If it’s purposeful, we can fight it …If it’s random…we’re fucked.” [420]

Bolano, however, knows it’s more complicated, that it’s not good or evil if it’s random, it simply is. Good or evil requires purpose or intent, and he shows the divergent ambiguities of such aims in perhaps the most amazing part of either novel, when, in Detectives, Jaume Planells speaks of Arturo’s duel with literary critic Inaki Echevarne:

“…this scene was the logical outcome of our ridiculous lives. It wasn’t a punishment but a new wrinkle. It gave us a glimpse of ourselves in our common humanity. It wasn’t proof of our idle guilt but a sign of our miraculous and pointless innocence.” [510-11]

Both novels embody Eros’ struggle over Thanatos, where life tries to “abolish death” [2666, 710] even though “No one pays attention [to the carnage, even though] the secret of the world is hidden in [it]” [SD, 348]…even though neither artist or critic, producer or consumer, can ever win the duel if humans are to exist.

The man who rents Archimboldi his first typewriter tells him that “Jesus is the masterpiece. The thieves are minor works. Why are they there? Not to frame the crucifixion, as some innocent souls believe, but to hide it.” [790]

Which is another way of saying everything we innocently perceive is symbolic, a crucifixion of the truth, a “semblance” of the apocalypse, where “…it was all real… in appearance.…a tapestry burned by the fire of seeming.” [Ansky in 2666, 722-3]

It’s while fleeing from Stalinists that Ansky, a Soviet Jew whose journal the youthful Prussian, Archimboldi, had discovered while recuperating from his wounds on the Eastern Front in WWII, writes: “Only in chaos are we conceivable…something secret, horrible, and cosmic [is] afoot." [736]

Indeed. And Bolano’s fictions plumb this secret, giving voice to the ultimate mysteries of being human…a way of going beyond mere beauty with all the ugliness going on.



[i] I think of what’s happened re: the exploitation of Che Guevara. The Bolano myth’s on a par with “The Motorcycle Diaries” in the way the mainstream spectacle has sought to co-opt and invert energy antithetical to its existence for a profit, but that’s another subject…