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…
“What’s Obama Up To? Does He Get It?”
“A Mitt Romney Poem”
“Ron Paul, Libertarianism and Corporate Personhood"
“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…