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[Excerpt from Book One, Chapter 6: The World According to Sa.]
“We squander unpromised tomorrows until death calls out our name, and only then does its faint shadow, ignored life long, darken into the bogeyman that takes us.
“We guzzle the earth to extinction in secret fear of death. Children distant in time will be made to pay for our consumption. We diddle the future in a confidence game, a perfect crime in which the culprit is long gone by the time the next generation comes upon the scene. We hide from death, as the dying cannot. We should contrive a mortal scare, the end of the world.”
“The end of the world?” I repeated, losing her.
“A deus ex machina or two, wobble some metal sheets for thunder. If imminent death led your royal bankster to rethink, the rented masses to clamor for release, it might be worth the toll. Change is a function of time, the present time is in flux, and in the flux we have a Consciousness Exchange on the pinhead of the moment. What if the future tense were to lose all meaning and leave us just the moment? A singular exchange in the flux of time, the stitch that saves nine?”
I had no real way to know where her earnestness ended and fantasy began.
“Let us imagine the end of the world. We have Death to thank for so much of our propensity. Our towers and monuments are homage to him, our property is clung to in defiance of him, our worship a bribe to forestall him or dilute his power. Yet, in our culture, death’s shadow is pale or hidden and comes slowly, to one at a time. What if the shadow of extinction were to get up and speak at once to all humanity?”
“Tell me you’re joking.” [read more...]
[You have to love Russell Brand. See the embedded video at the end of this post in which he waxes eloquent on the subject of electoral politics. It has since gone viral, and deservedly so.
He sounds a lot like Sahar on the subject, with an important exception. Here's a snippet from Chapter 6, book one:]
“Our domestic condition is a misery of financial neurosis for most Americans. Our chief global export is financial gangsterism, rapacious extraction, and military empire, along with the lie of affluence for the hard working, the lie of power of the people, and the lie of freedom of persuasion,” she said with blistering intent. “These are mere jingo markersfor the expansion mandate of corporate wealth. We liberate the rich where we conquer, to deepen their entrenchment and power.”
She paused, and I could see she was making an effort to simmer down. “These, you see, are words from my own anger and revulsion,” she added quietly.
She returned to the candle for a moment, as if for sustenance, then turned to face me again. The light was behind her now, her form a silhouette, the flame behind her head made her hair seem ablaze. She appeared supernatural for a moment, the impression lingering around her voice.
“We shall never know our talent in a world of need. That’s big bad Karl in ten words.” [read more...]
Again it seemed the drunken dream had passed, and I nearly slept before she spoke once more.
“I am as I seem, living in the Big world, your world, a person diminutive in scale and a human being. I live among you, and I study you and the world you have made.”
Time stretched on before she spoke again.
“To regard a great city, one must ask: Are we humans not a species of master path-makers and habitat-shapers? We are. And yet we dare not take our craft to the social estate, nor to the state of our lives beyond the physical. In this our higher realm, we remain like deer, making a trail through the woods as we find them, no vision of a human garden, but paths made in forage of instinct alone. Generation after generation follows these single-minded trails of scent and happenstance through the tangled woods, until we have worn a whole civilization of paths.
“Why not? One might ask, if the experience of conscious creatures depends on the laws of nature, why not follow the vitality of instinct for our paths? Why allow higher faculties, like Science or the Arts, to show us the way to move through the social domain?”
She paused, gathering silence, then answered her question.
“Because we are not deer. Our faculties can be applied to the most fateful decisions in the navigation of human life. Science transcends bias and self-deception to observe with reason, why then does a Science of moral paths have no standing in the order and economy of human life? Why do the Big require that a Science of Ethos be what no other science is required to be: the Word of God?”
Quiet enveloped her words again before she spoke. [read more...]
[Sa and Ken, from book two in the Nine Inch Bride series: A Stone of Conscience.]
“Some food for thought on your journey.”
“And ego. It may seem at first beyond your reach, but I think you will catch up with it.”
“Shoot,” I said.
“We do have to ride our miniscule difference,” she continued, “just as you say, but our human commons show the prize of individuality and its precious freedom the most dependent part of all we are. Within that mite of distinction, the span from least to most highly endowed is all of tick to tock. It is a fragile thing too, our prize. A gift of talent, fettered, is as useless as a fault, and survival anxiety is all it takes to fetter the gift. A culture of implicit fear will suffice to bracket human potential, and survival anxiety is the essence of Big culture, its fuel and product.”
She was working at my motivations, I figured, angling for commitment, as if she had intuited the questions and answers I’d been juggling earlier on the beach. It scarcely surprised me to hear her address what I had on my mind, even hours ago. She seemed to be adept at some kind of empathetic understanding.
“Among our little, threatened gifts, imagination is greater than reason, and more essential to the species, and yet imagination and reason are set against each other in the closed systems and recursive isms of the Big wide world. To define myself in your inelastic isms would take dozens of them, the exercise ending in gibberish.”
I followed her, but still could not guess where she was going, and the tenor of her words made me anxious for some clarity. She wasn’t one to meander without purpose, I knew.
“Our thought-objects and our words are abstractions from experience, and our thought-objects and words idealize in the process of abstracting. So we perceive allurements, desires and aspirations out of all reckoning with the reality of them, or we perceive evils as evil incarnate. Thinking men form their views from these idealized thought objects, and so we have extremes and absolutes, closed systems and isms, the consequence of idealization. As for an ism like individualism, the most I can legitimately say is that I am sur- or sub-individualist, some if not most of the time.” She smiled at her own equivocations.
I was learning to follow the leaps in her dance of expression, and I understood her to be sardonic.
“To speak of it is silliness,” she confirmed. “The ‘supremacy of the individual’ is the American phrase we hear, with its proud and dangerous ring. One could make a case for it. Indeed, could one not reduce even the holy men, Buddha or Mohammed or Christ no less, to such a notion as the supreme individual?” she asked, airing out her thoughts, her fingers to her chin.
“Is it not possible to understand our divine saviors in this light, as supreme in a mere micro-percentage of difference from the rest of us? Christ was supreme for being sent by God the Father, Mohammed for being Allah’s messenger, Buddha for attaining enlightenment and teaching its path. Were God an ego-individualist, like the pagan god Atlas, like the vain accidents of industrial fortune such as Bedaux or Wellingham, might he not as soon shrug the world as bear it on his shoulders?
“Yet no divine messenger shrugs; rather, all saviors sublimate and diminish the ego-individual in their practice and their teachings, even the pagan Prometheus. This is the paradox of talent, I think, even the most rare talent, revered as holy spirit.”
A big idea began to gel and I marveled how my unimaginable friend had led me there.
“The musician is subsumed in the music, the physicist in his natural laws, the inventor in his inspiration, all larger than the individual, all antecedent to the individual, all surviving beyond the individual. And all the power in their craft derives from commonalities of desire and need, and the larger antecedent of common survival. The supreme iota itself serves and is made possible by our lumpen selves and the consciousness shared by all.
“So it is with my iota of difference and with yours.” She let quiet ensue.
She’d managed to pull her rambling idea together at last, and remarkably, I thought I got it, albeit just. “The gifted are nothing much without the rest, without some common basis, they’re not even possible...”
“Well enough said,” she answered, brightening. “Justice and genius can be served in a political economy. With imagination and will, we shall prove this in our lifetimes. That is the thought I’d like you to take away on your journey.”
Now here's a person who was certainly not into the 'exceptionalism' of a race. Einstein explains a goal for humanity; striving for inner security.
[Excerpt from Book One ~An Epiphany On Wall Street~ in the Nine Inch Bride series.]
“The word socialist is wrecked in the American psyche,” she replied. “Two centuries of questioning and thought have been rendered taboo and blanked out of mainstream consciousness. But no, the making of new parties must await proportional representation and the demise of winner-take-all. The task before us is to unwind these undemocratic, race and class biased electoral structures. That is prerequisite to successful third parties.”
She stepped away from the candle and caught a glimmer of light along one side, her cheek bone visible now, the rest of her face in shadow. The curve along her neck and shoulders was distractingly delicious to the eye.
“You are alienated from both sides, Ken, because you are middle class,” she said, grabbing back my attention. “Not to be one of the elite honeycombs your soul, and yet you can no longer sit down to dinner with the unwashed common man you consider yourself superior to and more deserving than. I offer you a chance to mature in your human potential to its fullest. All else is waste of time.”
I squirmed at that.
“Democracy is a learning machine. No ism is complete, or sufficient in all times. There can be no forbidden party, even the most noxious side of ourselves we must hear. All barriers must come down. Folly will learn better and fade. True democracy is immune to utopias and final solutions by other name. This discourse between twin capitalist parties, keep-all and tweak-some, is a black tie affair in a museum for democracy.”
[Re: "Oil Giants Could Feel Major Pain If World Gets Serious About Reducing Global Temperatures" http://business.financialpost.com/2013/06/21/oil-climate-change-producers/ (The title of this article and its POV are laughable.)]
There is no question that "a carbon bubble is in the works." It's intrinsic to growth and 'recovery.' Science tells us the carbon apocalypse is well underway and the status quo shows us there is no will, no motivation, whether fear or hope, that the carbon economy and culture is capable of generating to stop itself.
There is no "putting its money where its mouth is" short of reversing population growth, economic growth, productivism itself, and the carbon-derived consumption addiction--putting the genie of industrialization back in the bottle. Hardly a prescription for greater 'freedom.'
The economic culture which produced our plight, capitalism and its productivist derivatives, including industrial socialism, cannot be expected to find such a will, if indeed it even has the capacity to perceive and fully admit the extreme of the problem for which it is responsible. [read more...]
Jeffrey Sachs Calls Out Wall Street Criminality and Pathological Greed
"I regard the moral environment [on Wall St.] as pathological. I’m talking about the human interactions that I have." ~Jeffrey Sachs [View video...]
Video together with transcript is available at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/04/jeffrey-sachs-calls-out-wall-street-criminality-and-pathological-greed.html
[Originally posted on Google+]
Today the marathon bombing in Boston brought back scarred memories of 9/11 that are painful for me still. It is no accident Ken confronts the Freedom Tower and 9/11 Memorial in the opening scene of the novel. In a way, these are symbolic characters drawing and repelling him again and again.
"We are none of us innocent." Sa says to Ken atop Freedom Tower in a chilling later scene.
But as a New Yorker who witnessed the first air strike through the apartment window, and the second from the building's roof through the lens of a camera, 9/11 is always there waiting to come vividly alive again in memory, with its long lingering aftermath of smoke and smell and terrible awe that cannot be erased.
I have to believe that attack was not knowingly exploited by our government. To believe otherwise, would not every sane and just person have to recognize they are in a state of war with their own government? At whatever stage of activism one stood, short of war--the blood sacrifice, all for cause, could it ever be enough if our elected government were abusing power to game our very lives for partisan advantage?
It may be all bombers are madmen. Does that mean we do not examine what has made them so brutally mad? Is this how we let them win? We blithely dismiss a flaky ex-CIA whistle-blower and our own eyes for that matter, watching controlled demolition. Do the most successful liars know their lies are too big to ever be successfully exposed?
The sensible cast the glare elsewhere, on the gore, the grieving, the grim fact of terror, on any consensus but our part in the hate visited upon us, or the way we would have to understand our culture, the warrior we would surely have to become within it, if we believed our lives were gamed in murderous theater.
[Originally posted on Google+]
[From Nine Inch Bride Book One]
“Debt is the gateway drug to capitalism and its culture. The question for the young is whether to bind oneself heart and mind to this culture of the loan and never look back for fear of jinxing the investment, or to question the contract at every turn. Should they wrangle to join the ruling class, or save the world from a dictatorship of vanity and privilege,” she said, showing one palm up to one side, then the other, as if she were a scale. “Guess which wins.”
“You have to wrangle just to stay alive,” I affirmed.
“Even so. In the bordello of free markets, the young mind is bound to debt, and put in training to become its whore. Genius is tasked with inventing armaments and advertising. Technology is devised to produce a poisoned diet. From banking and Wall Street, the crown jewels of capitalism, we have feudal indenture, fraud in ever more ingenious forms, usury, war mongering...”
She spoke in her low voice, standing with assurance, level headed and calm.
“We have a culture of fraudulent dualities, an either-or infirmity of the brain, understanding pinged and ponged between two paddles. Take your pick between them: Republican-Democrat, private-public, big or small. Whatever comes to mind will have its bully twin in a prison of either/or. It is a fallacy of thinking so common it is in the Advertiser’s Handbook—clean or dirty, new or old, cool or square. What can one hope from such a culture?”
[Originally posted on Google+]
I would argue that the existing sense of balance between storytelling and 'axe-grinding,' a pejorative term to be sure, is entirely a construct of centuries of capital dominance in the publishing industry. As gatekeeper and censor of literature over centuries, from feudal lord to feudal capitalist, the standard of what axe may be ground in fiction and to what extent has been set by publishers and cultivated in top down media with a vested interest in escapist literature which not only does not upset, but actively affirms the status quo. Any discussion of this standard is lame without recognizing the cultural dominance of the owner-publisher class.
Now that digital publishing has largely broken the owner-publisher's stranglehold on what may be said, only the stranglehold of market expectations fostered over centuries remains. It seems to me regressive in the extreme to deliberately perpetuate that standard of expectation as if it were some kind of universal principle of literature, instead of a deliberate smothering of dissent within the dominant culture.
If a writer creates a character who is a thinking person, the writer has an obligation to have that character speak their thinking. If the character is political, that would be political thinking. If the character is an activist with a cause, a/k/a 'axe to grind,' and this involvement is central to the story, that character must be developed and allowed to incense and proselytize. The point is not to conform to the market expectations of 'storytelling,' subspeak for 'escapism,' where challenging the reader to think is a cardinal sin. In fairness such conformity could also be called 'axe-blunting,' 'opiate poisoning,' and a list of like epithets.
Better to break down those expectations, even if it means those critics and readers utterly conditioned by feudal cultural precepts may reject it. As it stands, the only traditionally published grinding is that which grinds directly or indirectly on behalf of the status quo, e.g., Ayn Rand, whose nefarious influence far and away exceeds that of any writer with an opposing point of view, and does so by dint of fierce allegiance to that status quo alone.
To be a writer in the age of digital independent publishing is to break down and challenge owner-publisher / market gate-keeping / normative expectations.
[Originally posted on efemurl.com]
To learn the particulars of Chris Hedges, et al. v. NDAA, there is no better source than the panel discussion led by the plaintiffs and lawyers in the #stopNDAA action themselves: Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention, First Panel.
Part 2 continues with the broader political context: Challenging NDAA Indefinite Detention, Second Panel. Both discussions are rich in detail on the NDAA dispute at hand and eloquent in the wider political and cultural dimensions of the lawsuit-as-campaign, and as a tactic in search of a larger strategy.
The widely supported lawsuit was launched by plaintiff-activists whose investigative journalism, political books and other consciousness raising activities are directly threatened by the vague provisions of the NDAA seeking to further encroach on liberties of speech and association for all Americans, while casting a definitive chill on dissenting journalism and the future of civil liberty itself. The panel discussion occasioned an ardent outburst from Chris Hedges and penetrating rhetoric from each and every speaker.
There were no small players on the Culture Project stage, and more, it had by the end of the second panel become a 'working meeting,' grappling passionately with unanswered questions about the future of the lawsuit as campaign in the repertoire of activism, the convergence of conservative and libertarian views with the plaintiffs' own in the Stop NDAA action, and the exploration of other possibilities for mounting a broader, more fundamental challenge to the law by law degradation of civil liberties in American corporate poltical culture. [read more...]
[Sahar from Nine Inch Bride book one]
“You are not the sum of your bank account,” she went on, countering the thought I had not spoken. Was there a way to keep my face from being a billboard in the sky? I wondered.
“It is moral midgets and conniving brutes who best succeed in the jungle of social Darwinism,” she continued. “Ethics do not evolve there, but are quelled to near-extinction. Genius is culled to serve reckless appetites and short-sighted bottom lines, hardly the evolutionary impetus of well-reasoned merit and reward. Neither social nor Darwinian, it would be kind to call the notion confused self-serving hogwash.”
[Originally posted on Google+]
[Sahar from book one in the Nine Inch Bride series]
"There is no essence to issue politics when all issues are framed in capitalism. There is no inspired socialism in counterweight, and no basis for hope from an exclusive democracy, one privately owned by the capitalized few, with a vicious market as its god. Long ago gone, an itch alone remains. Democracy in America is a phantom limb.”
She had made my point in spades I thought.
“But no, it does not follow that electoral politics are a waste of time,” she corrected, “or that voting and parties must remain as they are..."
[Originally published on Google+]
This evening I attended a memorial service for Aaron Swartz. http://www.rememberaaronsw.com/.
This young man had a truly beautiful mind and the heart of renegade Prometheus, too rare a combination in the history of man to lose...to a justice system proved criminal in his case. I am reminded of the Soviet Union under Stalin, were the most gifted among the opposition were singled out for persecution and driven to suicide, facing a Siberian labor camp, if not killed outright. Absurd laws and vicious, politically motivated prosecution of one of America's finest talents, the equal of any, gave rise to anger among the tears in the great hall.
He was a wordsmith too, among a 'shameful wealth of talents.' Given his questioning nature and imaginative bent, I could see him evolving into a powerful and popular writer by the time he reached old age. Anger-tears and anger.
I think of all the self-serving, ego-centric, narcissistic counterparts to someone like Aaron, indulging their fantasies of wealth, superiority, and privilege, the shrugging Atlas bourgewannabe's making their way in business, technology and the arts, the blunt instrument of ego at once the means and the end of their life work. Intelligence without wisdom, looking down its nose. Schweinerei.
The bell for Aaron Swartz tolls for the heart and soul of me.
[Originally posted on Google+]