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I am a product of our times, and the spirit of our times is expressed in my work. Any resemblance to persons, movements or other acts of revolution, enlightenment or brilliance in the real world is, as they say, unintended. That my work reflects many of the questions, contradictions & crises the leaders of Occupy Wall Street are facing today is not to be dismissed as 'mere coincidence' however, not at all. It speaks tomes about the 'kulture' and times we share.
It is worth re-mentioning that both books one and two in the Nine Inch Bride series were written long before Occupy Wall Street was a gleam in anyone's eye. Drafts were completed early in 2011, editing was ongoing throughout that year, and book one was published in the fall of 2012 under the earlier title. Book two was completed at the same time as book one, as they were originally intended to be one much larger work but later separated.
It is further worth mentioning that the story is narrated by a Wall Street analyst dealing with a stock market crash and, inter alia, his personal ruin. The 'epiphany' is his. [read more...]
Some have said this scene is too dark, too morbid for their taste. But we do live in a culture of wrack and ruin.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_in_the_United_States In 2012 and 2013 suicide topped vehicle accidents as a leading cause of death in America, add in the countless attempts that fail, the virtually universal contemplation of it that is not acted upon, the exposure to it in the media that is ignored, and the case is made for this scene, particularly when the circumstances are related to unemployment.
Excerpt from An Epiphany On Wall Street, Chapter 4:
I passed the day in calm reflection, posing questions of life and death, and the sun had at last come down on my forever Sunday island. The twilight was clear, the early moon’s luminance on the balcony lovely to the eye. Soon the moon would swing away and the city lights would dwindle, allowing the glimmer of stars.
I reached for the cold coffee, drank, and replaced the cup, reached for the whiskey and mixed the delicious flavors, chasing the taste of the smoke. How many more pleasures do you want, I asked myself? My luxuries, at least, I would spend to the last.
I was finished then, no more flip-flopping. The future was too late. All this looking in, looking out, was my consciousness, awaiting the inevitable and permanent power outage. That was the long and short of it.
[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...]
[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...]
(Updated March 30, 2017)
I read with dismay about some hecklers at a rally calling Michael Moore out as a hypocrite as he passed, and general hostility toward celebrity entertainment figures as 1%-ers espousing 'socialism' from great mansions and unimaginable wealth. I think these hecklers are overlooking the nature of capitalism, which knows no moderation. Success in capitalist media necessarily involves 'stardom,' whether deserved or not, and obscene profits, because that is the return such venture capitalization requires. Being a capitalist structure, those at the top are rewarded irrationally and redundantly, like Michael Moore.
In the case of MM the radical documentary filmmaker, unlike those in commercial media, 'We the People' made him a 'star,' not some Hollywood studio, and it is a paradox of living in capitalist culture, not hypocrisy, to be catapulted to wealth and stardom even when your message is contrary to both. In his recent dotage he has crawled into bed with, of all things, the Democratic Party—but that is another story...
In the case of movie stars made by Hollywood, they cannot claim a particularly noble origin for their celebrity, but when they get there, some few have the wisdom and conscience to know their wealth is an absurd condition of capitalist culture and make use of their position and their money to advance the progressive agenda—to their great credit.
As MM is fond of saying, "I can walk and chew gum at the same time." That is not hypocrisy. It is wisdom and balance in the conflict of culture within culture. We all do it, consciously or not. None of us in this culture are 'innocent.'
But the individual celebrity has far more tenuous a bond to perform as desired politically and no real obligation to do so compared to political 'celebrities' of an institutional nature. And yet, whether for-profit business institutions with a progressive intent, or every other institution of the non-profit kind, the bourgeois form is the form the progressive institution takes, whether liked or not. And some do like it, apparently very much.
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...]
Bear with me, I have to put this out there.
Not long ago a book caught my attention, odd and uninviting as it was. It was called Embracing Obscurity and in it a Catholic priest extolls the godliness of anonymity. It is signed "anonymous."
Here, at length, is an excerpt.
"A lot of us are caught up in this religious version of the American dream, even in the church. For example, a friend of mine wanted to be a career youth pastor. But that aspiration didn't jive with his "higher ups." In fact, he was looked down on because of his lack of ambition! To be a success in the local church, apparently, you need to go to school to get your bachelors, M.Div., and possibly doctorate. Then you work your way up the ranks of the church, from youth pastor to assistant pastor, and eventually to lead pastor. Once you're on top, your job is to grow your church to a successful number. One hundred will never turn heads, so you're encouraged to "think big" and implement a "growth strategy." You're going to need at least four-digit Sunday attendance to be taken seriously at pastor's conferences. then, once you have a few thousand in attendance and blog, Facebook, and twitter platforms, you can go on to write books. Once you have a book or two on your resume, you can speak on invitation outside your flock. If you work hard enough, you can eventually retire and enjoy all the luxuries you've accumulated through your had work and revel in your five-star reputation.
Are the similarities between the world's and the church's "business models" as startling to you as they are to me?"
As one who checks the "spiritual but not religious" box, with no illusions what the church is in capitalist culture, my answer is no, not startled at all, but thank you indeed for making the observation and asking the question. Embracing Obscurity is not a book I could recommend to any but proud, ambitious priests, but it does throw a welcome light on the subject of anonymity in general and anonymous authorship in particular, and touches my own reasons for signing anonym. [read more...]
Nameless is not voiceless, or invisible. And it is itself an identity: "the anonymous author of the book." But I have been puzzling how to approach a "blog" for "anonym." This is anything but an easy matter. First, I am reluctant. I am not a journalist, or a consultant, and I have no desire to keep a personal diary, much less a public one. All advice hurled my way insists this is something I as an author must do, and my trumping argument has always been that since I do not really want to, I will not do it well. In addition, I expect I will make casual observations and express offhand opinions which are flippancies of the moment that I will later regret upon considered or better view. Then on top of those reasons, there are notions of tone and expectation setting, which makes these very words precarious.
Finally, there is the question of ego and time. These come to mind together, as the temptations of sounding off are also time consuming, not just in their instigation, but likely more so in their consequences and follow-up. I have read many fine writers in their blog voices, and have some inkling of what it takes out of them to put good work up often enough to keep an audience. I admire the better side of the blogosphere, except for the time and work involved that steals from every other thing.
I confess, were it not for the delightful helplessness of being without power, internet or phone in the wake of the recent storm Sandy, which left me unable to work on old files, only pen and paper on new ones, this fitful start might have been pushed off indefinitely. [read more...]
"Again today a lovers strike left undeclared..."
Is it unfair to feel how ill our work-a-day lives compare with the bed of love we leave for it? Surely, lovers cannot say, 'No, today we declare a lovers' strike, and will not go.' What would the world come to! Or—What could the world come to ?!
Excerpt from An Epiphany On Wall Street, Chapter 4
Wee Hours, Day 11.
I lean my hatted head out the window of the control booth and look back to find her standing on the train platform waiting to board. Why had we left our bed of love? We had peeled our skins apart scarcely more than an hour ago, severed our one beating heart to put on clothes and go to work. In a flurry of habit, we trotted ourselves off to the wail of the rushhour siren, clopet-ty clop to jobbidy-job, to action without heart, complicit in the murder of time. Again today a lovers strike left undeclared, that soul entwined in mine so short a time ago now food for great machines. The doors bit her aboard. I lurched the beast forward on its tracks.