Poketa Rd. at the bottom land just after Rockcliff and, at the same time, Kingston, MA at my sister's house: I am in my own home, which is located in a kind of anti-plan (houses arranged at different than right angles to each other and spaced rather far apart) of upscale New England clapboard homes. I'm getting ready to go to work, and I'm starting to run late and am worried about it. I go outside and am surprised to see that my neighbor's house has been torn down and the land has been leveled and cleared so that an open area between the trees where the house has been is removed of all "deconstruction" materials and looks pristine--except for the fact that it is bare dirt and clay, with no vegetation. I walk on up the hill (as it would be off of Poketa, but transposed to the MA setting, which has only small rises and no real hills). I notice that other houses on the hill have also been demolished and no trace of them remain except cleared land. At first I think that there are no other houses left, but then I see that I have walked up on a house, an old, almost dilapidated place. I feel I am too close, not having seen the place until it was too late. I feel that the inhabitants will see me, and so I hurry away. I come upon another place that's more like a barn than a house; a woman is yelling at her husband, who has gone down to the first floor, which is like a garage/barn, and she has followed him down there, shouting "instructions" to him. I hurry away so that they do not see me. I slide down the hill on the slick grass, wet with dew. At first I fear I'm going to lose my balance, fall, and roll dangerously down the hillside. But I quickly learn how to keep my feet and I begin to enjoy the feeling of freedom that the sliding provides.
I have no insight into what this dream means, and usually when this is the case, I don't bother to write the dream out, since it probably won't have any conscious therapeutic or artistic value. But I feel like I have to latch onto something, to formulate ideas, however vague, to translate my experience into words, to assuage whatever demons stir within; and I feel like Richard Dreyfus in Close Encounters when he says, "This means something."
Anxiety, whether I am aware of it or not, drives me to write, in an attempt to control it by explaining its derivatives and thereby explaining the affect itself away. And, often, it also spurs all other kinds of activity (attempts to establish control over the physical environment), when otherwise I would be content to laze around in a state of ennui: summer is the antithesis of childhood trauma, a symbolic representation of the most advanced development (growth) of my present state, when everything is hot and high and heady and I can dismiss the worries of survival, or rather postpone them to the later winter time, up until the moment when I am born again and must relive my birth(day) and so start the whole process all over again, each year.
So maybe anxiety has its good side in the sense that it prompts me to take action--though it's not all good, when it begins to overwhelm me as it transitions into paranoia and freezes me again in the depths of winter, the symbol for my frozen personality. Each spring, awakening with the burgeoning buds, I realize that I've survived another winter. I didn't succumb to the Big Freeze. Well, okay. That's the way it's gonna be. My previous pervious years will continue to concatenate, no matter how many times I may return to the false beginning in my conditioned attempt to start it all again.
The anxiety is definitely starting up again; and it's a good thing that I can readily recognize that fact, rather than having to struggle along blind to the mechanism like I did for so many years of my life. But aware or not, the anxiety (and its derivatives--DWAFP) is there. Caffeine helps--a lot; but I've been cutting down on my coffee consumption, so that I can lose the extra ten pounds I gained over the summer. I've been on a modified Atkins diet (half- cup of coffee with Splenda twice a day and a carb day once a week or so), and I've lost a pound a day so far--not my usual rapid weight loss in the initial Atkins phase, but good enough. (The less time you spend on Atkins, the better, I theorize; that's why I usually go all out and eat no carbs at all.) And the minimal amount of caffeine and no beer at all isn't so conducive to a non-anxious state of mind.
The primary event that's kicking off the anxiety this time is the massive inflation in the price of gasoline. I've cut back on gasoline as far as I can without getting out the bicycles (the hilly terrain around here isn't too bicycle friendly, but it would be good exercise) and refurbishing my motorcycle, the cost of which would offset increased gas prices for some time to come; but we may be rapidly nearing the point where the payback period will be greatly foreshortened.
Now, I know that the price of gasoline is just an excuse, an external event to latch onto and blame; but I would feel less anxious if the price of gas was low--at least until I found another excuse. It's all Bush's fault, I know; I just haven't worked out exactly how yet. But it's another way that the money of the masses ends up in the pockets of the corporations and the rich, so it just has to be caused by Bush and/or his cronies.
It's not that I disagree with conservative principles so much (I live my own personal life conservatively) as it is that I see the misery that conservatism thrives on: the exploitation of the poor, the unintelligent, and the uneducated. (I'm talking about extreme conservatism here; there is another kind, which adopts a benevolent attitude toward the disenfranchised and, though not wanting to give them hand-outs, truly wants to educate them and help them to better themselves so that they can join the capitalist rat race; but that's not the conservatism that's operating in the country at this time.)
I actually believe in the conservative principle of the survival and prosperity of the fittest; that the poor and destitute are the way they are for a reason, as a function of low intelligence and/or poor education. (I modify this belief with an understanding of the social forces that keep people at their social level, unable to rise despite their intelligence and education.) I understand that this is the way the world works, and always has, despite the advances of social democracy and (true) Christianity.
But it's one thing to interpret the plight of the poor as a manifestation of natural law and quite another thing to allow it go on unmediated and even exacerbated by the rich, who use their power and influence to further disenfranchise their social opposites. The lack of laws (or the failure to enforce those that exist, not to mention the dismantling of liberal agendas) designed to enable fair play and fair pay empower corporate bosses to maximize earnings at the expense of the workers. [I better watch it. I'm starting to sound like Marx.] The balance has tipped far toward the bosses and against the workers and it's time to tip it back for a while.
All of that is a separate (but related) issue from the Christian principles we as a society profess to believe in. Bush and his moral majority bosses are Christian in name only, a convenient label that they use to capture the hearts and souls of constituents. (Sure, they believe that they are Christians; but they fail to heed Jesus' warning of false Christs and his lessons on tolerance, passivity, and universal love.) They are not true Christians, and they certainly don't believe in fair play. They use their power against the "little people" in order to make them littler. They are bad stewards of the land and its people. Even as they profess otherwise, they act to further disable the disenfranchised by inhibiting their ability to get a good education. And as for the environment, well...it may be true that the meek shall inherit the earth, but only long after the bellicose have already ruined it. I'm going to stop writing about all of this political stuff now because it's starting to piss me off. (But maybe anger is a good defense against the angst I've been feeling.)
The anxiety syndrome may be a symptom of repressed anger. I'm not certain of this, but it sometimes it feels that way. It's possible that my anxiety, occurring first in the fall and escalating through the winter and into spring, is that same separation anxiety that I felt as an infant (my birthday is in August), a remnant of my early childhood echoing every year at this time. And out of that anxiety, that is, out of the stress that it produced (produces), the anger proceeds.
I was surprised when, years ago, a dentist told me that I must grind my teeth in my sleep. His comment prompted me to remember that a roommate in college told me that in fact I did, a comment that I immediately, back then, forgot. So, I must have some kind of emotion that I repress without any conscious awareness of it, since there's that evidence. And then there's the minor fits of instantaneous, "self-righteous" rage that I release (only to bring immediate back under total control) when I've finally had enough of someone expressing similar emotions toward me or trying to manipulate me in an overly aggressive or assertive manner. That stuff has to come from somewhere. I can see how doubt, worry, anxiety, fear, and even paranoia can develop over time out of repressed anger, as each incident of the syndrome is repressed in my attempts to remain functional and "productive." I cannot allow myself to become the kind of person during the day that I am when I awaken in the night, fearful that my life may be all wrong, that I have wasted it, that horrible events loom just over the horizon. I cannot allow myself to be a Richard Lewis kind of character. I must be a far more laid-back and carefree kind of guy. After all, I'm just passin' thru.
If I could break this pattern that my life has taken in its defense against anxiety, I could be a social activist (or anything I wanted to be, really--an actor, a filmmaker, a well-published writer; it's all about the social interaction, the networking). I'd like to be an activist. But I can't sustain the focus and, more importantly, I can't remain at a high enough level of activity so that I am ready to present my opinions at a moment's notice, in the situation when they will be most effective. In order to function in the most effective way with these shortcomings, I would, first, need to develop a "database" of ideas that I would subsequently keep updated as events occurred. Second, I would have to have an efficient means of accessing this database [digital files/laptop might serve, but good social activists have it all filed away in their brains; I might, however manage a level of social activism on paper/internet while avoiding direct public contact] so that at any given time I could call up my arguments for presentation. And third, I'd have to develop my public speaking skills. All of this is doable, given the fact that I would for long periods of time exist outside of this mindset, only to return to it when I "felt" that I was in the proper state of mind (non-depressed).
But social activists can be as lost as I am: two well-meaning liberals on one of the PBS news programs proffered the argument that the looters on the Gulf Coast (presumably not those who are simply searching for sustenance and shelter, but the ones who are taking advantage of the breakdown of social order to enrich themselves) are ordinary people who experience a psychological change under the extreme conditions that disasters create, that a dynamic is generated during these episodes of extreme stress that temporarily changes the personality of certain people. Bullshit. I understand the tolerant motivation that this argument seeks to convey, but it's just plain wrong. People who would take advantage of the breakdown of social order in this way (not for survival, but for personal gain) have always been this way and are merely held in check during normal times by social structures, out of fear of consequences perhaps, or out of a sense that they must comply with laws, norms, and mores, not because they have been internalized, but because this is the way that things are. This argument presumes that, although it appears that we have a highly stable social order, a significant number of people in our (or any) society are not really socialized at all, but are morally bereft people who are held in check by well-established social structures that they are loathe to disregard--until the structures become temporarily suspended. There is no psychological change. The moral degradation that appears to occur is not a degradation at all, but a release of an ongoing psychology that is held in check by the business-as-usual nature of society, a process not unlike soldiers that get carried away when war compromises moral restraint (e.g., Mai Lai, Abu Grahib).
It's against this background of social order that I would contend if I were to be a legitimate social activist, because the same established social order that prevents wayward lawlessness also concretizes a resistance to change. And I doubt that I could do it, even for short periods of time between long bouts of social isolation. I just don't have a prevailing sense of the potential, if not actual, goodness of society. At best, it restrains us when we would otherwise act wrongly; but it can be as wrong itself, when it restrains the better people among us from taking control and establishing a better government and/or society. It sometimes gets me down to think that I do not have the physical or mental wherewithal to change the world that I hate the way it is. I guess, when it comes right down to it, that makes me just another whiner. I don't like this self-characterization; ut it's true. It's just too depressing.
But I keep thinking that I can't be depressed [when I think that I might be, when I try to evaluate my social status re activism, or re any aspect of "normal" society] or, at least, not all that depressed, because even during those times when I am lethargic and ridden with ennui, when I enter into the presence of others, I appear to be perfectly normal, even to myself. It's only when I am alone that I suspect that I might detect symptoms of depression. Other people spark my attention and direct it toward them, and I am out of myself and free of any affective state that I may have been "trapped" in. Of course, then, I become caught up in their state(s) and begin to become affected by the anxiety and stress of being too far out of myself and into society and must return home to work out their psychologies to get back to my own self. But then, when I do, I am usually diverted away from any previous affect of my own. Depression and anxiety/stress work in opposite direction it seems--at least in me.
But whatever it is, whatever works in me to keep me out of the social loop, at the same time it protects me, from the social insanity that disguises itself as normality; or it may be that this is simply another way I have of avoiding within a "real" world the potential for communion that I find in my "fantastic" one, another paranoid projection:
It starts out relatively innocently as vocalized responses to television news or as entries in my journal in response to items I find in my e-mail or online:
Yeah. But, unfortunately, there were conservatives among the founding fathers who countered the liberalism of the revolution by solidifying the government into a more rigid and controlling institution, which today is still trying to re-dominate the democratic spirit, and with some success.
And it escalates as I compile lists of things I will no longer do, so that I may resist the growing tide of evil in the world:
This brings me to my usual take-off point: political agendas and the rights of the people:
What if a clear majority of citizens of a legally constituted democracy vote or petition the government to disband the democracy in favor of, say, a constitutional monarchy, or whatever? Does the minority status quo, those who have a vested interest in the continuation of the present system, have the right under the current constitution to use the military to defend the present government against the desire of the majority who wish to dissolve it?
But here's a more succinct appraisal of our situation in America, home of the brave and land of the...sheep:
There are lots of smart people around who have answers to our problems, but who will never have the power or influence to do anything about them--because those who are in power (whether they are conservative or liberal) maintain their power by preserving the status quo; and they do this by convincing the populace that the way things are being done, or the proposed lame changes they wish to make, are the "right" way, and that all of the hair-brained, egg-headed ideas of academics and/or "fringe elements" are crazy, un-American bullshit.
We are a democracy, after all. And so we do what we are told is best for us, because that's what a democracy is: the people with the most influence determine the policies by conning the masses who can't or don't want to think for themselves, even as they deceive themselves into believing that is what they're doing. And so, instead of progress, we always end up with the lowest common denominator, the things that people really "want." Oh, sure. They don't want crime and poverty and rampant drug abuse and... But they keep voting for those things anyway, because the people they vote into office tell them they're going to solve our problems; but they never do, despite the fact that there are ways that we could solve most of our problems, if only we didn't have to rely on the "will of the people" to get things done. But that's the way it is. So, is that a justifiable reason to be paranoid? Maybe. If you happen to consider it in light of the following:
There are three ways of looking at any conspiracy theory:
1. It's simply an erroneous elaboration concocted by paranoids.
2. It's true in fact, but not a result of conscious construction.
3. It's true and a conscious product of specific individuals.
The first is obviously the way that conventional people interpret theories that purport to threaten their current way of life; they would have it that no conspiracy exists so that they can go on living the way they do, even if that be in denial. But if they had to choose between the second or the third alternative, they'd choose the second, because it's much easier to believe that, even if circumstances of environment and individual action commingle to create a coordinated phenomenon, it is a result of happenstance and coincidence; and even if a few conspirators acted to achieve their part of the whole, still, the net effect was more or less accidental. However, if the third possibility is accepted as true, then either dire circumstances are at hand or we are all paranoid pawns of a damaged worldview.
I feel I must choose one of these approaches when considering the material I have been coming across over the last several years: there is a phenomenon or series of phenomena unfolding that will forever change the way we as humans view and live in our world, and these events will affect my country, the "land of liberty," perhaps more profoundly than other parts of the world, because we are so accustomed to our (sense of) freedom and individuality:
[Actually, this "foreign" mindset recurs throughout history; it's not at all unique in these "apocalyptic" times]:
*Many times in the past people have imagined/feared the imminent onset of the apocalypse. But never before has the "vision" been so widespread and with such concrete examples of "new age" re-interpretations of ancient imagery (cf., The Worldwide Church of God).
*Accounts of ragtag "militias" that thought themselves legitimate representatives of the English, French, Dutch, et al. (and maybe they were, maybe they were...) describe horrific scenes of brutality and murder on all sides before, during, and after the French and Indian war(s). If you hermeneutically project yourself back into these recorded events, you can imagine the "altered state" of mind you would experience as bodies are ripped apart in front of you while you stand tied to a tree for hours; or while you do the ripping, cutting, and sawing, having tied your enemies to trees, or across barrels inside the lame pile of logs you had the audacity to call a fort and name after a saint.
*Lord Jim goes crazy in the jungle. (True, this is fiction; but it's the documentation of the mindset that I am here concerned with.)
*Kurtz commands a bloodlusting tribe in the middle of the jungle like Marlon glorifies the horror of the same. Did you catch his madness then; or did you think it was just good acting? (Ditto, the fiction qualification.)
*The Romans crucified people; imagine what it must have been like hanging from a cross, your mind racing and raging, all your sense and sensibility vanquished and leaving you with an utterly uncivilized mind.
*Vlad impaled people. What if you were alive for a while atop one of those poles surrounded by friends and strangers crying out in pain or moaning their last words? What would your perception of the situation be? Would you think the world had been a sane and happy placed to have lived out your short life?
*The Holocaust: These images are so ubiquitous in our culture that I need not elaborate further. The single word says it all.
*Hundreds of concentration camps have been built in the United States over the past ten years. (What!!?) It's true. Go ahead and refuse to believe it if that's what you must do. Bury your head in the sand. You're the one who is going to have to suffer the consequences when the time (which is getting nearer and nearer) comes.
*Bush is a member of a cabal of Freemasons that intends to capture and usurp all of the power of the world. ("New World Order"). [Don't even think that if we had elected Kerry things would have been very different. He's a member too.]
*Dissenting individuals are slowly being convinced, manipulated, and/or intimidated into toning down, if not changing their rhetoric (the mass-media compliance phenomenon, which is extended to independently-minded or rogue reporters, etc.), and the ones who do not will be surveilled for eventual incarceration. (That's who the concentration camps are for, along with the individuals who will actively rebel and threaten the "legitimate" power of the government; and, of course, "terrorists" who infiltrate the country, which is the excuse that the administration, acting as the puppet of the shadow government, will use should the facts/shit ever hit the mainstream media/fan.)
*RFID tagging and identity tag tracking implants will happen, so that the technology will be in place and functioning when the time comes for them to locate, tag, and process human individuals.
*The lower social classes are systematically being further impoverished so that they may be eventually herded into and contained in smaller and smaller locations (cf., the Palestinians, The native South Africans) where they (will) suffer the insults, indignities, and humiliation of disenfranchisement and escalating neglect. They are forced into situations where they see no real choice but to fight back in relatively lame and ineffective ways. They become suicide bombers, sacrificing themselves in an attempt to salvage their otherwise worthless lives. And the upshot is that whichever regime in charge gets to label them as animals, so that they may further denigrate any remaining human rights and dignity they may still have. The authorities may now do what they want with them; they don't exist as humans any more.
*The Endangered Species Act is in the process of being dismantled, because we can't decimate humans and at the same time allow stupid animals to exist. Besides, someone might get the idea that they can use laws written for animals to try to protect animalized former humans.
*Armed Mexican troops have been documented as entering the United States, with the permission of the Bush administration, supposedly to help out with the Hurricane Katrina relief effort. I can't even imagine what this is all about; but I'm sure it's not going to be too long before my agile (addled) brain comes up with a rationale that has little to do with disaster relief--maybe something about secret agreements related to NAFTA and CAFTA and/or the further inuring of U.S. citizens to the existence of foreign armies on American soil.
Okay, so the theories seem a little paranoid. That's the way 'they' want them to seem. That serves their agenda perfectly. (It always has. Look at what they've managed to do with such a ridiculous idea as aliens from outer space.) Or else, it is merely an unconscious social tendency, devoid of specific intent on the part of individuals and/or cabals within the government that intend to subvert the democracy in order to "save" it. Maybe Bush really doesn't know what "his" policies and actions will bring on; maybe he is nothing more that the Chauncey Gardener of the neo-con political machine: they put bugs in his ear (metaphorically and literally) and he spews out their policy agendas. Maybe, even, most or many of the neo-conmen themselves don't understand the full implications of their apocalyptic agenda. Maybe the whole end-of-days scenario is a big snowball rolling blindly toward some ultimate conclusion that none of the neo-cons anticipate or understand. But I doubt it. Pat Robertson understands it, and he isn't being closed-lipped about it either, and I doubt that Bush and his neo-con handlers dismiss him as too far out. He may be far out in his presentation, but re content, he's right there in the middle of it. It seems almost inconceivable to me that a large number of Washington Right Wing insiders have not taken end-time scenarios into account and written them into their contingencies. And, if any of this is in any small part in fact the case, then certainly someone in the government is aware of what's happening, of what the tendency is--and perhaps contributing to it in some at least small way. And the paranoia begin to escalate again:
Bush, et al., intentionally did not respond quickly to the Katrina disaster because, not only did they want to assess the response of the citizenry to a catastrophe, as a mechanism of social engineering and an evaluation opportunity for how well they can control mass movement of citizens, and not only would they have it that the poor should die rather than be rescued (ala their elitist policies), but also because when the suffering people begin to loot and revolt, then the government is justified in declaring martial law and shooting people, thereby inuring the citizenry even farther toward callousness at atrocities committed against "deviant" citizens.
It's an opportunity to try out their techniques first on a small crowd of people that no one will care too much about [and did we prove them wrong on that count; a small glimmer of hope in a desolate mindscape], so that they might perfect them to a point where they are usable on all of us when the time comes to herd us into the camps. But even though this preliminary procedure appears to have failed, it's another step on the way toward weakening our resolve to resist; we are made to feel like we are helpless in the wake of a "natural" disaster, that "nature" and fate and not people, are in control, that there's little we can do to prevent such catastrophes as this, so that when the time comes for real, we will feel disheartened and not put up too much of a fight. Their "plan" appears to have backfired; but has it? It's just another step toward mass compliance. Remember the Nazis and the Jews? [And, of course, as a side benefit, they get to raise the oil prices and make a windfall profit.]
It would have been easy enough not only to have responded to Hurricane Katrina, but actually to have prevented most of the deaths [and even much of the destruction, if we hadn't drained the wetlands (shades of Saddam here) and straightened the Mississippi; but that happened over a long period of time across a large number of presidencies, both Republican and Democrat, and has nothing to with Bush's "negligence"]. They did it quite successfully at the New Orleans zoo by having emergency generators on hand and stockpiling food for the animals. It could have been done that way for people too, if not in their homes, then at some pre-planned central location. But that is not what we are about in this country. Our preparedness is monetary, which means that the rich can afford it and the poor cannot. The lowest socio-economic classes should be higher, at least in America, where the ideal is kept alive (barely, these days). Everyone should exist, as a matter of law, above a pre-defined basic survival level that no one should be allowed to drop below. Then these kinds of catastrophes like the Katrina aftermath could not happen. And this is not a pipe dream: it could be easily accomplished--if the rich were not allowed/enabled to be so hell-bent upon getting it all:
Bush believes that he has been appointed by God to do His will. Christ-on-a-cracker! Does this sound like an enlightened leader of the free world? Or does it sound more like something out of the Middle Ages? With this kind of agenda, what do you think is going to happen? Where do you think we're heading here? This is Old Testament stuff our president is preaching. His alter ego, Pat Robertson, said it best when he declared that God sent Katrina to wipe out all of the iniquity of New Orleans. This is what Bush believes: all of those "evil" people down there, drinking [which, it is rumored, Bush is doing again, btw. It may be Democratic propaganda, but standard psychological theory maintains that our repressed flaws and faults are projected onto others who have problems similar to our own. Whether Bush is drinking again or not, his repression of his need to drink (once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic; and recent research has proven that habits, once formed and subsequently broken, recur when circumstances similar to their formation are encountered because the conditioned patterns in the brain are retained and never eradicated) is easily projected onto drinkers where it can be attacked without the necessity of attacking his own unconscious self], stealing, fornicating, etc. are suffering the wrath of God and for Bush to intervene would mean that he was thwarting God's Will, which is acting to weed out the weak and faulty manifestations of humanity so that a better strain of human genetics will prevail.
It's true that public outcry (combined with subsequent indictments of several key Republicans) has somewhat flummoxed this overriding elitist agenda. But don't be fooled. These people will not be kept down for long.
If the New World Order were of the same nature and purpose as that of the Brave New World, where scientists programmed society according the most advanced (at least technological/ scientific) human thought, then I would have little reservation (apart from my personal misanthropic psychology and single-minded sense of independence, which would come into play no matter what the social system) about its pending onset. Though it might still achieve the centralization and complexification that eventually will lead it to an integral global organism, even if at the expense of the disenfranchisement of a large groups of mammals, including many human tribes (requiring them to sacrifice their cultures for the "greater good" of the whole in the new overriding culture), still, it would be far better than a New World Order based on the superstitious dogma of the Religious Right, which now it seems is poised to enact its worldwide agenda via monocultural capitalism and neo-counter-terrorism.
But there is, I guess, some hope: conspiracies are headed off by paranoids who have intuitive insight into the potential of social mechanisms to go astray and produce undesired (by the populace, if not by the leaders) negative effects. We, the paranoids of the world, are acting; but, typically, we are being ignored, when we tell of what is to come:
It is now a federal crime to use a video camera to record films in cinemas, punishable by up to three years in prison for the first offence. It is 10 years for sharing a movie or a song prior to its commercial release. These draconian penalties were clearly the result of lobbying by the Motion Picture Association and the Recording Industry Association of America. Without the smokescreen of family protection, such excessive penalties would never have passed into law - at least not without opposition.
But we create our own reality, through belief. If this conspiracy is (becoming) true, it is because we are creating it. If there are twisted leaders in our governments who are orchestrating all this crap, still, they have to convince us, as their Nazi counterparts did the Jews of the Holocaust, to remain passive and allow it all to happen. But will we? Hey! We might. We say we never would; but we never know.
We want to believe that we live in a true democracy. We want it to be true that the government cannot be taken over by people who are not heart and soul republicans and democrats. But the government has gotten way too big and has become impossible for the people to control, especially given the fact that the people's means of control is via the congress and the courts, in which much of the conspiracy is entrenched. The system is inherently flawed: anyone who gains control over as much money and influence as is available within government today will use it; and of those who do, some significant portion of them will not use it for the good of the people.
And, despite the conservative position that purports to want to decrease the size of government, it continues to grow larger and larger. Increasing numbers of citizens work for the government. And the UN, which at one time was seen as a possible solution to the increasing stranglehold that large national governments had over smaller ones, is now feared by smaller countries (and some bigger ones) as a means whereby the West (specifically the U.S.) will extend its influence worldwide; so they do not support its further expansion. And yet, it continues to expand and, if left unchecked, will become the world government (controlled by the U.S., of course, because it would never allow otherwise) that overruns the rights and freedoms of individuals and marginalized peoples.
But people will not put up with this. They will rebel. They always have when conditions get bad enough as the haves distance themselves far enough beyond the have-nots. But technology and the concentration of power are at a point now where it can effectively quash any overt rebellion. The revolution must be subtle and as insidious as the coup that is taking place now in government. The shadow government of the corporo-governmental complex is not taking over the legitimate government by force. It's infiltrating it from within, office by office, seat by seat; and as it does, it's redirecting the wealth away from the masses and toward the few. Middle class incomes are dropping; the population is shifting toward the lower economic classes. Once the fulcrum of inequality has shifted far enough off-center, where the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer becomes an irreversible condition within the existing system, there are only two alternatives: allow the rich to continue to abuse the poor, keeping them in their places for their slave labor; or...well, you all know what the other alternative is. Viva La Revolution.
But the elite power structure knows it can defeat an armed revolt. It doesn't fear private militias on this level. But it would prefer to win the war on a higher plane, by characterizing armed populist movements as being composed of crazy extremists (a projection; the shadow governmentals are the extremists). When the system is successful at the ploy, "average citizens" get pissed off and condone violence against them (e.g., Ruby Ridge, Waco), if it has to come to that. But it seldom does. The court of public opinion rules against the rebels and "balance" is restored.
And here is the crux of the problem: there will always be far more "average citizens" than there will be governmental elitists. This is what the power mongers fear the most: losing control of public opinion. This is what they must gain and maintain control over--until they have entrenched themselves so well that they can't be removed, until the time that they have separated themselves by a permanent wall, outside of which the workers slave away and inside of which the lion's share of the produce is stored. The wall may be metaphorical, or it may be literal; but it must exist. What better way to establish it than to have a majority of citizens imprisoned in Arbeitslager. This is why the current power elite will never act to reduce crime: the more criminals we have in jails, the better head start they have. And when we finally wake up to all of this, it will be too late to rebel. We'll scream for a savior, and none will come; or else the few who do will be easily dispatched.
But there is hope. It's a slim one, but it's programmed into the human psyche: someone must come along who will activate the willful minds, rather than the rebellious bodies of the masses. But in order for that to happen, the masses must recognize how very bad off they are. They must be living in abject poverty and suffering humiliation and indignities so terrible that their desperation will drive them into a spiritual as opposed to a physical solution.
But we are nowhere near that point and will not be for some time to come, so it seems that we are destined to play out this script we have been given: the powerful few will continue to gain more and more power and substance, and the common people will increasingly suffer.1
I'm becoming like one of those antisocial conspiracy theorists who hole up in their ratty city apartments or tatty barebones farmhouses selectively researching and writing about scantily-evidenced phenomena that may or may not be true. I need a dose of consensual reality to balance out my tilting personality. And, to this end, I spend Labor Day at my brother's house. Once again, he appeals to "common sense" to defend himself against intelligence; and this time, he brings the subject up, all on his own, without any prompting on my or his sons' part. He mentions it in response to something I am telling him that he doesn't (want to) understand.
People get an idea stuck in their brains that they can't get rid of, and it prevents them from seeing the truth about a person, event, situation--or themselves--e.g., my brother's "common sense." If you think you know a "fact" or if you have a strong belief that you resort to every time the subject it relates to comes up, your appeal to it to explain the subject reveals a flaw or weakness as it prevents you from accessing additional knowledge about the subject.
[An example, with a non-affective (to me) content, of material "stuck" in my brother's brain/psyche: he has insisted on a number of occasions that Conan O'Brien is from Ireland. Every time he says this, I correct him by explaining that Conan himself on a number of occasions has revealed on his show that he was born and raised in Boston; and I also tell him to pay attention to his accent, which is very definitely American. This little mini-dynamic has been repeated between us at least five times; he will not be corrected, despite the fact that he is corrected at the time. Always, he reverts back to his original belief, saying that he doesn't remember that we ever spoke of the matter. (Or else he's lying and never really believed me and was just blowing me off. But I doubt it. He doesn't tend to do that sort of thing with me and seems always ready to contradict me if he believes I'm wrong.)]
My brother appeals to "common sense" to counter his feelings of inferiority when faced with my "superior" intellect. I intentionally avoid the subject (though I am hard-pressed to avoid demonstrating my education and knowledge around him--nor should I have to bother trying), even though it kind of hurts me that he feels the way he does about me. I reason that he needs to feel this way in order to feel better about himself, that he suffers from an inadequate self-image re his intellectual abilities. Yet it is only a matter of self-perception and is not at all real, because he does in fact possess the intellect to understand highly complex material, if only he'd get out of his own way and disallow his prejudices about education and educated people from stopping short his own education. Thus he ends up being unable to benefit from any knowledge I (or anyone?; but others may not key his inferiority complex in the way that I do, since I am tied into his early conditioning in a way that others may not be) might be able to impart to him. He locks himself into his "inferior" position because he can't allow me (or anyone whom he might "recognize" as "intelligent"or "educated") to raise him up out of it.
Resorting to "common sense" to understand the world and your position in it results in a self-definition of "commonness"; and thus you can't ever see yourself as "extraordinary" or "independent" (or educated or intelligent). Having common sense across the board (which is what my brother believes he has), of necessity means having the same beliefs and opinions that everyone else has--whether they are right or wrong (thus, Einstein's definition.). Why would anyone want to have the opinions that most others have? Wouldn't that make you feel like less of an individual? Of course it would. And wouldn't that then mess with your self-esteem? Yet, my brother uses that very strategy to enhance his self-esteem, when he chooses to value "common sense" over education and intelligence. The answer here, of course, is that people who limit themselves in this way have no choice. They're locked into seeing the world like everyone else does, in order to be psychologically safe. Everyone, to some extent, does this, and everyone is blind to how they do it, which prompts me to ask, how is it that I myself do it? And, since I probably do, this "analysis" of my brother is probably projection.
Of course, one's ideas about common sense are more typically limited to certain specific areas of life/knowledge while in others areas one may be free to roam and advance. And this is probably the case with my brother (and myself). Although he would probably claim otherwise, in my brother's case it's limited to anyone who appears to be "intelligent" and/or "educated" [for me it's anyone who might exercise physical authority--because I am the first-born, and therefore the one who is (or "should be") in authority; thus, the unconscious message I impart of being intelligent and educated], which leaves a big gap in the resources to which he may appeal for knowledge.
It leaves me sad and disappointed that my brother feels and acts this way toward me. I could challenge him on his strategy, tell him how I feel about the way he tries to belittle me in order to puff himself up. After all, I am actually very commonsensical (though it may take a long-term, visionary form that may sacrifice short-term expediency because I recognize it as insignificant to more permanent goals and values), more so than I'd like to be when I consider the way I am programmed into my mindset that is so difficult to break out of into altered states of consciousness. Or I could point out to him the many ways that he himself lacks common sense, for example, when he drinks to excess, or when he verbally abuses his wife and kids. A large percentage of the population (which is actually the basis of the concept of common sense) considers alcoholism and verbal abuse to be not only wrong, but also stupidly counterproductive. But I'd rather not rock his ego-boat; and anyway, I want to think I am better than that, that I don't need to respond to his accusations, that to do so would only prove his case. But I must need something, otherwise, why would I always write about it after these incidents occur?
I guess it's better though to write it all out than to confront him and create a scene--except that it wouldn't create a scene; he would defer to me and not challenge me on the matter, but would probably stew about it later, when I wasn't around. And maybe that's what he needs to enable him to break through the ego wall in front of him. And maybe my refusing to confront the issue is a part of what keeps him locked were he is. (Maybe I have an unconscious need to keep him where he is; maybe, in this regard, my criticism of his wife for enabling him and keeping him locked into his alcoholism is a projection of mine.) Maybe I should undertake his education via subtle interpretive analysis. Or maybe not. I don't want to be the kind of "manipulative" person that I want to think that others are when they try that kind of shit with me. Or I could simply deny it and tell him I think he's lying when he brings up supposedly exemplificative incidents from our childhood that are probably fact, but which I can't remember. But that would be more antagonistic than therapeutic, I think. Maybe I should take my own advice that I proffer to myself in all other areas of my life and keep my damn mouth shut.
But I want him to stop criticizing me. I know that I could shut him up in a minute if I resorted to an overt confrontation that communicated the fact that I don't like what he does. But I don't want to stop it by forcing him to shut up about it in my presence, yet continue it behind my back. I want him to change his mind about it; i.e., I want whatever I end up doing to be therapeutic for him.
What I'd say if I would confront him (which I probably won't):
I go to bed thinking about my holiday at my brother's house, wondering what I should do, if anything, about him and his behavior.
I wake several hours later up thinking that I am the big fish and my brother is the snakefish and because he is attacking me, I have to defend myself by wrestling with the problems he presents. Dad is the force that keeps us together, his example as a caretaker keeping the two of us in line. The baby fish in the big fish's stomach are my ideas, my words, all of the things I'd like to say to my brother, but do not.
Unable to get back to sleep, I get up at about two a.m. and, restless, I go outside. The sky is without a moon and clearer than I've seen it in a very long time. Pegasus is directly overhead, so I go and get the binoculars and locate the Andromeda galaxy, which I will always do when the opportunity occurs. There's something about seeing another galaxy that is more profound than simply observing local stars or planets. (All of the stars we see are within our own galaxy, The Milky Way.) Here above me in the night sky is an object the width of my thumb if I hold it out at arm's length, unseeable by the naked eye and barely visible on the best of viewing nights with binoculars; yet it is always there, literally looming below our perceptual awareness. I go in and get out the telescope and spend over an hour locating the galaxy in it. (My scope doesn't have an object-finder or a tracking device.) But, finally...wow! The light of the fuzzy image I observe started out on its journey two and a quarter million years ago!
Bored, finally, with stargazing and still restless, I go back inside and stream some music over the internet. I hear several songs I like, and so I set up my sound recorder to record the streams. Then I spend the rest of the night converting the .wav files into .mp3s and generally wasting time until I will wear myself out and feel like going back to sleep again.
It amazes me how easy it is to record streamed music and convert it. There's all this buzz about how P2P file trading is damaging the music business, but no one seems to know (or care) about stolen streams. Maybe that'll be the next big scandal. But how will they ever stop it? It's just like recording off the radio, only with far better quality. People will have their free music.
And what about the new music players that are now capable of holding thousands of song files and enable people to trade songs person-to-person instead of over the internet? I wonder what the RIAA thinks of this. I imagine mini-sting operations being set-up where cops, in conjunction with music industry lawyers, begin to phish the net (like they currently do for sexual predators), pretending to be people looking for song traders to meet-up with in person, when they will be busted on street corners or coffee shops, charged, intimidated and fined, or prosecuted--for the horrible crime of trading music. It really is a becoming a New World Order thing, isn't it?
But here's an idea: if I would trade a CD (the actual CD) that I bought for a CD that someone else bought, would that be considered illegal? Of course not [although who knows what future "copyright protection" (read "corporation profits protection") laws will be made.] So, I make the trade, and then I rip the CD to put its music files on my computer or into my portable device. And the person I traded CDs with does the same. Isn't that doing exactly the same thing as trading songs ipod to ipod or for that matter P2P over the internet?
If people complain about the laws becoming way too strict, it's because the idea of ownership of "intellectual property" is becoming way too fuzzy and the corporate capitalists are struggling (in vain) to make them clear(er) again. But copyright is an archaic concept anyway. You can't own an idea, so why do we try to claim that we can own the product of an idea? You can own a physical object like book, obviously; but why should you be allowed to own the right to reprint that book? Because we're capitalists, that's why. And that is where the real problem lies: there are certain post-postmodern phenomena that are in the process of becoming way too advanced to be dealt with by capitalism alone--which has actually been the case, though practices wane and ebb, for quite a while now as social democrats have influence(d) governmental entities to standardize and regulate economic, environmental and social processes; but it is only now beginning to affect the music industry as technology develops to make it easier and easier to access "intellectual properties" without cost. [So, I guess expressing these ideas makes me a candidate for a visit from the mind police, huh? Come and get me, you bastards. I'm still bored. I need somethng substantive to write about.]
Knowledge makes itself known, to me, of all people, in dreams; and in other, more ordinary ways. I am a conduit for information that needs to be revealed; but I am too caught up in vainglory to render to it the justice it deserves. I always have to change it to fit my own radical, non-social agenda, which falters in light of a waking reality that imposes such strict rational controls:
A postmod, high-tech culture where superstition still abides is a dangerous phenomenon--worse than fundamentalism, which at least has the intellectual decency to try to remain within the confines of its own, long past, time and place-- except that it has access to the agencies of mass destruction and would if it could use them to purge the world of sin.
Time passes too slowly, day after day, and sleep is too quick. Across the narrow valley the dark woods on the ridge exude a fluid mystery into the marrow of night, while here on this side the warm lights at the end of the lane imitate the yellow moon, unveiling atmosphere that breathes before the sun goes down.
The movie The Hours, among a lot of other stuff, deals with the slow passage of time that people who are bored with life (i.e., depressed) experience, when nothing seems interesting or appropriate to pass their lonely time away. I experience glimpses of this state from time to time, enough to understand what these unfortunate people feel, enough to empathize; but I can't say that it's a problem for me. For me, time usually passes rather quickly, even on those long hot summer or bleak cold winter days when nothing happens or seems like it will happen for a long, long time to come. My mind races, almost always, filling in the blanks.
The brief period of the last few days ends and the blanks are filled by memories of dreams:
1. Alan and I are downtown (not the city of Pittsburgh, but in that location), working for a company; we, along with a woman, are on our lunch break and dreading to go back to work because lots of people are being fired (from the "institute" below). Un-seamed transition to Oakland at some staid and classical professional institute (recurrent) that is also a city block suffering from urban concrete sprawl (two opposing landscapes): I'm walking around this area, taking in the ambiance, and I walk by a woman in a kind of "barren" room, a large, unfurnished place with only one small window that opens onto an industrial type highway/street beneath overpasses and lets in very little light. It's a dismal, encroaching room, despite its size. I notice the woman as I pass by (as if one side of the room has no wall; and yet, she stands just inside a small doorway beside a narrow bed), and after I've walked on, I realize how attracted I am to her. So I double back, thinking almost lucidly that I might as well approach her because there are no consequences here. She's a tall, blond woman, but not "big-boned" (Nicole Kidman? but more like a thinner Patricia Arquette). She's wearing lacy green underwear. Very attractive. We sit on the bed, and we have wild sex, during which she shouts out loudly several times. A guy passing by outside [me?] hears the shouts and looks in the dirty, clouded window to see if anything is wrong. I motion to him that everything is okay, and he goes away.
Types (prototypes?) of women that I dream about frequently (seem to) materialize in my real life shortly thereafter. Is this precognition or nothing more than my selective consciousness appropriating these women to fulfill my nighttime fantasies? I find the girl in this dream in a K-Mart flyer that arrives in the mail the following day.
2. I'm in Squirrel Hill, on a double date with Kathy, Bill Clinton and a girl who is not Hilary. We go to the movies, and afterwards, in the back seat of the car with a third couple, Kathy and I pretend we are not "together" (which is what Clinton did, now that I think about it).
I've been aware for a long while that movies, and the actors who play in them (and celebrities in general), teach us how to "act" (meaning both how to behave, positively and negatively, and how to "pretend" to be someone we're not.) I awaken from this dream with the further realization that dreams perform the same function, and probably more profoundly. We rehearse our lives, before and after the fact, in dreams. We test and retest our behaviors, and those of others.
I have a lot of dreams about movies and especially about movie stars and other celebrities, as if they are my friends and acquaintances. The reason, I now realize, is because I am in rehearsal with them, preparing for the movie that is my life that I am in the process of making. I also have frequent and familiar fantasies about making movies. Dreams and movies have a lot in common, at least within my own unconscious mind. Filmmaking is a major metaphor of my life.
3. I'm somewhere around Hazelwood, in a food line at a cafeteria with some kids (my nephews, when they were young--and others). Behind me in line is a woman, whom I eventually recognize as Judy Meade [a girl I was attracted to in high school, though I never let her know, of course. (I was too cool.)]. We start to talk about Eileen, whom she apparently also knows and who is off out of sight somewhere [she lives nearby] acting out her particular neurotic agenda, the details of which we discuss, which relate to the way she frequently cheats on her husband, why she does it, her psychology, etc. [Apparently, Judy is here to advise me on this particular aspect of my past.] We get our food--I can't find anything interesting, since the choices are few; and the milk dispenser is empty [recurrent]--and we go and sit at a table. She confides in me that she was in love with me in high school. I tell her that I was in love with her too, adding, "Well, as much as I could have been back then." But then I realize I'm wrong and I qualify what I said with, "No. That's not true. I was a lot better at it back then than I am now."
I understand that love is not too much more than simple attention returned and escalated via mutual exchange. When I fall in love, it's always with someone who has been paying attention to me. (It's pathological, I think, to fall in love with someone who refuses to pay attention to you--although I suppose that people can pay attention to you and not know they're doing it, and you can pick up on that unconscious agenda--in which case it would be less pathological than intuitive). And lately (well, probably all my life, actually) I am so starved for attention that a simple glance can inordinately attract me. It's not a physical thing; it's entirely psychological. But then, what isn't. Even physical existence is also psychological. It's only common sense.
[This stuff is starting to get old; I'm even getting bored writing about it. But therapy is therapy is...] My sister, when I talk to her today on the phone, confirms (without me prompting her to do so) my opinion that our brother suffers from extreme insecurity and low self-esteem. I told her about how he is always accusing me of having no common sense, and how he feels threatened by my education and "intelligence." She asks what I say in return when he says these things, and I respond that I say nothing, but just let it pass, because I understand how he does this kind of thing to feed his ego. She says that he needs to be frequently reminded about how intelligent he is, which is something that his wife should be doing for him, but doesn't; and she provides me with examples of how she does this for her own husband, whom she says is also insecure. I ask her how it is that I never feel that need? [But it's not an honest question, I will realize later. I only asked it to point out that I do not have that need; it's a form of self-praise, my own means of attaining an external confirmation of my self-worth. And so, maybe I have that need after all. Well, of course I do. Everyone does. It's just that we each have different ways of going about getting what we need. I provide it for myself, mostly, through writing, self-talk, and fantasy; and only rarely do I ever look outside myself for it--and, when I do, I usually end up regretting it.]
Then, because the purpose of the phone call is to get the new security system (notice the "accidental" correspondence) on her computer downloaded and up and running and the virus scan has finally finished, I don't get to finish what I started out telling her, that maybe if I did confront him with what he does and how "rude" he is toward me in this way, the information as to how he acts might serve to awaken him to his insecurity and enable a certain degree of self-therapy.
Jim does need others to remind him (frequently) of his good points, to assure him that he has value, to build up his self-worth. (But can it be true self-worth when others must provide it?) But doesn't he need, far more, for it to be pointed out to him how it is that he is insecure and dependent--or co-dependent, as in his relationship with his wife, and probably with a lot of others also, those who need to feed his need? And wouldn't my feeding that need just keep him locked into his circular psychology, forever unable to break free? But then, I'm not his therapist, I'm his brother. I have to keep remembering that--about everyone. Otherwise I end up telling people, not what they want to hear, but what I think is best for them. That's the way to make enemies, not friends.
But, wait a minute; friends are supposed to tell you the truth. But usually they don't--mostly because they don't know it and are stuck themselves in a loop complementary to your own. And friends who do, for whatever reason, happen to tell you the truth are usually not so welcome for it. Kill the messenger [assuming that the messengers do not have an ego-agenda of their own and are less true messengers and more just another slob looking to input (negative) information into a floundering system--which is the rationale for the "kill the messenger" phenomenon in the first place]. Usually, friends are friends because they don't tell you the truth, because they help you to maintain the fiction you are living. This is why I think that most of the friends I've had throughout my life have not been true ones: I (have always) want(ed) my friends to tell me the most awful truths, about myself, and about others; and vice versa. A very few of them did just that; most were not real friends, but just people I happened to have known for a period of time.
I also talked briefly to Dianne about prayer, when she mentioned that she prayed for Jim. I asked her why people, when they get what they want, believe that God answers their prayers, instead of believing that what they get happens for ordinary reasons; but when they don't get what they ask for, why they still believe that God answers prayers. Her answer was pat: God chooses when and how to answer prayers and will never grant your requests if what you want is not what you really need or may be harmful to you or others in some way. That kind of circular logic is impossible to dispute (or disprove). It's quite convenient, though, for those who pray. If you presume the existence of God, then It can do anything It wants to do, for any reason whatsoever; it doesn't even need (because when you come right down to it, a true and universal God would have no needs) to have a rationale for why It answers prayers.
Just before she hung up, my sister said:
"Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it."
I said, "That's what I'm here for."
"You're here to help me?" she asked.
I said, "I must be here for some reason."
Actually, I have a lot of reasons. I would like to do a lot of things. But I need sleep. And this, I assume, is most often the case, when I don't feel like doing anything. And this may always have been the case. My inability to get a good night's rest affects, not my ability, but my motivation--because I've always had the ability to push (often unwisely) beyond my limits in order to accomplish anything; but it takes its toll, physically, and I suffer in the long run from an inability to sustain long-term goals and projects. My lack of dedicated focus may be more a function of my inability to consistently get a good night's sleep than of any other problem. Maybe.
When I don't get enough sleep, or when I can't force myself to work as a result, I sometimes spend a day (or evening) [pretending to be] reading in a public place, but actually only vege-ing out and taking in the ambiance. Coffee shops are good for this pastime. So are parks, when the weather's warm. But I often resist the impulse to engage in this (non-)activity, unless I can find someone to go with me.
It used to be, back when I was in school, that simply existing, wherever, was easy. No one thinks anything of a lone student in a college or college-related area camping out with a cup of coffee and a book. But, as a civilian, if you hang around too long alone, people suspect you. And now, they might even report you as a possible terrorist. But today, I happen to hook up with friends, an unusual occurrence.
M: Look at those two over there.
B: They're in love.
J: They're disgusting.
J: Get a room.
M: You're so...unromantic.
B: Yeah. You're such a...guy.
M: You're both assholes.
B: What?! Why me?
M: Because you're sarcastic.
J: Yeah. Be detached.
B: Like you, I suppose.
J: I'm very Zen.
B: You can't be very Zen.
M: What's Zen?
B: You're either just Zen or not.
J: You can't be just Zen either.
B: Okay. You're either Zen or you're not.
M: Am I Zen?
J: That's right.
B: Wait. What's right? Me or her?
J: If you have to ask, you can never know.
B: You don't know what Zen is?
M: I know what Zen is. I meant...oh, never mind.
B: Maybe you mean they're disgusting 'cause they're lesbians.
J: No. I love lesbians.
M: He does. He collects lesbian porn.
B: Ooo la la.
M: And he writes about them all the time.
B: Do you.
B: I want to read it!
J: Oh, yeah? Why?
[M & B giggle together.]
J: Oh, wow! I never realized.
M: Hey! Not that.
B: You pervert!
J [grins.] So, what's up then?
M: Better you don't know.
People always accuse me of being a liberal; but I'm not. For example, I don't believe in any kind of welfare. I don't believe that the government should be giving money to anyone.
"I said I don't believe in it. I didn't say I was stupid."
"Sometimes we have to act on principle."
"But not when they're giving away free money."
"That makes you a part of the problem."
"If they want to eliminate the hand-outs, I'm all for it. But if they don't, I'm taking the money too."
If welfare entities that are independent of the government want to provide charity (the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, etc.), that's great. That's commendable. But the government shouldn't be in the business of saving ourselves from ourselves, or even from our environments. We claim to be a democracy, but we are first and foremost fundamentally a socialist country, with a reactionary reverse socialist twist; we redistribute wealth (disaster relief, social welfare, etc.) and then we turn around and redistribute it again by diverting tax money toward the corporations. (Ultimately, it all comes from the citizens, even corporation taxes.) The government shouldn't be in the business of saving businesses from the consequences of their sociopathic and/or environmental foibles. Businesses that do right by their customers prosper, and the incorrible egocentric corporations and snake oil salesmen are eventually seen for what they are and punished or disregarded (unless they are being protected by federal mandate).
And the government shouldn't even be in the business of giving money to foreign states to buy their business, loyalty, friendship, and/or foreign policy favors. Let the foreigners fend for themselves and start worrying about how Americans might be benefited, not inhibited, by government--by passing and enforcing legislation that enables a level playing field for all Americans, domestically and in competition with foreign markets/governments. One primary way that the government could, if it would, enable a future level playing field is by assuring that all citizens receive a quality education. Currently, education is the American joke-issue. Most politicians claim to support quality education, but few actually vote to try to achieve it. Keeping the poor and uneducated masses where they are is a primary goal of our corporate and governmental systems. Education is a threat to the status quo.
Another area where the government should be investing its time and our money is crime prevention and investigation. District attorneys and government regulators across the nation (and their equivalents around the world) do a fairly good job of slowing down and holding the crime rates in check; but they do as much evil as they do good and are often accused themselves of misbehavior, so that "justice" becomes a break-even proposition, at best.
Other areas where government continually drops the ball:
Like his minions, the president is a liar. (In fact, that's where the attitude among the neo-cons originates, and not, as some experts suggest, the other way around. Bush is not the puppet that some lame-assed liberals make him out to be. He's a leader of like-minded, evil people who pretend very hard to be upright, uptight Christians.) The president personally finds it more convenient to lie than to go to the trouble of telling the truth, sometimes even when it might benefit him. He always takes the easiest way out. He's a lazy motherfucker, pure and simple. He always has been, and he probably always will be, even when he becomes a has-been--or especially then--and retires to his barren "ranch" in Crawford, Texas.
The president has lied us right into an untenable world situation. He's put us each in personal danger, or at least has far increased any danger we might be in. He's wasted the lives of American troops, and for that alone he ought to be tried for treason. And, to be fair, his political "opponents" are no better, as they cower in the corners of their offices afraid to act. I used to think they were afraid of the power of the neo-cons, that they might suffer "dirty tricks" that would make Nixon's boys' antics seem lame by comparison. But what they're really afraid of is losing the support of their constituents if they take a stand and do the right thing and end up looking "unpatriotic," when, in fact, they would be far more patriotic to be speaking their own minds when their consciences tell them they are right. And the media is right there with them, afraid to lose revenues by being labeled as less than super-patriots. Where is this liberal media that the conservatives complain of? It's right there cowering in their office corners along with that of their liberal counterparts in Congress. Cowards all.
They watch while the administration gives billions of dollars away to Halliburton, Exxon, and other major favorites for doing nothing except being who they are and kissing the asses who hold the purse strings, even while they donate a portion of that money back to the politicians to keep them in office, all of which serves to keep the money recirculating within a small group of elitists and out of the hands of opponent politicians and, especially, average citizens, whose money it is in the first place. This is nothning more than a cabal of mutual back-scratchers. And the American people and their institutions suffer for it. Corruption is rampant and has become a vested interest, diverting money away from health care and education to pay for an immoral war and a fundamentalist religious agenda.
America is hated, not only by Muslims around the world, but by others as well, and it's because of the policies and actions of both Republicans and Democrats (but mostly Republicans). Now, I don't want to be hated just for being an American. (I'm hated enough by certain people for legitimate reasons.) So I blame the stewards of American policy for causing whatever ill-will that is directed toward me from around the world. And, right now, the stewards are George W. Bush and his neo-con henchmen.
[Bush values loyalty over all else because he's been fired from jobs and has been hurt by the cold, hard capitalistic business practices that he couldn't seem to master, and because he has been supported by family and friends, even though he was a total fuck-up. Believe me. I know. I've been there. In some ways, Bush is a lot like me, an asshole par excellence. But there are some major differences, the biggest one being that I am not the president of the United States.]
The enemy of America is not in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The enemy of America is in the White House.
They're called neo-cons today. But they're the same old group.
Reactionary conservatives opposed freeing the slaves.
Reactionary conservatives opposed women's sufferage.
Reactionary conservatives opposed the civil rights movement.
Reactionary conservatives opposed women's rights.
But now, as a society, we embrace these movements.
Despite the few hold-outs, as a society, we believe them to be right and proper ways to treat our fellow citizens. But they were no less right way back when than they are now.
What are the issues today that we will look back on tomorrow and wonder why we had problems with them? Family planning? Prisoner interrogation? War? Activist judges? Copyright? Gay rights?
If I were gay...
[I'm awake now, and on a roll. But tomorrow I may be back asleep again.
Nobody knows. My mind is roiling with relevancies and irrelevancies intermixed.]
...I'd be insanely in love with Michael Kitchen or at least, the character he plays in "Foyle's War": the way he cocks his head sideways while listening, trying to comprehend at a deeper level than what you realize or might want; and yet unprepossessingly, unthreateningly, disarmingly cute and seemingly even shy, so that you might not care that he has insinuated himself into your private psyche; half-turning away as he speaks, as if he's preparing to leave as he asks one final question (though it likely may not be, a Columbo-like tactic, though far more subtle), he may turn back at you or he may not, which puts you further at ease until it's too late, and you have been gently turned on and exposed. That's classy psychology.
The neo-cons could learn a lot from Michael Kitchen.
But they will not. Because they are bold-faced liars.
They do not seek truth, but vengeance and power.
Justice is currently decimating their ranks. A few have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar. A few lies have been uncovered. Others will follow. But will they ever be decimated to the point where sanity and some form of semi-honesty will reign again?
Nobody knows. At least I don't.
I don't know know a lot of things.
But I do know some.
I could have been a capitalist. I was well on my way, after a very shaky adolescence, working for various publishing concerns. But then, I suppose, most adolescence is shaky in that same way.
I had the talent, and I certainly had the ideas. But I didn't have the social skills--not that they're so important; if you have the talent and the motivation, there are ways of getting around that deficiency.
You've got to put yourself "out there" if you want to become "successful" or "famous." I have those fantasies, still. But I do not have the desire to put myself out there, not so much; and often, not at all.
I know things about people, I discover them, as if accidentally (but I wonder...), often things they don't even know themselves, causing me not to want to get too close, for fear of revealing too much.2
Not that I disapprove of others or anything. I just feel like I must keep myself at a distance so that they cannot overly affect me; or else they might discover who I am and disapprove themselves.
It should have been obvious to people who knew me that I needed to maintain a fair amount of distance between others and myself--always have and probably always will. It's probably a congenital condition.
My deficit was not so much a lack or understanding, but rather a pathological anxiety. It was completely out of the question that I should want to "perform" in any way that I didn't absolutely have to.
The same is true even now, though I hardly ever feel the anxiety any more (psycho-physiological adaptation dulls the perception rather profoundly as you age and suffer from the blows that society inflicts).
Yet I am still quite well conditioned to remain aloof, avoiding performance if at all possible. So I write instead; but seldom publish. That is, I continue to perform in as private a way as I possibly can.
I am still like I was when I was young, searching for a method to express what I intuitively understand to be, extant in the zeitgeist, but unwilling to accompany my ideas into a world of busy people.
You never realize, when you're in the middle of it, that it's the most important time and place; or if you do realize, it just the briefest insight passing too quickly to make permanent, except in hindsight.
Being in the right place at the right time and associating with the right people (they call it networking now) are primary factors for success. The glitch is in not knowing where those places and times are.
Short of that, if you would rather leave your success to fate or chance, being prepared for coincidental opportunity is essential. And preparation is essential in any case--unless you happen to be a natural.
I am much more likely to be successful if I don't try. When I try (especially when I try too hard, which I would always do), I tend to alienate people, when their ideas and behaviors are easy to ignore.
Trying too hard, for me, can become counterproductive to success. But when I let nature take its course (which it will ultimately do anyway), I can be charming and charismatic, and people flock to me.
It's a kind of natural gift I shy away from, even unconsciously setting up the conditions so that I will be freed of the consequences when I have attracted a small crowd, or even a single person.
What do I do best, and what do I love to do? The answer to that question is what I should be doing with my life. But the answer, once I get beyond the obvious, writing, is never quite so clear.
I'd considered horticulture as my lifelong work, but that motivation wanes enough at times to make me doubt it. The same is true of art and music, but I lack the developed or innate (respectively) talent.
But, although I often fail to do it, my writing motivation never wanes; so it must be the correct answer. But to do (most of) it in terminal privacy, lacking networking desire, seems to be somewhat wasted time.
The careers I was [and still am] interested in, I wasn't (and still am not) psychologically suited for. My psychology has always severely limited my potential as an employee in any profession.
But even if I had not been limited in this way, I never really knew what I wanted to do. The careers I had in mind were more like fantasies. I could never have actualized them in any concrete way.
My psychology prevented it. And the careers I stumbled into, I didn't like at all. But, despite it all, the only thing I regret is the way that all of my former bosses never understood how really hard I tried.