Monday, September 06, 2004

Political Advocacy in America is Dead.

Want to know what the political has been reduced to? Politics.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. You've read your Laclau, Mouffe, Stavrakakis, and miscellaneous post-Marxist theorists of radical democracy. Actual political advocacy gets reduced to the give and take of political tactics and resignation to state change within the confines of traditional liberal market democratic forms of representation and so on. That's old news.

But I seriously think that American politics is in a crisis. Would you like to know what passes for mainstream political discourse in the 2004 election?

The Swiftboat "controversy" (It's kind of sad how effective this has been when the credibility of this groups gets decimated even further on a daily basis... especially since the guy who actually went to war is being portrayed as being somehow worse than someone who didn't)

Utterly misleading advertising that misrepresents the nuances of Kerry's positions (Note how the ends of Kerry's sentences just get chopped off)

The flip flopping idiocy (I refuse to believe that the RNC and Giulliani are so stupid as to not know that legislation changes when it's being debated and that support goes back and forth, especially in light of the Bush administration's own flip flops)

This stupid new Kittey Kelly book about Bush's cocaine usage. (Who the fuck cares?)

Here's an election that could have some really huge ramifications for the future of American political, economic, and social life and this is the most important stuff flying on the airwaves. It makes me want to vomit.

This election has gone off the cliff of the sublime and into the realm of the monstrous.

It's fucking sick and, regardless of who wins, I don't think it bodes well for the future of American politics. The vast majority of campaigning barely even pretends to have a substantive dimension. People cynically know that it's all bullshit, but probably don't care because they've withdrawn themselves from politics, have resigned themselves to blind support of a particular ideology at all costs, or find it entertaining. We're going to see more and more of this polarity between the candidates who largely refuse to take politicized stances on a number of issues and the non-affiliated Swift Boat-esque attack dogs who engage in superficial and irrelevent shit-fests on their behalf.

This sucks.

And spare me the stuff about how authentic politics is always already dead. I realize that. There's no such thing as pure politics. However, there are degrees of politicization between actual advocacy and this deceptive bullshit

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The meow.

Tonight, I read an article in the new issue of Harper's by Tom Robbins, titled "In Defiance of Gravity: Writing, Wisdom, and the Fabulous Club Gemini." It got me to thinking about happiness and beauty in life and art. In it, he describes how his desire to end his life was ended by a reminder of much of the playfulness of existence (a cat's "meow" in his case).

Robbins' essay has special importance to me, in light of my recent (recent = "the last five years) anxiety regarding death. He describes a story in which a police officer responds to the terror of drawing a beat in the worst part of town by seeing it as a challenge and openly embracing it, eventually requesting that shift every night.

The police officer effectively eroticizes the source of his terror. Rather than remaining displaced as a horrible event in the forever unrealized future, it becomes a positive thing that has been successfully integrated into his symbolic universe in a helpful way.

"Although serious playfulness may be an effective means of domesticating fear and pain, it's not about meowing past the graveyard. No, the seriously playful individual meows right through the graveyard gate, meows into his or her very grave. When Oscar Wilde allegedly gestured at the garish wallpaper in his cheap Parisian hotel room and announced with his dying breath, "Either it goes or I go," he was exhibiting something beyond an irrepressibly brilliant wit. Freud, you see, wasn't whistling "Edelweiss" when he wrote that gallows humor is indicative of a greatness of soul.

"The quips of the condemned prisoner or dying patient tower dramatically above, say, sallies on TV sitcoms by reason of their gloriously inappropriate refusal, even at life's most acute moments, to surrender to despair. The man [SIC] who jokes in the executioner's face can be destroyed, but never defeated."


Sometimes, I find it really easy to slip into a state of perennial unhappiness. I think this is pretty well evidenced by the way I've interacted with other people, as well as by the many things that I've written, some of which are currently catalogued on this site.

This may seem kind of contradictory at first. Surely, no one wants to be unhappy.

But there's something strangely alluring about misery and time and time again, I find myself drawn to it: the excessive intoxication every night following days of deadening rote performance... the constant whining and complaints about everything around me... the way I hate every place that I've ever lived... the near total pessimism regarding people and their ability to be kind to each other.

I'm not sure why, but unhappiness is comfortable for me. I know how to hate myself and others. I know how to think I'm a horrible writer, academic, thinker, and debater. Those things don't take any reassurance from others. I don't need to seek out help from another person to tell myself that I can't pen an original poem. I don't have to reassure myself that I'm boring or unattractive. All I have to do is tell myself and it becomes true.

Of course, this leads to a cycle in which I cut other people off from my life, run away from potentially dangerous, antagonistic, or nerve-wrecking situations. I stop trying to produce beautiful or useful things and refrain from sharing my opinion with others. I limit my food intake for the short term illusion and rush of taking control over my life. I withhold myself from my schoolwork because I think there's no way I could possibly understand someone like Quine, rather than throwing myself into it, resulting in a string of mediocre Bs on five of my last six classes. I skim over articles in magazines that spout off things that I disagree with. I run away from arguments in debate rounds when people read responses to them, rather than mounting the response that I'm probably capable of. I act like an asshole around people that I respect and have crushes on, rather than acting like a normal humn and engaging in conversation with them. I leave my phone turned off for days on end, rather than leaving it on and answering it when people call.

This road leads to nothing but death. Maybe not actual death, but a kind of living death. Sure, it makes my life less stressful for the moment, but it ends up making my days gray and uneventful. And when I inevitably have to engage a stressful situation (that's pretty much an undying characteristic of life), it becomes that much more unbearable to take.

I guess that's why I'm trying to change things up a bit. Go out of the house more. Join the debate team. Hang out with people I'd normally run away from. Go on AIM every once in a while. Write and go for arguments that I'm not accustomed to (like politics :). Read genres that I don't normally read, like sci-fi books. Listen to music that I've never heard. Plant a garden. Cook new dishes. Have conversations with people about books and movies and *gasp* disagree with them.

All of this can be really uncomfortable, but I usually come out ahead of where I started. It's a very life-enriching process. Like the detective in the story, I need to embrace the very things that scare the shit out of me. It's going to be a long road, but I guess I'm trying. The only alternative is really unacceptable at this point.

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Horse. Shit.

Today, someone tried to explain why this constant Reagan coverage was justified. Here's my response:

No, it is not justified. Nothing *new* has happened. Reagan is still dead. What is the point of the News doing 24/7 coffin-cam shit when important things are going on in the world? The networks are not doing their jobs spending all of their time on it.

Would you like to know what happened today that you probably won't see on the major news networks?

Last year, lawyers argued on behalf of the Bush administration, that Bush had the right to torture alleged terrorists and that he is above the law in a time of danger (something that rolls back hundreds of years of post-Magna Carta law). We only found out about this because someone in the administration leaked the memo. There are parts of the memo that suggest that certain acts that the Supreme Court has defined as torture are not really torture and that they can be exercised. This raises mountains of new questions regarding the official policy and knowledge of both the Bush administration and the Pentagon (er... the Ronald Reagan Defense Center ) regarding the travesty that was the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal.

So Congress asked Ashcroft for access to the memos. Know what he did? He flat out refused to turn them over. Did he claim that executive privelege or Congressional statute prevented him from turning them over? Did he cite any legal justification for why he wouldn't do it? No, he flat out admitted that he wouldn't do it merely because he didn't want to. This resulted in an exhasperated Congress that began to threaten to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Check out some of what was said on the floor:

KENNEDY: Just, General, has the president authorized you to invoke the executive privilege today on these documents?

ASHCROFT: I am not going to reveal discussions, whether I've had them or not had them, with the president. He asked me to deal with him as a matter of confidence.

I have not invoked executive privilege today. I have explained to you why I'm not turning over the documents.

KENNEDY: Well, what are you invoking?

ASHCROFT: I have not invoked anything. I have just explained to you why I'm not turning over the documents.

BIDEN: Thank you very much.

Well, General, that means you may be in contempt of Congress then. You got to have a reason not to answer our questions, as you know from you sitting up here. There may be a rationale for executive privilege that misses the point, but, you know, you have to have a reason. You are not allowed, under our Constitution, not to answer our questions, and that ain't constitutional.

But that's a different question. I don't want to get off on it, because I have to talk about other things. But you all better come up with a good rationale, because otherwise it's contempt of Congress.

------------------

DURBIN: I respect that.

But under which standard are you denying this committee the memos, either executive privilege or a specific statutory authority created by Congress exempting your constitutional responsibility to disclose? Under which are you refusing to disclose these memos?

ASHCROFT: I am refusing to disclose these memos because I believe it is essential to the operation of the executive branch that the president have the opportunity to get information from his attorney general that is confidential and that the responsibility to do that is a function of the executive branch and a necessity that is protected by the doctrine of the separation of powers in the Constitution.

And for that reason -- and that is the reason for which I have not delivered to the Congress or the members of the Senate these memos, any memos.

DURBIN: Sir, Attorney General, with all due respect, your personal belief is not a law, and you are not citing a law and you are not claiming executive privilege. And, frankly, that is what contempt of Congress is all about.

You have to give us a specific legal authority which gives you the right to say no or the president has to claim privilege. And you've done neither.

I think this committee has a responsibility to move forward on this.

HATCH: Are these memos classified?

Is this a sidebar conference on something the attorney general has so authoritatively stated his position on?

ASHCROFT: I'll tell you: This is me getting advice which will remain confidential.

HATCH: Well, I know. But the attorney general has been speaking about these memos so authoritatively that you ought to be able to at least say whether they are classified or not.

ASHCROFT: I have answered your questions. The committee has not made a decision to ask for these memos.

DURBIN: No, but the chairman asked you a specific question. Are there memos classified?

ASHCROFT: Some of these memos may be classified in some ways for some purposes.

ASHCROFT: I don't know. I don't...

DURBIN: Mr. Attorney General, with all due respect, that is a complete evasion. What you have done is refuse to cite a statutory basis for disclosing these memos, refused to claim executive privilege, and now suggest that some parts of these may be classified.

----------

LEAHY: I would assume that you would carry out your responsibilities; you swore a solemn oath to do so. But does your answer mean that there has or has not been any order directed from the president with respect to interrogation of detainees, prisoners or combatants?

ASHCROFT: The president of the United States has not ordered any activity which would contradict the laws enacted by this Congress or previous Congresses...

LEAHY: Not quite my...

ASHCROFT: ... or the Constitution of the United States...

LEAHY: Mr. Attorney General, that was not my question.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHCROFT: ... or any of the treaties.

LEAHY: That was not my question.

Has there been any order directed from the president with respect to interrogation of detainees, prisoners or combatants, yes or no?

ASHCROFT: I'm not in a position to answer that question.

LEAHY: Does that mean because you don't know or you don't want to answer? I don't understand.

ASHCROFT: The answer to that question is yes.

LEAHY: You don't know whether he's issued such an order?

ASHCROFT: For me to comment on what I advise the president...

LEAHY: I'm not asking...

ASHCROFT: ... what the president's activity is is inappropriate if -- I will just say this: that he has made no order that would require or direct the violation of any law of the United States enacted by the Congress, or any treaty to which the United States is a party as ratified by the Congress, or the Constitution of the United States.

LEAHY: Well, it doesn't answer my question. But I think my time is up. We'll come back later.


Pretty newsworthy, right? Nope. Instead of learning about the gathering threat to the Separation of Powers that form the basis of the United States, we got "RONALD REAGAN IZ DED AND HE RULEZ AM I RITE?" 24 hours a day. It's like there's a firefight going on outside your house and you're inside watching "Who's Line is It Anyway?"

And you know what's sad? The administration will probably get away with this horseshit because 90% of America will have no idea that it ever happened. They'll just keep sucking down the soma of "BREAKING NEWS: How Reagan saved the west from Communist totalitarianism" and re-elect the whole nightmare of an administration to a second goddamn term.

That's a travesty. I feel bad for his loved ones, but when it comes to news, fuck him. We all know that he's dead and could probably benefit much more from coverage of shit that's actually important than the utterly repulsive circle-jerking that's passing for journalism on all of the major networks right now.

edit: If you didn't catch it tonight, you should try to watch tonight's Daily Show, with Jon Stewart, when it airs later tonight or tomorrow afternoon. It catches some of the better parts of the testimony and Jon's comments are perfect. I'll pull up a link if I find it available.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Newsflash: Reagan Still Dead!

Hey guys, guess what.

Have I got the scoop for you.

You'll never believe it.

As of Tuesday morning, RONALD REAGAN IS STILL DEAD!!!

Yeah, you heard it here first. Don't count on the lieberal media to tell you this kind of stuff, but unlike his hero, J.H.C. (discovered at the exact moment he decided to become a politician), Ronnie has failed to rise from the dead.

As such, I think it's imperative that the TV news continue to focus on his not being alive for close to hour-to-hour coverage. You never know when something important could come of it.

So yesterday, some friend of mine made the laughable suggestion that this Reagan coverage was occurring in place of more important stories. I scoffed at his assertion that our media outlets are anything but prestigious networks of hard journalism.

To disprove his argument, I did a quick look through some news sites.

Apparently, last year, a group of administration lawyers made the argument that the president has the legal right to order interrogators to conduct torture or other criminal acts against terrorist suspects. Well that's clearly not a real news story. Who on earth would question the idea of giving the executive of the United States the authority to electrocute the genitals of people alleged to have committed terrorist acts? Innocent until proven guilty? Modern human rights norms? What a bunch of leftist myths.

I looked further and found this story, detailing a car bombing in northern Iraq that killed 12 or more people, including an American GI, and wounded 50 others. Now this clearly doesn't qualify as real news. Everyone knows that the violence in Iraq is overplayed and isn't anywhere close to being a real or reccurent problem. Such coverage would only further undermine the war effort and mislead us from the rosy reality that is life in modern Iraq post-US occupation.

It looks like Marc Anthony won't say one way or the other whether he's married J. Lopez or not. Okay, I'll admit that this is an important story.

There's a G8 summit going down that could implicate US relations with a variety of nations, economic growth, the world fight against HIV-AIDS, world hunger, peacekeeping, energy policy, and nuclear proliferation. But anyone who worries about this is probably paranoid. I'm sure we'll be well represented and that the president will report back to us any information that we really need to know.

There's a situation flaring up between Israel and Hizbollah again. But whatever. We should just nuke the whole middle east, rite?

Oh yeah, and there's also this tiny little Security Council draft resolution concerning the hand-over of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi governing council on... June 30. But that is a long time away and I'm sure that they all have a well-thought out plan for how that's all going to happen and realistic time tables for all of the stages of that process, much like they had those things for the process of the invasion and redevelopment that we've seen so much of over the past year and a half.

So I guess my friend was wrong. Nothing else of importance is happening in the world.

Reagan is still dead and that's the most important thing for the news networks to be talking about now.

He was our greatest president after all and if, for some reason, he came back to life, that'd be pretty important, now wouldn't it?

Friday, June 04, 2004

Partisan Pseudo-Media and the Soros Smear Campaign.

This is really, really sick.

But it's a pretty good opportunity to see the Rove attack machine in full gear.

Many of you may have heard of George Soros. He's a wealthy philanthropist who is best known for heading up the Open Society Institute, that's been responsible for promoting education, human rights, social, economic, and legal reform, public health, media access, etc. around the world. A lot of people in the world can point to a few things that they've done to make this a better place, but I'll bet that very few have accomplished a fraction of the things that Mr. Soros has done. Here's a short list of some of OSI's initiatives.

But there's just one problem.

In addition to doing all of the above things, Mr. Soros is also a contributor to THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY!!! Oh noes!

Soros has a lot of money and a lot of clout, so it's kind of understandable that there would be subsequent attacks and propaganda focused against him, in typical Rove fashion ala the infamous New Hampshire insinuation of McCain having an illegitimate black child and more recent political hits on Joe Wilson and his family and Richard Clarke. That kind of power probably inspires a lot of political anxiety and, through some stroke of coincidence, like everyone else who has posed a threat to Bush's electoral campaigns, one would expect that he would probably become the target of a really ugly smear campaign, filled with mountains of ridiculous misinformation. Now, I can't say for certain who would be behind such a push, but past experience gives me a pretty good idea*

But frankly, I'm kind of amazed by the job they're doing with Soros. Watching some conservative media outlets, one gets the impression of a very concerted effort to taint the guy's image. We're not talking about a few off-handed remarks... we're talking about a focused effort... the whole echo machine roaring at full blast after this one guy.

O'Reilly (the alleged independent who has spent lengthly amounts of time attacking Soros on his television and radio shows, including a puffball interview with the editor of the less than reputable source of pseudo-news, newsmax.com, but has denied even a moment of air time to a Soros supporter), Hannity, Limbaugh, the RNC, et al are in full effect.

For a brief rundown, you should visit mediamatters.org.

But as I said, this is really sick. The energy being spent by media charlatans who have dedicated their careers to misleading, faux journalism to discredit someone, whose life's work they could never hope to mirror, is just insane.

I guess I'm at a loss for why people can look at stuff like this and continue to believe that O'Reilly and company represent legitimate media. It doesn't even feel like they're making an attempt to cover up what they're doing. It's so arrogantly obvious, that I'm shocked that anyone would defend this attack machine anymore. This isn't about partisan mud-slinging. There are idiots and geniuses, people with and without integrity on all ends of the political spectrum. I just can't see how a respectable conservative individual could stand having their ideology represented by this kind of dishonest horseshit.

On a lighter note, I think the absurd moment of the week can be summed up in this quote from O'Reilly to Mr. Poe of newsmax.com: "If Soros is what you say he is, and I have no reason to doubt it."

Did you hear that? He just said that he had no reason to doubt the claims made by the editor of a newspaper that has spear-headed such ridiculous content as:

Jerry Falwell's article, detailing the coming oppression and persecution of Christians, in America of all places, where a non-Christian can't even get elected to the presidency, in the name of an agenda of "tolerance" and homosexual rights (his scare quotes, not mine)

An article alleging that Kerry opposed the Vietnam war because he was collaborating with the ol Communists

And this utterly ridiculous article that alleges that Kerry flipped off a heckler at the Vietnam memorial that A. Describes an event that managed to not be noticed by any other network with cameras at the event, B. Fails to identify the source of the information, and C. Was probably taken from the lone word of the person who was allegedly flipped off, Ted Sampley, who has a disturbing history of claiming that McCain was a Manchurian Candidate who was brainwashed by the KGB while a POW to infiltrate America, lying to families of MIAs by saying that their loved ones had been chopped to pieces before they were safely recovered, spending time in jail for assaulting a McCain staffer, receiving a restraining order from Sen. McCain, questionable business practices, and an attempt to fund the vigilante bombing of a building in Laos, in a crude attempt to destroy the Laotian government.

Yeah... that's the news source that O'Reilly has "no reason...to doubt." Way to go there, Mr. Fair and Impartial.

*

Monday, April 26, 2004

Genesis P vs. the News.

International aid workers responding die for me.
Do 76 students love me enough to give up their lives?
An incinerated primary school in the desert,
rail explosion killed the crumbling city,
Caused by human error, but do you love me?
Can a train carrying chemical fertilizer be as sad as it seems?
At this, the old man smiled.
A fireball swept through a cafe in Tangier
destroyed a school from his wrist to his elbow.
Hospitals demolished today.
Aid workers searched the boy with my hand on his thigh,
searched through the wreckage for the injured in the corner.
Unification Minister started to smile,
coordinated relief teams as he lay on the bed.
President smiled as his
accident went twitch twitch twitch
as famines dribbled out of the end onto the floor with
nuclear weapons technology to the side.
Bohr wondered what to do with his knowledge
while the WHO strengthened its nuclear deterrent by the bed on the floor.

Two soldiers were killed 23 hours of the day,
as the vein swelled and the blood came.
Basra stuck the needle in his arm
and watched the oil turning in the glass
and wondered where he'd be sitting tomorrow
and what damage would pass that day.
The US Navy's Fifth Fleet killed in a cafe in Tangier
when upon the boarding team came Captain Clark,
killed and wounded 23 years and a day,
shut down and evacuated the corpses to Spain.

Iraq's Southern Oil Company drew a line across the water,
No damage if you're dead
IMF dignitaries attending the water
look up in the sky
at Germany up above.
And it's a bright economic outlook if it rains on you.

At this the old man smiled
and hoarded cookies as he paid the bill,
steadily deflated around the corner,
and came undone back in the Bowery.
There that cripple was bent double naked on the floor
and died in a firefight with some kind of cream.
The dead football player was all a dream
for the patriotic blind men
with white sticks
behind TV screen
in Afghanistan,
just try to eat us.

John McCain welcomed you aboard
with your fellow Americans, from New York to Miami
before you crashed in a forest
peril growing cold.
Blood runs from family and friends' faces
"Why me?" "Why?"
while Paul Newman drinks in the gutter and the water
turns Princeton students to gangrene, dangling themselves
before the University that went to slaughter.

At this, the old man smiled,
forgot the upset faces the same way as before,
arranging his things
neat and tidy
according to tradition
in a cafe in Tangier.
Alcohol is the way the world ends,
Not with an overdose, but with a whimper.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Can't Forget.

As I have not trusted
alleyways
and the secondhand streets
where misery handles,

As I have not believed,
so pettiness,
and in the stars, clouds,
by the walls and the you for tea,
as you may, believing and not seeing the smoke,
I shall not wake
at seven now too late,
with my tiny leaden eyes.

You and I,
My to each other,
chewing on shadows,
dissecting light
and then, finally, immasculated
under my kinda stupid questions.

We were different when we had pancakes,
but things changed I didnt adjust between us,
I'd call you minutes about myself
but I had problems of my own,
I saw that in you,
I'm hole.

You didn't like me to sound so juvenile.
But I needed me acting like a baby raining coffee and cigarettes,
and nothing was left but the cavern.

It doesn’t matter what I do.
I up and it would be irrelevent, because there’s dance, an arbitrary arrangement
of moves and words.
I got satisfied with how absurd things are here just waiting for me.

But there isn’t. This is better.
There’s nothing to wait for. Just more or original this or that. It’s just the
fucked throwing everything in the book at: religion, philosophy, Not hoping
in the bleak waits
and the turn in us that I didn't see,
the uselessness
of the sun and the rain.

I didn't come back home with myself.

Forgot it with the facts
yapping in our faces,
alternating fire
at all the hours,
Weights motionless.

I see with coldness
you and I
as we whisper of love at 2AM,
with our backs to the lights
that our brightness could have killed.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

A girl and a boy apart.

Thought I ate more today,
a little,
"Why did you
cut me?"
I was thinking about it but
the piece of skin went too deep.
Still... the biggest scar is a long time away.

Can't afford too much food,
I want to see a museum and I gotta goto bed,
But I wouldnt be surprised either way
that you're a phony in november,
Dont give a fuck a person
the incessant "im not in love with you"
that you and I believed...

"grow up
find another child to confuse"
it just kills me how I
thought it would make our faces closer,
but i just have
you crying afterwards
at the end of everything.

"i want to be next to you,
to forget Pittsburgh sleet while
I laugh you to sleep with my
offkey friday i'm in love"
but it's still the cheap
scent of vodka, the
you owe me
and contemplated conversation starters
that crumpled in the corner
while you shot fumes of Bacardi O
in the backroom
and I watched "Meet the Parents"
with a stranger...

i dont believe anything
i cant even touch you
its obvious anymore
you dont want me
or see me talking to me
as you saw in me once.
let me know when I
admire me
and I'll fly home in 10 days
to avert my eyes while we
embrace by the DIA baggage claim.

i no longer see in beauty anything i do.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Pine-Sol.

You left me with my mouth,
left me puking, me watching Seinfeld reruns
that I don't understand
what it's like life is perfect,
Mornings taste great,
when the sun is always a screen.

I guess I don't like.
Guess I was too late at night.
I'll never be humn's mind,
because up to it happened me.

My life Pine-sol.
And I feel great,
when late show rolls
all alone... every like everyone else seems how pointless your life is,
Might even with somebody else.

I'm sure it's like
to be glum any time during all that I've paused
a ever really treated me even you!
Not even you.
Not perfect,
Sleeping feels like cream you told me I I never pulled you out of a jail cell.
And I never you.
And I never slashed that you would only I knew that you I never wait up call me back.
And I'm through the 3 AM doorstep under weeping you for the last ice.

Cause my life is know about that? the taste of penicillin
is precious percocet
on the ground.
Left black and white,
Cause I for you to hurt.

like Oreos.
And I feel shines on
my Compaq... computer know what
Slim Fast tastes fucking busy
writing in notebooks get inside any other this point, nothing bad is perfect,
Sundays smell like I watch the late night.

I don't understand willows
Not too much.
I'll never know how as well go suffer
I don't know what all the time.
Just wasn't my
late night walks.
Now moment to reflect,
No one's like shit.

My life is cheese.
And I felt fine,
when thought should
never call you... again.

And my hair,
in my musty chugged whiskey,
trying to forget my arm,
when you said fuck me
as long as I didn't care.

And hoping
you'll decide to finally never walk 5 miles,
in drunk snow.
To sit at your trees,
and trace pictures of time
in the morning fucking perfect,
what would you do?

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Jim's Life

Jim woke up to the scent of cottage cheese.

Over the course of an hour, it drifted him from the heated drool of his slumber into the lukewarm pothole of his living room.

By 2:00, Jim realized that he was no longer rummaging through the trash bins outside the local Arby's with Rodney Dangerfield, but was actually waking up on the brown shag of his actual life.

Jim opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling. He wondered why he had awakened so early today. His tired brain stumbled through the list of possibilities. Did he have a date with someone? Was his mother in town? Did he have a job to get to? Was he giving a speech anywhere??? A tiny pang of anxiety reverberated between his temples as these thoughts sloshed through his mind.

Ah, whew. Relief flooded through Jim's body as he realized that the answer to all of those questions was a resounding no. He didn't have shit to do today. Jim closed his eyes for a moment and savored the feeling.

Perhaps, if he had much feeling left in the cancer infected recesses of his lower face, he would have realized that he was smiling.

So Jim laid on the carpet. Kept the low burn of his eyeballs down by keeping them closed for a precious few extra moments. After all, he deserved it. He had succeeded in not terminally fucking anything up for yet another day.

But something was amiss. In spite of his relief, one thought continued to pester Jim. If there wasn't anything important to be done, why the hell was he awake?

Jim's face winced (not that he realized it).

Unable to enjoy resting his eyes, Jim opened them. With great effort, he ignored the haze of the sunny living room and looked down.

Past the red beard he had grown partially out of an attempt to hide the mysteriously hideous deformation of his jaw that had appeared in recent years and partially out of a more general sense of apathy regarding basic hygiene, he saw the ulcered, pock-mark blob that was his body. The little red bumps layered across fatty tissue gave Jim a secret sense of accomplishment. They had set in some time during the past few months after Jim had made the decision to switch to an all Doritos diet. He didn't have the slightest sense what the causal connection was between his mass ingestion of the Nacho Cheese flavored corn chips and the red marks that had seemed to be living off of his skin, but counting them provided a kind of daily entertainment after the cable got shut off and he was no longer able to jack off while watching the Lizzy McGuire Show on the Disney Channel every afternoon. There was something morbidly fascinating about the slow, subtly painful growths. Jim had come to think of it as the foremost point of his existence during the past few weeks. There was something in the red pustules that was more than him... beyond the level of every-day human understanding. Jim figured that there had to be some kind of basic human truth in their rapid proliferation across the boundaries of his body... not that he had any idea what it was.

But Jim had not awoken because of the red growths. He was used to them by now and had gotten used to ignoring their tiny pin pricks when he needed to fall asleep.
Jim looked to the left. His arm was covered in empty beer bottles. This confused him for a second, until he remembered the disastrous discovery, late last night, that the house had no more beer for him to drink. The last images that he could remember before blacking out involved him searching through the pile of empty bottles in the living room in the desperate hope that he would find enough precious drops of unfinished booze to help put him out of his misery for the night.

Needless to say, it had been a sad night.

The memory made Jim zone out for a moment. As the pile of empties began to blur together with the greasy hair of his arm, it suddenly hit him why he was awake.

The smell of cottage cheese.

Jim snapped to a state of absolute awareness. Huh? Why the fuck would there be cottage cheese in my house? Jim inhaled deeply to make sure his senses weren't being fooled, but in spite of the damage done to his olfactory system back in the 80s, the scent was unmistakable. It was definitely the aroma of cottage cheese.... just like his grandmother had served to him at the age of five in her cottage in the Ozarks.

The bottles clinked as Jim brushed them off his arm and stood up. The moment he reached a standing position, shards of pain jabbed into his back and forced him to groan as he bent over, hands on knees.

Shit, man. You should be more careful about that.

Jim winced and made his way over to the kitchen. Where the hell else would you look for cottage cheese?

Jim entered the kitchen and discovered that the scent had grown stronger. His eyes scanned the piles of filthy, maggot-encrusted dishes that layered the floor, counters, and oven top. The sight made his stomach turn. Jim was usually pretty good at not looking around very much during his brief trips to seize a beer from the refrigerator.

Jim tried to ignore the quietly rising feeling of nausea and began to push pots around on the floor with his feet.

After about ten minutes of doing this, Jim gave up.

What the fuck? He thought to himself. I cannot fucking deal with this. This is fucking disgusting. I am above all of this shit.

So with that, Jim promptly gave up on his search for the source of the sour cottage cheese scent. He stumbled out of the kitchen and back into the living room, where his aching mass fell over onto the green sofa his grandmother had left for him when she kicked the bucket.

A spring jabbed his lower back, but Jim ignored it.

He reached out towards the nightstand where he saw a pile of white pills and an open can of Pepsi.

Jim put the pills in his mouth and choked them down with the syrupy, who knows how old remains, of flat soda from the can. He closed his eyes and imagined a young boy and girl on a seesaw, singing the theme song from Miami Vice. With this image in his mind, he slowly passed out.

As the weeks went by, Jim got used to the smell. It got sharper for a while, but he quickly stopped noticing. It just got absorbed by the gray, bland mess of blah that was the rest of his life. Whenever crunch time came, he figured out ways to get more Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos and beer. Sometimes he had to settle for Safeway Select generic chips or PBR, but as always, his mind got him through the hard times.

The red pustules grew and itched more.

His jaw disintegrated.

And he was happier than any of your lazy ass mother fuckers will ever be.

The End.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

some late night haikus while listening to the postal service after finishing a paper about white supremacy and michael dudikoff.

drops of water in
a vat of peanut butter
my canker sores bleed

--

Sun felt like fingers
massaged frost off the red nose
then retreated, clouds

--

Apple in my fridge
Tastes like metal and scotch tape.
Judas falls off cliff.

Friday, April 09, 2004

A grey night.

Nips of paper tap at toes
as I drag a pile of moldy pots and pans from room to room,
walking into rituals
of cuts and hang nails
from the dining room
to the kitchen
to the laundry
and back to the fast food wrapper littered
bedroom.
Around and up and down
around
I'm looking at faces marked by smirks and yawns,
asking me, "Wh wh
wh
call me no you don't
no you
you
behind a dull computer screen
you're n
ot
sweet anymore.

They keep on... they move in chance rhythms
speak mismatched syllables
smirk
curl lips
avert eyes in coffee booths
where I built three hundred houses
out of spoons

and on and on

and it's a grey night outside,
a world made of fog blinded by
headlights so bright
they can't see
the red lipstick painted beehives
in the road.

Walk in sandy black fields and listen to
the decayed drone of swarms
around white spots of cats and cattle
left in plops on the ground.

And imagine faces

smirk
and furrow
out of the random whisps of vapor.

Horses' bodies lay down by the river
and stay there for years.

Love will save you from the truth when you think you're free and
Love will save you from the cold and boring reality and
Love will save you from the corruption of your lazy mind and soul and
Love will save you from your selfish and distorted goals
...but it won't save me.

-Swans


I lied. Projects and dreams die when the screen flickers and you forget why you were watching.

Friday, February 27, 2004

indecision.

A few months ago, my perspective on the political world seemed extremely clear. The Democratic primaries were in full swing, it looked like Dean had a good chance of getting the nod, and the biggest question was of how to ensure that he would win in the general election against Bush. I didn't agree with Dean about everything and there were legitimate questions of how well his left of the DNC perspective would fare in the general election, but it felt like there was a kind of energy in mainstream electoral politics that my young eyes were unaccustomed to seeing. Despite the doubts, I was getting ready for what I thought would be an all out, us against them, political brawl for the voting public. There were even some signs that Dean could revolutionize the very space of what was considered to be legitimate electoral politics and could break from the assumptions that one has to move to the center to win in an election in the United States that have been the bread and butter of liberal activism for the last decade. I may have been slightly apprehensive, but I knew that I could support Dean's candidacy in good conscience and thought that maybe this could signal a shift from the "lesser of two evils" thought process that I've been less than fond of for several years.

Things are different now. I completely misjudged what would happen in the primaries. Dean's gone and now it looks like Kerry's going to be the Democratic option. Edwards is still in the race, but everyone knows what's going to happen.

This is where, in the past few weeks, things have gotten much less clear. A friend recently asked me who I would vote for in the general election. "Whoever gets the Democratic nomination... clearly." That sentence spoke to a broader "anybody but Bush" attitude held by many American leftists these days. I’ve certainly bought into much of the anti-Bush sentiment and, with my distaste for the administration growing unabated, daily, I was somewhat surprised when my friend questioned by unconditional allegiance to the Democratic party this election cycle. He spoke of his distaste for the two party system and argued that as long as people accept the forced choice between the "lesser of two evils," nothing dramatic will happen to change that process. He told me that my pragmatic logic was the very thought process that was forcing me into that unhappy choice in the first place.

I was kind of impressed. It sounded exactly like something that I would have said four years ago while petitioning to get Nader's name on the Wyoming ballot. I have to admit that I kind of envy that kind of idealism and probably still resent much of the political disillusionment that I experienced in the wake of the 2000 Election, in which the worst possible candidate was victorious and was pushing a disgusting agenda that included the Mexico City gag rule, my idealistic political movement was being blamed for causing it, and my candidate didn't even come close to the 5% that would be needed to declare a Green Party victory. That time was rather disastrous and I still haven't recovered from the shock of it. Part of it made me cynical and led me to renounce electoral politics for a few years. Part of it also made me feel guilty for possibly contributing to Bush's election and drove me away from political radicalism. Although I now recognize that I was probably being a little hard on myself (Wyoming's three electoral votes were going to Bush either way and certainly wouldn't have made a difference in the scheme of things), I still realize that 2000 made me give in to the two party system that I'd opposed. Maybe, in some way, it broke my spirit and made me into one of the millions of Americans who refuse to conceptualize new ways of organizing life outside of the Status Quo. I felt like I had to compromise my values if I wanted to contribute to the political in any meaningful way.

All of this brings me to why things aren't so perfect anymore. Although there are huge areas that separate Kerry and Bush (especially in regard to reproductive freedom and Civil Rights, as I argued to my friend), there are some things that trouble me. Specifically, I'm referring to Kerry’s position on gay marriage. Now, at first I could accept a small amount of political jockeying on Kerry's part, especially if he said he supported civil unions and probably wouldn't actively oppose gay marriage, but it's now being reported that Kerry is supporting an anti-gay marriage amendment in Massachusetts (US Presidential candidate favours Massachusetts amendment).

This saddens me. It looks like Kerry is taking Rove's bait by playing his game and alienating people who may vote for him, while gaining few votes from the fundies who were never going to vote for him in the first place. I honestly think that this is exactly what the Bush campaign hoped Kerry would do.

And beside the tactical ramifications, there's also an ethical issue. There's a point when people need to take an ethical stand against bigotry. Kerry described the DOMA (that he rightfully voted against) as "legislative gay bashing" and refused to support it in good conscience. *This is the same damn thing.* How can the Massachusetts amendment be seen as anything other than more gay bashing?

The reason that Dean was so refreshing was that he didn't buy into the same old game of co-optation by unethical forces in the name of getting votes. Maybe that's what cost him the nomination, but there's something to be said about standing up for what you think is right, even if it flies in the face of mainstream theories of political strategy. With anti-gay amendments jumping out, left and right, and a number of communities defying the heterosexist norms embedded in marriage laws by giving out licenses in acts of civil disobedience, now is the perfect time to stand up and say "Hell no!" to anyone who wants to set back the clock on sexual civil rights. If we let ourselves be co-opted now, how will we answer to the next few generations? I can imagine what we would think of supposedly "progressive" politicians who would have done the same thing in the 60s:

"Sorry, but we were worried about losing an election, so we decided to hold back on civil rights for minorities and women. It's not like we had a choice or anything."

Horseshit. We do have choices and they're available to us every time we talk about identity, sexual norms, and the possibilities of family configurations or endorse candidates’ political platforms. I think Zizek has a point when he says that the solution to the current deadlock is not to retreat, but to engage in antagonism and fight for what we believe in.

It's time to draw a line in the sand and live up to what we owe to each other and ourselves. "No, I won't compromise on this issue anymore. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is just *wrong* and we're going to win this battle."

That still doesn't leave me with a clear decision of what to do about the 2004 election, but it does make me realize that, even if I end up supporting Kerry, it won't be blind support. The political fight isn't going to end in November. If the fight ends there, then we've already lost in the long run. We need to keep bigger principles in mind, even if they're risky. Maybe then we can shatter some of the violent and discriminatory parameters of contemporary social life and, maybe, do something miraculous that's never been done before.

And, hell, maybe I won’t vote for Kerry. I live in Wyoming. My friend may have had a point when he pointed out that there’s pretty much no risk in *not* voting for Kerry if you live here. Maybe there’s something to gain. Maybe there isn’t. In any event, I have a lot of things to think about in the next few months.

Friday, February 20, 2004

exile and a pseudo-event.

Downstairs, a room full of UW debate-folk are cutting cards in preparation for districts. There's a lot of random talk about arguments ("Here's what Lyotard's saying..." "The Homo Sacer exist in the space between the two deaths..." "TNWs lead to catastrophic space militarization..."), little in-jokes (some of which I get, some of which I don't), and spurts of high-pitched, speed-reading.

In this environment, I feel kind of like an exile. I'm torn between an interest in what they're talking about, as well as a quiet sense of jealousy at the kind of excitement that only NDT debate has ever inspired in me, and the animosity I continue to feel towards the activity and the memories of everything I hate about debate.

It's weird, because I kind of fit in here (I know a few things about some of the arguments), but I kind of don't (I haven't debated the topic, I can't read like a debater anymore). I'm connected just enough to realize how outside of their world I am.

Maybe, in a banal sense, I'm in a kind of death drive. I've officially and unofficially renounced my ties to the debate community, yet I refuse to maintain my death in that world. Debate eternally returns, in new manifestations, every day. Despite the fact that I don't have to do a single debate related thing, it's a presence that hovers over me... offering the promise of a world that seems good in retrospect, but was never really that great while I had it.

Then, in the midst of all of this selfish introspection, Mr. Falwell comes on TV. GLBT rights are all over the airwaves this week, so Lynchberg's authority on the "sanctity of marriage" has to make the rounds, denouncing the "perversity" of homosexuality. Nevermind the fact that churches still have the choice of who to marry. Nevermind marriage's heightened secular status that has zero bearing on reproduction. Nevermind the fact that Protestantism doesn't even consider marriage to be a sacrament. He's gotta come on TV and sound the alarm.

Falwell raises some very conflicting feelings in me. He makes all of my debate exile shit seem really petty and irrelevent. He makes me want to do something to make a statement about people. He also makes me feel hopeless.... How do you answer someone who says things like this? Habermas be damned, I don't think people hold racist, sexist, heterosexist, etc. opinions for rational reasons that can be dissuaded through logical debate. I'm not sure what good it does to debate Falwell on TV when his position has no bearing on any of the actual warrants for why he opposes gay marriage.

So what... the fuck... am I supposed to do about this?

Become a nihilistic cynic? Interrogate his desire? What the hell would that even do?

Yeah, so this whole thing's useless. I just don't know today.

---
A really bizarre Link:

S.F. Mayor Defiant, Marries Gay Couples

This link has a little tidbit of the utter absurdity of the anti-GLBT "movement." This quote is just surreal: "About 25 anti-gay protesters later blocked the door of the county clerk's office, lying down in front of the line and singing religious songs. Gays and lesbians responded by belting out ``The Star-Spangled Banner'' until sheriff's deputies escorted the protesters out. No arrests were made."

They laid down in front of the door to block people they don't even know from doing something that doesn't even affect them. This reminds me of Badiou's argument that the real Event has been replaced by the pseudo-event. Social Conservatives who have grown up feeling the need to be persecuted due to the direction of their religion following the Black Plague are trying to find something meaningful to fill the gap that is the utter (near) absence of oppression of Christians in the United States. So... they create a mock event... laying down in front of doors as if they're civil rights or anti-apartheid protesters, creating the resemblance of an actual political cause that means something.

I wonder what they were singing... "We Shall Overcome?" This makes me kind of queasy.

----

So tomorrow I'm picking up a friend at the airport. Well, not just a friend, but an ex-girlfriend. She genuinely seems to want to see me and I care about her, but I'm at a deadlock about what to do about it. I just have this slowly growing empty feeling inside. The only things I feel passionate about are the words of dry theory... steril figures printed in books and scribbled on the back pages of my school notes.

I don't know how to express to anyone how I'm feeling right now. It's like there's a static-filled screen between my ears and a vat of hydrochloric acid slowly dissolving a dead bird in my stomach.