It all comes down to money, doesn’t it?
Money coupled with power. Power over people via “ideas” that have more in common with emotional revulsion than logic. This is what we are now.
Steve Bannon was at the left hand of the seat of power; he was the co-pilot of the administration, arguably the primary architect of the Trump victory. You’d have to be utterly blind, delusional, Stockholm Syndrome-addled or just uncaring not to see this. The nearly transparent lie that there was no collusion on the part of Bannon’s appeals to race resentment and the violence that often erupted at Trump rallies doesn’t need calling out, it is there, in plain sight, for all to see.
Nor does the connections to the Alt-Right, real Nazis, and other assorted white supremacists, they too, are plain. Through the denials (what common criminal ever said, “Yeah, I did it, that was me” when being cornered by the cops?) the obstrufications and every logical event to the contrary, Bannon, Breitbart and its network of ideologues and hangers-on continue to play a role in the conversation or at least continue to keep the discussion about them, bolstering the profiles of both the wave riders and the hard idealogues.
There is no such thing as bad press.
So why are we still playing this game?
Why are we still under the delusion that we are living under anything but a proto-fascist state, a state that combines the worst elements of our cold war and second world war enemies. We now represent the things we have purportedly fought against for most of the 20th century. It’s no longer about left and right ideologies because both would be crushed under the weight of the oligarchy. When there isn’t freedom for anyone, ideology is moot.
It is a cold hard fact that for all of the history of the United States we have been awash in white supremacy. Its taken many forms as the idea of whiteness have been adopted by various Europeans and those of European descent. It isn’t unique to this nation, but the brand of white superiority and supremacy is. We are unique in the fact that we’ve inhabited a Janus-like guise, out of one face we say we are pluralistic and generous, the huddled masses are welcome to come and add their uniqueness to our own and to our collective culture, on the other we are xenophobic, racist and fearful of difference although demonstrably, once we know each other personally those elements diminish.
We also claim to value our collective contributions to our society. We claim to not see race or sex and that the value we place on our fair values is absolute. Even on our political left, there is this illusion, the corridors of power in our entertainment are littered with the desiccated bodies of the women who know better. Liberal Hollywood is awash in its form of hypocrisy. Weinstein, Cosby, and Baldwin, either get a pass or use their considerable power as men to create false personas that defy their goodness while hiding their toxic badness.
At the risk of sounding SWJish, White Male Superiority in general. Yes, even Cosby.
Masculinity is at least a convening force in all this. I’ve spoken before about how this mirror universe came to pass, how the power structure that was had been challenged by an educated, non-white man, and then an educated (albeit universally unlikeable) white woman and the resulting pushback gave us a starring role in the Truman shitshow we live in now. How the years of ingrained, assumed norms of power and who was inherently qualified to wield it, unraveled while Rural White Male America slept soundly in their beds, secure in the fact that their hegemony wouldn’t be undone by a one-term Nigger president.
See how that happened?
We didn’t elect a white knight, we chose the anti-Nigger, the crass boldness embodiment of everything we would have lynched Obama for, and some things lesser, that we tried to. Trump’s money, his conspicuous consumptive nature on full display in House Horrific gold inlay pimp my penthouse bling, his pussy grabbing dullard braggadocio, his obviously ignorant grasp of policy and its implications, all of it punishable by death for any nonwhite who isn’t signed to Bad Boy or in the NBA. Trump is gangsta personified.
Must be the money…
Edited on 10/12/17 because the first time around I just don’t give a f***!
Edited 9/8/17 because brought to you by the letter “M.”
Edited (yet again) on 8/10/2018 for a few misplaced (s)s and slightly augmented wording.
Can we re-purpose a reactionary frame?
Can we take something not quite patently offensive, but triggering and reshape it to mean something that can unite rather than divide? Can a community of people, who already feel burdened with the explainer role, manage again to unify under something they mainly feel is a bastardization and outright insult to the movement they identify with?
If we’ve learned anything from the election of Donald Trump, we should take away this, using the language of the oppressed to claim oppression works, but can the opposite work as well.
When I’d seen the statement “All Lives Matter” in response to BLM, I cringed. I knew it was a reactionary, angry, reflexive response to a needed if not fully appreciated movement. It angered me that people who know better should have understood that killing an unarmed member of any community should be denounced, that people who should know that there is a disparity between the way young Black men are seen and treated in our society, and the way young white men are treated. That Black Lives Matter, of course, wasn’t a statement of exclusivity but one of defense. That the implication that ONLY Black Lives Matter was NOT part of this declaration, nor was the implication that Black Lives Matter MORE, but it was merely that Black Lives Matter AS WELL.
There is much to be said about how we got here, much hand wringing to be done about how history had drawn a clear line to this moment and how forces, both seen and unseen have forced these confrontations.
For context, I suggest reading some of the books on slavery or civil rights or some of the more inclusive books on American history A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is a good place to start.
I’m not getting into context here, it’s too obvious to me and would distract from my point. Plus, I believe we should all be more responsible for exposing ourselves to the context of the history of the country of which we so effulgently pronounce our love.
One of the things I have learned about messaging is that sometimes to do it effectively; you have to give up some deeply held preconceptions. You have to resort to some to the tricks of the oppressor, if you will, and one-up them by playing their game. There are limits to this, of course, but within those limits is where progress can be potentially made.
Appropriation is a hot-button term. It evoked Native headdresses or kente cloth; it evokes everything from girls in yoga pants to Rachel Dolezal.
It doesn’t deserve the reputation it has. Appropriation is, in some cases, the same thing as acceptance, it is the brother or sister or transgendered, polyamorous, biracial neighbor of cultural assimilation. McDonald’s appropriated images of Black families in print ads to appeal to the people it was trying to sell burgers to, advertising, in general, appropriates members of audiences it wants to reach, and this is often called “inclusion.”
My feelings are half and half. Half of me welcomes the representation because it brings visibility and half of me knows the motivation is to sell a product. In many cases, even this gives a certain amount of arrival cred but still begs the motivation question. Yet, for whatever reason, it’s better to be seen in a positive light than a negative one, though it can be argued that this isn’t all that positive:
but is was certainly better than this:
Appropriation can be a gateway to conversation and understanding, or it can be a gross misuse of a symbolic cultural totem. I think its time for us to use the poseur of appropriation on the All Lives Matter crowd.
It makes sense that reactionary forces would seize on an approximation of a statement that virtually says the same thing. In this era of lack of imagination, lack of the ability to see things in shades of grey, and lack of connection across lines of partisanship, we have been unable to ask each other, “so what exactly do you mean by that?’ instead of reflexively attacking each other over our perception of that meaning.
So let’s start out by saying that all lives do matter. Black, White, Mexican, Gay, Straight, tall and short, cis, queer, nongender specific, Cops who occupy all of the other identities as well and are both sheltered and wrongly maligned, we can even go as radically far as to say that plants, animals….all life is important. The human variety is where we’ll focus for the moment though, let’s just say that all human experience is valuable.
Now we can get into a little trouble here in our appropriation as we often do when trying to be inclusive, how far is too far? So if the whole point of this is a marketing strategy (and make no mistake, the most efficient way to convey this message is through that means), who is the intended audience?
Assuming the target audience is the former Obama voting Trump devotee, a person who, right or wrong, thinks he is now in the minority, who assumes that being white has somehow become a liability, despite all evidence to the contrary, and now feels he must pull back into an enclave of reactionary juxtaposition. We aren’t going for the 1% White Lives Matter crowd, they are lost and never wanted to be a part of this new America anyway. Calling out the hypocritical other and also the people who genuinely don’t understand why All Lives Matter is such a divisive statement by appropriating the tag is a tact worth pursuing.
Re-branding as All Lives Matter, re-purposing with inclusion in mind of the people of all races that have been discounted and ignored, bringing in law enforcement of all races to have a dialog about how people are not treated equally and to what degree. Actually TALKING to each other about these vital issues under a moniker that doesn’t seem to exclude.
Maybe All Lives Matter can be a vital starting point to challenge the notion that they do conceptually and working on how they can actually.
Taking advantage of the short memories of Americans to change things in the long-term may be sneaky, but it can also be useful. From a marketing standpoint, it would be as brilliant a coup as turning a brand that had been wrongly associated with Nazi Germany into a brand that appeals to the Spanish-speaking among us.
In the world of spin, anything is possible.
A few facts for anyone attempting to normalize what happened in Charlottesville by believing that all sides are truly to blame for the provocation of violence.
This is normal for our country. White Nationalism and White Supremacy are deeply ingrained in our culture. If you are a woman and you are trying to justify the violence by spreading the misinformed belief (peddled largely by the alt-right and its ilk) that somehow Antifa or BLM are racist organizations you should certainly read some of what these men write about you. Wehuntedthemamoth.com is a good place to start.
Racial violence has been perpetuated not only on people of color but their allies and friends as well. Homophobic beliefs are also part and parcel of these peoples agenda, so if you have any gay friends, they could be, have been and possibly will be targets of this hatred as well.
Oh and if you have any African American, Jewish, Latino or Arab friends or relatives, they hate not only them, but you as well because, by mere association, you are a race traitor and belong in the ovens with the rest of us.
I understand you feel that you’ve been victimized, marginalized and ignored. Instead of believing that you are the only ones and that your “people” don’t receive a fair shake, do some research, talk to anyone who has experienced an ism’ first hand and try to commiserate with your own experience. Again, if you are a woman, you should understand the feeling of being constantly on edge in certain situations and men’s eyes on you and the clear and present threat of sexual violence many of you have come to know firsthand.
These men have much the same mentality of privilege with people of color and individuals who are LGBTQ as they take with your body and your sexuality. The double standard applied to women’s sexuality the assumption that if you behave a certain way and dress a certain way or just are, is very similar to the assumption that because of the color of your skin or who you love, you are innately inferior.
The left/right dichotomy is a false one. It is nothing but a smokescreen to obscure the truth that anyone who, as their core belief, feels superior to others for some cultural, ethnic or racial reason will see the other is subhuman and therefore as you’d put an animal down, so they would a member of that group too.
We need to stop lying to each other and ourselves and realize that the strain of violence that is rising in this country has its roots in the belief that a group of people are culturally or racially superior to another group. We also need to stop lying to ourselves that this violence has not been at the very least been ignored and in many cases encouraged by a president whose ideological underpinnings are loose at best, as the wind blows at most. We need to stop lying to ourselves that our words and actions have nothing to do with the words and actions of others and we need to stop lying to ourselves that they and we are not a part of the same indoctrinate culture.
This is going to get worse, much, much worse before it gets better.
I’m finding myself again in a particular state of consternation over other’s expectations of me. Everyone seems to have an idea as to what I should be doing and how I should be doing it. People who don’t seem to realize that I’ve done and continue to do my level best to fulfill my obligations to them keep demanding more, so much so that this stone is about out of blood.
I’m looking down the road to a potentially major life change that will affect all my relationships going forward. When I mentioned this potential to a certain parental figure I got a disinterested sigh and a couple of self-serving questions about relocation, then there was a call telling me to do something that I’d been doing more of anyway. Yeah, I couldn’t be vaguer.
So in the past two weeks, I’ve received calls, text messages and email imploring me to take up some forgotten task or fulfill some unfinished obligation or to chide me for some life choice that someone else close to me does not agree with. It seems to have spread to my work life as well, as one of my coworkers had the nerve to, without irony (she’s a talker), tell me that leaving early one day “fucks the rest of us.” Unironically because she does about as much talking as she does work, more likely more of the former than the latter, every single shift she’s on. She also has no idea who I am or how much I work. Assuming your small window into a relative stranger’s world shows you the entire picture is a sin punishable by a hearty “fuck you!”
So yeah, this is a bitching post, so let us get right to the bitching, shall we?
I’m wholly sick and fucking tired of everyone asking still more of me than I already give. Whether it be assuming small financial obligations out of the kindness of my heart or giving my attention to someone else instead of them, I’m done with being motivated by the expectations of others. So many people in my life live in their own little bubbles, surrounded by the comforts I’ve provided and have grown entitled because of them. They feel entitled to be rude to me, demand attention of me, and request of me things that I have no capacity to give at the moment, all while ignoring the things I’ve asked of them.
The very worst part of this is that all but one person in my life (two actually, but he’s always been appreciative of me) at the moment does not regularly say thank you for what I do continue to provide unless prompted to do so, unsurprisingly, she is the person who gets the majority of my limited free time and attention. She is also the given or implied reason why the rest of them are so damn unappreciative.
Let me say this, I’ve learned about myself one thing. If you offer me appreciation for what I do, I will return in kind. If you continually complain about what I’m NOT doing, it won’t end well. I’ve lost my tolerance for others putting their needs above mine and now my needs come first, unequivocally. I’m not looking for my ass to be kissed, but when I’ve done any of the things I’ve alluded to above, don’t take that shit for granted. It’s a sure way to get told to go to hell when you need something from me and fail to ask in a way that does not indicate you have a total lack of self-awareness.
At some point in everyone’s life, they realize that a turning of priorities may be in order. They fumble over what that means and sometimes actually come across something that works to better their outlook, enhance who they are and create joy in their lives in the most simple way. It could be a person, a job, a new point of view or any combination but when they do come they change who we are.
Reviewing one’s life you can see catalytic patterns. Times when one event leads, directly or indirectly, to another, and that to yet another still. Yes, there are choices in-between that move those patterns forward in the direction hindsight reveals, but there are often direct lines from a to b that reveal themselves as time goes on.
Hence the title.
When I wake up throughout the day, in the examination mode of memory and contemplation, I see these paths like routes on a map. There are arteries behind me that vanish, paths not taken, roads left behind never to be visited again, ahead there are splits that lead to other splits, that lead to still others. Not quite the infinite paths we like to believe there are, but as infinite as our little brains can handle. Infinite enough to know that even if we chart a course, the wind or a landslide will deviate us at least once. As our past disappears into memory and the present is lived in every moment, we only have so much say, only so many fucks to give.
I’m choosing mine wisely, with intention, giving attention to the things that I choose first and then allowing the rest to intrude when I will it. It’s the only semblance of control we have, and even if it is an illusion, I’ll take it.
For now, here are some general thoughts:
There is more than one way to love, live and leave.
I am not your world unless I say I am. And even if I do, not always, and not forever if you don’t hold up your end of the bargain.
I may love you, but I don’t owe you shit.
I choose what’s important to me, I’m not even slightly sorry If you can’t handle that.
Do not assume that you are at the top of my priority list unless I explicitly say so.
Do not EVER take me for granted.
Finally: Don’t be so fucking vain, this song is only partially about you, whoever you are.
So I was on a semi-self-imposed news blackout until very recently due in no small part to my own personal upheavals, but also just because….Trump.
So now I’ve begun paying more attention, watching and reading more news and following more closely, the national goings on. Thankfully I’m in a much better headspace for all of this because if I’d decided to forgo reason and dive head first as my personal life was unraveling, I’m honestly not sure I’d still be writing today.
Watching our president move with the sound off is frustrating enough, but with the sound on, it’s utterly terrifying.
How could we have been so stupid? How in the hell could we have elected this orange-thin-skinned pussy grabber, the leader of the free world? How do we not see this as the horrible national embarrassment it truly is? That a uniquely unqualified buffoon who clearly has no aptitude for the truth because he hasn’t a clue as to what that word even means, could possibly win a plurality of electoral college votes, with not a single dissenting maverick to stand in the way of this thoroughly embarrassing national disgrace?
Where are our Paines, our Parks our Kings and Peltiers? Why don’t we see how obviously our dissenting voices are absent from the debate, and how obviously we’ve become twisted up in what it means to dissent in the first place? How did the Alt-right, an animal crafted as a propaganda arm of Nazis and internet trolls who finally feel like they have a place at a table that is owned by the Jewish Cabal, actually become a legitimate voice in national politics?
I’m not of the mindset that this country is over, that with this one election we have sealed our fate. I do believe this is the last death spasm of an old skin being shaken off, but what of what’s underneath?
When will we, as a country, as a people, realize that we’ve entirely fucked up.
When we have people like Alex Jones and Mike Chernovich actually participating in the public dialog as legitimate players, how do we not see how truly fucked we are?
At the same time though, it easy to become un-fucked, just pay attention.
Edited on 5/12 for Typos.
Let me get this out of the way right now, I believe healthcare, the coverage needed to see a doctor on a yearly basis, health maintenance and elder care are rights we should have in the richest, most productive country in the world. Unequivocally, every man, woman, and child who is a citizen of the United States should be covered either privately or under a public option. There is no logical, rational or economic reason we shouldn’t be able to do this. We’ve completely restructured our society and economy around war, which demonstrates a clear threat to us and our livelihoods (or NOT: i.e. every modern war post WW2) we have mobilized against threats both concrete and conceptual and with all our might, forced our country to conform to a new reality, so why can’t we do this to take care of each other?
We cast doubt on the poor and helpless, on people who supposedly drain the resources of the country and take advantage of all the social programs and “freebies” they get handed to them without the reservations or drug testing so prevalent on Wall Street or in Boardrooms. Why is it wrong to give everyone the possibility of a long and better life yet still allow employers and bankers who prey on the very same people the ability to do so with impunity with little or no consequences? When the average high school graduate earns about as much as the average undergrad (yes it’s 2014 data but with rampant income stagnation I highly doubt there is any major movement here) and is saddled with crushing debt its sad that we haven’t made college free as well, but I digress.
We are demonstrating a fratricidal tendency in this country. Instead of being a family, one who takes care of each other keeps each other and tends to each other’s wounds we are poisoning the water of our brother and sisters houses and killing them in the process.
The House’s passing of the revamped, pre-CBO scored so-called American Health Care Act is one of the most disgusting nakedly greedy and soulless pieces of legislation proposed in this decade. It scales back preexisting conditions provisions, creates already fail-proven high-risk pools and removes penalties for not securing coverage with over a dozen more really bad ideas. It does so in the name of “choice” a great buzzword but one that ignores the fact that most of us have none, to begin with. Like the allure of “liberty”, a word so rife with consequential elitism but so unknown in that respect by the average Joe, choice refers to something only really the financial elite possess.
But it is the dream of all of us that we can achieve this freedom. Within the already paralyzing revelation that we really have none, within our increasing levels of control exact 1/10th of 1 percent of our destinies outcome we try so hard to use each other as a measure of that little control we have over our universes. We try, and ultimately fail to become famous, or infamous, we try to be forces for good or notorious, we try to become immortal but in the end, the briefest of times ticks records our deeds.
We believe that our small eternities, our families ticks on the clock, our minuscule appearances upon the universe’s stage actually amount to something grander and we personalize that time to mean “us.” Instead of living like a giant organism and accepting that we all have sympathetic and, dare I say symbiotic, responsibilities. Accepting that our limited choice can be used to serve the greater good or destroy goodwill, makes us vulnerable, and we don’t like that one bit.
So what does all this have to do with snatching health coverage from millions of people, many of which voted for its removal in the first place? Everything.
Our mindset in this country is very different from it is in the rest of the world. We value a strange mix of things that are often at odds with each other, often conflict and sometimes contradict. Our collective identity is at once strong and fragmented, we use patriotism as a blunt object to both unify and divide and we have a national identity that is as much myth as it is fact. We are also very, very young.
Transcending this is a tough task, the reactive tendency to believe what we feel without fact checking what our words actually mean, has put us in a rhetorical bind. We cannot seem to get past the fact that we should be treating each other as family and not warring tribes. We are all Americans. Every man, woman, child, everyone of their decided gender or the genderless, every person who walks as a born or naturalized American citizen is our brother, sister, sibling…
We need to take care of each other, as families often do. We need to look past the Thanksgiving our cousin Guido ruined the family rug with his cigar, or the time Auntie Carol got so drunk she threw up in the newborn’s crib, we have to forgive our nephew Amir for falling in with the wrong crowd and getting caught with a pack of Newports in the school bathroom, we have to stop blaming Xiang for forgetting our birthday, most of all we have to honor not only Crispin and Gary for their commitment to each other and recommit to our family again.
Just because we look and sound a bit different, doesn’t make us any less family.
We should start treating each other that way.
We are all responsible for ourselves and each other. We are our brothers and sisters keepers.
Edited on 4/11 @ 12:10pm because of a missing “c.”
Clockwork Angels came out in 2012, the same year of the American election. It was Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney and personally, the stakes never felt higher. Even in retrospect, post Trump, this election was consequential in an exceptional way. Our first American president of African descent, our first multiracial president and our first potential two term Democratic president since Clinton.
I argue that Obama’s legacy was more at stake then than it is now. A two term president can ostensibly claim a real mandate, where a one term president’s legacy can be easily erased if the opposing party comes into power four years in.
But I digress….
The Anarchist felt like the soundtrack of the apocalypse to me then. There was so much uncertainty about the future, so much building anger and resentment from a segment of the population who had a tremendous run and now was being eclipsed by number and power, by browner and more estrogen rich carbon based bipeds.
The wont to blow up the world and everything in it, the desire and the seething anger behind it to destroy everything associated with the other while simultaneously blowing up what benefits you resonated strongly. The texture of the song, the choral progression to a droning finale, doom turned to music.
First song, for the first day: The Anarchist, by Rush.
So what would your superpower be? The survey asks.
The choices are:
To take this entirely fanciful circumstance seriously for a moment, I first thought of flight. But without invulnerability (and the ability to breathe lower levels of oxygen AND some ice/cold resistance), flight would be all but useless through a major city. This also makes flight a skill much harder to hide than say, super strength or invulnerability. The idea of flight though is highly romantic, anyone who has seen Superman knows this troupe to be one that triggers wistful sighs.
So what of invisibility? Far too creepy and intrusive. It would make sense that this theoretical ability would have a literary history of accompanying insanity. Being able to be seen and unseen at will, but not to be unheard or unfelt would drive the unseen and the unseer insane. Could you imagine having to be stealthy yet not have to try to be visibly unseen? We humans don’t deal well with paradox as it is, but living such a paradox would make life incredibly difficult. God forbid you’d forget how to turn it off. And there is also the problem of nakedness, assuming the only control you’d have over your invisibility would be of your physical body. The Cold-intolerant and tender footed need not apply.
So what would be my other?
The ability to create a time bubble. Truly an esoteric skill in the pantheon of unrealistic superhero skills but one that is definitely within the realm of “other.”
So I’m a romantic, whatever meaning you assign to it, let me give you mine in general. I assign meaning to places, things and people that have a soothing emotional context. I love, loving.
When I see an old photograph of myself or another with someone they loved, romantically or otherwise, I get a swirling ball of emotional goop generated somewhere in my soul. Regardless of how I feel about the people now, I’m instantly transported emotionally to that moment. The spirit of that moment in time surrounds me and I well up. Same goes when I think about whomever I’m attached or attracted to at any given time, the photograph in my mind or the touch feel and smell of a moment lingers, and a swell rises in me.
The time bubble concept serves this romantic ideal well. It is a place to linger, to exist outside linear time to work on yourself or spend time outside of time with another. (this skill would be useless IMO unless you could share it with at least one other person at a time) Like Fry and Leela breaking the universe, you’d be able to live your life in a stasis state (unlike Fry and Leela, without growing older, that would have to be a stipulation).
Imagine the possibilities. You could take the time to nurture new relationships and mend old wounds; you could learn new skills and become stronger and faster. In a way its better than any other skill because it gives you more of the most precious commodity, time.
Time is a thief. It steals your soul. It takes from you what you love and eventually it takes you as well. But this superpower would extend time, in a moment, indefinitely. It would do so without the mess of living forever in linear time. You’d grow old, die as normal, but only along the timeline of everyone else. What could be the better mix of forever and today?