Facebook Notes 2011
I release you, back to yourself.
Will you now hunt, join or lead other wild ones, to stalk and slake your thirsts?
Will you guard the cave of your pleasures, welcoming only those who risk all?
Will you stand on the rock, staring as an equal into the face of the sun?
Will your eyes glow in the night, illuminating, warning, seducing?
Will you play and leap in the meadows, rub hard against the rough bark?
Will you roll in the sun-lit grasses, bathe in the streams?
Will you be an unmoving presence in the storm, listening for another's roar?
This and more I wish for you.
Go. Reclaim the night in the jungle of darkest, sweetest you.
We will find each other again and again, to share and ease our terrors and love anew.
Even the wildest tigers want their bellies rubbed.
Changes to your status -
Capricorn: Jan. 20 - Feb. 16
Aquarius: Feb. 16 - March 11
Pisces: March 11- April 18
Aries: April 18 - May 13
Taurus: May 13 - June 21
Gemini: June 21 - July 20
Cancer: July 20 - Aug. 10
Leo: Aug. 10 - Sept. 16
Virgo: Sept. 16 - Oct. 30
Libra: Oct. 30 - Nov. 23
Scorpio: Nov. 23 - Nov. 29
Ophiuchus: Nov. 29 - Dec. 17
Sagittarius: Dec. 17 - Jan. 20
Jews: now Catholics,
Atheists: now Rosicrucians,
Republicans: now Hippies.
And everybody has the new profile.
Suck it up.
Your ass are belong to us.
Due diligence done, and done. My heart decides. My head and attached bits follow, gladly. So, fair warning and full disclosure herewith: I am moving to the South San Francisco Bay Area by mid-February, and staying for the foreseeable future and more.
Goodbye to my Portland friends, new and old. It's been swell - I'll always love you. Thanks for all the fish, and please visit!
Hello to all you Bay Aryans. I've loved you all my life, first and second. Now I will be one too.
(Packing and unpacking pizza parties to be announced!)
Eight years ago we put several million Americans on the streets, over 30 million on streets throughout the world. But we couldn't stop GWBush and the US military from invading and destroying Iraq. There are many differences, many reasons why the Egyptians succeeded and we failed. It's worth the effort to try to understand what they are.
I'm a Californian again, and living in Santa Clara -- yes, I'm astonished by it too!
A few months ago I met Elizabeth (Beth, never Liz), and we fell in love and drove and flew back and forth between Portland and the South Bay, and spent innumerable hours on the phone each day and night. Now I've moved into her home with her and with her teen daughter Julia and their two cats.
We initially both planned on a much longer and more leisurely trial period, but soon recognized that this was the most real thing in our lives (like, ever!) and time was a-wasting. So here we are and things are going amazingly well. Daughter and cats are friendly and fast becoming good friends. Beth and I find our love maturing without flagging, and Santa Clara is weird but possible: incredibly expensive and incredibly big-name commercial, with every digital hero and villain prominently displayed on unique and immense boxy structures - a mere Starbucks or Costco seems quaint.
We will be a while settling in, but look forward to eventually seeing you all when we can get there or when you can get here. It's also very good to be close to Jeremy again and be near all my Bay Area friends.
One goes where love leads -- there was no choice.
Much love to you all,
Same phone, email and facebook, new physical address:
2616 S Park Lane, Santa Clara CA 95051
PS: Wish my lovely Beth a Facebook happy birthday.
It's weird having a sociopath for a father. You get to experience all the elements of con, blackmail, guilt-tripping, and equity leverage being used by a parent for his own benefit and against his own children and wife. He remained certain he deserved forgiveness, without any effort or change on his part, merely because he asked for it -- and he never hesitated to ask because he always wanted something.
I would have liked to have a father I could love or care about when he died. He denied me, all of us, even that.
Parents teach by example. I thank him for the lesson.
What do you do when you find yourself in a place where there isn't any center?
Santa Clara seems to be such a place. Giant office buildings with giant logos of giant, mostly digital corporations. They own the world now, but only here do they collectively loom over us, their servents and minions. Scattered amongst the surrounding service stores for these monsters are darker corners with barber shops, dentists, contentless boutiques, Starbucks. Haven't seen a real pub or friendly bar or indy coffee shop yet. A few adult stores where everyone looks like they're wondering just how empty you are. A pick-up hot-tubery next to a tiny casino where a few men and women stand outside, far apart, drifting brownianly until attracted to someone elses center or a negotiable center is arranged.
So I try to stay centered, myself. Open and relaxedly prepared for the world to say hello, or not, as it chooses. Sometimes the center slips and then I find it and regain my balance. Mostly with Beth. Through Beth. Now also with Elvis the ur-cat, and Inky the surprise-cat, who accepts me as family when he remembers or isn't being freaked by his set-permanently-to-11 sensorium. (Slept on my chest last night, so things progress.) Julia talks to me, asks my opinion, sometimes even unprompted. I try to stay present for them all, for myself too.
I didn't used to have to try. Not so long ago I just was, and it's not as easy to be in the now, of the moment. So I begin with little rituals: coffee, breakfast, dinner, being still while moving about (not so easy when your balance isn't), attending (not so easy when your hearing is muffled and vision dulled), and finding my way about this strange new land. Trying to do completely whatever it is I'm doing . . . at the moment.
It is possible, and even now - right now - I find I can do it, am doing it, in strange, new, Santa Clara.
Life is good, and I've barely begun to explore.
Life is good.
We kill the Afghans. We kill the Iraqis. We kill our own while killing them. Every official reason for doing so has proven to be mistaken or a lie. So why do we continue doing it?
Follow the money. Who profits from war? Aren't these the same folks who finance elections? The same ones who hire legislators and generals when they retire? It's not a secret. Everybody knows the answer, but we've collectively decided that those who benefit from war and the murder of our children have a right to do so. Thatt there's nothing to be done about it.
If there's nothing to be done it makes just as much sense to stand up for your country as to protest. So, defend your president, support the troops. Be a good and patriotic American. Why not? Why should you feel guilty? Why should you risk your job or the respect of your friends if it doesn't matter? And guess what. It doesn't matter: both the revolution and the counter-revolution have already been co-opted. So yes, please carry a sign or wear a button or a t-shirt that says which fantasy you pretend to believe in. What possible difference would it make if that sign said 'Disneyland' or 'fuck me now' rather than 'stop the war'?
Enjoy the party. Live a little. (Die a lot.) It's only their children, and ours.
In the meantime, the brothers and sisters of the children we've killed are creating a peaceful (on their part) revolution and we're not invited to the party. (Because we are responsible for the repression and death perpetrated by the former Egyptian government.) The Egyptian people may well succeed, at least until we start killing them again, in person or through our proxies proxies. We do that very well and very consistently when others do not agree with our wishes and whims. We are the Imperium, the Superpower, the Borg. Resistance is futile. We all know that, don't we? Don't we?
During the 60s and 70s the self-esteem movement was established as gospel in the public schools. I came to believe that, because of it, we had raised a generation with a higher proportion than most of incompetent, self-satisfied bullies, slackers, mean passive-aggressives, and no small number of well-adjusted sociopaths. Many of these ended up in classes I taught or supervised, so I assumed that it was a result of indiscriminate and unjustified self-praise. But I was just standing in the the cross-fire and fell victim to Psychologist's Syndrome: everyone I see is crazy, therefore everyone else is probably crazy, too.
Self love was the current meme, so it seemed that must be what caused it. The truth was more likely that we give praise indescriminately and do criticism badly, and we always have. It's also Senior Syndrome: things used to be better and people didn't used to do that.
Now I think I've noticed a change in our political perspective. We are more self-satisfied, angrier with those who believe or think differently. We feel more entitled to our self-satisfaction because we are the exception to the rules that we demand everyone else follow, and we deserve it. Is there anyone more righteous than a Vegan? A Teabagger? A reformed smoker? A Twelve-Stepper? A second-ammendment gun owner? A shiny new recently converted Catholic, Muslim, Pentacostal, Scientologist, or Marxist fundamentalist? I think other people think they see this too.
Is this a trend, or is thinking we see it (and remarking on it) the real trend? Is it just that this particular pattern of behavior has somehow become highlighted in popular perception? Have we always been this intollerant? Is it just me?
I am the Holy Curmudgeon.
I annoy and irritate you,
pointing out the faults
you're all too aware of, in public.
I judge everyone, everything,
and I am never, ever, wrong.
I never apologize, never retract.
I know you know I'm right.
I'll ridicule and laugh at
your deepest convictions,
and make you laugh too
for fear of being laughed at first.
I am the Holy Curmudgeon.
Your only defense is to join me.
My only defense is to be me.
Wed, December 6, 2006
The Right has been gearing up for a permanent take-over for almost 50 years, and the left has been diddling.
Obama is limited not only by what the Republican cangresscritters will permit, but what the supposedly Democratic congressidiots have enough courage to do. The courts, high and low, were pretty well packed by the Bushes and neolib Clintons.The Democratic Party itself is bought and paid for by the oligarchs, and is almost as far to the Right as it can be and still present itself as Left. Nixon, Ford, and Eisenhower were further Left than Obama can afford to be.
The media is so well and deeply controlled by the Right that almost all the conceptual frameworks we have are conservative too -- hence the common perception that Obama is weak and has already failed to the point that a "strong" president is needed. We have Hilliaried and Kuciniched him: allowed ourselves to be persueded to see him as almost un-electable. So he is.
Any of Palin, Huckabee, the Pauls, Guiliani, Romney, Gingrich and their ilk have a better chance than Obama in the next presidential election.
Listen to all the criticisms of Obama from the Left and tell me I'm wrong.
If the imagined woman makes the real woman
seem bare-boned, hardly existent, lacking in
gracefulness and intellect and pulchritude,
and if you come to realize the imagined woman
can only satisfy your imagination, whereas
the real woman with all her limitations
can often make you feel good, how, in spite
of knowing this, does the imagined woman
keep getting into your bedroom, and joining you
at dinner, why is it that you always bring her along
on vacations when the real woman is shopping,
or figuring the best way to the museum?
And if the real woman
has an imagined man, as she must, someone
probably with her at this very moment, in fact
doing and saying everything she's ever wanted,
would you want to know that he slips in
to her life every day from a secret doorway
she's made for him, that he's present even when
you're eating your omelette at breakfast,
or do you prefer how she goes about the house
as she does, as if there were just the two of you?
Isn't her silence, finally, loving? And yours
not entirely self-serving? Hasn't the time come,
once again, not to talk about it?
--Stephen Dunn, The New Yorker, 3/14/2011
. . .
and, having finished reading this aloud, I put down
the magazine, and say "and this is why, when I look
at you, I see double, for you and she, at last, are one."
"Crime" is what you define it to be.
Here "crime" happens when there is no legitimized place for noncommercial or political visual expression. So disenfranchised kids (and no few adults) express their anger, disgust, and their desire for recognition and individuation.
The article does little more than chastise such people for finding the only outlet available to them. A true government of, by, and for the people would create space for such expression - not make it a crime. A sane adult would applaud and encourage their efforts, and chastize the civil order that makes our children into criminals.
The writer here has lost what America used to stand for. Shame on her.
What is SlutWalk? Start with the term 'slut', the new sense of which comes from the book The Ethical Slut, which sees polyamory as requiring honest communication and trust among lovers of all kinds. No secrets. No cheating. This was revolutionary in its simplicity: it's the way adults behave. Contrast this with the recent statement by a police officer that in order to be "safe" women should not dress like sluts.
Forcible rape and and consensual love distinguished by how one dresses?! Bullshit! We are responsible, ethical adults and you by-fucking-God will respect us as such! So we rally and march! SlutWalk!
YMMV, but that's my understanding. Fundraising for victims of rape? Fine. But the core issue is the freedom and responsibility to love and be loved by whomever we wish, without labels, without shame, and without fear.
Find the SlutWalk nearest you, and go.
" -- I'm opposed as a matter of both practical calculation and of moral
principle to paying blackmail under any circumstances whatsoever; let the
consequences be what they may."
"Hostages should be rescued by force and hostage-takers killed; if the
hostages die, that's regrettable but unavoidable collateral damage."
"Negotiation with hostage-takers should be pursued, but (and this should be
announced as a principle beforehand) only to set them up for attack; no
promises to hostage-takers will ever be honored and they will always be
killed out of hand at the first opportunity (delayed sometimes by interrogation,
but not for long)."
"War to the knife, and the knife to the throat."
"Best to assume hostages are dead regardless and aim to kill the hostage takers. After a while the practice of taking hostages will cease. Tough on the first few hostages, but lives are saved in the long run."
My friends' comments shock me. So I outline a possible response.
Sounds like a Kaiser Souse' scenario: "You threaten my family? Hah! I, myself, kill my family first! Now who you threaten, eh?"
If it's your wife or child or sibling or mother (anamchara?) who's being held hostage, you may give up honor, dignity, wealth, country and everything else to retrieve them safely. After they're safe you may or may not kill or imprison the bad guys, but first is the safety of your own closest loved ones.
There's a hierarchy of abstraction in who or what you love more than yourself. After family there's usually some mixture of tribe and country interwoven with principle, honor, belief system, sense of justice, respect for law and civil society, and so on.
Regardless of what you identify with or love most, it's a toss up as to whether you'll be seen as a person of principle, a monster, or a fool. Depends on who's looking and what they love most.
At some point Kant sticks his nose in and asks if our identification or love is a hypothetical imperative or a categorical imperative (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorical_imperative).
If we will so act to defend or rescue what we love most, do others have the right to act similarly to defend what they love most. What if our actions and theirs are in conflict? And does anyone have the right to assume that what they love most trumps what anyone else loves most, whether it's people or principle or thing?
Those who identify only with material things rather than principle or other persons are, in western society, generally held to be missing part of their humanity. Those who don't identify with anything or anyone and act only for themselves and their own benefit are considered psychopaths or sociopaths [or autistics] and usually excluded from society . . . or made its leader, perhaps on the theory that if they are the state they will act in the best interest of the state.
This is one of my favorite mud puddles for wallowing, but it's all too easy to get upset about each others' positions and declarations. We are each too invested in whatever it is we're invested in. It's the rare person who is not concerned.
Oddly, I recall that I haven't always had the same priorities. At times I've been principle first, which I now find alien, repellent, adolescent. I've never been nation first, even when a Marine, and the UCMJ, the US Constitution, and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights agree with me.
In a few months we'll all be reminded of 9/11. I remember listening to Talk of the Nation (NPR) a day or so later, and hearing a caller state that she'd be willing to kill anyone or bomb any country that she believed threatened her children. What followed was the longest air-silence I've ever heard on NPR. Now I wish, I dearly wish, that the moderator had asked her if everyone else should have the same right, or if the right to kill or bomb on suspicion of threat to one's children was reserved solely for herself?
I do not like living in a world where all risk is answered with some form of Total Warfare, Mutually Assured Destruction or Pre-emptive Sacrifice. We've already sacrificed most of our civil and human rights in hopes of being safer. That no one's actually stopped you from speaking, gathering, or traveling doesn't matter because our government could, at any time, for secret reasons of its own, and can hold you without bail or kill you (or your children) without explanation. Must we really allow ourselves and our families to be endangered by our government to prove to potential terrorists that we will not accept threats to our families?
So, the terrorists have won. Good. I want to surrender.
Sorry for rambling, but this all seems to belong together.
It would have to be a party that cared about people. All the people. It would especially have to care about those who have difficulty caring for themselves.
That used to be the Socialist Party. It used to be the Democratic Party. At one time it was even the Republican Party. It was never the Libertarian Party, not even its liberal wing. Peace and Freedom Party, kinda, sometimes, but not much and not recently.
I'm told the Socialist Party is returning to its roots. A good thing, if true. But even at its height it never got more than token recognition, and was then only useful to scare Congress into allowing Social Security and the progressive income tax to exist. But we lost the latter decades ago, and the former is going down this year or next if Obama has anything to do with it. I mean, really: how do you negotiate a compromise with an uncompromising evil? At some point you have to say "No, go fuck yourself." or you lose all self respect.
Isn't that great? Become the President of the United States and lose all your self-respect.
So I have no political party.
It's a bit like being a baseball fan but finding that all the teams play very, very badly; each trying to be worse than all the others. And on top of that they've changed all the rules.
Yes, I'll continue to vote for the lesser of two evils, knowing that it's still just supporting evil, feeling depressed about it.
Any suggestions that don't involve bloody revolution?
" . . . the other party has now been taken over by the extremists, making it More Dangerous Than Ever Before. That the Other Side is now ruled by Supreme Evil-Doers means that anything other than full-scale fealty to their defeat is viewed as heresy. Defeat of the Real Enemy is the only acceptable goal." (http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2011/08/16/elections/index.html)
In 1999 I argued that it didn't matter whether Bush or Gore/Kerry won. Regardless, our country would go on enriching the absurdly rich, further impoverising the poor, incarcerating a third of the black male population, initiating and pursuing imperialist wars that kill millions of darker non-protestant people, eroding civil liberties, empowering corporations over individuals, and looting the rest of the world of whatever it is our corporate and military leaders coveted at the moment.
Nothing has changed.
If you can afford it you can still get your daughter an abortion or your son into an Ivy League school, so what's the problem? If you aren't too passionate or outspoken in your concern for others you won't be killed or tortured or simply disappeared, so what's the problem? If you are willing to pretend that you live in a democracy (or republic) rather than a corporate fascist dictatorship, almost everything you hear and see will support your delusion, so what's the problem?
Have a nice election.
For those who don't follow Beth's status notes, I was in ER late Thursday night. While taking a shower I noticed a red oil-slick over the vision in my right eye, like a bundle of living red threads (or the Mac screensaver Flurry). Thought it was odd but not alarming - I've had floaters in my eyes for decades, though not red ones.
Possible stroke quickly discounted. (It's useful having been a diagnostician in a distantly related field.) Three hours later, white flashes in my right-eye vision. Immediately called Kaiser advice desk, referred to ER, diagnosed as either torn retina or, more likely, detached posterior vitrious. The former is what I'd feared, but the latter was confirmed in Optho at 10 a.m.
This happens when the vitrious matter in the eyeball becomes less gelid and more liquid, as it does with age, so that the ball of the eye no longer fits smoothly against the retina, and it sometimes detaches from or tears the retina. Mine detached somewhat. I'll watch closely to see if more blood vessels tear (more red swirly stuff and myriad snow-like dots), or if the retina tears or detaches further (more white flashes or the appearance of folds or seams in vision).
Then I'll wait a few weeks to see how much of the floating dead cells are absorbed before I consider lasering the remaining floaters. No one I've talked to has been satisfied with the results of that procedure, but as noted I've lived with floaters for several decades. usually late at night, I enjoy mistaking floaters for one or another of my long-deceased cat companions. Less welcome is the unexpected bug on the wall. I speculate that in earlier days at least some sightings of ghosts or spirits were actually floaters (it's less reasonable to think it might be the other way around, though that might make for an interesting SF/F story).
I find all this more interesting than worrying, and there's no pain, and only a mildly annoying occasional headache. I just wish I weren't predominantly right-eyed.
None of this is unusual at my age. When I notice, it's like living in a snow globe. It's even fun, sometimes.
Because I was born out of wedlock and adopted several times, officially and un-, I've had several names. Baby Parr, Paul Alan Parr. Eric Pauli Kovach, Eric Paul Bagai. None have been a haven.
The earliest name I can recall is the one I gave to an imaginary friend when I was three: Yahudi. A violinist of that name was popular then and I may have overheard it. Not really my name, but in a sense yes. Oddly, my son's imaginary friend when he was four was named Houdi.
In my twenties it was P. M. Dragon. as in Puff Magic. I used this as my telephone listing, so that if anyone called and asked for Mr Dragon, I could deal with them.
In my forties I adopted the puzzle name of Smaug. Such 'noms de puzzle' are a tradition in the National Puzzlers' League, and I chose Smaug without much thought, only because I'd enjoyed The Hobbit, and because my Chinese birth year is represented by a dragon. I didn't remember that I'd used a dragon as a pseudonym some twenty years earlier. A few days after choosing that name for myself I looked up the passage where Bilbo meets Smaug and found that Smaug was fascinated by rhyme and verse as well as puzzles, though he doesn't do them very well himself. That's me, too.
In the nineties I used the name Zoltan Carpathian for an intructor when preparing the workshop guides for the Portland Juggling Festival. The classes that Zoltan was to have taught were absurdities, even for jugglers, and took place at times that were not in conflict with any other classes and in non-existant rooms at Reed College. Then Zoltan appeared on the liner notes of a DVD that I published. I took the name from an Alan Arkin character who proclaimed "Good art is ephemeral. Bad art lasts forever."
I've never identified with these names or called myself by them, but I do have some affection for what they represent: invisible friends, folksy and near-mythic dragons, a Hungarian sculptor of massive statuary.
I find it interesting and amusing that members of the Puzzlers' League often identify strongly with their noms, the names-du-games they publish puzzles under and call each other at conventions. Similarly, many people strongly identify with cartoon images of themselves or with their computer game or social network avatars.
We're all multiple beings, but usually with only one consciouness at a time. This is good because our greater selves contain our shadow sides as well as our saints, our perversions as well as our innocence. Much of Jungian analysis consists of recognizing some of these hidden aspects of self and comming to terms with them. So we should enjoy our imaginary playmates, our avatars, our play names, our playa names. But don't get too attached or look too deeply. Sometimes, here there be dragons.
Yes, ten years ago several thousand innocent people died horribly, and Americans have used that to justify the killing of several hundreds of thousands more innocents every year since then. Our dead mean more than their dead. Our grief means more than theirs. Our suffering, and our fear of suffering, justifies everything - anything. But only to us.
Some people, including some I love, are very sensitive to criticism from me. They take what I think of as neutral speech or playful banter and feel belittled, severely critiqued, slammed, and even abused. It hurts them and makes them question my friendship, whether I really care for them, and if I really loved them. "How could you say that to me?"
Until recently I'd never taken such criticism seriously. Of course I was a kind, well meaning person, and obviously one of the good guys. I meant no harm. Yes, I was also cynical and bitingly critical of world affairs, politics, bad fashion and color sense, but I was still one of the good guys. If there was a problem it was their problem: they just needed a thicker skin. Right?
How did I get this way? I was raised in Hollywood, on the sets and in the preview theaters. My stepfather was one of the early presidents of the Hollywood Foreign Correspondents Association, and had his own Golden Globe. I was sick of unwarranted gushing praise, which was the common currency of that time (and still is). My curmudgeonliness was also a defense and pre-emption of other people's criticism of me, and of being perceived as too feminine.
So I'll try to be less harsh, more equitablely accepting, less judgemental. It won't come easily, but I'll try. I still feel that excellence is worth striving for and should be recognized, and that bad taste and self-delusion should be recognized and acknowleged as well. But I can and whenever possible I will be kind and accepting, regardless. My impulse to "teach" should be moderated with compassion and an acceptance of limitation in myself as well as in others.
Please catch me up when I slip, and forgive me.
How about a solemn reading of the names of those in Iraq and Afghanistan and Iran and Pakistan and Syria and Libya whom we've killed and tortured and left hungry and homeless long, long before there was anything different about 9/11?
And instead of war memorials for our dead how about memorials for those we've made dead in all the wars we've started for no other reason than that it was in our "national interest?" (I don't think there have been more than a few years in the entire history of the US when we haven't been occupying, policing, or "defending" our interests somewhere outside our own borders.)
We are the terrorists. We are the only terrorists. All those others whom we call terrorists just want us to stop.
Of course we feel most for those closest to us, just as complete strangers feel most for those closest to them. But how then can we deny others the grief and anger that we feel?
Peace is remembering to weep together.
Two years before they fell, I had gone to New York specifically to see them. The towers where Phillip Petite had affixed and then walked across a thin steel cable between their tops. By that simple, terrifying act he changed them from objects of public scorn and ridicule into symbols of our highest aspirations achieved. We've forgotten that at first they were considered architectural mistakes, and he changed them and what they meant.
At night I went back and stood at the base of one of the towers' beveled corners, my toes against it, looking up the six-foot wide strip of concrete that disappeared into the dark. After a few minutes it seemed that I was sliding up that strip, into the night sky, into the stars. This is what the towers meant to me.
What happened on 9/11 is simply the most recent example of how Empire assumes that only its own tragedies are tragic, only its own dead are meaningful, and that our tragedy happened because we could not grant the reality and meaning of tragedies we had inflicted on others. And the tragic result is that we have given away our civil liberties, our human rights, and our national honor in the hope of escaping our fears.
So, the meaning of the towers changed again for me, like the Gestalt staircase that changes orientation in our mind. The towers were simply two buildings we attached meaning to, and when the buildings were shattered, those meanings were shattered and then distorted into a nightmare reflection of our worst selves, which we then became.
I long for an America I can be proud of. But I'm afraid it's gone for good now, if it was ever here at all.
But I still remember when I believed, and why.
What will our children remember? What can we create for them that is worth remembering?
Gone for fifty years, I just got my face back.
All it took was a pair of scissors, a Bic razor, and the courage to shave off the beard I've had since 1962. Feels strange.
Two wives and a son never saw me without it. I never saw me without it. Even though it looks and feels surprisingly like me, it's not who I thought I'd see, who I thought I was. Expressions don't come off as expected, and I'm both gentler and harder than I thought.
I can see where the curmudgeon was off-putting to so many of my friends. I can see where the kindness and gentleness made so many of them stay with me. It's both more and less mobile, expressive than I thought it was. Faces need feedback from close observers to find who they are and how they're perceived. I've been hiding from mine. It's time to look.
I'll have to study this, my new-old face. It's fifty years older than when last seen, so there's that, too. I was fresh out of the Marine Corps, and learning to speak English again without saying motherfucker twice in every sentence. It has experienced a great deal -- all that I've experienced in fifty years -- but seems to have put what it knows together in a way that I haven't. We'll both need some time to learn from each other. Time to catch up.
It's oddly both masculine and feminine, and more of both than I'd thought. I think I like what I see, and could get to be friends with it, comfortable with it, again. It's the only face I've ever had, but it's still new to me, and yet definitely me. This is a rare opportunity to learn from myself. I'll try not to waste it.
After a while, maybe in a month or two, I'll probably grow the beard back again. Not to hide behind (my beard was, indeed, my beard) but to more fully inhabit and more wholly present myself. I like the way Beth last cut it for me. And as much as she likes and encourages my self-exploration, I do know that she and I both like my beard. I've also re-discovered that I hate shaving.
It's served me well, my beard, but I think I no longer need it. I know and accept who I am (I hate this next phrase but I can't think of a better one) now more than ever. I believe I can simply enjoy and relax into being myself now, with or without a beard, for the first time in a very, very long time.
Is there recognition of self-similarity
among the elements of a set
across the magnitudes
of the great equation?
Does it make them sing with joy
to recognize their children? Their parents?
Is this the harmony of the spheres?
The music of the universe?
I feel them on our shoulders,
standing firm, stretching tall,
and know that we are all giants
in the great equation.
We are not the people we think we are, and we will destroy anyone who tries to tell us the truth. Even our own children. Only terrorists who envy us would speak truth to us. We defend our denial by war and oppression and exploitation and imperialism and we are very good at it.
We are in denial and we must stay that way.
You have been warned. There will be no further warnings.
Ten years ago we taught the PDX police how to not freak out. So now their violence is focused and they need less of it to get "command and control." It's time to update and apply new guerrilla tactics:
1. Build community support by replacing government services (food, medicine, sanitation, safety, news, housing).
2. Leverage unequal force with superior communications and mobility.
3. Develop discipline through well publicized small successes so that people WANT to follow your orders.
4. Provide "entertainment actions" through satire and simple fun (no porta-potties? do a shit-in at Pioneer Square!).
5. Do Flash Occupations and Flash Services (donuts and coffee at off-ramp signals, crazy-glue in Hummer door locks).
6. Cultivate natural allies and use their expertise: community services, credit unions, veterans groups, churches, etc.
7. Create/revive mock leaders and anti-leaders using identifiable clown characters and making each the focus of an action (General Hersey Bar, The Flying Sister of Indulgence, Commandante Sub-Zero, Captain 99%, Billionaires for Themselves Alone, Che Guayabera, Coyote, Sucka Spliff, El Handicapicos, Bestus Mofo, Super-Femina, Gay Beyonda, . . .), and when one is busted, another pops up instantly, 50 feet away, in the same costume.
8. As the sun makes it fun / each day make it fun / once again make it fun!
Twining about, in double
helix: a maypole.
The dread, the childhood fear,
the night terror left behind, forgotten,
is never entirely gone.
No years or age, no competence
or routine complacence
forever banishes it.
And some nights we just need to hear
"it's all right," and be touched
just so, and told "I love you."
And whisper back "I love you, too."
It has become difficult not recognize that we are firmly in the grip of a second Gilded Age. Not only is this return obvious in the homage - if not hysteria - that marks a return to the dreamworlds of consumption, commodification and a survival-of-the-fittest ethic, but also in the actions of right-wing politicians who want to initiate policies that take the country back to the late 19th century - a time in which the reforms of the New Deal, the Great Society and the Progressive Era did not exist.
This was a period in which robber barons, railroad magnates and the super-rich spread their corrupting influence throughout the political, economic and cultural landscapes - without having to deal with irritating social reforms such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, child labor laws, environmental protections, affirmative action, civil rights, union rights, antitrust laws, a progressive income tax and a host of other reforms. This was a period when money flowed and privilege shaped practically all aspects of American life, making a mockery out of democracy and imposing massive amounts of suffering on the vast majority of Americans. Women could not vote and were seen as second-class citizens, blacks were treated harshly by Jim Crow policies, young people were exploited through harsh labor, education was limited to the elite, inequality in wealth and income reached extreme disparities, slums festered, and politics was corrupted by the moneyed classes.
In time, protests emerged among students, workers, unions, women, people of color and others to address these injustices. Labor became a potent force in the first half of the 20th century. Then blacks mobilized a formidable civil rights movement, women’s groups organized to address a range of injustices, students infused new life into the drive for democracy both within and outside of higher education. Gay, lesbian and transgender groups - along with a number of other marginalized and oppressed groups - fought to gain basic civil rights. But these movements not only produced notable victories in deepening and expanding the promise and possibilities of a substantive democracy, they also were the object of a powerfully organized backlash on the part of conservatives, who organized a right-wing cultural revolution that successfully rolled back many of the progressive gains that emerged in the first and second half of the 20th century.
The conservative backlash and war against equality, justice and human rights has been reinforced in the last 30 years by the consolidation of the media into the hands of the corporate elite. Truthout is one of the few news outlets that has not only fought that trend, but has showcased a variety of writers, journalists and academics who take seriously what it means to use the media to fight for the truth, give voice to those who are powerless and address issues that are ignored in the dominant and right-wing media.
We refuse to support the politicians, think tanks, media and anti-public intellectuals who are pushing to create a second Gilded Age. We believe that democracy matters, and we fight hard to provide the formative culture that makes it possible. Please join us in that fight.
Truthout is trying to raise $50,000 this week to stay on track going into 2012. Can you help us reach our goal?
(Truthout is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. EIN: 20-0031641)
You can donate by check, made payable to:
Truthout, P.O. Box 276414, Sacramento, CA 95827
(Please include your email address on your check.)
Henry A. Giroux
Member, Truthout Board of Directors and Global TV Network Chair Professor, McMaster University
(Reprinted without permission by Eric Bagai.)
Though they all have their faults, I support Truthout, Foreign Policy in Focus, Glenn Greenwald, and the United States of America.
This is one of the most importand revelations I've had in the last year. I'd always thought that being responsible was essential to any endeavor, personal or political. Many people, especially men, don't recognize this particualr aspect of responsibility or they think that it's not important. I do now, and it has immensely benefited my life and relationships, and further encouraged me to be as clear as possible in all communications. In hopes that you will find this interesting and useful, here is my New Years thought for you, and restated for 2012, my New Years gift to my beloved:
When I hurt you, I must tell you that I understand what I did, that the reaction it produced in you was my fault and that I'm responsible for it. Only then I can say I'm sorry and explain why I did that. Only then can I ask for forgiveness, or be forgiven. But first and always, I must firmly and completely take responsibility for what I did and its consequences.
I can't help mend what I don't admit to being my own fault.
So, I'll start by apologizing for believing that our fights, our arguments happen in large part because you're too sensistive or react out of proportion to what I do or say. That was wrong and hurtful, and I'm sorry. How strongly you react is your own responsibility. That I caused you to react in the first place is my responsibility. How I react to your reaction is my responsibility as well. How I think you should react is irrelevant, and my surprise or anger at you for not reacting in the ways and proportions that I think are warranted is my problem, not yours.
I only ask that when I hurt you, please remember that I love you, always, and never wish to hurt you. This excuses nothing, but it may help to further our understanding and appreciation of each other.