Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Leo Tolstoy: The Art of War...Treachery, Trickery & Murder


"War is not a polite recreation but the vilest thing in life, and we ought to understand that and not play at war. Our attitude towards the fearful necessity of war ought to be stern and serious. It boils down to this: we should have done with humbug, and let war be war and not a game. Otherwise, war is a favorite pastime of the idle and frivolous … there is no profession held in higher esteem than the military. And what is war? What makes for success in warfare? What are the morals of the military world? The aim and end of war is...murder; the weapons employed in war are espionage, treachery and the encouragement of treachery, the ruining of a country, the plundering and robbing of its inhabitants for the maintenance of the army, and trickery and lying, which all appear under the heading of the art of war. The military world is characterized by the absence of freedom—in other words, a rigorous discipline—enforced inactivity, ignorance, cruelty, debauchery, and drunkenness. And yet this is the highest caste in society, respected by all.

Every monarch in the world, except the Emperor of China, wears a military uniform, and bestows the greatest rewards on the man who kills the greatest number of his fellow creatures. Tens of thousands of men meet—as they will tomorrow—to massacre one another: to kill and maim, and then they will offer up thanksgiving services for having slain such vast numbers (they even exaggerate the number) and proclaim a victory, supposing that the more men they have slaughtered the more credit to them. Think of God looking down and listening to them!” cried Prince Andrei in a shrill, piercing voice."

-Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) War And Peace: "An example of Tolstoy's view that history proceeds inexorably to its own ends with mankind appearing as an incidental instrument of the historial process. Whilst so tendentious an approach to the philosophy of history is difficult to accept today, as one of the themes of Tolstoy's greatest novel, it adds depth and perspective to a narrative that intersperses historical, social and personal interaction." -The Reading Group. ( A New Translation: From Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the best-selling, award-winning translators of Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov, 2007 ).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Karl Marx: Nullified By Money...


The extent of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my properties and essential powers—the properties and powers of its possessor. Thus, what I am and am capable of is by no means determined by my individuality. I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of women. Therefore I am not ugly, for the effect of ugliness—its deterrent power—is nullified by money. I, in my character as an individual, am lame, but money furnishes me with twenty-four feet. Therefore I am not lame. I am bad, dishonest, unscrupulous, stupid; but money is honored, and therefore so is its possessor. Money is the supreme good, therefore its possessor is good. Money, besides, saves me the trouble of being dishonest: I am therefore presumed honest. I am stupid, but money is the real mind of all things and how then should its possessor be stupid? Besides, he can buy talented people for himself, and is he who has a power over the talented not more talented than the talented? Do not I, who thanks to money am capable of all that the human heart longs for, possess all human capacities? Does not my money, therefore transform all my incapacities into their contrary?

If money is the bond binding me to human life, binding society to me, binding me and nature and man, is not money the bond of all bonds? Can it not dissolve and bind all ties? Is it not, therefore, the universal agent of divorce? It is the true agent of divorce as well as the true binding agent—the universal galvano-chemical power of Society.

That which I am unable to do as a man, and of which therefore all my individual essential powers are incapable, I am able to do by means of money. Money thus turns each of these powers into something which in itself it is not—turns it, that is, into its contrary.

If I long for a particular dish or want to take the mail-coach because I am not strong enough to go by foot, money fetches me the dish and the mail-coach: that is, it converts my wishes from something in the realm of imagination, translates them from their meditated, imagined or willed existence into their sensuous, actual existence—from imagination to life, from imagined being into real being. In effecting this mediation, money is the truly creative power.

No doubt demand also exists for him who has no money, but his demand is a mere thing of the imagination without effect or existence for me, for a third party, for the others, and which therefore remains for me unreal and objectless. The difference between effective demand based on money and ineffective demand based on my need, my passion, my wish, etc., is the difference between being and thinking, between the imagined which exists merely within me and the imagined as it is for me outside me as a real object.

If I have no money for travel, I have no need—that is, no real and self-realizing need—to travel. If I have the vocation for study but no money for it, I have no vocation for study—that is, no effective, no true vocation. On the other hand, if I have really no vocation for study but have the will and the money for it, I have an effective vocation for it. Being the external, common medium and faculty for turning an image into reality and reality into a mere image (a faculty not springing from man as man or from human society as society), money transforms the real essential powers of man and nature into what are merely abstract conceits and therefore imperfections—into tormenting chimeras—just as it transforms real imperfections and chimeras—essential powers which are really impotent, which exist only in the imagination of the individual—into real powers and faculties.

In the light of this characteristic alone, money is thus the general overturning of individualities which turns them into their contrary and adds contradictory attributes to their attributes. Since money, as the existing and active concept of value, confounds and exchanges all things, it is the general confounding and compounding of all things—the world upside-down—the confounding and compounding of all natural and human qualities.

He who can buy bravery is brave, though a coward. As money is not exchanged for any one specific quality, for any one specific thing, or for any particular human essential power, but for the entire objective world of man and nature, from the standpoint of its possessor it therefore serves to exchange every property for every other, even contradictory, property and object: it is the fraternization of impossibilities. It makes contradictions embrace.

-Karl Marx ( Lapham's Quarterly, "About Money", Spring 2008 Issue. From the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844. Four years prior to the publication of his Communist Manifesto, Marx at the age of twenty-six was newly married and living in Paris, where he first met Friedrich Engels. He was expelled from the city in January 1845 because he wrote for a newspaper that approved of the attempted assassination of the King of Prussia ).

Saturday, April 26, 2008

William S. Burroughs: Parasitic Beings...


"To reach the Western Lands is to achieve freedom from fear. Do you free yourself from fear by cowering in your physical body for eternity? Your body is a boat to lay aside when you reach the far shore, or sell it if you can find a fool...it's full of holes...it's full of holes.

I want to reach the Western Lands-right in front of you, across the bubbling brook. It's a frozen sewer-it's known as the Duad remember? All the filth and horror, fear hate, disease and death of human history flows between you and the Western Lands. Let it flow!

My cat Fletch stretches behind me on the bed. A tree like black lace against a gray sky. A flash of joy. How long does it take a man to learn that he does not, cannot want what he "wants?" You have to be in Hell to see Heaven. Glimpses from the Land of the Dead, flashes of serene timeless joy, a Joy as old as suffering and despair.

The old writer couldn't write anymore because he had reached the end of words, the end of what can be done with words. And then? "British we are, British we stay." How long can one hang on in Gibraltar, with the tapestries where mustached riders with scimitars hunt tigers, the ivory balls one inside the other, bare seams showing, the long tearoom with mirrors on both sides and the tired fuchsia and rubber plants, the shops selling English marmalade and Fortnum & Mason's tea...clinging to their Rock like the rock apes, clinging always to less and less.

In Tangier the Parade Bar is closed. Shadows are falling on the mountain. "Hurry up please. It's time."

***************************************************************************************

"Every man has inside himself a parasitic being who is acting not at all to his advantage."

-William S. Burroughs (1914-1997 Image: Burroughs, 1960s)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bertrand Russell: What I Have Lived For...


" Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind. These passions, like great winds, have blown me hither and thither, in a wayward course, over a deep ocean of anguish, reaching to the very verge of despair.

I have sought love, first, because it brings ecstasy -- ecstasy so great that I would often have sacrificed all the rest of life for a few hours of this joy. I have sought it, next, because it relieves loneliness -- that terrible loneliness in which one shivering consciousness looks over the rim of the world into the cold unfathomable lifeless abyss. I have sought it, finally, because in the union of love I have seen, in a mystic miniature, the prefiguring vision of the heaven that saints and poets have imagined. This is what I sought, and though it might seem too good for human life, this is what -- at last -- I have found.

With equal passion I have sought knowledge. I have wished to understand the hearts of men. I have wished to know why the stars shine. And I have tried to apprehend the Pythagorean power by which number holds sway above the flux. A little of this, but not much, I have achieved.

Love and knowledge, so far as they were possible, led upward toward the heavens. But always pity brought me back to earth. Echoes of cries of pain reverberate in my heart. Children in famine, victims tortured by oppressors, helpless old people a hated burden to their sons, and the whole world of loneliness, poverty, and pain make a mockery of what human life should be. I long to alleviate the evil, but I cannot, and I too suffer. This has been my life. I have found it worth living, and would gladly live it again if the chance were offered me."

-Bertrand Russell (Prologue to Russell's Autobiography, 3.25.1956, Image: Passport, 1919) "The 20th Century's most important liberal thinker, one of two or three of its major philosophers, and a prophet for millions of the creative and rational life. He was born in 1872, at the height of Britain's economic and political ascendancy, and died in 1970 when Britain's empire had all but vanished and her power had been drained in two victorious but debilitating world wars. At his death, however, his voice still carried moral authority, for he was one of the world's most influential critics of nuclear weapons and the American war in Vietnam." -The Bertrand Russell Gallery

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Gods & Masters: If Greatness Existed...Again


"Something happened in 2007, something ended. Old gods stumbled and fell. New ones sprang up. But they sprang up in their thousands. That’s the point these days.

Technology, hype and the sheer profligacy of the arts when confronted with a large, hungry and wealthy audience have created a climate of excess — just too many artists, too much money, too many works and too much noise. Who knows who, now, is great? Even if greatness existed, how would we find it? Do we want greatness, or would we simply prefer choice?

The further, more troubling question is, what is greatness? The climate of excess is also a climate of uncertainty and tribal dispute. When Ingmar Bergman died, many said he was just a solemn old bore — a startling, almost unbelievable dismissal of one of cinema’s greatest artists. As with leaders of the Lib Dems, in the arts, when you’re out, you’re out. And artists are being pushed in and out all the time by a cultural hype industry that has increasingly infected the ranks of what should be the independent-minded. The carefully cultivated “buzz” about some artists can be so effective that I — like, I am sure, you — actually find myself questioning my own intuitions or, in extreme cases, sanity. And the “buzz” feeds on change, novelty. The very idea of an old master, an artist who endures and grows, is rapidly becoming incomprehensible."

-Bryan Appleyard (EXCERPT:"Twilight of the Greats", The Times UK, 12.30.07, Image: Pablo Picasso)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Hitchcock: We All Go A Little Mad Sometimes...


"Norman Bates: She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?

Marion Crane: Yes. Sometimes just one time can be enough.

Norman Bates: You know what I think? I think that we're all in our private traps, clamped in them, and none of us can ever get out. We scratch and we claw, but only at the air, only at each other, and for all of it, we never budge an inch.

Marion Crane: Sometimes, we deliberately step into those traps.

Norman Bates: I was born into mine. I don't mind it anymore.

Marion Crane: Oh, but you should. You should mind it.

Norman Bates: Oh, I do

Norman Bates: but I say I don't."

********************************************************

"Norman Bates: Mother! Oh God, Mother! Blood! Blood!"

-Joseph Stefano (PSYCHO, 1960)

"Of all his movies, Hitchcock took the most pride in Psycho, because with this one he was able to create a blockbuster through what he called,"pure film". Made for a cheap-even-at-the-time 800K, Psycho somehow keeps the audience tagging along despite its dearth of likable characters, its homely and oddly shaped story, and its lack of A-list sheen that typified the films Hitchcock had make with Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. For once the star of the show was Hitchcock himself. "I feel it's tremendously satisfying for us to be able to use the cinematic art to achieve something of a mass emotion." It wasn't a message that stirred the audiences, nor was it a great performance...They were aroused by pure film...It's the kind of picture where the camera takes over. Like Edgar Allan Poe, whom he revered as a young man, Hitchcock gave ordered shape to the thick mental glop of his own neurosis and obsessions."

-Jim Windolf (EXCERPT: Vanity Fair, March 2008)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Photo Of The Day: Everything & Every One Is Connected


"We can foresee a time when everyone and everything is connected, a time when your alarm clock communicates with your coffeemaker. The sprinklers in your yard tune in the latest weather forecast. When your car's navigation system checks your calendar to see where you want to go next and lets you know where you can find a good price on gas along the way."

Sun Microsystems
2000 Prospectus

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stanley Kubrick: On Doubling...Some Shine & Some Don't

"Well, you know, Doc, when something happens, you can leave a trace of itself behind. Say like, if someone burns toast. Well, maybe things that happen leave other kinds of traces behind. Not things that anyone can notice, but things that people who "shine" can see. Just like they can see things that haven't happened yet. Well, sometimes they can see things that happened a long time ago. I think a lot of things happened right here in this particular hotel over the years. And not all of 'em was good."

One aspect of Stephen King's novel, "The Shining" which impressed Kubrick was the way the reader was misdirected:

"It seemed to strike an extraordinary balance between the psychological and the supernatural in such a way as to lead you to think that the supernatural would eventually be explained by the psychological: 'Jack must be imagining these things because he's crazy.' This allowed you to suspend your doubt of the supernatural until you were so thoroughly into the story that you could accept it almost without noticing...It's not until Grady, the ghost of the former caretaker who axed to death his family, slides open the bolt of the larder door, allowing Jack to escape, that you are left with no other explanation but the supernatural."

In preparation for writing the script, Kubrick and co-screenwriter, novelist Diane Johnson, read Freud's essay "The Uncanny":

"The theme of the ‘double’ has been very thoroughly treated by Otto Rank (1914). He has gone into the connections which the ‘double’ has with reflections in mirrors, with shadows, with guardian spirits, with the belief in the soul and with the fear of death; but he also lets in a flood of light on the surprising evolution of the idea. For the ‘double’ was originally an insurance against the destruction of the ego, an ‘energetic denial of the power of death’, as Rank says; and probably the ‘immortal’ soul was the first ‘double’ of the body. This invention of doubling as a preservation against extinction has its counterpart in the language of dreams, which is found of representing castration by a doubling or multiplication of a genital symbol. The same desire led the Ancient Egyptians to develop the art of making images of the dead in lasting materials. Such ideas, however, have sprung from the soil of unbounded self-love, from the primary narcissism which dominates the mind of the child and of primitive man. But when this stage has been surmounted, the ‘double’ reverses its aspect. From having been an assurance of immortality, it becomes the uncanny harbinger of death."
-Sigmund Freud (EXERPT: "The Uncanny,"1919)

Of working in this genre, Kubrick said:

"There's something inherently wrong with the human personality. There's an evil side to it. One of the things that horror stories can do is to show us the archetypes of the unconscious: we can see the dark side without having to confront it directly."

Screenwriter Diane Johnson spoke of archetypes:

"A father threatening his child is compelling. It's an archetypal enactment of unconscious rages...the material of this novel is the rage and fear within families."

Dick Hallorann: "Some places are like people: some shine and some don't."

-Stanley Kubrick & Diane Johnson (THE SHINING, 1980. Novel: Stephen King-"The Shining" was the first widely read novel to confront alcoholism and child abuse in baby-boomer families, especially the way alcoholism, a will toward failure in one's work, and abusing one's children are passed down from generation to generation. The heart of the book is not an evil hotel but a pair of father-son relationships: Jack and his father, Jack and his son. This was both daring and insightful for its time, long before "dysfunctional family" was a cliché).

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Photo Of The Day: The Return Of The Three Stooges


Genius!

Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine: On The Rise of Disaster Capitalism


"Only in crisis...actual or perceived produces real change."

-Milton Friedman (The 20th Century's most prominent economist advocate of free markets. He was widely regarded as the leader of the Chicago School of monetary economics, which stresses the importance of the quantity of money as an instrument of government policy and as a determinant of business cycles and inflation. Recipient of Nobel Memorial Prize for Economic Science, 1976, Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1988).

WATCH HERE:
Running Time: (7 min.)

In THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world-- through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

FACTS:

Chile, 1973:
50,000 tortured
80,000 imprisoned
Public spending cut by 50%
Incomes for the rich up 83%
45% of population in poverty

Wars – Falklands War, 1982:
910 people die
Thatcher's popularity doubles
She privatizes gas, steel, airlines, telephones
She declares war on unions
Thousands are injured
Unemployment triples
Number of poor increases by 100%

Massacres:
China 1989 – hundreds killed
Thousands jailed and tortured
China becomes sweatshop to the world
China embraces "free market" capitalism
Factory wages: $1/day

Russia, 1993:
Yeltsin attacks parliament
Hundreds killed
Parliament burned
Opposition arrested
72 million impoverished
17 new billionaires created

Terrorist Attacks – New York, 2001:
Attacks launch "War on Terror." It is privatized.
US spy agencies outsource 70% of their budgets
Pentagon increases budget for contractors by $137 billion/year
Department of Homeland Security spends $130 billion on private contractors

Invasions – Iraq, 2003:
The most privatized war in modern history
US decrees 200 state companies will be privatized
Hundreds of thousands killed
4 million displaced

Natural Disasters – Sri Lanka, 2004:
35,000 dead
Coastline handed over to hotels and industry
Nearly 1 million displaced
Fishing people forbidden to rebuild homes by the sea

-A Film by Alfonso Cuaron & Naomi Klein.  Directed by Jonas Cuaron (2007). Based on Klein's bestselling book: "Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism"

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Consumption Without Need = Subjugation of Peoples



"An addict is someone who uses their body to tell society that something is wrong."
-
-Stella Adler (1901-1992)

In last year's powerful independent documentary, What A Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire, producer Sally Erickson pulled from her 20 years working as a therapist in private practice to attempt to explain why so many people, perhaps even you, are so unhappy. The film from writer-director TS Bennett is an epic exploration of a Middle American, middle-class white father of three coming to grips with climate change, resource crises, environmental meltdown and the demise of the American lifestyle. It is as compassionate a film as it is utterly terrifying.

Through a pastiche of revolutionary thinkers including Derrick Jensen, Daniel Quinn, Jerry Mander, Richard Manning and Chellis Glendinning, What A Way To Go concludes that industrial civilization -- and its end product, consumerism -- has disconnected us from nature, the cycle of life, our communities, our families and, ultimately, ourselves. This unnatural, inorganic, materialistic way of living, coupled with a marked decline in society's moral and ethical standards -- what the French call anomie -- has created a kind of pathology that produces pain and emptiness, for which addictive behavior becomes the primary symptom and consumption the preferred drug of choice.

"What most of us experience when it comes to addiction," says Erickson, "is a pattern of continually seeking more of what it is we don't really want and, therefore, never being fully satisfied. And as long as we are never satisfied, we continue to seek more, while our real needs are never being met." "Addiction in one form or another characterizes every aspect of industrial society," wrote the social philosopher Morris Berman, and dependence on substances or corporeal pleasures is no different from dependence on "prestige, career achievement, world influence, wealth, the need to build more ingenious bombs or the need to exercise control over everything."

At the very least, this certainly raises questions about the dominant, socially accepted view of addiction, the disempowering, less-than-hospitable "disease model," which claims addiction is a chronic illness predetermined by genetics. The "disease-model" is characterized by a loss of control over substances or practices, along with denial of the severity and consequences of using or engaging in them. "Current research shows that genetics are the most significant factor in addiction," argues Bruce Sewick, a Chicago area substance abuse clinician who works with the mentally ill. "A person is four times more likely to become dependent on alcohol or drugs when there is a genetic history of the same."

This may be true, but the pervasive pattern of addictive behavior that finds its way into our economics, our politics, and our interpersonal relationships cannot be just explained away using genetic predeterminism. Consumption without need is the hallmark of addiction, and "consumerism" is defined as "the equating of personal happiness with the purchasing of material possessions and consumption." The pattern of out-of-control consumption in the United States, which per capita consumes 70 times more than India, with three times the U.S. population, is not qualitatively different from the well-known patterns of behavior of substance abusers. In fact, it looks as if the United States just finished with the worst binge of its life and is now cresting the peak of a wicked crash.

Addiction is really a hallmark of our era, and I think it reflects that we don't have culturally promoted kinds of other deeper forms of meaning and purpose in our lives. So we make up for it by consuming more. But the evidence is overwhelming that people who are characterized by materialistic attitudes and values actually experience lower well-being, lower happiness, more depression and anxiety and anger than people who aren't materialistic. While we generally accept that anything can be used addictively, we often tend to forget or overlook why it's being used in the first place. Most professionals will agree that the purpose or function of an addiction is to put a buffer between ourselves and the experience or awareness of our emotions. An addiction serves to numb us so that we are out of touch with what we know and what we feel. Eventually this numb buffer zone becomes a habituated coping mechanism.

"But addiction itself," explains Tom Goforth, a Christian minister and practicing clinical psychotherapist for more than 40 years, "is not innate to the human species. It's something we developed to cope with our predicament." Over the years Goforth saw most of the addictions he treated develop as the result of some violation of the self, a deep wounding or trauma. This wounding can come from any number of causes: domestic violence and abuse, prejudice and racism, warfare, economic hardship, illness and death, even something as insidiously mundane as rejection, shame, insecurity or feelings of inadequacy.

Primitivist writer-activists like Derrick Jensen and Chellis Glendinning believe that consumer culture drives the "culture of empire," an inherently abusive system built on resource exploitation and the subjugation of peoples. Because of this, those living in it have undergone a collective wounding or trauma that has left society suffering from a mass form of PTSD. "Primary" needs are those we were born to have satisfied: nourishment, love, meaning, purpose and spirit. When they are not met, we turn to the "secondary" sources, which include "drugs, violence, sex, material possessions and machines." Eventually we become obsessed with the secondary sources "as if our lives depended on them."

Designing and marketing secondary sources of satisfaction falls to the complimenting social, political and economic systems that reinforce addictive behavior in order to drive the consumer machine. Consumption becomes "naturalized" through corporate advertising and marketing, government tax breaks, and officially sanctioned religio-consumer holidays like Christmas, Hanukah and Valentine's Day. Let us never forget that after 9/11 George Bush told Americans it was their patriotic duty to "spend." "Everything appalling has to be naturalized in order to be justified," says Derrick Jensen, author of the Endgame series and The Culture of Make Believe. "This is because an abusive system is designed to protect the abuser. The whole idea of naturalizing addictions is about maintaining the dependency and victimhood of the addict, the abused."

In a system based on consumption, the best patient a doctor, therapist or pharmacist can ask for is one who never gets better. Is it any coincidence then that in the dominant model an addict always remains an addict? Under this rubric, the addict is always "recovering" and never "recovered." Imagine the psychological impact of imposing a perpetual sense of powerlessness on someone. It must be profound. But it suddenly makes a whole lot more sense when you look at the few socially acceptable surrogates like AA, Prozac, work or Jesus. Aren't these, in a sense, meant to be chronic as well? This approach simply transfers the dependency while preserving the overall system of consumptive behavior.

By the same token, what better consumer can a corporation ask for than one who is never satisfied with what they buy, who always has to have the next, the biggest, the newest in order to feel like they are somebody. If real needs were being met, it's a good possibility that certain markets would contract or collapse. Knowing this, our identities have in a sense been re-engineered to accommodate forced obsolescence, so that every few years we're told we need an upgrade. Tellingly, we call it our "new look" or the "new you." Whole industries are based in this.

Naturalizing addictions through consumerism has its beginnings in early 20th century notions of psychology and social control. The story of how consumerism, and more importantly, the consumer self, came into being is the subject of Adam Curtis' BBC documentary The Century of the Self. It is, at its core, the story of Sigmund Freud. In response to the barbarism of Nazi Germany during the Second World War, which Freud believed was unleashed by the dangerous and irrational fears and desires that lay deep within the unconscious, Western politicians and planners set about finding ways to control this "hidden enemy within the human mind."

One of the theories that emerged was the brainchild of Freud's nephew, Edward Bernays, the sloganeering progenitor of public relations who helped Woodrow Wilson sell the First World War to the American public by inventing the tag line, "Making the World Safe for Democracy." "[PR] is really just propaganda," Bernays says in the film, "but we couldn't use the word because the Germans had." Bernays showed American corporations how to make people buy material goods they didn't need by connecting those products to their unconscious desires and unmet needs. This made him incredibly powerful and in demand. He used this influence to propose that the same principles be used politically to control the masses.

This social-control-through-indulgence model was later excoriated in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, a critique of consumerism and the vapidity of a culture based in pleasure seeking. In Huxley's futuristic dystopia, freethinking and human attachment have either been outlawed or genetically modified out of most of humanity. In its place is a dumbed-down hierarchical society overrun by high-tech entertainment, sexual promiscuity and a powerful, all-purpose intoxicant/narcotic/dissociative drug called Soma, which is used to quell any unpleasant feelings. Perhaps this sounds familiar?

"We can see where consumer psychology has led us," Tom Goforth sighs heavily. "It's a disaster. It's the kind of thing that has caused the human organism and psyche to go so far out of balance. Marketing to our unconscious leads us down a dangerous path that promises satisfaction and wholeness and a sense of importance and worth without us having to do anything but spend. But none of these things come in any real sense unless we work hard at them." The ego, Freud discovered, is the part of us that invests in the values of society that hold out fulfillment for us. We as individual human beings may be looking for fulfillment through our contribution to society and our own sense of meaning, integrity, love and connection. "But instead," Goforth says, "consumerism teaches the ego to let go of integrity and inflate itself with an aesthetic, material process that confuses, or associates, self-worth with net worth."

Asking society to go into a global recovery program is not nearly as Dr. Phil-crazy as it sounds. It's become the new mantra of the green movement, who are now calling for a spiritual solution to the planetary crisis. It was Freud's student and eventual rival Carl Jung who first dissented against Freud's "irrational desires" theory and put forth the idea that addictions address a spiritual loss or deficiency. Because the addictive experience is mimetic of the spiritual experience, you can have an imitation of bliss or oneness, but it doesn't last. Jung believed only a true spiritual awakening will end an addiction. Likewise, the eco-ilk believe only a global spiritual awakening will end the consumer addiction that is ravaging the planet.

In Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Gregory Bateson, the evolutionary philosopher husband of anthropologist Margaret Mead, observed that addictive behavior is consistent with the Western approach to life that pits mind against body. Because of this schism, Bateson gave our species a low probability of continued survival. "In order to avoid this literal death," Derrick Jensen adds soberly, "society will have to go through a cultural death and spiritual rebirth."

Heady words for sure, but it may be our only way out of this mess. For this process to begin, consumer society must first "hit bottom." Let us hope this happens soon. As Sally Erickson reminds us, the patterns of behavior endemic to consumer society are so much more dangerous than substance abuse, because they are perpetuating a culture that is literally eating itself out of house and home. If addicts define insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results, this may be the clearest sign yet that consumerism is driving us all crazy.

But there is hope to leave you with. In his 40 years treating addicts, Tom Goforth will honestly tell you that, by and large, those who did truly conquer their addictions became less materialistic and more aligned with a sense of who they really were and what they felt their life purpose was. Maybe it's time for that intervention.

- Charles Shaw (EXCERPT: "Are You Unhappy? Is It Because of Consumer Addiction?," AlterNet-Independent Media Institute, 4.11.2008, Image: Barbara Kruger, 1987).

Saturday, April 12, 2008

On Adolf Hitler: The Best Political Weapon...Mythicize


HOW:

"All propaganda must be so popular and on such an intellectual level, that even the most stupid of those toward whom it is directed will understand it... Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way around, to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise.

Terrorism is the best political weapon for nothing drives people harder than a fear of sudden death.

What luck for the rulers that men do not think."


-Adolf Hitler (Führer-3rd President of Germany, Weimar Republic, National Socialist German Workers Party, 1934-1945)

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”

-Joseph Goebbels ( Reich Minister for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda, Germany, Weimar Republic, National Socialist German Workers Party, 1933-1945

"The more we do to you, the less you seem to believe we are doing it."


-Dr. Joseph Mengele (Hauptsturmführer SS Officer in the Schutzstaffel & Medical Officer: Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camps, Germany, Weimar Republic, National Socialist German Workers Party 1937-1945)

WHAT:

"Whenever justice is uncertain and police spying and terror are at work, human beings fall into isolation, which, of course, is the aim and purpose of the dictator state, since it is based on the greatest possible accumulation of depotentiated social units."

- Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) Swiss psychiatrist: one of the creators of analytical or modern depth psychology, "which seeks to facilitate a conversation with the unconscious energies which move through each of us. He contributed many ideas which continue to inform contemporary life: complex, archetype, persona, shadow, anima and animus, personality typology, dream interpretation, individuation, etc." - The Jung Page

"He also saw in National Socialism 'tensions and potentialities which medical psychology must consider in its evaluation of the unconscious.' From mythology Jung took the figure of Wotan, an old Nordic god, 'the truest expression and unsurpassed personification of a fundamental quality that is particularly characteristic of the Germans.'

In 1937 Jung said of Hitler: 'He is a medium, German policy is not made; it is revealed through Hitler. He is the mouthpiece of the Gods of old... He is the Sybil, the Delphic oracle." - The Philosophy Professor

****************************************************************

Through Goebbels brilliant and insidious propaganda techniques, Hilter mythologizes himself. The "bewildered herd" starved for escape, idealism and a taste of the immortal consumes the myth without question. Meanwhile, in their own backyards, the greatest mass murdering spree in modern history continues. And as time passed so it continued...and continues...

-VioletPlanet

Friday, April 11, 2008

THEY Live, THEY Really Do...


"Street Preacher: Outside the limit of our sight, feeding off us, perched on top of us, from birth to death, are our owners! Our owners! They have us. They control us! They are our masters! Wake up! They're all about you! All around you!

Gilbert: The world needs a wake up call gentlemen...we're gonna phone it in.

Bearded Man: We could be pets, we could be food, but all we really are is livestock."

-John Carpenter (THEY LIVE, 1988. Image: Jenny Holzer, New York City Billboard,1982)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Scientific Proof: Emotion & Mental Belief = Physical Disease


"The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is an ongoing research project which is perhaps the largest scientific research study of its kind. Its purpose it to analyze the relationship between multiple categories of childhood trauma and health and behavioral outcomes later in life.

ACE is examining the effects of:
• Recurrent physical abuse
• Recurrent emotional abuse
• Contact sexual abuse
• An alcohol and/or drug abuser in the household
• An incarcerated household member
• Someone who is chronically depressed, mentally ill, institutionalized, or suicidal
• Mother is treated violently
• One or no parents
• Emotional or physical neglect

To learn more about the study, and to calculate your own ACE score, take a look at the link below:

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Test

Dr. Mercola's Comments: I have long maintained that your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease, to depression, to arthritis and cancer. Even the conservative Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 85 percent of all diseases have an emotional element, but the actual percentage is probably much higher. Other scientists and medical doctors who have left their conventional medical and scientific dogmas behind -- once they saw the proof for themselves -- claim that 100 percent of your current health status is due to your mental and emotional reactions to events that take place during your lifetime.

Notice that this ACE study was published nearly 10 years ago? So how come you haven’t heard all about it already? For the same reason that Dr. Geerd Hamer’s breakthrough “German New Medicine” hasn’t hit mainstream, even though he’s been at it for nearly 30 years. Or the reason why Bruce Lipton’s “New Biology” isn’t taught at schools everywhere even though his research spans across the past 20 years.

Removing an ingrained dogma is difficult, takes time, and requires people who are strong enough to teach an unpopular truth. People died for saying the earth was round not flat, and Dr. Hamer has been imprisoned for his medical treachery, which has an astounding overall 92 percent success rate. However, I believe we’re nearing the point of breaking through. Soon, there will be no denying the fact that your physical health is deeply connected to your mental projections and beliefs. I think this is exciting news – it puts the power back in your hands! But it may scare many who are not ready to take responsibility for how they feel, what they think, and their beliefs about their world."

-American Journal of Preventive Medicine (EXCERPT:May 1998; 14(4): 245-258)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Billy Wilder & Raymond Chandler: I Want What I Don't Want


You can't assume people will tell you the truth about their desires even if they know them. What you are more likely to get are answers that will protect them in their steadfast endeavor to appear to the world as sensible, intelligent, rational beings.

-VioletPlanet

Phyllis: Mr. Neff, why don't you drop by tomorrow evening about eight-thirty. He'll be in then.

Walter Neff: Who?
Phyllis: My husband. You were anxious to talk to him weren't you?

Walter Neff: Yeah, I was, but I'm sort of getting over the idea, if you know what I mean.

Phyllis: There's a speed limit in this state, Mr. Neff. Forty-five miles an hour.

Walter Neff: How fast was I going, officer?
Phyllis: I'd say around ninety.

Walter Neff: Suppose you get down off your motorcycle and give me a ticket.

Phyllis: Suppose I let you off with a warning this time.
Walter Neff: Suppose it doesn't take.

Phyllis: Suppose I have to whack you over the knuckles.
Walter Neff: Suppose I bust out crying and put my head on your shoulder.

Phyllis: Suppose you try putting it on my husband's shoulder.
Walter Neff: That tears it.
*************************************
Phyllis: We're both rotten.
Walter Neff: Only you're a little more rotten.

-Billy Wilder & Raymond Chandler (DOUBLE INDEMNITY,1944 Novel: James M. Cain)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Plato: On Love...Perpetual Possession

"The greatest love, according to Plato, would disclose the secret beauty in everything, that hidden harmony which directs all beings toward the best of all possible ends. We all wish to elope with absolute beauty, or so Plato thinks. For nothing else would assure the ‘perpetual possession of the good’, because all instances of goodness or beauty are only partial to the highest form, only flickering hints of true and therefore eternal beauty or goodness.

As the supreme object of desire, the Good or the beautiful must be present in all phases of human life. It is what everyone seeks, that for the sake of which everything is sought. But few people recognize it, for in the confusion of their lives human beings know that they have desires, but they do not know what will satisfy them. When hungry, they eat, thinking that food is the object of their desire. But once they have eaten, they desire other things, and so on, till death (hopefully) puts an end to it. They may never realise that all their striving is motivated by a search for beauty and goodness. To that extent, they live in ignorance and are incapable of loving properly."

-Lydia Amir (EXCERPT: "Plato’s Theory of Love: Rationality as Passion": Practical Philosophy November 2001 Volume 4.3 Pages 6-14). Painting:- Caravaggio (Narcissus"-1579-1599)

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Franz Anton Mesmer: On Animal Magnetism

Are you Mesmer-ized?

1. A responsive influence exists between the heavenly bodies, the earth, and animated bodies.

2. A fluid universally diffused, so continuous as not to admit of a vacuum, incomparably subtle, and naturally susceptible of receiving, propagating, and communicating all motor disturbances, is the means of this influence.

3. This reciprocal action is subject to mechanical laws, with which we are not as yet acquainted.

4. Alternative effects result from this action, which may be considered to be a flux and reflux.

5. This reflux is more or less general, more or less special, more or less compound, according to the nature of the causes which determine it.

6. It is by this action, the most universal which occurs in nature, that the exercise of active relations takes place between the heavenly bodies, the earth, and its constituent parts.

7. The properties of matter and of organic substance depend on this action.

8. The animal body experiences the alternative effects of this agent, and is directly affected by its insinuation into the substance of the nerves.

9. Properties are displayed, analogous to those of the magnet, particularly in the human body, in which diverse and opposite poles are likewise to be distinguished, and these may be communicated, changed, destroyed, and reinforced. Even the phenomenon of declination may be observed.

10. This property of the human body which renders it susceptible of the influence of heavenly bodies, and of the reciprocal action of those which environ it, manifests its analogy with the magnet, and this has decided me to adopt the term of animal magnetism.

11. The action and virtue of animal magnetism, thus characterized, may be communicated to other animate or inanimate bodies. Both of these classes of bodies, however, vary in their susceptibility.

12. Experiments show that there is a diffusion of matter, subtle enough to penetrate all bodies without any considerable loss of energy.

13. This action and virtue may be strengthened and diffused by such bodies.

14. Its action takes place at a remote distance, without the aid of any intermediary substance.

15. It is, like light, increased and reflected by mirrors.

16. It is communicated, propagated, and increased by sound.

17. This magnetic virtue may be accumulated, concentrated, and transported.

18. I have said that animated bodies are not all equally susceptible; in a few instances they have such an opposite property that their presence is enough to destroy all the effects of magnetism upon other bodies.

19. This opposite virtue likewise penetrates all bodies: it also may be communicated, propagated, accumulated, concentrated, and transported, reflected by mirrors, and propagated by sound. This does not merely constitute a negative, but a positive opposite virtue.

20. The magnet, whether natural or artificial, is like other bodies susceptible of animal magnetism, and even of the opposite virtue: in neither case does its action on fire and the needle [of a compass] suffer any change, and this shows that the principle of animal magnetism essentially differs from that of mineral magnetism.

21. This system sheds new light upon the nature of fire and of light, as well as on the theory of attraction, of flux and reflux, of the magnet and of electricity.

22. It teaches us that the magnet and artificial electricity have, with respect to diseases, properties common to a host of other agents presented to us by nature, and that if the use of these has been attended by some useful results, they are due to animal magnetism.

23. These facts show, in accordance with the practical rules I am about to establish, that this principle will cure nervous diseases directly, and other diseases indirectly.

24. By its aid the physician is enlightened as to the use of medicine, and may render its action more perfect, and can provoke and direct salutary crises, so as to completely control them.

25. In communicating my method, I shall, by a new theory of matter, demonstrate the universal utility of the principle I seek to establish.

26. Possessed of this knowledge, the physician may judge with certainty of the origin, nature, and progress of diseases, however complicated they may be; he may hinder their development and accomplish their cure without exposing the patient to dangerous and troublesome consequences, irrespective of age, temperament, and sex. Even women in a state of pregnancy, and during parturition, may reap the same advantage.

27. This doctrine will finally enable the physician to decide upon the health of every individual, and of the presence of the diseases to which he may be exposed. In this way the art of healing may be brought to absolute perfection.

-Franz Anton Mesmer( The Propositions, 1779). Mesmer (1734-1815) was a German physician who studied and first practiced in Vienna, developed a therapeutic system based on the idea that living bodies contain a magnetic fluid, and that by manipulating this fluid into a state of balance within the body, physical health could be restored. He called his system “Animal Magnetism”, and brought it to Paris in 1778, where within a few months he met with much popular success.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Clifford Odets: On Booze, Love & Longing

"Sid Jeffers: I envy people who drink. At least they know what to blame everything on.

Helen Wright: If it's so simple, why don't you drink?

Sid Jeffers: Me? I have no character.

Helen Wright: I love you so much, I don't care what I think of you."

**********************

"Paul Boray: All my life I wanted to do the right thing but it never worked out. I'm outside always looking in. Feeling all the time I'm far away from home and where home is I don't know. I can't get back to the simple happy kid I used to be."

-Clifford Odets & Zachary Gold (HUMORESQUE, 1946)

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hollywood: When Is Film Art? When Genius Meets Insanity


"As chronicled in Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, the lunatics were running the Hollywood asylum of the '60s and early '70s. The noun "auteur" was actually bestowed on American filmmakers like Robert Downey Sr. (the father of Junior), Hal Ashby, Arthur Penn, Jerry Schatzberg, Paul Mazursky, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and the great Kubrick. For my taste, the finest film of the era was 1969's Midnight Cowboy, directed by John Schlesinger, a Brit working in the U.S. The buddy story of male hustler Joe Buck and street grifter Ratso Rizzo was the ultimate example of anti-heroicism and we were all anti-heroes. We recognized that life is not a Hollywood movie in which the leading man gets the dame and all is wrapped up neatly with a bow on top. We saw that "decent" men gave us Vietnam and war crimes and that those in the lower rungs of the class system often embodied real decency, potentially more so than the clean stereotypes Hollywood had previously foisted on the marks.

These epiphanies were not the result of mere agit-prop by the filmmakers. They experimented, engaged in flashbacks and dreams, broke the fourth wall. THEY DID NOT FOLLOW THE RULES. All great art is created by artists who break the rules and allow their imagination free reign.

Then one day we woke up: Reagan was president and films were movies again. There are exceptions (the fab Coen Brothers), but even most of the exceptions lack the ferocity and vision of a Roeg. Spielberg and Lucas spewed out childish and manipulative crap for a dumbed-down and subdued nation. What had been a B-movie in terms of story was now the blockbuster. It was morning in America again and we were in mourning. As for Hollywood, there are many reasons for this descent into mediocrity. Beyond the country turning hard-right, accountants and agents had replaced eccentric, dope-addled businessmen who, while not exactly Abbie Hoffmans, were nonetheless willing to take risks.

Again, all great artists take risks. Jean-Luc Godard once said, "The politics of a film is the budget of a film." Where the lunatics once ran the asylum, the bureaucrats were now back in control.

To paraphrase something Coppola noted years ago, the great hope of film-as-art remains with a fourteen-year old girl holding a cheap digital video camera. She won't have to answer to accountants and her personal vision will be available for download on the Internet. The artist will prevail.

When is film art? When artists -- not compromised and spineless yuppies -- make films. They're out there, but chances are you won't find them if you're sitting through twenty-three coming attractions and eleven commercials."

-Michael Simmons (EXCERPT: Huffington Post: "When Is Film Art?" 3.12.08)

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Thucydides: On Propaganda...The Reckless Audacity


"Words began to change their ordinary meaning, and to take on that which was not given to them.  Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation -- specious cowardice; moderation was held to
be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see both sides of a question -- inaptness to act on any."

-Thucydides (c. 460 BC – c. 395 BC) " Ancient Greek historian, and the author of the History of the Peloponnesian War, which recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC. Thucydides has been regarded as the father of "scientific history" because of his strict standards of gathering evidence and his analysis in terms of cause and effect without reference to intervention by the gods. He has also been considered the father of the school of political realism, which views the relations between nations as based on might rather than right."( Cochrane, pg.179; Meyer, pg. 67; de Sainte Croix.)

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Kurt Vonnegut: Quitting Denial..."Cold Turkey"

"Many years ago, I was so innocent I still considered it possible that we could become the humane and reasonable America so many members of my generation used to dream of. We dreamed of such an America during the Great Depression, when there were no jobs. And then we fought and often died for that dream during the Second World War, when there was no peace.

But I know now that there is not a chance in hell of America’s becoming humane and reasonable. Because power corrupts us, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Human beings are chimpanzees who get crazy drunk on power. By saying that our leaders are power-drunk chimpanzees, am I in danger of wrecking the morale of our soldiers fighting and dying in the Middle East? Their morale, like so many bodies, is already shot to pieces. They are being treated, as I never was, like toys a rich kid got for Christmas.

When you get to my age, if you get to my age, which is 81, and if you have reproduced, you will find yourself asking your own children, who are themselves middle-aged, what life is all about. I have seven kids, four of them adopted. Many of you reading this are probably the same age as my grandchildren. They, like you, are being royally shafted and lied to by our Baby Boomer corporations and government.

I put my big question about life to my biological son Mark. Mark is a pediatrician, and author of a memoir, The Eden Express. It is about his crackup, straightjacket and padded cell stuff, from which he recovered sufficiently to graduate from Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Vonnegut said this to his doddering old dad: "Father, we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is." So I pass that on to you. Write it down, and put it in your computer, so you can forget it.

I have to say that’s a pretty good sound bite, almost as good as, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." A lot of people think Jesus said that, because it is so much the sort of thing Jesus liked to say. But it was actually said by Confucius, a Chinese philosopher, 500 years before there was that greatest and most humane of human beings, named Jesus Christ.

The Chinese also gave us, via Marco Polo, pasta and the formula for gunpowder. The Chinese were so dumb they only used gunpowder for fireworks. And everybody was so dumb back then that nobody in either hemisphere even knew that there was another one.

But back to people, like Confucius and Jesus and my son the doctor, Mark, who’ve said how we could behave more humanely, and maybe make the world a less painful place. One of my favorites is Eugene Debs, from Terre Haute in my native state of Indiana. Get a load of this:

Eugene Debs, who died back in 1926, when I was only 4, ran 5 times as the Socialist Party candidate for president, winning 900,000 votes, 6 percent of the popular vote, in 1912, if you can imagine such a ballot. He had this to say while campaigning: As long as there is a lower class, I am in it. As long as there is a criminal element, I’m of it. As long as there is a soul in prison, I am not free. Doesn’t anything socialistic make you want to throw up? Like great public schools or health insurance for all?

How about Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes? Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the Earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God...and so on.

Not exactly planks in a Republican platform. Not exactly Donald Rumsfeld or Dick Cheney stuff.

For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the Beatitudes. But, often with tears in their eyes, they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that’s Moses, not Jesus. I haven’t heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, be posted anywhere. "Blessed are the merciful" in a courtroom? "Blessed are the peacemakers" in the Pentagon? Give me a break!

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president. But, when you stop to think about it, only a nut case would want to be a human being, if he or she had a choice. Such treacherous, untrustworthy, lying and greedy animals we are!

I was born a human being in 1922 A.D. What does "A.D." signify? That commemorates an inmate of this lunatic asylum we call Earth who was nailed to a wooden cross by a bunch of other inmates. With him still conscious, they hammered spikes through his wrists and insteps, and into the wood. Then they set the cross upright, so he dangled up there where even the shortest person in the crowd could see him writhing this way and that. Can you imagine people doing such a thing to a person?

During the reign of King Henry the Eighth, founder of the Church of England, he had a counterfeiter boiled alive in public. Show biz again. Mel Gibson’s next movie should be The Counterfeiter. Box office records will again be broken. One of the few good things about modern times: If you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us.

And what did the great British historian Edward Gibbon, 1737-1794 A.D., have to say about the human record so far? He said, "History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind." The same can be said about this morning’s edition of the New York Times.

The French-Algerian writer Albert Camus, who won a Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957, wrote, "There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide." So there’s another barrel of laughs from literature. Camus died in an automobile accident. His dates? 1913-1960 A.D. Listen. All great literature is about what a bummer it is to be a human being: Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, The Red Badge of Courage, the Iliad and the Odyssey, Crime and Punishment, the Bible and The Charge of the Light Brigade.

But I have to say this in defense of humankind: No matter in what era in history, including the Garden of Eden, everybody just got there. And, except for the Garden of Eden, there were already all these crazy games going on, which could make you act crazy, even if you weren’t crazy to begin with. Some of the games that were already going on when you got here were love and hate, liberalism and conservatism, automobiles and credit cards, golf and girls’ basketball.

Even crazier than golf, though, is modern American politics, where, thanks to TV and for the convenience of TV, you can only be one of two kinds of human beings, either a liberal or a conservative. Which one are you in this country? It’s practically a law of life that you have to be one or the other? If you aren’t one or the other, you might as well be a doughnut. If some of you still haven’t decided, I’ll make it easy for you. If you want to take my guns away from me, and you’re all for murdering fetuses, and love it when homosexuals marry each other, and want to give them kitchen appliances at their showers, and you’re for the poor, you’re a liberal.

If you are against those perversions and for the rich, you’re a conservative. What could be simpler?

My government’s got a war on drugs. But get this: The two most widely abused and addictive and destructive of all substances are both perfectly legal. One, of course, is ethyl alcohol. And President George W. Bush, no less, and by his own admission, was smashed or tiddley-poo or four sheets to the wind a good deal of the time from when he was 16 until he was 41. When he was 41, he says, Jesus appeared to him and made him knock off the sauce, stop gargling nose paint.

Other drunks have seen pink elephants.

And do you know why I think he is so pissed off at Arabs? They invented algebra. Arabs also invented the numbers we use, including a symbol for nothing, which nobody else had ever had before. You think Arabs are dumb? Try doing long division with Roman numerals. We’re spreading democracy, are we? Same way European explorers brought Christianity to the Indians, what we now call "Native Americans."

How ungrateful they were! How ungrateful are the people of Baghdad today. So let’s give another big tax cut to the super-rich. That’ll teach bin Laden a lesson he won’t soon forget. Hail to the Chief. That chief and his cohorts have as little to do with Democracy as the Europeans had to do with Christianity. We the people have absolutely no say in whatever they choose to do next. In case you haven’t noticed, they’ve already cleaned out the treasury, passing it out to pals in the war and national security rackets, leaving your generation and the next one with a perfectly enormous debt that you’ll be asked to repay.

Nobody let out a peep when they did that to you, because they have disconnected every burglar alarm in the Constitution: The House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, the FBI, the free press (which, having been embedded, has forsaken the First Amendment) and We the People.

About my own history of foreign substance abuse. I’ve been a coward about heroin and cocaine and LSD and so on, afraid they might put me over the edge. I did smoke a joint of marijuana one time with Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, just to be sociable. It didn’t seem to do anything to me, one way or the other, so I never did it again. And by the grace of God, or whatever, I am not an alcoholic, largely a matter of genes. I take a couple of drinks now and then, and will do it again tonight. But two is my limit. No problem. I am of course notoriously hooked on cigarettes. I keep hoping the things will kill me. A fire at one end and a fool at the other.

But I’ll tell you one thing: I once had a high that not even crack cocaine could match. That was when I got my first driver’s license! Look out, world, here comes Kurt Vonnegut. And my car back then, a Studebaker, as I recall, was powered, as are almost all means of transportation and other machinery today, and electric power plants and furnaces, by the most abused and addictive and destructive drugs of all: fossil fuels.

When you got here, even when I got here, the industrialized world was already hopelessly hooked on fossil fuels, and very soon now there won’t be any more of those. Cold turkey.

Can I tell you the truth? I mean this isn’t like TV news, is it? Here’s what I think the truth is: We are all addicts of fossil fuels in a state of denial, about to face cold turkey. And like so many addicts about to face cold turkey, our leaders are now committing violent crimes to get what little is left of what we’re hooked on."

- Kurt Vonnegut, (EXCERPT: "Cold Turkey", In These Times, 5.12.04 Image: -Kurt Vonnegut's Signature, 1981).