Thanatology

Even the deathless gods hate him.

Thanatos, the iron-hearted personification of death, twin brother to Hypnos, the god of sleep. In my middle years I see their faces stretched out, twin sets of eyes staring from the sickening electric glow of the screen. They are wreathes of poppies, painkiller pills of a nation putting itself into opiated sleep, and then death.

Born of Nyx, night in the shape of a woman, who also gave birth to their other siblings: Old Age, Suffering, Doom, Deception, Blame, Strife, Retribution, and the boatman who carries the freshly deceased into the realms beyond. Her first children were Brightness and Day, who continue to shine in spite of their younger siblings complete and total conquest of the 21st century.

Just so everyone’s clear: Chaos came first. Then the Abyss (Tartarus), the Earth (Gaia), and Sexual Attraction (Eros). Hold on to those; you’ll need them to survive.

I haven’t owned a TV in over a decade. I don’t watch shows, and I rarely watch movies. My only real link, in storytelling media, to the current psychology of this culture comes from the Marvel cinematic universe. I figure I don’t need more; the realm of superheroes is and has always been the realm of mythology, deep metaphorical significance, and the avatars of Big Ideas and Big Feelings. So if I want to know what’s up with the “american” mind, the full and fundamental values will be on display in Marvel movies, if you know what to look for.

For example, the real story of the Black Panther film is that negro savages are expected to give up their mineral riches to the EuroIndustrial MegaTech powers that be. Vibranium = rare earths minerals, without which there is no MegaTech; no fancy computer chips, batteries, etc. Though you’d never know it from the vantage point of an artisanal vegan bakery in, say, san francisco, the magical digital hypno-realm is still rooted in tangible, material resources.

“Wakanda needs to share its wonders with the world!” Nobody ever asked Tony Stark to share his secret technologies; who would dare to give a moral challenge to a war-machine manufacturing capitalist? For that matter, nobody asked the Asgardians, either. Only negroes are expected to surrender everything they have and everything they are for the benefits of EuroIndustrial MegaTech. If they are good, noble negroes—and not evil savage Oakland-raised negroes with chips on their shoulders—they will dutifully open up to conquest, er, I mean, progress. Did I mention that it’s the mining and manufacturing of “technology” that is killing the planet? Perhaps that’s too much to think about. Hypnos is waiting to put you back to sleep.

The name of Thanos, the Big Bad who’s been lurking in the background of the entire series of Marvel movies, comes from Thanatos. Thanos is the god and bringer of death.

He’s also the real hero of Infinity War.

It’s Thanos who goes on the Hero’s Journey: acquiring artifacts, making a grand sacrifice, defeating powerful foes, achieving victory, and then transforming from a genocidal conqueror into a genteel man on a porch watching the sunset. He’s the one with a simple yet concise moral philosophy that he’s willing to do anything to achieve. He also has the one emotional moment of any significance in the entire movie, when he decides to chuck his daughter off a cliff to get one of the artifacts. Hero’s Journey = Hero.

I thought I was clever for noticing this until I went on wiki to read about the film and found this quote from producer and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige, about Thanos: “You could almost go so far as to say he is the main character.” Stephen McFeely, one of the hack writers responsible for the screenplay, also described the film as Thanos’s “Hero’s Journey.”

So much for being clever.

By that logic, since all of the Marvel flicks thus far have been one extended build-up to this confrontation with Thanos, it’s not a huge leap to say that Thanos is, therefore, the real hero of the ENTIRE SERIES of Marvel movies. Basically, we got background on how supposedly bad-ass his foes were, before he shows up and trounces the lot of them.

In the first 10 minutes of the movie, Thanos soundly defeats Rage (Hulk), then impales the Gate Opener (Heimdall) and strangles Mischief/Chaos (Loki). In this story, there will be no emotion, no alternate possibilities, and no tricks—only cold, rationalist genocide.

Euthanasia,” from Greek EU (good) and THANATOS (death).”

Thanos’s goal and moral imperative is to euthanize half the universe, so that all these glorious intergalactic civilizations don’t collapse from “overpopulation,” the way his home planet did.

Whenever some liberoid dolt—say, of the type that permeate Hollywood and Marvel—wants to talk about overpopulation as a threat to the “environment,” I KNOW WHAT POPULATIONS THEY’RE TALKING ABOUT. If only these savages of asia, africa, and the global south would stop having all their savage babies, then we could all still have our Priuses and drive them too. When in truth, the real earth destroyer is the very technology they worship, and its production. It’s this technology that created the circumstances for overpopulation to occur, beginning with agriculture and the earliest civilizations. But nevermind that, we want to see the latest fancy Iron Man nanomechanical armor, complete with new i-phone. OOH! AAH!

I say all that to say, the real story of Infinity War is this: in order for us to continue our magical MegaTech civilization, a whole lot of you savage motherfuckers are gonna have to go.

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The Spell is Broken

The spell is broken.

Finally.

Shame and guilt and plain old meanness. Nasty comments, resentment, jealousy. Lack of trust, constant doubt, a horrible swinging pendulum—one week everything is beautiful, the next week it’s the end of the world and nothing will cure what ails.

That’s a hell of a price to pay for a relationship of any kind. But when that person is supposed to be your partner, your lover, your other half, it’s all the more ugly.

I could go down a list of things I loved about her. It seems harder and harder as the weeks go on. What I’m left with is the realization of just how much emotional abuse I tolerated for the entire year we were together, and memories of the emotional devastation that came when she banished me from her life. To think, that someone could treat you so miserably, and then in the aftermath behave as though YOU were the villain—to sting you with threats and menace.

The laughter has long faded now, and that was the best part. We used to laugh so much; I’d never laughed with anyone as much as I did with her. The tenderness and comfort that came from holding this person in my arms helped me to ignore the insanity.

It’s been well over a year now since we split up, and if anything, the pain that I became accustomed to during our relationship continued, and in some ways increased. These people will get in your head. It always happens slowly. But soon enough, no matter how you contort and deflate and ignore your own feelings, your reality, your life, very sense of who you are, they make it seem like none of that is good enough; if only you did it right, they wouldn’t act the way they act. The message is clear, even if it’s never spoken allowed: it’s your fault I treat you this way.

I hate oppressors and I hate the oppressed. I hate the impulse to bully or be bullied, most especially when it arises within myself. I hate people who embrace victimhood as a way to have power over others. I hate being manipulated. Sometimes it’s so hard to see, and even more so when you’re in love and you just don’t want to believe that this is what’s happening. Even when you think you can handle anything they dish out, it doesn’t change the fact that THEY ARE MAKING A DECISION TO DISH IT OUT. This makes them the villain, no matter how bad you don’t want them to be.

Nothing is worth this kind of treatment. Nothing justifies it, not even the COMPLETE NORMALIZATION of this kind of behavior in the crumbling empire and dying world at the end of the pyramid sun. Bullshit is always bullshit, no matter the date on the calendar, and no matter if the assholes around you are smearing it all over themselves and serving it for lunch.

I don’t want this kind of treatment. I don’t need this kind of treatment. I don’t like it, and most importantly, I have finally reached a point in my life where I simply WILL NOT TOLERATE IT. I will not allow people into my life who are willing to treat me this way. Most especially people I am dating.

What broke the levee on this was when a friend of mine asked how I would feel about them inviting my ex to their wedding reception… which will be held at my house. After three days of drinking & thinking, I woke up one morning ANGRY. Angry that my ex had treated me the way she did. Angry that I put up with it for so long. Angry that I spent the next 17 months after we split up tearing myself apart, and hoping in my heart of hearts that my ex would come back to me. It’s like being poisoned by a vampire bite; you crave fangs in your neck.

It took the possibility of her appearing at my house to wake me up. I know she would never come here; to do so, she would have to be willing to face her own shame and guilt as an abuser, a liar, a pathetic and hurtful ex-partner. Even so, just the possibility of her coming got the wheels in my head spinning something terrible, filled me with the most dreadful feelings.

The worst thing? At first, I AGREED to her being invited to the reception. Just like that. Thirteen months of abuse, and seventeen months of lingering self-destruction, and when asked how I would feel about her being INVITED INTO MY HOME, I simply capitulated.

Well, it took a few days to mull in my being. And when it was done, I woke up ANGRY. And in one simple word, I moved to reclaim all that I had lost:

NO.

She is not welcome in my home.

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Love Song of Hate

There are things I hate.

I am proud of this.

Hatred is proof that I’m still a human being.

It is popular among a certain segment of the population—the last dregs of new age hippydom, fully commodified and leeched of all meaning—to behave as though LovingKindness(tm) is the only proper emotional response to the world that we live in. “I want to do things from a place of love.” I can’t say how many people I’ve heard this from;  too many. All of these people claim to be “spiritual,” whatever that means, but I can say, honestly, that I’ve never met one such person who had the aura of genuine spiritual achievement, the gravitas that comes from acceptance of life in all its beauty and terror.

After years of rolling my eyes or playing dumb when people talk to me about “acting from a place of love,” I finally got to the point where I’m like, “Fuck love!” And what I mean is, fuck new-agey neurotic escapism and passive resentment. It reeks of pathetic despair.

I do, and want to do, things from a place of love anger rage joy hatred happiness contentment anguish despair hope wonder awe fear triumph calm anxiety depression angst comfort envy jealousy jubilation celebration acceptance curiousity pleasure pain elation arousal and horror. In other words, I want to live as a human being. Not a fucking android.

Emotions are complex and multifaceted, layers upon layers. To surrender, ignore, or flatten these feelings out of a desire to be some kind of dime-store buddha or jesus is an insult to everything it means to be human, to be a living being.

Generalized “love” is an abstraction, another ghost in the machine. And to whatever extent one fails to achieve this nirvana of bliss, it becomes yet another reason to experience oneself as a failure. One more way to feel like we suck, and deserve whatever horrors are visited upon us. The doctrine of Original Sin wears many masks.

They are indoctrinating children with this in school, and have been for some time. At least in california, in the bay area. The indistinct and doctrineless philosophy of secular humanism is the perfect pseudo-philosophy for the era of MegaTech Capital because it makes no moral demands upon anyone besides “being nice.” The nicer you are, slave, the more smoothly the machine will run. There will be no disruptions in the workflow. So be nice to everyone, keep buying the latest gadgets, and make sure to experience as much of your life as possible through the mediation of machines.

In my rap workshops, I have students make lists of things, so everyone has words on paper we can string together in a freestyle. One of the lists is “things you hate.” At least a few students in every class cannot come up with anything for this list, or insist to me that they don’t “hate” anything. What a sad existence; it breaks my heart. If you’ve made it to age 13 and you don’t hate anything, you’ve been put to sleep, probably forever.

I’ve even had younger children tell me that it’s “bad” to hate things. You see how this works? They are teaching our children that any negative reaction to the world around them is a personal, moral failure on the part of said children to have the “proper attitude.” Hate is for Trump Supporters(tm); we love everybody! What a bunch of horseshit.

Recently a woman told me that she uses her spacephone to, and I quote, “connect with people.” This is a pure and unfiltered example of the disgusting cognitive dissonance necessary for people to accept without question their status as cyborg satellite drones of the NeoCorporate order. You don’t “connect” with people via a machine—you connect with the machine. You’re in front of a screen, someone else is in front of a screen, and you exchange information digitally. If the meaning of “connection” has degraded to machine metaphor, become a mechanized replacement for human social interaction—as it clearly has—then… I don’t know. Here we are.

One billion channels that are all the same channel: Channel Zero. There’s one for every subculture, every “identity,” every cultural and ethnic particularity, every interest, every hobby, every -ism, every political philosophy. This is the false unity of the matrix, the simulation, the cyborg consciousness; commodified homogeneity masquerading as bonding and agency. Tune into the SocialJustice(tm) channel to find out all the appropriate terms, clothing, music, and ideas necessary for you to enjoy membership in a manufactured community! Tune into the WhiteNationalism(tm) channel to find out why the failure of the “american dream” is actually the fault of ruskies, jews, mexicans, and blacks! Tune into the I-Google-Plex(tm) channel to find out the lastest vapid pop music and luxury consumer items you must purchase in order to achieve dignity!

I’ll tell you some things I hate.

I hate MegaTech Homogeneity culture.

I hate the machine.

I hate cruelty, domination culture, bullies, rape, slavery, abuse, and anti-life philosophy. I hate the pyramid, I hate the Cult of the One Ring.

I hate manufactured idiocy. I hate the destruction of the living world. I hate streaming music. I hate eating shellfish and mushrooms.

I hate flat, inattentive consciousness. I hate seeing people everywhere walking around with spacephones attached to their hands and ears. I especially hate seeing children with screen nannies. I hate that videogames are now a legitimate way for adults to spend their time. I hate the mechanization of time, and the idea that it’s something to “spend,” “save,” or “use efficiently.” I hate watching people whip their own backs. I hate oppressors, and I hate the oppressed. I hate seeing people out in “nature,” or with their children, or at a show, holding their phones and recording everything.

I don’t hate you if you do these things, just like I don’t hate people for getting cancer or speaking english. I don’t hate you if you disagree, but I hate moral relativism; I hate it when people act like every opinion, value, and philosophy is equally “valid” and okay. Fuck that. Some values lead to a continuation and expansion of life. Some lead to total global destruction and mass extinction. If you think these are morally equal, there’s a door with your name on it that leads to the magical land of Eat Shit and Die You Worthless Drone; when you see the red light and hear the buzz, you may enter.

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The Unbearable Burden of Imagination

Sometime between the ages of 8 and 10, I read a book that left me with a feeling that I would now describe as “mind-blowing.” I’m not sure the phrase is accurate, but it at least points in the direction of how I felt. I don’t remember the plot, any of the characters, or really anything about it other than the feeling of my young heart & mind attempting to grapple with ideas like the bending and manipulating of time and space. It was an uncomfortable and eerie—even frightening—process, but I can say without exagerration that reading this book and struggling with its imagery and ideas changed the way I thought about the world.

There are a lot of cliches in this society that essentially serve as a stimulus/response mechanical replacement for thinking. For example, if I begin to criticize the disgusting corporate homogeneity of contemporary pop music, in almost any group of people there will inevitably be at least one dunderhead who says something to the effect of, “Our parents hated our music and culture too, this is just how the generations go, it just means you’re getting old and you don’t know what’s cool anymore, blah blah blah.” As if the apocalypse had no actual, objective effect on the nature and quality of pop media.

Another common cliche arises whenever one attempts to compare—or even talk about in a meaningful way—the differences between, say, a novel and the latest OMG HOLLYWOOD movie “based” on the novel. You’ve all heard it before, so let’s say it together now: “The book is always better than the movie!” Usually, once this comment arrives to stink up the atmosphere, the conversation is over—either the robotic remark shuts down the conversation, or the realization that I’m having an android conversation inspires me to withdraw.

What I’m getting at has already been said elsewhere, so I’m going to quote an online source. Note, this text was written in the mid-90s (it even mentions a Walkman, remember those?), before smartphones turned everyday life into one giant virtual reality simulation of the social:

From Immediatism, by Hakim Bey :
————————
i.
All experience is mediated—by the mechanisms of sense perception, mentation, language, etc.—& certainly all art consists of some further mediation of experience.

ii.
However, mediation takes place by degrees. Some experiences (smell, taste, sexual pleasure, etc.) are less mediated than others (reading a book, looking through a telescope, listening to a record). Some media, especially “live” arts such as dance, theater, musical or bardic performance, are less mediated than others such as TV, CDs, Virtual Reality. Even among the media usually called “media,” some are more & others are less mediated, according to the intensity of imaginative participation they demand. Print & radio demand more of the imagination, film less, TV even less, VR the least of all—so far.

iii.
For art, the intervention of Capital always signals a further degree of mediation. To say that art is commodified is to say that a mediation, or standing-in-between, has occurred, & that this betweenness amounts to a split, & that this split amounts to “alienation.” Improv music played by friends at home is less “alienated” than music played “live” at the Met, or music played through media (whether PBS or MTV or Walkman). In fact, an argument could be made that music distributed free or at cost on cassette via mail is LESS alienated than live music played at some huge We Are The World spectacle or Las Vegas niteclub, even though the latter is live music played to a live audience (or at least so it appears), while the former is recorded music consumed by distant & even anonymous listeners.

iv.
The tendency of Hi Tech, & the tendency of Late Capitalism, both impel the arts farther & farther into extreme forms of mediation. Both widen the gulf between the production & consumption of art, with a corresponding increase in “alienation.”
————————-

Back to the book in question, which was none other than Madeline L’Engel’s A Wrinkle in Time. Whatever experience I had while reading it is one that can only come as a result of imaginative participation in the story, which prose requires. Movies, on the other hand, replace imagination with prefabricated images that are always the same. No patience needed, just add $12 to the local gigaplex and OMG HOLLYWOOD will do all your imagining for you. There’s now a film version of A Wrinkle in Time, a tragic embarrassment.

And lining up to see it is a new generation of children and young adults who have never known life outside the virtual simulation of smartphones and (anti)social media. For them, there is only the machine, their closest confidant. The magic of comics for them has been replaced by military/tech propaganda masquerading as superhero movies. The magic of traversing time and space through prose has been replaced by Ophrah Winfrey on a giant screen.

Finally, at last, an end to the pain of humanness—a release from the unbearable burden of imagination.

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Stimulus and Response

The other day I was talking to a Babylon White Girl at my house. She was asking something of me, something precious: words. Writing. She was talking from behind Machine Mask. I clowned her until the mask broke and she turned into her real self. Then she became awesome, and the conversation was great; we spoke—and listened—to each other. As human beings.

I think about the people I meet, encounter, and see, and I wonder: how much of what they say and do is genuine, and how much of it is part of a stimulus/response package?

The reason we have such a thing as “schooling” is to train as many people as possible for as long as possible in a program of controlled behavior. Do what authority wants, get a gold star. Do what authority doesn’t want, receive punishment. Positive/Negative reinforcement. Pavlov. Programming. But school has been around forever, or so it seems. Something’s different now. Now it’s MEGATECH BABYLON.

And so, something is in the air now, something hard to articulate, but I see it like the memory of a vivid dream. Media screenfeed programming. Behavior loops. Stimulus, response. When you see/hear this, your response is that.

Social media echo chamber, I hear the hum of electricity in the invisible wires of your mind. Stimulus, response. See/hear this > Feel that. Now you’re happy. Now you’re angry. Now you’re self-righteous. Now you’re whatever. Stimulus, response. Brain chemical rush, reinforce the bad dream. Junkie junkie, press your buttons.

Is this your personality, or a package of media-generated stimulus/response psychosomatic memes? Why do I meet so many people who talk, act, feel, and think the same way? Are you just a palette-swap?

Know what they never mention when they talk about the 20th Century? The immense amount of death. Millions and millions of humans dead from gas chambers, bullets, bombs, sanctions, atomic weaponry, dictators, toxins, germ warfare. The century of holocaust. The war of technology against human society—our lives, our health, our relationships, our sanity.

They won. The machines won the war. We didn’t even get a final battle with the industrial factory Terminators. We got Skynet the internet and smartphones. Mining pollution? That’s for the savages.

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Active Shooter: the Mini Series

Good storytelling has a universal structure that appeals to something fundamental in our humanity. It’s pretty basic: beginning, middle, end. Or as Steven Pressfield calls it in Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit: Hook, Build-Up, Payoff. Put the characters in jeopardy! Raise the stakes! Make a hero, make a villain! Etc.

Every time there’s a mass shooting in the states, it’s big juice for the media cartels. It appeals to american sentiments because it’s the Reality TV(tm) version of an action movie. Somebody shows up somewhere, with a load of those most holy of american artifacts—guns and ammunition—and commences to blowing the shit out of as many people as possible. Oh, the excitement! How many people killed? How many injured? Who did it? Why did they do it? Etc.

The collective response, particularly in social media, is so predictable that I sometimes wonder if there are actual people commenting on it, or if it’s a gang of androids that have been programmed to release the same responses to a given stimuli. Or if there’s a difference. In the era of memes and soundbites, often times the posts on social media are identical to the ones from the last mass shooting—recycling is good for the social environment, it seems.

Mass Shooting Bingo, play by yourself or with friends!

  • Criticize the NRA
  • Support the NRA
  • Bring up the problem of “mental illness”
  • We need more gun control, cuz guns are the problem
  • We need less gun control, so armed citizens of justice can defeat the evil shooter
  • Black folks point out the hypocrisy of mass shooters being treated tenderly by the police, when we are in danger for our lives even in a traffic stop (duh)
  • Social Justice Warriors point out that the “real terrorists” are not scary muslims, but crazy white men (duh)
  • Politicians exercise career-building by proposing to effect new laws
  • Politicians exercise career-building by proposing to eliminate laws
  • “thoughts and prayers,” or its variant, “hearts go out”

If I were willing to scour my social media feed, I’m sure I could find more. Those are just the ones that spring to mind first. You get the idea.

If one is either foolish or masochistic enough to tune in to TV news “coverage” of such events, one gets to experience the identical “dialogue” about mass shootings every time one happens. They may as well play the same footage from the last time. It can’t be too hard to find in the files, because at any given time, the last shooting wasn’t that long ago.

Discussions (scripts?) about mass school shootings have their own special flavor of bullshit because of what’s left out of the discussion: the institution of schooling itself. A mass shooting at a club or a festival is bad enough, but is distinguished from school shootings by one important factor: students are REQUIRED BY LAW to be in school. They are coerced; they have to be there. It’s like going on safari at the zoo; the rhinos don’t have a chance.

No matter how many kids are bullied, no matter how many kids’ spirits are crushed, no matter how much violence, assault, rape, molestation, suicide, homicide, abuse, humiliation, and no matter how many mass school shootings there are, nobody ever criticizes the institution of compulsory schooling itself. Like maybe, just maybe, school is not the best place for kids to be.

The schooling system we have in this country—and that, so far as I know, most other countries have as well—is compulsory. That means you have to go. It’s the law. The law means that it is enforced by the THREAT AND APPLICATION OF VIOLENCE. Parents and guardians are on the line; if you don’t go to school, people with guns will come and take your family members to jail, or take you away from your family. To escape that model, you have to jump through all kinds of hoops; feel free to do a little research around the laws concerning homeschooling to discover just how difficult it is to take your children out of the system.

I’ve taught dozens of workshops in schools, if not hundreds. Whenever I get the chance, I introduce this concept to students as a matter of seeing a different perspective. We’re required by law to attend school from K-12; thirteen years. Have any of you, during any of that time, ever learned anything about the origins of the school system? Of course not. Interesting; thirteen years of our lives stolen by the state, and they don’t even pretend to tell us where the system of schooling comes from.

They can’t. One, because most people simply don’t know, including teachers, grad students, social workers, college professors, counselors, mentors, and any of the other legions of “experts” who are fed by the school system. Two, because the real story of the origin of the schooling system is terrifying, and knowledge of it would undermine the very fabric of consensus reality. Social engineering. The machining of consciousness. Scientific management. Industrialization, massification, homogenization. A system planned, openly, from its inception, to turn a population of individuals into obedient, emotionally insecure, ignorant and easily manipulated drones.

And it works.

It works so well that it’s invisible. School, like “tech” and mass media, is a completely unquestioned and uncriticized institution of our society. Sure, there are always a few cranks and crackpots who believe that their children should be free of state & corporate programming; they are a distinct minority, rare as a coyote or a healthy romantic relationship.

Those of us who were fortunate enough, for whatever mysterious combination of nature and nurture, to escape being completely indoctrinated, and who have learned something of the history of this country and of civilization generally, are never surprised by the latest mass shooting. How could you be? It would be like being surprised when there’s a car accident, or a rape, or a president. This country, like every other civilization, was founded on conquest, mass murder, mass rape, and slavery. You’re not going to get oranges from an apple tree.

I would be surprised if there weren’t mass shootings. In fact, I would be terrified; it would be a sure sign that the full mechanization of human consciousness was complete. Everyone perfectly controlled, perfectly homogenous, perfectly predictable, perfectly “happy,” perfectly “safe.”

Mass shootings are “good for the economy” in at least one sense; there is now an entire industry of professionals whose job is to train staff members at schools, hospitals, venues, and other places where people gather en masse what to do in an “active shooter” scenario. My cousin is a nurse, and is currently seeking out this training with the goal of making an abundance of extra money as a consultant. Be your own boss! If only the poor souls at Columbine circa early ’99 had access to such training…

…or Virginia Tech…

…or Wounded Knee…

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Paradise Now

How long had it been since the bare flesh of my back touched damp, green grass? I couldn’t tell you for sure, but now I have a new time marker; I got out of bed today, put my laundry away, heated up yesterday’s coffee, and went out and laid in the grass, in the sun, shirtless. If my yard wasn’t bordered by 500 obnoxious, nosy neighbors, I would have preferred to be nude. Spiders are naked.

What would your ideal life be like? How would you know? This question occurred to me as I was putting my laundry away. I’ve been brainstorming writing prompts for an upcoming class, and I think that’s a good prompt. What would come out of teenage minds in response to that question, in 2018? I’m excited to find out.

What would come out of adult minds? To wonder about your ideal life is to explore your desires—those that are immediate, those that are hidden, and those that are manufactured. I imagine that a number of aspects of that Ideal Life would be easy to predict—wealth, luxury, leisure time. Delving into the realm of fancy and fantasy would no doubt reveal many things about people and the society in which we live.

But what if you based that answer on experiences you’ve actually had? Remove the pie in the sky, alternate universe accoutrements and dive instead into the riches of your life and memories. Jesus said the kingdom of god is within you, so what is it like? What IS it?

For me, I’m as close to my ideal life as I’ve ever gotten. I’m not selling my time to some Boss or Company for their profit. I have a fridge and cabinet full of food that I enjoy eating. I make my own schedule, I write and draw and stay up all night and host amazing parties. I make music, I read, I nap. I spend a lot of time doing nothing much at all. Which, despite what They told you, is exactly what humans are supposed to do.

So what’s missing? What would make it more ideal? The answers to that question are easy for me, because I think about it often. It comes down to one word: expansion. To be able to share this life with folks who have also achieved this freedom. “Free your ass and your spirit will follow.” Trapped in the Planetary Work Machine, finding a portal to freedom that doesn’t involve destitution and misery is a feat worthy of the mightiest gods.

It took me almost five months—five months!—to release enough anxiety to actually be able to enjoy where I’m at. How will I pay for this? I’m broke! Will this contract go through? What will I do next year? Will I make enough money? I don’t want to go back to the plantation! I can’t afford to do x, y, and z! Blah blah blah.

Two major events took place that freed me from my own internal chains. Number one, one of the school contracts I’ve been working on for months was finally approved. YES! I now have a guaranteed quantity of funds that will go into the freedom coffers. We hoisted the skull and crossbones and we’ve captured the merchant ship captain; it’s off to Tortuga for us! Number two, I got rid of a burgeoning vampire romance before it could pass the smooching phase—more importantly, this last undead adventure was so intense that I decided it was past time to confront whatever it was about myself that was leading me into relationships with these horrible manipulators.

Magician with the tools, and I put them to work; I confronted, bound, and banished the Black Djinn and blocked the Evil Eye. Sage and sigils, midnight ceremony at the crossroads, graveyard dirt and artifact sacrifice. Off to the beach, follow the middle star in Orion’s belt, and arrive at paradise beach. Malik is one of the 99 names of Allah. I have now been living more or less consistently in the kingdom of heaven for several weeks now. And yes, it’s as wonderful as you’ve heard. My life has become an autonomous zone, and I will do whatever I have to do in order to keep it that way.

My only affliction is loneliness, and the pain that comes from watching my closest friends suffer as they struggle to “earn a living” selling their lives to other people. A pirate ship needs a crew, but everyone’s rowing oars on the slave galley and they’ve got satellite lasers to blast buccaneers and corsairs right out of the water. Basically, I want people to share my freedom with.

And not just freedom from work, but also freedom from the total commodification of reality that is inherent in the technology that people have almost completely capitulated to. I have no interest in laying nude in the grass with people who are scrolling through their spacephone. I don’t want our lounging on the beach to be instagrammed. Proof that TechnoBabylon is adept at robbing meaning from anything: even people who are compelled to use terms like “internal colonization” and “decolonization” seem completely unable to perceive their own colonization by machines.

Recently I visited an old friend who I hadn’t seen in sometime. He took the pardon, as I like to say—surrendered the possibility of using his amazing skill and brilliance to achieve an exciting life of substance. Instead, he’s now worked the same “secure and stable” job for over 15 years, and will probably stay there until he retires in 20 or 30 years. He’s got a house in suburbia that looks, in structure and decor, like every other house in the suburbs—a zone of complete spiritual decay—and he is surrounded by people who offer zero challenge to his intellect. In other words, he surrendered to The Fear.

In his living room he’s got two gigantic big-screen TVs, so that when his plebeian comrades come over for their ritual worship of Babylon, they can watch multiple sporting events at once. Looking at the devices, all I could think was: you could’ve spent that money on tantric call girls and brandy. Pack a bag full of easily concealable psychedelic drugs and let’s go to Morocco! Be sure to invite me! But alas, even staying up past 11pm on a weeknight is a feat of daring too great for those who Have To Be At Work In The Morning.

It’s like this: if I know you then we’ve been to heaven together. You may not have noticed, but I promise you I did—if I didn’t reveal the secret, it’s only because I didn’t want to taint the moment with too much self-consciousness. In my imaginal realms, if nowhere else, everything is united—that time we spent on the porch, that walk we took, the dancing, the love-making, the sitting in the woods in silence.

I must confess that my heaven is haunted by melancholy, by the separation from my beloved. If only she could have accompanied me here; if only we could have found our joy together. I dearly miss her, as I’ve never missed anything or anyone. But as Gnarls Barkley put it, “I’m going on—and I’m prepared to go it alone. And I promise I’ll be waiting for you…”

East Oakland is laced with billboards—sponsored by whatever evil Xtian cult—that say (menacingly): “When you die, you WILL meet God.”

I’m like, why wait? PARADISE NOW!

 

 

 

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Tantric Revolt

Someone once wrote that the 80s were a far more erotic decade than those that followed, and through the haze of mediation you can see it, even in the films. The other day I watched the original Lethal Weapon (currently on netflix). The movie opens with a beautiful, partially nude young woman sensuously writhing around on a huge bed in a luxury hotel room. She gets up, sniffs some lines of coke, then walks out on the balcony and jumps off. There you have it, in one 5 minute scene, the entire shamanic program of erotic sexuality, the Goddess Initiative: beauty, physicality, intoxication, and ecstatic flight.

This culture hates the body, and proof of its hatred is easy to find. You don’t have to look any further than probably the most common contemporary image of human behavior: a person crouched over an electronic device. Brain in a jar, plug in, tune out. Mesmerization is not the same thing as attentiveness.

This body is shaved and made-up and worked out and fed poison. Anything but loved. Anything but embraced. Most people’s physical activity is limited to laying down, sitting down, and brief walks in between places where people do one of those two things. Sit down at your desk, sit down in your car, sit down on the bus. If you’re part of the servant class you probably spend a lot of time standing, and carrying out tedious repetitive tasks that require little in the way of physical coordination.

Maybe you go to the “gym,” that shopping mall of sweat and loneliness, where you watch other people run in place like hamsters, ears and eyes glued to the screen and its chattering. Your body is clearly not good enough the way it is, or else you wouldn’t spend hours trying to sculpt it into something else—something that matches the images on the screen.

This culture hates the earth, which is even easier to see. All you have to do is go outside and bear witness to the asphalt tomb that’s been stamped onto the living flesh of our common grandmother. Further evidence abounds for your direct senses; you don’t have to do any research to discover the reek of noxious gases spewing from metal carriages, to see their mark in the sky, to observe the endless parade of trash. Where are all the coyotes? The creeks and fish?

Nature is everything TechnoBabylon says is wrong and evil. Nature is raw and dirty. Nature is queer and androgynous—it is male, it is female, it is both and neither. Nature is inherently sexual. All that pollen in the air? Plants having sex with each other. Seeds and soil, slime and fluid.

But we’re separate from nature, isn’t that the truth of this consensus reality? Nature is “out there,” some place we have to drive to if we want to visit it, maybe go for a walk while we listen to satellite radio or count burning calories. But the truth of the living world is simple: your body is nature. You are nature. We are nature, and we are natural. My body is the earth, and vice versa. Rivers of veins, fungal brains, stone bones and soft, mossy flesh. I know the touch of the mist and dust.

Your body is “gross” and “disgusting,” and so is everything else that lives. If you don’t believe it, observe the extent of revulsion toward anything that smacks of the biological; germs, dirty hands, body odor, hair, sweat, fluid, waste, bugs, dirt. Disinfect your entire reality! TechnoBabylon’s utopic future—a perfect plastic box in white and gray, sealed off from all life. What a fucking travesty.

What can “eroticism” possibly mean in such a world? If it is a state of being, and not just a word, it can only be a state of complete rebellion. To love one’s body, to immerse oneself in pure physicality is a de facto rejection of even the most subtle oppressions, the fascist cops, sneering bullies, and moralizing priests living in your colonized imagination.

Always remember and never forget: the criminal breaks the law; the outlaw rejects the very spirit of it. Customs and rights! Give me the big piece of chicken and pass the fucking wine.

Tantra is simple: to cultivate attentiveness, to make a temple of this living body, to make it divine, to join in mutual ritualized worship with another—sexual union as the most perfect form of divine communion; the two become one, the androgynous earth, the ecstasy of holistic pleasure—physical, imaginal, spiritual. The rest is just details; choose the head trip that works for you. My entire being is an erogenous zone, but first among equals is my imagination—consciousness also belongs to the body.

There’s no purity here, “cultural appropriation” is a term to entertain the screen jockeys, to nurture their resentment and compulsion to exert superiority. Let them gnash their teeth in their prosthetic, simulated lives; I threw the white man overboard, and now we sail with eyes for treasure of all types. Exotic is now merely another word for pleasurable, and we are cultivators of pleasure.

Cultivate touch, taste, smell, attentiveness, empathy, sensitivity. Psychonautical exploration, birth of the divine within. Don’t ask me what’s in this potion, just drink it. Take the chance, be the bunny. In india and in the islamic world, there are entire cults and religious practices devoted to the sacramental use of cannabis. Now there’s an incense! Now in CaliforniaLand, you can just go into a store and buy it. Let’s not waste the opportunity.

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A Pirate’s Life for Me

I feel disgust like burning, for so much of what passes for society that to escape this feeling is an actual mission. Who needs more reasons to be miserable, more doomsday proclamations, more excuses to disappear into the zombie stupor that masquerades as consciousness? Not today, my friend. Today, I am ablaze.

The machines have claimed all territory, but they cannot conquer all spaces. Babylon is the hydra inside you; cut off one head and two more online celebrities grow from the gory neck hole. I piss on your tech and your updates, and by the way make sure to warn your friends before they set foot on my lawn that all sci-fi gadgets must be stowed and locked upon arrival; their signals interfere with the flow of truth and beauty.

I see you, yes I do, scrunched over a cold device. I’m betting you’ve never even tasted that plastic case, and therefore have no understanding of embodiment; prepare your saliva, I’ll wait.

Embody, in body, of BODY, and nothing else. The other day I was wondering what it would be like to transfer my consciousness into someone else’s body, and after a few minutes of thinking about it I realized that even this fantasy is a symptom of our sickness. There is no you, no consciousness that exists outside of your BODY, no software that can be moved around like exchangeable cogs. Your traumas and joys are written into your BODY, inscribed in ever muscle fiber, every cell–your anxiety is a chemical cocktail traveling well worn neural pathways; if I were to suddenly find myself in your BODY, I would be you. And oh, how I would play.

And where, may I ask, does your body end? At the skin? Cells shedding by the millions, drifting in an invisible cloud around you, as much a part of the air as gasoline fumes and electromagnetic radiation. Your body leaves a trail for us to follow you home, and if you know the password we may offer you an initiation–for the right price, of course. Haven’t you heard? Reality is a commodity.

Stinking waste for the antiseptic bowl; we’ve got a whole shelf of products to sanitize your humanity. Riddle me this, dark knight of techno-banality: what kills germs and forests? I’ve seen the sacrificial altars, riddled with roadkill and splattered exoskeletons. There used to be sacred customs and taboos, now instead we’ve got armed guards for reservations full of lice-headed kids and child molesters. Rape is the universal language.

How dare I even speak, let alone entertain an idea or a feeling unique to my experience, my human-all-too-human understanding? Everything is prefabricated nowadays, including your thoughts. Yes, I know exactly the proper words and opinions to be accepted in your clique; I just don’t give a fuck. I don’t have any fucks left to give if I wanted to; they ran dry when I realized my life was a science experiment. The hermit is wise indeed, hiding out from infection by devils–he wouldn’t even leave the cave without ceremony and protective amulets.

I’m old enough to remember when the internet didn’t completely suck. Once upon a midnight past, the net was still a place where joyful mischief had a home; bootleg music, movies, software–fuck all these companies and their slave-built infrastructure, (if I want to watch the latest piece of hollywood garbage while drool-dribbling stoned on fine hash, or acquire the latest edition of I Need This Program To Do Anything Meaningful In Babylon, the LAST thing I’m trying to do is pay for that shit.) Crappy page designs full of tantalizing secret knowledge, message boards with only one rule: Never use your real name. We are not avatars, we are writers and conversationalists–and, as it happens, some of us are involved in hobbies and professions that are frowned on by law enforcement (the bastards).

Recently the hills in west L.A. were on fire; I lived in that horrible city for over 10 years, and I can tell you that the hills have always been on fire, along with the rest of the city. It just so happens that most folks didn’t notice. If I use the phrase “false consciousness,” would they even know where to begin? Would you? Nevermind, just google it.

Every society that has experienced the FUNDAMENTAL SOCIAL DESTRUCTION inherent in class-based hierarchy has borne the plague of the social parasite; dreadful names they call us, pirate, criminal, barbarian.  Why the hell would we bother to do all this damn labor, when we can just wait for you to do it and then swoop in and take its fruits by force? Let’s not play any silly moral games, either; otherwise we’ll have to embarrass you by pointing out that your entire way of living is based on force, violence, cruelty, domination. When we taste your blood, it is bitter with the resentment you feel for our freedom. Ten-thousand years have not sweetened it a bit, just as those years have not diminished our desire to live without bondage.

It is true young jedi, there are still secrets in the world; secret zones, secret spaces, secret knowledge. There remain a chosen few of Zion’s elect who retain those secrets, who can teach you how to fall between the cracks in the monolith into the gutter-gardens at the center of the earth. We are the forgotten, the unknown, the impossible, the True and Living. We are the unseen chiefs, and we are not looking for you; it’s already too late, you’re too old, too invested, too addicted, too ashamed, too domesticated. More than anything, you’re too convinced that consensus reality is real, when we’ve known for sometimes that it’s nothing but a complex simulation–a mass hallucination with the power to drive species extinct and suffocate entire oceans.

You might have noticed when you were younger, and you were probably punished for it. Years of negative reinforcement later, now the ghosts don’t speak. If they did you would fall apart, then try to put yourself back together by searching for a “logical explanation,” as if that were something worth finding.

If I share my (knowledge)(wisdom)(understanding), it will wash away instantly, diluted by the tide of HYPERMEDIATION, another insignificant bolt of static in the endless airwaves–another meaningless opinion from another faceless avatar, at best something to ridicule on (anti)social media in hopes of getting another hit of microvalidation. “This guy thinks he knows something, but he actually sucks.” Yes, yes, I suck, now please keep it moving. You are not the target audience. There is no target audience. Actually, there is no audience; everyone is a performer–Sturgeon’s Law applied to humans. Besides, it would take years of intense therapy in our labs and dungeons for you to even notice that we had something to say.

Instead, we just pretend to be One of You–a horrible and tedious game, but one that makes it much easier to commit freedom. We’ve been preparing our alibis for years; they look great on paper. Too bad the machines have extensive data on everything you’ve ever said, every place you’ve ever gone, every person you’ve ever fucked, and algorithms to hunt and track divergent thoughts; if you’re not mechanized, you’re already the enemy.

Well, so be it. Nothing will ever erase the seductive scent of this wine and sweat, the caress of soft fur and warm blankets, the boundary-destroying melding of sexual ecstasy. No droid knows the heart. The past is ours, the future is ours; here, we stake our claim for the NOW.

So hoist the sail, my friend; this compass points to your True Desire, and the wind is in our favor.

 

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Mourning and the Mausoleum

Some weeks ago I had a phone conversation with a friend of mine who is around my age. We were lamenting that we’d been denied the punkish post-apocalyptic world of mutants, spontaneous freedoms, and actual battles with manifest oppressors that was promised to us by 80’s and early 90’s era science fiction books and films. What we all got instead is the soul-eroding and -denying banality of the endless shopping mall.

Death of the social, communities transformed into masses, the living world converted to a dead shell of asphalt, the long night of the end of the world.

Last night as I was driving out to the supermarket—or as I refer to it, hell—I had a realization that the world I came from no longer exists. It’s been paved over, rebuilt, remade, and everything now in its place sits as though eternal; beyond my memories, my past has been erased. Where once were fields and owls and oak trees, there are housing developments, restaurants for the pampered and safe, and parking lots. It was already disappearing as I was growing up, though my young eyes could not see it.

Like almost everything about modern “life,” such radical change in so short a time is fundamentally alien to the human experience. For hundreds of thousands of years, we lived the same way our ancestors had “always” lived, and we could count on our descendants doing the same. Life was cyclical, bonded to land, territory, weather, and all our various relatives in the web of living beings. Sure, every few thousand years you might get an ice age or other major geological/environmental shift, but on the whole, life was consistent.

Whereas in my short, almost-four-decades-long existence, so many bewildering changes have occurred in how I live and how humans interact with each other that my imagination struggles to make sense or meaning out of any of it. And that’s part of the simulation, the artificial reality that has replaced whatever existed before—there is no sense, no meaning, only the cold absolute drive of anti-life, the same-ifying of everything, the race to nothing. We’re not supposed to be able to make sense of it, an impossible task. We’re just supposed to be carried along with the signal flow. Plug in, tune out.

Mediated lives. The endless screen. Everything and every act a commodity, pre-defined in advance by a consciousness that perceives everything as a photo-op, every experience a potential subject of miniature documentaries.

I worked a show over the weekend where the band had arranged a VIP pre-show event; about 30 people got to come in early, meet the band, do a Q&A, take some vodka shots, and hear acoustic versions of two new songs. An awesome idea, and would have been a genuinely unique experience, had it been limited to the moment in which it took place. But before it even started, it was already filtered, mediated, defined, limited, rendered dimensionless; the band had photographers and videographers recording the whole thing, and at least half the people who came entered the event with their phones held dutifully in front of their faces, standing in between them and the actual event. Instead of being a special moment, a human moment, it was already artifice. It was already simulated. Whatever lingering magic that could have existed was already gone, deleted in advance.

Back to the supermarket. Consumer and commodity, reflecting each other until neither is distinguishable. Instead of sitting on shelves and colorful displays, we sit in cars in parking lots and stand in lines, herded, processed, just like the things we buy. Alone in our shopping bubbles, we move from shelf to shelf, surrounded by pop music and cold fluorescent light, hoping on some level not to have to interact with any other humans—the ultimate tragedy, to confront directly the isolation that defines our existence by breaking it, just for a moment, by acknowledging another victim.

As far as I know, somewhere in the High St. Mi Pueblo there is, right now, an abandoned bag of potatoes sitting in a random location in the store. I was carrying it, put it down, forgot about it, and didn’t remember until I was paying for my other items. There was no way I was going back for it. I barely survived the first trip through, and I still had two more supermarkets to visit before returning to homebase.

I spent three years in the simulated community of a nonprofit organization. People brought together by employment and mutual disaffection with the standard slave jobs available for working class black and brown people. Who among us has not made a latte, served a meal, mixed drinks, stood watch, hauled boxes, mopped floors, pretended cordiality in the face of obnoxious, rude, angry people? For the promise of something better—the promise of meaning—we signed up for the nonprofit get-down, and one by one we discovered, whether we could articulate it or not, the ultimate truth of the 21st century: there is no there there.

I can imagine that my life is a smooth flow from birth to my current adulthood, but I would be lying about my experience of it, which is nothing if not fragmented, broken into chunks, distorted. Multiple lives lived successively—here now my teenage world, my friends, now gone. Here now my college world, my friends, now gone. Here now my bartending world, my friends, now gone. Here now my restaurant serving world, my friends, now gone. Here now my nonprofit world, my friends, now gone, but not all of them. I kept a couple in the aftermath. How long until they, too, are gone? Even my own dear mother I see only a handful of times a year. The most consistent person in my life is Thomas, who is a cat. He will be with me until death do us part. My deepest, longest, closest, most abiding friendship, having now outlasted my longest romantic relationship (seven years).

Death of worlds and ways of being, without time or space to mourn their loss; endless and ongoing mourning, with no catharsis, no closure, no finality, no relief, in a culture of insipid morbidity—life as a drifting journey through an eternal concrete mausoleum.

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