Saturday, August 1, 2015

Just Look Away

You know how there are some things you don't want to see, but you just have to look anyway? Like a terrible accident on the road, for instance. You inwardly cringe as you approach. You are repelled at the sight. But you look anyway.

It can be the same with ideas. You begin to read something, and you know right away that what is being expressed is repugnant and twisted, but you read on anyway, unable to avert your mind - because what you are looking at is the intellectual version of a disastrous car wreck, the road kill of integrity in thought, the mangled body parts of reason. What started out as a report of some clearcut event or political commentary quickly collides in the readers' comment section with the lunacy of minds that have careened out of control.

Take any news article about Obama, for instance. Once the article hits the eight lane highway of Facebook, the simplicity of its substance explodes into weird shattered fragments, flying in all directions, which are then regathered in the repugnant form of someone's personal Frankenstein monster.

I happened to begin reading one such comment today and, pausing to scroll down the page, noted that it went on almost interminably. Obama is not an American, his birth certificate is fake, his wife is a man, neither of his daughters has a birth certificate either, having been abducted as small children; there are no photographs of his wedding, he has shown no marriage certificate, there is no record of his actually having attended any university, his name is registered under five different Social Security numbers in five different versions from five different states. He is a Muslim sitting in the highest seat in the nation and is committed to the destruction of freedom and democracy.

These things leave me with a distinctly queasy feeling - again, like the sight of blood and body parts.

Scarier yet are the number of 'likes' and replies of agreement that these sorts of comments receieve. Wow, you've really done your research, Bob!

And indeed, Bob has done his research, having, apparently, spent every waking hour pouring over the tomes of paranoia and fantasy that can be found on the internet as easily as measles on skin. Bob has made a masterly study of what is not, and is now passing it on to a confused and unwary culture ripe for infection. A sickness is passing like the grim reaper among us, which is known, by too many, as "the real truth".

Oh brave new world, that has such people in it.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Something Wrong

It’s hot. Mid-afternoon. I fall asleep again. Wake up again. There’s something wrong with me. I wander out to the back and sit at the table. Light a cigarette. In the place behind the yard a woman is singing to a child. The child has no words yet, but makes only sounds. Whenever the woman stops singing, the child makes the sounds and she begins again. The shirt I was wearing this morning is draped over the opposite chair, having forgotten me. The shirttail lazily furls and unfurls in the absent-minded breeze. The woman sings. I remember the laundry I started this morning, still in the machine. Soup for a week. But someone will have to hang it out to dry. Like me. Me and the laundry and my pretend dog Snoopy. I don’t remember anyone ever singing a lullaby to me. I was too young. Or my brother was too old. Was. That’s the key. I’m pretty sure there’s something wrong with me.


The truth seems often so dreary. We've heard it before. We want something new. We need to be entertained, like discontented children. What if?

It seems now that the mysteriously lost Malaysian Airlines jet has been found. It did not disappear. It was not taken to a secret island by the CIA. It was not abducted by aliens.

Not very interesting at all, and, therefore, unacceptable.

How is it that it suddenly just showed up, they will ask? The entire Pacific Ocean had been searched, and it's not really THAT big of a place, right? Clearly, the sinister forces that absconded with the jet in the first place have now planted a well crafted replica, made to appear the proper age and bear the proper extent of deterioration. Why they waited so long to do it is another question, of course, but maybe they didn't fully think the thing through to begin with.

A similar scenario occurred a long time ago with a squad of fighter planes that disappeared in the fabled Devil's Triangle, off the coast of Florida. They simply disappeared, with no possible explanation other than the fantastic. The most prominent theory was that they were taken by aliens.

But the problem is, they were finally found - not so mysteriously at the bottom of the ocean.

Bummer, right? Once again, we are faced with these dreary facts, the monotony of truth, this maddening creature that retains its form no matter how much you twist it.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things."

That is where the true and deep mysteries begin, where reality is left to be itself and we begin to contemplate what remains.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Lucifer and Joe

The more I think about this, the more it kind of bothers me. Earlier today, I posted photo of the life-size Camel cigarettes Camel (Joe Camel) at the Circle K in Sanur. They must have gotten this in some kind of warehouse sale, because Joe's image is now against the law in the US. It cannot be displayed on cigarette packs or on posters or in any manner whatsoever. It is thought that Joe Camel will inspire people to smoke, and smoking is bad for you. That's one thing they do display on the packs, in graphic pictures.

And yet, here is this 9 foot, 200 pound statue of Satan in Detroit. There are also statues of Satan in Washington DC and other cities. This one is different in that it pictures him standing with two small children.

What is the message here? Is Satan the Saint of children, the protector of innocence? Not at all. Satan is the prince of evil, the father of lies, the archetypal enemy of God and mankind. To this day, sick people, under the spell of evil, carry out deeds of ritual sacrifice, molestation and murder in his name. And so we erect a statue to honor him

At the same time, atheists demand that statues and images of Christ be removed from sight - the most recent one honoring the fallen among ski troops in World War II. Christian images must not be displayed, even at Christmas time, where they may be seen by the public - no, not even on one's own front lawn.

They fear that Joe Camel may inspire people to smoke, but they fear not the inspirations of Satan. They fear that people will be offended by Christ - which is not news, for He said so Himself - but they imagine that people will admire the Devil.

And they may just be right.

Friday, July 24, 2015

You Can't Go Home Again

“Something has spoken to me in the night...and told me that I shall die, I know not where. Saying: "Death  is to lose the earth you know for greater knowing; to lose the life you have, for greater life; to leave the friends you loved, for greater loving; to find a land more kind than home, more large than earth.”
― Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again

Two things happened.

One was that my stepson, Sasha, went back home to America to live with his father. I say home because Sasha has never thought of it as other than home, despite having left when he was ten and spent five years in Bali. Three-quarters Indonesian, Sasha was born in America, spent his formative years in America and is, quite simply, an American. Indonesia, the birthplace of his father and mother, was always a foreign land to him. The most that can be said is that he got used to it, more or less.

The first picture I saw on Facebook was of Sasha enjoying fiberoptic cable internet. The second was of Sasha holding an automatic rifle, surrounded by fully stocked gun racks. Both made me feel uneasy.

Arizona is where he lives now. The State of Hate, his father calls it. I wouldn’t know. I was there when I was five and all I remember is buying a little papoose doll from an old Indian woman. That was on the Navaho reservation. It must be different now. It could not have stayed the same these fifty-five years.

The second thing that happened is that I called my old home in Oregon this morning and talked to my son, Holden. I say “home”, but I suppose that by home I mean him, or just the fact of his presence where home used to be. There is no house anymore, no property, no parents and no relatives. And yet, when he describes what he has been doing, where he has been, I can picture the places more clearly than those beyond my own front door.

I’m looking at the present through eyes of the past and I’m not sure which place is the more real between the two. I’m listening to the familiar voice of my son on the phone as we speak of things that always were, always have been, always will be; and now, as I write this, I understand only myself, the words inside my head, whilst without, as dim as the darkness that has fallen, is the exclusive fluency of a chatter shared only by others. This is what we may call loneliness, in the purest sense. It is not intentional, it is not premeditated, it is not mitigable. It merely is. I must try very had to understand what should otherwise be easy. And, curiously, it occurs to me that when you can understand, it doesn’t matter, but when you can’t, it does.

Home. It has not been five years, but five hundred – a multitude of removals, surcease and separation, beginning, ending, thriving and dying. Time, like an atonal music, is a virtuoso of disarray which fervently awaits the comfort of silence.

Wolfe said it best, and in only five words. You can’t go home again.

Until you do.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Difference

There is, to my mind, a critical difference between the classic conspiracy theory and the common activities of espionage agencies. The machinations of such agencies are not conspiracies but ‘spy games’, carried out under the direction of a country’s leadership to secure and protect that country’s interests. The conspiracy theory, as it stands apart now from the typical espionage or political coverup scenario, is a creature of fantastic and inexplicable nature, a counterintuitive set of self contradicting elements that becomes so entangled in its own complications that it becomes, ultimately, merely humorous. It thrives on disinformation and a growing corporate paranoia in society. It is stubbornly resistant to facts, because all facts must surely emanate from the conspirators. It is immune to the basic principles of logic, and when shown to be false, either stubbornly adheres to the falsehood, in the hopes that truth will simply go away, or morphs to an alternate scenario wherein it may, for a limited time, persist again.

The Checkered Pants

When I was young, I used to enjoy reading the tales of Paul Bunyan, the giant logger who tamed the American wilderness along with Babe the Blue Ox and Paul's colorful crew of lumberjacks. I guess they'd be sort of anti-heroes now, since chopping down trees is not cool, just in the way that Pecos Bill, Daniel Boone and bear killing Davy Crockett would be anti-heroes, though of course the latter two were actual personages.

I was just remembering the story of Sandy McNabb and his checkered pants. One of Paul's crew members, Sandy regularly wore a pair of checkered pants and was perfectly happy with these until one day when another crew member asked him whether those pants were black with white checks or white with black checks.

Well, this question got right into Sandy's head and stuck fast there. He began to ponder the thing day and night, such that it tormented him unceasingly. Indeed, were the pants black with white checks or white with black checks? How could one possibly know? How could one ever find out? One simply could not. These pants, once so natural seeming and cozy, had become an unbearable enigma, a curse, a plague, and he must walk about day by day in this indeterminate, insoluble world of doubt, with no escape from the eternal question of those pants.

Well, rather than just change the pants or buy a new pair, poor Sandy went mad, and was no more use to Paul or himself or the world. So things go in tall tales.

And sometimes in life, too. There are some questions that are just plain questions, and are happy that way. They don't come with answers. As questions, they are true enough to themselves, as clear as black and white.