Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fear, Hate and the Narrative

Eight long months running a convenience store earned a Korean eight years hard time after he shot fleeing shoplifter Jakeel Mason in the back:
Mason went into the store last week after Kim went outside to tell a group of loitering men to go away, prosecutors say. Surveillance video shows Mason trying to steal cigarettes behind the counter and Kim pulling out a gun as he walked back in, according to authorities. 
Mason was looting the store while Kim was distracted by his friends outside. Kim came back in and drew his gun.
Mason put his hands up and Kim backed him up against a shelf inside the store, the prosecutor statement's say. Then, Kim tucked the gun into his waistband and punched Mason in the face, prompting a brief struggle as Mason tried to get away, according to the prosecutors' account. 
Mason ran towards the door and grabbed a pack of cigarettes on his way out, authorities say. That is when, according to prosecutors, Kim got up from the ground, pulled his gun from his waistband and shot him twice in the back. 
Kim invoked self defense against a second degree murder charge
Kim said before his arrest he had feared for his life and claimed Mason had pushed him to the ground and tried to grab his pistol.
Surveillance video did not support Kim's account.
Fearing for one's life when confronted with a fierce American black elicits less and less sympathy with liberal Washington state judges, and apparently neither does the state of siege that contributed to Kim's fear and, probably more importantly, anger. Less than two months ago an armed member of Mason's community tried to kill Kim's wife in a shootout:
Surveillance video shows Seul Lim, 30, giving a masked man some cash before pulling a gun from behind the register. Lim can be seen firing at the robber, later identified as Tyrone Prophet Jr, 23, and missing.
Prophet promptly fires back and hits her in the abdomen before fleeing. Lim went to the hospital and came out the following day as the bullet didn't hit any organ. Kim told Kiro 7 at the time that his wife was 'a tough cookie'.
Prophet was later charged with first-degree assault and robbery. Investigators say the two shootings are not related. 'We know that just the previous month his wife was shot during a robbery, Troyer told Q13 Fox.
'We understand that probably leads to high emotions. 'But if you're going to carry a weapon you have the responsibility of carrying that weapon.
We can't have shoplifts turn into homicides.' 
Note the "first degree assault" charge. He'll be out before the husband.

Are the shootings unrelated, as the police say? What do they mean when they say it?

 They're certainly related in the mind of the once law-abiding Kim, but not in the way we once allowed, in a less tolerant nation, in human terms, that is, Kim is not allowed his anger or his fear. He is--and it isn't hyperbole!--denied his humanity. We're all being denied our humanity, when we're not allowed justified fear, when we're not allowed to return hate. In this environment to be "racist" is to be human. A human with a normal sense of self-regard and preservation.

That the Latino policeman who shot Philando Castile was visibly terrified (thinking he was confronting an armed robbery suspect) immediately prompted a Narrative response: Fear, like modesty and the inner city, would have to be sacrificed to accommodate our most fearsome people.

Fear is under ideological assault (if Trump does nothing but restore the judiciary as much as possible, he will have been worthwhile) and of course anger has long been denied white America in its perpetual state of siege regarding blacks. This new American value is one of the few newcomers are still expected to adopt, not the old-school pioneer hardiness of the Kims, of all those Kims out there in their little Fort Apaches, constrained from defending themselves too heartily lest the cavalry be called in on them.

What sort of psychological distortions, in the individual and in the group, are worming their way through us as a result of this unnatural state of affairs? Here the truth is openly suppressed and the suppression of that truth every day yields casualties: the killed, the robbed, the raped, the corrupted. Is the durability of mainstream and liberal America's black fetish really just a surrender, a surrender to the stronger, the bolder, even the unique stupidity of blacks, the physicality, above all the audacity to not give a shit about whether you are right but to assert yourself; a surrender all dandied up as Justice, ameliorated by drugs, electronic beats, ease, always, still somehow, material ease and indulgences at every turn.

There is no precedent. White America is beaten down: routed from popular culture, terrorized on the streets, beaten on the sports field, cuckolded by her skanks, silenced by the media, slandered in the culture and, always, condemned.

A people who've lavished on black Americans the wealth and admiration white America has given, a people who created the very structures that allowed that black success: professional sports, recorded music, shit, commerce; for that same people to endure black America's ongoing war against us, after having given that praise, surrendered it, having surrendered to the seductions of black culture; to be told then that this unequal state of affairs isn't a result of--God no!--blacks being ungenerous, and no, it isn't what everyone suspects, that black charisma emanates from the same well as black savagery; all against the backdrop of the flash mob, the urban torture kidnappings, the sex and drug trafficking, the moral degradation that no one dares name....

It is a humiliation that cannot be endured. So far the response has been, sadly, the reason the "cuck" epithet is so apt, and so likely to stick around: the mediocre mass (and the mediocre mass of our elite) just want to play some part in the fun. Sit in the corner and jack off? March for BLM? Is there a difference?

You're not allowed to hate those who are waging war on you. You're not even allowed to fear them. It's a surrender; how much is self-imposed is the question.

Of course:
No one was there on behalf of Mason. 
Mason couldn't raise a single friend or family member to defend his life. But the Narrative was there, weeping copiously and crushing a man.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Art and Power

A few days ago I posted on the subject of comedy. To continue on that subject.

A sort of personal fad of mine right now is the idea of art as essentially liberation--not catharsis freeing us from our repressive selves, but from our repressive systems. I don't mean to, and I don't think it's the role of art to, attack repression as such; society is repression. The necessity is to relieve it, or expose its absurdity, its distortions. But the ultimate end is still truth. Ideally it's the lifting of social burdens and relief from convention's obscuring white noise, if only in the context of the performance, for the weary psyche seeking it out.

Nowadays this might be claimed under the title "transgressive", and it looks at first glance as if there's a lot of transgression going on. Everywhere they tilt at patriarchal windmills and swoon before racist straw men, all under the banner of Truth.

Needless to say tradition as such has been routed culturally at the same time (and by, for that matter) mainstream entertainment's economic globalization. The complementary nature of capitalism and the Left wasn't recognized at first, it had to assert itself as the natural, overwhelming phenomenon it is. But what began as natural symbiosis has matured into open conspiracy. It's worth noting the sweet deal capitalism gets--it gives up nothing, while the Left has abandoned, served up for their former enemies really, the working class.

Commerce and the Left have taken over popular art, in a sort of unspoken compromise. Like the old joke about the Soviet Union--the government pretends to pay workers pretending to work--now the liberated pretend to be oppressed by those who pay them. And as with their Soviet counterparts, real work isn't getting done and high functionaries are getting wealthy producing an inferior product for which there's no competition. It's the Ribbentrop Molotov pact and we--the people--are Poland.
A dull pessimism takes hold in us, cowed on every side to accept a never-ending narrative of emerging, aggressive identities claiming a grievance against a shrinking center. Transgression, as practiced, is all now a Sailerian Who, Whom demonstration of-ironically--supremacy. So there is a curious lack of necessary vitality in even the dazzling technological marvels Hollywood produces with ever greater commitment to the dominant narrative and ever greater watering down to appeal to a global audience (the same thing, really).

Art, contrary to hoary conceit, does not exist to shock. This is a perversion; the artist should pursue the truth despite its tendency to shock. We've elevated the gratuitous shock, invoking "transgression", which is not the same thing. It's undeniable art loses vitality without an element of pushing, or transgressing, against something significant. Tradition's significance is waning rapidly. Most popular entertainment engages in at least slight fake transgressions against tradition, done up as historical bogeymen--the patriarchy, white supremacy, homophobia.

But does the mainstream artist today, despite working on behalf of power and convention against a beaten but formidable historic enemy, really betray his mission? If he truly believes he is on the side of right, his role is precisely that of the artist in a fascist system. And as they see it despite modesty and patriarchy's present submission they remain dangerous and toxic, likely to reform and rebound at any time--and this makes sense. We should expect they will; all of history up to the last century can't be wrong. The problem is, and the Left will never concede this, is how, and by whom, that reassertion will take place. But allowing for their delusion, there is nothing sinister about it. More irony, of course, is the resemblance to a fascist state of affairs--art and culture in service to a prevailing order and closed to threats to that order. Must be nice.

The Left just won't admit it's in charge. Because not being in charge is how it got to be in charge. That is, the various movements based on grievances against the Western tradition, with the black American "struggle" center (and it's difficult to imagine our predicament being possible without our black citizens and their affinity for "suffering") are how power was seized. The Left's narrative boils down a sort of selective Christian reading: the powerless are worthier than the powerful. Forget that it's always been bullshit, and a front for, among other things, ethnic warfare; nobody lasts by easing up once they're in power. The hope among the vast part of the population that is apolitical but acquiescent (the silent majority, nodding in assent!) has always been, I suspect, that the advancement of sexual liberation and minority rights would level off, find reason, lay down arms as ground was won.
It's long past the point of denying this won't happen.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Fictional Friday

[I keep toying with this turd]

Thou are right, O Lord, very right.
Thou hast condemned us justly.

"Bear with me. My story requires a bit of preface. " Alex said. "I might try your patience. Even if what they used to call storytellers still existed, I wouldn't be one. The ability to tell a story with a coherent beginning, middle and, especially, end, is all but lost. No one knows how to end a story anymore. And I have no ending for this one."

"So...you've come  to me for help." I smiled.

"No." He smiled back. "I mean...no offense, I wasn't thinking that. And now that you mention it, I'm open to suggestions."

"You won't mind?"

"I will thank you, if you can give this story its proper resolution."

"What do you mean resolution?" I asked. He laughed.

"Just what I was saying about nobody knows how to end a story anymore. The true art of storytelling was lost by the middle of the twenty first century. Anyway, I'm beginning to think there is no ending. None that isn't meaningless. And I warn you now you'll find the details and course if the story--what they called plot back in the day--absurd. But not, if I manage it correctly, meaningless. The point is to arrive at meaning by way of all the absurdity."

"That's absurd." I laughed. Alex grinned.

"No, not at all. Autonomous V irtuality is still churning through themes that precede its crude early stages as virtual reality, which it inherited from cinema, which was passed down from the written word: supernatural elements, time travel, conjuring of historical figures. I borrow some of these techniques. History itself provides the absurdity.

"After I spent the summer immersed in the old writings--so wonderful they're there, so unfortunate no one cares--I was compelled to write a story in the old fashion. It's meant to be read and that's it. It isn't a script, or accompanying text for something else. Reading was once something people did for its own sake. Not just storytelling; nonfiction writing was merited aside from content for artistry, and what was called the essay, for instance, was once common. There was of course poetry, now all but indecipherable to all but an aging few and soon to pass into oblivion with them."

With all the deliberation of a man who'd finished speaking for the time being, Alex paused to pour his glass and drink. Knowing him, I didn't interrupt. The light outside was dimming.

"I've set my story in the first half of the twenty first century, just as the Postmodern Panics were beginning. Of course this is not what they called them at the time, because it's inaccurate. The Panics were not at all panics--sudden mass psychological reactions--but the logical culmination of the parallel movements that dominated American politics into the middle of the twenty first century.

"Nor do I believe any of the prevailing, supposedly deeper analyses--not that anyone pays them much attention--that they were manias born of the economic shocks of the twenties, or the post sexual revolution, or to the combination of the two, or--a favorite of mine--a mass re-wiring of the human brain due to the sudden prevalence of AV; autonomous virtuality was actually in its infancy when the Panics began in earnest--and they certainly weren't due to that perpetual specter, global warming.

"The Panics weren't in opposition to the dominant cultural and political movements of the time, as we are taught, but emerged logically, ideologically, from them. They only differed in methods and--for the most part--fervor from half of the respectable political spectrum, this was when we still had what they now call an antipodal system, from what used the be called the Left. But more than that; their assumptions regarding the justice of their causes was conventional thought. One could get in more trouble--that is lose his livelihood or, towards the end, worse of course, by publicly questioning these assumptions than he could praising the actions of the various political terrorists of the time.

"Conventional thought was a radical, non-empirical analysis of a people condemning itself and its history. There is no precedent. So in polite society the political terrorists were seen as going too far by indulging violence, that's all, and anyone of stature, celebrity or importance could lose his position far easier for disagreeing with the terrorists' analysis than he could for praising their actions--and people did, occasionally. Of course toward the end one could risk far more than loss of livelihood. Anyway, what we're taught now--that all good people stood in opposition to the Panics waged by a zealous and effective few--is not true. Let's just say by the time of my story, about 2020, the terrorists and ruling elite shared the same critique and, for the most part, goals.

"Both ruling elite and political terrorist professed nearly the same contempt for the old order, what was once called the West, and its people, loosely and broadly described, and vilified, as 'white'. This is the origin of the casual usage of the word white to mean something generally bad or suspect, while that original racial connotation is lost to obscurity.

The renunciation of Western history and culture had achieved such a revolution over such a short time--a couple of generations, and the die was cast--almost entirely through the cultural and political moral suasion of society's institutions acting in solidarity--which is not to say there wasn't a great deal of coercion, especially toward the end.

"But this suasion was of two parts: a queer self-condemnation of the West, coupled with the promise of the superiority of the new post-Western utopia. The utopia was stubborn in arriving. The condemnation, always the greater part, became like a drug: ever greater dosages and strains were required. The violence of the early twenties looks predictable in hindsight.

"The component movements of the dominant order--feminism, the black and gay autonomy movements, ever more smaller movements modeled on these--found themselves unopposed in spirit and at the time presented themselves still as the rights movements of oppressed groups. Their actions might be condemned, but never their goals--and these could be quite radical. It wasn't long before these movements started shedding smaller, uncontrollable elements, domestic terrorists and criminal gangs. Many if not most would be folded up into and fighting for the Axis of Equality in the civil wars. The worst atrocities charged to the A of E almost invariably involve these. The name 'Axis of Equality', by the way, was initially a derogatory phrase, introduced by the opposition, while there still was one, co-opted by the A of E in its ascendance.

"The terrorist organizations that emerged from the time and would later be folded into the forces of the Axis--the Black Insurrection, the Amazon Army, the Western Intifada, the Indigenous People's Brigade--which, did you know, had few of these 'indigenous' people among its ranks, and virtually none among its leadership, and eventually collapsed over its inability to reach consensus on the meaning of 'indigenous'?"--Alex chuckled--"did not differ in their analyses from polite conventional opinion. They only differed in their fervor and violence. The elite agreed in principle and even sought the same negation of the historic West and its people, at least as a people. Well, they've got their way; no one defines himself as a 'Westerner' any more, by any name. But I suspect this isn't what they had in mind.

"I was going to say I think people don't go in there and read the old writings, and the few who do tend to get it all wrong, because the actions of these near predecessors of ours are so inexplicable, ultimately. It's like you're reading about an alien race.

"At any rate the past has been jettisoned like a rocket stage by post-literacy. We don't speak the same language as our own past. What's more, we can't know what is lost. But to think the powerful used to go to great lengths to suppress information. All they had to do was wait. Run out the clock on concern. But there's more to it, I suspect."

"You had a lot of time on your hands." I teased.

"And I spent it obsessing over the past--over time!" Alex delighted.

"This then is the time and setting of my story: the Panics hadn't arrive yet and the civil wars were just a rumbling on the horizon. The Pope then, he wasn't the guy you see on the advertisements for Global Sun or whatever they're calling it now. Vatican III hadn't happened yet, of course. The Church hadn't yet abandoned its claim of descent from Saint Peter. The Pope still went about in robes performing ceremonies, sometimes wearing a grand mitre on his head. Good, simple people still believed and wept at the sight of him, genuinely moved; they were some of the last human beings to experience religious faith, and our understanding of it died off with them. They didn't see at the time the very man they venerated as somehow nearer to God was working shoulder to shoulder with the enemies of God, of the idea of God, of the Church, above all by embracing the Great Migration that set up the European theater of the civil wars.

"The erosion of power that had begun with the Reformation half a millennium before wasn't quite complete, and the Church retained a great deal of wealth and political influence. But any real power it had was conditioned on it following the secular order of the day, which could be seen as Christianity stripped of its mystery--and any elements troublesome to commerce or politics. The last of the popes were enthusiastic proponents of this order. But at the time of my story it still had more than billion professed members--declining in the advanced West but growing outside of it in the poorer south of Africa and South America.

"The Church's dependence on those from the Third World aligned with the European ruling elite's  own project of facilitating the migration of these people into Europe. Or so it would seem; that these people were overwhelmingly Muslim and thus compelled--by a religion their average believer seemed to take more seriously than the Pope took his--to oppose and displace Christianity wherever they found it, well, I don't have an explanation for why the Church was untroubled by that. But it had clearly abandoned the goal of bringing the world to Christ.

"Instead it opposed the slightest opposition to the great migration that would achieve in decades what Europe's secular impulse sought for centuries: the Church's final ruin. It's as if having been stripped of its moral authority over spiritual and family life it could do nothing but divert this thwarted energy into moral authority on the great secular sins of the time, racism, sexism and nationalism. This was no real authority at all, of course, because its converse was not allowed, or at least not considered a tenable position by Rome.

"Adopting the secular mores of the time did not lessen condemnation of the Church; in fact it only seemed to get more intense and confident. The Church was historically guilty as the source of the great sins of the time--racism, sexism, sexual morality, which had become a vice somehow--so it could never reform to satisfaction. Condemnation proves inversely correlated to the power of its target. Imagine that."
Alex smiled.

"And there we should begin. Despite allying with them on a global level, at the time of my story the Church drew the attention of of some of these pre-Panic groups, militant but not yet violent. Among them a group of radical feminist women who invaded churches and performed stunts in protest of the Church's continuing opposition to abortion and a host of lesser evils."

I drew the blinds against the darkening night. Alex turned on the lamp after fiddling with it for a moment.

"And that's where we begin. The setting is St Peter's Square. The sky is cloudless. The air has the sharp transparency of late fall, but the day is unseasonably warm. Under the midday sun in the static air it feels like summer. Terrorism has already been a concern for a while: the thick cord of people waiting in line to tour St Peter's is contained behind heavy fencing paralleling on one side the great curving colonnades that embrace the square, where groups of tourists milled about under the watchful eye of security, some in disguise.

"In the center of the square there used to be an Egyptian obelisk-"--Alex saw my confusion--"-a sort of spire-pyramid, some twenty meters or so tall. It's since been repatriated back to Egypt, as part of the global 'historical repatriation and reconciliation' movement, and was eventually destroyed by fanatic Muslims in the chaos of the mid-century. Around this striking point in the center of the vast square a commotion begins."

"Two young women have managed to elude security and are attempting to scale the obelisk. They are stripped mostly naked, one painted pink in symbolic resistance to the Church's repression of women, the other in the colors of the rainbow signifying its repression of homosexuality. They are struggling with a suction-cup and rope method of their own contrivance; the pink climber is managing better, about three meters off the ground and making slow progress before the police, scandalously late, are upon them. The other climber has managed to ascend just out of reach of police, but two have seized the slogan bearing banner she's trailing behind her. It's gotten wrapped about her midsection; she struggles to free herself of it as the police draw it just enough to hold her in place.

"As more police arrive, three more women have ditched their tourist disguises. They too were chosen for youth and suppleness to draw more attention to their stunts, the modus operandi of this particular group. Their torsos were painted with anti-Church slogans. One wore a bra attached at the nipples with dildos on springs bobbing obscenely. She set upon a policeman and twirled them, stripper fashion. He took her by the forearms and they grappled. Another wearing a headpiece with dildos curved into the shape of devil's horns seized him by the leg. Two more demonstrators rushed forward with a pink banner they intended to wrap about the obelisk; they were intercepted at its base, one becoming entangled in the banner as they struggled with police. The pink climber held her precarious vantage bravely as she started shouting slogans. But she could not be heard, as the still air was suddenly broken by gusts of wind.

"A crowd began to form around the spectacle. Here and there a shout of disapproval emerged from it, but mostly the people watched in curious silence. Political stunts like this were common enough by that time; most observers knew the bizarre sight for what it was immediately. Such demonstrations such as this were increasingly indulged by the same political leaders who were ultimately responsible for maintaining order--unlike the unfortunate police and mid-level bureaucrats, who were immediately responsible for maintaining order. Because of mass media nearly everyone in the crowd on the square had the prior, virtual experience of the bizarre scene before them, and could confidently classify it for what it was and the nature of the protester's complaints without reading the slogans on the banners. On the faces of some in the crowd you might have even seen something like resignation.

"It was then, near the entrance to the square, a lone figure approached.  It was the Son of Man, in human form, walking among us. He was recognized immediately. The irreligious, the falsely religious, the devout; all who saw Him knew immediately it was He. He glided through them, blessing their lowered heads with a look at once all-knowing and all-forgiving."

"Now hold on a damn minute. That's quite enough." I interrupted. Alex smiled mischievously. "This is getting ridiculous. And, by the way, you know I know something about Christian eschatology."
"I know very well. More importantly, I see you as a believer, unlike myself..."

"You know I'm definitely not." I protested.

"Only because no one is, anymore. But you are of the type--the good, noble type of believer. Me--who's to say?--but most likely not. I have a cursed nature. Whereas you, like I said, are a believer; a believer in a time, not of disbelief, for that would at least be an assertion...no, ours is an age of indifference."

"You make it all sound so grim. For us believers, that is."

"Oh no, it's grim for all." Alex said enthusiastically, as if this was balm. "That's the thing. This absence of a tenable religion isn't just a problem for the faithful, but for the skeptical, for while the believer is denied something 'to believe in', the non-believer is just as significantly denied something in which to disbelieve. His resistance to faith is no less a moral way than faith; after all, if he's right it is he who is a soldier for truth against deception. I'm not even sure the distinction between them is all that meaningful. Coming at this dilemma from opposite sides, faithful and skeptic alike can be said merely to be coming up hard against an indifferent natural world, unmitigated by religion. If there's nothing greater than Nature, as there is now in the absence of religious mystery, and if Nature is indifferent as it certainly is--countless failed Nature cults can't be wrong--then in this indifferent world the indifferent man thrives.

"Those who were genuinely engaged in the question of religion and the soul didn't see they ultimately shared a cause: that existence deserved an explanation. The secularists offering a moral alternative to religion, the humanists and others, didn't see religion's death was their own; they grappled with and overcame their mortal enemy as both went over the falls of history. Of indifference. Sorry, I'm drifting."

"Not at all."

"So He has returned. But this is not the Second Coming. Whatever His intentions were we can't know--let's establish that as a bound for this story, that we can't presume to know the intentions of the Almighty. That would be too much. But we're obligated to establish this isn't the Advent. He's come to be among us, that is all, for His reasons. I want to say He chose the moment randomly to the extent He in his omniscience can choose a random moment, which is of course its own interesting philosophical question. I mean, can He, being omnipotent? And if he can't then he's not omnipotent, is He? It's an interesting paradox. Can He suspend, then, his omnipotence? If anything whatsoever is in his power we must assume He can. But if he can even temporarily lay aside his omnipotence, how can He be truly omnipotent. Doesn't He then become vulnerable? Couldn't, say, Satan,--God forbid--overcome Him in his suspended state?"

"But He did, as the Son of Man The Son of Man is not God. He is not omnipotent. That is the point. Isn't it the basis of your story?"

"I won't pretend to understand the controversy regarding the essence of Christ but we can dispute that later. Let it remain a mystery, just as the Christ, just as all religion is necessarily shrouded in mystery. It is this loss of mystery in our time I lament. But to return to my story."

"Please, do." I said.

"Many there in the square bore the atavistic fashions of the time, the curious tattoos and piercings you see in images of that age. As He turned his eyes upon one such woman she covered a tattoo on her forearm with her hand, suddenly ashamed. With an exquisite tenderness he placed His hand on hers. He moved on. She raised her hand and the tattoo was gone."

"This is really too much." I said.

"Bear with me." Alex smiled.

"They fell silent in his presence and cried out spontaneously in his wake. Their shouts were joyful and grievous at the same time, and of an intensity none of them could have before witnessed, much less experienced, before. Indeed, what human beings could have known an experience of this nature, much less degree? None of us. But the sound was instantly recognizable for what it was, genuine, unguarded, human; into that world of artifice upon artifice, it came like a bolt from the sky.

"And when this sound reached the obelisk as He neared, for He was moving directly toward it, it turned the attention of the crowd away from the chaotic burlesque there. Even the police and painted women froze in mid-struggle, comic statuaries, looking off in the direction of the sound. The pink-painted climber, having been thus distracted, lost her grip and began to slide down the obelisk. She managed her slide at first, but then her foot caught up fast in her tangled rope. Suddenly and completely anchored by the foot, her momentum whipsawed her headfirst into the obelisk. She fell and crumpled at its base, the rope wrapped about her leg.

"Police and civilians pressed in on each other coming to her aid. Right away someone called out to Him, and others joined in. He was already upon the scene. The murmuring crowd parted for him, revealing the girl laying inert, a policeman kneeling by her side. There was a drop of blood on the corner of her mouth; a trickle coming from her ear. Her face was colorless as chalk against the bright pink of her torso.

"He came close and stood over her, enveloping her in his warm gaze, and said, barely audible in the tense silence: 'talitha cumi'. With that the girl sat up with effortless, casual grace. The blood had vanished; the color had returned to her cheeks. She looked about with a confused, sweet expression. Small flowers which she had braided through her hair somehow survived all; she resembled a child. The people near exulted as one.

"Their celebration was interrupted immediately. A platoon of soldiers appeared, their heels striking the ground in unison as they moved in disciplined double-time. Barking orders and shoving the people back with their rifles they created a cordon around Him. These were not mere police, but the elite forces formed after the siege of Vatican City in 2019 by Muslim terrorists. Without a word they marched him off. They didn't lay a hand on Him and He didn't resist; He all but led them along. The people cowered. They wailed and wept violently, but shrank away and made no resistance."

"I doubt the people would allow that."

"But they did. You have to understand the power the soldiers represented. The troops' appearance alone was terrifying--helmeted, masked, armored, outfitted like combat soldiers but all in black without insignia; the extraordinary and ill-defined powers they held; even, or especially, because of the fearful specter that was terrorism--immediately evoked as it was by their appearance on any scene; mall of this combined to make those troops the very embodiment of worldly power and threat. So now, just as they bowed before Him, they bowed before the muzzles of the troops' rifles.

"The great collective fear of the time was terrorism, just as previous generations lived in fear of 'the Bomb'. But nuclear weapons remained a potential threat; terrorism was occurring daily, somewhere in the world. After the horror of its introduction, the Bomb never killed anyone. Indeed, one of the fears about terrorism was the possibility terrorists would get their hands on nuclear weapons. The Bomb also kept the peace--it may still prove to destroy it of course, but there it is. Terrorism on the other hand was the continual erosion of the peace, with a similar existential threat, of another sort of annihilation, always present.

"They took him to a subterranean complex beneath the Vatican. They left him in an interrogation room, sitting at a bare table before a two-way mirror. They did not shackle Him. He remained there the night through without making the slightest move or gesture. Light was dawning outside when a man came through the door. He was unexceptional in appearance--the sort of face you find hard to recall--and impeccably but just as blandly dressed. His ethnicity was uncertain, as was his accent; he could have been from anywhere. He paused halfway through closing the door, and examined Him curiously.

" 'You were expecting maybe the Pope?' He grinned. 'He wasn't expecting you. None of us were. It is you, isn't it?' He said as he moved in and looked closer, his face momentarily grave. 'I'm the chief investigator'--his name came out unintelligible--'here--' He cut himself off before finishing. He eyed the empty chair across the table from Him but remained where he was, thinking a moment. He held his hands out before him palms-up in an inquisitive posture and said:

" 'What can we do for you?' "

"He did not speak; His expression did not change. The Investigator held his pose for a moment, waiting.

" 'Very well. What, then, can you do for us? Have you come to help or enlighten? For they are not the same thing, as you very well know. Have you come to free us?' He said with a trace of contempt. That boat has sailed. We've been free a long time. We are so very weary of this freedom you granted us. You've had a look at your freedom. What do you think of it? Is man happy in his freedom? Does it feed him, keep him warm, console him..." he laughed spontaneously at this last, "...quite the opposite, as you know. Was that your intention? Whatever the case, it's done now. You cannot pull the rug out from under mankind now. It is too late. For two thousand years we have labored under this false, yes, god.

" 'Do you not see this notion of freedom, of free will, is at odds with that other malicious gift you gave us, truth? For freedom is false, and can have no relation to truth. You paired these mortal enemies together and flung them into the heart of man, where they claw and tear at each other as they destroy their host. What god does this? Is it any wonder man continually returns to the worldly shackles of tyrants? Would you condemn the powerful and cruel for freeing man from "freedom"?'

" 'But you were so eager to grant man his freedom. This curse he does not want. But you granted him it, and he feels compelled to praise it, to desire it, to celebrate--to die and kill for it! But he secretly despises it, he yearns for the guiding hand, your guiding hand, he yearns to be your slave. And he surrenders to this desire with this latest heresy--for it must be a heresy if you're here before me now--this Islam, in which he describes himself as your slave. These people, so backward, so proud of their ignorance and intellectual squalor, these people have that one thing right--that man wishes nothing so much as to be a slave, as long as he's a slave to a higher power; indeed, the highest good for man is to be a slave to the highest power. These people--stupid, dull as they are--have this one thing, the one thing, right. And all of your followers have it wrong. Because you granted them their 'freedom', when challenged by the spirit of Satan in the desert.

"The Investigator stopped himself, as if he had gone farther than intended.

"Forgive me. But this cycle must be broken. We are doing it, and we are doing it with the help of your church. Shall I tell you then? Yes, that's it.' He snapped his heels together and popped an exaggerated salute.

" 'Progress report, sir! We have been very busy, the Church and those I represent. I'm sorry a representative of the Church couldn't be present. But we didn't want there to be any misunderstandings. Just today we another two thousand needy souls into this land that used to be one and the same with your church; we pulled them right out of the ocean! Certainly you approve?'

"Still there was no response from Him.

" 'Their misery is at its end. Hunger is soon to be a historical memory. The other sources of misery too will fall in due time. Strife itself, the eternal human struggle of family, nation, race--is nearing its end. We are at the beginning of a blessed global uniformity of peace, justice and plenty--without, pardon me, your help. Without so much as a sign from you. So if you've come to offer your help, it really isn't necessary. But if you insist, we have some ideas for how you might do that.'

"A group watched from the other side of the two-way mirror, silent.

" 'I hope you understand why we don't act in your name--and I hope you understand why we don't predicate our ministry, so to speak, on accepting you as their savior, and why the Church itself no longer does either. Sadly', the Investigator said remorsefully, 'things have gotten so bad, and you've been absent so long, that your name actually hinders the efforts to bring to reality your promise. Can you blame the people for losing faith? He will not bow before an absent god, but he will bow before worldly power.'

"He paused.

" 'We are their savior, we bring light to the darkness, we feed the hungry, we protect the weak in the here and now, and if we were to credit you we would be lying. We are instituting the universal brotherhood of man you sought. But we can't do it in your name. Sorry, I'm afraid your brand is obsolete. But whose fault is that? You handed your work and sanction to the Church, and it did wondrous things in your name. More to its credit, it did terrible things in your name. That was the real sacrifice. And when the wrath incurred by history was turned on it--where were you? You left it to its enemies. To us, frankly. But we have been magnanimous in victory. In allowing it to exist still, to prosper even, to participate in this glorious final realization of your charge, to make all mankind one family, to make concern for the stranger equal to, nay, greater than concern for one's family, one's self. We took you at your word and then some. Or are we calling your bluff? No matter. You've had all this time to correct us; we must assume your absence to be assent. What else would you have us do? You've seen the latest manifestation of the Abrahamic tradition--'

"Here he is talking about Islam." Alex said. I nodded and gestured impatiently for him to go on.

" 'Twice great heresies arose demanding your appearance. First right here in Europe, from within the Church, and then in Arabia from the savage desert without. The Church countered the first--no help from you--and now we counter the second. Make no mistake about our intentions. We will deal with this last, final challenge to man's ultimate liberation. But in so doing we will have to destroy this pernicious lie, this stringing along of humanity, this faith.

" 'And 'salvation? What is that? A promise, backed by faith in an absent, silent God. To make real your wishes for humanity it has become necessary to disassociate them from your name. The Church did everything it could--no thanks to you--and can go no farther. So you can see why it's important that you not return, that you not show your face now. Why would you? What possible good could come from it? Is your intention to return and leave again, for another two thousand years? How long do you intend to string humanity along?' "

" 'Your appearance today has caused us little trouble. Already we're putting it to good use.

"As if any who weren't present there yesterday to see for their own eyes would believe in your return anyway. You don't realize we've--you've, in your long absence--made faith impossible. Even those poor wretched souls you tormented--yes, tormented, for how can they be expected to return to daily life after this?--even they are beginning to doubt what they saw, what they felt. Those that don't will be seen as mad--already they are being mocked and ridiculed in the Press. And you will burn in tomorrow's bit of theater--do you know what we have planned?--and will be remembered, barely and briefly, as a conservative religious zealot attacking the church for its apostasy, its worldliness, its embrace of the foreigners of that great second heresy. You died once for our sins, now you will die for yours.' The Investigator stopped and swallowed, as if having gone farther than he intended. He looked away from Him and said again, quietly, 'tomorrow you will burn.'

"It was then He rose and approached his questioner. The Investigator did not move but could not look Him directly in the eye. He kissed his lowered head. The Investigator turned and left the room, his hand over his mouth as if stifling his own words."

Alex sighed.

"And that, I'm afraid, is all I have."

"You can't just leave it there." I protested.

to be continued, perhaps

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Deconstructing Comey

Found this about pliable careerist James Comey, currently passing as Jimmy Stewart because he's the #Resistance's latest greatest hope to be rid of Trump.

I'd forgotten that at the time Comey's FBI censored the mention of ISIS in reports about the Orlando shooting, under the pretext it would "inflame" more terrorists. What's remarkable is the language the agency used at the time to justify Comey's withholding of the tapes of Mateen's calls and redaction of their transcripts:
 “We’re actually looking into any potential motive,” [Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ronald] Hopper said. “We’re not limiting ourselves to coming up with just one motive. We’re looking at a myriad of things right now and that actually is ongoing as we speak, both through social media, friend contacts, people that have only met the individual for one time. That’s why we’re asking for anybody and everybody that’s had any contact with this individual to come forward so we can piece that information together for potential other motives as well.”
If this was the first thing you read coming in you'd think the Orlando shooting was a classic whodunit. Then you might learn (with little help from the FBI) that Omar Mateen placed three 911 calls pledging his allegiance to ISIS and its leader (by name), and invoked his friend who died as a suicide bomber in Syria for al Nusra Front, a rival to ISIS (Comey's report said that rivalry rendered the shooter's motives mysterious somehow, as if Mateen is the modern equivalent of a bespectacled Bolshevik carefully crafting an analysis and choosing factions. Obvious nonsense.
So why the need for motives? But you'd never understand until you realize the point here is not to solve a mystery, but to create one.

But there's more here too. This is a remarkable bit of text, a cautionary artifact if a saner time can decipher it. Beneath the deliberate attempt to obscure is both a reassurance and a plea to the like-minded. The subtext comes at them like a public radio pledge drive: rest assured we're piecing together a palatable narrative, and you can help, no contribution is too small, see, because they can be combined. Call now.

Comey said censoring mention of ISIS out of the transcript was necessary because otherwise it would "inflame like minded" individuals--if you could make him out over the sound of their cheering. So, the world-weary thinks, they're afraid of "right wing terrorists", as they so often claim. But we're so far down the rabbit hole we don't see the real scandal when this cycle plays out--and before reading this I'd assumed Europe was the only place misinformation had become so habitual. Because they know the threat of right wing terror is a bogeyman, what they--political leaders conspiring with media--really do with some success is thwart  electoral action, that is the  peaceful democratic response of a people to violence wrought upon them by a group both foreign and favored by their elite; and they understand this well.

We've accepted the terms of the Narrative for so long even the enlightened have trouble processing it. For the normie it's nigh impossible.
Contrary to the elite trope, there is nothing mystiying about the actions of a Mateen. What's mystifying are the actions of those who profess mystification.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Comedy's Long, Slow March

A good joke comes as a revelation, exposing a truth that is suppressed by social convention or just missed out of negligence. The laugh is a convulsion of surprised delight when a well-timed reveal springs that truth on us like a jack-in-the-box. The degree to which that revelation is unexpected, meaningful and shows itself underappreciated--hiding in plain sight--is the degree to which the joke works. The joy for us is in our momentary liberation from stifling convention or obscuring ignorance.

The stand up comedian, if he's doing it right, is a chauvinist for his in-group of one--himself. His personal bias which, as the Left insists (and has willed into social reality) cannot exclude race, gender, ethnicity and on, is his basic tool, his soldier's rifle. In the friction between this supremacist of the self and all else--his intolerance--is the comedy and, theoretically at least, the truth. Tolerance has no place in his routine. Tolerance is the death of comedy.

The stand-up is paid to notice things. Presumably he's granted an exception to offend. But this right is meaningless if it isn't the right to offend the prevailing order, whether it be political, social or cultural.
I can't imagine the concept of a counterculture arising at all without comedy's tendency to become sanctioned transgression, filling the vacuum created where expression is repressed.

Needless to say, things have changed. Mainstream comedy--the only kind that will be available to you if the Left achieves its wildest fantasies and clamps down on the Internet--has become the open defender of the prevailing order, which it sees as just. At the same time, it hacks away at the old legacy orders, sexual morality, modesty, patriotism, et cetera as if they weren't in steep decline. It's as if the old formidable warlord is now the cultural left's captive, and they bring him out nightly, dress him up to look fierce, hand him a clay sword, and present him to their gullible children as the monster who rules over them.

In its absent-mindedness the counterculture offered alternatives to the conventional order that, depending on their political usefulness to power, coalesced to become today's conventional--if chaotic--order of competing identities and outrages.

Mainstream comedy lumbers on a pack of zombies, bled of their lifeblood, bias, animated only by our cynical materialism, greed and anomie. The money is in pushing the establishment line, and broadcast and cable television retain the technical and professional prowess, so the zombies keep coming, just like in the movies. So too comedic films and television have a hollow and joyless feel no matter how well made they are, lacking as they do the two essential elements: relevance and truth. A thousand perfectly structured jokes taking as their basis, say, the persistence of white racism, are just a handful of beads without a string passing as a necklace.

It would been the worst thing to say of comedy before that it was harmless, that it threatened no convention or power, that no one would be offended by it. Now the professional comedian, hemmed in by pc restrictions that somehow rob him of both the objectivity with which he might juxtapose and expose the absurdity of the "white racism" myth and the subjectivity, or bias, that, as intersecionality demonstrates, is inherently problematic.

Noticing is essential to comedy. Noticing is also the essence of intolerance.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Portland's Weekend

 

Joey Gibson's "Trump Free Speech Rally Portland" was permitted for Terry Schrunk Plaza directly across from Portland's City Hall. To its north is Chapman Square, where the hardcore masked and black-clad antifa were massing as if for an assault. Here police clear them out with flash bangs. That's the bronze statue The Promised Land, commemorating the Oregon Trail, draped in red flags. Chapman Square was originally intended as a women's only park--a safe space.

All week the city had been preparing in tandem with national and international media by framing this all in light of the commuter train stabbing of two good Samaritans by a local lunatic who had turned up at an earlier pro Trump rally draped in a flag and flashing Nazi salutes. He appears to be more crazy than political--and more left than right politically.
Myself I don't understand the logic of the argument, such as it is, that says the existence of a fatal extremist on my side somehow negates all my concerns and objective analysis. But the city indulged itself, at least in the media, and people seem genuinely unable to see the obscenity of political manipulation in all the competing outrage.

Before Chapman Square was cleared, demonstrators had been taunting each other across Madison St for hours. Before this police warned of slingshots in Chapman Park--but the fruit landed here is the only projectile I saw thrown. Looked like a kiwi:

  

There was speculation within the Trump camp that antifa would attack individuals and small groups as they left. Here Trump supporters cheer as antifa are driven out by police.

 


Schrunk Plaza was boxed in on three sides by counter-demonstrations. To the east, in front of the federal building, massed labor activists. This is the view from there:

 

Here I arrive and toward the end stroll through Chapman Park, camp of the antifa, about two hours before scheduled start of the Trump event. Antifa can be heard rallying for action:



Clashes between rivals after the event were rare. There were a few confrontations as demonstrators on both sides hung about after the end of the rally. Here a woman is pepper-sprayed:

 

Black BLM protesters arrive late (of course) and block a street briefly. You can see me getting harassed by a dindu of the political variety and his masked antifa whitefriend. Luckily for me they weren't nuffin (trying to figure out how to retrieve the sound).

 

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Portland Unhinged, Untethered

I'll be heading downtown shortly to document the "freedom of speech" rally in support of Donald Trump and the Alternative Right. Here's the lay of the land (I'm not very good at reconnaissance, but:

 

Friday, June 02, 2017

Searching for Hillary

Something propelled Hillary Clinton along all this time, something that doesn't translate on television and isn't documented in history, something more than cunning and Bill Clinton, some genuine ability. Other pols and media hacks have often claimed to come away impressed with her intelligence.
It could be that the Real Hillary is wise and farsighted, and this shows through. I suspect it's really because Hillary's real knack is for backroom politics despite being an awful candidate for all the technical reasons: voice, appearance, vibe. I imagine Hillary Clinton is really good in the room (as I like to think of it), that is in small groups formulating strategy. This impression is likely magnified in the minds of her peers and toadies, dutifully as feminists, genuinely as fellow political hacks, hopefully as opportunists: "yes, she's brilliant!"

This is the impression I had watching her corner Trump on the tax return issue in the first debate:
CLINTON: Third, we don't know all of his business dealings, but we have been told through investigative reporting that he owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. Or maybe he doesn't want the American people, all of you watching tonight, to know that he's paid nothing in federal taxes, because the only years that anybody's ever seen were a couple of years when he had to turn them over to state authorities when he was trying to get a casino license, and they showed he didn't pay any federal income tax.
TRUMP: That makes me smart.
CLINTON: So if he's paid zero, that means zero for troops, zero for vets, zero for schools or health. And I think probably he's not all that enthusiastic about having the rest of our country see what the real reasons are, because it must be something really important, even terrible, that he's trying to hide. And the financial disclosure statements, they don't give you the tax rate. They don't give you all the details that tax returns would. And it just seems to me that this is something that the American people deserve to see. And I have no reason to believe that he's ever going to release his tax returns, because there's something he's hiding.
Watching this I was impressed at how Hillary seemed to relax into this line of attack, growing perceptibly less stiff, less shrill, relishing the play and enjoying the game. This is Hillary Clinton, I thought. Hillary revisited this mode in her bizarre defeat lap the other day (repeating a genuinely fake news item):
“Who is behind driving up Trump’s Twitter followers by the millions?” she said. “We know they’re bots. Why? I assume there’s a reason for everything. Is it to make him look more popular than he is? Is it to try to influence others on Twitter about what the messaging is?”
But she can't be that good. As an anti-feminist, I delight in the thought that Hillary's campaign failed in large part because she led it, and the errors in judgement she made were female errors--most comically, the promotion of Alicia Machado, an outrage only women of a certain age and diminishing number seemed able to feel. Add the sexually ambiguous sidekick with the caddish husband and--well, Hollywood's Soviet-caliber ideological discipline is unfortunate. What a great story to write, cast, shoot. That they leave it on the table shows you it's not all money--and it's not even all fame. Maybe it's not even all power. But not for Hillary.

Of course if I'm right about her in the room skills, I suspect the real tragedy of Hillary is that she leveraged that relatively modest level of political skill and, more importantly, understanding, through cunning, the brand her husband created and her elite coterie into just-missing capturing the White House. And here I fear we see not the convulsions of a corpse but the slasher film monster rising from the flames, plodding toward us, armed with its inextinguishable will-to-power:
"I take responsibility for every decision I made but that's not why I lost. I think it's important we learn the real lessons of this campaign. So I think it's important we learn the real lessons of this campaign. The forces we are up against are not just interested in influencing our elections and our politics, they are going after our economy, and they are going after our unity as a nation, so, yes, back in 98...I have been watching this and I have been the target for a number of years...
But even in the field of crazy videos, Hillary is bested yet again by a flamboyant, charismatic guy: