"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Feb 28, 2013

Choreographic, Chiropractic

Markets are like ideologies, because they are ideologies. They do not occur by a process of natural accidents accumulating into persistent structures which evolve into self-propagating systems; they are choreographed, they are planned. Ants do not have markets, because ants do not create ideological spaces where values are determined and recorded. Ants do not sell. Monkeys do not sell. Crows do not sell.

They might exchange, those non-ideological creatures. But, they do not create and impose markets. Ideologists of markets would have you believe that markets are merely systems for exchange, that they occur whether or not people want to have them, that they are naturally arising.

Let's test this hypothesis. Say nothing for a week. Write nothing for a week. Type nothing for a week. Do not pay any bills for a week. Do not obey your employer, for the next seven days. Do not engage in any employment which obligates you to trade your labor for numbers recorded in a file. Do not make any purchases for a week. Do not enter into any agreements for this same period of time. Do not attempt any non-verbal communication. Do not explain any behavior to any other person. Obtain only what foodstuffs you can consume by casual theft, accident or happenstance.

Report back, if the pleasure so arises, on whether or not your outcomes were similar to that of the previous week.

Or, do all of the things you normally do at the supermarket, gas station, landlord's office, employment site, city hall and big box retail outlet. Take everything you want, but do not offer any paper or digitized numbers in return. See if you are "naturally" allowed to retain your even rudimentary liberties and freedoms.

Do not, in short, perform acts of valuation. Have needs, and meet them. If you aren't thrown into prison, it's because you are either very, very important or very, very wealthy. If you are deprived of your freedom, and forced to exchange even further ideological value in order to re-lease it, please afterward explain how markets are "naturally arising."

Markets are like gods: without the word, without the text, they do not exist. It is not nothing that, as Shlain insightfully and clumsily infers in his The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, that the written word shows up with the advent of priesthoods. It is not nothing that gods and markets cannot be idealized and faked into existence absent language.

It is not nothing that when Apples tries to sell you its latest tablet, it does so through choreographed goat-plays, accompanied by a liturgical rite.

Feb 24, 2013


I'm not an atheist because I don't believe in God.

I don't believe in God, which is a clumsy way of stating that I lack belief in God. Belief is a narrative function. Belief is a story upon the completion of which, in the final sentence of the text, or the last frame of a series of emotionally colored images, the believer is instructed to begin the story all over again. Belief refers back to itself, closing the story in order to re-open it.

I make no value judgment about that process.

I just don't tell myself these stories about a God which resolve themselves into narrative cycles whose only function is to prevent their own cessation.

It's not that I don't perform this function. I lack this capacity only at least when it comes to stories about god(s). I'm pretty certain I engage in this narrative function each time a take a step, or fall to sleep assuming I've a decent chance of waking up, or kiss my wife as if her reaction will be mostly enjoyable for all parties involved.

But, I'm not an atheist because I don't tell myself stories about this mutable character, god. I'm an atheist because none of these stories satisfy a significantly stronger urge to test the character of this character, and to always find it wanting. From my point of view, there is simply no way to posit any sort of god (a creature by definition more powerful than mere mortals, if only in the way comic book superheroes are more powerful, by possessing a hypertrophied attribute which allows this god a greater chance of winning feats of strength, or contests of wit) who interacts with humans and doesn't come out of the relationship having harmed the human person.

And there is no way to posit a god who doesn't interact with humans, but is somehow still known by them, and find that character credible. That story - the god who is known, but who exercises such restraint as to never interact with humans - corrodes itself the moment you begin to tell it. It generates doubt. It collapses its own ability to sustain itself to the end sentence, and the instruction to return to the beginning.

There can be no god who isn't a monster, in the same way that there can be no government which doesn't govern.

It's not that god is or isn't real. "Reality" wouldn't even begin to be a valid descriptor which could apply to creatures which are not bound by the realized constraints of existence within contingency. It's that any god which can be conceived, must be conceived of as a monstrum, as a portent of a thing which mutates into an agent of harm at the instant of its conception. And any god which could be conceived of existing beyond human knowledge, or effect on human existence, decays with an astonishingly rapid half life: the narrative degrades the story it's supposed to sustain.

If you can identify with that monster, and not immediately be sickened unto death, or feel dread at the consequences of your fealty to that story, by all means enjoy the behavior. I hear also that some rapists enjoy raping, which no more justifies rape than the consolation felt in supposed unity with god justifies what the god must be, or not be at all.

Feb 18, 2013

A Day's Work

The death of a man with Down syndrome who was reportedly killed after lying face-down in police custody has been ruled a homicide. WJLA reports that Robert Saylor, 26, of New Market, Md., was asphyxiated on Jan. 12, according to a medical examiner's ruling late last week.
I'm sure better writers than I will come at this story from more significant angles, but what sticks out for me on first read is the following section:
Baltimore County Sheriff's Office spokesperson Jennifer Bailey said the case is still under investigation and that the three officers involved in Saylor's death -- Lt. Scott Jewell, Sgt. Rich Rochford and Deputy First Class James Harris -- "continue to work their normal assignments," according to the Post.
If you have a moment, imagine killing a young man with Down's Syndrome and returning to work the next day. The viciousness of murdering a twenty something with Down's Syndrome, aside, is there any other caste of people who can take a life on any given street in the US and return to work the next day, to be paid to do it all over again?

 I mean, other than the President.


Feb 12, 2013

Fuck the Motherfucker

Flashing back:

Thank you, Tim Minchin.