poetry, Religion

Bodhisattva

Kuan-yan_bodhisattva,_Northern_Sung_dynasty,_China,_c._1025,_wood,_Honolulu_Academy_of_Arts

quaeritur

where is a pleasant land

brundle and behest lee right to do that way of weight

 

dharma

towards a known blessed window

through a bodhi flesh blue

 

Amitabha

swarm on lilac hills Camponotus wroughtonii

Asuras vomiting up potent wine

 

han

sound flat and sharp

slapped note note upwards

 

Mara

bleeds his screams into Cetiya

drunk up by the disciples

 

Dorylus labiatus

the walls of existence vibrate

with the fervor of honey bees

a tree twisted by a cancer

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Uncategorized

The Wheel

Lydgate-siege-troy-wheel-fortune-detail

Being, propinquity to eternity

Mother and child embrace besides the remains

Banal hubris broke the quiet of history

Evil arrayed resplendent still profane

 

A millenium passes unregarded

A moment is felt as a tribulation

Eons are muddled and flocced

But Now is an endless abreaction

 

Tanks will always rumble ‘cross the Oder

Men will always fight for a putrescent ideal

The bodies of innocents will molder

With every callous spin of fortune’s wheel

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Conservatism, essay

“I’m Just A Monkey on A Gun”: The REAL American Sniper

Chris Kyle at Work

Chris Kyle at Work

Is this what it has come to in this nation? Are people like Chris Kyle really supposed to be celebrated like a “hero”? Men who admitted in their own autobiography that they looted the houses and bodies of the people they killed in Iraq, who calls the people he killed “scum” and celebrates their death as a sign of American exceptionalism and a step towards more American “freedom”?

A man whose supporters attack others with rape, death, and assault threats for daring to even express dislike for a movie made about him? Is this a hero? A man who said he enjoyed killing and would do it all over again? We are supposed to celebrate that? On the day we celebrate the life of a true hero, Martin Luther King, Jr., a man killed by a sniper, a film is out in theaters about a man who killed 200 people with a rifle. There is something perverse about that. Something wrong…something sick in the American spirit that we can find room in our hearts to celebrate as heroes people who kill others in the name of a freedom that they then rail against and denigrate at home whenever someone they do not agree with exercises it in public. “Kill the ragheads!” “Death to liberals” “That feminist should be raped!”…we see this online and in person every time some one has the temerity to dare and question the conservative myth-making industry. We must move past such false heroes as Chris Kyle, abandon them and call them what they are: drones, enforcers of power and privilege, or in other words, Cowards.

The US Public has long celebrated cowards, people who do with their fists and their guns what they cannot or will not do with their minds or their hearts. It is part of our American inheritance, our Imperial ethos, the same sensibility that could turn Christopher Columbus into a hero and the Native Americans into perennial villains. It is the faulty nature of American morality itself, our collective belief that our power is good, or rage is justified, and our desires matter more than anything else.

So, in conclusion, and to put it as simply as I possibly can: If you think “American Sniper” Chris Kyle is a hero, you are morally repugnant. The man was a racist, xenophobic, sociopath mass murderer and confessed war criminal. Move on and grow up. As Chris Kyle said about himself, quoted in a profile posted on CNN, [http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/03/us/texas-sniper-killed-kyle-profile/] : “I am just a monkey on a gun.”

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Short Story

The Horse

horse

It does not have to be this way oh god above me god above me. God who I have so elegantly killed. There was a horse in the road and he was being whipped and I cried and cried and came to the poor beasts aid. Why whip a horse? Why not whip me? Why not whip A stack of my writings? Do not waste the lash on an animal that can do no more than trot and winny! I can recite poetry in Greek, I can write prose in Latin! I can read you a passage from Virgil verbatim from my mind! So much more could be gotten from whipping me!

Watch as the amethyst sky rain. Terminate the afternoon with clouds and storm and fickle atmosphere. I was reading Hugo, only Hugo, nothing more profound than that. I wanted nothing more than to read, but the horse needed my attention. I can no longer read, no longer speak. I am in a bed. The linens are white and well starched. A parade of sycophants coo at me and ask my bitch of a sister for my ersatz autograph. She places a pencil in my hand and drags my limp digits across the inside cover of “The Birth of Tragedy”. Why did I write the pathetic excuse for a manuscript anyway? Ah… it was that student who was self-righteously tossing meaninglessly circuitous questions about my lecture. I felt like throwing Socrates for a loop… I carried away from there.

Oh how I could use Dionysus now! Oh god of libations and witless mirth send me a euphoria that will part the reeds of this marsh that holds me prisoner. I only want to write again… If only to denounce myself. Oh God of Jacob you of all beings should be happy that I wish to use my pen to excoriate myself. I’ll crucify myself and save you the trouble! I have already expedited my descent into hell. What is hell if it is not your sister feeding you soup and spooning your admirers lies about your oeuvre? Give me fire! Give me hideous imps! Give me endless wrenching torture! But deliver me from this literary rape my own flesh and blood is perpetrating on me and my memory! It is intellectual incest! Her fingers, let alone her mind, were never meant to touch my ideas. I will banish Baal from my thoughts is you strike her dumb and blind and give me another month to get my affairs in order! I will resurrect you for a bit if it helps me be remembered for more than my demise.

The world has changed since I fell into the stupor. It has gotten so much more… rapid. Or is it rabid? I the church bells themselves seem to ring louder, quicker, and the men are beginning to speak oh so very knowingly, as though some great question had been answered. And the women! There are so many more women about. So many of them visit me. I have no idea why. I was no friend of theirs, or at least that is how I was perceived. Suppose truth was a woman? How ironic would that be? And now the women in whom truth is personified have descended upon me in my most dire hour and corrupt the truth I tried so hard to speak. Or maybe I am too proud. Perhaps my words where lies and this foul muse has come to my bedside to correct the egregious errors of my ego? So many questions. The answers left their card at the door but never did come in to pay a visit. They had to pay their respects at Schopenhauer’s grave I suppose.

I have written 3 manuscripts, a small book of poetry, and 15 essays since I feel into this torpor. Alas they cannot be committed to paper. They will die with me, but that is no real tragedy. So many ideas have died with their creators in ignominious silence. So will I. That is inevitable now. I am enfeebled and infantile again, I have completed the cycle, albeit much sooner than I had anticipated. Well, I suppose it is a cycle, or not. Perhaps it is a ferment and I am near the peak of my vintage about to be drunk up by some great inebriated deity. But that would imply that I would be expelled at some point… unless the deity has an endlessly expanding bladder. But I digress… from something I suppose. Perhaps not. The sun is falling and those speedy little church bells are striking six. Time for my  sister to bring me my supper. Oh how I hope tonight is the night when she slips some blessed poison into my broth. She must be tiring of dealing with my crippled husk. I am no pretty sight In this, or to be honest any, condition. I am a hard man to deal with healthy and hearty, let alone drooling and murmuring. Let her kill me… although I did always want to out live that hag Victoria over in England. I don’t want to die a “Victorian”. Bah. How droll that would be.

I have a very blasé attitude to death. You would as well if your were essentially a well coifed bed warmer. I no longer care if I end up in hell or heaven or in Prague. I just want to be able to stop thinking about death. That is the true bliss that comes with passing on: no longer having to think about passing on. So many terrible books have been written about how/why we die. Not enough have been written about how we should live. I hope that my works have subtracted from that deficit in some small way. Living is a wonderful thing, if by life one means the ability to live without pain. I stopped living long ago. So I no longer care if I do live or do not.

The cat is on my legs again. That infernal cat that my sister insists on letting loose in my room. It smells, and it makes no end of trouble for my allergies, not that anyone could tell: I have so many fluids oozes from my frame that one some more coming from my congested nose will raise no worry in my caretakers. I hate cats. Their smug little smiles remind me of  how my publishers look before they strike some vital passage from one of my manuscripts: “This is much too abstruse of a passage for the pedestrian reading public Friedrich… how about another one of those nice aphorism of yours instead?” Publishers, like priests, seem to believe they have the ear of God, or at least of the prevailing market trends.

But the cat! Oh the cat! That whining little creature. It lies there, smelling of cod and spoilt milk as it sucks the very warmth from my body. God above how a hate these little creatures. Oh, and my sisters knows it I am sure. If I had a aversion to blue you can rest assured the walls would positively bleed the color. That bitch. That… but what is the use? She will not poison me tonight, or tomorrow, or ever if she was her way. I am her only means of procurement for the two things she loves most: pity and money. The first she gets quite readily, obviously, and the second she fortunately receives very little. I am not a popular writer, and for once in my life I am thankful for my unctuousness persona and its dampening effects on my literary bottom line. She is living as high as she can off of my bottom Mark… Her needs are modest, at least her financial needs. I am sure she gets no end of attention and praise from those trumpet tooting nationalists who claim to see a Pan-German manifesto in my writings. How did I so quickly become the new Wagner? Has my entire life been one long lead up to the punch line “Nietzsche est Wagner?” Again… not that it really matters to my sense of pride, but I had hoped that the dear old hag would at least preserve the underlying meaning of the words I spent my entire life forging. And now she has gotten her greedy little hands on my notebooks… lord only knows what she can do with my unfinished thoughts!

But I grow tired. The broth dribbles from my lips like water from a clogged fountain. I’ll pay the nurse a favor and pretend to sleep. Perhaps I shall really sleep after a while. Maybe I will dream of that horse. Maybe I can ride alone in the countryside for a bit. In my dreams I am sure I will not have to apply the whip to his hide to make him gallop like the breeze.

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Socialism

On Austerity and Power

USSR

Are there any parallels in recent history that will help us understand the predicament that the US finds itself in regarding systemic corruption and capitalistic power? At the dawn of the 1990’s the Soviet Union seemed to be on the verge of true change in favor of civil liberties and more economic democracy. Gorbachev was dragging the USSR and the political cabal that ran it kicking and screaming towards a less authoritarian state socialism. We sadly never got the chance to see a former dictatorial superpower open up and reform its system. A right wing and capitalist sponsored coup toppled Gorbachev and killed the Soviet Union and ended a flawed but ongoing experiment towards state socialism and revolutionary reform. Boris Yeltsin and his capitalist supporters took pains to make themselves appear to be the harbingers of change and hope for Russia and they took steps they felt were justified by their show of force to speak “for” the people and “revolutionize” the Russian/Soviet system from the top down.

Certainly the USSR was no more or less violent than the US in its projection of power abroad and imperial expansion internally. It was at least founded upon an ideal of human equality and workers rights, whereas the USA was founded as a Republican and Capitalist state that depended upon slavery and economic exploitation for its very existence. The Russian Revolution showed that a nation could kill absolute state power and control by popular protest and revolutionary action. It also showed that the people must be wary of trusting power to brash and egotistical “leaders” who want to create a top down state socialist system. Utopian aims were used as an excuse to acquire and abuse enormous amounts of state power and cultural control. While the US consumed the resources and people of the non-”western” world and exploited its minority communities at home the USSR consumed its own people as a resource for societal engineering on a horrifying and awe-inspiring scale.

In 1990-91 there was a chance for a new stage of the Soviet experiment but that chance was smothered in its cradle. Today as a result Russia is a gang-ridden, crony-capitalist big brother state with a dictator at the helm and the people more exploited and impoverished  now since they have been since the collapse of the Soviet system. The state that once enforced loyalty to the state socialist system now enforces loyalty to the pary of Putin, the Billionaire State-Subsidized energy barons, and the increasingly bigoted and radical Russian Orthodox Church. LGBT people and their supporters are beaten openly in the streets, political groups are banned or harassed, journalists are threatened or “disappeared” and artists, like the revolutionary anarchist artist collective Pussy Riot, are persecuted and imprisoned. Rates of alcoholism, domestic violence, homelessness and poverty are through the roof and if you happen to be an ethnic minority your chances for a stable safe life are even lower. Corporations own the natural resources of the nation and write the laws that allow them to manipulate and exploit workers. Russia is a Neo-Feudal kleptocracy on a scale not seen since the Czar and his family were dragged from their palaces and shot.

Does this seem like a problem unique to Russia? Are the “dirty reds” paying the price for their flawed socialist delusions? Is this sort of societal and economic collapse unique to the Russian experience? It is worth looking at the conditions extant in the other superpower on the world stage in order to investigate. The United States has been shaken to its core by a series of economic disasters of epic proportions. The political system is deadlocked and the people are beginning to demand reform of the Market System and the government that manipulates and profits from its continuation and expansion. Capitalism itself is facing a crisis as more and more power is placed in the hands of fewer and fewer companies and individuals. The government supports, incentivises and promotes this monopolization of all industry and all resources. This leads to a state where the worker as alienated as is possible from the product of his labor and the means of production itself. The American working public must “compete” against the miniscule wages and abysmal working standards of the corporate slaves employed in the “third world”. As Lenin observed in his Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism

 

Free competition is the basic feature of capitalism, and of commodity production generally; monopoly is the exact opposite of free competition, but we have seen the latter being transformed into monopoly before our eyes, creating large-scale industry and forcing out small industry, replacing large-scale by still larger-scale industry, and carrying concentration of production and capital to the point where out of it has grown and is growing monopoly: cartels, syndicates and trusts, and merging with them, the capital of a dozen or so banks, which manipulate thousands of millions 1

 

With the banks that finance the monopolies guaranteed a “bailout” by the “democratic” government there is no incentive for reform within the capitalist edifice. The “concentration”, as Lenin put it, is therefore inevitable as are the side-effects of a fully consolidated capitalist oligarchy. With full financial support from the government and with an enormous corporate welfare system in place the financial and corporate sectors have rebounded dramatically with no commensurate increase in worker pay or employment prospects. The corporations demand more and more cheap unskilled labor and demand a level of unemployment that will make it easier for them to use “market forces” as an excuse to further suppress wages and workers rights. In Chapter 25 of Das Kapital Marx tells us

 

It is the absolute interest of every capitalist to press a given quantity of labour out of a smaller, rather than a greater number of labourers, if the cost is about the same […] The more extended the scale of production, the stronger this motive. Its force increases with the accumulation of capital.

 

The explosion of debt that comes from the glut of spending on behalf of Corporate and financial interests plays into to a conservative reaction against all government spending, which is erroneously seen to weighted in favor of the poor and working classes. This conservative backlash is encouraged by “libertarian” businessmen and political leaders who stoke conservative fears of draconian “wealth confiscation” by the government in favor of the “freeloaders” (assumed to be racial minorities, immigrants, young people, and the poor)  in order to have further support for their austerity plans. Austerity is essentially regressive tax on the working classes and the poor. While public sector spending on social welfare programs, education, healthcare and poverty is cut or eliminated entirely spending on corporate welfare increases exponentially and the cycle repeats itself ad nauseum. Increased poverty, desperation and the closing off of “economic/social mobility” leads to desperation in the population, with some turning to nationalistic, jingoistic and radical libertarian movements as way to express their rage and frustration. This sort of angst is easily manipulated by the political parties into any number of bigoted policies against hated or feared minorities and the working poor.

Whether it is Obama or Yeltsin or anyone else the problem is that politicians of any political persuasion will always seek to personify “hope” and “change” in order to usurp the legitimate power of the people. They will tell us that circumstances dictate what must be done and that they alone (or at least with the token support of those people allowed the vote and choose to exercise it) can bring about needed reform and administer justice. This is a false paradigm and one that must be overthrown. The people must dictate what is to be done and they must be central to the process of reform and revolution. Change cannot come from the top down and it cannot come from political operatives who claim the mantle of “hope”. Any man who claims to be the personification of human striving and dignity is most likely the one who will destroys hope and demeans the people in the name of preservation of the status quo. These are the real facts on the ground and they do not change from person to person or from place to place.

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short fiction

Sana’a

sanaa

The backstreets of Sana’a are not places for happy fairy-tales, or reckless dreams of escape and boundless possibility. 1001 nights spent here would be something of a hell if it was spent in the gutter or the trash heaps; where the children play with old bullet casings and wear dirty linen on their heads to protect them from the sun. Such deprivation, such the albescence of the sand blasted walls soiled by a filthy rain tainted and corrupted by the offal and the rot of a large metropolis in the heyday of its splendid decay. Sons and daughters tend to fathers who have melted in the fetid pavement. Their heroin spitting syringes unholy minarets calling the disappointed and pathetic to a worship that will never end. Squalor is a language. It speaks in the gesture of a mother feeding her child tainted milk, in a dog fighting a fox for a old burger wrapper. It has its literature. Written in graffiti and in obscenities shouted at the foreign missionaries. “Fuck your USA” they scream, but they are actually saying “fuck”, just a simple endless “fuck” to everyone and everything. Not least of all themselves.

They are lizards, forked tongued limping serpents the endless poor. They are filthy, tragic and destroyed, wrecked and listless. They are wretched and cruel and stupid and ugly. But they are so very beautiful in comparison to everyone else. The shit wallowing pigs, pigs, I do mean pigs who walk the streets stepping over the corpses they never see, stepping on into a Armani clad future of decadence and well hidden misogyny. The women of the towers, and the apartments and the condos lay down and take it, their husbands never looking at anything but their asses while on another day soon they will be looking lovingly into the eyes of their Russian mistresses. Bear me a son whore, or at least get fat, quiet and learn to cook better.

There is not time for such niceties in the streets. A man who has a woman is a lord and a slave. He must feed himself and his family… but that is all he must do. Beat her, fuck her, hate her, love her. Women are added every day to the refuse. Discarded like a coffee lid. But at least they had the freedom to die of dysentery. There are no women in the middle east. Just… bodies waiting to be used. Oh how we weep for them… collecting out tears to show the world we care. What a perfume… what a decoration. The tears of a liberal. At least they cry. The conservatives and the capitalists laugh and pull out to ejaculate on the ample ass of their harlot. It was the white-man’s burden now it is everyman’s burden. Your burden. But not yours. You have no stake in this tournament. Take your chips and go home to your book of choice.

Sana’a does not exist. Neither does New York or Cairo. Only Ur exists. The first city is the only city. Everywhere we are Babylonians. We have just learned to write, but he have nothing to say. No stories to tell. Gilgamesh is a communist. He is against the market spirit. Better we cast our eyes to the Ziggaruts that seem to be extensions of the sky. Beer and wine and fountains of vodka and oil mixing into a brew of almost orgasmic profligacy. Poured onto the silicone balloons that pass for breasts in New Valhalla; all expenses paid, all checks cashed. Pygmy assassins wander the streets and pick at the eyes of the wasted and the obscene. Every optic nerve severed is another notch on their unbuckled belts, privates and privations exposed to the whispering mob who seem to float on the rain drenched sidewalks; the only thing that smells good in the city is wet pavement.

We hurt our children. We hurt them so deeply. We want them to hurt and to scream and to cry and rend their hair with their little bony fingers until they can no longer breathe for the tears. We are all warmongers when it comes to the future of our own spawn. They must not be weak. They must be strong or they will not survive on the mean streets of Sana’a/Ur. We must teach them Zionism, and Jainism, and Buddhism, and Fundamentalism, and Veganism, and every other things to can stick an I and an S and an M at the end of.  Butcherism, Golfism, Joblessism, whatever you can think of. Speak to the sky about your obsession and become a prophet. Create a religion. Do you have a brother in law you hate? Create a schism by declaring him your successor, or by ignoring the wishes of your children. Deny yourself. Impale a Buddha’s head. Open a little shop of horrors… or a bakery. Do something to be noticed. You will be noticed for awhile. Above all make sure your children DO something.

There is no room in the world for our fears. We must banish them into our minds; the only place where there is unlimited space. Lose them in that jungle of synapses and nerves. Cut loose into dreamscapes and intoxicating illusion. Fear the soldiers marching through your nebula, your realm, your foreground. Cast your sadness to the wind and it will blow away into so much sand. Sand enough to fill the desert again after the storm. Enough of reality. It is so hard to let go of fantasy.  It is so seductive to remember things that never happened or will never happen. Such carelessly emotive our lord less inequities. Force your impossibilities onto the whole of your community. Create a force to be contained. Whisper to the earth a way we can be free from freedom. The once was an Imam who said “Sana’a must be seen”. That is impossible because because there is no Sana’a. There is only a dirty little boy playing with his rain sodden toes in a dead end alley.

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Writing

A Brief Thought on the Profession of Writing (And a Postscript on Charlie Hebdo)

book

Assume you are a successful writer. Next assume you are Vishnu the most holy. But I digress…you make a decent living from your craft, and I mean decent in the way Saint Francis and Charles Dickens understood the concept, not the bourgeois perversion slovenly adhered to by the acolytes of the cult known as the Protestant work ethic, the philosophical-economic branch of Imperially administered oligarchy/state capitalism religion, whose god is Market; it is decency as living with what one needs, or at least what one can get by with. As a writer you are fulfilled, as much as a writer can be, with your career and with your ar and living. And this living is furnished by a de-commoditized market whose governing ethos is reducing to nil the exploitation of fellow artists and workers. Assume this system exists as a separate and actively revolutionary system in exile and at war, not necessarily aggressive, warfare against the above described ruling system. What then if you were offered a contract from a corporation of capital interest centered in the ruling state capitalist system. This corporation is relatively benevolent by the warped standards of the state capitalist system but there is still a measurable and galling level of artist and worker exploitation and wage enfiefment.

POST SCRIPT 

In the wake of the horrendous attack on freedom of expression in Paris this week It is more important than ever for writers, cartoonists, satirists etc to stand together and support each other. Art is not just a profession, it is a way of life and a way of thinking that reflects our values and our aspirations. Those terrible men who thought they could silence the Charlie Hebdo staff into silence failed miserably in their endeavor, but it cost the lives of 12 people. I am posting the cartoons that these murderers used as an excuse to kill on this blog in solidarity with all artists out there who are willing to risk their lives to make people laugh and think http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/07/charlie-hebdo-cartoons-paris-french-newspaper-shooting_n_6429552.html

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