Paradise of Storm

Category: American military

15:17 to Paris and the Banality of Valor

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by Guy Walker

Spencer Stone wasn’t supposed to be good at anything. He was deficient in his academics, overwhelmed with sloth, obese as a child, consumed with his love for toy guns and camo. In other words, a great American in the making. He eventually joined the Air Force where he was deferential and persevering, but kept failing in the most menial tasks assigned. But then on August 21, 2015, Stone proved what he was capable of when he helped thwart a potentially bloody massacre on a Paris-bound train.

He was with with his lifelong best friends Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler, traveling through Europe together, unknowingly boarding the same train car that Moroccan-born Ayoub El Khazzani was readying an attack. He armed himself in the bathroom with an assault rifle and three-hundred rounds of ammunition, a pistol, a box cutter, and no shirt, like a self-hating Rambo pantomimist, the sweaty discharge of nerves dripping from his tits. When he emerged from the toilet with gun in hands, he was immediately met with the struggle and force from another passenger, American-born Frenchman, Mark Moogalian. After much hassle, in what looked like a deadly version of musical chairs with the disheveled handing-off of guns, Moogalian was shot in the neck with the pistol, and Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos seized the weapons from Khazzani, beat his face in with the butt of the rifle, and tied him up. They nursed Moogalian’s severe neck wound until the train stopped, and French police and doctors boarded, and all order was restored.

Clint Eastwood’s new movie, The 15:17 to Paris, centers around these suspenseful moments, contextualizing the episode with a strange selection of biographical accuracy. It’s been widely reviewed as a bold, yet mostly failed experiment. By casting the real heroes as the actors, their stultifying charisma is not equatable to bad acting—necessarily, the acting can’t be bad. Criticism of their performance is instead criticism of them as self-conscious young men—a hollow pointless objection that simply says they didn’t entertain the way a real hero would. These complaints are, of course, wrong. Eastwood’s experiment is neo-Stanislavskian idealism, a higher methodology of never breaking character, a newfound commitment towards death. Our heroes will never be in another movie not because they are loathsome as actors, but because they will never be able to prepare for another role.

So, why was the movie so unbearable?

Eastwood has long made clear his political leanings. His queer imbecilic performance at the 2012 Republican National Convention, in which he delivered a stumbling hallucinatory interrogation of Barack Obama sitting in a chair, made everything he did in the future a political act. The 15:17 to Paris wasn’t just shameless military propaganda, or an advocacy of mass distribution of guns and war games for children; it was a landmark entry in the anthology of alternative facts. The single most thoughtful and literary sentence of dialogue was also its worst: my God is bigger than your statistics. It was a moment in the film when our heroes are children; they’re acting up in school, and two of the mothers are speaking privately with their sons’ teacher. She flagrantly and brashly diagnoses the children with ADD, saying they need to be medicated, subdued. The film’s commentary on the reckless haphazard medication of children could have been poignant; but Eastwood’s screenwriter, Dorothy Blyskal, instead diverts it to a gratuitous pandering to Christian conservatism. My God is bigger than your statistics is part of the defiant eulogy in Christian politics—it’s a reactionary crack that’s widely distributed in its application, saying gays are faggots, abortion is murder, war is peace, and so on, until the whole American experience is a porcelain infancy.

There’s about a twenty minutes sequence of Stone and Sadler ambling around Venice, Italy with a selfie stick, posing with the puerile occupation of “Americans in Italy.” There’s no plot here, no advancement of conflict, no foreshadowing of obstacle or goal. But in Eastwood’s obvious senility, in his dithering worship of films about strong men, in his attempt to remain modern and relevant, he inserts the selfie stick as a totem to this is what kids do these days, like a grandfather trying to stay hip with his runny-nosed grandsons: Man, this ice cream is the tits! he says, slobbering everywhere, embarrassing the world.

This has always been an illuminating hallmark of Eastwood’s. His entire career has been about re-characterizing his glory days as the elusive cowboy in the Sergio Leone films, characters that Donald Trump has purportedly idolized himself after—a trick-stopping showman who shoots from the hip and says it like it is. American Sniper was merely an episode in the gradual milk-lacquered entropy of Western heroism, the masturbatory fatigue weighing everything down with the onset of chronic blockbuster depression.

There’s a moment when our three heroes wake up together in a sunlit room after a night of dancing in some club in Amsterdam. One of them mutters the well-known adage: last night was crazy, but man, this morning I’m so hungover. The problem isn’t just that this is profanely hollow dialogue that doesn’t do anything to advance the story; rather, it unearths the more brazenly solecistic aspects of ourselves we’d prefer to edit out; it is unnervingly accurate in its portrayal of human simplicity. In truth, the vast majority of us speak the way an illiterate would write. If an invisible transcriber followed us as we went about our day, and we had to read ourselves in dialogue form each night before going to bed, most of us would shrink into the deepest folds of the sheets, cowering in the face of our brutish parody. A choked starling and her impish gasps is all we get; the rest is theater. The home-loving dramaturges that Chekhov and Arthur Miller beautified give an unrealistic advantage to their kind. Those everyday homely characters that we are supposed to relate to are too pictorial and precise in their structure. Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos are relatable in their doughy normalcy, their artless glorification of helping others.

It’s interesting to compare the incident on the Paris-bound train with a similar, more gruesomely intimate tale of everyday heroism. On May 26th, 2017, on a train in Portland, Oregon, Jeremy Joseph Christian, an ugly mullet-loving white suprematist, was spluttering his yokel philistinism at two teenage girls, one Muslim, the other African American. Strangers in the crowded train intervened, defending the girls, two men of which ultimately sacrificing their lives, and a third man surviving with a severe stab wound to the neck. It’s heroic, but not cinematic. Dead heroes don’t inspire others. But more importantly, there is no flag worship in this type of action; the Other is the victim and not the perpetrator. The messaging in The 15:17 to Paris is clear that these are our boys. Focusing on an incident like that on the train in Portland would confuse that dialogue.

The 15:17 to Paris feels cruel and inept because it is. It never should have been made. It feels like a movie built with stock footage, the kind you see in pharmaceutical commercials with couples walking their doggie on the beach, flying a kite, mowing the lawn—the everyday tedium that we are actually programed to forget. This is all stacked around a single moment of competence, when the shooter’s gun jams, and our hero tackles him. Actually, both of his guns jam. Eastwood makes a nod at the monumental luck, when Skarlatos inspects the guns immediately after the attempted attack, and comments on their “one in a million” fortitude; but Eastwood never fully illuminates this, that the grandiosity of one man’s valor swirls chaotically in our collective farts of ephemerality.

It brings it back to when they are children—my God is bigger than your statistics. “One in a million” is prophecy along this quixotic brand of Pulp Fiction divine intervention moment—it marries Stone’s awesome bravery to run headfirst at the barrel of a loaded assault rifle with the omnipotence of God’s hand at work, ending with the victorious ejaculation of hero-worship dripping off the screen, a hundred flag-waving hard-ons watching determinedly in the theater, their dicks overflowing like lava cakes. What the film achieves in is explicating the pedestrian nature of heroism—it’s something that everyday citizens like you and I can achieve—be fat, suck at school, stop terrorists. It’s the American way.

And in a way, 15:17 to Paris transcends above all other films. The exhausting banalities of our heroes’ day-to-day are all part of the unsentimental realism of how we live our lives. We’re shitty at nearly everything that’s interesting. We go to Europe—to the safe big cities, and to the hostels in those cities—out of some last-ditch desperation for menial indulgence. The 15:17 to Paris is Westernized avant-garde, an unintended masterpiece of social criticism; it forces its viewers to plug along with the careful representation of themselves—an hour-and-a-half autobiographical biopic in which we stand in front of the mirror staring at the religion of monotony that has overcome us, the utter boredom. It’s a sobering moment, when we realize none of us actually orate like the baroque Tarantino dialogues, that the extravagant fictions of our favorite films are exactly that—fantastic, impossible, award winning in their artistry.

Finally, we can continue as normal. Because this is who we are. Heroes are everyone everywhere, shuffling across the wide open range, consuming things like mac ’n’ cheese and Coca Cola. Our cinematic gallantry always just a moment away.


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From Silicone Implants to Silicon Humanoids: The Body Must Die

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by Guy Walker

It’s always the same shameful exposition: standing completely naked in front of a full-length mirror, self-criticizing every lifeless pouch weighed down by gravity. If not that, there’s an extra piece of baggy skin somewhere that hangs like a kite begging for the wind. If not that, your legs are too scrawny; or your lips aren’t plump enough; or your lower-back-to-buttocks ratio isn’t what it should be. We’ve all done it—staring at ourselves in our full bleakness, wishing we had it another way.

But these peripheral fixes are mere trifles. Hacking open a woman’s chest and stuffing it with water balloons, or trimming down an obtuse nose with a metal file doesn’t suffice as a satisfactory remedy to our quaint ephemerality. Our agreed upon commitment to resent our own bodies is driven by far more than the fluttering vanity for a better figure—we’re trapped in a decomposing suit of meat, a slow entropic nightmare drawing out over many decades. A few bright years perhaps, but the window between crawling on all fours in a diaper full of your own excrement and being pushed in a wheel chair in the same embarrassing condition is excruciatingly short. In the grand scheme of things, we’re here for a few seconds and then all drop dead like flies.

Humans have always been at war with their own bodies. We want our fittest most enviable qualities to carry into the future, selfishly imprinting ourselves in as many offspring as possible. Plutarch told stories of the Spartans tossing their unhealthy babies off the mountain—a practice that was presumably meant to heighten and preserve their genetic fortitude. This is, perhaps, a display of antiqued animalism, like an unwarranted human sacrifice without the gods to accept their gifts—babies flailing and crying as they somersault down the hill, smashing into rocks as they go. It’s the human version of a mother bird eating her weakest chick. Ancient Greeks and Romans were known to leave sick infants on manure heaps, sometimes being rescued by others and turned into slaves. We like to think that things have changed, that our proud domesticity has evolved enough to care for the destitute and disadvantaged—but the 2,000 year history of female infanticide in China that still continues today is evidence that the brute is still there, that we can do the unimaginable just for the right set of genitals.

For a while, it seemed like religion’s fault. It’s always wanted to turn the human into some sort of sexless troglodyte, inhibiting the body of its most carnal features until all that’s left is a stinking abstract form of functioning organs, everything wrapped up in a colorless gown. When Catholic nuns—and virtually all women in Saudi Arabia—cover themselves from head to toe, they presumably wish to purify the body’s total libidinal sense. It’s intended as a visible sign of getting closer to their god—a display of ornate sterility, like a peacock who jumped in a bog because it was afraid of its great color. Many Orthodox Jewish married women cover their hair with a wig or half-wig (a sheitel) in order to conform to the religion’s standards of modesty. Cover yourselves, or be damned!

Female genital mutilation is clearly the result of a desperate phobia of pleasure (98% of Muslim women from Indonesia have been hacked at, 93 % of Muslim women from Malaysia, and 98% of all women from Somalia, just to name a few). Masturbation in males was long thought to have caused blindness, mental illness, and epilepsy; and circumcision was the popularized remedy, now postured under the guise of just better hygiene. John Harvey Kellogg, a Christian fundamentalist, created Corn Flakes as an anti-masturbatory breakfast cereal, also advocating for pint-sized yogurt enemas to clean the gut, consequently purifying the soul. Religion has done everything to destroy the human body in some sempiternal quest of holiness, driven by the belief that the body is inherently filthy.

The once prominent religion, Christian Science, declared that there is no body at all, that the material existence is mere illusion, and we should simply ignore growths on the body, symptoms of disease, even death itself. Because you don’t even die—you pass on, presumably to higher worthier frontiers. Nearly every ancient religion seems to have had human sacrifice as a necessary theater of gore in order to appease their gods. Even Christianity is based on the human sacrifice of one man: he had to be crucified for the sins of unwedded orgasms and envying our neighbor’s ass.

But maybe it’s not religion that is innately anti-human. Our war with ourselves has modified through the ages—it has reshaped itself to every cultural and moral custom since monkeys threw feces at each other, and now conforms to the acceleration of scientific and technological advancement. There are those who still pierce their faces with blunt sticks, or stack their necks with thick golden rings because for some reason or another they must manipulate what they were born with; the forefront of modern science basically does the same thing—people naturally indulge in the technologies available to them.

Embryo selection through in vitro fertilization (IVF) is of course the expensively high-tech way to avoid tossing our ugly crippled newborns off the mountain. From what is available from a woman’s supply of eggs, parents can curate their child to their preferred gender, eye and hair color, even selecting the “most intelligent” embryo. But this is only from what is available. Maybe one’s entire gene pool is shit.

So when a new technology called CRISPR-Cas9 emerged in 2013, everything changed. We could now begin the quest of the gods, not curating what was already available, but engineering something entirely new. The Cas-9 protein has been used as a genome editing tool, in which an unfavorable section of DNA sequence can be cut out and replaced with a more desirable section. It’s through this permanent modification of genes within organisms that we can hypothetically build superhuman immune systems, completely eliminate disease and malformities, and finally sculpt man with features from Homeric epics. CRISPR is avant-garde eugenics—it’ll be for parents who want superior babies, no different than when the Nazi’s attempted to manufacture a racially pure race in their hospitals.

For now, CRISPR has only been used to edit animal genetics: researchers have removed malaria from mosquitos, treated muscular dystrophy in mice, modified pig organs to be safer for transplantation into humans. But even now, this research seems pedestrian and passé in the shadow of what we know is possible. An all-knowing übermensch is marching on the horizon, chanting with genius and prose—man will finally achieve his god not through ancient myth and sacrifice, but through scientific excellence, turning us shit-tossing monkeys into computerized cyborgs.

But the allure of genetically reengineering human embryos is here. Once this technology is deemed safe enough, parents will swarm the editing rooms in hospitals (or just laboratories), curating their soon-to-be babies to be a blend of Mozart and Tom Brady, or Marilyn Monroe and Simone de Beauvoir. Every Little League sporting event has a squad of dads at the edge of the playing grounds, their eyes raging and cynical, their mouths frothing like wild dogs, yelling at their sons to play better ball. Soon these same dads will be hovering behind doctors, yelling at them to max out their son’s gene sequence of athleticism. And the levels of excellence will so quickly surpass anything any human has ever achieved. Of course only the richest will be able to afford these “designer babies”, consequently widening the wealth and opportunity gaps to unimaginable levels, impossible ever to recover from.

In our fury of anticipation of CRISPR’s potential, we have already begun the dramatization of where we’re headed. The ultra-fustian HBO series, Westworld, about a vacation retreat in the near future that’s populated entirely with Wild West humanoids, in which wealthy human clients pay to rape and kill anyone they choose without consequence, is a moderately fun thought experiment. Most of it seems possible. The morbid titillation of living out our Grand Theft Auto dreams would be too much for us war-crazed humans to resist—the theatrics would be too great; the ornate bloodshed would be too glorious.

The series begins simply enough: a train of new clients—who are as excited as a gaggle of frat boys headed to their first toga party—arrive in a dusty nondescript town, every detail of which has been tailored to the predictable look of every other Hollywood depiction of the Wild West. After they drink their whiskey and kill their prostitutes, they return to their boring lives back home, in the real world, plodding along on a treadmill at the end of a cul-de-sac. As viewers, of course, we don’t see that part—nobody wants to watch their own tedious lives laid out in front of them. What we see is the dramatized bloodshed, and then the repair, and then the evolution of artificial intelligence take over. Whenever a humanoid is injured or killed during a session of rampaging tourists, they are taken into laboratories and repaired by technicians, reprogrammed and erased of all the horrific memories for the next round of torture. A humanoid’s level of aggression, compassion, hostility, and so forth can be controlled with simple dials on an iPad, allowing a Westworld engineer to easily manipulate how he or she wants a character to behave. It’s little different from the Nexus-6 brain units in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, in which androids can modulate any one of “fourteen basic reaction-postures” and are more intelligent than most of the humans left on earth. In Philip K. Dick’s classic dystopian novel, the robots harness their power and fight back against the humans, who are now a threat to their survival. In the HBO series, they do the same. One of the main characters, a humanoid prostitute, eventually controls her own character dials, giving her abilities her fellow characters don’t. From there, it’s all runaway chaos.

As devouring consumers of these types of shows, we’re programmed to want nothing more: three billion years of evolution and all we want to do is watch robot hookers running wild with guns as we grab another handful of Fritos. But it’s not hard to see the bridge between the CRISPR technology being used to enhance characteristics in embryos and these angry self-controlling AI bots who will do anything to control their own settings. The acceleration of this technology is compounding on itself. Look at video games. When Pong was released in 1972 as the first ever video game, it was radically advanced, capturing the obsession of every runny-nosed kid at the time. It’s only been a few decades since, and we’re already battling other players from around the world in three-dimensional high definition virtual universes.

But this already goes well beyond video games. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is working on an implantable chip for U.S. soldiers that will connect their brains to death-obsessed computers, consequently turning boys into military cyborgs. It’s what President Obama referred to in 2014 during a White House manufacturing innovation event when he chummily quipped, “we’re building Iron Man.” It’s easy to see where this could go. Previously, police departments have been equipped with the Pentagon’s excess—an overflow of MRAPs and grenade launchers have been used to deter protestors after a black kid gets shot and killed by the police. It doesn’t seem far out to imagine a time when cyborgs—or full on androids—police our streets, lurking in and out of alleyways, suspicious of anything that moves.

Maybe that’s where we always wanted to be: anywhere but this carnal Eden of humans wrapped in nothing but leaves. The religious want to drift amongst the heavens, whipping up clouds behind them as they smile for the rest of eternity. The futurists want to be cyborgs with superhuman strength, nostalgically reenacting their unlived pasts with gun-wielding prostitutes in the desert. We’re stuck too much in the past and the make-believe, while at the same time catapulting ourselves into a future that cannot host something that is committed to destroying itself. Religion never fixed our basic human anxieties, and CRISPR won’t either. It’s one thing for Donald Trump to go giddily insane when Mack Trucks pull onto the White House lawn, as he hoists himself up onto his high chair, blowing the horn and screaming like a chubby toddler with chocolate frosting around his mouth who just got a new toy truck. Just imagine when he gets ahold of DARPA’s Iron Man. He’ll stomp the world, holding the thing like a G.I. Joe action figure, wreaking havoc on us like we’re a city of ants.

“It’s a disaster, a total disaster,” he’ll say, looking upon the rubble of death. “Oh, I did this. Just incredible. Good work everybody, this is incredible.”


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To Respond to Massacre

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by Guy Walker

Following the most recent Paris attacks, with at least 129 dead, how do we respond to something so tragic? We weren’t there, and most of us won’t be so directly affected. But the streets are aged by massacre, a senescence of speechless sorrow, everything hardened ever so gradually. How to we respond privately, or in collective masses, or in international political theaters? To wholly offer our hearts without coming across as trite and insincere. As gobs of columnists and bloggers clamor to offer their analysis, to sit hunched behind their glowing screens, describing the events with calm succinct reason, to offer answers of blame or justice or patriotism, we feel something missing. As writers, we give an air of egotism, as if yelling in the storm, “Listen to me! I have an alternative point of view!” In the very least, a response mustn’t ever make it about ourselves.

But within hours after the attacks, politicians and pundits used the dead to leverage it to their own squalid advantage of a boorishly flaccid authority. Ann Coulter—more of an aging lurching ghoul than anything else, as she strokes her blonde hair continuously through every interview she’s ever given—called for an end of Muslim immigration into the U.S. entirely. She immediately tweeted about gun control: “too bad there were no concealed carry permits.” Newt Gingrich tweeted similarly. This type of political cynicism is the worst of the lot, turning the deaths of the innocent into puppets of various gross agendas. Even so, in the United States alone, there’s an average 36 gun-related deaths every day, a Paris attack every four days. There’s been 142 school shootings since the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012. One of the true breakdowns in journalism—if you can call it journalism—was when Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera began crying on television because his daughter happened to be at the soccer game when the suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the stadium. Not that the bomb wasn’t significant. But Rivera made the attack about him. The Fox headline was “Rivera’s Daughter Among Paris Attack’s Survivors.” In a stadium of 80,000 people, when not a single person inside the stadium was hurt, when President Hollande himself was in the stadium, this headline is all spectacle, casting a net of egotism among the wounds of massacre.

A day before Paris, there was Beirut: two suicide bombers killed 43 innocent civilians in the suburb of Bourj el-Barajneh. There is no option for a Lebanon flag for your Facebook profile. There is no #PrayforLebanon circling the newsfeed. Before that there was a suicide bombing at a funeral inside the Al-Ashara al-Mubashareen mosque in Baghdad, killing 19. When the U.S. bombed the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, killing 19, there were no mass prayer vigils, no patriotic empathies. At least none that were televised. Is 19 not enough to pray for? What’s the threshold for justified heartbreak? 25? 100? Of course not. The terrorist attacks at the Charlie Hebdo offices last January, killing 12, sent shockwaves around the world, uniting Western leaders in a demonstration of linking arms together. This is not to diminish the horror that the Parisians faced and continue to face, that the heartbreak that the families will likely never overcome, but there is a discrepancy in the attention paid to violence, and especially for the responsibility for that violence. We are a tribal bunch, mourning only for our neighbors with skin or gods similar to ours, in this Sophoclean age of war and political-speak. And people have always excelled at leveraging their pious superiority in a desperate attempt to justify their cruel animality.

When my boss texted me, simply with “You see the news in Paris?” I knew immediately, and with all certainty that it was a terrorist attack. This is the modern age. Before 9/11, ‘news in Paris’ could mean anything from student demonstrations to a sporting event to nudity on the streets. Today, the predictability of terror is itself monstrous. Terrorist attacks, school shootings, cops killing black kids—the new-age ecchymosis of hysteria is clearly far too normal, blending into the fabric of dehumanized misery, like Adorno’s ‘identity thinking,’ no single person is real anymore. It just becomes ’19 dead’, ’43 dead’, ‘125 dead’, like scales of death, weighing out how much we as distant witnesses should feel.

As friends discuss their own analysis of the situation, simply as ‘sick bastards’ and ‘obviously Muslim’ and other barely literal grunts of shock and tribalism, we feel unable to truly feel the madness of it all. For now, there is too much noise. As storms of tweets and retweets fill every last corner of clean air, as only the most thoughtful and humane of your Facebook friends give their profile picture a blue, white, and red filter, (if duck face selfies through French symbolism is human enough) offering empty prayers, counting virtual likes as if they were nods of approval, as we graffiti #PrayforParis across the Internet in a sort of robotic clicktivism, we know deep down this doesn’t actually help. Maybe a little needed communion, but what more of a response can we give on this brittle stage of grief?

Immediately following 9/11, American flags flew from every edifice, every child’s little hands, in an understandable effort to collectively stand strong. But the actual response to 9/11—the military and political response—is what is most worrying. It’s because of our military response that ‘news in Paris’ is expected to be terrorism. It is old news that ISIS would not exist today were it not for the U.S. response, illegally invading Iraq, catastrophically outweighing the death toll and misery seen on September 11th. While initially invading Iraq, Paul Bremer—head diplomat in Iraq—issued Order Number 2, effectively putting 400,000 former Iraqi soldiers out of work, dissolving Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party. The U.S. finances Saudi Arabia, oppressing its own and neighboring populations. Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people this year than ISIS has. President Hollande called the attacks an ‘Act of War’, but he also admitted arming the Syrian Sunni rebels. This is no longer news. The scaling up of violence by the State is predictable, monstrous, and grotesque in its ease. Pointing only to religion as the culprit—and religion certainly is a culprit—is merely an excuse for us to not look at our own actions, our government’s own oblique responsibility. As actors of beauty and freedom and war, we have only our own leaders to press upon, to not breed into dogmatisms and systematic violence. As one Charlie Hebdo cartoonist wrote, “Our faith goes to music! Kissing! Life! Champagne and joy!”

A Hero of Our Time

by Guy Walker

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“Some were dreadfully insulted, and quite seriously, to have held up as a model such an immoral character as A Hero of Our Time; others shrewdly noticed that the author had portrayed himself and his acquaintances.  .  .  .  A Hero of Our Time, gentlemen, is in fact a portrait, but not of an individual; it is the aggregate of the vices of our whole generation in the fullest expression.” -Mikhail Lermontov 

It was the winter of 2012 when I met Chris Kyle, the “most lethal sniper in U.S. military history.” It was a southern Californian winter, which means the drunks still wore only their stained wifebeaters in the neon bars, and the Santa Ana winds howled and made the palm trees lean. Chris was here in California beginning his book tour for American Sniper, the braggish sophomoric tale about one man’s journey through the most puerile horrendous war in U.S. history. I coughed loudly from all the dowdy feculent steam of a hundred American bodies waddling around the bar without any serious worry or threat as to what we were all doing here still exhaling our drunk stale air, everyone raising their voices about some various traumatic unconscious degree of our existence. I was hunched over the bar table, staring at an overweight lady with bleached fried hair bending over to aim her pool stick. “Step One,” the jukebox sung, “you find a girl to love, Step Two, she falls in lo-ove with you, Step Three, you kiss and ho-old her tight.” The lady whipped the pool stick and missed the cue ball entirely, and then she laughed because it was so silly, and touched the fat bearded man on the chest, as if to say, “I can’t believe I missed, now let me touch you on the chest.” A hundred despondent beer guts, men and women alike—they all gave me a headache, or maybe I was just drunk.

And then there was Chris Kyle. Handsome, if you are attracted to ugly. Intelligent, if you are stimulated and embellished by reading a book that consistently refers to the reader as “ya’ll,” with so many broken incoherent sentences it makes you want to punch a songbird in the chest. I had already read his book, and although he totally convinced he was a good shot and a cowboy at heart, he never once explained exactly why the entire Iraq War itself was a preemptive war based on a series of lies and manipulations. He was the product of phenomenological insanity who sniffed the patriotic farts of Team America, who couldn’t act out of any reason for the true sensibility of heroism, but merely because the very Eigenschaft of War was built around the vague fustian dialogue of ‘duty’ ‘freedom’ ‘honor’ and ‘liberty’. These are the types of words that re-represent death and misery, a methodic Orwellian doublespeak that is the heart of all war propaganda. Because ‘death’ and ‘body parts’ don’t have the ring that ‘honor’ and ‘duty’ do. The moment you walk into a Navy recruiting office, it begins—you can play war-based video games and be surrounded by racially sensitive posters of Latino guys, white guys, and an overweight black girl all looking sharp as hell, under their various designated words of heroic allusion.

I was sitting at the bar table, and turned and saw Chris Kyle walking towards me—he was coming from the bathroom and was wiping his mouth, and he looked like he was up to no good. Like I said, I had already read his book before. Which is why I came here to the bar, to find the motherfucker who wrote the thing. I wanted my eight hours back. Here’s a summary of his book: “I had been in some pretty bad-ass situations…I only wish I had killed more…I shot beach ball number two. It was kind of fun.” I was an aspiring writer at the time (but now I have a blog) so I knew what I was up against. The photos that leaked from Abu Ghraib are child’s play compared to this book—not because of the advanced levels of warcrimes that Chris Kyle committed, but because of the utter horridness of the writing itself. He wasn’t just bad, he was the worst.

“Hey Chris!” I yelled in a drunken slur, “You suck!”

He froze in place, unable to conceive what he just heard, and stared at me fearfully. “What did you say?” His eyes widened into a night-maddened fury of contempt, as if I was the last savage that stood in the way of him and a legitimate democracy.

“You heard me. You…suck. And your writing is shit and infantile.” I rose my fist above my head and punched him in the face, and he fell backwards and crashed over a table, glasses of half-empty beer smashing all over the floor. He stumbled further back and knocked against the fat blonde lady, her huge pale stomach hanging out of her shirt, bouncing him off of her, her stomach waving and echoing in its deep fleshy canyons, her bellybutton as dark and useful as a black hole.

“Now give me back my eight hours!” I did 245 push-ups earlier that day, and had sex twice in the last week, and nobody was going to fuck with me.

“Alright! Alright!” he started to whimper, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry! Just take them.”

So I took my eight hours back and walked out of there.

Chris Kyle killed up to two hundred and fifty-five people, served four tours in Iraq, was involved in six roadside bomb attacks, and had a six figure bounty on his head by Iraqi insurgents. His first kill was a woman with a grenade in her hand who walked into the street as the Marines attacked her town. Nobody knows what the circumstances really were. It’s possible the woman who was also carrying her child had innocently found the grenade on the floor of her kitchen and was returning it to the Americans. But his description of the incident is disturbingly similar to a cowboy’s slaughter of the Indians: “I hated the damn savages I’d been fighting. Savage, despicable, evil—that what we were fighting in Iraq. That’s why a lot of people, myself included, called the enemy savages. There was really no other way to describe what we encountered there.” Chris Kyle boasted that he killed thirty armed looters in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. It was investigated and proven a lie. He claimed he killed two Mexican carjackers in Texas. That too was a lie. His family claimed he donated nearly all of the proceeds of his book sales to veterans’ charities. The reality is he donated about two percent of his winnings and pocketed the other three million dollars. He killed up to two hundred and fifty-five, but he also wrote in his book, “If you see anyone from about 16 to 65, and they’re male, shoot ‘em. Kill every male you see.” If these are the rules to a fetid orgiastic heroism, if all I have to do is kill anything with a twig and berries, then I want a shot at the record.

Chris Kyle is dead now. He had the chary foresight to bring an Iraq War veteran suffering from PTSD to a shooting range and surround him with rapid gunfire. Eddie Ray Routh purportedly snapped at some point, tormented from the death and scattered body parts he had seen in Iraq, and shot and killed Kyle and his friend Chad Littlefield. Lying dead in the expensive dirt of Rough Creek Lodge and Resort near Fort Worth, Texas, Chris Kyle had no more duty or honor to gain. There’s no point to savagery when you’re already dead. There’s no point to lying and boasting and killing when you’re already dead. But there is reason to praise the dead when they’re dead. Like others before him, his death finalized his immortality. Like the Islamic martyrs who reach their paradise, like Marilyn Monroe who will always be beautiful, Chris Kyle will always be an American war hero. Jesse Ventura recently won a lawsuit against Chris Kyle’s estate, rewarded $1.8 million for defamation damages and unjust enrichment for a story Kyle made up about punching Ventura in a bar in Coronado. I can’t get sued. Not because Kyle is dead and dead people can’t sue, but because my story is true, in all its crude alluvial vividness.

But I didn’t make the movie. Clint Eastwood did and American Sniper is now nominated for six Academy Awards. It’s an American hero movie, a figure of severe courage and honor standing against the face of evil and savagery, a family man who pets his dog and drinks more beer than you, someone we can all believe in. Opening weekend grossed over $105 million, the largest in history for an R-rated movie. And Chris Kyle’s only regret was that he didn’t kill more. Selma on the other hand, about a black minority who stood peacefully in the face of hate and violence, grossed one-tenth of what American Sniper opened with. In the weeks prior, after the terrorist attacks of the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices in Paris, a parochial nationalistic outcry erupted over the murder of thirteen innocents. At the very least, 500,000 Iraqis were killed in the American occupation and invasion of Iraq. In an interview on CNN, a former Navy SEAL defended Chris Kyle’s legacy, stating that if every soldier was a good as Chris the war would have been over in less than a year. But the war itself was never questioned. In the book, as well as the movie, a direct connection is drawn between the September 11th attacks and the Iraq War. The barrenness of reason has made the desert stink. But Clint Eastwood has made it clear that you can’t question the ogreish curse of unreason. In 2005, while accepting an award at a National Board of Review dinner, Eastwood directed a comment at Michael Moore, stating, “Michael, if you ever show up at my front door with a camera—I’ll kill you. I mean it.” In other words, Don’t question me and don’t discuss with me. Just eat my shit and swallow it.

Chris Kyle’s fatal biopic had the ingredients of a masterpiece—a Sophoclean tragedy of an avant-garde misanthrope who finally dies by the sword he sharpens. The pullulating stray triumphs between Lordship and Bondage. But Eastwood took a different approach. He didn’t include any of the tasty bits of the cosmetic psychopathy that eventually killed Kyle—it’s no longer heroic when it’s absurd, when the wolf wears sheep’s clothing. You know, Kim’s ass don’t look good when you see her shit.

Newsweek’s Jeff Stein, a former US intelligence officer recalled a visit he made to a lewd reeking hangout for American snipers, where, in his words, “the barroom walls featured white-on-black Nazi SS insignia, and other Wehrmacht regalia. The Marine shooters clearly identified with the marksmen of the world’s most infamous killing machine, rather than regular troops.” Chris Kyle perfected the despondent amorality of Nature, the Hegelian stratum of the immediate being for oneself—for, according to Hegel, all being in general, all “pure immediacy [is] purified by absolute negativity,” Kyle only wanted to kill more, to rid the world of savagery, to wipe out all the stray fanatic negativity, and create Absolute Negativity. Only then would the fields be beautiful. Because the whole world could end in a year if we were all as good as Chris Kyle.

War is Peace and Kim Kardashian is Hot

by Guy Walker

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But, truly, I have wept too much! The Dawns are heartbreaking.
Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter:
Sharp love has swollen me up with heady langours.
O let my keel split! O let me sink to the bottom! -Arthur Rimbaud

After the entropic fad of humanity has turned everything into chambers of ash and misery and something resembling Beyonce, I crawl out from the rubble, alone and slowly freezing into place, like a horrible and toothless David picking up his stone and sling  .  .  .  And the sky is so damn red I could almost throw up  .  .  .  “It won’t be long now,” I think to myself. I feel the lonely hubristic end  .  .  .  too bad, too bad, too bad. But wait! A rat limps by me, one last step, then quits. I grab him, his gaunt scarlet body clasped in my quivering hand. Thank god, I’ll last another day. But before I eat it, tail and teeth and all, I take a selfie with it, and then tag it #warispeace and #thankgoditsfriday.

No one is alive to realize it, but peace is what brought us to this torrential orgy of cockroaches, twinkies, dead bodies not wearing their clothes, B-rated horror complexes, and the other realities of nuclear winter. It’s because of peace that we love war, and it’s because of peace that we’re all going to die.

The Swedish armaments manufacturer Alfred Nobel created the five Nobel Prizes: one for achievements in Chemistry, one for Physics, one for Physiology or Medicine, one for Literature, and finally one for Peace—for those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Cordell Hull won the prize in 1945 as the father of the United Nations—but he also voiced “strong opposition” to a ship of 950 Jewish refugees docking on U.S. soil, pressuring Roosevelt to turn the ship around, which he did. Many of those passengers became victims of the Holocaust before Mr. Hull took his laurels. Henry Kissinger won in 1973 for the Paris Peace Accords—but as Nixon’s Secretary of State, he was greatly involved in the secret bombing campaign of North Vietnamese troops and Khmer Rouge from 1969 to 1975, as well as arming South American dictators carry out Operation Condor, kidnapping and murdering thousands, as well as supporting the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus, still considered by the international community to this day as the Republic of Cyprus occupied illegally by the Turkish forces. Mother Teresa won in 1979—but she believed suffering was a gift from God, and opposed the empowerment of women, calling abortion, “the greatest destroyer of peace.” Yasser Arafat won in 1994—he was involved in three decades of terrorism with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, as well as amassed over $1.3 billion while the economic conditions of the Palestinians continued to degrade. We’ve already reached the five year anniversary of Barack Obama’s 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, in which he won for his promotion of nuclear nonproliferation and for his “new climate” of global affairs, including mending U.S. relations with the Muslim world. To be exact, this “new climate” involves at least seven predominately Muslim countries in which President Obama has bombed during his presidency, as well as being the fourth consecutive U.S. President to bomb Iraq. After last week’s midterm election, Obama announced he would seek an Authorization for Use of Military Force from the new and cherubic Congress, which would authorize his killing campaign in Iraq and Syria. The Republican dominated Congress will find themselves in a difficult dialectic: they love killing Muslims, but they also love opposing anything President Obama offers. Which is more important? Yes, it may be a worn-out hoary pastime to blame Obama for the promotion of death and misery across the globe  .  .  .  but there is some evidence that suggests such a claim may be true—after all, he hired Jay Z and Beyonce to sing at his second-term inauguration, and he threatened the Jonas Brothers with predator drones in a piece of incredible nuanced slapstick. Because ultimately, Barack Obama is in pursuit of peace. And ultimately, he will achieve it.

In Oslo, where a spring rain can heal old people of ugliness, where the homeless have dental plans and beauticians, where an Audemars Piguet watch is an alright birthday present for a three-year old, and alcoholism is as good as happiness, the Nobel Committee has also determined that War IS Peace, and that you too can win an award for it. In his award speech, Barack Obama granted that “to say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism—it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.” But the “limits of reason” are only brief episodic limits, something akin to the self-correcting building blocks of science, in which reason alone may not resolve many torrential inquests today, but certainly through reason meaning will eventually emerge, even if it takes decades or centuries of the acquiring of knowledge to do so. The limits of reason, in the case of nuclear warfare, do not exist. In 1955, in midst of the Cold War, our most esteemed intellectuals gathered together to agree that creating weapons that could kill every human on the face of the planet was probably a bad idea. The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, written by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, both of whom won Nobel Prizes, in Literature and Physics respectively, and signed by eleven other preeminent intellectuals and scientists, essentially made the claim that nuclear annihilation was not good and we should avoid it if at all possible. The limits of reason then do not threaten our greatest intellectuals, nor do they threaten any three-year-old born with a normal capacity of common sense. But a third of Americans still reject evolution as a viable theory for the creation of life. There isn’t a single openly admitted atheist in Congress, but there have been hundreds of American federal politicians convicted of crimes throughout the course of American history, meaning it’s easier to obtain substantial degrees of power as a proven bag of shit than it is as a cogent secularist. The limits of reason then exist predominantly in normal adults—as torpid fleshy hominids sprawl across the once-pristine havens of the earth, declaring War IS Peace and Kim Kardashian is actually hot.

But President Obama is right about cynicism. Even very recent history suggests that cynicism does not in fact restore aberration to health. “Absurdity is Natural,” is America’s rallying cry. George Zimmerman, for example, the cheerless oleaginous bovine who was a failed insurance salesman and a neighborhood watch guy who killed a black kid for walking home, has started exercising his creative faculties. He painted an American flag that he copied from a stock photo, and printed the words “God, One Nation, with Liberty and Justice for All,” and sold it on eBay for over $100,000. #AlexfromTarget has 743,000 followers on Twitter for having a peach face while bagging China-made toys, while Jeremy Scahill has a mere 163,000 followers for working incessantly to expose American-made war crimes. Kim Kardashian sucked a dick. In other words, the call to cynicism bellows from our fleshy cesspools to heal all the senile delirium across the globe. It’s like the homeless guy I shared a cigarette with last night in the alley who screamed his autoschediastic terrors of “TITS ON RATTLESNAKES!” Because tits on rattlesnakes is a terrifying image. So is Kim Kardashian shaving her unibrow and then trying to be human. So is a Nobel Peace Prize winner orchestrating drone strikes on innocent Yemeni villages, or covering up fouled night raids in Afghanistan, or not prosecuting the bankers responsible for the economic collapse, or expanding the largest domestic spying program in the history of the United States, or making plans to spend an estimated $1 trillion on renewing America’s nuclear weapon program.

What Obama has done is popularize death and misery. Drone warfare has become a Harry & David fruit basket. And his newly proposed nuclear weapons program is very much the warning Dennis Kucinich gave: “Once we are committed to war’s instrumentality in pursuit of peace, we begin the Orwellian journey to the semantic netherworld where war is peace.” Nuclear disarmament is the only way to achieve nuclear disarmament. Even Reagan, amidst all his colloquial sanguinary lechery, once proposed a good idea: START I (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty), the largest nuclear disarmament treaty in history. It was the bilateral treaty between the United States and the USSR, resulting in the removal of about eighty percent of strategic nuclear weapons in existence at the time. Obama did renew START I, but he also didn’t. He adopted the Cold War mentality proposed first by Eisenhower, in that “we should do what was necessary even if the result was to change the American way of life. We could lick the whole world  .  .  .  if we were willing to adopt the system of Adolph Hitler.” A trillion dollars to lick the whole world. Enough to feed all the starving babies. Enough to send all our kids through university. Enough to completely transform our energy sector to renewable clean energy. And yes, even enough to buy every person on the planet fifteen hits of ecstasy, paid for at street value.

Hegel was right, in that the fear of the lord is indeed the beginning of wisdom. And it’s only the beginning of wisdom. True wisdom is assumingly achieved when obedience and submission to the lord takes place. It’s something that a trillion dollars of nuclear weapons technology helps to ensure. It’s a fervency for lordship and bondage, something that every falling empire hopelessly grabs at to again take hold of. If Napoleon were around today, he too would scream “tits on rattlesnakes.” It’s the only thing that makes sense anymore. It’s the final limitation of Reason, when war is indeed peace and absurdity natural.

The Return of Nietzsche: God is Alive and Well

by Guy Walker

(Originally published on http://www.paradiseofstorm.tumblr.com on October 16, 2014)

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The spider hung from the elm tree from one thread of silk, about to cast its web as the buff cornfed scenes of the middleclass passed by, humming along in their Priuses, squinting into the setting sun, or staring intently into their own private glowing rectangles. The sky could only sigh with fabulous ennui as the cloudless weight of another torrid sapless evening rolled in. It hadn’t rained for months, and before that it was just a distressed cough of moisture that fell rather than rained. The pigeons still limped as usual—that didn’t change with the drought—and the humans were still achieving their various tasks of import, like driving around getting ‘Thank You’ cards, or picking up soy milk, or buying Halloween preparations, or attaching a 1977 filter to an image of their 2014 life. Various scenes of normality ticked throughout the biscuit-colored towns: a cat tossed the headless body of a mouse around on the sidewalk; a boy wearing a huge helmet bicycled towards Main Street, then stopped to pick his nose; a man sneezed as he collected the mail in his bathrobe. The setting sun warmed all the west-facing stucco walls of all the track houses throughout all those endless miles of suburban bourgeois happiness, and the sprinklers were soaking another lawn, their expensive drops flying and pummeling the little ants as they tried to run for safety from their exhausted flood. The banausic hum of humanity was wrapping up another day.

A blonde lady wearing her favorite leopard-print fedora—she had several—pulled into her driveway in her red convertible mustang, and reached down to reposition her panties between her short skirt. She took off her sunglasses, looked at herself in her rearview mirror, and sighed. She didn’t know it, but the Universe really didn’t care for her. But she had a half-emptied baggie of Prozac in which all the pills were crushed into a fine mephitic powder, into which she scooped a sizeable bump with the long red fingernail on her pinky finger. After sucking in all that ashen voodooed happiness, she pinched her nose, wincing, feeling the sting. Her fingers dripped with blood, and she mumbled a bad word, and wiped her nose with her hand and looked in the mirror again, and her whole upper lip was smeared with blood, and she heard voices and footsteps and rustled around to find a tissue that was still clean.

Good evening Mrs. Freeman, a female voice said sweetly.

Mrs. Freeman looked up, her leopard-print fedora crooked on her head, her big Jackie Kennedy sunglasses hiding her tears, blood dripping sweetly from her nose. O hello Aaeesha, she smiled. Aaeesha means Life and Vivaciousness in Arabic, but Mrs. Freeman had always thought it a queer nondescriptive word, like Shampoo or Scissors. Aaeesha stood there, looking sweet but concerned, her eye still healing, her thin mauve burka tickled in the evening breeze, her two young children hiding behind her dress, and she offered Mrs. Freeman a tissue.

The spider paused to watch the two women interact. He didn’t know anything about race relations, or the recent clamor to be the most politically correct, or the recent televised debates about the intrinsic misanthropy within Islamic religious belief; he didn’t know which pew poll was most accurate in describing Indonesia’s support for Sharia Law (some estimates are in the upward range of 70 percent); he only considered Nietzsche’s fifth book in The Gay Science: We do not by any means think it desirable that the kingdom of righteousness and peace should be established on earth (because under any circumstances it would be the kingdom of the profoundest mediocrity and Chinaism); we rejoice in all men, who like ourselves love danger, war and adventure, who do not make compromises, nor let themselves be captured, conciliated and stunted; we count ourselves among the conquerors; we ponder over the need of a new order of things, even of a new slavery for every strengthening and elevation of the type “man” also involves a new form of slavery. The spider considered for a while as he strung his gossamer thread from end to end, as the patient Darwinian clock ticked away, pausing, watching as Mrs. Freeman accepted the tissue, excusing herself for yet another unsightly occasion, wiping her nose and trying again to smile to the children.

Mrs. Freeman and Aaeesha are part of that very rare breed of animals who don’t fight the setting sun to stay alive, who don’t still lurk the sodden currents for a drink of water, or dig away in caves with their squatting ape-man tribe. They fuck once a week, water their grass three times a week, watch Youtube videos of cats befriending owls, and search for the best parking spots at the gym—in other words, they’re just two regular ‘ol ladies trying to kill time before time kills them. Because once food and water and shelter and sex are won, Misery leads you to the shrieking grave. Wars are the obvious choice—they’re the easiest burdening romance to fix any boredom. Ferdinand Celine described it as “the minions of King Misery,” as he slopped in the shit-ridden trenches with his other Frenchmen, throwing bullets towards the Germans, screaming obscenities through the night. ISIS isn’t raping women by the thousands, or burying children alive, or beheading American journalists for any reason different than the US is bombing innocent villages in Yemen, or outsourcing their kill lists to Somalian warlords, or funding the Israeli occupation at an average rate of $6.6 million a week for the last 66 years, or funding and training deathsquads in Latin America, or establishing worldwide regimes of torture—they are violently bored nihilists who already wish they were dead themselves. Nietzsche pinpointed this over a century ago, arguing that our love for “danger, war and adventure,” didn’t arise out of intrinsic barbarism within the human animal, or within religion itself, but rather out of our need to never be captured. War is the collective scream to rid the Self of boredom, to assure that the Self will never be captured. It’s one last attempt to fuck the arid landscape before the sun goes down.

Last week’s debate on Real Time with Bill Maher, including Ben Affleck and Sam Harris, in which each other passed blows on whether or not some humans enjoy death and pillagery more than others, resulted in a long maelstrom of intellectual bitchfights, including Glenn Greenwald, Reza Aslan, some guy named @dan_verg_ and many others, all trying to yell who and what is more violent. As the impish grunting ape-men who so patiently evolved into high-fashioned bristled intellectuals of late night HBO talk shows argue about if Islam is intrinsically violent, they are all doing the same thing: merely trying to kill before being captured, trying to wear wings on the delusions of animals. Aspiring intellectuals still debate whether or not Hitler or Stalin’s epochal venom had anything to do with being anti-religion. But Hitler was also a vegetarian, making a dangerously good case that vegetarians are potentially evil centaurs at heart. He also enjoyed petting his German Shepherd, Blondi, posing the threat that dog owners are annoying life-killing Archfiends. But within religion itself, after “the crusades, the multiple blessings of wars, warrior popes, support for capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child,’ justifications of slavery, world-wide colonialism in the name of conversion to Christianity, the systemic violence of women subjected to men” (Violence in Christian Theology), and after Haun’s Mill massacre and the Mountain’s Meadow massacre, after countless kidnappings, suicide bombing, mass murders, assassinations, airline hijackings, in which only Communism as an ideology is responsible for more deaths and violence than Islam, after Israel really fucked everything up for everyone, turning to Deuteronomy 7:1-2 or Deuteronomy 20:16-18 or several others to follow explicit instructions from God to the Israelites to search and destroy other tribes, after countless tribes conducting human sacrifice and religious self-flagellation, one might begin to wonder if religion just maybe have the possibility of somehow or someway be related to violence across the world. There was the Constantinian shift, embroiling Christianity with government. There was the Christian persecution of paganism under Theodosius I. There was the Roman Inquisition. There was the Muhammad cartoon crisis, resulting in mass violent protests, including the burning of European embassies, death threats, even an attack with an axe on the cartoonist himself. During the siege of Beziers in 1209, a Crusader asked Papal Legate Arnaud Amalric how to tell the Cathars from the Catholics, to which Amalric replied, “Kill them all; God will recognize his.”

As for ISIS’s relation to the core teachings of Islam, Ben Affleck and Sam Harris are saints of reason, probing us to look ever deeper into the dark glory hole of religion: pew polls suggest a 99% support for Sharia Law in Afghanistan, 74% support in Egypt, 91% in Iraq, which would involve death to apostates, stoning of adulterers, and chopping off the hands of thieves. On the other hand, many leaders of ISIS have been held captive at one point in U.S. military prisons, something that the photos that leaked from Abu Ghraib don’t suggest helped U.S. relations with radical Islam. Reza Aslan, a Muslim himself, assures the world that Islam preaches neither peace nor violence, (even though the ISIS leaders have repeatedly turned to the pages of the Quran to justify their actions). Sam Harris wishes to believe that if religion ceased to exist altogether, there would be peace. Glenn Greenwald is just stoked he’s selling books now. And Ben Affleck already slept with J. Lo, so he really doesn’t give a fuck. What they’re really debating though, has nothing to do with radical or normal Islam at its core, but rather why man will never fill his lust for “danger, war and adventure.” By Lacanian theory, the whole point of this desire is to never reach it. A kingdom of righteousness and peace was never meant to be reached in the first place (which is why Muslims must die rightly in order to reach their paradise of virgins) . . . Lacan argued that wants and needs can be achieved with a rather urgent ease, but desire is the eternal elusive lust that we must always pursue but never catch. By pursuing his kingdom of righteousness and peace, man will create his wars, his little swelling torments of belief, his tragic flatulence of salvation. It’s the ape who throws the most feces wins.

Man loves his war in troops. He loves his slavery in droves of bleeding Prozac trolls, everyday another heartbreak as the sun sets and the sleepers fall asleep. Too bad, too bad, too bad.

As Aaeesha and Mrs. Freeman part ways, and head to their happy private lives, a fly catches in the spider’s web. All eight legs move him across to the writhing desperate fly, and he begins wrapping him in a spool of silk, tickled in the evening air.

Chancroidial Proof that Seth Rogen is Kim Jong Un

by Guy Walker

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The image is always the same. A squalid, yet verdurous Bethlehem, gentle and peaceful in its scenery, peasants pulling creaking wooden carts full of hardened breads, dead birds, and sinless obedient children covered in the mire of prayer and utter boredom. The town bells ring. A dove farts, then flies away under the parting clouds. Everyone is preparing in their forgetful timid ways, for another Jewish baby to be born. But this isn’t just any Jewish baby. This baby’s mother swears her and her husband don’t fuck. Rumors spread throughout the country that indeed she is quite prudish, and so the lonely oligarchs come with presents, and the stars shine a little brighter for us this night.

The birth of Jesus was indeed significant for many reasons. For instance, time began. For another, centuries of war and hatred and overall misery began not in the name of healthy animalistic impulse, but rather in the name of love. Another: Starbucks, Best Buy, K Mart, and many other doloric laboratories of perpetual grief sell several times their regular numbers around the time of his designated birth, as if to say, Another country peasant was born. Let’s buy stuff! Christmas is good for us. Many 16-year-old girls in Calabasas were just gifted their first of many BMW’s. Many women in Newport Beach were given new tits. My cat ate a special dinner of wet food instead of his regular dry food. But as important as all this is, the birth of Jesus is still a secondary abstract peroration in the line of a happy and free society; it’s a trifling stroke in the historic strength of the first world. America’s freedom has recently been jeopardized—North Korea has tried to take our movies away. Prominent leaders in the first world have been recently seen chanting in the streets of Hollywood, throwing crumpled napkins at the clouds, protesting the trauma caused to them by Kim Jong Un and the alleged Guardians of Peace—the cyberhackers who compromised the private information of thousands of Sony Corporation employees. Jesus can’t save us! they chant, but Seth Rogen sure can! I toured the famous avenues today, as I do everyday, hopping on every star on the Walk of Fame like it was happy celebrity hopscotch. Then I took a photo with Superman and giggled with all the cute Japanese girls as we took three thousand selfies with an extended pole. And all the stars were out. Not Jesus’s guiding stars, and not the Walk of Fame stars—the real movie stars, in their naked morbid flesh. They were having an event, waving a tremendous banner that read, “Freedom of Speech Against Kim Jong Un and his Little Dick.” Everyone was there, sucking each other, smiling, never not smiling, waving at the flashing cameras. It was a chancroidial fetid nightmare—thousands of assholes and armpits and tongues intermingling. Everyone quite literally had a very brown nose. Brett Ratner had his face plunged into Spielberg’s graying butt hair, licking it ferociously, Spielberg giggling uncontrollably, clawing at the piss-stained gum-matted sidewalk. Ro-gen! the masses of groping famous bodies chanted. Ro-gen! We’re just women and men, and we love Seth Ro-gen!

Seth Rogen is the writer, director, and star of the feature film The Interview, currently amidst much international controversy around the issues of censorship and freedom of speech. A national outcry has erupted over whether or not the Canadian high school dropout can release his movie, something even President Obama has expressed much concern over, even considering whether or not to return North Korea to the terror watch list. But Rogen is one of those strange diabolically misshapen lackeys of life who cannot actually summon enough comedy to be controversial. He’s a lightweight comedian at best, but he is still very much overweight. When you see him speak and then make the grunting gestures of laughter at his own jokes, you can almost taste his lonely nihilism pushing out with the tears of his sweat. Seth Rogen has the ugliest laugh in the history of the world. I want to pee on him. We laugh because he’s the fat kid in school we don’t want to go on a rampage because he didn’t get enough attention, a dismal L’Heautontimoroumenos who masturbated too many times to feel anything anymore.

The wry irony in the outcry over Rogen’s movie is that while we Americans refuse to be censored by another overweight imperious Korean man, we don’t stir much dour opposition over Edward Snowden’s compulsory expatriation for exposing the NSA’s massive domestic spying program, or Chelsea Manning’s thirty-five year imprisonment for his release of American military warcrimes, or Julian Assange’s indefinite asylum for his evangelical testament for freedom of the press.

We go to the movies to spend an hour and a half watching someone with a more fantastic life than ours. The very act of going to the movies is a fervent inveigling drama that we are blue miasmic animals, so tired of this life of ours. It’s the ultimate nihilism. But it’s not all that different from laying on your back in the dirt, staring at the stars, wondering what this life is all about. It’s beautiful in a way, until you realize you’re not the attractive man winning on the huge screen. Even writing is a contentious business—I have created far more enemies than friends through the written word—and of all the inflammatory nightmares I have dreamt up, my mom finally said I need to start being a man of grace. Last night I had a dream about Rimbaud, but he was such aggravating company, he just drank and threw bottles at me. I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but I do know that writers are the worst of hypocrites—they don’t actually live. Every twenty-something year old with a stupid hat standing in line for an art opening with a title of something like “Illegal Paradise is Upon Us,” will mechanically quote their Nietzsche, so desperately trying to convince us they might be something of a serious intellectual themselves. Live Dangerously! Nietzsche declared, as he literally chained himself to his desk, forcing himself not to live, but to write. He slept with one woman in his whole flaccid desolate life—a whore, who he contracted syphilis from. Writers are awful creatures. That’s why Seth Rogen is a writer.

Hollywood’s own hypocrisy is beyond measure. They happily mock North Korea for their poor Orwellian idealism, representing the entire society as having not a single independent thought, no passionate loves, no heartbreak or tragic wonder, no lonely squalid nights that send us to the edge of life. But they refuse to discuss it in interviews, or sign petitions, just as they refuse to recognize the iniquitous genocide of the Palestinians, afraid their own pallid lachrymose careers will end in a cold wind. But we’re all guilty. We’ve all snorted too much horse tranquilizer in too many cold florescent bathrooms, that our smiles become weak fixtures of happiness—we stand under the buzzing city lights in the middle of the night, frantic for some fried chicken, not knowing that eventually we’re going to screw it all up.

In 1945, when Korea was liberated from decades of Japanese rule, there was overwhelming support from within Korea itself to be unified and self-governed. Russia came down from the north, the United States came from the south, and they met roughly at the 45th parallel with ensuing violence and almost a million and a half dead. Dropping 800 tons of bombs a day, the United States dropped more napalm and bombs on North Korea than they did in all of the Pacific during WWII. U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay stated, “we went over there and fought the war and eventually burned down every town in North Korea anyway, some way or another, and some in South Korea too.” In the later stages of the war, because the United States had destroyed every meaningful military and communication target in North Korea, they began bombing a series of hydroelectric dams—which is a serious warcrime in itself—killing unnumbered Korean peasants, flooding and destroying all food crops, and wiping out the entire power grid in North Korea for two weeks.

The Interview may just be another routine comedy, another gilded masturbation that will be completely forgotten in a few years. But it might not be. If we look deep into the bilious heart of it, we can unlock Seth Rogen’s fustian contention. In Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, he highlights that the world itself cannot be a collection of things, but rather of facts. Our day-to-day is one great fetid orgy, interacting with laws and effects. I desire a woman’s marvelous body not because of her breasts and curves and sensual drama as things of themselves, but rather because the erotic fact of beauty makes it so. If we read deep enough into his Philosophicus, we realize the frightening truth about Seth Rogen: “The specification of all true elementary propositions describes the world completely. The world is completely described by the specification of all elementary propositions plus the specification, which of them are true and which are false…With regard to the existence to n atomic facts there are Kn = SUMMATION(v=0 to n, binom-coeff(n over v))  possibilities.” Meaning Seth Rogen could be anything, any queer monster we were too afraid dream of. If we plug “Seth Rogen” into n atomic facts, we find our definitive answer: Seth Rogen is in fact Kim Jong Un himself—fat and relishing and always laughing at his own traumatic existence.

After its first week after release, The Interview is the highest grossing online movie of all time. The despondent calamity of Kim Jong Un spreads throughout the terrible bleak countryside, and Seth Rogen picks his nose and chuckles.

Israel Hates Fireworks

(Originally published on http://www.paradiseofstorm.tumblr.com on July 16, 2014)

by Guy Walker

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The little boy was running down the narrow alleyway, past all that torn sad rubble, past the fresh market with the thousand shouting vendors and their thousand scents, and the call to prayer summoned all the holy merchants to their knees, and the evening pushed its better light upon the walls of all the buildings. The boy knew he would be late for supper if he didn’t run, and he had promised his mother he wouldn’t be late. But it was just a little further now.

At the same time, an Israeli warplane was lifting off from the tortured dusty grounds of a military base. It headed towards Gaza. The sky between Israel and Gaza just a thick traffic of clouds from planes and rockets.

Minutes passed. The boy arrived home just on time, just as the evening sun warmed his family’s blue front door. Then the stray sad dogs looked up and started barking madly, yelling at the sky. A flock of pigeons burst from their perch. Then everything was bright and horrific and deafening. The building to the family had been blown to bits. The streets were filled with running screaming mothers, children everywhere, a cathedral of rubble and agony behind them emerging from the ashen air.

Another attack aimed at the Islamic militant group Hamas struck a Palestinian family instead. The Islamic militants have so far fired more than 1,200 rockets towards Israel, fueled by a several-decade feud over land occupation. Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has intercepted at least 150 of the missiles fired, resulting in its first Israeli death. As of July 15, after eight days of Israeli retaliation, at least 220 Palestinians have been killed. No major reports could be immediately confirmed about exactly who was killed, but the Los Angeles Times offered that about half of those deaths were women and children. The reports couldn’t be confirmed because the attacks were on civilians, not the Islamic militants themselves. In other words, a bunch of praying families in their homes. Israeli supporters call the innocents that have been killed ‘collateral damage,” meaning a mother or child or shopkeeper that may have been killed was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. But collateral damage doesn’t exist in the storm of war. On July 16, an Israeli naval ship bombed and killed four Palestinian children playing on the beach in the Gaza harbor. When the remaining surviving children ran for cover, a second shell was reportedly aimed at them.

The rockets being fired from Gaza are more like very banal forms of firework shows. Kids with sparklers could hurt more Israelis than Hamas militants. A 2012 analysis revealed that roughly 12,000 rockets fired over twelve years resulted in twenty-two Jewish deaths. That is, a kill rate of 0.175%. In 2013, of all the proud sparkling skies in the United States, an estimated 11,400 injuries were reported from fireworks. That is, when it comes to rockets, a drunken howling patriotism is possibly more threatening than the Hamas militants.

President Obama has offered to moderate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, calling for a peaceful resolution. Secretary of State John Kerry called Israel’s Prime Minister Netanayhu directly by phone, telling the Prime Minister he thought it was a good idea if everyone stopped killing each other, and that the United States could actually broker a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. But Netanyahu said before a Cabinet meeting on Sunday, “We don’t know when the operation will end. It could take much longer.” He assured that Israel would only continue to act “in a patient and levelheaded manner,” as it always has, in places like the Gaza harbor, restoring peace and security to its country. Egypt also proposed a ceasefire plan. Israel accepted, while Hamas said the proposal, “was not worth the ink it was written with.”

As President Obama imposes new sanctions on Russia for their attacks on Ukraine, he ignores the significant threat of enduring war in the Middle East—US money and weapons. Since the Israeli state was formed in 1948, the United States has contributed more than $234 billion towards the stability and security of the state. Moshe Arens, former foreign minister and ambassador to Washington, puts it another way: “As a democratic country, the U.S. has good relations with other democratic countries, which have economic and military importance. In the past, during the Cold War period, Israel sided with the United States and today Israel is the best partner America has in the war on terror.” The best partner in the war on terror doesn’t just mean killing children playing on the beach, or killing eighteen members from the same family—it also means the Israeli children longing to “return to their ancient homeland,” something that the few remaining Native Americans surely empathize with the Israeli-dependent defense system. That is, $234 billion dollars to kill Palestinian families, to further divide the Middle East into a lawless arenaceous dystopia of broken gods in misery. That’s close to $6.5 million a week, every week, for six and a half decades. But the United States is not foolish with its money—it has already made some of that money back. In 2001 alone, the U.S. sold a hundred F16s to Israel for close to $3 billion. In 2013, it sold $10 billion worth of arms to Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, “provid[ing] missiles, warplanes and troop transports to help them counter any future threat from Iran,” says the New York Times. In other words, the U.S. is giving Israel huge amounts of money so they can spend a little bit of that money buying an American military arsenal. The “threat from Iran” means the threat from some volatile Arab nuclear state. Nobody wants a nuclear war, except maybe Ann Coulter, who wants to corral all the Arabs and all the soccer balls together, and kill them or turn them Christian. But Israel might actually be worse than Ann Coulter. In May of 2010, the Guardian reported, “Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state’s possession of nuclear weapons.” Pretty much everyone wants the escalation of misery—it makes people happy.

Israel is the American military’s ‘A’ student, as its sordid escalation of death is almost as good as death itself. Israel’s reaction against Hamas-dominated Gaza is something strikingly similar to the U.S. military’s Battle of Fallujah in March of 2004. Iraqi insurgents had ambushed a convoy of Blackwater USA, the private mercenary company now known as Academi, under the umbrella company Contellis Holdings, killing four American private mercenaries. The U.S. military responded by invading the city of Fallujah, under the name Operation Vigilant Resolve. It didn’t resolve much. It killed at least 600 Fallujahns, at least half of which of non-combatants. In violation of the Geneva Convention, the Marines closed both of the city’s main hospitals, positioning U.S. snipers atop one of the hospital’s water tower. It was a very patriotic moment for the military and for its taxpayers, as Sgt. Maj. William Skiles described it, “may the dogs of Fallujah eat hardy off our dead enemy.” And a few days later, when Paul Bremer announced a ceasefire, wanting to facilitate negotiations itself. And the stray dogs roamed the streets and chewed on all that enduring fatless misery.

Israel is modern romance compared to Iraq. No American troops deployed. No bad press. A potentially endless war, requiring an endless arsenal of death, bought from the United States itself. But even the Iraq war was mature and thoughtful in its own right. By attacking a country preemptively, and wrongly predicting they had weapons of mass destruction pointed at the Americans, the United States would have made Niccolo Machiavelli like a proud young father staring down at his firstborn. Still bloody and screaming and blind, our umbilical cord has finally been cut. Now we can scream freely into all that florescent light above. After 500 years of our gallant heights of Western misery, the United States has turned Machiavelli’s prime written wisdom into the real thing. No matter how immoral, Machiavelli argued, the ends always justified the means for preserving and restoring political authority. By this philosophy, the four children playing on the beach really were collateral damage—they were in the way of the machine. And the family of eighteen really was not a decent enough substance against U.S.-made and sold F16s.

Just as nobody knows why we really went to Iraq, and killed an estimated 500,000 of their men, women, and children, nobody really knows why the United States gives Israel so much money and so many weapons. “As for Israel,” says Obama, “our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values.” This kind of vague sardonic torment of the human capacity for clear communication is something only Machiavelli could teach. Never reveal your true intentions, he wrote, and “act against mercy, against faith, against humanity, against frankness, against religion, in order to preserve the state.” And so another missile strikes. And the mothers scream.

When New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jared Diamond was asked what book he would require President Obama to read, Diamond answered with Machiavelli’s The Prince, because it illustrates that “we are not helpless in the hands of bad luck.” No we are not. The children playing on the beach are. The family of eighteen is. As are the rest of the 220 Palestinians killed so far.

But across the desert there is a river running smooth and slow. And a little boy has run all the way from school to sit and watch the fish roam and sometimes look up at him. And he drops little pebbles in to see the fish turn their heads again. And the sun goes down near the horizon and turns the trees many colors, and the boy thinks to himself that he is very lucky to see all these pretty things. And then the sky turns completely white.

ISIS, the Beautiful

(Originally published on http://www.paradiseofstorm.tumblr.com on July 5, 2014)

by Guy Walker

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They are pushing further and further, routing through the scarred and desperate areas, their borders swelling like the scare of some empyrean sickness you see spreading on a world map. But instead of the Plague, it’s the world’s wealthiest and most well-equipped militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, a separated division of Al Qaeda. It’s like the angry kid growing up, he’s just a little more sophisticated and a little more angry this time. Their caches of weapons and U.S. antipathy are already substantial, already tromping through police stations and security posts, taking possession of more and more stockpiles of weaponry. Predominately Sunni Arab militants, ISIS “has already seized large swaths of northern and western Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-most populous city,” reports the Los Angeles Times, also “reportedly snatched the equivalent of close to $500 million in cash from a Mosul bank … “its riches easily eclipse those of Al Qaeda under Osama bin Laden.” They have taken hold of weapons stores from multiple Iraqi army divisions, collecting munitions enough for some 200,000 soldiers.

This is the Sunni’s most luxurious war, like some tragic parade of death, it marches through the desert and seizes oil fields and cities like they were new frontiers. They are recruiting children as young as ten years old, convincing them that “Allah chooses you” to fight for the Islamic state, to restore the caliphate as a literal successor to Muhammad. But they aren’t just another rebel group, they aren’t an accident of hate that swelled in the exhaust of war. ISIS is the maturing grandson of U.S. occupation and military training. As the U.S.-trained Iraqi army and Iraqi police forces flee their posts like roaches on a kitchen floor, and ISIS militants seize U.S.-made armored Humvees, a helicopter, rifles, rockets, trucks, and a myriad of other munitions, the U.S. has again unwittingly armed the enemy. And the U.S. response to ISIS as a growing threat is not that unusual: arm and train the opponents of ISIS. President Obama now seeks $500 million from Congress in order to train the “moderate Syrian opposition.”

Arming the opponent of the current threat to the United States is nothing new. Facing an unforeseeable future war with U.S. trained, equipped, and financed militants is also something of a favorite pastime for the U.S. government. Most famously since World War II, the United States has trained, equipped, and financed the opponents of their current opponents, only later to fight against their former perversions of allies. In World War II, the United States befriended the communists to fight the fascists. In the Cold War, they took the fascists under their wing in order to fight the communists. As Soviet and British forces occupied Iran, taking it as their own oil state, the U.S. used Iran’s airports and roads to transport around $18 billion worth of military aid to Stalin. But then there was the Cold War. Quite literally, the CIA enlisted former Nazis as their own. Mikola Lebed, for example, led a Ukrainian “terrorist organization” (as described by the CIA itself), was later recruited by the Agency and described as “rendering valuable assistance to this Agency in Europe.” During the Korean War, the CIA dropped guns and ammunition into Burma, arming general Li Mi and his band of nationalists, pointing them to fight Mao’s advancements. They did not advance. Twenty years later, the CIA ignited another war in Burma to kill off the heroin labs and the global drug empire Li Mi and his men created. In 1953 the U.S. attacked the same Guatemalan army forces they originally trained to topple Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. In 1959, several officers of the intelligence agency described Fidel Castro as an ally, offering that he deserved U.S. guns and money. The U.S. poured billions of dollars worth of arms into Afghanistan, into the hands of Islamic guerrilla warriors, in order to fight off the Soviets. Hence, the Taliban. Hence, Al Qaeda. A seemingly endless war on terror is in effect. And too often it’s armed on both sides with U.S.-made weapons. In 2010, the ATF allowed guns from the U.S. to pass freely into the hands of gun smugglers so they could be traced to the Mexican drugs cartels. The operation was named Fast and Furious. They lost track of the guns, hundreds of them, one of which was later used in the fatal shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Since late 2013, and perhaps even earlier, the U.S. has been sending weapons to Syrian rebels, many of which are falling into the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra, another Islamic terrorist organization, as described by the United States itself.

$500 million to train the “moderate Syrian opposition.” Modesty to save the Middle East. Because the moderate opposition—armed with glistening caches of western weapons and a stipend of half a billion dollars—won’t turn their backs later. Western thought has always loved its modesty. Modesty to rule them all. Modesty—that is, armed-and-heavily-trained-and-financed-modesty—has always loved its promise of furthering war. It’s a symptom of western thought. Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics argues that the moral good always lies between two extremes, that moderation is a virtue of the great. No one less than Alexander the Great turned to Aristotle’s philosophy as his own, looking to modesty as a virtue of his own, later slaughtering hundreds of thousands who were apparently not modest enough. Nothing has improved since Alexander. The West has just outsourced its imperial construct with a little more tormented hilarity than it has before. A modest opposition doesn’t exist here. There was nothing modest about the Afghani rebels who fought back the Red Army. We know that now. And today there is nothing modest about Jabhat al-Nusra, who affirms its allegiance to Al-Qaeda, who has orchestrated various car-bombs, suicide attacks, assault of military bases, assassinations of political figures, who fighters have been filmed eating human hearts. The weapons will invariably end up in the hands of the enemy. It’s never done otherwise. These momentary allies, poised like gurgling perversions of chanting friends, don’t likely believe in a coming American Dawn. Because it’s just another violent tragic dawn.

If Aristotle wrote a book on ethics, and Alexander drew pictures of swords and horses in its margins, then the U.S. government wrote the treatise on peace and said more guns could achieve it. According to the New York Times, the United States tripled their weapons sales in 2011, primarily driven by the Persian Gulf allies and their concern of Iranian ambitions. The United States sold $66.3 billion worth of weapons oversees in 2011, more than three-quarters of the global arms sold. It’s impossible to account for those weapons. Fast and Furious was supposed to be a controlled operation, and it lost control, losing track of its weapons. It’s impossible to know how many of those $66.3 billion worth of weapons ended up in the hands of the enemy. And it’s impossible to know who the ally really is. Because the ally has before so often turned towards the enemy.

Alexander never satisfied his diabolical lust for modesty—there was not enough world for the world’s most modest. And no republic has ever lived more than three hundred years—and the United States is now two-hundred and thirty-eight, and is giving weapons to angry men in the desert. So another sort of plague spreads across the ancient dusty frontier, and America celebrates another birthday.

 

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