Paradise of Storm

Tag: Hegel

The Violent Beast of Safe Spaces

garden

by Guy Walker

There’s no where to go. We’ve been corralled into padded white rooms of academic pedantry, from floor to ceiling, glittered with papyrus-font quotes from Maya Angelou and nondescript Chinese Proverb like starry haphazard reminders of an idealism more akin to a prudish hell. Everyone is so polite. Their skin is glossy. All the women have long armpit hair dyed green. All the men have cracker bones and speak in frail submissive voices. We’re locked in a series of Safe Spaces, forever, screaming for all white masculine-types to die, protesting that flowers should be gender fluid, accosting the sun to be nicer to our skin.

Safe Spaces—predominately found on college campuses—are those brittle fortresses of political correctness that resemble something between a nunnery and a madhouse. They are where the smarmiest of young adults go to die.

College campuses are supposed to be small ambrosial cities of twenty-year-olds in cargo shorts and fading pimples all congregating around a professor’s lectern, listening like it were a nasalized campfire story, their four years of puttering optimism slowly eroding into the spiteful trenches of reality, their student-debt now soaring, their intellectual aptitude barely better than it was before. The puerile fertility of the boys reeking down hallways and frat houses with the urgency to hose the world down with their semen. The girls bursting like a huge Georgia O’Keeffe painting. Mostly, kids just hang on until they are let go, trading in their parent’s savings account for a sheet of biscuit-colored paper, shuffling in and out of the place like duteous bovines who just experienced the best four years of their life.

Why? we ask ourselves in lulls of sobriety. Why do we march en masse into such institutional mediocrity? The obvious and banal answer is that parents or society presses it upon us, or because of boredom, or because it is a perquisite to our desired profession. But there’s something even more routinely ideological about higher education, like some cold hubristic measure of our learned inability that we crave to flaunt under the stelliferous cynicism of our era. Walter Benjamin said “ideological class education starts with puberty,” and he’s never wrong. The bourgeoisie’s “mark of shame,” he argues, is that they demand unwavering discipline from all children, thus hampering the creative mind into the dull peasantry of modern man.

The politics of getting into a university is class struggle; it’s a cloistered pubescent frenzy to get into the right group of buildings with the right name printed on its gilded gates. We besiege their shiny edifices with varying degrees of expectation, whether they be to learn, to fuck, to play sports, to get drunk without curfew. Whatever the expectation, we expect liberalism. We expect our thought and discourse to be free.

But the Benjaminian critique of education isn’t just a neo-Marxist attitude that the bourgeoisie is bad. It is meant to massage the teet of humanity, to liberate the intrinsic ingenuity of child and man alike. Benjamin thought all school children should act in the theater because only through unrehearsed performance does the creative critical mind developed as it should, that in doing so, man achieves his humanity through the “wild liberation of the child’s imagination.” Only through “wild liberation” is any socio-political revolution possible, something of a catalytic component for women, gays, and minorities today.

But Safe Spaces are a weird and recent phenomenon—bursting onto the scene only in the last couple of years, they have quickly grown out of the religiosity for a brutish and paranoid form of social justice, already having converted masses of former unbelievers to speak in tongues, to grow out all their body hair, to protest guest speakers at universities who have different points of view. The ideal state for Safe Space people presumably is S.S. buildings the size of mega churches littered across the world with feminized Joel Osteen and Benny Hinn types commanding the use of a decent lexicon to their congregation, attendees’ eyes rolling back as their bodies convulse violently upon upon the floor. They have what are called ‘trigger warnings,’ microaggression innuendos that send the very sensitive into cataclysmic shock. There are certain topics, phrases, words, that mustn’t ever be discussed in the classroom in fear it will offend someone.

If applied, Hegelian dialectics and its philosophical lineage would be banned from academia, from thought itself, like a Fahrenheit 451 of our own miserable minds, of our perverted subconscious whisperings, of our tribalistic tendencies, into a single neural highway that roars across roads of pristine virginal marble. The dictatorial idealism of the S.S. people extracts only the emotional brazenness out of the Sophists’ methodology of aretē (quality, excellence, especially that of the oratory mold) and abolishes everything that Socrates was after in the first place: truth, truth by means of logic and rationality, by the dialectic of reason, rather than by emotion.

Safe Spaces are churches for the intolerance of reason. By definition, they are spaces that have banned all constructive discussion. This goes against all that liberalism stands for, against the utilitarianism John Stuart Mill mapped out to be applied to society and the state—essentially, that we do what we do as long as it doesn’t hurt others, that the greatest good for the greatest whole is liberty. However, the Safe Space people predominately identify with the political left, something seemingly contrary to the social identity of liberty itself. They are groups that American psychologist Jonathan Haidt calls the ‘illiberal left,’ a seemingly new group of actors who oppose civil intellectual discourse. In a podcast with Sam Harris, he goes on to explain that when asked why women are underrepresented in the STEM fields for example, he is not allowed to respond with the reasonable theory that “prenatal testosterone actually influences what children enjoy doing,” out of fear of retaliation from the illiberal left. It has to be a social justice issue even if it’s not.

Philosophy, science, art, music, all fields of human ingenuity advance because of the discourse had through that medium. Imagine a young churlish Wittgenstein hunched over his schoolbooks with a runny nose, reading Schopenhauer, becoming squeamish and psychologically pained over the author’s writings on Wille zum Leben, demanding the teacher provide him a Safe Space where he can mash globs of Play-Doh against his forehead and drink glasses of warmed whole milk. Imagine schoolboy Samuel Beckett aghast at the pornography in Joyce’s writings. Imagine Sibelius collapsing to the notes of Anton Bruckner, curling into the fetal position and screaming for the music to stop, ponds of coruscating drool and tears pooling together around his flaccid sweaty body.

But Safe Spaces are not merely rooms of worship for the obsessively prudish types. And they don’t just obstruct freedom of speech in some hapless mediocre way (at some institutions it is plainly defined as blasphemy for one to question affirmative action, for example). It’s more dangerous even. It is the laws and nimble skills of debate, and the manifold processes of thinking that make debate possible, that construct new truths and attitudes of our era—these are in jeopardy. Safe Spaces are about manufacturing the simulacrum of decency. They merely turn words into taboos, thus creating the facade of humanity.

It is through this disabled intellectualism that the Safe Space people want to force us all to soak in the same tepid cauldron of orthodoxy, everyone paranoid they’re going to fuck up one day and say ‘retard’ or ‘black’ or ‘person of Hebrew faith’ or ‘hrímpursar’ or ‘pudenda’ or ‘thank you’ or ‘how do you do?’. There’ll be ladies in hair curlers circling around students’ desks, scribbling frantically on their notepads about the content, analysis, and the actually-intended offensive meaning of their language. The five-year-old with bucked teeth at desk 101 said “my tummy hurts”, which is clearly a derogatory slur against the stomach organ. White girl in polka dot dress is combing her straight hair in the presence of other girls with curly hair. Blonde boy raises his hand to ask a question, but it could have also been the Nazi salute.

When the advocacy of unrealistic pettiness is shoved into the general public, it’s never accepted as the new golden standard of morality. It generally has the opposite effect, igniting a stubbornness to submit to the new rule, becoming far more hostile than before. When California teen McKay Hatch started The No Cussing Club, and wrote a book with the same title, he was expectantly trolled and bullied by school peers yelling “fuck!” “pussy!” “cheese dick!” and other rosebud paeans of profanity far louder than they would have if unprovoked. The hacktivist group Anonymous published Hatch’s home address and telephone number online, resulting in mass quantities of pornography and pizza deliveries to his family home, and prank calls with torrents of obscenities. We humans don’t like to be told how to behave. When told, “we can’t discuss affirmative action” in the classroom, it is expected to evoke a certain kind of animosity against the evangelists of this taboo even if we wholeheartedly agree with affirmative action.

The justification for Safe Spaces applies Adorno’s logic around morality and conflict—that the gentlest of things “culminate in unimaginable brutality”—to the pettiness of day-to-day language, posturing that only a negative dialectic exists. It suggests that we are en route towards a barbaric shit-throwing contest, that we began as philanthropic culturally diverse Victorians and are agents of the entropic collapse of humanity, that soon we’ll just be apes grunting obscenities and racial slurs at each other, while the few rogue hyper-sensitive leftists faint from the trauma of it all.

There are undoubtedly grotesque examples of professors or student peers being callous and vicious towards minorities, or gays, or women. And where those cases occur they should undoubtedly be dealt with in their necessary ways. But the momentum of our cultural tolerance is rapidly headed in the right direction: from the abolition of slavery, to child labor laws, to women’s suffrage, to the Civil Rights Movement, to gay rights, the West’s trajectory is towards equality. And given the human timeline—most of which looks like an extravagantly buttered hell—our relations with one another are becoming more hospitable than they ever have.

In Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of our Nature, he maps out the long historical decline in violence, from the evolution of hunter-gatherer societies to settled centralized civilizations, through the Enlightenment, through the less frequent and less violent wars, to where we are today: amidst what he calls the Rights Revolution, the domestic advocacy for gays, minorities, women, and so on. But in the Benjaminian application of the thought and tenor behind this modern-day revolution, the Rights Revolution won’t be able to sustain itself without the “wild liberation” of a child’s imagination, one that the Safe Space people, by their very nature, wish to inhibit even more than already has through the current educational construct.

If they had it their way, the S.S. people would dictate cats always be kittens, the color yellow be softer on the eye, all Richard Wagner would be edited to resemble Erik Satie, bricks be turned to bubble wrap. But the libidinal ferment of millennials wants to fuck in paradise. We want to whisper dirty words under enormous night skies. And I gather we want these things more than to sit quietly in the classroom too afraid to discuss our differences.

 

Advertisements

Obama and the Free Press, or, Why Are Pigeons Everywhere

white-house-dinner-obama-2014-ftr

by Guy Walker

After half an hour of comic relapses and festal banter at last week’s Correspondents’ Dinner, President Obama broke into a ten minute eulogy about the importance of a free press. It was serious, heartfelt, earning applause and an agreeable rhythm of nodding heads, everyone concluding that indeed they and Obama are essentially a single effulgent team of transparency and courage. Obama reassured the audience (which consisted of reporters, actors, and Kendall Jenner), “Our free press is why we once again recognize the real journalists who uncover the horrifying scandal and brought some measure of justice to thousands of victims throughout the world.” Maybe they’re a little tough on Obama sometimes, he later referred to, but this is testament to a healthy potent democracy. He can jab at them, they can jab at him, and consequently, they are the freest most sterling State in the world.

But there’s a problem. During Obama’s presidency, more whistleblowers and official leakers have been prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage Act than during all previous presidents combined. The Espionage Act was of course proposed by then President Woodrow Wilson, shortly after the US entry into World War I, in order to wage a war on spies. But under Obama’s watch, they were whistleblowers, not spies. There was Thomas Drake, a former senior executive at the NSA, who shared classified information with the press regarding the warrantless surveillance of American citizens. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim was a nuclear proliferation specialist working for the State Department, and handed intelligence about North Korea over to Fox News. John Kiriakou, a former CIA agent, gave journalists the names of two colleagues who used waterboarding to interrogate detainees. Shami Leibowitz, a former FBI Hebrew translator, leaked FBI wiretaps of the Israeli embassy to a blogger. Chelsea Manning leaked 700,000 government documents to Wikileaks, the most notable of which was a video of American Apache helicopters killing a dozen innocents, including two Reuters reporters and then the first responders. Jeffrey Sterling, also a former CIA officer, leaked classified information to a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Edward Snowden, of course, handed a mass of data on the NSA surveillance program over to Glenn Greenwald. Again, the 1917 Espionage Act was designed to prosecute spies—those, as Woodrow Wilson stated, who were “born under other flags”—not those who handed information over to journalists about the scandalous and sometimes nefarious work of their own government.

But President Obama continued, personally commending Jason Rezaian, the Iranian-American journalist who wrote for The Washington Post, who was jailed for nearly two years on accusations of espionage: “Last time this year we spoke of Jason’s courage as he endured the isolation of an Iranian prison. This year we see that courage in the flesh, and it’s living testament to the very idea of a free press, and a reminder of the rising level of danger and political intimidation and physical threats faced by reporters overseas. And I can make this commitment that as long as I hold this office, my administration will continue to fight for the release of American journalists held against their will, and we will not stop until they see the same freedom as Jason had.”

Supporting Rezaian’s release from an Iranian jail is obvious and banal. It’s political-speak, an easy reference that’s confident for a round of applause. What about other journalists? What about the case of Yemeni investigative journalist, Abdulelah Haider Shaye?

Shaye discovered that a remote village in Yemen was bombed by US-made Tomahawk missiles and cluster bombs (neither of which were a part of the Yemeni military’s arsenal), killing fourteen women and twenty-one children, and quite possibly not a single AQAP (Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula) operative. And yet Shaye was consequently imprisoned under suspicious circumstances. After a sham trial, Shaye’s supporters pressured the Yemeni government to release him, and he was set to be pardoned; but on February 2, 2011, President Obama called Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and “expressed concern” over his release, resulting in the continued imprisonment of the journalist for exposing the US involvement in the bombing of a Yemeni village.

To Obama’s credit, he did specify that he would continue to fight for American journalists, not Yemeni. But this is clearly not a matter of a truly free press, but rather that of political clout. The rule is: if you matter enough, we won’t prosecute you. David Patraeus, for example, gave his biographer and lover Paula Broadwell notebooks full of classified information, but was merely charged with a misdemeanor. Former CIA director and defense secretary Leon Panetta allowed Zero Dark Thirty filmmakers access to the savory details about the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. It’s the same reason President Obama never even sought prosecution of the major bankers responsible for the 2008 financial collapse, why former Attorney General Eric Holder admitted “some of these institutions [become] so large that it does become difficult to prosecute them,” only to return to the corporate law firm Covington & Burling immediately following his tenure with the Obama administration. Abacus Federal Savings Bank, an insignificant family-owned bank in New York’s Chinatown, jammed between two noodle shops, was the only bank indicted. It’s the same reason four Blackwater mercenaries were finally sentenced last year for the Nisour Square massacre, but the founder of the company, Erik Prince, will likely never be held accountable. Or why the guards at Abu Ghraib were sentenced for their torture methods but Donald Rumsfeld was not. There is priority and privilege at work. To be a significant enough of a player is to work with almost complete impunity.

Unfortunately, this is nothing new. And the problem surely doesn’t entirely fall onto Obama’s shoulders. It was here all along.

In a lecture Noam Chomsky gave on March 15, 1989, entitled “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” he spoke of two very different, yet strikingly similar cases of freedom of the press. The first being the famous case of Salman Rushdie and his novel Satanic Verses. At the time, then Supreme Leader of Iran issued a fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie and his publishers for printing such beastly words. A couple days before Chomsky’s lecture, the Prime Minister of Iran proposed that a compromise could be made, and if all of the copies of the heinous book were to be burned then the fatwa would presumably be revoked.

The second case Chomsky referred to was one that he was personally involved in. A book he co-authored in 1974 with Edward Herman (who also co-authored the book Manufacturing Consent with Chomsky) about American foreign policy and mass media, was published by a subsidiary of Warner Communications Incorporated. When an executive at Warner saw he book, he disliked it so much he responded by pulping not just all 20,000 copies that were published, but all books published by that subsidiary, ending the company entirely. Chomsky grimly jokes that the only difference between the Rushdie case and his own is that Warner actually carried it out.

A free press is always in jeopardy by its own limitations, by the actors of secrets, power, and worship. This is larger than President Obama. Hegel’s dialectical “power of negation” is clearly at work—that is, opposites do not cancel or neutralize each other, but rather develop into one another until they are both monstrous bodies of unrecognizable flesh. The more whistleblowers there are exposing its governments’ various libidinal affairs with autocracy, the more the government will crack down on whistleblowers, and the more whistleblowers will counter and expose. And on and on, until there is nothing left but beige flattened forms of scandal, and the rest of us just a herd of troglodytic squatters on American soil. It’s the free press that lets us live, the free press that lets us breed and spread across the universe. Kendall Jenner and Will Smith applauding that liberty is still with us. It takes us back to the old question: why are pigeons everywhere if they’re so stupid? Because they love trash.

The Ontology of Actors

by Guy Walker

marilyn

“Night was coming on, and the galley was blowing the whistle for them. They all started rowing in cadence, all but one, me.” Louise-Ferdinand Céline

There is a sort of rousing peccant fever to the world of acting. It hurls its inauthenticities at us, as we slouch in our reclining chairs, shoving handfuls of popcorn in our faces, slurping 64 fluid ounces of diet soda, our cheeks glowing with the sickly reflective bisque of movie stars. Actors themselves are the deliberate idols of Theodor Adorno’s ‘culture industry,’ the messengers of entertainment as commodity.

As Adorno and Max Horkheimer assert, “amusement under late capitalism is the prolongation of work. It is sought after as an escape from the mechanized work process, and to recruit strength to be able to cope with it again. But at the same time mechanization has such a power over man’s leisure and happiness, and so profoundly determines the manufacture of amusement goods, that his experiences are inevitably after-images of the work process itself.” Television, film, records, these types of entertainment don’t require any critical hermeneutic role from the viewer or listener, says Adorno. They restrain the psychological development, not of fringe populations of a personified-retardation, but more so of the humping beige masses of modern society as a whole, of all the countless clamoring wrinkled youth, all the starless adolescence of the free world. The rednecks, the beauty queens, the hipsters, we seem to be waiting around for something beautiful to happen, for a gif to make us snicker, for @thefatjew to do something original, for an actress to scream at the sky.

Shia LaBeouf recently watched all twenty-seven of his own movies, and there was even a live-cam on his face: you can watch Shia watch his own movies. Is this performance art? Is it honest narcissism? Or are we all amidst a symphony of tragedy and comedy, rolling around in our own brand of drama? Adorno isn’t calling for a stoic intellectualism, in which we all pompously contest the architecture of purity. For Adorno, this is the culture industry, the manifestation of ‘identity thinking,’ or identarian thinking, which is its own manifestation of superiority and impersonality, in which individuals are no longer considered uniquely conscious individuals, but more as numbers or statistics, mere cogs in the wheels of war and population. Adorno berated ‘identity thinking’ as abstract and misrepresentative of this effulgent sensory reality, as lacking all quality and character, but he also asserted that this is no one’s doing other than our collective own. Identity thinking is not a product of the capitalist system out there; it’s a subscription of our own method, categorizing people into classes and stagnant idols. Celebrity itself is a stagnant idol, a worship of the imaginary, a sort of religious fundamentalism. But instead of screaming “Je-sus! Je-sus!” with our hands above our heads and our eyes rolled back into a pseudo-psycho fervor, we are screaming “Leo! Brad! J Law! Let me smell your underwear!”

At the end of the 20th century, American households watched an average of seven hours of television per day. 2015, we are tuned to nine hours of media per day. Smartphone users check their devices an average 150 times per day. And in many ways this is understandable, for loneliness can be a caustic genius, a single candle in the squalid night. One’s own idleness is enough to send them to the madhouse. Movies give us a moment of reverie from our lives of drought and war. And the actors and actresses on the screen are a band of Nietzschean Übermensches, slaying dragons, dismantling bombs, flying through space, and overall doing cool shit. Even while writing this article, I have had to drink a bottle of wine, watch the end of Barbella: Queen of the Galaxy, masturbate, sleep, surf, drink a six pack, and have sex with a beautiful woman, in a modest attempt to make it through another day. Our attention spans are shorter than those of goldfish. The sheer madness of gluttony invigorates us enough to feel the warmth of the sun on our cheeks, to smile at old men, and of course to be obsequiously conceited enough to not vigorously protest the capitalist machinations of the State. And this is exactly what Adorno pressed upon, in that we become objects of our own making. We become idols of apathy, of the very system that is hurting us most, something Aldous Huxley described in Brave New World, in that we are so over-drugged, over-sexed, and over-stimulated, that we no longer care enough to burn madly for the free and the beautiful. Like trying to listing to Basinski’s Disintegration Loops on my one shitty speaker in my car of seizers and diesel. Beauty’s rarity is overrun by madness, by the clamoring for beauty itself.

The world is dark, and we need a hero. Idolatry is like a faint beacon in the storm, and it’s perfectly natural for such a primitive species to hold on to something believable. But it’s the cult of formulaic banality that corrupts our freedoms and imaginations. Spectre is the twenty-sixth James Bond movie, the same grunt of dramaturgy and cigarettes blurring out the decades. Even Daniel Craig said he would rather slit his wrists than make another James Bond film. How many Jurassic Parks, how many Fast and the Furious’s, how many Will Ferrell tantrums, until our paradise of dust swirls around infinitum. Adorno’s identity thinking is a drunken bacchanalia of frat boys, congregating en masse to quote Will Ferrell movies and talk about hot chicks, acting out tantrums of their own. When a billboard or television advertisement says, “From the makers of,” it tells you what kind of film you are to expect, what kind of imitative rise and fall of character, and it serves as a marketing ploy. Predictability is a selling point.

It is easy enough to watch the films of Fellini or Cassavettes or Cocteau or Vittorio De Sica or Jean Renior or Kurosawa or Seijun Suzuki, and remind yourself that a small band of filmmakers have made something memorable, that there is mastery and awe to be shared in sitting back in a chair and watching a screen. And maybe it’s enough to admire the rare exhilarating actors for what they did on screen, for gifting us a few moments of fantasy.

Daniel Day-Lewis is a marvelous actor, and I respect him immensely. After receiving his awards, he returns to his heather-speckled hills of Ireland, untroubled with celebrity. Because actors are merely professional con artists: a perfectly fine profession, but not one that should be idolized. The cinema is the most literal lie of all, the purest form of spectacle, almost mocking our slouched awe of fantasy. And actors are the direct messengers of the spectacle, usually poorly elaborating on the mystical facades of escapism.

In Minima Moralia, Adorno asserts that lies themselves no longer serve their innocent purpose of manipulating the truth. A lie is no longer intended to deceive or pervert reality, but rather used to express another’s stupidity for believing you. Nobody lies well these days, so it merely serves as mockery, an insolent tact of ridding the world of your presence and opinion, like an actor on the screen, falling in love with a robot, as the violins fade, the screen turns black, and the director yells “CUT!!!” and everyone eats cheese and snorts cocaine at the wrap party. For Adorno, lies “[enable] each individual to spread around him the glacial atmosphere in whose shelter he can thrive.” We lie because “life does not live.” Because it’s easier to believe a falsehood than it is to know the truth. It’s the only way to make it through the dank arena of real-life heartache and war.

If you have chosen to become an actor, you have given up on the world. You prefer to star in a thinly-veiled 90-minute romance more than live in the terraqueous insanity of the grand flesh-eaten world. You want the spectacle and not the substance. It is why a simple girl with a pretty face from the Midwest thinks it’s her right to become an actress, why she advertises her head-shots for the public to gloat over, why she hasn’t been single for more than a few weeks in the past decade. Good looks are born into, a marvelous luck of the straw, teaching one early on that they are the esteemed child of Apollo, that they command prose from every morning grunt. This is why nearly every actor is terrible—they deny the Hegelian pontification on work and desire, in that the desire for fleeting satisfaction trumps the necessary difficulty of work. Work molds creation into an eventual thing of worth, maybe sometimes even a masterpiece. For Hegel, work is desire held in check. It’s the determined passion for the invisible Process. Actors want the show without the several-hundred person team to make a great film. Great tits without a heartbeat. The 10,000 hour rule has since been debunked, but it still serves as a vague marker in the drive for excellence, generally stating that being good at shit requires immense amounts of hard work.

I live in Los Angeles, and was drinking alone at a bar the other night in Hollywood. The bartender, a five-foot-nine muscled kid with a decent jaw line, is now thirty-one, working behind this same counter for seven years, but told me that he is actually an actor. What is there to say to this? Seven years in Los Angeles, seven years serving fourteen-dollar martinis  .  .  .  but in actuality, seven years as an actor, attending call-backs with the hope of stardom, getting new head shots over and over until the sky turns red. I finished my wine, ordered the vegetarian lasagne, and excused myself for a cigarette. The ontology of actors is an indebted one—one that needs to pay back the florid liberties of candidness and laughter.

There is something almost very innocent about one’s desire to be famous. It’s like looking to your older brother as a child, mimicking his cool. But we are no longer children, and we are no longer innocent. The world was born yesterday, and we are princes.

War is Peace and Kim Kardashian is Hot

by Guy Walker

tumblr_inline_nf22uzhVKN1r1pxgx

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.

%d bloggers like this: