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The Optimism of Racism

 

“Man is the only Patriot. He sets himself apart in his own country, under his own flag, and sneers at the other nations, and keeps multitudinous uniformed assassins on hand at heavy expense to grab slices of other people’s countries, and keep them from grabbing slices of his. And in the intervals between campaigns, he washes the blood off his hands and works for the universal brotherhood of man, with his mouth.”

–Mark Twain

 

Not every racist is a terrible person.  Now wait–wait wait wait, before you condemn me for such a statement.  I’m not done.  I am not talking about tiki torch carrying screamers, or some klan-robed scumbag masturbating to thoughts on race war and genocidal fantasy.  I am not bothering to consider those smug, smarmy, truly wicked cops smiling as they gun down unarmed black men.  No, the sort of person I am thinking about is the quiet racist who does not even believe in inequality.

 

For some people you can understand their racism: a white women gang raped by a horde of black monsters, or a black man treated like shit and sometimes beaten their entire lives–certainly never given an opportunity to thrive in the white man’s world.  We can understand this and often even shake it away, giving in to individual experience and figuring that every sort of hatred can be justified given the proper context.

 

Going back up for a moment to the opening quote, Mark Twain himself was not a racist.  Modern sensibilities seem to consider him one from his constant use of a certain word over and over again in his masterpiece, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780140390469&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used).  If one were to give a closer reading of (or actually bother reading) the book, what they would find is a staunch attack on the very idea of racial prejudice, on the demeaning quality such views have on everyone.  When I was in college I was a student teacher for a semester, and my professor had me teach the book to a group of young liberals in the dawn of the radical university political correctness of the early 1990s.  I had people shouting at me–white people, mostly, angry with me for having the “racist book” on the curriculum at all, wondering why I didn’t chose, instead, something inspirational by one of the great African-American authors, and not a tired old racist screed by “another old white man.”  I responded rather bluntly.  I asked, “Can you tell me who the only two human characters in the book are?”  This stumped them, mostly, their ideas on what the novel is about based on the complaints of others who had also never read the book.  One or two of them would sneer out “Well Huck, obviously, because the book is all about him!”  “How is he good?” I then asked, still trying to be a teacher.  No answer.

 

“Know who the other decent person is?” I addressed the whole class.  My professor was smiling at me.  He knew what I was about to say.  After about a minute of murmuring silence I blurted out, “It’s Nigger Jim.”  Gasps, two people storming out to complain to whichever Dean they believed (and who probably did) share their biased sensibilities.  For those who remained I followed up with a discussion of the ‘N’ word, about what it’s etymological meanings are, how it has evolved, and the shift of its purpose and usage throughout modern times.  I discussed how Twain’s overuse of the offensive term, applying it as he did to the sainted runaway slave Jim–even making it part of his name–undermines the power of the word itself.  Most of the students were skeptical, but they left no longer offended.  It was a lesson in the power of words and how every single one of them has an appropriate context.

 

But this is just a sidebar to the larger point I wish to discuss today.  Why did I title this piece “The Optimism of Racism?”  How can hatred in any way be positive?  Well, unlike the misanthrope, who hates everyone equally, seeing all of man, as Twain did later in his life,

as hateful, the racist actually sees hope in the future if only their people could ascend to or reclaim the throne of humankind.  They even see decency, however mistakenly and misguided they might be, in certain people of their own shade or ideology.  There remains a dream within the back of their minds (or sometimes right at the front, if they are of the virulent stripe condemned at the beginning) that somehow people can be saved.  They do not scream apocalypse, but renewal, salvation, a perverted purity that can finally form their own selfish paradise on earth.

 

Such views are far different than, say, Joseph Conrad, another true misanthrope mistakenly written off as a racist.  One of his great books, Heart of Darkness (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780553212143&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used) has been roundly condemned by modern day liberal academia as racist for its brutal depiction of African natives of the Congo, regardless of the fact that every character in the book is a monster.  I remember one of my professors, who refused to assign anything by Conrad regardless of the theme of the class being “Early 20th Century British Literature,” and instead dedicating an entire lecture to what a terrible racist Joseph Conrad supposedly was.  I wondered aloud, actually interrupting her, what relevance this had to Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780156628709&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used).  This led to me being yelled at and called a Nazi by some hysterical student at the back of the classroom, followed by a nodding smile from the professor.

 

The truth is that Conrad hated everyone, as could be summarized by a brief Christmas greeting he wrote to one of his friends in 1923, a few short months before he died:

One lives too long.  Happy X-mas.

 

In no way am I defending racism as a belief or practice.  But it is important to note one undeclared bigotry within the whole anti-racist ideology (and let us avoid the cartoonish white nationalist “Anti-Racist is a code word for Anti-White,” as celebrated in hideous Neo-Nazi recruitment websites like this ridiculous nonsense:

 

Home

 

I mean, listen to these fucking imbeciles, if you have the stomach for it.  All it is is whining paranoia about so-called “white genocide,” and a moaning lament about how all other countries in the world are for the native people–“African nations for Africans,” “Asian nations for Asians,” but wonders why so-called “White nations” are forced into multiculturalism, forgetting all about human history.  Europeans brought other races into their lands as slaves.  In the US the actual natives were wholesale slaughtered.  The white man has been the chief invader of the world as far back as we can record, having developed better weapons technology faster than the generally more peaceful natives of other lands and warmer climates.  This is not to say that Africans and Asians and every other sort of native aborigine the world over did not engage in warfare over land and food and outright tribal hatred, but those superior weapons of the white man were original tried out among himself, crushing every culture they came into contact with and making it their own, murdering each other when they did not have a clear visual difference to attack over perceptions of belief.)

 

But the undeclared notion is the actual prejudice of anti-racist crusaders, not the weeping barks of the white nationalists, but the boiling hatred of those who believe their intentions are just.  Perhaps they are so blinded by a sense of righteousness that they cannot even see the behavioral similarity they have to staunch segregationists.  They might proclaim that they don’t hate anyone, but they certainly hate racists, as though removing them from humanity itself and cursing them as a lesser species, deserving of all the debased shame they have read about and watched on television.  It is no different in intention if the target is changed.  This is something worth remembering.

 

I hate radicalism of every sort, and this is what I have mostly written about, not just in this essay, but all throughout Recording Editorial History–both the hypocrisies and the threat such absolutism offers to civilization.  And so it is important, I believe, to recognize those we might disagree with–even those whose opinions we find offensive–and stop lumping them in with the true monsters at the extreme, acknowledging their genuine optimism, no matter how hopelessly misguided and fundamentally wrong they are.

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The Tremendous, Really, Really, Super, Super, Greatest of All Time (People Are Saying) Presidency of the Very, Very Smart Donald J. Trump, American Hero

 

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People are saying that President Trump likes to fuck his daughter Ivanka.  I don’t know if this is true–I have never met the man and only seen him on TV.  But people are saying this.

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Image result for donald trump fucks his daughter

Image result for donald trump fucks his daughter

Now we have all heard this, whether it is truth or a slur only other people know, but the truth, as it has become under this particular administration no longer has to have proof.  I mean, if just one of you out there believes this to be true (and I researched this, there are whole websites dedicated to this,

https://www.ign.com/boards/threads/do-you-think-donald-trump-has-had-sex-with-his-daughter.455108013/)

I mean, people are saying this.  How do we know if it’s true?

 

The statements of people celebrating our President are impressive, not just the ‘greatest ever’ or ‘making America great (again),’but all the joyous individuals claiming how much he has done for them:

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Image result for what donald trump is the greatest president ever!

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Don’t you see the slogans?  To hell with facts, to hell with examples of how and why this is promoted as reality.  I mean, look at the chart above: Coolidge, after crooked Warren G. Harding died and the tremendous corruption of his administration was exposed, “Silent” Cal stood by saying nothing and trying to restart the government so the crimes of his late predecessor did the least harm.  McKinney, killed in office after a year, an ambitious ideas man who never had a chance to follow through with anything (replaced by Teddy Roosevelt, whom we will get to shortly), tried in a short period of time to forget about the shame the nation would have to endure until world events consumed them.

 

Eisenhower, restoring some semblance of reason in that post-WWII era, that post-Atomic bomb time when everyone was terrified and Truman, an unlikable man, made everyone nervous and the Reds were supposedly spreading their demonic message and Joe McCarthy was on a rampage and there was still so much money after the war and comic books were corrupting children, the nation wanted a secure daddy figure to tell them everything was going to be okay and let’s let the general do whatever he thinks best because I am too busy baby booming and moving to the suburbs and buying a brand new car and working for a burgeoning corporation that has promised me they will have the back of my family after I die.  God bless Dwight, because he can be held up as a decent man!

 

Bill Clinton–a creep who knew how to make money for the nation.  It is an age of cynicism and growing partisan divide, played out mostly on the nightly news and online screaming rooms.  Politics has become entertainment, a blood sport, and goddammit how does this scumbag manage to stay afloat?  He must know what he’s doing.  Let him get away with it.

 

William Howard Taft, Teddy Roosevelt’s handpicked successor, a future Supreme Court Chief Justice who understood the law better than anyone and was fully aware that World War I was on the horizon.  “I will keep us safe!” Taft said in this dwindling age when Presidents were still respected.  “I will save us from the Communist chaos and the militaristic terror spreading throughout Europe.  You can count on me.  Just let me impose this legislation and you will be . . .”

 

Richard Nixon, in front and just after both elections, had a great deal of social and international chaos to work with.  It does not matter how his paranoia over a dominating victory in the 1972 election led to his unleashing former spies to steal documents from his flaccid opponent George McGovern’s campaign.  He was still clearly in charge before the fall.  In 1968, after LBJ had mangled the nation with the endless failure that became the Vietnam war, after dividing Southern Democrats over the Civil Rights act, and after the grim hopelessness of a series of political assassinations, Johnson simply gave up; he retired, leading the way to the past tense that Richard Nixon had to offer, his own bottled up corruption that the quality of Eisenhower, whom Nixon was Vice-President with, now allowed to impose new ideas and regulations upon the nation that he claimed to love but which plenty of people could justify claiming he despised by his actions.  And yet Richard Nixon, today, this bugbear of the far right in his era, would be denounced as a left-wing stooge, a RINO, caring about the environment and the well-being of the people of the nation after his own surly ambition.  Yes, Nixon got away with a great deal of curious things in the collapsing age of the 1960s through early 1970s.  After all, most people were too stoned to do anything other than bitch and moan just how wrong the state of the nation was.

 

George W. Bush in 2004 benefited from the PTSD the whole nation was suffering from, regardless of their angry partisan views, following the horror that was September 11, 2001.  People were scared.  They suddenly looked to a government they hadn’t truly respected since Kennedy was in office (or earlier, if their politics wavered elsewhere).  And Bush, Jr. was nothing if not convinced of his own well-meaning decency, regardless of how those notions may have turned out.  He was a confident man, a public servant to the core whose personal interest in whatever private company was profiting off of his stoogery was secondary to his often deluded ideas on how to “keep America safe.”  And the people in the nation were scared, we were truly terrified and yes, even if we disagree (said most of Congress), let’s let him do what he thinks is best and we will deal with the consequences later.

 

Herbert Hoover turned out to be one of the greatest failures in American Presidential history.  Not all of this was his fault, of course, the crooked greed of Warren G. Harding and the aloof silence of Coolidge before him leaving him to be the one standing around helplessly as the stock market collapsed, as natural disaster ravaged the farmlands, and as the Great Depression overtook the world, feeding into the radical right wing movements that were overtaking much of the world.  Hoover tried his best, he randomly attempted new laws to keep the hopelessness at bay, but the movement of the world overwhelmed him.  He offered so many conflicting views that he did more bad than good in the final analysis, leading the way to FDR and the true dawn of World War II.  This is the massive impact an anonymous figure like Herbert Hoover has had on United States history.

 

And now Donald Trump, apparently, has imposed far more change on the nation than everyone before him.  More than George Washington, than Thomas Jefferson, than Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson and even FDR.  Certainly more than Clinton and Obama, the true targets of his rage, for whom his angry changes to the way the nation works are apparently targeted and yet have nothing in reality to do with.  Ronald Reagan, in this current administration, while being held high up as a saint, is yet another past-tense Republican whose innate decency would today be written off as a RINO, another fake Republican that the far right, whose parents worshiped when they were children, could condemn as a traitor.

 

People love to exaggerate their ultimate value to the world and to the future when talking about either themselves or those they hold up to the highest standards.  And the only thing that I see from all these crude catcalls and the nonsense that goes back and forth in the voice of indifferent allegation is the destruction of language, the loss of meaning of once important words.  “Very.”  “Greatest.”  “Terrific.”  “Perfect.”  When one can transform these terms into their exact opposites, “Very.”  “Worst.”  “Terrible.”  “Failure,” then language itself loses meaning, creating a newfangled Tower of Babel (for you handful who still consider the Bible) where everyone is speaking over everyone, and nobody understands, or even cares to listen to anybody.

 

This is the legacy of President Donald J. Trump, both a demigod and demon within the flaming chasm of a divided America.  If nothing else, regardless of how you view the man, one can not dispute that his impact on the nation has been . . . well it’s been tremendous . . .

 

 

 

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A Terrible Yet Hilarious Week in Politics

 

 

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I think I have said before that I am a political junkie.  Let’s consider this term before we wade into the biased cynicism of the premise.  A “political junkie,” is really just another drug addict, consumed by the words that other people say, and getting high from whichever way our ideologies lead us.  I am a ‘liberal,’ or at least this is what the far right would call me, although most of my contempt, the highest degree of disgust I find for other people exists within my own tribe.  Liberals are a bunch of pussies.  Liberals are fucking stupid.

 

Now don’t get me wrong: I condemn the right even more, a small-minded batch of cretins seeking to alter reality into whichever slim prejudice consumes their momentary view of the world.  But the left, supposedly my brethren, have become the same sort of Nazi they presume the right stomps around being.  They are no different,  regardless of ideology.  The far left are a group of fascists blaming everyone else for whatever it is about the world they find offensive.

 

Don’t get me wrong: the modern right is far more “snowflake” than the pussy-assed left ever was, reacting to base perceptions of what their opposition might be saying and getting offended over everything, misunderstanding everything.  The right are the post hippie assholes of say 1973, joining aimless cults of opposition with suicidal ambition, hovering around the extremes, a gun-play fantasy that erupted in the 1990s in Ruby Ridge and Waco and Oklahoma City, conspiratorial perceptions of reality that undermine what the actual truth might be, damning the whole world beneath an expansive perception–secret societies and other beings that could no longer possibly exist in the crazed age of the internet.  And then they get even more defensive, not truly understanding their base and increasingly intricate plots, and try to turn it around and laugh at the left-wing douchebags, mocking their supposedly hurt feelings.

 

The left, on the other hand–well the left until 2016–they had subtly won more or less everything, demeaning the so-called right, imposing their smug perceptions of reality on those fragmented people who found everything going on in the world offensive.  Of course there is no valid reason everything was so horrible to such folks (one might consider racism or outright fascistic fanaticism, but even this is a vast minority of the creeps that were as angry as the rest, a parallel to the far left waiting for anything and everything to piss them off so they could protest and denounce it.)  All it was was a cheap sideshow of partisan issues, whichever social organization promising a new reality the one that only a tiny handful obsequiously forwarded their money to, most of them well-to-do enough to ignore whichever way the election might turn.

 

I voted for Obama, sure, but that does not mean that I actually believed in him.  It was, to me (and, I suspect, to the bulk of others who nominally supported him), the ‘lesser of two evils,’ a bleak statement declaring that no one set to lead is worthwhile, and there can only be varying degrees of decline within our broken society.  Donald Trump succeeded in exactly the same way, the angry opposition defeating the burned out other side, demanding a restoration of legal hatred and outright contempt for those you disagree with.

 

Donald Trump publicly restored greed as an innate American characteristic, a schoolyard bully sort of idea that presumes you deserve whatever it is that you want. This is far from the worst thing our President has done to society.  For all of his antics, for all of the silly, mostly ignorant, nonsensical and outright ridiculous ideas the man has had and has failed to implement (and yet for which cult-like supporters claim he is “making America great again,” regardless of the fact that nothing has happened and none of them have any idea what they are talking about), Donald Trump nevertheless certainly knows how to lie convincingly to his followers.  This is a gift all politicians, from every side in any social history, are envious of.  Look at how a perpetual liar has convinced his followers that he is the only voice of truth.  Look at how he has countered bleak and unequivocal facts and turned them into lies because whatever the truth is it might make the deity look bad.  I do not write these words individually to condemn the worthlessness of every promise Donald Trump has ever made (that is too easy and you could check that out in seventeen words on Twitter).  No, what I am hoping to draw attention to is the intentional divergence from reality that all current politicians hope to perform, regardless of whether they are aware of it or not.  Donald Trump . . . Donald Trump does not do all of this on purpose.  When he was promoted as ‘a man of the people’ this had nothing to do with his silver spoon nor the fact that he never truly had to work hard to achieve anything.  It has nothing to do with his bland stupidity or his social blindness, and there can be no truthful allegations declaring he is prejudiced against any one social group when clearly the man hates everyone.  No, Donald Trump is a man of the people because he does not have the patience to consider a different idea from his own, to hear anything counter to his rushed thoughts on how the world is supposed to be.  He does not bother thinking about who or what or why other people may suffer.  He is a businessman, the sort of person who cares about nothing other than the bottom line.

 

Yes, I find Donald Trump to be a disgrace, but do not pigeonhole me into some partisan rant about ‘libtard’ or ‘demoncrat’ or whatever stupid fucking cheap slur people might devise to dismiss another from their limited human reality.  I find all of it appalling, and I have for a very long time.  I was in college at the dawn of the Clinton years, a bland time of plenty when ideologues thought that since there were no wars we might as well fight over morality.  I listened to and watched most of my friends protesting the new Republican majority in Congress, and I followed the bleak-eyed hatred of the silenced-on-campus right blaming Bill Clinton for their getting a B in some liberal professor’s history class.  But all of this ridiculous pettiness has become transformed in this far more evolved internet age into chants of smug riot, of insidious, self-deprecating hatred, where even whatever extreme we find most offensive becomes the most important thing we will ever have to say.

 

All political discourse in the United States has become bullshit, the followers of one or the other side more like college football fanatics, painting their faces in the mascot’s colors and booing the other team should they score a touchdown.  The truth of how the government is run, of how civilization interacts with each other, can really be reduced to such meaningless rooting interest fandom.  Nothing else is actually true.  No one is honest or sincere.  All of those radical opinions you dedicated yourselves to once upon a time, back when you convinced yourselves that the world was worth saving, are just the same babbling cesspool those college kids you once thought yourself to be–‘Imma gonna change the world!–‘ all of it meaningless in the adulthood where we come to realize that everyone has a different agenda and that even those who otherwise agree with you have no interest in the science-fictional future you wish to impose upon everyone not yourself.  And now we older folks condemn the young, those fools resembling us in our banished enthusiasm, condemning their nonsense not because we necessarily don’t agree with their aims, but only because we recognize too much of our own failures and get angry seeing another generation repeating the same mistakes.

 

This will be my last piece from the series of untitled bleakness I have undertaken this week, a new grip on reality that might actually lessen my readership at the moment when, under business considerations, I have intentionally reduced my audience (India, up until last week, was far and away my largest readership.  Having decided to no longer pay google to spread my link on Hindu news sites, that nation, other than I guess the people who were actually fans, has disappeared.)  If nothing else the demise of my audience has taught me something about who my true and readers are, giving me a better idea of who it is I am writing for.  You are the few hundred remaining folks I wish to speak to.  I realize that once the biography and the novel come out there will probably be a boost in readership, but those will be the same tired assholes from, say, Thailand, who awarded me with a few dollars a week and yet probably never got through any of these articles.  But Recording Editorial History, while ultimately to me a psychological venting and lingual calisthenics, giving me the work out necessary to engage with the numerous other projects that consume my mind when not laughing at the news, this site is really a cry in the dark, a spent reason for living that might appeal to someone or even nobody, hearing the silent squawk of misery that generally overwhelms my otherwise happy-go-lucky, cheerfully pessimistic vision of the world.

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The Slow Death of Moderation

 

The vast majority of people are politically moderate.  Now the extremists condemn this sort of thinking, absolutist in their ideologies, blaming those questioning the purity of their motives for everything gone wrong with the world.  Extremists on every side are a tiny yet very loud-mouthed murder of crows, spraying their rage and contempt upon the larger values of a diverse world.

 

I want you to consider this, you busy population, harried by your everyday lives and utterly disillusioned by every person who attempts or claims to try and lead.  What do we think about, how do we picture these strident people?  We allow our own slight biases to become inflamed by the barking screeches of crazed radicals.  We hear, day after day, only the voices on the farthest equal and opposite ends of our perceived morality.

 

Moderates tend to vote with their conscience–that is, if they vote at all.  It is purely a term of moderation, “the lesser of two evils,” that also displays to the world just how unhappy we are with the state of governments and our thoughts on each another.  Extremists . . . well look:

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I wonder if you can guess which side of the political spectrum these protests support?  The images depict both far right and far left aggression and violence.  Can you tell them apart?  Do you think you could classify every one correctly?  You can’t.  You would be wrong.  You may even get one or two right, but only by a blind guess.  I promise you, the truth of who is whom would surprise you.

 

But how do the moderates respond to this?

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It is exhausting, depressing.  All we hear is the shouting of lunatics trying to prove that their ideas matter.  And they really don’t, not really, not in a free society.  But it isn’t a free society, is it?  When people make the claim that “freedom isn’t free,” I realize that this is meant to be a pro-military sentiment, honoring heroic soldiers who fight against terror, and hope to set the whole world free.  But look at the contradiction of the statement: freedom isn’t free.  It isn’t free.  Therefore it does not actually exist, should we place those words into a logical syllogism.  If you need war to assure such a noble concept as freedom, if different opinions and ideologies are constantly fighting, then someone, if not everyone, is being oppressed.  And this is where the moderate comes in, losing faith, losing interest, diving into a cynicism so deep that it clouds every action into a hopeless shuffle of meaningless everyday living.  The moderate cannot get so excited, stand outside in the rain with the threat of police activity, tear gas and the outbreak of rioting.  It isn’t that they do not care, it’s just that they want the radicals to believe they don’t, if only to be left alone.

 

And this is how fanatics take over, whether religious

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or political

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The last one is a cartoon, but so are the others.  It’s all a cartoon, a parody of civilization, our modern customized political living.  This chaos is engineered.  It is intentional.  It is how one destroys a nation, ends its presupposed way of life.  When everything is undermined: the press, your opposition, ideas on patriotism and treason, when all people are set against one another in a paranoid haze of lies and delusion, the moderates can no longer survive.  It is join or die, regardless of whether you truly believe in your group and its leaders.  The social issues, most of which in an actually free land would be subject to personal morality, are suddenly open to reconsideration, to the imposition of new laws regulating speech, thought and even belief.  New legislation starts controlling our bodies and new educational standards begin to control our minds in an effort to control the future, recreating the next generation in their own image, like a latter day God less than half of the people claim to worship.

 

Political moderates are the Unitarians of the secular world, dismissed by everyone of more demanding beliefs, but generally satisfied with themselves, the minor differences between individuals only erupting not over a difference of opinion, but out of genuine personal dislike.  The moderates, again, the moderates are dying.  They are all giving up hope.  They shake their heads and shout “Who cares?” out into the silent night where no one is listening, a mournful cry that might be followed by tears.  And nobody cares about the tears either, about crying.  Notice the malicious joy in the opposition should you not get your way:

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Or read the blitheringly petty and stupid comments people post online:

And of course moderates, giving up, start thinking that all of this is true.  After all, the only examples we see are extremists, those shouting loons who once upon a time would have been screaming through a bullhorn outside of a public park, shrieking insults at passersby trying to ignore them.  The internet has taken away the need to even go out of doors.  We get increasingly isolated, increasingly selfish, forgetting that there is a world full of people out there with different ambitions, different hopes, different needs, and different struggles and pain.  Instead we mock such suffering and laugh at the broken ambitions that the cynicism of the age imposes upon all of us hopeless dreamers.

 

Moderation on issues is no longer an option.  We must choose a tribe to join and get ready for war.  Do not think, do not even consider the others people.  Objectify their ideas as the true cause of all evil and crush it out in a holy war that will end with, I guess, something like a war of Armageddon.

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On the Nature of Sadness

 

Everybody has problems, we all know this.  Often our sympathy for others is limited, too many things going on in our own lives.  Sometimes we even resent the tragic, the terminally sad.  More often we simply turn away with a head shake, perhaps even with a tear in our eye, and we are thankful that whatever is happening to another is not a part of our lives.

 

Sometimes we consume ourselves with tragedy–other people’s as well as our own.  I know that I do.  All the books I read are miserable.  My favorite movies are tragedies.  My favorite sort of music, well, here, have a listen:

Do not let the title of this song fool you.  It is a funeral dirge.  This is not my favorite song–surely not–but it is one that seems to form the background noise of my life.  Although a statement like that gives me too much credit, appropriates another’s vision and forcibly aligns it with my own.  I suppose this is what music does.

Images can do this to us too, a horrifying depiction of the worst things in the world:

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I do not mean to depress you, or upset you, or (horrifically) cause you to laugh out loud, but sometimes the only way we can cope with the misery of the world is to presume hilarity.  Let me give you a brief example of this phenomenon, where such endless sadness eventually becomes absurd.  The great Joseph Conrad, author of, most famously, Heart of Darkness (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9781593080211&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used)–surely a bleak tale–also wrote one of my all time favorite books, The Secret Agent (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9781853260650&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used), a brutal tale of political intrigue where the ultimate conclusion is that everything is meaningless.  Here’s a brief summary:

So this miserable guy, married to a woman who hates him and only stays with him because he helps her care for her mentally handicapped brother (who happens to adore the guy), is a low level spy with British intelligence in the years before World War I.  His job is to report on the Communists who are his buddies and who hang out with him at the pornography shop he runs as a cover business.  These Communists are do-nothings who babble theory halfheartedly and with little comprehension while drinking and giggling over the nudie pics.  There is nothing worth reporting.  These are just losers, barking about philosophies they do not even want to put into action.

 

Anyway, the Intelligence Agency has finally had enough and they order the guy to engineer a terrorist act–blow up the Greenwich-Means tower, and then they can blame it on the Reds and start rounding them up.  Now the guy does not care at all, not about his friends or the service or even the people who may die over such a treacherous act.  He has lost faith in everything and believes in nothing.  Everything annoys him;  even his wife’s hatred is indifference.  And so he gets materials for a bomb from his buddies, who are excited because at least making a bomb sounds like fun.  They never even ask what he needs it for.

 

By the time the guy is ready to set the bomb off, he has been forced by his wife to look after her brother, who is happy to be on an outing with his friend.  Bored, short for time (the bombing is supposed to happen at a specifically set hour), he gives the box with the bomb in it to his brother-in-law and tells him to hurry up and place it in front of the tower.  The man-boy races off, thrilled to be a part of this adventure.

 

And here is where defensive laughter–a brutal reality in the life of this story in every sentence on every page–finally descends over the madness.  The brother races forward, trips over a rock, and the bomb blows up in his face, splattering his body parts all over the square.  The tower bongs the hour, unharmed.  The guy looks on and shakes his head, having half expected such an outcome.

 

I use this example as a reflection of the ultimate randomness of our lives, where the unexpected becomes the inevitable and we all find ourselves with something to mourn.  Usually what we mourn is the impact of everything that happens to our lives.  We can be sad over the death of a loved one and constantly be thinking about them, but the loss is quickly transformed into how this impacts you.  All tragedy, whether you are directly involved or not, transforms itself into a personal belief, into a system we devise to explain all these struggles away and somehow go on with our lives mostly unscathed.

 

But people seem to be having a harder time doing this.  Misery is oppressive and contagious and every so often we find ourselves drowning in a pit of despair.  It is very difficult to escape from this mythic place, a transformed barren landscape better off in mythological fantasies and biblical terror.  We see, briefly, flickering, the inspirations that inspired ancient times to define an underworld, a place today called ‘Hell.’  And all of us live there sometimes.  For some people Hell is their only address, all throughout every day of their lives (which are usually pretty brief).

 

I want to end this by suggesting that, while the world is generally a horrible place, and most people seem to earn your everlasting hatred, there can be ways to get around such hopelessness.  They are very difficult and require a great deal of patience and very hard work, something that the terminally depressed usually cannot bring themselves to bother with.  I would love to offer you some hope, to claim that there is a brighter way to the future, but this is not who I am.  I, too, suffer in Bunyan’s ‘Slough of Despond’ (https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?isbn=9780802456540&n=100121503&cm_sp=mbc-_-ISBN-_-used), and I see only brief moments outside of this bottomless pit.  I understand the nature of sadness because that is what my life, unfortunately, is generally all about.  There is no hope, no God, no faith worth following, and no dreams worthy of being fulfilled.  And I wish there were–that is my hope.  I wish there were something worthwhile that could help me to see anything worth living for.

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