Category Archives: Suicide

How to Kill Christ

lord of the flies

I.

Stalin supposedly said, “Gratitude is for dogs.” I’ve always thought there was great truth in that, and have always felt dirty and guilty for thinking so. I mean, how can gratitude be for dogs when everybody knows that an ingrate is despicable? But gratitude and ingratitude are not opposites. It may be despicable to spurn kindness and generosity, but no true act of kindness or generosity is ever committed for the sake of receiving gratitude in return.

So why be generous or kind? Out of a desire (it seems to me) to participate in another person’s happiness. Gratitude is generic, perfunctory. Appreciation, on the other hand, is idiosyncratic, and the way to be appreciated is by the peculiar things we do for others. So the proper response to kindness or generosity is not to be grateful, but to be happy, and thus appreciative.

The same is true of good fortune itself—a blessing, a windfall, a narrow escape. The point is to see it for just what it is, and be glad; to change our ways, perhaps. But not to grovel and scrape. This is what I’ve come to realize about devotional worship. It’s all performative. What God would want us to take our time away from gladness, from self-improvement, from kindness, generosity, and appreciation, in order to lower ourselves to the dust? 

For many years I tried to be a Jew. But I am not a Jew. I tried to be a Christian, but I am not a Christian either, not exactly. Next I thought I might be a pagan, but I’m also not entirely a pagan.

From time to time readers and colleagues chide me for being “inconsistent,” for not being committed to an ideology, as if we must be simultaneously bound by everything we’ve ever said or done. As if we don’t wake up feeling one way and go to bed feeling another. It’s all so pretentious, so tiresome—this moral arrogance of faith and ideology. I cannot know what I cannot know, and I’d rather not be in a position of having to tolerate anybody telling me things that they don’t know either. The only criteria that interest me anymore are good and evil, reason and unreason, worth my time or not worth my time. If you’re trying to trap or denounce me with my words, you’re making me into your criterion. Will you then be “consistent,” forevermore?

II.

I have never tried to make money from this blog. Not even a tip jar.

The minute you make your ideas a commodity, they forfeit their power. This is especially true online, where every personality is beholden to a platform, and a public beyond. Granted, it would be more difficult for me to blog without WordPress, but even if I had a million readers, I’ve not made myself an avatar here. It’s just words on a pseudonymous webpage.

This is why I’ve never vlogged or appeared on podcasts. Those media are more dynamic than the written word (more fleeting, more lost in the ether) and their dynamism comes at the cost of ever greater symbiosis with the medium. If this blog is taken down tomorrow, oh well. It’s just graffiti on a bathroom stall. It’s not my name. It’s not my image. It’s not a business or a brand. I’ve not forfeited that kind of energy to the internet.

III.

The so-called problem of consciousness is sometimes cited in support of theology. It refers to the fact that we don’t know where consciousness comes from. We may know all about neurology, brain chemistry and the like, but scientific inquiry cannot really show us the true source of perception, of emotions and thoughts.

In Matthew 18:18, Jesus says that whatever is bound on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever is loosed on earth will be loosed in heaven. We’re accustomed to thinking of heaven as the afterlife, and it may be. But Matthew 18:18 is much more readily comprehensible if we think of heaven as the metaphysical realm, co-terminus with the mundane, material one; a supra-temporal canopy of memory, perception, reputation, where every physical phenomenon has an emotional and conceptual analogue. This is the firmament to which we are “bound” by our choices, our triumphs, our joys, fears, and regrets.

A good analogy for such a concept of Jesus’s kingdom is the internet. Your data, your social media avatar, your online reputation, the emanation of information this way and that, the abstracted interplay of thoughts and feelings pinging about the little labyrinths of software systems. The ways they get lost; the ways they get found. A Jewish teaching that I particularly like is that everything—everything—is written by God in one great book. The reason why the internet—the world wide web—is a good analogy for metaphysics is because it is metaphysics: artificial metaphysics. That’s what metadata collection, social media, AI, IoT, 5G, transhumanism, the Great Reset, and all this kind of shit is about. It’s about the power to see, record, inventorize… everything. It’s an attempt at the total usurpation of all metaphysical power, from the level of the individual man, ad astra.

It’s deicide.

Unfollow, Pt. III

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(Part I here, Part II here, Part IV here)

As I stood in the socially-distanced self-checkout of my nearby Idiocracy Costco, gazing vacantly across a field of eggplant-shaped cattle, the whole history of our species from the agricultural revolution flashed before me, and I understood all at once how the instinct for safety is strangling everything worthy that’s in us.

I don’t want to beat my sword into a ploughshare—that’s ridiculous. My sword is who I am. Yet here I am, smashed between a hammer and an anvil. I look at my youngest son and see the most unadulterated aggressive instincts. There’s no resentment or ulterior motive, just pure joy. He just wants to fight—to box and run and sword-fight and do archery—and the whole world is against him. Our world is predicated on neurosis and anti-social impulses. Every protected class of people is fundamentally self-loathing. Every feature of modern life conduces toward cowardice and resignation.

Lysander Spooner described the U.S. Constitution as a contract that binds no one. Ironically, that is now the U.S. government’s position as well. You probably don’t know my identity, and I don’t know yours, but (as you already know) a global shadow government knows both our identities, because its skynet backlogs our every word and keystroke—every purchase and fap sesh—in real time. No proposition could be more straightforward than that this proves you are not a man, a citizen, nor even a consumer (who at least in theory has choices) but a subject.

What does it mean to be a subject? It means you have no moral agency. The mandarins of a parallel society will decide right and wrong for you. A good illustration of this was in the news recently. An Omaha middle school employee named James Fairbanks sent letters to the local press confessing to the murder of a repeat child rapist who had gotten away with a couple slaps on the wrist and was out walking around. Somehow, Fairbanks became aware of him, and of some pretty clear evidence that he intended to continue kid-fucking, and decided to kill him instead.

He was charged with first degree murder. The district judge who ordered him held without bond declared that, “There is a reason we are a nation of laws and don’t take justice into our own hands.” Yes, exactly—so that children can be raped. That is the reason. According to his own daughter, the victim in this case raped lots of kids over a period of decades. Lots of people knew what he had done, and could reasonably know that he was never going to stop, yet none but Fairbanks took the highly intuitive step of greasing him. Why not? Because the system told them not to.

Milan Kundera said that “The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” What’s this guy’s beef with power? Well, by power, he meant the Stasi, who were capable of a great deal less than the U.S. government, but at least knew how to read. As Jonathan Bowden once remarked, under liberalism, you talk like a Jamaican gangster, and books don’t have to be burned because 40% of the population can’t read them anyhow. We are to our forebears what a beagle is to a grey wolf. By the sum of a million little undecisions, we sign up for this degradation.

The coronavirus lockdowns—the destruction of livelihoods and total abrogation of civil liberties—put me in an extremely libertarian, even anarchist place. I wasn’t alone: a great deal of overlap began to manifest between the anarchist accounts I follow on social media, and the alt-right ones. And then something strange happened: the Minneapolis riots broke out, and (apparently for the sake of consistency) not a few of these alt-right people stuck around on the anarchist side, decrying supposed police heavy-handedness against African-Americans and lauding the riots as a “boogaloo,” with memes like “This is what ‘don’t tread on me’ looks like.”

This is an absolutely delusional take.

First of all, Metro PD is undoubtedly a part of “the system.” But so is the media, the Department of Justice, and every public official in Minnesota (and beyond) now calling for Derick Chauvin’s head. Yet (as always with these events) the rioters’ grievances are focused solely on municipal police—and on the average white person, whose “privileges” and “implicit attitudes” are presumed to be propping up the world like Atlas.

And this narrative persists when the same system—that just put 100 million people out of work and vilified them for protesting peacefully; that backlogs virtually all our private communications; that tells us not to “take justice into our own hands” and ice a child rapist—gives a mob the go-ahead to torch American cities. George Carlin once remarked that “The upper class keeps all of the money, pays none of the taxes. The middle class pays all of the taxes, does all of the work. The poor are there just to scare the shit out of the middle class.” Accordingly, as with every race riot since Rodney King, Minneapolis is 100% a media phenomenon. And if the system has direct access to your brain the way it does with these “protesters,” then you’re not against the system. You are the system.

The alt-right is the only sub-culture that clearly perceives the cynical ways that the deviant and the marginalized are pressed into service by the powers the be. What the alt-right cannot see is the way this draws their alienation into fruitless hostility with those groups. Orwell once said that “if you encourage totalitarian methods, the time may come when they will be used against you instead of for you.” That time is now. The minute corona hit stateside, the whole alt-right peanut gallery came down with a major case of hyperchondria, praising the Chinese and denigrating “conspiracy theories.”

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neoliberalism is statism

It’s very hard to believe (for example) that the TRS network can be so well-versed in Whitney Webb’s reporting on Israeli spyware (they never seem to cite her work, but it’s the sole basis of a lot of their podcasts) and not take seriously everything she’s been reporting about DARPA and big tech plotting to chip everybody like cattle. Deep-diving the “evolutionary psychology” of every lumpy kike they worked with in a call center is more interesting, I suppose. But when every problem looks Yiddish, it’s because you have a favorite gas.

This is actually analogous to certain alt-right criticisms of the alt-lite, e.g., Tommy Robinson:

The whole argument of all these sorts of anti-Islamists is, Muslims are scary, please don’t hurt us… All they’re doing is, they want to preserve their own nihilism, because Islam is a metaphysically objectivist system… Whereas these western nihilists just want to wallow in their own hedonism, that’s what they want to defend.

This kind of eggheaded take ignores the fact that alt-right thought leaders are as eager as the EDL to be kept creatures of a paternalistic state, so long as no one rocks the boat. I mean, what’s more “metaphysically objectivist” than a chimp-out? Forcing people into stadiums to do calisthenics hasn’t altered mass man’s basic mediocrity anywhere it’s been tried. The only difference between the alt-right (or 3P or whatever autistic label they’re giving themselves nowadays) and fully automated luxury space communism is that the former is racist. Well I don’t think that racism is all that wicked per se. But if you’d trade the Bill of Rights for Hugo Boss, what exactly is setting you apart from the homies?

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To see human liberty as an illusion is perverse. I’m reasonably certain that western powers are abetting the HK protests. But no one really believes this demagogue when he says he “has no idea what these protests are even about.” And what they’re definitely not about is biological determinism.

Whiteness is not the paramount threat to misplaced power. Liberty is. I’m not talking about capitalism or NAP or any libertarian dogma. I’m talking about the things that make the heart exult. I’m talking about the experiences we can only have—the sensations we can only feel—when we are free to decide our path. “All good things are wild and free,” as Thoreau put it.

Liberty is priceless. There’s no identity worth trading for it.

Achtung Juden

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What ideology unites Antifa and 4Chan, manosphere he-thots and intersectional harpies, tradcaths and neopagans, wignats and hoteps, Dugin and Zizek, peacenik granolas and international arms dealers?

“Well it’s your own damn fault if you’re so hated!” By those clowns? Really? A man with no enemies is a man with no character, and these enemies are not sending their best. Like the Jersey City shooting earlier this month, last night’s machete attack on an ultra-orthodox Hanukkah party in upstate New York appears to have been carried out by a lumpen African-American under the influence of YouTube Wakanda theology.

Now, I’m half-Jewish, and basically a modern, secular person—I have about as much in common with Hasidic Jews as I do with the Denisovans. So it’s as strange to see people who are so different from me being attacked for what little we have in common, as it is startling to see how different the backgrounds of the perpetrators tend to be.

You may recall, for instance, last year’s events at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue. No, not the Purim party. I’m talking about the sabbath service where a lonely old wignat truck driver with an AR mistook the place for a range and did target practice on a dozen or so nursing home inmates in wheel chairs. Update: they didn’t survive. You may also recall the following April, when a homeschooled sperg male nurse took out a Federal Reserve banker at a shul in San Diego, wounding the rabbi in the process, along with an eight-year old girl who runs the porn industry. The perp there seems not to have had any imaginary friends, though he did have the next best thing, i.e., 8Chan anons.

Then there was the 2014 Kansas City JCC shooting, also perpetrated by a wignat, who killed a kid and two adults, all of them gingerbread-baking white Methodists in RealTree camo and ugly Christmas sweaters. At least the 2012 shooter in Toulouse (that’s France, for all you Victor Hugo fans) managed to hit actual members of the tribe, killing three toddlers and wounding five others at a synagogue daycare. Oh, and how about the 2009 DC Holocaust Museum shooting? That one took out a married black father of three, which is not as rare as a unicorn, but should probably require a permit or something. Then there was the Seattle JCC kindergarten shooting in 2006, and the El Al ticket counter shooting in LAX a year or so prior. Oh, and who could forget the 1999 JCC shooting in LA? A real classic, which took the lives of four children, a secretary, and the mailman.

Why do these things keep happening? I’m sure some anthropomorphic little Eric Cartman somewhere would love to fill me in. Yes, the Jews have their fair share of perverts, plutocrats, embezzlers and corrupt politicians. But these pogroms never seem to target those Jews—or any pervs, plutocrats, embezzlers, politicians, etc. So the question is not what the Jews have done to deserve these atrocities. Because if that was the question, they wouldn’t really be atrocities, would they? “Well they’re not, teehee.” Yeah, tell me more about elite pedophile rings there, guy who supports kindergarten shootings.

The reason these things keep happening is because Jews don’t prevent it. And so the real question is, what is to be done to prevent it?

I don’t intend the question as a “silence is violence” callout. Silence can be complicity in the unconscionable, but a lot of unconscionable shit goes on every day, and no one owes it to anyone else to think or feel anything. The solution, then, depends on the Jews. Do we want to live, or don’t we? It’s that simple.

I know that’s sounds trite. I only ask because lots of Jews don’t want to. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying that Hitler or Chemelnitsky is coming. Believe it or not—in spite of all these attacks—that’s not the problem. I’m also not talking about Jews who are estranged from their heritage, either. No. I’m talking about Jews who make fellow traveling with some form of anti-semitism a literal component of Judaism, and of yiddishkeit.

Sound far-fetched? These types are quite vocal, and they’re the tip of a huge psychological iceberg. On the left stand the anti-Zionists, who should be irrelevant—clammy, furtive little figures like Philip Weiss, Norman Finkelstein, Israel Shamir, and Gilad Atzmon, who make entire careers and identities out of shame, discomfort and denunciation of an identity they could easily just walk away from instead. Proof that mainstream liberal Judaism essentially fellow-travels with this pathology is the recent, wholesale renunciation of Zionism by Jewish Voice for Peace—whose board members include Tony Kushner, Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein. (It was 1941 when Jabotinsky declared “all those who regard [peace with the Palestinians] as a condition sine qua non for Zionism may as well say ‘non’ and withdraw from Zionism.” Better 78 years late than never, I suppose.) Liberal Zionists like Jeremy Ben Ami and Peter Beinart are actually worse, because they’re pushing from within for the Zionist movement to reflect JVP’s attitudes. Of the Palestinian factions they imagine they’d like to conciliate, each one, including the internationally recognized PLO, has a completely undisavowed and remarkably recent history of deadly attacks on Israeli women, children and elderly. But then, no one in J-Street has to actually live with those consequences (unless J-Street is working with frummies from Monsey I don’t know about.)

As bad as all this is, there’s something far more patently offensive to the intellect about the left anti-Zionists’ mirror image on the right, among the burgeoning ranks of sycophantic, alt-right adjacent Jews desperately flailing to live down every absurd libel and stereotype as if it applied to them personally. (At least having no pride or self-esteem whatsoever suits leftists.) Tech entrepreneur Ron Unz, for example, runs the largest aggregator of anti-Jewish content on the web, where he publishes his own rambling, scarcely readable essays that reprise familial and childhood resentments at great length before eventually getting around to the ostensible topic, which is always how bad his own people are. Self-help charlatan Mike Cernovich similarly grovels for acceptance from Twitter Nazis. Classics professor Paul Gottfried pathetically fawns all over pseudoscientist Kevin MacDonald (and is shocked, shocked to find that liberal journalists associate him with alt-right leaders he actually associates with.) Eccentric inventor Henry Makow writes gushing blurbs for latter-day clerical fascist E. Michael Jones’s self-published screeds; and blog posts with titles like “Anti-Semitism is Legitimate Self Defense.” Would he like somebody to murder him, or what?

One looks for sanity in this febrile atmosphere of ADHD Twitter discourse, of anomie and atomization and dementia, and sees the Jewish civil society commentariat, the ADL, the Atlantic, etc., exuding precisely the fear and panic that the high school bully mentality of anti-semitism veritably lives to elicit. When has official Jewry in America ever prevented an attack on Jews here? When they aren’t pushing constitutionally dubious legislation that makes us look ugly and stupid, their solution to everything is “education”: more words, factoids, arguments, and admonishments against wrongthink; to explain ourselves for the umpteenth time to a balkanized and stupefied public irremediably leery of smug expertise.

In Russia, in 1911, Jabotinsky had a prescient sense of this:

Now they have raised a rumpus over ritual murder, and once again we have taken on the role of prisoners on trial: we press our hands to our hearts, with quivering fingers we leaf through old stacks of supporting documents that no one is interested in, and we swear right and left that we do not consume this drink, that never has a drop of it passed our lips, may the Lord smite me on the spot. . . How much longer will this go on? Tell me, my friends, are you not tired by now of this rigmarole? Isn’t it high time, in response to all of these accusations, rebukes, suspicions, smears, and denunciations—both present and future—to fold our arms over our chests and loudly, clearly, coldly, and calmly put forth the only argument which this public can understand: why don’t you all go to hell?

Who are we, to make excuses to them; who are they to interrogate us? What is the purpose of this mock trial over an entire people where the verdict is known in advance? Our habit of constantly and zealously answering to any rabble has already done us a lot of harm and will do much more. The situation that has been created as a result tragically confirms a well known saying: ‘Qui s’excuse s’accuse.’ We ourselves have acquainted our neighbors with the thought that for every embezzling Jew it is possible to drag the entire ancient people to answer. . . Every accusation causes among us such a commotion that people unwittingly think, ‘Why are they so afraid of everything? Apparently their conscience is not clear.’ Exactly because we are ready at every minute to stand at attention, there develops among others an inescapable view about us, as of some specific thievish tribe. We think that our constant readiness to undergo a search without hesitation and to turn out our pockets will eventually convince mankind of our nobility; look what gentlemen we are—we do not have anything to hide!

This is a terrible mistake. The real gentlemen are those who will not allow anyone for any reason to search their apartment, their pockets or their soul. Only a person under surveillance is ready for a search at every moment. This is the only one inevitable conclusion from our maniac reaction to every reproach—to accept responsibility as a people for every action of a Jew, and to make excuses in front of everybody including hell knows who. I consider this system to be false to its very root.

Old Jabotinsky could’ve saved Franz Kafka a lot of time and ink. But even the State of Israel cannot help us if this remains our mentality—not over there, where it can scarcely protect its own citizens from this kind of attack, and damn sure not here in America. Its leaders are busy fighting corruption charges, and casting belatedly and superfluously about for 1940s anti-semitism; it sends its condolences, as peremptory as any American politician’s. If the body count approaches a dozen, you may get an Israeli cabinet minister at your memorial service. Mazal tov.

So do you want to live, or don’t you? The state of our solidarity, of our situational awareness, of our rectal fortitude, is as sorry as it was in 1932. But though I may have as little in common with Jersey City frummies as I do with a Denisovan, though these things may happen thousands of miles away, every one of these attacks is an attack on my soul. Zionism is as much about spiritual exigencies as it is about practical ones. For over a thousand years, our ancestors were forbidden to own land, enter an honest trade, testify in court, ride a horse, or carry a weapon for self-defense. We were a “protected” class. A crime against us was a property crime. That is why the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was so important: not because it prevented any great proportion of the crimes committed against us by the Germans, but because it vindicated our dignity as human beings. The Israeli army exists as much to defend Israeli territory, lives, and infrastructure, as it does in order for you to know unequivocally that you are a free and equal human being.

I got into a debate not long ago with a couple of law school friends, about a Texas law requiring public contractors to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel. Though not Jewish, my friends are mainstream, pro-Israel conservatives. They defended the law, on the premise that a government contract is not a right; and I opposed it, on free speech grounds. In the course of our conversation, I ranted a bit about lobbyists, about Jewish pushiness and Israeli arrogance and how some principles (e.g., free speech) are higher than my ethnic affinities. I see now that this was a mistake—not because of the facts, but because of my motives. I wasn’t just defending free speech: I was obliquely defending Jews, by melodramatically trying to demonstrate that my loyalties are not conflicted. But my friends didn’t have any doubts about that.

So it doesn’t matter if this or that Jew is a bad person. Are you? Or are you worthy to hold your head up and live? Because if you aren’t, there’s always alt-right Twitter, or left anti-Zionism, or banging on the office doors of senators and police commissioners demanding indifferent protection. Just know that if you seek to validate and defend yourself in this manner, your work will never be done, because you will have handed all your power over to others, when they didn’t even ask for it. Almost no issue in public discourse needs to be about Jews in any fundamental way—not even, e.g., U.S. military aid to Israel, or the phenomenon of anti-semitic shootings. Rather, you need to fundamentally be about yourself, before you can be for others. And an attack on Jews is an attack on you.

So never denounce your own kind. Never second-guess a friend, or an enemy. Fold your arms over your chest, like Jabotinsky said. Be clear, cold, and calm. Don’t panic. Be stationary, be stoic. Exude utter contempt. That’s number one.

Number two is, be prepared to physically defend yourself, and your loved ones. Over the same weekend as the Monsey attack, a gunman stormed a church in rural Texas, and was immediately shot down by a parishioner before he was able to kill anyone else. QED: if Jews weren’t such soft targets, these attacks wouldn’t be happening.

It’s that simple.

 

 

The Office Versus Office Space

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“Yeah, if you could picture a boot stamping on a human face, forever—that’d be great.”

Consider the differences between the film Office Space and the TV series The Office (U.S. version.)

In Office Space, there’s a real overall sense of gall. The protagonist and his accomplices refuse to accept their circumstances as normal. They harbor an inchoate sense of higher purpose that’s inimical to their work lives, and in fact, we frequently see them out of work, out of doors, driving around town, in their apartments, at barbecues. In The Office, on the other hand, there’s an overall sense of compensatory smugness: rather than underground solidarity, and questioning their circumstances, the characters content themselves with feeling smarter than one another and (especially) the boss, as a salve to their embittered acceptance of dreary mediocrity. When they help each other it’s less like prisoners plotting an escape and more like nursing home inmates giving one another a sad hand job. 

The characters in The Office have no lives outside of work. Throughout the series we rarely see the outside world, and when we do it’s usually either the parking lot, the loading dock, a business trip, or an office party where all are present and thus no kind of subversive plan can be hatched like the one that forms the plot of Office SpaceThe Office is like a claustrophobic horror movie set to hokey folk-brewery muzak. Its whole premise is to normalize the most pernicious ennui and paralysis in guise of social critique—social critique being the maximum extent of satisfaction anybody (characters and viewers) is intended to get out of it.

This is how man-boob IPA and fantasy football are reverse-marketed to urbanites who think they’re better than the rednecks; it’s how work-as-identity is given plausible deniability for failed artists bagging groceries at Trader Joe’s and has-been high school drug dealers working sales at Best Buy. The NPC meme’s unintentional depth (that the alt-right can never fathom) is that it has everything to do with how we live, and nothing to do with how we identify.

Unlike the classic hero quest where evil is ultimately overcome, The Office co-opts the viewer to the flaws of the world the characters inhabit by centralizing the upward trajectory of Jim, the series’s one unironically sympathetic character, and his rivalry with the obtuse and narcissistic boss, Michael Scott. There is no third option, as there is in Office Space: the worker’s choices are the carrot, or the stick. The boss can be hated, but only with resignation, and padded, puerile shenanigans form the outer limit of anybody’s volition within this dreary frame of Sisyphean neoliberal servitude.

The Office does not critique the neutered Hobbesianism of corporatism so much as it smuggles it in through the back door by co-opting the viewer’s sense of gall to a passive-aggressive amusement so cheap it scarcely rises to the level of humor or compelling irony. It is the prescription lithium of art and entertainment.

Cigarette Butts

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What if the only person who could be Christ was an addict? A deadbeat?

What if redemption germinates in slime, shit and piss?

It’s worse out there than we think

It’s always worse

It’s always deeper

and yet also somehow less

So that we’d rather not look,

not know

not slow our roll

But what if this brand of glory is some pathetic, anonymous moment?

Not martyrdom but nameless, faceless dissolution

Not ignominy but private shame

What if the crucifix is self loathing?

What if the aggregate of all our microscopic dread are the forces acting upon us

The stripes, the stigmata

What if the garbage in the street were relics for some busybody’s collection

and holiness is something far, far away?

 

 

Cattle Prod

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It gets better

Although making an example of someone is the most primitive, totem-and-taboo method of maintaining order, it is a cudgel uniquely suited to democracy. In America, the buck simply must stop somewhere, for where human beings are reduced, scurrilous and simpering, to their uttermost state of servility, it becomes inconceivable to them that misfortune results from their own inadequacies, or—put differently—that our inadequacies result from nature.

So if this had happened to a white boy in a majority black school district, you can be sure it wouldn’t make the Washington Post:

A ham-faced Missouri teenager puts a squirrel-peeler to his humpty dumpty and squeezes…. Come to find out he was being bullied sadistically from just about sun-up, by dozens of classmates and by his supervisor at the local Dairy Queen, who is being charged with second-degree involuntary manslaughter, and is a woman. (Inadequacy: the apple doesn’t fall far from the woe-is-me, but do you think they’ll charge the parents who went on helplessly eating Dairy Queen while all this was taking place?) One look at him choking back tears in his school portrait and you can’t not pity the boy, so anyone remotely acquainted with him in person had to’ve known what was going on, if they wanted to. So, either (a) the whole town was complicit in this young man’s Missouri, or (b) no one was. But local media and opinion say it’s both.

For example, the schools superintendent asserts that the bullying in his district isn’t that bad. How many people like him are superintending schools in this country? Rudolph Höss had a personal touch by comparison. State’s prosecutress April Wilson had this to say about her colleague in public, er… “service”:

We wanted to be very cautious and responsible. Both sides of the issue are extremely important. A young man is dead. But we also want to acknowledge that it’s not easy being in public education.

For the kid or the adults?

And is it easier to manage a Dairy Queen?

Is this a justice that would satisfy the deceased Kenneth Suttner? From the looks of the victim and the fact he apparently never fought back, the kid probably didn’t have a vindictive bone in his body. At least, not yet. But on the part of others this same indifferent meekness is exactly why no one intervened to help him. This is not the behavior of sapient life. It doesn’t even rise to the level of sentient predation. This is the behavior of prey.

A whole town. An entire country.

Requiem for an Honest Man

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shalom khaver

What if you had to choose between a bang and a whimper?

The bereaved father (Hebrew) of an only-child fallen soldier (English) committed suicide over his son’s grave. Did the comfort to be taken in sacrificing for the greater good turn out to be empty mockery? Well….

If the glib reassurances of the living don’t stick, it’s because they shouldn’t. As a father of sons I can absolutely relate to this man. Good for him. The paradox of a state that conscripts you to murder and be murdered, but forbids suicide, strongly implies ownership. With the best of intentions.

Camus said, “The only serious question in life is whether or not to kill yourself.” Either we affirm life or we negate it. Every acquiescence to hatred and fear is an acquiescence to death, a suicide in miniature.

At least actual suicide is honest.

 

The Examined Life: Robin Williams Edition

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Quit bein’ so goddamned serious

“You’re just depressed.” But am I wrong?

“You’re overthinking things.” Really? Where’s the limit and who sets it?

“That’s just the way things are, you’re gonna have to get used to it.” am used to it. Is that not a reason to discern, to describe, to investigate? How long are we to maintain one opinion, or none? 

Don’t worry. We’re all here; we all care. We’re all… watching. You’ll get things right, no doubt. After all, there’s just one fix.

You have to be assertive, self-assured, domineering (more spur, more riding crop, more moxy!)

See?

more tactful, sensitive, empathetic (more courteous, more caring, more moral). Nowadays the other man’s sensitivities can be myriad, you know, and you’ve got to anticipate everything.

So while you may not realize it, it isn’t questions you have, it’s a health issue. It’s not your fault. Lots of others have been where you are and come through productive, and carefree. I myself get paid to make these pronouncements.

So productivity is the end-goal of health? Of existence? Productive of what, exactly? And if it doesn’t matter, then why do my feelings? Wherefore uniformity in the things one ought or ought not to care about? Who decides? Do they have a mailing address? IS ANYBODY LISTENING?!?

The Pitfalls of War Tourism

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Ruins ancient and modern

There’s no shortage, in Israel, of Jewish brats from Anglophone countries fleeing broken homes, brace-faced first break-ups and 1.8 GPAs in the hope of attaining the swarthy ethnicity their progenitors’ progenitors discarded so recently and with so much relief. They mostly smoke hash and talk politics, about which none have anything new or insightful to say. Many offer themselves up to the Israeli army in much the same way that young Isaac was so willingly furnished to Father Abraham’s jagged rock. That’s okay with me—such decisions are an individual’s own personal business. Even if I were Hassan Nassrallah, I wouldn’t try to dissuade them. In fact, I’d probably say, “Bring it on, Fonzie!”

Aside from the war tourism of such would-be Hasmoneans, Zion is also a well-concealed dumping ground for rehab drop-outs, nymphomaniacs, teenage homosexuals and the otherwise mischievous offspring of religious families from the tri-state area, sent to seek “healing” at the hands of ghastly old Talmudists in off-the-map locales where the reverence such reeking sadists command is sufficient to deflect civilized scrutiny.

I used to live in off-base housing for Israeli army “lone soldiers” (enlistees with no immediate relatives in the country) in a Galilee kibbutz. The soldiers’ dormitory was on a windy, forested piece of acreage along a country road on one side and the Sea of Galilee’s southern outlet to the Jordan River on the other. There were four of us and we were typically only there one weekend a month: myself and Danny, Shai, and Steve. Steve was a serious sort, tersely caustic, irritatingly sober and fabulously, independently wealthy. A military history buff and military video game enthusiast, to this day he won’t admit that he never actually saw any action.

But I’ll grant Steve that he had one necessary attribute going for him that I lacked: he brought a high degree of conviction to our job, which was the only decent thing any of us could have done in that position (although Danny, who did basic with him, maintains Steve had doctors’ notes excusing him from all variety of hardship). I, on the other hand, learned the game too late and applied my newfound insights in one fell swoop. Toward the end of my service I began employing every trick in the book and managed to finagle forty-five days worth of sick leave (I was a medic) on totally false pretenses. Danny, being less brazenly manipulative than I, was merely AWOL. We passed the time smoking hash, watching DVD movies, growing fat indulging our effete tastes at the local non-kosher Russian grocery and gorging ourselves on Chinese takeout from nearby Tiberias. One day, a couple of newcomers arrived: Dave and his brother, Len.

Now, of all the psychologically damaging features of an orthodox Jewish upbringing, divorce is probably the least common. Yet it was apparently by means of just such a family rupture that these boys had escaped from the depths of Brooklyn and the Ocean Parkway Taliban.

I’ve heard it observed that clannish, inbred communities occasionally distill the entirety of their evolutionarily advantageous traits into a single offspring, leaving his or her eight-dozen siblings to cope with T-rex arms, odd numbers of eyes, and various palsies. That lucky one-off was Dave. Handsome, well built and extroverted, he was a boy scout of a paratrooper but also a ladies’ man, betraying nothing of his origin in medieval Long Island or its debilitating effects, which had apparently been inherited entirely by Len, a moonfaced introvert with a squishy, womanly physique who rarely spoke except to make cryptic comments that only half-made sense if you gave him the maximum benefit of the doubt by taking a good, long minute to think about them, which one quickly discovered was not worth endeavoring. He spent his weekend leave watching television in the commons, where Danny and I verbally pounced on him one afternoon, offering unsolicited our sorry stories of disillusionment, interrogating him as to his motive for enlisting and trying to discourage him, convert him to a cynic and generally break his eerie silence, which we optimistically presumed a personality to be lurking behind. He didn’t really respond, which was just as well, since Danny and I were only thinking out loud, attempting to assuage our self-loathing over squandered years, clichéd dreams and our mutual inability to hack it in the face of Yaweh’s unquenchable thirst for human blood. But unlike Danny and me, Len had barely been a month in uniform.

It generally isn’t until about the six-week halfway point of a three-month basic training regimen that Israeli army conscripts are allowed off base with their weapons. Two weeks after Danny’s and my berating of Len, Steve returned home, on leave from his base, to an empty fridge. Deciding to go trolling for a Coke, he entered the first unlocked dorm room he could find and discovered flies buzzing around an inanimate Len, slumped in a corner, fellating an M-16, brains splattered three feet in every direction across the wall behind him. His pathetic suicide note revealed his unhappiness in the army (big surprise), his declining hope that the experience would relieve him of his sense of physical inadequacy, the fact that he’d never been with a woman, and that all he’d ever wanted was to be a tough guy in the Israeli army and to have a girlfriend.

Upon hearing the news I thought, “What a loser.” I couldn’t have said it better about myself. I mean, the only person who can get a self-esteem boost out of a plump, dweeby 26-year old virgin’s weepy suicide note is an even bigger loser. At least Len had the balls to ice himself—I guess he turned out to be a tough guy in the Israeli army, after all.