May 27, 2005

Third Eye

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When, in a New York Times article assessing the Iraqi threat as a ramp-up to war, “a senior administration official” said, “The jewel in the crown is nuclear” it caught a number of readers by surprise. According to legend the jewel in the crown is the third eye. The power to rule, so the priests asserted, came from the gods. What distinguished the gods from mere mortals was their omniscience. Omnipotence was rooted in the idea of telepathy associated with the third eye. Such power was thought to come from an extra sense, which it was widely supposed resided in the pineal gland in the center of the forehead. Humans, according to these legends, had long since lost their sixth sense, their powers of telekinesis. In order to maintain the façade of their connection to the gods the lost third eye was symbolically represented by the crown jewel. For the neocon Busheviks to say that the “jewel” in the “crown” was “nuclear” was to say that the “third eye” is “nuclear”. It almost goes without saying that the total destructiveness of nuclear weapons is late capitalism’s symbol of power. The senior official, of course, only meant the “crown” as a metaphor for their case against Iraq, and the fabricated nuclear threat was supposed to be the final touch. As usual, however, it was just another example of the kinds of gross mixed metaphors scripted in the halls of power. It exemplifies our day and age that the “greatest threat that faces mankind,” as Warren Buffett recently put it in a TV interview is “loose nukes”. Buffett’s appearance was a plea to viewers to take the problem seriously. The second richest man in the country didn’t know where else to turn to solve the problem. By his own admission Buffet said he didn’t know “how to attack it with money.” Never mind that such an attitude perfectly expresses the U.S. idea of Democracy: the oligarchy makes the problem, believes it can solve every problem by throwing money at it, and always failing finally turns to the people to bail them out! What is far more significant is the grave reality that the Super Powers have for some time now no longer been the sole possessor of the nuclear third eye, which one might suppose is their symbolic claim to godliness, now loose in the world.


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May 25, 2005

The Meeting

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The Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock, California, has been a vital part of the local community for years. Originally a turn-of-the-last-century Spanish-style Library, the building is now a historical site. But that does not prevent the center from being a vital part of the neighborhood. The main hall provides a much needed space for anything from theatre rehearsal to children’s ballet class. The work the center does on a local level is invaluable. In a recent effort to take on an even greater role, The Center has mounted a couple of exhibitions under the general title, The Meeting. The second exhibition includes artists: Mike Kelley, Liz Larner, Daniel Mendel-Black, Juanita Meneses, Jim Shaw and Caroline Thomas. For More information visit Center for the Arts, Eagle Rock.

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May 17, 2005

Controlled Doom

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After the twinned towers fell a number of artists and writers had difficulty separating the symbolic tragedy from the violent trauma. In a culture whose various economies are almost all symbolic it was somewhat understandable that they would react most strongly to the imagery, as if the attack were part of the greater illusion. And, given that our culture is predicated on the exchange of symbolic force, it is actually very hard to think where exactly, if at all, reality and its signs separate into anything approximating neat categories. Those images of inferno, in particular, had already been rehearsed as spectacle in movies, to name only a couple, like Independence Day, or, going back to 1956, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers. How many times has the Eiffel Tower bit the big one? The White House? The Statue of Liberty? Etc. Hollywood loves to visualize Armageddon. For some reason images of our near total, or total destruction have a strange hold over our fantasy. To the filmmaker David Cronenberg our attraction to the imagery of deadly force is about having a sense of control over ones destiny. In the documentary The American Nightmare he talks at length about our morbid preoccupation. According to Cronenberg: “If you don’t think about it you can’t have any control over it whatsoever. If you think about it, you have at least the illusion of control which is a beginning.” Such curiosity about our fears has, of course, spawned numerous industries. Terrorism is perfectly good fodder for action dramas. On TV we see it in shows like 24. On the face of it 24 is, of course, the worst kind of cop propaganda. Like the nearly unwatchable spin-offs of CSI: Los Vegas, 24 is supposed to impress us with the new omnipotence offered law enforcement by science and technology. Big Daddy will protect us, even from microscopic evil, monsters whose patterns can only be recognized by super computers. Nifty gadgets abound. They are the instruments of the dogged Pit-bull authority figures fueled by testosterone rage always one step or more behind the evildoers. But 24 is more than just cop propaganda. It is a rehearsal of the kind of imagery we will, unfortunately, probably come to see more of. Just as the imagery of the White House exploding in Independence Day precedes the near actual event, 24 not only prepares us for the enlargement of the total Police State, but we are already witness to the trauma that most experts believe awaits us.

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May 03, 2005

The Servants of Death

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Busheviks regularly sight as prime historical example both Mao and the Nazis. Mao is hailed as an inspiration for understanding the revolutionary fervor of country folk – presumably the connection is made between the Chinese Communists hatred of city folk and that of their own evangelical political machine. The Nazi’s are not only sighted for the usual reason: Joseph Geobbels’ uncanny propaganda acumen. The man who said one could make the people believe whatever you wanted them to by simply claiming they were under attack from foreign hostiles is, of course, repeatedly referred to – and not only by Donald Rumsfeld, whose main public characteristic that he seems to share with the rest of the Neocons (or, as David Neiwert prefers to call them, the “Christo-fascists) is that he doesn’t really care what we think about where he gets his ideas from or even what those ideas are. The Busheviks also openly credit Geobbels for his policy of repeating the party line over and over again until it hopefully comes true, and most sinister of all, it is the Nazi propagandist they owe for their tactic of accusing the other side of doing the very misdeeds they themselves are either already doing or soon plan to do. Even one of their lapdogs, Tucker Carlson, has commented on their boldfaced penchant for lies that it “almost crosses over from bravado to mental illness.” There has been a real sense that these folks think they can get away with just about anything no matter what. Talking about how the enemies of the administration ought to be handled, John Derbeshire looked to totalitarian fascism as his first model in a 2001 editorial: “In Stalin’s penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an ‘enemy of the people.’ The Nazi’s used the same principal, which they called Sippenhaft, ‘clan liability.’” But it didn’t end there. As if these were only proposed half-measures, Derbeshire went on to praise Imperial China’s steel fisted manor of dealing with political dissent. There “enemies of the state were punished ‘to the ninth degree’: that is, everyone in the offender’s own generation would be killed and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed.” In his groundbreaking study of our potential for evil, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, Erich Fromm examines Freud’s idea of the death drive. Fromm’s main intention is to prove that there is no evidence in any academic or other field to indicated that people are by nature destructive. Fromm’s point is that only some of us actually harbor the unnatural lust and attraction for all that is “dead, decaying, and purely mechanical”. The analogy is made between these personalities and necrophiliacs. Fromm invents the term “necrophilous character” to describe this sinister psychology. The death drive does not affect us all identically. Only a few of us actually act on these urges. The book was famous for its close examination of malignant aggression in such infamous sadists as Heinrich Himmler and Hitler. The similarities between the penchant for unlimited destruction native to these character types and those who currently rule our country are remarkable.

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May 02, 2005

New U.S. Flag

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One of the more incredible misconceptions perpetrated by the right is that Christianity is patriotic. Why did our founding fathers divide the church and state? Were they atheist agents of the counter culture? Was our country founded by a sinister cabal of Masonic conspiracists? Yes! One has only to look at the eye in the cone of the pyramid on the dollar bill to know it is true, but that’s beside the point. The reasons to suspect the motives of the church were many. Foremost, Christianity had no allegiance to this country, no allegiance to anything, in fact, besides its own global interests. The church was either loyal to the Vatican, or, if it was the Anglican Church, then to the English King (remember, Henri VIII invented Protestantism so he could divorce his wife). At a time when our present administration has found a sympathetic ally in the Nazi Pope Ratzinger, the unnatural link between religion and patriotism looms ever larger and more ominous. Whether or not we like it, it is time to reconsider the U.S. flag! Printing technology has vastly improved lately. To judge by the increase in photographic-quality graphics, especially on license plates and in nu jack clothing patterns, it would seem like just about anything can get printed on, well, just about anything. Now that our founding fathers have all been exposed for the revolutionary criminals they were, it is high time to reinvent the flag to reflect contemporary cultural attitudes.

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