The 50th anniversary of an auspicious speech, Eisenhower’s heavy, heady farewell to the American people. Perhaps even a farewell to a certain vision of the country. A last gasp of Jeffersonian agrarian idealism…And now, we live in a world of Orwellian War waged by ancient technocrats. The “problem” Eisenhower here outlines is so embedded in the US economy as to have become indispensable. But in an age of Baudrillardian hyper-war, it behooves us to remind ourselves of other destinies…
Archive for January, 2011
Ah, idleness. What would we do without you? Probably all sorts of stuff. This is a brief ode to the concept I penned many moons ago (note the innocent reference to “the laptop computer”, a novelty when I wrote this…), and recently rediscovered. Like the irony that I’m too busy right now to blog at all; in this case, I’m making an exception…
Once the privilege of the aristocracy, leisure and idleness are now within everyone’s grasp, yet to all appearances, people seem to work harder and more diligently every year. The laptop computer, the cellular phone and the freeway force workers to move through life like gears in the machine, never resting, always within reach and ready for operation. What, pray tell, is the grease that keeps this engine from overheating, or Heaven forbid, seizing up entirely? The answer is plain — Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson and Grant. Money. Cash. The colder and harder the better. But for what? The poorest hovel in the Modern west is equipped with conveniences and, dare I say, luxuries, that only a few generations ago would have seemed like magic. Machinery has long since replaced physical labor in the accomplishment of menial tasks, and yet there continue to be more flesh and blood gears out there than ever before, often fulfilling a role that only leaves them a hollow, stressed-out shell at the end of the line, no more clear on the concept than a newborn babe.
Well, I say “Woah, baby.” Take a load off, relax, take comfort you’re not a serf bonded to the land, forced to toil from dusk till dawn. Heck, even the hardy, downtrodden peasant of yesteryear had it better than us in some ways, for he knew when it was time to let nature take its course, and reap the harvest he’d sown, enjoying its fruits while the world took a little break, to “chill”, so to speak. We continue to work at petty, covetous tasks even as nature’s fury roars right outside our sparkling metallic skyscrapers, defying her to send us all to hell with her fury.
And she’s mad, let me tell you. A woman scorned, she’s only beginning to let her ire be known. Like a great Leviathan, or to use Shelley’s term, a Demogorgon, she is slow to stir, but once awakened, has us all in her grasp. And yet we continue along our busy, self-important way, ants as the storm clouds gather, oblivious to the impending doom. It was swept clean before, it can be again.
Why not, instead of spending our time, live it. To have the luxury to even contemplate the curiosities of existence, our origins in the great fiery balls of flame which glow back at us from the beginning of time, brothers and sisters every one of them. And when the wind stirs — nature’s song, a little reminder that we’re alive and part of something greater — they wink at us, as if knowingly. Tragic to waste this majesty fighting to own and acquire silly, insignificant, infinitesimally small pieces of it — and only for a time — for we all return to dust and the stars in the end.
Idleness is within everyone’s grasp, easier than picking that perfect gift for someone you hardly know, or serving a purpose that strips you bare, leaving nothing but bitterness, regret, ignorance and fear. So, end the rat-race, walk out of doors on an evening when “she” is showing kindness, and be. Humans never had a greater purpose, and with all that our world has brought, and all it will ever bring, we never will. So abandon it, for that is a fire which burns in all of us we must learn, if ever we can, to conquer. And yet even my words are infected with the disease, and so I end them.
The End of the World
The A.O.A.* declares itself officially bored with the End of the World. The canonical version has been used since 1945 to keep us cowering in fear of Mutual Assured Destruction & in snivelling servitude to our super-hero politicians (the only ones capable of handling deadly Green Kryptonite)…
What does it mean that we have invented a way to destroy all life on Earth? Nothing much. We have dreamed this as an escape from the contemplation of our own individual deaths. We have made an emblem to serve as the mirror-image of a discarded immortality. Like demented dictators we swoon at the thought of taking it all down with us into the Abyss.
The unofficial version of the Apocalypse involves a lascivious yearning for the End, & for a post-Holocaust Eden where the Survivalists (or the 144,000 Elect of Revelations) can indulge themselves in orgies of Dualist hysteria, endless final confrontations with a seductive evil…
We have seen the ghost of Rene Guenon, cadaverous & topped with a fez (like Boris Karloff as Ardis Bey in The Mummy) leading a funereal No Wave Industrial-Noise rock band in loud buzzing blackfly-chants for the death of Culture & Cosmos: the elitist fetishism of pathetic nihilists, the Gnostic self-disgust of “post-sexual” intellectoids.
Are these dreary ballads not simply mirror-images of all those lies & platitudes about Progress & the Future, beamed from every loudspeaker, zapped like paranoid brain-waves from every schoolbook & TV in the world of the Consensus? The thanatosis of the Hip Millenarians extrudes itself like pus from the false health of the Consumers’ & Workers’ Paradises.
Anyone who can read history with both hemispheres of the brain knows that the world comes to an end every instant — the waves of time leave washed up behind themselves only dry memories of a closed & petrified past — imperfect memory, itself already dying & autumnal. And every instant also gives birth to a world — despite the cavillings of philosophers & scientists whose bodies have grown numb — a present in which all impossibilities are renewed, where regret & premonition fade to nothing in one presential hologrammatical psychomantric gesture.
The ‘normative’ past or the future heat-death of the universe mean as little to us as last year’s GNP or the withering away of the State. All Ideal pasts, all futures which have yet to come to pass, simply obstruct our consciousness of total vivid presence.
Certain sects believe that the world (or ‘a’ world) has already come to an end. For Jehovah’s Witnesses it happened in 1914 (yes folks, we are living in the Book of Revelations now). For certain oriental occultists, it occurred during the Major Conjunction of the Planets in 1962. Joachim of Fiore proclaimed the Third Age, that of the Holy Spirit, which replaced those of Father & Son. Hassan II of Alamut proclaimed the Great Resurrection, the immanentization of the eschaton, paradise on earth. Profane time came to an end somewhere in the late Middle Ages. Since then we’ve been living angelic time — only most of us don’t know it.
Or to take an even more Radical Monist stance: Time never started at all. Chaos never died. The Empire was never founded. We are not now & never have been slaves to the past or hostages to the future.
We suggest that the End of the World be declared a fait accompli; the exact date is unimportant. The ranters in 1650 knew that the Millenium comes now into each soul that wakes to itself, to its own centrality & divinity. ‘Rejoice, fellow creature,’ was their greeting. ‘All is ours!’
I want no part of any other End of the World. A boy smiles at me in the street. A black crow sits in a pink magnolia tree, cawing as orgone accumulates & discharges in a split second over the city…summer begins. I may be your lover…but I spit on your Millenium.”
*Association for Ontological Anarchy
Hakim Bey, T.A.Z. The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism (Brooklyn, NY: Autonomedia, 2003 ), 33-35.
January sun slowly melts
the ice in a rocky depression.
Surrounded by calm seas –
no sound but seagulls, wind
and the lapping surf.
Baker sits bright and bold,
but the Olympics are shrouded,
occluded in low clouds
and sharp streaks of hazy light.
Flashes dapple off the straight
in a pattern of quantum interference.
This, I think,
displaces some neurons,
reminding of the passion of place.
A mind at rest
though the body stirs.