Thursday, May 6, 2021

What Do You Wanna Be When You Grow Up? (1-minute play)


A: What do you wanna be when you grow up?

B: Cat Burglar of Music Boxes, Captain of an Anti-whaling Ship, Consultant to Pataphysicians, Biographer of Harry Partch, Professor of the Accordion, Vinho Verde Taste Tester, Apprentice to Owls, Benny Goodman Scholar, Author of Children’s Books about John Brown, Inventor of a Time Machine.

A: And why that last one?

B: So I could travel back in time and thwart Christopher Columbus before he reached “the Americas.” I would set a trap for him to fuck up his life so he would never cross the ocean. Chris was a very bad man.

A: But that would mean you probably would not exist.

B: Oh. Right. Then I would do that one last.

A: Right.

(owl block print by virginia warwick, https://crittercrittercreations.com/)

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

29 May 2020, Chicago

long silent

        minutes

long silent

        seconds

to remember

        George Floyd


people seated on the street

downtown Chicago

          birds

                a breeze

                        a distant chopper


long silent

        minutes

long silent

        seconds




Monday, April 19, 2021

"Send Lawyers, Guns & Money"



The gun really is a wretched piece of technology.
It is unlikely that the human being exists who could be safely trusted to own a gun - much less an automatic/mass killing weapon. It is a technology that delivers virtually instantaneous death with a twitch of the index finger. Human beings are temperamental creatures. We require highly sophisticated, finally attuned and calibrated cultures and environments that are based in wisdom traditions in order to not become mentally & spiritually unwell. US America in 2021 is about as distant from such a culture and environment as one could imagine. Allowing people living in such a system, one whose social bonds are utterly fractured or hanging by the thinnest of threads to own portable machine guns is infinitely insane. Rather than "random," the mass shootings that are occurring several days a week in the US are predictable in every way, save for their specific locations.
The focus of the system into which we were born is declared in its name: Capitalism. I actually appreciate that candor. What is considered of prime importance and attention in this socioeconomic order is: capital. Not people, not other living beings, not the future, not the past, not the present, not your ancestors, not your children. Not joy, not health, not love. Not the earth, not air, not water. Not god and not the goddesses. But capital. Cool, distant, abstract. Capital. Theoretically it works. Theoretically, everybody, “pursues their own happiness.” Theoretically.
In reality, if you adjust human behavior to accommodate capital above all else, what results is: Austin, Kenosha, Indianapolis. Boulder, Miami, Muskogee. Predictably, people break down within this system. Astonishingly, health care is a for-profit industry. So, getting mental health care is complex - financially and otherwise. And, remarkably, virtually anybody can buy a portable machine gun. There have been two mass shootings in only the last 24 hours in the US.

Austin, Kenosha, Indianapolis. Boulder, Miami, Muskogee. Our cities are named after people who were “ethnically cleansed” out of their homelands to make way for capital. Or for generals. Thus far, the politicians in the US are reacting to the problem of mass shootings in the way they react to all chronic problems - with rhetoric, prevarication and over-complication. If you have ever been close to somebody with an addiction, their behavior is very familiar. The illness must be accommodated. Not the body and not the soul. Well, people in this country and around the world are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. We understand that it doesn’t have to be this way. The deception that it *does* have to be this way has... just about run its course. 






Saturday, April 17, 2021

Misanthropy, Racism and Ahistorical Thinking

People who declare that homo sapiens is a doomed and fallen species, destined to dominate and destroy any habitat in which we live, believe they are merely being misanthropic in their pronouncements. In actuality, they are asserting a racist idea. To assume that the Western colonialist - or more generally, the empire-culture - way of living is the only way people have ever lived is not only wrong, it negates the reality of thousands of cultures that have not pursued extreme hierarchy and have not devastated their land bases. Many such cultures have existed across time. To express such a view as a US American is particularly absurd, given that most of the places we live on this continent were and are still inhabited by people who have pursued *radically* different lifeways than ours for thousands of years.

When people assume that all cultures pursue intense social verticality and habitat depletion, they are engaging in the typically lazy way of thinking of the racist. Such people believe that there only is and only has ever been one way for people to live: by pursuing hyper-individualism, avarice and extreme resource extraction. The idea is laughably wrong and it has two extremely harmful effects. It conceptually makes cultures disappear that have been around or were around for far longer than "Western civilization" and it limits what we can imagine as ways out of the omnicidal trajectory that we find ourselves on currently.
Blogger Gail Zawacki writes from this misanthropic perspective and labels anyone who questions her grim stance as engaging in "the myth of the noble savage." Again, this would be laughable if it were not so toxic. It is worth examining Zawacki’s claim. Historian Helen Gardner explains, "The modern myth of the noble savage is most commonly attributed to the 18th-century Enlightenment philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau. He believed the original ‘man’ was free from sin, appetite or the concept of right and wrong, and that those deemed ‘savages’ were not brutal but noble.” This othering conception of uncolonized people morphed in the 19th century to its opposite: Indigenous people were labeled as brutal savages by the people pushing westward across the American continents and by people participating in the Transatlantic human trafficking and slave labor enterprises in the Americas. Dr. Gardner describes how both conceptions of uncolonized people depend on invention and stereotyping, “Both typecasts relied on the idea that the Indigenous peoples of the world were in an original state, ‘primitive’, ‘backward’, the ancient ancestor to ‘modern man,’ the infants of humanity. Metaphors of time forged the social relationships of colonialism.”
The less sensational, but far more interesting truth is that people of all “races” (another conceptual invention of the Age of Imperialism that holds no basis in material reality, but that is used here because it is important to recognize the mentality of the social system within which we live) have pursued all manner of social organization and ways of relating to their land base and their fellow species over time. As humans living in the year 2021 in an industrialized consumer economy – as members of the Anthropocene – we live in the most ecologically destructive culture in the history of the world. It is also among the most psychologically corrosive, spiritually limiting, most violent and least communal in all of history. As jaded and frustrated as that may make us feel, it should not be a justification for assuming all humans have lived so foolishly and so cruelly.
Most US Americans need look only look toward the people who lived within the landscapes where we currently live or toward the non-empire-based cultures of our ancestors from other continents. There is nothing “edgy” or “radical” about damning the human species as some kind of a cosmic mistake. Rather, to do so is to engage in the dismally racist dominant thinking of The Age of Discovery a.k.a. Imperialism






Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Indifference (3-minute play)

A: Why not?

B: Because you can’t beat a fucking clock.

A: You can’t beat…?

B: A clock. You can’t beat a clock.

A: …

B: It’s indifferent. It’s moving. Gobbling up the seconds and the minutes until you must clock in again. Indifferent. Cool. In control.

I used to have this job at a Kinko’s on the site of an old Civil War hospital in Milwaukee. It was on Brady and Farwell, a dire crossroads where all of the customers were desperate in diverse ways. Each one seeking grace differently in order to try to make it: fedoras, colorful glasses, letters to the editor.

Despite the colorful clientele, it was a job and the hours had to be clocked. The only thing I managed to do to maintain a zone of freedom around me, almost like a force field, was to go into the bathroom with poetry books stuffed into my apron and read stuff on the john. I felt free and I traveled to great worlds in that shitter.

A: Right.






 

Nevada, USA






She determined that the only way this thing would come to any kind of a good conclusion would be if the following dynamic or mechanism emerged: Each time a "consumer" bought a "product," they would undergo a visceral experience detailing the pre-history and post-history of that product. Everything that was required for it to come into being and arrive into her hands and everything that would result from her having bought and consumed the product. Shatteringly, she would experience visions of horror and sprawls of misery merely upon buying a hamburger or a pair of pants made in Vietnam.

Her friends were occupying a place called Thacker Pass, in a remote part of Nevada, USA. They were there to prevent the construction of a vast lithium mine that would consume the landscape and all of its four-legged and winged and scaled and delicately carapaced and thorny and horned and climbing, running, leaping, whirring and soaring inhabitants who had been navigating the landscape since the last Ice Age.

If the dynamic she was envisioning were to manifest, a person buying an electric car would experience the crushing mastication and catastrophic death of a robust and infinitely complex landscape such as Thacker Pass as an unstoppable IMAX movie projected in their mind and experienced as an actual series of events in their body.

The woman thought that this is what it would take for all of it to stop. Thing is, she thought, we already have that capacity. We possess imagination. We possess feeling. Call it “the empathetic imagination,” she thought. But something more was needed, too. All that is hidden behind windowless walls and all that is dressed up into dazzling forms, in order to obscure our view of their true history, must be revealed.

This is what she thought, as the silence of the early morning expanded into sounds of birds speaking to each other in chirps and as solitary cars pushed down the asphalt streets in front of her house. The sounds of the rolling cars rose up and then dissolved, leaving only the bird song and morning silence to hear.

Replacement: The Tucker Carlson Variations

 I

Tucker Carlson's heart was pawned
At a crossroads in Connecticut
Distant are the days when He watched ants scaling spears of grass
With his cheek pressed to
The pavement in the 1970s sun
Before he became “Tucker Carlson” on TV

II

Tucker Carlson seeks a replacement
For his heart his soul
A replacement for his percolating Laugh of a rabid creature
Reeling glossy eyed Beneath a bad moon


III

Tucker Carlson's soul was lost slowly
Flaking away decaying
Something vicious said for a dime
Something cruel ok'd in his mind
Always a ladder to climb
A game to run IV

Tucker Carlson is always staying
One step ahead of something
He never knows quite what
But it is always there
Nothing a glad hand
And line of bull
Cannot solve
He thinks

V

Tucker Carlson's soul
Present but unseen All those years
Suddenly was not there
This can't be real he thought
Such things don't
Just disappear
He thought