All posts by Phil Rockstroh

A Careless Bully At The KFC At The End Of Empire

Will Trump go to war with the Iranians or the homeless? Or both?

Trump is a coward. The nation of Iran has the means and the will to fight. Do you recall the will displayed by Iranians when repelling foreign invaders when Iraq attempted to invade Iran as a de facto US proxy force? Conversely, the homeless do not possess any defence against assault by the agents of the US police state.

Regardless of his image among credulous true believers, Trump, character-wise, is the diametric opposite of the image he conveys as a titan of supreme self-confidence. The pose is ego-based compensation for inner feelings of inferiority and abject weakness. Only those who are terrified of their own feelings of weakness and vulnerability fixate on the weakness, real or perceived, of others. If you desire to suss out a person ridden with self-doubt, no matter how outwardly confident and bestowed with worldly success, notice if they possess a proclivity to bandy the ultimate designation of capitalist derision, “loser.” Trump is prone to inflict a Heinrich Himmler-like evil towards the homeless because, as was the case with the chinless cipher “toy soldier” Himmler, Trump is contemptuous of his inner feelings of inadequacy. To avoid a crippling spiral into shame and self-doubt, feelings of doubt and concomitant animus must be displaced.

The US, in a collective sense, cannot address the societal sin of allowing homelessness, due to a fear that even regarding the crisis might lead to feelings of vulnerability…that some form of contact loseritude might overwhelm and decimate their will. The inherent weakness in the structure of late US empire compels contempt for the homeless. Trump’s self doubt is the source of his compulsion to humiliate those he perceives as weak and shunt them from sight. Only then can he separate himself from self-hatred.

The reason the mode of mind is lethally dangerous: The psychical trope cannot be sustained in a viable sense. The sense of weakness remains, compelling the sufferer to double down on the perpetration of force. There can be no end to the depth of cruelty inflicted because the pathos rages in the interior life of the totalitarian bully — not those on whom he projects his feelings of weakness and vulnerability. The fires of Auschwitz were lit by fires of self-hatred. When tyrants attempt to cage their self-contempt, hell is unloosed upon the world.

There is much back and forth about Trump’s level of intellect. Is he the cluelessly imbecilic, Dunning-Kruger effect-ridden, ambulatory head wound that he appears to be? Does he fake being a gibbering idiot so that his foes will underestimate him?

Carl Jung stated Adolf Hitler did not possess originality nor intelligence but possessed a “low animal cunning” — a description that fits Donald Trump as well. A business failure, he got his start — bestowed with epic advantage — in business with multimillions of dollars from his wealthy, crooked father thus Trump was able to impersonate a canny mogul within the make-believe precincts of reality television, preening for the noxiously credulous citizenry of the United States of Dumbfuckistan, while accruing revenue for the benefit of a cabal of cretinous, short-sighted-by-cupidity, mass media oligarchs.

Moreover, Trump was able to become President due to the epic stupidity of the elite of the Democratic Party who rigged their primary and nomination process for a candidate whose sense of entitlement to power was only exceeded by her ineptitude as a campaigner and her inability to turn in a plausible impression of an actual human being. In short, the bar of US intelligence is set so low even someone as toxically stupid as Trump can outwit the militantly obtuse elite of late US imperium.

Yet John Bolton, The Moustache Of The Apocalypse, was banished from the sight of the Tangerine Tsunami Of Viciousness. Yet the (bi-partisan) blood-sustained empire has not seen the last of the former’s blood-intoxicated breed and the latter’s brand of racist demagogic jerk-rocketry. Trump and Bolton were made by the system; they did not make the system. An empire sustains itself on militarist plunder and its leaders retail in sleight-of-hand, xenophobic tropes. What else would its political class be populated by other than a nest of vipers? What else would Trump bear, on a psychical level, but a head full of snakes? There has not been a reckoning of common sense and basic decency in the precincts of US power. Bolton simply blundered into the snake pit of Trump’s vanity.

Rich thus born-with-obscene-advantage man-boys such as Trump — and again in the news, due to newly unearthed allegations of creepopthatic transgressions against women trapped in vulnerable circumstances, Blubbering Brett Kavanaugh — are raised with the (careless and vile) ethos:

They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

― F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Worse: When called out for their transgressions against people born without money, power, and privilege, man-babies such as Trump and Kavanaugh flush with indignation and insist they are the victim and their accusers should be subjected to pillory and rebuke. Hence, we arrive at the origin of this vicious clutch of hideous man-boys: Capitalism is, what it always has been, a hierarchy of bullies.

*****

Post prancing down my Facebook news feed by a Trump rah-rah: “Trump has kept his promises. The economy is great. America is getting great again.”

Dispatch from a realm closer to reality:

The US economy is an over-heated, inflated bubble which is merely serving to bloat the already obscenely bloated coffers of the economic elite; Trump is gutting environmental regulations and laws that help to preserve endangered wildlife; he has withdrawn from crucial nuclear treaties; his wrong-headed tariffs are proving economically devastating to farming regions; he is caging children in concentration camp-like conditions; he is obsessed with building a money-sucking wall on the southern border and his xenophobic, racist demagoguery provoke violent reactions in a nation where xenophobia and racial resentment, perpetually, simmer beneath the surface.

It comes down to this: Donald Trump embodies U.S. America, its origins and zeitgeist, as is the case with the prevaricating, High Dollar owned and controlled tools of the Democratic Party. Why and how have these circumstances been allowed to prevail, unfettered by common sense and common decency? The US was founded on a principle in which the moneyed elite would have the means to monetise all things that their cupidity-seized minds surveyed, including the life and labor of human beings. Moreover, addressing the query in advance, there is not a “solution” to late empire…other than the terrible redemption that arrives with The Second Law Of Thermodynamics. Empires overextend themselves abroad and collapse into their corrupt core at home.

Do you desire to catch a glimpse of the Second Law Of Thermodynamics in play? Gaze upon the junk food bloated body of Donald Trump, denizen of the KFC at the end of empire, or note the carnage his (or the Great White Lifeguard Of Hope, Joe Biden’s) increasingly senile dementia-ridden mind inflicts upon syntax and cohesive narrative structure.

Trump’s collapsing linguistic function mirrors the decay of US infrastructure. His proposed remedy also mirrors his psychical derangement: A manic compensation, analogous to a junk food binge, involves the full-spectrum exploitation of all available fossil fuel resources, without regard to the damage inflicted on the body of the earth and the soul of the world.

Although the intrinsic foulness of the US did not arrive with Donald Trump. He is a reflection of the racist, genocidal, perpetually exploitative, money-lusting, humanity-loathing construction of the US — a hideousness that has been in play since the origin of the sham republic. Donald Trump simply reveals what exists at the rotten root and makes visible the murderous spores carried on the insidious winds of US empire.

Captain Pia Klemp Arrives As David Koch Departs The United States Of Altamont

Fifty Years after rhapsodic auguries of the acid-informed era involving the coming “Woodstock Nation,” the US citizenry — convulsed by violence, strung out on all the wrong drugs, and with the Rolling Stones still touring — stumble in mortification through the grim phantasmagoria of the United States Of Altamont. What a long, strange, bad (Nixonian in its dour, paranoid cultural and political aura; Reagan/Clinton/Obama in noxious, neoliberal fantasy; Bush/Trump in cresting tsunamis of raging stupid) trip it has been.

By the mid-1970s, across the suburbs of the U.S., public and private space thronged with clog-shod, lank of hair, denim-clad, reefer-reeking legions of teenagers — my “peer group” — the (supposed) progeny of an incipient Woodstock Nation. Appearance was far from factual. Was it true and to what extent, to appropriate the argot of the era, had our collective consciousness been raised?

Granted, we possessed an increased tolerance for the superficial aspects of the “Counter Culture” but only the superficial aspects of the cultural phenomena of the 1960s, due to an internalisation of the relentless, all-encompassing commodification retailed by the image-manipulating, co-opting operatives working in the service of capitalism’s over-the-counter culture. As the Seventies shambled forth, egalitarian sharing of a joint was superseded by face-to-the mirror cocaine consumption, and the concomitant, self-obsessed, grandiose, coke-prattle facsimile of human discourse. Cocaine delivered a spurious sense of confidence and surges of manic energy acting as compensation against the increasingly depressing socio-cultural conditions of the era. But come sunrise comedown: Nasal passages scorched, dry mouth, smothered in angst-dampened polyester fabric, tightness in chest, teeth-grinding, blinded by daylight, jittery trudge through a landscape of economic stagnation.

Sex, drugs, and Rock and Roll ethos had, on the surface, prevailed — but reactionary forces seethed beneath it all. The eros of life seemed as appealing as a hotdog nuked in an early microwave oven. Even sex on cocaine made flesh feel as sensate as polyester. “Do your own thing” fashion-wise was subdued into adherence, first, to a monotonous sea of denim then to disco dress codes and the snobbish scrutiny inflicted at velvet rope lines.

Auguries of the arrival, at the end of the decade, of an ex-Hollywood movie and television actor, a highly compensated shill, since the advent of the Cold War era, working in behalf of the profiteers of Cold War militarism, a homily-happy, anecdote-rancid manqué who had been groomed for the role of kindly-but-resolute, cowpoke grandpappy to the nation. Over the years, Ronald Reagan had become an adroit fabulist of Hollywood manufactured mythos — who, because he believed his (self-serving) confabulations — his Hollywood hokum and hoary American exceptionalist fables were retailed as balm to ameliorate the humiliation wrought by the nation’s defeat in the Vietnam War. The pomade-lacquered, Hollywood costume shop warrior’s “resolve” was marketed for the purpose, according scripts manufactured by public relations flacks, for the purpose of banishing American spirit undermining, leftist naysaying and hippie anomie from the collective psyche of the nation.

U.S. culture by the advent of the 1980s was dominated by mass media artifice. Concurrently, the same breed of mass media, dark magicians responsible for contriving Reagan’s manly image of steely resolve were responsible for foisting the mythos of millionaires (later billionaires) possessing a mystique of glamour and elevated, Olympian purpose — a noxious and obnoxious cultural mythos that allowed, decades later, for the rise of a trust fund mountebank, posing as a real estate tycoon, whose image was honed within the fantasy factory termed Reality Television but, in the realm of verifiable reality, was a perpetually failing-upward fraudster possessing a talent for self-marketing.

The tangerine-tinged fraudster marketed himself as being gifted with a golden touch, when, in fact, he is a reverse alchemist whose machinations have transmuted, time and time again, wealth into financial shit-dust. Given the serial betrayals of his smoother, hope and change peddling, con man predecessor, Barack Obama (AKA President Citigroup von Drone) — Trump, the Crown Prince Of Imperial Rot — now gloats and glowers, enthroned atop a mountainous-in-scale dungheap of empire.

We are lived by powers we pretend to understand.

― W.H. Auden

By means of a phantasmagoric delirium borne of mass media swamp fever, the Altamont of U.S. Presidents, Trump (the anti-Orange Sunshine) lords over the nation manifested as a seemly endless bad trip inflicted by cartels of ruthless dealers; e.g., the capitalist media elite. Delusional pronouncements, as if resultant from ingestion of dodgy street drugs, roil the hallucinatory media landscape. Some of the criteria is comic; e.g., the Orange Eminence chosen by divine admonition as the King Of The Jews. Some odious:

Separation of children from their parents is a Dickensian form of evil; imprisoning them in cages displays a level of evil borne of the mind of Heinrich Himmler.

The foul activities are aspects of the power trips of militarist empires, brooded in the deranged minds of the empire’s high-on-dopamine, hyper-authoritarian — therefore flat out crack-brained — personality types (from cops to intelligence agents, from media personalities to the political class) who act as the operatives and functionaries of imperium and thus have little to nada accountability to anyone other than higher level power freaks.

Brutality reigns when the survival of an empire depends on subduing large swathes of the world’s population in order to deliver ill-gotten swag in the form of resources back to the homeland in an attempt the sate the power addiction and concomitant insatiable id of a craven class of economic, political, and militarist elite. Paranoia is plangent: High walls, reenforced fortifications, a code of silence, secrecy, perpetual coverups, reflexively violent cops and soldiers, and mendacious apologists protect the system.

Its insular and airless nature are stultifying to the culture at large, thus mindless, dehumanizing spectacle and the proffering of tabloid piffle replace public discourse. Traumatised, the general public regresses into an infantilized state. The elites intimidate the hoi polloi into passivity; yet, in a double bind-imposing form of gas-lighting, shame them for their weakness. Thus self-justifying lies replace reflection. Daily life becomes a grotesque pageant that oscillates between the manic and the grim, the cruel and the self-pitying. Bullies regard themselves as victims and lash out with even greater impotent rage. Nefarious plots are perpetrated, as life-negating insularity causes all touched by it to languish.

Cruelty flourishes because desperation rules and its perpetrators do not have accountability, sans to other, more powerfully positioned perpetrators of cruelty. Those who torture children by acts of caging view themselves as victims; racists fume they are victims of racism; jingoists, plangent with paranoia, believe themselves under siege (although only by phantoms bristling malice within their own skulls) while, in reality, they are victims of their choice to surrender an independent mind to the soul-devouring machinery of a State that has grown monstrous. Their lives have been merged with a dim beast of insatiable appetite. The grim reality: They have been devoured by it.

The shining neutral summer has no voice
To judge America, or ask how a man dies;
And the friends who are sad and the enemies who rejoice —

Are chased by their shadows lightly away from the grave
Of one who was egotistical and brave,
Lest they should learn without suffering how to forgive.

— Excerpt from “In Memory of Ernst Toller”, W.H. Auden

As I was composing this essay, the news arrived, David Koch is dead. This Earth, that he did so much to harm by his cupidity, will receive his corpse. The carnage to his soul can only be estimated by the carnage he inflicted on the world and the harm he inflicted on living things. If that is the case, his soul has been dispatched into eternity as a befouled, reeking rag.

Does being released from the constraints of time and the bondage of self allow for the soul to be reborn free of the taint of treachery individuals such as Koch perpetrated during their lifetimes? He — and his still breathing brother — damn well better hope so.

In this veritable, material plane, the burning rain forest of the Amazon should be utilised as his funeral pyre.

In stark contrast to choices made in regard to one’s interaction with the world, when the Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, attempted to present the Grand Vermeil Medal for bravery, the most prestigious honour awarded to civilians by the French city, to Pia Klemp, the German ship captain, animal and human rights activist and author, honouring her selfless efforts in rescuing sea-stranded refugees, Captain Klemp refused to accept the medal, replying:

At the same time your police steal blankets from people you force to live on the streets while you suppress protests and criminalize people who defend the rights of migrants and asylum seekers [and while you deny] “documents and housing for all!” [and you suppress and deny] “Freedom of movement and residence.!” […] “What we need are freedom and rights” […] “It is time we call out hypocrite honorings and fill the void with social justice. It is time we cast all medals into spearheads of revolution!

Indeed. Thus endures the spirit of Woodstock Planet. It would prove propitious for the world’s powers to regard and act against the perpetrators of the fiery carnage being inflicted on the Brazilian rainforest with the same fury of sacred vehemence displayed by Pia Klemp in her rebuke of Europe’s neoliberal elite.

Bodies on The Ground And The Rise And Rise Of The Economic Elite

The US is less of a nation than a collective, psychotic episode.

Within day to day life in the nation, a cultural aura exists that shifts, mingles, and merges between a sense of nervous agitation and displaced rage, in combination with a sense of weightlessness. The fragmented quality of daily life imparts an insubstantial, unreal quality wherein the citizenry of the capitalist/consumer empire of hungry ghosts drift through a nadascape comprised of ad hoc, fast-buck-driven, suburban/exburban architecture and the ersatz eros of constant, consumer come-ons.

Yet beneath the nebulous dread and nettling angst of it all, there exists the primal human imperative for connection and social communion; i.e., authentic eros. The most lost among the lost in the ghostsphere of the collective mind attempt to animate the realm of shades with libations of blood. The gods of the capitalist death cult demand no less.

Where does an impulse to possess an unlimited number of firearms fit into the scheme of things? A firearm’s heft, for one. The weapon feel substantial when held and hoisted thus serves, provisionally, to mitigate a psychical sense of weightlessness. The act of engagement eases nervous agitation. Guns reality is antithetically to the weightless content of media reality. Focus is achieved when one aligns the weapon’s site to a target. Nebulous dread transforms into adamantine purpose. The presence of an Angel Of Death will focus the mind. The ground, for the moment, feels solid beneath one’s feet. Hence, there arrives a craving, in the sense of addiction, to hoard the object that provides relief; in addition, massive quantities of ammunition must be stored as emotional ballast. The mystifying, rankling, uncontrollable criteria of this weightless Age and the white noise of uncertainty seem to yield to the clear and decisive crack of a rifle shot. Relief is imagined in the concomitant carnage. Rebecca West captures the phenomenon in prose:

Only part of us is sane: only part of us loves pleasure and the longer day of happiness, wants to live to our nineties and die in peace, in a house that we built, that shall shelter those who come after us. The other half of us is nearly mad. It prefers the disagreeable to the agreeable, loves pain and its darker night despair, and wants to die in a catastrophe that will set back life to its beginnings and leave nothing of our house save its blackened foundations.

― Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, 1941

Because we, on a personal level, in most cases, choose the primary option, our hidden, shadow half will live out the latter on a collective basis. During the blood lust on display at Trump rallies, the mob finds a collective comfort zone in catastrophic longings. The domestic landscape of paranoia works in behalf of the profiteers of perpetual war, perpetrators of the U.S.-created deathscapes overseas, and vice versa, in a self-resonating feedback loop of carnage.

In our era, in which the US empire is in decline, as a consequence the White supremacist order no longer seems inevitable, Trump’s frightened legions have personalised the decline. In their gut, they feel as if their identity is under siege. Seal off the nation’s borders. Construct an unscalable wall. Create a cordon sanitaire to protect and preserve racial purity. A strong authority figure is craved in order to set the world back in order. The phenomenon could be termed, Authoritarian Simpatico Syndrome (ASS) — a pathology manifested in personality types who have been traumatized by the authoritarianism of the US socio-political milieu but who seek to assuage their hurt and humiliation by identification with the very forces responsible for their torment.. The stuff of a cultural nervous breakdown.

To that end, according to its own laws, the nation’s citizenry, sufferers of mental distress, should be restricted from purchasing a gun. Yet without a doubt, the most disturbed of all are the nation’s political class, those responsible for gun legislation. There is compelling evidence that they present a clear and present danger to themselves and others. The political class is a menace to society; they make decisions, more often than not, based on delusional thinking, that are responsible for harm on a massive scale. Thus they should be subject to institutional-style restraint, within the confines of the most heavily secure, lockdown ward in an asylum for the criminally insane.

Although the so-called mentally ill, as a rule, are not any more inclined to commit violent crimes than are the general population of capitalist dystopias. The US nation was founded in genocidal violence and the fortunes of its ruling class are protected by the state sanctioned violence of the police and are bloated by the violence inherent to imperialist shakedown operations.

It comes down to this: In our emotionally brutal era, those deemed mentally ill are suffering from capitalism. The pummelling stress and boot-in-the-face, hierarchy-inflicted humiliations inherent to the system inflict trauma on large swathes of the citizenry.

Epidemic levels of middle age, US citizens are dying with needles in their arms. The inherent and internalised White supremacy of the societal order has been exacerbated by Trump’s self-serving, reckless agitprop and acts in a drug-like manner causing dopamine levels to rise in those experiencing emotional torment due to humiliation-caused despair. Demagogues such as Trump are aware and exploit the manner despair can be palliatively mitigated by the emotional displacement of rage.

Fascist insignias rise when the hopes and aspirations of the working class lay shattered across a capitalist economic wasteland. Hoisted torches provide the illusion that dark despair has been banished. The fascist mob becomes possessed by a belief that they, en masse, can ascend into the precincts of heaven by scaling a mountain of corpses comprised of outsider groups.

Fascism not only acts as anaesthetic to the wounds delivered by capitalism, it is a psychoactive drug because incantatory rhetoric and imagist psychical material get those susceptible to its crude allure high.

Capitalism is borne on manic wings. The economic elite move from corporate skyscrapers and high rise rooftops in order to travel by helicopter, where upon landing, they board private, luxury jets, then, whereupon landing again, they are transported by helicopter to corporate skyscrapers and high rise rooftops. Touching the earth is a fleeting experience. The ruling class have lost touch with ground level verities. In a classical sense, such displays of hubris were understood as the progenitor of madness. The gods first elevate those they drive mad.

And, yes, race-based fears and animus are in play. Racism engendered mass murder has been coming to pass since armed Europeans trudged ashore in the Americas, with their blood-sodden religion and their murderous craving for gold and land. Of course, the racist demagoguery of the Bloated Orange Tub Of Nazi Goo oozing into and agitating the limbic systems of violent cretins during homegrown Nuremberg Rallies and his compulsion to blitzkrieg the pixel-sphere with Der Stürmer tweets is fomenting racist mayhem that includes bacchanals of blood. US mythos is rancid with the reek of the corpses of the innocent slaughtered by White men brandishing firearms. Mass murderers have been and continue to be enshrined as heroes, from Wounded Knee to Afghanistan.

The nation was established by gun-enabled genocide and the intimidation of African slaves held at gunpoint on capitalist plantations. The truth has never been faced; e.g., the suppression of the Nixon tape in which Ronald Reagan displayed his racist mindset.

The US citizenry thanks the soldiers of its racist wars of aggression for their “service.” Perpetual shooting sprees origins can be traced to the heart of darkness of the nation and its concomitant White supremacist creed. The killings happened long before the rise and election of the Tangerine Tweet Führer. Of course, the racist shit-heel Trump has exacerbated the situation. He deserves all scorn cast his way. It is obvious his capacity for malice does not possess a governor’s switch.

Trump is a two-legged emblem of the hypertrophy at play in late US imperium. Gun-inflicted violence is steeped into the blood-stained fabric of the US (sham) republic. Withal, Trump is not an anomaly; he is an emblem. Gun-strokers are no more going to shed their mythos than liberals and progressives are going to shed theirs that the US is a democratic republic, governed by the rule of law, and progressive reforms will be implemented by its High Dollar owned and controlled political class that will serve to turn around the trajectory of the blood-built and maintained US empire.

Thus Spake Oprah as the New York Times Spots UFOs Over The Comb Over Empire

I remember my first impression of the Reality Television program American Idol. I cringed at the thought, what if, a young Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, or the members of The Clash had been forced to have their talents appraised by the sort of shallow celebrities, supercilious moderators, and gallery of lowest common denominator-giddy cretins attendant to the hype-driven fare.

Yet now, there is serious talk among abjectly unserious people that the next presidential election might pit a billionaire, Reality Television grifter versus a billionaire, Reality Television grifter. All hail, The President of the United States Of Reality Television.

Oprah Winfrey is and has been since her entrance into the US mass media hologram one of the capitalist elite’s most effective propagandists. By intention, her New Age snake oil-peddling patter never connects capitalist exploitation as the dominant source of individual suffering. Of course not. Oprah is a US American huckster in the model of Norman Vincent Peale.

She retails in the con job that a paucity of positive thinking — in essence, personal failings — is the source of individual angst, alienation, anomie, and suffering in general under the neoliberal order. Yet there is hope, she confides. A positive change in attitude will shift the course of one’s destiny. Thereby, she steers her rapt adherents away from the shedding of internalised, capitalist engendered false consciousness, and, on a cultural basis, the paradigmatic shift required to steer humankind away from ecological catastrophe.

It should go without saying that me-first-er Oprah, the obscenely wealthy virgin queen of the neoliberal order, would become a prominent promulgator of me-too myopia and its bourgeoisie feminist refusal to connect capitalist exploitation of any and all aspects of human life imposed by her fellow members of capitalism’s criminal class. Wealth inequity and wage and debt slavery are forms of predation. Yet notice this dominant and guiding feature of the mindset, a given since the rise of the Weltanschauung in the Western, Christian imagination: Oprah’s breed of Calvinist crusader animus, as a rule, will be incurred when the human genitals can be blamed as a key source of human misery.

Collectively, according to its gospel, we wretches can start the slog back from our exile within the sin-ridden precincts sprawling east of Eden, if only we scour away the denizens of darkness by a devotion to the purifying gospel of positivity. Resultantly, sinners will become doubt-cleansed devotees of a quasi-religious order, a righteous order in which its canticles and catechisms will vanquish all negative thoughts and untoward inclinations. Redemption and rebirth will be bestowed by the cultivation of a right-thinking, true believer aura thereby a variable pentecost of prosperity will descend upon the keepers of the faith. Never question the degradations of capitalism; instead, keep your eye on the prize of careerist success, a given and deserved destiny for the right thinking but a perpetual rebuke to those possessed by the imps of negativity and the demons of carnality.

Oprah preaches a Gospel Of Redemption. Yet, in ways both explicit and implicit, she urges her followers to attempt to adapt to an economic system that is irredeemable.

She retails Horatio Alger bunkum to a soul sick audience inhabiting a planet taxed to the point of ecological catastrophe. The old verities have ossified. Levels of discontent and despair, mirroring rates of greenhouse emission engendered methane feedback loops, are increasing at exponential rates. Yet Oprah continues shilling reality-veiling palliatives to a populace languishing in depression, drug dependancy, and an addiction to manic forms of distraction.

At this point, I request readers bear with me for a moment until I arrive at my point by means of a series of digressive, rhetorical tropes, both anecdotal and collective in form. Recently, on Facebook, I have witnessed, hovering on my newsfeed, a proliferation of recent New York Times pieces addressing seemingly tabloid fodder and 1950s B movie plot lines, bearing headlines such as:

“2 Navy Airmen and an Object That ‘Accelerated Like Nothing I’ve Ever Seen’”

“Glowing auras and ‘black money’: The Pentagon’s mysterious UFO program”

“U.F.O.s: Is This All There Is?”

When I posted a (humorous) take on the subject on my Facebook page, both the number on of and emotional charged nature of responses to the post was striking, even by the less than decorous to outright bughouse standards of social media.

The post read as follows:

“We are not alone. And we should be embarrassed. No species with a scintilla of common sense and common decency should be carrying on in this manner in the public (albeit cosmic) sphere.

“OK aliens, we’ve had a few bad millennia…I mean, who hasn’t. You went and caught us with our guards down. But we promise we will clean up for company real nice. Never mind that space junk orbiting our front yard and the fact we keep up our planet like a trailer court inhabited by methheads.

“We promise we will clean up for company. Is there perhaps a rehab planet that our entire population can be checked into in order to work some shit out? The other living things on our planet would be forever grateful for any help you can offer.

“You don’t happen to possess any galactic range super weapons, do you? Because, to paraphrase an insight by the alien genius Flannery O’Connor, we could be a good species if someone was there to fire a super weapon at us, twenty four-seven.”

I cannot speak for other writers but when reportage of events, or even humorous goof-takes on the situation, as was the case with my Facebook post, prove highly provocative, my curiosity is piqued. A hidden door to a room of the collective unconscious has swung open.

It is not my intention in this essay to either advocate for the existence of UFOs or express skepticism. My theme involves the public’s yearning for a paradigmatic shift, a crucial rearrangement of cultural verities.

When I examine my own reactions to UFO phenomenon, I discover I am drawn to and find inspiration in the mystery of it all and its attendant ineffable quality. Carl Jung viewed UFO phenomenon as a collectively manifesting apprehension of an emerging aeon. At present, the New York Times and other keepers of accepted opinion are signalling a sea change in regard to cultural narrative and prevailing mythos.

Given the fact that a radical shift in cultural, economic and political systems of belief must come to pass if the human race is going to survive the catastrophic effects of capitalism-inflicted Anthropocene Epoch. Is it possible UFO narratives auger the arrival of an incipient mythos? Withal, when the numinous comes into play all manner of responses are evoked, from the mindlessly reactionary to the outré, before psychical integration and eventual acceptance occurs.

Then there is the following, insofar as, recent phenomenon that has evoke an upwelling of passion: the consternation, the bandying of ridicule, and the general agitation of Democrats and liberals in regard to the revelations pertaining to The Oval Office-squatting Orange Beast Of A Billion Tweets and his inner circle chronicled in Michael Wolff’s inflammatory, fly-on-the-wall book.

Yet somehow amid the ensuing snark extravaganza evinced by Democratic partisans, a fact remains unnoticed: Only Democrats could manage to be beaten by, and to this day, cannot manage to create a viable resistance against this klavern of inept arrivistes and noxious buffoons, who, according to Wolf’s book, fully expected to lose and were flat out gobsmacked by the election results, and have yet to recover from the reversal of fortune inflicted by their victory.

Moreover, this aspect of Trump’s ascendancy is shunted from the duopolist dynamic and the narrow, acceptable discourse of political and media elites: Trump’s pathetic dye job, fake tan, and combover mirror the US empire. Its decline and deterioration simply cannot be covered up by the desperate application of cosmetic measures. Therefore, let’s term the US — the Combover Empire. We should view Trump as not only an emblem but a catalyst of the decline and ultimate demise of the neoliberal capitalist order. He is its scion, now passed into decrepitude.

Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey are axiomatic of a perishing paradigm, while UFOs, albeit our projections upon the phenomenon not their actual, unknown nature, mirror a collective yearning for a transformation of the stultifying and destructive nature of political and cultural realities. Contemplate how hard evidence of intelligent life outside of our tiny sphere of existence would shatter dogmatic thought and petrified perceptions. It comes down to this: Collective myopia and mass media facilitated superficiality must give way to a larger sense of vision and a deeper understanding of the human species’ place among the order of earthly life or paradigm’s end will prove to be humankind’s perishing.

Thus Spake Oprah As The New York Times Spots UFOs Over The Comb-Over Empire

I remember my first impression of the Reality Television program American Idol. I cringed at the thought, what if, a young Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, or the members of The Clash had been forced to have their talents appraised by the sort of shallow celebrities, supercilious moderators, and gallery of lowest common denominator-giddy cretins attendant to the hype-driven fare.

Yet now, there is serious talk among abjectly unserious people that the next presidential election might pit a billionaire, Reality Television grifter versus a billionaire, Reality Television grifter. All hail, The President of the United States Of Reality Television.

Oprah Winfrey is, and has been since her entrance into the US mass media hologram, one of the capitalist elite’s most effective propagandists. By intention, her New Age snake oil-peddling patter never connects capitalist exploitation as the dominant source of individual suffering. Of course not. Oprah is a US American huckster in the model of Norman Vincent Peale.

She retails in the con job that a paucity of positive thinking — in essence, personal failings — is the source of individual angst, alienation, anomie, and suffering in general under the neoliberal order. Yet there is hope, she confides. A positive change in attitude will shift the course of one’s destiny. Thereby, she steers her rapt adherents away from the shedding of internalised, capitalist-engendered false consciousness, and, on a cultural basis, the paradigmatic shift required to steer humankind away from ecological catastrophe.

It should go without saying that me-first-er Oprah, the obscenely wealthy virgin queen of the neoliberal order, would become a prominent promulgator of me-too myopia and its bourgeoisie feminist refusal to connect capitalist exploitation of any and all aspects of human life imposed by her fellow members of capitalism’s criminal class. Wealth inequity and wage and debt slavery are forms of predation. Yet notice this dominant and guiding feature of the mindset, a given since the rise of the Weltanschauung in the Western, Christian imagination: Oprah’s breed of Calvinist crusader animus, as a rule, will be incurred when the human genitals can be blamed as a key source of human misery.

Collectively, according to its gospel, we wretches can start the slog back from our exile within the sin-ridden precincts sprawling east of Eden, if only we scour away the denizens of darkness by a devotion to the purifying gospel of positivity. Resultantly, sinners will become doubt-cleansed devotees of a quasi-religious order, a righteous order in which its canticles and catechisms will vanquish all negative thoughts and untoward inclinations. Redemption and rebirth will be bestowed by the cultivation of a right-thinking, true believer aura thereby a variable pentecost of prosperity will descend upon the keepers of the faith. Never question the degradations of capitalism; instead, keep your eye on the prize of careerist success, a given and deserved destiny for the right thinking but a perpetual rebuke to those possessed by the imps of negativity and the demons of carnality.

Oprah preaches a Gospel Of Redemption. Yet, in ways both explicit and implicit, she urges her followers to attempt to adapt to an economic system that is irredeemable.

She retails Horatio Alger bunkum to a soul sick audience inhabiting a planet taxed to the point of ecological catastrophe. The old verities have ossified. Levels of discontent and despair, mirroring rates of greenhouse emission engendered methane feedback loops, are increasing at exponential rates. Yet Oprah continues shilling reality-veiling palliatives to a populace languishing in depression, drug dependency, and an addiction to manic forms of distraction.

At this point, I request readers bear with me for a moment until I arrive at my point by means of a series of digressive, rhetorical tropes, both anecdotal and collective in form. Recently, on Facebook, I have witnessed, hovering on my newsfeed, a proliferation of recent New York Times pieces addressing seemingly tabloid fodder and 1950s B movie plot lines, bearing headlines such as:

“2 Navy Airmen and an Object That ‘Accelerated Like Nothing I’ve Ever Seen’”

“Glowing auras and ‘black money’: The Pentagon’s mysterious UFO program”

“U.F.O.s: Is This All There Is?”

When I posted a (humorous) take on the subject on my Facebook page, both the number of, and emotional charged nature of, responses to the post was striking, even by the less than decorous to outright bughouse standards of social media.

The post read as follows:

We are not alone. And we should be embarrassed. No species with a scintilla of common sense and common decency should be carrying on in this manner in the public (albeit cosmic) sphere.

OK aliens, we’ve had a few bad millennia…I mean, who hasn’t. You went and caught us with our guards down. But we promise we will clean up for company real nice. Never mind that space junk orbiting our front yard and the fact we keep up our planet like a trailer court inhabited by methheads.

We promise we will clean up for company. Is there perhaps a rehab planet that our entire population can be checked into in order to work some shit out? The other living things on our planet would be forever grateful for any help you can offer.

You don’t happen to possess any galactic range super weapons, do you? Because, to paraphrase an insight by the alien genius Flannery O’Connor, we could be a good species if someone was there to fire a super weapon at us, twenty four-seven.

I cannot speak for other writers but when reportage of events, or even humorous goof-takes on the situation, as was the case with my Facebook post, prove highly provocative, my curiosity is piqued. A hidden door to a room of the collective unconscious has swung open.

It is not my intention in this essay to either advocate for the existence of UFOs or express skepticism. My theme involves the public’s yearning for a paradigmatic shift, a crucial rearrangement of cultural verities.

When I examine my own reactions to UFO phenomenon, I discover I am drawn to and find inspiration in the mystery of it all and its attendant ineffable quality. Carl Jung viewed UFO phenomenon as a collectively manifesting apprehension of an emerging aeon. At present, the New York Times and other keepers of accepted opinion are signalling a sea change in regard to cultural narrative and prevailing mythos.

Given the fact that a radical shift in cultural, economic and political systems of belief must come to pass if the human race is going to survive the catastrophic effects of capitalism-inflicted Anthropocene Epoch, is it possible UFO narratives auger the arrival of an incipient mythos? Withal, when the numinous comes into play all manner of responses are evoked, from the mindlessly reactionary to the outré, before psychical integration and eventual acceptance occurs.

Then there is the following, insofar as recent phenomenon that has evoked an upswelling of passion: the consternation, the bandying of ridicule, and the general agitation of Democrats and liberals in regard to the revelations pertaining to The Oval Office-squatting Orange Beast Of A Billion Tweets and his inner circle chronicled in Michael Wolff’s inflammatory, fly-on-the-wall book.

Yet somehow amid the ensuing snark extravaganza evinced by Democratic partisans, a fact remains unnoticed: Only Democrats could manage to be beaten by — and to this day cannot manage to create a viable resistance against — this klavern of inept arrivistes and noxious buffoons, who, according to Wolff’s book, fully expected to lose and were flat out gobsmacked by the election results, and have yet to recover from the reversal of fortune inflicted by their victory.

Moreover, this aspect of Trump’s ascendancy is shunted from the duopolist dynamic and the narrow, acceptable discourse of political and media elites: Trump’s pathetic dye job, fake tan, and comb-over mirror the US empire. Its decline and deterioration simply cannot be covered up by the desperate application of cosmetic measures. Therefore, let’s term the US — the Comb-over Empire. We should view Trump as not only an emblem but a catalyst of the decline and ultimate demise of the neoliberal capitalist order.  He is its scion, now passed into decrepitude.

Donald Trump and Oprah Winfrey are axiomatic of a perishing paradigm, while UFOs, albeit our projections upon the phenomenon not their actual, unknown nature, mirror a collective yearning for a transformation of the stultifying and destructive nature of political and cultural realities. Contemplate how hard evidence of intelligent life outside of our tiny sphere of existence would shatter dogmatic thought and petrified perceptions. It comes down to this: Collective myopia and mass media-facilitated superficiality must give way to a larger sense of vision and a deeper understanding of the human species’ place among the order of earthly life or paradigm’s end will prove to be humankind’s perishing.

When the Unthinkable Becomes Quotidian

The effects of humankind created Climate Chaos are proving to be more devastating than even the most grim predictions. Wealth inequity is worse than in the Gilded Age. The US empire wages perpetual war, hot and cold, overt and covert, including military brinksmanship with the nuclear power, The Russian Federation.

Speaking of the latter, the US media retails a storyline that would be considered risible if it was not so dangerously inflammatory i.e., L’affaire du Russia-gate, wherein, according to the lurid tale, the sinister Vladimir Putin, applying techniques from the Russian handbook for international intrigue, Rasputin Mind Control For Dummies, has wrested control of the US Executive Branch of government and bends its policies to his diabolical will.

Ridiculous, huh?  Yet the mainstream press promulgates and a large section of the general public believes what is clearly a reality-bereft tale, as all the while, ignoring circumstances crucial for their own economic well being; their safety, insofar as a catastrophic nuclear exchange; and the steps required to maintain the ecological criteria crucial for allowing the continued viability of human beings on planet earth.

A socio-cultural-political structure is in place wherein the individual is bombarded, to the point of psychical saturation, with self-serving, elitist manufactured media content. Decades back, news and entertainment merged thus freedom of choice amounts to psychical wanderings in a wilderness of empty, consumer cravings and unquenchable longings. Moreover, personas are forged upon the simulacrum smithy of pop/consumer culture, in which, image is reality, salesmanship trumps (yes, Trumps) substance. Among the repercussions: A reality television con man gains the cultural capital to mount a successful bid for the US presidency.

Trump’s ascendency should not come as a shock. Nor should desperate Democrat’s embrace of Russia-gate/The Russians Are Coming (fool’s) mythos. In essence, US citizens/consumers are the most successfully psychologically colonised people on planet earth. In the realm of the political, Democratic and Republican partisans alike, on cue, are prone to parrot the self-serving lies of their party’s cynical elite, who, it is evident, by the utter disregard they hold towards the prerogatives of their constituency, view the influence-bereft hoi polloi with abiding distain…that is, in the rare event they regard them at all.

The crucial question is: Whose and what agenda does the Russia-gate yarn serve? The answer is hidden in plain sight: the profiteers of US economic and militarist hegemony. The demonisation and diminution of Russian power and influence is essential in order to maintain and expand US dominance and the attendant maintenance and expansion of the already obscene wealth of capitalism’s ruling elite.

While It might seem we are mired in an (un-drainable) swamp of complexity, in reality, the political landscape is a bone dry wasteland, wrought by a single factor — the addictive nature of greed.

Moreover, the reality of Beginning Stage Human Extinction crouches just beyond the line of the horizon. All signs auger, we lost souls of the Anthropocene must alter our course. Yet, we, stranded in the mind-parching wasteland of late stage capitalism, collectively, continue to stagger, mesmerised, towards mass media mirages leading us further and further into the hostile-to-life terrain.

Yet the wasteland’s Establishment media outlets are doing a dead-on, although straight faced, impression, right out of Stanley Kubrick’s satirical film of Cold War era madness, Dr. Strangelove, of Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper’s roiling with paranoia ranting about a Russian “conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids [of the US body politic].”

Hyperbolic? Take at perusal at the cover story of the Washington Establishment mouthpiece Newsweek, headlined: “PUTIN IS PREPARING FOR WORLD WAR III—IS TRUMP?”

A sphincter-clinching tale of woe and warning promulgated by the same governmental entities and their corporate media stenographers who waxed apocalyptic about Iraq possessing weapon’s of mass destruction; that an immediate NATO bombing campaign must be launched against the government of Muammar Gaddafi or a else mass slaughter of the innocent will be immanent; and regime change in Syria must proceed because Assad is gassing his own people.

Just what sort of an embittered cynic would call into question the credibility of and mistrust the motives of such paragons of probity? Yet, somehow, in regard to Russia-gate, liberals display scant to zip scepticism towards the stories peddled by this unelected, unaccountable clutch of hyper-authoritarian  prevaricators. In fact, they are, in a cringe worthy spectacle, allowing themselves to be played like Dollar Store kazoos.

Although, I get it. The tangerine-tinged Terror Of Tweettown represents a hideous affront to common sense and common decency. But the same applies to his antagonists in the anti-democratic institutions of the US National Security State and Intelligence Community. While the mission statements of the bureaucracies in question declare they exists to protect the nation from all manner of threats to the safety of the citizenry, a study of their history and present day operations reveals, their modus operandi serves to ensure obscene amounts of wealth continue sluicing into the already bloated coffers of the profiteers of global-wide operations of capitalist plunder.

I understand the desperate need for hope. To crave the quality is inherently human. Even to the point of being whipped into a tizzy by the Russia-gate imbroglio. Yet: All and all, an obsessive focus on Trump, the Orange Scylla, buffets one into the maw of the Washington Establishment’s Charybdis. Again, I understand the sense of desperation: Trump’s smug, bloated face, the grandiose squawk of his voice, and his crass, mean spirited, petty minded pronouncements and middle school bully taunts deserve to be resoundingly rebuked. His hubristic posturing simply begs for comeuppance. One is prone to grow plangent with magical thinking. One longs to witness the bully smirk smacked from his face as he is dispatched in disgrace, Richard Nixon-style, to his parvenu palace at Mar a Lago.

But the effect of banishing Nixon was cosmetic. The accepted Watergate storyline, of probing, political inquest and Constitutional redemption, served as a  palliative administered to the US public in the rare case the slumbering masses might have desired to delve deeper into the heart of darkness of US empire thus might begin to question the mythos of American Exceptionalism and doubt the uplifting denouement cobbled onto the scandal by the political and media elite e.g.,  the system of checks and balances functioned as the nation’s Founders intended. Granted, the system did work as designed, only not in the cliched manner portrayed by its apologists; it worked in the manner it was rigged, to wit, to preserve the secrets of state. The long national nightmare was far from over. In fact, it has been normalised.

When the unthinkable becomes quotidian, by means of the normalisation and systemic codification of crimes against the greater good of humanity, there is a good chance the dynamics of empire building are in play. Empires are not only inherently entropic but they are anathema to the democratic processes crucial to maintaining a republic.

The vast amounts of wealth acquired by means of plunder render a nation’s elite not only craven with cupidity but prone to become so dismally shortsighted, even, judging by the evidence of their reckless actions and crackbrain casuistry, bughouse mad. The present US nuclear sabre rattling at North Korea and the economic aggression and militarist posturing deployed against the Russian Federation are proof of the declaration. A military empire’s unchecked, monomaniacal, more often than not self-destructive, impulse for domination are monstrous traits. The death and carnage strewn in the wake of the imperial monster’s presence in Libya and Syria illustrate a grim testament to the fact.

History reveals, overreach and the passage of time render the aspirations of imperium a nimbus of dust; its grandiose pronouncements a cacophony of strutting clowns; its belief in its inviolable nature and its trumpeted tales of vaunted exceptionalism the stuff of asylum dweller gibbering. On the contrary, a sense of perspective imparts the knowledge, late empire is a fool’s inferno played out on a landscape ridden with exponentially increasing decay.

The storylines of the beneficiaries and operatives of vast systems of runaway power concoct are, more often than not, self-justifying fictions. Cover stories and flat out prevarications, rolled out for the purpose of hiding the prevailing order’s actions and motives, come to dominate the socio-cultural-political sphere. Views running counter to reigning narratives are apt to be marginalised and/or met with scorn, rage and revulsion. A dangerous one-sidedness prevails.

Analogous to the laws governing thermodynamic equilibrium, when a governor (or speed limiter or controller) switch has been rendered inoperative, a state of thermic runaway comes into play. We are talking the stuff of runaway trains, flaming out super novas, nervous breakdowns, and overreaching empires. By suppressing countervailing views, empires create chaos and carnage and will, in the end, meet their demise by self-annihilation. The rage for total dominance and attendant overreach of capitalist/US militarist hegemony has wrought the phenomenon on a global wide basis.

The governor switch within the greed and power crazed minds of the corporate, military, and governing elite, by all indications, is inoperable. Impervious to the consequences of their recklessness, ranting about Russians, they careen through the Anthropocene. At present, the whole of humankind is held in the thrall of a trajectory of doom. Yet their power is hinged on the ability to dominate the storyline.  Withal, complicity translates to destiny usurped. Conversely, the first measure towards a restoration of equilibrium is to call out a lie.

When the Unthinkable Becomes Quotidian

The effects of humankind created Climate Chaos are proving to be more devastating than even the most grim predictions. Wealth inequity is worse than in the Gilded Age. The US empire wages perpetual war, hot and cold, overt and covert, including military brinksmanship with the nuclear power, The Russian Federation.

Speaking of the latter, the US media retails a storyline that would be considered risible if it was not so dangerously inflammatory i.e., L’affaire du Russia-gate, wherein, according to the lurid tale, the sinister Vladimir Putin, applying techniques from the Russian handbook for international intrigue, Rasputin Mind Control For Dummies, has wrested control of the US Executive Branch of government and bends its policies to his diabolical will.

Ridiculous, huh?  Yet the mainstream press promulgates and a large section of the general public believes what is clearly a reality-bereft tale, as all the while, ignoring circumstances crucial for their own economic well being; their safety, insofar as a catastrophic nuclear exchange; and the steps required to maintain the ecological criteria crucial for allowing the continued viability of human beings on planet earth.

A socio-cultural-political structure is in place wherein the individual is bombarded, to the point of psychical saturation, with self-serving, elitist manufactured media content. Decades back, news and entertainment merged thus freedom of choice amounts to psychical wanderings in a wilderness of empty, consumer cravings and unquenchable longings. Moreover, personas are forged upon the simulacrum smithy of pop/consumer culture, in which, image is reality, salesmanship trumps (yes, Trumps) substance. Among the repercussions: A reality television con man gains the cultural capital to mount a successful bid for the US presidency.

Trump’s ascendency should not come as a shock. Nor should desperate Democrat’s embrace of Russia-gate/The Russians Are Coming (fool’s) mythos. In essence, US citizens/consumers are the most successfully psychologically colonised people on planet earth. In the realm of the political, Democratic and Republican partisans alike, on cue, are prone to parrot the self-serving lies of their party’s cynical elite, who, it is evident, by the utter disregard they hold towards the prerogatives of their constituency, view the influence-bereft hoi polloi with abiding distain…that is, in the rare event they regard them at all.

The crucial question is: Whose and what agenda does the Russia-gate yarn serve? The answer is hidden in plain sight: the profiteers of US economic and militarist hegemony. The demonisation and diminution of Russian power and influence is essential in order to maintain and expand US dominance and the attendant maintenance and expansion of the already obscene wealth of capitalism’s ruling elite.

While It might seem we are mired in an (un-drainable) swamp of complexity, in reality, the political landscape is a bone dry wasteland, wrought by a single factor — the addictive nature of greed.

Moreover, the reality of Beginning Stage Human Extinction crouches just beyond the line of the horizon. All signs auger, we lost souls of the Anthropocene must alter our course. Yet, we, stranded in the mind-parching wasteland of late stage capitalism, collectively, continue to stagger, mesmerised, towards mass media mirages leading us further and further into the hostile-to-life terrain.

Yet the wasteland’s Establishment media outlets are doing a dead-on, although straight faced, impression, right out of Stanley Kubrick’s satirical film of Cold War era madness, Dr. Strangelove, of Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper’s roiling with paranoia ranting about a Russian “conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids [of the US body politic].”

Hyperbolic? Take at perusal at the cover story of the Washington Establishment mouthpiece Newsweek, headlined: “PUTIN IS PREPARING FOR WORLD WAR III—IS TRUMP?”

A sphincter-clinching tale of woe and warning promulgated by the same governmental entities and their corporate media stenographers who waxed apocalyptic about Iraq possessing weapon’s of mass destruction; that an immediate NATO bombing campaign must be launched against the government of Muammar Gaddafi or a else mass slaughter of the innocent will be immanent; and regime change in Syria must proceed because Assad is gassing his own people.

Just what sort of an embittered cynic would call into question the credibility of and mistrust the motives of such paragons of probity? Yet, somehow, in regard to Russia-gate, liberals display scant to zip scepticism towards the stories peddled by this unelected, unaccountable clutch of hyper-authoritarian  prevaricators. In fact, they are, in a cringe worthy spectacle, allowing themselves to be played like Dollar Store kazoos.

Although, I get it. The tangerine-tinged Terror Of Tweettown represents a hideous affront to common sense and common decency. But the same applies to his antagonists in the anti-democratic institutions of the US National Security State and Intelligence Community. While the mission statements of the bureaucracies in question declare they exists to protect the nation from all manner of threats to the safety of the citizenry, a study of their history and present day operations reveals, their modus operandi serves to ensure obscene amounts of wealth continue sluicing into the already bloated coffers of the profiteers of global-wide operations of capitalist plunder.

I understand the desperate need for hope. To crave the quality is inherently human. Even to the point of being whipped into a tizzy by the Russia-gate imbroglio. Yet: All and all, an obsessive focus on Trump, the Orange Scylla, buffets one into the maw of the Washington Establishment’s Charybdis. Again, I understand the sense of desperation: Trump’s smug, bloated face, the grandiose squawk of his voice, and his crass, mean spirited, petty minded pronouncements and middle school bully taunts deserve to be resoundingly rebuked. His hubristic posturing simply begs for comeuppance. One is prone to grow plangent with magical thinking. One longs to witness the bully smirk smacked from his face as he is dispatched in disgrace, Richard Nixon-style, to his parvenu palace at Mar a Lago.

But the effect of banishing Nixon was cosmetic. The accepted Watergate storyline, of probing, political inquest and Constitutional redemption, served as a  palliative administered to the US public in the rare case the slumbering masses might have desired to delve deeper into the heart of darkness of US empire thus might begin to question the mythos of American Exceptionalism and doubt the uplifting denouement cobbled onto the scandal by the political and media elite e.g.,  the system of checks and balances functioned as the nation’s Founders intended. Granted, the system did work as designed, only not in the cliched manner portrayed by its apologists; it worked in the manner it was rigged, to wit, to preserve the secrets of state. The long national nightmare was far from over. In fact, it has been normalised.

When the unthinkable becomes quotidian, by means of the normalisation and systemic codification of crimes against the greater good of humanity, there is a good chance the dynamics of empire building are in play. Empires are not only inherently entropic but they are anathema to the democratic processes crucial to maintaining a republic.

The vast amounts of wealth acquired by means of plunder render a nation’s elite not only craven with cupidity but prone to become so dismally shortsighted, even, judging by the evidence of their reckless actions and crackbrain casuistry, bughouse mad. The present US nuclear sabre rattling at North Korea and the economic aggression and militarist posturing deployed against the Russian Federation are proof of the declaration. A military empire’s unchecked, monomaniacal, more often than not self-destructive, impulse for domination are monstrous traits. The death and carnage strewn in the wake of the imperial monster’s presence in Libya and Syria illustrate a grim testament to the fact.

History reveals, overreach and the passage of time render the aspirations of imperium a nimbus of dust; its grandiose pronouncements a cacophony of strutting clowns; its belief in its inviolable nature and its trumpeted tales of vaunted exceptionalism the stuff of asylum dweller gibbering. On the contrary, a sense of perspective imparts the knowledge, late empire is a fool’s inferno played out on a landscape ridden with exponentially increasing decay.

The storylines of the beneficiaries and operatives of vast systems of runaway power concoct are, more often than not, self-justifying fictions. Cover stories and flat out prevarications, rolled out for the purpose of hiding the prevailing order’s actions and motives, come to dominate the socio-cultural-political sphere. Views running counter to reigning narratives are apt to be marginalised and/or met with scorn, rage and revulsion. A dangerous one-sidedness prevails.

Analogous to the laws governing thermodynamic equilibrium, when a governor (or speed limiter or controller) switch has been rendered inoperative, a state of thermic runaway comes into play. We are talking the stuff of runaway trains, flaming out super novas, nervous breakdowns, and overreaching empires. By suppressing countervailing views, empires create chaos and carnage and will, in the end, meet their demise by self-annihilation. The rage for total dominance and attendant overreach of capitalist/US militarist hegemony has wrought the phenomenon on a global wide basis.

The governor switch within the greed and power crazed minds of the corporate, military, and governing elite, by all indications, is inoperable. Impervious to the consequences of their recklessness, ranting about Russians, they careen through the Anthropocene. At present, the whole of humankind is held in the thrall of a trajectory of doom. Yet their power is hinged on the ability to dominate the storyline.  Withal, complicity translates to destiny usurped. Conversely, the first measure towards a restoration of equilibrium is to call out a lie.

When The Unthinkable Becomes Quotidian: Thermic runaway and Strangelovian palaver

The effects of humankind-created Climate Chaos are proving to be more devastating than even the most grim predictions. Wealth inequity is worse than in the Gilded Age. The US empire wages perpetual war, hot and cold, overt and covert, including military brinksmanship with the nuclear power, The Russian Federation.

Speaking of the latter, the US media retails a storyline that would be considered risible if it was not so dangerously inflammatory; i.e., L’affaire du Russia-gate, wherein, according to the lurid tale, the sinister Vladimir Putin, applying techniques from the Russian handbook for international intrigue, Rasputin Mind Control For Dummies, has wrested control of the US Executive Branch of government and bends its policies to his diabolical will.

Ridiculous, huh?  Yet the mainstream press promulgates and a large section of the general public believes what is clearly a reality-bereft tale, as all the while, ignoring circumstances crucial for their own economic well being; their safety, insofar as a catastrophic nuclear exchange; and the steps required to maintain the ecological criteria crucial for allowing the continued viability of human beings on planet earth.

A socio-cultural-political structure is in place wherein the individual is bombarded, to the point of psychical saturation, with self-serving, elitist manufactured media content. Decades back, news and entertainment merged thus freedom of choice amounts to psychical wanderings in a wilderness of empty, consumer cravings and unquenchable longings. Moreover, personas are forged upon the simulacrum smithy of pop/consumer culture, in which, image is reality, salesmanship trumps (yes, Trumps) substance. Among the repercussions: A reality television con man gains the cultural capital to mount a successful bid for the US presidency.

Trump’s ascendency should not come as a shock. Nor should desperate Democrat’s embrace of Russia-gate/The Russians Are Coming (fool’s) mythos. In essence, US citizens/consumers are the most successfully psychologically colonised people on planet earth. In the realm of the political, Democratic and Republican partisans alike, on cue, are prone to parrot the self-serving lies of their party’s cynical elite, who, it is evident, by the utter disregard they hold towards the prerogatives of their constituency, view the influence-bereft hoi polloi with abiding distain…that is, in the rare event they regard them at all.

The crucial question is: Whose and what agenda does the Russia-gate yarn serve? The answer is hidden in plain sight: the profiteers of US economic and militarist hegemony. The demonisation and diminution of Russian power and influence is essential in order to maintain and expand US dominance and the attendant maintenance and expansion of the already obscene wealth of capitalism’s ruling elite.

While It might seem we are mired in an (un-drainable) swamp of complexity, in reality, the political landscape is a bone dry wasteland, wrought by a single factor — the addictive nature of greed.

Moreover, the reality of Beginning Stage Human Extinction crouches just beyond the line of the horizon. All signs auger we lost souls of the Anthropocene must alter our course. Yet, we, stranded in the mind-parching wasteland of late stage capitalism, collectively, continue to stagger, mesmerised, towards mass media mirages leading us further and further into the hostile-to-life terrain.

Yet the wasteland’s Establishment media outlets are doing a dead-on, although straight faced, impression, right out of Stanley Kubrick’s satirical film of Cold War era madness, Dr. Strangelove, of Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper’s roiling with paranoia ranting about a Russian “conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids [of the US body politic].”

Hyperbolic? Take a perusal at the cover story of the Washington Establishment mouthpiece Newsweek, headlined: “PUTIN IS PREPARING FOR WORLD WAR III—IS TRUMP?”

A sphincter-clinching tale of woe and warning promulgated by the same governmental entities and their corporate media stenographers who waxed apocalyptic about Iraq possessing weapon’s of mass destruction; that an immediate NATO bombing campaign must be launched against the government of Muammar Gaddafi or else a mass slaughter of the innocent will be immanent; and regime change in Syria must proceed because Assad is gassing his own people.

Just what sort of an embittered cynic would call into question the credibility of and mistrust the motives of such paragons of probity? Yet, somehow, in regard to Russia-gate, liberals display scant to zip scepticism towards the stories peddled by this unelected, unaccountable clutch of hyper-authoritarian prevaricators. In fact, they are, in a cringe worthy spectacle, allowing themselves to be played like Dollar Store kazoos.

Although, I get it. The tangerine-tinged Terror Of Tweettown represents a hideous affront to common sense and common decency. But the same applies to his antagonists in the anti-democratic institutions of the US National Security State and Intelligence Community. While the mission statements of the bureaucracies in question declare they exists to protect the nation from all manner of threats to the safety of the citizenry, a study of their history and present day operations reveals their modus operandi serves to ensure obscene amounts of wealth continue sluicing into the already bloated coffers of the profiteers of global-wide operations of capitalist plunder.

I understand the desperate need for hope. To crave the quality is inherently human. Even to the point of being whipped into a tizzy by the Russia-gate imbroglio. Yet: All and all, an obsessive focus on Trump, the Orange Scylla, buffets one into the maw of the Washington Establishment’s Charybdis. Again, I understand the sense of desperation: Trump’s smug, bloated face, the grandiose squawk of his voice, and his crass, mean-spirited, petty-minded pronouncements and middle school bully taunts deserve to be resoundingly rebuked. His hubristic posturing simply begs for comeuppance. One is prone to grow plangent with magical thinking. One longs to witness the bully smirk smacked from his face as he is dispatched in disgrace, Richard Nixon-style, to his parvenu palace at Mar a Lago.

But the effect of banishing Nixon was cosmetic. The accepted Watergate storyline, of probing, political inquest and Constitutional redemption, served as a palliative administered to the US public in the rare case the slumbering masses might have desired to delve deeper into the heart of darkness of US empire thus might begin to question the mythos of American Exceptionalism and doubt the uplifting denouement cobbled onto the scandal by the political and media elite; e.g., the system of checks and balances functioned as the nation’s Founders intended. Granted, the system did work as designed, only not in the cliched manner portrayed by its apologists; it worked in the manner it was rigged; to wit, to preserve the secrets of state. The long national nightmare was far from over. In fact, it has been normalised.

When the unthinkable becomes quotidian, by means of the normalisation and systemic codification of crimes against the greater good of humanity, there is a good chance the dynamics of empire building are in play. Empires are not only inherently entropic but they are anathema to the democratic processes crucial to maintaining a republic.

The vast amounts of wealth acquired by means of plunder render a nation’s elite not only craven with cupidity but prone to become so dismally shortsighted, even, judging by the evidence of their reckless actions and crackbrain casuistry, bughouse mad. The present US nuclear sabre rattling at North Korea and the economic aggression and militarist posturing deployed against the Russian Federation are proof of the declaration. A military empire’s unchecked, monomaniacal, more often than not self-destructive, impulse for domination are monstrous traits. The death and carnage strewn in the wake of the imperial monster’s presence in Libya and Syria illustrate a grim testament to the fact.

History reveals, overreach and the passage of time render the aspirations of imperium a nimbus of dust; its grandiose pronouncements a cacophony of strutting clowns; its belief in its inviolable nature and its trumpeted tales of vaunted exceptionalism the stuff of asylum dweller gibbering. On the contrary, a sense of perspective imparts the knowledge, late empire is a fool’s inferno played out on a landscape ridden with exponentially increasing decay.

The storylines of the beneficiaries and operatives of vast systems of runaway power concoct are, more often than not, self-justifying fictions. Cover stories and flat out prevarications, rolled out for the purpose of hiding the prevailing order’s actions and motives, come to dominate the socio-cultural-political sphere. Views running counter to reigning narratives are apt to be marginalised and/or met with scorn, rage and revulsion. A dangerous one-sidedness prevails.

Analogous to the laws governing thermodynamic equilibrium, when a governor (or speed limiter or controller) switch has been rendered inoperative, a state of thermic runaway comes into play. We are talking the stuff of runaway trains, flaming out super novas, nervous breakdowns, and overreaching empires. By suppressing countervailing views, empires create chaos and carnage and will, in the end, meet their demise by self-annihilation. The rage for total dominance and attendant overreach of capitalist/US militarist hegemony has wrought the phenomenon on a global wide basis.

The governor switch within the greed and power crazed minds of the corporate, military, and governing elite, by all indications, is inoperable. Impervious to the consequences of their recklessness, ranting about Russians, they careen through the Anthropocene. At present, the whole of humankind is held in the thrall of a trajectory of doom. Yet their power is hinged on the ability to dominate the storyline.  Withal, complicity translates to destiny usurped. Conversely, the first measure towards a restoration of equilibrium is to call out a lie.

What Was Verifiably Great About America: Fragments of a Memoir Set to a Musical Soundtrack

Having been born in a coal and steel company town but destiny delivered, as an adult, to reside, during extended intervals, in the East and West Coast cities of Los Angeles and New York City, and, at present, the continent of Europe, I have come to conclude, people born into situations providing economic advantage, both liberals and conservatives alike, experience difficulty, more often than not, envisaging the lives of those born into a labouring class existence. Worse, a wilful obtuseness, in combination with a supercilious posture is, all too often, evinced, by reflex, towards those scorned as “hillbillies,” “trailer trash,” and “genetic retreads.”

Among groups possessing economic advantage, a lack of curiosity prevails as to the nature of the lives of individuals who have spent their lifetime subjected to the life-defying tyrannies of full-spectrum, company town capitalism. Life circumstances, under the present, neoliberal order, that are, in all but rare cases, intractable; wherein, the meagre and fraught with economic instability livelihoods earned as a mine, mill, factory worker, and, in the service industry economy in the US wage and debt slave archipelago of fast food outlets, Big Box retailers and Dollar Discount stores, and as a domestic worker, presents, for the vast majority of workers, the degrading, anxiety-inducing option of submitting to low pay, no benefits, long hours of tedious, vastly under-compensated labor or facing homelessness and hunger.

I was born in the foothills of Appalachia. I know, bones to brain, the painful plight of the labouring class. I will go so far as to say, the transforming, I would even suggest, redemptive element, in my life was a house stocked with books and an indomitable yearning to seek out the music indigenous to the region.

My family, later, moved to the then small, Piedmont region city of Atlanta, Georgia. Shortly thereafter, in the living room of a musician, science fiction writer, and general Beat polymath my father had befriended, I swooned — was, I suspect, transformed– when a guest in the home (where a young Bob Dylan used to crash when in Atlanta — which was, at the time, a rundown, mafia-owned apartment house but where, decades earlier, Margaret Mitchell had penned Gone With The Wind — North Georgia-born folksinger and activist Hedy West played her most famous song, “500 Miles Away from Home” also known as “Railroaders’ Lament.”

During childhood, a period of life in which one is transmigrating through a wilderness of archetypes, for me, the experience of being in West’s presence felt as if I had been transported to glens and gardens inhabited by a veritable muse.

In the year, 1970, in the summer I turned 14, in Piedmont Park, in Atlanta, Georgia, the Allman Brothers, among other bands, would perform free, impromptu concerts for a tie-dye-clad, reefer-reeking, bell-bottoms-caressing-the-Georgia-red-dirt gatherings of “freaks” — which was the preferred tribalist term, as opposed to the media-created, socially pejorative – hippies … which, when bandied among counterculture insiders, was generally applied ironically.

Although the park was located only a few miles from my family’s home, undertaking the trip presented a degree of peril. To make one’s way to the park included traversing a tough, in-town, White working class neighborhood (now a gentrified into soul-sucking blandness, yuppie enclave) where, from the perspective of its denizens, their world, and all they held in reverence and reference, was under siege.

And, although inchoate, their animus was instantly distilled, simply upon a glimpse of the untamed tresses of a singular, thin of wrist, dirty hippie, commie faggot — whose mere presence was considered an affront to their pomade-crowned, muscle car-thundering parcel of redneck paradise.

Accordingly, the locals were pledged to do their part to fight the scourge … by increasing their intake of PBRs and Jack Daniels, and, upon sight of said dirty hippie interlopers, bestowing ass-stompings — and for no-extra-charge — involuntary haircuts upon errant longhairs caught in their midst.

Yet as the era progressed, the savage dance between hippie freak and redneck belligerent changed in tone and tempo, an extemporaneous type of metaphysical jujitsu occurred, in which the predator was subdued and seduced by the prey … as if by cultural contact buzz, redneck fury yielded to counterculture insouciance.

“When the individual feels, the community reels” … Aldous Huxley

Briefly, this was the anatomy of the seduction: In their pursuit of fleeing freaks into the park, the young males of the cracker tribe happened upon a few of the things of this vast and vivid world even more compelling than the possibility of ass-kicking … in the form of attractive young women.

Yet to the young men, the hippie sphinxes, sirens, waifs and gypsy queens were baffling, unapproachable; these women were less than taken by their greasy, pompadoured forelocks and aggressive bearing.

In short, and to appropriate the parlance of the era, the hippie chicks didn’t get off on these young men’s “bad vibes … it, like, really harshed their high.”

But these great, great grandsons of the Lost Cause proved much more malleable in countenance than the ossified in memory, now enshrined in marble statuary, of their confederate forefathers.

Consequently, a kind of cracker Lysistrata started to unfold. The pomade lacquer faded from stiff pompadours, yielding to lank, draping locks of hippie plumage. The habit of rebel bellicosity was sublimated into an avidity to “boogie.” The zealots of ass-kicking became the acolytes of acid and devotees of the gospels of kicking back and getting down.

As time passed, on weekends, as the Allman Brothers preached Sunday sermons vis-a-vis guitar and drum solos, these newly minted freaks could be found in positions of repose and reflection upon the grassy hills of the park, eating Orange Sunshine and drawling, “aw mahn, Dwayne’s guitar is shootin’ sparks into mah brain…”

Or as Marcel Proust put it, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”

If the US is great in any regard, it is not because of the psychotic belief in its own exceptionalism or its risible grandiosity involving the claim to be the one and only “indispensable nation.” Conversely, its best quality is evinced in the voices of the country’s economically bereft rabble, as expressed in the blues, in jazz, folk, country/western, and hip hop music, in which the powerless find a voice that moves the heart by inducing the soul to be able to penetrate the thick walls of shame that the class-based capitalist prison state imposes on the laboring class.

Waylon Jennings rendition of Billy Joe Shaver’s outlaw country classic, and its Cracker Zen philosophy of: The more adept one becomes at growing down — even composting — one’s pride, ego, pretensions, and careerist striving the richer the soil of the soul grows.

(Billy Joe Shaver’s mother, eight months pregnant with him, was severely beaten by her husband and left for dead in a ditch. Later spotted labouring in the scorching heat of an east Texas cotton field, a child harness to her back, young Billy at her side, by a recruiter for local honky-tonks scouting the area to fill waitress positions. Shaver’s red-haired mother’s good looks proved providential for exposing him to venues of country/western music.)

The early 1980s. I am attempting to navigate, and failing on a psychical basis, the vales and canyons of Los Angeles. It is the advent of the Reagan years. The idiot stare of the encompassing dome of the LA sky is too much for my Appalachian Hill country psyche. There is no green-on-green canopy to filter the relentless sheen of sunlight. It renders me manic, angst-ridden, and sleepless.

The damp evening air envelops one at sundown in LA. It gets damn cold. A clinging chill wafts from the Pacific Ocean. But the phenomenon is not weather related; instead, the cold is the embrace of the ghosts of the dead dreams of the city’s inhabitants.

X captures in tone and limns in  lyric the effects of the atomised LA landscape upon my besieged psyche…I slouch in the direction of The Whiskey to catch them.

This song, by Elizabeth Cotten, here, interpreted by Rhiannon Middens, seems to me, concerns the type of release borne of lament, whereas one has lost everything and made every attempt to right oneself with circumstance and fate but to no avail. Every worldly possession is in hock…but destitution has not been dodged.

Oh Lordy me, didn’t I shake sugaree
Everything I got is done and pawned
Everything I got is done and pawned

Yet a stark, painfully beautiful, indomitable truth rises up from the soul. I am still here. My voice still rises heavenward. The deathless heart of my song endures in the face of misfortune and grief.

Wallace Stevens captures the sentiment in verse: Excerpted from his poem: A Weak Mind in the Mountains:

Yet there was a man within me
Could have risen to the clouds,
Could have touched these winds,
Bent and broken them down,
Could have stood up sharply in the sky.

One can imitate, with virtuoso precision, musical and poetic technique — but the verities garnered from life lived cannot be counterfeited, no matter how perfect the mimicry. The performance will remain at surface level.

Conversely, as is the case with Roscoe Holcomb, the sublimity of his exquisite rawness arrives from the authenticity of his experience. Listening, at least in my case to his Appalachian cadences, causes my wounded heart to bleed lambent light.

As I write these words, it has been dark for hours here in Munich, Germany, as, collectively, we, in the Northern Hemisphere trudge into the long, dark nights of the dying year. Short daylight hours, haunted with grim and grisly news. Our era, lit up but not illuminated, by twenty four/seven artificial light. Perpetual media distractions at our finger tips. Nature banished. Communal experience atomised.

We attempt to grieve, but remain empty, by means of the same Mephistophelian illusion that has left us estranged from the beating heart of earthly life. Conversely, the US blues/gospel/folk tradition captures the cadences of grief wrought by the knowledge of the vastness of creation, within which unfolds the tragic dance between the fragility of human life and the reality of ever present human folly.

This ballad by the Carter Family defines the form and reveals what has been scoured away by Mephistophelian light. (As a general rule, songs about trains are about anything but trains.)

Pete Seeger, a few years before his death, told me and a small group of others this anecdote about he and Woody Guthrie. The two of them were playing a gig for striking coal miners, deep in the Ozarks. Because no one present could afford babysitters, the union hall was filled with women and small children. A short time into their performance, a squad of large, brutal company goons, wearing long coats concealing clubs and other weapons, entered the hall.

Pete inquired of Woody as to how they should respond. Woody told him to keep playing, and play for all they were worth, which they did. They continued their show and no trouble came to pass that night. Afterwards, one of the members of the goon squad approached Woody and Pete and confessed to them. “We came here to bust up the meeting. But what was going on was not what we were told. You seem like good people.”

Pete related, Woody, much taken with the declaration, returned to their quarters and wrote his song Union Maid, in a single sitting. That is what Woody meant by, “this machine kills fascists.” His music and that of other inspired troubadours kills the soul-dead ideology of fascism with the life-vivifying veracity of truth.

What Was Verifiably Great About America

Having been born in a coal and steel company town but destiny delivered, as an adult, to reside, during extended intervals, in the East and West Coast cities of Los Angeles and New York City, and, at present, the continent of Europe, I have come to conclude, people born into situations providing economic advantage, both liberals and conservatives alike, experience difficulty, more often than not, envisaging the lives of those born into a labouring class existence. Worse, a wilful obtuseness, in combination with a supercilious posture is, all too often, evinced, by reflex, towards those scorned as “hillbillies,” “trailer trash,” and “genetic retreads.”

Among groups possessing economic advantage, a lack of curiosity prevails as to the nature of the lives of individuals who have spent their lifetime subjected to the life-defying tyrannies of full-spectrum, company town capitalism. Life circumstances, under the present, neoliberal order, that are, in all but rare cases, intractable; wherein, the meagre and fraught with economic instability livelihoods earned as a mine, mill, factory worker, and, in the service industry economy in the US wage and debt slave archipelago of fast food outlets, Big Box retailers and Dollar Discount stores, and as a domestic worker, presents, for the vast majority of workers, the degrading, anxiety-inducing option of submitting to low pay, no benefits, long hours of tedious, vastly under-compensated labor or facing homelessness and hunger.

I was born in the foothills of Appalachia. I know, bones to brain, the painful plight of the labouring class. I will go so far as to say, the transforming, I would even suggest, redemptive element, in my life was a house stocked with books and an indomitable yearning to seek out the music indigenous to the region.

My family later moved to the then small, Piedmont region city of Atlanta, Georgia. Shortly thereafter, in the living room of a musician, science fiction writer, and general Beat polymath my father had befriended, I swooned — was, I suspect, transformed — when a guest in the home (where a young Bob Dylan used to crash when in Atlanta — which was, at the time, a rundown, mafia-owned apartment house but where, decades earlier, Margaret Mitchell had penned Gone With The Wind — North Georgia-born folksinger and activist Hedy West played her most famous song, “500 Miles Away from Home” also known as “Railroaders’ Lament.”

During childhood, a period of life in which one is transmigrating through a wilderness of archetypes, for me, the experience of being in West’s presence felt as if I had been transported to glens and gardens inhabited by a veritable muse.

In the year, 1970, in the summer I turned 14, in Piedmont Park, in Atlanta, Georgia, the Allman Brothers, among other bands, would perform free, impromptu concerts for a tie-dye-clad, reefer-reeking, bell-bottoms-caressing-the-Georgia-red-dirt gatherings of “freaks” — which was the preferred tribalist term, as opposed to the media-created, socially pejorative – hippies … which, when bandied among counterculture insiders, was generally applied ironically.

Although the park was located only a few miles from my family’s home, undertaking the trip presented a degree of peril. To make one’s way to the park included traversing a tough, in-town, White working class neighborhood (now a gentrified into soul-sucking blandness, yuppie enclave) where, from the perspective of its denizens, their world, and all they held in reverence and reference, was under siege.

And, although inchoate, their animus was instantly distilled, simply upon a glimpse of the untamed tresses of a singular, thin of wrist, dirty hippie, commie faggot — whose mere presence was considered an affront to their pomade-crowned, muscle car-thundering parcel of redneck paradise.

Accordingly, the locals were pledged to do their part to fight the scourge … by increasing their intake of PBRs and Jack Daniels, and, upon sight of said dirty hippie interlopers, bestowing ass-stompings — and for no-extra-charge — involuntary haircuts upon errant longhairs caught in their midst.

Yet as the era progressed, the savage dance between hippie freak and redneck belligerent changed in tone and tempo, an extemporaneous type of metaphysical jujitsu occurred, in which the predator was subdued and seduced by the prey … as if by cultural contact buzz, redneck fury yielded to counterculture insouciance.

“When the individual feels, the community reels” … Aldous Huxley

Briefly, this was the anatomy of the seduction: In their pursuit of fleeing freaks into the park, the young males of the cracker tribe happened upon a few of the things of this vast and vivid world even more compelling than the possibility of ass-kicking … in the form of attractive young women.

Yet to the young men, the hippie sphinxes, sirens, waifs and gypsy queens were baffling, unapproachable; these women were less than taken by their greasy, pompadoured forelocks and aggressive bearing.

In short, and to appropriate the parlance of the era, the hippie chicks didn’t get off on these young men’s “bad vibes … it, like, really harshed their high.”

But these great, great grandsons of the Lost Cause proved much more malleable in countenance than the ossified in memory, now enshrined in marble statuary, of their confederate forefathers.

Consequently, a kind of cracker Lysistrata started to unfold. The pomade lacquer faded from stiff pompadours, yielding to lank, draping locks of hippie plumage. The habit of rebel bellicosity was sublimated into an avidity to “boogie.” The zealots of ass-kicking became the acolytes of acid and devotees of the gospels of kicking back and getting down.

As time passed, on weekends, as the Allman Brothers preached Sunday sermons vis-a-vis guitar and drum solos, these newly minted freaks could be found in positions of repose and reflection upon the grassy hills of the park, eating Orange Sunshine and drawling, “aw mahn, Dwayne’s guitar is shootin’ sparks into mah brain…”

Or as Marcel Proust put it, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.”

If the US is great in any regard, it is not because of the psychotic belief in its own exceptionalism or its risible grandiosity involving the claim to be the one and only “indispensable nation.” Conversely, its best quality is evinced in the voices of the country’s economically bereft rabble, as expressed in the blues, in jazz, folk, country/western, and hip hop music, in which the powerless find a voice that moves the heart by inducing the soul to be able to penetrate the thick walls of shame that the class-based capitalist prison state imposes on the laboring class.

Waylon Jennings rendition of Billy Joe Shaver’s outlaw country classic, and its Cracker Zen philosophy of: The more adept one becomes at growing down — even composting — one’s pride, ego, pretensions, and careerist striving the richer the soil of the soul grows.

(Billy Joe Shaver’s mother, eight months pregnant with him, was severely beaten by her husband and left for dead in a ditch. Later spotted labouring in the scorching heat of an east Texas cotton field, a child harness to her back, young Billy at her side, by a recruiter for local honky-tonks scouting the area to fill waitress positions, Shaver’s red-haired mother’s good looks proved providential for exposing him to venues of country/western music.)

The early 1980s. I am attempting to navigate, and failing on a psychical basis, the vales and canyons of Los Angeles. It is the advent of the Reagan years. The idiot stare of the encompassing dome of the LA sky is too much for my Appalachian Hill country psyche. There is no green-on-green canopy to filter the relentless sheen of sunlight. It renders me manic, angst-ridden, and sleepless.

The damp evening air envelops one at sundown in LA. It gets damn cold. A clinging chill wafts from the Pacific Ocean. But the phenomenon is not weather related; instead, the cold is the embrace of the ghosts of the dead dreams of the city’s inhabitants.

X captures in tone and limns in lyric the effects of the atomised LA landscape upon my besieged psyche…I slouch in the direction of The Whiskey to catch them.

This song, by Elizabeth Cotten, here, interpreted by Rhiannon Middens, seems to me, concerns the type of release borne of lament, whereas one has lost everything and made every attempt to right oneself with circumstance and fate but to no avail. Every worldly possession is in hock…but destitution has not been dodged.

Oh Lordy me, didn’t I shake sugaree
Everything I got is done and pawned
Everything I got is done and pawned

Yet a stark, painfully beautiful, indomitable truth rises up from the soul. I am still here. My voice still rises heavenward. The deathless heart of my song endures in the face of misfortune and grief.

Wallace Stevens captures the sentiment in verse: Excerpted from his poem: A Weak Mind in the Mountains:

Yet there was a man within me
Could have risen to the clouds,
Could have touched these winds,
Bent and broken them down,
Could have stood up sharply in the sky.

One can imitate, with virtuoso precision, musical and poetic technique — but the verities garnered from life lived cannot be counterfeited, no matter how perfect the mimicry. The performance will remain at surface level.

Conversely, as is the case with Roscoe Holcomb, the sublimity of his exquisite rawness arrives from the authenticity of his experience. Listening, at least in my case to his Appalachian cadences, causes my wounded heart to bleed lambent light.

As I write these words, it has been dark for hours here in Munich, Germany, as, collectively, we, in the Northern Hemisphere trudge into the long, dark nights of the dying year. Short daylight hours, haunted with grim and grisly news. Our era, lit up but not illuminated, by twenty four/seven artificial light. Perpetual media distractions at our finger tips. Nature banished. Communal experience atomised.

We attempt to grieve, but remain empty, by means of the same Mephistophelian illusion that has left us estranged from the beating heart of earthly life. Conversely, the US blues/gospel/folk tradition captures the cadences of grief wrought by the knowledge of the vastness of creation, within which unfolds the tragic dance between the fragility of human life and the reality of ever present human folly.

This ballad by the Carter Family defines the form and reveals what has been scoured away by Mephistophelian light. (As a general rule, songs about trains are about anything but trains.)

Pete Seeger, a few years before his death, told me and a small group of others this anecdote about he and Woody Guthrie. The two of them were playing a gig for striking coal miners, deep in the Ozarks. Because no one present could afford babysitters, the union hall was filled with women and small children. A short time into their performance, a squad of large, brutal company goons, wearing long coats concealing clubs and other weapons, entered the hall.

Pete inquired of Woody as to how they should respond. Woody told him to keep playing, and play for all they were worth, which they did. They continued their show and no trouble came to pass that night. Afterwards, one of the members of the goon squad approached Woody and Pete and confessed to them. “We came here to bust up the meeting. But what was going on was not what we were told. You seem like good people.”

Pete related, Woody, much taken with the declaration, returned to their quarters and wrote his song Union Maid, in a single sitting. That is what Woody meant by, “this machine kills fascists.” His music and that of other inspired troubadours kills the soul-dead ideology of fascism with the life-vivifying veracity of truth.