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June 30, 2005


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I sometimes think obscurantism is more a marketing tactic than a sincere belief in There Are Things That People Must Not Know™

A lot like corporate life. Marketing spin. Give consumers a consistent and compelling Brand Narrative. They don't need to see the moving parts behind the scenes.

The drawback of brand narratives, compelling and otherwise, is how good someone saying exactly what he means sounds when it pierces the sedative fog.

It’s an obligation for political activists to know what the masses are watching on television, so every day I try to force myself to see a bit of CNN, a bit of MSNBC, a bit of local affiliate news. It’s about as joyful as having a sea urchin packed up your ass, but it still seems like an obligation. It seldom changes, this self-referential parade of air-brushed news-models regurgitating the manufactured cliche of the day, and slobbering over think-tank reptiles and retired generals who are themselves reduced to preaning cheap-jackery before narcotic America.

Thus the aesthetic listener is also reborn with the rebirth of tragedy. In his place in the theater, a curious quid pro quo used to sit with half moral and half scholarly pretensions—the "critic." Everything in his sphere so far has been artificial and merely whitewashed with an appearance of life. The performing artist was really at a loss how to deal with a listener who comported himself so critically; so he, as well as the dramatist or operatic composer who inspired him, searched anxiously for the last remains of life in a being so pretentiously barren and incapable of enjoyment. So far, however, such "critics" have constituted the audience: the student, the schoolboy, even the innocuous female had been unwittingly prepared by education and newspapers for this kind of perception of works of art. Confronted with such a public, the nobler natures among the artists counted upon exciting their moral-religious emotions, and the appeal to the moral world-order intervened vicariously where some powerful artistic magic ought to enrapture the genuine listener. Or some more imposing, or at all events exciting, trend of the contemporary political and social world was so vividly presented by the dramatist that the listener could forget his critical exhaustion and abandon himself to emotions similar to those felt in patriotic or warlike moments, or before the tribune of parliament, or at the condemnation of crime and vice—an alienation from the true aims of art that sometimes had to result in an outright cult of tendentiousness.


"An outright cult of tendentiousness." I wish today, on this Fourth of July weekend 2005 that my career options were still wide open. As one of the elite who knows what the word 'tendentious' means, how could I have amounted to so little? To find myself mumbling truths aloud in my Dumpster when I could have been a pious fraud is something with which I berate myself daily. Klaus, you too. For you it is not too late. Take Horowitz as you model, repudiate your friends. Born again, you will live like a Pharoah.

Hey! It's never too late! When the next war comes around, there will be a window of opportunity. I've got essays written for you both. The working titles are "A Farewell To The Bageantian Left" and "From Dumpster To Duplex: A Liberal Finally Grows Up". Within certain reasonable parameters, you should feel free to modify them as much as you want.

Born again, if such an option becomes available, I'd like to live like a sparrow.

But not a horse - unless it's a Houyhnhnm.

"Like birds of the air." What will society do with the old birds, who have no pensions, no social security, no health insurance? Despair is best neither seen nor heard. Get converted and pray for the Rapture, I guess.

battered old birds

Scots Ballad Tradition, once again, right? The blues, the gospels, oppression, courage and hope. The meek shall inherit the world. The chariot swings low some day. Tell you something important to me. In my profession, so-called, of wealth counseling, the accepted dogma is Maslow. The client must first take care of their basic needs, then their kids, and then and only then their need to help society, or serve whatever God. The Dumpster crew and most Saints and soldiers give the lie to that comfortable, well-upholstered theory. For some writing, dreaming, helping are the great addiction for which they sacrifice everything. God bless them, His Holy Fools.

So what then is the role of Maslow's progression of needs? Perhaps part is that on person's basic needs is another's luxury. There are always those much worse off than ourselves, and in wealthy countries a street beggar has more income than the average successful subsistance farmer in most of the world.

At some point sliding down this scale, nobody has the resources to care for themselves well enough to have something left to give, but that is much further down the scale than most can imagine. We are a resillient lot, and those with little can see how close they are to that line better than most. The poor have always put the rich to shame in the proportion of their giving. With only your money to warm you, you would be scared too.

I had you and Debbie in mind among others as examples of people who give first and get second.

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