Culture is war by other means

No one on this cursed earth cares what a professional athlete thinks about race relations. And not a single blunted soul cares what Trump thinks about the behavior of professional athletes. But none of us have anything better to do. Culture wars are easy and fun to fight so we pretend there are stakes to the conflict.

It’s pure simulation. Spectacular nothingness. Flickering, wispy opposition. Professional sports and politics are Vaseline smeared mirror images of each other, complimentary realms of theatrical combat distracting a hollowed out country from its alienation.

Politics is supposed to be serious and sports are supposed to be entertainment. Politics is about running the world, preserving order and improving our condition, limiting greed, violence and channeling destructive impulses toward socially constructive ends. It’s a craft, an art in search of its science.

Sports are an escape. An outlet. Reality is heavy, it’s sad and it hurts. People get sick, they destroy themselves and each other, they struggle over resources and recognition. Disaster is man made and natural, and the second we stop killing each other a tornado or plague or avalanche comes along to increase the body count.

The natural world is fraught with danger, pitfalls, poisonous creatures and ravenous beasts. The social environment is dense with petty resentment and murderous rage. People don’t like each other, they notice minor differences and exploit weakness and stupidity. We need illusions, entertainment and diversion to maintain a tenuous peace. Every society stages mock combat and every individual fantasizes about violence and disorder.

These fantasies and illusions increase cohesion, maintain stability and reinforce community. And sometimes they intensify real animosity and amplify discord. Their function is inherently ambiguous. Sometimes a sporting event is a release valve and sometimes it’s a pressure cooker. Fantasizing about violence and taking pleasure in its imaginary performance satisfies bloodlust as well as exacerbates it.

But we live in an age of churning confusion and injudicious blending. Lines are becoming fuzzy, colors are washing out, biology and nature are slipping into the social. Ideologues are turning bedrocks into putty and concrete into clay. The real and virtual are changing hands and no one knows what’s important and what’s trivial. It doesn’t seem to matter either way. We want to know what entertainers think of politics and what politicians think of entertainers. We want them to be the same thing.

So when NFL athletes hijack a ceremony to protest an imaginary problem, people take it seriously. They want to have conversations about it means when these performers kneel for the anthem and what it all says about our country. And when a reality television star turned president condemns the athletes, people take that seriously as well. They want to have a conversation about what the president means and what his behavior says about our country.

Also, inviting people to have a conversation, a national conversation, is a euphemism. A real conversation with equal participates and respect for differing opinions is not the objective. When someone calls for a conversation, what they want is capitulation. We’ll tell you what to think, we’ll control what you say and punish you for saying the wrong thing. We want to draw out our enemies and force them to expose themselves. But a conversation sounds mature and reasonable. Who wouldn’t want to have a good discussion?

Two separate sides. Fantasy and reality, levity and gravity drawn together. A subliterate freak of nature paid millions of dollars to throw a ball running on the fumes of his empty intellect tripping over his own lips trying to make an incoherent, factually incorrect point about injussiss and raycissism in an evil, oppressive country so vile and nasty it lavishly rewards its academically underperforming and socially dysfunctional minorities to do the one or two things they can do well, like performing athletic feats and singing and dancing.

Then the leader of the free world says, in his own vulgar way, what most decent people are thinking. When you say something that most normal, well adjusted people would naturally think you cause an earthquake of outrage, an ineffectual chain reaction of pantomimed petulance and hysteria.

A pampered gladiator tarnishing a symbol of American goodness and disrupting a ritual of unity is a protected, sacred right, a brave and courageous act. But saying that these freaks of nature should be respectful towards a public that pays their salaries is divisive.

Divisive is another euphemism. It’s divisive to disagree with the hive mind directive. The left has abandoned any pretense to consistency. They flail about in the storehouse of values, grabbing whatever they find when they need a new weapon to attack their enemies. Suddenly they care about unity and denounce Trump for his divisive comments. They belch hot gas about diversity and difference when they want to undermine white American cohesion and then burn their heels pivoting to favor unity and agreement when their malicious, destructive agenda is challenged.

There’s something fascinating about watching a group of spineless deviants and corrupt elites twisting and turning in the wind, latching on to whatever seems to suit their corrosive causes. If their enemies say something they don’t like then we need to reexamine free speech, hate speech isn’t protected after all. When they face criticism for spouting lies then they’re champions of free speech. America is a country so consistently committed to freedom it will destroy itself to uphold its principles.

They hate America and spit on its history of oppression and theft but then use vaguely construed American values to harass political opponents and pretend to reverence and virtue. The constitution is a document birthed by bigots when it’s defended by white Americans who want to protect and honor their legacy. But when leftists sense an opportunity to pervert a clause or turn a right into a demand for more power then they’re staunch constitutionalists full of admiration for century spanning legislation. The constitution is bad when actual Americans refer to it and good when it’s misdirected to safeguard invading, surly hordes with the gleam of retaking stolen gold in their eyes.

They do this with values and they do it with groups of people as well. Religion is an oppressive power, a set of falsehoods that excuse exploitation and sanction unjust hierarchies, unless it’s islam. Because most muslims are some shade of brown, criticizing islam is bigotry and we must respect and celebrate their way of life. We’re always supposedly on the brink of becoming a Christian theocracy, but the actual threat of an Islamic theocracy is denied and anyone who sounds the alarm is dismissed as a racist.

And your typical leftist loathes sports and organized athletic activity. They are debauched in mind and spirit, weak in body and they resent physical prowess, strength and ability. The mutant performers they now praise for their brave resistance are the jocks and meatheads they use to sneer at for their stupidity. They routinely mock sports and athletes and shudder at physical and athletic competence. But since a pack of overpaid apes started hooting and hollering the left’s favorite platitudes now the sensitive nerds and misfits are locking arms in solidarity with their former subjects of scorn.

Nothing can just be what it is. Everything has to come under the scrutiny of the jaundiced eye of the progressive juggernaut. The NFL is a violent, dangerous game played by violent, dangerous men for the entertainment of slightly less violent, dangerous men. There can’t be anything meant for men, especially white men. We need feminist initiatives, the market must be expanded, we have to change the rules and make everything softer and weaker and more inclusive. Multinational corporations and the leading lights of progressive morality are in perfect, harmonious agreement.

Maybe the greatest of Trump’s talents is inducing people to project their own flaws onto him. The left is, without an inkling of irony or self awareness, accusing Trump of playing the racial angle and engaging in racial demagoguery. The current left is fueled by nothing but pure, unleaded racial demagoguery. They enthusiastically stoke the flames of racial hatred against prosperous, civilized white society and call for the redistribution of wealth to undeserving and noncontributing minorities. They constantly court their own constituents and define their enemies in racial terms. Trump has never mentioned whites by name or condemned any other group for its skin color but because he condemned the bad behavior of a few blacks he’s the racist.

The addled anti-racist fails to understand that Trump and most decent people don’t care about skin color or ethnicity. What matters is behavior. Trump didn’t criticize the nfl and praise nascar because the nfl is black and nascar is white. He criticized the nfl because its players are misbehaving and nascar’s drivers are not. One group is acting respectfully towards its paying fans and the other isn’t. It’s that simple but the left is too stupid not to complicate it to their own detriment.

Addendum

The draw of a culture war is that no one needs to know anything. There’s no difficult math and no scholarship. No complexity or consideration of policy. It’s all shadow play; weightless, effortless movement. There’s no way to be an expert; no qualifications, tests or roadblocks.

It’s just my experience against yours, my identity with this group against yours. Projection and fantasy have free reign. Everything gets sucked into one whirlwind of politics, economics, entertainment, trivia and philosophy. No one can be wrong but no one can be right either. It’s endlessly renewable conflict that perversely binds a disparate, dying population together. In the end we tolerate each other because it’s invigorating to have someone close by to despise.

Anything goes

There’s never enough time. Always too much or not enough.  My shift at work isn’t normal. It’s neither first, second or third. It’s 3/4ths shift. I wake up earlier than God. 4:15 in the morning. And I’m done with my day at 12:30.

High noon and it’s time to go home. People are taking their lunch breaks or waking up or getting ready to go into work. And my day is done. No one is available when I get out and by the time other people are free I can’t keep my eyes open.

The end of work is also the beginning of more work. Because you can’t go home and disintegrate. Eat microwaved mac n cheese and masturbate yourself into a coma. Your life can’t be what you do for subsistence and then purely passive consumption.

If you want to eat well that’s another job. First you have to get the groceries. Yesterday I went to my neighborhood Kroger. Full of privileged, racist white people without teeth, wearing tattered loony tunes t-shirts and stained sweatpants.

Poor white women either have gigantic, quaking asses or they have negative space where their asses should be. They have a back and then their legs begin. They’re too poor to afford an ass. And they’re on meth.

When I look at the twisted, emaciated figures ambling down the aisles at this grocery store, I think of how great it is to be white. Because that’s all it takes in this racist country. To enjoy wealth, respect and ease all you have to do is be white. And then I thought about the systemic systems white people built to elevate these malnourished tweakers above the downtrodden, superstar, mega rich black athletes and entertainers.

If you’re white and you don’t have millions of dollars and you’re not a ceo of a monopolistic corporation, if you’re not at least a lawyer or judge or tech mogul then you’ve squandered your unearned birthright. You have no one but yourself to blame. Choice and hard work and not murdering half your neighborhood over a drug dispute are concepts we only consider when evaluating whites.

Anyway, you get your groceries and then you go home and cook. Eat what you make and then you have to clean. I wash dishes all day at work. Wave after wave of steamed milk encrusted cups and pitchers.

People do god knows what with their napkins, they wipe their asses and cough their lung disease into them and then stuff them into their cups and mugs. They think this is consolidating the mess but it only makes my job harder and more disgusting. Because I have to pick the soggy napkins and paper out of the cups before I put them in the washing machine. The sensation of touching lukewarm, milk soaked napkins makes me want to vomit.

So I wash other people’s dishes at work and my reward is to go home and wash my own. I wipe surfaces and clean counters all day at work and then I go home and wipe and scrub and scour until I’ve lost the will to live. Then I need to go to the gym, a hideous, alien space that reeks of sweaty rubber with skin peeling and eyeball incinerating overhead brain surgery lighting.

Everyone in the gym is annoying. I hate people who do endless sets of curls but I also hate anyone who takes up the benches or squat racks. In shape or not, skilled powerlifter or bumbling nerd, I hate them all because they’re in the gym while I’m in there. I don’t have a portable music player so I have to listen to the grating mix of modern pop and classic rock they’re always playing.

Sometimes I’m not sure why I insist on working out. I’m back in the Midwest where the majority of the people look like melting bags of shit. Unevenly massaged balls of dough. The men have tits and narrow shoulders. There are no male beauty standards here. No one cares. Attractive women still go out with fat, sloppy men and I don’t get attention for being ripped.

The real motivation is the inner contentment of knowing you’re overcoming the natural tendency of everything to bloat and decay. You’re strengthening your will as you strengthen your muscles. Just like in this moment now as I’m typing up this piece for the second time because I just spent two and a half hours writing and then lost everything when my new computer crashed.

I violently suppressed the urge to destroy everything around me and end my own life by breaking a glass cup and slashing my throat and instead resolved to write everything I’d lost all over again. This version won’t be as good as the first but it’s better than nothing. It’s better than letting a piece of cheap Chinese technology rule my life and prevent me from creating art. I’m hungry and tired and I should have been done by done by now but nothing except the sweet release of death will stop me from giving the world my greatest gift: self absorbed ramblings about poop and being a racist.

You have to work to make the money to rent a place that you then have to work more to maintain. Work your body and mind down into unfeeling nubs and still go without recognition. You have to get enough sleep to work all day without murdering anyone or smashing anything. At least 8 full, uninterrupted hours of properly timed REM sleep with the right brain waves at the right time. If you don’t do this then you’ll wake up an irritable, incompetent mess of a man.

You’ll cause multiple car crashes on your way to work. Get your arm caught in a thresher. Even if you don’t work anywhere near a thresher. You’ll cost your company millions of dollars in lost productivity because your eyelids sit heavy on your eyes and your fingers move a millisecond slower than they would have if you’d only done the responsible thing and slept like no actual human being ever has, like a mythical person without a guilty conscious or a constantly running, disjointed, commentary in his head, without the hybrid monster of regret and fear that stays quiet and still in your guts until you’re alone in the dark and then it moans and creeps up your spine and chills your soul.

You have to work at your first job to make money and then your second job is to work on your house and body. And your third job is to establish ideal sleeping conditions. You need a delicate, two hour descent into unconsciousness. Hot milks, herbal teas, deep breathing and relaxation techniques. Soothing sounds and lulling tones, eastern methods, meditation and mantras.

You can’t do any fun drugs because they’ll disrupt your sleep. No heavy meals or spicy foods. You shouldn’t use your bed for anything other than sleep and sex. You can’t even glance at your bed unless you’re physically passing out on top of it. No light, no sound. Ear plugs and a sleep mask. You should sleep in a sound proofed, padded chamber deep in the earth’s crust. Keep a copy of Finnegan’s Wake on the bed table and read it for half an hour before falling asleep. Or Hegel’s Phenomenology in the original german.

If you don’t arrange what little free time you have left around getting peer reviewed, scientifically tested restorative sleep then you’ll endanger your health. Risk your life. You’ll get multiple types of cancer at the same time. Hemorrhoids and autoimmune disorders. You’ll become diabetic and wart ridden. The common cold will kill you.

You’ll grow deaf and suffer from chronic diarrhea, just like Beethoven except you won’t also compose world changing musical pieces and inaugurate the romantic cultural movement where the artist emerged as an icon, a defining figure of an ethos, as a subject of worship and reverence rather than as a servant of aristocrats and kings, which was the old, time honored role. You won’t change music and culture and no one will overlook your filthy lodgings and unkempt hair and raw, sputtering rectum.

So get some sleep and don’t stress out about sleeping or anything else because then you’ll sleep poorly.

The abyss of freedom

Lost my house key. Left it hanging in the lock for hours and now it’s gone; someone took it. Or it’s in a spot that should be obvious but I’ll never see it. My key is buried in my buttcheek while I walk around with a mysterious ass pain all day looking for lost items.

They always say well what did you do when you got home. Retrace your steps. What’s the last thing you remember before you lost it. As though I could remember a series of actions I’ve repeated billions of times every unmemorable day of my adult life. I wasn’t there when any of it happened. Those moments don’t exist, they have no substance.

If I’d walked through the door and a man in a paper burger king crown raped me and left me for dead then I could give you something. Reconstruct my movements leading up to the event and work through the trauma. I would say I probably lost the key right around the time I was raped. Otherwise I have no idea.

If I could remember what I was doing or where I was when I lost my key I wouldn’t have lost it. What am I, a Buddhist monk? Is every step I take a deliberate exercise of centering myself in the mystical present? Do I study every second and wring it for every precious detail?

I’m not an old man but I’m old enough to not care about what I’m doing most of the time. Every day is a bridge that burns When I walk over it. I don’t remember how I felt or what was happening around me. I can’t go back. Once it’s over it’s gone forever.

So what was I doing when I lost my key. I walk around in this cocooned state of distracted grumbling and overheated ranting and until I step in dog shit or the air conditioner falls out of the window I’m not aware, I’m not attentive. Something beautiful and subtle is always unfolding but there’s a spiritual fog in front of my face and I don’t see it.

Miracles of creation and breathtaking works of art all around me. But I don’t notice or care because I’m fuming and fantasizing, regretting my lost youth or fearing future sorrows. My inner life is a screen saver, a cycle of stock images and phrases. I have to project rehashed scenes. Can’t be blank, can’t leave space for experiencing something new that might change me.

There’s a burger king a quarter mile from my house. So now I eat there three or four times a week. I tell people I eat at burger king a couple times a week in a self deprecating way but I eat there more frequently than that. There are limits to what I’m willing to admit even when I’m trying to make myself look bad for comedic effect. There’s a line you inch toward where it’s funny to be a little pathetic and dysfunctional and beyond that it just makes people uncomfortable.

Only I know the truth of how often I drive my borrowed 94 cavalier through the burger king drive through for two double cheeseburgers and a medium French fry. Which costs just under 6 dollars.

It’s a tasty, affordable and convenient meal for a man with a nonworking stove and a rattling air conditioner who makes no money and has to spend a hundred dollars replacing the lock on his door because he left the key outside and a feral methhead took it and is now plotting to break in and shit everywhere and steal the cat.

The joke is on whoever breaks into this house. Once they see the inside they will be moved by pity to leave me a television set and soothing drugs. Rethink their degenerate life of opportunistic crime. They’ll find nothing of value, nothing that works. But the thought of someone in this neighborhood of toothless hillbillies and stunted mongrels having 24 hour access to my shitshack makes my skin crawl.

And I already sleep so poorly that the slightest possibility that my door could be effortlessly opened in the night with one quick turn of the key would destroy any chance of me getting some rest and escaping this waking hell for even a second.

I eat at burger king now but who cares. I’m poor. I accept this. I will not receive proper dental care. My teeth will rot. I will not receive proper health care. Various parts of my body will break down and my organs will wither and there will be no money or time to fix anything. I won’t be able to claw my way out of debt but I won’t get help from the government either.

I eat like a post apocalyptic mutant picking through the ruins of civilization and I lose keys and debit cards and licenses all the time. I’m never not on the verge of doing something stupid that wipes out the pittance I’ve put together from months of toil. And apart from my own negligence something is always breaking down, in need repairs or replacement parts, updates and check ups.

Your old version of this thing is no longer compatible with our new version. You pay to find out what’s wrong and then you pay to fix it. You pay inscrutable organizations to help you pay for your diseased body, broken appliances and collapsing house. They continuously bleed you just enough over time so they can prevent a disaster from destroying you. So they can keep bleeding you.

My computer, my phone, my stove, my toilet, the car that isn’t even mine. All this stuff slated to stop working, to slow down and make ominous rumbling and whirling noises and then explode seconds after the warranty expires. All these carelessly constructed objects that begin as luxury toys for the idle rich and end as grinding necessities for all strata of society. Forced to practice the art of electronic husbandry. Maintaining a stable of ill bred but expensive horses that die without warning. You want to say fuck these horses but you can’t keep a job or friends without them.

Society will shun you for not holding a time bomb in your hands until it blows up in your face. We don’t just live somewhere and work and know the people around us. We have to connect and know what what’s happening to everyone every moment of the day. Work to buy and maintain devices we have to carry everywhere and keep charged so we can respond within seconds to every text no matter what we’re doing, hurtling 85 down the interstate, making love, performing open heart surgery or having our prostates removed.

So we can respond to every text and email and forget about our ultimate insignificance. When the noise dies down and you’re not tweeting, texting, updating your blog, looking up restaurant reviews or scrolling through an infinite feed of enhanced asses on instagram the despair begins to percolate in your bowels like an oncoming bout of cataclysmic diarrhea. What if no one knows where I am or what I think about the latest mental spasm of an unqualified celebrity. Sounds like freedom but as we all know by now freedom is terror and we’ll put ourselves through anything to avoid it.

My house

My house is punishment for every bad thing I’ve ever done. It’s a test. When will I have a meltdown in this incubator of insanity. Right now the air conditioner is making a sound that will haunt the dreams I have when I’m dead. It sounds like plastic popcorn is popping at an ear piercing volume. I can’t focus on anything else. Trying to write makes me want to punch myself.

The air conditioner that I had to break out because the vengeful spirit of the indian returned for one last hurrah of humidity. It’s 88 degrees and the house is baking me alive. I thought I could live without an air conditioner but the septic glaze of the dying summer in the white ghetto of indianapolis is too much. My skin is glistening with the film of decrepit air. The atmosphere has its hands on my throat and its foot on my chest. I needed relief so I lugged a 70’s era lithuanian air conditioner out from the storage room and forced it into an ungainly position in an awkwardly sized window where it rattles and hums and leaks into the carpet.

I didn’t want to put the air conditioner in the window because it doesn’t fit. More bugs will get in. They’ll find comfortable lodgings here. Perfect for eating and fucking and spewing thousands of eggs in crevices and corners, in the sink and bathtub, within rotting wood panels and cabinets, under piles of dirty clothes and inside my shoes. They will invite their friends and families in the hundreds of millions and build neighborhoods and hang out all day on their porches in stained wife beaters with their engineless el caminos sitting on cindar blocks in patches of overgrown weeds.

My house is a psychological experiment run by the government, a grim, disavowed mind control program that rogue intelligence agents designed to shatter my personality so they can rebuild my tattered self into the ideal, featureless, anhedonic operative. The toilet fails to flush. I keep the lid off the tank so I can fiddle with the float valve until the toilet wheezes and gurgles and musters the minimum of force to suck down the fetid water. Getting a clean bowl means flushing in four or five stages with several hours between each flush. By the time it’s clean it’s time for me to desecrate it again. Keeping my toilet clean was the unreported 13th herculean labor.

I’ve painted the walls of my kitchen and living room. The fresh paint masks the smell of cigarettes. But I haven’t painted my bedroom yet. Its walls are the color of decay. A delinquent youth broke into the house when it was unoccupied and carved fuck you into the wall next to the window. I stare at the vicious etching of a ward of the state every night before I fall asleep. I begin to agree with him. Fuck me. Even when I repaint that wall the message of a mouthbreathing vandal will remain, engraved in eternity, taunting me as I toss and turn in the unforgiving night.

The kitchen has no drawers. There’s a thin curtain covering the piping underneath the sink. There are soft spots in the floor, spots that give when you step on them. One sleepless night I will take a fatefully heavy step and a hideous, groaning, cracking sound will be the last thing I hear as I fall through the floor into a damp, sightless hell where salamanders and fungus will feast on my body.

My house is on the corner of a street populated by poor whites and mexicans. The sidewalks are cluttered with garbage, broken furniture, car parts and bramble. There’s a drain right outside and there must be raw sewage flowing underneath because everytime I step outside I’m hit with the toxic stench of a thousand unwashed assholes. 400 pound white women with front loaded blubber push their caramel colored children in strollers. Wegros walk around in oversized basketball apparel. The surroundings of my house are dirtier and more depressing than the inside.

I’m not enough of an artist to justify this kind of poverty. This isn’t romantic destitution. This isn’t the price I gladly pay for devoting myself to a higher calling beyond the material realm of wealth and comfort. I crowbar a sliver of time out of my schedule to type to no one for nothing. I might as well be religious.

Weekend review

It will cost me 575 dollars to fix my mac book air. So I’m not fixing it. I have a new laptop now. It’s a Lenovo. Going from a mac book to a Lenovo is like driving a bmw for years and then having to drive a pinto. I know as little about cars as I know about laptop computers, but I do have a grasp of similes so I think this one works.

The only reason I have a computer is to throw more words at the internet. Otherwise I hate computers and the internet. I hate smartphones and social media, digital mobs, outrage feeding frenzies and social justice dogpiles. Twitter feeds and tumblrs and hashtags and memes. It’s all contributing to the warp speed industrial strength retardation of humanity.

We’re not better off with our new toys and endless jawing but that’s not how addiction works. It’s not about happiness, fulfillment or pleasure. Once you’re hooked you forget about flourishing. You lose sight of who you were before you found that thing you can’t stop doing. Your body falls apart and your mind revolves faster and faster around the drug, person, habit or idea. You hear nothing, you see nothing, you feel nothing apart from your desire to score another high, to make more money, have more sex and get more likes.

The scope of your vision shrinks down into a keyhole through which you unblinkingly stare. Your eyeballs dry out and you look like a raving fiend but it doesn’t matter. You don’t exist without your fix.

We’re always teetering on the brink of soul numbing fixations and destructive behavior patterns. They knew this back in the days of the bible. Back when everyone was covered in dust and grime and menstrual blood and ate bread hard as stone and performed rituals to ward off evil spirits. And executed anyone caught buttfucking and called for the death and enslavement of rival tribes.

Deficiently socialized atheists insult bronze age beliefs in between bags of fritos and marathon hentai sessions. We’re so much smarter now, they say, having contributed less than nothing to knowledge, sunning themselves in the light of other people’s intelligence. But those bronze age bigots were onto something; they had insight into moral and social problems we’re still grappling with today.

New technology in a new era is a variation on an old theme: the ever present possibility of corruption and perversion. You can keep going back in time to find another technological invention or political revolution that changed everything for the worse. Globalism, television, Fordism, industrialization, nationalism, democracy, the advent of Christianity and the fall of rome, domestication, agriculture and standing up on two legs.

At every decisive point in the past there were people who saw the latest change as the end of humanity. And there have always been apologists for progress. Slick, glib optimists with their smarmy enthusiasm and sophistical arguments. Riding on the flume of time, cheering with their hands up as they plunge into the false promises of the future. We will never stop losing our way. Our history is one long downfall with a few moments of uplift.

I’m a product of this era of overstimulated idiocy and when I don’t have instant internet access I get nervous and think about death. The trappings of Christianity are absurd but its core message is essential: We need salvation. And we need help getting there.

We can improve our condition but every improvement brings new setbacks. As long as we’re in time we’ll need transcendent assistance. No earthly effort will make white people want to live around blacks. Totalitarian thought and speech control can’t turn trannies into healthy individuals who don’t fester with hostility.

Muslims won’t become agents of progress and we won’t defeat mortality by sticking our dicks into usb ports and merging our bodies with technology. We’re still going to get sick and die, we’re still going to fear and distrust outsiders, identify with people who look and sound like us and we’ll still want more than we deserve.

You can treat someone with respect but they’ll still degrade themselves. You can throw thousands of your own people in front of rolling gatling guns to free an enslaved group but one hundred and fifty years later their descendants will still browbeat you and bellyache and rise to fame writing borderline illiterate, overlong essays with purple prose, strained metaphors and tedious, incantatory rhetoric that resonates with artless, alienated, masochistic liberals.

But the great beyond still offers a glimmer of hope for us all. And within this world of sadness there are sunrises and sunsets, the majesty of birds taking flight, expertly extracted shots of espresso, fine phrases and the enduring bonds of love between mothers and daughters and fathers and sons.

From dreams to nightmares

Borrowed computer. My girlfriend’s mom’s dell. I’m driving a borrowed car. Renting a hovel. In debt. I own nothing.

Tried to get the internet at my house today. It’s a fiber optics package. Supposed to be faster than cable. The guy from at&t came by and told me he can’t install whatever magic box or radiating ether pole I need to absorb internet rays because my human rights violation of a home is right next to my neighbor’s house, and my neighbor’s house is blocking the space where the tech guy needs to work.

So now I need to talk to my neighbor and ask him if a strange man from at&t can put a mysterious device in his backyard. I’ve talked to my neighbor once and I didn’t understand a word he said. He’s mexican and when he spoke to me I couldn’t tell if he was speaking english or spanish or something else. I nodded and said okay every few words.

The cellar beneath my house is right out of a Stephan King novel. Yesterday I peered into it. I lifted the rotting wooden lid and felt the souls of the damned rush up and whirl around me. It’s darker and damper than those unexplored caves miles underneath the ocean floor. There are slithering, translucent creatures down there, eyeless from a thousand years of evolution in a dank pit. Asbestos and the bones of murdered indian shopkeepers litter the molded ground.

I bought a humidifier because every morning I’ve been hacking up a pound of phlegm. Fluid fills my lungs and I sneeze out a greenish grey mucous. It violently launches out and stings my arm or hand. Almost burns through whatever it touches like the blood of the xenomorph.

Every two hours or so the humidifier fills up. Probably two liters of water sucked out of the air in my living room. I’m turning into an amphibian. In a year I’ll have gills. But I’m still happy. I’m happy because I’m working and doing my best even though my best isn’t good. I remind myself, many, many times a day that it could be worse.

I don’t have time to edit. I’m writing on a borrowed computer in my cafe and it’s closing soon. So this what I can offer for now. The consolation of working in less than ideal conditions is that I have an excuse for why I’m not as good as I could be.

Trump ended daca and I’m behind. It happened five plus days ago which is equivalent to prehistory. There are already billions of bits of data floating around smothering the subject. Within seconds of the news breaking the tweets and blog posts and status updates and youtube clips splattered all over the walls of the internet. Responses to responses to comments on comments. Stochastic babble.

We don’t have time to think about anything anymore. Thought doesn’t take place in time. We react to the stimulus of our enemy’s every move in the blinding flash of an atomic instant. No one says hey let’s wait and see or hmm I’m not sure what to think about that. We always know exactly how we feel and know exactly why other people are wrong. Here are ten search engine optimized reasons why.

Everything Trump does is always the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of mankind. Progressives believe the past is full of oppression and enslavement and racism but also that an offhand Trump tweet is unprecedentedly repulsive. These are people who dwell on the atrocities and crimes and barbarities of our blood drenched racist history but when a country bloodlessly protects its borders they pass out and shit their pants from shock and rage.

How could we deport 800,000 DREAMERS? That’s what we call them and everything’s in a name. That’s why the left calls people who break the law and cross our border without undergoing the legalization process undocumented immigrants. In reality they’re criminals. You don’t get to decide whether or not the law applies to you or anyone else. You can change a law but the left prefers warping the fabric of reality through renaming and hysterics to soften people up first.

How could anyone deport a dreamer? They’ll hold up a picture of a tearful toltec and talk about his three minimum wage jobs. Say he’s studying to become an aerospace engineer and that he increases our country’s gdp so what’s your problem, bigot? Don’t you want to a more powerful economy?

The economic argument is a trap, a distraction. People get bogged down in arguing over whether or not increased immigration benefits or harms the economy when it’s a secondary issue, a debate for nerds. You’re allowed to restrict immigration because you don’t want your country to turn into a different country with an alien people and clashing culture, however rich or poor it may be. Your loyalty should lie with your people and not hinge on which policies and how many migrant workers will net you the biggest pile of baubles and trinkets. Cultural cohesion is much more important than a marginal increase in economic output.

Do you want your neighborhoods to be organically American or do you want to numb yourself to the third world invasion of your homeland with gadgets marketed to you by people who hate you and want you dead? Do you prefer gorging on tacos and streaming entertainment to preventing your families and communities from disintegrating?

There’s nothing shameful about wanting aesthetic continuity in your society and in your offspring. It’s not noble and enlightened to deny the tension and discord of ethnic and religious diversity. And having children who look like you and will carry on your ways is a fundamental, ineradicable drive. Disowning yourself and your legacy isn’t moral, it’s cowardly and feeble.

Don’t twist yourself into a knot justifying your natural, healthy aversion to getting swamped by grubby, stubby foreigners. Is it better or worse for the economy to open the immigration floodgates? Who cares. Some libertarian bugman on a sinecure will always be able to cook the books and make unfettered immigration look like an economic boon. So what. The battle should be fought on other grounds. If you argue that immigration is bad for the economy they’ll call you a racist anyway.

Of course I want more people around who I can’t understand, who look on me with indifference, suspicion or hostility. I love discontinuity and ugliness and pretending we can make up for the lack of a shared past with platitudes and facebook posts. Overpopulation and overcrowding don’t bother me. We can always build more mud huts.

But immigrants do hurt our economy, so contrary to the longings of my heart we’ll have to limit them. I have no sense of belonging to a particular place or people but I do want more money and toys. If you can definitively show me that immigrants will give me more shiny things then I’ll have no problem with them.

People act as though America never accomplished anything without indian tech coolie labor or squat mestizos washing dishes in diners when it was Americans who built and fought for the country that became the envy of the world. I don’t recall migrant mexicans freezing their feet off at valley forge, writing and signing the declaration of independence, drafting the constitution, winning the war of 1812, ending slavery or defeating the nazis and imperial japan in world war 2. As far as I know hondurans haven’t been at the forefront of the technological, political and medical innovations of the modern era.

But now that hundreds of years of toil and sacrifice are behind us, America is a land of opportunity for everyone but actual Americans. Every alien tongued, unscrupulous opportunist is given a gushing invitation to come and skim some wealth off the top of centuries of achievement while our native stock is ridiculed, threatened and displaced.

Always pushing the human interest angle, (because they have nothing else) the left loves to point to a besmirched brown face or a refugee’s body bloating on the shore rather than come up with a decent argument. When you oppose them they chide you for your heartlessness and cruelty, which is always, each time, unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Those children, those dreamers didn’t do anything, it’s not their fault. They have no home. 

Yes, the dreamers were children when their parents broke the law. They didn’t choose their lot. But here I’m reminded of a concept as old as it is pertinent to this situation: the sins of the fathers are visited upon their children.

Our actions don’t just affect ourselves; they redound on our loved ones, they structure the course of our descendants. And that should be a serious disincentive. The parents who broke the law foolishly jeopardized their children’s future on a gamble that the country they invaded would repay their transgressions by pampering their progeny. And for a brief, glimmering moment, that risk seemed to pay off.

Not anymore. When justice comes to its senses, it strikes the senseless as cruelty.

Journal of the blessedly deprived

Writing from the public library. My macbook air, the most electronically opulent purchase of my life, is dead. I sank my savings into that gleaming piece of garbage because I’d heard it would last a long time. I’ve had it for two years, which is long enough for the warranty to expire. So it cost me 70 dollars for the apple people to diagnose it. They haven’t told me what’s wrong with it or how long it will take to fix.

But I’m determined to write and post, to weather the storms of privation with good cheer or ironic detachment. I’m willing to sit in the library among the vagabonds and public masturbators until I’ve sufficiently practiced my craft and contributed to our esteemed global discourse.

My bed finally arrived yesterday. Last night I slept like a king. It was so soft, so comforting and supportive. Then my computer died and I parked in front of a hydrant and got a ticket. So that’s another 75 dollars. The lord giveth and he taketh away.

The less time I spend on the internet the happier I am. Maybe I won’t get my laptop back. Maybe I’ll write by hand and post from the library every couple of days. The only thing I miss about the internet is writing; the rest is spiritual crack, a series of cheap, dirty highs and an increasing sense of despair and anxiety.

There’s always something else to do. Something with greater primacy, something more tangible, visceral and engaging. Walking, working out, playing an instrument, writing, building and repairing physical objects and being with people. Your parents, wife or girlfriend, your extended family, kids, friends, pets and plants. Go be with them. Do nothing, sit in silence rather than poke at screens and absorb the neuroses of hundreds of dislocated strangers.

We’re not designed to process so many conflicting opinions. We can’t consume and digest a bottomless feed of information. I haven’t had consistent access to wifi for a week and I’m already noticing a difference in my attention span. Books are becoming a pleasant diversion again rather than a tedious task.

And I’m thinking about the hyper-refined conditions of my writing. For years now I’ve been writing on a word processor while listening to music through headphones, typing with abandon, my thoughts keeping pace with my fingers flying over the keyboard as I backspace and delete with careless rapidity.

Thoughts come easier and cheaper when you can generate text so quickly and effortlessly. And the moment I feel boredom bubbling up I have open tabs awaiting me. I can dull the discomfort of a blocked thought or poorly expressed idea with a trip to youtube or cnn.com.

I don’t need to know what I’m writing about until I open a mainstream news site. Then I can pick from six inane op-eds and base my next piece on what some airheaded journalist said. Or browse comments sections and fuel my efforts with bile and exasperation.

And if I need to research a topic I can use wikipedia. If I need to check spelling or find another word there are online dictionaries and thesauruses. It takes seconds to track down the information I need. In contrast, I wonder how fluidly and consistently I could write if I had to do it with a pen and paper, if I needed books, encyclopedias and dictionaries sprawled out around me.

The shape and pace of my thoughts would change. The medium isn’t the message but it does influence and structure what we say. Writing on a personal laptop isn’t the same as writing on a public computer in a library. And typing isn’t the same as writing with a pen and writing with a pen isn’t the same as writing with a quill.

My session is running out. This was written quickly in an unfamiliar place without mood setting music. The disheveled ambiance of the library is hard to ignore but I have to write. I’m also out of the loop on the latest political developments. I know Houston is underwater and Trump is crushing the dreams of the children of criminals by rescinding daca. More on that later.

Etudes

First weekend in a new city. Autumn is in the air. There’s a hint of decay; the breeze is an ongoing sigh.

The internet offers me nothing. My brain is blank. Writing is unlike any other art; it demands a subject. You can practice other arts without having anything to say. Not feeling musically creative but want to stay sharp? Play scales. Practice other musician’s songs. Need to brush(ha) up on your painting but you’re uninspired? You can paint a portrait, a basket of fruit or a sunset. Everyday objects are plentiful. Pick anything, draw or paint it mechanically and you can still improve or at least pass the time.

You can take a picture or sculpt or refine any other artistic technique without original content. But you can’t cover other writer’s stories or poems. You can’t write senseless sentences or perform exercises. Practice coincides with performance. You either have something to say or you don’t. You’re either fertile or sterile.

The only way to practice writing without saying anything is to write about having nothing to say, which is tedious and precious. Writing is self indulgent enough when it explores a subject other than itself. So practicing scales on the guitar might be boring but writing strained sentences without a subject is morally and pragmatically questionable.

And there’s no appropriate ending to an exploration of nothing.

I’ve become a creature of the cafe, a saturday morning idler, a tendentious typer living on my laptop. And I’ve adapted to a lack of amenities. Right now I have to shit in public. Rather than bemoan the inconvenience I’m just glad there are clean working toilets I can use. There are worse places to be, like the turd clogged streets of india.

When you start with squalor, every little improvement or luxury brings genuine joy. I was happy to have new carpet in my house. Getting a fridge was like winning the lottery. At first I couldn’t sleep on the floor but after a few restless nights I’m now sleeping soundly. When I get a bed I’ll be in heaven. Much of our suffering stems from what we expect and desire. Freedom isn’t a given, it’s a product of control, of inner strength and discipline. We have an astonishing ability to adjust and achieve equilibrium in a wide range of conditions.

Stoicism combined with gratitude is the key to balance in a vertiginous world. Everything can be taken from you but your resolve.

Caffeine machine

Typing from the cafe where I work. My second home. More comfortable than my home. Better air and coffee, fewer bugs and stains of indeterminate origin. I wish I could sleep here since I have to wake up at 4:30 in the morning and start working at 5. So far I’ve been unable to sleep in my new house because I don’t have a bed or an air conditioner. The refinements of civilization have made me weak.

It’s also the lack of weed. When I don’t smoke I stay awake. Watch the insides of my eyelids for hours. Acid trip reruns, fractal patterns playing on the folds of my brain. And then the horror show begins. I imagine bad things happening to me during the day when it’s beautiful, when the birds are singing and the sun is shining. Imagine how bad it gets at night when I can’t sleep in a stuffy shitbox apartment with a flimsy glass door in a poor part of town.

They call them home invasions. Sounds euphemistic, less brutal than the reality. Three masked men break into your house and before you can wake up and defend yourself they’re beating you with a pipe. They tie you to a chair and argue with each other over what they’re going to do with you. It’s only the beginning of the worst night of your life, the last night of your life. All those peaceful years, all that time you wasted worrying about things that would never happen culminating in one night of agony and then darkness forever.

But that doesn’t happen either. It’s just another nightmare, a defensive distraction from the deeper existential horror of aging day after day and never knowing if you’ve made the right choices. Have you wasted your time and is there anything other than wasting time. If there is then how do you know.

When you can’t sleep at 1 in the morning in a bug ridden shanty without an internet connection you realize there’s no such thing as being alone anymore. There’s pervasive loneliness but no solitude. No one goes out into the wilderness without diversions and devices and listens to the plaintive cries of nature and the murmurs of their own soul. We can’t hear the call of conscience over the low roar of netflix.

People often say they like being alone or that they don’t want to be around people. But what they mean is that they don’t want the pressure and discomfort of physical engagement. They’re still going to ensconce themselves in media. They’ll spend a night “alone” listening to podcasts and music, watching tv or movies. A multitude of voices and faces, compressed and digitized, giving them the pleasures of society without the pains.

When people are alone on a friday night they’re consuming human relationships without producing or maintaining them, without a corresponding effort. It’s easier to watch without being watched. It’s easier to judge than be judged. The unfathomable depth of another person generates anxiety while the glimmering surface of a moving image provides relief.

I have no media at home and can only post on my favorite forums and write blog entries when I find time to use the wifi at the cafe where I work. When I’m falling asleep in my chair because I’ve slept 3 hours I try to make a lucid contribution to debates on free speech and reflect on the erosion of personality, self reliance and creativity caused by unrelenting consumption.

Your mind occupies itself when there’s nothing to occupy it. You rouse a dormant ability to imagine, to think and reason for better and worse. Open yourself to concentrated self-torment and disquieting visions but also creative plots and characters, new hopes and possibilities, fresh insights and funny lines.

You have to wrestle with the demons dwelling in your spiritual nether regions rather than stupefying yourself with hours of streaming content crafted by media conglomerates. It can be grueling but there are rewards for percolating in the void.

I broke my toilet. It started running and the sound was driving me crazy so I tried to fix it. A huge mistake. I destroyed the float arm. I didn’t know the name of the part until I broke it. And that’s a lesson in how knowledge and consciousness work. We live as automatons until we encounter a problem and something collapses or threatens us. Then we’re forced to think, learn and make choices.

My dysfunctional toilet reminded me of how little I know about practical matters. I walk around all day contemplating the verities and toying with theories, criticizing, analyzing and speculating in the ether as I take the smooth functioning of our industrial infrastructure for granted. There’s always a simple interface concealing complex innards. We can all push buttons and pull levers, steer wheels and flush toilets but the real stewards of society are those who can take off the screens, lift the hoods and dig into the guts of our machines and keep them running so we can keep our fantasies of competence and brilliance alive.

I’m able to read ancient texts, evaluate arguments and browse message boards because my toilet typically flushes and I don’t have to worry about waste. Cars, buses, trains and planes free me from the burdens of tedious transport, stoves and fridges make cooking and food storage effortless and with all that extra time and brain power I can pretend to be a writer and use electronic devices I could never make or repair to entertain myself and distant readers.

Right now I’d be better off if I were a plumber.