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Larks!: Introducing an Anarchy (2)

Visitors to Larks!, especially tourists, who have heard of the city but never experienced that kind of coummunity, find it exotic.  At first it feels pleasantly interesting, and easy to enjoy; but some visitors begin to feel out of place, or even challenged or threatened, as they experience ocasions when their habitual patterns of identity and action don’t fit.  They gradually realize how different the natives are, as well as the native structures. 

How do I know?

At first the main thing required to understand life in Larks! Is a strong, healthy imagination—just to believe your own eyes when you look around.  For instance, the residents are all at home here.  You’re in a big city with a welcoming climate but there’s no homelessness.  There are lots of places with children playing and adults playing.  At night, there are as many women as men outdoors.  Imagine that!

One thing that makes Larks! similar to many American cities (but different from nearby Seattle) is that few if any anarchists live there.  Citizens of Larks! don’t think of themselves as “anarchists.”  Why would they?  They’re just a bunch of happy Americans.  Of course the tourists are a mixture of “anarchists” (like your narrator, dear reader), who enjoy the minimally hierarchical environment in which they do not have to be self-conscious about their political views—or even political about their political views, and hierarchists, who of course do not think of themselves as “hierarchists,” but rather as more-or-less-happy Americans, many of whom find themselves self-conscious about their political views, like WW1 American farm boys in Paris.

[Introducing (1). Contents page for the episode, Larks!]

Trompf from Here on Out (Coda)

Yesterday the author came to the end of his obsession with Trompf.  Voilà he suggested that I might turn my narratorial attention away from a plot line that had become dominated by the novel’s evil villain.  I thought, well, okay, but you know the conventional literary understanding that Satan is more interesting than Jesus (at least in the Puritan Milton’s presentation of them).  Nevertheless, I turned away from the con.  I pulled my hand from his grip (I’ll leave the pronoun reference ambiguous).  

What a relief!  What a change has come over my world!  It feels like Ethel Merman singing, “I’m gonna wash that man right out of my hair.”  Life feels cleansed.  I’m getting on with the good things, like the pursuit of happiness in a land without a king and his privileged entourage.  Indeed, I rise!  I can imagine getting to work at healthy imagining.  Progress toward a healthier society seems possible again.  I can bring my negative, “shadow” psychopathologies farther out of ignorance, into the light, where I can put their energies toward realization of my incompletely realized, positive psychopathologies.  I can make healthy changes.  And that knowledge brings hope.  

Isn’t this feeling what America can be like?  Won’t it be like this, the moment we put the hairy nightmare behind us?  That moment can come at any moment!  It will be a collective turn and re-turn.  We will come to our own senses and be ourselves again.  We will stop holding our breath.  How good it is to breathe.

[Previous page of this episode.]

Trompf from Here on Out (10)

Okay, enough already!  The author has had it up to here with my narration of the plot.  Herr Trompf has become a vampire worm, suckling at the throat of the Republic and the novel. 

He’s not the very most vile, loathsome, and dangerous (though he has the potential, he’s only human) politician that I’ve known.  There have been, for instance, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot.  But he is the worst American politician that I’ve known—in competition with men from SC, AL, MS, and WI.  Nor is he the worst capitalist.  Well, fkkkm all to hell.  It’s time to replace capitalism with democratic socialism, and replace the Republicans with an opposition party informed by a philosophy of true conservatism, which would include honesty, modesty, care for people as well as respect for law, and dedication to democracy.

In one aesthetic theory, the plot could go on forever, and still be an act of artistry.  If it’s telling.  But for this novel the author wants me to put a fourth side on the frame, and hang the picture in its space on life’s wall of time.

Upon reading my most recent narration of this episode, he finds that I am dumping emotion and imagination down a bottomless verbal rat hole of the odious and obvious.  He has asked me to re-turn my narratorial energies to imagination of the more invigorating, incomplete episodes such as “Psychopathology” and “Larks!

Hey, it’s his novel.  Who am I to lose that simple fact?  (I might sneak something in, now and then. Btw, want to know how desperate the Rs are?—this racist ploy by Ayn Rand Paul (R-KY) really is about fear that Moscow Mitch will not be reelected.  Onward!)

So, impeachment? candidates? election? justice?  Dear reader, you’re on your own.  Write your own plot line.  But in the pursuit of happiness, democracy, resistance, political revolution, and the reconstruction, I’m with them.  Imagination!  Action!

[Page (9) of this episode.]

Trompf from Here on Out (9)

8-15-19 WaPo: Trompf looking at buying Greenland. Well, it can’t hurt to make an offer. “Trompf’s Folly”? Could be big. Seriously, you can make this shit up; but with a crazy person in the white House you don’t have to. Just sit back and laugh. Except that he’s so pathetic and dangerous (and you know, he’s getting worse). Some fine journalism by Damian Paletta though. The entire article is beautifully tongue-in-cheek in the American frontier deadpan style, using a double point of view of sincere “top aides” and naive objective reporter.

8-12-19 I say again, Herr Trompf will not be the R nominee (even if he has not been impeached).  A year from now, at their nominating convention, the Rs will be the same American Fascist (AS) Party that they were before T swept them off their Guccis; but they will also be the same by-any-means-necessary, whatever-it-takes-to-win party, whose owners, managers, and operators will know that with T they will be Losers.  He will have pared his voter support to white supremacists and other desperate racists, fundamentalist Christian supremacists (much overlap), and the obesely rich (the Koch bros for example).  That is, at most, the 40% of the electorate that gets buried by the landslide.  They will lose the presidency anyway.  Their move will be to cut their losses down-ticket.  The Great Replacement will be their replacement of Trompf. (On the other hand, maybe this.)

8-11-19 This is Just Crazy: Life provides the plot with an elaborate illustration of the unhealthy, fantasizing and fantastical, pervasively destructive, “sick imagination.”  Will it provide an equally enlightening illustration of healthy imagination?  Soul will show us its paths, its motions, its pathologies negative and positive, as we participate with our imagining and our images.  In our extremities, archetypes will out.  Democracy will live or die.  A healthy imagination is reality-based—insistently, in yo face if you deny reality.  This is true of both the fictive imagination and the factual imagination.  In politics, almost as much as in art.

But Trompf and his sukkups and the oligarchs are the image of Great Depravity (to coin a phrase). The nihilly-nully of the supremely ignorant.  Soul plunges dark into the depths of its negative pathologies.  It shudders, and we feel the earth quaking.

8-9-19 The name of this game is “loser take all.”  The first to sit down was the last one standing (when she got back on her feet).  The Tower of Power is cracking, acting more and more crazy, as he becomes more and more desperate to dominate, but less and less able to do so. Life is closing in on him, in the form of the crude realities of his physical and mental decline, pressures (incl impeachment) exerted by his political adversaries, and revelations of his corruption.  His ignorance and incompetence are clearly on display.  His administration is a wreck. His policies are self-defeating. His agents are attacking children.  His responses are increasingly narcissistic, inappropriate, grotesque, and fascistic.  His lackeys are ineffectual or damaged beyond the pale.  Ordinary voters are speaking out against him. More people are laughing at him. He has gone from clown to life of the party to laughing stock. The evil that he encourages is showing a life of its own, beyond his control. Mad dog gunmen are slaughtering the innocent in his name.  The citizenry can no longer tolerate the violence.  The chaos in which Trompf thrives is being brought to heel, but he is raving mad.

Meanwhile 20 or so Dem candidates for his position are showing the country what it is like to be a responsible leader: compassionate, reasonable, just, and constructive.

So things are going to get worse with desperation and then better. We just don’t know how desperate, bad, or good.

7-28-19 Herr (Vlad) (the emotional impaler-impaled) Trompf, MF, is all about trolling now {*}.  He will be more and more outrageously provocative, by going farther and farther into cruelty, thereby grabbing the center of attention, drawing attention away from anything that might damage him, and giving his sick supporters the ego-gratifying daily fix of believing that they are triumphantly “owning” the “libtards.”  T and his sickies must dominate, because they have to believe that they are superior, they rule, they deserve to rule, they can do whatever they want, they are invulnerable. So The American Pr*sident will viciously and relentlessly attack his fellow citizens, including political opponents who have been elected by the people to represent them in governance; in typical racist/sexist fascion, he will move to strip them of their personhood, humanity, and claim to citizenship.  There is a madness in Trompf’s method. He’s crazy, and he’s good at being crazy. He’ll try to troll his way to re-election.

This Trompfy state terrorism is a killer mentality, that gets its thrills from the spectacle of its life-defying contortions. It’s MO is to assault people and then blame them for bleeding. It must be resisted and politically crushed by our refusal to be cowed. Do not be silent. Do not cooperate. Fight back!

{*} See e.g. Angela Nagle, Kill All Normies: Online culture wars from 4chan and tumbler to trump and the alt-right. The reviews, of course, are polarized, and some are propagandististic and polarizing, so I’ll quote this one by “Blair” (from among those on the site linked) because it rings true to me:

“I was expecting to be interested in this, but I didn’t expect to be so impressedby it. Angela Nagle writes so even-handedly and with such a fair critical eye about recent iterations of disruptive political groupings on both the right and left. On the right is the now-notorious alt-right, divided between the ‘alt-light’, typified by meme-making/gleefully antagonistic trolling/use of 4chan-derived argot, and the more genuinely fascistic tendencies often masked by the headline-grabbing behaviour of alt-light figures such as Milo Yiannopoulos. On the left is what Nagle sometimes refers to as ‘Tumblr-liberalism’, the extremely performative culture of calling-out, victimhood and competitive identity politics that seems driven by (and here I will quote Nagle quoting the late Mark Fisher, as it couldn’t be paraphrased any more perfectly) ‘a priest’s desire to excommunicate and condemn, an academic-pedant’s desire to be the first to be seen to spot a mistake, and a hipster’s desire to be one of the in-crowd’.

Nagle draws a line through history from the ‘culture wars’ of the 1960s to those of today, arguing that the transgressive, countercultural spirit historically embodied by the anti-establishment left has been sublimated much more effectively by the modern right. She also undertakes an in-depth (though concise) review of the many, many factions of what is often sweepingly referred to as the alt-right, from ‘chan culture’ to the alternately pathetic and terrifying ‘manosphere’. Not only is this pretty fascinating in itself, it also brings to light the serious theoretical and academic roots of certain strands of this movement – something often ignored by liberal pundits who concentrate instead on clutching their pearls at the outrageous antics of high-profile figures like Milo and Alex Jones. The idea of a handful of demagogues and professional trolls riling up people who essentially don’t understand politics has been a common theme (deployed with varying levels of sensitivity) in analysis of the Trump and Brexit victories; Nagle’s study shows this to be dangerously reductive.

Kill All Normies  is an accessible but unpatronising study, perfectly balancing academic critique, political commentary and assured, intelligent, non-embarrassing writing about the internet and its unique subcultures. It is so refreshing to read something like this, that comes at the topic from a left-leaning perspective but refuses to toe the line with regards to the frustrating, ever-shifting rules of engagement that now seem to define online discourse. The version I read had some typos and needed a bit of tightening up from an editorial perspective, but it was a review copy. And that is genuinely my only criticism. Somehow Nagle also manages to write a conclusion that tears everyone a new arsehole AND ends on a contemplative note.

I thought I knew quite a bit about this topic already, but I learned so much from this book, particularly about the historical context of these movements. Thoroughly and enthusiastically recommended to anyone with an interest in the current political climate as it manifests in online culture.”

[Pages (8) and (10) of this episode.]

Psychopathologies of American Democracy

I’m trying, but it’s taking me a long time, to get to a clear, decently concise statement of the subject of the novel:  “the psychopathologies of American democracy.”  I wonder what I mean by that?

What I mean by “psychopathology” comes mostly out of Hillman:  just as he suggests that the basis for understanding “psychology” must be to see it as the logos (word, logic, expressive action) of the psyche (soul)(what’s that?), so he sees the soul as suffering, enduring, and manifest in, its pathologies—the logos of its pathos (its vital motion, its being moved and its corresponding movements).  I’m thinking that these motions result from, and express, the conditions of its experience of humanity (soul being larger than humanity—as Hillman puts it, it isn’t “my soul,” rather, I belong to soul and live within it—likewise my life and person are not “my being,” rather I belong to being and live within it).

The soul’s pathos is expressed, in our awareness of it, most strongly in human archetypes (what?), images (what?), and myths (what?), which appear especially, as Jung pointed out, imaginatively in our dreams, reveries, religious symbols, and artistic creations and aesthetic experiences (these include, it seems to me, the artistry of the best of our everyday talk—our folklore, which serves as a bridge back into an understanding that our archetypal images, our psychology and psychopathology, are lived in our most ordinary daily lives, as we attend to ourselves and each other, trying to make ourselves meaningful; everything is psychological).  For Hillman, the key to experiencing the soul’s pathos—even to creating and recreating it, is the imagination.

To me it seems, indeed, that the nature of the soul, at least in our ability to know it, is manifest in creative relationships (btwn any things), which we can know and even consciously participate in, and create (or co-create).  Again, the key is imagination (healthy or sick), essentially the act of relationship-creating.

To my way of thinking, then, just as the “shadow” (i.e. unknown) content of one’s unconscious mental activity contains both positive and negative content, so the logic of the “pathologies” of the soul, in both our individual and collective beings, contains both positive and negative.  C’est à dire, both what moves the soul, and its expressive movements—its e-motions—is/are both positive and negative.  As Wallace Stevens put it, “Passions of rain, or moods in falling snow; / Grievings in loneliness, or unsubdued / Elations when the forest blooms; gusty / Emotions on wet roads on autumn nights; / All pleasures and all pains, remembering / The bough of summer and the winter branch” (“Sunday Morning”).  Both “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso.”  Inferno and Paradiso.  Both the joy and the grief of Demeter.  The agon of our Beloved, whom we find we must kill to save from something worse than death, and by whom we are forever haunted in the ambivalence of our resulting heightened, clearer knowledge of the loving value of life, and of how different life is from death, even within Life.

So the soul’s pathologies of the human condition, as manifest in our democracy, our collective consciousness and community, are both positive and negative.  

The positive psychopathologies of our democracy include political empowerment in freedom from tyranny through an enlarged ability to defend one’s right to live and to govern one’s own life; expanded vision of equality in the right to pursue happiness, including through just, self-governing community; openness and opportunity for diversity; opportunity for creation of relationships. Together, these offer expansive opportunity to live in harmony with being and to create soul. 

The negative psychopathologies of our democracy, which Trompf has brought to the forefront, at the expense of the positive, include our historical sexism and racism; propensity for violence (even genocidal); homelessness; religious fundamentalism; alienation of human from nonhuman, including technological destruction of nature; buccaneer pursuit of wealth (what Thoreau called “gross materialism,” which I take to be the valuation of material possessions above the spiritual, with result that we turn living matter into dead material for our self-gratification); exaltation of the outlaw individual over community; broken relationship, ownership, hierarchy; class warfare.

I’m finding that one narratorial difficulty is our common use of the words pathology, pathological, psychopathology, and psychopath with exclusively negative denotations and connotations.  Since I want to suggest that the psychopathologies of our democracy are both positive and negative, sometimes I try to solve the semantic problem by calling the negatives, “psycho-pathologies.” 

By “psycho” I do mean to suggest that these negative pathologies, while all too common in the human condition, are nevertheless extraordinarily powerful sicknesses.  Indeed life-threatening, because they are obsessive death-bringers. They sicken the imagination with falsifications.  In the body politic they are an emotive ignorance that is contagious.  Like our 45th president, who energizes all of them, they constitute a running sore on the nation’s face and heart.  Like a person’s “shadowy” unconscious, they must be treated with the light of highly conscious attention, mindfulness, affirmation of life in the fullness of being. 

Of course we’re complicated with ambiguity and ambivalence, of a mentality that is both unconscious and conscious. Having gone down river and through the hell of Arkansas, Huck and Jim have gained their freedom.  Now Jim can enact his human rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, except in the slave half of the country, where his wife and daughter are still not free—to free them he will have to risk going there to buy them out of slavery.  Huck is free to go home without fear of his violently alcoholic Pap; but if he goes there he must submit to the fundamentalist neo-puritan censorship and spiritual bondage enforced by Aunt Sally.  He’s “been there before,” so he “lights out” for the wilderness, in pursuit of happiness, to at least try to make his own (better) way.  Our wilderness, however, as Allen pointed out, is in our (polluted) minds.

Tom Sawyer, alas, like a Trompf supporter, is forever unchanging in his frozen world of self-romanticizing fantasy, clueless in MAGA (unlike your typical maddog T supporter, Tom is conventionally color-prejudiced but not malicious).

Huck’s narration, of course, is filled with the ironic tumbling over and over of a “sivilization” that can’t tell life from death, believing the Big Lie that some humans are not fully human and therefore it is right in God’s eyes for the full humans (real Americans) to own them as material for self-gratification, and that therefore turns life on its head, teaching and preaching that what’s bad is good.  “Strange contradictions of the underground,” as Ellison’s narrator, nameless Invisible Man, puts it.  The good can only be claimed by proclaiming it “bad.”

Don’t forget to breathe.

[An earlier page of this episode. Contents page of this episode. Contents page to the episode, “Soul.”]

Trompf from Here on Out (8)

Impeachment Time, MF!

It’s started. Surely this move by Rep. Nadler is actually the beginning of impeachment (but called opening an investigation with the purpose of making an informed decision about whether to open impeachment proceedings).  Everybody already knows that they will find evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors, but to impeach they’ll have to have that evidence, and this is how they’ll start getting it, asking the courts to overrule T’s blocking moves.  Meanwhile Speaker Pelosi can keep things on her schedule of events (being not to jeopardize the Dem majority in the House, but also to win the presidency and the Senate).  T knows that if Dems can get the evidence he’ll be impeached, with exposure of obvious crimes; and after impeachment he’ll have the problem of the financial crimes that he committed before his election, and while in office.

In the wake (so to speak—as about half of the 50 or so professional and lay people whose opinions I’ve read would put it, quite gloomy) of the House committee Mueller sessions, two days ago, a discussion has raged about whether impeachment should begin immediately, or at all, or maybe it’s too late now, and why Pelosi held back (brilliant timing strategy, overly timid protection of the moderates so as not to risk the Dem majority, rank self-interest?).  Here’s a positive take on Mueller’s testimony. I’ll add that his response to Rep. Crazed Gohmert (R-Pluto), “I take your question,” which recvd much twitter laughter, sounds to me like “I hear you knocking (but you can’t come in, so) go ahead, knock yourself out” (or maybe it’s: “try to quietly go fukkk yrself”).

Well I’m thinking these sessions were a strategically timed move, and they served their purpose.

We’ve known that Rep Nadler, Chair of the Judiciary Com, has wanted to begin, with at least an investigation, but Speaker Pelosi, who gave him his chairmanship, has restrained him. It seems Reps. Schiff, Chair of the Intel Com, and Cummings, Chair of Oversight and Reform, also were ready to get going.  In their sessions, both chairs were excellent, and both have publicly stated that Mueller provided sufficient evidence of “high crimes and misdemeanors”—which is putting it mildly.

In addition to being a mad king, Trompf has committed high crimes and misdemeanors during his pr*sidency—and just as sure as the Russians (and the Republicans) will continue to interfere in our elections by subverting democracy, he will continue to violate his oath of office and place himself above legal accountability.  Like the Russians, the more he gets away with, the more he will try to get away with.  The cost of not impeaching is high and will grow.  The only remaining Q was why not impeach, immediately.

Like the Russians, T and his Rs seek to undermine our democracy; and they all have the same motive:  to increase their own power while diminishing the power of most Americans to defend and enhance their own lives.  Like the Russians, T and his Rs feel no restraint, have no boundaries of their self-righteous ambitions.  They will not hesitate to cause pain, to serve their self-interest, or for personal pleasure.

Really it has all become quite obvious.  It’s the Audacity of Hate. Trompf’s ideal America is like a drunk when the bottle falls and breaks.  He gets down on his knees and licks the floor.  There are glass flakes in the bourbon and his tongue is profusely bleeding, but it doesn’t matter because he can’t feel a thing.  Trompf sits at the table, grinning (with Moscow Mitch—the “Russian asset,” Barr, and Miller—who can’t grin, because of his psychopathic facial musculature).  In his heart he’s stone cold stalin.  That’s why he knocked the bottle to the floor.  He’ll get up and kick America in the butt, so its face will hit the floor.

But the cruelty of state terrorism of a population is simply not tolerable. 

Mark Twain was right about Trompf and Barr.  They are as obvious in their conning as the King and the Duke.   In Lincoln’s time they would have been treated to a free ride out of town, on a fence rail, dressed in tar and the finest chicken feathers.

This move by Nadler is simply the necessary catalyst to make everything crystallize (in more and more brains).

“Ripeness is all” (to quote the Bard.)

This fight will make the Nixon fight look like tiddlywinks.  This is about T’s ego, his family’s fortunes, the success of the oligarchs in protecting their interests, and the Republicans’ desire for White Christian fundamentalist dominion in a racist sexist fascist dictatorship. Vs. American democracy.

Here’s the doc. Very impressive, including the “Prayer for Relief.” I’ll have some of what they’re having, please.

[Page (7) of this episode.]

Diary 7-26-19

Dear Diary – Yep.  C’est moi.  Long time no write.  Haven’t forgotten you though.  I need to confide.  I’m not going to say anything to the author, but I can see, indisputably, that he is showing his (old) age.  These past few days I’ve been watching him build a large bookcase.  Actually, just knocking it together, with cheap lumber.  It will do.  It will look fine when it’s full of books.  But he made a lot of little mistakes.  And he didn’t have the stamina, or the eyesight that he used to have.  Most worrisome, several times he tripped over the same low stack of boards.  Yep.  Luckily, no fall.

(Also worrisome, juste entre toi et moi, I have the sense that the older he gets, the feebler I get.  For instance, I spend a lot of time with my eyes closed.  Dear Diary, please tell me, if/when my thinking falls off.)

He turned 80 a few weeks ago.  You’d have enjoyed the party with family and a few friends who could make it.  Dinner outdoors (chez daughter N and son-in-law K) on a perfect summer evening.  Two classical guitarists.  Catered dinner, a la Monet, six courses with paired wines.  Beyond memorable (however long his memory lasts).