Of Silence and Sibilance

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At the turn of the century, I was a fresh-faced youth sweating through a humid summer in North Carolina, soon to be setting off back West to recover from the first of several relationship disasters.

I know, this smacks familiar already – whiffs of Gen-Xish mid-life memoirs, a hint of pre-millennial grandstanding perhaps. You’ll be leaning forward in your Ekerö, or your Mellby, or your Koarp soon, waiting for vinyl happenstance – sifting through hyphenated sentences for Palahniukism and Vonnegut spunk – it’s a bit childish, you know. You, are a bit childish, you know. You can swipe now.

I’ve been quiet lately. I’ve been silent for at least two years or so. So, bear with me as this all comes out in the wrong order, in pieces. There will be clogs. There will be blood. There will be remembrances and regrets. I’ll need to get a shovel. But, just hang on, because I have something to say, too.

This isn’t just an outpouring of long-fermented diatribes – I’ll get to name-calling later. This isn’t a sound check, or a test run. This is the old me with more wrinkled wisdom than I had before. This IS me, by the way. You might remember me from such other monikers as Rich, or epicipseity, or GHOTIS, or prof.edtt, or midgetbadger, or plasticincident. This isn’t more absurdist experimentation – this is real hotdog time, Charlie.

Let’s start with the obvious:

IN MY OPINION neither Right nor Left is forward.

Oh, that’s clever, eh? I like to think I came up with that myself. I like to think that. I like to think that I looked out on the universe and observed some age-old conflict, and, having what is, in my opinion, a finely forged mind, I have come to a profound yet simple metaphor by which to express my understanding and mastery of all things politic.

Well, that’s a bit much, but I thunk it. And, I kind of believe it.

I’m no Republican, for sure, but I’m no Democrat, either. Libertarian? Sure, I like to play trivia with them, but in the end they polarize their own existence as well.

Polarity is a symptom of a larger, more deadly disease. It’s a disease that affects the super-organism that is the human race. We modern humans have this propensity to polarize everything – for what reason, we can’t agree on that either, but some of us are right about what we haven’t decided on yet, and the rest are most assuredly wrong. For a species that lauds itself on its own unique free will, we tend to be befuddled with sets of possible choices numbering more than two.

We don’t want seas of grey. We want black and white.

We don’t want multiverses of reality. We want life and void.

We don’t want adaptive morality, humility, individuality. We want good, and we want evil.

Right. Wrong. Easy.

If I’m right, you must be wrong. You want a third choice? Try: also wrong.

We don’t want participation trophies, or honorable mentions, or party favors. We want rewards for right, and death or ridicule for wrong. Win and lose.

We want the Easy setting on this play-through. We want the Human Warrior preset. We have no time for half-elf mages or troll bards. This is a speed run. We’re gonna use warp zones and exploits.

This is me pretending to be someone else. I’m pretending because I’m not a black and white thinker, though my girlfriend begs to differ.

I laughed when I saw someone suggest that neo-Nazis just read Nietzsche wrong. Well, doesn’t everyone? I put it to you that Nietzsche reads Nietzsche wrong, too. But, fortunately, Nietzsche wrote Nietzsche neither right nor wrong, but sideways:

“What is ape to man? A laughing stock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to overman: a laughingstock or painful embarrassment. You have made your way from worm to man, and much in you is still worm. Once you were apes, and even now, too, man is more ape than any ape…” – Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Prologue, §§3–4)

What I’m getting at, in a vague and purposefully erratic manner, is that the human race is more ape than what we have the potential to be, but we are no more evolved from ape than ape was from worm.

The ape picks up a stick and uses it to get something it cannot reach with that which nature has provided it. Compared to the worm, the ape is closer to godhood than the snake, who though evolved from the worm, can no more lift a stick than a fish can walk on land.

Oh, a bit grey for you?

What is man’s stick? Generalized intellectualism? Science? Nuclear weapons? Social Media? What is it that makes us more than worm, more than ape?

The future makes troglodytes of us all.

When the future human species looks back on us centuries from now, won’t they do so with better clarity than we do now as we judge our forebears from the Dark Ages? Will they not see our idiocy in 4K Ultra high definition, where we see prehistory through a cloudy glass?

I’ll just come out and say it:

We are the imbeciles of our descendants’ vague history lessons.

We are the teenage human race screaming to the world that we are our own person and can live life for ourselves. We haven’t even had that moment of clarity in our late 20’s when we realize how ignorant we were. The future species is going to get that special kind of hives when they think about what stupidity has been allowed to propagate in the 21st century. The mortification of our future selves is going to be heavy indeed. That being said:

Donald Trump.

Our history is peppered with giant flaming mounds of idiocy that we can use as lessons for our future selves. Bad leaders, misguided civilizations, ignorant barbarism. The tyrants stand out in bold lettering, not comic sans as they should, mind you.

Trump is a human being that got to where he is because other human beings decided he should be there. Even if you didn’t want it, you had your chance to make damned sure it didn’t happen, and it didn’t work. That’s the game. That series has concluded. We will not exhume the corpse of the contest for beheading and display.

I don’t fault anyone for thinking that Donald Trump would make a good president, especially when faced with the alternative, considering for a moment how we have the propensity to polarize everything.

But, consider this for a moment, and think about our commander-in-chief as you read these words (this comes from Why Tyrants Go Too Far: Malignant Narcissism and Absolute Power, by Betty Glad, Department of Government and International Studies, University of South Carolina, 2002):

“His grandiosity and his skills in deception, manipulation, and intimidation are an advantage to him in securing power. But as he moves toward absolute power, he is also apt to cross moral and geographic boundaries in ways that place him in a vulnerable position. Thus, he may engage in cruelties that serve no political purpose, challenge the conventional morality in ways that undermine his base, engage in faulty reality testing, and overreach himself in foreign engagements in ways that invite new challenges to his rule.”

She’s not talking about Trump here, so don’t get confused, as easy as it may be. She’s talking about the psychology of tyrants. While the tyrant of the world leader variety is easy to equate to this, you could just as easily be describing a simple egotistical white male running for treasurer of his local school board.

“Yeah, ” you say, “but it’s not like that would-be treasurer is going to turn out to be a mass murderer!”

O ye of little faith … I remind you of Andrew Kehoe.

In Pre-Enlightenment times, we could certainly heft a large amount of blame on the tyrants themselves – Machiavellian despots and dictators whose rise to power was the result of their own machinations, killing the right people at the right time, being born into power, and having the biggest … sword. For the past 200 years, AT LEAST, we’ve got no one to blame but ourselves.

We’re the idiots, not the faces on television.

I dislike Trump as much as the next Leftist, but I can’t blame anyone but all of us. Trump is a giant, flaming mound of something, sure. But, where were you guys thirty years ago, fifty years ago, a hundred years ago, when his particular flavor of bullshit was common stock in lots of positions of power, corporate, federal, and religious.

We act like this is new, like Trump’s ascent is this unpredictable, bizarre anomaly that by random chance has been allowed to come to fruition by nefarious intent or chaos.

Where have you been since 509 BC? Despite rape bringing the Republic to Rome, rape still happens.

This is the same lack of self-awareness we have always had as a species, and it’s a direct result of our propensity to polarize absolutely everything.

We gravitate towards our political ideals like we do our sports teams.

“Well, I’m from old money, and my daddy was a big business fan, and hell, my whole family’s shook our collective heads at hip-hop music … I can’t help but vote Republican. Besides, we’re gonna win ‘cuz we’re the best, and Liberals are the other team.”

And you think I’m not going to call out the Democrats, but I will, because while I definitely understand the ideal of progressivism and its modern identity crisis, I am having a hard time not seeing the Democrats as being mutated by the same polarizing disease that infects every facet of our civilization. They are becoming Democrats that exist in their current state solely to be the antithesis of Republicans.

And, guess what? It’s not their fault, it is our fault.

Let me get crass for a moment …

Why the FUCK is there news story about what we should do about NAZIS in the 21st Century?

Forget the misguided opinions of the masses “on both sides”. Forget the hyped up A or B stance that we all seem to want to apply to this situation in our world.

We did this. We’ve been over this. We’ve lived this before. We knew what the CANCERS OF OUR CIVILIZATION were 200 years ago. Why is this a question?

I went to school. I’ll give you a pass on this if by some random chance you are reading this and never stepped foot in a school. I went to school in Texas. While I certainly got my fill of biased stories about the taming of the wild plains North of the Rio Grande and South of the Red, where real men saved the womenfolk from the Apaches and the Comanches and the Mexicans and the uppity yanks, there were plenty of bullet point moments in my education that stand out as warnings well-received.

War. Greed. Corruption. Hate. Bad. Evil.

These are bad things that have caused bad things to happen in our society. At some point, we took steps to stop those things from causing our society to descend into apocalypse. We identified the boils, and we fucking lanced them. We’ve had revolutions, wars, scientific breakthroughs, eureka moments that have SAVED OUR SPECIES FROM CERTAIN EXTINCTION. Well, that last bit is a trifle exaggerated, but not by much. Regardless, we still are seeing the same war, same greed, same corruption, same hate, that has always been there.

Change doesn’t happen when the person that needs to change is afraid of being wrong. Change from one state of mind to another in this society is tantamount to admitting failure. That’s not reality, but that is perception.

Change is required as time presses onward. Right and Left are polarized by design, and change has to happen on both sides towards some center built on one idea. We are one species, and we are the stewards of this planet, and the future is ours for the making, not the taking.

I think about having kids, and about my kids asking questions about the world.

I don’t think about them asking the simple stuff like:

Why is the baboon’s butt red?

I think about being asked the real hairy stuff like:

Why is there still war? Why are people starving? Why do those people hate us? Why can’t we afford a bigger house? What is nuclear fallout? Will I get to be Nazi when I grow up daddy?

Wait: Think about it. Some asshole neo-Nazi out there is sitting with his kid on his knee helping him paint a brown triangle on an action figure of Charlie Chaplin as the Great Dictator. (Suss that one out, boys … it’s clever.) There’s nothing you can do about it. Some daddy in some vague desert locale in an unnamed country is telling his son that he can easily substitute a cat turd for the role of the American infidel for his 3rd grade social studies diorama. There’s nothing you can do about it.

I’m not going to have to answer these questions, because in reality they aren’t going to get asked. These are the questions I want to ask my father, and my grandfather, and everyone else that has ever existed in the history of the human race.

Why are we so stupid, Daddy? Why don’t we recognize this has already happened? Why is this happening again?

Stupidity: the refusal to think for one’s self in the presence of an existing answer (note that I didn’t say truth).

My kid’s going to hate peas, for no reason at all. My kid’s going to obsess over some pop star construct manufactured by some corporation, for no reason at all. My kid’s going to vote a potential tyrant and/or plasticine puppet to office … for no reason at all …

… except that other people are doing it.

At the turn of the century, I was a fresh-faced youth sweating through a –

Oh yeah, back to this.

At the turn of the century, I was a fresh-faced youth sweating through a humid summer in North Carolina, soon to be setting off back West to recover from the first of several relationship disasters.

I was an anarchist then. I had toyed with thoughts of socialism and communism. I liked the idea of technocracy, but didn’t commit to it for fear of Apple. (Aha! Vonnegutism at long last)

Usenet was my Den of Thieves. I had swagger. I had logic bombs.

I was right and you were wrong, and vinyl was best.

I was stupid, but I wrote a hell of a lot more than I do right now. I tell myself every single day that I don’t write that I’m stupid for it. It has taken almost twenty years to construct a version of me that I think truly represents an adherence to the ideals of my original and unique philosophy.

I don’t question EVERYTHING. I have an appropriately sleuthlike significant other for that. But, I at least CONSIDER everything.

I believe in one ultimate truth above all others.

Nothing is impossible.

You can read that two ways, and I believe that both are valid.

#1 – The concept of “nothing” is an impossible one. “Nothing” cannot exist. This reality is infinite. Our deaths do not cease reality, and our lives as they are situated in the infinite are both eternal and fleeting sparks of energy all at once.

#2 – Literally, no thing is impossible. Dinosaurs may eat your dingo. DC may allow for a good comic book movie to be made. This universe may collapse suddenly through the reckless mismanagement of science. I may be a world leader one day.

I believe in this above all other things, but I don’t live by it.

Am I surprised by the resurgence of idiocies thought long-vanquished? Nope.

Am I fearful for the future of our species as a direct result of the current state of the world? You betcha.

But, by sweet and sunny Gilgamesh, I’m going to keep writing this shit whether you like it or not.

Rest assured, I’ve have not been silent though the pages remain blank.

I’ve been hissing all this time.

2 thoughts on “Of Silence and Sibilance

  1. Oh hi, welcome back. And welcome back with a BANG. Good to see you old friend. I’ve thought about you on and off and wondered how you’ve been.

    This post is good and freaking scary when you talk about the person teaching their 3 year old such hate. So where they teach horrible hate, I will teach incredible love. I remember breastfeeding last year and reading news on twitter to pass time and reading something about Trump (I can’t even remember) but being brought almost to tears, looking at my innocent daughter and thinking, “I cannot let her live in a world where she thinks this is okay.” AND HE WASN’T EVEN PRESIDENT.

    I guess it’s a good thing that terms are only 4 years. Though, how long will we need to undo this damage? But what if he gets elected again? Or worse, what if this turns into Palpatine? Surely not. Right? RIGHT?

    • There’s always the possibility of Palpatine. Always. But, I think Trump’s more of a Trade Federation stooge than a Dark Lord of the Sith. Putin, on the other hand … that man could Palpatine with the right kind of wind.

      It’s good to be back. : )

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