Monday, March 11, 2024

I Lift Up Mine Eyes To The Hills, Not Disposed To Mercy

 Yet One More Barking Rant To Begin An End-Times Laugh Riot Week
Mikey Johnson Reminds: Church Attendance Is Mandatory

This Might Replace Rodin's 'The Thinker'

This post seems incomplete, like two relatively unconnected essays thrown up on the wall which stuck, barking about the Middle East, and the omnipotent, they-are-always-with-us Rich. You may think this is low-hanging fruit, but it's not.

Not that it's important; if this blog's observations had any impact in the public discussion of serious issues, then this post would have more meaning. But, it's only unsourced opinion by one individual with no agency beyond their own existence. 

I am as singular as, and no more important than, any of the dead uncovered at Pompeii whose names we'll never know, all events and actions and experiences in their lives -- for what? -- unknown, lost.

Some of my observations offered will, in all probability, cause the few readers of this blog to say yeah, eyeroll, whatever the fuck, but this is what happens here in downtown Earth. Be well.

   I Have Wanted To Say This

Listen to me:  Fuck all you motherfucking fucks; you murdering fuckers you.

The Middle East's history is woven in the interactions of generations -- families, clans, tribes; all part of religious sects, now become modern political movements and governments. This geography is steeped in misogyny, cruelty; art, science and spirituality; and blood feuds millennia old.

Comedian Don Rickles inadvertently summed it up on his first album, a live recording of his heckling standup routine in Las Vegas, which I heard in 1969: "What's your name, sir -- Habib? ... You got to laugh about people, Habib. I've met you before, haven't I? That's right, you hung my uncle." 

Rickles' joke was a rough equivalent of the history of Palestine and Israel, which was just 20 years old, then. It hadn't even been a year since the 'Six-Day' War, where Israeli troops occupied the West Bank, the Golan, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the Sinai.

The casino crowd on the Strip laughed at Don's joke -- but Habib might easily have pointed the same joke at Rickles ("Yeah; didn't you hang my uncle when you took his house and orchards?"), and few would have understood. It was all happening so far away, and Vietnam had everyone's attention. Including mine.

Everyone knows what happened in Israel on October 7, 2023. It was more than a massacre by Hamas; it was an obscenity. And everyone knows what happened next in Gaza, and what is still happening; more monstrous brutalities. War crimes were committed and are still being committed.

And all the participants -- Hamas, Hezbollah; Islamic State, Iran; the Houthis, the Saudis; the IDF, the Israeli government; the United States government; Netanyahu, Biden; members of Knesset and Congress -- are guilty.  No one is clean. 

I condemn every threat, every act of violence, of thuggery, viciousness; every calculated political decision allowing more violence and more suffering to continue: No one is clean. To argue that one side is more monstrous, more brutal than the other, is the comparative mathematics of lunacy.

It has to stop. The maiming and the killing, the abuse and enforced suffering. Stop bombing, stop launching rockets, stop seizing territory, stop starving refugees. You are all complicit. And questions of land, of statehood, of security, can't be addressed so long as anyone raises their voice or a hand in any way against any Other.

During the 2006 Israeli incursion into southern Lebanon, I wrote a post on a still-new Daily Kos, then republished it here six years later during another spate of regional violence. You may consider its conclusions simplistic and naive. I would argue the horror in Israel and Gaza passed beyond nuance, rhetoric and sophistication long ago.

There is a point where the amount of death and misery is so great that nothing matters, except that it ends. And damn anyone willing to sacrifice more children, use all the blood-feud deaths of generations, to justify more violence.
... look into that child's eyes. ... Look at the expression written there: Where are you taking us? Why are you doing this? What will happen to me?

Will you tell them, when you put your pistol to their head, burn them alive, drop your 500-pound bomb on their encampment, kill their siblings and friends in front of them, that it's for a greater good? For the glory of a faith? Because your wife or husband, brother or sister, your parent or cousins or friends, were killed and revenge demands that now this child's life has to end?
I do not care about the political or religious "dimension" in all this. I swear to you because I know: a dead child is an utterly final answer to all the puking, screeching human argument justifying our species' ability to commit murder. It all must stop -- followed by a final resolution to all questions of Palestinian statehood and Israeli security. Period. 

No one is clean; and It has to end. Stop killing the children, then make peace --  because the alternative is nihilism and obscenity, the blood-feud, forever. Agree and then act. It really has to be that simple, because every other convoluted attempt at peace has twisted around the axle of pride, history and hate. Enough.

   Bring My Car, And Be Quick You Fucking Proles

I'll just say it: American / Western society is essentially owned by a vicious, arrogant layer of wealth -- call them the 0.001 % -- principally Old Wealth, maintained in the same families for generations. I've actually been around these folk, a bit, and they are just as venal and clueless, as well of course I should have this as I wish it arrogant, as if you'd lifted a cultural stereotype from a comedy-of-manners and dropped them into Real Life. They truly exist.

They own multiple homes, in neighborhoods which, if you don't live in them, you'd better have a verifiable reason to be there. They move in a cyclical progression from home to home, seasonal vacations at resorts and private hotels. Their children attend preparatory schools, a tight circle of European and American universities; eventually, sliding into sinecures at law and investment firms. They are members of clubs we wouldn't be allowed to join. They do not know how to build a fire, make coffee, set up a tent or cook a filet of sole: they hire others to do that sort of thing.

Most families know (or are at least aware of) each other. They intermarry. Their children grow up with each other. They are supported by accountants, financial and investment advisors, personal assistants, tax and estate attorneys, physicians and surgeons, tailors, chefs and valets. Their children walk in comfort and anonymity along the same private, manicured paths as their predecessors in generations before them.

Within their class, maintaining their family's fortunes is the critical priority ("You don't love it as I do," Lord Grantham explains to his cousin as they regard Downton Abbey. "But I am merely a steward of all this"). There's also a certain amount of social Darwinism between players, a jockeying for position: It's Edith Wharton and John Cheever with a touch of Voltaire (see "Discrete Charm Of The Bourgeoise", and The Ruling Class).

They tolerate the Zucks, the Musks, the Jobs' and Bezos' and Thiels and Andreesens; all the Tech Bro billionaires, as nouveau riche arrivistes; pool boys, waiters and office workers who somehow struck it rich. Not the right sort -- no history, no breeding- -- but, they can afford to live well, and, if the past is any guide, eventually they and their money will disappear. Or, they'll be around for a few generations and finally become acceptable. 

They have serious class solidarity: depend on it.  Even if Claus von Bülow appeared to have attempted to murder his wife, members of their class might disapprove, but would "support the side", "maintain common cause" against a greater mass of humanity: We are the Owners, and Fuck the Peasants (see 'The Draughtsman's Contract').

These persons are not accountable under any law in the same way, or to the same extent, that you or I are. They don't wait in line, don't submit to passport control or customs checks; aren't required to appear in court for all but the most serious charges (if they appear at all). They are anonymous to all but each other.

And collectively, they own you whether you believe it, accept it, or not.

   You Are Pwned -- A Dream Coda

Years ago, I had a dream which stands out in memory -- because I don't often dream with details that I recall so completely. 

I was some kind of mountaineering guide, taking wealthy persons up -- not Everest, but some similar peak. I was "inside" myself in this dream (sometimes dreams allow you see yourself in 'camera view'), looking out on a snow-covered slope -- a right triangle of pure white, from upper left to lower right -- against a sky of deep Cobalt blue.

A man in his late twenties / early thirties stood a few feet in front of me, wearing an orange parka with the hood pulled back. He had a light stubble of beard, curly, reddish-blonde hair, and wore a pair of aviator-style sunglasses. He was completely at ease, smiling, and spoke with an accent (French, I remembered). He wasn't arrogant or emphatic with his delivery, but matter-of-fact, as if describing the weather.

"I will tell you how it is," he said. "My family is thirteen hundred years old. One of my ancestors was  knighted by Charlemagne. We've survived plagues, wars, financial collapse, revolutions, occupation. We've had our black sheep, our idiots -- but mostly, we have made fortunes and passed them down to the next generation. We've been good at it, and lucky. 

"If you can't trace your family back more than a few generations? I don't care. You've always worked for pay -- but maybe you get lucky, win some lottery, and your children inherit that money? I don't care. In one, maybe two generations, it will be gone, absorbed into banks, financial houses, and by taxes. Perhaps my family owns some of those financial houses.

"We own forests and mines. We own companies" -- he waved at me with one hand -- "Maybe you have even worked for us. But some day, you will be dead, and that will be the end for you. Your name will be forgotten, as if you and everyone in your family line before you had never existed. My family will still be here.

"And if that's unhappy for you, if it makes you angry, I don't care," he said, and smiled again. "And that is how things are."

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