Compendium Hermetica
And yet, it moves.


5.26.2003

Pax Americana


Here we are at the center of things. It has rained for more about a week now. A brief respite on Monday allowed us a glimpse of the sun. I also saw the sun on Saturday afternoon while riding the metro from D.C. to the park-and-ride where our car waited out the day. The sun was a flat orange disk seen through five days worth of cloud cover and years worth of air pollution. It seemed a million miles away. It ornamented the gray sky, evocative of something sad - for some reason, I thought of sunsets in tropical climes. This triggered the thoughts of empire - of the imperial citizen visiting the periphery. Then I realized that just a half-an-hour earlier, I had been standing at the center of the American Imperium - the Mall. On one side, the Capitol, empty since the Parliament of Whores had recessed until after the Memorial Day weekend. On the other, stands the Washington monument. The Smithsonian behind me, and the National Gallery before me.

Being in there, in the center of Washington, the District of Columbia, you are reminded of the effects that ideas have on the actual. The layout of the city enacts an enlightenment idea of how a people should order its capital city. The result, in the twenty-first century is a regrettable degree of gridlock and confusion. It enacted many Enlightenment ideas made manifest in its most spectacular aspect, its buildings, and its being: government - an executive mansion not nearly as spectacular as (and literally tangential to) the legislature. Separate offices, not palaces. Individuals and not dynasties. And yes, streets patterned after and named for French allies. But today, It occurs to me then, the difficult love of ideas that we represent, and at best, pursue. We have now an administration that has added an idea, Terrorism, to the official enemies list. This is not the first idea, just one of the broadest, and the meanest war to be declared.

When you declare war in idea, you assume a kind of authorship for that idea, as your actions then start constructing that idea. By creating Total (now Terrorist) Information Awareness, you demarcate Terrorism as occurring in the transactions and social networks of all citizens. By changing Immigration and Naturalization to a subset of concerns handled by Homeland Security, it becomes not an agent of justice, humane consideration, discernment, and diversity (in all fairness, if it was ever that), it instead becomes a filter that looks for what is most like us. It will now stop Immigration and de-nature those who do come to this country.

So the administration draws its bounds with each action, with each invasion. We are drawing the magic circle around something. But what will materialize when we are through? If the current direction is any indication, an amalgamated chimera of our fears: a multi-headed hydra of monstrosity, otherness, and the fear that so pervades our society.

But they will never finish the circle. Their lines of force and differentiation will spiral outward until they encompass more and more people who deviate for their ideal citizen: the consumer so invested with debt and enamored of enacting identity through purchase that they fear the collapse of a system that puts their lives on a collision course with the rest of the world. Already the FBI maintains various categories of terrorist including "Environmental Extremist," "Militia Activist" and "Religious Fundamentalist." These labels can be applied to Greenpeace, the NRA, and the Society of Friends respectively. These labels can and will slide to cover those who are politically engaged and oppose the current administration. Will peace activists be far behind?

With the social networks analysis, combined with the Bio-metrics and recognition activities suggested by DARPA's recent report to Congress on the TIA, Orwellian nightmares begin to take tangible shape in a more literal way than ever before. Under the guise of state supported capitalism, we see the rise of an entirely new fascism. A collusion of industry, media (especially the media, the "left wing media" as consolidated under three companies), and conservative politicians is creating a form of the modern state that looks depressingly medieval: the multinational oligarchy. IN the recent past, this was the aristocracy. Now we have an emerging group not to the manor born, but ideologues who have been busily erecting that shining city on the hill for some thirty years, and are preparing to lay the last bricks in the city's walls.

That city, regrettably, is the city that I have just visited. This city that enacts ideas, that conjures the unreal into the actual, and makes war on the evanescent, this city under construction, this city under siege from within.

posted by Brian | 11:46:00 AM link |


5.25.2003

Lorem Ipsum sit amat...

The default text of the electronic age (though this page alleges a much longer pedigree), Lorem Ipsum appears wherever you need text for text's sake. Now you can make your own (without the task of transcription) with the lipsum generator.

posted by Brian | 11:04:00 AM link |


5.15.2003

Falling


We will see stories end
Through the monocular vision of
The television.
Far-sight has replaced foresight
Fetish of image,
Now totem and mantra
The image is a talisman that we watch in fascination.

So it seems like years ago - people push down their bags
Push down their minds.
See how little the world has changed - we are not worried.
We have resumed shopping - the little things that make life normal
We fo-cus
On little things to make life normal.
These are the things least likely to be found
Broken or not working -
The morning cup of coffee from the coffee chain,
The electric seat warmers in the car
The new car,
The SUV,
The new raise from the old boss
You are suddenly happy to have.
You delete that ultimatum
From the file - the one
Where you demand
A raise, demand
Another week off -
Demand the company parking spot because you landed
The fake
Fat
Account.

Suddenly grateful for an ordinary misery.
You shut up.
Yours is not the extraordinary misery
Of choosing a ninety story freefall -
Seen 300 million times through one eye.
Yours is quiet,
Solitary and normal.
So you go on, grateful.
Some events make us content with crimes and pain
Because the event is catastrophe and we have to make room
To make sense of it - while pain is chronic - fear is chronic.
Sadness seems like it will not end and you surprise yourself when you say you want to die - some day you won't surprise yourself because it will be how the anxiety and worry started - the small nagging that you could put down with small things.
The coffee you buy in the morning - the lunch you buy at noon, the food you buy in the evening and
The pornography you buy at night.
It is an economy of sadness - here in the rich hours
Of the new dark ages.
Breughels was right when he painted Icarus - how alarming it is to find him -
A snake among a briar - the modern among the ancients.
If he had fallen a million times in the pixilated vision of a camera,
We would still plough the field and the barque would still carry its cargo
To the waiting port where merchant men will rub their hands -
Never knowing what they touch.

posted by Brian | 7:39:00 AM link |
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