Charming News

One is advised against repeating the news in one’s blog, as this merely turns the ether into an echo chamber. However there is so much news, and each piece of it is so overwhelming, that I cannot refrain from pointing out that there are now veterans who, having accepted enlistment bonuses and now having been wounded before their term of enlistment ended, are being asked to return a prorated portion of their bonuses, and that several European countries have been complicit in secret renditions to Guantánamo by letting us fly through their airspace or, in the case of Spain, land there on the way to Cuba.

Check out Stephen Gray’s GhostPlane (cited in the Times of London), which links to source documents on the Turkey – Greece – Spain – Portugal – Cuba route: a fascinating one for travel, it must be said, although not in these circumstances. This website also permits you to see a photograph of the inside of a transport plane, loaded with hooded and pinned-down prisoners.

Finally, do not forget to learn how manhole covers for New York and other U.S. cities are made by barefoot workers in at least one Indian foundry. Impeachment will not remedy all of this, but it is one excellent place to start. My student says the only way to remain calm is not to know the news, but I favor spreading it.


18 thoughts on “Charming News

  1. We need standards of human decency…one day.

    Actually the first step to getting this is to avoid the fuhrer worship that is a feature of authoritarian personalities. The fuhrer, of course, does not treat one very well. This is part of his strategy in remaining perceived to be above it all. The best way to turn the tables, then, is not to treat the fuhrer very well, either. (Notably, John Howard is now out of power due to this kind of an insight.)

  2. You *do* know how to contest and diminish authority, it is very salutary.

    [I am utterly agitated and would do a real post about why except that it would be indiscreet. My neighbor’s brother took off from Haiti by raft an hour ago, for Miami. It is very dangerous. Very. I know people do this every night but I have never followed such a voyage in real time before. It is very dangerous. Very. I am just hoping he lives through the next few days. This + the rest of the world news = need new yoga for utter instability of most situations, for an indefinite period of time.]

  3. What a story he could tell if he survives! I don’t know — the agitation…I think we’re all meant to experience it. Some only do so vicariously. I don’t think we were meant to live our lives feeling safe and secure. I think it’s like what I’m trying to get western liberals to see about Marechera — he wasn’t one of your “victims” whom one might redeem posthumously by showing that he thought in actually very common ways for someone of his race and history. Actually, he was/is your superior for taking life by the throat and not settling for ordering his life upon the basis of a safe commonality.

  4. Much to say on Haitians and Marechera (whose book is still not arriving, by the way) but it is late. Side note – this, by the way, is another one to “sic” on the theory of Reeducation.

    Claimed Intention of Reeducation: get people who are involved in unnecessary, extraneous drama to stop that, so they can get to the meat of whatever is at hand.

    Popularized Reeducation: get everyone to focus on the importance of feeling safe and secure, and to put that first. *Very* interesting how this fits in with Homeland Security, giving up freedom for putative safety, and so on.

  5. I skim-read Menken’s translation of Nietzsche’s Antichrist last night, and it was an interesting revisit of the text, which I now understand much more clearly than I did when I first read it. The part towards the end about the difference between those who need a faith in order to limit their visions and perspectives and bind them to one course of action and those who approach the meaning of the world “skeptically” is significant for this discussion. Those who have accepted their limitations through adopting a belief system require that it should not seem as if anybody else had any option but to do as they have done. The develop a moral system that inhibits action and circumscribes their own perspectival range. This serves their own needs to feel safe and secure within the limited range of their own narrowed existences. It helps build their confidence against those others, whom the faithful ones suspect, in their unconscious, could do so much more than they, because of having more confidence, more courage to act freely, more giftedness, etc. The herd thus creates a system that guarantees its safety through relative obliviousness. Homeland security is the defensive mindset of the herd against possibility of living a more open, complex and engaging lifestyle. Those on the outside are the intruders against civilisation itself, which morality requires one to defend oneself against, etc.

  6. Perhaps if Americans opted to pay more for their gas than they do, the muted cries for impeachment might attract a smidgin of moral value. Alternatively, they might wish to embrace the immorality of Guantanomo and so on and, conscienceless, continue with their all-consuming self-indulgent consumerism. They can’t have it both ways, no matter the belief system.

  7. “Alternatively, they might wish to embrace the immorality of Guantanamo and so on and, conscienceless, continue with their all-consuming self-indulgent consumerism.”

    From what I have been able to observe and understand, this is the attitude of a great many, both here and in Europe.

    It would be nice indeed if it were possible to simply pay more for gas in exchange for the government bowing out of Iraq and so on. Unfortunately I think it’s a great deal more complicated and we need a new government to institute anything like that.

  8. I see no simple solutions. Nor do I see my fellow Americans as mindless consumers. It IS more complicated than that.
    Reading Deep Rivers reminds me that for some people God is not dead. My grandparents were like these characters, intense in their belief. Like children before their god. This kind of belief made the world very large and mysterious to them, not limited. Religion as it is practiced in “advanced” countries bears little resemblance to this kind of faith.
    As Freud said, this is the childhood of the race. We have lost that magic, but we had to grow up. He was absolutely right on that point.

    Best of luck to your friend and may he find a safe harbor.

  9. Thanks Hattie and I’m glad you like Deep Rivers! That sense of the sacred which is not present in the mindset of the average churchgoing type of my acquaintance is what I like about non-Western religions. I do not know that I would call it childlike, though. It is what I am able to feel because of *not* imagining the world to be dominated by a cartoonish God.

    Americans as mindless consumers – I don’t think we are moreso than other global elites, although Europeans are somewhat more conscious on average of not using too much gasoline.

  10. Consumerism as a primary value, though — it’s another charge firing the essence of sexism. Because if to consume is a primary right, then complexity (including the complexity that comes with having a relationship) only gets in the way. So, those who want to consume female sexuality feel frustrated and bent out of shape at every corner. It’s just not that simple for them. Yet, they have received the message that to consume is a primary right. Therefore women are standing in the way of the consumption by being complex — that is, by being people.

    And in a similar way, encountering others who are people (not just women, but also men) is a frustration of the consumerist drive. There’s a sense that the complexity of the other must be a farce, a pretence, a wall put up to prevent the direct gratification of consumption. How dare they!!!

  11. Yes – women and people as consumer goods. I need to get myself consumed less. There is this custom now of seeing the university as a store and the faculty as clerks and waiters serving learning to the students. I do not like it.

    I remember the first time I had a really distinct impression of being consumed, though. I said I felt I was being viewed by the man I was seeing as an interchangeable part. He had not imagined I might be *different* from him or not willing to become more like him just for the sake of the relationship. It amazed him when he realized it.

  12. I felt I was being viewed by the man I was seeing as an interchangeable part.

    Right. The process of dehumanisation in the workplace I used to be in was called “moulding”. As in “oops – we didn’t quite get the employee we wanted but we will shape you to our needs in any case.” This wasn’t quite a process of consumption, but it was certainly destructive. Procrustes may have good intentions at heart, but he is not a pleasant fellow.

  13. I didn’t mean to imply that anybody would bow out of Iraq or that anything is easy in this life. What I said was that the cries for impeachment would attract some sort of moral value if Americans were to pay more for their gas. Protests about one’s leader’s actions are difficult to sustain when reaping the benefits from the cause of the invasion: cheap gas. No?

  14. It does not make sense at all. You think that if we donate to the oil companies as individuals then the government will leave Iraq? Dream on!

    “Dear Exxon, in hopes this will raise your already huge profit margins enough so that you will be satisfied with less, I pledge to match whatever I spend yearly in gasoline and other fossil fuel related activities with a direct donation to you?” And then Exxon writes back, “Dear PZ, thank you so much, we will no longer arrange for takeovers of foreign or Alaskan oilfields?”

    And energy prices have RISEN since the invasion, not fallen, silly, and the economy is shot to hell.

    I do not understand at all: they have gutted the Constitution and on and on and on, left N.O. in ruins, and you think we have no right to protest because oil prices are not still higher? There is *so* much more going on and the costs are so *very* great.

    My point: to not have oil and other companies running things, much else would also have to happen – and I am quite sure, first.

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