Thursday, February 11, 2016

What's Going On?

Channeling Marvin Gaye, Presidential contender The Donald captured the zeitgeist perfectly when he said he would ban all Muslims until "somebody figured out WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON." In this sense we are deeply embedded in The Age of Fear and Confusion. And sinking back into global recession is not going to help matters. Pollsters understand that fear is the primary motivator for the Republican electorate; fear of terrorism, fear of criminals, fear of losing their crap jobs, fear of gays and God and their own children. And science, telling them The American Dream is destroying their health and the planet. Fear of getting old with no pension. So they are killing themselves (white, American males between the ages of 45 and 54)in record numbers. But of course it's not just conservatives that live in a constant state of fear; liberals fear the Bundy militia and the Mormons and the rappers. Fear and anxiety because nobody seems able to explain; what the hell is going on? Why can't America win any wars, vanquish its enemies? Why does my computer freeze up or give away my identity? Why are the cops and politicians all corrupt? Why are those Muslims and school kids just shooting random people? Why doesn't my wife do what I tell her? Some fear the Establishment, some The machine, some the Industrial-military complex, nefarious anonymous networks. Viruses. poisoned water. fluoride. wolves. vampires. Vladimir Putin. Who can we call on to figure it all out, who is the "somebody" in The Donald's prayer? The priest or guru or Bill Cosby who all turn out to be serial rapists? My parents who are filled with painkillers and glued to Fox News? The billionaire politicians who say they have my best interests at heart? Can I trust Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey? How about NPR, neoliberal public radio wouldn't lie, would they? My school teacher or favorite blogger? What is to be done? First off, unlace those tight ass shoes and dance for a few minutes, and actually, you could do worse than that Marvin Gaye song. Then you better clear your calendar, find somebody you can talk to and start peeling back the layers of the onion, one by one. Modernity, progress, enlightenment, fantasy, language, consciousness, the whole catastrophe.

1 comment:

  1. You're channeling.

    The second half of this, the serial questioning, reads like an anxiety street theater script. I couldn't help but read it in a winding, anxious voice. What the hell IS going on? The Germans must have a good word for a creeping sense of global doom.

    Or maybe this questioning is reminiscent of the sorts of discussions that happen in higher-level advertising and marketing boardrooms. "Alright everybody, what are our consumers feeling on a daily basis? We need to get that feeling in our bodies. [Everyone reads your piece, working themselves into a neurotic lather...] OK now how do we mine that anxiety by attaching images people will associate with the opposite of that anxiety to our sweatshop produced cardigans?

    A university poli-sci class title: The Dave Jones Onion of Modernity, Progress, Enlightenment, Fantasy, Language, and Consciousness: the Whole Catastrophe. Probably a thirteen year class. I'd be getting a square C+ at year five.

    The three things I want to spend my free time on are peeling The Onion, time in nature, and dance. I stumbled across a fun internet thing several months ago in the form of Julian Assange's pre-notoriety blog brought to us by an internet archiving service called "The Wayback Machine". I have been meaning to share it with you and maybe already have, but your piece caused me to recall his posting called "Calibration of Feeling". Check it out here:

    I think he has earned his pretensions (which almost every link to his old blog accuses him of). His alignment with his philosophy and his strategic intelligence are clearly not a pretense. But this was the first sense of him as a flesh-and-blood earth being and quotable nature lover (albeit a mechanical, "calibrated" human subjectivity) I'd ever had. There is just a certain amount of emotional health and getting our wiggles out that goes hand-in-hand with The Onion. Perhaps this physical component should be a part of weekly rigor? Don't know how though. Maybe meals are good enough.