Archive for May, 2006

On this Memorial Day, I would like to share with all my fellow countrymen a story that follows perfectly the classic “bad apple spoiling the bunch” concept. The extent to which this American People chooses to exercise its sense of proper judgment and justice will ultimately determine the level of devastation this “bad apple” can potentially “spoil the bunch”.

Before I begin, I will offer my sympathy to the family and friends of Jesse Macbeth; to articulate my true feelings on this matter is something beyond what I am reasonably capable of, for reasons of my own limitations and personal prejudice. I must concede that repercussions will befall you that exceed what his infractions justify, perhaps tenfold. The words of mine that follow are not meant in any way to prosecute or persecute the named. They are dispassionate analyses of what I have observed and I have distanced my emotions from this issue as far as I am able.

That being said, it must be understood that Jesse Macbeth is an envious liar whose words and actions have proven immensely destructive.* From his deep pains of personal shame and inner disgust, he strives to undo the accomplishments of veterans because he never truly became one himself. Jesse Macbeth fraudulently joined the social action initiative, Iraqi Veterans Against the War, in January and the organization extended to him support and encouragement as he was in dire need of both. It has since been discovered that Jesse appeared in films wherein he confessed to involvement in several war crimes while deployed in the Middle East. An investigation into his past revealed the extent of his military service falls shy of completing basic training and that he never even served overseas -the right wing blogs went wild: the IVAW/Jesse Macbeth scandal is depicted purely as testimony to the futility and illegitimacy of the entire antiwar movement. IVAW had, by their account, swallowed a suicide pill the day they showed compassion for Jesse Macbeth.

I will spare all the unkind words that simmer in my heart for those who sharply criticize the efforts of IVAW’s actual veterans, especially those critics whoso ardently support the war itself, sounding more like war-savvy strategists and combat-hardened veterans themselves than like people who refuse to pick up a rifle and fight the war to their liking and instead offer their commentary from the safety of the deep rear protected by those they slander. My scrutiny of these individuals serves no greater purpose for I feel that anyone who has predetermined a course of base ignorance and narrow thinking must discover sense for themselves to grasp its true value. It is my sincere hope that they will discover the err in their assessments; failure to do so can easily become a threat to themselves and others.

I now request of all Americans the rightful judgment of the following: Consider Jesse Macbeth, a young man who suffers every day, self-confined within a world of psychopathological isolation. Consider that he has adopted the identity of veterans, men and women he deeply admires, simply because his own identity is diffuse and brings him no satisfaction. He has defiled their actions through his lies not because he intended to but because he is truly and sadly ill. Now consider the 250 veterans of IVAW who stand up and speak their beliefs and passions against what they believe to be an unjust war, doing so not for their own profit or prestige but for the protection of those who follow them in the uniformed services. Consider the humility it must take to face your past; accept that what you have fought so hard for, risked your life for even, is something that you are ensnared in ideological conflict with; and then stand against it not because it is easy or fun or cool, but because it is right. Consider these two, Jesse Macbeth and IVAW, and decide for yourself if their overlap is to such a great extent that melding them together for trial and subsequent disposition is justice.

In summation, though unforeseen but sharp hits against a group of passionately devoted individuals whom I deeply respect (and am indeed a member of myself) have been sustained, my feelings of solemn respect and mourning this Memorial Day are not derailed. In truth, I feel these blows have illuminated just how far the widely varied casualties of this Iraqi war spread from its epicenter. In memorial of all those who have sacrificed for this country, those falling with honor on foreign battle fields, those who have returned home, broken in body, mind, or spirit, and finally those who have sacrificed in more abstract, easily-forgotten ways, never having made it to the front (i.e.: victims of manipulation, government-sanctioned abuse and beratement, and an apparent cultural indifference to psychological disabilities), I take a knee and pay respect.

*It has been suggested that Jesse Macbeth infiltrated the ranks of IVAW specifically to smear them in this fashion while under the direction of influential, high-ball republicans. I have included this merely as a footnote because I do not regard this as particularly relevant and I will share why: first of all, Jesse’s parasitic presence in the anti-war movement is an inaccurate representation of the whole anti-war movement; any half-wit with basic reasoning skills does not need me to highlight that. Second of all, what negative impact could the discovery of such unethical behavior from the republicans possibly have on my opinion of them? Could I possibly think less of them than I do at present? I scarcely believe it possible. A group of men who thoughtlessly exchange the lives of young soldiers to further the economic interests of their wealthy campaign supporters stand to lose nothing of what I think of them should I discover they are being manipulative of activist organizations.

— Dan Black

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It’s difficult to escape the latest trend of Bush-bashing; seeming to surface in magazines, junk mail, bumper stickers, and things of the like, it reached a new level altogether when the Center for Constitutional Rights drafted their “Articles of Impeachment Against George W. Bush” this past March. There is this sweeping movement to remove George from his office, and its arguments are very compelling. I have read most of the articles (Melville House, the publisher, will pay the postage of you buy a copy and mail it to your congressperson) and rather enjoyed seeing my day-to-day grievances against the executive articulated beautifully by a non-profit org. comprised of distinguished lawyers dedicated to preserving our constitution. It is gratifying, for sure, to see the substance of a despicable man, undeserving of any public authority whatsoever, laid bare before the eyes of whosoever cares to examine, but I wonder if impeachment is truly the wisest avenue of action. This statement may appear a dichotomous, but allow me to elaborate-

Imagine today’s executive branch without the presence of our boy, George. Vice President Cheney, the man who would ascend into Bush’s seat if the latter is uprooted, is no desirable alternative. In fact, I posit it is in our best interest to maintain the status quo lest an effort to improve achieves the precise opposite. Cheney is, as observed by a conscious and ponderous few, **conceivably** the human form of so many deplorable, grotesquely evil, morally sordid elements -ordinarily characterized independently as character attributes or abstract traits one individual may possess- that have, in the case of one Dick Cheney, sprouted arms and legs from a human-sembling torso devoid of a heart. A seemingly cold profile analysis, it stems not from bitter emotion, but from compiling factual data and arriving at this unbiased, non-partisan conclusion: Cheney is a dignified human being only in that his appearance is similar, somewhat, to those others who are not guilty of the most heinous of international high crimes. But correlation is not causation and this… this Cheney is not human in every sense merely because he looks like other people.

Back on subject, why do I believe leaving Bush in office is preferable to disposing of him? I periodically see our president (as he is commonly called) address his people and I easily realize this man has the same capacity for proficiently governing a nation as an infant iguana of marginal intellectual abilities (as far as iguanas go) does once he is crushed under the radials of a tractor-trailer and left in the sun to rot for a few weeks: a very limited capacity, indeed. He’s up there (George, not the iguana) having the time of his life, completely oblivious to the struggles of the families he has wrecked, apathetic to the fragility of the lives his agents unlawfully incarcerate and routinely torture, and speaking incessantly about things existing only in his head and ideals that are effortlessly debunked by any critic with a glimmer of reasoning ability and whose g-factor intelligence measure is above that of the average six-year-old’s. This is not the sort of man we want in the White House, agreed, but now that he is there, we must consider what tenants are next in line before we evict him:

As coldly criminal and ethically reprehensible as Cheney might be, he is irrefutably smart. If his talents for lying and deceiving are surpassed by any man, the GOP hasn’t found him; Cheney is the best in the business. Currently, he is forced by fault of bureaucratic design to operate through Bush to accomplish the republican agenda. Watch Bush closely or review his days as an oil tycoon and you will see he has not recently or in his younger days made a single operation run any more smoothly, quickly, or effectively from his involvement. In fact, he is a prodigy of the ship-sinking arts. Look not on America as this ship, but rather Bush’s party, and you will see he is an ace that America, at this point, can scarcely afford to lose. Let him foil and frustrate Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Rove, and whatever other demons of democracy operate behind the scenes for the remainder of his second term and by that time, they will all be politically spent. Toss out Bush now and he’ll become the patsy they so desperately need; his party will focus all the blame on him and pretend as though they were all innocent little Eichmanns that were just ‘following orders’.

And don’t make the naïve assumption that Bush’s successors can be dispatched in the same manner and expediency as he may be. Realize that some of these men, while operating so far outside the bounds of the law and basic human decency, understood they were doing so and took exhaustive measures to ensure they could not be brought to justice. Cheney and Rumsfeld are two examples of men who likely had such realizations, therefore the prospect of bringing them to justice, while they occupy their respective offices, is grim. A crook is aware of his identity and prone to conceal it if he has his senses about him and desires to continue his arts for much longer.

Put simply, I believe this administration needs to be maintained a single entity; we can, upon the proper hour’s arrival, hold individual trials for each of the key players in keeping with (or restoration of, as the case may be) the traditions of American Democracy. But as long as they maintain power of the executive branch, we must respect that to divide them would have a similar catastrophic effect as slicing open a malignant tumor before it is extracted from the patient, the caustic effects are unpredictable but most certainly consequential. The men have this habit of upholding the “no honor among thieves” cliché to a level that is mortifying. Marginal at first, truth became valueless, humanitarian virtues trivialized until fully discarded, these men outright disprove supposed principles of moral universality (reference Chomsky). Bush, though certainly not a respectable exception to the patterns of antisocial behaviors of the presidential cabinet, may be an unwitting presence of damage control through his contribution of semi-debilitating ineptitude. Keep him in there, I say; he certainly isn’t making things any worse than they’d be without him. Let us vigilantly await, therefore, with much tar and feathers, the inauguration of the 2008 Democratic candidate as 44th president before we punish these men for their crimes.

— Dan Black

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It was 120 years ago today that poet Emily Dickinson died in her home in Massachusetts, known to the world barely moreso than she was the day she was born. Her life shrouded in mystery, recalled today as quiet serenity, it’s hard for me not to wish there were more like her in our modern culture than there are. I’ve fancied myself Dickinson-like in times of trouble and distress (as though I could abandon the world and be content with only myself), though I cannot claim to be her; she is something legendary. I’ve written many things that I had hoped to complete by today so that I might publish them as a tribute to her, but I have completed nothing. I have no finished works but many fragments that stand apart from each other, stand alone and distanced from cohesion. With no other strategy than to finish this thing and post it (now 3 days behind schedule) I hereby mash them together and let them face the world as they are, the way their inspiration never needed to. I have entitled the project “My Nostalgia for My Emily”.

My heart cries for the Emily my memory recalls
My ever-living mystery, my love, my Emily.
Your speech

Silent spirit Her words, like raindrop fragments, fell upon our yearning souls
Still today her voice is silently resounding
A dancing mind, combative soul, a creature
These confines that contain you, you have built within your mind

The outside world could not distract you from the
Motion filled with grace and quietness, her hands and arms like elegance

We share a name, you and I; we share a null-identity. The world with no apt labels for you and I allows us our social-translucence and cultural-anonymity.

—It’s not all noteworthy, for sure, but my immemmories are contained somewhere therein.

— Dan Black

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My blog, now silent for weeks, has lost its sense of direction, navigationally jarred and agitated to the point of possibly heading uphill in ardent struggle to arrive at the Earth’s core. Its discombobulated state, however, has proven far from self-defeating, respecting that redefinition is periodically essential, that motion is not always progress, and that only one of all directions is forward. I consider my recent stagnation a privilege, and the fruit of which may conceivably prove progressive –to be consequence-determined by the quality of future writings. Blunt honesty, whether the reader is desirous of it or not, I shall now share: that my inclination to blog had been submarined by what I regard an overabundance, a gut wrenching plethora of literary garbage that pervades every square inch of popular media, specifically the internet, and has trickled down unconditionally unto individuals, bypassing their cognitive facilities, mindlessly accepted and repeated through their own mouths.

It is significant, I believe, to point out that this blog is free. Free in the two-pronged sense that you have paid nothing to read it as I haven’t received a single dime to write it, we are both richer for it having been written as well as for it having been read. Free writing is pure, not contaminated with cash-related influences that are capable only of degrading its quality and diminishing its capacity for truth. The content of these words, though hitting on nothing in particular, are just the same untainted, and therefore full.

So few words that echo through this cavernous contemporary culture are pure. Pure in the sense that they originate exclusively from a selfless desire to communicate, from one person to another, an idea: an idea coming from that former person and nothing else, upon receipt of which that latter person has, as gift or poison, from the source something genuine, something without any contaminants whatsoever, something deserving of each of the words that served as its conduit. Words carry with them a rich history, whether the user is aware or ignorant; they may express love, but if not they are worthless, abused. The abuse of words is the perversion of self and society. The preference of silence over speech is sad, but for some may nonetheless be proper and prudent, and this, I believe, may be the saddest truth of all.

It seems these days that if the expression of language to its audience is not packaged through some readily-identifiable Hollywood medium, with some corporate slogan or public figure’s logo stamped onto its side, or brandishing some other symbol depictive of a universally recognized “cool”, it will come off esoteric to the extent of sounding foreign. It only rumbles through the ears of the inattentive without reaching the innards of their brains, much the same way untranslated Kafka is perceived by the ears of a hearing impaired infant. Novel ideas don’t stand a chance when placed side-by-side with the base pragmatic pollution that free-enterprise and unchecked economic prosperity has boiled our language down to. It is an irony that for myself is painful and hope-massacring and for most others is beyond grasp and appreciation that widespread murder evokes not even the attention much less intervention of the same people who will stand in line for hours and spend what meager earnings this covertly totalitarian society has left them with to watch movies like MI3, containing much the same senseless bloodshed that can be seen for free the world over but, for reasons known only to the perpetrators of indifference, is ignored.

My observations reveal to me a society whose behavior is governed entirely by outside influences and cannot for its own benefit or dignity affect its own trajectory or azimuth from within -a free-floating, engineless vessel acting not unlike a hockey puck smacked around the ice by players owning no respect for said puck nor any sympathy for it when it cries out after ricocheting off the dashers. Our opportunity for redemption may have never made itself as real as in the wake of the September 11th attacks, but our society, so ill-prepared for calculated action or well-reasoned diplomatic initiative, embarked on a self-righteous “good fight” against a nameless and faceless foe and in historical retrospect, dispatched a chain of events that adhere to the hockey puck paradigm perfectly. The number of victims killed by American neo-imperialism far exceeds that number lost on September 11th, but this often spoken truth is seldom by the right ears heard.

To my knowledge or to my face, my writing has never been scrutinized or attacked by a free-thinking mind. This is as flattering as it is tragic, and although my writing has indeed suffered insult and injury, it never has by individuals that examine things through the lens of their own self-discovered, independent beliefs and values. I will remind all that “First Response …long overdue” speaks of sharp assaults whose passions and perspectives, though loudly expressed, were not products of respectable minds working for their own sake, rather they were end-result excrements of political manipulation and subversion that left the two voices who expressed them sounding less like credible critics than like conditioned, cultivated mouthpieces of an intricately corrupt political juggernaut that the writers themselves had not even a vague comprehension of. Every one of their arguments can be effortlessly traced back to a catchy political slogan, a commonly embraced but intellectually transparent fallacy, or a hackneyed drone-appealing TV commercial. The amusing event nonetheless left me with the understanding that all good writings will at best come under fire, at worst be flatly ignored, and that all good writers are rewarded with enemies and vendettas appropriately proportioned to their success.

There is another problem that all good writers face, if even only those good writers who have maintained the worth of their words by keeping their identities safely distanced from political and monetary pull: that absolute truth and lucrative truth may perhaps have some plasticity in the degrees to which they overlap, but are certainly not and have never been identical. The problem, that I wonder if this is a loss for all who read any written word or a gain for those few words on the absolute side (for they will always possess this element of exquisite beauty and rule the domain thereof exclusively), will never be resolved or even universally acknowledged not because it is unfounded or too abstract, but because the masses that read one or the other have consciously or unconsciously relinquished the ability to distinguish one from the other, if even they read them at all.

I thank the readers I don’t have, that is, those readers whose minds have no application for free-lance, independent thought, for ignoring what I say. Your thought processes, busily suffering their predetermined fate of immersion into the feeding frenzy of pop-culture and receive-mode style entertainment (i.e., action films, reality TV, commercial and movie-star icons) that characterizes our generation, stands to gain nothing from laying eyes on plain and naturally-occurring beauty: absolute truth, free of cosmetic alteration.

All pessimism aside, the sense of obligation that I feel to continue my writing, unaffected by whether or not anyone reads it, stems in no small part from my belief in God: my adherence to his call to spread truth and love, express these through all mediums that I am able, especially those which I am talented, and cannot be discouraged by the apathy and occasional childish put-downs of the thoughtless masses. I take pleasure from seeing my words stand together, unified, working to convey to the world the truths not often enough expressed and the love and fellowship not often enough shared, similar to that pleasure of the machinist who so expertly finished a steel fabricant that he can see his own image staring back at him from the completed piece.

I work hard to craft sentences that can endure the test of time, like children that I hope will survive me. My fingers moving over these keys like a hammer striking an anvil are making this ear-splitting sound, sending sparks outward and wisps of smoke upward, leaving the ironwork, my sentences, tough and durable. The only way I know how to write, with a hot fire and a heavy hammer, may someday be overtaken by the efficiency and expediency of industry, but these new methods cannot leave the customer with the same satisfaction and warmth of something borne of sweat, skillmanship, and sincerity, delivered with the care and concern of its crafter from his heart -a measure of quality I hope the refined readers will always appreciate and demand for their dollar.

It has never been my aim to leave the reader confused or with means to reach any end of understanding other than what they can confidently call their own. I will accept gratitude for assistance in discovery, but never for constructing another’s belief. If upon reading these words, one feels anger/hatred/discomfort toward their source, the writer, myself, then they should be critical of that specific emotion as though it were, itself, written word. The displeasure you feel is likely a child of the mother: self-awareness you are seldom face to face with, and the father: subconscious resistance to accept blame as your own –an unnatural behavior you are stuck with for which you may thank Western Culture. Whomever the parents, you cannot blame the writing, for if you felt no such knee-jerk discontent, the words would read innocuous.

— Dan Black

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