Friday, February 24, 2006

All things centripetal

I do want to let everyone know that the second part of the First Part of the Journal of the Journey has been completed and placed in the Library. And I fear it did make our fastidious Archivist blush.

Silly thing, she should have listened to the caveat [“only for the broadminded”] that preceded the steamier parts. I imagine that she might have fainted dead away, though, if she had had any real amatory experience and actually understood what lay beneath the euphemism.

In a manner of speaking. Euphemistically speaking, as it were.

Or not.

Yes, it’s feeling like a silly Friday night.

Not that it is, but, given that I’m always simultaneously existing in 6 time zones, I can pretty much pick and choose and declare it to be what I will. Which is not nearly as much fun as it sounds.

What I would actually prefer to do with my time-space issues would be to gather them up in one ball, as Marvell almost said in one of my most endlessly favorite poems, which I do believe I've noted here before:

…roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life:
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Not the carpe diem of it, I've never found that to be a problem, but rather the focus, the winding all the different skeins of time, space and purpose into one ball. One place.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Through a glass

Just stealing a much needed, thoroughly illicit, break here.

And to let you know that there is another addition to our Library. I’m not quite sure, but I believe it’s the first of two parts of a First Part. Very worth reading, in fact. A kind of initial entry in a journal of the journey.

And the second part of the First Part has been almost done since yesterday, but I may have to sleep one more night on some of the phrasing, sigh. As some of you know, I am no stranger to the scribbling of amatory prose and the necessary sleight of hand it imposes.

But, most dear Aphrodite, I must come up with some alchemy for bufar.

On a vastly lighter note, I have been absolutely giddy with glee over the Dubya Dubai fuck-up.

The public negatives are, of course, all for the wrong reasons, but the real web – or at least some small corner of it - is being unraveled in its wake. Scary times, truly. I cannot imagine how many literal guns are being shoved into how many literal heads as I type. Nor do I have any doubt that the billions the emirs have shoveled into the Carlyle Group, for example, represent just a tuppence of what has been changing hands.

But oddities and slippery synchronicities have been abounding of late.

My Left Coast girlfriend assures me that, given that Pisces is in, um, the Moon, I think, then this is all to be expected. And she also assures me that, given my own heavenly sign, it is only natural that I should abhor sudden, unbidden revelations, not to mention things that go bump in the night.

This actually has to do with a premonitory dream I had more than a week ago, a poem by Octavio Paz that has been whirling in my head ever since that dream and a comment I left a number of posts back.

Back to work, I think.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Errata

This is ridiculous. I’ve been writing a paragraph or two a night, then abandoning them, leaving a dust cloud of scattered, disconnected words.

Think of this as clearing my desk.



My father would, when it suited him, forbid the discussion of politics and religion at the dinner table.

Ill-disguised farce, all of it.

As I mentioned before, no one in our family had any interest whatsoever in religion, and the only one at the dinner table who ever wished to discuss politics was I. His reason for not wanting to hear it had nothing to do with civility whilst dining, which is a damn fine concept, but that he didn’t wish to hear it. At least from me.

My only point here is that I learned two things: not to discuss politics and religion at the dinner table, and there are a fair few number of men who do not wish to hear a girl discuss politics.

And, given the discussion that has been transpiring in our Comments, and given that I cannot for a moment imagine that any flatworlders or believers in intelligent design would venture into this Parlour, I shall proffer just the briefest of comments myself.

When my mother had a series of strokes which quickly destroyed her ability to speak coherently, then at all, I learned and watched, as she struggled, the other side of her brain struggled, to learn new paths to speech. I learned that this can happen, and perhaps it might have with my mother, if she had had more time.

Two paths to the same skill.

The other thought has to do with cookery, since it was mentioned in our Comments as regards coexistence. I do most thoroughly believe that cooking is simultaneously both art and science, requiring both heart and knowledge. Not coexisting in some sort of wary stand-off, but intertwined, plaited.

I use the word heart, rather than religion, and I don’t think there’s any need to deconstruct the meaning of the two words.

Suffice, for me, that anything worth doing is not only worth doing well but also worth doing with heart. I believe much that is ill with the world has to do with the rigid separation of powers between logos and, well, heart.

One can, for example, bake a cake without heart, and I have seen it done. One can also bake a cake without science, and I have shuddered to see that done once too often. And the truth is, despite my overweening passion for such confections, I would not choose to eat either.

******************************************

And a very quick note about News.

As comrada b mentioned in our Comments, yes, Enlace Civil’s bank accounts have once again been closed, for no stated reason other than “they”, you know, “can.” The communities have been issuing supportive statements and such, but I would suggest that anyone who would like to send funds use the time honoured methods mentioned here previously.

Write me if you require a reminder.

[The following was written, though not posted, a week ago.] I am pleased to report that we have now received the first “clarification” on the two incidents of Boys Gone Wild which I mentioned in last night’s post and which so entertained me.

This has to do with the more obscure reference, of which I imagine only one or two of my readers might be aware, especially since it sounds as if one of those readers – or one of his homeboys - might have been involved in said dust-up.

The dust-up which we now know never took place. We knew this from the start, of course, given that nothing which is ever reported in any mainstream media ever actually took place. The compas didn’t really believe they’d been sequestered and then behave like a bunch of girlie boys, sending frantic messages to their leader. No durable goods were tossed, bad words uttered, flounces flounced.

I might have been perversely disappointed by this clarification, but, given the homeboys in question, I choose to remain a believer .

Monday, February 13, 2006

Revisiting a field guide to provocateurs and their ilk

Given the times, I felt compelled to pull this out of the Archives. While I think it might be useful for all of us, there is a certain petit choux for whom I would especially recommend giving it a quick read.


Exculpatory errata

Please note that everything I have to say on the subject is drawn simply from my own experience, nothing else. Experience, however, which spans several decades, various movements and more than one continent.

And, not to disappoint, but I have no intention whatsoever of outing anyone. That is precisely what they seek – to distort, deceive and disrupt. To change the focus from the struggle to something, anything, else. Even and often to themselves.

My purpose, therefore, is to provide some information which might be useful in identifying them. Clues, as it were. Patterns of behavior, habitats, tactics, that you can observe, note and deal with as you choose.

And another note. It is next to impossible to ever be absolutely certain in these matters. Therefore, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like mad, lead it gently back into the pond from whence it came.

An arbitrary typology…or poseurs, provocateurs, castrati and such

As in so many arenas, what matters are consequences, not intent. Thus one will find many a self-serving poseur. These are the individuals who can be noted by their absence from the scene when their “cause” is no longer in the headlines or on the news. But they are faster than a speeding bullet when something is “happening.” Dropping names, acting as if they’ve been there forever. And, one way or another, always, making some cash out of the deal.

Another clue to their game is that they almost invariably fail to do enough homework, being too busy arranging the lights or firing off apocalyptic bulletins to stir their fans/consumers. And that lack of homework and media spotlight can be both diversionary and dangerous. I remember once when a US government document was “misread,” mistaking the ELN for the EZLN and leading to a flurry of rumour and damage that had to be mopped up by anyone with access to a scullery.

Image is all for them. They may come as rugged cowboy, rumpled media heavyweight, tarnished saint, but come they do. And then they leave. Always off to the latest, hottest, most profitable New Thing.

Now we come to the ever annoying provocateur. Their role historically has been to infiltrate a group, behave like a lunatic and disrupt. Nowadays, however, given the virtual nature of so much of our work, they tend to do their business online.

Flooding lists with off-topic, and off-putting, posts. Veering as far as they can into the caricature of sociopathy. Diverting, disrupting and horrifying. Their first hope is to marginalize the site, their second is to shut it down.

For those of you who have been around for a while, you might remember a certain Chiapas list. A particularly prolific character [or characters, since he was addicted to transparent shape-shifting] appeared, always ready to post endless words on provocative [of course] issues and stir rabid, off center discussion. And this was at an especially difficult time in Chiapas, when loss of focus could have led to serious consequences.And, when that was not enough, he turned to another favorite tactic. Slander.

Slander is also a tool in the arsenal of another species which I call castrati, for what I would like to think are quite obvious reasons. You know this sort. Often, though not always, male. Driven by hysterical [and I use that adjective with full intent of referencing its historical origins] rage, bonded to his computer with superglue, always on the lookout for a new target for his sublimated wrath.

In other times they were tying limbs to a rack, flogging disbelievers, burning the dangerous one at a stake. Tedious stereotype at its worst – displacing, projecting, purifying, pogrom making. These repressed zealots are the easiest to spot. Their hysteria gives them away, they despise anything female [unless she be virginal or martyred or, preferably, both] and, like the poseur, they never do enough homework.

As, for example, a recent wanker of no note, who - if he had indeed been involved and Irish as he avers - would have been present at a marvelously riotous May Day celebration one weekend a few years back at a certain pub in Dublin. A charmingly licentious evening was had by all, and he would have been left with no doubt, for example, as to the proper suffix of my name. Thus sparing himself the humiliation of his recent public self-outing.

And, speaking of Dublin, that brings us to counterinsurgents.

They often wish to meet you – in person. Or to get your phone number so they can chat. Or, if they think you’re wired, to get an introduction to someone inside. They are smart enough, usually, to pretend they have something to offer. A project, a skill, something of value.

These are the dangerous ones who can arrange to have your phone line cut in the basement of your building and, simultaneously, at the switching station. Who can outsource their work to such a degree that the junkie street person who’s being paid to watch you and follow you day and night might indeed be a whacked out junkie and not just someone who’s been dressed up to look like one. Not a pleasant circumstance.

They tap your phones, hack your computer, have you followed. Except for the one attack in Dublin, my experience has been benign. I have been lucky, unlike many others. In Chiapas they outsource to paramilitaries and thugs and anyone else who needs the price of a cup of coffee.

And how does one recognize them? Very easily. They’re the ones who are trying to do you serious harm. And, unlike the poseurs and castrati, they do their homework very very well.

A game for the parlour

Yes, a bonus.

I suspect that one of the above types – someone I know from my above referenced past – has posted comments here a couple of times. If it is he, I must admit that he’s mellowed a bit, for now at least. Or perhaps he’s just investing in higher quality chronic. Time will most likely tell.

Have some fun. But I absolutely insist – no naming of names. Think of this as a private, practical exercise, designed to sharpen your observational skills.After all, being right is never enough. You also have to be swift and smart and endlessly intrepid.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Boys Gone Wild

Honestly, truly, I don’t write in Middle English, nor do I deliberately obfuscate.

Well, that’s not completely accurate. Once in a great while I do perhaps choose to make my words ever so slightly demanding, but only because I wish them to be understood by some but not all. For reasons having to do with nothing but self-preservation.

But I really hadn’t been thinking about freedom of speech in my last two posts, despite the fact that I have never seen more terror lurking behind words than I have, almost always, on the left, any left. Fear that one will get it wrong, offend the directorate, be tossed or shunned.

My solution, as I’ve noted here before, is to be nowhere, everywhere, invisible but, yes, ubiquitous. No comites for me, no grant money, no shadowy puppetmaster on the Other Side with deep pockets. And, being a girl, nor has my entire sense of self-worth been dependent on acceptance by an increasingly smaller number of frat boys.

So there, she flounced, giggling still.

No, it has to do with what comes after the freedom of words. The consequences of those words in a particular milieu.

Imams and Ian Paisley, papists and patriarchs, academics and artists, journalists and japes. Anyone with a pulpit, a creed and a crowd.

It can dress itself up in the robes of religion, politics, art or almost anything, but its demands are always the same. It needs untutored acolytes, ideally impressionable adolescents or disgruntled mid-lifers. And amoral scribes, “new” journalists, more than willing to toe the line on offer so they can get on the bus and shine in reflected light.

And enemies. Mother of god, they require enemies.

Catholics or Protestants, Jews or Muslims, the morally repressed or the morally profligate. Rich people or the hoi polloi, the political class or undocumented workers. The Evil Empire [any of them], the Axis of Evil, the Bad Governments, these are among the best, because they establish the connection directly, without having to tax their fan base with an intervening step. “I hate loose women [feel free to insert what you will here: Islamists; gringos; men who wear hats; Sunnis; gangstas; AMLO supporters; Quebecois, ad totally infinitum], we hate loose women, they are very, very bad, ergo we are very, very good”.

Yes, I know. The oldest boilerplate in the world, and who in the hell cares. A shaman, a charlatan, a man of steel, a general, priest, visionary. His terribly unresolved issues with Daddy, his courtiers. Drawing up a Plan, choosing a persona, practicing in the mirror, finding an Enemy, drawing a crowd.

And we know it works.

Millions slaughtered every century, tons of ink spilled writing, then revisiting, the lives of the Great Ones. But even those whose fiefdom never extends beyond their parish, classroom or subscriber list still sleep, confidently, with the angels.

So, yes, boys setting themselves up as Gods and holding forth.

I did wrack my brain for the odd second in search of one of the fairer sex for whom this scenario might apply, and I’m certain such a lady might exist. Somewhere. But, as I noted in one of my very first posts here, girls tend to work from the other way round. Starting with the domestic, the micro, weaving web and cloth, outward.

I’ve been rambling at much too much length here and find myself quite diverted. First, by boys discussing religion in the Comments, a subject I’ve been struggling with for the last few years. The object of my struggle being Boys Discussing Religion. Heatedly.

With exactly the same tone, intent and passion as, say, another has been waxing about a certain mayor of a certain large city.

I understood, at about the age of 11 I believe, that most institutionalized religious entities were nasty, horrid and dangerous things. As I learned more of the world, I realized that most political, academic, economic and cultural entities were the exact same thing. Providing forum and writ for Boys Gone Wild, as noted several paragraphs above.

One example. A boy, who has been close to me, in some ways and at some times, ever since I was 18 months old, came to visit last summer, as is his occasional wont. After several cans of lager, he leaned back in his chair, voice rising, eyes fixing, and he proceeded to rail against the Church, which, he averred, had “destroyed his life.”

Once I caught my breath, I moved to gently interrupt the tirade, which was loud enough, truly, to disturb the horses in the street. I reminded him that, as far as I could remember [and, being the only girl and the middle child in this particular unit, one can be certain that I remembered most clearly, even down to the colour of the frocks], that we had visited the inside of a church exactly once in our lives. It was an Easter Sunday, and it had entirely to do, in fact, with frocks. And bonnets. Easter bonnets. He would have been about 5 at the time.

Nor, I reminded him, had any deity ever been mentioned in our home. Ever. Not once. But he wouldn’t have it. The Church was the Scourge of all mankind, and the single abiding reason for his own misery and unquenchable fury.

It was beyond bizarre, but it reminded me of other times, other places. Another boy, a euro-boy, who suddenly went off, once upon a very last time and completely out of the blue, about American born-again Christians. The other boy, the one with such suddenly deadly serious issues with the above-referenced mayor.

The best I can make of it is that it might, perhaps, be the other side, or tarnished edge, of the coin I was trying to discuss above. The boilerplate. Every time I’ve seen this particular brand of explosive, curiously inappropriate rage [and I’m not speaking of any of the Comments, but of the examples I’ve proffered from my own life], the boys in question have been of a Certain Age and have indeed held court, albeit in widely differing venues.

I really did have a point to make when I started all this, but to hell with it.

Because I simply cannot get my mind off two other recent examples of Boys Gone Wild. The one, of course, being Dick Cheney, full of Wild Turkey one presumes, taking literal potshots at his “hunting” buddy. Not hunting, mind you, but apparently one of those stocked, skeet shooting entertainment centers for Evil Fat White Men.

The other, and I’ll tread as gently as I feel I must, had to do with a Man Wielding a Metal Folding Chair, a mouth as foul as an Irish person and a very hurried change of lodgings.

All my sympathies to the hunting partner and window in question, but, still and all, my deepest thanks to both of them for having lightened my mood, and my weekend, beyond all measure.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Noblesse oblige, new school

I’m not surprised that no one really chose to address the central point I was trying to explore the other evening, although interesting comments were most certainly offered.

It discomfits, deeply. This notion that it might be incumbent on any of us, and that’s most of us, who find ourselves in a position to speak, instruct, write, show up - to take responsibility for our words. Or our posters.

It’s much more fun to just toss them out, use them with studied abandon, abandon increasing as the applause rolls in.

Complexity, intuition and relevance. Thank you, fauxtapatio.

Rather than, say, the studied, disingenuous ingenuousness of another of our raconteurs.

Images matter, words matter. And no one knows that better than those engaged in any sort of politics, no matter how otherly. The glossary shift of some months back was not without forethought, nor can I envision the Other Campaign as a band of Merry Pranksters, wending their parti-coloured ideologies down country lanes.

As was noted, most of the happy villagers are as blissfully ignorant as the acolytes, at least about the gentleman in question.

Exactly.

But how that could be conceived, on any level, as a good thing is beyond my comprehension. Which was precisely the point I was trying to make in my previous post. Tabula rosa beggars personal responsibility and offers itself up to whomever is quickest on the draw with a piece of chalk.

I am exceedingly simple, and I think what haunts me the most is the extraordinary fragility of both acolyte and villager who are there, after all, because they are seeking, and the willingness, always, of some or one to pick up the chalk.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Disrobing

Try as I might to avoid the Universe, sooner or later it grabs me by the throat.

Three in the morning, as it is every night, no books to be had and nothing on the telly. Until CNN International breaks in with coverage of Lebanese youths [always the “jovenes”, their patrons in hiding behind doorways or under grandstand cover] storming the Danish consulate. And then a Catholic church and any other threat that might appear to witless eye.

And so I was forced to confront the thought which has been everywhere of late, for me. Symbols, icons, and what lies behind, below them and, sometimes, to the left.

Two different thoughts, paths, for the moment. The first having to do with the fundamentalist laying claim to symbol, iconography. Hagiography, as it were. The American Christians who rage against a silly television show which dares to diminish Jesus by showing him in the flesh. The Lebanese youth who rage against a consulate because someone dared show their prophet in a sketch.

Someone else, once, who raged against someone who dared speak lightly of Mr. W, an idol held close by those of his chosen sect. Revealing a two-fold irony that leads to the second thought, because it is the nature of the sectarian to assume that only they know, can understand, hold an opinion on their favoured gods. The truth being that the very first time my words ever saw light of print – a lifetime or three ago – they were devoted to an exegesis on the subject of the very Mr. W.

Understandable folly to assume that I, given my gender and outsider status, would know nothing of their gods or should be allowed, regardless of knowledge, to venture an opinion.

Out loud.

But if it were to be true – that other way of looking at the iconic – then what?

What if, let’s pretend for a moment, a huge portrait of Stalin were to be hung in a room crowded with the newly faithful? Or again, along the way, a hammer and sickle were to hold pride of placement?

And what if this were to be done, not by those who quietly wear their chosen decade close to their hearts, but by those new to the fray? By the fretless, fevered young ones, seeking what all seek, whether in Belfast or Damascus or San Sebastian or LA?

That they would know nothing of the Doctors Plot or Treblinka, for example, would it matter? They are young, impassioned, resolute and, most of all, present. Would we, should we, care?

Some might smile, if smile they could, at unwitting homage to long sequestered gods.

Others, one at least, would think that those of us who do remember the gulag and the stone have a duty to impart the memories, to recommend knowledge as a necessary perquisite of engagement. To say out loud that it is good to learn the history of icon before embracing it.

Anyone who has been a parent or a teacher or an adolescent understands the heated, heedless rush to battle, and god knows anyone who has ever seen, for example, the posts to the yahoo zapatista mailing list knows that there cannot be THAT many counterintelligence ops out there.

But how can one tolerate the moral relativism that touts the self-preservative need to learn History on the one hand but then ignores it when presented with hordes of adorably naïve, untutored acolytes? I fear, much too often, that a rationale lies behind this dichotomy.

If we were to expect, request, demand, a bit of knowledge, provide even the most basic of primers, then the numbers might diminish. There would be books to be read, for one thing. And after that there would be questions to be posed, dilemmas to be discussed, goals to be weighed.

Not the grand stuff of post-mod theatre or op-ed duels from on high.

No more Gang of Five or Clash of the North of the Border NGO Titans.

No more cannon fodder, literally or figuratively.