Mortaljive: The Rest is Silence

There is no still point in all the Universe, and that is the rock upon which I stand

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Opinuary Column



The Opinion "There continue to be very logical, credible reasons for poor and working class Americans to vote Republican" has died for the billionth time, setting a new record for jaw-dropping stupidity on an epic scale.

The Opinion was born and raised just about everywhere, but ulitmately grew up living a quiet, dignified life in Real America, voting against its economic interests, against increases in civil rights for all Americans, against clean air and clean water. It voted against transparency in government if such transparency should reveal anything that showed Republicans in a bad light, and for an end to women having sovereignty over their own bodies. In order to keep the government out of its life it voted for restrictions of its civil liberties, and followed that with a gun-buying spree when a mixed-race man became president of the United States. It panicked when it thought government might become involved in Medicare, and nearly came unglued when federal judges conspired to continue to allow Americans the right to face their accusers in a court of law. It was of some comfort to the Opinion when it learned that the Supreme Court of the United States handed the keys to our democracy to corporations, but was still confused about the impact of foreign investors calling the shots in congress. Attempting to think about this subject made it tired, however, and it let the matter drop.

It's last years spent in a self-induced, bleary-eyed haze, it sought solace by reaffirming its belief that a World Savior known as the Prince of Peace would descend to earth from a floating, bliss-filled after-life and kill everyone that thought differently than they did. It was a warm fuzzy for the dumbest people known to humanity.

Afraid of the evils of socialism, the Opinion cashed its Social Security checks, went to the Post Office, tipped its cap to the police and to the brave men and women who fought their wars, who staffed their fire departments, who taught in their schools, who ran their government. When told that the present administration had instituted tax cuts for the ninety-five percent of Americans who aren't wealthy it became very nervous and angry. "Socialism will never darken our door!" cried the Opinion, until the day came when it couldn't open its door anymore and it died because it didn't think to open up the ground floor window in the living room--it died of starvation and dehydration and alienation and stupefaction and the list just goes on and on and on. A county coroner listed the official cause of death as "Everything."

This past weekend, a service for the late Opinion was held at an undisclosed location, for fear that a bunch of stupid people would show up and want free food and beer. In lieu of flowers the family of the deceased asks that you don't think too hard or too long on this subject, and if it isn't too much trouble to please vote against your economic interests this coming fall. They'll be glad you did.

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The Opinuary Column appears most Fridays at Jesus' General.

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Maid of Orleans



all men of god are mad
splitting the infinite into mere parts
women are sane in their madness
for they inhabit the total
the circle

joan of arc was mad
and was sane in her madness
i seek her spirit
the goddess
the saint
the woman

ride, Jeanne d'Arc
ride to Haiti
sue all the world
cry "enough"
your time is here again

ride forth, dear Jeanne d'Arc
and lift the hearts of foolish men

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A brief history of Jeanne d'Arc can be found here.

I took the above image on January 23rd, 2010 in Portland, Oregon. The statue sits in a traffic circle in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. It was donated by Dr. Henry Waldo Coe. Richly burnished images of the statue can be seen at cyclotram.

Note: I think of poetry and plaintive wishes as the stuff of dreams, but I do not dismiss the realms of our unconscious and subconscious states as incomprehensible or unworthy of contemplation. I write this post in the spirit of conjuring a feeling, a hope, an elation. We begin in the Imagination, and next ride forth into the World.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Opinuary Column



May we hear the music of Haiti
May we pay heed to the poets and dreamers
May we be a friend to the people of Haiti
May we be a reassuring voice of humanity
May it be our voice that is carried on the wind
May it be our voice that crosses the sea
May we lift up those who have fallen
May it be our hearts that beat in the rubble
May we be the friends that speak words of comfort
May our hands be the hands of healers
May our hands be the hands of helpers
May we pour the water and bake the bread
May we feed the children of Haiti
May we hold closely the heart of Haiti
May we hold dearly the heart of Haiti
May we not turn our backs on those in need
May we not yield to bitterness
May we be the face of love

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No opinions died today. No one to bury them if they did.

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The Opinuary Column appears most Fridays at Jesus' General.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cold, Wet & Gray in Portland



oh, it's cold, wet and gray in portland
in portland it's cold, wet and gray
sometimes the rain
just goes all day
in portland, where it's cold, wet and gray

it's probably colder in norway
and wetter at the bottom of the sea
as for the gray
what can i say
it's grayer in portland than me
(and that's as gray as you ever will see)

(chorus)
what did you expect, sunshine and flowers
in the winter in the old northwest?
there is no cure, you just have to endure
in portland, where it's cold, wet and gray

the paper says there's showers tomorrow
and then rain will be following that
the eskimos
have lots of words for snow
in portland, it's just cold, wet and gray

the dogs don't want to shit in the backyard
but shit there they sometimes must
their feet get wet
but what the heck
they're in portland where it's cold, wet and gray

(chorus)
what did you expect, sunshine and flowers
in the winter in the old northwest?
there is no cure, you just have to endure
in portland, where it's cold, wet and gray

soggy is a word that i respect now
i can feel it down into my bones
you're not a mensch
until you've been drenched
in portland, where it's cold, wet and gray

i understand we need lots of water
for the crops and the ducks and the fish
when the kids go to camp
they come back damp
in portland, where it's cold, wet and gray

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Opinuary Column



The Opinion Pat Robertson and Rush Limbaugh are not the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of sacred and secular conservative thought has died, its bloated corpse can still be seen rotting publicly at the intersection of Misery and Despair. These twin towers of modern reactionary thought (covering the metaphysical graveyard of ossified theology and the more material realm of penile vasodilators) have long been twin forces, using their bully pulpits to condemn communities and peoples whose suffering is keenest, whose need is greatest and whose very lives are at the greatest peril. The Opinion was kept alive by means of hot air mixed with moonshine until it crapped on anyone and everyone who wandered anywhere near it, and now its as dead as the deadest thing you ever saw.

In the great tradition of conservative thought the poles that were Tweedledum and Tweedledee consisted of the contrapuntal rhythms of sacred and secular motifs: faith, as portrayed by fundamentalist Christians, was invoked in the public sphere at every opportunity lest anyone who disagreed get uppity, and free market idealism (as practiced by men who built monetary empires on the backs of exploited labor markets) was resoundingly trumpeted as the only thing standing between decent humanity and the squalor of socialism. This arrangement between the Sacred and Secular worked well for much of the (white male) nation for nearly two hundred years until the Reagan Revolution triumphantly destroyed the Middle Class in the War of Wage Suppression, a war that so far has lasted just over three decades.

No longer able to afford the useless products that they had been trained to consume, and no longer able to borrow their capital (bank lending rates had climbed to the level of usury) the Class Formerly Known as Middle began to fret and moan and stamp its feet. Limbaugh, a millionaire draft-eluding ex-junkie, developed a secret recipe for pouring poison into a radio microphone that fell into the greedy ears of his disenfranchised audience. He knew his followers very well: don't educate, agitate. Though he mentioned God from time to time, he left it to Pat Robertson (and his very ill ilk) to shake the Bones of Jesus, the better to rattle his core, conservative audience. If you didn't cotton to Limbaugh you might wiggle to Robertson, and vice versa. The Preacher and the Pedagogue harangued a world of skinheads, dittoheads, talking heads, turnip heads and Rapture Ready Balloon Heads, all for the conservative cause, and all for the glory of god-knows-what.

In recent days, with the tragedy of the events in Haiti to spur them on, both Limbaugh and Robertson have revealed a bilious callousness towards human suffering that is towering in its smallness, its meanness, the conjoined misanthropy of two gasbags floating joylessly in their own projected versions of hell. Tweedledum and Tweedledee will be remembered at last as just a couple of malevolent bastards who, for a time, made some ghastly noises in public, until that day came when they made their noises no more. Amen.

In lieu of flowers it is suggested that one make a donation to Doctors Without Borders or choose a charitable group (Digby has a list of organizations) to help a people in a time of suffering and pain. Whatsoever you do for the least of them you do for the core mystery of your own humanity. Peace.

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The Opinuary Column appears most Fridays at Jesus' General.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Diary of a Mad Ex Vice-President

Aw, shit, this ain't gonna work, damn it. I got too much gel in the toe and not enough catalyst to set the fucker off.

He struggles with the shoe, looking down past the luggage claim to the two security officers stationed by the counter. He thinks about them for a second, and decides that they are mall cops.

Fuck 'em. They couldn't stop a fly trying to crawl inside their butts.

He nearly breaks the lace of the squared off black boot. Sweat is present on his hands, and his glasses are slipping down his face.

If the shoe doesn't do it then I'll just have to blow up my undies.

He smirks and snarks and grunts and wheezes. He grabs his crotch to make sure the bomb is still there. He grabs his dick by accident, and this makes him laugh.

I'll show these butt fuckers what a bomber tastes like. They'll never know what hit 'em...until I hit 'em, and then what the fuck do I care? I will be the God Annihilate. Shit, this fucking...

"Mr. Vice President, are you okay?" asks the lead security agent. "Are you sure you want to fly on a commercial flight?"

Yeah I'm sure, you pansy-ass duck warbler. Just get me there on time--I'm ready to go!

Beads of sweat were running down his immense forehead. His neck ached, and his hands were trembling. This was going to be his big finale, and the rush of it thrilled him.

Ole Dick Cheney is gonna give 'em something to remember, by god. Something to remember for a long, long time...

He woke with a jolt, and turned his head away from the light that was pouring in through the window next to his seat. He reflexively reached down to his shoe, and then to his crotch. He chuckled--the spirits had prevailed. He hadn't missed Christmas after all. Below him the city of Chicago seemed to reach up and embrace him, and as the plane began its approach he made as if to shake some imaginary hand.

I'll show those two-bit windy city fuckers how its done. This ain't some Nigerian tinhorn you're dealing with, no sir. No fucking sir.

Dick Cheney looked out his window as the air bus shuddered slightly in its descent. He smiled, patted his dick, lit his shoe and detonated his boxer bomb.

Tell me to shut up, will they. Ha! H-!!!

Thousand of tiny pieces of Dick Cheney fell over Chicago like confetti on New Year's Eve. It was an ordnance parade that fell from the sky, all smoke and shrapnel and rendered flesh. He was Dick Fucking Cheney, by god, and this was his last goddamn hurrah.

Or maybe I dreamed it.

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Tit For Tat City

I dropped in to see what The General has been thinking about--seems he wrote a little note to a funny man.

Inspired by his post, I offer the following:

Tit for Tat City
(with apologies to Bowie & Friends)

(Yemen) oh blow up the guys you know
(Yemen) oh baby, send in the drones, I gotta
(Yemen) I think the law is a waste
This yellow chicken hawk is gonna blow up the place

(Yemen) he's raining cain
(Yemen) he misses Saddam Hussein
(Yemen) he misses ole Vietnam
He said he had to bleed it but he...and then he...

Oh don't scheme on me man, where is your baggage ticket
We're back in Tit for Tat city
Oh don't scheme on me man
Cause you gonna make them martyrs
You know its Tit for Tat City
A blinding light...its outta sight

(Yemen) Ah Cliff May, cruel to be kind, go away
(Yemen) Then you can show us the way, okay
(Yemen) stooges don't flash here
There's lots of room for the guns and they come,
here they come

Oh don't scheme on me man, where is your baggage ticket
We're back in Tit for Tat city
Oh don't scheme on me man
Cause you gonna make them martyrs
You know its Tit for Tat City
A blinding light...its outta sight

Oh, bomb me

Oh don't scheme on me man, where is your baggage ticket
We're back in Tit for Tat city
Oh don't scheme on me man
Cause you gonna make them martyrs
You know its Tit for Tat City
A blinding light...its outta sight

(etc.)



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Monday, January 11, 2010

The Old Man's Blues



the looming mother is another gray goddess
the sky has perception when she is the hottest
faraway winter is in the basement
mixing cocktails for the old man's blues

the lover climbing is a fantasy project
you lie in the clouds until you can touch it
she is upon you and takes you to paris
she leaves you in a café with the old man's blues

time is a mission
time is a race
time leaves you everywhere
all over the place
remember your lovers
in the distant rushes
the hand of the goddess
sometimes it crushes
love

naked perfection in the hour of summer
lay down in eden with a gentle lover
the earth and the sun and the laughing rain
you wake up alone with the old man's blues

the mystery cousin rides a distant train
she's at the window with the mark of cain
love is eternal but not down here
it's au revoir for the old man's blues

time is a mission
time is a race
time leaves you everywhere
all over the place
remember your lovers
in the distant rushes
the hand of the goddess
sometimes it crushes
love

the looming mother is another gray goddess
the sky has perception when she is the hottest
faraway winter is in the basement
mixing cocktails for the old man's blues

the lover climbing is a fantasy project
you lie in the clouds until you can touch it
she is upon you and takes you to paris
she leaves you in a café with the old man's blues

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Friday, January 08, 2010

The Opinuary Column



The Opinion "It's not schizophrenic to have as the basic foundation of your belief system the idea that humans are somehow separate and distinct from the source of their being (call that source "god" or "the ineffable alpha and omega of existence" or "Olaf, the Lute Fisk Warbler" etc. ad tedium) has died. Additionally, the Opinion that nature is also separate from humans and their presumed creator has also died. An autopsy was performed on the late Opinions, and as a result of that autopsy it has been determined that the Opinions died from acute asphyxiation and an endlessly endured and utterly despairing loneliness. The Opinions were believed to be just shy of their 3,000th birthday.

Born in the dirt caves and Mahjong parlors of the Middle East, the Opinions scared the ever-loving shit out of many worshippers who were just trying to climb into bed at the end of each miserable day without being eaten by lions or poisoned by snakes or made to listen to presentations about time shares in Mesopotamia. Told that Temple Priests had perfected a way of groveling that would keep them from having their limbs gnawed off by Smoke Devils, the worshippers hastily accepted that they were not of "god" but were made by "god" and as long as they performed a number of rituals and adhered to a fairly lengthy list of rules, they might not have their eyeballs pecked out by buzzards. Not the best deal, but certainly not the worst, by any stretch. I'd like to see you do better. I really would.

The agreement did have a downside: the worshippers came to view the world as fallen, and organic systems found in Nature as trivial or irrelevant or base. The worshippers increasingly saw themselves as cut off from democratic participation in the ultimate mystery of being, and the floor of their being became a hard place to kneel on as they debased themselves in abject worthlessness, all before a theological dictator--that same hard floor which could have been a place to dance and joyfully experience the sheer wonder of the ever-manifesting universe! It was only through ingesting vast quantities of horse manure that the worshippers were able to accept their lot in life as sinful little scalawags, the children of a father who denied paternity but insisted on obedience. God was separate from creation, unassailable, usually ticked-off and more than a little accomplished at mass murder, so you had just better not go there, comprende?

In turn and through time, the collective unconscious attempted to balance the need for spiritual coherence with the conflicting meanings of a palimpsest belief system, ultimately causing the great schizophrenic split wherein one worships an invisible omnipotent step-father as the mother of all being. From this schism grew humans who could do the most awful things to each other, all in the name of their cut-off god--but don't be too hard on us poor fools. You'd be fucked up too, having to contort your brains to each and every nonsensical edict foisted on you by people pretending to know deep and timeless truths! Yep.

Sometime this coming Spring a service for the late Opinions will be held at the outskirts of belief, above a small plot of freshly tilled earth--earth you can feel--and seeds will be planted and water will be poured. The Sun will shine down, and with any luck vegetables will grow, and summer will follow, and autumn and winter too, progressing as they always have (cross your fingers). We are living in the Garden (yeah, we've fucked it up but it's still the Garden) and anyone who tells you that you are not in the Garden and are not of the Garden is profoundly, sadly mistaken. In lieu of asking for flowers the family of the late Opinion sits silently in a padded room, far from the madding crowd, puzzling out why the sea is boiling hot and whether pigs have wings. Tat tvam asi, boys and girls. Tat tvam asi.

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The Opinuary Column appears most Fridays at Jesus' General.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Ode to the Late Kitty Ming Ling



it was never gonna be easy
it was never gonna be sweet
when stars fall down from heaven
there are lots of broken feet
and so it is with KM Ling
whose end was foul and cruel
a dog whose breath oft smelled of death
who was in fact a jewel

a mad dog of the mean streets
a pixie made of trash
one eye had vanished long ago
his jaw it had been smashed
he yelped and yapped and raised a fuss
a tiny Vulcan to his Venus
you knew that he enjoyed your dog
by the way he licked his penis

he should have lived forever
he should be yapping still
so tonight i bow in sorrow
his loss a bitter pill
love is not a poster
or some advertiser's dream
some photoshopped perfection
or some wicked little scheme
no, love is Kitty Ming Ling
loud and strange and torn
he's running with the gods now
trying to get in their shorts


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Gonna miss you, Mr. Ling. I already do.

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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

It All Just Goes Around

i drive down the ramp
left the freeway to its own devices
a homeless man holds a sign
it says god bless you

is there change in the cup?
will this change be enough?
will he take my nickels and dimes
will he turn the blood into wine?

everything is profound
everything is passing fancy
when you live on the ground
it all just goes around
it all just goes around
ice is melting in the bourbon tundra
dogs are howling in the arctic night
all the fires die in the darkest hours
and i say good night
i hope that she's alright

i left the sunshine
and moved into the rain drops
mists and fog rise from the river
it says god bless you too

its gray and its wet here
the nights are dark and cold
my lady split for the south-land
my lady has quite a wing span

everything is profound
everything is passing fancy
when you live on the ground
it all just goes around
it all just goes around
ice is melting in the bourbon tundra
dogs are howling in the arctic night
all the fires die in the darkest hours
and i say good night
i hope that she's alright

i dreamed that i was no longer dreaming
that the world had dropped all pretense
the borders between thought and action
had fallen like the berlin wall

i headed south in search of sunshine
and to hold my baby once more
she took my hand and squeezed it tightly
and we opened the golden door

everything is profound
everything is passing fancy
when you live on the ground
it all just goes around
it all just goes around
ice is melting in the bourbon tundra
dogs are howling in the arctic night
all the fires die in the darkest hours
and i say good night
i hope that she's alright

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Brit Hume tells teabaggers to convert to Buddhism

He seems to think Buddhists have the best tea, and therefore they also have the best tea bags. Or maybe I dreamed it.

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Monday, January 04, 2010

A Plague of the Stranger


Albert Camus
Paris 1947
© Henri Cartier-Bresson/Magnum Photos

Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of Albert Camus. A brief posting in the Huffington Post pointed out the significance of today's date--at least somebody is still paying attention!

For me Camus is elusive not because he is abstruse but because he is direct. That he lived and moved about in this world is a rather marvelous thing.

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A few arbitrary quotes from Albert Camus:


Alas, after a certain age every man is responsible for his face.

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Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.

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Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear.

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The need to be right is the sign of a vulgar mind.

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Those who write clearly have readers, those who write obscurely have commentators.

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You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.

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Men must live and create. Live to the point of tears.

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In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.

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The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

The Opinuary Column



The Opinion "God really wants to hang out with you for eternity after you shuffle off your mortal coil" has died. God wants to do no such thing. As a matter of fact, God is so profoundly depressed by the prospect of being forced to listen to the endless chattering of millions of mind-bogglingly stupid people as to be suicidal--God has already written the goodbye note and begun buying essentials on credit cards, as God has no intention of making good on any purchases after the pills kick in.

The Opinion was born back when humans wanted to be liked and loved by just about anything that wasn't trying to eat them. We wanted our dogs to love us, and if the cats didn't shred the loveseat that was proof enough that the felines were all goo-goo about us: we were the useful idiots who fed them and cleaned up their hairballs and feces, etc. We had a function that produced dependence, if not actual love, but no matter: humans wanted to be loved almost as much as we wanted to fight and be petty and cruel and abusive. If love didn't come quickly to our ancestors they would rapidly devolve into irritated guttersnipes in a heartbeat, all claws and screaming and cussing--like Dallas on a Saturday night. When our ancestors did construct a personal deity (designed to give their spiritual resume a much desired boost) it was only natural that the deity love them most especially--that the God in question would coincidentally hate the tribes that they hated was icing on the ego pie. God's hatred of people different from us made everyone feel even more loved. Good times.

As of this writing, friends and family of the Opinion are in a foul mood, searching about for new enemies to rail against, for new foes to bomb and hack to pieces, new evidence that some elitist academic is jerking their chain with fancy, recondite thoughts and such, and that's as it should be. A service for the late Opinion is tentatively scheduled for next week, but don't expect God to show up: the one true lord is not looking forward to any more company, thank you very much, so don't come knocking on the door anytime soon. God suggests that in lieu of flowers everybody could just shut the fuck up and go to hell.

Happy Goddamn New Year!

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The Opinuary Column appears every Friday at Jesus' General.

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