(“…to jump in the river and drown.” “Goodnight Irene” by Huddie Ledbetter)
"The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude."
-George Orwell, Why I Write, 1946 essay.
"We were so easy to deceive /
We were so easy to control /
We didn't even know there is
-Leonard Cohen, There Is A War.
It had been a day full of disappointment and fear. It was hot, even for Tucson in February. The woman at the home for homeless vets at Davis Monthan Air Force Base called and said they couldn’t help me with my idea to use the equipment one of their clients had left in the garage I managed for the family trust, (that takes care of my sister who has schizophrenia) to start a woodshop.
So those guys could do something besides sit around, tell war stories and make each other even more depressed.
I thought, but no, not even that, not even close.
Made too much sense. I said, as I pulled into the parking lot of Casa De Los Ninos thrift store. As I walked in, I called Obama Headquarters to tell anybody I could get hold of that I felt betrayed by and disappointed in him. I was upset about statements I read in a thread on Current.com about his ties to Exelon, nuclear power, liquid coal, crop based (instead of smokestack algae based) biofuels, pharmaceuticals, and the pro Israel lobby/pac, AIPAC and a vote against credit card interest caps. Turns out that was information planted by the Clinton machine. The woman who answered said they were prohibited by law from taking donations over $2000. The staff there couldn’t even take donations of coffee from Starbucks for fear that would be used against them. Exelon did hammer him enough on his bill to require full disclosure for any nuclear accident of any size, that the final bill ended up as a suggestion rather than a requirement but the clincher was Hillary voted FOR that bill. He had made statements that Israel’s right to exist should be recognized but it was more complicated than that. She asked me to read Michael Lerner’s essay: “Obama’s Jewish Problem” at
and Robert Cohen’s, No Manchurian Candidate at:
She was obviously just a volunteer, just out of college, pleasant, personable with a husky lilt and laugh in her voice that promised more than I’d ever known or for shit sure would ever see delivered. But the falseness in THAT hope was my own damn dumb fault. I said I was also disappointed in his apparent lack of understanding about the nature of global warming feedback loops, that according to the testimony of scientist after scientist on the McCain Committee, could aggressively continue expanding themselves and each other like compound interest on existing CO2 while he talked the usual bureaucratic blather about decreasing an increase in emissions by 80% by 2050 and wasn’t even factoring in population growth. Then she really blew me away. She said she’d taken climatology and ecology in college and she agreed with me. I said,
You’re the first person I’ve talked to who’s said that. But…knowing we may not even see 2020 much less 2050, how do you handle it?
I don’t mean this maliciously but if we do go under that way, maybe we deserve it. Just in the sense that we weren’t intelligent enough to survive.
But just thinking that all of human history and art and culture could disappear?
Some new form of consciousness will arise.
Holy shit. I thought, as if to prove her point, that was exactly what I’d been thinking the past twenty years, that nature had already demonstrated a capability of creating innumerable intelligences, equal to or greater than our own….which, as in the present instance, wasn’t a hard bar to get over. Like the law of conservation of energy, nothing really lost. “Nothing,” as Allen Ginsberg said to Bob McNamara, “that would change anybody’s ultimate form of being.” But there wasn’t time to go into that. I should have just told her how beautiful I found her, but I said,
No, I mean, how do you handle it personally?
And she just laughed. And we talked a little longer about possibilities I’d thought of: we could restore the lost reflectance of melting ice with photovoltaic panels, could dig a canal from the Bay of Mexico to the Salton Sea and the Baja and use the rising ocean waters for shrimp farms full of oil rich grass, could make green buildings here and abroad, with good loans to the third world that would replace the CIA’s cor-pork-racy and “Economic Hit Men” with affordable loans for sustainable agriculture and infrastructure. We could invest in Mexico’s and Palestine’s farming communities instead of fences. Yeah we could do wonders and eat rotten cucumbers as we used to say in high school. And then she said,
The incoming calls are piling up. I’m going to have to let you go.
I tried to tell her what a pleasure it had been talking to her, but it came out as just another pleasantry. I felt that old big time ache inside that told me I was going to have to let HER go.
Ah god, I said to the cold, lonely darkness gathering inside me, haven’t I seen her hundreds of times before? WHY does she always come along at the wrong place and the wrong time?
And her voice echoed,
SOME NEW FORM OF CONSCIOUSNESS…..
I finished buying the backpacks I was going to use to carry tools and supplies up onto the roofs in the coming dog days. At last I’d gotten an opportunity, proven myself enough to one restaurant owner, that he was allowing me to install heat reclaim from his ice machine to his water heater. At last I had hope of doing something meaningful for the environment in this filthy business I’d been trapped in most of my adult life. But hope was hurting and scaring me, so I was taking a break that afternoon. I walked out, past the boom trucks in the parking lot loaded with salvage A/C units, into the junkyard in back of the thrift store, where the rejects sat waiting for a slow death in the merciless Arizona sun. I looked up at the cloud spotted peaks of the Catalinas and said to myself,
Yeah. I have no voice, no hands to touch, no feet to walk anywhere with, there’s not even a “me” worth talking about. Nothing here but the mountains. I’m almost glad I know that.
There was a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue on some shelves. I picked it up and sat down on the top shelf, which broke and sent me sprawling like a clown.
Pressed wood. Formaldehyde based crap.
I said as I sat on a table and opened the magazine again, just to see what else I’d been missing for so long it seemed normal.
Inside there were touched up and pimped out babes with grains of sand clinging to their photoshopped skin, posed, self consciously, stupidly, in front of everything we were destroying with every abstract and concrete lust we could muster: a twilight desert, snow capped mountains, the ocean, baby seals, walruses, glaciers, everything, even this ultimate obscenity: the Masai.
Jesus fucking Christ.
You just can’t let ANYTHING alone can you? Everything, especially every proud and noble native culture, MUST be defiled and broken.
And I heard her voice echoing,
SOME OTHER FORM OF CONSCIOUSNESS…
Before which I was nothing but a game.