Tag Archives: context

The Lie of the Conservative Batman

I’ve waited a week to post this until enough people have had a chance to see the latest Dark Knight movie, but it bears mentioning: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Batman mythos runs so deep in our culture, that parallels are easy. Claims now run rampant that the latest brilliant installment of Christopher Nolan‘s Dark Knight trilogy is anti-Occupy, or pro-capitalist in sentiment. That it purports ‘only a billionaire’ can save us. Chris Nolan has dispelled as much, though it’s not unreasonable to suggest that the phenomenally successful series may be inexorably linked to current events, as no writer or director creates in a vacuum, and both life imitates art and art imitates life. All films reflect their times, and the Batman is no exception. The imagery itself has seeped into everyday usage, (much like the protagonist masks in V for Vendetta), the war-painted Joker has been used by protest movements to vilify seemingly every elite from Bernie Madoff to president Barack Obama. Even without the gadgetry, moral code, genius-level detective skills, martial arts, cape or cowl, many billionaires see themselves as crucial heroes, their “sacrifices” necessary for the good of the system. And yes, the probably psychopathic James Holmes seems unable or unwilling to separate reality from fiction, modeling himself after The Dark Knight‘s villainous Joker (portrayed inimitably by Heath Ledger).

But Christopher Nolan’s version of the Batman (dubbed the Nolanverse), had already established an old Gotham rife with political corruption, a recession predating our own by a few years (Batman Begins began in 2005), the excesses of the rich and inequity of their system, and the thievery of Wall Street.

The script for The Dark Knight Rises was written during 2010, with location scouting happening in December of that year. Filming ran from May to November 2011, overlapping the rise of the Occupy movement by mere months. Any similarity is purely coincidental, and furthermore seen through the lens of Fox news analysis and FBI entrapment, where Occupiers have already been condemned as criminals and terrorists. The predominant Beltway philosophy already has established the ‘infallible rich’ as a cornerstone of its power structure.

And the story of haves and have-nots is as old as time anyway, as the Dark Knight Rises draws heavily from A Tale of Two Cities and its historical Red Terror. It’s a false dichotomy (which many pundits love) that one cannot have both a healthy opposition to violent revolution and sympathetic support for a protest movement. It really reveals more about the claimants’ ideology than anything else. Charles Dickens, for one, cared deeply for the plight of the poor, but not for the brutal atrocities of the French Revolution.

We humans will ascribe our own meaning and see what we want in film and comic book escapism, no matter how earnest the telling. This trilogy simply rings true because it dissects the hard ideological differences regarding justice, evil, truth, responsibility, and just exactly who is the real psychopath, anyway. We can all too easily see the divides and overlapping philosophies of the Occupy movement, the police force, the rich elites, and the League of Shadows. And yes, both lone vigilantes and lone nuts.

But even if the movie were a direct allegory to our failed structure, it could hardly be seen as a conservative endorsement, as bloggers on both sides have contended. More likely, the chilling dystopian vision of a city torn into a No Man’s Land reads as a warning against radical demagoguery and institutional deception. And though some may not agree with the aims of the Occupy movement, it takes a willfully ignorant or forcefully disingenuous mindset to equate them with the insane philosophy of either a chaotically sadistic Joker or a frighteningly focused and cold-blooded Bane (portrayed by Tom Hardy).

Indeed, Occupy remains a leaderless movement, constantly worrying about being co-opted by self-interested parties. Bane adopts a populist message in order to peddle false hopes to the citizenry he hopes to torture, populating his army with liberated thieves and killers. Yes, and there are those whom society has forsaken. Bane’s armed revolt plays to the same paranoid fears of Fox News and the State Department, and the same rhetoric of a much less radical Anonymous; it is made up of janitors, shoe-shiners, orphans, ex-cons, sanitation and construction workers. The under-served.

Bruce Wayne’s (reprised by Christian Bale) sins are spelled out for us at the beginning of the Dark Knight Rises. Not only has he taken the fall for the crimes of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and conspired to propagate a political lie, he has turned his back on society and the world. The streets have become relatively clean without him in the eight years since he donned the cowl, but the less obvious ills of a broken system still endure as Bruce neglects the city he loves, and literally atrophies in his elegantly rebuilt mansion.

Gotham’s sins are also many, where betrayal and lies are common political practice, where war heros are expendable during peacetime, where critical-thinking police are discounted as ‘hotheads’, and where even good men like Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) get their hands filthy. The Batman himself, as the Force-ghost of Ra’s Al-Ghul (Liam Neeson) reminds us, “for years fought the decadence of Gotham with his moral authority… and the most he could achieve was a lie.” The overreaching Dent Act, based on Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne’s falsehood, has robbed the imprisoned of any chance of parole. And though it was (hurriedly) agreed that if they world knew of Harvey Dent’s crimes, the guilty would be opened up to appeal, it is this very act of conspiracy that threatens to help blow apart the system, once finally discovered. The career politicians, police bosses, day traders and rich elite are anything but sympathetic figures.

Selena Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is the only decent representative of the 99%. She (as well as her politics and moral code) is adaptable, values anonymity, and doesn’t seem to care much for gun control. She embodies the ‘honor among thieves’ adage, she is generous, and sees herself as somewhat of a Robin Hood, at least more than the society types she robs from, who ‘take so much and leave so little for the rest.’ However, she is equally horrified, frightened and disgusted by the madness that ensues during Bane’s “revolution.”

John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn), on the other hand, is your stereotypical corporate vulture, a literal blood diamond opportunist looking for his next hostile takeover, who doesn’t have time for “save-the-world vanity projects.” In fact, Daggett doesn’t care if the world is destroyed with his help, so long as he acquires more money, and the “power it buys.” It is the likes of Daggett and the other one-dimensional capitalists who worship the status quo when it suits them, and then collude with criminals on the side. Daggett only sees Bane as ‘pure evil’ once he realizes the imminent threat to himself and his riches. Once it’s no longer himself who’s in charge. It should be noted, for the record, that there are no real-life Occupy figures who could cow a crooked billionaire by placing a hand on their shoulder like an alpha dominant.

But of course these unsympathetic crooks are surely served up as contrast to our hero: the billionaire who would save us.

And though the Batman/Bruce Wayne may be heralded as the authoritarian’s dream; willing to employ mass surveillance, extreme rendition, and solely deciding what technology the people deserve and can be trusted with, he is no societal Superman. He is not a billionaire’s billionaire, for though he has more cars than cares to count, has never answered his own door, and “doesn’t even go broke like the rest of us,” he is also easily displaced within his own boardroom, decries the egotistical hypocrisy of charity balls, and has not been watching his own money carefully. Notably, he wants to fail. He relishes the opportunity to be destroyed as the Batman, if it means saving the lives of everyone; the rich, the workers and the poor alike.

Neither, however, has he been serving his own people and city of late, trading in his once rich playboy identity for a Howard Hughes shtick. Not only is his corporation floundering, his beloved charitable foundation is practically defunct. Orphaned boys age out of Gotham’s social programs, neglected by a city with no homes of jobs available. Here they become easy prey for vaguely Middle Eastern terrorists and organized criminals, where they die in the sewers and wash away once they are used up.

The progressive responsibility of socially conscious and civic-minded billionaires, (an extremely endangered breed both in Gotham and out real world) had to be summed up by an ecoterrorist acting the part of a lovely socialite (Marion Cotillard); “You have to invest to restore balance to the world.” Bruce has been lacking in his duties, and that evil that he and Commissioner Gordon buried isn’t dead, but rising up once again.

Bane’s movement is a false one, as he tells the people of Gotham that he is not a Conquerer but a Liberator, but in actuality he is neither. Bane is the Destroyer. Spinning a hopeful message in the wake of his havoc, telling the people to “take control” of Gotham, Bane uses his “truth” to get the citizenry to “tear down a corrupt city” and reclaim what is theirs from the rich oppressors who had peddled their myth of opportunism.

And it is not just any “ordinary citizen” who holds the detonator to their destruction, but equal parts rich girl and terrorist-anarchist. These masterminds did not just create a populist movement to fulfill their diabolical plot, but infiltrated powerful corporations with their subterfuge as well. For comparison, real-world anarchists, despite practicing just another political philosophy, are readily depicted by the media as murderous terrorists. Protestors, despite exercising their constitutional right to assemble, are either beaten or made into bridge bombers by the FBI. Even those who have read the anarchist or socialist literature pale in comparison to the bloodthirsty Bane army. But the fear has been writ large in the news: if a lone nut like the joker can inspire a depraved massacre in a theatre, what would an evil warlord and his army of mercenaries inspire?

Like the Batman, authoritarians do seem to create their own enemies.

What follows once the structures fail lacks even more subtlety; in the face of such wanton violence, the government will abandon you. The good cops will attempt to salvage the status quo, and the bad cops will either desert or work against the people. Idiotically and blindly following orders, in fact, could get orphans and priests killed. Only the Batman can save us.

As even Selena realizes too late, this is not what the 99% ever wanted. Their system has swung wildly from an authoritarian, decadent state to the bloody turf of a mad warlord. It is the Dark Knight who is the hero we need, but unlike any known billionaire, he is now humiliated and humbled, fearful, responsible, accountable, and thus strengthened, empowered, respectful and focused. “Hardened by pain… not from privilege.”

It really should go without saying, by the way, that is not until Bruce Wayne loses all of his money, loses nearly everything, in fact, and is dropped into a pit to rebuild himself, that he is worthy of becoming a savior. And even those he still uses all those wonderful toys that only his privileged life could have afforded him, there can be no analogue for his virtuosity. Nobody has done as much as the fictitious Wayne family. And no playboy industrialists don a mask and fight crime.

As super-fan of the Batman, Kevin Smith, points out:

“In our world it’s not the case. The richer one gets, the less moral one seems to become. Not in all cases, but you hear about everything that just happened to our economy in the last few years… at the end of the day, Bruce Wayne/Batman [is] a moral example of a billionaire… Right then and there you should be able to divorce yourself from reality because no billionaire would waste their time helping others.”

This establishes the film’s central conceit as high fantasy. The Batman doesn’t have what we’d normally call superpowers, and we’ve seen it’s not simply the gadgets or money that keeps him going, but his rigid moral compass and drive to do good that makes him superhuman.

It isn’t just allegorical. It’s not just a cautionary tale. It’s a mad thought experiment. Fiction. Fantasy. Though some of us do have trouble separating that.

For there is no Ayn Randian perfect citizen or engine of the economy that somehow magically makes everything better. There is no Nietzschean Übermench. In the face of the very real threats of depraved elites, deadly terrorist groups and savage gunmen, there are no real superheroes.

Batman will not save us.

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Expertise

“Everyone is ignorant, just in different subjects” – Will Rogers

I sometimes commiserate with other workers in the service sector of our corporate reality, that allegedly brilliant lawyers, stockbrokers, even policy-makers cannot seem to find a book or order a sandwich intelligently to save their lives. I am not implying that this invalidates their other skills, just illustrating how none of us are as smart as we think we are.

This phenomenon can be illustrated by the way people interact with my room. One friend of mine, amidst party-goers and video-game players, managed to effortlessly peruse my vinyl collection (even pointing out a miscategorization) and select three musical gems in succession. Others would not have been adept at operating a record player, no matter how new. Different people react differently and with varying levels of interest, curiosity, and affinity to my eclectic bookshelf. Even more counter-cultural types will be drawn to the sticker wall, perhaps recognizing a street art hero or adding to it themselves.

I noticed that a recent visitor, compatriot and video-game enthusiast who stayed on my couch was immediately familiar with the whirring sound an XBox makes while the controller is left in to charge. He unplugged it before drifting off to sleep, but others would’ve (and have) been confused, not knowing the sound’s origin, how to stop it, or been mistaken as to its utility. Compare this to the complex usage of remote controls on my system, which is nearly impossible for anyone to master.

At this point, my girlfriend knows nearly everything about my room, its contents and workings. I’m really not all that complicated.

Even the video games themselves offer a microcosm of the diverse talents, skill sets and interests available to the general population. Many require Halo or some other FPS to really excel and be entertained. My girlfriend and many others only seem truly fulfilled by Action/Adventure RPGs, such as Skyrim, Fable, or Fallout. Almost everyone has some patience for a good puzzle game, like Braid, but with their own level of competency. Throw in a classic copy of MarioKart, however, and you really start to see some sparks fly. A rare few seem able to dominate any gametype. And most people who visit, ‘hang out’ or party have no interest or skill in video games at all.

The possible extrapolations of which really have me thinking. It’s not that Jamie Dimon is an idiot, I’m sure he’s very skilled and competent at dominating and cheating the system. He just has no patience and knowledge of how ridiculous he looks lying in front of Congress. It’s not that Mitt Romney misspeaks when he alienates the “lower classes” using Ivy League, Ayn Rand 1% rhetoric. He just doesn’t understand, he isn’t experienced, and can’t comprehend what America means to most Americans.

This does not excuse them, of course, from pretending to know what’s best for everyone, while really only serving their own self-interests.

Whether they are attempting to preach economists (while refuting the top economic analysts), make claims about science (while contradicting leading scientists), or speak for the American people (in spite of the protests of their constituents and customers), the authoritarian types can’t seem to stop “being experts” on everything! It’s really quite remarkable, what with all the information that’s out there, that any one person could make such a claim, and assume they are 100% correct.

If I came over to your house and started rearranging your kitchen utensils based on my own knowledge of culinary efficiency, I would be in no proper context at all. I am neither a chef, nor am I as intimately familiar with your organizational comfort level and and ease-of-use as you are.

Whenever the rich, the pundits, the legislators, the lawyers, the demagogues, the elites, and the corporate mouthpieces try to appeal to authority, make sure you ask, on whose authority, anyway? More often than not, they’re speaking out of their ass, scientifically speaking.

Shift Happens

So the other day I experienced yet another Reality Shift, and realized soon after that this happens with enough frequency to be a noteworthy, bloggable phenomenon warranting further study.

The Reality Shift is unknown to science, although pop quantum mystics (re: bullshit artists) like Deepak Chopra or Rhonda Byrne might tell you that you are using the power of intention to reshape the world as your own, or send yourself into a nearly identical alternate universe except for those things you wanted changing. Any time someone starts speaking this way around you, you must a> correct them politely, b> run away screaming, or c> smack them.

The weirdness to which I refer seemingly happens at random, and more than likely within one’s own head. It may have the looming pressure front of nostalgia, not wholly unlike deja-vu, but particular in several regards. It leaves the victim feeling out of place and time, suddenly and inexplicably the world is unfamiliar and strange, or even exciting and new, though logic dictates that you have seen it all a hundred times before, and nothing has physically changed. Everything is somehow just… different.

Reality Shifts most certainly occur. The way you felt about your elementary school WHILST in elementary school is far different than the way you feel about it now. In fact, you have felt differently about it many times over in the course of your life through random quirks of circumstance and remembrance. Your tv-and-movie expectations of high school at a very young age were soon supplanted by the real thing, though they may have inadvertently tinged that part of your life, either at the time or years after. Your relationship with the people in high school, and your abilities of relating to people, drastically change as you enter adulthood, the work force, collegiate social circles and the like expanding the parameters of your worldview. Everything from your geographical orientation as you learn and memorize new environments to your comfort levels contextually as a member of the human race. Obviously we all change and grow and evolve with age and experience, and on the whole this is a gradual process. But can these Shifts be noticed and even recorded in memory?

Most of the time we do not feel the Reality Shifts within ourselves until much later upon reflection. But to actually be aware of of your perceptions and contexts apparently changing as you look around you in wonder, your head sent into a spin, leaves one dazed at the vast reality none of us truly understand a mote.

So having started a new job one month ago, (and having gone through all this many times already) I was in a good position to recognize what might be happening when this Shift occurred. As I finished assisting a customer, I stared off deeply into a nearby wall, one that I have seen hundreds of times before now, and felt a wave of alien resonance envelop me, an odd sensation like being in the Twilight Zone. Was my brain perhaps in the process of rewiring itself to accept my new placement in the universe? Shuffling the short-term into the long-term memories, (something that dreaming most likely accomplishes), thereby shaping my worldview at my present age to the appropriate circumstances pertaining to my life and survival and social graces? Does this happen any time our lives require it, during relationships as they blossom and evolve, friendships, vacations, or whenever a preponderance of sensory information makes it necessary to grow as an individual, incorporating new information and ideas? I have felt little Reality Shifts in response to what seemed at the time to be crazy new ideas in my life, listening to an Alan Watts podcast in Hawaii, reading a very difficult Social Science book for AP History, learning what anti-zoo meant from an insipid liberal, accepting the death of a relative or the end of a relationship, discovering that my father did NOT have the ability to change traffic lights by pointing his finger like a gun and going *pfvvew*.

Take note of these things when they happen, and ponder every possibility; transcendental, religious, philosophical, neurological (though I myself am predisposed to the latter two). Assuredly this is not singular to my life, but each and every human must be capable of being wowed by it.

Strange Varieties of Experiential Reality

I spend an inordinate amount of time that coulda/shoulda/woulda been spent as a productive member of society, instead supposing a limitless myriad of alternative points of view of the universe. Part of me almost naturally accepts the thinking that we all have been, will be, and are part of the same consciousness, but even that is a monumental leap away from the logic that each person’s thinking is inside their own head alone, that once we die all biochemical thought ceases, and that the only thing that connects us truly in this regard is our common ability to ponder the subject from our varied perspectives. Very few of us, it seems, reach the same conclusions using nearly identical operating systems.

Speaking of perspective, can you imagine being an artist in the Fifteenth Century, having apprenticed most of your young and adult life, finally having gained the intricate mastery perfected after generations, only to have some architect-punk named Bruneschelli point out that parallel lines recede together into the same point on the horizon, thus reinventing the way we approach art, and indeed the whole world?

Inspired individuals often (perhaps necessarily) uncover new truths that entirely alter for the rest of our species the way in which we view the world. Imagine falling asleep like Rip Van Winkle during the Dark Ages, your eyes closing to the night sky, only to emerge from your slumber after the Renaissance, a plethora of books now available on the theories of a sun-centered system of planets, a complex and moving cosmos of unimaginably distant stars, that each star was its own sun with perhaps its own planets and therefore perhaps their own inhabitants.

Germ theories of disease, and indeed the very existence of ‘invisible’ microorganisms, were very controversial even by the time Louis Pasteur landed on the scene. His demonstration of simple, easily replicated lab experiments opened up a disgusting world of factual reality to the rest of us, finally accepted, and led to immunization with antibiotics and hygienic practices not the least of which includes pasteurization.

And what of all those enterprising thinkers who worked on their theories for years, researching, experimenting, formulating, hypothesizing, and all of it ultimately wrong? For some time in historical record our ancestors believed insects to be born of pebbles, based in part on observation. When Johann Joachim Becher postulated in 1667 the theoretical existence of phlogiston, a fire-like element that was contained in combustible bodies and released during combustion, and could also explain the rusting of metals, he was observing a phenomenon for which he had no contextual understanding in his place in spacetime; the chemical process of oxidization. Or when psychoanalyst Wilhelm Riech posited in the 1930’s a theoretical orgone energy, yet another in a long series of fictional ‘life-energies’ to be historically uncovered, his ‘discovery’ nevertheless affecting the study of sex, music, literature and parapsychology forevermore. And how was Mao Zedong to know that, by popularizing the ‘barefoot doctor’ medicine of unlicensed country practitioners, merely out of financial necessity to at least somewhat treat the millions of Chinese not living in modern cities with access to hospitals and expensive pharmaceuticals, that the paramedical advice would be taken out of context and used ad nauseum by white middle-to-upper class Americans years later? Or homeopathy, when it is not a malicious ploy to trick ailing victims of poor health into diverting their dollars to another profession, is often a genuine, sincere (and altogether incorrect) proposition that medicine diluted down to nonexistent doses might somehow be more efficacious than what they see as an archaic medical establishment in dire need of progressive revolution. Or all the sorcerers and alchemists and religions and quackery that insisted that they had the freshest revelations that would shape a new world, and though the facts did not bear them out, somehow left a lasting affect at least upon popular culture.

Shaman, without benefit of scientific equipment, pop psychological terminology, or socioeconomic awareness of larger global themes, have been able to use psychotropic drugs to explore and create entire mythos of humanity, the self, the universe, and gods by simply delving into their sacred states. The discoveries they made, one could argue, have little to no bearing on the truth of reality as it pertains to all of us. But it had plenty of that and more for the shaman.

Our understanding of the universe and ourselves not only changes through time, but with a greater understanding of time. Before a certain point in history, time could only be determined by the sun, the stars, or other natural occurrences and features of the cosmos and our planet, itself a giant clock. The slow evolution of invention in gnomon to mechanized and finally atomic and digital clocks allowed for better time-keeping, at first for the very rich, but soon for anyone who could carry a pocketwatch, wristwatch, or iphone. Both Galileo and Newton and most people up until the 20th century thought that time was the same for everyone everywhere. This is the basis for timelines, where time is a parameter. Our modern conception of time is based on Einstein’s theory of relativity, in which rates of time run differently depending on relative motion, and space and time are merged into spacetime, where we live on a world line rather than a timeline. New perceptions in time affected art, as the impressionists left their stuffy studios to capture the world more quickly or essentially, and photography managed to capture it instantly. Art became more figurative, gestural, or symbolic in response.

Armed with curiosity and new innovations in film, Eadweard Muybridge managed to capture for analysis the biological movement of beings, with ramifications on the worlds of science, medicine, art, and the burgeoning worlds of film and animation as well.

And so the world unfolds itself to us, and doubtful is it that anyone alive at the time of this digital imprint being left in the historical record will coincide with the full revelation of cosmological knowledge and truth, (liberally granting our species even gets that far). Each achievement begets others, can sometimes be lost and have to be rediscovered, eventually building a decently accurate portrayal of how everything works. Neuroscientists, philosophers, string theorists, particle smashers, self-wallowing alcoholics and religious zealots are all working out the same thing. The facts remain the same throughout, it is up to each of us on our own and all of us as a whole to construe them accurately.

You could have been born a synesthete, or been a paranoid schizophrenic before our modern conception of mental disease, or an acid freak, or have had a distinct vision of Mother Mary, or been a released prisoner of Plato’s cave previously shackled knowing only shadows, or born a Chinese villager whose favorite delicacy is eggs boiled in boy piss, or genuinely believe you were abducted by a UFO, or forced to pose as a double agent for so long you don’t remember what’s true, or been the surreal sole survivor of a mine collapse, or fought for the Confederacy, or been born transgendered, or been in a Sam-and-Diane relationship for many years, or been Constantine the Great or Elizabeth Bathory or Bill Hicks or Jim Morrison. You can be a skeptic or a believer, an optimist or a pessimist, lead an active or a sedentary lifestyle, passive or aggressive, dominant or submissive, studious or stunted, martyred or vindicated. And in many ways no other human being has the right to say you were right or you were wrong about a great deal of the choices and decisions and rationalizations in your life.

Ah, but for science.

Get Stitches

I had a conversation with a friend of mine concerning the various definitions, ramifications, and iterations of the word ‘bitch.’ As political corrective fluid is spilled across large swaths of society, I think it is important to develop a better understanding of what words mean. Attempting to censor (even the moderate and etiquette-based forms of self-censorship) without delineating will either fail outright, or else create a sort of Orwellian nonsensical paralanguage where words do not mean what we think they do, or did, or should.

If used to refer to any woman as any woman, or the whole of womanhood, it is most certainly bad. This is the definition most ill-used in ill hip-hop; “I got 99 problems but a bitch ain’t one.” Denigrating a particular woman by categorizing her merely as woman, and specifically coloring womanhood in a demeaning or belittled manner, this is definitely the most misogynistic definition we should focus on eradicating.

But ‘bitch’ even in reference to a particular woman, has had another more specific negative connotation that, interestingly, is ripe for re-appropriation. This same friend of mine readily self-labels herself as a ‘bitch’ in the sense that she is an empowered, opinionated, extroverted, strong-willed fighter. Because women are not helpless, defenceless weaklings dependent on men for sustenance, it makes perfect sense to use a word previously heralded by the oppressors in a new way to ratchet up the language as an empowering tool. She isn’t just “some bitch” or “someone’s bitch”, she’s “THE bitch” as in a declarative statement of only one of her defining qualities; “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother, I’m a sinner, I’m a saint…” It’s edgy, it’s attention-grabbing, it’s powerful. And contextualized correctly, it’s not only deprived of simple-minded pejorative, it’s actually quite complimentary. Actively re-appropriating a word like ‘bitch’ to describe powerful, positive female role models can devalue the negative aspects of the word in all but only the already most hateful of minds: Xena, Wonder Woman, etc.

Then, curiously and conversely, there is the usage of ‘bitch’ to denote weakness or femininity in men (instead of those previously mentioned qualities of stubborn-headedness, strength, and boldness traditionally applied to men). Whenever ‘bitch’ is applied to a man (either heterosexual or homosexual, though in the latter community the former is also used), it is used as a sign that they are clearly far below the alpha males, unto them as members of the female harem might be. You may be familiar with the use of ‘bitches’ in prison, or if you’ve never been to prison, the television show ‘Oz.’ Or if you’ve never seen the television show ‘Oz,’ the movie ‘Baseketball’ where one of the characters (a diminutive and skinny fellow with a gentle nature) is literally nicknamed ‘Lil Bitch.’ This is doubly bad, IMHO, since it not only serves to stigmatize, stereotype, and/or penalize feminine qualities in men, and by extension women, it is also a direct insult to body type and personality that may not be easily changed, nor should they feel the need to have to live up to some archaic masculine standard. Regardless of whether those qualities actually typify women (and the previous examples show that it is surely a poor paintbrush to be using so widely), who is to say that a man cannot benefit from the integration of naturally-occurring feminine qualities and traits? A male friend of mine, a self-proclaimed pacifist who has had his fair share of bullies to deal with in his life, has even proclaimed his desire to re-appropriate this usage for the proud peace-lovers of the world, or in the eyes of the machismo majority, ‘little bitches.’ We’ll see how far that will fly.

This is all getting a little confusing for a single word, unlike the word ‘fuck’ (whose many meanings and usages more or less follow the same common theme), ‘bitch’ has widely different meanings. There are the many adjective forms, such as a person who is bitchy, or a wave that is bitchin’. Its verb form ‘to bitch’ as in gripe, complain, or whine about, is perhaps historically also connected to a derision of women, especially if closer to the ‘strong-headed woman’ noun, as in “What a bitch! She bitched me out!” While some of these other words may have to be eradicated, replaced, or spelled differently, at least this noun-and-verb one-two punch has at least enough thematic collusion to be pair-bonded. Still, verb bitching to yourself because it’s raining is not the same as verb bitching on the phone so that you bank doesn’t unjustly overdraft you $500.

Which finally addresses re-appropriation and censorship. Language evolves and words are discontinued or adapted in usage slowly over time based on the needs of that culture. The n-word in black communities over the centuries, the f-word in the queer community and on GLEE (and even the word queer itself). Forcing the issue will not work if the time and environment for adaptation is not right for the word. Imagine trying to get pre-Civil War slaveholders to stop using the n-word. Probably not the most pressing social justice concern at the time, and realistically, the society was not receptive to such suggestions of change in any way. Confusion occurs when words are ‘campaigned’ against, with advocacy and awareness mixing with backlash, sarcasm and dissenting opinions within and without the ranks. The recent anti-‘retard’ word efforts are not as successful as intended, perhaps due to the many changes to the terminology for mentally or physically handicapped seen by an otherwise uninterested populace, or the equation of ‘retarded’ with simply ‘lame’ in the lexicon of young people.

I’m all for a world where people do not feel marginalized by words. Ideally, people would stop using those words of their own volition. But that may never be the case. And legislative attempts to censor words are not only unconstitutional, they’re wrong, and they don’t work. Advocacy is great where it gets results, but directed funding may not accomplish much. It is better to subtly slide changes into popular culture over time. Words lose steam on their own anyway, such as mulatto or chinaman, though it could be claimed that Larry David and Walter Sobchak help a little in their roles (respectively). The best thing, I believe, is to refuse to cater and patronize insulting forms of empty media, and to support the humorous devaluing of derogatory language in layered comedies, political satire, and then common usage. On a large-scale, a rift can appear in the societal context of these ‘dirty’ words, with the chaff being separated from the wheat, with the festering hate language relegated to the curiosity of historical record.

DELUSIONAL PEOPLE

Faber- to fabricate, to lie, thus, ‘art is a lie!’

Modern art embraces everything, and it should, as each new generation has that many new sources of inspiration to draw from, the only new ideas are the combinations and retoolings of older, (arguably better) ‘original’ ideas. Whenever I come up with a great new idea, it appears someone else has already done it; Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, any countless number of other brilliant jews. This is the only decent argument for anarchy. We ought to just tear everything down and start from scratch.

Ideas and philosophy multiply exponentially upon themselves, building blocks like LEGOs towards an ultimate good, or perhaps mucking up the process with overt confusion. I can’t create unless I immerse myself in new ideas and company, I get depressed when I’m not fulfilling some act of creation, when my body gets depressed it makes itself fall in love, when I’m hopelessly in love the only cure is art.

As it embraces everything, is doesn’t have to be picky, it has arms open wide to receive it all, but perhaps it CANNOT decide, and is just artistic nonsense. The ravings of madmen in the street at streetlight poles begin to make perfect sense to me.

If someone labels their memoirs ‘The Rantings of a Crazy Person’ chances are they are not a crazy person. If they label their memoirs ‘The New Gospel of the Reborn Jesus Christ as Told to me by my Housecat,” then they may be a pretty good candidate. But even I attribute animism to inanimate household objects, a silly childhood holdover. My class ring, like all class rings, for example, had a singular purpose in its life; to get itself lost. My toilet cannot flush without my approval. Whereas most people need only to pull the flush lever, I must be watching my toilet as it does this, nodding and smiling satisfactorily, beaming proudly as if no other toilet could fulfill this function as well as mine.

Delusional people (artists of reality), confuse their internal and external spaces, in some degree incapable of delineating between the two. Their dreamrealm is our realm, and they will as readily interact with a wall as they would with the policeman on the corner, and “sane” people like you or I would rather interact with neither. We tell ourselves that hard-line constancy is better than our mental illusions, a good use of our perceptional condition than being tricked. But we are all tricked on a daily basis, by our biased minds, our faulty eyes, and the society, fellow humans and world in which we live.


This is Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ It raises many important and pivotal questions about art as we know it, ‘what is the thinker thinking of?’ ‘is the sitting position the best position for thinking?’ perhaps he’s thinking that ‘I could be thinking a whole lot better if I put on my damned thinking pants.’


This is Rodan. He thinks of nothing but destruction.

The artist is a clown, a poet, an imitator, a monkey, a philosopher, a sociologist, a socialist, a satirist, a fabricator, a creator, and first and foremost a liar.

Constructing his or her own reality for entertainment, aesthetic or philosophical purposes (and let’s not forget the payouts), is the honest intention of dishonesty what separates them from the camps of confidence-artists and the camps of schizophrenics?

A few more thoughts related to this subject, and then I must return to the comfort of my dreamtime, whose sophistry I know to be authentic and internally consistent:
Early cultures and shaman were much more responsive to the archetypical ‘stranger’ as a bringer of both dramatic good and evil foreboding. Regardless, his news was often accepted as gospel by the characters time and time again, even in those stories where the moral was that some trickster is playing with your worldview to ill ends. We love a good mystery, and solving it sometimes takes a backseat to never solving it. Some humans skip to the end of the enjoyable book to read the reveal first, others join major world religions. An old Native American belief was that ‘evil is the truth that is not meant to be known.’

And finally, this:
Does telling a fictional story make it more true than if it were never told at all?