Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Showers and powers

I and damn near everyone else I know here in Portland spent a couple of days working on Scott and Sharon's surprise shower, transforming Zannah's back yard into a sort of Arabesque; there was a menu designed to at least dazzle and daze if not actually knock the poor guests into some sort of carbo/sugar coma. Anne-Marie and Hannes and I spent two nights working on gifts; AM and I made a garnet, moonstone, and silver necklace for Sharon, and the three of us built a new set of back stairs for S&S's house, the previous ones having succumbed to the Oregon weather, crumbling into that sort of humus that is the fate of all organic life out here. The shower was great, a pretty mellow day of hanging out with friends and gorging ourselves into a pleasant stupor.

The following day I had my first appointment at the Pain Management Clinic, wherein I have placed almost all of the hope I have left for defeating the physical problems I have been having. They think I have a damaged nerve that is lying to my brain, constantly sending pain impulses when there isn't anything happening that should cause pain. Long term, they might send me to acupuncture (including the sort where they hook electrodes to the needles), physical therapy, massage, many things... but in the short term they just upped my nerve pain meds to levels that rival the sugar buzz I got at the shower, and we'll wait to see what that does before moving on. Ho hum.

Anne-Marie and I have been mortgage shopping, or technically I suppose I have been accompanying Anne-Marie while she mortgage shops, since I don't have much to add to the equation other than the down payment, being unemployed for the foreseeable future. It's pretty scary, visiting cublicle-land again, while faceless number-pushers determine whether or not we are worthy of being put in debt for the rest of our lives. I feel like we are playing at being grown-ups... I know that's sad, but fuck it, it's my life.

Hannes left for Germany this morning, so our house guests now number zero. I feel about as much trepidation thinking of his future as I do thinking of mine... he's been in the field (electrical engineering) before, and it's tough to fight so hard for jobs you know won't be fulfilling, which they won't, since the business world has become such a dehumanizing place. I'm glad Hannes got some time off between school and work to get out and play... it was great having him here.

Hannes is one of the few people I have met that is as afraid of America right now as I am. We both think that America is in roughly the same position, politically and culturally, that Germany was in right before it became 'Nazi' Germany. All the signs are there: imperialist growth has become the end that justifies any means, there is a foreign race that we can deflect all blame onto, the economy is so fucked that the only way we can change it (given our history) is to have a war, get the people to fund the empire once more. It worked in the two World Wars... ever wonder where all that astonishing growth came from when the War (and the Depression) ended? It was the result of all of the new factories, which were built at taxpayer expense to support the war effort, suddenly being retooled to support private companies. Voila, thousands of companies stamping out all sorts of crap for your mindless consumption. In the present day we have a situation where people are begging for something like this to happen... this country has become a caricature of itself, and the sheep continue to wave their fucking flags, and everytime I see a television set I am greeted by the idiot grin of our President, cheerfully leading the country down the tubes while his daddy's friends rape the country.

People (far too few people) complain about the Republicans, but I think the Republicans are just being who they have always been. The fault for the condition of the country lies partly with them, surely; but a significant portion of the fault lies with the Democratic Party, and more of it lies with the American people. Where the fuck have the Democrats been? They've been trying so hard to look like Republicans, it's almost like we have a one party system. Remember when we were in the 'Cold War' with Russia, and they taught us little schoolkiddies that one of the worst thing about Russia was that the Communist Party was the Only Party, while here in the US we have a choice? Remember believing not that America was great in and of itself, but that it was great because you had a say in how it all worked? Remember when people's votes counted more than companies interests? In the last few years, this country has taken some really large steps away from 'freedom and democracy', and it looks like the direction we are headed towards is something like 'imperialism' or 'fascism'. The 'War on Terror' seems to be the last nail in the American coffin. The Great Experiment is over.

Driving down the highway today, I looked out the windshield of our car to see, at eye level, the bumper of an SUV I hadn't seen before, the 'H2' Hummer. There was a temporary license in the window, implying that the vehicle was a very recent purchase, but the bumper was already covered with flag stickers and the claim that 'These Colors Don't Run'. My first reaction was to be as repulsed by the stickers as I was by the SUV, but it occured to me that they are really two sides of the same coin: the driver of that vehicle, someone who is extremely unlikely to require that much horsepower for anything useful, would need to balance out their rabid and untenable need for (status?) (acceptance?) with an ideology that absolved them of any responsibility for the amount of damage required to maintain that status. It's not that they need an ideology that absolves them of the guilt; it's that they need an ideology that doesn't admit the possibility that they would have guilt at all.

Sounds like the perfect formula for Guilt-Free Fascism.

On a final note (and yes, I do realize that I ramble, and if you must know, the method I use to determine when a post is complete is this: I stop when my fingers get tired), I recently read an interview about fascism in which Richard Falk, a visiting professor of global studies at the UCSB and a professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, had this to say:

"the discourse of terrorism is very much the kind of language that seeks to validate extreme forms of violence and a war mentality, and it is reinforced by this ultranational sentiment. The language has shifted in Orwellian directions, where the search for peace becomes perpetual war."

Sound like any country you know?