Monday, September 03, 2007

Burn Baby Burn

"Everything American will disappear one day, more completely
than that which was Greek, or Roman, or Egyptian. This is one
of the ideas which pushed me outside the warm, comfortable
bloodstream where, buffaloes all, we once grazed in peace. An
idea that has caused me infinite sorrow, for not to belong to
something enduring is the last agony."
Henry Miller, page 57, Tropic of Capricorn

Is Rome already burning (in an American context)? This passage was written in the 60's, about a guy in the 20's, and just like in Miller's day there seems no shortage of people today who feel like we Americans are nearing (or on) the brink of extinction (which in a nuclear era isn't too fantastical a worry...). Some think the sky is falling 'never mind losing world dominance---America will be a totally destroyed in 30 years time!!!!' But I wonder, and furthermore put to the readership as a question: Are we just a bunch of worry warts? Are we really about to lose it all (which in my opinion wouldn't be so bad) and go under like Rome did, or are we really just going through a lull? And if we actually are going under, why?
What worries me the most is the frenzy that is created by false media. Too much crap these days is being turned into an "end of days" type symbol for us to gawk at: Lindsey Lohan goes to rehab again, Michael Vick kills a bunch of dogs; and the reactions this stuff yields is so major (and glamorous) so as to make it seem absolutely cataclysmic, egging on the Rome is Burning sensation.
Maybe, if instead we unglued our heads from the TV screen, turned around and looked at all of the truly terrible shit going on, then we would stop fucking up so much. Maybe if people stopped thinking that America is going down the shitter because Lindsey likes to blow coke, and started to think that America is going down the shitter because of our GOD DAMN CORRUPT PRESIDENT then we wouldn't be in such a slump and we'd realize the sky isn't actually falling for the reason we think it is. Congress has spent DAYS addressing Michael Vick's dog fighting, meanwhile, oh you know: mass genocide is occuring, nuclear bombs are being built by men with the temperament of a 2 year old, America sinks further into debt! and the lifeblood of our country can't even get medical treatment never mind a roof to sleep under! you want to know whats barbaric, you fucking worthless shit, Byrd, its barbaric that you spend your time (or rather West Virginia's time) on such detritus as Michael Vick.
What I would give to just unplug CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and every single talking head who's pockets are getting lined by big business as we speak and to let people figure out what is really a problem, to stop the absolute deception that is going on right now, distracting us from the important and getting us all frenzied over some dumb girl's drug problems and guy who never learned that "dogs are people too"...
Maybe I'm over categorizing as to who is so sucked into the spell the media has cast, but it sure as shit doesn't seem like anyone's turning the crap off, and inaction in this case feels to me like treason in another guise. Support legitimate media sources, turn off the crap, and thereby do all of us a favor by diverting energy towards action that will keep us from going under.


sobinator said...

I'd just like to disclaim that when I say people, I make reference only to the bourgeoisie of America (which to make no false pretense I am definitely a part of) and certainly not those Americans who don't have the time to turn on all that shit because they're working 3 jobs to pay for their kid's and parent's medical bills. I certainly make no claim to understand truly anything about their suffering, and really only take up qualms with those of us so privileged as to have the time to worry about this type of thing.

Paddy said...

Lots to think about there, and I will measure my response in digestible segments. First of all don't blame the media (as if we can even speak of a monolithic institution called 'the Media') for propagating fear; it's what makes them money fom a population willing to be scared (i'd also suggest that this is what gets Republicans elected, but that's for another time). You can easily turn off, or shoot your TV; you'll find it rather satisfying, believe me.
Secondly, what exactly do you mean by a 'lull'? A lull in what? We are the number one military power and economic power in the world; and our cultural soft power is more pervasive than anything the Roman or British Empire produced. I disagree with Miller's assertion that everything American will disappear. Empires and states may come and go, yes, and as a historian I've got to think that the United States too will one day pass, but we will not go gently, as the poet says, into that good night. The one thing Americans do well is leave big footprints.

MrC said...

Just to clear up a point. Tropic of Capricorn was published in 1938 in Paris as a sequel to Tropic of Cancer which appeared in 1934 also in Paris. The books were banned from America until the the 1960s. More Americans should read Henry Miller. As Karl Shapiro remarked, Miller is "the great Patagonian."


sobinator said...

oh, so you're saying-don't attack institutions that capitalize on the citizens' fear?...sounds like you're becoming a well-bred bushy, paddy (see haliburton, duct tape etc). And it shouldn't have to be a matter of avoidance of media. The people should be receiving the vital information they need, before they need to act on it and shouldn't have to sift through the crap, aforementioned.
As to your second point, I wonder whether you actually believe the argument you make? Do you actually think that the progress of a nation is measured by the sum of its guns, bombs, and dollar bills? I would like to make an analogy: the germanic empire (or german civilization, however loosely defined) certainly took what I would consider a lull when Hitler came to power, producing all type of weapon (both mechanical and human) and the media of the empire shifted its focus to a less than helpful subject for the people (see the justification of exterminating Jewish Europe). We may have, on paper, all the makings of the greatest nation-still making progress, but in terms of moral quality (like what our nation is (or isn't) doing to create a better world to live in)...we're in a certain and ominous lull.

Paddy said...

Don't put words into my mouth or on my page; I never said any such thing about institutions capitalizing on fear. Is 'the media' and institution anyway? And even to associate a discussion of the press with Bush-Cheney is to make a great leap. Capitalizing on fear is as old as the hills. Let talk insurance companies; or the cosmetic industry; or just about any producer of a product who wants you to buy. The conventual world stuff fear down our throats at ever turn at every minute. That still doesn't mean you have to play their game. To paraphrase a great Irish patriot: We defeat them by ignoring them.

Paddy said...

And who are these 'people' you talk about, the one's who shouldn't have to sift through crap?! Life is about learning how to sift through the crap; some are better than others; some don't care to expend the energy; some actually prefer to live in the shit. I won't hold my breath awaiting the arrival of our Philosopher-King who will deliver the goods to 'the people' in easily digestible, crapless form. In the word's of another intellectual revolutionary: Turn on, Tune in, drop out!