Sunday, April 27, 2014

Love of violence

I feel as if I am living in a story by Flannery O'Connor. 
Children are killing children on our streets and in our schools.  The President of the United States draws up a list of people to kill;  he has become what some call a 'desk murderer.'  Or, perhaps, we should save that term for the moral robots who execute his orders.

We have progressed from killing people we can't see to killing people  where they live on land we can't see.  Blow up ten or twenty people 5000 miles away, sign out at five o'clock, go home and watch TV with the family.  Just another day's work.

I watched a highly rated and honored movie called American Hustle.  A depressing experience.  A story of greed, deception, fraud, violence, betrayal, dishonor, and more.  The end was no different from the beginning.  If there was redemption in this movie it came to those who didn't get what they wanted but went on doing what they do anyway.

A good movie is hard to find.

Recently I have  heard or read someone remark that 'We are not in Cleaver country anymore."  This is said approvingly.
What can one expect?  After all we have prime time TV shows whose main character is a serial killer, another who is a cannibal, another who is a crooked politician, another who is a gangster.  The level of violence and bloodletting increases with each passing year.

I expect someday to see a cannibal with a show on a cooking channel.  He will show the Desperate Housewife how to cook her husband's liver and enjoy it with a little wine and fava beans.

I live in a culture where exhibitionism is called performance art, where vulgarity is called edgy behavior.


Friday, April 11, 2014

Truth from a Founding Father

"Of all the enemies of true liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.  War is the parent of armies;  from these proceed debts and taxes;  and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.  In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended;  its influence in dealing out offices,, honors and emoluments is multiplied;  and all the means of seducing the minds,are added to those of subduing the force, of the people.  The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manner and of morals, engendered in both.  No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare....War is in fact the true nurse of executive aggrandizement.  In war, a physical force is to be created;  and it is the executive will, which is to direct it.  In war, the public treasuries are to be unlocked;  and it is the executive hand which is to dispense them.  In war, the honors and emoluments of office are to be multiplied;  and it is the executive brow they are to encircle.  The strongest passions and most dangerous weaknesses of the human breast; ambition, avarice, vanity, the honorable or venal love of fame, are all in conspiracy against the desire and duty of peace."

By James Madison, from "Political Observations," April 20, 1795.

Many of the Founders wrote in opposition to America having a 'standing army.'  This is one of my favorites.  I bet this isn't taught in our schools any more.
Madison sounds like a prophet.  He has described the United States of today.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Read any Karl Shapiro lately?

"The entire world has become aware of the pervasiveness of American violence.  The Americans were the last to discover it.  This is as it should be.  A betrayed husband is the last to know his situation.  America is shocked at itself;  someone has handed it a mirror.  Instead of the young and handsome heir of all the ages, with his bathing-beauty consort, winners of Olympic games, we see the soft and rotten killer (almost Hemingway style) with his call-girl WASP girlfriend,wearing a tiny crucifix between her scientifically measured bosoms.  Wars are staged and televised on the battlefield;  all sports are openly and avowedly big business;  all books sell according to the amount of money deposited for advertising;  countries are bought and sold in the stock market like cattle.  Not that any of this is particularly new.  What is new is that it is all now public knowledge.  And what is awesome is that nobody cares.  Everyone wants a share of the rot, the faisandage.  Ours is a gamy culture from top to bottom.  Books about the gaminess are best-sellers." (p 14)

"America is the child society par excellence, and possibly the only one ever politically arrived at.  It is the society of all rights and no obligations, the society of deliberate wreckage and waste, the only society that ever raised gangsterism to the status of myth, and murder to the status of tragedy or politics.  The American adulation of the child mentality leads to an industrialized hedonism, on the one hand, and a chauvinistic psychology of greed, on the other.  In advertising, anyone over the age of twenty-one or twenty-five is portrayed as an idiot who has got behind in the science and commerce of rejuvenation." (p 21)

From the book To Abolish Children and Other Essays, by Karl Shapiro.