How does 1983 feel?

So this past weekend I bought the original single of "Blue Monday" by New Order for a dollar. It wasn't in great condition; it was obviously well-loved, and the BPM sticker on the sleeve (130) tells me it was owned by a DJ. However, this also means that the disc itself was taken care of, and it plays perfectly.

What a great dance track! Depite, its subsequent hipster overplay.

Also, the outer sleeve is die-cut to look like a 4 1/2 inch floppy disk! Like this!

The inner sleeve is silver, and pokes out as if it were the original "disk" in floppy disk. Your flash drive doesn't make a good album cover, that's for sure.

The video features lovely computerized graphics that also remind of the same technological epoch. Check it out! I especially like the pixly image of the space shuttle blasting off.


Let the Crooked be Made Straight...

I used to be offended, in that sort of sideways, "it's not actually offensive to me personally, but I'm sure glad I'm not them," way about the fact that Hallmark brands its African-American greeting cards as "Mahogany" cards (you know, the cards that were brought over from Africa as slave cards, but now are half as American as a white card). Mahogany is a dark, rain forest wood (though, strangely, from the Amazonian rain forest, I guess that magazine had already copyrighted "Ebony") that is highly priced for its sturdiness, and rich, dark color. "Mahogany Cards: when you just need to play the race card." That's not actually the slogan, but I bet [jungesam] will think its funny.

Anyway, I was that sort of offended, until yesterday, when I became actually offended. I went to Walgreens to buy a Hanukkah card, and what did I find, as a relic of the prejudice that is forever a part of the Northwestern United States' history? All the Jewish cards--Hanukkah, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Simchat Torah, and what-have-you--are all now branded as "Tree of Life" cards. Bastards!

Offensive, times two: one-the tree of life is forbidden by God's edict. We are forever shut from the garden of eden, and they had to rub that in our faces! Our bronzed, diasporadic, faces. Two-you know what the "tree of life" refers to, besides that? The LOINS OF DAVID. The line of David will bring the messiah, and thus, resurrection. I guarantee that not only does the tetragrammon NOT send holiday cards, if s/he did, they would not have messianic power, because THEY ARE ONLY PIECES OF PAPER WITH CARTOON DOGS EATING LATKES ON THEM.

Fun religion fact! Did you know that according to the heretic "Christian" faith, as the Messiah, Jesus is of the line of David? That's what all those "begats" beget in the beginning of Matthew. See, there is David sperm in Jesus! Even though, you know, Mary was a virgin... right. Hmm. But, the really fun part of this fun fact is that because of this medieval artists often protrayed Jesus as the "branch" of the tree of life--literally! There is a stained glass window in some cathedral in Europe that shows David lining on his back, a tree of life blossoming from his crotch, and Jesus hanging out in the branches! I shit you not! Religion is really weird.

And all I wanted to do was send a holiday card to my parents. Goddamn apostate Hallmark sick sexual perversion begetting bastards.

Tomorrow we'll talk about the mystical application of the tree of life in Kabbalah!


ps. I can't seem to find a picture of the stained glass window, but I've definitely seen it before. If anyone knows what I'm talking about, please let me know.


Some time, some where, there will be blogs...


Just checking in to tell those interested in pCARL but are perhaps not checking the pCARL blog, that I have decided to memorialize and periodize my pCARL attempt in a Journal on the pCARL blog. So, if you want to read about my experience re-writing The Confidence-Man: His Mascquerade by Herman Melville, you should check pCARL at intervals.



pCARL, off into the world you go

pCARL has its own blog! Check it out!

Soon to come, social networking! The interdome is JUST THAT EASY!

pCARL is born! No, not an indecent sex act! A writing project!

So, recently, as in, my last post, I developed a lengthy and polemic rant against the National Novel Writing Month. Many strange avenues of argument were followed, and some personal issues laid bare. But, the criticism was largely not on the constructive side.

However, in a change from my typical style of "lambaste 'em and leave 'em", I am going to start making this a personal mission. I am actually going to "follow thorough", rather than sardonically sit back with folded arms. Through some brainstorming with Tom and Megan (you can see my conversation with Tom in the comments section of the last post) I have given birth to an illegitimate, monstrous, and most likely short-lived offspring. What is this placenta-wet son of Cain? Let me be the first to introduce you to:

The Pseudo-Creative Annual Ritual for Literature
henceforth to be known as pCARL, until a better name with a better acronym can be developed.

Questions That Might be Asked Often to Elucidate this Strange Thing:

What is pCARL?

- pCARL is a sarcastic response to National Novel Writing Month (and the according acronym that will not be named). pCARL is a project that is pretentious, largely tongue-in-cheek, and yet still completely and utterly serious about helping people improve their writing by an actual appreciation for literature rather than a self-indulgent leap into basic literacy.

What is the motivation for this self-righteous act that mocks the creativity of others?

- National Novel Writing Month is based around the idea that a method for instigating the art of writing is the sheer propagation of quantity. The FAQ says that without the challenge of the deadline and the ritualistic group aspect, many of the participants would not put pen/cursor to paper/screen at all, and therefore any writing is good writing. The 50,000 word limit is also one of the most steadfast rules, celebrating an arbitrary length of symbols as the quantifier for the completion of the task.
Here at pCARL, we take a different approach. In a country with a near-perfect literacy rate and yet such an abundance of mediocre-at-best literary output (tell-all books, popular histories, fan fiction, and gimmicky series being some of the most widely-selling printed material, not to mention the rise of the magazine in place of actual prose) it seems straight-up detrimental to praise the cancerous metastasis of malignant words as actual creativity! It is as a plague to the art of prose! It is a insult to iambic pentameter! It is deleterious to every literary device we praise and enjoy! The day that the sheer abundance of words is treated as actual literary output is the day the public library is absorbed by the department of motor vehicles, and by the muses, we will not stand by and see authorship reduced to a mass of bureaucracy!

So, what are we actually talking about?

-As noted by Tom, one learns to play a musical instrument by learning classic tunes. There is a reason that classics stand the test of time, and by practicing the basics we learn to create new art on our own. Artists take pencil and paper to the museum, the budding guitarist buys a book of Led Zepplin or Bob Dylan tabulature, and craftsmen make a simple chair before constructing an ornate sideboard. Authors begin by reading. But in the journey towards creative output, and making paper actually accumulate weight, the writer often puts down the library card in favor of a pen.
Not so fast! No one is too old to learn from the likes of Marlowe, Gogol, or Woolf. There are too many classic works of literature for us ever to absorb the lessons of them all; however, this is no reason not to try. No amount of newly penned work could erase the weight of all that has come before; the creative process must always look backward, as it also looks forward. Otherwise, we will look up one day and find ourselves in a desert of Newspeak: our language would not even familiar to ourselves, because it has lost the long history of evolution by which meaning is passed into symbol, and by which stories are told. Amid sound and fury it may still signify, but the long life that is its power is diminished. Whether told by and idiot or an ideologue, true literature is not the author's own language s/he is uttering, but the language of all of us, of all humans, of Homer, as much as Chaucer, as much as Shelley, as much as Dickens, as much as Pynchon...

Will you get to the point, jerk?

-During the month of November, we will each re-write a great work of literature. The goal is to learn the lessons of language that have already been inscribed in classic texts, and thereby to reanimate the creativity inherent in great writing by learning from it, word by word, sentence by sentence, from "beginning" to "end". It is a close reading, a writing exercise, an act of homage, and a way to while the hours til death claims us all. The work of literature to be re-written may be anything literary, that is defensible as such in the Introduction to the Re-Writing. Length of the work chosen may be any number of words or other quantitative markers, but it is cautioned that the goal is to learn something, and as practice makes perfect, repetition makes renewal. Therefore, pick a length of work that will not be too easy, but not be an insurmountable task. Too short, and the lesson of the literature may be missed. Too long, and one may not follow through. The work chosen is the participant's choice for a reason, so choose carefully for yourself.
Note: The re-writing does not necessarily have to be "word for word". However, it is a re-writing, and not an adaptation. The finished product will be labeled: "the title of the work, by the original author, edited by the participant."

What did you mean by "Introduction to the Re-Writing"?

There will be an original Introduction to the Re-Writing written by the re-writer, just before the beginning of the re-written text. This may consist of anything, but should justify the task and the re-written text as the participant justified it to him/herself, to set the context for anyone examining the newly re-written text, under the new appended label. If there are differences between the original text and the re-written version, we suggest that you think seriously about what the differences may signify, and how the work of literature changes, and include mention of these reflections in the Introduction. What can be learned from the original, the new, and the comparison between them upon the reading of the text? One way to study any differences may be to note the re-writing changes with a note of some sort, as is common in newly edited editions of classic works. But all of this is up to the participant, as the person conducting the lesson for him/herself. The only rule is that there must be an Introduction.

Are you freakin' serious?

-Well, not generally, but regarding pCARL, yes. While we may not subscribe to the idea that there is never anything new under the sun, we definitely feel that there is a building of culture, that there is a sediment of creative human output that builds upon itself. How could we consider ourselves adding to it unless we study what is already there? A close reading as a personal course of study and reflection is one way to take on the weight of culture. And besides, it could be fun! What student of literature hasn't wished that s/he was able to write Gulliver's Travels, or Beowulf, or Naked Lunch, or The Bible? Now you can! And you will certainly walk away with a heightened appreciation for the text that you didn't have before, no matter how many times you had read it in the past.

So, what are you going to re-write?

-I think, but have not quite decided, on re-writing The Confidence-Man by Herman Melville. I just read it, would like to read it again, and fell in love with Melville as a writer through the work. It is also available in the Project Gutenberg, which means that no one owns the copyright. I think that this could only help, in case I decide that I want to publish my re-writing on the internet or something. Megan has loosely committed to re-writing The Gambler by Dostoevsky, as long as she can do it in Russian. Another reason to participate in pCARL! Foreign language books are totally in, and this could help you brush up on your second, third, or ninth language. You could even translate something if you want! Translating is certainly an homage to a work of literature, and a decent exercise in writing, and an art all of its own.

How do I get involved?

-Re-write a book! Conduct a Pseudo-Creative Annual Ritual for Literature! If you like, spread the word about it to your literary friends, and let us know your results! Even if you only get halfway, you are halfway through. No need for an half empty/full glass here, there is no such thing as empty words!

Now go, get to the library, and re-write for literature!
Silly, perhaps. Pretentious, yes. But we're going with it. Happy literature to you.


You're so novel...

Among the many things that I hate, I HATE national novel writing month. I refuse to use the ridiculous abbreviation.

My hate has very little (though some) to do with the critique that you can't write a good novel in a month, and very little (but more) to do with the idea of thousands of people thinking they can write although they cannot. My hate also totally drunkenly crashes its bike into the car owned by the idea (just go with the metaphor) that 'it is good to stimulate people to write'.

Here are the ingredients of which my hate consists:

One: The idea that 90,000 people writing a novel, for good or bad, is somehow a good thing, is ridiculous. First of all, there are over 90,000 shitty books published every month already: from celebrity ghost-written tell-alls, to stupid 'here's the story of me doing this thing in real life', to self-help books that are as much literature as anything else in the new releases section at a big book store, to historical fiction to the next Halo novel (yes, a series based on a video game). What more are 90,000 more? Even if the effort garners fifty worthwhile books, wouldn't these people who can write have written a book anyway? Why do we need a month?

Two: Why do we need a month to celebrate the bare-bones fact of literacy? Sure, people don't exercise their creative writing skills enough. But the people who already think they are 'writers' will be filling their moleskins anyway, no matter what month it is. The people watching "My Name is Earl" are still watching TV. All this month does is give people an excuse to waste more paper, not improve their vocabularies.

Three: 'Novel'? What the fuck is a novel? If you want to talk narrative, there are far too many narratives out there, populating the vast abyss that is our cultural unconscious, and by encouraging people to reify these bastardized archetypes by aping actual literature is just thinking that you have created life via growing e. coli all over your walls by rubbing raw chicken all over them. Committing something to words, the ability of every literate person, does not literature make. This is a talent and art that is not about telling a story. This conception of 'the novel' is what leads every person with the money to buy paint think that they are an artist. Sure, everyone needs to practice to be good at anything, but this leads back to number two, above. Why not hand out diplomas to everyone who buys the books, even if they don't go to class? Because simply signing up doesn't mean you learn anything.


Five: I don't really know what all the people who take part in this fool exercise are like, but I have some guesses. These are people who consider themselves creative, have a wide variety of interests and hobbies, and are open-minded and adventurous enough to take on some project like this. I'm also guessing that they don't dedicate themselves to anything specifically, otherwise they would simply be doing that. A painter or a fashion designer (amateur or not) would not take out a month to try a different creative hobby. A writer would be writing anyway, november novel or not (see number two). These are people who like to take pictures, have tried painting, garden a bit, and what the hell, they have a computer, so why not try a novel. This will be one more half-finished project that they will give up once they lose momentum or november ends. I guess there is nothing really objectionable about this, except that it leads to all of the above. There is this weird romanticism about being a renaissance man/woman... why? Why not try and actually perfect something? Why not take a year to write a novel, if writing a novel is what you want/have to do. Why not actually be good at acoustic guitar rather than just learning a few bob dylan songs? Why not actually try to create something new, rather than just sewing together some handbags? I guess if you don't want to do something that bad, then it is just a hobby. And while there is nothing wrong with writing as a hobby, there is number two, and clearly we need no "take a picture day" or "knitting week". Just because we're all capable of writing doesn't mean anyone can, should, or needs to be writing a novel in the month of november. Why isn't a grocery list a poem? Why isn't every journal a novel? Why isn't paint art? I don't know exactly, but I can tell you of all the words that will be spent in the month of november, we won't get any closer to finding out. Masturbating doesn't teach you how to fuck. And here we are back at the beginning.

thanks for listening,

Adam (who just spent half an hour typing this rather than actually writing)


From Your Living Room to Your Lebensraum

Let's take another fun Interdome field trip to... the Headlines!

Well, what have we today? Some auto union is striking... ooh, Lindsay Lohan isn't going out this weekend... (guess I'll stay in too)... and, well, hmm... but what have we here:


Color me a-news-ed.

"But wait," ask the doe-eyed children gathered 'round the Interdome, "What does this mean?"

Let's delve into it, shall we? From the International Herald Tribune's 690 words on the subject, we learn that this resolution to name the murder of 1,000,000 Armenians in 1914-1918 a "genocide" could hurt our political relationship with the modern Turkish state, and therefore we shouldn't do it. It appears that the resolution is simply a push from some "interest groups" whose interest is that considering their cultural heritage, they would have qualified for the death camps back then.

This isn't the only recent time that American government has struggled to figure out what the definition of "genocide" is. In fact, the American government seems to have lots of trouble with definitions of words. But, I digress.

If we only read the IHT's article on the vocabulary discussion, we might just move onto the next headline, because, frankly, "genocide" is not a very happy word of the day, and there certainly is a big Interdome out there to read. But, for some retarded reason, I guess we are going to dig a bit deeper.

Turkey, as the IHT tells us, is one of the main transit points for American war supplies heading to Iraq. Therefore, improving relations with Turkey allows the Americans (let's try and pay attention so we don't get "Armenian" and "American" confused, eh?) wage war in the Middle East.

However, the actual way of things is that American-Turkish relations have been declining. After the Truman Doctrine established that Turkey was seeking support of America against the USSR (and other pro-Communist groups like the PKK--remember this, we'll come back to it!), an American military base was established in Turkey in 1954, that is used to the present day. But, ever since the end of the Cold War, and the end of the nice balance between East and West to divide the world, relations have been strained. Turkey has continued to be pro-US in order to support their foray into the EU, among other things, and they have backed this up by supporting American wars in the Middle East and recognizing Israel as a state despite how this has hurt them in their Middle East/Islamic relations.

So, for a country through which "the bulk of U.S. air cargo and about one-third of the fuel headed for Iraq passes," quoth the IHT, it would be important to keep them happy. So would a resolution about the Armenian genocide really be a thorn in the Turkish thumb?

Well, Turkey is not only a convenient conveyor belt to the hole in the desert into which we're currently pouring money. Like most so-called "resolutions", the matter itself is less resolved than other, more important, "strategic" things are alluded. Turkey is also the primary target, and major operating base of a group called the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The PKK started in the 1970s as a Kurdish nationalist political group, and escalated to the level of a paramilitary organization. It's philosophy was Marxist-Leninist to begin with, but now has shifted to the Islamic hue post-Cold War.

These days, they are a "terrorist-organization"--a vocab word that was agreed upon by the US. The US has helped Turkey fight the PKK, allegedly with the CIA, and also through NATO paramilitary "stay-behind" forces that were placed in Turkey. The object of these forces was to remain hidden in the population so as to "stay behind" to conduct guerrilla operations in the event of a USSR invasion, but they were often utilized, at who-knows-who's behest to conduct paramilitary or domestic terrorism operations.

But, oh-so-surprisingly, in this crazy post-Cold War world things seem to have been getting confused. It seems that some of the weapons that the US has sent to Iraq (most likely through Turkey), you know, those weapons the US can't find, have ended up in the hands of the PKK.

And what's more, that very-lucrative-and-increasingly-popular contracting company Blackwater USA has been accused of directly smuggling weapons to the PKK! Horrors!

Now, why would the USA be smuggling weapons to a formerly Communist, avowedly terrorist, separatist group that they are simultaneously fighting in order to court their allies?

Why indeed!

Although I hardly claim to be in the neo-cons' brains, I would say that it is something along the lines of...

The PPK is a separatist nationalist group that while not having much of a positive effect for its own policy, is currently involved in destabilizing the ENTIRE Middle East region, and specifically the governments of Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Iran.

Why would it help US policy to destabilize the region? Well, they've certainly done a good job of it so far, I don't see why they would not use any tool available to them to continue. Regardless of other positive and negative outcomes of the Iraq War for American interests, destabilization is an outcome that has only benefited the economic, political, and ideological status of the United States. And, if they didn't want to destabilize the region, there are certainly other ways they could be going about this project. Intimidation, fomenting armed conflict, and cross-border operations just speak so loudly, you know.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Congress is occupying its time with a history lesson on whether the killing of 1,000,000 or so constitutes a certain word, something that the New York Times had reported some 90 years ago. That's a pretty good way of avoiding a current problem.

It really boggles my mind that it so easy to hide the killing of millions in plain sight. I guess that the typical person, and by this, I mean the overwhelming majority of the population, just doesn't care about these sorts of deaths, especially if they occur on the other side of the globe.

It certainly never stops. Turks kill Armenians, Germans kill Jews, Poles, and others, Sudanese kill other Sudanese, Americans kill Iraqis, and others. You know what the estimated numbers are dead were for the Iraqi Economic Sanctions, even before the war started? The same as the Armenian Genocide, 500,000-1,500,000. It never stops.

I guess we'll conclude this field trip with a quote, from a guy of whom you may have heard, who goes by the name of Adolf Hitler. It was said during a military meeting in 1939, before the invasion of Poland.

"I have issued the command -- and I’ll have anybody who utters but one word of criticism executed by a firing squad -- that our war aim does not consist in reaching certain lines, but in the physical destruction of the enemy. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness -- for the present only in the East -- with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space [Lebensraum] which we need. Who, after all, speaks to-day of the annihilation of the Armenians?"

Where does American economic-lebensraum lie today? You can manifest that destiny for yourself, but one thing is certain, that were certainly have trouble to-day speaking of the annihilation of the Armenians.


Ancient Greek Animals

Kiki wanted to see my pictures of dogs in Athens, so here are some animals!

Woof, meow, baa!

This dog was collecting tickets outside of the Agora.

These cats were in the Acropolis.

This baby goat was foraging in the hills outside of Nemea.

The famous, "kitties of Delphi", who were very interested in this man's halibut.

An Olympian lizard.

Chickens outside the hotel window. There was also a turkey, but I didn't take his picture.

Kitty and gyros- 4 euro.

A cat on Santorini on stairs

Tortoise. I also saw two makin' little tortoises, but for their privacy I did not take a picture.

This is my aunt's dog, and so not really Greek (actually, Chinese by birth) but she is certifiably cute! And, her name is Zoe, which is Greek.



In one of those strange occurrences that hurl humans back and forth across the globe, I woke up one morning to find myself in Greece. It is a wonderful place. Mountains coming out of the sea, feta cheese, and lots of history. I took a lot of pictures, here are some of the best. I made them smallish so the site wouldn't take a long time to load (though it probably will anyway), but should be able to click on them to get a bigger view.

I'll insert my witty comments in between, to maybe give you some context. Here they are, in no particular order.

This is Nafplio (corrected spelling, thanks kiki and Betabug!). It was the original capital of Greece, and is now a quiet little town with many forts and dogs.

I think the trees in Greece are beautiful. Such greens, even though they are most conifers growing in rocky soil.

This is Santorini. You've probably seen this picture or one similar on a calendar somewhere. They sell lots of calendars on Santorini. I didn't buy one, because I took my own picture. Though now I don't know what day of the week it is.

There was much debate about what kind of tree this is. Maybe cyprus, maybe cedar? Either way, I can tell you these trees are at dusk. (Definitively, Cyprus trees).

This tree's most significant aspect is its size. It is very big.

This is the sun setting over Ia, on Santorini. The island is a volcano. The sun is the same one that you know.

This is Mycenae. Agamemnon lived there. He killed his daughter and was killed by his wife and her lover who were killed by his other daughter. All because sometimes the ancients liked to feed either other human as a joke.

This is the Omphalos; the belly-button of the world. It lives at Delphi. I wonder where the after-birth of the world is now?

This is the biggest olive grove in Greece (the trees in the bottom of the valley). I am looking at it from the modern city of Delphi. It is very pretty.

This is the temple of Poseidon, on the southern-most point of Attica. People live near there, like, just whatever, I live in Poseidonia. I, on the other hand, live near the drycleaners.

The greeks love graffitti! This graffitto loves autonomy. ("Freedom to G. Dimitrakis", an anarchist bank robber. Thanks Betabug!)

More graffitti. It's pretty impressive, though I don't really know what it is.

This is on the outside of the Monastiraki subway station.

I guess kissing on steps is pretty romantic.

For some reason this one made me think of Steve Erickson

It's a fish farm, you fishbag!

"Fjord" in Greek.

The theater of Epidauros, and my Saucony.

I really, really wanted to see a goatherd while in Greece. It's a good thing lots of roads aren't marked, otherwise we never would have gotten lost in the hills of the Peloponnese and I never would have seen these goats.


The theater of Dionysos in Athens. I'm imagining how nervous Sophocles must have been on the opening performance of Oedipus Rex.

When driving in Greece, you can pretty much go either way you like.

Pretty rock.

Part of the Epidauros site.

Fira, on Santorini. The island in the middle is the cone of the volcano.

Bye bye sun.

No diving.

Part of the boxing and wrestling practice space at Olympia.

The Corinth canal. Take that, isthmus!

A pretty little garden in Delphi.

The acropolis. They are rebuilding it, because I guess some of it has fallen down over the years.

The arch entering the stadium at Olympia. Can you tell I really like the blue/green filter on my camera?

The temple of Athena at Delphi. You would recognize it, but I took the picture from an "unconventional angle". Artistic!

Bell tower in Fira. Delicious sunshine.

Bridge connecting Attica and the Peloponnese. I forget the name of the town.

There are like 500 more (literally) but these are the best. I also pasted together a panorama of the Epidauros theater, that is at top. I'll leave it there for awhile.



The Noble Democrat

In the last post I read regarding racism/bigotry, I wrote about the difference between racists and bigots; the former run the systematically racist institutions of the country, under the perhaps believed pretense that the institutions are fair, because they have the support of the majority population. The majority opinion, however, is often largely composed of bigots, who actually have a believe that some class of people is better/worse than another (although maybe only unconsciously), and so allow--either positively or through lack of action--the racists to continue operating racist institutions under the auspices of "fairness".

I think that this conception of the problem is hard for many "critically-minded observers" to grasp, because we look at the problem of racism/bigotry as a singular issue, one of "hate vs. love", or "democracy vs. intolerance", whereas the difference between a person having some hatred within them is very different than the substantive and systematic problems that allow for material persecution to arise. In other words, in most (but not nearly all) places in America, a person can walk down the street in relative freedom without being harassed and threaten with bodily harm, but this does not mean that there are not systematic reasons why more "minority members" of society are in poverty, or incarcerated, or in other words put at a material disadvantage to the material benefit of others.

So, in yet "other words" again, many avowedly liberal elements take an altogether simplified critical view of a problem that they claim to be facing, and therefore do not help solve the problem, and instead, perhaps are complacent. "Democratic" ideals will not provide the "A.N.S.W.E.R." to racism, because it is through "democracy" that racist systems such as our immigration policy is "elected" by our nation of bigots. As I try to remind people often, and they just as often like to forget or shrug off as an fluke of history, many regimes of outright hatred, oppression, and bigotry (can I scream 1933 any louder?) have been democratically elected.

Anyway, this is all a recap, and a further emphasis. The real reason for this post was that I happened to come across a neat little articulation of this sort of dynamic between the "higher" culture element of racism and the "lower" element of bigotry. Often they work in concert, such as in an out-and-out fascist regime, where the leaders exploit the hatreds of the people in order to catapult their policies. I would theme anti-immigration politicians in this country under this category.

However, another sort is perhaps just as malignant while appearing to be helping to fight bigotry. This is the liberal attitude of which I gestured towards; in which bigotry perhaps is critically engaged, but with the favor being towards an ideal "liberal" society in which the values of democracy are identified as being counter to bigotry, when in fact, they allow it to roam free, and perhaps to gain power. The systematic racism may roam free, divorced by liberal democratic theory from the bigotry that is so obviously abhorrent.

Enter, if you please, Herman Melville. The man may have had certain prejudices; I cannot say, as I never had contact with a mid-19th century man, nor Melville himself. But I have had contact with some of his writing, such as Chapter 26, from his novel The Confidence-Man. The title of the chapter in this de-light-ful book is as follows:

Containing the metaphysics of Indian-hating, according to the view of one evidently not so prepossessed as Rousseau in favor of savages.

The chapter is an account of a backwoodsman who hates Indians; apparently not an uncommon character in Melville's day. The narrating character tells us about these persons:

"The backwoodsman is a lonely man. He is a thoughtful man. He is man strong and unsophisticated. Impulsive, he is what some might call unprincipled. At any rate, he is self-willed; being one who less hearkens to what others may say about things, than looks for himself, to see what are things themselves. If in straits, there are few to help; he must depend upon himself; he must continually look to himself. Hence self-reliance, to the degree of standing by his own judgment, though it stand alone."

This is not too far afield from most bigots; having little education or "social" rearing, they rely upon their own feelings in their politics as they have had to in their lives, and thus are given to the maxims of popular opinion rather than the ideals of learned society. A reliance upon one's own abilities may lead to a false sense of superiority. And even what he learns is often skewed:

"For however charitable it may be to view Indians as members of the Society of Friends, yet to affirm them such to one ignorant of Indians, whose lonely path lies a long way through their lands, this, in the event, might prove not only injudicious but cruel. At least something of this kind would seem the maxim upon which backwoods' education is based. ... 'As the twig is bent the tree's inclined.'"

A strong-willed, not-quite-supremely educated person is often a bigot. This seems plausible. But the most interesting part of Melville's chapter, to me, is the title. Although it isn't mentioned in the chapter itself, this backwoodsman is contrasted in subtle fashion to "one prepossessed as Rousseau in favor of savages".

Of the bigot/backwoodsman: "Suns and seasons fleet; the tiger-lily blows and falls; babes are born and leap in their mothers' arms; but, the Indian-ahter is good as gone to his long home, and "Terror" is his epitaph." However, the person who is enamored with the idea of the "noble savage", on the contrary, is a fickle creature--the vicissitudes of whose so-called steady, critically-reasoning gaze are subject to shift with the currents of popular theory. Is the concept of the "noble savage", a theory that intends to posit a pre-Fall (or perhaps pre-felix culpa) innocence of man, really the logical and theoretical opposite to bigotry? Is loving through false equality the fix to hating via false superiority?

Now, we can look back upon Rousseau's theory as a merry occasion in our history of colonialism, when those silly Europeans thought that the funny-colored people they were killing might have been a transference of their own misplaced innocence. Thank goodness for the Christ! If it wasn't for redeemers, we might have to actually deal with our issues in this life.

But is the humanism of today really any different? Or have we simply shifted our colonialism to within "us", letting the vegetables on the bottom of the melting pot burn and stick to the bottom, as long as the top is heated comfortably? Those of democratic theory try to convince us that only if everyone is equal, then hate will magically disappear as a relic of the dirty world before the "son of man" that is equality saved us all. As long as equality is resurrected in the Millennial future, we can say that it has merely died for our sins, and not for our taste for blood. By attempting to find the "soul" of humanity as an equal and innocent equivalent within us, those of the "noble human" philosophy neglect to deal with the hatred that is our actual existence. The fact is, this is not just an optimism; it is an avoidance of the reasons that people hate. How will nostalgia for the "noble savage" stop the Indian-hater from stalking his prey?

It really isn't so complicated. One only has to see what the problem is: the Indian-hater still exists. As long as he exists, he will conduct his war:

"Ever on the noiseless trail; cool, collected, patient; less seen than felt; snuffling, smelling--a Leather-stocking Nemesis."

Until, that is, we actually have a chance to inscribe that epitaph for him. And frankly, that isn't the responsibility of any noble savage.