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Empathy for the Devil

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Posted on Mar 17, 2011
Mr. Fish

By Mr. Fish

I first saw the massive spread of twinkling lights that is Los Angeles at night from the San Gabriel Mountains in the early 1990s while visiting from Philadelphia. It was stunningly beautiful and made me think of a phone interview that I’d heard on CNN a year earlier just after New Year’s during the Gulf War.

The images that were being telecast during the interview were those of nighttime warfare, the sort that made every television set in America appear as if it was a murky green fish tank full of randomly ejaculated sparks and vague flashes of percussive light almost too dim to see. Saddam Hussein by that time had already lost his air force and had begun to run out of Scud missiles, which, as projectiles, were never any more precise or destructive than far-flung empty hot water heaters, and there was little doubt, particularly in countries not being fed the CNN feed, that some brutally excessive and wholly unnecessary slaughter of Iraqi soldiers and civilians was being perpetrated in the desert.

The interviewee was a 10-year-old Israeli girl who was being asked her opinion about how well the U.S.-led coalition forces were faring in their bombing campaign—a loaded question to be sure, particularly because a 10-year-old girl might not be trusted to honestly answer the question “Did you brush your teeth?” without a corroborating fondling of her toothbrush’s bristles to test for wetness; forget about asking her to elaborate on something as outlandishly subjective as a war. Thus, it was not a question in search of a real answer. Instead, it was an attempt by a news corporation to give its viewers the same thrill at holiday time that radio listeners got to experience in the 1940s while listening to Edward R. Murrow tell them how the GIs were sacrificing their own innocence and pleasant dispositions and apple-cheeked virginity to the noble barbarity of butchering all the fascist monsters who wanted to devour America’s children, grandchildren, puppies and kittens.

The girl answered the question by saying, “I heard an American pilot who was dropping bombs on Baghdad at night say that it looked beautiful, like a Christmas tree. I don’t think I’ll ever understand Americans.”

Sitting in the dark woods above the L.A. basin a year after that interview, with the scent of pine and damp roots and cold earth permeating my clothes, I wondered what super-sparkly destructiveness I was looking at down below and I questioned the sanity of my elation. Sure, I knew that there was a difference between me looking down at Tinseltown from a wooded mountaintop in Southern California and a U.S. fighter pilot exploding the soft gooey insides of Iraqis from an F-15 Eagle, but the difference was by no means significant enough to make what was startlingly similar inconsequential; the similarity, of course, being that both my and the pilot’s physiologies were completely interchangeable in their reaction to what each had experienced. 

Both said “neato” and asked that we not turn away, declaring that there was poetry in what we had witnessed.

Ever since then I’ve wondered how anybody can ever really feel morally superior to anybody else, even when comparing himself to those who might find beauty in the rocket’s red glare as it vaporizes those whose only retaliation against annihilation is to stain the soles of the conqueror’s shoes. With that in mind, I’ve also extended my mystification to the question of whether or not anybody can truly be classified as evil. Kurt Vonnegut has famously claimed that there are no villains in the human species, nor are there heroes. It was his belief that only those circumstances born from the intellectual and emotional inadequacies of humankind should be seen as being either good or bad—and, then, not even as good or bad, but rather as fortunate and unfortunate.

Can this be right?

In early September of last year I went to Yasgur’s farm, the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, to douche Glenn Beck out of my brain. Earlier, after several days of watching and rewatching the televised footage of the Fox News nimrod pacing back and forth in front of the Lincoln Memorial and spouting off, like an Archie Bunker who had been properly Eliza Doolittled, about how it was time for all the white, racist, heterosexual, gun- and tea-toting Jesus freaks in Middle America to reclaim their former glory as repressive and paranoid snobs unembarrassed by their infantile urge to flaunt their prejudices and petty hatreds in public, the coiled slime inside my skull had become fetid and stinky and in need of the hard vinegar stream of some bleeding-heart, communal optimism.

Remembering a conversation that I’d had with my brother several weeks earlier, I knew that three of the most notorious bleeding-heart communal optimists known to Jann Wenner were scheduled to perform at the Pavilion Stage at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, just several hundred feet from the pile of rocks marking where the original Woodstock stage stood some 41 years earlier; those bleeding-heart communal optimists being David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills, the Peter, Paul and Mary of the Folk You! Generation. With only lawn seats available for purchase, I decided to send an e-mail to Graham Nash, whom I’d interviewed several months earlier and with whom I’d enjoyed some correspondence, to ask if he could get me a ticket that might put me closer to the stage. Seventy-two hours later, I was walking down a grassy hillside from overflow parking at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, with the inspiring tang of marijuana smoke in the air and the deeply satisfying vision of young and old hippies and bedraggled Vietnam vets and their wives and girlfriends and kids, everybody congregating around their cars and minivans and warming their conversations over small hibachis and beer coolers and Bic lighters. 


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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, March 22, 2011 at 12:55 pm Link to this comment

Mr. Fish’s soliloquies provide for amusing comments and some amusing controversy,... one thing I notice is Mr. Fishes use of sexual words;..... (which do not bother me), but I cannot help but notice, finding them very similar to stand up comics insistence and preference in using swear words!.... Of course this all depends on what you mean by sexual….and who is you!

side note:

You know a leaky faucet is very annoying to some, I am lucky in that, me hearing is quite bad,.... so lucky me,... I never am bothered by the drip!

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By reynolds, March 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm Link to this comment

get right old woman; “M’thinks you are exceedingly
aggressively defensive and you show it in your recent
posts directed to me.”
you shot with your own shite, stalker.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, March 22, 2011 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

That ass hole Ronald Regan closed all the state mental hospitals because they were in his mind socialist,...now all the liberated patients are running the country as Republicans and some seem to trickle down to comment here on TD!

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 22, 2011 at 12:42 am Link to this comment

My goodness reynolds, get a grip.  You sound like a blubbering
idiot.

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By reynolds, March 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm Link to this comment

you should apologize that any of your posts are posted,
you shrill, dull-witted dilettante wannabe.
people often disagree. civilized people with at least a
ged concede that likelihood, you hateful hag.
you’ve got some nerve sorting who belongs and who
doesn’t, you silly bawd. i suggest reading “the
elements of style”. f u.

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Non-Compassionate Liberal's avatar

By Non-Compassionate Liberal, March 21, 2011 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

@Shenonymous:  Thanks for that.  Hey, I made italics!  But I have to re-read your reply to stop them in their text tracts (I think I mean “tracks”)

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, March 21, 2011 at 11:36 am Link to this comment

Ah Shester; yes the sense of proportion utilizing the total proportion vortex something which provides me many, many Tequila moments of worthy contemplation,..... well; in between singing old Irish sailor ditties that is.

As for those bracket people out there, I will only say this about that! ....Why not just type all caps? Wasting ones time fooling with brackets when their is fairy cake to be contemplate seems foolish and silly and reminds me of havening ones mug plastered on their business card!

For me fairy cake has a connotation, which goes directly to the yin of my yan;.... for some reason fairy cake always takes me into addressing real critical needs, like plugging a vast void with something solid, least the rest of us fall into this same black hole. So for now I am attempting to utilize the total proportion vortex,......... as a means to replace the great nothingness between the widely separated ears of conservatives with a huge pineapple!

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 21, 2011 at 10:29 am Link to this comment

Shenonymous—thank you for thinking of me.  I’m afraid I am too impatient to get much out of videos of lectures.  The informational level and rate of transmission seems to be about 1/10 that of printed text and one can’t skip to the middle or the end to see where the author is going. 

I believe the big quotation marks are generated by the blockquote tag.

——————
For example,
right here;
this is enclosed
in blockquote tags.
——————

Note: if the enclosed material is too short, only a couple of commas are produced.  Cheesy.

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By kikirose, March 21, 2011 at 9:44 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Enjoyed the description of Glenn Beck.  The rest was boring and pompous so I decided not to finish the article.  Also come down from your high horse and buy your ticket on eBay like the rest of us do, if you don’t like the “cattle yard” seats available or you’re no better than Beck and his cronies!

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 21, 2011 at 6:10 am Link to this comment

Good Morning.  There are two ways to make italics and bold
lettering. Using two kinds of brackets, first is the square brackets
[ ] and then the less than greater than < >.  For Italics you must
put an i in between the brackets to start the italics and a b for bold
and this is very very important you must close the italics and bold
with a slash /i or /b within the [ ] brackets, if you don’t you will do
what I have done a few times and that is to commit the crime of
italicizing all the previous text on that page, aye yie yie, I have
been found guilty a few times!  And I have bolded all the previous
text once, I thought I was going to be staff and quartered!  The same
if you use < >. Close close close with slash i or b!  Now there are some
other text enhancements that I do not know how to do, such as very
very fancy large quotes.  I’ve never been able to figure them out, but a
couple of TD denizens do know how.  I resort to the usual “quotes”
rationalizing that the fancy quotes are just ostentatious.  You do not
have to bold web addresses as the TD webmaster has the site set to
bold it automatically and turn it red!  Yeowie kazowie.

I love the story about writing to Sagan and the very Zen idea of seeing
the back of your head.  I’ve often said even on this website that the
center of the infinite universe is anywhere one is.  Of course that is
predicated on the idea that it is infinite, then one would not know
whether it was center or not since the center would then just be a
hypothetical construct.  The funny thing about “knowing” what kind of
universe it is flat, closed, or open is that one would have to be standing
outside of it and take a look, like one would who was looking at a fish
tank.  I heard that I think from the Hitchhiker.  Or Stephen Hawking.  By
the way if you enjoy a bit of British humor, have some reading fun at
http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/The_Hitchhiker’s_Guide_to_the_Galaxy
I like Chapter 19 but I’ll copy/paste
Chapter 11,  it’s so funny
If life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it
cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion…
•  The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe
on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.
•  To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some
way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in
theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every
planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social
history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.

•  The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically
in order to annoy his wife.
•  Trin Tragula — for that was his name — was a dreamer, a thinker, a
speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
•  And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate
amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the
mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of
fairy cake.
•  “Have some sense of proportion!” she would say, sometimes as often
as thirty-eight times in a single day.
•  And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex — just to show her.
•  And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated
from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife:
so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity
of creation and herself in relation to it.
•  To Trin Tragula’s horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain;
but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that
if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it
cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.

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Non-Compassionate Liberal's avatar

By Non-Compassionate Liberal, March 21, 2011 at 12:03 am Link to this comment

@Shenonymous:  You responded, “It does not seem logical, given the available data, however, that a universe would or would not matter to itself.  It seems more probable that it simply is, at least there is no scientific evidence that it is anything more.”  I think what we have here is a case of semantics:  I was saying the exact same thing, maybe using more flowery roundabouts; kind of like if I were using the complicated drama’s found in Hindu Sutras, for example, and you finished off with a/the more concise reduction of Hinduism, its eventual derivative, Zen—Or—kinda like eleven minutes into that clip you furnished, where Krauss says about the ‘center of the universe,’ “Every place is the center of the universe, or no place is the center of the universe.” 

By the way, I’m not unfamiliar with the topics in that lecture (and Dawkins), but it’s always fun to watch that stuff. 

Twenty-five minutes into that clip, he says that if the universe were closed, he’d be able to eventually “see the back of his head.”  Now, I’m not saying, “He stole that from me!” . . . but, BUT . . . before the Hubble Space telescope ever went up, Reagan was making noise about fiscal responsibility, whether it was necessary/should be funded—if we could afford it—private sector, blah blah blah.  I was upset that the Hubble might not get off the ground.  So I wrote a letter to Carl Sagan saying, “Why not have Cable companies hook a live feed from the Hubble Telescope to our TV’s?  I’d pay to watch the view ‘til I could see the end of the universe—or the back of my head—whichever came first.”  Sagan’s secretary, Shirley Arden, wrote me back, so I know SOMEONE saw it!

PS:  How’d you get your text italicised?

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By Shenonymous, March 20, 2011 at 8:26 pm Link to this comment

I am probably giving this more time than it is worth, but the
problem I see with your statement, ” Right—in my time, it
matters (just as things matter to you in your time-space).  But I
can’t cast a blanket decree, and say that the universe matters
because something matters to me, or to me and others—or even
if the universe matters to itself (of course, the universe, the ONE,
would have to schiz into “TWO” to contemplate itself, which doesn’t
compute).”
is that logically, without casting a blanket, it seems
that if anything matters to anyone, you or me or anyone else, who I
will not speak for of course, that there is a universe that matters and
is one in which something can matter at the least for you, and/or for
me, or for anyone else.  It does not seem logical, given the available
data, however, that a universe would or would not matter to itself.  It
seems more probable that it simply is, at least there is no scientific
evidence that it is anything more. 

While you are bothering to check out alturn’s posts, you might also
take a moment (well longer than a moment) and watch the video link I
posted today at 4:23 pm.

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/a-universe-from-nothing-lecture/

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Non-Compassionate Liberal's avatar

By Non-Compassionate Liberal, March 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm Link to this comment

@Shenonymous:  You replied to me:  “[If] nothing matters, why bother to post your comments on a blog or remark on what I say or do?  Hmmmm.  Mayyyybeeee something does matter?”

Right—in my time, it matters (just as things matter to you in your time-space).  But I can’t cast a blanket decree, and say that the universe matters because something matters to me, or to me and others—or even if the universe matters to itself (of course, the universe, the ONE, would have to schiz into “TWO” to contemplate itself, which doesn’t compute).
                Also
Sorry, in your construction from afore, I didn’t realize “alturn” was another poster.  So now, I think I’ll check out alturn’s stuff to see if I can find something To Matter myself about—fill “my time,” waste my time, kill my time (oh wait, if I “kill” my time, I automatically commit suicide, unless I can schiz into TWO).

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 20, 2011 at 7:24 pm Link to this comment

Quite right Non-Compassionate Liberal.  It was a moment of
madness to include the all, a thing I always criticize others for. 
I take it “all” back.  “I am only concerned about the quality of the
time that I am here?  As long as I can, I will use my power of
remembering ‘til the day I die, so it does matter to me whilst I am
here,”
and “[W]hatever happens in the time I am here . . . is all
I have and it does matter to me for that minute amount of time.”

That’s better, isn’t it?  It doesn’t matter to me in the least if you don’t
care a whit about the quality of the time you are a living organism. 
And you are right when we are all gone, we are all gone, it’s a
tautology.  I just wonder why you hang on and if you live in a cave? 
And if nothing matters, why bother to post your comments on a blog or
remark on what I say or do?  Hmmmm.  Mayyyybeeee something does
matter?

The rest, if you will reread (March 19 11:42 am), was addressed to
alturn.

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Non-Compassionate Liberal's avatar

By Non-Compassionate Liberal, March 20, 2011 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment

@Shenonymous:  In replying to my comment, you contend, “[H]ow about the quality of the time that we are here?  We will remember ‘til the day we die, so it does matter whilst we are here” 

You’re attributing too much importance to YOUR feelings .. yourself.  When we’re all gone, we’re ALL gone. 

You contend,  “And this mumbo jumbo about the bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth, achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma, ‘according to scriptures,’ is all I need to throw up.” 

Uh, RIGHT! (but why’s that in there?) 

You contend, “Siddartha Gautama did not preach a religion.  Good grief, the need for super-glue attachment to naive superstitions is totally amazing in the 21st century.” 

Hey, you’re pretty smart; once again I agree with you.  But you’re really upset (and why’s that in there?)

You contend, “[W]hatever happens in the time we are here . . . is all we have and it does matter for that minute amount of time.” 

It matters to YOU; don’t drag us all down (in your time).

You write:  ” . . not a puppet to gushing mystical doctrines.” 

According TO ME, there are no doctrines, but it seems like you daring me to produce one—possibly as a wish-fulfillment on your part—as though you need one to comfort and support you(?)

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 20, 2011 at 12:23 pm Link to this comment

A site Anarcissie might find intriguing or anybody else who might
be interested in the nature of the universe:

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/a-universe-from-nothing-lecture/

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Shenonymous's avatar

By Shenonymous, March 20, 2011 at 11:33 am Link to this comment

I am reminded of the myth of Sisyphus, first the original in the
Greek (as translated into English, of course), then the Albert Camus
story.

Enjoy 14 short animations at http://wn.com/sisyphus

And Camus’ at
http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/00/pwillen1/lit/msysip.htm

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 20, 2011 at 11:06 am Link to this comment

People have been using drugs for the last 100,000 years or so at least.  By comparison, the disease of prohibitionism seems quite recent.  Fighting it off is probably a prerequisite for any improvement in our present condition.

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Leefeller's avatar

By Leefeller, March 19, 2011 at 11:29 pm Link to this comment

Listing the few concerts I have attended in my lifetime can be stated in much shorter text then Mr. Fish’s one concert, .... Yeah,.... I remember Fats Domino was so old they had to carry him on the stage and prop him up in front of the piano, but he did one hell of a Blue Berry Hill! Peter Paul and Mary, I tried to call Mary for better seats, but she never returned my call,  so I got stuck behind a huge pillar and was not even able to see the stage. For some reason the Ice follies, I don’t remember a damn thing?

I liked the teeth thing, I worked with a guy who sneezed his teeth out the window of the truck we were in, his window was rolled down,..... I guess we were lucky to be stopped on a turn out!

I never liked pot, so I would bring my own bottle!

Nice reminiscing Mr. Fish, makes me think of old times too.

One thing,.... I was stationed in Southern California, and I never saw any mountains on account of the smog, in fact we couldn’t even see the buildings next to the freeway, did they fix it?

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By SoTexGuy, March 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm Link to this comment

When caring, experienced and articulate people like Mr. Fish can endorse humanity and charity, plus speak against needless war and killing.. without also embracing the drug subculture.. and a couple of other so-called progressive holy of holies.. Real progress might be made.

Same thing for the Tea party-ers and their ilk.. If they have real hopes for a better future for America that they can discuss and implement without going after litmus-test issues like reproductive rights and ‘creationism’ .. let’s see it..

As much as I enjoyed reading this piece I can’t help but see that it reinforces the chasm between the so-called left and right.. and gains nothing towards progress.

Adios!

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By Ratiocinator, March 19, 2011 at 3:35 pm Link to this comment

Enjoyed it Mr. Fish.
I especially love your description of Glen Beck. “an Archie Bunker who had been
properly Eliza Doolittled,” Perfect.

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Anarcissie's avatar

By Anarcissie, March 19, 2011 at 10:38 am Link to this comment

I thought the part about searching for lost teeth with cell phone lights was excellent, fraught with interesting possibilities of misinterpretation and allusion.  And it goes back, you see, to the all the lights twinkling on the plains of Los Angeles, and all the bombs twinkling on the plains of Baghdad.

Here in the dark….

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By Shenonymous, March 19, 2011 at 7:42 am Link to this comment

Non-Compassionate Liberal, March 19 6:33 am – “Ultimately, there
is no good or evil.  Eventually, the universe will end and none of
these constructions will even be remembered.  It doesn’t matter.”

Well, yeah, you are right, but how about the quality of the time that
we are here?  We will remember ‘til the day we die, so it does matter
whilst we are here. 

And what faith is that, alturn?  And this mumbo jumbo about the
bodhisattva who in the Buddhist tradition is to appear on Earth,
achieve complete enlightenment, and teach the pure dharma,
“according to scriptures,” is all I need to throw up. 

Siddartha Gautama did not preach a religion.  Good grief, the need for
super-glue attachment to naive superstitions is totally amazing in the
21st century.  The mytique of Maitreya is about as much bull shit as
any and all religions.  Don’t hold your breath, and get a mind, even at
over 70!  It is crucially late!

It is almost as Non-Compassionate Liberal, revisiting Jack Keouac, says,
ultimately…  But whether whatever happens in the time we are here is
remembered matters or not, it is all we have and it does matter for that
minute amount of time how you spend your time and if you are or are
not a puppet to gushing mystical doctrines.  For what, Non-
Compassionate Liberal, does mattering mean?  If it doesn’t matter, then
go jump off a bridge, or go eat a piece of cherry pie.

In the words of Camus, “A living man can be enslaved and reduced to
the historic condition of an object. But if he dies in refusing to be
enslaved, he reaffirms the existence of another kind of human nature
which refuses to be classified as an object.”

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culheath's avatar

By culheath, March 19, 2011 at 6:25 am Link to this comment

Wow! I really really needed that, Mr Fish….can you kindly toss me back now?

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Non-Compassionate Liberal's avatar

By Non-Compassionate Liberal, March 19, 2011 at 2:33 am Link to this comment

Ultimately, there is no good or evil.  Eventually, the universe will end and none of these constructions will even be remembered.  It doesn’t matter.

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By alturn, March 18, 2011 at 6:32 pm Link to this comment

Yes, in the end it is all about remembering that nothing matters more than being humane to each other.

“Yeah! [laughing] Wake up, brother, keep the faith!
Keep your eyes on the prize! And the prize is humanity! For the human race belong to all of us! As Bertrand Russell says: “Remember your humanity
and forget the rest.” Because if you do not, only darkness lies ahead. But YOU, our new generation, have seen the DAWN of a new order and the order belong to the human race — not to George Bush, not to Tony Blair, or any one of these so-called ‘gods’ — you know, these ‘new gods’ — now it belong to you all! I am over 70, and I am saying, you keep the faith, brother!”
- World Teacher Maitreya in guise at an anti-war rally before the Iraqi war as confirmed in April 2004 Share International magazine

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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, March 18, 2011 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment

Well, we’re now at war with Libya. Demo-rats & Republi-cons, hand-in-hand with their corporate masters; The War & Oil Profiteers.

Get out and protest tomorrow - the anniversary of the unprovoked war on the people of Iraq.

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By Standing on my own head, March 18, 2011 at 11:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I enjoyed the piece. It was a nice start to my Friday morning. I regret nothing!

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By Shenonymous, March 18, 2011 at 11:39 am Link to this comment

Oakie doakie:

I suggest reading Player Piano, his first.  Another story about
a dystopia, it is remindful of Orwell’s 1984 and Huxley’s Brave New
World, but might be less solemn, and has a bizarreness that has
come to be definitive of Vonnegut’s perspective. Nevertheless, it
constructs its message with a frolicsome attitude in comparison.
The hero is Paul Proteus, an engineer in an America of the future
where computers run everything and do everything, making people
almost nonexistent, second-thougts.  (Proteus in Greek mythology is
akin to Judeo/Christian/Islamic Adam, whose name means first born,
of Poseidon, who is able to change his shape (a shape shifter in other
words) like so many humans are wont to do.  And like so many writers
of fiction, Vonnegut’s characters are paradigms of those he has run
across in his experience of humanity.  Anyway, Paul Proteus seems to
be on his way up the ladder of success in a techno-utopia, having a
perfect wife, a fast-track position at the Ilium Works and an
opportunity for a really major promotion, but he suffers psychological
doubts about what modern life is now about. Through an odd series of
events (refer to Orwell’s Big Brother and the big eye on society), Paul
becomes a revolutionary joining a rebel group called the Ghost Shirts,
and becomes its leader.  The Ghost Shirts dwell on the past, when
people mattered more than machines, but the revolution fails with
what we can call brutal irony.  Paul and his comrades give up to the
ghost (pun intended) when they discover their minions have become
obsessed with making new machines from the scraps of the machines
they have just smashed.  Yikes!

The player piano of the story is a machine that seems constantly
watched over and monitored by ghosts. A whole world emerges in a
prescient story that describes more than the destiny of Paul Proteus. 
One has to wonder if Player Piano in its scornfully clever foretelling
the future it doesn’t remind one of the like the arrogance of the ever-
advancing present? 

Then there is Slaughterhouse Five, my introduction to his works,
demonstrates the human capacity for cruelty. In this work he shows
how technology takes this cruelty to new heights far beyond human
control. Digging deeper, the novel explores the moral emptiness on
which much contemporary human life is based.

Vonnegut is divine.

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By prgill, March 18, 2011 at 10:17 am Link to this comment

Nice reading you twice, Shenonymous. wink

How was Vonnegut right? Give me something to bite into.

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By Shenonymous, March 18, 2011 at 10:09 am Link to this comment

Yikes!  Please excuse the double post.  Something wrong with the
submit button.  Was given an error message first click!  My apologies.

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By Shenonymous, March 18, 2011 at 10:06 am Link to this comment

Aestheticizing the ugly is not really a modern idea.  Many ancient
poems discussed the horror of experiences.  Dante was one we
still read with much ‘reverence.’  It is sad that somehow humans
have to blot over their minds with something ‘beautiful’ what is
truly grotesque.  But that is how humans have evolved to cope
with just that, the monstrous.

Calling human nature the devil is another way of euphemizing the
libido for the ugly as Henry L. Menken once called it. Inventing some
personification for our ills is not a rare thing.  It is a daily practice. 
Vonnegut, in his most perspicacious mind, I think, was exactly right.

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By Shenonymous, March 18, 2011 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

Aestheticizing the ugly is not really a modern idea.  Many ancient
poems discussed the often horrible actions of man and nature of
living in the world.  Dante is one we still read with much ‘reverence.’ 
It is sad that somehow humans have to blot over their minds with
something ‘beautiful’ what is truly grotesque. But that is how humans
have evolved to cope with just that, the monstrous.

Calling human nature the devil is another way of euphemizing the
libido for the ugly as Henry L. Menken once called it.  Inventing some
personification for our ills is not a rare thing.  It is a daily practice. 
Vonnegut, with his most perspicacious mind, I think, was exactly right.

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By winsome1, March 18, 2011 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

Excellent! Keep it coming, Mr. Fish.

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By kerryrose, March 18, 2011 at 8:56 am Link to this comment

I don’t really get this?

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By prgill, March 18, 2011 at 4:09 am Link to this comment

A bit rambling, Mr. Fish.

Strong lead. I also liked the bit about Kurt Vonnegut and should have liked to read more about heroes and villains. But that is where it ended. From there it was all down hill into ordinariness and a confused search by telephone LED for somebody’s expurgated teeth.

Diogenes thou art not.

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By simplynonna, March 18, 2011 at 1:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Didja forget to mention that maybe an ounce meant an OUNCE total weight and the drogas contained would only approximate mayB 1/4 ounce? Why pay for sumthin to mess up ur mind & body when u could do that for FREE WILL?;)

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