Home | About | Donate

Desideratum

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/10/13/desideratum

2 Likes

The refusal to acknowledge the depth of problems spoils some otherwise useful ideas here.

Part of the problem involves putting too much faith in mythology around the Second WW. By '45, European empires had hammered each other half-way, and the Marshall Plan rolled out to stop nationalist movements in the colonies to achieve independence or equality. This was heralded as “anticommunism,” and of course many people up and down the hierarchy as well as foot soldiers believed it, and the obviously educated and sophisticated authors manage to ignore it here.

There are plenty of reasons that FDR-style policies would bring improvements, given where we are. But candidates espousing anything similar get shut down by the Democratic Party–to an extent if they are running on third party tickets, but particularly if they run within the party, as Bernie Sanders’ two recent campaigns establish so clearly.

This does not mean that the authors’ ideas are completely out of time. It does mean that without some voice within at least one major political party, they are firmly out of reach for the near future. That puts us well along into all the array of looming catastrophes before any constructive response might appear from government, let alone large business.

We will take the first steps in any useful response ourselves.

1 Like

Deteriorata

Go placidly amid the noise and waste,
And remember what comfort there may be in owning a piece thereof.
Avoid quiet and passive persons, unless you are in need of sleep.
Rotate your tires.
Speak glowingly of those greater than yourself,
And heed well their advice, even though they be turkeys.
Know what to kiss, and when.
Consider that two wrongs never make a right, but that three do.
Wherever possible, put people on hold.
Be comforted that in the face of all aridity and disillusionment,
And despite the changing fortunes of time,
There is always a big future in computer maintenance.

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Remember The Pueblo.
Strive at all times to bend, fold, spindle, and mutilate.
Know yourself.
If you need help, call the FBI.
Exercise caution in your daily affairs,
Especially with those persons closest to you –
That lemon on your left, for instance.
Be assured that a walk through the ocean of most souls
Would scarcely get your feet wet.
Fall not in love therefore. It will stick to your face.
Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan.
And let not the sands of time get in your lunch.
Hire people with hooks.
For a good time, call 606-4311. Ask for Ken.
Take heart in the deepening gloom
That your dog is finally getting enough cheese.
And reflect that whatever fortune may be your lot,
It could only be worse in Milwaukee.

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back.

Therefore, make peace with your god,
Whatever you perceive him to be – hairy thunderer, or cosmic muffin.
With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
The world continues to deteriorate.
Give up!

You are a fluke of the universe.
You have no right to be here.
Whether you can hear it or not,
The universe is laughing behind your back

~https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tqSKP1JNNsA

3 Likes

That old National Lampoon parody got filed in my synapses somewhere between the Bhagavad Gita and the Diamond Sutra – it’s practically scripture in my hopelessly tangled up (non-)theological system. Of startling freshness too, so relevant! I choke up laugh-sobbing every time I get to the line:

Gracefully surrender the things of youth: birds, clean air, tuna, Taiwan.

In the years before 2017, it was possible for groovy Californians to imagine just letting go of all your attachments to Life on Earth, like a Zen exercise gone occult. Peace, brothers & sisters!

1 Like

This seems as good a place as any to stare into the CA abyss a moment. The approach of firestorms to Californians is getting nearly as predictable and incessant as the approach of hurricanes to Gulf residents. This is one of those mornings, with that crackly, static-electric feeling to a constant southwesterly “diablo” wind. This is exactly what approaching fire-weather feels like: ominous as hell. If California gets through the next week or two without another million-acre wildfire explosion, we dodged a flamethrower.

Officially we Bay Area residents have a red-flag fire warning starting Wednesday at 5 AM, ending Friday at 11 AM (last I heard). Diablo gusts of up to 55 mph are expected. What’s really upped the gloominess quotient for me lately is a glimpse at the forecast in detail, from Nullschool (no relation to Aleph):

~https://earth.nullschool.net/#2020/10/14/1200Z/wind/isobaric/850hPa/overlay=wind_power_density/orthographic=-120.00,37.00,2500

This view of wind-power density (WPD) at 850hPa, starting around 5 this Wednesday morning, illustrates our red-flag warning. The big story is the big whorl which just formed a firm center over the Pacific, west of Cape Mendocino (California’s nose, north of the Bay). You can look forward 4 days in this gizmo (shift-k for +24 hrs, shift-j for -24 hrs), and that whorl stubbornly persists – with its eastern edge steadily scrubbing CA like a wire-brush for the foreseeable. The word for this is dreadful. Nothing much to do about it at this point, aside from getting out of the way.

With all its hopes, dreams, promises, and urban renewal,
The world continues to deteriorate.
Give up!

“In the years before 2017, it was possible for groovy Californians to imagine just letting go of all your attachments to Life on Earth, like a Zen exercise gone occult.”

How did you come to that conclusion? That isn’t what happens in Zen exercise.

From the joke about the Zen vacuum cleaner, which has lost all its attachments (I have one of those in the attic, in fact!) Besides, it’s not straight-backed Zen we’re talkin’ bout, it’s occult Rosemary’s Baby Zen.

Enjoy our great fire-week renewal, likely kicking off shortly, btw.

(But seriously, on the subject of Buddhism, my most beloved teacher will always be Thich Nhat Hanh. One of the very beautiful people I had the honor of meeting, out at Lake Merritt, once upon a time: our Thay.)

1 Like

Ah yes, the mechanical plague of the universe.

I ask because I have been reluctant to repeat that lesson, that also turns up in other practices. I always thought I was doing it wrong. (it was through that mistake that I learned the difference) I liked the Deteriorata, especially the part about the fickle nature of the universe.

I still haven’t cleaned up all the ash from last week, maybe I need to rethink the vacuum thing.

I don’t think you can go wrong with Thich Nhat Hanh. There is still some things that are miraculous, like Lady bugs.

1 Like

we make an appeal to those who hold the reins of power and move the levers of control

And there is the point of the exacto knife. We don’t have the power. They do. We are suffering. These authors are begging. That’s what we are. We are beggars.

Go “democracy.”

The Care and Labour of providing for Artificial and Fashionable Wants, the sight of so many rich wallowing in Superfluous plenty, whereby so many are kept poor and distressed for Want . . . all contrive to disgust [the Indians] with what we call civil Society. — Benjamin Franklin, 1770

Here we are, 250 years later, and the rich are wallowing in superfluous plenty and millions are poor and suffering because they don’t have their basic needs met.

Personally, I have zero confidence that this society can do it any differently. In the midst of all this misery and cruelty there have always been “liberals,” people of compassion, people who didn’t want to steal any more land or kill any more Native Americans, people who didn’t want slavery, people who didn’t want child labor and wealth built on dead and maimed bodies from unsafe working conditions.

But there are never enough of those people. We talk about progress all the time. We love to point out our “progress.” We abolished slavery. We “gave” women the vote. Whoopie. How embarrassing to have the vote for 100 years. I’m almost 70. So, thirty years before I was born, this culture decided that women could have a voice in their society. You human rights champions, you!! My God! That is so impressive!!

We had the New Deal. It is the only time in European history that ordinary white men had anything that resembled democracy, and it was only for white men.

We’re just too damn mean and brainwashed by our culture. We don’t know who we are or where we live, and it’s a problem.

Really need to learn Modern Monetary Theory. We don’t have to worry about the national debt. The public sector deficit is the private sector surplus. And we also must have a jobs guarantee program for everyone that wants a job. If the private sector can not provide a job for those in need then the government must. There should be no unemployment. #MMT

At best, that remark is incomplete and stated without any of the qualifiers required to make it accurate.

MMT is not a theory about what could be done, it is a description of the way money is created, works through the system, and is destroyed.

It does not say we can spend unlimited money for anything we want with no consequences or impacts.
What it does imply, however, is that if we as a nation spend wisely and productively, we can spend much more than we typically do in some areas without as much concern about the volume of spending so long most of that spending improves public sector assets and services, thereby enhancing the Commons and the lives and livelihood of a majority of the population.