Monday, January 15, 2018

On women

I've known 75 women intimately and hundreds more in circumstances that allowed me to see into their hearts and minds as a film director, as an amateur sleuth and world traveler. I was always keenly interested in the bravest and brightest.

In previous writing, I quoted Mark Twain, "There is only one good sex, the female one." I argued that women should be exempt from the criminal law, granted a separate and equal share of government by constitutional amendment (the entire U.S. House of Representatives) and a monopoly of civilian law enforcement. It is my conviction that women have a separate moral purpose apart from men, one which a man learns to understand in marriage but never fully embraces because it would unman him.

Generally speaking, foolish to do so, women as a species are resolute, industrious, coy, secretive, curious and observant. When she gives birth, she is "settled" and her primary purpose sharpens to an absolute, amplifying her powers. Motherhood confers the will to kill, like a mama bear, blunt instrument of life and death if man or beast threatens her children.

No different than men in some respects, women can be self-destructive (drug addiction and alcoholism, prostitution, thievery, and irrational tantrums). The human condition applies to both sexes equally, but women have a deep silence and arbitrariness that men often see as disturbing and mysterious. She can smile come hither then sneer go to hell unpredictably.

In the work that I am about to attempt, it is imperative to depict women as individuals, some ideal, some ordinary, and one seriously deranged and murderous, none of which are typical. The purpose of fiction is to offer contrasts, danger, intrigue, combat, and the costly price of triumph. Only the most admirable of women will undertake a mission of steely commitment separate from the biological and utilitarian destiny that urges her to play along, suffer a load of shit without response. Men do it, too. They knuckle under to keep a job, obeying the laws and customs of polite society, shunning risk of a painful adventure with uncertain outcome. Warriors are few.

There have been numerous heroic female warriors -- Boadicea, Joan of Arc, Phoolan Devi, Emiline Pankhurst, and Margaret Thatcher spring to mind, but there were many thousands in world history. If I was a better student, I would remember more names, like the wildcat who disarmed and stood on the neck of an invader that she would come to admire and mate as his queen. Even the dumbest male student should know the steadfast dedication of Marie Curie and Florence Nightingale, the charismatic crusades of Aimie Semple McPherson, Mary Baker Eddy, Susan B. Anthony, Madame Blavatsky, Ayn Rand, Gloria Steinem, and Anne Coulter.

Women dominate popular literature for good reason, because women read.

They play second fiddle to movie heroes and villains, but without women on screen there is very little story to tell, merely men struggling to kill each other. One of the best classic films is The Inn of The Sixth Happiness starring Ingrid Bergman, the true story of a housemaid who decides that her mission in life is to go to China and preach the Gospel, traveling alone on the Trans Siberia Railway and ox cart, by force of character given official status to abolish the cruelty of foot binding and, amid the horror and destruction of a Japanese invasion, to rescue 150 orphan children by leading them hundreds of hours through the mountains. Women do these things because they are biologically impelled to save life and ameliorate suffering. In American colonial history and medieval Europe, women were the healers and heretics that men feared and persecuted, then banished or killed and slandered in bitter calumny.

I owe a great deal to Ayn Rand in particular, a woman who stood alone, did whatever she had to, and fought for the right to be heard. In the beginning, she was awkward and inarticulate. Her ideas of good and evil, true and false and necessary took decades to refine and express in English, concepts that were forged by experiencing Soviet Russia as a young adult. I could not have learned to think clearly without Rand's compelling achievement. She paid an incredibly high price, shunned and betrayed and villified.

That said, my style of storytelling has nothing to do with Ayn Rand's example, although her novels mesmerized me and taught me about passion, notably absent from male authors like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler. It's amusing and revealing that Rand liked Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and Ian Fleming's James Bond, hard men of action. Her own fictional male heroes were intelligent, upright, unbending, creative, courageous, and virile.

I'm a little different. My hero is sufficiently valiant but slightly stupid, as most men are. His principal virtue is a sort of plodding endurance, instilled by Marine Corps discipline, always faithful and inured to hardship and danger. The woman he meets and marries is in a class by herself, spectacularly alert, bisexual, a polymath with a Ph.D. -- genius level brilliant -- the elder daughter of a billionaire inventor, a father she despises. Her younger sister is a spoiled brat, twisted by fear and seething monstrosity, as ugly and vicious as a woman could be.

To inhabit their femininity, their female physiology and biorhythms, is a daunting task as a male novelist. Like my hero Chris Cable, I'm slightly stupid, attempting the clumsy heresy of writing a female point of view told in first person. Sigh. Life on life's terms, old chum.

A woman's life is enormous. Think of it exactly so, as massive as an egg, with millions of tiny aggressive sperm vying to penetrate and spawn new life, only one of which can succeed, a primeval right to choose under assault, the result of reflexive or involuntary union. What will happen next will forever transform her, unless she elects to remain childless by employing a foolproof method of birth control like having her tubes tied, a decision to live for her own sake as a high priestess, independent of biological destiny. More than ever before in history, fertile young women are drawn to a career and a personal crusade, the hunt for an equal to love and honor, uncomplicated by the duty of children. Others want very much to breed and nurture, gift themselves in service to the future, hoping that men will protect them.

Men are untrustworthy in that regard, however much they enjoy the warmth and wonder of innocence. That's why an exceptional class of female warrior must step into the fray and kick with the strength of her kind, indifferent and hardened to men and women alike, unless they share an equal dedication to justice, the armed defense of cherished liberty, bulwark of our nation's commerce, energy production, farms and factories to feed and clothe children.



Monday, January 8, 2018

Favorite lines

Two make a fire, and the embers never die.   
('Mars Shall Thunder')

The hottest word you can hear a woman say is Oh! repeatedly.
('A Portrait of Valor')

War is fought best as calmly and impersonally as possible.  
('The Tar Pit')

Spiritual push-ups get harder if you live in a sewer.  
('First Feature')

The air was cleansed and scented by shifting breezes that herald a storm, and a new infant moon howled that might makes love. ('The Good Walk Alone')

The sun was hollow and decorative, not much of a threat.  
('Charity')

.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

All I ask is three months

Erik sent me a short email, after I shared with him the first few chapters of my work in progress. I won't quote what he said but it helped me enormously, more than I can say, to have encouragement from a profoundly good author I've admired for many years.

As far as I know, I'm a terrible writer, that's my whole experience of it. I make tons of mistakes, have to export from OpenOffice to pdf every few minutes and read it over and over and over, fixing stupid stuff like spelling errors and getting character names mixed up, fix lines with clunky grammar and those I edited on the fly and mangled. I pause, think through individual words, fact check, change tense, and tell myself repeatedly "Don't gild the lily!" -- erasing whole phrases and ideas that sounded good a few minutes ago. Every line matters, every modifier. And worse: each moment, every split second of life. I have to stay true to my people, good, bad, ugly, complicated, terse.

So far, I have avoided naming the truth. I'm the slowest and least able writer on earth. It takes me 8 hours to write a page or two, interrupted by walks outside to glean and sift what the next scene might and ought to be, a complication, a key line of dialogue, a dilemma solved badly, because people make mistakes and feel foolish, rebel or roll the dice and pay for it in tears and shame. I know about such things because what I write is always a gamble.

If it succeeds, as Erik says I do, the price is mighty fucking high, because I'm naked, transparent. The only stories I can tell are life on life's terms, full of risk and loneliness and a sort of brutal will to live, price no object. I'm soft. I let my people win, because that's part of the greater truth. I let them laugh, growl and hit back with the force of Hades if threatened. Friendship and true love take years to root and grow, no cheery guarantees. A single breach can kill everything.

It took a long time to start this novel, couldn't face writing the first word -- for weeks!

It's the most difficult thing I've ever attempted. My target is 100K or more, two stories told from two points of view, identical events related twice, although what he sees and what she sees are often separate experiences. That's how men and women survive, separately, privately, showing each other an edited best behavior. Or we try to. But real danger changes everything. Orders are shouted, guns drawn.

I'd give anything to have a different life, but that's not going to happen, so I write as I must, incapable of better work. Long winter months in a frozen barn with terrible food doesn't matter if I can pull it off, a hundred thousand words that surprise and thrill and achieve something that no one else has done before, a mountain to climb bare-handed and alone. Erik's email gave me hope, that it might be worth it, every hour, every day, price no object, so long as I live long enough to finish it. After that, I'll take whatever punishment I must.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Welfare

I regard welfare to be a serious, difficult topic. It began as a tragic historical fluke. Britain was a monarchy, with a small number of lords, ladies, landed gentry, and millions of serfs whose hard lot in life had been slightly improved by steam engines, industry, and coal fires in cold brick hovels. Health care was primitive and costly. Karl Marx argued for revolution. Playwright George Bernard Shaw argued for public welfare -- municipal gas, water and sewer socialism for the working class. It was practical, necessary 'Fabianism' to defuse Marxist revolution and allow the ruling elite to retain enjoyment of heriditary privilege and West End plays.

Flash forward to today's socialist Britain, free housing, free medical care, free food, rampant drug use celebrated in the movie Trainspotting -- a thuggish, sullen underclass amplified by millions of Asian and African refugees from the formerly grand global empire that the Crown was compelled to relinquish because Britain was broke, the price of socialism and nonprofit war with Germany twice in a single generation. Over a million young Brits were sacrificed in battle, good strong white working class men led by blueblood officers. The rest of the nation had been conscripted to build warships and Spitfires, to harvest and tin awful field rations for doomed troops. Without vast military resources provided by the United States, Britain might have ceased to exist as an island nation in 1944. Without trillions in U.S. Treasury bonds and derivatives to fuel City of London banking, there would be no socialist Britain in 2017.

I lived in Britain twice, a couple years in Scotland, a couple years in London, did some of my best work as a filmmaker, TV director, writer and novelist there, had great fun with stars in the swish West End and Mayfair. I hired Lady Foxwell as a publicist. I also visited NHS doctors and paid Harley Street specialists to fix my teeth. If anyone is qualified to venture an opinion of British socialism, I believe that I am. I covered a Labour Party conference for ITV and ORF. They sang 'The Internationale' with gusto -- theme song of Marxism, trade unionism, state subsidy of hapless stooges employed to build unreliable luxury cars at a loss, more free shit to support the unemployable, the elderly, a generation of red brick college students and wannabe musicians, many of whom were pretty damn good. Britain flatters itself as a fount of show business talent with dishonest justification, citing Dickens, Shakespeare, and The Beatles as national achievements. Individualism is a somewhat vague concept in Blighty. A night spent drinking in a pub is their notion of a jolly good time, standing cheek by jowl with loud chums and loose women, followed by greasy fish and chips or tandoori.

What this has to do with the United States -- so far, as described above -- is our historical role in funding British decline. It's difficult to estimate how much unearned booty we gave them. Their entire fleet of nuclear submarines and commercial aircraft were subsidized by socialist America, nonprofit world cop, following in the footsteps of English Fabians for the unearned benefit of less productive Brits and Africans and Italians and Russians. Does it sound odd that we poured tens of billions in handouts to Russia, after the fall of communism? It shouldn't. The United States knows no limit of international charity, public and private. We funded the Israeli war machine, guaranteed that Israel would always have oil, housing projects, defacto supremacy, and payola to keep blood adversaries like Egypt under the fist of dictatorship.

It does not matter that U.S. motives were 'pure of heart,' or whether that's true or false. The business of charity does not comprehend or heed right and wrong. We spent a trillion to help American blacks, wasted every penny and institutionalized a permanent welfare underclass, destroying Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Camden. Our charity in subsidizing higher education for the stupid destroyed the integrity of universities from coast to coast, groomed a U.S. President who taught communism and class war, endless and endemic white guilt. He and his welfare state pals in Congress destroyed health care by mandating perpetual dependency on Medicaid, Medicare, and FDR-era Social Security, triple ponzi schemes that cannot be sustained for more than a few years, assuming that people will continue to buy U.S. Treasury debt. Whether anyone can or will in Britain is uncertain. Their banking system is in crisis again. The Saudis are upside down financially, nearly insolvent -- another painfully good joke, since we discovered oil in Arabia, developed Ghawar, gave them a market to sell oil, armed the Kingdom, and turned a blind eye to their vicious police state. In perfect symmetry of payback, a Saudi cleric and 15 Saudi nationals attacked us on 9/11 and destroyed a nonprofit Port Authority landmark that housed Zionist-owned Cantor Fitzgerald, the global sales scam with near monopoly in trading U.S. Treasury debt.

How much more bizarre can charity get? Plenty. A trillion dollars  to destroy Vietnam, then two trillion to destroy Iraq, withdrawing from both countries with no discernable benefit to America or any of the stupified survivors wandering in poisoned rubble. Three trillion more to prepare North and South Korea, Japan, China, India and Pakistan for nuclear war.

'General welfare' is mentioned in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, often cited to shove outrageously stupid legislation and regulation down people's throats and pour trillions into sewers of graft. For two centuries, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Preamble was not a substantive grant of power, merely an etheral statement of undefinable generality. Grants of power to the Federal government were specifically enumerated by the text of Articles I-V, including a process to ratify amendments. We never ratified an amendment to make the United States a welfare state. Congress used the power to regulate interstate commerce as an excuse to cripple American commerce and American common law property rights.

In 1999, Milton Friedman gave a televised speech to an ISIL conference in Costa Rica that was sponsored by Laissez Faire City. Friedman spoke about the tired old creed of Fabianism and the profound harm it had done to America. He predicted that new principles of libertarianism would prevail and reverse the damage done by idiotic socialism. The election of George W. Bush by a hair's breadth of plurality and a controversial ballot recount in Florida was seen as a step toward sunshine, after Bill Clinton mortgaged the economy to toxic assets that would blow up investment banking and derivatives during W.'s second term in office, re-elected by acclamation after destroying Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with attacking us on 9/11. Whatever Milton Friedman fancied as global destiny to rediscover liberty was silly. America instituted a 'patriotic' police state after 9/11, which somehow includes Black Lives Matter, an excuse to kill cops and intimidate university students, keep white speakers off campus.

The upside-down world of evil triumphing over good is the grim work of charity. Whether it's done by government or private empires like Annenberg and Carnegie foundations, the result is always the same, good people punished and evil rewarded. Bill and Melinda Gates are busy rewarding evil in Africa, shoulder to shoulder with USAID and a profoundly corrupt UNESCO. Of all the calamities inflicted on mankind, nothing can top the damage done by nonprofit, tax exempt institutions of religion, the Catholic Church and Islam in particular but not uniquely. Jews and Protestants are equally guilty of bending the levers of finance, entertainment and government policy to do wrong in the guise of righteousness and piety.

America today faces the same quandry that inspired Fabianism in England over a century ago with disasterous results. Our ruling class of 'The 1%' is no different than lords and ladies who kept great estates and serving girls, while serfs begged for bread in the streets. U.S. Fabians in Hollywood and Washington DC and state legislatures wail that we have to feed the hungry and pay people to do less, to ignore the problem of labor, savings, and capital investment. "Investment" nowadays means a fat subsidy for Tesla and solar panels made in China, more debt, more overseas military operations, burning subsidized biofuel that costs twice as much as nasty old oil. The U.S. Postal Service can't be disbanded, although it loses billions annually, because USPS delivers subsidized Amazon playthings from subsidized distribution centers.

The 1% are happy to play benefactor, for the same reason that English aristocrats went along with prominent West End superstars and reformers. Warren Buffett is willing to pay more in taxes, he says, the same rate as his secretary does, which is almost nothing after deductions and exemptions. The disaster of Expanded Medicaid and Obamacare will lead irresistibly to a 'single payer' national health service like Britain, our spiritual guru of national charity. Black Lives Matter has become an institution, Federally subsidized and empowered to rule college experience forever, backed by DOJ's Civil Rights Division. By every measure, Americans are becoming sicker, more obese, and less happy. Schools are a cesspool of government failure, incapable of teaching anyone anything, serving thuggish students free breakfast, lunch and dinner partly at taxpayer expense, but most of it borrowed with Federal debt. Municipalities and states are broke, can't pay current expenses or lavish retirement for public servants.

That's the ugly career of welfare, to wreck everything. What we should do as Americans is to think of our families and loved ones, ignore whatever claim government and religion makes to rob us for the unearned satisfaction of people we despise. If you want to aid a neighbor, that's fine. Offering him work is good policy, strengthens your neighborhood or locality. It's a valid method of improving society, to employ people at whatever wage you agree together, without government telling you how and when and skimming a cut for bureaucracy -- which is the whole goddamn game of government in a nutshell, a mailed fist to extort money for drones who do as little as possible and give nothing but pain, like bent nose mafioso. Their Ivy League law degrees and balloon drops at party conventions are paid for by the sweat of your brow, the callouses on a tradesmen's hands, serfs and suckers who do physical work, a doctor's training and skilled devotion, a small business among hundreds of thousands who employ half of all Americans, the farmers and mechanics who sustain human life, utilities and rural co-ops and investor owned enterprises, roughnecks who produce oil and gas.

If you feel you must be politically active, campaign to bring the troops home, to cut welfare spending, to make government smaller. Educate your children privately, prepare them to go forward in life, learn a skilled trade to feed themselves. Discourage charity and drug use or binge drinking. Teach them to choose friends carefully, to discriminate. Never assume that a smile is benevolent. Politicians, priests, and con artists smile. Barack Obama smiled.



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Criminal enterprise

Bill suggested that I write a history of Laissez Faire City. I can do it in a single sentence. It was a criminal enterprise. Details would fill a shelf as big as a two-volume O.E.D., defining each aspect, utilizing nearly every word in the English language. With equal mental energy and all of my remaining days I could fill a library with crimes committed by millions of other people, including the Massachusetts Bay Colony, the Founding Fathers, and every session of Congress since its inception as an institution of political compromise.

The dispossessed native Amerindians were rapacious brutes, perpetually at war with rival tribes and far worse in their treatment of women and children than the bloody Aztecs and Arabs. One cannot point to a single African tribe ancient or modern that has clean hands, or an instance of religion or philosophy that did not punish the weak. You think libertarians are innocent? Hah. Murray Rothbard was supported by taxation and tax loopholes his entire life. Walter Block laughed that a Ph.D. in economics was a $250,000 annual meal ticket to do little as a tentured party animal, funded by similar political crimes, including intellectual fraud.

I claim innocence in that regard. I was an innovator. I was also ignored, the strange karma of working outside the iron grip of tradition and scholarship of the Known and Familiar. Those who succeed intellectually, creatively, or economically are slaves to the art of extracting maximum benefit from existing arrangements. I'm typing these words on a laptop made in China, built by indentured servants from a series of stepwise improvements following basic research at Bell Labs, a monopoly, headed by an asshole guilty of multiple crimes.

I try to be generous about crime. Life is short. Few of us are born free and independent of life's little boxes. Whatever joy one finds is usually a happy accident, someone to love, far removed from the world, cloistered in a hovel or something less awkward depending on one's continent and era of history. Sexual love has existed for thousands of years, perhaps the only personal value that is discovered and earned, threatened by success and treachery, won and lost, transformed irrevocably by the purpose of sex -- children.

You were once a child, the product of sexual love, something that may have been a mistake in judgment, fogged by animal physiology, no different than other species. The bonds and boxes of family (or lack thereof) shape who we are as a people. That Austrian economics is deaf to this principle explains why libertarianism remains an inarticulate craving for high crimes and misdemeanors, baseline treason. Let's compare and contrast a life of duty. My recent fiction stars a USMC officer who resigned his commission because he was revulsed by killing, the sole mission of Marines, the "devil dogs" trained to fight as a team, to obey every command unquestioningly and immediately without flinching from peril. Marines are front line infantrymen, tasked to take real estate and hold it by force.

Without such men we would not be having this conversation. In ancient times, Marines were the backbone of maritime empire, stationed shipboard to enforce order and attack on shore, expeditionary forces to win supplies and defeat all opposition. Cannonade (in modern times aerial bombardment) cannot take, it can only destroy. Marines take territory and resources. "Boots" as they are called sarcastically by Marines are troops organized into an Army, clumsy in operation, fueled by a deluxe supply chain and leisurely, well planned deployment. The Marines land first, poorly equipped except by their fierce character as fighting men.

I speak of these matters to highlight our collective debt to crime. Whether it's Israel or USA, history is a trail of tears, unending war, political oppression, economic waste and fraudulent claims of wisdom and justice. Through it all, sex and family shaped what men did and why. Their women reared children to enter into battle with each other and for or against the men in power. Transition to a modestly peaceful postwar civil society in the late 20th century is comfortable, but little else has changed. Sex and family still determines our destiny.

The challenge of liberty is to make a choice, to join the Marines or avoid duty. I'm not certain which is more honorable. As a small and sensitive man, I was ill suited to fighting. I avoided fights as a child, as a young man, and later in life as a filmmaker. Had I been more aggressive and ruthless, I would have won a more successful career in Hollywood, I'm certain of it, and I could recite a string of incidents in which I was self-defeated by cowardice. I turned down an opportunity to make a slasher movie, fully funded and easily done. I abhored violence.

This does not make me an antiwar libertarian. The fact of the matter is that my survival and happiness depends on marines, literal U.S. Marine infantrymen and their civilian brothers in spirit who manufacture government and capital goods. Using the platform of luxury that we all share in the modern world, I am writing an article on the topic of crime. It was not a crime to fight the American Revolutionary War of Independence, nor any of the global conflicts that predated my life. What happened in Vietnam and more recently Iraq was tragedy, rather than a sudden perversion of American power. Nothing surpassed the perversion of American life by African slavery and the Civil War. There is endless suffering to come, a nation divided by DNA. The melting pot theory is rhetorical and theoretical.

It's not my purpose to complain. The goal of my work has been to advance a few ideas that could influence history, principally a new constitutional framework for the practice of law and profession of justice. It was a job I did not volunteer to undertake. I was forced to swear it as a solemn purpose, after spending two years in Federal prison and observing many cases among the men who were likewise deemed felons. I did time with Gordon Liddy. I bunked with murderers, bank robbers, drug dealers, and white collar criminals. Every one of them had families and children, enjoyed music, wanted freedom and prosperity. As a jailhouse lawyer, I freed three of them and won early parole for another guy -- but the challenge of discerning apolitical constitutional law as it might and ought to be was a difficult task.

It only took 25 years to make good on that mission, to redefine justice and frame an organic document constituting laissez faire law. The achievement was a great burden of duty that finally ended, thankfully. It was done at a time when Laissez Faire City was desperately in need of due process of law. Had it been ratified as a constitutional legal regime, it may have saved Laissez Faire City from implosion. No free society can survive without the rule of law.

We should be careful when using that phrase, the rule of law. It has nothing to do with the whims of a legislature or tyrant. I will quote an opinion of counsel I filed with the leadership of Laissez Faire City in January 2000, predating the Freeman's Constitution of August 2001, which elaborated this simple idea: "In a laissez faire community of any kind, physical or digital, the rule of law arises from and requires all of the following: a constitutional right to practice legal representation on behalf of others; the right of practicing lawyers to associate for the purpose of selecting judges who, on appointment to the bench, are barred from private legal practice; and the right of any person or organized group to obey and execute lawful orders that may be issued from time to time by the courts so created. The jursidiction of laissez faire constitutional law and the courts which duly interpret and uphold such principles exists globally and perpetually as a matter of right. Laissez faire constitutional law flows from a single proposition, which is that no one may legally judge his own cause of action or act to penalize another without fair public trial and impartial due process of law. Laissez faire law is discovered and demonstrated in the process of litigation and trial. It cannot be legislated, codified, or imposed by a 'lawgiver'."

Whether that makes sense to you or not is unimportant. What I wish to impart is extremely simple. My conception of laissez faire justice set forth in The Freeman's Constitution was an act of treason, no different than the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The quarto volume of my book Laissez Faire Law paid tribute to our gallant forefathers by choosing the Amazon retail price of $17.76. (you can get it half price at Lulu.com)

Treason describes most crimes, disobedience to established order.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Civilians

I'm a civilian, too old to be anything else. Most of my friends are civilians. If I need help, I can summon civilian cops and doctors. In my travels around the world, I flew on civilian aircraft, rode in civilian vehicles and civilian trains, encountered thousands of civilians on streets and in hotels and restaurants. I consulted civilian lawyers, signed civilian rental agreements and employment contracts, bought stuff in civilian shops, directed civilian film crews and sat in civilian offices and studios.

Americans, Australians, and most Europeans have civilian governments constrained by public policy and legal processes that reflect civilian opinions and needs. Whether Britain is a civil society is debatable. Like China and Russia, they have a sovereign "civil service" that exists independently of the civilians they rule. Elsewhere, especially in black Africa, government is a tyranny, a bright line of division between power and powerlessness, no civilians as such, only masters and serfs.

I brought up this subject to talk about something else. Whether civilian life is mostly free or frustrated by government, there is an entirely separate community (for lack of a better term) worlds apart from civilians and bureaucrats. Its most benign regiments are military. I like old soldiers, Marines in particular. I understand them. War is hell. Emotional wounds are deep. Vietnam veterans have horrible stories to tell. I listen to them, treat them as equals in life, because I understand.

It would be nice (?) if the uncivil community was limited to military men, but it's not. There is a special subset of warriors who take no prisoners and have no regard for civilians or political life. They operate independently, no different than criminals or beasts of prey. From time to time these ruthless men and women are authorized to kill, deceive, change their identity and disappear, ineligible for military benefits, because they are not military. Whether American, British, Russian, French, Levantine, Arab or Israeli, secret agents are monsters.

I was never comfortable in their company. Human life is unimportant. Murder and deceit is their mission, kill or be killed. Nations do not exist for them. They change sides depending on financial opportunity, a window to crawl through, a deal, a temporary anchor in action. They have lovers, but no friends. Obligation is an alien concept -- something that loyal military men honor proudly. Covert identity is a forged passport, an assumed name, a disguise.

They began life as civilians and most have had military training. At some point they were in secret service authorized by a government agency, but had no support, no legal remit. They were given a task that stripped them of official protection. Entering into the underworld of covert operations is a one way journey, never to return home, no happy retirement. Leaders of U.S. intelligence agencies have been murdered, covert operators routinely captured and tortured and disposed of.

Why do such men (it's mostly men) exist? -- because lawful agents, whether commercial or political or military, are incapable of controlling a cruel, anarchistic world. Secret operators are the heroes and villains who struggle behind the scenes to do what civilians and armies of disciplined military forces cannot do. It is a form of deliberate suicide, temptation to throw oneself into the fires of hell and smirk at conventional authority.

It's an historic role, and it's contagious, seducing whole societies with the imperative of evil operations in private life. All's fair in love and war, right? Tens of thousands of Mexicans are dead, decapitated, burned alive, because warlords and graft were spawned by governments on both sides of the border. A wall would help, perhaps, but there is no wall that cannot be penetrated by special operators, whether criminal or formerly "official" gone rogue.

I like being a civilian, safe and snug in a community of good neighbors, folks who plow fields and harvest crops, milk cows, work in factories, operate heavy equipment, build homes and highways. I like the orderly civilian realm of banks, grocery stores, auto repair, radio stations and hospitals. Great fun to visit a restaurant, order a meal and pay for it, an implicit contract. Civilian life is cooperative and rarely cruel -- a communal gift bequeathed by secret agents and special operators whose lives were sacrificed to do hellish brutality, kill or be killed.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Individualism


(a golden oldie, published by Generator 21, The World's Magazine, 1999)


Married men will comprehend this dilemma instantly. You love your wife, but find yourself sexually attracted to another woman. What to do?

There are plenty of options. You can go to the nearest sports bar and watch Monday Night Football, postponing the problem of individuality. Marvel and shout and criticize in tempo with the mob. It's a no-brainer. You'll laugh it off, drink it down, and deny the existence of a unique self, separate from your spouse, individually free as a matter of moral and constitutional right. Alcohol does an excellent job of clouding the issue, drowning your brain in sentimental reverence for kith, kin, and the Broncos (without Elway, sniff!)

Or you can go to church, an all inclusive trip to the infinite and universal. New Age, Catholic, Alcoholics Anonymous, Branch Dividian, or Mormon, it's the same cheerful hymn, to merge and forget Thyself in the grace of communion and eternal predictability. Two shows a day, ample parking in rear.

Ask your lawyer for advice. He'll warn you about tax consequences. Ask your doctor. He'll smile and reassure you that there's nothing to worry about; it's normal and natural. Ask a pal. She will state exactly what you should do and not do, divined from a single moral imperative: No one may indulge a silly selfish impulse, separate from the good opinion of others. The path to Self is a minefield of unpredictable consequences. All you're likely to discover is the wisdom of the ages, which is: Keep your nose clean and be a positive role model for youth. In view of our grave social responsibilities, Thou shalt not press thy luck.

THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE

Where is this Self we think so special? Factories can predict with accuracy the number of shirts and shoes you will buy, no matter which size you wear. The daily newspaper is never irrelevant to your interests, the grocery store always provides your favorite food, and the mortuary reflects upon your existence with the certainty of a garbage collector. Every day there are more of us to carry away. What claim do you have to individuality, when every man is animal, every life a brief, predictable progress from infancy to surcease? If you wail and suffer, you wail with us all, every heart and every mind alive to the honest fact of our interchangeable mortality. Even our language mocks us, for no one who speaks is separate and unique, cut clean from the legacy of shared commonplace terms. Science proceeds in collective assent. Philosophy seeks one rule for all.

I've done my best to be an individual. In the other place [Free Market Net] my puny character was ridiculed and shunned. Elsewhere, I've been heaped with praise. Governments alternately punished me and sought my advice, which I thrust upon them unwanted and withheld when solicited. Sound familiar? No one digs his own grave enthusiastically. The first impulse to raw individualism is compounded by telling someone in authority -- a parent, a teacher, a priest -- to get bent. Do it often and you will achieve notoriety, perhaps martyrdom. But how "individual" is that? The evil choice seems a perfectly balanced trap. Heads you lose any claim to integrity; tails you lose liberty and wealth.

Individual life is not statistically significant, according to economic theory. It does not exist at all, say behavioral scientists. We entertain ourselves with delusions of uniqueness, a fantasy conducive to survival of the species. Penguins do it, recognizing the "unique" cry of their offspring on a crowded iceberg. Swans do it, swimming in pairs for life. We do it in cocktail dresses and Santa Claus suits and pajamas, swearing fidelity to our partner or employer or drinking buddy, incapable of guessing the consequences and perfectly aware of one's freedom to change his or her mind.

Obligation is a brief honeymoon, depending on whether a relationship grows or freezes, pleases or punishes. From casual observation of the world, I'd say that most folks find themselves frozen and punished, unwilling to exhibit their real Self again. We get an edited, "spun" version of who they are, a public face that conceals a locked vault. If you're observant, you can sense the weight of a hidden treasure in the presence of a big person. It takes forever to convince them that it's okay to open up, to say something deeply personal. Ayn Rand's heroes (John Galt, Howard Roark) hardly spoke at all, except to state a philosophical proof. This is no criticism of Miss Rand. She merely documented how we routinely speak to one another, how we "share" ourselves with others. We declaim facts. We declaim trivial facts, because we're not Ayn Rand.

THIS WAY OUT

Contemplating the predictable result of another social outing, Queenie recently observed that the company of others produces a litany of woe, "the wounds of the awful," she phrased it with precision. While men chuckle their war stories, women trade sadness, emptiness, resignation, and faded cheeriness.

What this demonstrates is the certainty of social pressure -- groupthink -- which flows on contact when you strap yourself to others. But subtract everyone else from your existential awareness (go somewhere in isolation by yourself) and presto! The forsaken, forbidden evidence of Self pops out like an animated, greedy truth, searching with passion and wonder in the earth of individuality, the candid Self that one never dares to reveal in public. It would be pointless and profane to reveal an inner life in public, because spectacle and noise are the twin circus masters of overfed mass communication.

In public, men twist their faces with slobbering glee over sports trivia. In public, women twitter and moan about each other and their men. Practitioners of public relations do both as a job, not unlike those who perform rituals for money and are called priests or whores. But in private, away from the public, they sober up. Put any man or woman indoors (without TV) and watch the miracle of civilization take hold. Actions become purposeful, thoughtful, self-directed. Instead of mimicking or flattering others, solitude inspires productive work.... At home there is no imam to supervise your piety, no gang of thugs at your back, no faceless victim to clean up your spilled milk or to berate with
newly imagined grievances. In private, you are intimately and exclusively confronted by the only person you have a right to obey or resent: yourself. Privacy is the situational source of all growth, improvement, education and morality. It is the fountainhead of art. It is the workshop of philosophy. [DeVoon, "Public Relations," 1991]

Try it. I dare you. Delete everything from your computer that was authored by other people, leaving only that which you created. It can't be done. You need the operating system and application software, products of industrial teamwork. You need the expressions of mathematics and English (or some other ancient, preverbal share of inherited culture). Human history will never be deleted from your knowledge. Work and family life are so deeply fundamental to our sense of purpose, that we seldom think of much else. Pay the rent. Buy the food. Sleep. Pay the rent. Buy the food. Sleep.

I am painfully aware of apparent individuality and diversity, six billion unique lifestyles and hairstyles and nicknames. That's not the problem. The problem is that no one truly wishes to be who they are. I had hoped for a life like David Lean or Stanley Kubrick. In a pinch, I would have settled for Fred Zinnemann. What I got instead was Wolf DeVoon, an isolated beatnik with a second-class brain, whose idea of a good time is a newspaper and a cup of coffee at Denny's.

I often consider the possibility of "self-improvement," in the traditional sense of study, but it seems most appropriate for teenagers. I remember studying like crazy as a youngster, trying to understand the adult world. But youth is a forge; it shapes and twists a personality forever, during the struggle for integration. By age 40, the job of Self is complete and cannot be undone. Odd, isn't it? -- that ours is the first generation in history who will live about half of our existence after age 40, a consequence of vaccines, vitamins, clean water, etc. Fully formed and settled, middle-aged adults experience no challenge or surprise, just more of the same. If youth shaped you into a gambler, then a gambler you remain. Your adult Self cannot be unlearned, only
disowned and hushed.

From age 40 onwards, life polishes and burnishes the public you, smoothing over a few superficial bumps and lumps of personality, but it seldom digs much deeper, not even by accident. Rearranging yourself in middle age is basically impossible. No wonder that Ayn Rand liked the company of younger souls who were still under construction. Young people are infinitely more interesting than fossilized elders -- a fact which Rand acknowledged explicitly in 'The Simplest Thing In The World'. Among other charming qualities, the young ask questions and listen to a thoughtful reply. Seniors ask nothing and declaim spontaneously, whether anybody's paying attention or not.

I fall into the second category. I declaim on these pages, whether anyone pays attention or not. I ask no questions except one: What lurks within the shadow of my Self, the manchild shackled and forgotten in socialized, polished life? It is a question that no one other than Self can answer (if I can persuade a recalcitrant, inarticulate Me to speak up, after a lifetime of compromise).

WILL THE REAL WOLF PLEASE STAND UP?

The real Me is not married, not middle aged. I might not even be male in the traditional sense, because the tradition in question is civilized and polite. If I rummage around deeply enough in the DNA, who knows? I might find a wild predator, an angel, or a rodent. Queenie told me that man is all the lower forms combined -- part lizard, part tiger -- and I have no reason to doubt her.

But I'm certain of two things. I am not female. And I love music.

It's embarrassing to talk about music, because it creates no wealth, does no work in the world. By music, I mean all of the arts: writing, sculpture, dance, film and canvas. I don't dance to the drama of geology and cyberspace. I thrill to the beat of blood in our mammalian physicality, the rhythm of a 12-bar shuffle, and throaty Crown power amplification. I suppose Shaw was right, that hell is full of musical amateurs. Lord knows, I've worked with too many of them, in too many ill-equipped studios and saloons on both sides of the Atlantic. My life has been a search for competence. Larry Withers had it, I think. Claude Smith, for sure. But who else?

Larry painted in Philadelphia, thrown out of the Academy of Art for insubordination. Claude quit voluntarily, shunning the organized world in search of a meaningful "dribble" (powerful abstract expressionism). Frank Zappa was so pissed off that it interfered with his ability to compose and perform. You have to sift through a hundred miles of bad-tempered crap, just to find a fragment of his authentic genius ('Peaches En Regalia' on Hots Rats, the entire Waka Jawaka album and thematic use of horn arrangements for The Grand Wazoo.) Filmmaker Joseph Losey couldn't get arrested in Hollywood, had to beg his bread in Ireland and France. Kubrick was so loopy that he refused to travel in an aircraft. The world of art is littered with human trainwrecks. Jim Morrison. Jimi Hendrix. John Belushi. Freddie Mercury.

This is the sad realm that my real Self inhabits. There is but one God, manifest in cables and quartz lamps, raw stock and eerie blue nothingness on the program monitor, a few seconds before picture start. It rattles like a nervous beehive on the time-code display. It rolls on trucks and lifts and cranes. There is an army for God, two or three hundred deployed with military precision, so that I can sit in a chair and say "action." There is a prison and a sentence, forcing me to write a novel, so I can be freed to work again, someday maybe. I don't know any other measurement of my life, except Someday Maybe.

The panther in me is rising. I can feel it as plainly as the sun on my face and the wind in my hair. Driving my car feels like an overture, foreshadowing battle -- an old, familiar hunger to paint on the screen, to blast through the rock of groupthink and say THIS IS MINE.

An individual is unique. It would be strange and wildly inaccurate to see your Self in me. That's the point. Whoever you are, whichever star guides the deep sense of integrity that's dormant and buried within you, the truth of your life is uniquely yours to cherish or repudiate, but I don't think anyone gets away with a painless normalcy, plain vanilla citizenship, just one of the boys.

There is only one choice: to be or not to be. It's the song of individualism, never happy, never certain, until you rip off the social mask and look inside. Look hard and long, if you dare.