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The Real Pornography .. stynking synnes vile
Obscene Accumulation is the Real Pornography.
Back in the also obscene nuclear-weapons accumulation days, I used to wail and rail, “Let them steal our tiny piggybanks to build enough nuclear weapons to obliterate all living things and reduce all human structures to vapor and/or pebble-sized rubble 5x over. I won’t even squawk about that. I am willing to go that far in assuaging their paranoid fantasies.
But the 6th world-rubbling? The 7th? The 10th? No. They have powerful inner demons that have to be fed. But they don’t have to be fed our children’s education and universal healthcare (certainly a jesusian idea) and a minimum wage which does not bring us shame. $14000 per minute for the fantasy Missile Crackpot Scheme aka StarWars? $200,000 per minute for the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Iraq war? Nope.
So, there is a sin of scale. SUVs seriously suck, but Hummers are an Express Ticket to Hell.(Arnold has 8 Hummers – you do the Math on how fast he gets to the 10th Circle of Frozen Tears.) SUVs are the vehicular equivalent of microencephaly – the smaller the brain (& no doubt the dawg), the more bizarrely enormous the vehicle.
I’m hoping to get us to think about not an Utopia, but rather an Buenopia – not perfect but good enough. In that world which will be wrought by the progressive work we begin and continue now, we will have solved the pathology of the real Pornography: Obscene, Filthy Accumulation. How? Well, the main task of artists is to show the Frantically Rich that those riches, like ole Midas did find out, don’t ultimately satisfy. There is enough money that makes you and your family comfortable and safe. Massive accumulations of Money that sit in your bank account fester spiritually. You don’t earn or need $33 million dollars in some year. It’s sick. You don’t need $90,000 bucks a day. You don’t need a tax break. You need prayer. That the poor sonsabitches whose lives and labor you hoovered all that lolly from don’t wake up and think “It’s a lovely day for a Guillotine.”
It absolutely earthquakes my mind that people are offended by a glimpse of Janet Jackson’s bosom or the burning of a flag, and we are talking Mt. Everests of Bosom & Flag Dudgeon here and Congressional Hearings with pompous and pious speeches, — and somebody gets 33 million bucks and the minimum wage is 7 bucks an hour and nobody twitches? My mind-heart struggles with the human Math – how much does what matter what?
I have to recommend to you an always free consultation with my friend Dan Gero, a journalist and philosopher from Mars. Of course he’s in disguise. He doesn’t want to get incinerated, smithereened, or dissected. I can get you in touch with him though if you’re earnest. A long chat and a cup of cocoa with someone from another planet is very sobering. Excruciatingly illuminating. You try to explain that a free market (hahaha) always brings the best result. It doesn’t. It brings random and insane and clearly stupid results, but it’s an article of economic theology that it always works better than, say, that Satan of Capitalists, the Government. I got a Rapture Ticket I can sell you if you believe that.
Explain slowly and clearly to a patient philosopher from another planet why we get so twisted in a nutknot about Janet Jackson’s bosom or some such and the polite sympathetic look in his kind alien eyes is unbearable. When you see your species from the vantage of someone from another planet whose insight isn’t clouded by tribal prejudices (the human tribe), there’s a fair amount of nonsense that’s too ludicrous to defend.
“Well,” I said, “in the dominant Religion in my nation . . .”
“Excuse me,” he will say softly, “What’s a nation?”
“Uhh. Well, it has a square rectangle of colored cloth that you wave on a stick or run up a pole. Your rectangle of striped colored cloth tells you which nation is yours, sort of. You have a special rousing war song. You hardly ever kill people who wave the same colored rectangle of cloth even if you hate them. If they have a different colored rectangle of cloth and your government says to, you kill them even if you like them. Or you kill them even if you don’t have a clue whether you would like them or not if you sat down together to have a burger and a beer. You kill people who step over your border if your government is really mad at them.”
“What’s a border?”
“Uhh. Well, it’s a line that separates my nation from Juan’s nation.”
“We have very powerful holo-telescopes on Mars. I’ve never seen such lines. We can count the trees in your forests, but I have never seen these lines?”
“Uhhh. Well, they’re there. Uhhh. Well, they’re on pieces of paper we call maps. They matter. We kill for them. We die for them. I’ve never seen one either. But. But they’re there. They’re very real to us. I don’t know why.”
“So you were telling me about the dominant ‘Religion’ in your nation, now that I understand what a nation is.”
“Yeah, in the dominant Religion in our nation, they have one special day a week where they go drink the blood and eat the flesh of their God’s Son.”
When you tell these kinds of things to a philosopher from another planet, and you see the politely veiled recoiling look on his face, it’s hard to want to have ‘Human’ stamped on your Galactic Passport.
As a friend of mine says, “We have our work cut out for us to get 'equality of human value' around our whole spaceship. Capitalism has significant strengths. One of the great flaws of untended capitalism, however, is its collateral-damageizing of workers. Stupid becomes bad becomes evil when you aren't watching. It'd be better to go back to beads and barter if paper money and then just chicken scratches symbolizing paper money become more important than the people.”
The idea that unless people are motivated by Continually Basted and Stuffed (like the Thanksgiving Turkey) Greed, we will devolve into uninventive sloth is absurd, but it is an Article of Faith justifying the Grotesque Accumulations Of Cold Gold. Let’s take three counter-indications. Most artists make zilch until after they die and then all the Richies buy up these symbols of something more meaningful than that Bottom Line. Us artists work like dogs for zilch.
Legions of women before the modern era did godszillions of useful volunteer work for centuries without money remuneration. Similarly almost all of the people who labor like dogs in non-profits are lousily underpaid, but they do the work passionately anyway.
Europeans who are hugely more taxed manage to have verve enough to continue to be entrepreneurial at a rate comparable to America’s verve — with much more public accountability.
So we can take ‘greed as necessary motivation’ off the table. It’s a hoary crock that gets hauled out in these arguments and somehow stops all further thought. Forget it. It’s stupid. It’s not true.
We’ll explore more of the solutions to the Real Pornography of Obscene Accumulation under the kind but relentless gaze of our Martian friends, unblinded by economic creeds, but for the moment, begin to study and dream and mull over a future in which you cannot feel or be lionized as powerful and successful if the planet, our Buenopia, is not pleasant and prosperous for also the least among us. Where you don’t get to have Two Mansions until everyone has one Swell Hut with indoor plumbing. A kind of inner gyroscope of justice, or a justice-cap to Obscene Accumulation. I am not, by the way at all against your having a lot more than Mark or Mary, but there is a sin of scale — what they called in 1450 AD, stynking synnes vile. Along with them 3 Rs, we might want to start also teaching one J – the simple human math of justice.
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1 Night . Akbal . Hearth . West . tzol 183 12.01.05 r3 thur
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