Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Coma Escape

"Somebody asked me the other day, 'What is it you have, is your life wonderful?' And I had to tell them: 'I have the moon and the sun and the stars in the sky. I have everything in the world. There's nothing I do not have.' Sitting in my fame home, embedded in a suburban bubble and driving chariots of lust, what else could I say? But the truth is, there's nothing I do have. My life is empty. This can be said to no one. Anyone sees the lie and I die. That's why I'm lying here now: to keep the secret safe.

"My finely furnished castle is my finely furnished prison. But others see only the gilded walls. In the world where I live, to not be happy in such a well fortified fortress is the Ultimate Sin. And we pride ourselves above all else on our Sinlessness. So how does one escape? Where is the place where I can go and be free of it all? Why it's right here, on this hospital bed.

"It's a temporary reprieve, I know. I see all the looks of concern on my parents' and husband's faces. But I also know how quickly they would turn had they a certainty of knowledge of my treason. Outcast I would be. Already I can see twinges of outrage as they suspect the motives for my self-inflicted demise. They're wondering who I am now. Is she a traitor among us?

"Why yes, yes I am.

"Even in a coma that's a dangerous thing to say. But my goals and my gods have failed me. 'If you can't lie, you have to die.' That was my holy mantra, the sunglasses on my soul. I smirked in my disguise and chastised those losers whose secrets got revealed. My God, what a feeling of contempt! But now I share the losers' fate. I lost myself along the way - or perhaps I should say I found myself - and I got to a place where I could lie no more.

"I read them well, my supporters. My traitorous urge to be free surges through my veins, bringing the cherished dream of life back to me. If I give in to this impulse, I will be abandoned by those who sustain me. All the world is blackmail in the end. If I free myself I will be called a 'lost sheep' and a 'misguided soul'. Help from them can only mean returning to the fold of my golden prison of despair. Who among them wants to set me free? Who among them is not Pharaoh?

"I discern I can still salvage a sickening horror hell out of this. I know they know of their own sins just as I know of mine. But they didn't take 32 pills, I did. Thus forever will I be looked askance with suspicion and if ever I express any sort of doubt of them or the holiness of the life they provide me, my captors will sneer and say, 'Oh, you're not going to do that again, are you?' And thusly the cell door of shame will slam shut. Paradise with iron bars.

"Here in the coma world, I have it both ways, neither trapped nor free. Can you imagine a life outside the castle? Is there one? Does God really exist? Does somebody somewhere really need me? I would have to rebuild everything, this time on a foundation of truth. That would be wonderful! It's been so long since I've walked in the Son. Free and clean with a smile of its own making - why did I ever get away from that? I'd be like a little child again, discovering all the joys of life meant for me.

"But years of running have put me far, far away from what I want. Have I the strength to leave my gilded cage? To stay entombed is to stay in torment till the end of my days. I'll be their puppet girl, my strings pulled this way and that, their precious toy of amusement assuaging their own fears and doubts. In such a way would I be 'useful' and on bended knee I would pray to my Maker to make me holy, to make me His puppet as well. But God doesn't want puppets.

"Abandoned by all. God wants not my useless puppet ways, my family suffers no traitors in their midst and I, myself, want no part of this cripple you see lying comatose before you. Is this how a real person becomes a ghost? If I go on to heaven, I'll forever bear the disdain of God and hear the wailing of my motherless children. But if I come back, will I have the strength to transcend the castle walls? I fear not. I fear I have only dug my hole deeper and made my life dumber.

"Dear God, help me. I am too stupid to live."

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Blindness of Guilt

"Don't whack off there, sonny boy, or you'll go blind."

It may have been just a movie, but I saw a piece of true psychology at work in Sergio Leone's remake of Kurosawa's "Yojimbo", "A Fistful of Dollars". The introduction to arch bad guy Ramon is shown with Ramon behind a Gatling gun ruthlessly mowing down a troop of soldiers. In this he takes great relish. When the killing is complete - and no soldier remains alive - Ramon is satisfied in an almost sexual manner.

Later in the film Ramon is told of two soldiers who escaped and are hiding in a nearby cemetery. Immediately upon hearing this Ramon and his men set out into the night to eliminate the soldiers. The previous massacre had been staged to look as if two rival armies had clashed and if the truth got out to the Mexican government, Ramon and his band were dead men. It was in this scene I noticed Ramon's fatal flaw.

In reality, the two soldiers were a ruse set up by the Eastwood character. He took two dead uniformed bodies and propped them up against a headstone as if they were in conversation. The two "soldiers" are encircled and eventually toppled over from the gunshots of Ramon and his men. The ambushed soldiers do not, however, cry out, run away or fire back as would live soldiers. Ramon is an extremely clever and shrewd man. Yet he takes no notice of the ease of the kill or the unnatural behavior of his victims. He just has to believe he is right and cannot stand the thought of anything else.

Earlier I did a posting on the
False Parsing of History about when historians play the "What if..." game without realizing the greater forces in play. And in this case they would speak of Ramon's glaring stupidity to not realize something had been wrong in the cemetery shootout. Why not verify the soldiers were truly dead to prevent another fiasco such as this? Why didn't he notice the lack of movement on the soldiers' part? The answer to these and other questions is the same: guilt.

The guilt of the massacre blinded Ramon. Confident and cocky as long as he believed the truth would never will out, he was then equally terrified and trembling at the thought of the truth being revealed. You can read the fear in his face as he shoots. His immortal soul was in danger and that overpowering terror blinded him from his normally clear-eyed view on reality. A true historian would realize there was actually no way Ramon could have known he was being set up in the cemetery - it was in his blind spot.

Countless crimes are successfully committed each day. But in the aftermath of guilt, the perpetrators often get hung up through their own desire for discovery. Decision making is impeded by the vortex of the perpetual cover-up. People often look back at bad decisions in history not realizing those decisions were inevitable. And this is why I now call America 'The Land of the Fucked'.

On my
Alpha Centauri blog I did a posting entitled "Does God believe our propaganda?" From the way we act here, the answer seems to be a resounding "Yes!" We spin our invasion of Iraq as something other that what it was: an act of pure evil. And like Ramon, we will be blind until we admit the truth. America will continue to make foolish and self-destructive decisions. Future historians will not understand our need to destroy ourselves and the necessity we feel to wreck our society as long as we call ourselves only good. They will only see our stupity - and we will live it.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Blood on That Diamond is Mine

"What's it like to be a blood diamond miner?" I was asked. So I shall tell you:

"She dashed by me in painted on jeans.
"And all heads turned 'cause she was the dream.
"In the blink of an eye I knew her number and her name, yeah.
"Ah, she said I was the tiger she wanted to tame."

To be a blood diamond miner is to curse both Heaven and Hell. It is to wish death upon God, the World and all Mankind. They who have stripped meaning from their lives seek to strip meaning from all lives. In this way, losers of the world hope to find comfort in the flames of a putrid existence. Hatred and contempt glare in the eyes of my captors. As cruelty has mastered them in holy furor, they seek revenge by wringing the life out of me. For me, mortality is the only proof of God's mercy.

"I was in search of a good time,
"Just running my game.
"Love was the furthest -
"Furthest from my mind."

But they have no idea of the hatred and contempt in me. Forever shall I seek the day the backs of the backbreakers are broken. Forever shall I rejoice when the savage is forced to drink from the cup of his own poison. Forever shall I pray for the predator's passion to finally devour him by his own appetite for destruction. The Dream Killers rule the world in mockery and disdain but each killer will die by his own wretched hand. And this will be called the Judgment of God.

"I lose my cool when she steps in the room
"And I get so excited just from her perfume.
"Electric eyes that you can't ignore
"And passion burns you like never before."

On your graves I will dance the Dance of Life. Ye who made my desire to live a sin shall exist no more. But in the moment of now, there is no hope. The promise of tomorrow is merely the hell of today. Monsters of Murder roam freely in open sunlight. It is your own fate you espouse when you say, "Only by your death can you make the world a better place." As you bury your love, you bury me. To be a blood diamond miner is to be buried alive. Buried alive

"Caribbean queen,
"Now we're sharing the same dream.
"And our hearts they beat as one,
"No more love on the run."

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Viktor, We Hardly Knew Ya!

Not too long ago I did a posting on our man Viktor Bout, aka The Merchant of Death. As a current blood diamond miner and a former Russian sociopath myself, his life story really caught my eye. But it seems Viktor has finally completed his search for self-destruction:

BANGKOK (AFP) - Thai authorities detained notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout, as US officials said Friday they will seek his extradition over conspiring to sell millions of dollars in weapons.

The Russian was arrested in a luxury hotel room in Bangkok on Thursday in an elaborate sting operation in which US agents posed as Marxist Colombian rebels seeking an arsenal of modern weapons.

Thomas Pasquarello, regional director for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, told a press conference here that the United States wanted to prosecute Bout on charges of aiding terrorists.

"He's called the Merchant of Death and the Man of War for a reason," Pasquarello said. "We have warrants for Mr Bout and we do intend to extradite him," he said.

But Thai police told the same press conference that Bout, known as the "Merchant of Death" for his alleged role in arming rebels from Africa to South America, could face trial in Thailand.

Russia also plans to seek his extradition while Belgium has worked for years to capture him through the international police agency Interpol.

A beefy man with sharp blue eyes, Bout was escorted by 15 police and heavily armed commandos as he was paraded in handcuffs Friday before the media.

Wearing an orange polo shirt and khaki pants, the Russian sat stony-faced and silent as Thai police spoke about his legal fate.

He has throughout the years allegedly helped arm Afghanistan's Taliban militia, Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network, Marxist rebels in South America and former Liberian warlord Charles Taylor.

The 41-year-old suspect -- whose dealings inspired the arms smuggling movie "Lord of War" starring Nicholas Cage -- was captured Thursday just hours after arriving in Bangkok on an Aeroflot flight from Moscow, Thai police said.

Deputy commissioner of Thailand's Central Investigation Bureau, Surapol Tuanthong, told reporters that prosecutors would first decide whether Bout could face trial in Bangkok on charges of aiding terrorists.

If convicted, he could spend 10 years in a Thai prison.

"If the attorney general decides there is not enough evidence to prosecute him in Thailand, they will not bring the case to court. The US DEA could take Viktor Bout back to the US," he added.

So far, the United States is the only country to formally request his extradition, Surapol said.

Bout and his close associate Andrew Smulian are wanted in the United States on charges of conspiracy to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

They could face up to 15 years in jail if extradited to the United States and convicted.

Mystery surrounded the fate of Smulian, with Thai police saying that they were still searching for him, while the DEA's Pasquarello said cryptically that "he is not in custody in Thailand."

Bout was arrested after DEA sources set up several meetings with Smulian in Romania, Denmark and the Dutch West Indies to discuss a deal, according to a previously sealed complaint released by New York prosecutors.

During the meetings, agents recorded telephone calls to Bout in which he discussed shipping an arsenal of deadly weapons, including helicopters, armour-piercing rocket launchers and surface-to-air missiles.

A former Soviet air force officer who was born in 1967, Bout was dubbed the "Merchant of Death" by former British government minister Peter Hain due to his involvement in supplying arms to Liberia and Angola.

In March last year, US Treasury Department imposed sanctions against seven companies accused of fueling the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo at the start of the decade. Three of the companies were linked to Bout.

Ramb0 IV, P0rn0 Vi0lence

Rambo has to be the most famous homeless character in film. And as such, he has a special place in my heart. Though our origins are completely opposite, we both ended up in the same place. He comes back from Nam a highly skilled, transcendental person only to find the bubble world of America has no place for him. When America in all her righteous fury condemns this unproductive wanderer, Rambo fights back. God, I loved that! Take out all the fuckers, Rambo! I got no use for them either.

"First Blood" the film is one of my all time favorite guilty pleasures. So I decided to hunt down the book which I had heard was far more hardcore. This gave me cause to do my own Rambo posting, inspired by the book. Author David Morrell truly painted scenes of tragedy of a life lost to torment. I emailed Morrell at that time to share my humble take on Rambo. When on his website, I saw he gave a favorable review to Rambo IV, which I did not expect. My reaction was different than his as you can see from our exchange below:

Hey David, just wanted to bend your ear a minute on the latest Rambo movie.

I wasn't going to see it because I figured it was a Rambo II redux as just another vehicle for violence. But since you gave it a thumbs up I went ahead and gave it a shot. One thing's for sure, you were right about the amount of violence. What made it more brutal was the fact these things truly do go on. Killing soldiers such as those Burmese troops is not really killing them - they are already dead. It would be, in fact, doing them a favor to keep them from digging themselves further into a hole. But that's not what I found disappointing in the film.

Surprisingly - maybe because I was expecting the worst - I was glad to see the film did not go insanely overboard on violating the "Zatoichi Principle" (no one man can save the world, it's up to the world to save the world). The way the movie started I was wincing in that Rambo was going to "fix" all of Burma and set things straight. So that turned out to be cool but what I didn't like was that the rhetoric didn't match the action. I'd of re-written it to have Rambo at his father's farm in the beginning. But because he truly "is war" and has to "face what he is", he can have no home of tranquility. Now that's a person damaged for life. After he completes the mission, he stays in Asia, always close to war and living in a twilight world between life and death. That would truly send the message: war doesn't fix you up, it fucks you up (the opposite of the message it sends now). But hey, few American filmmakers are going to have the balls to go against war.

I don't know if I would have had the strength to resist in the 60's but I do know I always related to Rambo's stubborn streak and his feeling of being out of place in the sheltered world of America. So I was frustrated by what I saw as a missed opportunity for this film to say something truly meaningful about a character in which I am vested.

Please bear in mind, ALL this is completely IMHO.

Morrell replied:

Harry, two years ago Sly phoned me to discuss the new film. I wasn't involved with it. He just wanted to talk. He said that he wanted to depict the violence in a realistic manner so that the shock of the audience would give them some idea of what it could do to someone who was steeped in it. Basically the character is burned out. The telling line of dialogue is, "I didn't kill for my country. I killed for myself. And for that, God won't forgive me." In essence, he's admitting that he's only good at one thing and hates himself for it. The final gun battle goes on and on and on and on. That's the point. It builds graphically until the ugliness of it overwhelms us. Rambo stands at the top of a hill, looking down at all the pain and grief and death. He just stands there and stands there. Something happens to his face, and he walks offscreen to the left. I suspect that Sly is trying to communicate that the character finally came through the other side of hell, that he has reached absolute bottom and has nowhere to go but up, which is why the film ends with him returning home, wearing the same clothes that begin the first film.

The character presented in this movie is very much like the character in my novel, the first time he's really been on screen.

Stubborn me replied:

Thanks for the reply. And I agree what you state below is the stated intent of the filmmakers. I LOVE the idea of a self-loathing and self-examining Rambo. The rhetoric was fine, I just wanted to see the price one has to pay for killing for yourself. In the book, Rambo pays. To me, hitting bottom means putting a bullet through your head. That would have been a unique ending too! I didn't walk out of the theater with a sense of tragedy as in "All Quiet on the Western Front" or "Men with Guns". I felt Rambo IV preserved the myth of war. At the end of the book I was saying, "Damn, what a shame. What a waste. I wanted to know that guy." At the end of this film I only felt dirty. I'm well aware of the tact of showing the violence of war as an anti-war statement. However, it just doesn't wash. The ending of Bambi invokes more outrage against violence than watching an endless series of soul-less CGI soldiers being ripped apart. One brings pain and the other desensitizes pain. There's a Chinese proverb that says the opposite of good is good intentions. I never look at what filmmakers intend, only what they do. That's what we all get judged on in the end.

So I give an "A" for the idea and an "F" for execution. I just would have so dearly loved to have seen the look on the faces of all the "Rambo is a badass!" cheerleaders as Rambo eats a bullet as a solution to his PTSD. That would have given them something to think about :)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Spirit Wars

The Thousand Yard Stare is never far from me. I feel I can slip into it at any time, needing only a moment's break from the fray for it to appear. My co-laborers live in one world, I live in another. Among the Homeless such a state is not frowned upon. In fact, you might even say it is revered. A certain holiness is attached to the time one needs to reconcile with whatever horrors the day has brought. It's an unspoken code never to disturb the sober absorption of what hell one's life has become.

In the "regular" world, it's a different story. God forbid you should go into a Thousand Yard Stare at a jobsite. Even at break time it is verboten, bound to be shattered by unobliging onlookers. Christ, can you fuckers give me no respite!? Some sordid soul always comes along with a "Hey, snap out of it!" or some such whiplash - and they don't let up until a look of anguish registers on your face.

Small events like this are noticed when they happen but wash away with the currents of the day. The Monster Man who snaps you from your reverie is either scared to see you escape the pain of a world he entombs himself in or is outraged by your failure to worship his godly world. Little battles of spiritual warfare like this are conducted every day, all the day long. I'm sure in offices these battles can even degenerate into running vendettas and political backstabbing. I wonder what the world would look if seen only from the spiritual point of view.

I can imagine it would be pretty ugly.

No one wins a war - to have descended into fighting is to have lost. To please the money god, I must bend my will and suppress my desires to live. At night, the efforts of daily life bleed into my dreams, distorting reality. Twisting life's flow for Meaningless Endeavors for money twists the soul as well. In times of attempted rest, the perverted thinking of "dying is living" replays the trials of torture endured from the conscious day. I fear the period of shut eyes. Wringing sweat covers me from head to toe as I'm jarred awake from nightly Dream Screams.

The Homeless are expected to suffer, to disintegrate from Miserable Existence. Whether admitted or not, we are all well aware of our dog-eat-dog ways. When a man watches his peers go off to war as he stays behind, the guilt is overwhelming in his failure to share the burden. When you spot me, I see that same consternation in your eyes. It's the guilt of having turned your back on love. Funny thing is, I share that same guilt.

But what would God think of your guilt?? Or your parents? Or your kids? That's why we must hide the Homeless! Hide the Homeless now! Do it before God finds out what you've done to your love.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Scared, Little Rabbits in the Night

I don't know why. Maybe it's my affinity for bad weather but I'm shelterless tonight. I'm hiding down by the railroad tracks. The rails are shiny from the rain with the glare of distant lights. I feel so remote here. I rub my hand on the wet, wooden tie and for it comforts me. I guess at times I fear nothing is real anymore...

I've learned just to go with feelings that sometimes come with evening's darkness. Right now, a cool, blustery wind feels more at home than any shelter could. True, I could be interrupted at any time, but for now I own this piece of real estate. And since I am my own landlord, crying here is not a sin...

The woe-some whistle of the passing train rings in my ears. I wish I could answer it back, tell it how much its lonesome call means to me. Those men aboard the train have a purpose. I do not. If I could melt right here, turn into a rock and provide a tiny bit of support to the mighty rails I think I'd be forever happy. I'd have found my place, my home...

But my wishes are just wishes and I'm stuck being the scared, little rabbit in the night. I had to piss three times in the last hour; my nerves are shot. I'd love to lay my head on this railroad tie and sleep till I needed sleep no more. But there's always a man saying, "You can't do that!" I am Jean Valjean and Javert dogs my every step. But this wind upon my face is free. Not even Javert can arrest the wind...

On the run. I've always been on the run since I decided to live a lie. Freedom lies in a place I have yet to imagine. I want to be on the mountain with Moses, safe in God's bosom. In no place of man's making do I feel safe. I've seen what happens to those people hiding in their fortresses, becoming brittle and frail, peering out through windows like scared, little rabbits in the night...

Is it wrong to seek a place of no strings? I have seen those who take a genuine interest in the homeless and their reward shall be great. They feed not only us, but the soul of God. I smell something in the air. Maybe it's industrial or the plants growing wild by this section of track but it sustains me in a curious way. I think back to the dreams and visions and myths of my youth when all things seemed possible. I never doubted a legendary life was before me. And right now, I can smell it, I can sense it once more and it fills my nostrils with the energy of the universe...

"One little fuck up..."

Moses looked upon the Promised Land with eyes that could never reach it. In this moment I too visit the place God promised me and I thank my Maker. It is beautiful and wonderful and magical and full of life. In this place the Light is always shining on dreams meant to be. I'm seeing the life unlived in me. Does this happen to others? Is this why I see so many other scared, little rabbits?

The wind, it blows colder...