Tuesday, March 29, 2016

My Brave Minority Stand Against Tomatoismo.

Lincoln has always seemed more urban to me when it's raining; even more "eastern"somehow.  There's probably no good explanation for this. I recall being struck by the way BO-WSH denizens found rain to be wholly unexceptional but it's all just magical thinking on my part even so.  I would more appreciate a climate where the hydration we need came in the form of an hour-long light storm every day at sunset and be done with it.  It was in fact not so long ago, within my own adulthood even, that the Northern Plains spring was something like that.  But climate change has warped our reality already.  Now it is dry for weeks on end and when rain does come it is in the form of hour after hour after hour after fucking hour of never not raining. It's quite obnoxious for one who prefers walking for local travel. A jet stream that shall drunk dance forever now; leaving no prevailing conditions at all for a body to acclimatize itself to.

One need only look at space photos of America to see why our cultural west extends well to the east of our physical center. The Rockies and the cold current on our side of the Pacific combine to change green to brown quite suddenly from above. (Though of course it takes hours on the ground) Still there are fools, the militia fucks and more sympathizers of them than you wanna know, who still cling to that old "rain follows the plow' magic thinking; blaming a conspiracy of hippies and bureaucrats for why the interior west lacks the density and economic stability of Iowa or what have you.

Respect to the man who named his movie about the Turner rebellion "Birth of a Nation".  I haven't seen it yet.  It could suck like as not; but even so that's some motherfucking steel right there.  In "Rules for Radicals" Alinsky dismisses the supposedly vital question of means vs. ends as a red herring; and I agree with him wholeheartedly on this in the abstract. But in practice this must necessarily mean coming down on the side of ends mustn't it?   By Saul's logic for example Nat Turner was wrong for the precise reason that he lost.  And because he did lose the condition of slaves grew even more oppressive while rationalizations for slavery became even more Queen Gertrude dogmatic and intense. There is however a truly important ethical quandary here; as of course the provocation for slave revolt was far deeper than what led a minority of East Coast colonialists to revolt against Britain.

It is a lucky thing that I am of the post-modern left and thus reject the very idea that there can be either affirmation or damnation in historic origins.  When I say that it does not matter if our national origins are good or bad or that there is no such thing as any human institution having a prevailing and inherent good or evil nature there is no Queen Gertrude at all in that I assure you.  Certainly not.

Much has been made of the fat that Griffith's 'Birth of a a Nation' was a huge blockbuster and not wrongly so. This fact does indeed speak poorly of our culture.  It is no coincidence after all that the film's popularity coincided with the most psychopathic white pogroms in US history.  The William Brown riot in Omaha, murdering fucks straight up air-bombing the black side of Tulsa.  Our social trends were paralleling those of pre-fascist Europe.  Anxiety over a more urban and less routinely intimate state of being, a new ambiguity around identity and 'place'.  The idea of one's life having value precisely insomuch as one's genes exclusively did, though by no means new, given a temporally unique ferocity by these things.

Still for whatever little it may be worth it is so that no small amount of the film's profits came from a particular subgroup of people who paid to see it twenty times in a month of ten in a day.  At the core of authoritarianism and bigotry is a need for validation so intense as to be tantamount to drug addiction.  The "Left Behind" books for example did not dominate the best seller lists because they suddenly became more loved by more people than Huck Finn or Hamlet but because of a built-in audience who would by five for themselves eight for the kids and three for the church-skipping neighbor.  Or think of the old complaints about 'liberal media bias'.  Purported examples of this largely boiling down to casual suggestions that 'conservative' is not synonymous with 'normal' or that there could be such a thing as being so conservative as to exist outside of 'mainstream' social mores.  There was never quite a point when 50+% of the general US public was all "go Klan go" is what I'm saying.  We do at minimum have that small morning grace note going for us. 

I nearly wrote "extreme" where I placed "intense" in the last paragraph but thought better of it. Extreme is taken to imply "unusual" and addiction in the form of superiority nicotine or the classic cowboy combo of both is in fact the overwhelming human norm.  We are going to die.  All of our family friends and intimate partners are going to die. All of our holidays or particular styles of food, clothing music etc. that may give us some connection to folk a century removed from us on one side or the other are going to die. Of course there is no such thing as dealing with this in a rational and utilitarian manner. It is not for example such a wild leap of logic to conclude that if other religions are acceptable than one's own faith cannot actually be a cure for annihilation.

I have inherited my mother's contradictory love of salsa and loathing for raw tomatoes.  In me the loathing has in fact grown into outright phobia.  My first conception of intolerance or conformist thinking may have at age eight or so; when I saw an old woman at a church dinner spontaneously chop up a tomato and throw it into an already-prepared bowl of lettuce.  Then she grabbed three more and said "let's just throw these ones in there too.  Who was going to have salad without tomatoes anyway?"  My God but she seriously just up and fucking did that.

Or in fact my conception probably goes back even further; to when I was two or three and my grandma was about to spank me for not cleaning the tomatoes off of my plate until my mother intervened. Fuck you Grandma.  Fuck your garden fuck your grave and fuck your church.  I am free for so long as no unaltered tomato touches my lips. My mother and I are the whole of a free nation.  Any children I may have can join unless they eat that shit in which case they'll be shipped off to Spain to live as fatherless freaks with a forced name change because fuck them too.

Does it seriously not occur to some that there's a reason the word "taste" is used as shorthand for any arbitrary, value-neutral personal preference?  Well of course it occurs to them, the truly stupid are very rare, they just can't stand it is all.  They have such a strong need for assurance that they are always doing something worthwhile that they will not accept anything in the vastness of human being as value-neutral. In their eyes the neutral is actually bad because it is wasting time and is thus death. Sexual prudery and sneering contempt for tolerance are surely related to this but that's a whole nother rant.

Behind all operatic rhetoric of cultural purity or national superiority is a poorly hidden petulant child.  The elitist tyranny of holiday trees, bicycle lanes, carrot dogs with Dijon mustard, the quest for cheap arugula.      

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