Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Chechnya Diary

The masses are illogical; they only use logic for window dressing. What they really let themselves be guided by is simply and solely suggestion! Give me the newspapers, the radio, the film industry and maybe a few other avenues of cultural communication, and within a few years—as my friend Ulrich once said—I promise I’ll turn people into cannibals!

Robert Musil The Man Without Qualities

"Novosti" spouted body counts. He listened to the latest Russian troop deployments to Chechnya. He remembered the Hagakure “a samurai makes his decisions in the span of seven breaths”. His greatcoat in hand, he stood before his wife. Inhale.

“there is something I must do”.

“what now?”

“I am going to Chechnya to fight the Russians”. Exhale.

“I thought you came to Moscow to discover your roots, have you discovered that you are a blond haired, blue-eyed Chechen?”

“Vadim is whiter than me and that’s not the point, you think Hemingway searched his family tree for Spanish blood before he left?”

“Hemingway was a writer, you are an out of work bartender.”

“We both drank a lot.”

“Your attempts at heroism are pathetic, you are truly a product of your culture, Americans are always trying to save the world.”

“.....and we were both Americans”.

“The America that Hemingway left has been dead for 70 years, you are no more in that world than Putin is in the world of Trotsky”.

“I am enfeebled by my American education so to attempt to match you in historical analogies is futile, guess I’ll see you when I get back”.

“We both know you aren’t coming back, with your shield or on it”.

If war was supposed to look like a chessboard, Chechnya was a huge disappointment. The Russians were the enemy, not lined up neatly on their side but everywhere present, mixed in, dirty. Is this what Vietnam was like? The natives were the gooks in Vietnam, does that make me a gook or a gook sympathizer.

They talk about Afghanistan and Iraq in brash tones, the mujahadeen victory over the infidel, etc. I wonder if Vadim and I can be mujahadeen. I was raised Presbyterian, Vadim Russian Orthodox. All the Muslims at the table have their vodka glasses raised, splitting hairs about the Koran is not going to happen at this table. I make a mental note to consult an imam later about virgins in paradise for drunken ex-protestants who die on the battlefield.

The Shia taught me to really pray. To pray hard, to feel pain and longing in a prayer, feel it pour out of you like water on the ground before God. Nothing like stale Presbytarian prayers. The tears came as if from God himself while we spoke his words. Infidel means unbeliever. I believe, I am just not sure in what. Not much talk of Shia and Sunni here. No theological debates, just strategy, tactics, weapons, and missions.

I would fight the Russians even if I was an atheist. Maybe I already am, I just need the prayers for sanity. The call of the muzzein is a built in coffee break, sometimes we pray, sometimes we just stop what we are doing for a minute or two. But not if some Russian patrol is getting fucked up, Aries before Allah in those moments.

I can't figure out what I believe. I know what I am against. Military muscle crushing belief. There is a statue of Ho Chi Minh in Moscow. My admiration for the Vietnamese is boundless. That makes me a lunatic in America. Patriotism is the real religion in America. Its one thing to say that Jesus was overrated, quite another to tout the virtues of Mao and Castro.

We learn a lot from our brothers in Iraq. The roadside bombs in Iraq follow the basic Vietnamese design. Most cells in Iraq buy their explosives. In Viet Nam it was all do it yourself. The VC used hacksaws to cut open unexploded American ordinance and packed the gunpowder into a cake. Those cakes were strong enough to flip over a tank. The detonators were bamboo shoots. Like the ones in our Asian food back in Georgetown, not quite as tender.

Little people squatting in the mountains making gunpowder cakes, toddlers carrying bombs in their home made wagons back to mom and dad's bakery, each according to his ability…. The Vietnamese model works better here, lots of unexploded Russian ordinance, Chinese plastic for detonators instead of bamboo, still Asian.

Why weren’t there any international volunteers in Viet Nam? Franco had every bleeding heart liberal on the planet thirsting after his blood. Al-Qaeda has a never ending supply of international volunteers in Iraq and Afghanistan. No one wanted to help the VC? Maybe they didn’t want any help. They sure as fuck didn’t need any. Maybe we just never heard about them. Maybe they were the Chinese and Korean ‘regulars’ that popped up every once in a while in the news.

Chechnya. You would have thought the Russians would have learned their lesson in Afghanistan. Or perhaps by watching the US bleed out in Vietnam. When we were kids the battle of the super heroes was Superman vs. Batman, not mujahadeen vs. Viet Cong. I wonder if there are any Vietnamese military advisors in Chechnya, there fucking should be.

Putin is a shifty bastard. A domestic conflict he says. The Chechen issue is an internal Russian affair. Wasn’t Tolstoy fighting in the Caucuses before he'd even thought about writing War and Peace? You dumb asses never learn.

Tolstoy had to make Napoleon the bad guy in his book. The Anti-Christ. Skirmishing in the Caucuses was short story material, can't very well make the Motherland the bad guy in your opus.

The U.S. military programmed me to die on a battlefield. Parades and football, martial arts and war movies. I was ready to find a battlefield by 14 or so. The problem with a war culture is that war comes first. The need to fight takes precedence over all the ideology and morality.

When the Cold War fizzled out without a fight I was only 19. I got to see a real battle. I missed Hungary in '56 and Czechoslovakia in '68 but I got to see this one. Between the citizens of Moscow and a couple armored divisions the Soviets sent in to quell the streets.

Moscow in '91 was like Kent State without the shooting. A variation on Kent State where the soldiers looked around and saw people they knew and decided that it wasn’t worth it. Had the Russians had made a fatal error deploying local troops? Local ethnic Russian troops were deployed to Moscow to control the crowds. Bad move. I chalked up the soldiers unwillingness to fire to the loyalty a native has for his country and people. Then I remembered that the ones that did the shooting at Kent State were native Ohioans. Ohio National Guardsmen. Brainwashing wasn't too effective under the Soviets, but it worked OK in Ohio.

I thought I knew brave? The guy holding his bicycle over his head staring down a Soviet T-72 takes bravery to a whole new level. They could have ran his ass over and called it an accident. He had to know that, he put his life on the line for what he believed, all over the city, same thing, unarmed civilians shouting down soldiers, slapping guns, old ladies shaming them, no fear, none. They didn't know the soldiers wouldn’t shoot. American soldiers would have, of that I have no doubt.

Dead gook babies. That phrase repeated itself like a mantra in my head. Drove me to Russia, to Mexico, to Canada, to suicide. Now the Caucuses. I wondered how the math worked out. If the average B-52 pilot flew x sorties and dropped y bombs and z gook babies were killed per bomb and the lifetime pension and medical care for a bomber pilot cost the US taxpayer P then how much of my tax money was paying for dead gook babies? x times y divided by z was the per baby bounty. What about the interest on the debt incurred to kill the gook babies in the first place. My food clothing and shelter for 17+ years were paid for by the bounty on dead gook babies. Then the U.S. Air Force paid for me to study engineering. Trying to pay some of that back maybe.

I guess since the VC had three year olds carrying ammunition they could be considered enemy combatants. Strange that a child fighting a foreign invader is classified as an enemy combatant and is outside the protection of any legal system. A pilot who kills civilians on a daily basis comes home and is made a Senator.

It’s impolite to call them gooks now, less polite to acknowledge that their babies were massacred.

No one went to Viet Nam to fight the Americans? Jane Fonda...that’s it. We weren’t allowed to watch Jane Fonda movies when I was a kid. My mom used to love Danny Glover, guess he’s out now. Saw him on TV with Chavez once, guess Lethal Weapon is going in the trash along with Agnes of God and Barbarella.

Even though the Soviets were dad’s enemies for his entire military career he would be disappointed to know I was fighting them in Chechnya. I can hear the way he would phrase it: "It is a departure from the acceptable social order for a national of a third country to engage in combat in a foreign war"…something like that.

These Chechens can drink. Most of the Muslims I have known have drank. Vadim was born in Baku, Rueben in Tblisi. Both half Russian, don't speak but 25 words of Georgian and Azeri between them. Their Russian is pure Muscovite, but they hate the Russians as much as the Poles and the Czechs did when it was their countries under attack. The Azeri's and the Georgians. They should be enemies, Georgia's been Christian as long as Armenia, both tiny countries trying to hold on against the Caliphate, then the Ottoman Turks, then all the Muslim Soviet republics squeezing them on every side. But hatred of the empire always supersedes religious differences, just like when they were fighting the Nazis.

Vadim's dad was taken prisoner by the Afgan mujahadeen, eleven days after he deployed there with the Soviet Army in 1979. Spent his entire adult life as a POW, least that's how they spun it back in Moscow. Too embarrassing to admit he'd deserted, married an Afghan, converted to Islam and taught the mujahadeen how to drop rocks on Hind helicopter blades as they swooped low through the Pamir valleys.

Vadim was born in an Afghan poppy field, gunfire soundtracking in the background in the middle of the war against the atheist empire. At 8 years old he had already spent his entire life fighting the Soviets. Carrying munitions back to the bomb bakeries in the highlands. The CIA gave them rocket launchers, taught them the tricks of their Vietnamese enemies. When he was 16 he went to Pakistan to study engineering. He was closing in on a Phd when twin towers came down. He knew their would be another infidel army in his homeland before long.

Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and now the U.S.. Afghanistan: where empires go to die.

Do these Russians have any idea what they are up against in Chechnya? Battle hardened children who studied metallurgy and military history in foreign universities. Fearless, tech savvy strategists. No wonder the CIA advised against a second Iraq invasion. Spook field agents had seen the mujahadeen on the battlefield, watched an army of grandmothers and children gut the Soviet war machine and bankrupt the government back home.

When we were kids mom told us that if a Soviet citizen disagreed with the government then the Communist Party would say he was crazy and lock him up. Then they pumped him full of drugs until he went crazy. Solzhenitsyn never talked about the drug part. He lives in Vermont now.

The Russian insane asylum I lived in was called Skalifasovskaya. Mom was right about the drugs, but not because I disagreed with the government. I was crazy for real. The Soviet doctors said my madness was caused by my consciousness not adjusting to life in Russia, that because I was used to a normal easy life in the west, my mind snapped after three years in the dark gulag of post-Soviet Moscow.

But it was simpler than that. I was trained in mathematics, I did a simple calculation. Seven years in a cholera-infested Russian jail was worse than death. So I chose death. If I had known that a few simple bribes could have made my legal problems disappear I wouldn’t have opened up my femoral arteries and jugular vein. Because I believed the system was incorruptible I chose to take my own life. Now I know that knowledge of the truth can be a life or death question and I am resolved to ....what... teach my children the truth? What is the appropriate age to talk about collateral damage?

Classifying dissenters as mentally ill and locking them up was a strictly American experience for me. Whether you are locked up or not marginalization awaits those who consistently question the status quo. There is really no need to lock you up, they simply make sure that you are outside. Being pushed to the fringes of society was not enough to drive me batty right away. But as the decades wore on, I sincerely began to question the validity of dissent. Was I just a trouble maker, was I afraid of success, maladjusted, resentful of peers, sexually deviant?

My stance was ludicrous. Why fight a juggernaut? "You have so much talent, you can be anything you want, rich, powerful secure". Would I have wanted to succeed in Nazi Germany, or Stalin’s Russia? If the system is an embodiment of evil, what choice is there but violent opposition? Should one collaborate out of convenience or expediency? Do the French who conspired with the Nazis look back and think about their levelheadedness and practicality. Or does the sight of a mirror sicken them?

Chechnya is easier, there are no illusions that the Russians are a benevolent society hoping to shepherd us through troubled times. I am honorary Chechen now, I have drawn my first blood.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

ripping top off

Mrs. Fitzpatrick ripped the top off my new box. The top had the picture, the whole point of the box was the picture. Utility means little to a 4 year old. The picture. She seemed like a savvy old wench, not one on whom the psychological implications of such an action would be lost. I am powerful, my power over you goes without saying, but more importantly it reaches into your most revered and intimate places. I can cause your mother to act, I can instruct her to buy you something, something with very specific criteria, dimensions and material. I can cause her to follow my detailed instructions dragging you in tow, she allows you to choose the box, you agonize over the myriad of choices, Ultraman or Underdog, you decide, you step through the door on your first day of kindergarten and I take the box from your mothers hands and "RRRrriipp". Your mother looks confused, stifling a protest, her trained tendency to unite with other authority figures trumps her natural inclination to say "why the fuck did we spend all day picking this thing out if you were going to destroy it"? She says nothing, Mrs. Fitzpatrick looks at you victoriously as if to say "no one can help you now".
Witold Gombrowicz: Ferdydurke

The third member of the Polish Triumvarate

Chopin is Polish, Copernicus is Polish, Polish. Whenever I try to establish the intellectual superiority of the Poles a I am always left with a blank space in my triangle. As we all know the triangle is the strongest geometric shape known to man thus one must be able to rattle off three significant intellectual figures as a basis for cultural greatness. Having been "educated" in the United States for most of my life 'Polish' was a synonym for big dumb guy with an enormous cock. Although the 'dumb' part was the only aspect that ever bothered me it always chagrins me to learn of all the towering intellects from Poland who were kept hidden from my developing mind.

Leave it to a fellow central European to rescue me. Kundera (may peace be upon him) loves to tell us who his favorite authors are. He has singlehandedly introduced me to more great literature than any teacher I have ever had. The latest holds special sway over my heart as he is not only a fellow Pole but wrote the following:

Memories, memories! My head tucked under my pillow, my legs under the covers, tossing about between fear and laughter, I took stock of my entrance into the adult world. There is too much silence about the personal, inner hurts and injuries inflicted by that entrance, the grave consequences of which remain with us forever. Men of letters, those men who have a God-given talent to write on the subject as such remote and indifferent matters as, for example, the grief in the soul of Emperor Charles II caused by Brunhilde's marriage, shudder at the thought of mentioning the most important issue--the metamorphosis into a public and social being. They prefer, it seems, to have everyone think of them as writers inspired by the grace of God, not man, and to imagine that they have dropped from the sky, talent and all; they are too embarrassed to shed any light on the concessions they had to make as individuals, on the personal defeats they had to endure in order to acquire the right to expound on Brunhilde or, for that matter, on the lives of beekeepers. No, not a word about their own lives--only about the lives of beekeepers. Indeed, having produced twenty books on the lives of beekeepers, one can be immortalized--but what is the connection, where is the bond between the king of beekeepers and the inner man, between the man and the youth, between the youth and the boy, the boy and the child that, after all, he once was, what comfort is the king to the little brat in you? A life unmindful of these bonds, a life that does not evolve in unbroken continuity from one phase to another is like a house that is being built from the top down, and must inevitably end in a schizophrenic split of the inner self.

Memories! Mankind is accursed because our existence on this earth does not tolerate any well-defined and stable hierarchy, everything continually flows, spills over, moves on, everyone must be aware of and be judged by everyone else, and the opinions that the ignorant, dull, and slow-witted hold about us are no less important that the opinions of the bright, the enlightened, the refined. This is because man is profoundly dependent on the reflection of himself in another man's soul, be it even the soul of an idiot. I absolutely disagree with my fellow writers who treat the opinions of the dull witted with an aristocratic haughtiness and declare:
odi profanum vulgus. What a cheap and simplistic way of avoiding reality, what a shoddy escape into specious loftiness! I maintain, on the contrary, that the more dull and narrow-minded they are, the more urgent and compelling are their opinons, just as an ill-fitting shoe hurts us more than a well fitting-one. Oh, those judgments, the bottomless pit of peoples judgments and opinions about your wisdom, feeling and character, about all the details of your personality--it's a pit that opens up before the daredevil who drapes his thoughts in print and lets them loose on paper, oh, printed paper, paper, paper! And I'm not even talking about the heartfelt opinions so fondly held by our aunts, no, I mean the opinions of those other aunts--the cultural aunts, those female semi-writers and tacked on semi-critics who make pronouncements in literary magazines. Indeed , world culture has been beset by a flock of superfluous hens patched-on, pinned-on, to literature, who have become finely tuned to spiritual values and well versed in aesthetics, frequently entertaining view and opinions of their own, who have caught on to the notions that Oscar Wilde is passe and that Bernard Shaw is a master of paradox. Oh, they are on to the fact that they must be independent, profound, unobtrusively assertive, and filled with auntie kindliness. Auntie, auntie, auntie! Unless you have ever found yourself in the laboratory of a cultural aunt and been dissected, mute and without a groan, by her trivializing mentality that turns all life lifeless, unless you have ever seen an aunties critique of yourself in a newspaper, you have no concept of triviality, and auntie triviality in particular.
The innocence of habit is inevitably solidified by the malice of the law.

Carlos Fuentes Terra Nostra

This is somehow related to Dawkin's ideas regarding the malice of indoctrinating children into religious belief. Perhaps the malice of the law in such a case being the unwritten societal law that all children are in fact indoctrinated into the hocus pocus of their parents.

Children are taught to believe the backward cult traditions of their parents, such is the malice of the law. An eight year old child can be programmed to hate Jews and aspire to martyrdom, a 10 year old can be taught to carry a sign in the street opposing abortion but do either of these traditions consider simply teaching a child how to think logically and then allowing that child to come to an independent conclusion?

The Amish turn their children loose at a certain age, allow them to experiment with sex, drugs, and the modern world for years. The vast majority of those children return to their Amish communities. I would postulate two hypotheses to explain this.

1) The Amish way of life is the true and only way of life.

2) By the time these children are set free in the world it is far to late for them to think independently.

Dawkins states that only one in 12 children break with the religious traditions of their parents. If the parents have differing beliefs from one another then the child by definition must break with one to join the other. Or is this lucky one in 12 children breaking with the traditions of both parents?

I am especially intrigued with Dawkins idea that indoctrination of children is a form of child abuse. We are all appalled at the sight of the 6 year old child aspiring to be a suicide bomber but is this not simply the idea of indoctrination in its most pure and therefore obscene form? Would that Orwell were alive to write a brilliant exposition of the hypocrisy of this judgment by those who would have children of the same age condemn all who differ from them in belief to eternal torture.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I have been working on dialogue between my Poish grandmother and me when we first met in Germany in the 70's. I have also been considering a conversation with my Dad about dead gook babies and how much bounty he receives each month per baby as part of his military pension. perhaps the converation would be more effective if it took place between Tyotya Galya and dad directly.

Archived Polish film of American bombing in Vietnam spawned my thought about the DGB dollar value in military pension terms. The traditon of land for 20 years of military service dates back to ancient Sparta and later Rome (fuck off if I am wrong) so collecting post mortem bounty on enemies of the state is a venerated historical tradtion for empires.

The concept of a child as a state enemy was certainly not invented by the Americain Empire. If we can trust the film 'Gladiator' as an accurate historical reference (and lets face it most of us do) then the concept of killing kids as a preeemptive measure goes back at least to the time of Marcus Aurelius.

Of course the Americains took it to it to a new level when they started bombing civilian targets but lets not split hairs, if one can cut the throat of his adversary's seed as a precaution why not wipe out a whole city of children. Morally speaking these crimes carry equal weight.

character sketches:

dad: dead gook babies, father robbing tobacco money
Bulgakov's devil: "mmm, your head will be cut off!"
Kundera himself
the prostitute and the brain surgeon
Polish grandmother in germany
KGB plant child
Hofac re

Delillo's rambling style, characters enter and exit without apparent attachment to the story

Musil's Man Without Qualities aspect of philosophical rambling as a privilege granted to one male and one female character

Temporal: cold war cul;ture, displacement of american-eastern european son,

political- neo fascist american state
revolutionary - Chavez, Chomsky, the hollow media juggernaut, thought control as enforced apathy, Winston Smith as an epithet in Circumference of Darkness.

culture and it's discontents: shitty writers drifting to the top:Grisham, Clancy, Steele, Patterson

Will Smith's I robot compared to Asimov's: the reality of the former being more entertaining than the latter and the pretension of pretending otherwise


lovable criminal
detestable liberal
terrifying reactionary
philosophical fundamentalist

childhood: learning to say the expected thing "Ican't even understand the words"

jargon and technology laden writing :circumference of darkness, James Patterson, Clancy --

Orwell, Huxley - Brave New World Revisited : PR industry, Soviet propaganda, the death of democracy with the rise of big media

alternate universe - shirley Macclaine, Stanislav Grof,

research trip to Auroville

responibele jobs and why they seem to preempt creativity, reading, and free thought
re: working for Alex and how it moved me to the right, BMW legal and how I couldn't see my day to day work until i was gone

previous blog post the enforced conformity, no make that the rewarded conformity that passes for education

the Underground History of AMerican Education

application to Penn and edgar Rice Burroughs, cultural elite? no one to ask abut a decent author, why not Lustbaderm why didn't I consider Hemingway? Football recruiting of SAT 1300 and higher

character sketch 1300+ SAT score linebacker cum killer cum criminal, Al Queda, Chechnya, Hemingway and teh Spanish revolution, South African PR ads in 1970's magazines.

Put Kundera and Delillo together - philosophy without preaching, thinking (Musil) without condescention. The characters must be taken seriously in their moments of levity and looked at askance when they are being serious ie. musil's Clarisse and her crusade for Moosburger.

Foucault, mental illness and identification with patients instead of colleagues, Skalifasovskaya, kindness, suffering, snappiong of something internally

The dream of all the music in the world in one place - this might be a good opening, late 70's miox tapes and record clubs, tower records and dreams of having all the music at your fingertips now Limewire. Reading in Russia, James Fennimore Cooper with Russian footnotes to explain American history of Indian massacres, how Soviet censors were a healthy antidote to American schools skipping over the ugly parts.

why war and peaced is a shitty book

Maxim Gorky - Mother and my sentiments while reading it as a young communist, the letdown of Gorky when he is exposed by Solzhenitsyn years later.

Rebelling against the Socialist party hierarchy and speaking the truth about the prospects for changing American reality through Socialist campaigns in elections

french and algerian girlfriends, Egypt, servants, the competition of cultures and how America makes everyone a whore

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Vadim felt joy at the thought of Armageddon. Post apocalyptic stories always held his attention. When he saw people scrambling around in the grocery store to load up on provisions he is happy. Mobilizing Soviet armies, American warships under fire, alert sirens, pilots scrambling, missiles flying hallelujah.

He used to scan the sky for missiles, or planes. He thought of ways to cripple infrastructure. Oil refineries, dams, powers plants, bridges, highways. He wondered if this was a product of conditioning. A mind constantly preparing for war is a mind that cannot conceptualize anything but war. An entire culture directing itself toward such an end… how can any other outcome be possible?

Perhaps this is why it is so much easier to be a soldier. He held out as long as he could. The books on Marx, the peace marches, Chomsky, Kant, Foucault, theory. Theories about how to prevent the inevitable. But theory is theory and human nature is shit. As Col. Killian used to say, the two biggest kids on the block, sooner or later they gotta fight. Or one day the bully opens the door to his Camaro and...boom.

So all our achievements as a civilization, the art, the science, the beauty, it all boils down to this.

In Iran they used human waves. Screaming boys charging the Iraqi machine gun positions, plunging headlong to their glorious death for the Shia Allah. The Iraqis that mowed them down bringing glory to the Sunni Allah. He envied those boys for a while, they got their day. Running and screaming, abandoning all thoughts but their cause, single minded devotion, charging to their death. Divine wind behind them, bullets and blood in front. They say Muslims that die in combat go to paradise, Martyrs have the eternal company of seventy virgins, he wouldn’t have card about that, death on the battlefield is enough.

He studied reincarnation for a while. But he knows better now. He came from a religious ulture.

(need transition to first person)

We worship Mars and Aries and Thor and weapons. Combat is our church, death is our religion and victory is nice but not all that important. Teach us edged weapons and hand to hand combat, small arms weapons and small unit tactics, strategic deployment and psychological warfare, the way they think and the way we should think. We drill and polish our boots, hone our skills and watch our enemies, watch them multiply and grow stronger and still we do nothing.

War is religion. Like all religions it requires unswerving and unthinking devotion. Devotion to principles and ideas, codes and credos. But above all there must be heroes, martyrs and gods to worship. Lenin and Trotsky, Hiro Hito and the Ayatollah, Washington and Jefferson, Stalin and Hitler, Mussolini and Franco, Bush and Cheney, Saddam and … well Saddam.

Thumbing your nose at the biggest power on earth and living to tell about it is always a good start. Or taking on the biggest army and winning. Castro and Ho Chi Minh, Che and Mao, Gandhi and Vaclav Havel, Nasser and Kim Jong Il.

War fighting is the brilliant amalgamation of the two spheres on the human mind: the logical and technical side, all blue prints and strategic theory, troop movements and supply lines; and the religious and fanatical side, red flags and heart pounding victory, ideology, conquest, domination of your fellow man, tearing out the jugular of your enemy with your teeth.

(Musil) 931 : …in every head, alongside the process of logical thought, with its austere and simple orderliness reflecting the conditions of our external world, there is an affective world, whose logic, insofar as it can be spoken of at all, corresponds to feelings, passions, moods. The laws governing these two bear roughly the same relation to each other as those of a lumberyard, where chunks of wood are hewn into rectangular shapes and stacked ready for transport, bear to the dark tangled laws of the forest, with its mysterious working and rustlings.

This brilliant juxtaposition of two seemingly contradictory parts of human consciousness creates a force so strong that logic is powerless against it. A man who rains bombs on women and children and incinerates civilians is given a medal and a military pension for life while an agitator who scrawls graffiti on the side of a missile is sent to prison for 20 years.

Death and destruction is celebrated, held in the warm embrace of family through endless parades, graduations, holidays and media events. A baby with its innards spilled into the street still clinging to the incinerated breast of its dead mother is labeled as collateral damage and chalked up as a necessary inconvenience in a valiant struggle toward a bright and prosperous future.

And once the population’s logical faculties have been anesthetized by an endless stream of death images, the governments and corporations of the world begin waging war on their own populations and workers. Standards of living are decimated for the lions share, wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer and those who question the logic of this are marginalized, imprisoned or killed.

But precious few question the logic of this system. The logical faculties of the mind having been brutalized and repressed for so long that they are unlikely to stir even when the jack boots are crunching through broken glass in the very living room of the rabbit himself.

Solzhenitsyn coined this term: rabbit. Used to refer to the hapless victim of state terrorism who when seized by the strong hands of the security apparatus could muster only the impotent bleat “me, what for”? And as Alexander points out, in the history of all the arbitrary arrests of subjects by their governments that question has never been answered.

As the mystical side of our mind is awakened and then left to languish unfulfilled we find ways to appease it. Patriotism for some, religion for others, often the same people find comfort in an unhealthy mix of both.

(p. 948) Then the Archbishop’s carriage drove by, a gently rocking heavy carriage, whose dark interior showed red and purple. It had to be the Archbishop’s carriage, for this horse-drawn vehicle that Ulrich followed with his eyes had a wholly ecclesiastical air, and two policemen sprang to attention and saluted this follower of Christ without thinking of their predecessors who had run a lance into his predecessors side.

States are deified, loyalty to the state is held up as a virtue, children are referred to as future soldiers, educated to respond to a ringing bell by moving to another room, where they will sit for another useless hour learning only to unquestioningly obey whomever has been appointed their master for that hour.

Institutional learning facilities such as schools, colleges, universities and professional schools reinforce one simple principle in perpetuity: if you follow you will be rewarded. With the exception of the few dullards who are actually incapable of grasping the basic tenets of the subject being taught the grading curve is a measure of loyalty more than anything else. Did you attend class and pay attention as asked? Did you allow the leader to remain unchallenged throughout the indoctrination period? Did you perform your lessons at home as asked? Did you regurgitate the material on the exam in the manner expected? Yes, yes, yes, yes = A+.

Law school was very traumatic for some. The absolute subjectivity of the grading system coupled with a strictly enforced curve brought to light the painful truth that we were not the geniuses we had been led to believe we were by all our education up to that point. Someone had to be better, someone best, someone worst. Creativity, if discouraged mildly by our education up to that point, was strictly forbidden there.

It makes perfect sense that top law school graduates are well paid and given access to the highest levels of privilege in corporations and government. Over the course of three years these select few have demonstrated their willingness to pour countless hours of reading, writing, rhetorical exercise, debate, analysis and meticulous regurgitation of massive amounts of information from memory for no actual purpose. They have demonstrated that they can toe the line of, lick the boot of, amorally reason for, and/or defend and uphold any one who stands in front of them and says “I am your master”.

Their professional oath requires amorality above all else. If a secret is told to them in the capacity of an attorney-client relationship they may not divulge it for any reason. “Hi will you be my attorney, here is a $10,000 retainer?” “Yes? Great. I am responsible for the death of 20,000 people and I have illegally confiscated all their property. I need a way to reap the benefit of this theft and murder and maintain my reputation as pillar of the community, and I need you to make it happen, fast, thanks”.

“Yes, sir, as you can see by the diploma on my wall behind me I can be trusted with this type of information so you need not fear anything from my conscience because that was surgically removed as part of my legal training”.

Perhaps the slavish devotion to amorality is another way of fulfilling the needs of the mystical side of consciousness. There must be an anchor, a basic idea, a founding principle. The client is your God, when he stops paying you find another, while he pays you are free to devote all your intellectual capacity toward protecting his interests without fear of moral reproach.

((Musil) 831 : Ulrich began by speaking of the mischief of interpreting the kind of experiences they were talking about not as if what was going on in them was merely a peculiar change in thinking, but as if superhuman thinking was taking the place of the ordinary kind. Whether one called it divine illumination or, in the modern fashion, merely intuition, he considered it the main hindrance to real understanding. In his opinion, nothing was to be gained by yielding to notions that would not stand up under careful investigation. That would only be like Icarus’s wax wings, which melted with the altitude, he exclaimed. If one wished to fly other than in dreams, one must master it on metal wings.

He paused for a moment, them went on, pointing to his books: “Here you have testimony, Christian, Judaic, Indian, Chinese, some separated by more than a thousand years. Yet one recognizes in all of them the same uniform structure of inner movement, divergent from the ordinary. Almost the only way they differ from each other comes from the various didactic superstructures of theology and cosmic wisdom under whose protective roof they have taken shelter. We therefore may assume the existence of a certain alternative and uncommon condition of great importance, which man is capable of achieving and which has deeper origins than religions.

“On the other hand,” he added, qualifying what he had said, “the churches, that is, civilized communities of religious people, have always treated this condition with the kind of mistrust a bureaucrat feels for the spirit of free enterprise. They’ve never accepted this riotous experience without reservations; on the contrary, they’ve directed great and apparently justified efforts toward replacing it with a properly regulated and intelligible morality. So the history of this alternative condition resembles a progressive denial and dilution, something like the draining of a swamp.

(943) “A puddle” he now thought, “has often made a stronger impression of depth than the ocean, for the simple reason that we have more occasion to experience puddles than oceans”. It seemed to him that it was the same with feelings, which was the only reason commonplace feelings are regarded as the deepest. Putting the ability to feel above the feeling itself—the characteristic of all sensitive people—like the wanting to make others feel and be made to feel that is the common impulse behind all our arrangements concerning the emotional life, amounts to downgrading the importance of nature of the feelings compared with their fleeting presence as a subjective state, and so leads to that shallowness, stunted development, and utter irrelevance for which there are innumerable examples. “Of course,” Ulrich added mentally, “this view will repel all those people who feel as cozy in their feelings as a rooster in his feathers and who preen themselves on the idea that eternity starts all over again with every separate ‘personality’!” He has a clear mental image of an immense perversity of a scope involving all mankind, but could not find a way to express it that would satisfy him, probably because its ramifications were too intricate.