Free comix

Remember, I’m sharing many of my underground comix and pamphlets free online at the above link.  What the hell.  Just go and scroll down the page until you see something interesting.  Enjoy.

23 September 2016

Richard Van Ingram

Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016

So, I got interviewed…

Well, there it is, kids. The one and only interview with me that got published from the RNC Convention in Cleveland. Go see what dozens of major news outlets that interviewed me missed out on and an excellent high school paper in Michigan, The Blaze, chose to notice. Not too shabby if I do have to say it myself. To be absolutely truthful, I’m happier I reached young people than adults — USA adults these days strike me, largely, as a lost cause.
“If I am not for myself, who will be? And if I am only for myself, what am I?”
#art #politicalcartoons #protest art #Cleveland #FlushingHighSchool
#Trump #Election2016 #ComixCast #RichardVanIngram #TheBlaze

Human Wisdom, Hard Won

Monday Confessions:

I am an idiot at times, completely naive. Under normal circumstances, I am not manipulable, being highly suspicious of people I do not truly know, no matter their reputation, no matter how much I admire them. This is not paranoia — this is the nature of trust. Up front, even if I like or even love someone in any fashion, I will only feed out enough rope to see how far the person runs with it, what they’ll do. Because even the best of people are capable of unimaginable weirdness, yes, including me. Me, far from being “the best of people.”

Often enough, this general practice has saved me from finding that metaphorical rope tied around my neck and me swinging from a tree — even for what seems to the other the best of intentions or desires. Or tied up in someone’s basement in indentured servitude. Had they known me better, as my friends do, they would not have bothered: I do not follow commands well. While a good sheepdog, I am an independent one with no human master; I was granted the freedom to be my own and to make right use of that freedom.

In conversation, I may say things such as, “Yes.” This does not imply agreement at all times. Rather, it means I hear what you’re saying. I’m listening closely. I’m looking for patterns which may be beneficial or harmful. Please, speak more so I can better judge with whom and what I’m dealing. I’m feeding you the rope and assume you are as well.

And I am patient — which is a skill and an activity. It means I do not often make snap judgments or decisions; nor do I make decisions, if possible, that do not include escape clauses. Plan B, C, D, and so on. I plan for the worst possible outcomes — if they do not arise, I am thankful; if they do, I am thankful I planned ahead.

Knowing what I do about people, reality is, anyone could turn out to be dangerous in some sense or not truly working towards even a similar destiny or calling. Sometimes, discovering this amazes me and I see the idiocy in me for travelling along as far as I did with such a person. Because I desired things to be good and different,

But desires and feelings are not reality, not outer reality: At best, under examination, they tell me about myself, my beliefs, assumptions, values; but nothing about another person and nothing about whether my beliefs, assumptions, or values are good or truthful. No, that requires a great deal of meditation and self-doubt. And time. And that requires the skill of patience to overcome the default setting of impatience we are all born with.

So, though made an idiot, I do not remain one. My naiveté is subsequently diminished just a bit. And I am rarely surprised. Overtaken for a moment, maybe, but not surprised it happened.

One can trust a person to the degree of the worst thing they’ve done to you or habitually do. And that to the point trust may have to be completely withdrawn, regardless of cost; sometimes, it may be earned back; sometimes, the better part of human wisdom demands that it never be offered again.

Yes, that applies to me as well.

22 August 2016

Richard Van Ingram


The Living Rorschach Test

All Along The Watchtower


“There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth None of them along the line know what any of it is worth”“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”

All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too

Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl

© 1968 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1996 by Dwarf Music

There he was.  Saw his helicopters coming in to the Quicken Building because, you know, he sleeps in New York, not podunk Cleveland, Ohio.  That would not sound sexy enough — that would tarnish the image, sleeping among the commoners, even of the political party he now owns, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels.

I was there on Day Zero, the new beginning, the deformation of the United States of America: Me, down in the streets drawing political cartoons and observational sketches of the goings on, trying to make sense of utter senselessness.  Which, of course, is my calling as a philosopher; so I was switching back and forth among three personas — the observer, the theorist, and the satirist.    Cleveland, Ohio, a beautiful place with wonderful people, interesting people, most of whom were in hiding or hustling “Hillary for Prison 2016” tee shirts on the sidewalks, not because they believed in that, but because they were going to fleece these sons of bitches for invading their town.

One of the guys I was with said he asked a vendor, a black man, why he was selling those shirts and worse.

“Leave me alone, man,” was the response, “you’ve got your hustle, I’ve got mine.”

“There’s a sucker born every minute” and those RNC conventioneers had “sucker” written all over them.  Marks, every last one of them.  And you, too, could see that, assuming you tuned in to any of the floor action from the convention.  Suckers for believing in the man with the weird hair who helicoptered in and out of the Quicken Center so he did not have to get up close and personal with his filthy flock or run the risk of being questioned by a reporter who may have had the audacity to press him for something more substantive than an off the wall, fact-free assertion or a slogan.

If I heard “build a wall” or “ban all Muslims” or “Make America Safe Again” once that week, I heard it a bloody blue million times.  What I did not hear was why those were good things, much less possible things, what they would accomplish, and, certainly, I never heard how it would get done.  Those latter things are above the pay grade of the citizen and voter: Trump will just do it.

Trust me.  Trust me,” as he says often and loudly.

Law and Order — you know, like Nixon, and the return of the Silent Majority.  Rip-off after rip-off, from Trump’s slogans to Melania’s plagiarized speech.  And the suckers don’t care while the rest of you have given up.  It doesn’t matter what the man says, truly — it punches the emotional buttons of frightened, angry white people; it keeps him the subject of every news and infotainment program 24 hours a day; it creates a shiny caucasian fantasy of a sparking, brown-free land where “foreigners” do not belong, where everyone is a certain, acceptable form of Evangelical Christian, where “our culture and heritage” are never again tainted by notions from alien sources.

Not that any of these people know any history or are cultured, in any meaningful sense.  Or else they’d know the strength of Western culture at its best was always that it would borrow and absorb ideas and beliefs from anywhere, adjust itself, correct itself.  That it was revitalized and saved by the Moors of Al-Andalus who preserved Greek learning for the world and a better form of mathematics and science and medicine.  Those Moors, black people, Muslim, reached the heights of civilized life and rescued, made possible… a future worthy of humans.

“Ban all Muslims” indeed.

These people know nothing of The Enlightenment that once fought to rescue humanity from superstition, religious enthusiasm, monarchical absolutism and despotism.  They know nothing of the hard-won Western value of “tolerance,” or the establishment of “human rights.”  They know nothing of Voltaire’s 18th c. war on “being put to the question” — torture, in other words — or the real meaning of his battle cry, “Ecrasez l’Infame!”

Torture the terrorists, even harsher this time!

Law and Order.  Make America Safe Again.  Build the wall.

Believe me.


He’s got his hustle, too, this Donald J. Trump.

By all appearances, he is a human, an all-too-human human.  But look closely and you will see what has become clearer to me over the preceding months, finally confirmed on the streets of Cleveland.

Trump is an empty space, a vacuum, a back hole.  An ink blot and, so, a walking Rorschach Test.  That’s the man’s interior — there is nothing meaningful in itself there at all.  There never has been.  He has no belief in anything of value beyond himself… whom he does not value enough to wonder at.  He believes in appearances, in gaudy material things, in the trophy wives, in his brand, “TRUMP,” which, for a nominal service fee can be and has been pasted on anything.  Because, in itself, it means nothing, stands for nothing, is nothingness.

The secret of Donald Trump is not that the emperor has no clothes; it’s worse: The emperor isn’t even really there.  He is a nihilist.  Power for the sake of power, attention for the sake of  attention — that’s his activity, his function.

He is a black ink splatter and you see in him whatever you project.

For the neo-Nazi, for the Klansman, for David Duke, for the white people afraid the Age of the White People is drawing to a close, he is a neo-Nazi, a Klansman, a reflection of David Duke’s life-long fantasies; he is the savior of racist, white, Evangelical Christian America.

For the greedy, the money-hungry, or the working aspirant to the higher classes he is “financial success,” he is “the art of the deal,” he is “the rebirth of the American Dream.”  No, his record bears none of this out, sketchy as it is.  But reality is not the point; it’s that Trump has become all things to all men because he, in his depths, stands for nothing in particular.  He is happy to seem to be whomever or whatever you wish… just as is a Rorschach Test.

For the Tea Party, he is a weird, irreconcilable mix of libertarianism and protectionism and the confusion of church with state.  He is the promised reaction to LGBTQ rights, the final judgment on Socialized Medicine — both extensions of justice and human rights, long overdue.   And which don’t fully exist here, but he’ll make certain they go away, nonetheless.  Because you are throwing your fears into that black center and he echoes them back to you, only louder.

On the streets of Cleveland I witnessed a carnival without the fun, a carnival of incivility and anger, a celebration of laughing hatred and monstrous beliefs.  Halloween minus the holiness, all tricks and precious few treats.  Dueling bullhorns blaring unadulterated bullshit.  Hope that hopelessness will tear this entire nation into warring groups, each thinking Trump supports them, each utterly incorrect.

Not that, given power, he won’t step back and allow each hateful, fearful group to have their orgy of violence and exclusion… all the better to ignore dear Trump as he lives it up on the public dole and commands the airwaves to say whatever will fill up the otherwise empty 24/7 news cycles.

That’s worked for him so far; until it doesn’t, he’ll keep it up.

He’ll get his attention, make his narcissist’s sociopathic pronouncements, build the financial value of his brand, “TRUMP,” and then cash it all in and leave us an ungovernable, uncooperative shambles.

Perhaps he will go live with Putin whom, today, he openly encouraged to spy on the Democratic Party.  Crooked as Nixon was, he at least was ashamed enough to keep his treasonous, illegal, immoral activities hidden.  Trump couldn’t and does not have the capacity to steal the microscopic shred of conscience that barely lived within Richard Nixon — because that would require him to stand for something beyond his own empty self.  No, he just takes the slogans: Law and Order, Silent Majority.

Empty words.  Emptiness emerging from his dark emptiness.

And you’ve missed it.  The media misunderstood they were being used and played like a cheap piano.

27 July 2016

Richard Van Ingram









ComixCast and the Republican National Convention

OK. I’m comfortable making this public now:
In a week I leave for Cleveland, OH. Why? What’s there? The Republican National Convention and all attending insanity in the streets. What will I be doing there for about 7 days as I am obviously NOT a Republican? Covering the action in the streets with a team of political cartoonists, political artists, and political writers led by Joyce Brabner (Harvey Pekar’s widow — a famous political comix writer). Our work will be live-streamed on a webpage, ComixCast, and on YouTube… and various media outlets.

For me, this is an honor as well as an unbelievable opportunity to share, in art and words, what I fear America is turning into — nothing good.

As forewarned months ago, though I had no idea anyone would be seeing or listening, eventually I would have something to say about this election. Well, the time has arrived with a vengeance.

I’ll post a link to ComixCast and show work when the time is here. I hope you enjoy what you see, if “enjoy” is the correct term.

7 July 2016

Richard Van Ingram

Donate to ComixCast to protest Trump and his party’s bigotry:


Imminent Doom & Other Vacation Spots

“An aged man is but a paltry thing,

A tattered coat upon a stick, unless

Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing

For every tatter in its mortal dress,

Nor is there singing school but studying

Monuments of its own magnificence;

And therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium.”


William Butler Yeats

from “Sailing to Byzantium”


Going within – the passage into dark, deep waters in the eternal night of the cavern of subjectivity. Will one arrive at Byzantium or any shores at all?  In the flashes of lightning the seas are rough, whitecapped, and in the gloom the sailor beholds monsters in the deep, some with shining eyes; they nearly surface menacingly and then dive down, down into the abysmal mysteries where all dreams and nightmares sleep.


Crises – will the wife leave or throw me out due to dissatisfaction?  Will I maintain what post I have from month to month teaching philosophy to the resistant and sometimes thoroughly uninterested?


 “What’s this got to do with computer technology?”



Or earning a living, if that’s defined in economic terms as Americans and nearly all the world, now is inclined to believe and believe fervently.  Come on – get the show on the road; we know nothing of this “Byzantium” or an “interior life” or retreat.  Nope.  We are storming the gates of the future and seizing whatever is there to be taken for booty.  By any means, let me tell you, and then we will be happy. 


Happiness, damn it, and nothing less, happiness and ease and progress.  What use is history, sir?  What point is all this nonsensical talk of “limit” and theory and value – value?  I’ll show you value: New car every year, fistfuls of cold Benjamins, big houses, vacations, and the corner office with the window.  Or whatever.  If I can touch it and spend it and use it, it is all the “value” I care to know anything about.  And, of course, old man, leftover from some dead age, you have nothing to teach me about that.




We have the monuments of our own magnificence – the skyscrapers and jets, the all-knowing oracle of the internet: science and its children, physical technologies.  Not that we know anything of science or the culture required to keep the enterprise alive; but we do know the value of antibiotics and facelifts and faster cars and air conditioning and the iPhone. 


No, I’ve little to add to the lists of what you already think you know.  No, I’ve less than nothing to tell you about making money or keeping it or attaining status of any sort, much less more than token and impermanent respect and its false substitutes.  How else to explain these “tatters upon a stick”?  It’s not as if I can afford a new suit and that’s not by accident.  Yes, I shop at the thrift store.  No, I never made enough at my art to pay the bills or fill the car with gasoline more than a few times.  Yes, it’s depressing.  No, I’m no one to envy.


If you’d only worked harder… or, my favorite, “Worked  smarter.”


God knows, I’m not smart or else I’d fit right in.  Even the cheapest village has a place for its idiot and I couldn’t even get that job and hold it long.  Adios, hit the road, Jack and don’t come back no more, no more, no more.


So, here I am, as happens more and more often, in retreat, gone within on the high, mean seas, sailing for a myth near my heart which, too, is probably a myth.  The world outside has gone mad, at last, or, as it would say back to me, I was always crazy to expect the world not to experiment with every form of drug, even fascism, even the destruction of civility and sociability and tolerance and, and, and….  Hell, we, as humans, have done this over and again for well over a hundred years – why not let America have its turn at the table of pure weirdness?  Cash it all in and eat to our bellies are full-to-bursting with satisfied paranoid strangeness and hatred, violence and death?


After all, we owe it to ourselves.  Mom and dad’s left us the credit card and gone on permanent vacation – let’s have a party and only invite “our  kind,” hire security to beat the hell out of any gate crashers and televise it all, just for fun and ratings.  Why not?


I got tired of saying, out loud, “How long, O Lord?  How long?”  Yeah, I still pray it, but deep inside while taking the night journey to Nowhere.  Or “Not-here,” at any rate.


You go on your permanent vacation and leave me to mine.  You’ll be more the missed.  Genuinely.  If we survive this savage and ugly period of history, perhaps I’ll come back out and sing my tuneless songs of philosophy and share other sorts of magical words and draw some pictures.  And maybe you’ll be interested then.  But not now.  I know and it’s not your fault – the pink slip was handed to me a long time ago, in childhood, and I was too much of a dunce to read it rightly:  the ticket to Byzantium, not the inaugural ball or even to any sort of position that would show… well, hell, not even something like my great-grandfather’s job as head of the custodial department at the local college.


He could at least raise a family off that and maintain property with some dignity.


Different age. 


Ages pass.  I was not born for the past and, I fear, not for the present.  My country is the one for old men who have passed, are passing, and are yet to be.


27 May 2016

Richard Van Ingram


Fun, American Style: What the Fuck Happened?

Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016
Richard Van Ingram, pen and ink, 2016

Today, I Deliver the Bad News

I see this making the rounds; Wil Wheaton, of course, is right, but neither is he the first person to recognize this. He just has umpteen-million followers on social media, so becomes the jumping-off point for a continuation of the ubiquitous complaint that creative people are no longer paid for their labor.

The expectation now is that a creative person — writer, artist, etc. — is expected to create content for money-making entities without financial compensation on the bet that it will “eventually” pay-off in paying work or you selling other things associated with your “brand” – i.e. your reputation, your name, your “fame.”

In reality, of course, almost no one gets paid ever — the mythical “eventually” never arrives. Why? In the internet age, words, images, whatever, is expected by the users of the medium to be free. It sprang into existence, seemingly, as an apple springs into being from a tree in the wilds of untamed nature for you to pluck and enjoy without so much as a by-your-leave or a thank you to the tree that generated it. Why? That’s what apple trees do — make apples. It won’t die if you don’t acknowledge it or leave it a few dollars.

By analogy, creative people make things — new ideas, stories, essays, comics, illustrations, art. And since we no longer live in a world where people know one another as actual people with problems like bills or having to pay for internet connections or art supplies or insurance, it is easier to see the creative person as an unconscious, barely-living entity akin to a tree that “just makes things.” We flip through the internet, see images we like, words we like, pluck them from the virtual tree — the creative person is not present to complain or give evidence of humanity and human needs — and make use of them freely.

Unless one’s name is already a “brand,” unless one already has fame and reputation (or is dead), this appropriation of another’s work for one’s own enjoyment actually de-values, financially, the work of the creative person. A person who already makes a living from her creativity has little to fear by the spread of her fame and reputation by the free use of some of her older work. It just builds the financial worth of her future work as the waiting masses are willing to pay to read the next essay, the next lecture, the next movie, to see the next piece of art, the next comic, the next play.

The unknown creative, on the other hand, rarely achieves this virtuous circle of financial reward because her name, her life, almost always remains separated — alienated –from her work… which, after all, is out there for free; and she is encouraged to provide more “content” – read: product — for the money-makers on that mythic promise that, one fine day, she, too with have reputation and fame and people will pay her, too for her work by associating her name and life with her work. Just keep giving it away: the the magic of the marketplace will create a paying demand for her work.

And the state will one day wither away and we will live in a communistic/libertarian/anarchistic paradise where each is rewarded for just being alive and creative. Right?

Prostitutes know better, for god’s sake. Give it away and everyone thinks they can get it for free anytime they like. Or, at best, not even leave enough of a tip on the nightstand to pay for that day’s smack fix.

Of course, the paradox now is this: few media institutions are paying for creative work, much less enough to eke out a living and once one gets old enough to have the plagues of chronic illness, to get the next prescription filled or the weekly trip to the doctor. Or anything else as no one else is interested in giving a damn thing away.

The market changed out from under us. Why buy your essay or a new piece of art, or whatever, when older works by dead people can be mined and cribbed absolutely for free — the copyrights are expired, the copyright holders are dead, and now you get 5,000 free books for Kindle you’ll never have enough days or inclination to read as it is — because you’re watching TV shows and movies cribbed and mined from books and comics written and drawn for a pittance 40 years ago by dead and dying people.

And, no, for the most part, even the heirs of those dead people aren’t getting Jack Shit for it, either. Go ask Jack Kirby — I think he coined the term “Jack Shit” to describe his own exploitation by Marvel and DC Comics, much less George Lucas in getting the basic uncredited plot themes and content of Star Wars from “The New Gods.”

But at least he could sell his work back in the day to someone who’d pay something, enough to raise a family as long as he kept churning out tons of work 23 hours a caffeine-and-nicotine-powered day. Same with Bill Ward and a small host of others.

And creative people generally do not mind churning out work 23 hours a day — we’re doing it from within all of the time, assembling, reassembling, disassembling, satirizing, playing poker with the dangerous mafioso of archetypal forces that populate the psyche…. Laziness was never our problem — it’s the work of the possessed who burn out their lives to bring into the world new worlds, new visions, new interpretations, new theories, ideas, beliefs, hopes, despairs. We just don’t want to starve to death, get divorces, lose our kids, homes, and the meds that keep one of our feet in the “sane” world in the process.

Ah, but that is too damn much to ask or expect now.

No “revolution” is coming to “fix” this culture — sorry Bernie-ites. Politics doesn’t fix historical trainwrecks of this magnitude.

What, rather who fixes mass cultural suicides are creative people. Not economics, politics, not media, not CEOs and managers, and the like — but that would require you, the audience, to keep us alive and not counting on our stupidity and largess to keep producing and showing you new visions and words gratis for your entertainment.

But you’ve drunk the cyanide and nihilism-laced grape Kool Aid and will not be coming back, even as zombies, to offer some employment-for-cash. It’s all free, free, free.

Enjoy your freedom. We earned it for you. I’m just here, as usual, to deliver the bad news. At no charge.

‪#‎WilWheaton‬ ‪#‎JackKirby‬ ‪#‎BillWard‬ ‪#‎HuffingtonPost‬ ‪#‎Salon‬ ‪#‎creativity‬‪#‎freelancing‬ ‪#‎comics‬ ‪#‎undergroundcomix‬ ‪#‎comix‬ ‪#‎essay‬ ‪#‎free‬‪#‎StarWars‬ ‪#‎GeorgeLucas‬ ‪#‎nihilism‬ ‪#‎poverty‬ ‪#‎philosophy‬ ‪#‎art‬ ‪#‎writing‬…/wil_wheaton_is_right_stop_expecting…/

Richard Van Ingram

2 May 2016


A Prelude to Politics 2016

This post is not political, but philosophical, which immediately means many who see the word will treat this as toxic, if not boring. And we all must be thoroughly entertained constantly at all costs, right? Being incapable of playing “entertainer” 24 hours a day, I will proceed in any case. Read on at your own risk.

I am not writing about politics presently because of several reasons, the chiefest of which is: There is so little common cultural and intellectual background between me and most people in my country at this point that even the simplest of concepts do not mean the same thing by me and them when shared.

This seems a small matter. Perhaps I am a poor speaker or writer. Or perhaps I misunderstand what I am talking about. If you wish to take the risk that either of these is likely, ignore what I say and stop wasting your time.

Should you take the side of the bet that in this one area of expertise — the one in which I have read and studied intensely, with which I have painfully struggled, wrestling myself and the history of ideas and my circumstances since 1984, increasingly so since 1990 — I might have something to say, go further.

Why do I think there is little cultural ground shared between me and others? Is it that I am an elitist? Grandiose?

No. It’s neither of these things, not exactly. The grandiosity is unlikely as my medications suppress that psychosis while inclination and personal history tend to create in me a certain sense of inferiority. Inaccurate, but weighty.

Elitism — I do not think some are born “better” than others or “more human than human.” Yet, fortune and labor conspired over the course of 50 years to create an odd form of human life, the life of a specialist in general knowledge… a philosopher.

This vocation requires that I take in as many perspectives as is humanly possible, reconcile them in some rigorous fashion, and produce an ever-growing multiple perspective vision of existence explained with no more and no fewer theories than is absolutely necessary to attain truth. A human truth, not absolute, but not subjective either, one befitting “the height of our times.”

And that sets me apart, as I cannot live without bearing the burden of this task, not for my sake, but for the sake of truth… and then, in turn, for the sake of other humans who also must live from truth or else die stunted feeding off “myth” (in the worst sense) and rumor and outright lies passed to us as “truth.”

An antiquated but ever-necessary vocation, a very human vocation, out of fashion (besides, it does keep attempting suicide) but always required if humanity is to keep being human and civilized and not merely “survive.” Yes, we could choose to just survive as something less-than-human, something inhuman, and humanity also keeps making this attempt on occasion: This perennial attempt to throw off the creative burden of living-well and living-together to descend to the simple violence of running away and forgetting and selfishness.

But should we, or the majority of us, choose that path with the technology of the past age lying around the result will ultimately be widespread death, if not annihilation as those bent on survival will have no care whatsoever for questions, least of all whether to use the technology, when, or even why it is here, how does it benefit some form of beings we used to call “humanity”? How can there be any notion of the “common good” once I have given up on “others” and the future and serve only my own private passions and opinions and desires — in short, only the almighty “me”?

I live in a place that fantasizes it is the land where no one must care for any burdens whatsoever yet the future will turn out well for it. Questions are burdens; values are burdens; learning who to become and choosing to be the right person is a burden; helping and caring for others, even those we may be predisposed to dislike, is a burden. Learning is a burden. Human life, life lived fully as a human being is a burden.

The alternative is to give up on burdens, as we seem to have, and run amok — to be entertained cheaply, to spend lavishly, and to “get by” knowing as little as possible outside our specializations… if that much. The civilization and world we just emerged from and are now pretending we are immune to considering was built on books. Books, the reading of them, understanding them, and keeping those dead words of the past, good and bad, alive in a conversation built from our living thoughts. It was built on learning from and arguing with and attempting to surpass what was handed on to us through those books.

It is not so much that there are ready-made answers in those books, but the foundation for questioning — ourselves, one another, our world. In fact, in those books are the roots of the very beliefs most of us count-on but of which we are mostly unaware, beliefs good and poisonous both. In them are the schematics and maps of our souls and the world we find ourselves within and, if we go further individually or together, we must understand and consider these root theories and the historical needs that gave rise to their creation.

All so we can seriously consider and question and reform… and discard, if need be, in favor of creating theories more appropriate to where we stand in history, theories in and through which we can better believe. But that requires effort and, yes, effort is a burden… it is THE burden.

So, no, it will do no good for me to talk anymore about the more superficial layers of common existence — such as politics — because I and my audience do not even vaguely inhabit a similar world. To speak is already to be mis-understood in too many cases and being misunderstood now is a threat to the hyper-emotional egos punishable by.. death. Death by gun, unemployment, loss of insurance, homelessness, ostracism… the list is long and indefinite, but effective.

Not that I will remain silent even on the topic of politics, but when I decide to speak, as threatened days ago, I expect that this year, of all the years in which I decided I had things to say — this year will be the one in which words are either pointless, as those who need them worst are least capable of even desiring to decipher them, or they will result in something like violence. And I intend to be party to neither nor have I any great wish to be liquidated quickly or slowly over sharing ideas and standing by what is valuable.

Not that cowardice will keep me or any public intellectual silent in perpetuity. It’s my burden, gladly accepted and lived for a long while, to share my own witness to truth, inasmuch as I can grasp it. But only at what seems the right moment. At that moment, I imagine I will say what I have to say and hand on whatever I have learned and received. Whether anyone accepts what is said, much less bothers to listen… well, that’s the risk of talking with a purpose; Nothing new in that.

The new thing, the thing that has emerged finally, in a way that cannot be ignored, is that any potential “audience” cannot really hear what someone like me says. We sound as alien as if we came from some foreign planet no matter how plain the English in which we decide to speak. One of us is trying to make sense by appealing to trans-subjective standards — the crowd being addressed could care less about that as long as they get their way… by any means required to impose their desires.

And that is enough for now.

14 March 2016

Richard Van Ingram