A Nation of Used Car Salesmen and Fractured Tribes With Guns

It’s that time of year again.  You don’t know what I mean – nor need you know.  I do and I remain faithful to the minor burden I laid on myself so long ago I really don’t recall doing so.

The “why,” the meaning, the seeming futility: “Vanity of vanities, said Koheleth, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.”

“הֲבֵ֤ל הֲבָלִים֙ אָמַ֣ר קֹהֶ֔לֶת הֲבֵ֥ל הֲבָלִ֖ים הַכֹּ֥ל
הָֽבֶל:”

all of that – I do it to talk to myself, my Self, and HaShem, my G-D beyond all knowing.  Take stock, bear witness, lament, argue… to no point now, perhaps for ears not born (perhaps not) – I speak to the wind.  It goes where it goes and takes on its own life, its own meanings I cannot fathom.  There may be no home for these words, no understanding.  I do not know, so it is done for its own sake and value.

Hunter S. Thompson, in the age of Nixon, uttered some simple words, a judgment, that proved prophetic:

“The polls… indicate that Nixon will get a comfortable majority of the Youth Vote.  And that he might carry all fifty states.
“Well… maybe so.  This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.
“The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes […], is one of the few men who’ve run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon.”
from ‘September,’ Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail
San Francisco, Straight Arrow Books, 1973

A note about “prophetic words”: The value of actual prophets — the Nevi’im — and lesser, everyday “prophets” is not in whether their messages come to pass.  Christianity, in general, misinterprets this, being unfamiliar with Judaism in general, and mis-instructs any culture it affects, even should that culture become secular, even agnostic or atheistic.

Prophesies, their value, does not lie in whether they come true.  That is not, in general, the standard nor is it why the message or messenger was sent.  No, prophetic utterances are warnings:  “This is what will come to pass if you do not change your path.”

Amos, for example, was sent to prophesy “against” Israel – to warn and deliver a terrible, terrifying message:  To call his people back from devastation and the abyss.

Yonah (Jonah) was sent to Nineveh — enemies of Israel, people whom Yonah (Jonah) himself despised, if not feared, to warn them of their doom.  The Ninevites were not Jewish, were cruel, and were at war with Israel: Yonah personally would desire nothing less than their collective death… hence attempted to avoid delivering the message.  But he wound up doing so… and the Ninevites repented and avoided being destroyed.  No, they did not convert, change gods, culture — they sincerely lamented the evil they did and stopped doing it.  That is all that was required of them… or anyone, really.

So, the prophesy did not come to pass.

Yonah (Jonah) was an effective prophet, a success in spite of himself, his ego, his own conscious preferences.  The message he brought was heeded; the terrible events predicted did not come to pass.   If the warning is heeded and the prophesy does not happen — well, that’s the main point of getting such messages.

Even if one has no religious beliefs whatsoever, does not even believe in the reality of such beings as Deity, thinks the scriptures of any and all communities are myths at best and stupid falsehoods at worst, I think one can grasp that “prophesies” as a metaphor are real things and meaningful.  A warning, one who speaks against his own people, not out of hatred, but out of care, out of a desperate hope for an unlikely but better future than the one obviously on the horizon — I think that can be grasped by any intelligent person from any background.

Hunter S. Thompson delivered such a warning.  Probably without seeing the depths hidden within it — that is the way these things go.  Truth chooses the strangest vehicles through which to make an appearance.

A nation of used car salesmen — an entire people who are liars and con artists — with enough money for weapons to murder anyone who bothers them, questions the legitimacy of their feelings, desires, their hustle, greed, hatreds, and prejudices.  That was his warning, his consistent warning.

His own generation failed to take it seriously enough being far too optimistic and convinced of their “rightness.”  And, so, The Boomers sold out, became little Nixons… and worse.  They put Reagan in office and the movement to laissez-faire capitalism, the worship of money and fame coated in the veneer of “Christian morality” – “family values.”  Until we finally ended with Trump, a cheap-suited, bloated Nero-wannabe.  A nihilist willing to support any and every group of white trash nationalists — even Nazis, even to the point of wrecking the institutions of a liberal democracy, this constitutional republic, hollowing out law, fragmenting the people further against one another based on little more than “identity politics” and the lie of race.  (Just take a genetic test to find out where your tribe came from to find out with whom you really belong, which gang to join.)

All for what?

So each group can fight like starving dogs in the streets to murder or subjugate the others while Trump and company loot the country, do as they please, and die famous with a tomb larded up in golden kitsch.  All intending to dispose of the others and seize power so that they, too, may “do as they please.”

A nation of used car salesmen and fractured tribes with guns.  Guns we will turn on one another in a massive spasm of violence, eventually.

A people who find nothing common among themselves, no unifying, truly valuable beliefs to rely upon, reject reason, dialogue (not debate – dialogue) — that people is damned to murder one another.

That is all that is left, followed by a military dictatorship to impose obedience.  Obedience to some monstrosity of an officer’s authoritarian commands.  Perhaps an officer or junta backed by a foreign dictator… called Putin, probably.

The end.

With humor.  We’ll doubtless laugh insanely as we cut our neighbors’ throats, this being the age incapable of seriousness.  The irony will not be lost on us; we will not care, as irony for its own sake is all that seems left to most of us, believing nothing exists apart from our limitless, aimless desires that is actually of value: standards to be lived up to, burdens to be voluntarily taken upon ourselves….  No, nothing except whatever we can get away with and dress up in some parody of a story.  Preferably a “morality” tale involving “victimhood” to rationalize each gangs’ vicious choices.

***********

I wrote more; it did not “save.”

You get the point. Or you do not.

6 February 2018

Richard Van Ingram

 

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Trump and Bannon Alone Are NOT the Problem

ICE STATION ZERO SURFACING FOR TRANSMISSION

16 APRIL 2017

I.

In the months and weeks leading to the 2016 Republican National Convention, I found a nagging suspicion – a number of them, really, all related – that far more was at work within and behind the phenomenon of Trump and his rise to power than could be grasped through the constant public “show”.

On the streets of Cleveland, OH, covering the convention as a political cartoonist, these suspicions began to reveal themselves as useful, accurate intuitions from which to construct interpretive theories.

My first public essay — neither technical nor complete – I shared, for what it’s worth without hope it would made any difference; it was more an exercise in bearing witness and sounding a small alarm that, eventually, might have a hearing by someone who could employ it, flesh it out, expand it.

The essay was The Living Rorschach Test which you may read here:

http://www.richardvaningram.com/?p=401

My second, more thorough pass at providing an historical background and orientation to the Trump phenomenon in its wider context was It Has Happened Here, leading to this passage in particular:

Donald Trump as nihilistic, empty Rorschach Test gaining supporters from varied groups.
Donald Trump as nihilistic, empty Rorschach Test gaining supporters from varied groups.

and this:

(You may read the previous essay in its entirety here:

http://www.richardvaningram.com/?p=433 )

Of course, at the convention and writing these two essays I had no notion of the Russian involvement behind “false news stories” (aka propaganda designed to misinform and mislead American voters and the involvement of the Multi-billionaire Mercer family.  The Mercers, represented by daughter, Rebekah, intend to disrupt the Republican Party – already in a shambles – and, perhaps, oppose the very institutions of liberal democracy.

(The best written and researched article on the Mercers is here: http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/articles/en/mercers/ ).

All of this could be guessed at, vaguely, but only guessed at without the information now leaking out from American and international intelligence services.  Not that, had we known, the election would have turned out differently: How many of Trump’s supporters supported and support him because of his values (he has none)?  No, he was their vehicle to invade government and destroy it — weaken its ability to enforce the laws that keep the peace, establish a minimal tolerance, and suppress our extremist right-wing neo-Nazis and fascists repackaged for the Millennials as the hipster “Alt-Right.”

So, you got Trump – who lost the popular vote by 3 million.  And every far-right extremist group now feel emboldened to begin planning a future that doesn’t include may of us: non-white immigrants; Muslims; Jews; anyone wearing a turban; black people; Native Americans; and, yes, generationally poor whites… who are always the ill-educated cannon-fodder used to attack the enemies of the wealthy and the racists, even to the point of death on battlefields and the streets.

Happy deaths on battlefields and streets as they have, for all their lives, been sold the myth that their place is to work for nothing until dead, expect nothing better for their children, and that they are descendants of some false nobility passed down through “the blood” – Anglo-Saxons, Celts, sometimes Norse; and their god/genetically-ordained task is to stand between the race-mixing hordes, the leveling liberals, and democratic ideals in rights and economics to protect “the pure aristocracy” at top.

All this never understanding there is, ontologically, no such thing as “race.”  It’s a story told to subjugate our brothers and sisters while elevating ourselves, just as no one is born of a “certain class” it is their destiny to remain within.  Race and class are myths with which we culturally enslave one another, reduce one another to beings “less-than” human.

This will be the starting point for part two of this essay.

(((Richard Van Ingram)))

16 April 2017

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Dahlonega, Georgia, Home of the Klan Klubhouse

Roberta Green-Garrett, Klansman
Roberta Green-Garrett, Klansman

UPDATE: 15 March 2017: http://patch.com/georgia/atlanta/kkk-sign-dahlonega-incites-raw-emotions-controversy

UPDATE: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/in-northern-georgia-a-kkk-banner-seemed-to-some-a-sign-of-the-times/2017/03/12/de5a3518-05bd-11e7-b9fa-ed727b644a0b_story.html?tid=sm_fb&utm_term=.c4fe2a9b8f62

http://www.forsythnews.com/section/1/article/32218/

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Free Speech; A Personal Story

Gentle reader, assuming this is read: What follows is a matter of personal history. This is a letter to the editor and publisher of The Dahlonega Nugget, Terrie Ellerbie, from 2008.  Not many months following this, I left Dahlonega finding it intolerant and intolerable — but, for me, that was nothing new.  I’d found it as such, increasingly, since the early 1970s when I began to be aware of many things about that community; I moved away to go to university in the mid 1980s with no intention of returning — yet, as Townes Van Zandt once said, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”

So, HaShem saw fit to strand me, financially broke, jobless, homeless, sick back in my “hometown” — and I chose to get busy, sort of like an absurd Count of Monte Christo, and make my “prison” a place where I would learn what no university could teach, to prepare for a future I never really expected would arrive — a day when I could get in a car and drive away permanently to a different world, one which would listen to the little I had to share, read what I wrote, look at the art I made.

So, I learned.  I dealt with many sorts of people, many situations from the soul-crushing to the enlightening, and, little by little, I improved.  And I began to write freelance editorials on contemporary issues for the small local paper to share, to examine, to offer an alternative point of view; unpopular, to be certain, but one I thought needed to be heard from.  Especially as torture, concentration camps, dehumanization, and loss of civil liberties and rights became the order of the day.

I also began teaching ethics and philosophy at the local university along with my regular day job at public mental health… and dealing with a very confusing, depressing, intense personal life.

I got myself well-hated because of the writing, to paraphrase a poet.  But I also made friends, a couple permanent, maybe, most fair-weather who disappeared just as soon as I was banned — yes, banned — from being published in that paper because, ostensibly, of about twenty anonymous, unpublished complaints.

It didn’t shut me up but it did shut me down.  And I fell into a deep depression for a long while — it left a wound.  Sometimes, still, the wound seeps.  But I learned a very important set of lessons: when you stand up openly to be counted, you will be counted; there is only one of you; don’t count on anyone else who, in private, supports you, to do anything except hide when the counter-attack comes on you from the hateful and intolerant; and never expect them to come back and even speak to you after you’ve been “disposed of” by a vocal majority or the powerful.

“So it goes,” as the man often said.  

That is the life of anyone who becomes controversial or stands against injustice in a place where people believe the unjust to be their absolute right.  You’re out there by yourself. If others show up or “have your back,” that is damned good fortune.  And you never count on “good fortune” — bad fortune is what you prepare for as, really, it is far more likely.  Fear keeps good people silent, it keeps them in hiding, it causes them to censor themselves.  They are only rarely going to come out in any way when the danger of speaking up becomes greater, not lesser.

If you choose to speak up about anything that needs to be said, expect to find yourself bearing witness alone… except for the pack of wolves who come out to tear your reputation to shreds.  And maybe your livelihood… and, once in a while, your life itself.

A cautionary tale, but not a dissuasive one.  You are only what you choose to do and the inherent quality of what you choose to value and incarnate in this world through your actions.  The end.  I have no shame for that part of my life.  It was worthwhile.

After being banned, I wrote, over two years, three letters to the editor — the short farewell, which was published; a protest against a letter writer who encouraged physical violence for those who were “liberal’ — they published a heavily edited version of that; and this letter in defence of free speech in the paper, the sole public platform in that community, even for an editorialist who was a hate-monger, who had attacked me in the pages of the paper.  This one, of course, never saw the light of day.  You’ll see why should one choose to read on.

So, without further comment.

RVI, 22 February 2017

*****

“Dear Editor,

“Uncharacteristically, I will keep my words to a minimum.  This concerns your editorial comments of 27 February 2008 in “What you need to know about Moore & Martin.”

“I can sympathize with your frustrations, especially concerning the complaints about Mr. Martin’s column – but only to a point.

“You said:

‘ “We do not “endorse” any columnist, period. We publish what people write, because this is the place for that to happen. [ . . .] This is a public forum, not a private country club. We will not apologize for giving people with differing backgrounds and views a place to express themselves in their own words.
“I will say this: If you do not like what Jason Martin had to say, I suggest you muster up the courage to speak up and speak out yourself and express your own views.” ‘

“You seemed to show more than a little exasperation with your readers who won’t sign their names to complaints about Mr. Martin and those who have gotten the idea that, if they complain enough about someone expressing opinions in your paper, you will remove that person and refuse to print their columns in the future.

“Where, oh where, pray tell, could they have gotten such an idea?

“When, I wonder, was such a precedent ever set for that sort of decision-making in your paper?

“Could it have been, perhaps, a bit over a year-and-a-half ago when you publicly refused to print any more of my columns because some locals could no longer bear to be exposed to my point of view – one wholly opposed to Mr. Martin’s?

“Where was this editorial statement when a determined fragment of your readership — in some cases anonymously, in some cases not — railed that poorly written trash such as I compose should never waste ink in your fine publication again?  And all this mainly because I don’t sound or think like most people “from ’round these here parts.”

“As one of your more censorious letter writers used to say of me, “He isn’t one of us.”  Which is true enough, but in 2006 that sentiment was enough for you to publicly refuse to accept any more columns from my hand.

“So now, the tables are turned.  Your Mr. Martin has inspired a wave of people who don’t particularly want to read a column in which the writer so glibly excuses torture as “the final solution” for our nation’s terrorism problem, and don’t want to hear that “ideas and people that ain’t from ’round these here parts should leave on the road that brung ’em.”

“So they want you to ban him – which I think is a terrible idea.  By all means, let the man speak; as you say, it’s not as if what “he said is not being repeated in conversations all over this county . . ..”

“But, then again, the same could have been said in defense of my own columns.

“In Dahlonega, the local paper is the only real public platform for speech.  Therefore, it has an obligation to allow even the rude, ignorant, utterly parochial, and the crank to express an opinion.

“If it doesn’t allow that much, the paper may not print the words of anyone representing any controversial or unpopular position, even a reasonable one, whenever it becomes simply easier to silence those words.

“That’s not the sort of paper I want for my town.  It wasn’t what I wanted in 2006; it isn’t what we need now.

“Richard Van Ingram”

  • 02/29/08 at 1:41PM 
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A Stranger in a Strange Land

You can’t go home again… nor ought you try.

Thomas Wolfe, dear brother, lost and gone, but never far from my ear, I remember reading your wild books the first time, raging around that mountain college campus, no one giving a damn, you and I silently trading stories in the catacombs of my soul.

But the trade was mostly one way as you had lived and I was just a cheap 1980s version of a half-drunk Childe Harold and Eugene Gant filled with great sorrows at the ruins of humanity, but equally grandiose visions, hopes, for a future rebuilt on that wreckage.

There was no way back. I had no business where I was, no life, the marrow had been taken from the cracked bones of that place a century before my wayward birth. Wasted. Gold and copper gouged out of the earth, the miners’ families scattered to make do at… whatever.

What was there to remain for?

But I thought “home” lay off and far away, a “someday” as much as “somewhere.”

Thirty-something years would pass before I discovered there is no home here to be found or made, exactly, nothing permanent or even aeviternal. All is flux and fire in this world and this is the world in which I was made to live, to make a life, to share, travel within, to receive. To leave behind.

I am Gershon, a stranger in a strange land, the wanderer, the one who prepares.

Thirty-something years wrong as I could be before that stupidity in me, the haunting ghost of optimism that lingered from childhood, was buried with the whispering corpse of pessimism. Life is here and to be cared for, cherished in all its imperfection — what it amounts to, we’ll see. Neither good or bad, but what can be made of it or endured; what lies beyond is not my business.

My suspicions are that there will be an age of more ruination before anyone cares to build something better again on the wreckage I began to glimpse 33, 34 years back — I will not live to see that. That is my fate; perhaps yours as well, whoever you are. There is no going back — what lies forward may be an even more ridiculous form of ruination.

A petty, greedy, cheap age this turned out to be; gaudy, all surface and shallow as a mirror. Ages such as this come about… they can be the end of civilizations. We’ll see, in this case.

I’m a stranger here, sent to witness and wander. What it will or won’t end up mattering is as much beyond me as HaShem. And in my case, I must become who I must be.

Sleep well, Thomas Wolfe, Byron, Goya, Hogarth, Voltaire, Swift. and so many others close and far — we each play our roles. None small but most unnoticed. How well we pull it off, we’ll see in the long stretch of time and fiery change.

Richard Van Ingram
22 January 2017

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For All and For None

Trepidation — that is what I experience much of the time when I speak of anything important, make an image, write words.  The struggle with this, for me, is intense and often crippling: Is this a genuine fear of hubris — of trespassing on matters I am not called to explore?  Or is it a form of grandiosity — and, mind you, grandiosity resides in the strangest of locales?  I mean, am I afraid to speak because I “know” many will hear  and some believe?

Do I really possess that latter power?  People will be moved to action because of my words and drawings?

That, truly, is foolishness.

The power to speak, to a degree, is something I can perform; the power to speak rashly and with poor judgment, even incorrectly out of naivete or stupidity — that is a defect that often possesses me.  The desire to please: well, that is a wretched thing indeed and often lies behind the moments I’ve played fast and loose with truthfulness in favor of rhetoric.  A tongue may be golden because it passes on a genuine gift; or it may be but gold-plated because it is manipulative, seeking lesser things, seeking ultimately to receive, not share, not help, not mentor.

Those moments, the latter sort, are fewer and fewer as I mature, and haste born of passion is something I spend time in extinguishing.  Delay and consideration are not luxuries, not for a human being — they are among the necessities.

So, I can speak, I can write, I can make art — and these may emerge from deep meditation and consideration, restrained, or they may be extravagant and self-aggrandizing. Even the silence can be grandiose if not properly motivated… and no one, outside myself, can tell or judge my motivations in such matters without themselves attempting to substitute a manipulating fiction for my own story, the story that is my autobiography, is me in this world.

As for treading where angels fear to go… that is the birthright and responsibility of a human.  The world, this world, the world of life was no more made for angels than it was for monstrosities — morally stunted or deformed egomaniacs or zealots who never doubt themselves because “They Know.”

“They Know” what the Absolute Truth is, as if they were gods, and they know what they desire, and they will possess what they want or destroy any who get in their way or resist.  In such manner, people make themselves a living plague, something to be completely avoided or resisted.

Angels have no choice.  Monstrosities choose to serve the black depths of insatiable ego at any cost, rationalizing and creating whatever fiction suits them best in the moment and in the long-term.

‘Hillel says, “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? But if I am only for myself, who am I? If not now, when?” ‘ Ethics of the Fathers, 1:14

I’ve considered this passage from the sage for a very long time.  Years.  In fact, I meditated on it before knowing Hillel (or anyone else) summed this very human crisis up as succinctly as he did.

Notice the three questions: One without the next is misleading.  And the first question has, itself, two portions, and if that question is not adequately faced with some humility, all is lost.  The error in interpretation will breed a deadly monstrosity called “egoism.”

The commentaries point out that, in the first question, two “I”s, not one, are referred to — The first is said to be the sacred, holy “soul,” my – and your – true self that has never departed from the presence of HaShem – The Ineffable One.  That “I” is pure and untouched by this world, in a deep sense — the sense of the prayer, “My soul within me, she is pure.”

Obviously, I am not pure in any really meaningful way — I am full of error, stupidity, foolishness, imperfections, even evil.  Part of me is stained black as night.  I have done wrong, many, many times.  But that other “I” — she has done no wrong and will not.  How odd.

Why?  How can such a paradox exist as a unified “me”?

Because, in part, the burning mystery of that Spark of the Divine — the “image and likeness” – is the “I” whom I must strive to bring forth within this world of history, circumstance, flux, through the vehicle of my actions and intentions, however limited.  The first “I” is my destiny, the one that I must choose to realize and make my vital project, that guides and gives form to my life in whatever time and in whatever place I am given to perform it.

If justice is to be here in the world, I must choose it, value it, interpret it, and become a just person by consistent and painful degrees.  If there is to be mercy, forgiveness, courage, thoughtfulness, carefulness, generosity, peacefulness, beauty, truthfulness, hopefulness… if there are to be qualities such as these, I must bring them into the world in my own way without departing from their standards, their requirements.

Thus, if I am not for me — if my deepest Self does not shine even dimly for me, guide me, orient me, direct me to true Light, and if I do not choose to “become who I am,” to actually perform my proper labor, my destiny, my work… no one else can force me, perform my work – however modest – in my place.  No one else can become me… or you, or any of us.

In the words of Ortega y Gasset, paraphrased, “We are each irreplaceable, each necessary,” all of us, each pursuing her destiny, all supporting her.  Human existence is a matter of “all of us or none of us.”

Perhaps human life has always seemed cheap to most people — I do not know.  We are faced, once more, with entire groups of people, majorities, who have decided those “unlike them” are “The Other”: and The Other is the object of fear and hatred, to be expelled, monitored, locked up, destroyed.  Instead of beholding an Alter-Ego, “another I,” when considering others, they take full possession of “I” for themselves and themselves alone, their tribe, their beliefs, their skin color, their fictions.  Anyone else, any dissent, any culture, individuality, creativity, belief, even tribe or color or any other form of love than the majority’s becomes threatening.

Threats, if taken seriously enough, get eradicated after being randomly defined as “unnatural,” “wicked,” “abominable,” “lies,” “leeches,” — any and everything except “human” and sacred.  Criminals by birth.

So – “If I am only for myself, who am I?”  Even HaShem “stooped” to grant humans existence out of nothing; The Divinity shared with us the great gift of being, and there was no necessity in it.  We did not have to come into existence — any one of us or all of us together, even this or any other universe.  Even the possibility of universes is not, in itself, self-explicable in the sense of metaphysical being.  The Divine began – as far as we are concerned – by sharing something beyond comprehension with us, out of a free, creative choice, out of mercy.

Out of an inexplicable love and friendship.

And what is given, then, is given to be shared, not hoarded up.  Not given here but refused out of disdain there.  We receive, we learn, we create in order to pass on, to share, not because it must be “earned” by the other, but because if I do not share, who do I become by my selfishness? How can I become myself, my true self, without acknowledging the other?

It is not as if I, myself sprang into being without others — in reality, first, there are the others: only afterwards and slowly is there the “I” who exists in the world, who begins to value and choose and create.  I emerge from the others and their labor.  They gave me language, they gave me beliefs, ideas, they taught me to think, to value, they gave me culture, they passed on to me certain valuable (and not so valuable) practices — and even where wrong or misguided, I cannot turn around and perform the labor — give the gift — of improving, reforming, or even excising errors from the culture for the future without, first, being brought up and given certain gifts.

“If not now, when?”

When will I choose to learn that I and other implicate one another, require one another?  When will I begin to doubt myself long enough in to hear my “True Self,” my calling, my vocation, my destiny?  When will I perform who I am — become who I truly am?

Now.  Or never.  You and I have a now that is ever-passing; soon enough, there will be no “now” that includes me, even as a memory.  Only a now that includes whether or not I did my work, did it well, did it poorly… and no one save HaShem will have any memory of that.

“…[I]s it your reputation that’s bothering you? But look at how soon we’re all forgotten. The abyss of endless time that swallows it all. The emptiness of those applauding hands. The people who praise us; how capricious they are, how arbitrary. And the tiny region it takes place. The whole earth a point in space – and most of it uninhabited.”

Marcus Aurelius, THE MEDITATIONS

No, it is not that your life is meaningless: It is that your life and the lives of all other people are the only conduits of meaningfulness in this universe we know anything about.  Yet meaningfulness and fame, fortune, comfort, and other preferable situations — there is no link between these two sets of things at all except accidentally, in terms of “fortune.”  If one only lives for the “preferable” and falls apart when these depart — as they must, one will never strive for meaningfulness.  One will fail to value it.  One may even grow to find meaning repulsive and painful.

Hence, monstrosities are born, create themselves, serve themselves, demand service for themselves, all while ignoring and discarding… themselves.

And, so, we arrive at the end of all I wish to say for the moment.

Richard Van Ingram

20 November 2016

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It HAS Happened Here.

It HAS Happened Here – free pdf

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31 October 2016

Richard Van Ingram

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Trump the Woman-Hating Racist, Neo-Nazi, White Trash, Klan Suck-Up.

Has Trump screwed the pooch,finally? It appears he’s screwed everything and everyone else with just as little care.
Yes, this version [link below] has all the “dirty words.” You didn’t care about him summoning up every white trash supremacist piece of shit in the country; you did not care he summoned up every neo-Nazi in America AND Europe; you don’t care he hates Muslims; you do not care he hates Latinos; you do not care he hates black people; you do not care he is the most openly racist candidate since Strom Thurmond, if not more so and casually.

He is an authoritarian.

He is in love with dictators, including Putin.

He has elevated conspiracy “theorists” — liars and mythologists –to high levels in his party.

He has destroyed the RNC and converted it nearly completely into a party of White Nationalism.

Mike Pence, the ultra right-wing Conservative Evangelical theocrat, pretends he doesn’t say or do things that are on video and taped — probably so he can run next go ’round, being as opportunistic as Trump. And you were STILL going to vote for this shithead.

But “dirty words” and obvious misogyny — as if we haven’t seen 16 tons of misogyny out of him for 40 years — that’s going to be the “last straw”? I doubt it. I don’t have that much faith in humanity or “white” Americans, to be honest or them who suck up to them.

He’ll fake an apology and you’ll say, “but Bill Clinton” — as if Bill Clinton is up for office in this election, and you’ll say “Hillary is horrible” — as if that’s not the outcome of 35 years of right-wing propaganda mixed with Hillary’s occasional fuck-up… even though, morally and in terms of character and judgment, she’s STILL a paragon of virtue and intelligence when compared with the bully boy in the 70 year-old body.

I hope he doesn’t drop out. I hope he and your worthless white trash party loses, goes on the junk-heap of history, and you conservatives come to your senses. Reform your party. Purge the Tea Party, the nihilists, the Nazis, and go back pre-Goldwater and start all over looking to Eisenhower for something like guidance. Or maybe Lincoln, but, of course, he’s too damn liberal for you, so let’s take it slow.

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2016/10/donald-trump-access-hollywood-vulgar-comments-hot-mic

7 October 2016

Richard Van Ingram

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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
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Achtung, bambino!

Spain Rodriguez

Spain Rodriguez — Agent of Something Better That Never Happened

Once upon a time, 40 years ago now, in a world long gone, I was 10 years old.

Being unsupervised by adults, something I now thank G-d for, this ten year-old kid wandered the streets of a very small and small-minded Appalachian town.  His mind, relatively uncontaminated by the surrounding ideo-sphere, wondered as much as he wandered: where did this come from, why are things as they are and not some other way, how did I get here, how can I get out, who should I be?

It was that wondering and questioning that made the ten year-old kid a weirdo, a stranger in a strange land, even in his hometown.  And, like Steve Earle taught us, nothing will bring you down like your hometown.  And that boy’s hometown was in overdrive to bring him down and keep him there — well, not so much him specifically (he was not that special and the world is not arranged around him, positively or negatively), but people akin to him.  People who question, people who look for answers to uncomfortable questions… and all genuine questions are right uncomfortable for them that well fit in.

People who make other people uncomfortable, especially when very young and alone, tend to get the shit kicked out of them literally and metaphorically.  So they go looking for refuge and allies and that child-on-the-verge-of-having-to-grow-up-really-quickly used to hang out at the saving grace of that town: the college.

Lo, and the college had a library well-stocked with classics, which he’d get into later, art books, which he began to explore, and some pretty hip titles — one of which turned out to be Les Daniels’ Comix: A History of Comic Books in America.  Long story short, it was in those pages that our disaffected anti-hero discovered Underground Comix and their historical context… and the concept of “historical context.”

Where it would have been easy to fall for Robert Crumb’s art and humor — it isn’t as if the kid didn’t — the artist that really held his imagination and got his attention was Spain Rodriguez and his character Tashman, Agent of the Sixth International.  Well, there was Trash — the kid wished he looked half as cool as that and understood what all this talk of revolution was about — and Trashman was there putting a knife through the neck of some futuristic Neo-Nazi SS son of a bitch.

“Wait!  Didn’t we kill the Nazis?” the kid wondered.

250px-TrashmanCover

At age 50, I now know we did not kill fascism or Nazism.  We just barely managed to stomp the shit out of the vermin who espoused those beliefs the first go ’round and the beliefs still floated around even in that world the child was sent to live within — that was part of the problem with the closed-minded town he was in; he just didn’t understand at the time.

Yes, obviously I get it now.  Thanks, in part, to Spain and his comix as I managed to discover more of them as I grew older and had opportunity to lay hands on them.  I sit here now watching cops shoot black people, round up latinos, the for-profit slave prisons bulging with the incarcerated poor while Donald Trump does his best Mussolini impersonation and Ted Cruz whines his paranoid right-wing theocratic Nazi tunes for enthusiastic audiences who just don’t know any fucking better.  And the RNC is starting to demand loyalty oaths from the voters who wish to participate in “their” primaries.

Seig heil, motherfuckers.

Where’s Trashman now that the future arrived?

Well, Marxism isn’t going to cut it — but Spain’s not here to disagree because he died.  Marx had many damn fine ideas and his critique of the labor theory of value strikes me as having a great deal of truth.  But Marx-ISM, like every other form of ISM is as dead as Spain — worse, ISMs ruin nearly everyone that gets sucked into them.  But that’s a bete noir for a different day, gentle readers.

But the symbolic idea of resistance to evil that Trashman represents… there’s the crux of the biscuit.  Spain’s generation, not Spain himself, but that generation, sold out back in the ’80s.  And so, here we are. The only “revolution” that happened was the Reagan Revolution and that flushed the rest of us down the toilet, down, down into the sewers to scrape a living doing the muck work for low pay that the Boomers suck up in the form of stock investments and rent and lending.  “I got mine.  Fuck you!”

Spain remains one of my heroes artistically and intellectually because he genuinely hoped and worked for something far better and stood the test of time and the temptations of sheer ambition.  Go look him up; this isn’t Wikipedia.  Or better, just read his work and look at that powerful, expressionistic art.  He died like he lived: with his motorcycle boots on.  You can’t ask for much better than that.

And he influenced and fascinated a nobody kid in a nowhere town who grew up to be a philosopher, an artist, an essayist, and a damn troublemaker.  Thank G-d and thank Spain Rodriguez for being there when I needed to find him.

Richard Van Ingram

30 December 2015

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