Friday, July 22, 2005

The Memory Hole

What was it Thales said? “Hope is the only good that is common to all men; those who have nothing else possess hope still. Hope is the only good that is common to all men; those who have nothing else possess hope still.” Maybe a certain kind of memory hole isn't such a bad thing after all.... Though the greatest leap of faith comes from those who forget nothing, deny nothing, yet hope anyhow.


The Memory Hole

It’s wonderful to consider how short are the memories of both John Q. Public and the media. But whose memory is shorter?

For example, all it seemed to take to make the media forget the stink surrounding Rove and Valerie Plame was the nomination of the remarkably unremarkable corporate white guy Roberts for Associate Supreme Court Justice. But did John Q. Public forget about the clouds around Karl Rove? Hell no. John Q. Public didn’t know or understand Plamegate in the first place, so how could he forget it?

So let’s step to a bigger, though related, story: The media seems to have a hard time remembering that the President and Cru lied us into a quagmire in Iraq. But what about John Q. Public? He’s not even sure where Iraq, or the Middle East for that matter, are! I mean even if he’s an activated reservist and gets his ass sent over there and blown up by an IED he, or she, STILL doesn’t seem real clear on where or what Iraq is. Stone ignorance trumps shortness of memory! John Q. Public is impervious to charges of being easily distracted by the Next Big Lie because he never really understood what the Last Big Lie was.

It’s like this, really. The rightwing has already made up its mind in advance---Bush has Jesus’s ear, will always do what Jesus would have done if Jesus were a buttkickin’ jet jockey. The leftwing, if there still IS a left in America, also has already made up its mind: Bush is the Antichrist. And then there’s a big chunk of citizens in the middle who aren’t really in the middle at all, they’re in the muddle. They don’t know fuck all about politics, geography, history, current events, economics, and what’s more, they don’t give a fuck about them. They give a fuck about whether they’re going to get laid next weekend, about whether they make the rent, about their kids’ meth amphetamine habits AND their own meth amphetamine habits. They know what kind of music they like and they still remember who they bullied, or who bullied them, in high school.

What they do believe: That reading the editorial page regularly will cause their eyeballs and the palms of their hands to grow hair. 2) That the French are weenies who woulda lost two World Wars if the doughboys hadn’t sailed over to save them. Wait, I take back #2. Americans under the age of 65 no longer know what WWI and WWII were, and Americans OVER the age of 65 no longer remember what WWI and WWII were. Both groups are also not sure where France is, where Europe is, nor what French, with the exception of French fries & French-kissing, is.

So all this yammer about Karl Rove pulling another brilliant maneuver by distracting the press and the public with the Roberts nomination is beside the point. Because everyone who is willing to follow the issues has already made up his mind about them in advance. And the great mass of “undecided” Americans is both incapable of and unwilling to follow the horse races inside the Beltway.

That being the case, what are we getting so excited about?

Or look at it another way: Only a tiny percentage of Americans look to print journalism for their news any more. Many more get their news from broadcasts. But which broadcasts? Not CBS or NBC or ABC or Fox or CNN….. No, Rush Limbaugh. Or Monday night football. Or Star Search. There barely IS any news on the big broadcast news programs anymore. They’re all commercials and touching infotainment tales about 90 year old blind paralyzed Indiana grannies finally getting their college diplomas.

So, perhaps more to the point, what am I getting so excited about when I see that the Rove Machine has again succeeded in distracting the media from pursuing the truth, or when the Republicans have again managed to set the terms of public debate in such a fashion that all the important issues are skirted?

I don’t know. I just am. I continue to feel outrage. I don’t know how I keep doing it. I’m guessing that being in a continual state of outrage is causing my internal organs to rapidly break down. I’m guessing that I’m probably also having an emotional breakdown in reaction to the political & social and ethical breakdown of my country even as I write this, but that I’m so close to the subject that I just can’t see it happening to myself. I’m guessing that it’s not just the dogday July heat and humidity that are making me melt in a puddle on the floor of my office.

I’m also guessing that I’ve had the wrong idea about America all these years. I thought it was a place, maybe the one place on Earth, that was seeing the light and walking toward that light. But it’s looking more and more to me as if Americans don’t know light from darkness and are just as happy to walk in shadows if that’s where their shadowy leaders point them.

But again, why am I busting a gut about this? After all, the world is doomed in any case. Global Warming, despite the Bushies’ bad-science denials, is accelerating and probably irreversible, especially with China & India becoming the new energy hogs. Soon, the Polar bear and Florida alike will be mere memories……soon to be forgotten by Americans because they soon forget everything. And soon, Los Angeles, New York, and pretty much all the fun and brainy Blue State cities will be vaporized by terrorist suitcase bombs, and that won’t be so terrible because the poor are suffering so and have no jobs or educations or medical care or futures and what’s more the middle class, having been downsized and taxed to death, will be extinct. So the only people still living lives worth living when the great American cities are vaporized will be the greedy upper one percent who got all Bush’s tax cuts and who sit on their butts and look smug while the bottom 60% of the nation gets sent to Iraq to be blown apart by IED’s.

And if the terrorists don’t get us then the collapse of cheap oil, or the global economy, or the environment, probably will. And if we do survive, it will be in a world so destroyed by overcrowding and excessive industrialization and overfishing and over-foresting and pollution and destruction of personal rights that, again, our lives won’t be worth living: unless, of course, we’re in the lucky 1%. And there’s no way in hell that I’m going to be in the 1%, so what am I weeping about? The jig’s already up for me.

So why am I STILL so upset? Is it because I think that there’s something we can do that can still stop this runaway train we still laughingly call the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? Shouldn’t we stop deluding ourselves and come clean and call it Big Box Land? Or Wallmartia? Or Piggie Land? Or Gluttonville? Or Debt-topia? Or WhatHappenedtotheDreamlandia? Or the United States of Despair? Or simply: Paradise Lost?

And if the America I believe in is dead, or never really existed in the first place, then why am I still in mourning? Shouldn’t I throw off my widow’s weeds and kick up my heels even if I AM dancing on the edge of the abyss, or maybe even IN the abyss. ….Shouldn’t I dance like a drunken, ecstatic fool exactly BECAUSE I am in the abyss and so is my nation and we are beyond, as far I as I can see, unless I just happen to score the divine lottery (which doesn’t look likely, I haven’t even, as far as I can remember, bought a ticket), any hope of salvation and redemption?

Shouldn’t I just glory in being alive, no matter how awful and evil and mendacious and manipulative and cynical Karl Rove, or Osama bin Laden, or Scooter Libby, or Dick Cheney, or the Walmart Waltons, or the next London or New York or Seattle suicide bomber, is? Shouldn’t I celebrate being alive this very moment even if I know Globalwarming is melting the Arctic ice pack and with it the polar bear, the walrus, the Inuit, and God knows what else that is sacred and beautiful?

So what if 10 times as many hurricanes per season surge over Key West? I’m still here, aren’t I? And so are you! Can’t life be sweet anyway, even if I can’t imagine a tolerable future? What if I despair and then things mysteriously, unforeseeably, magically, turn out all right for the Polar bear, and the Inuit, and The Constitution, and the Wetlands, and the working class, and the middle class, and the nation, and the Earth? Though things seem to be disintegrating all about me, why not exult anyway ……just for the helluvit, or on the off chance somehow, some way, I, and we, are headed for a happy ending I just……can’t…..imagine……..or……see…….?