Individual First, Brother Second


Born alone, die alone...

My instinct as an individualist and artist has always warned me most urgently against this capacity of men for becoming drunk on collective suffering, collective pride, collective hatred, and collective honour. When this morbid exaltation becomes perceptible in a room, a hall, a village, a city, or a country, I grow cold and distrustful; a shudder comes over me, for already, while most of my fellow men are still weeping with rapture and enthusiasm, still cheering and venting protestations of brotherhood, I see blood flowing and cities going up in flames.

—Hermann Hesse

The economy has shifted along such drastic faultlines that young people today are often in their mid to late 30s before they actually live on their own outside a group house situation. Nothing inherently wrong with that arrangement, but it does color one's youthful political thinking reflected across other crucial issues still unfamiliar to them in any personal way.

Individual first, brother second.

Spotting An Inconvenient Hoax


IN RELATED NEWS, the National Weather Service has announced a Thermometer Buyback Program. It seems that the older your thermometer the more likely that it is failing to rise to the proper temperatures. The old glass thermometers have the problem of liquid glass evident in cathedral stained glass windows, which has been shown scientifically to cause lower temperature readings. Also, the glass is attached to a metal or plastic frame in a haphazard manner which allows gravity to pull the glass down in relationship to the numbers on the frame. The thermometers of the bi-metal variety are subject to the insidious effects of metal fatigue which again causes lower readings.

These scientifically documented effects in household thermometers, are solely responsible for the anecdotal cooling being reported by individuals across the country and yes the entire earth. This anecdotal cooling, in turn, has created a wholly inappropriate rise in the number of people who question Global Warming. These old thermometers can be taken to your local Weather Office where they will be purchased from you for Five Dollars ($5.00) each. You will also be given one of the new Government-approved thermometers which will agree much more closely with the government approved weather reports. This new Thermometer Buyback Bailout Program will once again put our country in the forefront of Science.

Okay, tis a folly all in fun, or as we call it here, an inconvenient hoax. But what can you expect of us in this heat? The preceding spoof was posted on a meteorological blog by a clever commenter named Mike Bryant. Sorry, no permalink available.

Lucius Quintus Cincinnatus

Statue of Roman hero and statesman, Cincinnatus

Statue of Roman hero and statesman, Cincinnatus

WHY DO WE NOW ACCEPT MERE politicians when we once yearned for an immaculate statesman?

Cincinnatus was regarded by the Romans as one of the heroes of early Rome and as a model of Roman virtue and simplicity. A persistent opponent of the plebeians, he was forced to live in humble circumstances, working on his own small farm, until he was called to serve Rome as dictator, an office which he immediately resigned after completing his task of defeating the Aequians. His immediate resignation of his absolute authority with the end of the crisis has often been cited as an example of good leadership, service to the public good, civic virtue, and modesty.

Interestingly, this past winter, having recently arrived to the farm only a few weeks before, I quickly dubbed the large black cat who began appearing daily for a couple of hours each day, Cincinnatus. I had no intimate knowledge of the cat, or the name I had bestowed upon him. My only connection to the name Cincinnatus was the memory of a crusty old character in a popular 1960s television series I watched as a child.

The cat showed up around his favorite hole near the barn and stables for about two weeks, in hindsight the same two weeks we were fighting our kitchen mice problems inside the house some five hundred feet away. My brother Charles took to Cincinnatus, and pried him with scraps and goodies in hopes of persuading the small but nimble enforcer to stick around for indoor duty. Over the next two weeks we trapped two mice in sticky traps, releasing them into the creek the next morning. Then, just as quickly, Cincinnatus disappeared. And so did the evidence of a night mouse...

Only today, several months later, and still no sight ever again of the old cat Cincinnatus, did I seek out the origin of our fleeting feline's name. I don't know why it occurred to me, but in this Age of Google, it did. How apropos, however. Now that our dear president has carefully steered America through her greatest crisis since the election (pick anything, flailing banks, stimulus, pirates, and Iran, the Saudi bow, rejecting Bibi, right-wing radicals, and embracing Chavez), perhaps we can hope that His Illustriousness and his South Chicago Gang will now step down and leave the running of this ship of state to mere sea captains.

On the other hand, back in the days of Rome, those cynical plebeians were no less likely to stage a tax revolt than they are today.

Willing The Milquetoast Deliverance


The Milquetoast Preident...

CONSERVATIVE GEORGE F. WILL takes no prisoners in rebuffing hapless liberalista Ariana Huffington but good a few weeks ago on a Sunday morning political chat roundtable. Does it matter what specific topic they had agreed to disagree? Not in the long scheme of things where stone-eyed pundits are the prognosticating meteorologists of politics. The distinction made here between Will and Huffington is one of subtlety broken down into competing gains of arrogant humility and humble arrogance, distinctions of style in taking measure of whatever milquetoast affair prompted their respective linguistic dances. The Left likes to pretend that showing respect (which either comes off like paternalism or the equally inconvenient kowtow) is all that matters in overcoming international hostility. Unfortunately, there is little example of that happening in nature except among the chattering classes whose weapon of choice remains the knife in the back of opponents and allies alike.

You've got to love the true Western pacifist grounded in personal strength and unassailable character, but can you actually find one, other than the Amish perhaps?

Indeed, there are pacifists who are crippled by their own flaws and lack of courage. There are pacifists who are vicious to their core while touting a mystical peace, despising their own brethren while ignoring the disgrace of the enemy, and there are smorgasbord pacifists who simply prefer pet causes over any sort of comprehensive worldview.

Each of these phony pacifists and appeasers is pacifist in name only, and all generally subscribe to the concept of social engineering any way they can get it. The Buddhist zen master, who cares not a wit for the kingdoms of humanity, yet is willing to strike a balance, willing to assume the milquetoast deliverance, is however, rather scarce on the national stage we've noticed. But before we find ourselves bogged down in the subtle sophistication required of all participants involved in political snipe hunts, let's just say I liken the word milquestoast to the word quarantine. Old words that don't get enough exercise these days.

In Deliverance Of Peace We War

THE GERMAN INDUSTRIAL GOTH METAL BAND—Rammstein—belts out this anthem off the Mutter LP released in April 2001 with such power and intensity, I was interested finally to seek out its English lyrics, and was quite surprised to find such mundane words delivered in German with such overwhelming force. Now tell me my blue-eyed son, what do you think is being said here, and to whom? Wittgenstein, anyone?

Feuer frei!

Whoever knows pain becomes criticized
from the fire that burned up the skin
I throw a light in my face
a hot cry
open fire!

Bang bang

Whoever knows pain is raised
from the fire that burns in desire
a hard thrust (that gives off sparks) into her womb
a hot cry
open fire!

Bang bang
open fire!

Whoever knows pain is dangerous
from the fire that burns the soul
bang bang
the burned child is dangerous
with fire that separates from the life
a hot cry
bang bang
open fire!

Your happiness
is not my happiness
it is my misery

Bang bang
open fire! In deliverance of peace we war...