Thursday, July 12, 2012

New Work

A new flash memoir piece appears at the innovative Dirt Flask.

Find the latest issue here.

Or buy the entire issue—micro scrolls rolled up in a beer bottle—here.


On an unrelated note, some lucky websurfer splashed onto this blog after Googling the word "Reaganic." This amuses me more than it should.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Witherburo

Another great analysis of our cultural moment, in the vein of "Communiqué from an Absent Future," "Witherburo" asks that anarchists and spiritual revolutionaries "Escape. Rebuild the counter-culture, commune by commune."

from section 3 "Quantity":

Thus the real issue now posed to the Americans is: how to relate to the collapse? The U.S., the land of micro-fascism and molecular capitalism par excellence, is now evaporating, molecule by molecule. There is no austerity plan to protest against because the austerity is already being carried out in the hidden corners of the country. The small town library closes, the post office shuts up for good, the mayor’s office declares bankruptcy. Without as many police the people decide to police themselves, as we read for Vallejo, Ca. Americans are in a more revolutionary situation than they realize: they are in a situation like the end of Rome, where objectively a revolution should have happened long ago, but did not, and now the society is decaying and dying, like a butterfly too weak to shed its chrysalis: the last kernel of loyal citizenry has been wrecked by the War on Terror, they no longer believe in anything but suicide. Just read a newspaper. Graffiti is sprouting up everywhere. There is only a police force that everyone hates, and taxes and debt and no jobs. The society is collapsing in an orgy of its own violence: the violence that constituted the social fabric of the Americans, this blind bloodlust of Custer that so horrified the Indians, is now turning against the social fabric itself. The Hobbesian  myth is becoming an unreal reality, for a time, before peace and contentedness return to this shattered, wounded, ancient land. But the Americans are lucky: whereas Rome collapsed into a foreign and inferior superstition of feeble-minded slaves and jaded aristocrats, the Americans fall back on what existed agelessly before their unhappy civilization. Indian simplicity, harmony with nature, collectivism, simple and unadorned love and devotion, guerrilla bravery. . .these are the things to remember. Americans don’t have to worry about a state to smash-they won’t even be at any comparable level of strength for years, they only just now begin a process of decades- they rather have to find something redeeming worth living, to save something from the final suicidal catastrophe of the American death culture.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Poems at OccuPoetry

OccuPoetry recently published two of my poems. Find them here:

"Foreclosure"

"Gunpowder Like Graphite"


Reaganic Ecdysis


No vision of caterpillar, chrysalis, or imaginal cells. 

No butterfly. 

This vision is more terrifying.

I see America the Colossus dragging its raw body from a rusted exoskeleton. Ivy-wrapped factories no longer choke the air with particles. Instead, poison leaks from spiderwebbed windows of cracked safety glass.


1981: A new America bursts from that industrial exoskeleton. An evil new insect. A slick haircut. A sleek marketing campaign. The flash & glitz of a $19.4 million inauguration. Mycelial Junk Bond Charlatans pop up like mushrooms after a rain. Leveraged Buyout Artists float like dandelion fluff on a calm breeze. Predatory Lenders feed on the abundant poor as algae feeds on eutrophic water. 

A wicked new creature thrives in rubbish and rusting exuvia. The callow creature eats what it kills and shits pollution. It stuffs the middens with bones licked clean. It slithers away from its skin.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Incomplete Diagnosis


Hypoxic Dead Zone: The Mississippi drains nitrogen and phosphorus into the Gulf. Algae bloom, die, and sink. Bacteria in black sediment monopolize the oxygen, laying waste to the bottom-feeders.

Oil-drenched executives speak of junk shots and top kills as oil blooms from the Gulf floor. Once the earth circles the sun, hundreds of dead dolphins wash up like jetsam. From a passing jetliner, these dead vessels of pinched consciousness are no more visible than plankton-sized pellets of plastic adrift in brine.

Tsunamis strike and wash radioactive vessels back to sea. Coastlines melt down.

Birds drop like black rain.

In dead vessels, fishermen die of thirst as cruise ships sail by.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Imaginal Cells

We are the imaginal cells.

. . . Humanity as Caterpillar. . .
. . . Occupy as Chrysalis. . .
. . . What will be the Butterfly. . .


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Why I Occupy


Today, this piece appeared on the Portland Occupier.

Between the election of America’s first black president and his inauguration, gun sales spiked and America suffered an ammunition shortage. Afraid that Obama would trample his Second Amendment rights, Richard Poplawski ambushed Pittsburgh police; a torrential rain of lead claimed three lives. Joe Stack piloted a Piper Dakota aircraft into an Austin IRS building, decrying the government bailout of “thugs,” “plunderers,” and “self-serving scumbags.” His suicide mission killed a government employee and injured thirteen more. Armed to the teeth and frothing from a steady diet of Glenn Beck’s rancor, Byron Williams barreled down an Oakland freeway hoping “to start a revolution.” Police stopped him for speeding, and the kevlar-vested man opened fire, injuring two before falling in a blaze of bullets, miraculously still breathing. In Tuscon, Jared Lee Loughner shot a congresswoman in the head before turning his Glock on the gathered citizens, littering the parking lot with bodies, six of them dead. Amid this carnage, Tea Party senate candidate Sharron Angle told Lars Larson, “people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies and saying my goodness what can we do to turn this country around?” A generation before, novelist Don DeLillo made a more subtle observation on the triumph of violence over the imagination: “it was [once] possible for a novelist to alter the inner life of the culture. Now bomb-makers and gunmen have taken that territory. They make raids on human consciousness.”

Such was the poisonous atmosphere when climate-change lone wolf James J. Lee strapped bombs to his body and proceeded into the Silver Spring, Maryland headquarters of the Discovery Channel. His manifesto demanded that the channel revamp its program lineup to discourage “the birth of any more parasitic human infants,” to cease “promoting War,” and to “disassemble civilization” while revealing it “for the filth it is.” He seized three hostages before the police gunned him down. These right-wing tactics in service of a progressive cause birthed a new crisis. No longer did the imagination deficit exist only on the right. The death logic of purifying violence had infected the entire American psyche. Few of us were immune to this hateful psychosis. Among my own darkly teeming visions, I hungered to see Lloyd Blankfein’s ample body pureed along with cilantro, mint, and lavender, to be served on ice to families left homeless by foreclosure. Some sins, I concluded, could be washed away only with blood.

In October 2011, with hatred in my heart, I stepped foot into Occupied Lownsdale Square. Around the Soldiers’ Monument wrapped a line of speakers. Their voices greeted my violent anger with peaceful defiance. I heard for the first time the human microphone, as each speaker’s words were carried by the lips into the hearts and minds of the gathered revolutionaries. After the sun fell, I sat on the damp concrete and joined my first General Assembly. I was no longer an individual but a cell in the body of an evolving organism. In one night, my cynical assumptions about the world turned to dandelion fluff. My violent urges floated away on a cleansing breeze. Occupy Wall Street had floated embers in every direction, touching off prairie fires in the imaginations of millions, clotting city streets with antibodies to the hopelessness infecting us all. My imagination, along with the world’s, was newly occupied.

But violence, hatred, and fear are not why I occupy.

I occupy because violence does not purify, nor does it transform.
I occupy because imagination needs a place to frolic and play.
I occupy because ruins are the symphony of capitalism.
I occupy because the future is not shaping up as I’d hoped.
I occupy because the only remaining occupations are vulture capitalist and
     pauper.
I occupy because as Woody sez, “you won’t never see an outlaw drive a family
     from their home.”
I occupy because those who profit from this mess have no incentive to clean it
     up.
I occupy because I don’t want revolution without carnival.
I occupy because spring follows winter.
I occupy because I want to mic check capitalist realism.
I occupy because another world is possible.
I occupy because the Pentagon does not levitate itself.
I occupy because of Scott Olsen.
I occupy because UC Davis students braved the pepper spray.
I occupy because Zuccotti Park is our chrysalis.
I occupy because it’s just.
And I occupy just because.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Die-Off Cover Story

I wrote this more than a year ago at the height of the die-off phenomenon. I tried half-heartedly to get it published, but had little luck. It's no longer newsworthy, but I stand by the points made herein.


Around the time Saudi Arabian officials nabbed a Griffon vulture as a Zionist spy, thousands of red-winged blackbirds spilled like inky rain from the dark skies above Beebe, Arkansas.

“Millions, millions every night. You look up in the sky and it’s just black,” said resident Stephen Bryant. “I seen a bird drop.”

“It was horrible,” another shocked witness reported. “You could not even get down the road without running over hundreds.”

The next day, workers in white hazmat suits fanned across Beebe to collect the corpses. Residents did their part, collecting by the bucketful the dead birds.

Theories of the die-off proliferated, including “everything from the sign of biblical end times to chemical conspiracies, shifts in the Earth’s magnetic core, and even proof of UFOs.” Others blamed “[e]lectromagnetic scalar weapons” or other top-secret developments of the military-industrial complex. Soon enough, the authorities coalesced around an unlikely cover story.

Exploding fireworks, they claimed, had frightened the skittish blackbirds; in a panic, the birds took flight and their precious palpitating hearts couldn’t weather the shock. Broken-hearted and terror-filled, the birds slammed into buildings, trees, and each other, dying of “blunt-force trauma.” The cover story diverted blame for this particular ecological catastrophe from the cascading bad decisions and unsustainable behaviors encouraged by constant growth and anti-nature policies.

Even if true, this cover story could not explain the gathering storm clouds.

After all, bird deaths in Beebe were not an isolated incident. Scaly corpses of as many as 100,000 drum fish lapped up on the shores of the Arkansas River, left for the raccoons to eat. Forty thousand Devil crab cadavers littered cold British beaches, as bookmakers predicted that the UK would face the next bird die-off. Turtle doves dangled from leafless branches in Faenza, Italy.  Ten thousand bovines bit the bullet in Viet Nam. Direct-to-video apocalyptic movie star and former Growing Pains cast member Kirk Cameron was summoned to CNN to calm tensions by claiming that “birds falling from the sky. . . has more to do with Pagan mythology” than with Christian revelation. Earth appeared locked in a collapsing environmental end game.

In this atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust, those in power needed a cover story to take the heat off themselves. Consider Greg Palast’s take on another environmental catastrophe, the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Palast shows how the cover story, the "Fable of the Drunken Skipper," blamed a drunken captain, who in fact was sleeping off a bender and not at the helm. The true cause of the oil spill, according to Palast, was cost-cutting measures that led Exxon to shut down a radar that would have prevented the ship from running ashore on the Alaskan coastline. Exxon effectively pinned the blame on the bad choices and questionable character of a single person. The cover story fit the corporatist ethos of the rugged individual who alone should win the glory or suffer the defeat. One man’s weakness, and not systemic corporate malfeasance, took the blame. The public was none the wiser.

In the face of global mass die-offs, how might a similar cover story explaining the dead birds in Beebe serve the agendas of those in power? To answer that question, one need only look at what hornets’ nests might be stirred up by other theories.

The Tea Party rabble suspected that a secret Obamunist weapon was responsible for the bird die-off. Homeland Security types feared a terrorist plot. Those still coughing into their shoulders to prevent the spread of swine flu believed a disease had mutated or had been released by the CDC. At its most innocent, the die-off indicated that the government could not keep us safe. At its most extreme, it shoveled ammonium-nitrate and fuel oil into a U-Haul truck driven by a paranoid patriot.

For Christian Armageddonists, the bird die-off added to the expanding number of apocalyptic signs. As souls anticipated getting hoovered up to heaven, and a righteously angry Jesus prepared to reclaim his kingdom, true believers began turning their backs on politics. Thus a verifiable End Times scenario threatened the tenuous coalition of Christian Dominionists and corporatist Republicans that drives American conservatism.

The bird die-off also fed left-wing alarm. Suburban environmentalists suspected a pollutant had killed the blackbirds. DeLilleans feared an “Airborne Toxic Event.” Deep ecologists pointed to an irreparable rupture in nature. For these environmentalists, corporate greed and irresponsibility accounted for the bird deaths. These explanations heaped compost on the rhizomic theories of corporate-sponsored ecological distress.

In other words, theories regarding the mass die-offs threatened to fracture the fault lines of power. From the right, the theories fueled anti-government hysteria while driving a wedge between the religious and moneyed interests that cemented Republican power in the Age of Reagan. From the left, the die-offs further justified action against corporations dead set on devouring every ounce of the Earth’s bounty before shitting out the toxic leftovers in the form of pollution.

Now consider the function of the story of some poor schlub who set off the fireworks that ended up killing the birds. He was a good ol’ boy blowing off steam in the worst economy since the 1930s. He didn’t intend to hurt the poor red-winged blackbirds. In fact, the deaths were an entirely unforeseeable catastrophe. The cover story implied that the deranged conspiracy nuts, kooky Christians, and redwood-hugging hippies were twisting a one-time, innocent accident to suit their own crooked agendas. Despite their zany explanations, these birds were killed by natural and explicable, albeit uncommon means. If doubt could be cast on one die-off, blame for the others might also be deflected.

And that’s how the truth became a cover story.

Toward a Poem


Spring is here
and pepper spray
hangs in the air
like pollen spores.
Popping up
about the squares
like mushroom tips
from damp, black dirt
come whispers:
“Revolution’s near.”

Friday, March 30, 2012

DDR


And now, in relation to nothing in particular, let us listen to the music of Ernst Busch as he encourages us to further the class struggle. And let us not linger too long on what we learned from the film The Lives of Others.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Story at Fiddleblack

Dedicated to "antipastoralist, ecocentrist & existentialist" writing, Fiddleblack has been publishing some exciting work. I have the great honor of appearing in the latest issue.

Find the story "Furbearers" here: Fiddleblack Issue #3.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Toward an Erotics of Ruins


Much has been written of Ruin Porn, a visual and literary genre that revels in the beauty of postindustrial decay, ruin and loss. Although it has global reach (Hashima Island in Japan and Chernobyl are standard bearers), Ruin Porn finds its American locus in the Rust Belt around lost cities such as Detroit, Michigan; Gary, Indiana; and Braddock, Pennsylvania. On Rustwire, Richey Piiparinen asks if Ruin Porn “can invoke a perceptual change not only in the Rust Belt but in the American psyche?” In other words, does Ruin Porn represent a “condescending” aesthetics of schadenfreude or can it transform our ways of seeing and thereby help transform our nation and world from one of crumbling destruction into one of blossoming rebirth?

Beautiful as the decay of America's industrial strength appears, a blossoming rebirth cannot arise from the current Ruin Porn genre. Porn, after all, is the diabolical mechanics of sex. In the fictional terms of Leon Tuggs’ General Theory of Industrial Sex from Stanley Crawford’s wickedly imagined novel Petroleum Man:
[C]ivilization is based on the male piston and the female cylinder, the male bolt and the female nut, the male screw and the female wood or sheet metal or whatever is screwed, into, the nail and the nailee, the latch and the keeper, the keystone and the arch, the plug and the socket, the thread and the nipple, the drill and the bit, the shaft and the sleeve or bearing or bushing, and so on and so forth. In other words, if you care to look around anywhere at all, you are surrounded by mirrors of what your little parts are supposed to do: plug, unplug, insert, extract, drill, bounce up and down, and so on.
Thus is porn also an industrial output of commodified sex reduced to the plugging in of sexual organs with the goal of endless, homogenous production. Absent from porn are the erotics of sex—stimulation without release, playfulness, emotional and psychological need and satiation, fear, hope, connection. In short, porn is the ergonomics of sex; it is the commercial (and, for that matter, industrial) exploitation of desire. As such, it is a terrible name for a genre of rebirth and transformation among the postindustrial ruins. 

Thus do I call for artists to embrace an Erotics of Ruins, even as they reject Ruin Porn.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Gaia Awakens?


An article in Reality Sandwich  supports my view (here and here that Occupy could represent an awakening of consciousness. Oddly named writer OddEdges references first an experiment by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang of USC and second an article in ScienceDaily, both of which scientifically prove that, contrary to Capitalist fictions of homo economicus, humans are hard-wired for cooperation and morality. OddEdges also reports on a Wall Street Journal article that brain-damaged people “with an impaired ability to experience emotions” prove to be better investors than undamaged people. OddEdges sums up the conclusions:

In short, society and civilization have become a series of potentially terricidal risks, which is a product of the current socioeconomic religion that is managed by dysfunctional HAL 9000s in grotesque three-piece megasuits. Therefore, what we could be witnessing through Occupy may be an ethically motivated bio-psycho-social response to a systemic-process that is being perceived as a threat to the collective organism. It is an international demonstration of repulsion.
Organisms naturally want to live and they will do so in cooperative and moral ways, unless they are brain-damaged. Thus, when environmental factors that are toxic enter into an organism’s sphere of circumstance and threaten its very existence, the organism responds. What was probably overlooked by the people who have been cheerfully profiting off of planetary and social devastation is the natural response mechanism of its denizens. And the landscapes of distraction that typifies the cosmopolitan today may not be powerful or convincing enough when the collective organism begins to feel its very life is in danger.

OddEdges goes on to note that the Internet is “the champion psycho-technological development in our species’ history.” As neuron and dendrite, the Internet connects atomized consciousnesses into a single or multifariously connected metaconsciousness, or “a new psychological calamity.” We are, OddEdges demonstrates, moving from self-awareness to collective-awareness, with the Internet as the “unifying force.” 

Hindsight may prove twenty-twenty. Notions of evolving consciousness may be nothing more than New Age hype. Or climate change, a global pandemic, or World War III may sweep humanity from Gaia's surface. But if we survive the converging crises with our technology intact, we may indeed be living witnesses to an evolutionary leap.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

History is Dead. . . Long Live History


In “A Leaderless Revolution. . . Or, Gaia Awakens?” I paraphrased Neil Shubin’s explanation of how single-celled organisms can suddenly combine into multicellular ones when confronted by a predator. I wondered along with Daniel Pinchbeck if “atomized consciousnesses are coming together to form a global consciousness.” I suggested that technology change, not a predator, could cause such a phase-shift in consciousness.

After sitting on that concept for a day, I realized that a predator does exist: the Global 1%.

The Global 1% is a lifeforce-eating, planet-wrecking pollution generator. As nemeses of the human race go, the inhuman 1% rivals most creatures of science fiction—Predator, Aliens, Daleks, H.G. Wells’ Martians. In fact, the only creature more frightening than the Global Capitalist is Michael Ende’s The Nothing, a force which consumes the universe and leaves empty space in its wake.

This vampiric 1% overcame its final obstacle to global domination when the first pick-axe cracked the Berlin Wall. At that time, Francis Fukuyama proclaimed that the fall of the Soviet Union marked the “End of History.” Fukuyama’s conclusion was correct, but his premises were flawed. History is not a vector but a circle. Its end is also its beginning. 

History is Dead. 

Long Live History.

Traffic

Before the car door flattened him, the bike messenger swore he'd never drive. Now his Honda Accord idles in stalled traffic. Stitched along a line of brake lights, his car is a single scale on a steel serpent that straddles the horizon and swallows its own tail. As greenhouse heat gathers, freon cools his skin.

Concrete blood has seized the American Uroboros. A final spasm injects into its veins synthetic stone, crushed seashells, and shale. Time passes. The serpent lies silently, scales tough as bark on a petrified fir. No parasites feast on the stone flesh. Bodies trapped behind windshields have long since dissolved.

A vulture circles, drawn not by the stench—there is none—but by the sudden shape, coiled like a firework snake, carbon black and stiff, one vast and legless trunk. Wind shear shapes the sands beneath—ripples wavelets, dunes of dust.



This triptych first appeared in Dark Mountain issue #1.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Leaderless Revolution. . . Or, Gaia Awakens?


Wael Ghonim, author of Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People is Greater than the People in Power, spoke with Steve Inskeep on Morning Edition about the Tahrir Square Revolution. Inskeep questioned Ghonim’s claim that “this revolution has no leader,” arguing that many people played leadership roles—such as writing, speaking and organizing—in midwifing the Egyptian Revolution. Ghonim answered:
I think this is not leadership. When I say a leader, it means that directs the revolution, where it should be going. Before the revolution came, what we were doing is increasing the awareness and calling people to action. What we did was calling for, you know, massive process that turns into the revolution on the 25th.

That doesn't, you know, give me the title of leadership, because at the end of the day I don't - you know, I did not - and I would have not been able to take charge and tell people what to do and negotiate on behalf of them.

The fact that there is no leader is evident on the floor. There are so many people that have done extraordinary efforts and that have sacrificed. There are so many people that have died, but there was no clear leadership that made decisions on behalf of the people.
Ghonim’s eloquent differentiation between working toward a revolution and leading it got me to thinking about the possibilities of truly leaderless action. 

It’s become a cliché that Occupy is a leaderless movement. Although a number of dedicated individuals have worked tirelessly to make it happen, no one has arisen to a credible position of leadership. Despite desperate GOP claims to the contrary, Occupy is not “Obama’s advance team," nor is it a pressure wing of the Democratic Party. It is nothing if not cosmic energy blooming from a cryptic anti-advertising meme planted by Adbusters. It is an idea whose time had come.



The question remains, is the “leaderless revolution” a convenient myth or does it represent a radically new form of organizing consciousness? 

If it is just a convenient myth, then clear leaders will emerge. Should they exercise any real power, they will be flipped, arrested, bought off, or assassinated. If, on the other hand, Occupy represents an evolutionary leap, then perhaps we are truly witnessing Gaia’s awakening. Are we witnessing a reorganization of consciousness?

In 2012: Return of Quetzalcoatl, Daniel Pinchbeck suggests that indeed atomized consciousnesses are coming together to form a global consciousness:

It is my thesis that the rapid development of technology and the destruction of the biosphere are material by-products of a psycho-spiritual process taking place on a planetary scale. We have created this crisis to force our own accelerated transformation—on an unconscious level, we have willed it into being. Human consciousness, the sentient element of this Earth, is in the process of self-organizing to a more intensifed state of being and knowing—what the Russian mystic G.I. Gurdjieff called a ‘higher octave.’ When the Hopi talk of a Fifth World, or the Aztecs anticipate a Sixth Sun, when St. John foresees the descent of the Heavenly City or New Jerusalem, they are describing the same thing: a shift in the nature of consciousness.
Such rapid exponential change is not uncommon in evolution. In Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body, Neil Shubin describes an “arms race” that broke out among ancient fish: the survival strategy was “get big, get armor, or get out of the water.” He also shows how bodies might have evolved from single-celled organisms as a way to prevent getting eaten. Shubin looks at an experiment that shows rapid evolution in response to certain stimuli. Martin Boraas introduced a predator into a petri dish filled with single-celled alga. It took only a few years before the alga clumped into multicellular organisms

If animated matter can so rapidly join into more complex forms in response to stimuli, how might consciousness similarly evolve? Perhaps the new stimulus is not a predator but a rapid and democratized communications technology that borders on telepathy. Our era has witnessed the invention of the flashmob and the near crash of Twitter after Michael Jackson’s death. This is no laughing matter. Within days of Michael’s ascendance into the celestial neverland, the Internet erupted with tribute videos.

Here we see septuagenarians grooving to Billie Jean. 



Here Filipino prisoners dance to Thriller



What is the rapid global communication of Twitter, Facebook, cell phones, text messaging, videoconferencing, etc., if not the connective tissue of what threatens to be a new species of human? Are conditions ripe for a next-level consciousness to arise? Is it possible that we no longer need leaders? Is Gaia once again awakening?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Truth Vigilantes


We live in the Era of the Neologism. How many new words or radically new meanings have erupted from new media volcanoes? LulzSec, Occupy, unfriend, Obamunist. Feel free to add your own in the comments section.

“Truth Vigilante,” the latest incisive word to pop from the Interwebs, comes from Arthur Brisbane, The New York Times’ public editor. It could just as easily come from Steven Colbert or from The Onion. In a column that has been universally denounced, Brisbane seeks “reader input” about the wisdom of journalists “challeng[ing] ‘facts’ that are asserted by newsmakers they write about.” In other words, if the reporter catches a politician or CEO in a bald-faced lie, do reader expectations (to say nothing of journalistic ethics) require the reporter to call out the lie in print?

One example Brisbane uses is Mitt Romney’s insistence that President Obama has been “apologizing for America” to those scurrilous social democrats running Godless and anti-capitalist Europe into the ground. Needless to say, Romney’s words are at best a distortion and at worst a strategic lie. 

Brisbane asks "Is it possible to be objective and fair when the reporter is choosing to correct one fact over another?" Apparently, Brisbane worries that to correct one lie would require The Times to correct all lies. What a travesty! 

Brisbane also asks whether news reporters should have the freedom of op-ed columnists to "call out what he thinks is a lie." A quick review of the comments section suggests a number of methods for drawing attention to the lie without risking journalistic objectivity by mutating reporting into "advocacy" journalism, analysis or commentary. The reporter need only follow the lie with the following statement of fact: "A LexisNexis search of the President's statements reveal no case of the president using the word 'apologize' or any of its synonyms in any European speech." The reporter could also ask the Romney campaign to support its claim with evidence. The reporter could weigh the campaign's evidence to see if its interpretation of the president's words were in fact justified. If not, the reporter should not allow the quote to appear without a caveat. All of these methods could effectively challenge lies without jeopardizing the journalist’s credibility.

After the Judith Miller and Jayson Blair controversies, The Times can ill afford much more crisis of credibility. Yet in our age of tattered authority, Brisbane scores an own-goal. It’s a foregone conclusion that readers no longer trust most news sources. The Times, through Judith Miller, helped lead the US into the Iraq War . CNBC cheer led the financial sector into ruin. Fox News consistently misleads and misinforms its viewers. Lazy or dishonest news sources routinely repeat lies by politicians and business leaders as if their words should be trusted simply because of their hallowed positions in our corrupt and rapidly de-democratizing society. A conspiracy theorist might suspect a more diabolical undercurrent. 

But this post adds little to the conversation. After all, many Internet commentators have more eloquently made these points. My anger notwithstanding, I want to thank Brisbane for carving out a linguistic slot for plutocracy-serving MSM “news.” Brisbane draws a line in the Establishment sand. Any journalist who corrects a politician’s or a CEO’s lies will henceforth be known by the deplorably newspeak phrase “Truth Vigilante.” As J-school grad commented (on 12 Jan. 2012 @ 2:12 pm):
I also think "Truth Vigilante" is a great sort of Orwellian phrase - ah, so now someone who bases their thinking on facts and confronts people knowingly spreading falsehoods with factual information to the contrary isn't just an "honest person", they're a Truth Vigilante. Next stop - Truth Terrorist.
With rhetorical ju jitsu, Brisbane stains honest journalists everywhere with the shameful and wrong-minded actions of union-busting thugs or Charles Bronson clones. At that, let us now praise famous men, in particular Woody Guthrie. The following video depicts Truth Vigilantes as they descend upon Mitt Romney, as metaphorized by a shiftless crowd.




Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some Writing

Please forgive my absence. I've been working on other projects.

In the meantime, my story "Fire Blossom" has appeared in The Monongahela Review

Also, three triptychs have appeared under the title "Dead Metal" on Glasschord.