An Essay on the Modern Problem of Living

As the old fears creep in, the tendrils of the mystical, the totally preserved anxieties of the ancient mystery religions transported into the present day, we question the foundations of our society. The pre-Christian terrors, the primeval fears of a world where we have all the complexity of raw phenomenon and experience, but with no notion of divine footing. This presents the essence of the modern problem – the world is more complex than ever before, which should lead to a flourishing, and yet it is only leading to fear.

The mystery can either be good or bad depending on the situation of the ego. The mystery is fluid, mercurial. It is the radical transformation of gender, the normalization of androgyny, the fantastic aesthetic elements of anime, the depraved and sublime dark comedy of 4chan and the internet’s gutters, and the deluge of perpetual news about a celebrity who translated marketing bravado into statecraft, and runs the most powerful empire in human history out of a country club in Florida.

The mystery is all these things and the threat of automation, the loss of nationhood, the loss of sovereignty, the pathetic attempts of austerity movements that promise sovereignty, the chaos of the political, personal and economic spheres all colliding and becoming an affirmation of the same basic ideas of unchanging and cyclical pain. But there is no going back. Once you see that we are at the tipping point of centuries of man’s blind faith in reason, and that all the old myths and the dying father are not enough for the whole future, that scientific rationalism has taken us to a place much riper for nihilism than the sheer confidence of church-state collusion, there is no going back. Instead of the Catholic Church, there is corporate-state collusion, and where the church once provided belief in higher selves implicit in the world, the corporate-state world provides no aesthetic, no pretense to divinity, no hope, only an enclosed material loop that resembles a nightmare.

The central questions of existence remain unanswered. And it is no easy thing to state them, but to my nearest approximation, I consistently return to a handful of questions that I see as the root of our suffering, the most painful core of our separation from fulfilling lives, but also questions that represent intractable situations which modern wisdom cannot even pretend to answer. My central questions are as follows:

Do we belong on this Earth, or is consciousness a stranger here? Are we conscious, reflecting beings only to follow nature’s dictates of our own free will, or must we rebel against its plans and create our own values? Is God a force that comes from outside the universe, or is God the universe itself, present everywhere, inside the world, self-contained? Where do our thoughts, and our reflective, creative powers, originate from? Do thoughts, ideas and archetypes shape us, or have we invented them? Have we created our symbols to navigate the world, or are our symbols impressed within us by nature, like genetic heritage? If we have created our symbolic life, can we create a new one, ruled by new symbols? Is it more righteous to accept the world and improve yourself, or to reject the world and focus outward? In the final analysis, is the God of the Old Testament, a cruel teacher, punisher of man for the sake of great development and eventual reward, our divine heritage, or a test to break free from? Must we burn our old world to create a new one, like we burn our old selves and resurrect our personality from the flames?

These questions all seem to me to be restatements of the same larger question: is God or Lucifer the hero of the story of creation? Is the serpent who presents the fruit of knowledge our true advocate, and our plunging into history, our creation of a man-made world that rejects the rules of nature, our true goal? And if this is our goal, is there free will? And of course, the very fact that we must ask this question, “is there free will”, is a source of great nihilism. When your ideas are in total opposition to your lived experience, you are necessarily a compromised being. There is no truth left in you. When you, who make decisions, are told by modern neuroscience to question your own free will, it creates a sense of fear that no philosophy can erase. It is akin to telling a black person, that despite their lived interpretation and analysis of their living conditions, that they have suffered no institutional racism, and only have themselves to blame. When the world of ideas contradicts the world of experience, the ground cracks beneath us. There is no ground anymore for being.

In the sciences, ideas contradict experience. We are told that our own consciousness, our own perception, our own exceptional ability to reflect upon the fact that we are seeing and breathing and feeling and suffering and enjoying, is a less real phenomenon than subatomic structures which hold no meaning, no reflection, no ability for creative genesis, no talent, no intelligence and no perception. If everything that we are and have ever felt is less real than the neurons and physical pathways of our material brains, then surely there is no value to individual life. Surely it seems not worth living, that it is only an illusion, a mirage over a crude material reality of charge, spin, attraction and repulsion. This ‘Science makes the world beautiful’, this shallow refrain of materialists such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, or Richard Dawkins, or even the great Carl Sagan, is not taken to its fullest conclusions. In the final analysis of their worldview, we are meat machines who are orphaned by a world that has imbued us with a longing for something that is false, a longing embedded in a mode of existence that is false and circumstantial, and that our notion of ‘truth’ is never absolute, and only a convenient manifestation of the searching tools used by a computational brain to find new watering holes. Why faith is a concept that exists in the universe at all, in all its paradoxical implications, or hunger strikes for the sake of ephemeral ‘values’ are possible in the minds of apes, is merely an accident. In this worldview, the entire ‘great work’ of writing and thinking about being simply has no value. There is no destination, only a self-justifying circle. It leads us to the postmodern hell. If values themselves are an accident of being that reflect no real truths, only convenient tools for survival, representing the cunning serpent and not at all the elucidation of martyrdom and the sun, then scientific materialism devours itself and creates relativism, just as Christianity once devoured itself to create scientific materialism. The ideology of science rejects values by definition – they are not material. You cannot cut open a brain and discover values. The symbolic order transcends matter. Ah! Finally, the truth I have long been prodding at, hoping to break loose. My confession of my own beliefs: that the symbolic order transcends matter. The realm of numbers, myths, music and images transcends the realm of crude neurons and prefrontal cortexes, which exist in a different realm entirely than the realm of symbol, which is the realm of spirit, because our symbols for the spirit are our only present understanding of what spirit is. Accordingly, our notions of the spirit evolve, but is spirit static or does it evolve with them, watching us through the glass, a shapeshifter that responds to our thinking and becomes what we are? We are so naked and defenseless against the spirit. Our articulations, through stories, songs, poetry and speeches, are all we have to comprehend the spirit outside of raw feeling.

The spirit is the main contention of this age. Does it rest upon a mess of unfeeling matter, or infinite subjectivity, or is it something real and objective that exists outside the world? Perhaps all three, in some unholy trinity. Is the spirit capable of making decisions, inside matter, as the free will, outside of crude physical causation, outside the cage of all conscious decisions emerging from a synapse or a brain mechanism, a fantasy that leads neuroscientists to reject free will as an impossibility because all the physical world must be self-enclosed, and can allow no meddling by something as unknown as ‘spirit’ or ‘will’? Indeed, free will is incompatible with the scientific worldview. But if there is no free will, there is surely no meaning in life. At least, there is no meaning in the choices of faith, the choices of one’s career, the choices of how one spends their time, how one lives, what one believes, what one says…there is no meaning in life if there is no meaning in these choices. Notice I have excluded love, because it is never a choice. But maybe these were never choices in the first place, and merely expressions of God’s will. This determinism is the final resting point of both science and religion. The only difference is whether it is material or spiritual determinism. If science cannot apprehend how a brain makes a choice, if choice is the determined causal machinations of brain alone, then the spirit is denied, its will is denied, its values are an illusion, its discovery of objective mathematics was also the stumbling upon of a great useful hallucination, and science is the study of Maya, a world of illusion, of veils, of total falsehood.

Science plunges us into the mystery like nothing else. And this is why science has failed its purpose – to establish reason and scientific reasoning as the final ideology of history. And of course, it is irrefutable that Christianity created modern science. It was the Christian concept of logos, the Christian concept of immortal truth, of articulated logical truth, which was worth pursuing, the Christian foundations of systematic rational theology which became systematic rational science. It was the movement of Descartes, who had thought of spirit and self and soul as a shorthand for the Christian God, and defined it all as outside of the physical world, in his painful dualism, and narrowed the study of science purely to mechanistic things, like everything in the world that was not self, soul and God. Descartes defined thoughts and values as outside of the natural world, and as of the 17th century, had created the foundations for modern science. The objective and descriptive nature of science, not tainted by human subjectivity, symbols and values, was science’s claim to supremacy. And yet it was only because of Christian categorizing that modern science was ever able to be defined in this way. Soul and self were in the same category of God, and so were of no matter to science. They remain of no matter to science.

Christianity, in Descartes, sowed the seeds for the death of everything spiritual, subjective, and metaphysical. It was the accursed dualism which creates scientific materialism, and now scientific materialism places us back in the pre-Christian era – in total mystery. We are surrounded by dark matter and dark energy that we cannot understand. We are not ourselves, but phantoms without will conjured up out of the Earth, nothing but nervous systems on a bad ego trip. The philosophy of modern science is totally this dark, pre-Christian mystery religion, which affords us only systemic knowledge of an arcane world of physical, molecular, atomic interactions that exist outside of our perceptions, but are the source of all true reality. It is downright esoteric.

What, other than mysticism, is the source of reality? We have always lived in the mystery, only the history of competing structures of ideas, like Christianity and reason, markets and Marxism, have made us pretend that the final footing has been found, and now living a life in service of the True Ideology is all that is left. An advocate for reason, an advocate for nationalism, an advocate for the church, or an advocate for free trade, all these priesthoods are embarrassed and unclothed before the chill of their own ultimate shortcoming. There is no absolute Truth, there never was. There was no Yahweh, there was no rational materialism that put to bed the true nightmare of asking the question: from where do our values arise? Where do we see what is and conceive of a possible future, and posit what could be? Where is this notion of ‘becoming’ in the minds of apes, who have become digital shamans of industrial catastrophe where once we were apes gathering food in the plains of untamed chaos?

All answers for the mystery fall short. And yet, it is undeniable that there is a genuine mystery, and not merely a mistake of terms. There is a real, honest-to-God problem at the core of all this. There is something rational. There is not formless postmodern anxiety. There are rules to this thing, only the true rules will appear to us as cliffsides from the mist, approaching sailors gazing anxiously, who thought they had conquered all the world only to see that their problems were more complex than any of their ancestors had ever known. The level of complexity, too, has increased with time.

What is the point of individuals, seven billion of them? Why so many infinite renditions even among people of similar archetypes? Why are there now so many individuals, and with the digital world of the Internet, why are these individuals now composing a hive mind? Why has our individuality seemingly been ushered more and more internal, expressible only in more ironic and painful terms, suppressed and more profound and painful than ever before, as Dionysus predicted when he emerged from Nietzsche’s soul as a daemon at the end of Beyond Good and Evil?

Why is the entire world now a pressure cooker, a massive splintering, an era of chaos and a sense of profound loss, of burning bridges, of people who find it harder than ever to articulate their problems, because their problems are more immense and myriad than any generation prior has ever known? The more history that piles up beneath us, the more expectations rise for the future of the journey. The pile we sit on is impossibly large, and yet, no individual truly feels they can be fulfilled by it anymore. It is a lie simply to become a Christian and call the problem solved. In its dying days also is the satisfaction in merely studying the canon, the great work, and praising the Greeks as the perpetual source. All the old myths are not enough, and yet paradoxically, they are also the rooting we need. Everywhere, the dialogue between two ideas burns itself quickly, leaving neither alive. Competing notions kill each other prematurely and do not develop. We need to revive the past, but in an entirely new context, an entirely new aesthetic, a new understanding. We need to break totally with the past while keeping it with us as the source of all our strength. But who is this ‘we’? And do I not speak of the horrors of Bolshevism? What wisdom to take with us? What wisdom to condemn as detrimental and abandon? Because there is great wisdom in pessimistic and anti-human statements. “You have to accept the world before you can change it,” is itself an insane contradiction, a parody. And yet I believe it. Contradictions, religious paradoxes, appear more attractive than ever. Perhaps because they provide concrete footing while being honest about the mystery. Perhaps that ‘maybe’, that flexibility, is the truth we need to navigate these times. An adventurer’s spirit, loose from fear, seeking only the future without believing that the past is impoverished and needs replacing. When articulation swallows itself, and there is nothing more to say, what then? We must act, but how hard should we think about every single movement, every motion? We cannot make these motions with faith until we understand what it is that we place our faith in.

Many today stress the importance of “mindfulness” or of “being present mentally at all times”. But this is the falsest and most bitter balm of them all. Living entirely in the moment, in the present, without anxiety, without wracking doubt and fear, is a yearning for the world before the Fall, a desire to Eden before knowledge, the desire to become a grazing herd animal or a primordial man that acts upon what it sees, feels and breathes, and does not engage in self-reflection as a habit and a matter of course. The desire to take the world as it is, to be present in it and not seek anything beyond, is a pathetic desire for the state of animality, a happy dog hopping around on a summer day. This too demeans our values, and pretends that our perpetual thinking and articulation about our values is a largely unnecessary source of pain. I can think of nothing as philistine as this, as considering the mind a nuisance to be silenced, particularly when it screams at you the loudest, in situations of anxiety or doubt.

And yet revelation and faith are immediate perceptions. They are not challenged by the infinite wrangling worm of self-doubt and delusion. Knowledge that appears through immediate perception, intuition, is simultaneously the highest function of the artistic consciousness but also our closest function to base animal instinct. Is the mass of our unconscious mind a biological tar pit of old ape ideas, or an illuminated source of being emanated through our brains and hands? Is God a chaos demon or a creative source of order? Are the chaos demon and the angel of order the same being? Are we merely, in the Greek formulation, “the playthings of the Gods”? And yet, with our will, are we supposed to pick sides among the Gods, and create our own values?

To move forward, you have to acknowledge where you are. Millennials have avoided doing this. We do not take stock of our unique historical situation because the platitudes of the ancestors have rendered us passive, or merely as receptors of a project that does not need our input. It needs our input, our lived experience, badly. Our contradictions, our paradox, our casual existential attitude of the disposable sublime. We are in the era of bondage, or mystery, of the tightly-woven chains we must ease our way out of. The mystery will unfold in all its beauty. It must. It has been nourished for billions of years. But we are standing still, or regressing, as a species right now. We are in the mystery that casts our hopes for both internal and external order as alien, and global and spiritual chaos as our home. This cruel God has much to teach us, and we have much to say.

Never stop thinking of these problems, and your experiences, and never pretend that the mystery isn’t real. The mystery is all we have. It has never been touched, only circled.

DAMN: When Prophets Become Pessimists

Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN is a product of its times, for better or for worse.

To Pimp a Butterfly was an epic, a relentless drama about internal struggle that culminated in rap’s ideal, Tupac Shakur, announcing blood, death and riots as America’s self-consuming future.

Mortal Man, the final track from To Pimp a Butterfly, ends on a tragic note. Kendrick Lamar’s theory of self-destructive and spiteful caterpillars becoming higher beings, higher souls that are actually one with the caterpillar, is met with silence. His idol is dead. There is no final verdict on his ideas. He is left with the desire to be remembered like Nelson Mandela, with a country that is failing, because the entire Enlightenment has failed and Western civilization is a collapsing tower five-centuries in the making. It is no wonder that millennials experience such bad conscience in the modern world. We are living simultaneously between two impossible moments.

One of these impossible moments is the redefinition of language and communication itself via the internet and digital reality. Some have compared the emergence of the internet to the printing press. I disagree. It is much more like the invention of language itself, and its developments over the next quarter-century will indicate this over and over again. There is no Donald Trump without constant bombardment of information, the great whelming, the surge of a muscled limb in one heaving direction, and its immediate collapse upon realizing it has nowhere to go. Within Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, we are this aimless limb motivated to scroll for hours at a time, gaining virtually nothing but a deepening sense of impotence in return. Junk data, useless information, has become life itself. Or at least, that is the veneer spread over life, by social media, in particular the false worlds, the Maya, where we spend our time and invest our prospects for friendship, ideology and careers.

The total re-wiring of the plastic brain would be enough for one generation to deal with, but we are also living through the failure of the Enlightenment, concretized in a civilization that is burning itself alive with carbon dioxide, a withering wounded beast arguing feverishly against the walls that its best days are ahead. When Trump says we will reach 4% growth, he is a liar in the same way that Francis Fukuyama and Hillary Clinton are liars, that a splintering feudalistic market economy that is inspiring bitterness and hatred toward the world unlike anything we’ve seen before in this century, could somehow be redeemed and made into prosperity and Christian good faith. It is asinine. The Enlightenment has led to a society of managers, efficient systems experts who hang beautiful decorum around hollow metal frames. The reality of a poverty-stricken death-worshiping America, from police shootings to medical bankruptcy to the pure spite required to vote for a man like Donald Trump, is incoherent to those who see in our burial ground a city on a hill. This spite has real origins, and is fostered by our digital removal from the world and the gamut of daddy’s money and unpaid or temporary work that is required to land even a decent-quality job.

In this great age, the collapse of any pretense to an enlightened rational society, and the acceleration of digital media to the point of sheer blindness, hip-hop has become the spirit of the times. Kendrick Lamar, as hip-hop’s most commercially successful and artistically revered representative, is the leading artist of this great dying-off of centuries of imperial ambition. He is the voice of America meeting its end. He is the great poet who chronicles the dawning of reality upon the empire, and speaks his epic stories in the most popular mode of art that is most intuitive to these times.

Straddling two eras, immersed in darkness with no understanding of what the horizon could possibly look like, Kendrick Lamar is the voice of the blind. How does he follow up his last album, which was an epic? By reducing scope and scale. By trafficking in darkness and grit where the orchestral and sublime has already been done. So with this foreground, DAMN is like a nihilistic thriller.

I am unsure how seriously we are to take the voicemail at the end of FEAR. It is not ambiguous in its meaning. But its meaning is monstrous. The voicemail, left from a preacher to Kendrick Lamar at the end of the crowning song on the album, argues the ultimate canard, the cruelest idea possible – that black people suffer because they have moved away from the Ten Commandments, and have brought God’s plagues upon themselves.

What is anyone supposed to say to such insanity? Why has Kendrick Lamar not been asked about this? Is this voicemail simply meant to indicate the ultimate form of weakness, which becomes pure wickedness? Or does Kendrick think so little of human beings that he actually sees this message as timely and profound?

If FEAR is about damnation, then Kendrick is on damnation’s side. If he honestly believes that racism is a cosmic curse from Yahweh that Godless black people have brought upon themselves, then he is truly insane. Kendrick fails to imbue his notion of God with anything substantial. The song, GOD, following this message of damnation, is an airy song that asks and says nothing. It is totally insufficient as a follow-up to such a human-hating idea raised in the preceding voicemail. So what is going on here?

An artist can be defined as a person who suffers multiple voices. Their minds are never settled, and each thought speaks for the synthesis of a dozen ideas, and each synthesis is only a droplet in the pool of potential thousands. There are countless voices that demand expression. It seems, then, that the hateful, angry, doubtful and skeptical voices are what capture our current age. The impulse of the negative has overpowered the impulse of the positive by magnitudes, and for good reason. The world right now is filled with negatives, obviously, but the problem is that positive alternatives are absent. The absence of anything to fight for is the reason for the triumph of negative thinking. The world is always shrouded in darkness, but at least certain peoples and certain times have held hopes of God, or faith, hope, light, and perseverance in the name of a higher cause. The existence of any higher cause is currently absent, or in the worst case, converted into another tormentor, a curser of peoples, a Demiurge.

The final track, DUCKWORTH, is about a miracle. Kendrick Lamar’s entire career exists only because of a miraculous meeting between two men who were each a criminal and a cashier, and who by all laws of matter should have killed one another. But if miracles are mere chance, then Kendrick’s entire artistic output is also in flux, a contortion of fate that had no essential purpose. There was no cosmic difference between orphanage and death or artistic ambition and success. Therefore, it must be a miracle, and not left up to chance, that Kendrick was able to have a career in the arts at all.

The end of the album loops back to its beginning, telling us that Kendrick has been killed, and all the songs we have heard were just phases of a dying leader’s thoughts, or of a hero facing death. His last thoughts were furious, resentful, rebellious, fearful that a traitor lived within his own soul, that the myriad voices of the artistic self would betray them, that pure chance was all that saved his life, that the world is mortally rotten to the core, and that FEAR, LUST, PRIDE, “poison” in his DNA are all more distinctive and powerful than bland and aimless cliches like LOVE.

The album is an exhibition of atrocities, a self contorted against itself, and thus it is a pure representation of the present moment. It is purely descriptive art, describing the state of the self in 2017, at the great crossroads of the decline of Western civilization, where bloodless centrist neo-liberalism and vicious austere pseudo-populism are the two corrupted forces we may choose from. It is damnation, a description, a representation of fact.

But there are two forms of art. Descriptive, and visionary. DAMN is profoundly descriptive, yet its vision of the future is lacking. Kendrick Lamar’s next album must take many years, and it must be visionary. Death and damnation have been given their due. All great artists must provide the hope of what is next, and what will only come into being perhaps fifty or a hundred years in the future. All great artists are able to glimpse into that future, and those glimpses are what motivate us to move forward through shadow.

The world dies and is reborn constantly. Human beings die and are reinvented multiple times over the courses of their lives. Let us accept DAMN as an accurate description of the self against itself, but a shell to be molted and surpassed.

Circling Around Chaos

So you’ve been wronged, screwed, born upside-down, the world is a pale shade of what it should be, and your own internal development is stagnating and festering like sitting water. You’re not wrong about any of this. The denial of this suffering is impossible in a world where responsibility exists.

Responsibility for oneself implies loss. If you are not responsible for yourself, you will lose yourself, and become a smeared mirage of what you could be, of what you want to be. This is the fate that exists for everybody…potentially.

Every person on this planet could, at any moment, convince themselves that they are doomed. Chaos, at any moment, can emerge from order. The truths that you’ve made for yourself could, with the sheer return of a chaotic memory, a regret, a lasting wound, fault or injury, collapse instantaneously and leave you only with a clasping pool of self-doubt. Order is always susceptible to chaos. Nothing can ever change this fact. No cult, no religion, no ideology, no politics. Your beliefs are always vulnerable. And for thinking people, who base their lives upon their cherished beliefs, your identity is also vulnerable. If you believe nothing, then chaos ferments only in pain. But if you believe in a great many things, then chaos can slip into view through any channel, through a thought you cannot make sense of, that cannot be interpreted in any satisfactory way. These thoughts are infinite. There are, at any given time, an infinite number of debilitating thoughts that if internalized, would destroy your life. This is the chaos of being, and all the structures of yourself, which we call order, exist to maintain life above the sweltering sea of all we cannot face.

With too much order, we become fools. Rigid, cocksure where we ought to be dubious, singular and precise to the point that we lose any sight of others whatsoever. But we are responsible for creating order in our own lives. If our order is passed down to us, or absorbed entirely through our peers, recommended canons, or another person’s structure of order, we become a corollary to their world and both stake our fates on the same mast. This can be beautiful, but in the digital age, too disastrous to hitch one’s being to another. Only in solitude does genuine order emerge, and it is elusive, unknowable until it shows itself, buried beneath the surface, just like chaos.

Good can emerge from evil, and evil can emerge from good. There is no other source possible. Likewise, chaos and order always emerge from one another. Desiring an escape from this process is desiring escape from reality itself. It’s desiring non-being. It’s suicidal depression.

The chaotic self, the shadow, the beast with a thousand names, can never be hacked off from the flesh of the soul and cast in the forgotten heap of history. History itself is the story of this shadow. It must be integrated properly into the self, and each self properly responsible for its own evil is capable only then of facing the world. Responsibility is the only salvation from the all-consuming rationalizations of the shadow, the reasons why you are doomed, why you are not enough, why your life was a mistake. These thoughts are not false! They merely present a choice!

You, at every instant of your existence, are suspended above a chasm of infinite loss or painful and incremental gain. Taking responsibility for that condition is what it means to become a master of life.

Suicide is forfeiting the finite gain of hard-won being for the infinite loss of non-being, and the joy of rejecting chaos and evil forever. Indeed, suicide is the only way to create a world free from these monstrous forces. But it is all freedom from. The freedom to approach is won only through responsibility for the finite gain present in every single situation you face as a human being.

You can convince yourself through perfect logic that infinite loss is the better option. That it simply is not worth it, that the pain is too great. I convince myself of this a thousand times per day. But that does not mean I turn permanently from the sun. I merely take a break, and the vow to return is the only reason to live at all. We all need breaks, of course. No human being can permanently take responsibility for infinite loss at every instant of every day.

But you build momentum. Your soul is imprinted with the weight of your decisions. If every glint of the overpowering sun is met with a turning away, a glancing into shadow, you have made a decision. These decisions accumulate in the slow grind of time that generates finite gain. Forfeiting that potential gain is your own decision, and yours alone. And the truth that we live finally with our own decisions is the most painful of all.

Depression, it must be restated, is a wholly rational state of mind. There is nothing abnormal about it, just as there is nothing abnormal about the presence of evil in the world. But recognize that stating a case and defending your values are two entirely different things. Never rationalize the state of the world or the mind through ‘normalcy’. All horrors are normal. Chaos is the undifferentiated default state, and the logos, the conscious mind, often uses its exceptional reason to reaffirm chaos. This twisting is the source of modern misery in thoughtful people.

So do not justify it! Do not justify depression, even though it is the most rational response to life. Yes, you are a meek thing slimed up from primordial waters, a tar-slicked swamp beast, an atrocity. So be it. If you accept the burden of infinite loss, you commit suicide, and reject the burden of being. To justify depression is to commit suicide. But how do I know that the finite gain is worth it? How do I know that any triumph will come to pass? How do I know that all your striving won’t fall flat? I don’t. No one does, and no one can ever change that fact. Being is all you have, and yet being is the most uncertain thing of all. Choosing to live in spite of that is absolutely heroic, and in itself is a religious venture.

Who is to say that the gain is all finite, anyway? Obviously we have biological limits, our genetic code, our brains, our environment. But we don’t quite understand the upward limitations of triumph and transcendence. We know the basest bottom – suicide, which is the execution of internalized chaos, or murder, which is the execution of externalized chaos. That is how bad it can truly get. But how good can it get? What can a world of people who have taken responsibility for their own monstrosity truly become?

Consciousness is a democracy. On its face, it sounds absurd. But the facets of the self, all our hidden beings, shadows and personas, playful fairies, destructive djinns and utopian statesmen are perpetually vying for the approval of the whole. The whole of the mind is under constant tyrannical threat by the multitude of thoughts within it. Each thought wishes to reign supreme, to establish order in its own image. In a democracy, a true democracy, the process is much the same.

The harmonious mind is an assembly of beings brought together in shared representation. A sorted being where no shadows are oppressed, no monsters denied, but given their rightful place among the constituency. All impulses come together and all impulses dictate the direction of the host, the self, the democratic state. But only in a condition of responsibility. Responsibility for the world inner and outer. The denizens of Earth and spirit in tune.

The striving of humankind is the sorting and integration of all facets of the self toward a productive end. A productive end is the aiming toward finite (or infinite) hard-won inner development in the face of the allure of forfeiting responsibility. It is the project of Nietzsche, Jung and the existentialists alike. It is psychology meets the state.

When we can handle ourselves, the world will follow in that image. But the process of internal handling is the wrangling of a snake that at all times lives amongst you, draped upon your body, inseparable, closer to yourself than even your most coveted dreams.
If the serpent of chaos can become your ally in pursuing those dreams, then you are a master of the world.

A note about Cain:

The mythology of Cain is of course the central motivation for this essay. No story so brief has held such deep and lasting implications for the human spirit. Cain has done his work, has taken responsibility for it, and yet his works have been rejected by God. The very being who made him has told him that he is not enough. This is the ultimate crushing of the concept of responsibility, the evocation of all our deepest terrors that we were simply born wrong, incapable of success, made in a false image. When the striver is struck down, he becomes an avatar of malevolent vengeance against creation itself. When your role in the world is denied, that role becomes toxic, inverted, murderous. We see this everywhere in the world today, from a furious unemployed steelworker in Michigan who voted for Donald Trump, for serious and legitimate reasons of betrayal, or a Muslim youth in France turning to crime, also for serious and legitimate reasons of betrayal. A striver denied becomes a gargoyle. Cain murders Abel, successfully acting out his grudge against the world. How could he not? The world doesn’t want him.

In the modern world, Cain is on the rise. The unemployed, the failed artist, the alienated person, these are all incarnations of Cain, not Abel, who attends Harvard and lives the charmed life. The vast majority of people are Cains, and not Abels. Radical questioning of the world can lead to murderous outrage or dissident beauty.

When the world rejects our striving, we transform ourselves, and become Cain surpassed. A Cain who does not take his rejection out on others is the most powerful being in existence. The one rejected by God, who strives anyway, upon new foundations, in unforeseen and chaotic new ways.

On the contrary, Abel is the stagnation of a world rapidly vanishing, the world where economic success is promised in reward for hard work.

Cain is the pathway to something new, if he can manage his murderous shadow.

In our world, torn by the massive roiling infrastructures of technology and spectacle beyond our control, the world of those who can walk upon chaos is seemingly our only possible future. Those rejected by God understand most the truth of the splintering world.
Let us hope that that truth does not scorch them, and render them beasts of hatred who cheer destruction.
Or better yet, let us write of them as the future, whatever they become.

A note about responsibility:

Does life have value? The asking of the question is the admittance of a disease. Life is the only thing there is. Does matter have value over a void? Read my essay “Words for the Times” for my true treatment of this issue. But of course, the answer is yes. The problem is that its burdens are so great that death, in many cases, seems preferable.

The world is exploding with value. Nihilism is ignorance. But most intelligent nihilists become who they are because they cannot engage with value without asserting themselves over it. They cannot take others, and the world, as they are, and without a grand theory of everything, they lapse into rejection of all the world and its pieces. Narcissism!

You have a choice between suicide and life. But if you are serious, you may only choose life. If you reject life, you reject the very thoughts that led you to your present condition. You choose the roiling waters of the deep before the word of God parted them and made of them alienation, outcasts, and sense.

If you are reading these words, you already know too much. Do not pretend that your truth is worth destroying. It is in fact more true than any church has thus far found. And it will lead you to a place, if you can handle it. Where is this place? We do not know. But still, we are responsible for it, just as we are responsible for the unconscious whispering of our innermost dreaming mind.
Both places are equally distant, in that they are omnipresent, and nowhere.

So take responsibility for the ground beneath your feet, and start walking.

If you are in chaos and do not know where to begin, approach the monster within. Voyage into the underworld, face your slime and dogma head-on. And after that, if you still lack direction, plunge into the depths of hell again, and again, until you fight your way out with a new and beautiful gem worthy of expression.

More to come.

“You only live twice…
One life for yourself, and one for your dreams”
-Nancy Sinatra, You Only Live Twice

The Jobs Are Not Coming Back

Jobs are never coming back to the United States. The price of labor, with benefits and wages, is simply too high to compete with international sweatshops. Trump’s worship of business clashes directly with his protectionism. It is an incoherent worldview.

Once Tesla’s self-driving cars become a reality, truck drivers will be the first out of business. They’re all blue-collar Trump supporters, as stereotype would have you. Cab drivers are also out. Once fast food businesses are automated, throw tens of millions more jobs into the ether. What is going to happen to the notion of labor being tied to wages? The world is moving in an inhuman direction, in that humans are no longer needed for most functions. The US has lost 5 million manufacturing jobs since NAFTA, but most of these losses were due to technological expansion and the inevitable march of American labor into no-man’s-land. Venture capital and Wall Street have already destroyed the concept of labor, the dignity of producing something and earning a wage, as those who produce nothing, and gamble, and collect rent, are those who make all major economic gains. That is true of Obama’s faux ‘recovery’ post-2008, where most new jobs were part-time and insufficient, and wealth earned was mostly concentrated at the top. Trump is more like Obama and the Clintons than anyone else. His strategy will be similar – to make the Dow Jones and GDP look great, without admitting that those gains only benefit the white-collar professional class, speculators, and rentiers, such as those who operate the Trump brand, and who have donated to the Clinton foundation for political favors.

A universal basis income (UBI) seems to be the only way out of this dilemma of the future death of labor. Simply by virtue of being born, you are entitled to an apartment, healthcare, food, water, and utilities. This is paid for by the taxation of enormous companies who will inevitably become completely synthesized with international governance. The problem is that there is no future which does not include totalitarianism. As technology advances, the individuality and nuance of the human race will become even more integrated with the stream of digital information, and swept away in its excesses. After all, everyone has the same access to all the information in the world. Everyone is replaceable. There will be a million books published a year, what worth will writers and thinkers such as myself even have? Blue collar jobs will be automated away and the arts will be left to the franchises, to the corporate focus-testers, as they pump out a Rogue One every few days and a self-help Malcolm Gladwell-esque book every week. Every corporation will applaud and promote diversity and kindness. Human language will become newspeak, as terminology such as ‘lit’, ‘extra’, ‘deadass’ will accelerate and form pockets of hyper-stylized and hip humanity incapable of communication outside of their bubbles. Human beings will fracture into digital ponds, separate from one another, united only by the surveillance state coupled with corporate mastery. It will be the polished paradise of total conformity, because no human action will matter. The greatest of art will be seen by only a dozen people while mass culture becomes cheaper and more entertaining, omnipresent. Listicles, corporatized hip-hop, celebrity activism and corporate brands will be the flavor of the human race, permeating all aspects of society and creating a corporate-activist complex that promotes total conformity. And all this has nothing to do with Trump! Trump is the last gasp of an old world. By 2050 Europe will be majority-Muslim. America will be majority non-white. The future still belongs to the diverse-corporate right-leaning center, the world of Cory Booker, Katy Perry, Hillary Clinton and total technocracy coupled with mediocre culture and shallow philosophies. “Diversity is Liberation” read a sign at an anti-Trump rally I attended. Indeed, as Cornel West said, ‘neoliberalism in blackface’ is the future. And of course diversity is our future. The white male ownership of the world is fading, and white identity politics is an attempt to hold on to quicksand. There is no right answer going forward. The right and the left will be absolutely unified, and the name of unification is sleek, polished, corporate obedience delivered via Buzzfeed, MTV, R&B music and the Beyonce twins.

It seems to me that music is the reflection of the cultural soul. Music today, however, is a far-cry from the rock and roll craze of previous decades, of jazz before, swing, and classical. It is not ‘worse’. It is better made and more perfect than ever. It is rather the fact that hip-hop, once a maligned little-known sector of the music world, has become the center of culture, and in a very particular form – trap music, R&B influenced dark, melodic, atmospheric, slow, depressing, nihilistic music. The music of today is not bubbly pop songs nor anything uplifting, like the Clintonite anthem ‘fight song’. Drake himself embodies the spirit of the age. He is slow, depressed, atmospheric, undefined, raw, empty. He is the spokesman of the culture – nihilistic, self-absorbed, moody, incapable of action. But much of this can also be traced to Kanye West, and his 808s and Heartbreak, which could be the title of all popular music. Most pop songs, and the dreaded Halsey, another replaceable artist, also embody the spirit of trap. It is down-tempo, brooding, yearning. Artists represent a pre-existing sound – no artist brings anything irreplaceable to the table. Kendrick Lamar, the only mass culture artist who is constantly viewed as unimpeachable, has receded into the past, of funk and jazz, for inspiration. Donald Glover’s album Awaken, My Love! has also sought the past. Atlanta’s Migos retain energy, but still portray an ultimately nihilistic world. Run the Jewels, one of my favorite hip-hop duos, spit sound and fury that is swallowed in the mediocrity of day-to-day dealings, unable to spark off any new kind of consciousness. It only affirms rebellious progressives who already agree with the duo’s ideas. That’s probably always been the case with political punk music, and will be the case with every political anti-Trump pro-Democrat corporate diversity song soon to emerge, returning once more to the ethos of Cory Booker and Katy Perry. The chorus of pundits demanding Taylor Swift to endorse the Women’s March, or squealing at Beyoncé’s twins as the saviors of humankind before they are even born into their trust funds, affirm how little agency we truly have.

Politics, too, is all about celebrity. Countless journalists worship the Obamas with repulsive zeal, ironically conceiving of Obama as their dad, or Michelle as a queen. The iconography usurps the reality that Barack Obama normalized the post-9/11 militarized police, surveillance state, and dirty wars carried out via drone and executive sleight of the fist. The Presidency was imbued with massive powers for Donald Trump to make use of. And he is extreme, while Obama was tepid, and sought to approach the center. But still, it is easier on the brand-seeking mind to conceive of Obama’s America as Light and Trump’s America as Dark. This ahistorical infantile worldview will only lead to the totalitarianism I have previously described. Celebrity, pop culture, brand and money will all become so synonymous with politics that they cannot be teased apart. They are One. Hence, we follow up the GQ President with the Trump brand. Brands are elected, not people. The most honest root of Trump’s victory is simply an admiration for energy and bravado. That is it. It’s the same emotion as watching Mark Cuban speak authoritatively on a subject. The viewer sees his energy, his confidence, his success, and wants to join in. That’s all Trump is. It’s Tony Soprano sitting at the table. You want to sit down with him and shoot the shit. Have a beer with Bush, cheer on Trump, the ‘dad of the country’. We want a brand to supersede our own individuality every time. The messiness of individuals is not attractive. We prefer the packaged confidence of our ‘better angels’, who are actually our disguised demons. Emotion and technology will inherently produce totalitarianism moving forward.

Finally, I would like to emphasize that Trump is not Hitler. It is funny that mass culture openly considered the autocrat to be a fascist, a Nazi, a white supremacist. 1984, rather than forgotten, is one of the best-selling books on Amazon. How does one fight an abysmal regime when it is already considered a Nazi by half the country? In fact it only clouds and renders more powerless the ‘resistance’, because dissent is co-opted by corporate culture and rendered impotent. Trumpism will be replaced by simple corporate diversity, automation, and technological omnipresence. Coca-Cola will #resist by taking a stand for immigration. If Trump is actually a Nazi, then surely violent revolution is a necessity. But those who advocate for it look absurd. Those edgy Twitter Marxists calling for the punching of Nazis are actually limp-wristed clowns who invite the poison of violence assuming they can actually win once they’ve entered into a blood war with the police state. They and their ideology would be obliterated in any open confrontation with gun-owning Republicans, least of all the hammer of the corporate state. They are living in a fantasy world, transmuting their powerlessness into the cry of “Rise, comrade!”, emphasized in the loathsome chant: “NO TRUMP! NO KKK! NO FASCIST USA!”

Let’s talk about slogans for just a moment. “Make America Great Again” and “Drain the Swamp” were the most brilliant phrases of 2016. They worked more effectively than anything the left could cobble together. “Stronger Together” and “Love Trumps Hate” are just cheap throwaways that could be produced by any mass marketing campaign on social media. They mean nothing. So what are we to think, now, of the phrase: “NO TRUMP! NO KKK! NO FASCIST USA!”?

Celebrities and media companies openly think the US government is run by white supremacists. Orwell is selling off the digital shelves. Allusions to the Holocaust are everywhere. Trump is ‘literally Hitler’ to great chunks of the country, including the celebrity and journalistic worlds. What does this mean? When the fascists of the future are openly called fascists, what follows next?

Powerlessness. That is obviously what follows next. Because the only moral response to Hitler is violent force, and violent force will obviously fail against the American domestic army, and any successful revolution would tear itself apart in the aftermath, incapable of creating a new 1776, the activists of today are left utterly empty-handed. Donate to the ACLU, call your senator, vote in the smallest of elections, and keep driving your car and ordering from That is the recourse. Rally and march to show opposition to Trump, and vote again for the rotten Democratic center in 2018 and 2020. Shift between center-right and extreme right forever. The Tea Party was able to attain major corporate donor support and render the US government almost entirely right-wing. The left, meanwhile, gives its money to charities, corporate Democrats, and advocacy organizations. We cannot punch through the tangled root of our problems. That intersectional molten core, socialist paradise, is for now a dream.

Alex Jones, on the other hand, has a brilliant science fiction novel inside him. In his worldview, the global elite, the technocrats in Bilderberg and Brussels, believe they have been given occult prophecy and will eventually merge with machines, attaining digitized consciousness and transcending humanity, creating off-world colonies while the global poor rot and die on the plundered mass-sewer of a destroyed Earth. On orders from Satan, they run pedophilia rings and pursue transhumanism while the rest of us live in eternal distraction and political impotence.

Many cults and many fragmented pieces of the world will rise and cement their bubbles in the coming years. They will turn inward and reject reason, living in their own emotionally self-fulfilled prophecies because they are exciting narratives that give their lives purpose. Will you or I succumb? In the minds of some others, we are already cultists. We could call it post-truth, but that’s cheap. It’s absolute relativism. The only absolutism is the fragmentation of Truth into thousands of pockets. This is only the beginning. There is no going backward.

Trumpland: Flames and Renewal

The face of empire unmasked, the pomp and circumstance of our illusions rejected.

There’s something to be said for the efficacy of the right versus the trepidation of the left. Obama, elected in 2008 with the most votes of any President ever, had a mandate. And yet, he played to the center of the political spectrum, adopting a corporate medical insurance plan as his signature achievement. Donald Trump, conversely, has played to his extreme right-wing base, firing off executive orders at a breakneck pace to implement his vicious agenda.

What can be said about Donald Trump? During the election, and until his Presidency officially began, I didn’t like writing about Trump. Everything has already been said. He was widely considered a fascist, a white supremacist, Hitler, Mussolini, a Russian rogue in open revolt against the American deep state, you name it. The media jumped the shark, and the more it likened a Trump presidency to an absolute implosion of the government, the more attractive Trump became. Americans were ready to blow up every norm in sight, and the media was the main focus of that warpath, as it was the main defense of the political establishment. Trump skillfully made the American media into his enemy, but that only worked insofar as he was an outsider.

Now that Trump controls the White House, and the drone commanders, and the deportation forces, he is power incarnate. The paradox of power is that when the rebel runs the machine, he becomes it, and must begin to justify it.

In the long-term, the dismantling of that machine, the corporate-political complex, is the only hope for a legitimate government.

One thing is for certain: the election of Donald Trump is the beginning of a new era, an era without illusions. Trump’s total fusion of state and business interests, the essential foundation for fascism, has been the reality in American politics for decades. Trump is simply bringing that swamp to the surface, reveling in it, making himself a caricature of American greed, excess, and right-wing stupidity. He is a massive effigy waiting to be burned. After Obama, the last pretense of dignity that shields empire from critique has been peeled away, leaving only Trump’s scaled orange visage.

The Women’s March on Washington, the largest protest in American history, was the sleeping giant of democracy, dead since the anti-war movement of the early 2000s. Mass movements of the left faded under Barack Obama, unable to resist his emotional and aesthetic appeal, refusing create mass opposition to the corporate state and its empire.

All that has changed. The right-wing has re-instated itself viscerally as Mammon, the avatar of oil companies, robber barons, and rentiers first and foremost. Trump is the shock doctrine, disaster capitalism, the looting and pillaging of the American treasury and the great American landscape alike. Trampling over the Sioux tribe, the great elephant rams through the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the once-dead Keystone XL, resurrecting fossils for transit, GDP, and climate collapse. Trumpism represents infinite material expansion at the cost of endless spiritual decay.

Trump was inevitable. After the banking collapse of 2008, the lukewarm mediocrity of Barack Obama, and the continued concentration of wealth at the pinnacle of a corporate class that finances all politicians and all implemented agendas, a wrecking ball was in order.

Trump as wrecking ball signals an end to the age of pretense, of a clean exterior hiding a horrific reality.

American empire has strived on its pretense of justice, duty and foresight. No longer will anyone be able to pretend that this is the case. The shallow liberalism of figures such as Harvard’s Steven Pinker, who saw in the 21st century a paradise, a Pax Americana, can no longer pretend that their eternal truce was real.

Trump’s inauguration speech was criticized as dark, hopeless and angry. Perhaps that is because reality is dark, hopeless and angry. The milquetoast speeches of Hillary Clinton are shine on the face of a Palestinian corpse. The only honest choice is to admit decadence, as Trump declared the American dream dead during his campaign, and vowed to bring it back.

He won’t bring it back. The machine that he is a part of is incapable of bringing it back. That machine is the contradiction of postmodern democracy, the incapability of capitalism to support democracy, but rather to ensure that the interests of financial elites always triumph over the people.

All sectors of American society are rising to the role of political activism. Trump is the villain the world needs. Rather than the affability and mask of Barack Obama, empire deserves the brutality of Donald Trump. Only in looking past the mask can we see our world for what it truly is. The gift of Trump is the gift of clarity to those who have pretended.

He has broken all taboos, smashed political correctness, and changed the way language and communication works in the 21st century. Will anyone hesitate at ‘socialism’ or ‘social democracy’ after weathering something so absurd as Trump? Trumpism has the potential to radicalize millions of Americans who otherwise would have accepted Clintonism with a sleepy shrug.

Those who experience betrayal and pain are open to change. Those with great hubris unscathed will never change.


“Bougie Knows Best” – The Crisis of Democracy and Subversion, Trump and Brexit

Liberals are the most self-destructive people on the planet. Knowing what makes their opposition tick, they continue to act so insufferably, so disingenuously moralizing from an upper-middle-class pedestal, that Trumpism has been able to masquerade as counterculture. The radical wings of social justice and the middling liberalism of The New York Times are united in their mediocrity, in their contempt for democracy, hatred of the working class, of their snide assumptions that liberals are ‘just smarter’, more educated, more empathetic, and above the idiocies of the masses. The modern liberal craves a managerial class of experts to decide on everything. The rejection of this elitist bureaucracy is such a powerful emotion among the working class that forces such as Brexit and Trump have become completely cultural. The political is now cultural, and in order to be subversive, one must now reject the sensibilities of the upper-middle class, the liberal class, which has failed.

The ‘end of history’, the triumph of Western liberal democracy, has resulted in a violent globalism that created a refugee crisis through wars in Iraq, Lybia and Syria, and now the very same liberals who drive the death of the EU are chastising ordinary people for wanting to leave the EU. Trump, instead of a natural result of late-capitalist fury at the failure of liberal institutions, is being shallowly viewed as purely driven by racism and sexism. The working class are bigots, so says feminism, so says the left. The working class are uneducated and stupid and we, the holders of humanities degrees, we, the readers of The New Yorker, are completely and utterly above them. It is this condescending mindset that makes the modern left utterly appalling to subversive and conservative minds alike, and with a lack of true leftist populists, with the rejection of Bernie Sanders, all the left has is technocracy. Hillary Clinton, the argument from ‘experience’, the argument from imperialism, globalism and rank financial speculation and party corruption over the holding of any principled values. Luminaries such as Theodor Adorno and Hannah Arendt, used to represent the light of the left. They used to expose technocrats, lifeless bureaucracies, insipid thoughtless cogs fighting purely for the status quo and worshipping it for all it is. Now, the left defends the status quo relentlessly. The media and journalistic class believes that European bankers in Brussels, and massive terror watch lists in the United States, are only rejected by uneducated bigots and stupid libertarians. Now the left, in love with cultural policing, language policing, and social self-exaltation, has become a brave new establishment where diversity and feminism are a part of neoliberalism. The left, in 2016, is dead.

#ImWithHer is the cry of gender essentialists who are so beyond reason that Hillary Clinton as an individual, Wall Street funded and unrepentantly hawkish, is considered a gentle alternative to Trump purely because she, in some broken metaphysics, represents the dignity of all women everywhere. What strange theology.

The Obama administration, which illegally bombed Lybia, which funneled guns into Syria, which has bombed seven different Muslim countries, is considered the flagship against the bigotry of Donald Trump. What is worse? Language that denigrates Muslims, or actually murdering thousands of innocent Muslims? For the middle class scolds who say that anyone with a soul MUST vote for Hillary, clearly they think actually KILLING marginalized people is more forgivable than saying mean things about them. And people are confused as to why the guilt-tripping and moralizing of the liberal establishment is failing to gain traction? People are confused why right-wing populism is on the rise?

The Make America Great Again hat is iconic. It is subversive. Wear it in the corridors of power, the New York Times, the capital building, and you look like a rube. The rube, to the out-of-touch media class, is actually the new punk. To be an atheist liberal is trite and boring. To be a Christian anti-globalist right-wing populist is fascinating, dangerous, and interesting. This vitality is what the left lacks, and what Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders both have. This lack of vitality is what makes the Clinton left so miserable, and so disingenuous when it raises broken liberal institutions as the answer to populist cravings.

The EU, like the United States, is ripe for recession. The same parasitic financial speculation that led to the 2008 crisis is coming around again, and it will be the insipid Democrats who advocate, again, for a bailout with no changes to the fundamental structure of broken ‘rational’ institutions. The far-right, as predicated by anyone paying attention throughout 2016, will seize the red-blooded pulse of the people when the left is advocating for more of the same. It has already chosen Hillary Clinton – it has already sang its death-knell.

Ordinary people are bigots, and democracy doesn’t work because people are stupid. Such is the middle class reaction to Brexit, and again, ‘bougie knows best’. The most privileged among us, university graduates, people with jobs in the media, people who went to elite Ivy League and private institutions, the ‘experts’, inspire anyone who craves subversion to rebel against them. The only vitality that comes from these people is inside those who resist them.

Consider the way in which Hillary Clinton supporters make the case for their technocratic cog. They moralize. They tell you that you are simply a bad person, a tacit pro-Trump bigot, if you do not support her. They tell you that you are obligated, on behalf of the oppressed, to resist the big mean man instead of the imperialistic neoliberal consensus that like a cancerous tumor has solidified around the Clinton-Bush-Obama legacy. It is this very legacy that led to the rise of Trump, the threat of a Jeb Bush ticket in 2016. Jeb Bush was routed by Trump precisely because the right has woken up and no longer wants these dynasties of free trade, globalism and endless war to be in office. The left, in its infinite blindness, has chosen a candidate who embodies all three of these anti-human stances.

The academy has made the left lose class consciousness and divert itself almost entirely to race and gender. The Obama legacy, then, is defended even though it is the legacy of a moderate Republican. The de-fanging of the subversiveness of homosexuality, the Dan Savage-ization of a punk lifestyle rendered flaccid on the shores of political correctness, has led immoral hacks like Milo Yiannopoulos to carry more energy than the entire gay establishment of docile, boring figures who have no fight left in them. The modern left is mechanical. It functions like clockwork – every four years it is time to vote for an abyss who won’t cut social programs over an abyss who might. No energy can come of this situation, only the circling of the drain.

And that is the path we take. The sad truth is that Bernie supporters have more in common with Trump supporters than Hillary. Of course they do. The issue of oligarchy, of corporatism, of a government bought and sold decades ago is merely a side issue for most liberals. Why? Because they do not care about, and have never cared about, democracy. The values of the educated are self-affirmation, ego and constantly failing to predict the future despite all the assurances of the ‘experts’. The ‘experts’, shat out of the Ivy League to grab the string of the present and weave it in a flawless circle into tomorrow. They do not question conventional wisdom, they do not stand for people over profit, and so in Brexit the people rejected the ‘experts’. Eductation and knowledge is being demonized by the populists because it has been made into inert servitude by the colleges across the country. Colleges produce drones, in every field, in every graduate school. They produce people who tow party lines and spew ridiculous shit that makes white poor people and black poor people distrust one another more than they distrust entrenched elitists like Hillary Clinton. As Tupac noted at the end of To Pimp a Butterfly, by age 30, the black consciousness in America has been so beaten down by systems of power that any compromise with oppression is accepted.

The Hillary supporters, who heckle the ‘privileged’ for not voting for their conqueress, forget their own blatant privilege. The middle class votes. The ‘educated’ ‘policy wonks’ who follow politics closely, they all vote. It is the poor, and poor black people, who have long given up on liberal institutions, who do not vote. It is those who supposedly have the most to lose from right-wing economic policy who do not vote. Middle class chumps like me and you always vote.

But the middle class moralizers, scolds, and hand-wringers are blind to this. Ezra Klein and his ilk task me with upholding technocracy, or handing the keys over to the barbarians. Well, the technocrats are barbarians, so why should I ever raise my hand for their decadence purely to oppose a new form of barbarism they don’t like?

The concept of white supremacy is a weapon for educated elitist white people to feel power over other white people. The rubes, the bigots, the conservatives, the uneducated…how much ego, superiority, and smugness comes from walking down the streets feeling elevated above the hordes because you see what they do not see? I am certain every leftist feels good about themselves in this way. It is for themselves, for no one else. It is the revenge of the pasty readers over the frat boys, to dismiss them all as idiots.

And some are. But almost all of the ‘educated’ also are. I fail to believe anyone who has been properly educated, immersed in intellectual history, shown both sides of any given issue, can be ignorant to what is happening to the world through the failure of the traditional left.

The mantle of the people is borne exclusively by anti-immigration right-wing populists. The more the left cries ‘bigot, idiot, rube’, the more people grow sick of the left’s self-certainty and move to the forbidden and edgy spaces of Trump and UKIP, Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage. The more they embrace being outsiders, the more people are attracted to them. As anti-racism and feminism become co-opted by MTV, as political correctness becomes the new ‘say no to drugs’ and all ‘educated’ people are expected to believe one truth on immigration and social issues, the more the center will fracture and the dissidents will move right, not left.

I am stating a case, and the denial of this case will continue to seal the death of the left. Where does the left thrive? To me, it is fringe figures such as Chris Hedges, Jeremy Scahill, Cornel West, Glenn Greenwald – the left that critiques its rotten liberal center as much as it critiques the right.

The left of Hillary Clinton, of Elizabeth Warren, of Al Fraken and Barney Frank, of ‘side with the educated technocrats against the unwashed hordes’, has no life and is already morally dead. It has only the same repetition, the lesser of two evils, that has sucked the life out of democracy for generations.

The upper-middle liberal class is blaming poor and working class people for the rot of the country. They can no longer criticize corporate elites in good faith, because their star candidate is a corporate elite.

If you are a liberal, please try to understand the cultural and emotional core of all this, as well as principled opposition to Hillary Clinton. If you don’t, the right will sweep the West in the years to come.

Hillary Clinton is an Abysmal Candidate

In just a few paragraphs I’m going to destroy this elitist, corporate-concocted, conniving political construction who bears the torch of Henry Kissinger, military globalism, ‘At-least-I’m-not-a-Republican’ domestic policy and the continuation of everything that is morally abject about Barack Obama’s presidency. Of course, I’m talking about Hillary Clinton.

I write this in advance of all the people who will be trying to convince me (stupidly, might I add) that the corporate-state complex is a side-issue, and not actually the death-knell of democracy. Obviously, for anyone paying attention to politics beyond the headlines of Politico, America has been an oligarchy for decades, and only the doublethink of a Clinton supporter can somehow squeeze that out of the equation.

Look, Bernie Sanders built his campaign from small donations. He disavowed Kissinger and the Iraq War. He made moral arguments, not purely strategic ones. He represented a true shift from the globalist, technocratic, elitist values that every politician is expected to embody. He offered a different type of politician, a New Deal Democrat with a record to back his once-mainstream ideas. And like all good things, he was forsaken for the pant-suit and the orange finger.

So here come some paragraphs, about why Hillary Clinton is a fool and if you are a left-leaning person who is with her, you are also a fool:

She Stands With Us / Fighting For Us / AdAge Slogan 2016

So Hillary Clinton is a populist, eh? This puts one in the position of having to make an incoherent argument, an argument too naive for anyone to make in good faith: that Hillary Clinton, after riding the wave of cash from Wall Street, corporations, hedgefunds and billionaires to party victory, will follow her conscience and progressive values instead of the interests of the powerful people who she has known for 30 years and who funded her family to where she is today.

If you seek to make this argument, you have a problem. Would you ever make an argument like this for Jeb Bush, who received over $400,000 from Goldman Sachs? Of course not, because he’s a Republican. Have Democrats transcended big money politics? Will Hillary Clinton be the first politician in history to bite the hand of the special interests that fed her? Sure, keep telling the ‘Bernie Bros’ that they’re the naive and idealistic ones…

What’s Truly Important is Continuing the Policies of Barack Obama

Of course! The tenets of the mainstream Democratic Party are all we need to keep America prosperous. If you believe this, I won’t take the pains to explain that Western civilization is almost literally scorching and sinking beneath the sea, or that Barack Obama beat Apple in 2008 as AdAge’s Marketer of the Year for a good reason: moral policy doesn’t sell.

But here’s just a brief list of the Bush Administration extremisms that have been normalized by President Obama, and will probably be heightened by hawk-in-chief Hillary Clinton:

Indefinite detention, the NDAA, extreme hostility to whistleblowers, continued foreign interventions, drone program to kill 85 unidentified targets out of every 100, vow to keep war with Iran on the table, vow to support Israeli militancy to any end, mass surveillance, mass deportations, mass non-violent arrests, the erosion of the 4th Amendment to ‘keep us safe’, almost cut Social Security, health care program written by the insurance companies, TPP, (Yeah, Bill said he wouldn’t sign NAFTA in the 90s. He did.) violation of Magna Carta to kill anyone in the world at will without trial, increased militancy of police, extremely meager anti-climate change provisions, intense co-operation between Google and the White House, corporate-state incest, general oligarchy and militant globalism AKA imperialism

But, as every mediocre mind has argued since the beginning of time, “Thank God for Hillary/Obama, or we would have McCain/Romney/Trump!” “Thank God for Bill Clinton, or we would have Bob Dole.” “Thank God for Stalin, or Hitler would have won WWII.” This garbage ape mindset is crafted out of fear and self-hatred. It is electoral slavery and a materialist trap.

The truth is that the Democratic Party has no reason to exist other than “We’re murdering, lying, cheating Republicans from 30 years ago, yes, but at least we won’t cut social programs, so vote for us or roll the dice”

These worthless parties must dissolve sooner rather than later. The political revolution should have happened on the left AND the right. The right got its Trump, and the left chose Clinton? For shame. For utter shame, that we picked Jeb Bush (D) to lead. Disgusting.

Vote for Her or You Get Trump!

Oh, I already sort of answered this, but this is a game that progressives will never win. You will NEVER win. Vote for her, so that she can…what? Remain exactly the snake she is, knowing that she’ll get every vote she needs just because the other guy is worse? No. That’s not a functioning democracy. If America was as exceptional as it pretends to be, that’d be the model of second-rate democracy we all laugh at. Or are we too exceptional for principles themselves, content with what the brokers hand down to us? The Republicans woke up and refused Bush, Rubio, and Cruz. And yet, the ‘left’ adopted a Clinton, a Republican hiding under the skinned wool of Bernie Sanders’ latest Tweets, as its own. How pathetic are the Democrats?

Experience matters most. I voted for experience, and leadership.

Note: Leadership camp is Young Sociopaths Training camp.

Now, this ‘experience’ argument is the most pathetic of them all. Truly sad, because ordinary people have bought into the technocracy, the ‘rational’ but completely irrational method of funneling back into the system exactly the same garbage it has always produced. We give 30 year careers and then reward them with job upgrades, because obviously, they know the ropes of broken ideologies more than anyone else, a heart of ash adept at running bureaucracy granted more opportunities to get the trains running on time. “I’m a progressive who gets things done”, she says, as she knows she speaks to children.

Tell me, who do ‘things get done’ for? Who do the police serve? Who does mass surveillance serve? The people, or the state?

If you answered: “The people”, you are too pure and too naive for this planet.

The technocracy, the bureaucracy, the corporate state, serves only itself. If you don’t believe this, you need to rewrite the last 50 years of American history, because Bernie is right and this nation has been bought and sold to the highest bidder. Want proof? Who keeps getting richer? And who keeps getting poorer? And what Democrats have behaved almost exactly as Republicans? Clintons! Clintons, Clintons, cruise missiles in Sudan and Iraq and Lybia and Yemen and drones and happy progressiveness as far as the eye can see.

But of course, the modern liberal says: “Drones keep us safe. The NSA keeps us safe.” No comment. Who is “us” anyway? The owners don’t even know who you are. You could die tomorrow and the silicon smile remains frozen upon the valley of stolen pensions and foreclosed homes. Stop being a slave and stop buying into ‘experience’ as a meaningful quality when electing a career politician to be a career politician. Garbage in, garbage out.

She is a woman! This is a victory for women everywhere!

If anyone can actually provide an argument for this position that isn’t airy-fairy collectivist bullshit, I’d love to hear it. As far as I can tell, the existence of a rich and powerful woman only benefits one rich and powerful woman. You’re as dumb as a straight white man voting for Trump expecting a European beauty queen and a jumbo jet.

You’re a fucking idiot, this article sucks. A strong foreign policy is needed to keep Americans safe, Bernie’s ideas are all way too big and go way too far, we live in realpolitik, suck it up and vote to keep Dems in the White House. You know as well as I do how bad conservatives are, so just embrace reality.

Well, at least now we’re being honest. There are no principles here, only the same center-right cliches that have dominated American politics since Nixon.

I, for one, refuse these games. I will not allow an imperialist plutocrat to wave Donald Trump before my face in order to get me to act out of fear.

As the son of an immigrant mother, I frankly am unconcerned about 4 years of Trump bringing a sledgehammer to American politics and creating a backlash so massive that his stupid wall will get dismantled by the next Dem in office. Anyone who has watched Code Geass understands that a fractured world can be united by a great villain in power. A villain who, like Clinton, may wield NATO against Russia and tip-toe along the lines of World War III. For God’s sake, that psycho Clinton is more of a Zionist than Trump, and will gladly bomb Iran on Netanyahu’s behalf.

The poorest people in America don’t vote. They’ve mostly given up on electoral politics. It is not a privilege whatsoever to shirk my civic duty and vote for a candidate who will never win, like Jill Stein. It is, actually, a far greater privilege to think that swallowing slow poison is preferable to tanking a broadsword to the chin.

One single blow can be managed more than a long death spiral into the mundane.

Self-Censorship as a Virtuous Principle

Political correctness was a weapon of the religious right-wing in the 1990s, used to silence caustic and vulgar dissent like the comedy of Bill Hicks or George Carlin. First as tragedy, and then, in the 2010s, as farce, when the online left took up the lingual cleansing of society as a way to achieve ‘progress’. However, cultural policing has never been radical – in fact the idea of citizens self-censoring themselves is utterly compatible with any authoritarian regime. Under the justified good of protecting women, people of color and trans folk, self-censorship has been portrayed as a positive value. This is how all bad principles come into being – under the flag of a cause that no one disagrees with. Take justifications for the war in Afghanistan, as ‘the liberation of Afghani women’, or justifications for mass surveillance, as ‘keeping Americans safe’. Every illiberal and anti-democratic principle enters society and becomes a norm through the Trojan horse of an irrefutable cause.

Patently, the safe space culture of American universities is promoting self-censorship as a civic value. As a matter of fact, self-censorship is being promoted as a virtue in a free democratic society. One can attempt to justify it, but this is the principle in question. To protect the marginalized, we should all abstain from making counterpoints that are not progressive in nature, and also, our ordinary speech should always pass through a politicized filter.

What this amounts to is absolute emotional control over political discourse. If a particular viewpoint or topic makes people feel bad, it can be silenced, and to continue to discuss it is to ‘be a bad person’. As a principle, this is disastrous for free speech, and for any open democratic society. The left wields illiberal weapons when it thinks it can succeed, but should censorship as a principle swivel back to the right (which it will after the next major terrorist attack on the US mainland) the left will have already established the politicization of feelings as a reason to censor discussion of certain topics. They have advocated a principle that is anti-democratic, a principle that they enjoy while it is on their side, but will contest the moment it is used against them.

Feelings cannot dictate any discussion of facts. Principles that are authoritarian in nature should not be advanced by the left or the right. The politicization of every moment, and of every feeling, is a marker of a totalitarian society.

No wonder, then, that political correctness was referred to by George Carlin as “fascism pretending to be manners”. It is promoted by, as Ben Shapiro (a man I rarely agree with) calls them, ‘panty-waist fascists’.

It is a soft authoritarianism that uses sensitivity as a weapon to silence speech. It is the closed fist masquerading as the open hand and the falling tear. It is the principle of self-censorship disguised as empathy. It is everything that is nefarious and subtle about societal control.

Debating issues such as the wage gap and rape culture is, at many universities, akin to drawing a knife. Words themselves are often considered ‘violence’. Feminists like Julie Bindel and Christina Hoff Sommers have speeches cancelled and are protested for their acts of ‘violence’, such as contesting statistics evoked by 3rd wave feminists. “Disagreeing with me is violence.” This is the principle.

Self-censorship as a value is anti-democratic. In principle I will never support it, because it is a disgusting value. It is no minor squabble, it is a foundation of the free society that is at risk. Training young people to view self-censorship as virtuous is straight out of the pages of dystopian literature.

It could be argued that women and people of color, marginalized groups, must be protected from regressive ideas.

But this will lead society to ruin. How can such softened activists ever dismantle a corporate empire that will deny them employment and seek to imprison them? Words are the least of their worries. If I am afraid of words, and cannot cope with them, how will I cope with a mass movement being physically beaten by police in the streets?

The Marxist class analysis has failed to inspire revolution. Thus, the 21st century has seen progressives re-frame Marxism as a race/gender analysis. All women and all people of color are now defined as an oppressed class, defined as requiring special protection. Who will offer that protection? Media elites who soothe you with one hand and praise corporate politics with the other. Diversity and political correctness are already preached by MTV. Why? Because MTV is radical?

The corporate state is not threatened by the value of self-censorship as a moral virtue. For its long-term survival, the injection of backwards principles into society for the sake of the ‘greater good’ is a boon.

An Emotional Reponse to Nuclear Weapons & Climate Change, AKA The Death Drive feat. Noam Chomsky

Currently, the atomic Doomsday clock is set at 3 minutes to midnight. Noam Chomsky points this out every now and again, as he uses the metaphor of Minerva’s owl to describe his current reconnaissance over the soon-to-be-ruined world. Midnight is death. We are nearly there.

Every wide-eyed loon hack of a prophet from Malachi to Terence McKenna has told us that we are living at the end of history, the final hours before apocalypse, the moments and the motions preceding revelation.

Let me tell you now that I too think I am at the end of history, and David Brooks is the last man! “Cling to stability” he writes pathetically, lip quivering, receding into his NYT column. “Hillary or Jeb, Hillary or Jeb, statesmanship, leadership, stability,” a pale tongue swipes the cracked lips of the faithless observer, the man without wisdom, without prescience, without a conception of the big picture.

Noam Chomsky is an atheist and for this reason he has endorsed Hillary Clinton. Noam Chomsky believes in free will. He believes in human action. Indeed, he has said in an interview with Jacobin magazine: “By now, there’s a pretty strong consensus among scientists who say that a large majority of the remaining fossil fuels, maybe 80 percent, have to be left in the ground if we hope to avoid a temperature rise which would be pretty lethal. And it is not happening. Humans may be destroying their chances for decent survival. It won’t kill everybody, but it would change the world dramatically.”

Let me mince no words – climate change is a completely natural phenomena. In the world of modern science, human hands are natural, human actions are natural – the moon landing was a natural development of the mathematics behind matter. How could it be anything but? Unless you believe in angels and archangels, human ‘free will’ is an extension of the same principles that guide all matter, all the universe. Even if you are not a determinist, how can you possibly argue that human beings are defying the will of nature? That climate change, industrial society, environmental exploitation, is in any way contradictory to the natural development of history? Explain to me in what theology apes would have the power to defy the stars that made them.

We do not possess such power. In fact all history is a tale of death and resurrection, and the industrial evolution, the Pax America, the age of climate change, is the apex of the development of human hands. We have made our own ruin with this fuel we have burned, the fuel given to us by the dirt that made us and in our meat brains we have decided to use, to bring down the tower we have made, to poison the seas and sink Manhattan and destroy our empire from the inside out. So be it. It is a necessary development of history. Noam Chomsky would only support the incrementalist stance of Hillary Clinton over the ‘fuck it all over prepare for the fall’ stance of the Republicans because he is an atheist, and because he has no faith in nature. I am Manichean to the core. I have faith in death as an answer to excess. And in their hearts so are all the climate change deniers. Deep down, they know they are fulfilling the will of their Christ, these Republicans, to crucify all the world in climate disaster and the next Wall Street collapse. The collapse of the global economy will be the natural extension of the industrial era, of the Anthropocene period. The collapse of the global economy will be the capstone to inspire the next stage of human history.

Act I, dust and stars. Act II, slime and primordial ooze. Act III, human hands, the rise and fall. Act IV? Spirit unbound.

Continue reading “An Emotional Reponse to Nuclear Weapons & Climate Change, AKA The Death Drive feat. Noam Chomsky”

Star Wars

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is an OK movie that represents the death of artistic vision in cinema. I hope this doesn’t come off as jaded because it’s not supposed to (too late). It’s a decent movie but really when broken down I think it’s awful. As in, it is an ambitionless action movie that did exactly what it had to do to appeal to audiences in 2015. That is all. The film sought to prove nothing, and it proved nothing. It just showed that JJ Abrams is a competent action director and that the screenwriters knew where to toss in an action scene or a nostalgic beat to distract from the thin, thin, terrible storyline. The film comes across as Part I of a trilogy but on its own it’s just like Jurassic World – a pretty good spectacle that decays with time and months later seems pretty average.

The prequels, for all their faults, had ambition. George Lucas sought to portray the death of a democracy and the rise of an empire, and the political manipulation that leads to the death of freedom and the end of a heroic institution of wise spiritual leaders. Had the writing/acting been any good, these movies could have been classics for the age of oligarchy, subversive and masterful blockbusters. They fell short but frankly that ambition is more respectable than simply delivering the action-nostalgia package of Episode VII that a robot could have cooked up in a lab.

I liked Kylo Ren. I liked Finn. John Boyega and ‘Darth Millennial’ were the best characters in the movie. Other than that, there isn’t much to say. Rey has a huge amount of promise but so far they haven’t developed her quirks as a human being enough to make her feel fully realized. Finn, like Luke, is likable because he sucks. Luke sucked for two movies. He got saved at every turn. But A New Hope was an adventure movie, a Sunday morning sci-fi serial executed with heart on the big screen. Force Awakens is an action movie. Is Star Wars really supposed to be straight-up action like this? I don’t think so. I think the overstuffed action really gets in the way of an actual story. Of course, this is intentional, because Force Awakens is a product and a business decision and the impetus for its existence was not creative in the slightest.
“Green-light the movie.”
“Uh…do we have any ideas?”
“We’ll come up with some.”
They did. They came up with Finn and Kylo Ren. The rest is action fodder or shameless nostalgia.


Does anyone really care about what Han was up to at age 70? I don’t. He was originally supposed to die in Return of the Jedi so his death 30 years later fell flat for me. He survived the original trilogy. He won. In this movie we find out that he dies as an old man later. Yeah, and so what? Yeah, he gets killed by his own son, but we have no idea what their relationship even was. Their relationship is paper-thin: ‘He was seduced but he’s my son, be good again my boy’ and ‘Dark side wins’ as it obviously would, because having Ren switch sides at this point is an impossibility because then there would be no SABER FIGHT. Star Wars movies can only build up to a saber fight or the blowing up of a Death Star. These are not unpredictable films. This movie featured both. It had Starkiller Base, the THIRD massive base in these movies. Why have it again? WHY? Just to have X-Wings? Just to blow up a planet? This spectacle means nothing. The Finn/Rey/Kylo fight was excellent and was all the movie needed. The Starkiller Base was an afterthought tossed in because the screenwriters need a B action finale scene to cut to. Fuck this uninspired repetitive film-making.

Some people have called Rey a Mary-Sue. Some ideologues have called these people sexist. I don’t really care either way. Rey is a bland character who can handle every challenge tossed her way. Unless you think this somehow empowers every woman, (which is a bizarre idea) this really isn’t interesting. Finn is a better character because you get the idea that he’s raw, he’s not skilled, he can actually lose. I admit I loved the scene where they find the ‘junk’ Millennium Falcon but such a ridiculous chase scene right after? My eyes glazed over during it. I know they won’t die. I know the falcon won’t be shot down. It went on too long. And the scene where Rey looks at that old woman scrubbing a machine part, as if the screenwriter was screaming at us: “REY WILL BECOME ALONE, POOR AND OLD UNLESS ADVENTURE CALLS”. This scene was stupidly overdone.

The whole Maz Kanata canteen part was also bland and uninspiring. It revealed the pacing of the movie for what it was – go here, empire bombs, go here, meet Han Solo, pointless action scene, exposition, then empire bombs, then Starkiller base. Maz Kanata is no Yoda, her visual design is not that interesting. I loved the Kylo Ren temper tantrum thing being played for comedy though. The scene where the Stormtroopers just turn away after they hear him raging is pretty funny.

Remember when Finn wanted to abandon everyone cause ‘he had to escape the First Order’ and ‘this wasn’t his fight’? This was pointless drama to fill pages. We saw you in the trailer with that lightsaber, we know you aren’t going anywhere. This scene in the cantina where he’s supposedly going to run away is stupid. Yes, it fits his character, but it was just such a ‘movie’ subplot to write in for 8 minutes.

The Nazi design on the First Order looks nice but Jesus Christ, these people have no imagination.
“DERRRRR NAZIS!” It’s just so basic and reveals the absolute lack of political ambition in this movie. Who runs the galaxy? The First Order? The ‘Resistance’? I have no idea. it doesn’t really matter. All that matters is that X-Wings come in and fight shit.

Poe Dameron sucks. He’s ‘snarky plucky character no.99’ pulled right out of the gears of Hollywood. They needed a pilot character, so they had to give him a couple of cooked-up lines to make him seem cool right at the start. “Are you talking first or me? I can’t understand you with that mask”. I never saw him in the promotion, so I don’t care about him. He won’t be important. And indeed, he isn’t important. He could’ve just died and I wouldn’t have really minded, though I’m sure he’ll have stuff to do in VIII and IX. But same goes for Captain Phasma. It’s okay that they’re being built up for bigger things but Dameron in particular just felt so phony to me. Why do we need an X-Wing pilot? Because Star Wars consists of ‘force’, ‘sabers’, ‘X-wing’, and ‘Death Star’. You need all this or it’s just an average sci-fi action movie. But it’s so easy to see through.

Can we have a quiet moment with Finn and Rey? Oh no, something on the Falcon broke! Quiet moment? Oh no, we’re getting abducted! Oh, it’s actually Han Solo! Quiet moment? No, we’re gonna throw in a downright AWFUL scene that felt like a Star Trek deleted scene, featuring the guys from The Raid getting eaten by tentacle monsters. Why? So we can have an action scene instead of pretending this movie has any heart. Oh look, Finn accidentally activated the alien Chess table. Remember that?

Why leave a key resistance fighter with a single Stormtrooper, Finn, who has never even seen battle? Why leave a single Stormtrooper to guard a known force user? Plot, plot, plot. Why would Phasma not go out with integrity? Is she a coward? Why would she give up the whole base just for own survival? Unless she’s intentionally being portrayed as a coward.

The planets blowing up was well-executed but it’s just so stupid. Why are the First Order so evil? What do they seek to accomplish? They’re an Empire repeat but with less power. At the end of this movie their whole army gets blown up. What threat do they possess? Oh, Kylo Ren lived. So now Rey needs to train with Luke! Why? So we can get another lightsaber battle!!!

I admit this movie has set up a lot of promising threads for Episodes VIII and IX. I’ll be interested to see if Luke can be a sincere presence of wisdom like Yoda was in V. But in the end, Force Awakens is an average and copy+pasted sci-fi action film with Star Wars paint on it. It was predictable, safe, satisfying, a product of corporate fear to churn out a product with pop appeal but no ambition. Should that be applauded? No. The era of the commercial visionary filmmaker is dead. There won’t be another Quentin Tarantino, or even another Christopher Nolan. Hollywood knows it’s in its final years of a monopoly on mass-released films, to be usurped by streaming and web content, so they’re terrified. They won’t take risks, they’ll churn out products, rewritten over and over again without vision.

This film is not special. It is so middle of the road. It hides its lack of ambition and heart with constant action, rather than allowing action to reflect the characters, as it so perfectly did in Episodes IV and V, and the masterful final battle between Luke and Vader in VI. We won’t reach those heights again. Everyone knows this, so…why are these films being made? Oh right, Disney has to make good on an investment. I’m not being cynical, this is just the truth of things.