By Gary Corseri
The recent article, linked-to below, by columnist Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone, covers a lot of ground; with thoroughness, wit and clear thinking.
Mostly, Taibbi pinpoints how much trouble and confusion we’ve managed to create for ourselves and our world since 911. Lost in our mazes, we tumbled down the rabbit hole with Alice, and we’ve been wandering through a Kremlin-constructed Wonderland for at least the past 2 years! (One wonders: When have the citizens of a true “democracy” been so gullible, so misled?) Taibbi’s is a fine (and rare!) piece for reflections; here are some of mine:
Maybe our biggest problem is how everything has become so blurred. Where are the fine lines separating truth from half-truth from falsehood; fantasy from reality? In our New Reality, we’ve lost our markers, our borders, our boundaries, our sure-footing and belief-systems. Without borders and boundaries, we are constantly invaded by images, dribble and diatribes from our new Theater of the Absurd—i.e., our own media of hodge-podge “news.”
As a kid, I watched a fledgling Johnny Carson MC a NYC show called “Who Do You Trust?” Other early TV fare included “To Tell the Truth” and “Truth and Consequences.” The Walt Disney Hour featured “Fantasy Land” and “Tomorrow Land” and “Frontier Land” nonsense about Davy Crockett and the Alamo. In 2018, we’re living in “America Land”–a fantasy empire where we’ve been trained to trust no one and to fear our own shadows. We live with such fear, paranoia and schizophrenia, we take it for granted that we must have military-style weapons to protect ourselves from meddling “Russians,” and our own government, the “other,” even our shadow-selves.
My only problem with the article was at the end when Taibbi referred to Trump as a “sleazeball.” The problem with that sort of characterization is that it reduces some 60 million Americans who voted for Trump to stooges. That will just offend and harden positions all around.
“The center cannot hold,” Yeats wrote. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”
All sorts of disasters are likely within the next few years as the Empire implodes (like the Twin Towers!), unraveling and tearing itself and our planet to pieces. Geophysical and climatic disasters, of course. Plagues of new and re-animated diseases. Insane gun violence. Explosions and chemical weapons. Economic depression. Dissolution of the E.U., separatist movements in the U.S., Europe, etc. (If Putin is behind all of this—he would have to be about the most intelligent and craftiest person who has ever lived—a mix of Leonardo da Vinci and Machiavelli!)
Used to be there were men of wisdom who would write fine columns in places like the NY Times, and occasionally speak on TV. (Women and “minorities” were not represented nearly enough back then, but a few like Ruth Benedict, Denise Levertov, Richard Wright, James Baldwin, Lorraine Hansburry could break through. Luminous souls like Martin Luther King uplifted all who could hear his resonant truths. JFK, also, could inspire a new generation with an “Alliance for Progress” and a “Peace Corps”—idealism that sought embodiment.) Now–for the most part–steady, reasoned, balanced reportage and analysis is moribund or defunct. Santayana’s idea about learning from history is always valid; but we had better learn how to imagine a better, saner world, too–or we’ll stew in the juices of our doom.
Superficially, we’ve never been more connected–but we’re largely disconnected from our roots and traditions: our intellectual, philosophical and spiritual moorings. (Forget the past—it’s “irrelevant”! Onward, ever onward…, but, towards what end? Do we dare pause to ponder? How many Americans still read books? How many dialogue rather than Twitter?)
“Read not the Times, read the Eternities,” Thoreau forewarned.
We need a cultural Renaissance, a global Age of Enlightenment…, but with robots flipping our hamburgers, 60,000 homeless in L.A., an opioid epidemic claiming more American lives every 18 months than our imperial barbarism claimed in Vietnam in 10 years, our prospects are parlous and too dim to discern.
And, on top of all that…there’s Russia!
When I was a kid there was a toothpaste called “Ipana.” It tasted okay, but what I most remember about it was an inane jingle that a big, cartoon beaver would sing as he brushed his 2 huge buck-teeth in front of a mirror. The beaver sang: “Brush-a, brush-a, brush-a…with the new Ipana…brush-a, brush-a, brush-a…it’s better for your teeth!”
Every time I hear the word “Russia” these days, I hear the voice of a buck-toothed beaver and all the pseudo “patriots,” in a chorus of confusion, singing, “Russia, Russia, Russia…with the new Ipana…it’s better for your teeth.” –Gary Corseri
Here’s the link to Taibbi’s excellent adventure: Russiagate and the New Blacklist