Donald Trump ordered his attack on Syria because of something he saw on TV. The world is full of people like him: old, shabby, pompous; people who know everything because they learned it all from somewhere, people who function as exit nodes for the vast extraorganic network of information that chatters across oceans and ping-pongs through outer space, people who form the anuses of the system of images, excreting their content back into the world of things, people who repeat everything they see on TV. Every suburban bus stop shelters a Donald Trump, some smugly witless man of the world who knows what he knows and knows it better than you, some tyrant-in-waiting ready at any moment to vomit up the whole of the received wisdom in one splattering stream, and then act like they’re in possession of some special knowledge because they’re able to do so. The only difference is that when Donald Trump blathers from the TV, the TV takes notice: he repeats what it says, it repeats what he says. Donald Trump is the network whorling in on itself; the system of careful mediation finally splayed out in the mud, legs out, back twisted, licking its own arsehole.
The media was kind to Trump’s attack on Syria. Every pompous outlet that has spent the last five months screaming incessantly about the threat to democracy, the inevitable deaths and the terror of wars, had nothing but applause as soon as the wars and the deaths actually got going. A fleshy and dangerous idiot, a vulgarian, an imbecile – until those first perfect screaming shots of Tomahawk missiles being fired were broadcast – that’s our guy, you show them Donny! This is when, as Fareed Zakaria put it on CNN, Trump ‘became the president.’ And he really is presidential now, because the president is a totemic war-chief, the bloated repository of every male fantasy that had to be repressed, someone whose only job is to look like they could kill a hundred people in the morning and pose for a photoshoot with their dogs in the afternoon. Never mind the deaths or the uncertain repercussions; Trump’s strike was utterly squalid and utterly ignoble, some fattened toddler idly shitting out molten steel into the parched graveyard that used to be Syria, saving nobody, helping nobody, thoughtless and obscene. Kill a few of their guys, teach them a lesson, it’s common sense. And all the sophisticates and strategists applaud – stricken by half-hearted guilt, of course; after all, you still wouldn’t want to have the man round for dinner. They write their long justificatory exegeses on the timeliness of the act, bringing out every little rhetorical trick of the educated ruling classes, because all their moral angst is also from comic books, and cinema, and TV.
On NBC, Brian Williamss, ranting himself into ecstasy, quoted Leonard Cohen: I am guided by the beauty of our weapons. What weapons guide? Cohen wasn’t singing about clubs or spears or missiles, but ideology, culture, and fame. Mediation. Whether he knew it or not, what Brian Williams was saying had nothing to do with the spotlit plumes of white smoke rising from the US Navy vessels in the Mediterranean. The beautiful weapon was himself. the beautiful weapon was TV.
Beyond the fiddly cloisters of the media intellectuals, why do Americans love their wars so much? Because war is the only workable substitute for being able to turn off the TV. Wars happen for the same grim and venal reasons that have always made the rich massacre the poor, but every other weapon is now subordinated to the screens, the nightly news and the outrage on Twitter. The media transmits the relentless horror of the world, sliced up into edible segments: here’s a problem, here’s a tragedy, here’s an atrocity, here’s something else. Chemical weapons, starvation, murder, war. All of it is shrink-wrapped and isolated; you can never really find out why this is happening, no more than you could really learn the long sad stories behind every neatly packaged item on the supermarket shelves. They don’t even need to lie, although they do that too; the propaganda is in the medium itself. And the ethical response to all this diffuse suffering, charging at your face out of nowhere, is no longer why is this happening? but we have to make it stop. Anything is permissible if it’ll just make this go away. There’s no better example than the 2000 film Rules of Engagement: our heroic Marines are called in to defend the US Embassy in Yemen from an angry crowd outside, and all the time they’re there we can constantly hear their endless and repetitive chants, and the camera flashes between shots to glimpses of furious mouths with terrible third-world teeth, furious, inhuman, a slow torture, until the good patriotic viewer is begging our heroes to just shut them up. After the Marines fire into the crowd, there’s a moment of perfect silence. Bliss.
The attack on Syria will not make its war go away. Every primly disgusted apologia for the attack is a travesty. So Assad should be able to use chemical weapons with impunity? So we should do nothing? See how that we slips in there, almost unnoticed. Is this the same we that killed 56 Syrian civilians in Manbij last year, and then 46 in rural Aleppo, and then nearly 300 innocent Iraqis in Mosul? The we that turned the Korean peninsula into rubble and carnage because the people there wanted a better life, and then Indochina, and then the Middle East; the one that’s currently engaged in starving millions in Yemen? What happened to Libya, after we were told we had a responsibility to save the civilians there too? This isn’t ‘whataboutery,’ but a simple question: when judgement and punishment are carried out by the same people, who gets to judge? If the Syrian government carried out the chemical weapons attack in Khan Sheikhoun then it is monstrous, cynical, and murderous – but the ability to punish monstrous states seems to belong only to the most powerful; in other words, the most monstrous, the most cynical, and the most violent. But all it needs is a we – a word reaching through the screen to swaddle you up in it – for the great roving predator of the world, dripping with blood from every pore, to become something else: the international community, the ones who must intervene, to protect the children.
The next attack won’t stop the war in Syria either, or the next one. That’s not what these things are for. The response from the Mail on Sunday’s Dan Hodges was instructive. Bomb Assad, he said, and then bomb Isis. And when that leaves what was once a functioning society in the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham? ‘Then we go and get them too.’ After all, if every Syrian is dead, then the war is finally over. Their suffering is immense, but it’s not their suffering that matters: it’s the suffering of the viewer, at home, heartbroken as they watch the carnage playing out onscreen. It doesn’t matter who does it, and it doesn’t matter how it’s done, but we need to turn it off forever.
Twenty million people face imminent death from starvation and famine. Many more will suffer and die from disease. These are the people that Trump is targeting.
The Trump administration has banned people from Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Syria, and Iran from travelling to the United States. Three of those countries are identified in a new United Nations report as epicenters of the greatest humanitarian crisis since the end of the second World War. Without immediate aid, twenty million will die of hunger.
The following are excerpts from a report presented on March 10 to the United Nations Security Council by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Stephen O’Brien.
Yemen. “The largest humanitarian crisis in the world …. Today, two-thirds of the population — 18.8 million people — need assistance and more than 7 million are hungry and do not know where there next meal will come from. That is 3 million people more than in January. As fighting continues and escalates, displacement increases. With health facilities destroyed and damaged, diseases are sweeping through the country. …”
South Sudan. “More than 7.5 million people need assistance, up by 1.4 million from last year. About 3.4 million people are displaced, of which almost 200,000 have fled South Sudan since January alone. … More than one million children are estimated to be acutely malnourished across the country; including 270,000 children who face the imminent risk of death should they not be reached in time with assistance. Meanwhile, the cholera outbreak that began in June 2016 has spread to more locations.”
Somalia. “More than half the population — 6.2 million people — need humanitarian and protection assistance, including 2.9 million who are at risk of famine and require immediate assistance to save or sustain their lives, close to 1 million children under the age of 5 will be acutely malnourished this year. In the last two months alone, nearly 160,000 people have been displaced due to severe drought conditions, adding to the already 1.1 million people who live in appalling conditions around the country.”
The report also says that 7.1 million people in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, and 2.7 million in Kenya, are severely food insecure. Those figures will increase rapidly in coming months.
Twenty million people face imminent death from starvation and famine, and many more will suffer and die from disease. Without major international action, the situation will get worse. The report calls this “the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the United Nations” — that is, since 1945.
Among the most iconic and unforgettable images of the Holocaust are photos of Jews being marched at gunpoint through the streets of Amsterdam, Paris and Warsaw, of grim-faced adults holding the hands of terrified children, on their way to the labor and death camps of Auschwitz, Treblinka, Sachsenhausen. Under the Nazi regime, these deportations were entirely legal. The Jews had not only been stripped of their citizenship but criminalized, portrayed as a cancer on society that had to be removed.
Just the other week, 680 people were deported from the United States, but one searches in vain for similar images. What we mostly see are pictures of a young man, alone, his head nearly shaved, photographed from the back, handcuffed and pressed up against the car waiting to take him away. These images support the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) claims that nearly all of the deportees are men who have been convicted of felony charges. Bad dudes.
But a very different story has begun to emerge – of women with children, of hard-working men – people who have committed some minor infraction, or none at all, and who have been ripped out of their lives and sent to countries they left as children. The case of Guadalupe García de Rayos, separated from her two American-born teenagers and deported from Arizona to Mexico for the crime of using a fake social security number so she could work – received considerable attention.
A widely circulated photo shows Ms de Rayos behind bars, apparently in an ICE van: an isolated person and presumably, an isolated case. We have been reading about Jeanette Vizguerra, a mother of four who has sought sanctuary in a Denver church, and of an undocumented transgender woman in El Paso, arrested after seeking court protection from domestic violence.
If one lives in a large city, and has any connection to the immigrant community, one hears many such stories. And it’s only going to get worse. New rules issued by the Trump administration on Tuesday aim to deport more people, more quickly – regardless of the families that will be torn apart as a result.
A woman I know, who lives in Queens, became alarmed when her boyfriend failed to show up for work recently. It was 24 hours before she heard from him; he had been picked up by ICE agents during a random stop on the street – a practice, essentially a form of racial profiling, that ICE denies – and sent to the border city of Reynosa. (In the past, deportees had been transported to the capital of the state from which they came, but now many are simply being dumped across the border.)
An undocumented friend – who has been here for decades, who has no criminal record and who has, along with her husband, worked tirelessly to support her family – was recently advised to draft a notarized letter specifying who she designated to raise her three daughters in the event that she and her husband didn’t return from work, after ICE raids.
Unlike Trump’s ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, which provided obvious and logical sites for protest – airport terminals nationwide – these arrests (secret, rapid, widespread) are more difficult for protesters to foresee and forestall. And many of the witnesses are themselves too frightened to protest, film, or otherwise document these seizures.
And so we are allowed and encouraged to go on believing that only “bad hombres” are being targeted. We are spared the images of the anguished mothers and fathers and their frightened children – of people very much like us. In fact, we are encouraged to believe that they are not like us.
Often, when one hears migrants defended, it’s because they make such a necessary contribution to our workforce, to our daily lives. But they are not merely workers who pick lettuce here, who wash the dishes in our restaurants, who clean the houses and mow the lawns of Americans. They are decent people who have come here not to sell drugs and join gangs, but to escape violence and poverty and to make better lives for their families. They are men and women who love their children, just as we do, who suffer the same sorrows and losses that we do, who cherish the same hopes and dreams.
There are numerous eyewitness accounts written by bystanders who witnessed the Nazi roundups of the Jews. Later, everyone would claim to have been sympathetic to the deportees, and all would insist that there was nothing they could do. They felt helpless, powerless; they were afraid.
It’s painful to think that we have become those bystanders. I, for one, refuse to believe that we are a nation of cruel and heartless people, lacking the basic sympathy, the courage and resourcefulness to protect the innocent and protest the violence and terror being visited – right here, right now – on our fellow human beings.
Please check out If They Hadn’t Worn White Hoods, 8 Million Would Have Shown Up in the Photographs, by John Bloomberg-Rissman and Eileen R. Tabios, over at Moria Books. THE LINK SHOULD TAKE YOU TO A FREE PDF, THO I BELIEVE YOU CAN PURCHASE A HARD COPY IF YOU'D LIKE. A copy will be sent to Trump. I doubt he will enjoy the read.
time is a stature it holds no-body accountable even as it slaughters the no-bodies in their thousands, enduring as palpable matter in fact, giving lie to the NO we must take it up embody the NO not just shout the NO or say the NO or do the NO or refuse “NO thank you” or get off the table or not vote or refuse to pay or say it only in French or not NO or ship NO or raise funds for NO or sign NO or scream & wail & beat one’s fist’s on the floor as if to show NO: unless it is a whole body of NOs, an emptiness of the streets the office the pool the library the gym the buses the hospital the banks the shops the safe places the tubes the trams< the clubs the bars a “NO” which replicates the obliteration costed on bodies no snapshot can fully capture our bodies instead take on the burden of this NO & move with it titanic until the eternal lastingness of our “NO” restores the bodies we prefixed with ‘no-' in our unknowingness our mouths an O of NO -bodiedness ashamed & disgusted not purified but blotted out, not the NO of nothingness but of purgatory let us exemplify no-bodies by refusing to put our bodies in the service of borders the state the guns the reproduction the exhaustion the theory not the practice the enemy not the child sentiment not commitment the NO we will die saying YES to.
In other words, Celan continued to write in German because even tho it was the enemy’s language it was also his, but it was not just his anymore, it was also the language of those who had killed his family etc etc. So no, monocropping is never a good idea. Assuming such planets exist, of course. I don’t pretend to be dirt-poor. And it is circuitous. But he did find an approximation formula. His approximated answer is a number that has 3,011 digits. In that moment, to paraphrase something I once I heard from some Buddhist, German or French philosopher, or Star Trek character, or from a OD [original dadaist], they would begin to tremble and shake, minuscule tremors rippling out from their enteric nervous systems and through the fibers in their organ meat, or coursing through their bloodstream and their compromised immune systems and then maybe just then will be heard a dank vibration, halfway between hum and roar, adebrkpflhijtmgoqcnsvwuxyz and the sirpiereule formatted structures. The symbolic structure x holds fusion (w.a.r.) according to this formation and pamphlets breakdown strategy (formatted by its structure). From Bubble to structure (squared) and emotional outburst era.
CEREBREMIC NEUTRON HARPOON
WISxDO=M showing (latter lower hydrogen upper helium) position, a middle bar (carbon) 8 rungs through 360 = either beginning of end, or four escape or enter paths of energy in the middle is a combined knowledge of all four paths. I mean, who titled us off as the human “race”, who put us in a race and for what purpose are we racing?
skirting deserted cars i smell my body rot awake nothing to feel with
world war one war two war three
no way down / through you float in the density
“Murphy’s mind pictured itself as a large hollow sphere ...” or, or & mayhap & maybe also & “the sphere had a hole in it” ... We are played. We are played by the unimaginably secret treasure. Where there is no such thing as extinction only, only lack of or excess of hyperdrive. At this point everyone points off at the distance. Look, distance! Especially there! Where? 10,000 years of agrilogistics. Or, as Angelo Suarez reminds us that Adorno reminds us, “If artworks [eye eee cultures] are alive in history by virtue of their own processual quality, they are also able to perish in it.” This essay, however, is not about your anus, tho your anus has served its purpose as an example. Consider this reference to the anus as an allusion to Carl Andre: A thing is a hole in a thing it is not. Carl Andre murdered his wife by throwing her out a window, of course. If a fungus appears, scrub harder. Is indistinguishable from form. Only in the reflection of a city on fire. There are infections that come with it. The breeding of the biggest, juiciest, sweetest grains has resulted in a more-than-ironic unintended consequence. Think of how hard wired that is. Others did her to be tormented in her breasts and paps, and commanded that her breasts and mammals should be drawn and cut off. And yet she healed and when the provost realized she was healed he made her, all naked, to be rolled upon burning brands. And it was then that the ground began to tremble from an earthquave and a part of a wall fell down. Many rigged some shit so they were connected to wires and flew around Peter Pan style, screeching way up high or way down low or whatever, I don’t know how they do it, but like bats. And so when Agatha comes out of the prison she will do join her hands, do hold them heavenward, and do say in praying: Got a real good feeling something bad about to happen / Throw my head back laugh / Wake up in the morning’ don’t know what happened / Whoa ... Something bad / Whoa ... Something bad. So to rid his life of the right angle — which, to him, represented nonsense, confusion, and generalized hate — Brewster designed and built a house in 1952 that celebrated the six-sided figure. “If a human chooses a square world he readily makes himself a slave to machines and money,” he once wrote. Then, so slowly that it seems not even to be happening, the lights begin to come up. A single drummer in dark glasses, hood, and sparkling tunic, who can just be made out standing behind a six-foot carved drum, raises two strangely shaped sticks and begins a rhythm; others who can now be seen around him, in robes, weird hats, all in dark glasses, take up his beat and add to it. And as the lights continue to rise it becomes clear that a kind of procession is under way: dancers in flowing gowns hold richly dyed silks in front of changing colored lights; others parade before the audience paintings of Egyptian scenes or of monsters coiled around their victims. A conversation of flutes begins; the musicians sway in fabulously shimmering robes; a film projected silently on the wall behind them, showing the same musicians. Now the horns are heard, one by one, then all in a knot of dissonance, a trumpet piercing the air above. Smoke begins to slither across the floor as a dancer enters carrying a large glowing ball. A woman with a beatific smile seems to float to the front, and begins to sing until she is joined by others who look like some crazed monks lost in time:
When the world was in darkness Darkness is ignorance Along came Ra ...
The living myth, the living myth The living Mister Re
And there in the middle of it all, his face impassive, sits a stocky, middleaged black man. But the reason I’m telling you this is, my grandfather had a helmet of a German soldier he had killed. My little boy’s fingers could fit in the bullet hole, and he loved talking about killing the Nazis. He was furious when my grandmother cleaned the helmet. He wanted the blood of the man he killed inside it. He said my grandmother had ruined his “talisman”. One time he was a little drunk while telling his Nazi stories and he put the helmet on his own head and started to cry. It was the only time I didn’t need to search for his suffering, and he sputtered, “I have very bad dreams” and hugged me and I recall the tremendous desperation inside that hug. His brave stories of killing Nazis were a cover up of course, but because he worked in the DuPont chemical factory his suffering was mercifully short, dying young of lung cancer. I hate that goddamned factory. Anyway, my name was Craig and none of these people could pronounce it, especially Nana who always called me Creek. I remember her saying to me once, “CREEK! LISTEN CREEK! There are two kinds of people on God’s earth! Ones wit the hard earwax, und ones wit the soft earwax!” I said, “Nana what does that mean?” She yelled, “IT IS WHAT IT IS!” Oh my god, she was always blowing my mind with her sphinxlike riddles. I mean, when I was a boy I had frequent nose bleeds and my favorite thing to do when I felt one coming on was to secretly lock myself in the bathroom, take off my clothes and cover my face, arms, chest and penis with blood and it tightened my skin as it dried and became very smooth. After it dried I would dip my fingers in water and draw symbols into the blood and then I would hold my arms overhead and chant, not words but deep resounding tones. I had a dream that Elvis was part of my tribe so I created a Magic Elvis Square, which was comprised of a series of letters to compliment the Sator Formula, the Magic Square that the elders where I grew up in rural Pennsylvania would carry around with them. So once I dreamed I met Piggy. He was an old man and when he told me who he was I had some questions, but he wanted to say what he wanted to say no matter what I asked. For instance I asked “was the island real?” “Let me tell you something,” he said, “that bastard William Golding never paid me a cent.” “You’re kidding,” I said, “that book sells millions of copies.” “Yeah well,” he said, “when I played in the movie Deliverance years later he paid the director to make me squeal like a pig and I said no way, I’m not doing it, and the director said oh yeah well if you want to get a paycheck chump you better squeal Piggy Piggy squeal now for us Piggy!” “THAT WAS YOU IN DELIVERANCE?” “Fuck you I said to him because in the first story I was crawling all over the fucking island with broken glasses while these horny bastards were trying to rape me.” “RAPE YOU?” “Things are much better now that I’m collecting my pension. I outlived them all you see, so I guess that’s good.” “What the HELL is he talking about?” I thought. “Wow, I’m really talking to PIGGY FROM LORD OF THE FLIES!” You always have to wake up though, right?
In the verge, (In the Verge!) In the Dour rebus ham, oh how Troops of is. An angel is shouting, “Wilder baskets!” An angel is shouting columnar mufflered huffs in kelt spit back top o the morph echo lifters chaff laughter lies & nut on said gone fell smear flew clear bell pawn fed an eye neck ink in the verge lintel of sniff
[Note: A weekend in San Diego. Sources: JBR and Eileen Tabios, interview first posted at Arduity, and again at Litter; Joseph Nechvatal, “Excerpts from Rammellzee’s ICONIC TREATISE GOTHIC FUTURISM”, at post.thing.net; Tom Raworth, “West Wind”, “Going to the Zoo”, quoted in David Kaufmann, “The Lyrical Gifts of Tom Raworth”, at Washington Independent Review of Books, 18 Jul 015; Samuel Beckett, Murphy, and Jeroen Nieuwland, quoted in Nieuwland’s “reading tips for key words - hermetic(ism) , black box , obscure ? thank you already ubuweb & ...”, at a poetics of confusions, 26 Jan 017; JBR; Jonty Tiplady, “Two Oh One Seven”, “[Some sing a heart anyway ...]”, in Haribo Ozymandias Season Five: God-Speed, or, The Counter-Conversion; JBR; Theodor Adorno, and Angelo V Suarez, quoted in Suarez’s Poem of Diminishing Poeticity, at Gauss PDF; JBR; Danielle LaFrance, “Today Gives a Fuck”, at Tripwire 10; Tim Morton, “What Is Agrilogistics?”, at Ecology without Nature, 11 Oct 015; Juliana Spahr, “An Agatha, for Anne Boyer (written by Juliana Spahr but in debt to Cassandra Gillig)”, at Tripwire 10; Claire Voon, “The Beekeeper Who Craved a World Without Right Angles”, at Hyperallergic, 26 Jan 017; JBR; John F Szwed, Space Is the Place: The Life and Times of Sun Ra; JBR; CA Conrad, quoted in David Buuck, “AN INTERVIEW WITH CACONRAD conducted via email, 2014-15”, and in his own “The Puppet Job”, at Tripwire 10; Ted Berrigan, The Sonnets, Kenneth Koch, When the Sun Tries to Go On; Clark Coolidge, “Gobi”, Tom Orange’s “pared down” versions of Berrigan and Koch, quoted in Tom Orange, “Arrangement and Density: A Context for Early Clark Coolidge”, at Jacket 13]