Ready for a Little Polemics?
by Milo Clark

I have not been on Swans for a long time. It pains me and still I am not on Swans yet. Looking my screen in the cathode, I find I am bereft of outrage, numbed to excess exceeded by excess only to find still new levels to exceed. What passes for information or data is clouded by the increasingly transparent self-censoring by advertising posing as media. I was briefly tempted to write "newsmedia."

Writing a catchy phrase such as " We are media saturated and information starved." seems like an exercise in abject futility. The lead article in a recent issue of "The New Yorker" noted how little which may once have been called "news" manages to seep into the infomercials posing as radio or TV programs with talking heads reading the pap off teleprompters. The pretty faces and well-groomed or coifed talking heads are being paid more than the station factotums by far. What good does it do to name yet another situation where image has more than totally replaced substance? See. I can still ask rhetorical questions.

I stopped daily newspapers which once were the stuff of each day's substance. "The Wall Street Journal" and "The New York Times" were my coffee and Danish for years and years. I pick one up now and then and carefully avoid what was once called "editorial" pages as my retching reflexes are weakening with age. Maybe I can trust the reporting on closing prices of financial instruments.

The Middle East is such a quagmire of quagmires. Israel is doing its damnedest to out-Nazi the Nazis. To criticize what is insupportable and obviously unconscionable makes one an anti-Semite more than a clear-eyed observer. Saudi Arabia and all the others run the more ruthless of closed regimes differing only in whether or not we are contemplating bombing them or supplying the bombs to them.

Here and there one dictator or authoritarian replaces another and paeans of praise about democratic forces emerging are barfed upon us still again. Shell Oil and myriad other corporate entities have replaced colonial governments as the killers of note in these times. Once-upon-a-time environmental organizations clamor to replace the co-opted labor movements as veiled recipients of corporate largess in their headlong rush for capital assets, carpeted offices, club memberships and inclusion within the numbing arms of insider status.

How possible is it to convey the more than visceral and deeper than profound disgust (there goes that retching reflex again) related to the state of politics anywhere and everywhere? Only in tiny places like Myanmar (Burma) and East Timor are leaders apparent. I have to stop there as my incredulity index has blasted off the top again.

And then Luigi gets lost and the neighbors are normal humans. Normality itself, when stated as a mean of human behaviors, skews ever more to an extreme so that normality is mean by definition. [Ed. Luigi's a friendly feline who graces Swans' Webmistress's home]

I can see little future beyond extinction of humankind by choice. Gaia doesn't give a damn about any one species in preference to another. If the dinosaurs asked for it, they got it. As a species, we are giving the legendary lemmings a run for the cliff.

Other than small annoyances such as those, I am glad the sun is shining in Berkeley at the moment. What am I doing inside hitting keys when I could be out breathing the air of the 17th most polluted county in the USA? A mile up the road toward the concentration of refineries and chemical plants upwind of Berkeley begins Contra Costa County, now the wealthiest in the State of California.

The trouble with being in Hawaii for a week attending a conference rather than walking in breathable air (on the windward side opposite the concentrations of natural pollution coming from the volcanic eruptions) is getting back into Swans' kind of stuff. I have a pile of polemics to write in exchange.

There you have it.

Published August 2, 1997
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