Friday, February 10, 2012

On the nuances of withdrawing or not

In response to Feels Good, JM writes:

This is coming from the man who liked both Sin City and The Dark Knight despite what he perceived as negative messages? And in what sense do you mean withdraw? Like in the paleoanarchist sense of back to nature or what?

(For reference, Sin City review here, and Dark Knight review here.)

1) The reviews of said movies were highly critical, not akin to "liked."  There's a value in everything, even the Superbowl or a well-executed Obama speech; just like Triumph of the Will or Survival in Auschwitz there's an art even in horror that can--nay, must?--be appreciated.  Sin City was almost wholly crappy, except for some artistic shots, but it was interesting in the sense of learning more about Frank Miller's damaged soul--see earlier comment about watching an Obama speech.  Dark Knight was a perfect example of America, better expressed than even all of the Nicholas Cage Coppola movies.  There's a value there, just like the value in viewing a picture of a horribly mangled dead child--a little slice of the tapestry.

2) This one may or may not practice what this one preaches.  This one actually does so practice, but occasionally does encounter cultural crud, and comment on it.  For example, this one may be dragged to a movie or view a bumper sticker in traffic.  Nonetheless, the rightness of a statement does not depend upon whether or not one making the statement is able to adhere to it, or cognizant of what adhering to it would mean.

Value truth, not the current conduit for truth.  At any time, any one of us could be killed, bought out, replaced by a changeling, or just start being a jerk for no particular reason.  That should mean nothing as to the message.  Binding ourselves to the medium--the body; the person; the movement; the Party; the revolution--is a crippling flaw that leads to evil as the medium is corrupted.  After all, a statue of Martin Luther King now graces the turf in Washington, D.C.

There is, also, occasionally a worthwhile movie or book that floats past the censors.  That sort of stuff shouldn't be ignored.

3) Withdrawal is a withdrawal of proactive support.  For example, we pay our taxes so that we don't go to prison, even though those taxes fund the brownshirts.  A cruel, selfish sin, yes, but on a different level than spending your Saturday going to a military air show, watching the latest Hollywood blockbuster, or reading whatever Grisham shat out last year.

(Arthur Silber discussed this, also, in his The Honor of Being Human.  There, he reminded us that if we all only did the bare minimum forced on us by the elite, and did not go out of our way to do things we know they would like, the system would crash.  He was very wise, there--the economics of tyranny depend upon fear of consequences that cannot be imposed upon every prole, or even the majority of the proles.  If we all dropped the fear and pretended to be innocent simpletons, rather than propping up the apparatus to get a few more smiles from master, down cometh the plantation.)

Yes, we may read the paper once in a while, but if we subscribe to it, suck up whatever Huffington/Salon/Nation/Atlantic/NYT spit out, and make their talking-points braying part of our every day, we are supporting it.  Do we watch the teevee several times a week (a day?)?  Do we see the movies, buy the associated crud, and consume filler food and culture in the absence of the real?  Do we vote?  Buy jackets with sports-team logos?  Drink Starbucks?

Some of these things we're forced into, but all of them are not required.  See one out of ten of the movies, if you absolutely must have the "entertainment" (dear God, please join this one in seeing a ratio even more reduced). Go to the library and check out one out of 23 Grishams if you have to in order to make good water-cooler conversation.  Withdraw from everything you don't have to do, and the points the elites lose in the margins could break the system.


  1. So no entertainment whatsoever? How very Monk-like of you. What would you suggest instead?

  2. Oh, don't throw all that straw this way. Entertainment does not solely consist of the filler churned out by the traditional baddies "Hollywood" and "big publishing companies."

    During this brief period of time before the internet falls under the regulation of an FCC-type agency such that stuff can't be found, there actually are a substantial number of visual artists, authors and musicians putting their stuff out there to be appreciated. Other cultures offer similar things with bigger budgets. And, other venues than the traditional--bigscreen movies or NYT bestsellers--do still exist: video games that haven't yet been wholly swallowed up by war-strategy exercises, or local theater.

    Yeah, a lot of stuff out there is bad, a la Red White & Blaine, or those little Justin Beiber wannabes putting their acoustic whining on youtube, but even then, it's certainly better than The Hangover, Flaming War Robots III, or Will Ferrell's Latest Wet Fart. Or *shudder* Sue Grafton, Oprah, Twilight, Dawn of the Mecha-Orcs, etc.

    Ya gotta admit, for example, that IOZ is a better political commentator than we'd get if we genetically combined the top twenty major newspaper reporters into a single superbeing--and he's free! There's other fine stuff still out there, and the human potential for creative wonder would be unleashed if we starved the monster.

    In the meantime, there's always, er, Japan, China, the rare Hollywood mistake, or Elfwood. Or, even better, something inside you. The human spirit dwells there also. Bear with this one; there's a studio venture of a few off-the-record artists in the works, but there won't be enough fungibles to put it all out in the market until later in 2012.

  3. geez, jm... are you sure you're not one of the "donks" that ioz loves to bash?