Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Tunes & The End of Surveillance


It would be so very, very appropriate if Michelle Obama sang to us for the next SOTU--who needs speeches, anyway?--or if Palestine adopted a new national anthem.

Hetero Woman awoke with a start. She realized only then that her obsession with gay men was a manifestation of her obsession with herself; her idealization of the supposedly impossible nothing but a sideshow meant to distract her from caring, a burning scarlet letter on the face of the world. Return to sender; we come in peace; born to disengage.

The notion that anyone remotely serious about the condition of the world's starving poor would consider for one moment the “rights” of some middle class American as ever having been “infringed upon,” much less that some supposed infringement sets a dangerous precedent which must be opposed, is well beyond my comprehension. Because somewhere, American men got the idea that being both "queer" and "attitudinal" put them on an equal footing with, oh, some poor starving Hindu in some geological armpit of which they're vaguely aware. Stand back, cowards, we're attacking the Death Star by adopting vegan lifestyles and owning at least one sterilized subservient pet. Bilious, herbivorous, queer small a anarchist--eats only organic dishes from the multicultural palette of an island of concrete built on top of the graves of a hundred thousand Algonquin, what is this wretched American male conceit that, by occasionally giving some dude a blowjob, or even just wanting to, you can become one of the oppressed, immune from further criticism?

Really, what is it? Who decided that bedroom choices create a social armor more impenetrable than impenetrableness itself? Say, the impenetrableness of being dead and decayed, or merely starving in the street? Weren't we supposed to all be making independent choices and judging each other without the labels, rather than turning on the HP, printing the labels a generation louder than before, and reclaiming them as glorious icons? Because what Sam and me wanted (and probably Howard too) was a normal life, not the ability to take over the oppressor's spot. So did you ever think about it? That maybe, after decades of just trying to be normal and have a fair chance at life, the last thing they all wanted was to have the sublimation of Your Identity (TM) be of such transcendent importance.

Sure, we're all happy about your bar mitzvah and your quinceaƱera and your first communion, but when that finds itself onto your profile page permanently, isn't that going a bit too far? Some say she was both cockhardy and foolsure; others say there must've been a mixup at the factory.

Broken shadows, haphazard tomorrow.
I tried to leave a legacy of gold, but I'm not sure how worth it that was. My greatest fear was that, no matter how intensely this moment came, I couldn't convince myself that this was all anything other than a coincidence. This whole thing, I mean. It was a coincidence of burning matter; an accident; a temporary splurge to which only I could give ideation, and to which everyone else assigned the no-nonsense reality of lesser forms. It was small comfort, nay, no comfort, that they would all come to this place, too. In fact, in the agony of it all--the uncertainty; the gods of paper and code--it wasn't something I would have wished upon them.

I wanted to bless you with the freedom I pretended I once knew. I wanted to believe the memories were real; that I'd walked down the lanes in Arka talking about gifts to be delivered and prophecies made. The bitter conundrum of severance picks no bones with highest perceptions, ergo we all shiver and cut at our faces when we see black sails. But for her, would we too have gone mouthless?


The instant point, though, is surveillance. Come with me, if you would, to a dystopian future: a high-tech, sci-fi panopticon where every conversation is monitored. Imagine what this horrible place is like. Can you? Screens in every house and private business report on the conversations, mutterings, and letters of the residents. A nationwide network of informants stands ready to report the imagined innuendo of revolt to the desk of the High Potentate. Security forces roam everywhere, beating and imprisoning people for imagined slights.

Write a troubling article? Security forces are notified. Whisper to your friends that you think the king should be overthrown, and one of your friends turns out to be a traitor. He sells you out to the secret police, who have you dragged away and beaten, your home seized and your children sold into slavery. Gather with a few friends in a bar to discuss social change, and one of them is threatened by an agent provocateur. Your every word, written and spoken, is analyzed by teams of paranoid madmen for any sign of social dissidence. Armies of men build their careers upon perceiving, and punishing, slights which you did not mean.

Business is stifled. Socializing is stifled. Even in your bed, you are cautious that your lover might hear something that will later be repeated to security forces. The NSA, the TSA, the DEA, the CIA, the FBI, the SS, MI6, the pointlessly-krav-magaed wuss-coward tied-suspect-beating Mossad--thousands of expensive, stupendously idiotic organizations haunt the globe, spending kings' ransoms on advanced techno-goodies designed to ferret out imagined insurrections, justify bigger budgets, and forever stifle freedom and independence. Your every breath is monitored, recorded, and analyzed.

Right? What are we describing? What high-tech future of post-Snowden nightmares are we looking forward to with such pain and worry? Ask, and I shall answer: the tyranny of the Manchus, no less. The prissy, tightly-wound tights-twisters of the Ancien Regime. Networks of informants; spies everywhere; cheap, unreliable, manipulable technology being perverted to paranoid ends simply to achieve confessions. This is nothing new. We cower before Secret Service agents and FBI brownshirts raiding libraries in their quest to duplicate the nobles of ages past. Yes, they have iPads; yes, they have the internet, but there is very little different, here. The human equation is still the same. In fact, our cowardly reliance on trinkets makes the human word even more suspect, and makes even the job of the bloviating agents provocateur the more difficult. Our glorious tyrants hide behind their computer equipment and their flaccid, bespectacled tech flunkies because, unlike Manchu dictators, they are not prepared to command their own battlespace firsthand, or wave a pike at a score of starving peasants. Our failures to gain freedom are not caused by the oppressive technocracy of the dweeb oligarchs, which presents burdens never before seen by humanity; no, our sniveling half-lives of incomplete achievement are caused by our willing domestication to forces that are, truth be told, less oppressive than they were in times of yore. No, I don't "like" the NSA, but what small potatoes they are to, even, the Gestapo. What limp eagles they are to the Union occupiers of the Wilkes plantation, or the Royalists hanging blockade runners based on an incomplete whisper from an illiterate tavern maid. And what soft little sheep we are, too, afraid to talk to real people about solutions to our problems simply because our electronic mail accounts have been compromised by the same people who have difficulty fielding speechwriters with a tenth-grade command of grammar.


  1. Tracie could certainly have some impact if he wasn't such a raging as whole.

    As for the rest, we will simply have to live through it - the consolidation of power of the system, and the foreclosure of any and all alternatives. There ain't coming out of this with community organizing. People who actually do that elsewhere take real risks and we will never hear about them, plus they can't win anyway.

    1. He is indeed, but we must forgive him, else we become him, just as he has become the same Noam Hussein Greenwald-type entity that he railed against. Always easy to say, forgiveness, but harder to feel; like all the real answers, it's easy to pretend and hard to make real.

      There's some good stuff coming out of Mexico, actually; some good, hopeful stuff, that has a lot to do with risk-taking and sustainability, but often requires Spanish language proficiency and a suspension of disbelief in JP Earth's patent on life. Luckily, they're fairly often bilingual and accommodating of Columbus' nasty bratspawn.


  2. Tarzie, azzhole, etc., that is, stoopid auto correct

    1. They argue for (1) the marketing science of natural selection at the same time as they promulgate (2) a system of ensuring that you don't need to learn how to spell or use grammar, while being fully aware that (3) the said system is clunky and intrusive and leads to more errors and lost input time than the original mistakes it was theoretically designed to address, creating (4) a greater inefficiency where end-users learn to account, ahead of time, for one another's non-mistake "mistakes" of not properly monitoring the corrective functions they wish weren't on their devices anyway. There are probably several other integers of note in there, but those four are suitably ludicrous to start the jukebox of humanity 2014 playing at full volume.

      The core evil of the message there seems to be that there is one way, one proper way, to communicate, and that your own failure to produce the proper prose can be corrected automatically by bits developed in California years before, so what's the point of even trying? Shut up and go to the mall, or something, if they even have malls anymore.