RAVEN MACK is a mystic poet-philosopher-artist of the Greater Appalachian unorthodox tradition who publishes zines & physical books & electronic books & music & photography & digital art & just generally whatever feels necessary to survive this deluded earth thru Rojonekku Word Fighting Arts survival systems (Version 69, establish 14 Feb 1973). Comments encouraged.

Tuesday, July 9

what I read in bed last night

Here are a few items that crossed my eyeball radar last night, which is not actually radar because humans are not fucking machines, not even close, so hey let's try to stop making those metaphors okay? WE'RE NOT FUCKING MACHINES AND WE DO NOT HAVE WIRES AND SHIT LIKE THAT AND OUR PARTS ARE NOT INTERCHANGEABLE LIKE AN '87 CHEVROLET CITATION OR SOME SHIT. Okay, here is the first article...

BURIED SECRETS: How An Israeli Billionaire Wrested Control of One of Africa's Biggest Prizes from The New Yorker
So I tend to read a lot about Africa lately, as I half-heartedly contemplate further work on a story about African football. Africa is both a beautiful and fucked place, and being I am a believer in the beauty of chaos, Africa is one of the last great places on Earth, because it lacks a lot of infrastructure. This is good, although the conceited ego of mighty capital will have you believe that being undeveloped means you are lacking. Well motherfuckers who believe such a thing, please read this article, because "development" usually means somebody getting over, making money, handing back quarters, and all the development is just necessary by-product for transmission of wealth, meaning roads develop to transport product, education develops to give local labor forces the proper skills to perform needed duties, etc etc. God, I have so many thoughts about this article it's hard to even know where to begin. So let me get what would probably be construed as racist thought out the way first.
The Beny Steinmetz dude featured in this article reaffirms my suspicions about Israel's higher-ups being higher-ups being a fraternity that exploits others, being good at playing both their "we are freedom in the Middle East" card as well as the religiously oppressed card. In fact, it fucking sucks that if you question the obvious bastard nature of a guy like this Steinmetz, who puts personal gain over greater good at any crossroads of decision, then you get the anti-Semitic charges thrown back at you. However, I will clarify, I don't think it's inherently part of being Jewish, or even Israeli, that you shadily negotiate mineral rights deals in the Third World and expect every motherfucker on earth to respect the legality of these sketchy arrangements. In fact, that's one of the first misconceptions to mention in today's long-winded What I Read In Bed Last Night, that legal means right. Legal has very little to do with right or wrong, although it is often romantically attached to the notion that laws are made to ensure right and outlaw wrong. The weak link in that chain of thought is that laws are made by governments and governments are very rarely infallible when it comes to righteousness.
Which brings me to another point to take away from this article. The various regimes of Guinea, and in fact all of "developing" Africa are looked down upon for their corruption, because with a simple bribe you can have your way as an outside exploiter. But isn't this basically what happens in American government as well, albeit done in a more complicated and legally-endorsed way through corporations? The term "kleptocracy" was create because of Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, but lately I've pretty much applied the term "corporate kleptocracy" to America, and you cannot argue against it. Our food laws, our health care laws, everything is done for the benefit of an industry leading the fight. Obama's health care law was not some guarantee of health care being provided for all citizens - it was a requirement that everyone have health insurance, which then assumes that health insurance will ensure you are provided with health care. This does not make health care more affordable, or health insurance less of a fucking pyramid scheme. This is the corporate kleptocracy at work.
So by being more simple about it, not involving legal justifications and lawyers and the myth of a "democratically elected" legislative body to underwrite the kleptocracy, somehow Africa is a lesser version of government. I mean, I get it - ideally government should be working for the benefit of the people, all of them in fact. But that doesn't really happen all that much on earth.
But more importantly, this is about development/exploitation of Africa. Steinmetz was in early on the Guinean deal, and as Obama's recent trip to Africa showed, there's a struggle right now between China and the U.S. for developing control of Africa's resources. China has a huge lead, because it's been building railroads and factories and all types of shit in Africa for the past two decades. Part of the reason for lack of infrastructure in Africa, oddly enough, is colonialism, because once all the western powers were expelled to a certain extent starting with the independence of Ghana (touted in this article as a shining example of African democracy), in order to maintain their philosophical purity, western powers held back on exerting too much influence over Africa, for fear of looking like the colonial rule was still in place through proxy. However, the vast resources combined with Chinese development is starting to prove to hot an apple pie in the window to resist.
But mostly this article just drove home to me that the idea that capitalism provides for the greater good of all of people is just straight up bullshit. I mean we all should know that by now, but many don't. I'm not sure how allowing a few people to get really rich off exploitation of finite resources, which provides jobs of various levels to other people locally, is considered beneficial to all, much less sustainable. We are basically just ripping everything out of the earth, making it into something else, selling it to each other, and being like, "YAY!" when we are up on the ladder, or chastising those low on the ladder. I don't get it.
But speaking of not getting things, in relation to America...

LOS INFILTRADORES from The American Prospect
Simple article about illegal immigrant college-aged kids becoming activists because they couldn't go to college even though they already lived here. Key part of this is the mentioning of ICE facilities being built, the Corrections Corporation of America's involvement, and how keeping people detained for being an illegal immigrant creates revenue for these companies. This is the corporate kleptocracy at work again. It doesn't benefit the desire to have "34,000 beds" filled to actually stop illegal immigration at the border. And it doesn't benefit that goal to allow illegals to be legal. So again, this is not about jobs or freedom or anything like that. In fact, there are many industries completely dependent on illegal laborers to keep their labor costs down (namely construction, but also food service to a lesser extent). Now that these industries have turned the difference in labor costs into profit, they're not going to let go of that.
The Martinez girl in this story from Sanford, North Carolina, was especially interesting to me. Piedmont North Carolina/Virginia is what I consider home, geographically, and the influx of Latinos in the past two decades has been very noticeable. But it's also been good, as it's sort of cross-pollinated local culture with this new culture. I mean for fuck's sake, I saw El Hijo Del Santo wrestle in Raleigh a couple years ago.
They built an ICE facility where I grew up in Farmville, Virginia, and it's always seemed like more of a generating revenue issue than enforcing laws to protect innocent people from horrible people type thing. I had a trash fiction piece in one of my recent One Thousand Feathers pamphlets about this actually.
Immigration itself just seems weird to me, as no one chooses where they were born, so it's hard to understand why people get so hung up on where they live as being superior on such a meritocratic level. It's not like there's an application process to being born and the cream of the baby crop is chosen by America. It's all chance. But if people are looking for opportunity, why stifle that? If someone else loses an opportunity, can they create more, or move elsewhere? I realize this is naive, because it would create cow herding mentality towards jobs, and plenty of people don't have the means to move, so I do not pretend to solve the World's problems, which probably can't be solved anyways to be honest, but I am smart enough to know that just criminalizing something that you basically allow to happen so that a private industry can accumulate revenue off of government pay, there's nothing righteous or ideal about that.
Plus, it's nice to see these kids being activists in such an outward way. Lots of activism is more about making the activist feel better about their privilege, without any real risk to that privilege. It's a sort of theatrical calling attention to something social tirade almost. "I'm educated and born linked into what makes one successful, but I realize these other people are not being taken care of and I want to point that out!" goes the activist, but then many times they are assimilated back into the privilege they were born from, albeit with some sort of liberal psychological justification to what they are doing, to make them feel like they are living a principled life. Activism by those who stand to lose what they have always means more. When you have less, it takes a lot of guts to risk that for a cause.
It also leaves me wondering what the fuck I'm fighting for? What am I doing? I'm not sure. The fog is thick it seems. Speaking of fog...

JOHN GRAY'S GODLESS MYSTICISM from The Los Angeles Review of Books
This book review has sold me on finding a copy of John Gray's new book because he seems to be writing about a lot of what I've been percolating upon lately. Namely, there is no utopia to be found, no saving of the earth from climate change, no real purpose to existence in the sense that there's some great realization or achievement you are slowly working towards in your life and the purpose of life is to work towards that moment. This type of thinking seems to pervade a lot of what we do, that there needs to be some sort of closure or settling of situations. For example, I used to do music with a dude all the time, but I started to see a bad relationship's patterns in how we did what we did, and after it became obvious little effort was expended in return compared to the effort expended out, I just cut ties. I mean fuck it, why keep putting out where you're not getting anything back? That's stupid. Mutual friends would bring it up at times, as if things would settle and get back to what they were, and it was even presented to me to make amends here or there. But amends for what? Why do we feel the need to find closure in situations like this? Sure, people change, but that creates all the more reason to move on and never look back, because you don't have to be there for the change, or even worry about it. We have this feeling that we've invested all this effort and it was working towards some ultimate purpose, so even if there becomes a rift in that effort, we need to have some sort of closure to the relationship, to I guess put it as part of a trial and error process towards our ultimate purpose, and happily and amiably accept it as an error in effort. But why do we assume that working towards an ultimate purpose in our life has to be happy or amiable? Why do we assume we can make the world better? Have we shown any consistency as humans in making the world better? I mean we create solutions to our own problems, and create our own problems to find solutions for, usually making these things more complicated the longer we are allowed to thrive on earth.
There's really a ton to this book review that's worth reading - it's basically a One Thousand Feathers pamphlet itself - but I appreciate the sentiment that it's worth looking into the mystic poet types more. I've strayed from doodling in my Taoist books the past year, and that's probably why I'm so lost right now, feeling alone. I've confused myself into thinking there's some sort of purpose to what I do, that it all has to culminate in something. It doesn't. It is just shit we do. I need to concentrate on doing the shit that feels good to me, and by concentrating I mean I shouldn't have to think about it. If I am thinking about what I'm writing, then maybe I shouldn't be writing it.
The hard part for most humans when confronted with this idea that there is no purpose to humanity, no ultimate realization to be found, no specific purpose to life other than to exist is that then they got discombobulated with the question of, "Well, then what the fuck should I do? If there is no purpose, why bother?" I guess the only real answer I can think of is if you don't bother, then you don't exist. And if the only purpose to being human is to exist, then by not existing you fail. I mean fuck man, that's all you have to do is be alive. I've been trying to tell myself this lately - that there's no perfect job or realization of others that my strange ramblings have merit or any of that. I have a job that doesn't nourish me, but whatever man, I live in a world where jobs have become the means to navigating society, so I guess having the means to navigate our culture gives me an advantage many do not have. And trying to make people aware of merit to my ramblings is really such a futile effort, because you have to badger people like a salesman to even get them to look through the fog or their already settled realm of rambling indulgences, that it sort of stains whatever righteousness may have been there in what you were doing in the first place.
Personally, I am happiest when I am hiking railroad tracks at a couple of secret spots when I know the railroad workers are not there, vibing on the river and freight cars and being alone. It is my most happy time. I actually did a bunch of research on the area I hike mostly, and it's a national historic landmark, with the address concealed, which leads me to believe there must be some hidden awesome shit there that I should check out. Which means I should indulge that happiness more, because there's no other purpose to my life than that.

ARE HUMANS JUST ANIMALS? from Evolving Thoughts
This further talks about higher purpose, and how science tends to still think of being human as a completely separate type of animal existence than all other animals. I dig this dude's angle though, but wanted to bring specific attention to what he says about functional MRIs, as that's a popular trend in brain science, to show what's lighting up in the ol' brain as someone performs an activity inside an MRI machine. This John S. Wilkins dude does a good job of laying out how ridiculous and misguided this is in reasoning that we are now learning how the brain works better from these fMRI studies. It also - and I have thought this ever since I was a kid - boggles me that we somehow feel as humans we are being objective about studying and proclaiming the greatness of our brain WHEN WE ARE USING OUR FUCKING BRAIN TO DO THE STUDYING. How can we even pretend to be unbiased? We don't even have cognition of what an unbiased non-human thought would be like. So when we declare human thought to be unlike any other animal way of thinking in superior ways, we are doing so without any knowledge of any other animal way of thinking. Basically we are saying we are the best because this is all we know, therefore it has to be the best.
But in terms of other animal ways of thinking, let's close out with this...

MOSCOW'S METRO DOGS from The New Yorker
There are better articles, not to mention a whole lot more available to read about the stray dogs of Moscow, but this is nice little update about what's going on now, today, with the semi-wild dogs of Russia, if you've read about them previously. I've been thinking a lot on the wild horses living in coastal Atlantic communities, who are not wild as in never tamed, but domesticated horses that re-wilded. Russian dogs on the subway are the same thing - not wild in the sense they are fucking coyotes learning to live with humans, but domesticated dogs that have re-wilded. I feel like there's some sort of re-wilding of humanity that's probably necessary to allow us to adapt and survive what we've done thus far as a species on this planet's surface, but I'm not sure what that might be. I'm not sure how you re-wild people, or what that accomplishes. Maybe it accomplishes nothing but at least muddies up our natural offerings as varieties of human, and gives us as a species a better chance to continuing to exist, which is - if you've been reading along this far - perhaps the only point to us being here anyways.

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