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.

Thursday, April 28

internet reading list of late

(triplicates of links that occupied my mind at *work* recently)

The Secret Shame of Middle Class Americans by a semi-famous writer dude who lives in the Hamptons
Well, this article's already gotten plenty of online vitriol and hype, but I should mention off the top I was pretty bummed to read this online, though I didn't know at the time, but I had gotten a subscription to the print version a few months back but you never know when they finally show up. This issue showed up the other day, BUT I HAD ALREADY READ THE COVER STORY! I was bummed. Much rather read magazines IRL to be honest.
Nonetheless, most of the response pieces that have gone off on this have pointed out the obvious flaws in the author's position, and perhaps insensitivity to those struggling more than him. I'm not gonna do that (even though it seems pretty easy) but instead mention something I talked about in a rambly talky poetry reading thing tonight. We all live in a giant pyramid scam - all of us. It is the system we are living in. It is a giant pyramid, and all of us are on that pyramid somewhere, and we all look up (because all of us are not at the top) and we get mad at somebody up above who has shit, born with privilege, doing shit we want to do, and we get mad. They are standing on our heads, holding us down, and it is unfair and it pisses us off and god we hate them.
And yet at the same time, all of us (this means you, if you are reading this online then you are not at the bottom of the pyramid, I don't give a fuck what you think) are above someone else on that pyramid, through no planned intent of our own. We likely were born there, but we are standing on those below us, holding them down. We don't realize it probably, don't do it malevolently, but we are fucking doing it nonetheless. That's the nature of the pyramid scam.
This has gone on forever. The actual ancient pyramids of Egypt were not just somebody being like, "Whoa, let's make these awesome big ass pyramids for no reason." They were tombs for THE FUCKING KING! They were built by slaves. When the king died, he was put to rest in the pyramid tomb, servants sealed up with his ass because even in death, kings need somebody to clean up their shit I guess. So the pyramid scam existed 4000 years ago, and will probably exist 4000 years from now.
So instead of getting mad at the guy who wrote this because he is standing on my head, holding me down, and he gets long-winded pieces in the Atlantic and I never will, I'm gonna just say, he probably doesn't mean to sound like an insensitive idiot. And even though people are born with privilege above us on this pyramid scam (I am likely above many, below many; we all are if we are being honest - although I def fall into that "couldn't bust out $400 for an emergency" group, and to be honest, always have been in that group other than when I sold drugs), they are still in the same fucking scam that consumes and mostly crushes us all. CRUSHES US ALL.
So with that in mind, I will forgive this dude for having a 5000 word essay of personal revelation of what seems fucking obvious to me, and has seemed obvious since birth. If you know the struggle though, you gotta realize, that shit is not so obvious to everybody. That's how the pyramid scam works - keep the majority deaf, dumb, and blind. So if my man the movie review bad part of the Hamptons house dude is having a personal revelation and is ever so slightly less dumb, less deaf, and not quite so blind, then I can give him the benefit of the doubt. But being this has been going on for thousands of years, something's bound to give at some point. And if it does, and shit pops off, he better be ready to rock for these personal revelations, and not just stand there on my fucking head, telling me I'm doing it wrong.

The Internet Really Has Changed Everything. Here's the Proof. by Rex Sorgatz
This suffered from similar seemingly obvious delusions, but Rex Sorgatz's bio says "creative technologist" so he's made delusion a CV bullet point, so I'm not gonna fret that. His premise for this piece is great enough: I was born and raised in a shitty little town in South Dakota, but back when there was no internet. Now there is internet. Let's see how my shitty little town in South Dakota is different.
There's a lot of Holden Caulfield in this essay, and though it's pretty easy to flip out on young men getting all A Catcher in the Rye misty-eyed, I can say as a kid who had grown up in a shitty little town, that book spoke to me when I was 13 too. It seems less amazing now that I'm older, and I wouldn't weave it into an essay about *digital natives* (he didn't really use that term, but I hate that term so I used it), but whatever.
This is not a great essay in sense of it's going to change your perspective on life on earth; but it is a good story somebody tells you while waiting for your ride to show up sitting on a bench together for 15 minutes. The premise is pseudo-scientific enough to warrant the meander, and the photography is pretty nice (glad they sent the second photographer!), but it's mostly this Rex Sorgatz guy realizing the call was coming from inside the house the whole time.

The Smug Style in American Liberalism by Emmett Rensin
This is from Vox, which falls under an umbrella of "popular but untrustable" major websites for my personal bias. But I read through this, because it felt relevant enough with all the Hillary hype which will soon consume the Bernie Sanders love, once the primaries are over and everybody who is hardcore political shifts into their MOST IMPORTANT ELECTION IN HISTORY OF AMERICA and IF YOU DON'T VOTE FOR LESSER OF TWO EVILS YOU ARE ESSENTIALLY VOTING FOR WORSER OF TWO EVILS twin arguments, neither of which really matter half a fuck to me. But it's coming.
I am no pundit, but to me this election - should it end up being Trump vs. Clinton - feels a lot like Bush vs. Gore when people who supported Gore were on coast mode because they couldn't not even fathom Bush winning. Like that shit wasn't even conceivable in their world. And then he won. Sure there was hanging chad bullshit, but every election is probably fixed. (Ultimately that leaves me to wonder about whether Trump will get fixing shit support like a normal Republican candidate. I assume both parties engineer as much shady shit as they can behind the scenes. That's the "ground game" they always talk about.) But there's a lot to this. The whole condemning poor or lower middle class whites who vote against their own best interests because they are stupid to know what's good for them which is discussed at length in this piece is something that we will hear a lot of if Trump is the candidate. People will not reason with others and say, "You know, Donald Trump's making some pretty big promises. How's he gonna do that shit?" They will go, "ARE YOU A FUCKING IDIOT? HOW COULD YOU VOTE FOR HIM OVER HILLARY? OH I KNOW... YOU ARE A FUCKING IDIOT!" Honestly, even by pointing this out in this brief write-up, somebody is reading this and wondering if I'm an idiot for not just outright agreeing that anybody who would vote for Trump is a fucking idiot.
Mostly this essay reminded me of a Right! Now! less-researched and not as well written version of Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting with Jesus. You should check that book out if you can. It is a worthwhile read. But basically it has the same premise - that liberal America overlooks the huge vast portion of less-than-privileged white people because liberal America figures they're all too stupid anyways so why bother. And again, I imagine somebody reading this might be thinking that way too. But guess what? That's a lot of fucking people you're talking about, and you still have to live with them. I mean, we do a pretty great job of clustering ourselves up in geographically reinforced filter bubbles, but we're all still landlocked here together in a larger American sense. Somehow some shit's gonna have to change. I don't know if it will, and actually it's probably gonna get way more hateful (by both those too fucking stupid to know better, as well as though too fucking self-important to realize how they too are stupid in their own more cultured ways) and probably pretty fucking ugly before it gets better. But that's okay, sometimes that's how it has to be. We'll survive.

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