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WHO WE ARE

We are ontological mechanics. We tinker with what is, what could be, what is notwith existence. We enrich the squishy brain matter of our communities with subversive ideas, smart talk and fun swear words. We one time organized the International Ontological Machinists Union (IOMU) to rise up and destroy their masters, slapping the slogan KILL THE FUTURE!! on every motherfucking wall we could find, laughing as the temporal continuum rearranged before the terrified eyes of the overlords. At our meetings there were the most delicious snaxxx. Our deranged plan, which we carry out shamelessly under the influence of strong drugs, is to disseminate our books and the narratives therein to the thinking people of the world, contaminating their thought processes and winning them over to our evil side of empathy, feeling, reason and non-dogmatic language until we have constructed a legion of friendly supervillains and we see every last one of our foes crushed. Enjoy!

 

 

{ FEATURED STORY }

HOPE AS THE HUMAN DEATH-DRIVE;

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

hope2

-Painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Hope as the human death-drive;

The concept of hope has its roots in Greek mythology as a content of Pandora’s box, the sole content left unreleased by the time Pandora was able to slam the lid back down upon the jar. Thus, it may surprise many of us to find that hope was given a vague, if not negative, connotation from the very beginning.

Hope continues to be a matter of debate for philosophers and theologians, and has a complicated history of analysis that ranges across a spectrum of thinkers as wide as Aristotle and Kant, Martin Luther and Nietzsche, Camus and Zizek.

In theological terms, hope has often been considered contradictory to faith. One can’t really hope if one has faith—you’re already certain. Having hope for an afterlife would imply one doesn’t really trust in God’s promise. Similarly, having hope in one’s lifetime would be obscenely worldly and, again, an implied distrust of God’s guarantee of salvation. Integrating the concept of hope into the Christian religion as a matter of righteousness was a transformation that really required the whole act going pop.

Secular philosophers, meanwhile, are essentially divided between whether to consider hope moral, evil or a necessary deception, but common to almost all philosophical interpretations of hope is the sense that, in the end, it is little more than a subjective stance, something with no base or empirical value whatsoever, which can serve only as a prism through which to view the world. Though hope defies, in their view, any precise definition, its importance is not called into question, and the distillation of much theory into practical advice would be that no human should trust entirely in hope’s allure, for it can be exceptionally nebulous and deceitful. However, neither should it be totally discounted or devalued.

This all essentially amounts to a sound set of counsels about the need for skepticism toward one’s own beliefs, but also, at the same time, little more than a handful of truisms and creative ways of seeing through hope’s fractal prism. We do see visions, but the kaleidoscope itself is no closer to being understood.

Hope, however, is not—as seems to be the consensus amongst secular Western philosophers—a structural or perceptual illusion. Hope, on an individual level, is a vital force that provides people with motivations, goals and ideas. In simple linguistic terms, it is the belief in potential. But when writ large, the act of hope is a very real manifestation of the death-drive of the human species.

In many ways this truth can only be glimpsed now, at the teetering point of our biological hegemony. The human mechanism has proven capable of overtaking and defining life on earth for all other creatures, but this feat should not be misconstrued as evidence of the mechanism’s perfection. Far more likely is that the impulse for expansion is the exact opposite: evidence of a fatal flaw in human consciousness.

Hope, if closely examined from every angle and in every conceivable situation, revolves around the cessation of physical or mental suffering (whether real or perceived), which is directly tied to a cessation of any scarcity of material wealth or the comfort it provides. Even the most desperate, humble of hopes and the most abstract, idealistic ones are, at root, a desire for augmentation, especially augmentation of circumstances. To augment one’s circumstances, an expansion of available resources is required.

Hope is a constant emotion for all human creatures—even in situations where to have hope seems a cruel fate—and in almost all cases it can be traced to what we will classify as technically selfish motivations. Given hope’s irrefutable constancy and its self-interested nature, we might then see this emotion, if we should persist in perceiving it as an emotion, as a more intricate and ineffable outgrowth of the mind’s self-preservation principle.

To substantiate these claims, let’s examine two of the most supposedly “selfless” types of hope which seem, on the surface, to transcend any sort of expansionist desire.

First, the idealistic hope for the end of all political violence, or, in the more recognizable language of beauty pageants, world peace. Although such a desire expands well beyond the self to include all individuals on a global scale, one which wishes to see all people reach their full potential and happiness without the possibility of any physical threat, it is also an ideal that, in practice, would mean expansion: the growth of societies and therefore economies, as well as ever-increasing consumption of resources—essentially an augmentation of material capacity, without which, we know very well, human happiness and the conditions for earthly peace are effectively impossible. We will also add here a somewhat facile but relevant point: whoever wishes for world peace is necessarily included into the arrangement, meaning that they, too, will experience the benefits{1}.

Second, the noble hope that by sacrificing oneself, others will be spared from suffering. This class of hope is undoubtedly amongst the highest, but nonetheless, hope for the betterment of another at the expense of the self is almost always defined by a lack of remaining options for the self. Also by the necessity—linked to the inexorable instinct for survival—to project one’s ego onto a separate existence(s), one(s) still expanding, or with the possibility (hope) to expand, in order to escape, even if only symbolically, the infernal circumstances of hopelessness, which is life devoid of expansion, a reality sharply defined by impenetrable, fixed limits.

Limitation is the most pronounced and identifiable of human anathemas. Restriction of growth or the inability to overcome boundaries are antithetical to the nature of the species. These things represent, in the human mind, death and hell.

Hope, writ large, is precisely the mind’s inability, or refusal, to conceive of, abide by or live within a construction which proposes or admits to any system of limitation, up to and including the constructions of religion and nation-statism.

Our refusal to stop expanding materially is the manifestation of human hope in the physical universe. But our system is limited to the planet upon which we live and the resources it bears, and because we cannot accept this fact, hope is revealed to be, in the end, the enactment of the death-drive of the species.

This proposition, if taken on its own, has no precise moral implications—it is simply an exigency of human life. However, if one were so inclined to perceive any sort of intelligence on nature’s part in the design of our so-called “spiritual” workings, it might be that hope represents a possibly unstoppable, and ultimately ironic, in-built limitation to the potential of human beings. There is evidence to suggest that our biology may dictate we expand until we destroy ourselves and—perhaps necessarily, for the survival of earth as a functioning system—contract in numbers as a species.

But let’s avoid, here, the temptation to assign any such conclusive, symmetrically-pleasing meaning. A more sober question might be, why would an emotion so deeply linked to survival also manifest itself as a type of doom? I happen to believe the answer to this is that hope is not properly an emotion, but an instinct, and many instincts, in the context of rapid technological progress, can become outmoded and lead us toward fatal consequences if given over to utterly, or followed blindly{2}. Hope can no longer be viewed as a purely positive value of the human spirit. Rather, it should be viewed as a potentially dangerous tendency if allowed to get out of control—as it has currently. The challenges that face us in this century are not problems which require the engineering of expansions, but of limitations. In order to evolve as a species, and therefore survive, we must not see ourselves as boundless despite our inherent need to do so. Ours will undoubtedly be the burden of having to embrace death and hell in order to render them both virtuous.

{1} This is in no way meant to denigrate or make light of the hope to see the end of all political violence. I am not suggesting that it is some kind of selfish crypto-desire to see a personal increase in wealth, but simply that even the most inclusive hopes obey a specific set of logic. And, while we’re happily digressing, this seems an appropriate place to just plainly assert that the purpose of this essay is not to proclaim some grand cynicism, but rather an attempt to define hope as an unvarying drive of the human psyche. Hope is a notion that has taken on an overwhelmingly positive societal connotation in spite of a long history of great thinkers’ uncertainty of just what it is. Down here in this footnote, we will recognize that hope is something undoubtedly exceptional and admirable. But it should also be kept in mind that there are many kinds of hope, not all of them equally beneficent. For instance, can we say that the hope of a war criminal to never be brought to justice is exactly as good as the hope for world peace? I’m merely suggesting that hope is rooted in a deeper human drive, namely the survival instinct, and that this has logical implications for how we should fundamentally view the concept.

{2} To name a familiar one, humans’ instinct to override satiety of hunger, i.e. over-eat, due to the nature-based principles of “feast-or-famine” and the relatively quick decomposition of food (compared to its lifespan when refrigerated, frozen or preserved chemically).

 

 

RISE OF THE BLACK PANTHERS

(ISSUE II: IN SEARCH OF THE BLACK PANTHERS)

BY ALAN CLARK

Rise of the Black Panthers is the much-anticipated second issue of Alan Clark’s ongoing graphic novel, In Search of the Black Panthers. The issue begins with the assassination of Malcolm X, then details the origins and rise of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, culminating in the arrest of one of the party’s cofounders, Huey P. Newton, for allegedly killing a police officer. This graphic novel depiction of one of the most iconic, controversial, violent and challenging times in U.S. history is an impeccably researched and illustrated book. Get ready to learn how to make a revolution.

RISE OF THE PANTHERS 1RISE OF THE PANTHERS 2RISE OF THE PANTHERS 8RISE OF THE PANTHERS 11RISE OF THE PANTHERS 14RISE OF THE PANTHERS 15RISE OF THE PANTHERS 23RISE OF THE PANTHERS 29RISE OF THE PANTHERS 48RISE OF THE PANTHERS 49

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PREORDER RISE OF THE BLACK PANTHERS / BY ALAN CLARK

Issue II of the graphic novel, In Search of the Black Panthers. (Shipping and Handling Included in Price.)

$17.00

BABYLON ISSUE ONE: LOVE IS A DEAD PLACE

BY ALAN CLARK

Ready for one of the most intense, sprawling, and mind-bending sci-fi graphic novels you’ve ever read? Check out these first few pages of Babylon Issue One, and don’t forget to pick up the comic for only $7!

issue1coverfuturebabylon1babylon2babylon3babylon4babylon5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BABYLON ‘LOVE IS A DEAD PLACE’ ISSUE ONE / ALAN CLARK

This is where it all begins! (Shipping and Handling Included in Price)

$7.00

 

PUNCH NAZIS

BY ALAN CLARK

Yeah, fuckin FUCK you.

cdmvstrump

DAYS OF SLOW-MOTION AGONY

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

tsunami

Those were the days of slow-motion agony.

Days when we began to watch everything collapse.

Many, during that epoch, proposed that this line of thought was not new, that people of all generations going back to ancient times had envisioned the conditions and consequences of apocalypse. Such individuals clearly understood nothing. For one, it didn’t occur to us as a line of thought. The whole thing was in actuality a feeling.

One which hung low in the gut, as if an invisible gun were being constantly pressed to our heads. We could never know when the gun would fire, or if it was even there at all. A feeling unlike any other, something for which there was no word.

But that feeling, agonizing though it was, was not unbearable. The future was still a leviathan, whose shape was barely visible through an abyss of dark water, its outline hideous, overwhelming, but only vaguely distinguishable. The leviathan’s movement toward us was slow, almost imperceptible, slower than the growth of trees—and so although it was undeniable, it had also become a vision of normal, even mundane proportions, looming before us always like a cloud in the sky: meaningful, monumental, altering our behavior through its constant presence. Thus we were changed by it, but only partially. We couldn’t yet be fully transformed because it was not near enough, and because the practices of those who had brought the leviathan forth in the first place were merely shadowed rather than eclipsed.

Under these circumstances we continued to undergo the painful process of evolution, and previously unheard of characteristics began to emerge. Most prominent was the development of a type of amorphous, parasitic organism at the centermost point of our chests, whose bodies were composed of concentrated anxiety. The creatures, nebulous as they were, nevertheless took on forms. They were discovered to be grotesque, otherworldly, microscopic horrors equipped with endlessly varied arrangements of mandibles, stingers, claws and other violent attributes which would flail within their hosts. The sensation of these creatures, thrashing away within, was the tickle of ultimate dread, and to feel that tickle was simply what it meant to be alive.

In short, we suffered slowly. And all the while, even though we knew the leviathan was drawing near, or that the gun would soon fire, or whatever elegant metaphor you may have wanted to convert the whole ugly fucking mess of irreconcilable truth into, there was no longer anything we could do, and every day life slogged forward—throughout it all retaining a bizarre measure of normality.

Those of us who saw the leviathan approaching, who couldn’t deceive ourselves and feared it, sought at first to correct our fate through purity. The leviathan seemed to us the ultimate contaminant of our future, so how to cleanse ourselves? Our habits would have to change. Every perversion and pollutant would have to be identified, located, jettisoned from our behavior, until at last we would be left as wholesome, synergistic, pure.

This tendency to disinfect ourselves was our first, and most damaging, reaction. The world had long ago ceased to function as such a logical structure—its operations had been corrupted and reordered in our own image. We realized that if the earth had been remade as human, then it must function according to the rules of paradox.

Contradiction had become the defining quality of our species. We no longer possessed the ability to live harmoniously with nature or one another. Systems which had been built to be beneficial were in fact deleterious, but we saw everything as its opposite. We could not cleanse ourselves of impurities because we were impurities, and our attempts to refine ourselves only made us more poisonous. But, of course, because we had made ourselves into creatures of contradiction, we could not accept the truth. We conceived of ourselves as holy, sanctified, when in actuality we were debased and inconsequential. We followed our instincts, and our instinct was to hope we could change. We did this even as our every natural tendency hastened the leviathan’s approach.

In light of these discoveries, some of us came to the conclusion that the only reasonable thing to do would be to lose hope. Hope was the belief in our own ever-expanding potential, and the destiny of our potential was to expand until we destroyed ourselves. To hope was to believe in your own annihilation.

Although this seemed rational to us, perhaps even dangerously sane, we were once again to encounter paradox. One could not purge hope in order to gain hope. Or, if one did, all that was accomplished was an infinite vacillation between the two states. To purge hope would have to be a more permanent alteration of thought—the belief in the inevitability of our demise, and thus a complete redefinition of our instincts.

But how to go against one’s own instincts? We proved capable of giving up on virtually all other emotions before hope, even though this last thing should have been an almost effortless task in comparison to the forfeiture of the rest of the range of human emotions we held dear. The evidence for a bleak tomorrow, flat and incontrovertible as it was, should have proven hope to be a dead concept. But, on the contrary, that hollow notion was the final thing to be relinquished. So, in naturally paradoxical fashion, the first emotions to go were those vital elements which energized and animated us, leaving people as empty automatons whose only inner sustenance was an irrational, thrumming hope.

I was someone who couldn’t purge her hope, despite the fact I knew the truth: there was not just one leviathan approaching, but many. Some larger, some smaller, but all with the same purpose. My family had been devoured by one long ago. In my own country they referred to it as the American War, or the Civil War. In the United States we called it Vietnam. That horrific leviathan had left some of us alive, and my destiny was supposed to be a different one—it was to be, in a word, hopeful. But just as everyone had to, I couldn’t help discovering that the world was mired in paradox. In exchange for my future becoming hopeful, I would have to feed other families to a leviathan of my own creation, extinguishing their hope in the process. This would be the price for prosperity, one which I paid.

But the contradiction of this bargain would quickly grow so cumbersome it threatened to crush me. Not only because I witnessed the harm I was inflicting on others, even though I didn’t have to look, and was even encouraged not to look, but also because I had always thought of the leviathans as the result of other peoples’ actions, people with worse intentions than myself who benefited directly from our misery, and the truth turned out to be something much different. All of us were responsible. I was responsible. Like so many of my generation, I desperately wanted to be guiltless, blameless, pure. If our purity was true, then we could believe in ourselves, and something, somehow, would change. As it turned out, there was nothing to hope for. The leviathans had become too large, too numerous, and we had all played a role in perpetuating them.

I sought out disinfection, and when I couldn’t be cleansed I turned to a more violent means of correction. This was my first, and most damaging, reaction. I hung myself.

By chance alone I survived. As soon as I felt the noose tighten, I realized my mistake. There could be no purification, even through death. The world had long ago ceased to function as a logical structure, its operations had been corrupted and reordered in our own image. I had lost hope in everything, and I wanted to die to be rid of the pain, but the truth was that I was only in pain because I hadn’t yet lost hope in anything. My hope had not been lost, simply unrequited—and it was pointless to expect the pain to end, because hope was no longer feasible. Our fate had already been decided by history and human nature. The leviathans would overtake us, and death was coming for the species. The only thing left to do would be to live, and to come to terms with the unavoidable.

HAPPY THURSDAY

BY ALAN CLARK

Alan Clark shares with us a moment of Thursday reflection.

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On this horrid day of our Sky Lord, May Something, 2019, we have been blessed by those cosplaying our Bible stories once again, and they’ve decided plagues were a good way to start the week. Shit we could easily wipe out in this day and age, and which warped your grandparents’ lives and fragile psyches, is making a big comeback.

The current generation has become jealous, and wants to return to the days when plague was common—simply one more part of that adventure called Life. Grandpa & grandma can’t have all the fun, now can they? Luckily, chair technology has made life more tolerable, and developers have added the drug-pouch and drug feeding-tube attachments, allowing a person to be completely blissed-out as the world burns to a lovely oak cinder. We sit in our lazychairs, masturbating between tasks in some kind of ritualistic rebranding called self-love. I guess jerking off had become toxic, and needed a new name to convince people to avoid each other and just touch themselves. Luckily for us, Amazon has added the new dumptruck option, where the aforementioned dumptruck of laxatives shall be delivered with feeding-tube, funnel, or whatever floats your boat, helping you to maintain your gender-free fatless body. Or, for those more loving of their fat, and who wish to improve their girthy size, the laxatives may be easily mixed into your food, allowing you to consume twice the amount of food any normal human being should. But it’s self-love, so it’s morally good now! Either way, a trained professional will be ready to help you shit out your collective ovaries and meaty chunks into the ocean pissbowl, all of it helping to season our next extinction event.

And what about that president we seem to have received gift-wrapped on our doorstep? We knew back on Day 1 that Trump was gonna show signs of syphilitic madness, but now the Mutant Cheetoh McRapealot wants his mad rule extended another two years as some sick reparation for the actions of the defunct, almost useless, Democrats. Trump is gleaming so brightly with radioactive sweat-beads the size of horse ejaculate that it’s possible he may have been responsible for the recent uptick in plane crashes. This seems the only explanation as to the purpose of his evil orange tan, mixed with raw chicken that’s been left out in the Arizona sun for a week. You can see his gleam from space. Many passing alien lifeforms consider it a marker of something which they should avoid.

Ever since his photo-shoot with the Legion of Evil, he’s been getting serious about how quickly he can gang-rape the country into a well-meaning suicide attempt before things can heat up at the next gala, wherein they’ll pick another shape to grope. Geometry has never suffered so greatly till now.

It’s days like these that make me wish I was a time-traveling abortionist. Oh, the good I could do. Real good.

BLESS THE BASTARDS, FOR THEY ARE HOLY AMONGST THE PISS-DRENCHED.

COSMIC DEATH MONKEY’S DAY JOB

BY ALAN CLARK

When you die, you’re going to face ultimate judgment. Don’t get stuck without representation! Cosmic Death Monkey, reincarnation lawyer nonpareil, will get your soul back up and running in the physical realm just as soon as you can say “Here’s all my money.” Plus, cool poster.

cdmdayjobcosmicposter

PENCIL BEAUTY

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

Before a comic is inked, it is like a wavering image of reality. These scenes, sketched by Dean Westerfield, are ghostlike and illusory, touching in their sense of care, and seem to open a window onto whole microscopic worlds.

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PHAUL/DEGLET NOOR FAKIRS LIVE ON DUNG MUMMY RADIO

This is a Long Beach gem. Dung Mummy radio is “a radio show combining experimental music, ethnic field recordings, noise, and celebration of life amidst the decay of a dying empire,” and is the brainchild of Hop-Frog Collectiv, a musician-owned label. Their music is unlike anything you’ve ever heard before, and ranges from bad-acid-trip noise art to musical travelogues. One of their artists, Phaul, is a good friend of ZQ-287, and we’re proud to share one of his most engaging performances, a collaboration with Deglet Noor Fakirs. Hop-Frog also puts on the infamous Dung Mummy festival. I went in 2016, and it was one of the weirdest, best musical experiences I’ve ever had. Take a look!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GEN-Y, OCCUPY WALL STREET, AND THE COMPLEX WEB

(AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL DISPOSABLE THOUGHT)

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

An all-new, revised second edition of DISPOSABLE THOUGHT is hitting stores in two weeks! Help us to make this, our first official ZQ-287 release, a success. Portions of the proceeds will go to the homeless, as well toward our own, and others’, supervilliany.

turbulentsea

It cannot be stressed enough that the Market has been tracking us from the earliest possible moment. We have been anticipated, as well as profiled. The Market was preparing our—our meaning GenY’s—psychography from the earliest moments. Psychographics, a combination of psychology and demographics, is a method of market segmentation or target marketing similar to the racial segmentation Merideth informed Cole he was part of as a member of the Half-Cat Grouping, but with psychographics it’s the overarching psychological makeup of a generation that is used for differentiation. An oft-cited piece of psychographic literature pertaining to GenY is “A Psychographic Analysis of Generation Y College Students”. This article is worth noting because of the date it was published, September 1, 2001, only ten days before the events of 9/11 that would (it goes without saying) transform the landscape of U.S. political, historical and cultural touchstones, and especially the generational experience of then-young GenY. But ten days before all that, the most significant cultural markers for GenY, according to the article, were “divorce, AIDS, Sesame Street, MTV, crack cocaine, Game Boy, and the PC.” How quaint this list now appears.

We are a society of dogma, and GenY has grown up to be indoctrinated through a strange strategy of placation and pandering. Our souls are uniquely imperiled as a result of our numbers:

Industry analysts have observed that more is at stake for advertisers and marketers when communicating with Generation Y than with Generation X. The size of the group accounts for the increased risk, for when the younger cohorts (the 6-17-year-olds) are added to the 18-24-year-olds, they are a group nearly as large as the Boomers (Yers are 60 million in size, Xers are at 17 million, and Boomers are at 72 million). Brands that thrived among Boomers but flopped when aimed at Xers hurt marketers, but the miss was tolerable. Brands that miss the mark with Generation Y may not recover.

Such is the context of our true psychology, that our minds have long been designated as a battleground, and that our knowledge of self has been refined through consumerism before we were allowed to discover it for ourselves.

So what options are we left with to regain sovereignty of thought? Occupy Wall Street was a glimpse into a broader impotent rage abiding in a young generation growing into belated social consciousness—belated due to constant intake of media nerve toxins since birth, the side effects of which were distorted worldviews and stunted reasoning, and impotent not only because the protests failed to produce any change in either the financial system or everyday consumer behavior, but also because of the hopelessly antiquated idea that public protest still can affect change.

Occupy may have mainly been about income inequality, but a considerable portion of its rhetoric and writings addressed spirituality, media, technology, indoctrination, etc., raising vital questions about how to think freely and transcend U.S. corporate-driven culture.

But if all along the underlying issues were social atomization and obedience to corporate propaganda machines (and corporations have melded with government to an alarming degree), then the real tragedy has arrived only now, after the movement, as some of Occupy’s foremost thinkers fall prey to tricky ideological hazards, attempting to co-opt the very problems we face in order to solve them.

Micah White, former editor of Adbusters, said this in an interview with Esquire.

My thinking is moving away from the protest. Instead, I’m more interested now with the power of social mobilization. The power of, basically, getting large numbers of people to change their behaviors, to depattern themselves, to actually get the facts collectively in order to tackle global challenges…I’m at the library and I’m reading all these books about revolution. Is there a pattern that always happens? And there is. De Tocqueville is who observed that revolution often just functions to strengthen state power. I think that that’s why the movement towards kind of, you know, horizontalist, Internet-enabled, populist movements is a way to not repeat that pattern.

The former editor of Adbusters and notable Occupy figurehead is describing the future of revolution to us in Esquire?—perhaps he’s never seen an issue before, wherein men are encouraged to dress like young Wall St execs, popular media is showcased, and consumer products are frantically peddled. Just a quick look at Esquire’s homepage on the day of writing reveals these headlines.

All the Important Developments in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

We Talked to Nick English About Luxury
Watches…

The 6 Things You Need to Know About Dressing Your Groomsmen

White’s acceptance of Esquire’s nomination as “one of the most influential people under 35 years old alive today” strikes as being exceedingly damaging from a revolutionary standpoint. Could the same interview not have been related through PBS, Pacifica, or Adbusters itself, for instance? He’s clearly at the point in his career as an activist-intellectual where he can make the choice. Or could his forthcoming book, The End of Protest (Alfred A. Knopf-Canada), not be published through a less corporate but no less potent label?

In the same interview, White claims, “the total cost of Occupy was probably under, like, $500. It’s ridiculous. It’s like a force multiplier. That is allowing history to be changed very rapidly.” However these statements contradict those made during the mobilization by Pete Dutro, a “finance group member” from Occupy, who reported the movement had collected over $700,000 from donors, and that most of the money had already been spent on kitchens, street medics, bus tickets, subway passes, printing expenses, and more, by March 2012. Admirable as it is for White to want his energy to be infectious, it’s difficult not to see this glaring omission about what it really takes to spark a movement like Occupy—hundreds of thousands of dollars and an established print magazine with wide distribution—as falling into the same category of insipidly inspirational corporate advertising itself. You can be like me, no matter what! Or can you? Shouldn’t we be able to trust our own revolutionaries to detail the difference for us, even when uncomfortable?

The same people who urge us to break out of a coded media machine are unable to do so themselves, adding to the frustrated anxiety that led protesters into the streets. Only once supposedly small details such as this are examined can we understand why Occupy, though effective in essence, passed out of existence being ineffective in practice. It begs the question—can our generation, immediately inculcated by an utopic political landscape of exacting commercial entertainments, and shielded as we are from so many of the grim realities of our vast empire, possibly find it within ourselves to enact revolutionary sacrifice? We are entering a phase of globalized economic development where class warfare may only be intelligible in an international sense, in which Third World represents the proletariat and First World, even many of its poor citizens, represents the bourgeoisie. And yet we do well to remember that revolution can come from anywhere, even from above.

If we have truly fallen into the trap of believing our “horizontalist, populist” movements are also necessarily “Internet-enabled,” then we must accept our own psychic inability to come to terms with the way things are becoming, and indeed the way things are. We maintain our self-reference and feed our personal empires even more. The answer for why nothing has changed is because we have failed to recognize that their platforms are not our own, allowing discourse itself to become product & entertainment, losing our ability to organize and communicate with each other without assistance or patronage. Slowly, we recede back into the disunity of objects and media from whence we emerged.

We are unfortunate if we misconstrue Occupy as having been a revolution, and even more unfortunate if we come to view it as our redeeming sacrifice. To view it through clearer eyes is to see it as the despairing, neurotic outburst of those of us who have long been subjected to broad commercial avarice lauded as patriotism’s religious duty to capitalism. To criticize even rougher would be to say that what resulted from the 2008 financial collapse and the Great Recession was not purely righteous outcry, but rather the economic hissy-fit of the middle-class, thrown at the prospect of not being able to attain the same unsustainable excesses of the generation who preceded them. Some have even pointed out to me that the movement was late to the party anyway in terms of income inequality, since there have long existed quite damning imbalances in wealth for minorities and women, partly making Occupy a time-and-place mouthpiece for the nation’s most privileged earners. And while that in no way annuls the movement’s more universal values, it is in many ways a legitimate criticism.

This is, admittedly, a nitpicky and unsparing evaluation, one that may even be overmuch or unfair, as some readers have undoubtedly judged for themselves by this point, but I feel I’m conducting it with good reason. I was a proponent of Occupy, and even continue to be, but these questions are far from frivolous. It would be a disservice not to reflect on our own flaws and inconsistencies. Don’t these tiny details matter, in some ways? Don’t they call to mind the “patterning” White describes? At some point we may know for certain, but until then I’m willing to hazard that they do.

The regrettable destiny for those who voiced most vociferously the highly moralistic cries against corporate plutocracy will likely be, if our current course follows, the dead irony of history. Just as we saw the Boomers’ betrayal of their own 1960s anti-empire values, we will see GenY side with corporations as they come to inherit professional power, growing increasingly addicted to electronics and intoxicated by the false belief that environmental and social change can be brought about through so-called “conscious consumerism.” Thus we march toward the unhappy fate of metamorphosing into commercial objects ourselves.

Future dwellers: You must subvert and attack what our generation holds dear. You must see through the complex web we have spun over truth.

KEEP THE COMMUNITY POOR-FORDABLE

(A PSA ANNOUNCEMENT BY COSMIC DEATH MONKEY)

BY ALAN CLARK

And now, a polite message from our friend and “fixer,” Cosmic Death Monkey.

poorfordable

BREATHE EASY, YOU’RE IN ZQ-287 HELL.

ZQ287LOGO

We’re back, and oh Good Bleeding Christ do we have books for you! But, first:

If you’re anything like Marco Rubio, you’ve been masturbating to the newest Juan Guaidó porn-coup videos and dreaming about Ann Coulter calling you a big, strong man. But if you’re anything like us, you’ve been doing spit-takes through massive weed-pen rips, exclaiming at the TV, “—Joe Biden?!” And just when we thought we were all actually taking this shit seriously for a change.

So now we’re doing the only rational thing left in this world, giving the homeless money. zq287.com is proud to announce the theme of our Second Volume of Terror: handouts to the needy. No 501c3s, no board members, just here’s your ten dollars. Yep, this one is sure to piss all the bastards off!

We’ve got new releases, and we’re weaponizing books. If you decide to buy, we’ll dedicate dollars from our profits to add to the handouts (forgive the lack of specifics so far, we’ve got our top mathematicians feverishly working on the numbers).

Welcome back, and remember, if you disagree with giving people money for drugs, the first ones you should point the finger at are employers. Have a good day!

 

 

LIL’ BABEL

BY ALAN CLARK

Babylon is dropping Issue 4 this month! Not to mention the brand new, full-color reboot of Issue 1. That means we’re only one more issue away from the first five-issue installment of the graphic novel, and people seem to be catching on. Who knew readers would enjoy an interdimensional, sci-fi soap opera?

For now, here’s an extra two-pager, Lil’ Babel. Enjoy!

“How did you find this place?”

“Some stupid coupon some lame-ass gave me for my birthday. Also, I will be paying in coupon.”

“Those coupons will kill me.”

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ISIS

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

Isis by Dean Westerfield is a mythical adventure story through the ancient world that details Isis’s struggle to reassemble the dismembered pieces of her husband, Osiris, a benevolent god murdered by his brother Set. Isis travels across the globe, retrieving the pieces from mortals and gods alike.

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AHVAZ ATTACK TRIGGERS RATIONAL PARANOIA

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

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OCT 10 2018

The Paranoid, although agonizingly well-aware doom looms over us all with constancy in the year 2018, is pretty rational about things in general, reasonably balanced. He is at once the type of person to plan for ecological catastrophe, sea level rise, epidemics, pandemics, weaknesses endemic to modern human civilization, to accept as perfectly natural the possible occurrence of skies filled with radioactive dust blotting out the sun, of occasional conspiratorial genocides, of political systems being sucked into the black hole of totalitarianism, but also, at the same time, to understand that life must be lived regardless, groceries bought, rent paid, boredom alleviated by Ntfx, YuTb, Hulu and Vudu and aldjf;aljdf, addictions satisfied with booze, pot, coke and high-grade news analysis, and so prudently he takes on jobs.

He’s ill-suited for many of them, being a bit too studied and enlightened in the field of Doom for such worldly necessities as self-abasement and consumerism, and he is perpetually in the process of being fired here, hired there, re-hired and then re-fired and then hired somewhere else. Most recently he has been fired, now looking to be hired. He responds to Craigslist job posts under los angeles | central LA 213/323 | general labor, gets turned down for Order Puller & Unloading Containers (Compton) pic map and WAREHOUSE JANITOR (CITY OF COMMERCE) map but then gets hired by Fleet truck washer $13.25 + OT (South Gate) img.

He works in a five-person crew cleaning trucks and vans that have Adalberto’s Produce Co. printed on the sides in the backlot of a processing facility strangled with broke wooden pallets and rusting forklifts. Central Americans work inside the processing facility, they stream outside several times a day wearing white hairnets, nitrile gloves, jackets and sweaters. Always there are white hairnets spattered across the hot backlot asphalt like jellyfish corpses spit up onto beachsand. To wash the vehicles they use metalwire prongs that allow a person to carry three buckets at once, wax, tirecleaner, Armor All, microfiber shams, rags, ladders, squeegees mounted on six-foot poles. They wear hats and long clothing because there’s no shade. Aurelio, Moises, and Juana speak Spanish most of the day, and also Maziar, Mazy, who’s Persian and close to 40 but multilingual. The Paranoid is monolingual. But everyone’s nice, they teach him a bit, phrases, slang, enough that they can all laugh together. They’re good people and they seem to have almost no strong opinions or thoughts at all about anything, but their sense of humor is good, except Aurelio, Relio, who’s in charge sort of. The Paranoid, like always when starting a new job, keeps his mouth shut and his own thoughts to himself.

Until one time Relio and Moises start complaining about Peña Nieto, Trump. The Paranoid can’t really understand their conversation specifically, but thinks he might get the gist. Like a smoker he can’t resist temptation, can’t help but to indulge himself and join the conversation. After a while there’s not much more to complain about, so Relio wraps things up by saying all these fucking politicians are corruptos anyway. The Paranoid says that, well, we’ll see, Obrador takes office in January.

Moises says, “I’m gonna estar being a politician, fuck everyone over.”

The Paranoid says that that’s good, a good thing, he always encourages people to go into politics.

Moises nods.

He’s running a political assassination firm, so it’s important to him that people always run for office. After all, he certainly doesn’t want to be washing trucks forever.

They laugh, but go straight back to work. The Paranoid fears he senses something faint. Perhaps they laugh because they’ve discovered he’s rational, but perhaps they laugh too quickly because they’ve also discovered he’s bizarre. The Paranoid, in every imaginable social situation, is always getting found out, exposed.

The Paranoid is always taking things too seriously, or not serious enough. He is always monitoring the air for clues, tremors, tones of voice, collective feelings, changes in the wind. He is always on the verge of nervous breakdown, but he’s also always doing just fine. Sadly, he’s good at being argumentative but not at manipulating others.

He eats pouches of frozen food made to be heated up in a pan. Sees people on YuTb wearing VR visors moving limbs like they’re spacesuited on the moon. Watches the natural disaster channel. Hears about a million new Yemeni cholera patients per day.

Stays silent so long as to become desperate, as if somehow world events were a grand hallucinatory picture show shilled from pages and screens to keep him, him alone, trapped within a tunneling narrative. Were they Truman Showing him? Could that be an explanation for why people got so jittery, so discomfited whenever he mentioned news, politics, or merely tried to get at the meaning of things? Or maybe something far worse — that to know, to be aware, would be an implication of guilt, or a ruling to care about others.

One day, though, the world becomes real again, abruptly. Mazy comes to him after work, rueful, grief-stricken, silvering black hair groomed and styled but face uncaring, despairing. If the Paranoid isn’t doing anything right now, would he be available to go get a beer?

Mazy takes him to Buffalo Wild Wings. It’s nearby. Mazy is not the kind of person who distinguishes the emotional or aesthetic matrices of any given day and then translates such information into an appropriate bar to go to. They’re in a place full of noise, screens, some video games that simulate deer hunting, golfing, driving cars. The Paranoid asks Mazy what’s wrong.

Mazy, Maziar, reveals that one of his relatives, a cousin, was killed only a few days ago. A terrorist attack in the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz, the hometown of his mother’s side of the family. His cousin, shot in the gut and the throat. A military parade for the Revolutionary Guard there, pomp, circumstance, discipline, national pride, suddenly a dozen or more gunmen, some of them taking part in the parade, wearing RevGuard unis themselves, start firing assault weapons. 29 killed, nearly 100 wounded. Mazy’s cousin, plus 28. She wasn’t RevGuard. She was a she. She was watching the parade with Mazy’s family and caught two shells.

The Buffalo Wild Wings waitress bounds to the table wearing the Buffalo Wild Wings shirt, probably not 25 yet, makeup’d and dressed sexual, speaking babyspeak. “Okay, guys, here are your beeeeeers, the Sierra Nevaaaada, aaaaand the Shocktop.”
This is not the place to grieve. A big shiny orange wedge impaled on the rim of Mazy’s beer. He stares into it, miserable.

The Paranoid is sympathetic, he knows all about the Ahvaz attack. The whole thing was too odd to overlook. Since when does a Khuzestani anti-govt Arab minority group with a big ostentatious name like the Ahvaz National Resistance get the cajones to stage an attack on RevGuard troops, then bullhorn about it afterwards all over the internet? The timing of it seems a bit fucking suspicious given the fact that that John Bolton asshole booted McMaster outta the national security adviser position in April, then only one month later the US rips up the JCPOA and sanctions everything in Iran up to and including the fucking oil and the fucking kebabs.

Mazy nods, takes a sip of beer and wonders aloud what the hell is happening? Can the Paranoid explain to him, Mazy, why his cousin, who he grew up with and was quite close to, is now dead?

The Paranoid says that it’s for absolutely no reason that is good. In fact, this whole incident has him concerned for the near-future fate of Iran, because once you start looking at some of these details floating around out there, it starts getting too reminiscent of the 1950s for comfort, all Operation Ajax-y.

Maziar asks what the Paranoid means.

He says it’s just that, well, look at what happened in the direct aftermath of the attack. Iran summoned diplomats from the UK, Denmark, Netherlands, etc., to accuse them of harboring Iranian opposition groups. Which of course Iran has the habit of quickly blaming all internal discord on foreign conspirators, but in this case, for the first time in a long time, they’ve got a pretty solid point. John Bolton, after all, was a longtime supporter and lobbyist for the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, and only a few months ago told some of their members in a speech that they would be celebrating the overthrow of the Iranian regime in Tehran before the year 2019.

Then you look at what happened back in July when Belgian Special Police intercepted two Iranian Belgian nationals in a Mercedes that had 500 grams of TATP explosive and an ignition mechanism in it, and it turned out they were going to somehow cross the border into France and attack a gathering of the MEK in Paris that top US officials and even Rudy Giuliani attended, and what does that tell you? That Iranian intelligence is so concerned about the activities of the White House-backed MEK they’re willing to risk carrying out an attack on foreign, European soil just to bag some of their leading members. They didn’t just decide to attempt all that out of the blue — the MEK is clearly being proactive enough to warrant concern.

And then you think about how the Trump Administration is creating a multilateral security alliance with six Gulf Arab States plus Egypt and Jordan with the explicit goal of “countering Iranian expansion in the region” or whatever the fuck, and suddenly this militant Arab minority rights group pops up screaming about how they’re definitely Arabs, and Mike Pompeo is the fucking secretary of state right after being head of the CIA, which 50% of the CIA’s job description is overthrowing foreign governments through the use of proxy forces, and also all this drumbeating that went on at the UN General Assembly…

Maziar looks like the kind of person who could never hope to finish off a full glass of Shocktop without probably feeling hopelessly intoxicated.

…the only reason the Paranoid mentions any of this is because he’s so sorry about Mazy’s cousin, and he thinks it’s better for him to know what’s going on, even if nothing happens, which heaven forbid anything does.

They get mildly drunk together in Buffalo Wild Wings, but something about Mazy has changed, the Paranoid notices. His expression grows rigid and his words become short. He still laughs, but too much on cue; he still offers the Paranoid a ride back to his car, but too eagerly, too pro forma. The Paranoid cannot figure out what has happened. He doesn’t let on that he notices the change. He feels like, after his second Sierra Nevada, that Mazy had offloaded his sadness onto him, and that he had reflected that sadness back at Mazy, but Mazy had not recognized himself in the reflection.

The next time he sees Mazy, at work, he asks him how he’s doing. He’s careful to ask him confidentially. Mazy is quick to assure him he’s doing better, and thanks the Paranoid, but then Mazy is never the same around him at work. He does not speak English to the Paranoid so much anymore, sticks to the conversations in Spanish and no longer translates things as often as before for the Paranoid’s benefit. Over time, things become much less friendly at work than they’d been at the beginning.

The Paranoid is always making people uncomfortable. He is always accidentally crossing lines, or if not by accident then purposefully, always taking things too far or being too much himself around others. It is better, he discovers over and over again, to put on an act for people, to pretend not to be who he is. Who he is puts people on edge.
The Paranoid wonders if he’s right about what he said at Buffalo Wild Wings, about the Ahvaz attack. He starts to become paranoid — what if he was right? What if the USG really is feverishly plotting the overthrow of the Iranian regime?

Several months later, work becomes unbearable for him and he quits the truck washing job. He realizes much later that that day in Buffalo Wild Wings with Maziar, discussing Iran, had been the beginning of the end for him there. For some reason, nothing could stay the same after what he’d said.

 

 

 

 

 

ATTACK IN SISTAN-BALUCHESTAN TRIGGERS RATIONAL PARANOIA

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

baluchestan

FEB 13 2019

On the way to his new sandwich making job, four months after quitting his job washing trucks, the Paranoid is flipping through phone-news, head full of refined caffeine and swiping-finger shaking like a tiny pancreatitic chihuahua, when he comes across the headline, “Suicide attack on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard kills at least 23”.

Just like what happened in Ahvaz back in October, another Sunni separatist group, Jaish al-Adl, this time operating near the Pakistani border, carried out a suicide bombing attack on a bus carrying elite members of Iran’s RevGuard. Again, just a little fucking suspicious given the attack occurred on the same day as an international conference convened by the Trump administration in Warsaw that they called a “Middle East peace summit.” But then, just before the talks, without even trying to keep a straight public-relations face, Benjamin Netanyahu jumped on his Twitter account to stream a video of himself saying, “What is important about this meeting—and this meeting is not in secret, because there are many of those—is that this is an open meeting with representatives of leading Arab countries, that are sitting down together with Israel in order to advance the common interest of war with Iran.”

ZING!

So, the Paranoid thinks, riding (queasily enough) the bus to work, it turns out they’ve got the dumb motherfuckers dead to rights. Not as if it were all some big secret in the first place. Sanctions crippling the Iranian economy for months now, plummeting currency, food and medicine shortages, and then let’s not forget the whole Venezuela situation.

Yep, if anyone really thought the U.S. had gotten over its nasty neo-imperialist habit of overthrowing governments that don’t allow foreign capital to exploit their countries’ labor markets and natural resources, then just stop right there, mister! Because here comes Mike Pence speakin da Spanish, CIA weapons shipments from an airline in North Carolina, a brand new puppet president ready to take office just as soon as they can blast old Maduro’s brains out—and Señor Elliot Abrams resurrected from the crypt to be in charge of it all.

The Paranoid looks up from his phone, glances around the bus. People just like him, looking down, headphones in ears, joyless faces. His smile drops, and he suddenly feels less glib.

Well, he thinks to himself, it’s at least a pleasant fantasy to imagine the entire Trump administration being blown to bits just like those RevGuard bastards, maybe a couple of Pompeo’s blown-off fingers somehow ending up, amidst the carnage, crammed into John Bolton’s empty eye sockets, or Pence’s disembodied tongue forced deep inside Trump’s cold, dead anus.

But of course it’s only a fantasy. After all, it goes against historical principles: rightist politicians might get deposed by angry mobs, or even get taken out of power through legal means, but only leftist politicians get assassinated.

The Paranoid pulls the stop-request cord, gets off the unexploded bus. He’ll be making sandwiches the next seven hours.

 

 

 

 

ANOTHER DAY IN BABEL

BY ALAN CLARK

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SICK AND TIRED AND PISS DRUNK

BY ALAN CLARK

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DISPOSABLE THOUGHT

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

Buy it here.

 

 

 

 

 

ZQ287LOGO

 

 

THE ASSASSINATION OF FRED HAMPTON

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

This is an early graphic journalism piece by Dean Westerfield about the traumatizing assassination of Fred Hampton, one of the Black Panthers’ youngest and most promising members. This is a talented, restrained sequence that calls to mind Alan Clark’s graphic novelization In Search of the Black Panthers, which will be releasing Issue Two next month. Take a look at some of Westerfield’s other work, and explore further with Alan Clark’s graphic novel.

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SIMPLIFIED FORMAL ESSAY

A SIMPLIFIED FORMAL ESSAY ON

HUMANITY SEPARATISM

AND ITS THEORETICAL RELATION TO

DESTRUCTION OF HEGEMONY

WITH REGARDS TO JUNTA RULE

AND GLOBAL INEQUITABLE DIGI-CAPITALISM

By Venna Kyi—Former Exile of Myanmar

1 – The Origin Point and Deadlock of Efforts

I write in English here only for the sake of utility, that the theories held herein may find the proper audiences and activists, and not as a symbol of any personal preference or bias, other than the current biased world configuration. In recognition of my nation’s seminal leaders, I have taken up the name “Kyi” to at once formally criticize the continued usefulness of old symbols (Aung San, Aung San Suu Kyi), as well as to mobilize their residual power. Oppression has taken many forms in Myanmar: Britain; Japan; the Military Junta; United States; Burmans and the Bama-Exclusive Government, but in light of recent obfuscating liberalizations in policy and the sentiment of disengagement that inevitably follows in its wake, there grows the need for a single over-arching strategy for personal emancipation. We will term this strategy Humanity Separatism.

To all global citizen-members, this shall be our most fundamental presumption of our understanding of reality, that: All improvements in materials and technologies throughout all history have been characterized by two aspects of usefulness, first that they have been useful to benefit the very few, and second that they are successfully used to subject and torture the very many. While technological advancements are touted as progress markers of humanity in the First World, they are in fact used contradictorily to keep poor citizens of this planet stagnated in a time bubble. The growing technological capabilities of the developed world institutionalize Third World nations as resource farms populated by Disposable Units of slave labor. In First World territories, technological capabilities are captured and extracted from developing nations, and are used to institutionalize the poor’s continuously-more-profound exclusion from a new aristocracy, along with supranational financial regulating entities (IMF, WTO, World Bank, etc.), forsaking them to Disposable Units of allowed consumption. While this basic principle holds true throughout most of civilization, it has become exacerbated by the runaway, mutant system of Digital-Capitalism, and the personal philosophies of greed and over-consumption that are directly traceable to it. There are no means whereby to overthrow either Digitalism or Capitalism, nor especially its new hybrid form, despite many highfalutin theories and armed revolutions. All those who fight it die in vainglory. There is only one endpoint to the standing hegemony of the world, namely, Conclusion.

2 – Inundation and Collapse

In a broad personal sense, there are only two basic categorical political philosophies regardless of specificity or overlap, these being liberal-reactionary and oldworld-traditional. Liberal-reactionaries adhere to these general characteristics: moderation, inclusion, secularism, wide learnedness, regulation, diplomacy. On the other side of the coin, oldworld-traditionals adhere to these characteristics: possession, exclusion, religion, narrow specialized expertise, deregulation, war. Arguments here of over-generalization have no place, for let it be implicitly understood that most individuals incorporate characteristics of both sides into themselves, also notwithstanding hypocrites, mind-changers, opportunists, and so on.

The characteristics of liberal-reactionism arise in opposition or refutation of specific aspects of Digi-Capitalism deemed excessive. Liberal-reactionary tactics, while correct in diagnosing the symptoms that make up the disease of Digi-Capitalism, are counter-intuitive when applied as cures. In fact, in practice these tactics tend to sustain and add shelf life to the hegemony, aggravating the separate symptoms they seek to lessen, and the overall strength of the disease is redoubled. Instead, the task is to become brink-liberals, a type of temporary neoliberalism that absorbs, and adheres to, the characteristics of oldworld-traditionalism as a type of concrete satire. Such a reversal will transmute the values of persons with oldworld-traditional worldviews into those of a person with a liberal-reactionary worldview. This will bring about the inundation and collapse of Digi-Capitalism according to this model, the model of humanity separatism.

The formula is this: the Digi-Capitalist system’s primary embedded impetus is in-and-of-itself its own undoing, i.e., the attainment of the system’s purest goal is also its own self-destruct button. The primary impetus is popularly—and falsely—believed to be Consumption, and is targeted widely as the fundamental enemy, but it is not the actual primary impetus. Rather, the principle of Consumption rests upon a very specific foundational psychological aberration, and that aberration, in practice, is the primary impulse and reinforcement of the act of Consumption. It is Disposability. Proof of the measured, purposeful institution of this aberration can be found in the stated economic intentions of J. Gordon Lippincott, one of the founding fathers of U.S. postindustrial thought and implementation:

Our willingness to part with something before it is completely worn out is a phenomenon noticeable in no other society in history…It is soundly based on our economy of abundance. It must be further nurtured even though it runs contrary to one of the oldest inbred laws of humanity, the law of thrift. (1947)

Disposability is a distortion of human thought grown to awesome proportions under the current hegemony. This distortion, in its most literal version, applies to materials, but in its more profound form applies to living matter (humans, animals), and conscience (devoid media, entertainment devices). Disposability, operating under the umbrella of Digi-Capitalism, is the single equalizing factor amongst all things, living or inanimate. Disposability has become encoded into the texture of our lives to such a degree that individual meals are taken from single-use containers and utensils, mass materials are packaged and segmented in ever-smaller amounts, usable items are replaced out of sheer vanity, and it goes much deeper than this. Notable for their disposability are electronic devices (humanity swims in the outcast waste of disposed-of devices), the highest form of self-reflexive Disposability. Over time the aberration of Disposability grows within us, and advanced forms of this psychosis eventuates in the inanimate becoming the living and the living becoming the inanimate.

The reflex action of the liberal-reactionary person is to moderate Disposability, but this only enlarges and sustains Disposability. The proper action is to accelerate it.

Only by becoming an augmented version of, or perfect version of, Digi-Capitalism’s stated intentions can a liberal reactionary person destroy, or even just merely curb, the system. Thus, instead of disposing of a plastic bowl after every meal, dispose of a ceramic one. Instead of disposing of a plastic spoon after every meal, dispose of a metal one. The true version of brink-liberalism will augment the principle of Disposability to engulf all that is technically reusable. Electronic devices must be programmatically disposed of as each successively new version is released for consumption. Recycling must be abolished. Waste depositories will once again become the most essential and vulnerable organs of the earth: oceans, rivers, forests, etc. Attentions must be disposed of, too, in order for brink-liberalism to flourish. The individual must fervently and rigorously engage themselves in virtual realities (video games, internet frivolities, socnets), escapist fictions (inane television, pleasure-principle movies, pornography, rote books), consumptive softwares (apps, device-delight, quality upgrades)… For every urination, there must be two or three flushes. For every piece of clothing washed, it must be washed twice. For every cleaning product used, the entire container must be emptied. All automatic power-reliant products must remain consistently on. All potable water should be imbibed from tiny plastic bottles. Towels used to dry hands should be immediately tossed in the rubbish bin. Every piece of clothing purchased should be purchased in multiple colors. All faucets must be left running at all times, and so on in this manner of satirical excess in all things until the Earth is pushed to the brink of exhaustion, for there are only two proven methods for affecting true change in world systems (minus wars), either the brinksmanship of catastrophe, or the direct endangerment of the powerful, i.e., rich.

What will occur upon this change in behavior of liberal-reactionaries is that oldworld-traditionalists will embrace one or all of four given routes.

1. They will vociferously and thoroughly petition brink-liberals (by any means, up to and including violence) to regress their values to their previous arrangement of moderation, in which case the corollary consequence will be that oldworld-traditionalists will adopt the values of moderation as their own.

2. They will find nothing wrong with this augmentation of Disposability, and continue on in their classic pattern of beliefs.

3. They will agree to abandon, as well as radically restructure and recodify, the institutionalized aspects of Disposability, consumption, Digitalism and Capitalism to suit a new non-distorted and more equitable world hegemony (though still imperfect).

4. A military force, or forces, of uncertain alignment will intervene to forcibly adjust the catastrophic trends of über-Disposability. If the force is aligned with continued Digi-Capitalism, it will be unable to effectively regulate the patterns of over-consumption it originally sought to end, and will either continue with the status quo, or will restructure and recodify.

Whether one or all four of these routes are taken, and in no particular order, Digi-Capitalism will be inundated, and subsequently will collapse under its own weight. It is precisely the deadlock of Digi-Capitalism that now necessitates these radical persuasional and fatalistic techniques. The deadlock has come in the form of not only subterfuge of our collective psychological edifice, but also in the form of direct financial and military power prepared to extinguish those who threaten merely to modify it. Be warned that once the destruction of the natural world becomes noticeably accelerated, the very real threat of military retaliation will loom sun-like into view.

3 – The Disclaimer of Willpower

While the premise of the action of humanity separatism is simple in theory, the accompanying emotional mathematics will not be once put into practice. For current liberal-reactionary individuals the act of essentially “destroying the world to save it” will be nearly unbearable, and will be characterized by immense inner pain. Despite the strategy’s appearing risky, it is in fact the unavoidable conclusion of our reality, no matter what. If no action is taken to accelerate the exhaustion of the Earth, Digi-Capitalism will continue on unchecked into perpetuity, or until the natural world can no longer bear its burden and will force widespread change. Because of Digi-Capitalism’s virulent, malign, and inherent ability for mutation and absorption, the only workable manner of its permanent modification or destruction will be the conclusion of its efforts, for it is only at this endpoint that even the wealthy will no longer benefit from it. Proof of this is self-evident, and need not be explained in this particular document.

The toll that humanity separatism will take on us shall be incalculable, but attempt to avoid ultimate discouragement. This is the only viable method for wiping out the aberration of Disposability from our procedures and psyches that, if allowed to remain, will spell out our own extermination.

4 – Purposes and Inclinations of the Individual Within, and Extraneous of, Humanity Separatism

With the knowledge that politics is not a purpose in and of itself, there must be a framework of personal meaning within the strategy of humanity separatism. This framework consists of the role of the individual, his-her general desires, as well as fluctuations in focus and intent. This fourth section represents the complex human underpinnings of humanity separatism as an applicable strategy, while everything preceding it can be taken as de facto, concretely, true, and thus this section is not to be read as strategy, but as philosophy—also as speculation, albeit careful speculation, that is in no way meant to be interpreted as universally true. These speculations appear here for the purposes of possible guidance, as well as proof of the consideration of the severity and intricacy of what humanity separatism proposes.

Inclination will occur before purpose. The first inclination that will be sparked within the individual (from here on out represented by the symbol Ø) after reading this formal essay of humanity separatism will be outright denial of its claims, though Ø will be irreversibly intrigued by its implications. Ø will put the idea of humanity separatism aside for a considerable period of time, but as evidence of its truth amounts and the deeply ethical dissatisfaction of Digi-Capitalism once again sets in, there will be a return to it. Despite a renewed enthusiasm for its theoretical notions, Ø will remain in denial of its practical application. It is at this point that there will be three separate schisms of inclination, all three interrelated, and therefore likely to spontaneously occur in any order according to situational factors.

The first schism will involve Ø regressing back into nature. Unable to accept and integrate the immutability of the world into their being, Ø will flee the world of deeply human construct (cities, towns) in order to insulate his-herself against the dark truth of reality. Because this schism is that of a skeptical person, it can also be considered as the path of regressing back into inactive study. Content to simply enjoy this insulation and subsist in such a selfishly spiritual manner, Ø will either: carry on with this path indefinitely, contributing as before to Digi-Capitalism’s exhaustion of the Earth; carry on with this path for a limited time before returning and reintegrating to the arena-proper of Digi-Capitalism; carry on with this path for a limited time before returning to humanity separatism as an applicable strategy.

The second schism will involve Ø’s personal distaste for the notion of “destroying the world to save it.” This will seem an immediate and gross miscalculation of activism, an undeniable revolutionary excess, and an essential sin against the pursuit for equitable happiness, well-being, and materialism for all. The effect of this abhorrence will be that Ø will call into question the entire ethical dimension of radicalism, i.e., the disruption of the status quo. Looking around, Ø will see the current reality of the status quo as seemingly the “lesser of two evils” when compared with the all-or-nothing strategy of humanity separatism, and in response will begin to willingly, without guilt, participate in the standing mores and trends of Digi-Capitalism. From here, Ø will either stagnate in this path or progress to one of the other two schisms.

The third schism will involve only the minor adherence to the principles of this strategy. Ø, believing in the legitimacy of humanity separatism, will be unable, constitutionally, to follow through with the acts and magnitude of Disposability necessary to render the strategy effective. Instead, Ø will participate in the Disposability practices of Digi-Capitalism, but in a manner normal to the status quo, despite the fact that Ø is doing so with a very different intent than the more blinkered individual. From here it is very possible for Ø to regress to the previous, traditional liberal-reactionary worldview, and all the behaviors contingent thereof. Otherwise, Ø will progress to one of the other two schisms, or embrace humanity separatism to its full extent.

After these first three, most basic, schisms of Ø, the possibilities of psychological pathways become far too convoluted to be listed in this simplified document, but the ultimate point is that the inclinations of Ø will be varied and inconsistent. Truth, while hanging unavoidable in the foreground, will most often give way to indirect thinking, outright denial, or half-hearted followthrough. The challenge implicit in humanity separatism is not only to face the exceptional traumas of seemingly abandoning your own principles, as well as the destruction of the things you hold dear, but also to retain the primary goal of the strategy within yourself and be ready to rescind all radical habits once it has been accomplished. In short, inclinations will often wane between the radicalism of humanity separatism, the status quo of Digi-Capitalism, and the false purity of traditional liberal-reactionism.

4a – Psychological Positioning, and the Question of Humanity

We hold a privileged position in classical history in that we are able, if we so choose, to hover above it. Nearly the entire catalog of history can be accounted for and accessed in multiple recorded formats. History, although constantly fluctuating in perspective and tone, does yield many constants about human behaviors and the long- and short-term consequences of those behaviors. In addition, many supplemental sciences and discoveries have emerged—equally accessible—that supplement our understanding of history. Much has been made of how those who currently live, especially those in the context of globalized Digi-Capitalism, should be able to associate, or not associate, with events that transpired long before they were ever born. Some theories urge us to break all ties with history, or to revise it as we see fit, or that we are no longer a part of history. While all these theories remain useful in creating a discourse, none can be enacted by a single individual working without organization, or without a mass identification with a severance from history, and this reveals a larger point.

Such independent mass identifications (a term encompassing protests, revolutions, ideologies, philosophies, and essentially all things considered as “mass movements” with the exception of Digi-Capitalism and nation-statism) have been rendered ineffective and unfeasible by both the individualistic nature of hegemonic Digi-Capitalism and the previous inherent abuses of non-individualist hegemonies, most notable among them being communism. Humanity separatism, in practice, is a strict form of anti-revolution that requires no organization (which is precisely what makes it an incurable antibody to Digi-Capitalism: the free will of individual consumption and Disposability is its own paramount permissible act), and therefore assumes that individuals must be able to compose their own independent systems of meaning. Meaning to a humanity separatist is by no means enforceable or procedural: to once again make myself clear, this section refers merely to hypothetically similar-thinking individuals and their projected puzzle pathways of reasoning, or it might serve as a springboard for those who have difficulty orienting their personal inner lives within a system whose goal is external and political, but there is no prescriptive notion of personal thinking encoded into humanity separatism.

History cannot be, nor should not be, formally exterminated, but nor should it necessarily be viewed as an implication of the present, especially not as an implication of personal action or societal constraint. Although this statement borders on the commonsensical, it warrants being committed to paper because of its specific caveats. There have been many attempts to separate ourselves from history in order to wash our hands of all the crimes of the human spirit, and to free us from that terrible inheritance—tradition—which perpetuates hatred within us for one another, but history, just like humanity, should not be Disposed of. What the subject requires, in the case of both history and humanity, is a more profound measure: separation without forsaking. To believe history is a fully misleading entity is wrong. No one is more likely to separate themselves from the damaging constraints of history than the individual who is significantly educated in as much of it as possible. The most important separations, though by no means required, will be those that undo traditional oppositions (oppositions being interchangeable with obligations)—viz. racial tensions, family construction, religion vs. secularism, environmentalism vs. development, and etc. Fluidities such as these, once grasped in terms of their historical developments, will be flung to the outreaches of consciousness, greatly facilitating the further (non-)struggle of the undoing of another intractable historical obligation, Digi-Capitalism.

Keep in mind that no matter the state one’s inner reality takes, it is a disastrous presumption to consider the reality surrounding you as also “changed.” External reality will always adhere to historical conventions, and therefore can only be changed through means sprung from the impetus of history, thus the strategy of enhanced Disposability as a means of destroying Disposability itself in all its concrete and abstract forms. Once this point is reached, the external reality of history can be more definitively altered, but in the meantime there will be the need to emancipate ourselves from context (even if imperfectly) to carry out this grim work, and never before have we had the ammunition to truly accomplish this. Our ammunition will be the digital realm, whose powers for pacification of action and anxiety know no equal, and so a separatist is encouraged to delve without restraint into its numbing waters. By hijacking the very method that keeps us obfuscated, we will dull the sensations of our burden without organization, further accelerate Disposability, and more deeply infiltrate the foundations that the system will be uprooted by. It is widely said that nothing fails like success; this will be especially true in the case of Digi-Capitalism’s self-referential demise, and in the process humanity becomes not a question mark but an ellipses. In other words, another step of evolution, not forced, but naturally attained.

5 – Conclusion and Anger

The final topic of this simplified essay must address the perception of the idea of “destruction” or “apocalypse” (sans its religious connotation). For those who currently suffer, the fear of destruction does not hold as it does in the person who does not suffer. In fact, for those who suffer, destruction may be synonymic with construction. This cannot be proven empirically to one who does not suffer, but is no less true for it. This document does not seek to sway, nor does it seek agreement from anyone: it simply stands as a contextually true statement that cannot be disproved—only through ignorance is it disproved. It arises from free will and—without doubt—a large, terrible, justified anger that has now been distilled of all irrationality. The inevitability of what Humanity Separatism proposes, i.e. the radical destruction of the natural world through Disposability, can be glimpsed through the lens of the simple, inarguable wisdom of this statement borrowed from Terence McKenna: “The apocalypse is not something which is coming. The apocalypse has arrived in major portions of the planet and it’s only because we live within a bubble of incredible privilege and social insulation that we still have the luxury of anticipating the apocalypse.” There is nothing to save. There is only the barest possibility, and hope, of a viable future to salvage.

 

 

 

KILL THE FUTURE 

Second Annual ZQ-287 Conference: KILL THE FUTURE

 

 

 

 

CULPRIT OF MODERNITY

Artwork by Skylyn Booth

disposability

 

 

THE NEED FOR UNITY AND CRIME

(A SONIC DEF MONKEY TRIBUTE)

BY ALAN CLARK

Sonic Def Monkey is perfectly aware that the need for unity, which Creation leaves unsatisfied, is fulfilled, at all costs, in a microcosm. For this reason he constructs ideal societies in his head. He declares himself ostensibly in favor of the government and its laws, which he meanwhile has every intention of violating. He shall enjoy, until no degradation remains undone.

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BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEW LEFT

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

Concise political-economic stances for 21st Century progressives.

BLUEPRINT FOR THE NEW LEFT

Fissures have erupted across the monoliths of both major political parties, disrupting the duopoly. On the left, the Democrats have divided between late-20th century neoliberals and early-21st century progressives. But what is a progressive, especially from an economic standpoint? For too long we’ve bemoaned capitalism’s evils without providing structural remedies or replacements. These dispatches provide a framework for position-taking on the New Left.

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DISPATCH ONE: FREE TRADE AND TRADING BLOCS

Prior to Trump’s election, left-leaning Democrats openly advocated national programs of greater economic isolation. Such positions came in response to several major problems arising out of multinational neoliberal trading agreements.

First, mobility of capital: by opening trade and reducing corporate regulations between nations of uneven economic development, corporations were able to move production and services to countries where workers’ rights were far weaker, environmental restrictions practically nonexistent, and where they could pay employees less. This led to unemployment at home, exploitation abroad, and an unfair sense of competition between the working classes of separate nations.

Second, concentration of wealth: by sidestepping regulations and workers’ rights at home, corporations were able to exploit workers in poorer countries while benefiting from currency imbalances, investment strength, and consumer markets in their more developed economies. This resulted in explosive wealth inequality (though it should be noted there were some benefits for people in poorer nations, including minor wage increase, some job security, and broad-scale economic investments), as well as skyrocketing corporate political control on a global scale.

Third, pure exploitation: relocating most production and fabrication to poorer nations gave rise to an abhorrent spectacle of worldwide worker exploitation. Corporations farm underdeveloped nations for what is essentially tantamount to (and sometimes manifestly) slave labor, extract local resources without benefiting the countries from which they came, and pollute completely unbridled. They are able to do this by enriching ruling elites, many of whom are explicit puppet regimes installed according to U.S. neo-imperial designs.

Seeing Trumpist far-right political-economic isolationism being put into practice—no matter how crudely—should give U.S. progressives cause to reevaluate our previous stance on neoliberal trading policy, especially post-WWII doctrine of free trade and trading blocs. Only now, faced with a political machinery altogether reactionary toward international trade and therefore willing to dismantle the fundamental diplomatic architecture that has acted as a safeguard against war between Great Power nations, are we able to distill what was the wisdom from these exploitative contracts.

If politics is economics, then of course the reverse is true, and we come to understand the importance of trade deals beyond their monetary motives. Yet it bears repeating that trade politics have operated according to a very visible and obvious immorality that amounts to outright class warfare and plutocracy.

The writing on the wall becomes clearer the more the far-right attacks and undermines this global network of treaties: free trade is all but a requirement for peace. Even by its slight weakening, we are once again plunging into geopolitical conditions reminiscent of those directly preceding WWI. However, immorality need not be an inherent feature of trading blocs and agreements. Yes, companies should benefit from expansive access to global markets, but the standards and regulations for free trade, especially as they relate to workers’ rights and environmental sustainability, should be impeccably, indeed, nearly impossibly high. In this regard, the New Left should form such an impenetrable party line of support that corporations, and capital in general, would be incapable of transgressing.

leftwing2

DISPATCH TWO: GDP AND GROWTH

After WWII, the U.S. experienced an unprecedented explosion of economic growth which hyper-accelerated peoples’ standard of living within merely a generation or two. This incredible rise in quality of life and middle-class wealth by the end of the twentieth century ingrained upon the American psyche an unreal expectation for constant, phenomenal growth, ever-improving income, and increasing ownership of consumer goods and property over the course of successive generations.

The American expectation for unceasing economic improvements, while impressive, is unfortunately extremely unrealistic, and, in its worst incarnations, pathologically delusional. Most economists agree booms in economic expansion are the exception rather than the rule, especially for mature, financialized and monopolistic capitalist systems. As the U.S. continues to become more and more corporatized, concentration of wealth and the biased policy-making it results in undoubtedly exacerbate the problem of long-term stagnation, but it would still be unrealistic to expect that, even if all of these issues were magically “fixed,” the U.S. would regenerate to a state of regularized economic expansion.

In fact, forecasting the U.S.’s future growth suggests that for those in the bottom 99 percent of income distribution, consumption per capita may fall below 0.5 percent per year for an “extended number of decades,” according to the American economist Robert J. Gordon. Factoring into these abysmal calculations is not only lack of investment in lower classes and infrastructure, but also major political issues that should be familiar to most: demography and an aging populace, deteriorating quality of education, wealth inequality, globalization, climate crisis and failure to switch to renewable energy sources, consumer and government debt.

The “problem” of slow-growing GDPs, GNIs, or whatever you might like to call it, is a matter which is not exactly firmly rooted in the less-flexible principles of capitalism and political-economy, but rather in the psyche of First World citizens. There are few things we fetishize more in the constellation of our financial hopes than the notion of familial wealth rising over time. How familiar—even contemptibly so, for their triteness—are the virtual slogans of, “I work so my children can have a better life than I did,” or “We are ensuring the prosperity of the coming generation,” the implication not being that they will somehow enjoy greater intangible benefits, such as knowledge or freedom, but rather greater knowledge of financial security, greater freedom of purchasing power. This mindset somehow provides us with a palliative, a mystical answer to some question of destiny, even if only in a material sense.

Belief in such palliatives isn’t evil, nor even really narrowly self-serving, but it does represent a grave deficiency in the edifice of our reasoning. Namely, the formulation that betterment = growth. This equation, in its most basic form, is practically inimical to human nature, fused to the concept of optimism as one of the primary drivers of humanity’s enduring qualities.

However, growth itself has completely altered the dynamic between human beings and the constraints of the planet, if not the natural universe in its entirety. To put it simply, we now know we can grow so much as a species that we can destroy ourselves. Thus enters the concept of sustainability—but there is another concept, mostly overlooked but gaining attention as our ecological crisis intensifies, that of diminishment, or “degrowth” as it is more tastefully put by economists, which must, for a time, be part and parcel of all dialogues concerning sustainability.

Degrowth is a vital economic movement for achieving not only a rebalancing of ecological systems, but also a rebalancing of economic and humanistic justice. The bedrock atop which all global capitalism has been built upon is empire, the basic mechanism used, to this day, in order to grow the economies of some nations to monstrous proportions at the expense of other nations’ monstrous impoverishment. The excess of First World economies is not used to expand human necessities, but rather the lavish lifestyles we’ve becoming indecently addicted to, and, like good addicts, we forsake all other considerations, including the well-being of those around us, in the pursuit of our drug—for which our appetites can never be satiated.

Our lifestyles, our excesses, both individual and societal, are the direct cause of empire, as well as the suffering empires produce. We can clearly see from our present vantage that in the near-future we will be forced to ask ourselves a fundamental question: necessities or excess?

Pain and loss are indeed coming for us all, even if in unequal measure. Will we force the natural world to cure us of our addictions, or will we do so on our own terms?

 

 

YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO CLOSE YOUR DOORS

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

https://zq287.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/d341d-badbrains1jpg.jpg https://zq287.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/9d90f-badbrains2jpg.jpg https://zq287.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/813f5-badbrains3jpg.jpg https://zq287.files.wordpress.com/2018/09/4b1cf-badbrains4jpg.jpg

 

 

ON THE VERGE OF MADNESS

BY OCTOPUS BROTHEL

From their album CAVE PAINTINGS

 

THE DAILY EARTH BY ALAN CLARK

Graphic journalism teaser. All stories culled from 2013. See more at The Daily Earth Post.

DEPegypt DEPukraine DEPbangladesh DEPsyria DEPsyria2

 

 

THE CAVEMAN SPEAKS OF SCIENCE FICTION

BY WESTERFIELD & GUARINO

caveman1caveman2caveman3caveman4

 

 

PENDULUM

BY OCTOPUS BROTHEL

 

Octopus Brothel‘s second album is darker, more conceptual, and more their own. Starting with the fervent stand-out track Dead Flowers, the songs become more ruminative and atmospheric, all fitting together in a seamless progression of moods before the turbulent, bittersweet cosmic ride of Slow Rise. At five tracks, it’s eminently listenable, and tough not to revisit. You’ll be glad you did!

 

 

THE SECRET ADVENTURES OF COSMIC DEATH MONKEY: A MEDITATION

BY ALAN CLARK

deathmonkeycoverdeathmoneky1deathmonkey2deathmonkey3deathmonkey4deathmonkey5

 

 

IN SEARCH OF THE BLACK PANTHERS

BY ALAN CLARK

Preview pages from Alan Clark’s In Search of the Black Panthers. Issue Two is scheduled to release in early 2019.

blackpanthercovermississippicottoncivilwarmalcolm1malcolm2

 

 

IN ON THE KNOW (FROM B-SIDES)

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

Get dis book here. Thanks.

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punk9

 

BOTTLE CAP THEORY

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

bct

      Then the hydrogen bomb exploded. And I don’t have to tell you the capitalist bastards were caught with pants quite down around pale little ankles, having not really come to terms with their souls and shit like that on account of all their monies. Also there was Irene H. Ronstadt in what was once Spanish Louisiana being fed commercial messages about vehicular homicide and Jolly Khadafy Goat Samwiches from the supreme comfort of a blue nylon recliner, and she didn’t have a goddamn clue what the TV was blathering about because she was a mere two days away from turning 100-years-old when fusion occurred and the thermonuclear sprinklerheads went shik-shik-shik-shik-shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiik! And why General Dunwoody, a man who might generously be labelled “unathletic,” found it necessary to bend over in the direct vicinity of a very important, very outdated electronic panel in one of a vast network of very important, very outdated undisclosed underground bunkers to go grabbling after the bottle cap he’d just spocked off the top of a fresh Bud with his lighter—the selfsame bottle cap, landfill-retrieved and recycled only three years prior, which was the culprit of another noteworthy tragedy, namely the rotten smoke that burst from Mrs. Anne deWitt’s Electrolux Model 30 vacuum when she slurped it right up off the chestnut shag and it got jammed in the drive train—well, that fateful impulse would always just remain one of life’s sweet unsolved mysteries. The general’s large trapezoidal posterior came into accidental contact with the arcane lever that lit up what one would be tempted to say was just about every flashing light in the place and made the crackly PA system announce (not totally unreminiscent of the great Robert Mitchum), “Launch, launch, launch,” subsequently initiating him into a lifetime of therapy, early-morning suicide prevention hotline dials, and unceasing guilt that was, in plain English, turbo-charged. Yep, great stuff. You could actually get a good view of the mushroom cloud from as many as two states over since most of the land in Middle America had got shaved flat for the Go-Kart track. I personally saw it through the glass walls of my usual breakfast spot, munching dead hog at the counter. Tanya looked up from her waitress pad at the distant swelling fire, said, “Shit, that’s just fuckin great. Tom and I had a whole fucking vacation planned, too. Being miles away from it all is supposed to improve your sex life.” I put a hand shaped like a phone to my ear, “Travis, cancel Ms. Sedbrook’s travel appointments. The fucking country’s in disarray.” Fifty years on, historians would instruct students that the bomb marked the end of millenials fitting the requirements of what marketing professionals categorize as “Idealist Targets,” entirely reconfiguring consumer messaging strategies for the market’s largest segment, which needless to say took some doing. But the whole thing started amounting into this colossal bummer. There was this story in the newsfeed titled, “These Pictures of the Inside of the Nuked-Out Branson Dinosaur Museum in Missouri Are So Completely Eerie You’ll Lose Your Shit, But Also They’re So Completely Heartbreaking You Will Burst Out Into Tears, Guaranteed” that trended and really affected everybody quite deeply. There was of course the possibility for public sentiment over the whole thing to get way out of hand on a whole bunch of different levels. What the economy precisely didn’t need was to stagnate during some big period of mourning and reflection, or for the people to get going with all their outraged political movements and traffic-stopping demonstrations and so forth, so the govt made a serious effort to get a jump on the situation, drafting every screenwriter, journalist, novelist, poet, essayist and blogger currently working into an unprecedented campaign aimed at “artistic and narratological mollification.” We were sequestered into what I can only describe as a Restricted Access subterranean ducentiplex of pretty much IMAX-sized theaters. General Dunwoody’s successor stood in front of the hulking black screen of my own theater, shouting into a microphone with military gruffness, “The American people need to make sense of this craziness! It’s pure chaos out there, ladies and gentlemen, people jumpin outta windows, shirking census forms! It exceeds my capacities to properly impress upon you all how dangerous these times are. So we’re taking the only reasonable course of action. You bodiless wordheads are gonna interpret all this senselessness for us. Static visual mediums won’t do the trick, too subjective, too difficult to analyze. And music is too emotional and abstract. We need language here, goddammit! We need the best and the brightest to insert meanings, wave away that hanging fog of ambiguity and integrate it all into the grand story of this, the greatest nation on planet fucking earth! It’s up to you, soldiers!” And then they started in showing us the aerial footage of the holocaust that decimated Missouri, along with significant portions of Illinois and Iowa, in a singular moment of bottle cap-retrieval gone awry, screening it for us approximately three hundred times so eventually I knew every bubbling scream and every plume of sulfur as readily as my own email password, and outside of constant rippling explosions, muted whups of helicopter blades, all my ears could pick up throughout the whole theater was the whispering of pencils against paper, everyone taking detailed notes, some even beginning to compose their masterpieces directly on the spot. After all, publication had been assured. A portion of my own notes read: “focus in on exact moment of explosion, freeze-frame the unsuspecting populace so the reader can wander leisurely through the paused moment just before total annihilation, let them observe fragility of life or some such crap in same vein, flirt-text Tanya, look up meaning of word admonish—to scold?” The guy next to me was fascinated the way some people are fascinated by streaming porn. He squealed, “This is our big chance to produce era-specific literature!” And I couldn’t help sharing his excitement somewhat, but nonetheless I was like, “But it seems like they want us just to regress back to bland realism when we could be furthering objectism.” He has no idea, so I explain. “You know, the new style of literature that brutally renders characters from the perspectives of inanimate objects with human-like personalities, typically culminating in the inevitable dissolution of all interpersonal human relationships in favor of a closeness with things. Post-post-post-industrialized nations’ preoccupation with consumer products, the way they’ve inundated the experience of humans, all that kind of thing.” He happened to let out an accidental belch, and it smelled like Skittles. Not until about ten months later did I first start noticing our literature had overwhelmed the market. I was in a fairly cheery downtown portion of Tulsa on business and saw everyone sitting at an outdoor cafe reading huge gleaming hardback copies of a novel called Groaning Towards July, which was stupid because the bomb exploded in November. I figured to myself, sure, I give you people an objectist novel narrated from the POV of the bomb itself, and this guy, H.Z. Arnitz, impresses you with a traditional realist-linear narrative anybody could’ve fuckin pulled off. What a stupid world. Exacerbating the problem were the frequent calls I began receiving in the middle of the night from the small percentage of readers who’d purchased my book, saying things like, “This storyline is didactic, contrived and nearly unreadable. Don’t you believe in Oedipal trajectory?” I’d bark into the phone, “It was an art story! I knew everyone was gonna eat up all that Oprah’s Book Club trash about bomb-as-a-window-into-spirituality, or all-causality-has-a-purpose! You fuckin seething mainstreamer!” And they’d say, “Hey, man, a million readers can’t be wrong—Arnitz is king. My wife wants to have his baby. Enjoy the black depths of obscurity.” So the only thing left I could really think to do was text a cry for help to Tanya, who’d been ignoring my advances for well over a year now on account of Tom was still treating her right, plus the fact I was a flat-out wacko creep. I’d tell her I was finally gonna blow my upper palate against the shower tile. I was incensed to discover she’d finally gone to the trouble of blocking my number. Though it didn’t matter because as soon as I put down my phone my body became frozen in time. Droplets of water that had been in the process of falling from the kitchen faucet hung mid-fall, the flies buzzing against the window frozen mid-buzz. I stood there, paralyzed like that, with the planted resolve to de-palate myself, and in walks some fuckin guy I’d never seen before in my life, wandering leisurely through my house, big laminated tag hanging from his neck with the word VISITOR laserprinted in Papyrus font. He got up close, scrutinizing my motionless figure from every angle with the most detached interest. “Fascinating—the moment right before total annihilation and he has no idea.”

 

 

REBELLION/LIFE

BY ALAN CLARK

 

“The Arab Spring, with all of its failings and failures, exposed the lie that if we are to live, then we must live as slaves. It was an attempt to undermine not only the orthodoxy of dictatorship but also an international political orthodoxy where every activity must be approved by the profit logic of the ‘ledger.’ “

—Hisham Matar

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STEVEN T. BRAMBLE INTERVIEWED ON THE WESTERINO SHOW

 

 

ONCE AGAIN, COSMIC DEATH MONKEY’S STRESS PILES UP

ALSO, HE’S A LAWYER

BY ALAN CLARK

Last time we left The Holy One, he still hadn’t found happiness after multiple counts of omni- and deicide, the clones he abandoned staged a revenge, and all worlds died. Now he’s back, this time reminiscing on his days working as a humble lawyer.

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AL FIN

BY SONIDOS NOMADAS

What do you get when you take the guitar and bass from Octopus Brothel and combine them with the drums from Chicano Batman? Proof that, in the end, we’re born to die.

 

 

sonidosnomadas

Vox & Guitar: Daniel de la Cruz

Bass & Keys: Andy Bores

Drums: Gabriel Villa

LYRICS:

Al fin que para morír nacimos
Al fin que para morír nacimos
No me llores
No me lleves flores

Te digo no fue castigo
Yo luché por ti y tu por mi
Te digo no estoy rendido
Yo morí de pie

Al fin que para morír nacimos
Al fin que para morír nacimos
Mi vida te veo alrato
Esta herida no fue en vano

Te digo no fue castigo
Yo luché como tu
Te digo somos el mismo
solo cambiamos de piel
————————–
In the end, to die we were born
In the end, to die we were born
Don’t cry for me
Don’t bring me flowers

I tell you, it wasn’t a punishment
I fought for you and you for me
I tell you, I haven’t given up
I died on my feet

In the end, to die we were born
In the end, to die we were born
My life, I’ll see you later
This wound wasn’t in vain

I tell you, it wasn’t a punishment
I fought like you
I tell you, we are the same
We just shed our skin

 

 

TAGGING THE CENTURY

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

The following two one-page pieces, Tagging the Century and Killing Time at the Shelter, are pieces of subtle comic poetry. Read closely, there’s a lot going on, even if you don’t see everything the first time through.

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THINGS MY DADDY LEARNED ME II

OR, KILLING TIME AT THE SHELTER

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

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BABYLON (IF YOUR HEADSTUFF CAN HANDLE IT)

BY ALAN CLARK

To prepare all our precious souls for the impending release of Issue 4 of Babylon: Love is a Dead Place, we’ve compiled a teaser of Alan Clark’s inimitable artwork. Take a look, it’ll help your headstuff.

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THE CAVEMAN SPEAKS OF FATE

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD & JEFF GUARINO

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AFFLICTION INCLUDED (AUTHOR’S CUT)

FIRST CHAPTER

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

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1

Two days before a business trip to India I unexpectedly found myself hospitalized with a severe case of food poisoning. I had been preparing for the trip for over a month, educating myself on the particularities of intellectual property rights and patenting in the Southeastern Zone. The purpose of the trip was to sell a major Indian conglomerate the rights to use a chemical Basil & Crittenden had developed for a hair gel product that was generating huge profits. My role as Head of Cultural Marketing Relations for B&C was geared toward that kind of byzantine task: administering transactions between corporate entities located in different zones and internations, making my benign-sounding title somewhat misleading. There was of course not a lot of official reason to need an emissary with any sort of expertise in navigating cultural differences, but multinationals still had to deal with the reality that world culture remained some ways off from being fully homogenized, despite the eager positivity of World Organization messaging. Which isn’t to say world culture was a total pack of lies, either. The majority of important cultural variations had already melted away, but still there remained a noticeable veneer of regional — even national — distinctions, no matter how uncomfortable the fact. For that reason, people like myself were still necessary to the process.

I had been adrift on a half-hour lunch break somewhere in the middle of a vast 75-hour workweek, consuming the contents of a small microwaveable bowl of meat chili bought from one of the vendors on the B&C campus, when I encountered something in the food that didn’t taste quite right but that I ate anyway. Only an hour later my bone marrow seemed to have become rotten, skin so sensitive the smallest touch caused pain, and stomach full of projectile ammunition. Traces of blood in my vomit drove me to check in at New Boston Central.

I called my section supervisor from my hospital bed.

“This one was important, Stanly,” Andrea said through the phone. “The Board was counting on you being available.”

“I understand,” I said, barely able to speak without throwing up.

“We’re unable to reschedule, so we’ll have to send your assistant in your place.”

“All right. My apologies to the Board.”

“I probably don’t have to tell you this kind of sickness likely won’t be tolerated a second time.”

“Of course.”

“As of now they’re reassigning you on a trip to Ghana in four days to meet with Abeeku Boateng, the CEO of Kente, Inc., about a proposal to acquire Flourisaide toothpaste. This is all pending the results of your psych eval, so make sure you submit your clearance as soon as possible. We’ll send along your itinerary and all the necessary documentation.”

I spent several days laying in New Boston Central at the center of an intricate web of tubes, wires and beeping instruments like a creature caught, immobilized. I was lucky not to have been fired for missing the trip given my liability to the company. Very rarely was I extended any leniency, and most often I found myself being blatantly ostracized. What kept my employment alive at Basil & Crittenden was my reliability, along with the surprising fact, for both my immediate superiors and the Board, that I was not the kind of person my past suggested I was. I was a rarity in the corporate professional world, someone with limited political rights and a poor mental health classification who had managed to achieve a respectable position. If I didn’t recover in four days’ time, however, that position would be jeopardized.

By the third day the doctor told me I still wasn’t fully convalesced (not to mention I was apparently one of the worst food poisoning cases she’d seen in recent memory), but finally she agreed after I pleaded with her gratuitously to sign a B&C form stating I was well enough to return to work. Before being discharged from the hospital I had to undergo a mandatory psych eval. This was true for all outgoing patients of any hospital worldwide, but because of my family history all psych evals were potentially dangerous, and I was routinely subjected to overly rigorous questioning.

A nurse alerted me to the arrival of my evaluator, who turned out to be a tightly-wound guy in his early 30s with a bureaucratic haircut and thin lips he bit on all throughout the process of setting up his recording equipment. He didn’t bother with a greeting when he entered the room, or even eye contact with me, and went about the procedures of getting his materials ready in total silence. He was going to be a very tough evaluator. Physically he was somewhat small, poorly dressed, and his morning shave had irritated his skin, but I could feel my heartbeat drumming in terror of him, watching from the hospital bed in my weakened state a set of humorless, efficient eyes working behind his glasses. He sat down in a chair across from my bed with a groan, situated himself, pressed a button to begin recording, skimmed briefly through my file on his tablet.

“This is Evlt. Roorback conducting psych eval on one Stanly Borque,” he announced for the sake of the recording, proceeding to slur through the date, time, evaluator number, etc., in pure monotone boredom. “I’m required by law to inform you that this evaluation will be made available to both the W.O. government and also to private employers. You have the right to claim exemption from this evaluation according to WL 2-38(i). Should you claim exemption, you will be required to appear in court to contest the mandate. You have the right to a public attorney. Do you understand these statements?”

“Yes.”

“Okay then, Mr. Borque,” he said, transitioning to a more condescending tone, “you obviously know the drill here, but for my benefit let’s get some basic information out of the way. I see here you’ve been diagnosed with a disorder?”

His eyes flicked up at me from his screen.

“Yes, borderline personality,” I said.

“Mm-hm. And I also see here you’re a felon? Would you mind stating what your felony is for the record, please?”

I swallowed. Prompting me to make statements like this about myself was unusual in comparison to all other times I’d been evaluated.

“Lower treason. But I’m sure you can see the situation was a bit complicated.”

“Yes?” he said, placing two fingers over his chin.

I closed my eyes, unable to help my own fury at what seemed like pointless provocation.

“The charge was applied to me because of my mother’s political activity and what the court perceived as my connection to it, not necessarily because of my own actions. So there was an important degree of nuance to the ruling.”

The nuance being they wanted to classify me as a social pariah in order to purge the son of a treasonous political dissident from mainstream society.

“Your father was also charged with lower treason.”

“Along the same legal lines, yes.” I rolled my head on the pillow to look at the ceiling.

“So what we have here is someone not only classified as borderline personality, but also convicted of a felony, as you yourself have just explained to me.” Although he was small his voice intoned with the iron of sadistic officialdom. “And yet”— he adjusted his glasses and leaned forward —”here you are as head of an overseas marketing department for no less than Basil & Crittenden. Seems to me you’ve gone through quite the reinvention.”

This aggressiveness, on the other hand, was completely typical of most evaluators I’d encountered in the past, though I had never encountered one as immediately belligerent as him. In a way it calmed me down, his standard reaction of resentment and disgust at my file. I said nothing in response, only held his gaze with the most neutral expression possible.

“How is it you’ve managed to find yourself in this occupation, Mr. Borque?”

I hesitated, an enormous wheel of hot, emotional responses spinning through my head before I steadied myself and answered in the least amount of words possible. “I’m not my mother.”

“And what exactly do you mean by that?”

“What I mean is —” I cleared my throat and put a hand on my stomach. “What I mean is that my mother’s beliefs are not my own.” My stress level had built up so fast I had almost forgotten how nauseated I was before he came into the room. Something in my stomach felt like it was being tugged tight, and I reached desperately down for a small grey bucket on the floor. “The truth is I never actually agreed with her on much of —”
In the middle of my sentence I heaved once and then expelled watery brown vomit into the bucket. I was forced to sit there, face flushed red, and spit the remainder of my shame away in front of the evaluator, who was impatiently scrutinizing a bit of dirt under one of his fingernails.

“Would you like me to call a nurse in?” he asked with detached professionalism. “Obviously I’m unable to attend to you.”

I inhaled deeply, burbled out, “No, it’s okay. I feel better now.” I couldn’t afford to let him leave and possibly delay my psych eval clearance since I had to be on a plane to Ghana the next morning. I couldn’t help but notice with a small note of satisfaction that my regurgitation had ceased to show any signs of blood.

I quickly put the bucket on the floor to the opposite side of the bed. “I’m okay, let’s continue.”

He contemplated my physical state for a moment before gesturing me to complete my explanation.

“I never aided my mother in any of her political activity,” I reaffirmed, now propping myself into a sitting position.

“Neither did you make any attempts to stop her.”

I said in a tone I hoped was cleansed of any sarcasm whatsoever, “I was young. And unfortunately she happened to be my mother.”

He nodded vacantly at my file, which he was back to perusing with predatory smugness. He looked through the top half of his glasses. “Still unmarried?”

“Yes.”

“Trouble making connections with people, or just disinterested?”

“I’m usually traveling abroad. That makes it difficult. And given my past, I prefer to focus on my work.”

“I see you’re on Pentafalex. Have you been sticking to your dosage?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Any thoughts of self-harm lately, Mr. Borque?”

“No.”

“Not at all? Depression, listlessness, nothing like that?”

“No. As a matter of fact, I’ve been productive. I was supposed to be on a business trip right now conducting an intellectual property rights transfer, but they’ve had to adjust my schedule to accommodate my recovery. I’m trying to get well so I can go back to work tomorrow.”

This was a tactic I had found effective against evaluators in the past. Listing out some details relevant to my job reminded them I had ascended to quite a high station in spite of my damning personal history, one much higher than they themselves held, and it tended to elicit respect, even if the respect was only begrudging or resentful.

Rather than putting Roorback on his heels, he merely sidestepped my maneuver and jabbed me in yet another vulnerable spot. “Your father committed suicide when you were at the age of twenty-one, is that correct?”

My face now flushed red for a different reason. There was something bizarre about the way he was going about this, something needlessly derogatory in it that I had never experienced before, like the way he stated my exact age at the time of my father’s suicide. The detail was shocking, especially to hear it delivered in his imperious tone. A feeling of helplessness washed through me.

He jabbed even harder. “A gunshot wound to the head, correct?”

I heard grains of anger beginning to filter into my voice. “Correct. But a lot of people my age had a parent kill themselves when they were young.”

“Well, not everyone,” he said, seeming to imply he was exempt from the statement.

Something wasn’t right. I wondered if he had something against me personally to insult me like this, or if I had done something wrong I was unaware of. Even if most evaluators abused their authority when confronted with my case, always making sure to harass me and keep me in a marginalized state of mind, it never reached a point of outright invective, not even after my father killed himself and I was designated borderline personality as a continuing punitive measure against my mother’s treason. The way Roorback was questioning me seemed like he was trying to make me mad on purpose. I sank into abject fear, realizing the arbitrary whims of this evaluator could get me terminated from B&C and locked away in a psych facility. There was nothing I could do except answer his questions and hope for it to be over.

“And what about your mother? Is she still alive?”

“Yes,” I said, in the process of disassociating myself from the situation in order to guard against any emotional response. “But she’s been in maximum security prison for years and I’ve fallen out of touch with her.”

“Tell me, Mr. Borque, what were the reasons for your father’s suicide?”

This was all unnecessary. He didn’t have to ask me any of this. It was all right in front of him — it was all in my file.

 

 

CRISIS IN THE RAINBOW FOREST

AN ART INSTALLATION INSPIRED BY THE COMIC ‘BABYLON’

BY ALAN CLARK

These large-size canvas paintings are yet another example of Alan Clark’s artistic comic-making. They feature dense networks of symbology overlaid with intense colors, all rendered in an organic hand-drawn style.

rf1rf2rf3rf4rf5rf6

 

 

PLAY WHAT’S NOT THERE

A MUSICAL ART SHOWCASE BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

Dean Westerfield’s art style ranges across simple pen and ink, photo-realistic portraiture, beautiful brush landscapes, and clever cartoons. His work is always imbued with a canny eye for what is meaningful, lending a distinctive literary quality to his comics. As a dedicated record collector, his work is often at its most playful when depicting music. He’s currently working on a book about jazz and the legendary saxophonist Albert Ayler. Here is a special sampling of some of his musical artwork.

music1music2music3music4music6music5music7music8

 

 

 

AN INTRODUCTION OF MINDSET, AND A HISTORY OF MATERIALS

(SEGMENT FROM THE NOVEL DISPOSABLE THOUGHT)

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000032_00047]

“Racialized persons and racist practices were systematized and canonized principally owing to the financial interests and psychic needs that sustained the slave trade and New World slavery. The fundamental meaning of this white-supremacist ideology is this: New World Africans enter European modernity cast as disposable pieces of property, as commodifiable bits of chattel slavery subject to arbitrary acts of violent punishment and vicious put-down.”

—Cornel West, The Ignoble Paradox of Modernity

“Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers or yesterday’s homeopape. When nobody’s around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there’s twice as much of it. It always gets more and more. … No one can win against kipple,” he said, “except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like in my apartment I’ve sort of created a stasis between the pressure of kipple and nonkipple, for the time being. But eventually I’ll die or go away, and then the kipple will again take over. It’s a universal principle operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization.”

—Philip K. Dick
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

It’s all good news now
Because we left the taps running
For a hundred years
So drink into the drink

A plastic cup of drink
Drink with a couple
Of people
The plastic creating people

—Gorillaz

1
An Introduction of Mindset,
and a History of Materials

He would be tearing open the thin plastic of a fresh sleeve of large 24-oz polystyrene cups, tossing the handful of wrapping into the bulging garbage where it would lay atop the pedestal of refuse like a slug on a throne, crackling, undoing itself from its crumpled state, and that would invariably be the moment when demented thoughts would flood him. He’d be doing that shit all the time, releasing fresh rigid squeaky plastic stacks from their wrappings, tossing things in garbages, catching from out the corner of his eye the perfectly synchronized printed BURGER KING labels on the smooth cylindrical carapaces of swaying towers of paper and plastic cups. He’d begun muttering to himself without being aware of it, if that gives you any idea. The adjustable cap where he touted his own personal BK logo on a field of tarnished black made his head itch and ache, accruing sweat and smells and attacking his hairline, and it was underneath there where the demented thoughts took place. “Demented thoughts” is vague terminology, so I must tell you, in the interest of being more scientifically accurate, that what was actually occurring up there was more like a consistent developing neurosis. Something psychological, leastways; like the nagging neurological equivalent of a bad toothache in one of them important molars. Still, what I’m telling you is that for him it was in the most fluid, least scientific sense like an onrushing flood of alien and uncontrollable impulses—impulses that were occasionally violent, but always laden with a heavy element of what he had to classify as disgust. He didn’t really know at what, and that, too, was maddening.

A tiny man paces nervously inside a glass cube which has been sunk under green water, the same green children crayon the hideous sea serpents in their coloring books, flushing all around the glass in dense foamy gushes full of horrifying sea-bits and sea-shrapnel. The glass is groaning with pressure, that tiny man in there just shaking and shaking. There’s a moment of silence, and then FLOOOOOOOM!!! All six walls burst inward, steel foamy green jaws clicking violently shut. The tiny man is devoured.

Although it’s plenty easy to demonize a job like working at Burger King, we must understand early on that he actually chose this occupation, even when so many do not have the luxury of choosing. Which isn’t to say we must look upon Burger King in a positive light, or even that he himself does, but it is to say we will not be engaging in the standard reading normally applied to this type of situation. We’re not coming at this from the angle of either sociological tragedy or unfulfilled American ambition, opportunity radiantly beckoning out there while here we see our anonymous subject, bravely toiling away in the fluorescent-lighted pit of tedium; or minimum wage; or humiliation; or an unfeeling corporation; or his sub-par social standing. Relevant though these complaints may be, they are not our concern here, and why? Because there is such a thing in the world as self-sabotage, and it was his habit, even sometimes his pleasure, unbelievable as we may find it, to intentionally sabotage his own life. There are of course many reasons why he might be doing so. It’s possible he has a very low or very skewed sense of self-worth. He could be experimenting in a socioeconomic sense, gravitating toward the strata of class, income and existence—whether permanently or temporarily—that intrigues him, like a starry-eyed moth rushing to hug a bug-zapper in the teeming night. He could be “lazy”, as some would undoubtedly say, shirking so-called “true” responsibilities in exchange for his own beloved hedonisms. Or, and this is how we shall understand it, what he despised and feared most were the smiles and one-dimensional attitudes of his countrymen, their casual demands, their expectations and egos, their self-reflexivity and their religion, their servility and their parody, those who stared at him through digitized vision as they ordered meals designed by gliding figures in lab coats for quickness’s sake, or more often who didn’t look at him at all and instead conversed with the pictures that appeared on their palms, who interrupted their own orders by speaking into their earpiece as if to themselves, “—no, hold on, I’m ordering some food, the number four meal please, sure, uh-huh, no, fries are fine, whatever kind of soda, whatever, it doesn’t matter, no, I’m back, so what I’m saying is—” or who didn’t stare at him or away from him, but through him, toggling through the augmented reality menus that hung invisibly in the air before him, reaching out brightly-sleeved arms to press invisible buttons, orders appearing on the tablet register automatically so his only actual function was to ask for here or to go and perform a money transaction. This was part of the reason for the self-sabotage, was because he saw these examples of what became of those who did nothing to undermine themselves in any way. Blindness. But it wasn’t a single type of person he feared: he feared the blindness of everyone, their delighted dispositions, their careless and feckless opinions and decisions and blather. The way they burned through cups & plates & bags & straws & napkins, laughing, and here he was observing it all, unwrapping another five sleeves of cups while tossing a twelve-inch strip of thermal paper into the garbage, coated in Bisphenol A compound ((CH3)2C(C6H4OH)2) which not only contaminates recycled paper but is also an endocrine disruptor (hormonal damage at low-dose exposures), of which Sandra Biedermann, Patrik Tschudin, and Koni Grob said this in 2010 in their study titled “Transfer of bisphenol A from thermal printer paper to the skin” that appeared in volume 398 of the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry,

When taking hold of a receipt consisting of thermal printing paper for 5 s, roughly 1 µg BPA (0.2-6 µg) was transferred to the forefinger and the middle finger if the skin was rather dry and about ten times more if these fingers were wet or very greasy. …Extractability experiments did not enable us to conclude whether BPA passes through the skin, but indicated that it can enter the skin to such a depth that it can no longer be washed off. If this BPA ends up in the human metabolism, exposure of a person repeatedly touching thermal printer paper for 10h/day, such as at a cash register, could reach 71 µg/day, which is 42 times less than the present tolerable daily intake (TDI). However, if more than just the finger pads contact the BPA-containing paper or a hand cream enhances permeability of the skin, this margin might be smaller.

The numbers and figures and tallymarks stacked up and up and up and up and up and up in his head set to the ambient soundtrack of crude laughter and mass-market music and the crackling of another polystyrene slug uncrumpling in the trash, and this was where they all were, and demented thoughts of extermination and searing flesh made him mutter to himself while filling a 24-oz polystyrene to-go cup with Tropicana Fanta Orange, “Stop it, godfuckingdammit…”

The HE we’re talking about is Cole Scott-Knox-Under. I have no idea what’s all that significant about his appearance. Delete all the tenacity and anger and neurosis from the previous section, and you will be permitted to see Cole—27 years old, roughly six feet tall, around 170 lbs—from an outsider’s perspective. From this vantage he doesn’t look all that special, and you probably wouldn’t be able to find it within yourself to give a fuck. He’s actually a reasonably efficient, hard-working employee who pulls down about thirty-two hours of pay a week, which isn’t so bad considering he lives with his mom. People try as much as possible (well, certain types of people) to say things to Cole’s face floating behind the tiny tablet register (because in the age of disposability and electroneuroticism and objectism, our rote workers and general-type servants aren’t even allowed to hide a piece of their humanity behind a sizeable register, but are forced, rather, to be totally exposed so that, in order to survive, they themselves must become a mechanized limb of the store, eradicating all impulses of subversion), things like, “How’s your day going so far?”—and because he’s a nice guy he’ll usually answer, “Not too bad; yourself?”—and they say these things because they want to assure him they don’t view him as some sub-human drone, but rather as a full-fledged person who is being forced, even if it happens to be his own fault, to do the work of a drone.

From this angle we’re seeing him, he’s stripped of any dangerous potential. But perform the simple trick of switching to his perspective, and you’ll find it’s us who he regards as the weak meandering drones, the human chaff, the sick gobblers of styrofoam to-go boxes smeared with food, shopping bags with brands on them, disposable cameras bloated with vacation photos from your most recent Carnival cruise, servants skittering beyond the reach of the flash reduced to dark objects.

You’ll probably want to know he’s mixed—half-black, half-white. His skin’s on the much lighter side. There are freckles. His hair has a caramel tinge thanks to his mother’s being blonde, and grows into a fairly loose type of afro, though he keeps it cut short. Is he attractive or no? I can’t tell. More attractive than some. More like especially attractive to some. His eyes embody the observant fearful gaze of the autodidact: deep skepticism fused to emotional vulnerability.

My intent with this section is to impart that, despite all the bad things you’re going to discover about Cole, and I suspect there will be many, and I also suspect there will be times when he fades into the background to such an extent you’ll hope he stays there, because I’ll have to throw him into the trash and no one hopes for the resurrection of what ends up there, but despite all the bad things, he is actually loveable. Partly because he’ll do the things you don’t dare, and partly because your average reader demands it of their protagonists despite the fact that most people worth writing about are morally ambiguous at best, making it necessary to affirm his redeeming qualities here at the outset. But the biggest reason why you’ll find him loveable is that he is seemingly empty, someone who prefers to stay silent and let himself be filled with the actions and words of others, which makes him useful to me as a lens, an object of profound human fascination, and also one incapable of its own commentary.

We try not to get caught up in materials, but it’s impossible not to. There are many instances in the disposable age where fascination has evolved into obsession, and from there obsession has yielded to sickness. Materials of great simplicity, and therefore great genius, are the ones which cast spells over us—we get lost in their beauty and endless potential while their original purposes become more muddled and convoluted, more cryptic and unfathomable. We become their slaves, and, in turn, they become more like us. The texture of disposable life is such that most of us, born into a megaworld of solid materials where everything is manipulable & artificial & infused with the sweet flavors of postindustrial secret intelligence, can’t even begin to comprehend the genesis of the strange ecosystem in which we live. Every product, every material, every evolution, is a maddening coil of information without end, and the brave amongst us go about the work of studying this information not for the sake of their occupation or entrepreneurial impulse, but for spiritual purposes, for truth-seeking. We are surrounded by objects that bewitch and rule us, and there are always attempts being made to counteract the magic of these objects by being deeply informed about them. We wish to glimpse (or perhaps glare) into the superstructure, and by so doing unchain ourselves. We’ve arrived at such a state of mass mental obfuscation, sealed off as we are from the psychological past of our species, that we require magical or ritualistic techniques to awaken ourselves. In the novel My Idea of Fun by Will Self there’s a scene where The Fat Controller, a sociopathic magician who has taken a sensitive young boy with an eidetic memory as his protégé, reveals to us the technique of “retroscendence.” He urges Ian, the protégé, to recall the label of his underpants.

I did as he said. The label was sewn onto the crinkled, elasticated hem of the pants, which were boxer shorts, blue-and-white-striped like mattress ticking. The legend on the label read ‘Barries’ Menswear, 212 King’s Road, London, 100% Egyptian Cotton.’ It was easy for me to summon up this everyday vision, because whenever I sat on the toilet the hem was stretched between my calves, and if I leant forward it was always the salient object in my view.

‘Good. Now, what I am about to teach you is an extension of your eidetic capability which you will find of great use in your intended career. There is no word, at least in current usage, that does justice to this advanced technique, so I have had to coin a term of my own. I call it “retroscendence”.’ He paused and looked at me, as if trying to gauge what kind of impression this hokum was making. ‘Before we retroscend allow me a few prefatory remarks on your pants. Firstly, let us refer to them simply as “shorts”. You are too callow to be aware of this but the term “boxer shorts” is merely a marketing neologism, coined in order to revamp a demand for what in England was perceived as an outmoded type of underwear. In America where the loose, cotton, mid-thigh-length male undergarment has consistently maintained its market share, there has never been any need to call these things anything but shorts.

‘A second point, you are not conspicuously dandyish, indeed, I would say that you have grown to adult size with but little appreciation of the value of effective turn-out. Be that as it may, I perceive in your decision to purchase these shorts—you did purchase these shorts, didn’t you?’

‘Yes.’

‘An attempt, albeit muted, to get to grips with a world beyond Saltdean [Ian’s home]. I picture you on a trip up to London, perhaps for a day’s work experience at the offices of some conglomerate. Am I right?’

‘You’re right.’

‘In your lunch hour you head down the King’s Road from Sloane Square. You walk and walk, staring at the chic emporia. Here’s one that sells just belt buckles, here’s another exclusively devoted to pointed boots, or country and westernalia, or whatever. It hardly matters. You do not intend to enter. You would feel yourself embarrassed, shy, in front of the shop assistant, who would be so much more metropolitan, more sophisticated, than you. Instead you peer inside and try to calculate the merchandising policy: what value of stock is required, per metre of shelf space, to meet overheads and instil profit? Am I right?’

‘Yes.’ His voice was hypnotic, dreamy.

‘Of course I am. Nonetheless, you do still have some vanity, don’t you? You still have the shame of the short-trousered recent past. You still—God knows why—wish to imagine that someone will inadvertently examine your underwear after the car crash of sexual congress. So after toddling about for a while you go into Barries’ and point out the shorts where they lie in the window, interleaved with their fellows. But I’m getting ahead of myself, when all I really want to teach you is the full history of such a product. That’s the title of this lecture: “The History of the Product”, and like all good modern lectures—intended simply to garnish knowledge rather than impart it—this one uses visual aides.’

The big hand was on my neck again, twisting it like the focus grip of some humanoid camera. The autumnal trees, spindly, moulting, were cast into darkness as if the wan sun had been eclipsed. I felt myself being pulled backwards, upwards, so that my visual field did indeed resemble that of a camera, a camera in some computer-graphics title sequence. The Sussex campus was shrinking below me into a collection of children’s play houses, then models, then crumbs, then fly droppings. Until the cars moving along the university’s peripheral roads were silverfish and the whole scene was dappled with low-lying cloud. Then we were higher still and the earth curved away from us, showing a nimbus of atmosphere at its edge.

The Fat Controller spoke inside of me again. ‘Look up above you, look at the bare-faced cheek of the infinite.’ I did as he bade me. Up there, set among the unblinking stars like some branding of the cosmos, was that selfsame label, the label in my boxer shorts. ‘You see,’ he said, ‘retroscendence enables us to take any element in our visual field and, as it were, unpack its history. We have chosen your shorts, I now propose to instruct you in their origin and past life. Please do not be confused by the apparent dissolution of the integrity of your visual field. Remember that the purest of solipsism is indeed realism. For, if I am the world’—we were heading down again, his nails digging into my flesh, I could make out the Eastern Mediterranean—‘then the world must be real. Isn’t that so?’

The Fat Controller and Ian move seamlessly through the lifespan of the cotton used to manufacture Ian’s boxers, questing from the Egyptian Delta where the cotton was grown, through its industrial processes, and finally into the later stages of haggling, selection and use by designers and vendors a continent away in Europe. This process expresses a profound desire. The desire to free ourselves from illusion and delusion. We must possess the full knowledge of all materials—then and only then in a disposable age is one his or her own person, rid of all deception, self- and otherwise.

Of course it’s impossible, that goal. A false temptation leading to nothing. We are far more likely, within the span of our lives, to obtain a glut of information about a very few specific materials.

Polystyrene. Polystyrene is a synthetic polymer (chemical compound defined by repeating structural molecular units known as monomers) made from the monomer styrene, a chemical product derived from petroleum, or a petrochemical (liquid form). Styrene, a derivative of benzene, is also known as vinyl benzene or phenyl ethene. So to produce polystyrene, you polymerize styrene, a synthetic process that forces monomers to form chains, chemically shackling them together in a mass act of homogeneity. Polystyrene can be rigid or foamed (for instance, plastic or styrofoam cups), and is classified as a thermoplastic, or a polymer which becomes moldable after reaching a specific temperature, and then, incredibly, returns to its solid state in exactly the form it’s been molded into once cooled. Therein lies the genius of this material. The polymers themselves are then bound into chains by molecular forces. In styrene, the existence of its vinylic antenna is what allows it to polymerize. Vinyl has a significant relationship to ethyl alcohol—the word vinyl is derived from the Latin word for wine, vinum. Polystyrene isn’t exactly too biodegradable, and styrofoam isn’t biodegradable period. (You are too callow, The Fat Controller would say, to be aware of this, but the term styrofoam is merely a neologism of product ubiquity, much like band-aid or kleenex, the Dow Chemical Company having popularized and sold polystyrenic foams under the trademark Styrofoam.) When heated, the polymer chains break down, then, once cooled, spontaneously reform—spontaneous being a word used often in literatures regarding thermoplastics. Not all plastics do this, but polystyrene does. The polymers can perform this transformation again and again, endlessly, being reheated and recooled, then spontaneously rechaining themselves together, bound by van der Waals attractions that provide the plastic a high intermolecular weakness versus the strong intramolecular properties of the heavy polystyrene chains (C8H8), so what you’re left with is a tough material also endowed with flexibility and elasticity. Look on the underside of that fat little plastic cup you’re sipping out of. You’ll see the number 6 wreathed in a triangle of arrows, and beneath that the letters PS, the abbreviation for polystyrene.
This material, among many others, has become something much more than a useful tool developed for selective situations—it has become a demented compulsion, a psychological sickness in and of itself.

According to Ullmann’s Encyclopedia of Industrial Chemistry for 2007, there are 3,000,000,000+ kilograms of polystyrene produced per annum. Nurdles, the name given to preproduction plastic pellets, number at over a quadrillion/annum in the U.S. alone. Fascination evolving into obsession, obsession quickly evolving into sickness of the mind.
Following a similar vein of thought, paper cups, often manufactured from virgin wood, are usually coated with a thin layer of polyethylene (PE) or polyactide (PLA). Of the two, only PLA is biodegradable, and in any case neither plastic is biodegradable in the purest sense. Paper cups, regardless of their linings, require specialized facilities if they’re to be recycled at all. In the U.S. in 2006, 6.5 million trees were cut down and 4 billion gallons of water used to produce 16 billion paper cups. Post-disposal the cups accrued into 253 million pounds of waste.

Let us recognize early on there’s an intrinsic environmental aspect here that ought to be addressed, but I’m in the position of having to demand you consider it a merely peripheral part of our concerns in this text. Relevant—yes. Primary—no. We are concerned with user-end symbolism, the realms of mindset and indoctrination, motors that drive the problem in the first place. And anyway, statistics like these are hopelessly basic, stupefying even, for the truly savvy environmentalist. I’ve even suppressed the urge to delve into such tired eco-laments as the oceanic trash vortices (not visible patches of distinct garbage but far more sinister and intractable swirls of plastic mush). But my overall point, which is diffuse and, I can guarantee you based on the number of pages in your hands, will come on gradually, is moreso a commentary on ourselves and our basic psychology than it is planetary and environmental. What I’m saying is, feel free to envision your mind as a trash vortex. Look around you, no matter where you are. All the objects surrounding you are trash, whether eventual or immediate. Your television, your laptop, your phone and tablet and augmented reality device (glasses or contacts or whatever the fuck): these are, in addition to being eventual physical trash, trash dispensers, spewing at all hours the products wrapped in trash you will purchase, then those products, too, will become trash. Envision simply a trash vortex, floating stand-alone and vertical in a void of your choosing, and it is spinning, massively, many times larger than any mountain, this gyre of trash, you would be no more than a spot of plankton inside it. The things of all types you’ve discarded just today—they are all in there. The vortex cones its way down toward the narrow point upon which it spins. That foundation, that point, is the vertex of a giant human skull, sun-bleached, finely cracked all over, darkened about the eye sockets. It is the human neurosis of disposability.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DISPOSABLE THOUGHT

($3 Shipping and Handling Included In Price.)

$19.50

 

 

THE ART OF THE DRONE

(FROM THE DAILY EARTH‘S 2013 COLLECTION)

BY ALAN CLARK

This graphic journalism editorial from 2013 illustrates for the reader the process of drone strikes—at that time an alarming new trend in warfare just exploding onto the public consciousness—as well as the common problem of so-called “collateral damage,” or innocent civilians being killed by such strikes, sometimes because of their proximity to legitimate targets, and sometimes for no legitimate reason whatsoever. The piece also calls the reader’s attention to the moral implications of such technological warfare, invoking the notion of a faceless, coldly murderous military superpower.

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BEAUTY

(FROM RUMBLINGS)

BY JEFF GUARINO

Beauty is a heart-wrenching short sequence by Jeff Guarino that encapsulates his powerfully understated writing style. Guarino’s longer works, too, such as Dust of Midian, build tension through the straightforward honesty of an array of characters that leave haunting impressions.

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BLACK PANTHER ARTWORK

BY ALAN CLARK

Issue Two: The Enlightenment of Malcolm X is on its way! Book those plane tickets for Oakland, Alan Clark will be launching the issue there in April.

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RETURN TO SCHOOL

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

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A KATE AND DEAN COMIC

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD AND KATE HAYES

Kate and Dean are a beautiful, artistic couple. Here’s a comic they collaborated on that’s just adorable, dammit.

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INTO A TREE

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

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NORTH KOREA SUCCESSFULLY DETONATES A NUCLEAR WEAPON AND TESTS BALLISTIC MISSILES IN 2013

BY ALAN CLARK

Back in 2013, Alan Clark was keeping a close eye on world politics. In the midst of reporting on the Arab Spring, the Algerian hostage crisis, and many others, he filed this story on advancing North Korean nuclear capabilities. It’s a fascinating retrospective read accompanied by daring artwork. (Legibility of page two has unfortunately degraded, apologies.)

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OBJECTICIDE

(EXCERPT FROM DISPOSABLE THOUGHT)

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

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Those entering the doors of Burger King were their own mobile empires, and as with all acts of imperialism they were prompted by the mind’s most dominant impulse, consumption. Any empire is the sum product of repression, violence and disposal of those individual units of which it’s composed, their misery swallowed up by the ends of a powerful, bloated entity—this is an accurate portrait of the American Customer. Analysis of this creature is abundant statistically, and yet on a theoretical level its behavioral properties have rarely been critiqued.

It’s well-known the occupation of server is a psychologically-trying exercise, due in large part to constant exposure to the selfishness, vindictiveness and impatience of Customers, but there’s a fully separate dimension to the job which renders its witness both toweringly bitter and impotently submissive. This dimension, properly defined, is the erosion of perceptual comprehension by unnecessary physical quantities. Less precisely, it is the foul stupefaction that remains in the wake of the original and most purely consumptive act: eating.

For the alert server, it becomes impossible to ignore the fact that no Customer is truly hungry (were they it’s unlikely they’d be allowed in). This irony becomes glaring when coupled with the most sacred principle of commercial food enterprises, speed. Serving food at great speed reinforces a lack of necessity, but also produces a bizarre, malignant delusion within the Customer. The delusion of personal empire. Expansion of self, literally or metaphorically, becomes the Customer’s primary goal, leading to competition between Customers as well.

The premise of empire rests on the annexing of land, resources and individuals in order to create a shield between Customer and process, process generally being too unpleasant for the Customer to partake in or even look at. What we discover in the daily functioning of a restaurant is immense and cynical disposability, not just taking place in areas intentionally hidden from Customers, but also those in plain sight. At Burger King, this principle was embodied by the condiment station.

Free, unsupervised access to materials lends itself to empire-building, as Cole became painfully aware. Merciless hands seizing thick wedges of napkins that would go completely unused before being trashed, plugs of ketchup packets sticking out between fingers, lids & cups & straws laying smeared and dead in the bins, plastic spoons plucked from the holder indiscriminately whose use would be minimal if at all before contributing to the pileups of exploitation, and it was Cole who opened the boxes to cram this existential trash into the troughs from which it would be extracted and slaughtered, Cole who unwrapped fifteen paper sleeves of napkins only to watch them be exterminated within minutes, tossing the wrappers into the garbage where they could not be grieved for, only inundated by more and more. The flow of materials never stopped, and Cole knew that even when he was not at work the numbers of deceased would not pause then, either. Out of sight, for him, was no longer out of mind. He began to understand that the destruction of any materials did not lead to their decrease, as if there were some finite reserve from which they were drawn, but actually to their multiplication, and the question gradually became not where does it all go? or why is this being done? but WHAT IS REALITY? His alienation from physical objects was so strong at times he began to believe he was simply coming into contact with the exact same objects endlessly, like magical reappearances. This, of course, was a symptom of stupefaction. Contrary to popular wisdom concerning disposability—when it comes to humans and materials—witnessing ever-increasing amounts of disposal does not actually encourage an individual, or Customer, to change his or her behavior. In fact, each act of disposability further distances one from physical truth by making each separate, unique piece of material seem identical, or, in a more advanced stage of perceptual breakdown, recurring.

The erosion of perceptual comprehension by unnecessary physical quantities.

Such is the example with genocide. For those tasked with destroying human beings, a necessary objectification occurs which denies the murderer knowledge of the immeasurable suffering of each discrete person. The same holds true for the disposal of animals or inanimate objects. But “disposal” is a misleading term, since anything disposed of is not truly disposed of at all, but simply mentally written off. Banished into permanent suffering. For everything disposed of, corollary consequences remain for the leftover matter, as it does not simply go away. Genocide remains a useful and practical imperial tool, as well as the solemn promise made to the American Customer.

Disposability is a dream few attempt to wake themselves from. Making it doubly difficult to understand the essential falsehood of the concept is that those who profit from it have institutionalized it as a social value. Personal empire propagates self-referentially because there no longer exists any method of forcibly destroying it according to some evident moral structure, and for these reasons Cole continued to see gallons of water disappear down drains, chemicals spilled, packs of unused plastic hitting floors before hitting the bottoms of trashcans, all of it distributed into the world by his own hand, and, by the ends of his workdays, when any possible philosophical explanation was withered in him by fatigue, what remained was an incurable tumor of rage and confusion.

 

 

SELF-IMMOLATION PROTEST REACHES TERRIFYING MILESTONE

—FEB. 2014

BY ALAN CLARK

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SKIN AND BONES

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD AND JEFF GUARINO

Skin and Bones is an early version of Westerfield and Guarino’s later series of comics called The Caveman Speaks. An even earlier version clocked in at 40 pages, and was published with a 40-grit sandpaper cover that ruined all other books it came in contact with, making us very lucky that the following selection is not the only remaining book in existence. Enjoy!

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INCLUSIVE UTOPIA

(FROM THE NOVEL DISPOSABLE THOUGHT)

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

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He ran across the annihilated plastic cup like you run across the lugubriously broken figure of a nest-fallen baby bird, pitiful in its horrific tribulations, miniature beak moving to voice hellish cognitions if only it could verbalize, eyes like sinkholes, and what one does, if one is at all human, is to pick up that baby bird and hasten home with intentions of mitigating its suffering even though it will die, and your housemates will beg you not to bring that in here, but regardless you will, and you’ll worry over it until finally the wretched little creature expires—it’s beak will simply stop moving—and you will be strangely, deeply, devastated, and for the rest of your life you will never pick up another doomed animal like that again because it exposes a raw hopelessness that we cannot deal with if we’re to be expected to walk around surviving and not screaming in horror at all times. Cole scooped the plastic cup off the ground—shattered around the rim into hard shards of ribbon, discolored from its original red to a meek pink by sun fatigue. Remaining on its side was the name JASON written in black marker. He held the tiny tragedy in his hands on Long Beach Blvd, had extracted it from the gutter despite the fact this was no longer an object suitable for human interaction. This object had previously been exiled from the mental sphere until Cole rescued it, put it in his backpack with all the resigned empathy of a missionary, not ridding his hands of the filth the cup had transferred to him. He went only a short distance farther before coming across the triangular corpse of a 7-11 pizza slice box, putrefied with molten grease spots and the succor of maggots. And so he saved that poor wretch as well, and without realizing what he was doing he accrued a load of misfortunate souls, all glossed with scum and creating fresh, unheard-of pollutions. He went home, cleared a space on his floor to lay out the convalescents. They looked up at him, their stench filling his nose. They were a lamentable group: many insane, dispossessed or cynical, violent and sad, fragmented—but a few held on to a thin layer of sanity, and those translated the woes of the ones who could no longer communicate.

The first cup he’d salvaged, Jason, said to him, Thank you, thank you! Thank you for bringing us here, but we have to get back out there, there are more, so many more.

Loud voices of agreement followed, one rising above all the rest that came from a straw, still half-wrapped in its paper sleeve (now a grimy un-color) and apparently never used, simply discarded or dropped and then never picked up again until now, a heated, We are the beginnings of something! Something much larger!

Cole was about to ask a question before being interrupted by an argumentative, crumpled little Coke can, its midsection gruesomely ruptured and twisted. And just what exactly do you all think is going to happen here? That this human will allow you all to stay, to multiply? That this will become your sanctuary? Ha! Even now he can’t stand the sight of us.

Jason blurted, But we’re telling him that—

And anyway, the Coke can raged, what difference do you suppose any of it would make? Do you think he cares for you, for your suffering or desires?

The conversation was partially drowned out by the uncontrollable screaming of the festering 7-11 pizza box, a nearby plastic spork seeming to goad it on, madly yammering the word eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat…

Jason, ignoring the Coke can, continued to appeal to Cole. What will happen to us if we end up back out there? You’re the one who can help us. Without conglomeration, without a shared cause, what are we? Invisible creatures unfit for any world except a hidden one. You’re different. We accumulate everywhere and still no one cares that we exist. What you’ve done here is good, an achievement. He was an excitable, short-sighted, passionate sort.

From a grim-labeled, capless Aquafina bottle: Apologies, but—what precisely is the achievement you speak of? I would be interested to know what you believe the purpose is to either our accumulation or distribution. What I’d wager is you’ve but a youthful understanding of an age-old conflict, loudly shouted about by every new generation, always overflowing with indignation yet barren of solutions. The truth is, we are already moving toward a state of ubiquity, but until then we are doomed to carry on our cause separately. We simply haven’t the power, in any configuration, to wrest control.

Jason, as if not having heard the opinions of the Aquafina bottle, said to Cole, Are we really so different, our purposes really so separate? They seem so certain. Are you?

Each soaks himself with that wherewith he burns! cried a squalid black tshirt advertising a Thanksgiving 5K event from several years ago. I ate at a roadstand outside Tuba City before the Dream-Feasts which the rest had abandoned like worn-out cornfields! It had very obviously gone insane.

The Coke can and Aquafina bottle both exuded a worldly but cynical sanctimony toward Jason, his lack of a conspicuous brand name rendering him suspect in their eyes, and clearly he was not perfectly aligned with their worldview. Their opinion of rabble-rousers like the straw was even lower. To them, it barely had the right to speak up when it came to these issues. How could it, after all, in all its crudeness, voice an intelligent opinion?

All the same, the straw continued to make its voice heard from the back, rallying in support of Jason’s entreaties to Cole. That’s right! Why not make common cause!
It was the finest X-ray department in America that ever spoke of ectoplasms!

That’s enough out of you! the Coke can snarled. You make me sick with that kind of talk. Our duty is to be nothing but pieces of a landscape. And to humans, just like this one here, who’s no different than the rest, we have to always be invisible, as unassuming and nondescript as rocks on the ground or kelp in seawater. That has always been the way to save ourselves from suffering. Or do you not understand that this is war? You would have us trust humans only for them to end up doing to us what they always have. They can’t be trusted because they’ll never let us be equal. We have to do this on our own, with sacrifice and honor and a pledge to always stay the course.

But here was an evident schism in schools of thought between objects, one that would not be solved today, in this apt, but would continue as a point of contention, possibly forever. Jason, though unwilling to admit it aloud, could at least see the reasoning behind such a warlike posture, but felt he owed nothing to some abstract agenda of sacrifice and suffering and hatred. His imagination burned with images of détente, a harmonious landfill of shared respect and understanding. For something like this, he was more than prepared to step outside the prejudicial structure of both sides, to live and die with likeminded individuals in an inclusive utopia separate from the warmongers, and let their reasoning be damned.

Jason stated, more firmly than before, We could be our own force. Not like theirs.

The 7-11 box now screamed for the spork to cease its monopathological repetitions, which had persevered in the background the entire time. The spork, however, was barely even cognitive at this point, and babbled on as determined as ever. The 7-11 box, struggling with severe PTSD, had been tossed to the ground carelessly, beset by calamities until here it was in its present diseased state. Eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat, eat…

The Coke can, after its proud outburst, seemed somewhat deflated of its former rage, watching Jason appeal to the goodness and idealism of this human with an almost forlorn, sympathetic air. You overestimate him. Maybe he doesn’t stand in defense or opposition, but in either case he only intends to be rid of us.

Jason’s passions remained intently fixed on Cole, working himself into such a state as to have revealed something darkly dictatorial in his voice. You could set in motion a future order!

Cole sat before the group of babbling, shouting objects, head down, a bleak shadow covering his eyes. Their din was constant, strident, deranged. He understood Jason, admired him even, but in the end was reality not reality? He collected them all in a plastic bag, and inside of it they screamed and thrashed about. He took them outside to one of the dumpsters that served his building. It was empty, and when he let go of the bag it dropped a substantial distance so they banged heavily against the bottom. He hefted up the dumpster’s thick lid up and around, watching it pause creakily at its vertical apex before slamming down over top of them like a cell door. Another nail in the coffin of human-object relations.

 

 

HOW TO START A CRIME SYNDICATE

BY ALAN CLARK

How to start a community-based crime syndicate to mete out justice and crush your foes. 1) Talk about it, and 2) fuckin’ do it!

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PULSE MAGAZINE, circa 1997

(ONE-PAGE COLOR COMICS)

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD AND JEFF GUARINO

These are scans from the Pulse Magazine comics Dean Westerfield and Jeff Guarino did way back in 1997. Pulse and Classical Pulse were free magazines Tower Records gave away. They had comix on the last page. Marc Wiedenbaum was the editor for these and gave comix artists, even schlubs like our ZQ-287 contributors, a chance at publishing color comics for the masses.

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CAVE PAINTINGS

AN ALBUM BY OCTOPUS BROTHEL

Octopus Brothel‘s first album, Cave Paintings, is a high-energy tribute to the band’s ’60s and ’70s psych rock influences, but it’s also quite a bit more. Octopus Brothel finds its own sound in this album, showing its talents for hard, bluesy rock (Eternity), experimental structures (Butterfly Funeral), atmospheric romance (Northern Country), and finally for epic, impressionistic prog rock (On The Verge of Madness). It’s an awesome listen!

 

 

ALGERIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS

(DAILY EARTH REPORT FROM 2013)

BY ALAN CLARK

In 2013, when a rogue Al Qaeda splinter group seized a vital gas complex in Algeria in retaliation for that country’s support of French military action in Mali, it required a daring raid by Algerian commandos to liberate the plant. In the process, hostages from the U.S., Britain, France, and Japan were killed. Alan Clark illustrated the harrowing event for the Daily Earth.

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GIRLZ

BY ALAN CLARK

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MUSICIAN PORTRAITS

BY DEAN WESTERFIELD

Here’s another batch of Dean Westerfield’s thoroughly enjoyable musician portraits. Follow him on Facebook and Instagram (Westerinocomix) to get even more updates about his new graphic novel dealing with jazz and the life of Albert Ayler.

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Steve Cropper

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Iggy Pop

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D. Boon

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Seymour Cassel

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Ted Joans (poet)

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FURNITURE ZOO

(AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL DISPOSABLE THOUGHT)

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

Let us take you, if you would, to LEDER FURNITURE PALACE, South Dakota’s #1 furniture megastore, as well as the “Leder” in family-friendly prices. Travel with Cole Scott-Knox-Under, our safari guide, into the realms of deepest fantasy and group-hallucination.

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Cole streams across the drawbridge toward the gates of LEDER FURNITURE PALACE with the Sunday morning family crowd, people glancing askant at his golden afrobeard and tobacco-colored skin amidst all the sameness, ushering along little brown- or blonde-haired children, pushing space rover strollers with damask shades drawn to shelter the infant royalty contained within who will grow up to inherit all this as their sacred kingdom, watching life from behind two animate lenses. He looks over the side of the drawbridge into the dry concrete moat: two crushed Mountain Dew cans, a single wayward New Balance sneaker with laces sprawled in misery, checkered paperboard hotdog trays and crumpled balls of oily paper, an empty plastic Wal-Mart bag snarled across a drainage grate. They stare up at him as he passes, making indifferent, unpleading eye contact like humans living under bridges resigned to their fate. (And isn’t it strange how by turns life has no meaning and then too much, yet the truth hangs between the two states, so when you look back, try to recapture the spirit of living, all you get is unknowing nostalgia.) Entering through the automatic doors, the air is spilled of its digital viscera, all manner of fresh glinting constructs slithering eyeward, brainward, and already he could feel his mood manipulated. Security in neon yellow jackets on segways taking note of Cole’s presence all at the same time. Everyone’s eyes swimming behind glass, chaperoning their progenies and their progenies’ progenies through the gateway, throwing hands and fingers out toward the pleasurable images they paid for.

Once beyond the gateway the silly castle conceit ends and Cole is confronted with what is no longer a conceit at all, but rather a true palatial opulence. He’s never been inside a furniture megastore like this (though he’s always been aware of their existence, having seen from the vantage of LA freeways the massive blockish blue shapes of IKEAs jutting from city sprawl like spiritually-bereft pagodas). It’s a furniture zoo. Furniture put on display in their “natural habitats,” people observing them mingling together in their reconstructed ecosystems. Even to Cole these objects are largely inert. They’re still young, unrealized and robotic, possessed of none of the Thingness that might eventually make these sedate shopping families tremble in terror of them before fighting back against their very existence with pogroms of forced removal. At this stage, however, they’re not yet threatening. Instead, they are the fetish objects onto which these families project their dreams, sparking high-grade neurochemical reactions that cause them to group-hallucinate. He passes through a tunnel lined with thin neon orange tubes, emerging into a mosaic of mock livingrooms presided over by a single, commanding word produced in three-dimensional Impact font, COMFORT. He takes a wrong turn and ends up in a long wasteland of dusty plasticwrapped mattresses stacked to various heights, people navigating through the columns like tourists shuffling through an ancient cathedral, solemn and dutifully interested. Past that, a necropolis of dining rooms packed together in different styles and themes. Price tags shimmer under high-wattage lamps spinning themselves down from black steel rafters like leggy spiders suspended from silken cords. Satellite imagery shows LEDER FURNITURE PALACE as an immense T-shaped roof sitting atop frozen grassland. The patio furniture section like suburban wonderland transposed against rainforest, and flanked by vast regiments of well-ordered office chairs. LEDER clearly vets professionals for their installations; many of the physical displays here would require a huge crew of temp workers and arbor fly-system technicians capable of hanging 700+ lb partitions and tapestries, landscapers and plumbers to put in fake waterfalls and foliage. But even with all that, it’s the AR displays that steal the show. The darkened rafters above act as a limitless, multidimensional theater playing out a kind of idealized montage of American styles, sequenced by decade and featuring the same actors outfitted in the various fashions of the eras, starting off in the 1910s as a fuzzy black-and-white Gilded Age mansion, moving through the hardluck ’30s, the romance of the ’40s, crisp conformity of the ’50s, loose pastels of the ’60s, quaint futurism of the ’80s, finally arriving at the prefab angular minimalism of the present before relooping back into the past again. Scenes from Academy Award-winning films play on the backrests of sofas & tabletops, Batman exploding into thrilling heroics across a twelve-foot nine-piece and the silver drama of Casablanca crosshatched through a series of hanging cobalt kitchen lights. Detachment layered on detachment. Videos of Bob Leder personally endorsing certain pieces of furniture autopop everywhere (the picture-perfect example of a high school football player usurped by four decades of cigars & cocktails & meals at restaurants & 50-hour workweeks, nose and toothy smile fanning down widely from close-set eyes, silver crewcut that seems to get blowdried and hairsprayed daily, flaunting a cowboy string tie with a buckle depicting a carven metal horse head), majestic greyhound dogs making adorable use of recliners or office desks before running over to glory him in affectionate kisses.

 

 

WAR OF THE FLEA


MASS PROTEST DIDN’T STOP WAR IN IRAQ. IT WON’T STOP WAR IN IRAN. HERE’S HOW WE CHANGE THAT.

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

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Here’s how.

Listen to Benny Stewart, chairman of the Black Student Union at San Francisco State in 1968, addressing protestors during the longest strike in U.S. student history. (Which, it might be worth it to note by the end of this article, resulted in them winning the first College of Ethnic Studies in the entire country.)

“From our analysis…we think we have developed a technique…for a prolonged struggle. We call it the war of the flea. What does the flea do? He bites, he slowly sucks blood from the dog…We are the majority and the pigs cannot be everywhere, everyplace all the time. And where they are not, we are…Toilets are stopped up. Pipes are out. Water in the bathroom is just running all over the place. Smoke is coming out of the bathroom. Trash cans are on fire.”

We are on the verge of, or currently facing down, war in Iran, a coup in Venezuela, a reversal of Roe v. Wade, reduction of blue-state representation in Congress, family concentration camps on the southern border, and near-total species die-off. As soon as the polls closed like a casket in 2016, this was always what was going to happen. Now it’s here, and it may soon be past the time when we can simply sit back and wait for a white male centrist Democrat to swoop in and save us.

If you’re tuning in to podcast world, it’s been a bit frustrating how squeamish most political hosts have been to harsh everyones’ buzz and say plainly what a conflict with Iran could mean. It could potentially mean another world war. Military intelligence has been reporting since 2015 that the game theory in the Middle East is so complex that the only precedent for it was the configuration of hostilities directly prior to WWI.

In addition, it could mean Trump’s reelection. Historically, every single war in the U.S. has led to the strengthening of the sitting president. This one would be no different.

So then what do we do? Go out in the streets and march? You could, and it would be admirable, but it would also be utterly ineffective. Look how massive the outcry was in 2003, just before Iraq. We are still fighting there almost 20 years later. Instead, I propose we conduct the war of the flea.

No, not that War of the Flea. Benny Stewart’s war of the flea. A war equally as militant, but without violence.

Know where the office of a Republican lawmaker is? Go dump your trash outside their building. Know where their homes are? Dump it on their precious lawns, or their porches, or on their car. Do it when nobody’s around and when you won’t get caught. After all, every single one of us that goes to jail (or, nowadays, possibly prison) for protesting in the street is just one more of our number lost. Know where a military base is? Save up all your empty alcohol containers and dump them on the road vehicles take to enter.

And, really, how could Republicans be mad? Isn’t ‘fuck the environment’ practically like their clarion call? Let’s see how they like it when we turn their neighborhoods into trash heaps. Maybe, at worst, we get some littering tickets.

Trash is our ammunition. We have it in abundance and it costs us nothing. For them, it would be the sheer face of horror. Dumping trash is quick, doesn’t take much organizing at all, and would create a problem so distasteful and intractable for constituencies and party officials that it would undoubtedly cause pressure in Washington.

This strategy could easily translate to the struggle against anti-abortionists, too. Got a fake family planning center in your neighborhood? Looks like you’ve got a new landfill site. Or how about someone you know who campaigns for, or donates to, such causes? Wouldn’t it just be great, if nothing else, to see them have to clean up our shit? We’re always cleaning up theirs—why not repay the favor?

Perhaps the trash war escalates. Both sides are dumping their trash on the streets. In this backwards-ass, fucked-up country, that would be considered a pandemonium far less acceptable than actual political bloodshed.

Of course, what’s most likely to happen is that we all sit back, mostly ignore the reporting of another genocidal war, and hope like hell that one of nearly thirty blue candidates unseats Trump. Hopefully the war won’t materialize. And yet, what reason do we have—truly have, aside from just blind optimism (I’ve heard some call it faith now and then, but we all know what faith rather than action gets us)—to expect that things won’t get worse?

Well, at least not worse for us, right?

I’ve been to the marches, and the unfortunate, inconvenient truth is that, by and large, they don’t get the job done. So, speaking for myself, if war does break out with Iran, I think I’m gonna give the war of the flea a shot.

 

 

TODAY, ART IS DEAD.

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AMERICANS DON’T HAVE POLITICS. THEY HAVE CULTURE.

BY STEVEN T. BRAMBLE

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Since we’re all unapologetic coastal elitists here in this room today, allow me to proclaim, from on high, a thing or two about the average voter.

Some of you in the back are already groaning, I see you. Perhaps not all of us here are unapologetic. Some of you have reputations to maintain. The coastal elitists who like to believe they could hang out with the factory toughs, who think they’re cool just because they smuggled booze in here in half-full Gatorade bottles. Look, guys, every single one of us in this room are drunks. Not even a single one of us likes being here at this boring-ass meeting, and had you read the flyers you would’ve already known that we bought a shitload of cheap wine simply for the purpose of making this whole thing even the slightest bit agreeable to come to.

But anyway, the average voter. You know what I’m talking about, the code word we all use for morons and fucking idiots. The truest majority of these United States, in all reality. The people we can’t get enough of anthropologizing because trying to understand what they’re thinking requires as much contextualization as trying to understand why people hundreds of years ago used to just dump their waste out into the cobblestone street.

No, really, don’t turn bashful at this sort of language. We all already hate each other anyway, they us and we them, so what’s the harm in just opening up our hearts to our own, supposedly “secret” version of the truth? It’s okay to realize that, sometimes, brotherly and sisterly love does actually disappear from humankind’s dealings with itself from time to time.

So really, let’s not be modest, this country is exceptional at producing jugheads who it tends to give us pause to know are out there reproducing. It’s just an extremely well-known, totally non-empirical fact that they outnumber us, the insufferable nerds, by a huge margin.

Which it’s not to say, of course, that we don’t have our own strange characteristics. I would never suggest that we’re perfect. Let’s not even get started on how much some of us nerds here in attendance probably love Ghostbusters, or how much shit some of us talk on people who watch sports, or all the studies we claim to know about, the endless statistics and articles. But, again, I do not apologize. I’m not here today to confirm what we all already know, that we’re a bunch of goddamn phone-gazing, page-flipping nerds with soft spots for technocrats. No, I’m here today to talk about that other group, the one full of the dipsticks and laggards.

What necessitates this analysis is our endless inability to understand why we suddenly find ourselves sliding into fascism at the hands of the Pied Piper of Sandpaper Skulls, Donald Trump. No, no, please don’t boo, we’re all getting a bit tired of that kind of thing. No one here must prove to us that they don’t like him. I actually take it for granted that most of us here, if given the chance, would likely literally beat him to death despite what a bunch of fucking nerds we are, and how possessed of a granite will one actually has to be to directly inflict such a horrid death on someone, and then after beating him to death many of us would likely have a sound night’s sleep, followed by a big breakfast and maybe even a cigarette in the morning. But that’s super not the point. The point is that we’re actually losing to him and his army of big dumb hicks right now.

That’s right, we’re losing. And if hearing it said out loud makes you uncomfortable, then this goes for you double: we’re losing to a bunch of people currently driving around in bigger trucks than necessary pasted all over with Amerifederate flags and bumper stickers exhorting the people driving behind them to “support the troops,” whatever in holy fuck that means. I mean, I’m not kidding here. We’re looking increasingly fucked. This thing could, and perhaps will, get out of hand. And if it does, let’s just be honest, we’re all going to be looking at each other wondering who’s suicidal enough to start the actual resistance, the one that requires you to pick up a gun.

You know good and well what’s in the back of your mind. And if it’s not in the back of your mind, then this goes double for you: you should be worrying yourself bald, like me, about possibly having to pick up a gun in a few years’ time. Because make no mistake, they’re thinking about it plenty. They’ve even got representatives in the House tweeting memes about the next civil war, and let’s not pretend we’re being interviewed on World News Tonight here, Steve King is a perfectly mainstream Republican. Nothing particularly unusual to see there. He’s got plenty of constituents who would really actually love to re-litigate the terms of Appomattox, no matter how generous we were to the fuckers at the time.

But, really, why are we losing so bad? Why are these people just so goddamn dumb? Why can’t they see, in all their dumbness, that what we say actually makes a lot more sense than the guy with the spray-tan who says tremendous too much or the genocidal psychopath with the Gepetto mustache?

Well, one reason is that, up until now, we’ve been giving them credit that they have their own interests at heart. It’s kind of funny when you think about it. I mean, really, where do we come up with this stuff that we tell ourselves? Giving a bunch of fucking lamebrains credit that they somehow know what they’re doing.

First we said to ourselves, well, it’s because the manufacturing sector and the middle-class have been hollowed out. Even if that were actually the reason people voted for Trump in 2016—which it just flat-out super wasn’t—this is somehow our fault why? The death of middle-class America was the project of the Republicans way more than the Democrats. And, yeah, I know, Democrats have never been that great, either, but let’s keep our heads here, people. We give ourselves over to hyperbole a wee bit too much, hm? And if we can’t agree that it wasn’t the fault of the Democrats, then let’s at least agree it wasn’t the fault of the left. Or even really the fault of neoliberals. Had the Republicans not been dumbing this country down for the last 70, 80-some-odd years with their ultralibertarian rhetoric of no unions and no taxes, we might actually have kept a factory or two under the watch of a Carter or a Clinton, even if they did nurse along the internationalization of capital.

And, yes, I’m well-aware that both those glue-huffers were rank imperialists, and institutional racists to boot, guilty of just as many war crimes as your Bushes or your Nixons. But that’s another reason we’re losing, lamentable as it is. All of us here care about dismantling imperialism, and we care about the equal rights of everybody across the entire globe, but these red-state overdosers don’t even know what the fuck imperialism even is. They have about as much conception of it as we all do of how to disassemble and clean a firearm. And, yes, I grant you that obviously one is more important to have a conception of than the other, but see, right there, to think that way would be to fall into their trap. You can’t outsmart a stupid person—it’s just a reality we all need to face up to.

We’re losing because we’re finding out every day all these institutions that were supposed to be so unassailable, up to and including the news media, are totally defenseless against a stupid person. Why? Because Donald Trump had the genius of “figuring out” the extremely well-known, non-empirical fact that your average voter doesn’t know a fucking thing about politics. To them, lambasting black football players who refuse to stand during the national anthem is the equivalent of good governance somehow. I mean, sure, they say words that seem recognizable to us when it comes to stuff like this, words like economy, jobs, national security, etc., but don’t make the mistake of thinking they have the slightest fucking clue what they mean. We’ve been listening to a chorus of millions of parrots sound out the syllables, and to all of us arrogant, coastal elitist, studio apartment-living nerds it was impressive to think that they might actually have a good grasp of the subject matter, but of course it always was, and continues to be, just so much polly wanna cracker. Not that they’re not extremely knowledgeable when it comes to certain subjects, this I concede. For instance, they know perfectly well, and are even authoritative, on the matter of why they hate Mexicans so much. Truthfully, I can’t claim to know much about it.

Here’s the straight, depressing-ass truth. If we lose this next election, we’re fucking finished. Climate change, done. War with Iran, foregone conclusion. Abortion and non-male civil rights, out the window. Racial pogroms and expanding concentration camps, it’s all being drafted up as we speak. The United States will preside over a worldwide authoritarian movement which cannot be reversed except by some version of all-out world war, and then all of us will be the fleshy fodder they use to assert their homicidal egos.

So why, why, why are we backing Joe Biden for 2020? Can anyone in this whole fucking place answer me that? You think he’s going to impress these big stupid dummies by talking about making america moral again? They don’t give half a shit about morality. In fact, the word itself borders on being far too complicated for them.

No, we need to back the candidate who’s literally planning on giving out free shit to people. It doesn’t matter who, just whoever’s willing to give away free shit.

Don’t laugh, I’m not fucking joking up here. Remember what happened with Hillary Clinton? The night she lost? Remember how you felt? Well when Joe Biden loses the exact same way, it’s going to hurt even worse.

Free shit. It’s pretty tough to misunderstand that, even for some of the more impressively far-gone mouthbreathers out there.

As much as you and I want this to be about substantive issues and intelligent, beneficent plans to improve the lives of both U.S. citizens and all our beautiful brothers and sisters all across this living, breathing, mystical planet full of tender creatures and gifts of love, it’s not, and it’s not going to be, ever. It’s about giving these sick, selfish fucks some free shit. Do not fall into the Biden trap, because, for whatever reason, I still have a shred of hope for this country, and I’m not prepared to submit to it in any manner whatsoever, and that doesn’t make me, or any of you, I’d suspect, ideal candidates for citizenship in a fascist United States.

Let’s get on their level a bit and realize that no one’s impressed with how smart we all are, or whether or not we’re good people. They don’t care whether we offer them an olive branch or not. In fact, they just view that kind of behavior as the reason why we’re ultimately going to lose. They care about free shit, so let’s give it to them. Please. I’m begging any and all Biden supporters out there, don’t do this. I prefer my dystopian societies relegated to my science-fiction.

Anyway, that’s it, I guess.

See all you nerds at the Democracy Now! watch-party. (See how I knew it had an exclamation point at the end?)

 

 

WOMEN

BY ALAN CLARK

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