Sunday, August 24, 2003


Sometimes, people catch on to how angry a person I am. Only once or twice a month, when pesky hormones struggle through my neural network, I let the pleasant facade slip away and bare the sword, daring anyone to challenge me.

What I've noticed more than anything else is how often people are denied a voice in their own lives.

The unfortunate introduction of psychoanalysis into our mainstream culture has yielded a petty return of philosophical relativistic induction. Nothing is really anyone's fault because there’s always a reason for why people do the petty things that they do. The reason might not make sense to me because I don't have the right perspective. From what I've grasped from our American culture, the right perspective seems to be hypnotic ignorance and sitting quietly watching the shadows on the cave walls. Tip your hat to Plato my friends; he's all you've got these days.

We live in a world full of spiritual pornography. The louche Franklin Mint Indian-on-a-Horse-Great-Spirit-Bullshit plates hang on the walls of White people who care more for the idea of tribal people than for the reality of them. Whindians, I call them. We see iconery dripping from their walls and from their persons. The same iconery that we saw in their parents homes, albeit exchanging the faces of Jesus and Abraham for the faces of the Buddha and Kali. Their conviction is as convincing as a televangelist and they're in it for exactly the same reasons. Anyone who must insert that amount of showbiz into their belief system has something to prove and when religion or philosophy becomes a tool, it's usually used to hide something. There is no guilt on the conscience of these folks because guilt is a western ideal. How amusing, eh? One must justify one's actions by simply dismissing the moral standards of one’s upbringing instead of questioning the actions themselves or even exploring the concept of guilt. Am I making judgments based on lifestyle here? You bet I am. These same people (and I know plenty of 'em) speak highly of their own lifestyles but not so that they can lead by example or even to prove that idealism can survive in America, but to buff their turtle shells to such garish brightness, it blinds a seeker from witnessing the festering innards bound tightly within. It is a swindle. It is a dodge. It is certainly the last thing I ever expected to see. They cannot be content to allow any person of color their own cultural standards. If it can't be changed, it must be adopted and assimilated just like those stolen Indian babies of centuries past. Nothing is sacred and everything is for sale.

I’ve explored guilt. Because guilt and anger are married or at the very least, living together in sin, I thought it was a good thing to cover. I don’t believe in guilt as it is understood through the eyes of America. But I do believe in responsibility. I think that we only understand the virtue of financial responsibility, which is a good virtue, don’t get me wrong, but keeping that aspect of American existence afloat gives people no inclination whatsoever to regard one another with any real depth, or so it would appear to me. It allows a certain freedom in the characters of the wealthy (whose numbers dwindle) and a lot of restriction in the characters of the poor (whose numbers increase rapidly; can you guess where this is going?). How can you feel good about yourself when you're forced into crime because you can’t eat? And when you get caught, the system encroaches upon you for the rest of your life, braying in your ear that you’re no good. Guilt thrust upon you from every angle, preventing your character from escaping the tiny glass walls in which you’re forced to exist.

When I think of guilt and anger, I always think of Gunter Grass' "The Tin Drum". I love this book. As someone who has not only done wrong but has also been wronged, it offers the concept of responsibility without guilt. Since guilt motivates people, it is used as a tool to move them around. It's the easiest trick in the book. It’s as simple as a Zen parable in its ability to throw people off their game. However, what kind of world would we live in if guilt was not used? If people were expected to behave responsibly and respectfully toward one another and no one had anything to gain except for respect? Oskar, the main character in book, "The Tin Drum" is a fellow who has stunted his own growth by throwing himself down a flight of stairs at the age of three. He’s well aware of the chicanery of the adults around him and wants no part of it. He marches through most of the book speaking not with his voice, but with a Tin Drum, hence the title. The book takes place in Germany, before, during, and after WWII. My take on it is that Grass does not seek blame. He offers no excuse for the German’s behavior, instead, offering the reader the souls of the characters so that we can make our own judgments, if we so choose. Grass (through Oskar) does not seek to point out those dichotomous variables that must be responsible when a wrong is either corrected or committed. No relativistic, see it from my perspective bullshit. He does not vilify anyone, exactly, as much as he points out the foolish blind faith for sale in Nazi Germany and indeed, up for grabs on E-Bay if you know where to look.

We often duel one another with our pistols of sanctimonious righteousness, wielding our index fingers and pointing to the other guy to hide our own guilt. If it's not that, it's hiding behind someone else's philosophy. If not that, keep your bills paid and no one asks too many questions. This is not quite Oskar’s style. He offers no real solution or rationale. He is not ambiguous in his observations as much as he is abstract.

The work, more than any other I have had the honor to read in my life, and reading this book IS an honor, illustrates the plight of the human race. In order for us to have hope for the future, someone else’s future must be in jeopardy. Obviously, this is unnecessary but it seems to be the way in which the human race has evolved.

So, why am I angry? Because I am forced to capitulate to rules I had nothing to do with making. Because no matter how little I have, an opportunistic charlatan lurks behind every corner, jingling and jangling their Tingsha chimes and trying to drown me in their own mediocrity. Because I and many others who have suffered the indignity of poverty must work twice as hard to get half as far while watching privledged children waste everything they've been given and complain because they weren't given more. Because I know too many people who feel too guilty to to admit that they've done wrong. Because people enforce excessive punishment when a person admits to wrong doing. Therefore, why the fuck should anyone admit to anything?

Right now, I don’t hate the world but I hate its wasted potential. The greedy screaming of the masses is deafening and it has been keeping me awake lately. It wants gas, like the Germans in “The Tin Drum". It wants Santa Claus. It wants Faith, Hope, and Love. Everyone wants to be a Star Bellied Sneetch. I’m tired and I want to go to sleep. But I can’t sleep lately. I'm just too angry.