Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Bad Little Anarchists Who Fed the Troll

Trump is the troll hiding under the bridge of American politics.

That image popped into my mind, and this story followed ...

Once there was an evil troll who lived under a stone bridge near a happy village on the leftside of the Best Kingdom on Earth, which really wasn't very happy, to tell the truth. The troll's name was Trump. The anarchist children did not know that. They had never read Doonesbury or Spy magazine—let alone the evil words and pictures of the rightsiders.

With the bliss that only ignorance can bring, they merrily skipped over the bridge every day on their way to the Anarchist Club. Never suspecting the danger that lay just below their feet. A boy with a stye in his eye pointed out that an Anarchist Club was a contradiction in terms. A saucy red haired-lass accused him of "mansplaining"—which was against one of the Anarchist Club's many rules. The boy said that was also a contradiction. They drove him out of town with rocks and sticks. 

After that, the children had nothing to do but tromp back and forth over the bridge. Their footsteps made an echo. The echo made them laugh.

Tromp! Tromp! Tromp!

"Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Day after day, this happy game went on.

Their elders tried to warn the anarchist children.

"The troll must not escape!" cried the wise old liberals. "He will ruin our plans to rule the Kingdom with peace and justice!"

Their anarchist children didn't listen.

"Your candidate is a wicked witch!" they replied with scorn. "We will not vote for her. Witches are just as bad as trolls!"

More elders gathered from many different leftsider tribes to talk some sense into the anarchist children. The wizards of the New Left, the Old Left and Classic Mainstream Liberals spoke as one. Don't wake the troll! For the love of the Human Family, don't feed him!

The anarchist children still did not listen.

They were full of energy—too much energy for the Anarchist Club to contain. Soon, they spilled out of the club and filled the cobblestone streets of the village. They made flags, marched and shouted, and helped a nice old man and a nice old woman who dreamed of being King and Queen. The anarchist children felt good about themselves.

They stayed very busy. Back and forth they marched across the bridge. Back and forth they marched. Several times a day now. How loud they were!

Tromp, tromp, tromp!

Trump, trump, trump!

They did not see two eyes opened in the black void below the stone bridge. That's what the boy with the stye said. But no one believed him.

One bright sunny day, a flaxen-haired anarchist lass put a leg of mutton under the bridge. It vanished too fast for her to see. Then she heard the troll eating in the darkness. Horrible ripping, grinding sounds! Her little heart leapt with fear, but only for a moment. 

"Thank you," said a gruff voice from the darkness.

"You're welcome, Mr. Troll" said the little girl.

"Trump," said the troll. "My name is Trump."

"You're welcome, Mr. Trump-Troll."

The little girl smiled and ran away. She feared the troll no longer. He had told her his name, and that changed everything. She instantly knew the Trump-Troll was an outsider—a revolutionary fighting the system like the heroes of her parents' ancient stories! She would tell her Old Left parents later. She knew it would make them mad.

Soon, the other anarchist children were leaving cakes, pies, and sheep's guts beneath the old bridge. They heard the Trump troll eat with grinding, sloppy noises. They laughed and laughed. Their parents still feared the Trump-Troll. They didn't. History and everything good was on their side. After much discussion, they decided the Trump-Troll was on their side, toll.

But he wasn't.

One day, the Trump-Troll poked his massive, malformed head out from under the bridge. The anarchist children took one look. And suddenly knew he wasn't their friend. They shouted and threw things. 

"Go back," they cried. "Go back!"

The Troll-Troll ignored them. Gripping both sides of the archway with his tiny hands, he pulled himself up from below the bridge, stood up his thick legs, and squinted in the sunlight. Then he walked away, splashing through the shallow creek to the nearest bank.

The children shouted uselessly.

"Go back! Go back!"

But the Trump-Troll had already climbed the bank and was striding down the common road. The anarchist children watched as he walked away. A proud, mean walk, as if he owned the Kingdom. The anarchist children shouted and threw their Bakunin coloring books at his back. But they were powerless to stop him. The nice old man and the nice old woman appeared and tried to help. But they were powerless, too.

"What's that horrible thing on his head?" said the flaxen-haired lass.

"I think it's hair," said the boy with a stye who was hiding behind a tree.

"Hair? You think that's hair? Idiot!"

She hit him in the face with a well aimed stone. He howled and ran into the next tree because there was blood in his eyes. Then he stopped howling.

The Trump-Troll ignored their petty squabbles and walked and walked and walked.

Soon he was far away down the road. First he became a shadow against the setting sun. Then he was out of sight.

Everyone knew that the rightsider lands were at the other end of the road. But nobody mentioned it.

The anarchist children and their old friends turned away and walked back where they had came.

The stench below the bridge was terrible.

The anarchist children were sad. The Anarchist Club didn't meet the next day. The next day it did. And decided there was nothing to worry about. Releasing the troll was change. Change was good! It changed things. If this Trump-Troll had his way, he might destroy everything their parents and grandparents had built. The Best Kingdom on Earth might become the Worst Kingdom. It would be bad and horrible and unfair and everyone would be exploited and miserable and unhappy. That would mean a revolution! Finally! And all their dreams would come true!

Back in the village, their parents tried not to worry. Trolls like him pop out from under bridges all the time! Most agreed the Trump-Troll would die after he came out from under the bridge. He's probably dead right now! Fresh air is poison to trolls! It will kill him! 

But the Trump-Troll didn't die. Step by step, his feet took him closer to the rightsider. Before long, he was as far right as you could get. The magical Alt-Right village, where anything is true if you say it is! A joyful mob surrounded him as he entered the gates. They shouted with joy! They spoke flattering words! They agreed with every mad word that spilled out of his twisted mouth. 

The Trump-Troll just walked. Flattery was his right and deserved no smile. He walked and walked. And nothing could stop him. 

From village to village, his footsteps took him across the rightside frontier. Bloody graveyards filled his eyes. Yet the crowds still followed him. They feared this troll but loved his power. A few fools thought he might share it. Fools. The Trump-Troll doesn't share!

But they were right about the power.

Power crackled and popped around him like summer heat lightning. He walked and walked and grew more powerful with every step. 

With strange magic, he turned hate to love and lies to truth.

Curses and hateful words poured out of the troll's mouth. Because he says what the thinks! He robbed from the poor and gave to himself. He's a successful business man! He left trails of half-eaten dead dogs and cats behind him wherever he went. Because he doesn't care what other people think! They could always get another pet.

More and more the rightsider crowds gathered. The Trump-Troll never stopped and never slowed.

Everyone knew where he was going. Even the fools.

And he got there.

Which surprised even the wisemen.

Today, you won't find the Trump-Troll under the stone bridge anymore. He now sits on the throne of the castle at the center of the Best Kingdom on Earth. The place of power of course. The wise old advisors of the previous reign are nowhere to be found. But the castle floor is covered in bones.

If he summons you to his chamber, be wise and call him "King Trump" if you don't wish your bones to join the others. Wiser still, just hide.

Right now, King Trump is bellowing from his designer throne. Stomping his feet and pounding the arm rests with his fists. And licking his lips again and again.

The wiser servants who managed to survive know what that means.

King Trump is hungry again. Hungry! He whips his strange blonde forelock, squints his eyes and sniffs the air. What is that smell? He knows it ...

Children. Yes! Those bad anarchist children who shout and make trouble. They're out there somewhere, close. They think they are so safe, so privileged ...

King Trump licked his lips and smiled.

With an awkward grunt he stood up and pushed away from his throne. Then he walked to the castle window, leaned out his huge head and shouted with all his might.

"Children!" he called out. "Children! Come out, come out wherever you are. I am a very bad troll! Have you no courage? You must stand up to me!"

His voice echoed across hills and valleys. But there was no reply.

King Trump drew in a breath and shouted once more.

"I am cruel to Mexicans and the transgendered and the earth itself. You must stop me! Shout and burn and break things like your fathers and mothers did before you. Show me how angry you are. It is your way!"

King Trump's voice shook the earth like rolling thunder. But there was still no reply.

The wicked troll filled his lungs with air once more. Birds flying by the castle window dropped dead. He shouted yet again.

"Do not be cowards, children! Aren't you supposed to be revolutionaries? Well act like revolutionaries! Take it to the streets, little children. I promise not to hurt you!"

King Trump words went forth like a whirlwind, filling the Best Kingdom on Earth from horizon to horizon.

Despite his mighty roaring, silence was still his only reply.

Yet King Trump was smiling. He looked out the window with narrowing, cruel eyes.

The bad anarchist children are silent, yes.

But they had heard. Oh yes.

They will do what they always do. Yes, they will.

Walk into my public square. Line up below my crossbows. And shout truth to power. They know I cannot hurt them. A cloak of righteousness protects them. Their fat white privelege. The special "rights" they think they have.

Kicking bones from left to right, King Trump staggered back across the room, with a troll's awkward loping walk, and a troll's hideous smile.

With a grunt and a heave, King Trump sat back down on his throne with a plop. His crooked smile remained. But his smile grew even bigger. He had many, many teeth.

King Trump smiled, despite the aching pang in his belly. He was hungry, yes.

But not for long.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How We Got Here

Take a listen to Arolo Guthrie's "1913 Massacre" on his Hobo's Lullaby Album. Copper boss gun thugs shout "fire" and start a panic in a union dance.  They block the door so nobody can get out. Closer 73 children are smothered.

Check out the ending of "Ironweed" where thugs dispose of a hobo camp by beating the life out of them while they sleep with iron pipes and axe handles.

Or the slaughter in "Matewan" ...

Closer to home ...

My ex-father-in-law from my first marriage was a union man. Company thugs beat his friend to death in a bar in Dayton Ohio. He barely escaped with his life.

The point: By the mid-20th century, a fair percentage of America's working class were unionized. They had a long institutional memory of what it took to make it possible.

They had a healthy skepticism of what bosses, corporations, land speculators, con artists and big talkers were up to.

Which is to say, the USA had a left-wing contingent actually comprised of working people. They had meeting places, an in-group language, a shared history, a don't-fuck-with-us attitude, and a sense of solidarity.

This is not to paint a joy-happy picture of some idealized union utopia. I know the sins/crimes/flaws of unions as well as anybody. The point is that a network of left-leaning working class people existed in the first place.

Shit happened. Nixon rolled in with his "Southern Strategy" and a drumbeat of law and order. The Arabs cut off America's oil after the 1973 war in Israel. The economy went stinko for a variety of reasons. Iran grabbed the American embassy and made us look bad. Our rescue attempt went down in flames. Reagan stole Carter's debate prep book and rolled into the White House with promises of morning in America.

And, in 1981, Reagan gave the striking Paatco Union the shaft.

Without a unionized working class, the preponderance of left-wing Americans are college educated types. They don't hang out with the guys at the service station, the blah, the whatever. They don't speak the same language.

This creates the perception of a "liberal elite" trying to impose its vision of utopia on everybody else.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

President Wrecking Ball

Imagine an alternate universe where Hillary pulled Trump's various stunts — and got elected!

Hackers crash Trump's server and release embarrassing crap at strategic intervals before the election. Russian hackers, probably working for the FSB.

Candidate Hillary refuses to release her tax returns.

President Hillary purges the government and appoints left-wing radicals to major cabinet positions. Radicals who've all been quoted on their desire to destroy Capitalism.

The right-wing witch hunt would be in full force.

So, why the double standard?

Because Trump is a wrecking ball.

He's is a wrecking ball aimed at the vestiges of the New Deal, the Great Society and Obama's legacy.

A wrecking ball doesn't have to be smart, classy, honest, or competent. All it has to do is wreck things. And Trump seems very good at that.

That's why.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Finnegans Wake considered as a science fiction story

Finnegans Wake is many things. A mighty cathedral of academic speculation, interpolation, interpretation and derivation has grown up around it. Hell, it put Joseph Campbell's kids through college and gave Marshall McLuhan all his best jokes.

Just for fun, let's pretend it means what it says.

Finnegan is the universal mind — humanity's collective consciousness before we became collectively unconsciousness. That universal mind shattered into millions of pieces — the shards of separate identities who call themselves "I." The reason for the fall is fairly plain. The complexity of human civilization overloaded the collective mind's capacity. Cities, to be precise. 

Collective humanity is dead/asleep. Like the Red King, Finnegan dreams. Those dreams are our individual lives. We're all guests at Finnegans Wake. And the last damn thing we want is for the guest of honor to wake up.

Finnegan dreams. It's a small cycle of dreams with a small cast of characters. We labor under the illusion that history is linear. It's actually a circle. Or a series of reruns. The same old story, over and over. A series of patterns which we mechanistically repeat — otherwise known as karma.

If you take that as metaphorical truth, you'd need at least a graduate level education before you could hope to discuss the matter intelligently.

If you take that as literal truth, it's an interesting SF premise. The first question being ...

What would it actually look like when Finnegan awakened?

Thou Shalt Not Build Killer Robots

Humanity has been dreaming bad dreams about killer robots and murderous artificial people for more than 200 years now. When the recurring nightmares started, the possibility was ludicrous. On a dark and stormy night, Mary Shelley woke up screaming,  "Argghhh! Luigi Galvani made a frog's leg twitch with electricity! Frankenstein's monster is coming!" It's not so wacky anymore, is it? The tech is rapidly catching up with Mary's nightmare. And the top AI scientists who aren't perfecting sexbots are now relentlessly working along these lines. When robots and androids actually start killing us, we'll have nobody but ourselves to blame.

The many Trumps of TV land

Senator Kreutzer on “Wild Palms.” The brutal, narcissistic CEO of a multinational media company and cult leader of a thinly veiled Scientology analog. He uses drug-enhanced virtual reality to mind-hump America, after addicting the home-viewing audience to the mainlined Maya of his sensory-immersive, shitty dreams. Yes, the graphic novel was better.

Judge Hawkes in the “Terror in a Tiny Town” episode of “Burke’s Law.” A mad, right-wing judge uses subliminal mind control to turn a small town into a hive of paranoiacs under his control.

Eric Cartman in the “Passion of the Jew” episode of “South Park. The precocious, corpulent sociopath has a knack for media manipulation. He makes the Final Solution fun for Red State rednecks in Colorado. 

Andy Fremont in the “It’s a Good Life” episode of “The Twilight Zone.” The omniscient, omnipotent little shit rips a small town out of our space-time continuum and sends it someplace else under his total control. If a tormented citizen doesn’t smilingly agree to Andy's latest solipsistic fantasy, he’ll turn them into a chimerical horror and zap them under the cornfield. Or, in Jerome Bixby’s original short story, turn them inside-out.

Randall Flagg in “The Stand,” a mini-series adaptation of Stephen King’s novel in the early 1990s. This Satanic populist wipes out most of humanity with a genetically engineered plague, marries a supermodel, and makes Las Vegas great again.