Day 26: There is no House

Everyone knows the house always wins. The American republic may have an elite, but as this election show, they don’t own the system. Trump showed that for both media output, both left and right publishers endorsed Clinton. They might pay eighteen bucks to see a celebrity, but they won’t let that celebrity decide their fate. There is no house in America, just we the people.

-E.C. Fiori

Day 8: The Eye of a Neon Hurricane, The Nation of Patty Hearst, Democratization of Fear

When reading the writings of Ted Kaczynski, the UNABomber, currently serving eight life sentences in a supermax prison in Colorado, he comes off as surprisingly sane. This is troubling, because one has to ask the question why a sane person would spend 17 years mailing bombs all around the country, claiming three lives and wounding 23.

Through my close reading of his work and original published manifesto, I’ve come to the conclusion that he is a fanatic. It is not that he is divorced from reality in a medical way, but in an ideological one. The crux of his ideology is that the industrial revolution was a disaster for mankind: technology is destroying the natural world, and robs humanity of its autonomy. To cope with the crippling personal effect of technology we increasingly turn to it as our salvation, the cycle continues, et cetera, et cetera.

Written in 1995, the manifesto does strike a certain chord in me. As someone who has lived in cities for the past decade, I have felt the effects of urbanization and a complete alienation with the natural.

What interests me, however, is the increasing sense of an urbanization of the mind. With the leaps forward in technology, we are increasingly surrounded by ever more hysterical media apparatus, that exists not to push an ideology as conspiracy theorists would have us believe, but for our attention.

We’ve become the nation of Patty Hearst, all trapped in the closet with the megaphone blaring the ragged mantra over and over: “Keep watching.” The neon hurricane is ever present, and the eye is fixed on us. It’s no wonder everyone is trapped in their own echo chambers politically, no wonder there is so much fear and loathing in a country where there is no great war or depression.

Most damaging is the painful truth that the urbanization of the mind has led to a loss of identity en masse. Some retreat to the old answers of tribalism (both the right and the left). We do not know who we are anymore: culture, our connection to the land- all of it has been painfully stripped away by our modern life, a life that only exists because of technology. Entertainment is the only “culture” left, given more importance than ever before because of the crucial release it provides. Because it is all we are left with, it alone reverberates with the anxieties we share- a democratization of fear. All of our science fiction asks the question “what does it mean to be human”. The very question we desperately seek an answer to.

-Jack Delaney

Day 8: Art is not the Almighty

In 2016, you have faith or a 200k piece of paper that comes with a lexicon of meaningless phrases that grow into themselves like ingrown toenails. As people invite me to post election gallery openings, one even directly named “Art in the Face of Darkness”, I cringe. I think of the scene in “Manhattan” at the art museum gala, Allen brings up that neo nazis are going to march in NJ. He suggests going down with bats when he is interrupted by someone saying they read a satirical essay on the march and how satire is more powerful than bats. Allen responds along the lines bats are better. After an election season in which comedians were hailed and lauded as the new public intellectuals of the left and a barrage of biting videos “destroyed” Trump and his supporters. Maybe it is time, we take art off the pedestal.

Neal Gabler for a piece on claims “Hell or High Water about two aimless bank robbers could convey a metaphysical sense of American lostness greater than the white anger and resentment that I believe largely fueled Donald Trump’s victory.” I am amazed that anyone would say a piece of fiction is more real than the suffering of flesh and blood people. If art expands empathy, it needs to try alot harder. Another miracle people grant art is the act of catharsis. I won’t deny my own personal communions with fine art, but all art isn’t created equal nor can it conquer all.

Otherwise I doubt the left would act so smugly towards their rural brethren. I’ve read recent articles blaming the country’s disconnect solely on the rural regions. The authors believing the coastal left is immune to criticism. Their reasoning being if the American poor went further into debt for art degrees and trips to Paris then they would think exactly the same as the author who claims to have “escaped” from small town America. At dinners with friends when the conversation runs dry, people mock the rural outreaches beyond the suburbs and the industrial decay, the global elite left for them. It disgusts me. I came from one of those towns without a traffic light. There weren’t any shops and not many places to go out to eat: two diners and a pizza place. Instead I was gifted with nature and farmland, which provided most of the local part time jobs outside of the mall a few towns over. It was a small, but close community. My friends, who stayed after high school, aren’t wrong for remaining apart of and continuing the town’s traditions. For trying to start families. Our creative overlords frame abortion as the only reasonable choice and as characters grow towards middle age, family is rarely presented as a good choice. Instead the moral life is shown to be discounting our own labor for a photogenic career from a shortlist that looks good on Instagram. I reject this cosmopolitanism that being apart of a real community, one that has roots, is foolish. My urban years have not enriched my soul rather my time in cities has turned my body into a more perfect servant, sitting outside the large bay windows awaiting my next task. I reject the notion that settling and creating a home is a form of failure and weakness. I think the pursuit of jetsetting is folly. I reject the false love of Hollywood, which praises desire above all. I believe in the devotion and dedication taught to me by my parents.

As long as Art remains a propaganda piece for the global elites it will be meaningless as a source of unity. As long as it seeks mockery over understanding. Seeking political aims and the Zeitgeist, it will not function as humanity’s soul. Art is most when it is simply human. Oddly enough as our society is dehumanized by technology and big data we need works like those of Bellow or the old masters that have survived the centuries. Works that defend ourselves against our intentions. The problem with works such as those is they defang the agitprop of the modern university.

-E.C. Fiori