About the Name of this blog

This blog's title refers to a Dani fable recounted by Robert Gardner. The Dani live in the highlands of New Guinea, and at the the time he studied them, they lived in one of the only remaining areas in the world un-colonized by Europeans.

The Dani, who Gardner identifies only as a "Mountain People," in the film "The Dead Birds," have a myth that states there was once a great race between a bird and a snake to determine the lives of human beings. The question that would be decided in this race was, "Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds?" According to the mythology, the bird won the race, and therefore man must die.

In the spirit of ethnographic analysis, this blog will examine myth, society, culture and architecture, and hopefully examine issues that make us human. As with any ethnography, some of the analysis may be uncomfortable to read, some of it may challenge your preconceptions about the world, but hopefully, all of it will enlighten and inform.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Postcards from the Mountains of Madness


Two days ago, a Connecticut Republican was arrested for grabbing a woman’s genitals.  Prior to his arrest, he allegedly exclaimed “I love this new world, I no longer have to be politically correct.”  In related news, a week ago, Jeff Sessions, said, regarding pussy grabbing “I don’t characterize that as sexual assault… I think that’s a stretch.”

Seriously, and I mean this, WHAT THE FUCK????  What warped world have we entered?

To begin, I have written several blogs on the idea of nostalgia, and how it is a desire to return to a past that never was, one that we imagine to be better than the present, and definitely better than the future.  At its base, it is pure revisionism that glosses over all of the terrible things of the past to present an idealized vision of things.  Nostalgia gives us “Gone With the Wind” and its visions of happy and comfortable slaves.  Nostalgia presents us the happy housewife.  Nostalgia creates images of smiling children that are seen but never heard.

In short, nostalgia warps our ideas of the past into a bizarre parody of actual life.  It removes all of the bad things, and elevates the good in a horribly distorted manner.  And on the surface, Trumpism would seem to be a nostalgic return to the 1950’s when the races were segregated; miscegenation was a felony; when women were completely subservient to men; and being a white male, regardless of social class, was the best thing in the world.  It would seem that Trump is trying to turn back the clock to a vision of how America would have been without Civil Rights, without Women’s Rights, and without Religious Freedom

The Trump World is not nostalgia, instead, it is a vision of the past through a dark and twisted filter; it is a desire to bring back, not the good things of the 50’s, but the evil.  It is a desire for darkness that, in all honesty, can be called Satanic.

First, let’s look at what real Nostalgia for the 50’s encompasses, and remember the fact that there is a significant amount of truth at its core.  The 50’s were a very prosperous time.  A man, even without a college education, could be the sole breadwinner, bringing home a comfortable middle class life to his family.  His wife would meet him at the door, with a drink in her hand for him and a nice dinner on the table.  Blacks and whites were “separate but equal,” and there was no racial animus. (Remember this is the nostalgic view of the 50’s)  College students were uniformly crew-cut young Republicans that would follow their fathers into business, and in due time settle down in their own white picket fenced heaven.

Of course, this is a false vision wrapped around a core or truth, but it is a powerful and penetrating encapsulation of what remains, even largely to this day. as the American Dream. 

But even if it looks like it on the surface, and even if the claims are that is the world that they want to bring back, Trumpism is hellishly dystopian vision of this dream. In the Trump vision, the man is head of the household, not through respect, but because it is his goddamned right, and woe unto any woman who dares challenge that.  The woman is not the happy homemaker, she is an ornament, a thing of beauty, to be discarded when the first inevitable lines crease her face.  And I will add, those lines will show up much too early because of the pain and grief poured on top of her by the husband who thinks of her in much the same manner as he thinks of his automobile.  And, like the car, she can easily be traded by the Trump Man for a newer and more exciting model.  No sedan wives in this new world.

The black man is not “separate but equal,” he is separate because of the bars on the cell he was thrown into at about the age of 14.  A cell he was cast into because all Black men are born criminals, and if one dies at liberty, they do so only because they have to good fortune to have done so before committing the murder that their genes demand.  (And acknowledgement to Adolph Loos for giving me this turn of phrase, although he referred to the tattooed, not to minorities, but it still applies here.)

And more, Trumpism advocates for literal concentration camps for Muslims (a group so small in the 50’s that they warranted no consideration, unless it was for the CIA to overthrow a government to install their chosen leader)  The Trump vision is also to load several million immigrants onto trains and ship them back to where they came from, on trains that would run day and night, week after week, year after year, to purge the country of the taint of immigration.  At this point, even the Germans are suspect.  Only the Russians seem to be worthy of consideration for entry into this country.

And finally, College students, like children, need to sit down, shut up, and accept the fact that they will take on a mountain of debt while being indoctrinated into the Republican Party, because all college faculty will have to pass tests of ideological purity to show that they are patriotic Americans who worship at the altar of Adam Smith, God and prosperous Jesus.  And after graduation, their compliance is assured, because they are literally slaves to a debt that they will never, in their entire working life, be able to discharge.  Welcome to Slavery 2.0, where the Masters pull their slaves strings through a combination of threats of debtor’s prison and the dangling fruit of the job that pays in experience, not wages.

George Orwell could not create a world more terrifying than Trumptopia, and H.P. Lovecraft could not envision a monster more amoral and soulless than The Donald.

And the news shows how quickly we can fall into this abyss.  A quick perusal of the headlines of the last few weeks, the race based attacks, the rapes, the hate that pours like sweat off of the brows of the men who now hold our fates in their greasy palms, tells us how far fallen a creature man is, in this time, in this place.

I’d quote Joseph Welch, and ask “At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”  But this is just beginning.  This is only the start.  And we have 3 days before the inauguration.  If people can feel free to throw away 50 years of societal growth in 12 weeks, what more will happen in 4 years?  How many more atrocities will we endure before we rise up and scream, “NO MORE, THIS FAR AND NO MORE.”  But I fear that there is much more, and this is only the prologue to a play of such cruelty and depravity that even deSade must turn his head.  This time coming up will teach each and every one of us Artaud’s ultimate truth:

“We are not free, and the sky can still fall on our heads.”

I hope to write a blog full of hope and talk about what can be done to stave off the darkness that engulfs us.  But not tonight, not now.  Right now, I need to take a shower, and weep for this brave new world that has such people in it.

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