Of Elephants and Donkeys.

Colors get bolder,
show their extremes.

Behold:
elephants and donkeys
grown
hypersensitive
and indignant, blades drawn
and lightly kissing
one another’s jugular,
each daring their opponent
through loaded glares.

On the right,
an elephant with a boner
for guns, flags and border walls,
statues and tradition,

a dream to secure
the large scale
version of the kind
of safe space
they condemn as infantile
when it comes
to the left.

To the left,
a donkey
battling prejudice
with prejudice, as if inversion
is any better,
and on a language
nazi campaign,

fighting for censorship
and compelled speech,
demanding penalties

if any item
on it’s list
of cherry-picked words
are uttered,
all as it invents
new words and fights

to shove
them into your mind,
hear them shoot
out your mouth.

No truth
to be found here,
to each
their alternative facts.

Grabbing my parachute.
I’m bailing out.

Both wings
have grown insane.

I’ll take my chances
defying gravity.

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Sick of the Symptom.

Initially, just a living,
breathing joke.
One that no one took
seriously enough,

including you.

Then came
Election Day. Never

forget
how you underestimated
the clown,
laughed
at my pessimistic
prediction.

Doubt me?
I know the power
of madness
intimately.

Since then I must confess
I’ve grown numb
to the insanity rising,
’round-the-nauseating-clock
coverage courtesy
of the media.

Wonder how he stirred
the pot today. What might
he have destroyed,

what progression of ours
has he cursed
to a dire retrograde

while my eyes
were closed
and I was away?

So tired of this circus
and its ringleader.

So sick of this symptom.

Stuck cursing
the divisive disease
spreading
throughout the herd,

fearing
what this tweeting twit
may portend.

#NotMe.

Girl meets boy. They seem to hit it off and so start dating, maybe even get married. In any case, they move in together, and this is when boy starts beating girl. Family and friends grow concerned, but girl makes excuses for him and remains with him for an enduring period of time before finally emerging from her insane haze, accepts that this is a problem and manages, perhaps with the help of lived ones, to escape the situation. Safe, secure and free as a bird.

And then girl moves back in with guy. They’re working things out. He’s changed. Things will be different this time. The fairy tale got off to a rough and bumpy start, but it’s all better now. Really, she says.

Predictably, guy then proceeds to beat girl.

This absurd story echoes through the circumstances of countless girls I’ve known and spoken to over the years. Despite the insane behavior of staying with him, I sympathize with her — unless children are involved, for while you have the right to live out your days however you choose, upon entering parenthood it isn’t just about you anymore.

As a whole, though, I simply don’t get it. I’m incapable of wrapping my feeble, little monkey mind around this maddening and disturbingly prevalent pattern. I have a difficult enough time in my efforts to understand how one could be in a relationship with someone they don’t trust, someone who’s phone they break into to make sure they aren’t cheating on them, much less a partner who’s abusive. I am perhaps more than a little bias, however, as I was never beaten, molested or raped as a child — #NotMe — which is a startling rarity, it seems. In that light I should perhaps be thankful that I don’t understand, that those closest to me have relatively healthy and loving relationships — but it does little to ease the confusion and nausea elicited by the far more widespread pattern.

Do and Die.

Powerlessness
feeding resentment
and hopelessness,
withdrawing into isolation
until they succumb

to the last resort,
do and die,
a final effort

to empower themselves,
make a mark,
and gain recognition.

Playing field leveled,
power shifted
with a blade, a car,
a bomb,
through the barrel
of a screaming gun,

through the red staining
their eyes,
they can see the spotlight
shining on them,

and now it’s naked
for all the mad
world to feast upon

so other boiling souls
know how to taste the surge
they’ve been robbed
and get our attention
before they reach
their final destination.

And until we see,
empathize, take the time
to listen,
this will

keep
on
happening.

AIpocalypse Maybe.

My irritation with the AI issue and total lack of concern about it was primarily based on my stance as a dualist in the philosophy of the mind. It was actually Elon Musk that made me realize one’s take on consciousness meant very little; that it didn’t matter if the machine was truly conscious, truly alive. In a video of his talk at a governors meeting in 2017, he gives an example of his AI concerns:

“I want to empathize: I do not think this actually occurred. This is purely a hypothetical. I’m digging my grave here… But you know there was that second Malaysian airliner that was shot down on the Ukrainian-Russian border, and that really amplified tensions between Russia and the EU in a massive way? Well, let’s say you had an AI where the AI is always to maximize the value of a portfolio of stocks. One of the ways to maximize value would be to go long on defense, short on consumer, start a war. How can it do that? Hack into the Malaysian airlines aircraft routing server, route it over a war zone, then send an anonymous tip that an enemy aircraft is flying overhead right now.”

Personally, I’ve always been bothered by psychopaths in society. While those of the type that become serial killers are certainly a concern, I have been even more worried about what I’ve heated referred to as socialized psychopaths — the kind that occupy the highest levels of power in businesses and corporations. Lacking empathy, their prime interest is in maintaining and gaining power, second only to money.

It bothered me for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that it says something about our society: that psychopathy is in fact a survival technique in the context of our culture; that it constitutes a successful adaptation in our system; that the characteristics of that personality type guarantee that personality type. When Musk (who is most certainly not a psychopath, I should add) speaks about AI, he is basically describing technologically-generated psychopathy. And its easy to see how his example could manifest even if a machine or program does not constitute consciousness.

The larger point I’ve been missing until now is that it wouldn’t have to reach the extremes displayed in countless movies. As Musk also stated, “until people see robots go down the street killing people, they don’t know how to react.” It doesn’t have to be at that level, it need not manifest so blatantly, to constitute a threat to the survival of the human species. And, he says, we really cannot delay:

“AI is a rare case where we need to be proactive in regulation instead of reactive because if we’re reactive in AI regulation it’s too late. Normally the way regulations are set up is a whole bunch of bad things happen, there’s a public outcry and then after many years the regulatory agencies set up to regulate that industry. That in the past has been bad, but not something that represented a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization. AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of civilization in a way that car accidents, airplane crashes, faulty drugs or bad food were not. They were harmful to a set of individuals but they were not harmful to society as a whole.”

He set up a research company, OpenAI, in efforts to regulate the inevitable, though it has just recently been announced that he has distanced from it due to how it conflicts with his other projects.

While AI still doesn’t rank as the greatest threat to human civilization in my mind, what he has had to offer about the subject has come to raise my concerns.

As if we didn’t have enough threats to our species to worry about…

Of Entropy and the Divide.

Every theological argument ends with my opponent telling me to “just have faith” or explaining that they’ll “pray for me.”

Politics? It never used to be like that.

Now, however, every political argument ends with my opponent explaining how “if you don’t like this country, then just leave,” or how I can’t even talk about this or that because I have a penis or Caucasian skin.

I have no party, it seems. I am an all-party pooper.

Reason? Discussion? Empathy? All of it is evidently out of style — left and right wing, red and blue. The divide has grown so wide, the chasm has stretched its yawn to such a degree that those on one end of the spectrum cannot even hear those on the other.

This, I think, is the entropy of civilization that George Carlin once spoke of.

Sometimes I wish I could stop paying attention.

Three Cheers for Andy.

After having watched Weeds over the course of two weeks or so, I really came to like the show. While the dialogue can’t beat Californication by any means, it was still damned good. In the beginning, I was of course taken by Nancy — sexy, caffeine-guzzling, naughty in numerous respects — but as the series wore on it became abundantly clear that she was a deceitful, power-hungry, control-thirsty, manipulative bitch. I could never quite root for her like I nearly always could with respect to Andy Botwin, the brother of Nancy’s (first) late husband.

Between Nancy and Andy there was an all-too-typical circumstance: a caring though immature and altogether lost man-child becomes the rock for an intelligent, sexy, manipulative woman who appears to love or at least fuck every guy around her save for the one guy who actually knows and loves her. I was worried how the circumstance would turn out when the series came to an end, but I was pleasantly surprised. It was by no means a “happily ever after,” for which I am thankful, nor did it go out with a bang in the sense of death and disaster. Instead, there was a more realistic sense of closure — Doug reestablished a connection with his son, Silas refused to get in between his wife and Nancy, her other son vowed to get his shit together, and Nancy seemed to gain an unspoken realization about her own issues. Though we were not shown this to be resolved, such a realization given her character was a sufficient turning point — and it seemed to finally hit her like a ton of bricks through the wise words of Andy.

Nancy always said good things about Andy, but evidently, he was never good enough in her eyes to give him a chance in the sense of a romantic, intimate relationship. I got angry at her for him. I tend to do this often in real life, too, for the record — another tendency I’d prefer to exorcise. But the way it all ended for him was better than I had expected.

It all revealed his growth as a person, and how he had grown a backbone with respect to her specifically — no longer allowing her to emotionally manipulate him. Andy had finally built his own life, pursued his own passion, and while he confessed to her that he loved her and always will, he simply couldn’t be around her — and that he was unwilling to sacrifice the life he had built to be with her, or even have her in his life again, as he was finally happy.

Three cheers for Andy.

Dexter Mindset.

Go to work.
Watch your flavor
of fake news.

Attend church.

Build a mask,
you fucking faker:

fashion
a costume.

Be Mister Glad-Hand.
Smile at strangers.
Master your foreplay,

then fuck
their brains
out through their eyes.

Despite this:
be negligent to your wife,
a total dick

to your kids.
Live like no one
is noticing.

As if no one cares.

Makes it easy
for me
to slither

in, unleash
my blade

and slit
your throat.

Brief the Blink.

Your eyes, wide
and narrowed
down on me. Knee-high

boots, black leather,
assorted kink
and occult, darkly

melodic
products of your lips:
it all draws me in, inspires
soul nausea, elicits

enantiodromia,
on into flashing
images, typed commands,
polyrhythmic voices

making their rounds,
pumping lead like a machine gun,
polluting consciousness

one way or the other:

submissive
or dominant,
either top dog or under,
whether oppressed or oppressor,

pulling
attention, narrowing
essence
towards psychological
absorption.

Release. Ecstatic. Peek
dead into my alien soul,
despite how brief the blink

between these two dual,
extreme states of madness.

Final Threads of the Wick (Answer to Ishmael).

Perhaps we needed
the Agricultural Revolution,
our great divergence
from the history of our species,
and on top
of that, the Industrial Revolution,

despite all the damage
it has caused, all the horrors
it provided, like the ghosts
and ghouls haunting

the countless stories divided
into rooms associated via
hallways and steps

in this stairway-to-heaven rivaling
skyscraper,
my double-whammy apocalypse,

the foundation,
my mountain.

Maybe we needed the gun
held to our heads by a hand
with a known

trigger finger
to finally find in ourselves
the capacity
we all had all along to summon
the power to change:

to conjure the will
to climb
to plant my stupid,
fucking flag

come to this point
of Crucial Choice:

do we want to pay attention,
educate ourselves, be decisive,
and fight

to preserve as prosperous
a future for our descendents
that we can manage
or do we

want to live fast
and die
young, burn

the candle
at both ends
till they make it through the wax
and kiss as they consume
the final threads

of the wick and far
more quickly fade
from the big, glazing bonfire
memory

we continue to hold
in our minds to distract

us from the present ember
fading
in a thick
nest of ashes?