...and they lived happily ever after. Smith & Lady: poets, artists, photographers & adventurers.
Our relationship was forged to the soundtrack of Yoko Ono's magic,
frenetic, love-laden song, "Walking On Thin Ice." ( play song )
Archive for May, 2007
Thursday, May 31st, 2007
smith as gandhi with nehru – collage by lady
gandhi as smith with nehru
essaouira day 20
left at 5 this morning to walk beneath the stars. too late – sky already light. only light in the sky was the moroccan spy satellite that keeps its eye on marrakech. so i made a wish – i figure you can make a wish on the first star you see at night, so why not the last light of night spy satellite?
spy satellite light, spy satellite bright, last spy satellite i see in night’s end light, wish i may, wish i might have the wish i wish this morning light.
walking the beach, saw several groups of people with empty water bottles go down to the sea and fill them with salt sea water. it bothered me because we know they dump the city’s sewage into the sea here – which is why we won’t swim. their actions puzzled me until i realized they’re probably strange sea creatures who’ve assumed human form so they can walk the land amongst us to scout the enemy before they attack in retaliation for us poisoning their world. told lady we should walk close behind them, check for gill marks. we need to watch out for the fish folk.
on our way back, we paused to let a dignified elderly man in a brown star wars jellaba on a bicycle pass. he appreciated our courtesy, solemnly nodded and waved to us. as he passed, i noticed the ipod pod in his ear, heard teeny bopper britney spears type of “music” leaking out. proves you can’t judge an old man by his dignified cover.
see untold thousands of unwound wrist watches in display windows waiting to be sold. told lady they’re the only thing saving us… if all those time pieces were sold and wound and worn, we’d run out of time – it would end, and we’d all have to answer to that old unwound watchman in the sky.
the cyber cafes here – the folk are friendly, the equipment old, decayed, dying. believe this is where old computers and manual mice come to unite with their great virus in the why. my memory stick portable mass storage device picked up 3 viruses in the marrakech internet cafe. every time i entered my email password, i’d be sent to another screen saying sorry but can you type that in again? i never did. i just back paged and was where i should be. this is the land of scam, earth’s end is approaching and all they want is to steal passwords. small minds commit small crimes.
actually our unelected president george bush is trying to save the earth… he figures the sooner he makes earth unlivable for man and kills all of us off, the sooner mother earth can get down to the business of regenerating herself. so bush is an earthitarian.
and vice dick cheney isn’t really darth vader’s evil clone – he knows our #1 problem is overpopulation… he’s just trying to kill as many iraqis as possible to ease the problem.
death doesn’t scare me – though painful dying does. who knows what’s on the other side – could be pain and torment, could be the bliss of nothingness.
smith as nixon with elvis – collage by lady
nixon as smith with elvis
Thursday, May 31st, 2007
Got your blog done?
Is it a happy one?
So you’re trying to educate our readers rather than entertain our readers?
See, I’m trying to entertain our readers. Actually my blog both entertains AND educates – I warn them about the Fish Folk.
“Hmpf. We’re competing with each other. Actually, my blog is about you. I just write what you say.”
That’s cuz I’m trying to educate YOU. You don’t need no entertaining, cuz I’m entertainment enough. (And I’m also humble, crumbling and wise…)
“I write most of my blog in your voice now, Smith voice. I put Lady in quotes.”
Oh, right. I’ve noticed that.
“Maybe because I’m working on your biography.”
I’m LIVING my biography. Doesn’t make any difference. It’s all gonna be past tense some day anyway.
“Reminds me of the title of a movie, ‘My Life As a Camera.’ It occurs to me that I should write you in lower case, just like you do.”
No, I talk in upper case.
“We are our own bubble. Here, I’m going to change Noam to Gnome.”
“To be more entertaining.”
Oh, you’re a sad soul. Grasping at straws to entertain folk. How dare you sink so low. Sinking low’s MY job.
“I also have catchy titles, try and catch readers.”
Kinda like fly paper? I try a much more time-honored system. I just give them money to read. That’s where all our money’s been going; I’ve been meaning to tell you…
* * *
“The more I learn, the more I think criminalization of drugs is a way to disenfranchise people, keep a permanent underclass or a way to marginalize the opposition. It’s a tool of the rich. Same with the tax forms. It’s a way to frighten those considering political dissent.”
The rich use drugs, but seldom get caught. Occasionally you get your Rush Limbaugh, but he was caught as a result of looking into something else.
As long as you have alcohol and tobacco legal, there’s no way it’s justifiable to illegalize other drugs. Cuz the amount those two kill every year is probably a million times the others.
That’s another thing. Some of the far east countries tried to reject our cigarettes and our cigarette advertising. The WTO told them they had to accept BOTH, otherwise there would be severe sanctions.
Our new joke: eat the rich, they taste just like chicken. It’s essentially true, cuz the rich are cowardly chickens. And we outnumber them, so much. If we all stood up, they’d crumble.
“I want to live outside the system.”
I’ve been doing that my entire life, and it’s wearying.
“Actually if they disband Social Security, they’ll increase dissent. Social Security ties people to the system.”
Oh, they can’t do that. There’d be runs on Washington. The baby boomers would never put up with it: WE WANT OUR BENNIES. Saw a great political cartoon. A mass of baby boomers surrounded Bush saying, ‘Invade who you want, torture who you want, steal what you want, but leave our Social Security alone.’ That sums up American awareness right now.
“Oh, and the thing the Dems just passed. They coupled a good minimum wage hike with a hundred billion in Iraq/Afghan war funding. I remember when the Republicans said the whole war would just cost 90 billion.”
No, the Republicans said the whole war would cost 50 billion. That was their original estimate.
“Fucking assholes. I don’t trust the Democrats and the Republicans alike now. I’ve totally changed since canvassing for Kerry. I think the people who vote have good intentions but the party is rotten, corrupt. I’m voting Green next time.”
So. How many times can voters fall for the same lies? Mankind’s eternally hopeful, keeps falling for the same promises. Of course, if they bothered to do some research, they’d know in advance they were lies.
In 2003, Congress approved a 78 billion dollar supplemental cost for the war. OK? 2004, 87 billion. 2005, 82 billion. 2006, 72 billion. This year it’s a 100 billion, by the DEMS. That’s SUPPLEMENTAL. That’s saying, ‘We didn’t budget right, we need more to keep doing what we’re doing.’
This was a war that was supposed to cost 50 billion and paid for out of the oil we’d steal as we were greeted as liberators with flowers by the Iraqis. I guess Halliburton needs more money.
“What really makes me incensed is the Democrats. I thought they were going to change things. They’re the ones who approved the 100 billion budget.”
The Demo-fraidy cats.
“They’re not afraid. They’re corrupt.”
Some are both. They’re afraid they’ll be painted with the not-supporting-the-troops advertisements when they run. The only way to support the troops is to bring them home, NOW. Besides, every soldier over there right now is a war criminal.
“No, I don’t think people who are ignorant are war criminals. My brother’s over there right now. He didn’t know any better when he signed up; thought he was doing good for our country.”
NO, they are carrying out an illegal war by our government. The Nazis’ favorite excuse was, ‘We’re only following orders.’ The Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal says that’s not enough. If you don’t do what’s right, you’re complicit in the crime. Every single one of our soldiers over there could be tried and convicted under the criteria for the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunals.
Besides a lot of our boys are fighting the government and going to jail for it. Right now, saying support the troops means giving them more money to torture, rape and murder Iraqi civilians. Ignorance is no excuse; following orders is no excuse. Torture, rape and murder are crimes. And even the cooks over there who are just feeding the torturers and murderers are complicit, cuz they’re enablers. Every single person in Congress who voted for the war funds is a war criminal. This is WRONG. And the main argument I’ve read, why the Democrats aren’t doing anything now, is they want to win the next election.
And then MAYBE, once they’ve won, MAYBE, they’ll do the right thing. Meanwhile, hundreds more American troops are going to die. Tens of thousands more Iraqis are going to die. We’ve murdered over a million Iraqi citizens already. We’ve driven another three to four million from their homes that we know about. How much blood and misery do you need before America will stand up for what’s right?
“Plus 500,000 Iraqi children killed in the nineties from Clinton’s sanctions. What we’re doing in Iraq is de facto genocide.”
Yep. And that’s just children. Who knows how many adults. Of course, as we know from Gnome, America has never stood up for what’s right, and Americans have almost never ever stood up for what’s right. They killed the Indians, they lynched the Negroes, they put the American Japanese in concentration camps during World War II. It just never stops.
Even something we all know about. Ronald Reagan’s administration used CIA planes to fly drugs from Afghanistan to sell so they could use that money to buy arms from Iran to kill South Americans. It shames me to be an American.
“I see disappointed expressions everywhere when we tell people we’re American. It’s a bummer to them. And Hamid said to tell people we’re Dutch or British. I guess former imperialists are more palatable than current ones.”
Although to be honest, I doubt there’s a serious honorable government ever, certainly not now. Governments do what they want to do. And as I.F. Stone said, ‘All governments are run by liars and nothing they say about anything should be believed.’ And Ben Franklin said, ‘There was never a good war or a bad peace.’
I just can’t believe spinelessness of the American public. Sheep in the sheep pen.
“According to our friends in education, they’re making it so that people only look to authority for the right answer. Standardized testing teaches people to parrot what they’ve been told.”
Right, they’re eviscerating the educational system. We have a whole generation educated in ignorance, to only follow orders, to not question authority, don’t think for yourself. Bush has done more damage to this country than Hitler did to Germany or Stalin did to Russia. And I despise Jimmy Carter for backing down in his statement that the Cheney Bush regime is the worst in American history.
“Carter’s unsavory. His support of the junta in El Salvador, military aid to topple democratic forces in Guatemala, supporting the Mujahadin in Afghanistan, I think he also did something bad in Indonesia.”
Plus, as you said yesterday, Gnome wrote every single president since World War II could be impeached for war crimes.
* * *
“Actually, we’re enablers. By using gas.”
We don’t drive.
“We take planes.”
Everybody’s an enabler. We’re just trying to cut down on the number of our sins. But right now we’re both sitting here with PCs on our laps, probably made with slave labor somewhere. We’re both using electricity. The thing in our favor is with the poetry, art and blogs we’re fighting the bad guys, trying to awaken some good. We’ve got rid of our cars.
“That’s the main thing there. Getting rid of our cars.”
And we make all these little adjustments, like buying one BIG bottle of plastic water rather than three of four little ones. [We're in Morocco else we wouldn't be drinking bottled water.]
If you’re alive on this planet right now, you’re part of the problem. Nobody’s guiltless. It’s just a question of degree. Hell, even Al Gore uses untold thousands of dollars every month of electricity. Ralph Nadar flies around in airplanes. There’s no way to breathe and not be part of the problem.
“It’s essentially an overpopulation problem.”
Yeah, but even when we had fewer people, we still had the strong taking from the weak, the rich ripping off the poor. I don’t care how far back you go. You had priests punishing everybody else while they screw little boys. You have CEOs marketing death to their customers in cigarettes and alcohol. It’s not just overpopulation. We’re just very badly wired, for greed, violence, selfishness. Basically, humans say, ‘Screw you. What’s in it for me?’ And they’re not gonna change. Even if they could change somewhere down the line, there’s no longer any line. Some say a hundred years, some say fifty years. I think those are both optimistic.
“I know I don’t expect to survive to an old age.”
Oh, I never did either. I don’t know what I’m doing here. Maybe God needs a finger pointer and kept me around. If that’s true, She should have picked someone else.
In spite of all this, I’m a happy person with a positive outlook.
There ain’t much life left, but at any point in anybody’s life they could be run over by a bus.
“Ah, the magical mystery tour. The Bus of Death before the light at the end of the tunnel.”
So I live each day as joyously as I can. Do no damage, try to be good. And leave ‘em with a laugh…
“Tune in for more RANTS AND RAVES ABOUT WAR CRIMES AND GODS…”
- Lady K
Wednesday, May 30th, 2007
“So. You said you don’t believe in God.”
Nope. I don’t believe in a long-haired Dude sitting up there knowing everything, judging everybody, picking at his penis. I mean, if there are gods, He/She/It/They say, “You’re born weak and broken, but if you don’t shape up and do everything We say Our way, we’re gonna kick you around your entire life, and you’ll burn in Hell forevermore after you die.”
That presents two problems. God didn’t know enough to make us right, or if he left something out, he really shouldn’t punish us for not fixing it ourselves.
“Kinda like a manufacturer’s warranty.”
Except there’s no return. There’s no repair shop. There’s no frigging manual, and it’s very badly designed, this body of ours. We’re basically piss and shit machines. And like any idiot engineer, he runs the sewer system right through the pleasure park.
Which brings us to the Gnostics. They believe we’re ruled by an insane god, named Samuel. Insane Samuel. And there’s a smarter, kinder, more gentle compassionate god above him. Who wants to help us. But of course, being further up the chain of command he can’t very well let Samuel know he’s not doing a good job. So he sent the Snake to the Garden of Eden, to tell us the truth. We need to eat of the Tree of Knowledge. Of good AND evil. Just like shade without light, you ain’t got one without the other.
‘Course, good old Sammy’s been punishing us ever since for that one.
Gnostics also think Good God tried to run around Bad God with Jesus Christ. But we fixed Him. Killed him and turned him into a church run by sickos.
However, since I’m entirely inconsistent most of the time, I daily try to say my Buddhist chant, nam myoho renge kyo. Which I purchased for 5 dollars in San Francisco in 1966.
“I hear you saying that on the shitter a lot.”
Now, before we go into that, I have to say I find the Cosmic Order or the Universe or the Big It to be aware, with a hell of a sense of humor.
It communicates with itself along channels we do not know. But do have scientific proof of. I believe it was the Bell experiment, run with colliders. See, there’s a disagreement between Einsteinian Physics and Heisenberg Physics. Einstein says, “nothing can be known outside of locality.” Locality being if an event happens, the carrier wave that takes that data away cannot get further than the speed of light times time duration.
Heisenberg Particle Physics says that information is available to the Universe immediately, on the other side of the Universe.
Now, I’m not smart enough to know these things. But apparently, once electrons are paired, however that is done, they remain paired. Unlike many Catholics.
So the Bell experiment tested this. They separated paired electrons, probably using divorce lawyers, smashed the shit outta one of them with really big hammers.
And reversed its spin. Whereupon the separated hostage electron really far away immediately reversed its spin. Ergo, the Universe has some way of communicating with itself that is faster than light. Much faster than light. The implications of this are astounding. The Universe knows what’s going down.
Now, to get back to what I believe, before I knew any of this stuff, I found I could talk to Reality. Sometimes it would answer. Frequently it would play jokes on me. And it seemed to appreciate when I laughed.
“You’re some kinda funky holy man.”
Yeah, I got holes all over. Also, my own life would cause me to question my incredible string of luck and adventures. I shouldn’t be alive, and if I should have been, I definitely shouldn’t be here having this much fun.
So, to get back to Science. The Heisenbergian Universe – everything is true simultaneously all the time. You have your famous experiment with Schroedinger’s Cat in the Cat box. You seal him in a box with a vial of poison and a decaying atom. The atom decays at a known rate but you have no idea where the decayed particle will go. If it hits the glass vial of poison, you have Dead Cat.
Heisenberg says until you open the box, the cat is a) alive and b) dead and c) at every other possible point in between. It’s not until you ask the box, “is the cat dead or not?” that Reality collapses all the realities that are into one specific result to answer your question.
Another good example of this that they’ve done: a star blows up really far away. The light heads for Earth. Now, I don’t know the intricacies of this, but light is both waves and particles. Totally different constructs; they act different. So, if you choose to ask a question about this light using particle measuring equipment, you get one answer. If you choose to ask the same light the same question using wave measuring equipment, you get a different answer. It takes millions of years for that light to get here, so certainly your question isn’t going to cause something millions of years ago to do one thing or another. So both things are true simultaneously. Your question forces reality to collapse to A or B. Now, this is all very very crudely put. I’m not a scientist and I’m not really a philosopher. I’m more a class clown. But everything I’ve said so far can be checked and verified by the unafraid.
So, I started off praying to God, then I turned Atheist. Then I turned hippie-dippy flakey. And then I more or less turned into a Flow surfer.
Forgetting all that for a second, every single thing you do, every action, every thought process, can be done better or worse. You might say more efficiently or less efficiently, or more or less grace, or more or less correlation to whatever Is. The possibilities are endless. So if you do things Better, you’re gonna fight less head wind from the cosmic Flow. If you do things Worse, you’re gonna create more turbulence for yourself and maybe others. So there may not be an ultimate cosmic Right or Wrong, but there is a Better or Worse way to Be, that will cause you more or less pain. So to get back to Heisenberg, what you get from Reality depends on what you ask for. What you See rests upon what you Expect.
I’ve found that my Own Personal Universe has a tremendous sense of humor. And it won’t hurt you unless it has to. It’s not vicious. I add that last sentence because essentially, the universe is indifferent. So it’s a good thing you’re getting this down in case Morocco succeeds in crushing me.
A lot of people have said this basic stuff a lotta ways, from greeting card to serious. The power of positive thinking, do as you would be done, don’t do as you have been done. Buddha and Confucious and the Sufis had it down pretty good. But I don’t think anybody’s fucked it up worse than the Bush fundamentalist Christians.
What you have inside your head–how you are or how you’re taught–affects how you see, what you see and what you do about it. There could be a totally neutral Thing. So you got bad eyes, hateful mind, wicked heart… you’re gonna see a threat. You’re gonna do bad things, stupid things. So you’re gonna turn this neutral object into an Object of Evil fulfilling your own expectations.
If you have a good heart, a decent mind, honest eyes, you’ll see it as neutral or perhaps even as something positive. You won’t see bad so you won’t do bad so you won’t cause bad. Of course there’re limits on everything. Just cuz you see a bus coming at you as a fudge sundae don’t mean it ain’t gonna squish ya flat.
“I see it as the potential for individuals to reach some type of constructive Being by being together in a healthy way.”
You create your own reality. You are responsible for your own reality. As I said once before, if your corner of reality is a shit hole, you’re the feces.
“What does that mean about our situation in Essaouira?”
We’ve cleaned up this shit hole. And if by some sick trick reincarnation is true, the owner of this place is gonna pay down the line. We’ve already been rewarded – we’ve brightened the corner where we are. We’ve become more happy, less miserable as a result. You don’t like something, don’t whine. Do something about it.
But if something’s wrong, don’t keep quiet just because you don’t think anything can be done. If enough speak, evil listens. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin proved that about slavery. Rachel Carlson’s Silent Spring defeated–sort of–DDT.
Saw a movie called Virus once. Pretty good sci-fi horror. Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Sutherland. Energy being came along, saw what man had done, studied history, saw the Middle East was once a gorgeous forest but we came along, ate everything, killed everything, poisoned the rest… decided Mankind was a virus, a cancer. Decided to save the Earth by wiping us out.
I have to say, except for Jamie Lee Curtis, I was rooting for the virus killer. And even tho it’s too late now to save the earth, even if we tried, which we ain’t gonna, it still comes down to how long we can keep our nest livable. And how miserable we’ll be during this time. Do good, last longer, suffer less. Makes no difference to Mother Earth, cuz after we’re gone, she’ll rest a while and seed a new garden.
We’ve turned the Garden of Even into the Valley of Odd. So if we’re wiped out, fair is fair.
“My death doesn’t really matter to me. But the idea of mass death is horrifying.”
I don’t much care about either, mine or mass. The only sadness I have would be your missing me. And we’ve had a close and good enough time, you have part of me always. We already have more in a short time than most get forever.
“I know I’m satisfied. I finally have love, faith. I discover another universe in you.”
I’m never satisfied. I can always do more; I can always be better. Like Camus says, ‘the sentence starts the day you’re born; it ends the day you die.’ See, I’m committing one of his sins. I still hope for inner peace, to live up to myself, to do it right. And hope is one of his sins, because there is no hope. There’s only living this life as aware as you can, as full as you can, in as many aspects as you can. I got that part down fine. If I could just get rid of the fucking Hope.
“Well, that’s back to your question again.”
“The question you ask determines what you receive.”
Well, I have a right to be hopeful. There’s no way I should be alive or have had such a wonderful life along the way. I got more stories than anybody. My first motorcycle ride I left the road at 100 mph and didn’t get hurt. Fell off a cliff when I was seven. Jumped off rooftops when I was four. Fell out of trees, rolled my car in my own driveway… I’ve shot up for 30 years, I’ve overdosed, I drank myself to death, ran from the cops 10 times, got away 9, two armed robberies… yet I’ve had wonderful friends, accolades, art shows, poetry readings. And the best friend and wife in the world.
I hope for the best; I look for the worst. And I found in situations where there’s no time to think I do everything I can to stay alive. Yet I would not keep my life if I had to dishonor myself with another’s death unless the asshole were attacking me.
“Your philosophy actually helps me, you know that?”
This is the Church of Not Quite So Much Pain & Suffering. Maybe there’s a reason you feel helped.
If Eve hadnâ€™t given Adam that apple
I wouldnâ€™t be smoking today.
I tried to serve Sky God
but was drawn to that old Debbil Weed.
I became a happy pappy
papa puff daddy
gadfly to gladly
nouveau bohemian in old school crowd.
Sir Laugh-a-Lot of Pot-a-Lot
Lady Day to Lady K
Kafka to a kiss
S B Smith & Lady K
* * *
Smith sez if we drive away all our readers, we can shut this thing down, crawl into our holes, and lick our hashish.
Wednesday, May 30th, 2007
essaouira day 18
took this foto last august in london. last week lady discovered the graffiti artist is named banksy, and his pieces are going for half a million dollars at art auctions. after reading a new yorker article on him, i googled his images and went to his website – the man has a great sense of humor, some wry cultural commentaries, and a decent amount of talent.
the unattached toilet seat slipped one too many times this morning, so i hog-tied it to the toilet. it can wiggle a bit, but it ain’t leaving no more. i’m a gentle man, but i do have my limits.
all water’s one water. i found two world truisms – children playing sound the same in every country… and men everywhere, as soon as a woman passes, drop their eyes to her ass.
2 locals told us folk call me “Ali Baba” because my beard looks like his.
essaouira day 19, morocco day 51 – 36 days remaining of 87
3:57 a.m. – this is the 4th consecutive morning i’m awake before 4, so i hear the morning prayers. listened to between 7 and 11 mosque minarets broadcasting, each starting the chant or singsong drone at slightly different times. after awhile it’s hard to differentiate when a new one begins since they intermingle so. they either broadcast different prayers, or the same prayers differently played. some drone. some sing. some chant. some shout. some moan.
speaking of slow drone moans, leonard cohen has this soft sad song “4 in the morning” about not being with the one he loves who is with his brother she married. i am with the one i love. my sadness is the unstillness in my soul. these morning prayers soothe me. but 4 in the morning prayers make for a long day awake. right now my love sleeps 4 feet from me.
there are 5 daily prayers in the muslim world – but here there’s six… 4 a.m. (morning) – 12:40 p.m. (midday) – 2 p.m. (?) – 4 p.m. (afternoon) – 8 p.m. (sunset) – 9:30 p.m. (evening). i search the internet but cannot find what the 2 p.m. prayer is. perhaps a different creed, or offshoot. many street shops close for an hour for the 2 or 4 prayer.
morocco costs our souls and my flesh much. yet it teaches and offers much as well. guess most folk don’t drop in for 3 months like we did, they just dip in and out for a nibble. wonder what it was like for william burroughs back in the 1950s before it was touristized? my recall is alan ginsberg and company had to come to morocco to save burroughs – that’s when they began collecting his writings and sending them off to the english printer – which became “naked lunch.” always loved that they sent the chapters off in one order, but the printer returned them in a different sequence – so they printed it as it was returned. it’s a nasty book, but a real one.
this place has upped the level of our writing. we’ve written 450 blogs in the past 11 months – thinking, writing and posting daily brings a fluidity i didn’t have before. i’m also getting better at understanding and describing. this journey’s taking all our money, and really racks my flesh – but it is so worth it. last night lady sat down, opened her computer, said “so, you don’t believe in god,” and we were off. got one of our deeper conversations down… be her blog today. that one and tomorrow’s should cost us a few inconstant readers.
back to my love now, to lie in the dark , listen to the ever constant roosters crowing, and try to sleep. it’s 4:14 a.m.
never made it back to sleep. the seagulls started competing with the roosters. the seagulls sometimes sound like the exotic animal calls in the old 1940s african jungle movies. it’s hard to get to sleep here because our alley is one of 2 main east west passageways through the walled city, and it becomes social central outside our window from dark until after midnight. then it’s hard to stay asleep because at 4 the prayers, roosters, and seagulls begin.
my weight’s down to 170. it went up to 175 for a few days when lady started seriously stuffing me. my heart’s also mis-beating. this morning it went 4-skip, 4-skip, 2-skip, 5 skip, 9-skip, 143-skip. think it’s partly lousy diet, but mostly stress – both the weight and the heart. the croatian doctor’s first guess at its cause was stress, and i was sort of lost in croatia, worried about finances, worried about our aimlessness. then we started putting our bad boy manuscript together, figured out we could survive 2 years on the money we had, and then went to france which was the nicest place we’ve been – and my heart started beating fine.
morocco is serious psychological stress for me. i stop to write a note in my pad and i’m accosted by someone trying to sell me carpet, or spices, or cookies. and they won’t hear my no. it’s like sharks in the water – if you slow down, they move in for the kill. this life of theirs must be a sad way to live… you can’t see other humans the way they do solely as potential food without damaging your soul. and once you say no no no no, they always ask you where you’re from, trying to keep you still and talking just a wee bit longer so they can figure out where else you’re soft and vulnerable so they can take a bite.
the cookie selling young men are rather funny – we’ve been stopped by half a dozen of them with trays of excellent tasting cookies – each tray has exactly the same variety in the same arrangement, and each youth tells us they were hand made by his mother who’s named fatima. each cookie of course is priced twice what they sell for in the bakeries. they do taste good though. this is a scam oriented society, a what’s-in-it-for-me kind of place.
it’s even sadder because all these carpet and spice and cookie sharks are not poor people – they’re doing quite well – but they all want more, they want some of you. sometimes i think it’s not the money that matters as much as the process of getting some of it away from you. they’re sales junkies, con artists who need to play the game, greedy grasping souls.
i’d rather wait another 3 weeks, but i’ve considered finding some hash to smoke because cannabis increases the heart rate. it didn’t skip in marrakech despite the stress because i smoked every single night. but giving in to smoking now would disappoint me in myself – so i’ll wait. smoking’s never the answer anyway, it just creates more questions. i’m not giving in, and i’m not leaving morocco early. i will not be beaten by this country. served two thirds of our sentence so far, so can do the final month. i spent ten months in county prison in 1970, so i can certainly handle three months in morocco now.
i’m finally pondering the possibility of not making it out of morocco. i need decent food, and we can’t cook. going to the store today to look for cans of stuff i can open and eat. will make myself some oatmeal every morning.
if i do die, i told lady to sit my body out in the alley with my hand out – she could collect the coins to live on. also told her to write a short story about having one last goodbye sexual fling with my cold corpse – to jumpstart her notoriety. and if she needed money, she could always rent my body out for unnatural practices. i figure once you’re gone, you’re gone – what difference does it make, the body don’t care. flesh is flesh, it’s the mind that matters.
lady interjects: “I was thinking about having your head mummified and wearing it to the States around my neck.”
as ren & stimpy always say, this is one of those “happy happy, joy joy” blogs. it can’t always be all pepsi & popcorn – (i would never mention pepsi if it weren’t for the alliteration – i’m a coca cola hater from way back).
Tuesday, May 29th, 2007
THE POSITION OF THE PRIVILEGED
“A common response that I get, even on things like chat networks, is, I can’t believe anything you’re saying. It’s totally in conflict with what I’ve learned and always believed and I don’t have time to look up all those footnotes. How do I know what you’re saying is true? That’s a plausible reaction. I tell people it’s the right reaction. You shouldn’t believe what I say is true. Nobody is going to pour truth into your brain. It’s something you have to find out for yourself.” Noam Chomsky, “Liberating the Mind from Orthodoxies”
Read a book, The Passage and Other Stories by Mustapha El Ghazi. All four stories are about the lives of the unfortunate in Morocco. From the stories I gather dissent is punished and there is an active movement for workers rights. There is also a cultural divide, a deference to authority which criminally stigmitizes people who dissent. I’m going to write him, try to start a correspondence.
Read a new newspaper — The Casablanca Analyst — published by two Moroccan professors of English. It’s the sole English-language newspaper in Morocco. Its contents are a strange juxtaposition of naÃ¯vetÃ© and sophistication. The paper addresses globalization/imperialism in a knowing way, but puts me off with its deference to authority of native church and state.
After reading this paper, I bought the latest issue of Newsweek. I’m keeping an eye on Fareed Zakaria. I’ve slightly agreed with a couple of his pieces in the past, but now I must take his analysis with a grain of salt. I’m also shocked that Newsweek pushes him as such a nuanced “expert” given his lack of basic, basic knowledge. (Heck, I don’t know much, but at least I’m not pushing myself as an expert on international affairs.) Here’s a letter to the editor about Zakaria:
“THE USUALLY KNOWLEDGEABLE AND clearheaded Fareed Zakaria has been seriously misinformed on recent Latin American history (“Right Ideas, Wrong Time,” March 19). He says Ronald Reagan supported human rights and democracy there. Not so. Reagan’s administration supported and armed the murderous Salvadoran junta, the genocidal Guatemalan General Rios Montt, the notorious Honduran death squads and the war of terror waged against Nicaraguan civilians by the contras. George W. Bush’s neglect of the region has been, in comparison, downright benevolent.” Patricia Sitkin, Linden, California
Specialization and elitism in education and journalism is killing us. Delegation of decision-making to “experts” is killing us. Knowledge acquisition is haphazard even among the privileged. And those who are privileged enough to be educated are often the most indoctrinated. We need to educate ourselves in history, especially recent history. And we need to know what’s going on in marginalized political discourse to get a proper parallax.
We send people “over there” while deferring to authority and a misguided belief in the benevolence of our state and its “elected” representatives. We should not delegate understanding to such an extent; compartmentalization isolates us from our representatives’ actions until we’re blindsided by the consequences.
* * *
“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get somewhere else–if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”
“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place.”
“This quote is perfect for the decay of the middle-class lifestyle,” I tell Smith. “Mom says she’s had to work much more just to maintain her pace of life.”
“You know, there’s some figures on that. How much productivity has gone up, how much real wages have gone down, how one has to work longer. Productivity has gone UP, so we’re actually producing more per person. Yet we end up working longer for the same pay. So even without inflation, pay has gone down.”
“I know the dollar has lost a significant amount of its value just the past year. Another thing about labor – I appreciate labor-saving devices here in Morocco. I’m running just to make safe food for us. We could probably buy a refrigerator, but that’s just so wasteful.”
“No we can not. That’s out of the question. Well, wait. You know what, maybe we could stop by the electronics store. See if they have a little teeny-weeny fridge. I mean, we paid 40 dollars for a heater. Maybe we can get a similar deal for a cool space. That’s a thought.”
“It would make life a lot easier for me. I wouldn’t have to cook everything from scratch three times a day.”
Even breakfast cereal is bad for Smith; we discovered it has too much salt. And though we have peanut butter, it’s not healthy to eat bread regularly. I want Smith to have many more years with me. When we digress from healthy eating, I see the effects on him immediately. He’s more tired; his heart starts skipping.
“Let’s go check the store,” he says. “They gotta have small things, don’t they?”
“I was lying in bed this morning, getting depressed. I was thinking about all the time required to buy food and cook and keep clean here, and how I don’t have the time I want to make art and write. There are no healthy pre-packaged foods.”
“Well, that’s true anywhere.”
“Oh, not necessarily. But actually, if you buy a pre-packaged salad in the US, then you’re also using plastic, which is bad for the Earth. And there are salad bars here, but we don’t know if the vegetables have been washed. You got really really sick one day when you didn’t wash that peach. You’re 61 years old. I don’t want us to have a medical emergency in this country.”
I was thinking also about how terrible it is that we rely so much on these electric appliances. I want to minimize my consumption of energy. Also thinking about how measures of rising affluence in developing countries cite statistics of things like refrigerator ownership.
When we get to a place we must buy things and then it’s not possible to carry them with us. What a waste. When we left Marrakech, I gave Hamid my leftover spices and staples and cookware.
When we leave Essaouira we plan to give our heater and cookware to a woman we’ve met on the street. We give her money every day, but it makes me ill to think about how much we’ve spent on our comfort versus how little we’ve given her. So I hope she can take our things and sell them or use them herself.
Also thinking about what I wrote about “professional” beggars since having roamed around more. I think it’s easier for the privileged mind to write someone off by thinking of someone as a “professional” beggar. We walked the Northwest side of the medina and found gutted buildings which were inhabited. We saw camps of men outside the city wall. These people have a nook to call “home” and are not sleeping right on the streets, but they are certainly not faring well. Perhaps the cops chase them off the streets? We noticed that they were gone the day the film crew was here. To be a beggar is a horrid, hard life, not a life one would choose.
* * *
Back to the worsening condition of the American worker. I’ll end with another Chomsky quote from the same article:
“Most oppression succeeds because its legitimacy is internalized. That’s true of the most extreme cases. Take, say, slavery. It wasn’t easy to revolt if you were a slave, by any means. But if you look over the history of slavery, it was in some sense recognized as just the way things are. We’ll do the best we can under this regime. Another example, also contemporary (it’s estimated that there are some 26 million slaves in the world), is women’s rights. There the oppression is extensively internalized and accepted as legitimate and proper. It’s still true today, but it’s been true throughout history. Take working people. At one time in the U.S., in the mid-19th century, working for wage labor was considered not very different from chattel slavery. That was the slogan of the Republican Party, the banner under which northern workers went to fight in the Civil War. We’re against chattel slavery and wage slavery. Free people do not rent themselves to others. Maybe you’re forced to do it temporarily, but that’s only on the way to becoming a free person, a free man, to put it in the rhetoric of the day. You become a free man when you’re not compelled to take orders from others. That’s an Enlightenment ideal. Incidentally, this was not coming from European radicalism. There were workers in Lowell, Massachusetts, a couple of miles from where we are. You could even read editorials in the New York Times saying this around that time. It took a long time to drive into people’s heads the idea that it is legitimate to rent yourself. Now that’s unfortunately pretty much accepted. So that’s internalizing oppression. Anyone who thinks it’s legitimate to be a wage laborer is internalizing oppression in a way which would have seemed intolerable to people in the mills 150 years ago.”