9.30.2014

Death and the Afterlife


The Diet Soap podcast in which Doug Lain and I discuss death. There are some nice moments here.


Death is some scary shit, no doubt. But death is not nothing. This is a mistake I often made in my life, in both my thinking and my living. I readily conflated death and nothingness, nihilism with a death wish. But death is not nothingness. Fear, anxiety, despair: they tends towards nothingness, towards an erasure of life that is not death but is a kind of living death, a zombieism. As Kierkegaard would say, the anxious don't live and can't even die — which is precisely the source of their despair.

The death of the body, for Kierkegaard, is not the sickness unto death. Anxiety is the sickness unto death. It keeps the living self away from living, at a distance, caught up in what has been or could be, in worlds that don't exist. For many, including myself, it feels better to retreat into anxiety and the life of possible worlds, however awful those worlds might be — especially if they're awful. Oh my god, I could do really badly at my job! The plane could crash! I could get sick! I could shit my pants! None of these have happened but, for some insane reason, we enjoy the misery of living through them virtually. And then experiencing all the dread and horror as if they were real. It's truly nuts.  

No, death is not nothing. Anxiety tends towards nothing as it veers away from the now. But death is always now, an event to beat all events. It's anything but nothing. If thinking about whether the plane will crash is a non-event, the plane actually crashing and your body being obliterated is certainly an event. 

Death, while being an event that changes everything, is certainly not the end. Yes, it's the end of the living body. But that body is not the limit of who we are. I don't say this in some glib, pseudo-religious way. I say it because it's so obviously the way of things, something we experience every day, all the time.

A step toward rational immortality, William Burroughs writes, is to break down the concept of a separate personal, and therefore inexorably mortal, ego. This opens many doors. For instance, you can live in, on, and with other people. In fact, this is always happening. There is no pure being distinct from the world; we are made up of tics and tricks, gestures and licks from other people. You live in other people and other people live in you (WSB). (Read Burroughs' incredible, hilarious essay, "Immortality.")

The other day, I was spending time with a friend and every time I chuckled, she'd say, That's your brother! That's his laugh! Think about what an insane thing that is to say. I wasn't quite sure I knew what she meant at that juncture but I do know the experience of being possessed by my brother. Usually, I feel it when I'm holding forth. Oh, lord, when I was teaching, I'd be mid-lecture when all I could hear, all I could feel, was my brother spouting — sprouting — up through my mouth, a kind of  Ouija board.

My brother lives in Manila, in the Philippines. But he also lives right here — in me, as me, with me, at least a little. My sister is dead and she, too, lives right here — in me, as me, with me. Death, the Philippines, across town, it doesn't matte: our possession of and by other people transcends time and space, transcends body and ego. This can, of course, be to our dismay. I have familial forces working in me that I'd like to dispel. In fact, in order not to be a total asshole of a father — the key word here being total — I have to wrestle, stifle, and muffle the paternal voices that live in me, that live as me, that haunt me all the time. 

We live with ghosts. This is not some supernatural thing, some mystical claim. Events are not discrete. When something happens, it doesn't just begin then end. It continues to happen more or less. This is called, amongst other things, memory. Memory is not a card catalog of snapshots. Memory is the presence of the past, here and now. It's my tying my shoe, craving rice noodles for dinner, knowing the way to my son's school. It's also the smell of my childhood house; it's falling into a pile of dog shit at the ever sad PS 165 playground and then my five year old ass being asked to strip for a bath by the Jamaican nanny I could never understand; it's the wide, radiant, true smile of my sister as well as her confused, sad, skinny face days before she died; it's the daily screaming of my parents that still echoes in my skull. It's everything that's ever happened to me and is still happening to me, right here, right now.  

We are events, each of us. We continue just as the things that happen to us continue. Sure, they seem done and gone but they — but we — persist in various ways, as echoes and sentiments, as shadows and gestures, as scars and dreams. 

Burroughs says the way to immortality is through writing. Writing is a powerful and highly effective way of transcending your body in order to possess others — much more effective than mummification. I can't think a thought — not one thought — without hearing and feeling the presence of a veritable symphony of others — Nietzsche, Merleau-Ponty, Kierkegaard, Deleuze, Plato, Foucault, my brother, Derrida, Gadamer, Marc Lafia, Paul Ricoeur, even Paul de Man! This is what happens when you write a doctoral dissertation: you let yourself be possessed by a bunch of philosophers until they're all speaking out your mouth (not to mention other orifices). 

We all write. Not necessarily words but we write on the world, write with the world, write the world itself. This is what it is to be alive — you are always, necessarily, leaving your mark. It might be a relatively slight mark, a small etch in the earth, an inflection of the flavor of carbon dioxide from your particular gut, a way to hold strangers' eyes on the subway gleaned by attentive teenagers sitting across the aisle. These are all forms of writing. Sure, they don't have the usual grammar and they don't travel as well as words do. But they are all inscriptions on the surface of the universe. We are all writers; we are all immortal.

But what about the experience of the dead person? Well, the experience of the self is not limited to the experience of the mind, thought, and body. We exist as, and on, different planes of existence. While I'm in the body, I am limited by my body but also by my mind and its demands for certainty, clarity, knowledge, understanding, social productivity (in its sundry, insidious forms). I am this guy who has done, this says that, has this value in the social and financial economy. But I also live in, with, and amongst a certain cosmic consciousness, an infinite self that bleeds with the universe rather than with blood. 

We get glimmers of this aspect of ourselves, this infinite, cosmic becoming that we are in addition to being body, ego, and mind. Some people work to experience this as much as possible and find it in different ways — meditation, psychedelics, hiking. In these moments, our ego dissipates. It can be scary, for sure. I've seen people lose their proverbial shit on acid, watched as their egos melted and they became stammering, mumbling, idiots, at once beautiful and distressing. I've also seen people lose their egos and become ecstatic. This is the Dionysian experience that people have sought for millennia — in raves, at Burning Man, in Roman orgies, in sex, at Dead shows.

As Burroughs writes, The tiresome concept of personal immortality is predicated on the illusion of some unchangeable precious essence: greedy old MEEEEEEEE forever. But as the Buddhists say, there is no MEEEEEEEE, no unchanging ego. We are immortal not as ourselves per se; we are immortal as we are the cosmos, this piece of the cosmos, this inflection of things which shifts the very register of the entire universe forever. The farthest reaches of the universe are different, however imperceptibly, because you lived. And you are different because of that super nova, that black hole, that asteroid, that flicker of cosmic crap, those solar flares. We are the world, as it were, and as such are immortal.

That might not be a consolation, I know. The straw man image of the afterlife  — living as our ego-driven selves in the blissful cloud planes — is absurd, even if somehow reassuring. I see Larry David, his hair gown back, about to meet Marilyn Monroe. Some religions do a great job — albeit areligious — of making you feel comforted by the best of all possible worlds: you'll still be you, ego and all, only minus the annoying parts.

But isn't the promise of death — and it is a promise — reassuring precisely because we get to shed all this bullshit, all these hang ups and anxieties, all this worldly crap?  Living forever as this would be downright exhausting. How many times can I choose what to eat for dinner? How many dishes can I wash? How many bills can I pay? So, yes, a heaven that promised none of that while letting me still be me sounds pretty good. But then I'd still have to be me. How long can anyone, including me, endure this shnoz?

This is not to poo poo life. On the contrary. While I'm in this body, with this mind, I'm going to try and enjoy it. I'll think, drink, screw, love, hate, stress, eat, text, write. But, in death, I will be done with all that. I will be done with my petty ego nonsense. I will be done with thought and mind. I will be ether, not subjectivity. In all honesty, does this scare the shit out of me? Yes. But I'm beginning to think it sounds mighty fine.  

9.24.2014

Rethinking the Internet: Networks, Capitalism, and Control

 
 A very smart documentary by Marc Lafia that discusses the figure and history of the network, amongst other things.

I admit it: I have been seduced by the figure of the network and have applied it readily to the internet. It sounds so right, doesn't it? There's no center. Or, even better: Everything's a center! When I'm online, I am the center of the inter-network, the entire global data field orienting around me. Oh yeah! 

And with no center, there's no hierarchy. No Big Boss Man. No priest. Nothing between me and the goods, me and information, me and the truth. It's the Lutheran dream, or some such thing. Information no longer flows from the mouths of expert-priests to the clambering, ignorant masses. We educate ourselves! Thanks, Wikipedia! Rather than a downhill flow, there are ever shifting distributions and flows of data. It's a thousand plateaus of liberation!

As for commerce, who needs those big box shops that are shutting down every mom and pop shop and slaying neighborhoods? Now each local vendor, maker, artisan, chef has the same access to the market, bypassing the prohibitive costs of real estate that let the Costcos and Starshmucks of the world dominate.

But, as we all know now, this is not what's happened. Because that's not how networks, in fact, function. 

Since the dot com explosion of the late 90s, we've seen a steady rise of monopolies — eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Google. The network effect is not the wild distribution of information but its steady coalescing into zones. For this virtual world to work (the definition of "work" is precisely what's at stake), there have to be certain densities. Who wants to be part of a social network with only twelve people (well, I do, but that's another matter)? Who wants to shop, or sell, at an auction that only has 145 items and 267 bidders?

Not only does the internet not foster proliferation and multiplicity, it necessarily tends towards monopoly. In real space, the reality of distance slows any one entity from dominating. But in the virtual world, domination happens at the speed of light. We call it going viral or, in wonky tech speak, it’s called the hockey stick.

Business wonks, especially here in San Francisco, love to call this disruptive. But it's anything but. It's just the acceleration of capitalism that's been picking up speed since the late 18th century French and American Revolutions. Like the French Revolution with its rally cry of liberty, equality, fraternity, the information revolution has been forged under misleading pretenses. 

The French Revolution was a bourgeois revolution, business and property owners wanting a piece of the pie previously reserved for those who lived off the merits of birth and inheritance, the aristocracy. This was the explicit cry of the American Revolution which didn't want to pay taxes to a king 3000 miles away (and who pays taxes? Not the destitute). While often portrayed as a revolution to rescue the starving masses from the cruel indifference of the aristocrats (the one image we all know is Marie Antoinette's "let them eat cake"), the French Revolution used the downtrodden to empower the rising business owners who, in turn, exploited and ignored those same downtrodden (it’s been worse in the US than France, of course). As our American constitution declares, the declaration of equality is not equality of life but equality of a right to the pie (presumably; in reality, the game was rigged from the get go in various ways via government-business complicity such as tax breaks, corporations, the government picking up the tab for externalities such as wars for oil, roads, subsidies, etc.).

Like the French Revolution, our information revolution decries the way of the hierarchy. And so, like the French Revolution, the information revolution cut off the heads of the king, the queen, the aristocracy in general — albeit virtually. The big retail brands of the world have, for the most part, been toppled by Amazon and eBay. Old media is on its last legs. Wikipedia cut off the legs of the academic experts, those fuddy-duddy keepers of knowledge.  

But rather than giving rise to a radical democracy or symphonic anarchy in which all voices are heard — especially the smartest and oddest — we're witnessing the radical centralization and control of conversations and, scarier, a rapid monopolization of the ways and means of discussion. Television networks sure had it easy but in retrospect that looks like nothing compared to the dominance of a Comcast who controls the pipes and the content that travels over them (see: the attack on net neutrality).

Look around the so-called memes of the interweb. What passes for an issue and discussion on Facebook and Twitter is a relentless slicing and dicing of events into discrete nuggets with clearly marked good guys and bad guys, readily digested and scanned issues that make it easy for people to like, ignore, or share. Think of all those lists and petitions. Buzzfeed and Thought Catalog have their clear motivation: clicks for ad revenue. But what’s our excuse? 

With this technology that turns everyone into a publisher, why are there so few surprises and even fewer discussions of the media and forces that have framed the issues in the first place? It’s not that these critical opinions don’t exist; it’s that they are pushed to the edge of the network, into oblivion (just as they always have). Something happens — a beheading, a leaked video — and it immediately becomes something about which to feel outrage! Snarky! Sad! So few consider the plethora of perspectives that inform this event. We get an issue and a way to feel about it. Nietzsche calls this the herd mentality. I guess I thought the internet would be different. 

Just as the network effect tends towards business monopolies, the network effect tends towards the cleansing and homogenization of discussion and opinion. Rather than a proliferation of perspectives, we experience their radical reduction. The ready access to information has turned everyone into an expert regurgitating the same multiple choice perspectives on multiple choice “issues.”

And what's so insidious about this internetwork is that's even more efficient than television networks. A TV channel broadcast down its one-way pipe and then we could analyze its agenda. But now there is no broadcaster, no agency with an agenda. We reduce conversations to a like or share all on our own. There’s no media to interrogate. There’s only ourselves (pace Foucault).

I realize for some people, this is not a surprise. But to my naive and obviously limited understanding, this is a radical realization. The internet and its architecture seemed so promising to me, so exciting, so potentially revolutionary. Even the ever astute Doug Rushkoff is surprised by how it’s all transpired. 

The reality is the internet is the acceleration of a form of power and control that is centuries, if not millennia, old. NASDAQ is shipping trade routes on steroids. And the internet information revolution is no revolution at all: it's the acceleration of control and monopoly that's been breeding for ages, now moving at the speed of light.

9.17.2014

Ray Rice, Jennifer Lawrence, and Life in the Panopticon




 I don't watch the news but thanks to Twitter and Facebook, I couldn't help but notice two recent so-called stories, one involving naked pictures of Jennifer Lawrence, the other a punch Ray Rice landed on his bride.

In my social media feed, there seemed to be consensus: we shouldn't look at the Jennifer Lawrence pictures because that's an invasion of her privacy and, worse, sexual assault. And Ray Rice is a violent, wife beating creep — and the NFL, not to mention American culture in general, is misogynistic. I agree with all of the above.

But that's not what struck me about these stories. What struck me is that no one seemed to be talking about the fact that we're looking at images of people leading their lives. These aren't movies or TV shows. This wasn't even a fan's videotape or from the smartphone of a crusading activist. It’s a selfie and a surveillance video. Even the articles that decried the theft of Jennifer Lawrence’s images as an invasion of privacy, yelled Thief! not Panopticon! (This may seem like a pedantic distinction but thief assumes we record everything; panopticon questions said recording of everything.)

What the what? How did we get to the point that no one questions that fact that everything is always being recorded? And that these recordings are there to be watched by all at any time? And that the images we're not supposed to look at are selfies by an actress and the ones we are supposed to look at are from a surveillance camera? 

Don’t get me wrong. I agree that it's invasive and creepy to look at Lawrence's private pictures. My question is: Why then are we allowed to look at the Rice video? Why is that not an invasion of privacy? He was recorded without his knowing! Talk about creepy. Watching that ubiquitous clip — yes, I watched it, but for many reasons did not see Ms. Lawrence’s images — I felt an unsettling complicity with a police state that monitors all our actions. 

The discussion of Ray Rice moved exclusively into the content of the images, ignoring the event of ubiquitous recording and the casual evacuation of any presumption of privacy. As Marshal McLuhan would say, the media focused on the message, not the medium. 

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying we don't live in a culture of violence against women. In fact, I see how the hacking of an actress's nude pictures and the punch of a woman by a sports star share a common ideology: women are objects to be viewed and hit. It is troubling and grotesque and worthy of much discussion and more, although I couldn’t find articles that made that connection.

What I am saying is that there is another commonality here: the will to hack and view Ms. Lawrence nude images is the will that has us feel righteous watching and condemning Mr. Rice's video. They stem from a culture that assumes, without question, that everything is recorded and hence there to be seen. Yes, the content is dramatically different. Yes, his behavior looks repulsive and endemic of violence against women. But both events entail the utter evacuation of privacy in the age of the always-on, always-recording web. 

I am wondering why we feel we have the right to look at the Ray Rice video and pass judgment but we're not supposed to look at Jennifer Lawrence's pictures, a woman who oddly enough makes her living by people watching images of her. How is this distinction drawn? How is it ok to watch one but not the other? 

I am not saying that we can't draw distinctions between images and their respective right to privacy (or lack thereof). As a culture, this is what we do all the time. In some instances, it is the law of the social. Other times, it's the law of the state. For instance, unlike the Lawrence photos, the Rice video could and should be subpoenaed as part of a criminal proceeding. 

Is the Rice video ok to see because he didn’t take it? Because it’s a surveillance video? And it’s not ok to watch Jennifer Lawrence because she didn’t want them to be seen? That just doesn’t seem right to me. Watching both seems creepy and wrong. But, frankly, it’s the surveillance video that really creeps me out. 

What I find troubling is that in all the discussion of these events, I've seen no one question how we came to see the Rice video at all. In fact, I've heard criticisms of the NFL that it didn't seek the video actively or thoroughly enough! Isn't the NFL a private company? How or why would it or should it be looking at private video? And yet the hackers are criticized for looking so thoroughly for images of someone whose images are everywhere.

Both parties, it seems to me, have been wronged by a culture that has accepted the ubiquitous recording and viewing of everything, a culture that has gleefully — indeed giddily — abandoned the right to privacy.

No doubt, the content of both sets of images is of the utmost importance. Violence against women is horrific and takes many insidious forms, from viewing private nude pictures to systemic physical abuse. But equally disturbing to me is that we live in a world where we assume that everything is recorded and everything is there for our viewing and, moreover, that we reserve the right to pass judgment based on that viewing. Who needs the NSA when we have ourselves?

9.11.2014

The Myth of Direct Discourse

I have this beautiful fantasy. Everyone in my life, including me, will be confident, cool, articulate, both self and other aware. Our relationship will have no weird sub-texts, no veiled jealousies and resentments, no passive aggression. We will not have our feelings hurt; we will not get defensive. And we will speak to each other in that perfect register of comment without judgment, equals sharing confidences and critiques in language pure and direct.

To a large extent, this is indeed the relationship I have with my close, almost all male, friends. Mind you, there are not a lot of them and very few live in the city. But that is as it should be (in my fantasy, at least): like Nietzsche and both his friends and enemies, we live perched in the cool air of the mountains, each on his own peak, occasionally beckoning across the valley to share moments of insight, laughter, intense pain, joy.

For the most part, my friends and I do not share day to day struggles. We may go weeks, months, years, or even decades without speaking and then, just like that, pick up a conversation mid-stride. I don't know what some of these people do for a living and I'm sure they don't know what I do. And, frankly, I don't particularly care. Friends, to me, are not those everyday people who help wile away the time. They are beacons of greatness, standing tall in the plains, fantastic beings who shine brightly amidst the often dreary drudgery of life.

 But this fantasy of mine is just that: a fantasy, and often a destructive one at that. Because the fact is all relationships — between people, ideas, things — are complex, riddled with sub-texts. In fact, it's all sub-text: there is no master text. We are a bundle of twitches and innuendos and double, if not triple, entendres. We leak and ooze ourselves. 

As for language, well, the myth of direct, honest discourse is a lie. As we are not self-mastering subjects, our language will never have been under our control. Words, grammar, and meaning are for and from everyone, are the very stuff of the collective. Language speaks us, not the other way around.

We speak indirectly, always and necessarily, our words at some angle to our sentiment, action, desire, will — even to our needs! Perhaps especially to our needs! Sometimes, when all I want is a hug, I say some aggressive douchebag nonsense, ensuring that the one thing I don't get is a hug. Such is life as a human being in language: there is no perfect harmony other than the dissonance of living.

This is never more apparent than in my romantic relationships. I entertain this idea that my girlfriend and I could and should be transparent to each other. That we could and should speak directly and honestly, without aggression or defensiveness. That we could and should be able to express our annoyances, preferences, desires, and needs in a straightforward way without the other freaking out. That as both speaker and listener, we could and should each be utterly cool, articulate, deploying words like that mythological smart bomb, launched from hundreds of miles away and — what is that absurd word, surgically? — hitting its target. The problem is that despite what we imagine to be our best efforts to calibrate the locale and intensity of the strike, we blow up a pediatric hospital. To wit, I want a hug so I say some nasty thing.

I am coming to believe that the trick to negotiating relationships, romantic and not, is not to make myself beholden to the ideal of "could and should" but to heed the messy, all-too-human reality of the situation. We all have insecurities and doubts, fears and anxieties. Sure, we try to become more self-aware, less anxious, less insecure; some of us strive to be open, relaxed, flexible human beings. But shit has a tendency to persist despite our best efforts. I may strive not to be jealous — what is jealousy other than self-hatred? — but then my lady friend goes to dinner with a quasi love-interest and I say some stupid nonsense like, Cool. Whatever. Maybe you should see him more.  

Keen communication is not a matter of being honest. That is a false idol to be smashed with a hammer. The best way to communicate, I think, is to negotiate the ever-shifting play of anxieties, fears, and strengths (true and not). This may mean not being truthful per se. It might mean saying something else all together. I think of the Oracle in The Matrix telling Neo is he not The One when, in fact, he is. It's not that she tells a lie; it's that she says what he needs to hear to maximize himself.

Communication entails more than words. Expression is more than literal meaning. When we speak, we utter so many things at once, things we may not even know we want, need, or believe. The trick is to hear it all, not just the words. So that when my son says he's not afraid but the look in his eye says otherwise, I know to hold him a little tighter. The mistake I often make is to counter with words: Are you sure you're not afraid? You look scared. Which only serves to make him more defensive: I'm not scared! he barks back. The thing to do is to shut up and just hold him.

This is true of all communication. We often are aware of it in the workplace where we more or less know to navigate the egos of bosses and clients. But when it comes to lovers and children, the intensity of our emotions blinds and deafens us. And so we turn to literal meaning. You said it was fine for me to go out with that girl so I did!  When, of course, I knew all along "fine" didn't mean fine. 

My dream of transparent discourse between two strong eagle-like self-aware confident beasts is silly. We have weaknesses just as we have strengths. And if you love people, you communicate with them to make them stronger, not to amplify their weakness. So when someone says they're not scared or are fine or are being nasty, rather than respond in kind, try a different approach all together.

Please understand that I'm not saying we should lie to each other because honesty is impossible. Or that we should tolerate relentless blind emotional mayhem. I, for one, lead a reclusive life as I find communicating with other people downright exhausting. 

What I am saying that our relationships should not be beholden to an indifferent truth but rather to a caring attentiveness to one another. I am saying that language is not solely a conveyor of information but a performance that inflects people’s moods. I am saying that how we talk should take into consideration the emotional reality of the situation, not the abstract facts.


9.07.2014

What Do We Do?


I found this in my archives from 2009 and don't think I ever published it. I kinda like it, even tough its not quite clear what I mean by "capitalism." I like the ranting tone. It's always a strange ambivalent pleasure encountering one's older selves — especially one's ranting, pissed off former selves.

What the fuck are we to do? The cards are stacked against us, at every turn, in so many insidious ways. Because capitalism is not just an economic system. It is a justice system, a military system, a police system and what makes it so hard to fight, it’s a discursive engine.  It puts words in our mouth, ideas in our head, dictates how to think, speak, feel. It runs the newspapers and the networks and the movies. Bourgeois bullshit abounds so thoroughly there is no respite from its excruciating, humiliating fray.

And yet capitalism is not an “it.” There is no cabal of evil men lurking in the back room. Well, there is but these men are not the source but a symptom. There is no enemy per se to vanquish once and for all. Changing the president changes nothing, not really. That is not where power resides. It does not stream down from the top. While there is certainly a vicious power in the club of a cop, that is not the only or even dominant way power works. As Foucault has so deftly argued, power comes from everywhere. It runs through the very terms we use to think about who we are, what’s possible, how we relate to each other. 

When I say capitalism, I am not referring to an economic system we have chosen. That is one of the insidious claims it makes about itself, one of those facts we assume that we have to move past: we do not choose how to be from a set of options, as in, “Capitalism is the only system that works.”

No, when I say capitalism I am referring to a complex set of behaviors, an entire ecology of desire. Capitalism is how we stand towards each other, the assumptions we make about our days, our lives, our loves. It is how we stand towards ourselves, alone at night and shaking in our Ambien riddled daze. It is the set of terms we use to discuss this life, who we are and what we care about. It is the films that numb and beat us in our theaters, the television programs that embarrass and shame us, the deployment of predator drones, bombs, and soldiers.

Capitalism is us.

And what’s so annoying, so defeating, so exhausting is that when we feel differently than has been dictated — when we’re not convinced a presidential election matters in the least or that nearly every film out of Hollywood is an assault on decency or that the conditions of work are grotesque, untenable, and sick — we feel the need to justify it. These most obvious thoughts and sentiments become contaminated with defensiveness. Even in our thoughts, we’re hung out to dry.

And what’s so terrifying, why I feel so thoroughly fucked, is that all the terms of resistance are folded into the Spectacle, this Matrix, and at such downright alarming speed it’s hard to fathom. What, prey tell, is a green car? How did slow food become the latest trend in unaffordable food? How the fuck can Whole Foods declare “buy local” and keep a straight face? 

If only there were some evil madman laughing maniacally in the back room. Instead we get a self-righteous Prius driver shopping for overpriced arugula — and thinking, deep down, that that makes him a good person! And not just a good person — but someone who is helping change things! Jesus fucking Christ. 

It’s unbridled madness masked as righteousness — which makes it all the madder!  And somehow I’m the one who feels like an asshole for saying all this.  “What’s wrong with him? I like Whole Foods.” 

And, oh, somehow these deluded sanctimonious pricks have not just taken up the mantle of change — which is insane in its own right — but they’ve taken up the cause of pleasure.  “Whole Foods is yummy.” Yummy! They don’t know what yummy is. ecause yummy is not just what you eat but how you eat. How you live. How you enjoy, delectate, indulge.   

What are we to do?  What?