Tuesday, January 9, 2007

God Damned: An Underground Plea

I am conflicted.

Not regular conflicted. The other kind. I am in conflict. I am watching a documentary on hurricane Katrina and the human grotesqueness that elevated it to such incomprehensible proportions. People. I don't get them. They are people. I don't get it.

I have an inherent flaw. Any time I get behind the wheel of a car, it is only a matter of minutes before I want to annihilate every living thing on the planet. I see that this is a flaw. I also, invariably, see such a level of heroic stupidity that my neck begins to hurt. "Maybe that person has his reasons for doing the things he does," I tell myself as I try to remember what I know of Stoic philosophy; but I can never remember enough. I hate it when my neck hurts.

It can't be so simple as to say that George Bush is an idiot. Of course he is an idiot; what did you expect? But that isn't it. He put people in charge who didn't know what they were doing. People. Friends, or friends of friends, or savvy political allies, and as a result old women and infirm children could not withstand the trauma and died, waist deep in poisonous shit filled water.

So I am angry and my neck hurts. Now what? Some survivors are interviewed in the documentary. A man tells of a National Guardsman who helps many people; a great man. His last name is Christian. The survivor sees it as a sign. Someone is looking out for him. That must be quite a feeling. Many devastated and neglected people praise God for their ultimate relief. By this time my neck is on fire.

I have no privileged vantage point. I am weak and stupid as well; and not in the Socratic sense. I am angry and conflicted. The people I am so desperate to empathize with are so befuddled that they don't understand the nature of their own God. Is this too much to ask? I don't mean Theology. I mean that the God who finally gave them relief, these people who I crave some kind of communion with, is also the God who sent the fucking hurricane; is the same God who sent Mozart and AIDS and pedophilia and Tang and erectile dysfunction and Wilma Rudolph and gum wrappers and a poorly manicured lawn and sunsets and mastectomies.

I feel hate when I could feel indifference; this is a flaw.

The brain, the human brain, my brain, is designed to see patterns. I am in it. Those poor people. Patterns where there are no patterns. I see them. The music is almost almost-music; almost. But I still have to drive. I still have to watch these documentaries. So now what? Genes, fate, habit, imagination. An earnest man might say humanity, but what he really means is the human condition; embracing the human condition.

The human condition is ambivalence with ambiguity. Look, alliteration, a pattern. No, the human condition is much less. Clay, ribs, atoms, will. Tell me I'm wrong. It doesn't matter, I already see you. Both in and out of the game and watching and wondering at it. Maybe we will start looking for Carlyle's heroic men; (men, universal generic, someone must be irate) or maybe we won't.

Still, we have done a number on each other. No creeds, no medicine, no luck, will pull us out of this. We are ugly/beautiful freaks with abnormal facial hair and misshapen fingers clutching at unseen triggers. Or more, or less. My patterns want so desperately to connect. They are frankly poignant on the matter. And I have Freud's oceanic feeling once in a while. But I also have something else.

I am conflicted.

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