Sorry for the tardiness of this edition, folks, but yer old pal Jerky is grappling with a crippling case of writer's block… again. It's a particularly nasty block this time, with a multiplicity of causes, none of which are easily resolved or explained. Nevertheless, as an exercise in piercing this vexing mental membrane, I will attempt to do so. I request your patience for the next few paragraphs.
As far as I can tell, the roots of this current blockage are three-fold.
First is a nagging self-doubt. I have increasingly come to feel that -- especially but not exclusively as regards matters relating the global realpolitik - my opinions and suspicions are neither sufficiently grounded in verifiable data, nor all that interesting to anyone other than myself, to merit publication. This is due to a number of factors, not least of which is the increasing and calculated pollution of the media streams which constitute the sum totality of my information gathering resources.
Corporate journalism is hopelessly compromised by trickledown meddling from management, ownership and above. The alternative media -- always something of a haven for attention-craving crackpots with dubious hidden agendas -- now play host to a growing number of agents provocateur. These PsyOps warriors dispense expertly crafted disinformation designed to send would-be truth-seekers dashing madly off in all directions, chasing wild geese, red herrings and jackalopes. Perfect cover for the crimes of their elite clientele.
Knowing that most of the writers whose opinions I respect drink from the same poisoned well as I do only serves to compound my despair. How can you trust your instincts when you can't even trust the information on which said instincts are based?
Which brings me to my second problem: outrage fatigue. Today, after six years of writing about The Powers That Be getting away with literal and metaphorical murder, I feel as though I know how Sisyphus felt as he rolled that boulder up the hill, over and over again, only to watch it tumble back to the bottom every time he came close to reaching the top. I imagine it's the exact same kind of fatigue which has caused Capitol Hill Blue founder Doug Thompson to finally call it quits. From his 'no mas' farewell editorial:
"I'm tired and this tilting at windmills business is exhausting. I've been writing about the foibles, corruption and misdeeds of politicians for more than 40 years but the system we have today is worse than ever. I'm no longer sure that trying to educate a deaf audience through journalism is worth the time or the effort."
While yer old pal Jerky isn't quite arrogant enough to consider himself an educator, he certainly groks Thompson's sentiment. So many Daily Dirt readers, with the best of intentions, write me, asking: "Why haven't you written anything about the missing White House e-mails, or that creepy Negroponte's appearance before the Senate Intelligence Committee, or the leaked documents that show Bush and Blair were planning to trick Saddam into war, or the missing billions in Iraqi reconstruction funds, or Halliburton's new no-bid contract to builddetention camps on American soil?"
My (so far unspoken) answer to these questions is an exasperated "What's the fucking point?" Writing about the crimes of The Powers That Be is beginning to feel like performing surgery on myself without anesthesia. It hurts like hell, and I only have a vague hint as to what I'm doing, which means I'll likely fuck it up in the long run.
Which brings me to my third problem: Disillusionment.
According to legend, the last words spoken by Hassan i-Sabbah - the Old Man of the Mountain, head of the Order of Assassins -- were: "Nothing is true; everything is permitted." It is a maxim that makes explicit the fundamental idea at the heart of existentialism, that every individual is free to do whatever he is capable of doing. Utterly and terribly free. Ethics, morals, religious precepts, laws; all are artificial constructs created by men of greater or lesser wisdom, and all may be ignored by any individual or group possessing sufficient will and determination.
In other words, when Thrasymachus told Socrates: "justice is the advantage of the stronger", and that "injustice, if it is on a large enough scale, is stronger, freer, and more masterly than justice", he was right. The idea that the United States is a nation of laws is, and perhaps has always been, a lie. Maybe there's some truth to the idea that it's a "noble lie" in the tradition of Leo Strauss and his neoconservative disciples -- heirs to Thrasymachus' philosophy of power, via Machiavelli, Hobbes and Nietzsche -- but it remains a lie. Maybe our problem isn't that we're being lied to. Maybe our problem is that we're being lied to poorly.
And anyway, what good does it do us to know that it's a lie? That there is no set of rules that can't be gamed, that even commandments etched in stone can be chipped and chiseled away, given the right tools and mindset? In the bible, God forbade Adam and Eve to eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. The philosopher John Stuart Mill declared, only half jokingly, that "ignorance is bliss". In The Big Lebowski, Walter salves his friend's angst by declaring: "Fuck it, dude. Let's go bowling." I, for one, am beginning to think these gentlemen were on to something.
Are you confused? Are you sick of it all? Are you ready to call it quits and throw in the towel? Do you secretly wonder if it's you, not them? Are you constantly amazed by the daily parade of bald-faced liars who force their way into your living room and spew demonstrably ridiculous propaganda in your face as though their very lives depended on it?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then at least you know you're not alone.
(This editorial originally ran in the Daily Dirt on Febuary 2, 2006, but remains absolutely relevant to where yer old pal Jerky finds himself today. - YOPJ)