Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Time To Be "Firm As A Rock"

Here amid the Karl Rove parallel reality, we have been trained to detest truth. Or at least to genetically modify it, which to my mind is saying the same thing. Remember, for example, that ABC "docu-drama" about 9/11? Or any of the swift-boating campaigns against John Kerry, Max Cleland, and various others? Or the Pentagon's docu-drama on the death of Pat Tillman?

Well, John Rolfe of SI, one of those extraordinary sportswriters with a gravel-tipped pen, as it were, has exposed the sports version of this surreal trend in journalism. Rolfe has written a bristling article on a piece of "reality fiction" about Mickey Mantle, which is to be published by none other than Judy Regan of recent FOX / OJ infamy. It gets really fun when Rolfe offers a selection from his own "reality novel" on the late Yankees manager, Billy Martin. This scene is from a conversation the author has with #1 as the latter arrives back from Limbo:

Martin settled into a chair by the window and fished a cigar from his jacket pocket. "Mind if I smoke? I love a good cheroot, but St. Pete won't let you light up unless you go outside. Damned cosmic winds keep blowing your match out. I tried going down to the Other Place and your matches sure stay lit, but you can't hear yourself think from all the hammering and electric saws. Halliburton's building an extension on the place..."

"So why have you've come to tell me all your darkest secrets?"

"Good deed. Earn some brownie points. Figured you could use a hand, put the 'truth' in a novel, make heap big scratch. You got kids. I hear tuition's a killer these days."

"So is the price of a red Ferrari. Fess up."

"My brawlin' tough-guy stuff was just an act. It got out of control after the fight at my birthday party at the Copacabana in 1957. Hank Bauer just had to have that last goody bag and I stuck my nose in to stay tight with the team. After that, I had to keep fighting to save my jobs. Heck, I'm a sensitive guy at heart. I liked poetry, puppies, decorating cookies, barbershop quartets. Sheez. I even cried easy. Managed to keep a lid on it until I broke down in K.C. in '78...."

Read the rest of it here.


I was thinking today about how difficult it is to avoid becoming an asshole when you work in corporate America. You know, when you swim in a toxic pool, the poison inevitably becomes a part of you. I am honestly more afraid of that than I am of losing my job and being materially impoverished. What is there left to lose after you lose your self, after you are assimilated?

Right there, in the Wintergarden of the World Financial Center in New York City, that fear took hold of me. So I did what I often do in such moments: I threw some coins. I used to worry about people watching and what they'd think, but I'm too old to care anymore.

I tossed Hexagram 16, "Enthusiasm" from the I Ching, with the second line changing. It taught me what I needed to know about holding to my true self amid corporate America, and I'm also hoping it may serve to teach all of us what we must do to help our country at a time when it is threatened to the core by a maniacal set of tyrants who are dragging us further into distant wars and global death.

Firm as a rock. Not a whole day. Perseverance brings good fortune.

Here's the commentary to that line, from Carol Anthony and Hanna Moog, in I Ching: The Oracle of the Cosmic Way:

"Firm as a rock" refers to the inner No that needs to be said to displays of ego...This line warns the person who is tempted to tolerate ego-behavior...[that] it is a form of magnificence (a false enthusiasm)..."Not a whole day" refers to saying the inner No at the first sign of ego's appearance. Depending on the circumstances, the No can also be an outer No...It is "No" to the other's transgression against oneself, or to his false expectations...If the person does not say the inner No when ideas are false, they enter the unconscious by default and become part of his inner program.

Perhaps you have occasionally had the feeling that someone is attacking you, though there is no obvious physical or even verbal threat in the vicinity. That's your true self with its radar fully extended, catching poisonous airwaves from someone or something. It happens in our work, family, and personal lives; I suspect it happens in a nation's life, as in right now.

But if you haven't ever experienced such moments, I won't try and convince you that the sensation is both as natural and as genuine as hunger or sexual desire. Nevertheless, I think that six weeks ago, the people of this nation had such a moment, and they are seeing the actualization of the deeply-felt threat that guided them to vote the way they did. "Troop surge" is an attack on every American who voted with his and her heart last month, and chose a candidate who promised an end to troop surges and continued sacrifice and precision bombing campaigns.

Troop surge is a casting of more poison into the pool in which we all swim; sacrifice is a Roveian marketing term for the death by impoverishment of a once-great nation; and there is no such thing as precision bombing. It is all a lie, an oxymoron. You can target a bomb to hit a particular building, perhaps, but you can't tell the bomb, "kill the bad guys inside but spare the lady walking past the building with her young children." Bombs are designed to cause collateral damage; that is their purpose. In other words, they are made to kill indiscriminately, just as Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld have designed themselves to lie indiscriminately.

Now we know—most of us, anyway; and now something can be done. Be firm as a rock: don't let any corporation steal your true being; don't let any government steal your true nation, and sell it into a slavery of death. Be firm as a rock.

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