Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tuesday, July 31

[On edit: Duty demands that I beg off posting for the rest of the week. Back on Monday.]

"One day you can tell all this to anyone who's willing to listen. No one will believe you. Despite the fact that anyone who makes the slightest effort can see what is waiting at the future."

Bergman directed his first film, Kris ("Crisis"), in 1946, the same year hundreds of "Ghost Rockets" rained down on Sweden. There was probably nothing otherworldly about this, so long as we set aside the proposition that we ourselves may not be of this Earth. Most likely, the flap was the result of experiments or demonstrations conducted over the Baltic by the Soviet Union's own German engineers. An urgent message July 16 to the Swedish War Department states "some highly placed officials believe the phenomena are Russian rocket experiments either purely for research or for War of Nerves. Staff very nervous about release of info to United States and United Kingdom for fear Russians will cry 'West Bloc'. This office urges greatest protection this information."

Sweden was an incidental proving ground, but everything about Iraq reeks of intention.

Shortly, America's first robot squadron will be deployed there. Each "Reaper," the size of a jet fighter, can carry 14 Hellfire missiles, or four Hellfires and two 500-pound bombs, and will be piloted from a console 7,000 miles away in Nevada. For ground-force support, Lockheed Martin is developing the robotic MULE. A Lockheed promotional video can be viewed here ("it will allow soldiers to use technology to perform a number of dull, dirty and dangerous jobs, freeing troops to focus more effectively on the success of their mission"). But naturally, "the most ambitious of the future combat systems" is the robot soldier "with a 'conscience,' which is being designed to look and fight, and in some respects think, like a human soldier.". And encoding ethics into a "new breed" of robot fighters is extremely important, we're told, because possibly "the abuses at Abu Ghraib would not have happened with autonomous robots, immune to human depravity."

An elderly cult leader in Australia named Kenneth Emmanuel Dyers, founder of "Kenja," has been"hounded to his death" over charges of child sexual abuse. Last year he was ordered to "stand trial on 22 child sex offences, but the NSW District Court deemed him unfit for trial in May and ordered a mental health assessment." During Dyers "trademark" meditations, which he called "energy conversion sessions", he allegedly took children as young as 12 into "private rooms, ordered them to strip and molested them." Claims of abuse date back at least 20 years. (A 1999 conviction was overturned on Dyers' appeal to the High Court in 2002.)

"This is a terrible tragedy," said an official statement released by Kenja, "and those that have participated in the attacks on Ken should feel a terrible guilt for their responsibility in this."

Dyer was a former military policeman and Scientologist, and critics have noted "significant similarities between Kenja and Scientology, including vocabulary and teaching material."

About Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake: I have to keep checking myself, because I don't want to make a game of Clue out of this. Not least because we're missing so much of the game board, but mostly because it's indecent to turn such fresh tragedy into a mind game. There are many curious aspects to this story, and it's appropriate, I think, to bring them forward, but on the whole I mean to resist the temptation to connect the dots, because there is still far too much space between them.

"Our whole education is just one long humiliation" - Bergman

Monday, July 30, 2007

Monday, July 30

"I sat back down and pretended I never saw anything"

Ron Rosenbaum made an interesting observation over the weekend regarding the suicide notes of Theresa Duncan and Jeremy Blake: "If she were being harassed why not name her nemeses in her last words, rather than leave a note described by the cops as suggesting a peaceful loving farewell? I guess you could say she might be trying to protect Jeremy, her boyfriend who later seems to have killed himself over her death, but according to police his note didn’t mention any enemies either, and if not why not?"

If they had become paranoid, why is the paranoia conspicuously absent from their supposed final statements? Why, if Theresa had believed herself persecuted, did she not call out her persecutors, if only to say Look at what you made me do? Nor did Jeremy lash out at those who had hounded his lover to death. Maybe, to someone who knows more than I about the psychology of suicide, that's nothing strange. To me, it is.

Mysterious sparkly goo falls in North Carolina, and boulders of ice in Iowa.

A 152-page report on the O'Hare UFO has been released by the National Aviation Center on Anomalous Phenomena.

I won't have much time this week for blogging, but a subject I'd like to explore soon is the congruity between the occult concept of an egregore and Rupert Sheldrake's theory of morphic resonance. So if you're game, don't wait for me.

oh and one more thing
you aren't going to like
what comes after America? - Leonard Cohen, Book of Longing

Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday, July 27

"Mrs Buttle are you alright?"

Pat Tillman's cluster of three bullet holes in the forehead from about 10 yards away meant the "evidence did not match up with the scenario as described," according to an army medical examiner in 2004 we're just discovering. But the story now goes that he was asking for it:

It has been widely reported by the AP and others that Spc. Bryan O'Neal, who was at Tillman's side as he was killed, told investigators that Tillman was waving his arms shouting "Cease fire, friendlies, I am Pat (expletive) Tillman, damn it!" again and again.

But the latest documents give a different account from a chaplain who debriefed the entire unit days after Tillman was killed.

The chaplain said that O'Neal told him he was hugging the ground at Tillman's side, "crying out to God, help us. And Tillman says to him, `Would you shut your (expletive) mouth? God's not going to help you; you need to do something for yourself, you sniveling -'"

Pinned under hostile fire, Tillman goes George Patton on a cowering comrade and gets fragged for his overwrought bluster. And yet: "No evidence of enemy fire was found at the scene. No one was hit by enemy fire, and no government equipment was struck."

It's all so very Lindsay Lohan. She wasn't driving: "it was the black kid." And the pants she was wearing with the cocaine in the pocket? "Those aren't my pants!" The thing is, when it's the military that's drunk and barreling down the freeway, boasting "I can do whatever the fuck I want," it can.


Adding to Iowa's surfeit of weirdness, Burlington City Council candidate Keith Jacobs reports "an oval-shaped craft about 50 feet long and 40 feet wide, with a blue light on the bottom cruising about 400 to 500 feet above the ground. It had no identifying marks, no wings, no propellers and no means of propulsion such as rockets or jets."

"I would say it was some sort of antigravity device," Jacobs said. "About four seconds was all I got a glimpse of it, and it shot off fast."

The craft sped across the sky in a northwest direction, descended slightly revealing a black or dark gray checkered top, then curved west and shot off in the direction of the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Jacobs said.

(Mention of the ammunition plant reminds me that Mothman's favourite haunt was a WWII munitions dump, called the "TNT area.")

And another sighting from the UK, with photo and video at the link: "a couple were mesmerised as seven red lights flew silently and at great speed above their house in the early hours of the morning":

"There were seven lights flying fast over the house. Two of them were flying round each other. They were flying very close together, closer than planes. They were going so fast I couldn't focus on them.

"I ran inside and got my camcorder. I thought they could be helicopters but when I zoomed in I was scared to death. They were glowing red in the middle. I'm a very logical person. We are not into the paranormal at all. I thought people would think we were barmy if we said we saw UFOs."

No one moved; Thor's whirling hammer slowed, then dropped. In the silence, Chris knew his left femur had shattered - along with most of the bones in his hands - leaving him perched on one leg. Yet his sole regret was that he could not emulate an aged Jew he had heard spoken of by some concentration camp survivors.

Standing in front of the grave he had been forced to dig for himself, the old man never begged, or cried to the SS, nor slumped in despair. He just turned from his murderers, dropped his pants, and said aloud in Yiddish as he bent over, "Kish mir im toches."

As more guards rushed to grab his arms, Chris met Thor's icy gaze.

"Kiss my ass," he told the towering Aesir. "I don't believe in you."
- David Brin, The Life Eaters

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thursday, July 26

"It was one of these coincidences..."

A body has been found at sea which may be that of Jeremy Blake.

Remember the Johnny Gosch story by Des Moines journalist Tim Schmitt published in the alternative weekly Pointblank, and how Pointblank went out of business the same day? Pointblank's founder and editor was Jon Gaskell, Anna's younger brother, who was immediately handed the job of editing its replacement, Cityview, while Schmitt, who had been Pointblank's managing editor, was fired. Gaskell has apparently since claimed that the Gosch story was an "April Fool's joke," allegedly intended to whip "conspiracy theorists into a lathered frenzy." (From a Gaskell email: "It was an April Fool's prank. Those are some pretty strange people.")

Because Theresa read and recommended this blog I feel a particular burden to do right by her memory, so I want to proceed with caution and decency in all of this. There is contradictory information out there. I heard yesterday that the suicide note had been handwritten. So it's important for me to reaffirm my ignorance here: I don't know what happened. And Theresa's life may contain more abiding mysteries than the end of it.

From May 31, Theresa speaks with Father Frank Morales on politics and conspiracy. (In the event that link goes dead, I've copied it here).

Interesting formation of lights in the UK skies. "Three had formed a triangular shape and one was to the right. Then another one came hurtling towards the rest at what looked like a very fast speed. But as it neared them it suddenly slowed and stopped altogether."

Top US intelligence officials now say "Al Qaeda's safe haven in northwestern Pakistan is largely inaccessible to outside forces and unlikely to be eliminated soon by the U.S. or Pakistani military." So who's going to bomb who "back into the Stone Age" now?

"Imagination is always the fabric of social life and the dynamic of history. The influence of real needs and compulsions, of real interests and materials, is indirect because the crowd is never conscious of it." - Simone Weil

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Imitation of Life

Somebody better investigate soon - Bob Dylan

Some things that have come to me, some word of mouth, since yesterday's post.
  • Theresa's "suicide note" was short and vague, and found typed on a computer. That is, it was not handwritten.

  • She had no history of pill popping, and her cause of death is still officially undetermined.

  • The one witness to Jeremy's alleged walk into the sea, the woman who called the police, now can neither be located nor identified.

  • His body has still not been recovered.

  • It took 72 hours to notify Jeremy's family of his disappearance. The newspaper was notified first.

  • Friends are having a "hard time imagining the two committing suicide," reports the New York Post. "Suicide would never be on their to-do list," said Blake Robin. "The narrative of the wallet and the clothes under the boardwalk, it's like somebody writing a cliché, it's not them. It would be embarrassing to them. It seems too calculated for the most uncalculated people. I can see some teenager in Idaho who listens to Marilyn Manson doing this, but not them."

  • They broke a lease eight months short of term when they recently left LA. Allegedly they were being harassed by a recently-arrived neighbor, a Scientologist, and were receiving no help from authorities.
The Los Angeles Times is now reporting the story, and on the couple's "paranoia" of Scientology:

According to several friends and art world peers, the two believed they were being stalked and harassed by Scientologists, an abiding fear that soured old friendships and made some of their respective working relationships difficult.

Christine Nichols, a colleague and friend of Blake's since 1998, produced two art exhibitions, two books and a record in conjunction with the artist through the New York art gallery she co-founded, Works on Paper Inc. Nichols dates the couple's rising sense of "paranoia" to around 2004, two years after Blake created an album cover for alternative-rock star Beck, who is a practicing Scientologist.

"They thought Scientologists were really harassing them," Nichols said. "They would say, 'They are following us, harassing our landlord.' I did not see any evidence of that. But it got to be something that was huge to them -- a 'You're either with us or against us' thing where if you didn't believe them, you weren't on their side. The story they had woven in paranoia and conspiracies took over part of their lives. A lot of us couldn't understand that acting out."

Two other art world sources corroborated Nichols' characterization but declined to speak on the record out of concern that Blake may still be alive.

One thing I missed from the LA Observed article speculating on Duncan's death: the first intimation of Jeremy Blake's disappearance came from an unnamed "ex-girlfriend of Blake."

Which reminds me. I've been looking at some of the art of Anna Gaskell, Blake's ex-girlfriend and subject of Duncan's disturbing warning in her May post. (""Stop accepting payoffs from [Des Moines businessman and guardian Jim] Cownie immediately, get your younger brothers away from him, get a lawyer using only your own money, and have the lawyer get Cownie to answer a few questions about your mother and father.")

From the Guggenheim catalogue:

Anna Gaskell crafts foreboding photographic tableaux of pre-adolescent girls that reference children's games, literature, and psychology.... In untitled #9 of the wonder series, a wet bar of soap has been dragged along a wooden floor. In untitled #17 it appears again, forced into a girl's mouth, with no explanation of how or why. This suspension of time and causality lends Gaskell's images a remarkable ambiguity that she uses to evoke a vivid and dreamlike world.

Gaskell's girls do not represent individuals, but act out the contradictions and desires of a single psyche. While their unity is suggested by their identical clothing, the mysterious and often cruel rituals they act out upon each other may be metaphors for disorientation and mental illness. In wonder and override, the character collectively evoked is Alice, perhaps lost in the Wonderland of her own mind, unable to determine whether the bizarre things happening to her are real or the result of her imagination.... Gaskell addresses this psychologically loaded subject matter with images of girls wandering in a gothic mansion illuminated by candlelight. Here the psyche in question has been fractured and fraught with terror by a perverse father's look, a voyeuristic gaze.

We don't want to see things that aren't there. But when they're there, are we crazy for seeing them?

More, from Ron Rosenbaum:

According to sources I checked with in the New York City Police Department and the City Medical Examiner’s Office, the death of Theresa Duncan which has been almost without exception called “a suicide” in the local papers has not yet been officially ruled a suicide. It may well still be. To my knowledge no evidence has come to light suggesting murder or accidental death. But the authorities aren’t commenting , awaiting, for one thing, toxicology reports on Duncan they say may not be available for at least two weeks.

Rosenbaum adds that he has additional information on Jeremy Blake's reported death and other aspects of the case, and hopes to post them soon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

After the Ambulances Go

"Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life." - Simone Weil

The image above was posted by Theresa Duncan on her eclectic blog The Wit of the Staircase, July 10. Later that day, Theresa's boyfriend of 12 years, Jeremy Blake, discovered her body in their East Village apartment, an evident suicide. ("A bottle of pills and alcohol were found near Duncan's body [and] she left a suicide note saying that she was at peace with her decision and loved Blake and her family deeply.") A week later, a man was seen walking into the ocean at Rockaway Park, and not walking out. Blake's wallet and clothing, and his suicide note, were found beneath the boardwalk.

Duncan and Blake were both career artists and filmmakers. Theresa was also a game designer, a culture critic and a reader of this blog. "Paranoia seems to us an absolute patriotic duty at the moment," she wrote a year ago, "and Rigorous Intuition is like the incredibly symbolically twisted and bizarre dream you wake up from to realize that the scenario thrown up from the unconscious is actually the expression of some very simple truth you had been desperate to avoid facing." It was last May that Theresa faced hers, and posted "The Trouble with Anna Gaskell," in which she described an ongoing campaign of harassment against herself and Jeremy, and the long shadow cast by Des Moines' businessman Jim Cownie, "a major Republican donor with ties to the Midwest's Heritage Groups, founded by the ultraconservative Adolph Coors."

Cownie became the legal guardian of New York-based artist Gaskell and her siblings following the early deaths of her parents (her father was Cownie's business partner). While an undergraduate she dated Jeremy Blake for about a year. It was during that time that Blake got to know Cownie as well.

Cownie has an oddly vast collection of firearms--an entire out building devoted to them in fact.... Then there were the mobster "friends" in Las Vegas who comped Mr. Wit [Jeremy] and Ms. Gaskell with an eye roll and a groan when they mentioned Cownie's name at the front desk, as he had instructed them to do. In addition to the Gaskell orphans, Cownie has four or five children of his own. The oldest male Cownie child, then a teenager, even bragged to Mr. Wit during one visit "My Dad's going to get me in the CIA!"

Once the harassment of The Wits [Jeremy and Theresa] began, these disparate old Anna Gaskell anecdotes, which up to the late summer of 2006 had been completely unknown to me, began to suddenly bob up in Mr. Wit's memory. Mr. Wit's recollection was further jarred after we repeatedly witnessed Ms. Gaskell's brother Zach mysteriously pacing in front of our Venice California home. Then there were the many cars with Iowa license plates following us around Los Angeles at the time. (We took photos of these, naturally.) Mr. Wit during this time also suddenly remembered that busy Cownie often travelled to South Dakota to attend some of the Midwest's more unsavory biker rallies. But I guess being friends with ex-con bikers and Vegas mobsters doesn't necessarily point to somebody who would, like, hire thugs to harass, threaten or--wow--maybe even kill people.


To add the final dessert topping to this apocalyptic art world sundae, Mr. Wit says that normally dour Cownie frequently made jokes about child molestation as a "training" tool. This wouldn't be so fucking spooky, friends of the Staircase, if Des Moines wasn't the land of the Project Monarch/U.S. Intelligence rumored disappearance of Johnny Gosch and the odd resemblance of poor little Johnny to Bush White House gay hooker-psychological operative Jeff Gannon.

She concludes with advice for Anna Gaskell: "Stop accepting payoffs from Cownie immediately, get your younger brothers away from him, get a lawyer using only your own money, and have the lawyer get Cownie to answer a few questions about your mother and father."

When news of the deaths of Duncan and Blake were posted on Metafilter, a clue to the cause of their presumed suicides was Theresa's "paranoid screed," in which many of the "bugbears of the psy-ops crowd were put on Duncan's mental merry-go-round and given a real strong spin." The words "psy-ops crowd" were linked to the RI forum.

I don't know how I could begin assessing from here, tonight, the merits of Duncan's story and the legitimacy of the verdict of suicide. I do know it would be indecent to try. We enjoy mysteries. We even revel in the great mysteries that may mean either our destiny or our doom. But God help us if we become a mystery. And I don't want to make one now of Theresa Duncan.

I've known people who've had dead cats hung at their doorstep; who've been poisoned and burgled, and received death threats all because of the work they do and the privileged interests they challenge. I know they're not making shit up, because I know them. But if you didn't know them, to hear them talk sometimes, you might want to think they were. Because maybe it would be better if they were a little deluded than that they were describing the world. Even if you did know them, for their sakes you might want to think so, too.

But both harassment and the delusion of harassment are real, and a paranoid screed can also be one's patriotic duty. Murders and suicides happen all the time, as do murders that mimic suicide, and less frequently the reverse. Advocating for justice and truth and a closure to mystery does not mean forever contending that death must come by another hand. And sometimes we ought to be adamant that we simply don't know.

Two days before her death, on Sunday, July 8, Duncan wrote that she had another political essay in the works and would post it later. She'd entitled it, "The Devil and Dick Cheney." What would she have said? We don't know.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday, July 23

"If only someone could stop talking and do something instead."

Here's what I'm thinking.

Instead of extended silences between my posts, I'll try every weekday morning to throw together a few links, thoughts and videos to freshen this space, give some attention to the RI forum and make me feel like I'm not such a bad blogger. (And thanks again to Chris for the idea.)

And so:

Keep an eye on Kosovo. US-sponsored "unilateral independence" looms for the Balkan Route's distribution hub of Afghan heroin. The purpose of "failed states" is to create the conditions for criminal windfall, and the Russian and American standoff on Kosovo resembles a turf-war between New York and New Jersey families.

US corporations finance Colombian terror and evade prosecution

The mystery of Norway's Hessdalen Lights has reportedly been "solved." Scientists have concluded "the phenomenon is not UFO-related" (that is, they're not nuts-and-bolts vehicles), but are "luminous balls containing some form of energy" (that is, we don't know what they are).

"In the summer of 1963 comedian Red Skelton was loafing alone on a beach in California when, according to what he later told reporter Dick Kleiner (Newspaper Enterprise Association), he lapsed into a semitrance for about an hour. Upon recovering full consciousness, he discovered a terrifying message written in his own hand in the notebook he always carried with him. He doesn't remember writing it or even thinking the words. The message was, 'President Kennedy will be killed in November.'" - John Keel, Operation Trojan Horse

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Blackshirts and Skins

Well, I fin'ly started thinkin' straight
When I run outa things to investigate.
Couldn't imagine doin' anything else,
So now I'm sittin' home investigatin' myself!
Hope I don't find out anything . . . hmm, great God! - Bob Dylan

I always get a rush from The Ghosts of Cable Street and the story of London's eastenders beating back the blackshirts. But it's not 1936 anymore (it's not even 1986, I tell myself sometimes, still listening to the Men They Couldn't Hang), and fascists wear all colours these days. They don't make it as easy for us. These days, some days, we even need to check the labels on our own shirts.

Post-war covert history has largely been one of de-legitimizing and destroying leftist and even moderate governments and opposition groups. We've seen the assassinations, the coups and wars; the economic arm-twisting; the corruption and blackmail. Since the murder of Rabin, "Israeli society, despairing of peace, has undergone a rightward radicalization." In the Arab world the process has been compounded by the elimination of even secular options, creating conditions in which the only effective vehicle for change is aligned with individuals, ideologies and finances indebted to international fascism.

This shouldn't be news to anyone here. The Muslim Brotherhood, which has spawned most "Jihadist" groups, was founded by Hassan al-Banna, an admirer of Hitler, and became a wartime Nazi intelligence asset. Post-war, like many such assets, it was rolled into the Western intelligence matrix. Swiss Nazi Ahmed Huber established the Al Taqwa Bank, which dispersed to bin Laden and others CIA monies seeded in the financial proxy of international terror and intelligence, BCCI.

Now where does antisemitism, and legitimate critique of Israel, fit in this complex picture?

There are at least two levels at play here for us. First to consider is politics and activism. The second is conspiracy theory.

Unapologetically I'm on the left, and I expect, to some degree or another and regardless of whether you even acknowledge it, you are as well. Broadly, or perhaps rather, ideally, taking the left implies an identification with the oppressed, the poor and the workers against the concentration of power and capital in the hands of an exploiting few. Israeli politics have taken a sharp right turn in the past 40 years, and the policies and consequences of occupation have been tragic and criminal. Perversely, and I believe intentionally for the right, the perpetuation of misery and exacerbation of tension has driven large numbers of both Palestinians and Israelis to rightward extremes. And it has carried many in the left along with it, unconsciously and uncritically, because the progressive options have already been eliminated by the fascists who play both sides.

Not all on the left lose their way on this. For instance:

The Alliance for Workers' Liberty, a Trotskyite faction in the Stop The War Coalition, objected to working with the Muslim Association of Britain due to its links to the Muslim Brotherhood, and argued that the left should be working with secular, progressive Muslim groups instead. The Weekly Worker newspaper took a similar stand, pointing out in one article that "At the same time as our secularist and Marxist comrades are being murdered by groups allied to the MAB, we are lining ourselves up as co-sponsors of demonstrations. This is like communists lining up with Nazis sympathisers on demonstrations during World War II, because we are both against British imperialism."

Then there's conspiracy theory. It was 9/11 that caused many on the left to immerse themselves in it for the first time. There we found a thriving subculture, welcoming us with literature and semi-familiar jargon, telling us that "left" and "right" were fictions that divided us from together fighting the "real enemy." They too believed 9/11 was an "inside job," so even though we didn't start out from the same place, we were now on the same side - weren't we? We could learn much from them, even from the "former insiders" and veterans of the CIA and MI6 who were happy to help us find our footing, even if we weren't always sure what they meant by "international bankers" and "New World Order" - right?

Think of how warmly David Duke was received by some supposed progressives after his CNN appearance with Wolf Blitzer. Consider what Tom Metzger, founder of White Aryan Resistance, says here: "Recruit radical people. Some of the best are on the left.... in most cases I am closer to the left. Anti-war, Anti Capitalist, pro environment and Nature, hate for the lying super rich or the lumkin proletariat, hatred of all present politicians..."

There is a subtle campaign of co-option within the subculture of conspiracy to lead nearly every issue of suppressed history and high crime back to a Jewish root. This is why the operational Arab element of the international fascist Mafia has, for many, been totally eradicated from the equation of "9/11 Truth," and the "smoking gun" has become a case of "insurance fraud" for a grasping New York Jew. If it's successful, the left option will again have been eliminated, and the only effective opposition to fascist power will be a fascist populism.

Antisemitism is as objectionable as any hate directed towards any people for simply being. But antisemitism has a special pedigree, not because Jews are special, but because they are the historic and still-favoured scapegoats of fascists. (Some of whom, of course, are themselves Jewish, but whose allegiance is rather to criminal power.) And sometimes, when we don't reflect on the pedigree of our own influences, we're unconsciously doing their bidding. And I'd rather do nothing, and it would be better if I did, than do that.

I know, and I'm sorry. Working on a new post, but more pressing is the deadline for my already late manuscript. I'll rejoin you here when I can.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Signs of the Times

Semiotics is concerned with everything that can be taken as a sign. A sign is everything which can be taken as significantly substituting for something else...thus semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie. If something cannot be used to tell a lie, conversely it cannot be used to tell the truth: it cannot in fact be used "to tell" at all. - Umberto Eco, Theory of Semiotics

I think the only people entitled to be shocked by the commuting of Scooter Libby's sentence are those who were shocked that Libby was sentenced in the first place. Or rather, that it was a second-tier player like Libby and not Rove or Cheney who appeared trussed and basted as the suckling pig of Democrats' scandalously disappointing Fitzmas. It's those constantly incredulous types who deserve the saucepan eyes at Libby's predictable catch and release.

Even so, the Internet reaction is as rich as it is predictable, and ineffectual. Instead of America's streets, America's chatrooms are filled, because its citizens have been given them for the appearance of a commons, and clatter with indignant typing. But 10 million people posting We're not gonna take it anymore! isn't a revolution. It isn't even a Twisted Sister song.

That's the bad news. The good news is it's a Leonard Cohen song.

What hath Bush wrought? If nothing else, he's made semiotics everybody's business, whether everybody realizes it or not. Under the Bush years, the signs by which Americans and much of the Western world have lived have become so evidently estranged from what they allegedly signify that they now suggest little more than the lies told by Power to maintain itself. "Freedom," "democracy," "justice": Everybody knows. Among other things, Bush is the Deconstruction President.

In The Trickster and the Paranormal, George Hansen has this to say:

It is commonly assumed that there is a simple, objective correspondence between the signifier and the signified even thought they are separate entities. It is assumed that language is only a set of names for things, events, and concepts. These assumptions are incorrect, but few recognize the extent of the implications. This lies at the heart of deconstructionism, and magic.

There is power in the act of naming, because it imbues meaning to a thing - or to an event or a concept - that has no necessary correspondence to the thing itself. This was evident even on the morning of September 11, when the event of the attacks receded behind their purported meaning even as they were still under way. And then soon after, the breathless reporting of Bush's confirmation that this means war, albeit against an abstract noun which would nevertheless cost at least hundreds of thousands of actual lives.

[Carrying On, Tues PM:]

From the start there was an institutional incuriousness about the attacks, as there so often is when the institutions themselves benefit by them ("Blair rejects 7/7 inquiry calls"; "Putin rejects public Beslan inquiry"). Naturally any circle of high conspirators would be reluctant to have any light shed on the criminal events they enabled, but there's a far broader circle of reluctance, that partakes of the Power that is enabled by the meaning of the crime. That is, those who stood to benefit by 9/11 were not limited to the relatively small number of perpetrators within the institutions of public life, because the perpetrators themselves partook of the larger circle of institutional power. Much of corporate media, including "alternative" corporate media, became co-conspirators after the fact simply by habit, because they inhabit and thrive within that outer circle. To acknowledge the possibility of a high crime of the magnitude of Kennedy's assassination or 9/11 would be an invitation, not to gentle reform, but to revolution. And institutional power sends out such invitations only when it sees how it can come out on top again.

Event and meaning is also an issue for the 9/11 Movement, which unfortunately has come to mirror some of the White House's most dumbed-down Manichaeism. For the leaders and proponents of the "New Truth" movement, as with the evangelists of the "Official Story," meaning has almost entirely effaced event. For some, the actual crimes of hijacked aircraft striking buildings have vanished all together, and in their place has been substituted "controlled demolition" and something, anything other than Flight 77 striking the Pentagon. Why? Because the actual event is perceived as of insufficient significance to support the sign of "Inside Job."

But that's a failure of political language which doesn't know the nuance of parapolitics, and it is one which allows those inside, to one degree or another, to define our terms for us. What does "Inside Job" mean? It doesn't mean Executive Branch; it doesn't mean, as with other empty jargon, "Bush knew." I've written before that many who push 9/11 as an Inside Job want to push Osama right out of the picture, but bin Laden is himself inside the security-narcotics-terror nexus, composed of factions that interpenetrate one another, which sometimes compete and sometimes strike strategic alliances depending upon what advantages they believe they can gain. Peter Dale Scott recently quoted a Russian general, who said that "9/11 changed the direction of the world in the direction desired by transnational oligarchs and and an international mafia." Scott also said, and I agree, that "I find it very hard to believe that the Bush administration either let or made it happen. It's clear that people within government were involved, but we should avoid condemning an entire administration."

I'd ask any who take exception to my position or to Scott's remark to ponder the course of 9/11 justice after the Bush administration leaves office, while the statecraft of clandestine power which preceded it, remains.

And since its sixtieth anniversary has arrived, complete with the posthumously-unsealed affidavit of Walter Haut, let's consider the sign of Roswell and its significant overshadowing of modern UFOlogy.

What is the meaning of the Roswell story? As told through back channels like Haut (Roswell's former Public Information Officer), the likewise-deceased Lieutenant Colonel Philip Corso and Stephen Greer's "Disclosure Project," the meaning is not so much that aliens are here; it's that the aliens are here and we have them. The US military, according to its own covert stream of UFO disinformation, can shoot down alien craft, keep their dead occupants on ice, negotiate with their comrades and reverse-engineer their technology. The meaning of Roswell is not Fear them; it's Fear us.

The latest addition to the Roswell mythos may be the "dragonfly drones," about which Whitley Strieber recently gushed "I can only surmise that the appearance of the drones, and now the release of materials by Isaac, is a new step in the ongoing experiment that we call contact." (See also Linda Mouton Howe's "Earthfiles.") I was not impressed by the original photographs, and the subsequent materials strike me as a hoax in the tradition of UMMO and MJ-12. Whether the "drones" have official sanction or not, the hoaxers adopt and elaborate upon the sanctioned mythologies of Roswell and reverse engineering.

With respect to UFOs and matters of High Weirdness, my inclination is to give particular attention to the cases that frustrate analysis and appear to be absolute nonsense, because a phenomenon that is truly alien is unlikely to mimic human intelligence. In other words, I suppose, if there's to be weirdness, then bring on the weird. I'm less impressed by Roswell, however many deathbed confessions the military may produce, or
"Isaac" and his scan of an alleged 1986 report from Palo Alto's supposed "CARET" ("Commercial Applications Research for Extraterrestrial Technology"), than I am by accounts from, say, a shaken Mexican policeman who claims he was chased by a flying humanoid; or by John Tasco who was approached one evening in 1957 by a pasty, bug-eyed dwarf in a green suit and a tam-o'-shanter cap who told him "We are peaceful people, we only want your dog." Such events are incursions of the truly alien upon our experience, and defy our attempts to infer meaning.

That's not to say hoaxes and disinformation can't be instructive. For instance, the Issac documents describing the alien tech. On the RI discussion board, "Attack Ships on Fire" points out how, "by drawing certain symbols on the CARET technology it somehow instills the means for the material to perform what the drawer wants." This is sigil magic, which returns us to the power of signs and of reading and meaning, and George Hansen's comparison of deconstructionism to occult science.

So, if the drones are a sanctioned hoax, the meaning it advances is Fear us; we too are sorcerers. And if it isn't, they may be anyway. But so may we, at least in the mundane sense of not adopting their meanings, which empower them, as our own, which disempower us.