Jay Michaelson
I Hear America Bling-blinging, p. 5

Yet they are also happier than I could be if I were living their lives. It 's not that I could just sell out and be content: each individual has to find his or her own way according to his or her own character traits. There is no one right life; I am not going to become one of the alpha birds simply by acting that way. Maybe it is the case, elitist as it may sound, that some percentage of humans are "meant" (genetically, karmically, whatever) to be in the herd, and some are "meant" not to. Each choice has its pluses and minuses from an emotional, ethical, and ecological point of view, and each community speaks to the other through varying degrees of misinterpretation. So maybe I just shouldn't go to Tampa, shouldn't see how alienated from America I have become.

4.    The best thing the devil did was convincing us he didn't exist

As I have already suggested, my enemies in America are not Pat Buchanan and John Ashcroft. They and I have radically different visions of what the good life is - the chief difference being between their view that there is only one good life, and my view that there are many. But at least we agree that we humans are capable of goodness that matters. I value compassion; they value righteousness. I value egolessness; they value virtues. But we are at least arguing on the same field. Ashcroft, the artist, and I all believe that there are values to human life that ought to be pursued, that the human being can flower, and that the flowering is wonderful. In this way, we are all religious.

The real enemy is Satan, who says: "There is no good and evil at all, only power and those too weak to use it." That is actually Lord Voldemort teaching, in the first Harry Potter book, and J.K. Rowling is right to identify his view as the essence of evil. Nothing matters but aggrandizing the self.

In our current government, Voldemort holds sway. There can be no doubt, examining the pattern of the last two years, that the Bush administration and Republican Congress will do whatever they can to enrich the rich and empower the powerful. I defy you to name a single domestic policy of the Bush administration - a single one - that favors the little guy over the big guy. (Our foreign policy is another matter, and driven by different ideas, even though it too favors the big guy, i.e., America.)

Bush is a fool and a tool. He may believe his Ashcroft-lite religiosity, but he is being used by the Voldemorts of corporatism, wealth, Big Media, and Big Oil. But he is not a dupe. Bush's Christianity is such that when he sees a moral problem, he is moved to address it, but his worldview is such that he sees very few moral problems. The American zeitgeist reflects him perfectly: a dumb, thin coating of moralism atop great, ignorant evil. Only a rare few are Voldemort incarnate. Most people are not indecent in their moral choices; they are indecent in their refusal to see that there are moral choices to be made.

This blindness, in turn, comes from a self-perpetuating system in which the imperatives of insight are replaced by opportunities to consume. "Just Do It." Is it any wonder people consume so much?

Every layer of fat on the American rear-end is a displacement of our best impulses: our ability to create something new, to transcend our limits, and to glimpse the Unity of All. Every extra inch of an SUV's height is a destructive manifestation of a noble human impulse: the desire to transcend death, to become an individual with identity, to make a mark. America is the land of the free - free from all notions of value. There may yet be a Divine purpose for the anti-Divinity of the world we are creating, but whether there is or not, we are prodigiously productive and consumptive, and fat beyond all reason. Our dark fears and noble dreams are displaced, distracted, and sublimated into vulgarity. America is Voldemort's Satanic playground, where flashing lights distract us from Reality and ringing bells obliterate the Silence.

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Image: Mica Scalin

Jay Michaelson is celebrating pride month by going on meditation retreat at Elat Chayyim, where next month he will be teaching a course in Embodied Judaism.

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June 2003

Zeek in Print
Spring 03 issue available here

Zionism and

Michael Shurkin

Simulacra and Science Fiction
Dan Friedman

I Hear America

Jay Michaelson

I wish I was...
Harbeer Sandhu

Josh Gets Contacts
Josh Ring

When I Met Humility, I saw Letters
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David Stromberg

Zeek @ Low
June 26, 2003
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