Friday, December 17, 2004

ARTpiece 4/dKos

(This will be the first post I make thinking of dKos. I hope I am not out of line. I cannot seem to write in my diary yet, so I will post this on my home page. I am somewhat freaked out. I wrote the piece below during a particular busy time of the intifada. I wrote it in order to make manifest how banal suicide bombing had become among the Palestinians by laying the whole varying trip out in American cultural archetypes.

Why? So we could talk about this perversion rationally. Believe me, for every Muslim parent that is "proud" of her "hero" son's suicide, there are ten who privately thank Allah that the perverted purveyors of Death have not ensnared their son.

Then our despicable government offers $15000 to all new Nat Guard recruits. Dare I notice that this is $5000 more than either Saddam or the Sauidis paid their heroes? Dare they change the name of the Guard or the Reserves, into the National Suicide Brigades? Is our new Baghdad battle cry, "Banzai!"? What is the recruiter's tag line? Better than Hamas and you may even survive? All I know is I want the poster contract.)


Nature abhors a vacuum. B. Spinoza

Every year over thirty thousand Americans commit suicide. Most are depressed, in pain, exhausted, fearful; many are failures or believe they are failures. They are put down, ignored. chided and even encouraged to eventually succeed at this entropic wish. Some even believe that suicide is one of the methods our Social Being uses to adjust to changing environmental conditions. (If not, why are there more suicides on rainy days?)

There are some people who commit suicide with big smiles. Like that loopy group that drank cyanide and waited for the spaceship hidden behind the Hale-Bopp comet. There is, I suppose, little better we can offer such madmen. But for the majority, those who suffer from short circuits in their hardware, or who are missing a few lines of program, a more humane channel of egress can be provided.

Also, consider the repercussions which arise from our not offering such a solution as I propose below. Some suicides shoot themselves: pieces of bone, brain and blood get all over the rug and the furniture. It is a real gross out to clean up. It dictates a closed coffin. Car crashes are similarly messy, though they are outside and can be hosed down. There is also, generally ancillary or collateral damage. Ditto for jumping off rooves. Barbituate overdoses, with heads lying in pools of puke, are probably the least disorienting to we survivors.

But what if we could make the entire experience a positive one for the suicide, his friends and family, and our whole society. My idea has something for everyone.

For openers, suicide hot-liners wont suffer from the angst of losing a caller. If a resolute caller insists that he has only called to tell them where his body may be found, the counselor switches the call to the following taped message:

Don't be stupid. Suidide can be a beautiful and useful act. Don't fritter away this chance.
We can make your death painless and momentous. We can assure your memory will be enshrined. And you can dedicate your act to any person or cause of your own choosing. The whole event will be videorecorded and assigned a library of congress catalog number. Your family will receive a copy of this video and many other bonuses including a framed parchment copy of the Jihadi's Prayer signed by the President. Don't miss this opportunity! Call the UJA at 202-555-5555.

The UJA (The United Jihadis of America) is, of course, located in a corner office at the CIA in Langley, Va. When contacted, they offer to pick up the suicide in a limo. They fly him (or her) to a secret training camp and give him three out of every four drugs he asks for. He is shown how he must wear the special vest filled with C-4 and ball bearings under his loose fitting clothes. After his training, we drop him in the center of certain intransigent capitals with instructions to find terrorists and blow them up. If he can not find any terrorists, he is then instructed to "get a malted". As he savors the icy chocolate ambrosia, he need only lightly press the button. In any case, it leaves the mess for others to clean up. Meanwhile, we all get to enjoy the pictures.

* * * * * * * * * * *

My cousin comes into the room. I ask her to read this and comment. I instantly realize that suicide is not an alien subject to her and that although I am making a political point, I wonder if I am being insensitive. She reads through to this point and says, "Arty, you need to say more here. No?" I ask her if she is familiar with Swift's "Modest Proposal", the first political satire in the modern English language, and she says "No." And repeats, "but you have to say more."

It is like a one punchline story, I am thinking. Once the cat is out of the bag, it can only get tedious. "In part 2", I tell her, "I try to give it the true ghoulish perspective." But she persists, and I see that she is right. Nowhere do I specifically point out that the suicides already exist in all cultures at all times. What is different in the Middle East is that there are sickos, kissing cousins to child abusers, who seek out these disturbed youths not to talk them out of it and send them to be checked out for hormone imbalances, but rather to enable them! In our part of the planet, such behavior is a sin, a crime, a really repugnant act that could turn a prison full of felons into a Shiite jury.

While in the Middle East, I have seen mothers whose hearts are as assuredly broken as ours would be, having to lie to the camera (from fear; from hope) long enough to accept a $10000 check from a gloating pervert.

Some would say that a culture that foments and encourages its suicides to co-opt their individual pains in order to homogenize them into a political message would be a rather depraved culture. I would merely point out that Islam is a rather new religion and can not really be faulted for passing through this expected adolescent stage; i.e., the one where it goes around saying, "My God is bigger than your God." This is a ridiculous statement that brings with it only pain and death. A healthy culture should soon realize that if there is only one God/Allah/Ormuzd et al, then He created everybody and everything and He has not lied to anybody, and that no one should presume to know what Allah had in mind and use such human delusions to underwrite the Political Will in order to unleash the most un-Godly acts against the Body of Our Common Lord, or however one might restate this as a purely scientific equation.

We, of course, would never encourage suicide. May God/Allah/Ormuzd et al, perish the thought. We establish suicide hot lines all over our country and we try to talk people out of committing suicide. It is only those suicides who are clearly committed, and who volunteer for the glorious honor of using their deaths to promote the often banal political motives of our oligarchs that are ever allowed near any of our secret training centers.

Perhaps, our superior humane approach to life can best be seen reflected in the many letters we have collected from the family members of our heroes. Here is one:

Dear Director Rumcheney,
Thank you for the wonderful video of our dsaughter blowing herself up. To think, she might have jumped off a bridge in Idaho and we would never have known what happenned to her. With your lovely video, even though we missed the actual explosion, as your cameraman was being arrested by the Syrian police, we could make out actual pieces of our daughter flying past a few ducking pedestrians in the background. It makes me feel really good to live in a country where even a fragile suicide can contribute to the common good. I also take comfort in reading the Jihadi's Prayer. It is an inspired piece of poetry that owes nothing to Randall Jarrell or Patton.
We will always be proud that our daughter gave her life to help promote the murky political agenda of our leaders. To paraphrase another great American, "I regret that I have only one child's life that I can give for my country."
Mrs. Alice Smith
P.S. The new house is great, but do you think you can find us a similar unit in Southern California? And could you also let us know if accepting the check from the Defense Department will adversely affect our welfare eligibility?


Nature abhors a vacuum. Enough history has already flowed under this bridge that those of us looking over the railing cannot fail to have noticed that in Nature: like opposes like. For example, electrons play with electrons, atoms with atoms, molecules with molecules, foxes with rabbits, stars with stars. Notwithstanding the fact that everything is interconnected in some way, this may inform our otherwise incoherent policy of "preemption" a concept which just pooped itself into the middle of our democracy. It shoud be viewed as a sort of last good college try before the next Big Bang, a hail mary attept to stave off our descent into global chaos, which may be, after all, only the expected response of our genome to Global Warming or just too many people.

But for now, we should just take note, one team is already on the field practicing; can it be much longer before the game begins in earnest?


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