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THE EXISTENTIAL TIMES - v.1, #10 Special McNugget Issue

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  • Lewis Vella
    THE EXISTENTIAL TIMES A Philosophical(?)View from Scratch Volume 1, #10 __________________________________________________ MUSIC TO WASH AWAY THOSE
    Message 1 of 2 , May 3, 2002

      'A Philosophical(?)View from Scratch'
      Volume 1, #10

      Kit Watkins offers a long, soothing interlude, just
      right for this week's TIMES:
      AND NOW FOR THE REAL McNUGGETS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      To fall through and through something that doesn't
      truly exist in itself, but which, just the same, takes
      you deeper and deeper into the vortex of whatever it
      may be, say, for example, the conceptual idea of a
      golden nugget -- this is what, in the last analysis,
      will carry one pass the established order, to a place
      whose meaning rests in a symbiotic relationship
      between the self and its immediate surroundings. It
      is the womb of gestation which continuously expands
      something into more than what was, engulfing itself
      rapidly in a complexity beyond its own grasp, but
      which no sooner shall become the gateway to an
      inimitable rapture, a forgotten presence whose state
      we must attempt to preserve, regardless of how
      inexplicable the occasion may be. For when we
      experience the pristine innocence of being, we capture
      independently the last bit of sanctity left in our
      lives which is not at all subject to the auction
      block, something that has made its way to us, quite
      mysteriously, on its own accord, unscathed, and
      therefore unaffected by the laws of supply and demand:
      that troublesome science which, in our late
      capitalism, controls more and more of our mind-state,
      that is, by guiding the "modernization of poverty,
      where the growth-rate of frustration largely exceeds
      that of production" -- to borrow Ivan Illich's
      terminology. Poverty as such is due to the fact that
      in our modern, technocratic, industrial age, rampant
      capitalism manufactures an endless scarcity, whereby
      it creates more needs than it fulfills. This is by no
      means an accidental paradox of the production process,
      but rather a highly calculated, ruthless manipulation
      of reason, used to sustain the required inequalities
      and hierarchies which a growth-oriented economy is
      dependent on. In its historical advancement, however,
      some of its more subtle, hidden intricacies -- for
      example, the dominating qualities of its functionist
      structuring -- inevitably, make their way to the
      forefront of the everyday life-world, be it felt as an
      effect of the increasingly bureaucratical conditions
      found in the private and public sectors that serve the
      institutionalized apparatus of the commodity economy,
      or whether it is felt more directly in the growing
      disparate relations found amongst ourselves in both
      the community and the family.

      In dealing with these distresses, however, it is
      important not to add to discomfort by pointing a
      finger at any of our neighbors, but rather, I would
      say, open our minds to the bigger picture. For our
      present circumstance is not the exclusive cause of any
      personally-responsible malfunction, but the end result
      of a capitalistic social production which bases itself
      upon a division of labor regulated by the market
      place, and, as such, out of control of the individual.
      It is precisely this type of conditioning that keeps
      the working man wanting more and more tangible things,
      while he becomes less and less in touch with what he
      likely needs most, that is, peace of mind, love of
      neighbor (or, at least, that potential to love), and,
      of course, a personal connection with his higher
      source, his transcendent being, if you may.

      Indeed, at this point in time, contrary to what some
      may think, a 'repositioning' of the self is probably
      what this highly jeopardized world needs most.
      Certainly, it is true that one man alone cannot bring
      about a noticeable change of course, but, nonetheless,
      any independent effort, through mere cause and effect,
      shall always stir the collective will, one way or
      another. So why, then, scoff at someone who takes a
      labor stance one day, an ecological one the next? The
      everyday crisis is neither this or that, but the way
      things are (or should I say are not) coming together.
      After all, it is quite natural to digress. Case in
      point: the original McNugget question (see indices at
      bottom). A straight forward enquiry which, so far,
      drew just under 100 messages from some 25 different
      respondents on 3 separate lists, all of which, I
      think, only one has actually answered the question,
      and inadvertently at that. Now why the difficulty in
      answering a simple question? In the uncontrollable
      surfeit of privilege, do I detect a slight sense of
      forsakenness and maybe even guilt in our global
      conscience? Perhaps, then, there is more to gain in
      this 'repositioning' thing than meets the eye, more to
      it than you say 'to-may-toe' and I say 'to-mat-toe',
      that is, if our dialectical struggles are not to be
      taken as ends in themselves, but rather as
      evolutionary means of enhancement not only for the
      individual but for all humanity. Or as one person put
      it previously: The free development of each is the
      condition for the free development of all. (The Marx
      quote is from Andre Gorz's introduction to 'Ecology as
      Politics'. A brief excerpt from it, touching on the
      inequality of civilization, is provided at the
      following link -- quite worth the read, I'd say):

      So what, then, you may wonder, happens when there is a
      lack of free development in society? Why, to answer
      this, all you have to do is to take a closer look at
      any one of its interdependent, intertwining service
      sectors, and you'll more than likely begin to notice
      how each separate sphere begins faltering as a cause
      of the larger system -- what is commonly referred to
      as the infrastructure. Take health services, for
      Can anyone, nowadays, be foolish enough to trust his
      or her body to the so-titled 'licensed practitioner'
      who has worked his way up from the various service
      sector enterprises in question, be it from McDonald's
      through Med School? From my experience, this hapless
      soul who may indeed have worked his way diligently,
      and in earnest, through the system, is still,
      regrettably, in my humble opinion, less a doctor with
      an intuitive feel for the human condition, than he is
      a textbook pill-pusher more interested in getting you
      out of his office -- perhaps even with that same
      patent smile he earned at McD's years ago -- and to
      move on and serve his next patient/customer (these
      once 2 very separate and distinct terms are now used
      almost interchangeably, all because of the dominance
      of commercialization). The end result, I find, is a
      medical professional whose a far cry from, say, the
      old-world physician type, who, with his gifted
      insight, we are told, could tell what was wrong with a
      patient just by sensing, that is, by getting a 'feel'
      of the person's spiritual aura which surrounded his or
      her body. That, then, and for other reasons too
      detailed to mention here, is why I mistrust the modern
      doctor. I would, however, like to add one more thing
      here, that being to say that to visit him regularly, I
      think that in the long run you'll be doing yourself
      more harm than good.

      But I mustn't drift off like this as I really should
      be looking for work. It is my duty, you know, as an
      unemployed citizen of the capitalistic welfare state,
      to be actively seeking employment, that is, if I wish
      to remain eligible for assistance. Yet, where in this
      hopeless mess should someone like myself begin to
      look? Everywhere I go it's the same cancer. In the
      prevailing economic system which caters to the blind
      mass, nowhere, for certain, can a man contribute
      himself authentically. Instead, whatever natural
      talent he possesses is stripped fundamentally of
      itself, so that his mind and body may be reshaped
      schematically to fit the corporate program. Only then
      -- if he's fortunate enough to have held on to just a
      smidgen of his essence -- can he return home to his
      now even greater void. Nowhere can he escape these
      powers that be. Not even in the public washroom is he
      free to rest privately for a moment.

      As crazy as all this may sound, it is not meant to be
      a joke. There is much more at stake here than I think
      most people are willing to admit, and, even if, to get
      the point across, I must speak from personal
      experience, should it liberate anyone in the slightest
      way, myself included, then, I think, in the long run
      it is all well worth it. So, then, I'll tell you a
      true story that happened to me just last week. It
      starts in a downtown-T.O. nightclub, where I happened
      to notice an advertisement on the wall. How could I
      miss it? The well-endowed damsel with the superimposed
      text over her chest was placed at eye-level right
      above the urinal. The message read: Various types
      wanted for XXX video/dvd and live internet shows. No
      experience necessary. Great income! Female-owned
      company. Have fun working with beautiful models.

      Now, you see, to fill my mandatory job-search quota
      for the week, I just had to give them a call.
      Moreover, I thought, in these frugal times why let the
      family nuggets go to waste. So I managed to schedule
      an appointment for the next day. It was in a small
      commercial-residential house uptown. When I arrived,
      there were 4 other males -- half my age and barely
      legal -- waiting in line. (Ever wonder where your
      teenage kids go? I mean, after that affordable meal at
      McD's -- they're probably heading to some rave or
      after-hours club where, lo and behold, they'll be
      exposed to the same type of wall ads found in the
      adult bars. This is the grand ol' capitalism
      discriminating against nobody while it kindly urges
      each and everyone of us to the furthest limits of a
      repressive freedom. But I seem to be getting ahead of
      myself here.)

      Anyway, as we sat there on the couches, a silent
      television played at sampling of the company's
      previously-made porn, while a ghettoblaster, placed on
      the floor next to the TV, aired some trance -- or
      whatever that hipster music is called now. As for the
      porn, it was, without a doubt, pure ambiance, the
      Muzak of the industry, with all the toys and dildos,
      but virtually no story-content and hardly any dialogue
      at all. This stuff was so formulaic it could almost
      make some of that envelope-pushing porn, from the
      '70's era, pass for art. And how on earth did all this
      depravity, this endless sea of desire, come about in
      the first place? My guess is that it came part and
      parcel with an artificially-induced supply-and-demand
      curve. But I don't think those curves were the type
      the kid next to me came to see. He was almost passing
      out on the couch now. He must have been up all night
      at some rave. Eventually, he couldn't take it anymore
      and just got up and left. The wisest of us all, maybe.

      Well, when finally this women called me into her
      office, I learned that the operation was actually a
      subsidiary of an American-owned conglomerate, a
      Canadian talent agency that went a step further by
      converting its premises into a porn-production house,
      thereby allowing its investors, again who were
      primarily American, to take advantage of the low
      Canadian dollar, not to mention the established
      Canadian film-production industry, with its 'virgin'
      pool of talent. Now, this was no fly-by-night
      operation, but your seemingly well-respected
      organization producing their fair share of everyday,
      mainstream commercials (like those McNugget ads), that
      was cashing in on a ready-made foreign facility which
      could cheaply produce a generic type of porn, and
      whose end-product could be easily shipped back to the
      States where it would be distributed internationally.
      As it goes on unannounced through the regular
      channels, the entire operation, being legal, continues
      without a flicker of contention from the local
      Canadians, who -- being traditionally more
      conservative, maybe even prudish, compared to their
      American counterparts -- remain practically oblivious
      of it.

      As for myself? Well, I left Ms. Casting Director (who
      didn't even leave me her card) with my resume, and an
      old headshot of me taken some 10 years ago. Then she
      gave me the same line she gave to the rest: We'll call
      you if we need you. Right. And as I got up to leave I
      asked myself: Yeah, but will I show up? Probably so, I
      thought. But the real question should have been: Will
      I be able to get it up? I mean, how erotic can
      porn-ambiance production be, when most of the time
      your rotting away there in the sidelines, waiting for
      the okay? Sounds as torturous as celibacy, if not
      worse. Just think of sitting on a set for hours, where
      real imagination and spontaneity is put on hold, and a
      erect member attached to a torso, dead from the neck
      up, takes its place. There is not a single drop of
      masculinity that doesn't seem to be wasted here, say,
      for example, on the next women's face. But, hey, 'it's
      all good', right? Isn't that the popular saying. But
      where could that have come from? Some Hollywood
      sit-com perhaps? Or maybe it was from the mouth of
      Chris Rock, the former minimum-waged McD employee
      turned multi-millionaire comedian and actor. Now
      here's a guy whose performances I've never seen or
      heard, and of whom, I can say quite honestly, I have
      no intention to. I think there's only so much of that
      regular stand-up stich one can take in a lifetime, and
      after you've had your share, you're probably better
      off on your own, even if it means a future that may
      hold no more in store than a loaf of bread and some
      spam . . . check that . . . a loaf of bread, a
      to-may-toe, some salt, and maybe, if you're lucky, a
      dash of olive oil -- than to be force-fed another
      jolly-schloppy, fun-filled happy meal. As far as I'm
      concerned, the biggest joke is on the Chris Rock
      success story itself -- though I've heard no more of
      him than what I've already mentioned, I can just about
      imagine it already -- that same old rehashed tale of
      another noveau-riche guy, whose craft would take
      nothing short of a miracle to separate it from the
      rest, that is, if he really did wish to make it a
      genuine art and not just another formulated by-product
      of the lifeless service-obsessed world it came from.
      Ever wonder why America's most popular porn star, Ron
      Jeremy, whose claim to fame is having done some 4,000
      women on screen, is also a top-drawing comic who could
      sell out any Yuk Yuk's, from coast to coast? Could it
      be because America is so deprived of authenticity it
      no longer knows what's funny anymore, and so is
      compelled to laugh at whatever and whenever it is
      told? Could the American audience be so well trained
      and behaved that it now laughs on cue, as promptly and
      surely as its porn stars get off on cue? Could this
      decadence be really a last, desperate call for a
      semblance of anything more real -- as fleeting as it
      may be -- than the next Coca Cola combo, served by
      that oh so wholesome, respectable McD kid? (How one
      can figure serving malnutritious food for personal
      gain to be respectable, even after it makes some
      people puke, I beg to know.)

      Now if you're thinking that this is a half-baked
      academic response from someone in their ivory tower,
      think again -- my highest education came and still
      comes from circumventing the University, while most
      those around me have or still enter it. No, you'll be
      more on, I think, if you consider this to be just
      straight-up, man-to-man talk -- and when I say
      'man-to-man' I mean that to include women, too, the
      way the half-baked English language meant it to be
      from the very beginning, before the feminists and
      post-modernists got their hands on it, and sabotaged
      it for more ill-got purposes than good. So how's that
      to relieve the tension, ladies? Sure, I might not come
      off as sweet as those fragrant roses you place in the
      vase, but even if I could, with all the thorns in my
      side, you're probably better off leaving me outside in
      the yard, to wither away with the rest of the bunch,
      while you go on doing whatever it is you do behind
      those curtains.

      Yet, isn't that the way it always was? No, I can't say
      much has really changed between us. So, please,
      please, don't take me too seriously, because, believe
      it or not, if you still haven't noticed I'm really not
      one to take part in active discussions -- academic or
      otherwise. Remember, besides autodidacts, there are
      ARTodidacts, and all kinds in life. So why worry about
      sophistication? Come to think of it, why even worry
      about the kids? Do you honestly think they worry about
      you, or, moreover, need you? Surely you don't think
      you're threats to join your ways or else is going to
      change anybody's mind, including mine, do you? And yet
      you still have the gall to say you would like "to take
      an active role in the teaching of ordinary folk to
      understand what we've so painstakingly thought out."
      But have you ever considered that maybe there is
      really nothing you can offer them to make them want to
      'understand'. I mean have you ever stop to think that
      perhaps the very core of your position was rotten form
      the very start, and it is now on the verge of
      catastrophe. And indeed such a catastrophe may be just
      what we need today, that is, to bring down the many
      more repressive walls in the world, and begin anew
      without the biases and ostentatious behavior one is
      bound to find at the dinner table. And why not YOU
      learn the etiquette of the outsider, rather than your
      wishful thinking of having him learn yours?. You know,
      maybe, just maybe, we might be all a little better off
      getting just a tad closer to earth, like sitting down
      on the ground, the next time we think about eating
      communally. Now I know you know some will say all this
      is irrational, but, to me, many times it seems more
      like it is them condemning irrationality who are
      really being irrational.

      Then, again, what do I know? I'm just this loner whose
      light of day may or may not shine on your side of the
      fence. So why must we go on banging our heads against
      the solid brick, thinking about survival in these
      trouble times, and worrying about the end, when death
      is no more than our definitive birthright to life?
      Without it there would be no existence whatsoever.
      Still, I can see why some may think they would be
      better off dead, for from the standpoint of any type
      of growth-oriented economy -- whether capitalistic or
      socialistic -- if we were all to follow former U.S.
      President Kennedy's advice, and believe wholeheartedly
      in his philosophy of "think not what your country can
      do for you, but what you can do for your country,"
      then, by the simple math alone, it would be for many a
      hell of a lot more sensible just to blow their brains
      out and, thus, do their country a favor.

      And so on that enlightened note I shall now leave
      . . . you . . . all . . .

      . . . in . . . the . . .

      . . . midst . . .
      . . . of . . .

      --------- A McNUGGET CRISIS ----------
      Get The Exclusive Inside Story Right Now In




      Copyright: 2002 Lewis Vella

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