Sunday, February 22, 2015

Creative Paranoia Means Developing at Least as Thorough a We-System as a They-System


     "No," cutting into a denunciation of Pointsman when Milton Gloaming's name comes up, "it's a minor item, but stop right there. Pointsman didn't send him. We sent him."
     "You're a novice paranoid, Roger," first time Prentice has ever used his Christian name and it touches Roger enough to check his tirade. "Of course a well-developed They-system is necessary -  but it's only half the story. For every They there ought to be a We. In our case there is. Creative paranoia means developing at least as thorough a We-system as a They-system -"
     "Wait, wait, first where's the Haig and Haig, be a gracious host, second, what is a 'They-system,' I don't pull Chebychev's Theorem on you, do I?"
     "I mean what They and Their hired psychiatriasts call 'delusional systems.' Needless to say, 'delusions' are always officially defined. We don't have to worry about questions of real or unreal. They only talk out of expediency. It's the system that matters. How the data arrange themselves inside it. Some are consistent, others fall apart. Your idea that Pointsman and Gloaming takes a wrong fork. Without any contrary set of delusions - delusions about ourselves, which I'm calling a We-system - the Gloaming idea might have been all right -"
     "Delusions about ourselves?"
     "Not real ones."
     "But officially defined."
     "Out of expediency, yes."
     "Well, you're playing Their game then."
     "Don't let it bother you. You'll find you can operate quite well. Seeing as we haven't won yet, it really isn't much of a problem."
     Roger is totally confused. At this point, in wanders who but Milton Gloaming with a black man Roger recognizes now as one of the two herb-smokers in the furnace room under Clive Mossmoon's office. His name is Jan Otyiyumbu and he's a Schwarzkommando liaison man. One of Blodgett Waxwing's apache lieutenants shows up with his girl, who's not walking so much as dancing, very fluid and slow, a dance in which Osbie Feel, popping out of the kitchen now with his shirt off (and a Porky Pig tattoo on his stomach? How long has Feel had that?) correctly identifies the influence of heroin.
     It's a little bewildering - if this is a "We-system," why isn't it at least thoughtful enough to interlock in a reasonable way, like They-systems do?
     "That's exactly it," Osbie screams, belly-dancing Porky into a wide alarming grin, "They're the rational ones. We piss on Their rational arrangements... Don't we, Mexico?"

Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow, The Counterforce, Second Square.

  • Forgive me, this is my second re-reading of GR in the past four months, the above is one of a thousand essential keys to the novel, I read it last night and I am constitutionally conditioned by both We and They systems to be unable to wait until Monday to post this.
  • The unforgiving nature of trample-down economics.
  • The World of Triskelion: I wish the Greeks the best. But as with all those who have been horribly damaged by neo-liberalism and austerity, they need to get through their heads that those in charge of the policy have no fellow feeling for them; that people like Merkel, Shauble and the Germans who support them are enemies, not friends, let alone family members in some big European family which cares about all Europeans. This is economic war, with the casualties that implies.  The Germans and the ECB are treating it as such; the collaborators in Italy, Portugal and Spain are treating it as such. Until ordinary people, and the representatives they put their faith in start treating it as such, they will continue to lose.
  • Fucking shoot me: As she readies her second presidential campaign, Clinton has recruited consumer marketing specialists onto her team of trusted political advisers. Their job is to help imagine Hillary 5.0 — the rebranding of a first lady turned senator turned failed presidential candidate turned secretary of state turned likely 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. Clinton and her image-makers are sketching ways to refresh the well-established brand for tomorrow’s marketplace. In their mission to present voters with a winning picture of the likely candidate, no detail is too big or too small — from her economic opportunity agenda to the design of the “H” in her future campaign logo.
  • UPDATE! The above is not to express shock or anger, just how much motherfucking POTUS 16 is going to suck and to note that breaking kayfabe is now standard operating procedure for both propagandists and their consumers (as in, documenting and rating the bullshit is in, the debate over documenting bullshit is over), and that needs considering.
  • No true atheist.
  • The noise machine.
  • Poetry and extreme weather.
  • Maggie's weekly links.
  • { feuilleton }'s weekly links.
  • Hey, if you still read this shitty blog but have abandoned your presence as a pos(t)e(u)r in Blegsylvania but contribute to the static in Tumblrstan please send me your address (and the address of those you deem worth following). It seems dead there too, though I'm silly enough to hope it's busier than my limited exposure suggests.


James Laughlin

For years I tried to conceal from the villagers that I wrote poetry   
I didn’t want them to know that I was an oddball
I didn’t want the young men with beards wearing baseball caps who come to the liquor store in their pickups to buy sixpacks to know that I was some kind of sissy
I decided it was prudent to buy the Daily News instead of the Times at the drugstore
I burned my poem drafts at home before I took the trash to the dump, kids scavenge around there and the old man who does the recycling is nosy
I took every precaution

But our town is not an easy place to keep secrets, everybody knows everybody and they gossip when they’re getting their mail at the post office
Things began to come apart
A young man with long hair and a city accent showed up and asked in the stores where the poet Laughlin lived
Then a pipe burst and the plumber told people that he saw thousands of books stacked in the cellar, some of them in foreign languages
Next day the head of the Volunteer Fire Department came, pretending to check the wiring
I began to get a bit paranoid; the town trooper is supposed to check each rural road once a week but he came up our road past our house three days in succession
The ax fell when somehow a reporter for the county paper heard the rumors and there was a little item: local poet caught speeding twice on 272, Motor Vehicles may suspend license
Much has changed in my life now
Nobody has laughed at me in the street (I’m over six feet weight 245 and look pretty fit for my age) but they look at me in a funny way

I don’t go to Apple House our grocery store anymore because a little girl with her finger in her nose pointed me out to the checkout lady and asked her something; now I get my liquor and supplies in the next towns and order Honeybaked Hams from Virginia by mail

My life is all different now that they know I write poems.
But if they think they can shame me out of it they’re very much mistaken. I’m not breaking any law
I’ll go on with it unless they have me declared a public nuisance and have me sent to the Institute
I’ve heard there is a poor fellow in the Institute who claims he is Henry Wordsworth Longfellow. He’ll understand and be my friend; we can recite to each other if they won’t let us have paper and pencils.


  1. henry wadsworth longfellow, mentioned in laughlin's poem, was my cousin - we are both descended from john alden and priscilla mullins, whom he wrote about in one of his better known poems

    econoblogger brad de long is also a relative in the same way

    on a different topic, i have gotten the general impression that tumblr's time has gone - it is the age of tweeting now, is it not?

    and speaking of paranoia, rob brezsny's book Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia went into a revised and expanded edition

  2. Oh, most certainly POTUS 16 will suck - much as in my country the election next year will suck, by dint of the lack of public appetite for a hot-table turd buffet. Unfortunately, we in Canuckistan have whittled down our choices to two meager flavors of the same brand - one slightly more obviously obnoxious, much like our good neighbors to the south. That being said, I look forward to the Herculean image-polishing and factual white-washing that will be the burden of Team Bush - Multi-generational family criminal enterprises need love (and pardons, and records shredding) too, America.