Interesting

By John Grey

I use that horrible  

coward’s word “interesting” 

to describe your painting. 

Bad move. 

Now I have to find a way 

to fire myself as art critic, 

be hired on as lover. 

 

To be honest,  

the canvas looks like  

an unholy mess  

of blotches and streaks, 

scrawl and scribble. 

But that’s an opinion 

best left to a bitten tongue. 

 

But, despite my imagination’s 

best efforts, 

the positives aren’t coming. 

Wonderful contours,” 

A strikingly personal gesture.” 

An infinite labyrinth  

of pain and joy.” 

A volatile language 

of image.” 

 

In fact,  

my brain is, at the moment,  

this unholy mess  

of blotches and streaks, 

scrawl and scribble. 

So maybe my mind 

was your subject matter. 

Mm… interesting.

*

John Grey is an Australian author, published in Hawaii Pacific Review, Dalhousie Review and Qwerty, currently residing in the US.

The Opposition Identity of the Anti-Tribe

I’ve long been skeptical of the negation crew, the “anti” crowd, those individuals or groups who when asked who they are and what they stand for reply, “I am against X!” There are the “skeptics” who are wholly against all and any religions; the SJWs who are wholly against anything that they perceive as masculine, aggressive, racist or sexist; there are the puritanical religious – the deniers of the body – who gasp and flail at the faintest stirring of erotic passion; then there are the “new ageists” who are perhaps the epitome of the skeptic foil, those who languish in a jellied slush of “mystical” half-measures, neither a creature of faith nor truly one of hard verticality. There are also the anti-statist who, like Rousseau, seek to see man placed outside the grasp of “The Tyrants,” who pervert his very nature by their iron programs and thus stymie his ability to live in the rightful state of peace and freedom. Then there is the ironycel, who wages total war on forthright meaning and serious (“I was just joking – don’t take everything so seriously, bro…”) and also the hedonist who stands in total opposition to any and all impulse restraint. The list could go on and on; reams upon reams, enough to fill up the center of the earth, with enough left over to blot out the sun.

It is not for our purposes to trace the origins nor map the structures of any of the aforementioned groups – rather it is to remark upon the one thing they all share – they are all, without exception, defined either largely or entirely by what they oppose. Theirs is a identity of opposition. They are reactive, rather than proactive. Defined by circumstance rather than defining it. For stable construction, in any serious political sense, such tribes can offer one nothing, for they have nothing but derisive jeers – hardly the solid stuff one should be seeking. They have not the glue to hold a body politic together for they do not themselves know who they are nor what they stand for all that they know is that they are not what they oppose. They are NOT X, but not necessarily Y or Z.

What defines a body politic is its identity, this also drives such entities to oppose others; that is to say, when tribe X’s culture (the manifestation of their identity) finds itself incongruent with tribe Y, it behooves tribe Y to push back against it and make X conform (at least to some more desirable degree) to their outward expression of collective self. Failing this, there can be naught but war. But the anti-collective – the group who knows not who they are, nor what they stand for, nor where they are going – can not take the path of reprisal for they can not form a coherent political body (and even if they could they could only keep it so long as “the other” whom they opposed remained a active and present force, whether actually or mythically). The ephemeral formalism of the anti-tribes, useful for short-span guerrilla combat of the mind, is wholly useless for times of peace (and there should be little distinction made between peace from real-world combat and combat of a more ideological persuasion) as they do not have internal structure to their various, tangentially related collectives (often they have no reason for being a collective at all once their “threat,” their pet-problem, is removed). Due to the fact that the anti-tribes persist only so that X,Y & Z shall not, when another problem arises that is falls not within the purview of their own problem-set, they are like to ignore it or sublimate themselves to it (the case of the modern American Christian who constantly wails about Muslim “invaders,” but shows little to no concern about Zionist radicals destabilizing his nation).

It is, for all these aforementioned reasons, pertinent for those who are seeking a more stable ordering to things to treat the anti-tribes with the greatest of caution. For, as the old adage goes, it takes but one rotten apple to ruin the entire barrel.

An Empirical Analysis of ‘American Exceptionalism’

I would like to briefly cover the notion of ‘American Exceptionalism’. This topic has become progressively more and more contentious and now hovers like a spectre of death over public discourse within America like the malevolent khefts of Egyptian folklore. Public opinion has clearly, unquestionably turned. In place of the heroic nationalism of old the public now prostrates itself upon the alter of diverse corporatist internationalism. This paradigm shift has led most, normally level-headed and parsimonious US citizens to believe that to hold the United States of America as exceptional is to call for a return to the dark ages or some kind of jingoistic fascism. This is manifestly untrue.

Indeed, it is not even the crux of the argument. To argue against American Exceptionalism one must assess whether or not the idea holds water. We must endeavor to see if this notion is empirically true. It should here be noted that exceptional does not necessarily mean better or worse, in either a moral, spiritual or material dimension, just wildly, notably divergent. Thus, let us tackle the topic along four main lines, that of military might, economic success, scientific advancement and cultural development. These four attributes are widely held as those most important and crucial to accurately discerning the totality of a nation, state, empire, ect.

 

First up, then, is the united states military which is currently the largest and most powerful in the world with a massive budget of 601 million dollars, which is larger than the next nine nations listed on the Credit Suisse’s index, combined together. In terms of troops the US boasts an active military personnel roster totaling 1,400,000, as well as a formidable array of technologically advanced armaments including 8,848 tanks, 13,892 aircrafts, 72 submarines as well as 10 air craft carriers and the most airpower of any other nation in the world. Not to mention the enormous stockpile of nuclear weapons, which is, again, bigger than any other single countries nuclear arsenal. But not only is America’s military prowess dominant, currently, it has also boasted world wide military dominance since the end of World War 2.

Next let us look to economics. Currently, the United States of America has the world’s largest economy in terms of GDP with a aggregate value of 17.9 trillion dollars total. This accounts for 24.5 percent of the world’s total gross product, a staggering sum which is widely disproportionate to the actual size of the country and it’s relatively small population density. It should here be noted that though China does indeed produce a slightly higher gross national product, in general, sitting at 19.4 trillion dollars, the united states still has a far higher rate of GDP per capita, with 55,805 dollars per capita in the US as opposed to China which offers only around 14,107 dollars per capita. Thus the United States, which accounts for approximately five percent of the worlds total population creates nearly 25 percent of the world’s total wealth.

So what about science? Well, according the Scimago Journal & Country Rank, a popular aggregating website dedicated to the analysis of the dissemination of scientific journals by country and density, as of 2015 the United States of America has published 567,007 scientific peer reviewed papers, far more than China, the second highest ranked via the website, which has released around 416,409 during that same year. But, of course, scientific research papers are not everything, what about actual technological advancement? Well, here the US is still quite manifestly exceptional both currently and historically. For instance, US researchers, innovators and scientists are responsible for the creation of such technological marvels as: high yield disease resistant crops, nearly all of the life saving pharmaceuticals currently being used all around the world, the invention of refrigeration, the electric telegraph, anesthesia, the airplane, the bull dozer, deep space astronomy, the liquid fueled rocket, the integrated circuit, EEG based brain topography techniques, nylon, trans uranium elements, the transistor, nuclear weapons, the laser, as well as the personal computer. The US is also to thank for completely mapping out the human genome. The list of empirically useful and often life saving scientific advancements just goes on and on. And again, this was done by only five percent of the world’s population.

americanexceptionalism
Add “Proposition Nation” to the list of exceptions.

So lastly, let us look to the most difficult of the four attributes to quantify: culture. Art is a potent signifier of culture so let us begin there. The top fifty highest grossing films of all time were all made by American studios, the top six best selling albums of all time are also all american. The United States is also still heavily relied upon as a basis for the still developing “international culture” which arose out of post enlightenment values. Also, contrary to the popular opinion held by people such as Bill Maher, who state that the world quote “hates america” the global opinion of america is still highly favorable as numerous polls, such as those done by the PEW research center have shown.

We could go on for days but all I really want to convince you of, my fellow Americans, is that the exceptional nature of the united states, whether you love it or hate it, is largely, objectively traceable. So I would encourage you, my fellow countrymen, when next someone says that they are quote, so damned tired of American Exceptionalism, end quote, to tell them that, in essence, what they are really saying is that they are tired of manifest and empirically demonstrable reality.

 

Editor’s note: This article was originally published earlier this year, exact figures and budgets may have altered slightly since the writing of this piece.

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