Cognitive Dissonance – 10 Years Later


This was initially posted on Facebook in a civil discourse with a friend.

Out of context. Disembodied. Mutilated.

It appears to resemble some sort of complete thought. Concept.

If you pay attention to the world, our plight worsens daily.

Pollution. Famine. Violence. Societal malaise.

What will cure us of our collective trauma? 


Facebooking Discourse

Certainly a disconnection of a fabricated moral standard is a symptom of the American/Western hegemonic structure, as such those symptoms—9/11, profligacy, security—are the easiest-to-digest for invasion, preemption and occupation of a resource rich country.

9/11. An asymmetric rationalization of a moment embedded in the collective consumption of reactionary culture.

Falling Man >|< Fall in man

Reactions equate to rhetoric, i.e. “we have to fight the terrorists wherever they may hide,” or worse, apathy “It’s a fucked up world altogether.”


As a corporatocracy, America’s interests are purely profit: oil, private security contracts, construction etc, not to usurp the post-Soviet Islamist rule of the Taliban (yes they were awful, just look at the pictures of civilized Kabul! Some of the Afghans have blue eyes!). Record profits abound. The apparatus of control is gilded in perpetuity. Crisis’ increase exponentially even after public discovery of fraud “#nowmd” and manipulation of information. Still, as our warrior brothers and sisters return home from the global conflict, damaged and exposed to a domestic nightmare of ghost towns and economic decrepititude, we can be assured that somehow, enexplicably, the effort was worth the risk and sacrifice.

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We exacted our revenge on the enemy who was living comfortably in a palatial estate miles from Islamabad, surrounded by Pakistani military elite. By using extrajudicial execution “while condemning the practice by other nations, we succumb to our own hubris. Of Afghans, disconnection from people suffering works much better (sells much better) on paper (or Facebook/Twitter/Huffpo/FauxNews/Obama&Bush teleprompters) to a public increasingly less interested in truth.

The difficult realization is that we’ve apparently succeeded and simultaneously failed.

“Mission Accomplished-ish”

[right, right, left, left, up, down, up, down, A, B, to start all over right?]

We can’t withdraw, pullout, mid-coitus, we’re vested in making the best of the situation, finish on the backs of main street and the shrinking middle class.

We can’t sustain the approach much longer either, unless Afghanistan will serve—and this is mere speculation—as our proxy staging area for a war with a nuclear armed Pakistan. More automated combat. Reliance on computers to determine hostiles.

America is indeed exceptional. In our military and security spending. In our continued pollution of third world countries via proxy manufacturing for cheaper labor and the unregulated environmental legislation of those countries and by extension, our governments massive military and budgetary support of an Israeli neo-apartheid.

This system enabled us to supplant democracy plant pliable leadership in North Africa and the Middle East for the past four decades. But as we’ve witnessed, through our mediated American perspective, people often tire of being served the same meal for too long. We are idle and conveniently diplomatic while Assad murders Syrian’s indiscriminately.

Perhaps, to “see it from both sides” detracts from the complexity. There isn’t necessarily a discernable side when faced with the ultimatum of “you’re either with us or with the terrorists.”

Post-Obama HOPE conspiracy election buzz, do we embrace the new normal?

Drones. Disposition Matrix. Targeted Killing and other euphemisms for the tactics used in our perpetual global war on terror.

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Review of OD by author Harold Jaffe

Find a Seam. Plant a Mine. Slip Away. 

In writer, Harold Jaffe’s OD, death looms in the margins. Instead of exploiting the deaths of each of the figures in the book, Jaffe meticulously reconfigures portions from their histories and consumptive excesses into short narratives that are both caricacture and homage. Aspects of each figure are rendered into composite sketches, fleshed out and dramatized without sentimentality. Like a rogue taxidermist or mirthful forensic scientist, Jaffe pulls the raw strands of narrative DNA, striping the idealized patina away from figures like Lady Day, Edgar Allen Poe and Jimi Hendrix. Drugs and excess may have been the cause of their demise but Jaffe’s reimaginings suggest that by pushing themselves to the limit physically and mentally they were able to achieve brilliance.

Through the centrifugal force of his prose, Jaffe exposes and ‘treats’ each accordingly, illuminating new perspectives. Most notably, the chapter on Edgar Allen Poe is a delirious, hallucinogenic journey through an urban landscape that resolves in a dervish-like dance in a crowded ballroom. His subject is reanimated in the present with a mind from the past and makes erudite observations that are both humorous and terrible and OD is terribly humorous.

Was People’s Temple leader Jim Jones an undercover CIA operative gone rogue?

Did Jim Morrison die in a Paris bathtub at twenty-seven?

Was Bela Lugosi really Lon Chaney in makeup? MK Ultra and COINTELPRO are woven cleverly into the subtext.

Though it is a quick read, the writing is sharp and packed with imagery and meaning.

Walter Benjamin, Abbie Hoffman, Diane Arbus and Philip Rothko along with Bela Legosi, Jean Seberg and Jim Jones are each evaluated for their contributions to the culture. Jaffe renders them with surgical precision, finding seams, planting mines and slipping away. To be sure, his prose is subversive. Yet it is filtered through a careful, introspective eye.

Through fabricated interviews, conversation, ‘official statements’ and narrative fiction, Jaffe makes use of every form, illuminating new angles. OD serves as a cogent reminder that those who operate outside the tenets of official culture–their time compressed and abbreviated by excess–have left us with an indelible legacy, as  Jaffe has done with this evocative narrative.

Pick up a copy on Amazon.


The Burning Of Rome: Death-Pop (a review)

The Burning of Rome is an enigma of a local San Diego band. They aren’t the typical, emo-leaning types. Nor do they rely on dated fashion statements so prevalent in the ‘Rock’ scene.  In fact one assumes their music would perplex most rock show attendees looking for instant gratification. They are a rock band but they play it through a kaleidoscope of influences–maybe they took Danny Elfman, Frank Zappa, Nobuo Uematsu (composer of famed Final Fantasy role playing video games) and fistfuls of mushrooms to bring the scrambling weirdo contingent their opus, Death Pop to life. An overall impressive and ambitious debut from this San Diego sextet, Death Pop sounds like what Neil Stephenson’s idea of pop music would be inside the Metaverse.

The melody on “For Fear of Time Machines” sounds like a keyboard interpretation of Loggins’ “Dangerzone” riff, with the song itself being shoved through an LSD tunnel that resides in Lynch’s Black Lodge. In between those moments of weird calliope marches, little lunatic carnival barker yells infuse Disco Volante-era Mr. Bungle into moments of temporary lucidity. Dulcimer, reverse vocals, Rhodes piano and violent bursts of guitar pepper each tune in tasteful helpings. I like it the more I listen to it, and I’ll admit the song that captured me was their most traditional, “Cowboy Death-Pop Star,” a tune that sounds like it was recorded on a Fischer Price toy microphone—its also the most accessible of the records 14 tracks.

If you’re bored with the same old album being put out by the same old band in the same old clothes, you’re money or downloading time would be well spent picking up this nugget of eclectic music.