Feeds:
Posts
Comments

I wonder how many people are looking at the big picture regarding the death of bin Laden.  I wonder if American realize how little non-symbolic importance it has to the general fates of the US.  The objective observer in me however, is fascinated by the very real impact this will all have on the South Asian political landscape.  Most folks who can put two and two together can see these events will have a quite dramatic and direct effect on the future of Pakistan.  But I wonder if many are thinking of the secondary and tertiary changes it will bring to India and China.

I’d like to first give a little background on India and Pakistan.  Former British colonies-Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh (formerly known as East Pakistan) were created and partitioned during Britain’s hamfisted attempts at fairness during its colonial withdrawals following World War II.  In effect, Britain divided the subcontinent into one large Hindu and two smaller Muslim enclaves to prevent infighting following the British withdrawal.  However the abuses, forced relocations, and territorial disputes that ensued assured the permanent enmity between these nations.  We can not also forget the blithe ignorance of the indigenous Sikh minority, but that’s immaterial for the moment.  For the sake of efficiency, I’m also going to ignore Bangladesh.  Currently one of the poorest nations on earth, its primary activity is sinking into the ocean every monsoon season.

What followed the partition has been a constant hot and cold war between the two.  When both India and Pakistan developed nuclear weapons, no one was confused over who they were meant for .  However, for 10 years Pakistan has enjoyed a strange safety net.  By being an Islamic partner in the “War on Terror”, Pakistan gained the aid and protection of the US.

With bin Laden’s death and his presence so close to Pakistani forces under… confusing circumstances, it appears US protection and aid for Pakistan will soon dry up.

This I believe will have a few interesting results.  First, it will give India to chance to exert more pressure on Pakistan.  As an emerging economic power I believe India will receive no complaints from the West over it.

This however is most likely a predicted and prepared-for result, something most of the world is ready for.  A certain unpredictable and worrisome factor is the Pakistani response to this.  One could easily imagine great unrest.  It would be entirely possible a power could arise in Pakistan blaming the West for its weakness against their neighbors.  In addition it is not improbable to imagine a government irresponsible enough to strike an India they now perceive as Western-backed.

A subcontinental Cold War grows hot again.

Into this ugly mix we must now throw in a third player, China.

Since World War 2 China and India have had strained to outright hostile relations.  Both are suspicious of the expansionist designs on the other, which was aggravated by the Chinese conquest of Tibet and the Indian support of the Dali Lama.  These tensions led to an actual combat during the Sino-Indian War in 1962.  While relations are currently ‘correct’, both nations are still rivals-both economically and in the quest for Asian hegemony.  As the center of world power creeps towards Beijing, this rivalry has taken a more desperate note.  India does not want China being in control, and China doesn’t want to see any interference from India in its orderly rise to power.

China has been able to enjoy a nice counterbalance to India in Pakistan.  A thorn in their rival’s side, untouchable under the American aegis.  But now the situation has been drastically altered.

China, unlike Pakistan, is fortunately very predictable.  Everyone knows China wants to be on top, and wants to do it in the most stable, peaceful way possible.  Anything that might interrupt this would be hateful and anathema to the desires of the People’s Republic.

I am unwilling to imagine so far as to how China might respond to a new Indo-Pakistani conflict, or the domination of Pakistan by India.  But I can assure they would do whatever it takes to restore a balance of stable power, no matter how many bodies it takes

I was reading a book called Empire of the Summer Moon at my parents place.  It’s a story on the fall of the Comanche people, a tribe of which I am descended through on my father’s side.

My dad looked at it and said “That about our people?”

“Yup.  We were pretty awful.”

“Yeah.”

My mother tutted this, she said we can’t escape our culture’s various pasts.  She’s a Jew, raised me a Jew…if you know much about Jews, the talk went to Jews.

My mother is a very progressive and optimistic Jew.  She believes Judaism in its perfect form is simply a religion, assimilated and accepted by whatever nation the Jew resides in.  She thinks it is detrimental for Jews to cling to their cultural mores and insular nature.

My mother is at heart an optimist.  My father and I, when it comes to morality and hope are…practical folks.  So it ended up turning into gentile dad and cynical Jewish son vs. Optimistic Jewish mother.

All the cultural traits of Jews exist for a reason, and these traits while setting Jews apart, and causing them to be hated even in 2011, lets it keep existing.

Jews are not unique in any sense in this way, the quirkier, more insular cultures survives.  Asians have managed to keep a strong cultural identity alive in America by being insular, by being apart from the mainstream.  It causes the ‘mainstream’ to cock their heads and sneer, and keeps the culture going.

But a culture can not survive on its oddness and exclusivity alone.  Like any organism when the environment changes, it must change too.  These survivor cultures seem to achieve this by creating an untouchable, non-malleable core of values and belief, and let everything outside of that warp, twist, wither and grow as needed for the times.

The Comanche people were able to keep a strong, insular, distinctive culture…right up to the moment they were wiped out and forcibly assimilated, and their mongrelized ancestors write blog posts about them.  They would not change for the world changing around them.  They went extinct proudly, but extinct nonetheless.

Culture, something out of thoughtful control, is like life.  It is neither good nor bad, meaningful or meaningless; simply effective or not.

I had a strange dream the other night.  It might qualify as a nightmare.  Its relativistic value as dream or nightmare grow only more confused with every day.

I’m hiking through ruins.  Some great temple complex, overgrown with lush plant life and water.  It’s beautiful, the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.  I spend what feels like days in the ruins, exploring and marveling.  When I leave there is a person waiting for me.  They tell me that the ruins were made just for me.  Ruins created for the…enjoyment? horror? of one man.

I can’t stop thinking about this dream.  I am beginning to think it represents a new anxiety I don’t really recall ever having.  The anxiety of living.

Let’s give a little context.

A few years ago I was in a bad accident while living in Yokohama, Japan.  Long story short, I ended up trapped in an apartment with no food and water, unable to move.  I came close to death and returned to the US with a nasty new dose of PTSD and a new outlook on life.  Namely, no outlook on life.

Some part of my mind had resigned itself to death, had expected to die, and had looked forward to it.  When I survived it, it came to an awful shock to my mind, and it never really reconciled.

Every day I wake up surprised to be alive.  I plan the future as a man with none.  I hold no ideas of hope or legacy.  My only dream was to hopefully carve a little niche for myself, make an impact on a few folks before my body finally caught up with my mind.

Recently, things have begun to change.  I fell in love, and have suddenly begun to feel sparks of life.  I sometimes awake to no shock and surprise, I can imagine myself tomorrow, next week, next year.

I am alive, and it’s nerve-wracking.

There was a certain freedom to being the living dead.  I was free from the obligations of caring about myself or the future.  I speak often of a desire to knock the world on it’s ass, and doing it dead, I didn’t have to worry if that was negative or positive.

But now…oh lord now.  Now the future lays in front of me, full of its terrible light and noise-and I quake.

I think this is my dream.  Those ruins are my legacy, and this dream’s prequel was my decision.  Those who made the ruins, I had the choice, to build or destroy and they obeyed.  The dead needn’t agonize those decisions.

I am discovering new happiness being alive.  Being alive means what I feel runs a wave with a magnitude I could never achieve before.  It feels good, it hurts.  It’s hot, it’s cold.  But most of all, it’s frightening.

Life is eclipsing death it seems, looks like I have to make some plans.

I wanted to write about the shooting today of Congresswoman Giffords today in Arizona.  Or rather, what it could possibly mean in the big picture.  I was talking about with a friend today and her blame quickly turned towards the Tea Party.  I believe for many, the rise of the Tea Party is to blame for all this.

Frankly, I do not.  In my mind, the Tea Party is merely a symptom, not the cause of a slew of problems.  To pull a page from Glenn Beck’s coloring book, I would compare it to Nazism.  What made the Nazis extreme in Germany was not the ideology.  The militarism, xenophobia, anti-semitism, anti-communism, were all preexisting currents in German/Prussian thought-it was simply the degree.

I think the Tea Party is simply a tumor on a pre-existing cancer in American thought.  An absurd simplification and corruption of Jeffersonian agrarian Democracy.  And the fear part well, I’ve discussed fear before-that’s not going anywhere.  So I think the important question is, is this the last horrific gasp of a dying system, or the awful birth of something new?  Truthfully I believe the former.  America, like the rest of the Western world has begun a slow (and unnecessarily painful)shift to a more Socialist government and this is the death thrashes of those holding onto a non-existent past ideal.  However, as much as I wish otherwise, we cannot ignore them.

I have images of something like Britain, possessing a society mostly socialist, and at the same time supporting a tiny archaic aristocracy for the sake of appearances.  We could put these gun-toting crypto-Jeffersonians on nature preserves in the mountain and forests, give them tiny farms and shacks and watch them pretend that it’s still reality.

If it’s the growth of something new, I have two words to give us hope: Ross Perot.  Remember him and his big scary reform party back in ’92?  For a couple election cycles they appeared this great terrifying force of change-by 96′, a joke.  With hope, on the national level the Tea Party will be shown for the out-of-touch fools they are by 2012.
We hope.

So I’ve been reading a biography of Hitler.

Oddly I definitely think the Jew in me made me read it.  It’s a roughly 40 year old book, I saw it sitting in my parents bookshelf, the top of the paper jacket torn so all I could see was “ITLER”.  Not a lot of words end with ITLER.

I’m about halfway through.  The author definitely paints him as the monster he is, but he’s a good enough biographer to recognize the man’s ability to play a crowd and be a politician.  Again and again he played to humanity’s most powerful and controlling feeling.

Fear.

In any point of history, in any place you will see mankind being driven upwards and downwards by fear.  It seems to be a constant.  However it is interesting to watch the evolution of civilizations in what they fear.

Tribe, Faith, Empire, Nation, Race, Philosophy.  In endless cycles it changes.  The fears Hitler played upon…he would be hard pressed to do it now.  While he built up a hatred of Jews, it had nothing to do with faith.  He was building upon the concepts of Race and Nation.  A German people threatened, a German nation enslaved.  The concept of nation is dying, and as for race…well by now who isn’t a quarter…something?

However after meditating long on the concept I have come to realize there is one fear that has always existed, and continues to grow along with humanity.  Fear of oneself.  The awkward mix of self-awareness and ignorance of what you are truly capable of.

Be afraid of yourself.  Very afraid.  No matter how everything around you cracks and crumbles, you continue to be a terrifying thing.  All relief, all panaceas for the soul are simply attempts to allay that ever-present, crawling fear that eats away at you.

Can another Hitler arise, another demagogue, a mass movement come from this fear?

It’s something worth thinking about, and most likely worry about.  I certainly am.

Maybe I shouldn’t.

I came home from a party a few nights ago and turned on Adult Swim.  Some cartoon with a man in an epic sword fight, flying all about, etc etc.  He inevitably wins and walks back to some thoroughly normal looking woman.  The man is doing the whole post-fight posturing-dirt, blood, panting, etc.  Woman smiles at him and says “I’ve been waiting for you.”

Maybe it was the fact I had been drinking all day, or maybe an inability to fully contain and corral the more ignorable desires past midnight but that got to me.  Some weird uncontrollable urge to have someone look at me and say that, in a way that’d let me know they’d say the same damn thing no matter how long it had been.

Then an old familiar feeling kicked in.  I guess if you wanted to give it an intellectual name it’d be the “cold suppressive response”.  If you wanted to go with the more accurate, gut emotional term…a cold void that nests in my body, that wraps up and slowly grabs that part of my mind that dares stray from whatever vision it has for me, and freezes it out.

It’s an excellent first move.

Next comes logic.  Up to this point it’s all been internal, a struggle of spirits gnawing away on my mind.  Logic however, recognizes the factors outside the kingdom of my mind.

I don’t promote a lifestyle that attracts someone who would wait.  Besides fool, would you even WANT that?  You can’t even keep a stable relationship together for a few months.  I will be honest, I’m a big fan of disappearing.  My whole control structure rests on inflicting chaos and confusion, and manipulating the results.  Pity the poor person who would wait for that.

Good work old man.

So I can lie down drunk and edit that tv scene on my bedroom ceiling.  I’m the one in the sword fight now.  I’m the victor now, I’m bloody and panting now.  I turn around and see, nothing.  I turn around again and see the flies start coming for the corpse, at least we could banter when he was alive, shit.  I feel the cold teeth gnawing at my brain, trimming away the fat of second thoughts.

Good work old man.

I collect names.  This is somewhat on purpose.  I LIKE collecting nicknames.  Shows character I think.  I bring this up now, because yesterday Mr. Sam was put into a comatose state.  That’s right, no more Mr. Sam.  Maybe for just a few months, maybe a long long time.  Some kids were sad(one cried, shit.  Samuel Carr: Makes Asian women cry.  Need to put that on the resume.)  But I decided hell, let’s go through a (roughly chronological) list of some of my names, past, present, or simply on hiatus.

Dimple-Bug:  Jewish grandma’s childhood nickname for me.  I got kickass dimples.  Pissed me off at the time, but now, well, fuck yeah dimples.

Scar:  Sounds badass, actually isn’t.  Came from when I was in wrestling in high school, when I had to write my first initial and last name on my shit.  S.Carr.  Scarr.  Scar.  Is apparently now being revived at the LJP as one of our new logins now uses the first initial last name combo, and my boss is now irritated I have such a badass one.  Hope it comes back.

Dr. Hugs: Decided to make it my kickball name in college.  Still have my uniform shirt, it’s still there in big bold 70’s style letters on the back.  I still use it as a self-appellation from time to time.  Will be revived for a ken burns historical documentary on the Boozeuals on June 24th.

Samu:  How Japanese folks say my name.  When I returned to America there was a brief period of time I was uncomfortable with hearing my name without the U at the end.

Oni-Sensei:  First nickname given from children.  Means “demon-teacher”.  Apparently my facial expressions resemble those of Japanese demons from time to time.  I found it endearing.

Majo-Sensei:  Another teacher nickname.  Means “witch-teacher”.  This name was applied to me by an entire god damn Jr. High School.  Came from the fact that my eyes change from blue to grey.  Got to the point every day I walked into the teachers room the Vice-Principal would check my eye color for the day.  Also, still find this one charming.

Meow-Meow:  Used infrequently, not such a fan.  I don’t want to talk about it.

Car-Wreck:  First nickname from So Say We All.  This one is pretty self-explanatory.  I prefer to think of it as promoting sustainable entropy.

Mr. Sam:  My latest nickname.  Used only at my after school program.  I wasn’t particularly good at the job.  But some of the kids liked me, and I was able to impart some important lessons on a couple so all in all, a gain.

Samuki:  Sam + tanuki.  An odd term of endearment recently invented for me, but I like it.

Each of those names has a time, places, people, events attached to them.  As each name is shed or gained, so does all that…baggage.  Each name had people who needed or loathed the person with that name.  It would be easy to make a direct parallel here.  A name being a label for a time, Dimple-Bug a personal Triassic period as it were.  It would make things simpler for everyone then, I suppose.  Someone could call me Majo-Sensei,  and I could smile and say “Sorry, Majo-Sensei is dead, I’m Mr. Sam for now.”

But the namers still exist out there, the survivors of the names as well.  Sometimes, everyone involved silently agrees to let a name quietly drift away, leaving it a memorial paragraph for a written page.

Sometimes the names refuse to go away, die loud demeaning deaths; and are then given fel rebirths again and again to the discomfort and despair of those involved.

Growing up an Ashkenazi Jew, I grew up in a culture where words and names possessed great power.  You did not speak directly of horrible events, for speaking it aloud would invite it’s invocation.  One did not name a child after a living relative, for that would allow one to control the other.  I had always heard in Romany culture the strength and protections of names were even stronger.  To the point where people had special names just for certain groups.

Cultural superstitions aside, names DO have power.  Each one reflecting part of you, a phase of you, or just an interpretation of you.

And here I am, collecting names like a grunt collecting ears.  So does that make me more powerful, or less?  What does it say about my progression as a person?  Can any of these names ever truly be buried?

There are people who have known me long enough to watch me leap from name to name, that must truly be exhausting for them.  Do they see it as progress, or simply instability?

For the little kid who cried when Mr. Sam walked out the door, those questions are immaterial.  Because that kid had yet to learn a lesson, every name has a time limit.  And when that time is up, your time with that person as it existed, is dead, no matter how much we wish for it to return.