Dear Dust

 

There I was sitting in traffic yesterday, trying to find a station to listen to, when I noticed the person in front of me had a bumper sticker that said VISUALIZE WORLD PEACE. Like most people, I’ve seen this sticker around for years, and never really thought twice about it. But for some reason, this time, it fucking infuriated me. It’s like, why do I have to visualize anything? I seriously wanted to get out of the car and say something to the driver. But I sat there and stewed instead. Was I visualizing cowardice? Or did I do the right thing?


Thanks,

Robin

 

Dear Robin,

Even if you had gotten out of the car and confronted the driver, the resulting philosophical discussion would probably not have been very satisfying. In fact, it likely would have ended in a fight. And then your fist would have smelled like patchouli for a week. Good thing you stayed in the car.

But I understand why that seemingly innocuous sticker filled you with rage. There is a high price to be paid for convenient ideology all along the political spectrum. And those who believe in The Power of The Motto are rarely the ones forced to pony up. Particularly the tweedy Utopian who takes pride in as lazy and self-congratulatory a notion as World Peace. Which, of course, requires the banal idea that the world population is capable of enlightened deliberation on any single issue. Let alone all issues. And that the Zen-appropriated “visualization” of such hubris could magically usher in a global transformation. One that even the giddiest Pollyanna would be forced to admit (preferably while being waterboarded) that no two nations sharing a border have ever mustered throughout human history.

All this aside from the possibly too obvious point that such a foundation-trembling sticker as Visualize World Peace was very likely printed in a Malaysian sweatshop, in order to keep its price point below the critical “second mochachino” level. You see, there will be no peace, let alone pleasurable mental conjuring, for the many glue addled laborers of Kuala Lumpur. Which, as it turns out, would be another injustice worth fighting against, if only it could be condensed into a slogan easily affixed to your Lexus.

But, for the sake of argument, let us for a moment genuinely attempt to visualize world peace. Close your eyes. Breathe deep. Be the tableau. Does it feature clean-burning hover cars and smiling workers with excellent dental plans, asexually respecting one another across a swath of landscaped tranquility? Well, it had better. Because that sort of blanched, odorless existence is exactly what would be required of us, were we able, at long last, to pacify our degenerate natures. World peace? Sounds good. As long as it comes with a mandatory disavowal of sex, greed, lust, jealously, superiority, gluttony, competition, and physical collision. Who needs the key components of every pleasure that ultimately makes us what we are? Hey, I’ve got an idea. Let’s set our sights a little lower. Try visualizing going a week without being a dick to anyone. And maybe visualize spending one day a month reading up on world history. Just start with Suetonius and work forward from there. But it’s hard to see a didactical approach going viral anytime soon. If only because it would require, instead of a clever sticker, a lifelong and comprehensive examination of the very worst of our selves.

My feeling, in the long run, is that putting a bumper sticker of almost any sort on your car is tantamount to complacency and internal rot. The message is never the message. The message is a pretext for establishing a personality without necessitating actually having one. Each carefully worded catchphrase is in truth a cry for surface understanding and acceptance. Just as slapping SUBVERT THE DOMINANT PARADIGM on your Kia really means I read half a chapter of Machiavelli in the one of the two community college classes I didn’t fail out of.

Bumper platitudes embrace the notion that change is only a slogan away. Just as LIVE SIMPLY SO THAT OTHERS MAY SIMPLY LIVE really means Run this car off the road and cause its fiery death so that others can simply commute without having to read my weepy encounter-therapy drivel.

Vehicular bromides reduce complex issues to hors d’oeuvres. Just as PRACTICE RANDOM KINDNESS AND COMMIT SENSELESS ACTS OF BEAUTY really means Or just keep cashing in those Google shares and I’ll pick up a case of ethics at Williams Sonoma.

Transportational prosaism comes from the desire to construct a faux-persona based on random cultural variance. Just as THE PIXIES really means I tell people I saw them before they were big. In truth, they’ve given me a headache since 1994.

Before the sticker enthusiasts storm Castle Dust with condemnation in their hearts, disagreeing that a genuinely intellectualized opinion is preferable to a shibboleth in shiny block letters, let me say this: if you have the stones to move to Alabama and put FUCK YEAH, I’M A FAG! on your Jetta, you will have proven me wrong and earned my eternal respect. Same goes for ENACT THE FAT TAX in Iowa, ILLEGAL AND LOVIN’ IT in Arizona, DIE ALREADY, GRANDMA in Florida, I DON’T SUPPORT THE TROOPS OR THE FUCKING WAR in Texas, and/or CUT TEACHER SALARIES-MY SON IS SO STUPID HE KEEPS MIS-SPELLING “COCK” BROTHERS! in Wisconsin.

But unless you’re tooling around Route 16 with one of those Ask The Dust™ catchphrases slapped on your ass this very second, I am unlikely to be swayed.

 

 

Dear Dust

Are you ever going to put out a book of your columns like Dan Savage and Dear Abby do? I’d buy it! I might even get a few extra as presents for friends.

Chrissy L

 

Dear Chrissy L

I have no plans to put out a compendium of Dust at the moment. I am, however, presently in negotiations with representatives of Helmsman Listi and TNB books concerning the release of my second volume of memoirs. It’s called Folding ‘Em Without Knowing When To, and generally examines events in my life from 1979-1985. This includes the years with my first wife Butterfly, my Central American adventures, a two month-long fast, freelancing for a national smut mag, a dalliance with the aqua-satanic, jail on two continents, a stint as an LA session musician, delving into the Berlin Poetry Underground, heroin, and my hand in the development of theoretical modeling for early closed-system artificial intelligence units.

 

Glad to know there’s a market, if only a small one.

 

 

Most sincerely

 

The Dust

 

 

 

Ask Me Anything.

Talk Shit. Be Vulnerable.

Go ahead, I know it hurts.


[email protected]

 

All contact info is entirely confidential.

TAGS: , , , , ,

J. ANGELUS DUST is not much interested in biography. J. Angelus Dust wants to know where it hurts.

29 responses to “Ask The Dust – Vol. 18”

  1. Becky Palapala says:

    I’ve had a few bumper stickers. None of them particularly ideological.

    This was all once upon a time, though.

    I can never escape the sense that bumper stickers–at least on the cars of adults–are symptomatic of underlying identity/self-confidence issues, failure to mature, and a kind of general retardation of character. Like sweatshirts with giant brand logos, they are more appropriate for teenagers, who are expected to not know who they are and expected to try wish into being an idealized self-image by telling rather than showing.

    In adults, these are issues that should be rectified at once, not celebrated. At the very least, people should have the shame and decency to hide failings in their self-actualization, not advertise them one by one with $4.99 purchases from Cafe Press.

    The bumper sticker phenomenon is depressing. It’s just fucking depressing. As if rush hour isn’t depressing enough.

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Becky Palapala! Mr. Dust says:

      “Your comparison of bumper stickers and logo-clothing is particularly apt. Odd that there aren’t HILFIGER and J.CREW stickers in circulation. Not to mention FRIENDS DON’T LET FRIENDS DRIVE DRUNK hoodies. Or, perhaps there are.”

  2. dwoz says:

    I have resisted the urge to become rich by having these two bumper stickers printed up in Myanmar, but I think they’re real bangers:

    God is my co-dependent

    God is my co-defendant

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, dwoz! Mr. Dust says:

      “I think someone has beaten you to is, since I could swear I’ve seen both of those. Perhaps you and I could share royalties/start up costs on GOD IS MY CO-WORKER. YOU KNOW, THE ONE WITH LIPSTICK IN HER TEETH.”

  3. My favorite version of the “VISUALIZE WORLD PEACE” bumper sticker is the delightfully sarcastic “VISUALIZE USING YOUR TURN SIGNALS” sticker. Heh.

    I have only one bumper sticker. It is modeled after the classic trucker mudflaps with the silhouette of a large-breasted, big-haired woman, except my woman silhouette has a ponytail, reasonable breasts, and is holding a book in her hands. I love it.

    My friend Gloria dropped her phone in a bathroom toilet of the large bookstore at which she purchased the sticker for me, and managed to flush it away. It was a brand new phone. I already thought it was the best sticker ever, but knowing that my friend endured the loss of her new phone to buy it for me makes it even more special. I will never take it off of my car. (:

    I always enjoy your advice column, Mr. The Dust, and look forward to it every week.

    • Gloria says:

      Heh. See my comment below.

      See, Dust? My sticker says, “I’m in TAWNI’S camp!”

      HI TAWNI!!

    • Gloria says:

      Also, I would like to point out that you, Tawni, having that bumper sticker on your car in small town (and small minded) Oklahoma comes much closer to meeting The Dust’s requirement for bumper stickers than my having it on my car in Portland, where everyone is a literate feminazi.

    • Becky Palapala says:

      At 6 am, when I allow myself to be whipped into an uninhibitted, agitated stream of consciousness by one of Dust’s rants, I never stop to consider things like this.

      Like that I might have friends with bumper stickers.

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Tawni Freeland! Mr. Dust says:

      “I agree with and embrace the TURN SIGNALS sentiment. But not enough to slap it on my ride. I enjoy your comments, Mrs. The Freeland. Thanks for swinging by.”

  4. Yvonne says:

    I always thought it was, “Visualize Whirled Peas” ??

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Yvonne! Mr. Dust says:

      “I believe it’s actually VISUALIZE A WURLITZER DROPPING NINE STORIES ONTO THE ROOF OF YOUR PORSCHE.”

  5. Joe Daly says:

    Letter 1: Agree.
    The thing about bumper stickers is that they are utilized not so much to promote the actual message as for the driver to tell the world what they want it to think of them. I’ve been cut off by more people with “COEXIST” bumper stickers than I’d care to count. I’ve seen guys with stickers that have read “OBAMA = One Big Ass (sic) Mistake America” on flatbed pickups with petrified dogs careening in the back. There are few message platforms more impotent than a bumper sticker.

    Letter 2: Disagree
    While the Dos Equis guy may promote himself as the most interesting man in the world, and while Dust may be making a run at that title, the fact remains that the Dust columns are thick and juicy with the kind of information that often doesn’t absorb for weeks. I need to read Dust columns at least two or three times over the course of a couple weeks for the layers of ideas to sink in. And that’s likely the tip of the iceberg. The book needs to come out so people can have them in their homes, ready to grab as a fight settler, depression cure, tantric manifesto and valuable alternative to Cliff’s Notes.

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Joe Daly! Mr. Dust says:

      “I’m not even the most interesting person in Castle Dust. But thank you for your repeated attention to the fine print. And The Tantric Manifesto is a book I’ve wanted to pen for years.”

  6. I don’t think it is the teacher’s fault if the son is stupid. Usually that’s a hint that the father should have powdered his penis with the crumbled morning after pill and make the mother go from mouth to vaginia nine month before their stupid kid was born. 🙂

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Patrick T. Kilgallon! Mr. Dust says:

      “You are no doubt aware that emoticons are the visual Esperanto/bumper sticker of the digital age.”

  7. Gloria says:

    I have this bumper sticker on my car:

    http://subbooks.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/mfg.png

    Because it’s clever and it tells people which camp I’m in. It decries my club.

    I also have one advertising my boys’ school, because it’s a magnet school and needs to be populated.

    I don’t mind bumper stickers. I just want them to make sense for fuck’s sake – even if that sense is trite.

    • Ashley Menchaca (N.O.Lady) says:

      I don’t mind bumber stickers, either.
      I recently saw one that said

      “My son gave his life for your honor student.
      Semper Fi.”

      I thought that was a good one.

      My neighbor has two. One is the red, white, and blue image of Obama and the other is a sticker that says “stay back 100 feet or you will be shot” but it’s written in Arabic. He did 2 tours in Iraq.

      I have a vinyl sticker on the back glass of my car. It’s a very large, white, SAINTS fleur de lis. I also have a very tiny sticker on the side that says “screw it”. Someone hit my car in front of my house and kept going…I’m not paying to fix it! The “screw it” sticker is placed right above for all the world to see. Screw it.

      • fabian says:

        Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Gloria! Mr. Dust says:

        “You hereby are granted an official Dust Dispensation to continue to sport your smart/trucker-babe magnet, Gloria.”

  8. Henry says:

    Mean people Duck

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Henry! Mr. Dust says:

      “Entirely untrue. Mean people never duck, yet the chunk of concrete always just misses them and hits someone handing a dollar to a homeless child instead.”

  9. Don Mitchell says:

    Dust, you’re righteously right about those stickers.

    I’ve never put a bumper sticker on any car I owned, but if I ran into this one:

    No Farms, No Food

    I’d put it on. I admit I’ve never tried hard to find one. I dislike the haranguing type (and “visualize . . .” is in that category for me) but I don’t mind the “give this some thought” kind.

    Now, straying into gender affairs, both Ruth and I have noticed that a small car with the rear absolutely plastered with stickers, highly variable in content, will be driven by a youngish woman. In our experience, no exceptions. For statisticians, I’d guess that the N here is probably about 20, over the 6 years we’ve been on the road together. Not a huge sample.

    Anybody else notice this?

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Don Mitchell! Mr. Dust says:

      “Always immediately accelerate around a small car plastered with stickers, even on a busy city street. It almost certainly will stop short for no reason in a situation that calls for anything but, causing a collision that will be technically your fault.”

  10. Jeffro says:

    Dearest Dust,

    Have you ever seen the bumper sticker with George W. Bush’s face on it that says, “Miss Me Yet?” If so, has the urge ever hit you to spray paint “Fuck no!” just to the right of the sticker on the bumper while the individual sporting this sticker is inside the local WaWa getting a Diet Pepsi?

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Jeffro! Mr. Dust says:

      “Not only have I seen that bumper sticker, I’ve seen that billboard. And it has spurred any number of urges far less genial than the spray painting of FUCK NO. But, yeah, in pinch? That’ll do her.”

  11. Dear Dust…. are you reading my mind? Just this morning I noticed an old Volvo covered in a patchwork of socially conscious bumper stickers with pleas for more public breast feeding, (?) no pesticides in milk, a Dead Head dancing bear, and a reminder to BUY LOCAL. Did I mention I was in the parking lot of a large chain supermarket? Pshaw. The world is full of irony.

    • fabian says:

      Hi, I’m Fabian, The Dust’s personal assistant. Thanks for your query, Robin Antalek! Mr. Dust says:

      “I am reading your mind, Robin Antalek. In fact, right this second you are thinking about an English muffin. I forgot to mention that the final chapter of Folding ‘Em Without Knowing When To deals with my yearlong apprenticeship under the tutelage of Yuri Geller’s daughter.”

  12. pixy says:

    dear dust:

    thank you for reminding me that i don’t want to live in “demolition man”. unless it’s underground with denis leary.
    world peace is possible: peace in YOUR OWN damn world, not the one that we share with other people. i’ll never understand why people don’t get that you have to take care of your own shit first before you’ll ever be ready to stick your nose in the business of the rest of the world (inclusively). or maybe i will… they probably concentrate SO MUCH on talking about “world peace” so they have a distraction from all the crap they have to face to make their own personal world peaceful. hence their needing me to know that they want world peace through inane bumper stickers instead of doing something about it. idiots.
    or maybe you’ll never have world peace unless everyone stops smelling like people. it’s all scent-oriented, you know. scents make people lusty and they piss people off. two bits that contribute to daily mutiny of peace.

    wow, you make me incoherently rant dust! awesome!

    kisses!

    pixy

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