Dear Dust

Can you let Fabian do more columns? He was awesome.

Lisa Zee

 

Dear Lisa

Yes.

 

Dear Dust

Fabian Wayne iz da man! No fooling, that was totally hilarious. I want to party with that kid. I want to bite his headset right offa that dimpled chin. And I’m straight!

More Fabian, for real.

Johnny

 

Dear Johnny

Straight is as straight does.

 

Dear Dust

I so, so, so freaking love Fabian! Thanks for letting him finally speak!

Rich C.

 

Dear Rich

It’s true, he’s very loveable.


Dear Dust

Maybe you should do one week you, one week Fabian. Or hey, how about letting Candy talk once in a while? What, do you make her wear a burka? Hell, all that matters is that Fabian gets more airtime. You know what I’m saying? I mean, I dig your routine and all, but F-dog is where it’s at. More Fabes!

Gloria

 

Dear Gloria

It seems to be a groundswell. I promise to consider widening his scope of responsibilities.

 

Dear Dust

I have read an article this weekend which says maybe those headsets cause cancer. Cancer! Tell Fabian to take that thing off right now! This moment! What does he need them for anyway, I wonder? Am I to believe every publisher in Manhattan is calling you nineteen times a day? No, I do not think so. You are getting no calls, I would bet. Also, Fabian looks too thin. Like he’s not eating enough. Why isn’t he eating? And why is he smiling all the time? Up to no good, with that look. The canary that ate the rat. And if he is going to wear a headset, he could at least call once in a while! Just not in the morning, please. In the morning I am getting the treatment. On my bunions. Bunion treatments. Fabian needs more soup!

I do not approve.

Fabian’s Mom

 

Dear Mrs. Wayne

I understand completely and will talk to Fabian today. Also, I will take him for an extravagant lunch and insist that he finish everything on his plate. Incidentally, I believe the link between Bluetooth and cancer is overstated, although it bears watching. Otherwise, I trust everything is good with you and Dr. Wayne? Is he still having his spells? I understand the weather in Malta is beautiful this time of year. Well, time to dredge the moat. Do not hesitate to write again if you need anything.

 

 

Dear Dust

I can’t believe I actually used to believe in Obama. Not even just believe, but for a whole year there, the guy was my hero! But in the end he didn’t deliver shit. So I had to cut his ass loose.

Anybody want to buy a signed CHANGE poster, cheap?

Nate

 

Dear Nate

I understand how you feel. But keep in mind that being president is impossible. It was impossible for Thomas Jefferson, it was impossible for George Bush, and there is no way Obama can live up to the expectations you’ve emotionally grafted onto him. By “didn’t deliver” are you referring to the economy? As is evident by the partisan stasis on the debt ceiling, there is a dearth of ideas across the political spectrum. It’s hard to imagine our lot would be any more secure under any of the bouquet of turd-lilies currently vying for the Republican nomination. When the Greek banking system defaults we will all feel it, no matter our stance on immigration reform, for the same reasons that our economy collapsed in 2009. Namely, a barren economic culture that actively encouraged fraudulent investment packages involving derivatives and credit swaps to be cynically sold by the same banks that we then bailed out and allowed to use taxpayer money to recover fully and with bonus largesse, completely free of due recourse or penalty. Let alone mandatory public flogging of the leading CEO’s and most blatantly greed-engorged traders. Yes, I too was displeased with the president’s inaction in this matter. The silence of the fleeced is almost as disquieting as the cowardice of the elected. In a just world, Jacobin Posse 2.0 would have immediately stormed Wall Street and lopped Goldman head from Sachs neck. The Paris Commune should have been reinstated, with Anarchists and Marxists taking posts as axe-wielding regulators and FCC thugs. The financial services industry should have been draped in red silk, while white collar blood ran heavily in gutters and tranches and through the fingers of starving orphans. At the very least. But say Mitt Romney had won the last election. He too would have bailed out Wall Street, and even faster. He too would have passed a stimulus, but for even more money. He too would be struggling with unemployment and two unpaid wars and the fallacy that everything can be fixed without raising taxes while an intractable government wheezes through inspissated partisan maneuvering, regardless of the name of the majority party.

Ultimately, the hysterical criticism of Obama from the right (to be fair, often no less reactionary and ill-informed than the criticism of Bush from the left–although certainly more racist and venally orchestrated), which perhaps has seeped into your purview, isn’t with any specific policy. Especially since in truth the majority of Obama’s policy’s are to the right of Ronald Reagan and it’s our society that has become unrecognizably hidebound–it’s a critique without intellectual teeth, the lapdog yowling of those with a little red hard-on for the return to power in any guise.

The Dust’s America In Action Snapshot Moment: Democrats spout fey nostrums, Republicans spout faux-populist solecisms, and the middle sells its familial artifacts on eBay to pay for milk and heating oil.

I think the real problem is that we all have unrealistic and frankly childish beliefs about what presidents are capable of accomplishing. If a) every lobbyist was kicked out of Washington today, b) congressional rules were permanently altered to disallow filibusters, c) majority rule was re-embraced, d) election cycles were shortened to four months, e) all corporate political donations were immediately ended, f) Fox news was shuttered and burned in an empty field like a burlap sack full of vinegary shit, g) rote obstinacy was de-incentivized through an insistence on congressional representation by people other than jowly constipated white men, and h) real campaign spending limits were firmly established–then and only then could we truly hold our presidents culpable for the major issues that plague us. In the meantime it’s the president with the best press secretary who gets the largest presidential library after he slinks away from the White House like an oleaginous marmot, but all the same problems remain behind, to be skirted and denied in turn, and with even less efficacy, by the next candidate. It’s really only the most minor issues that presidents can actively control, and such shallow victories as are achieved tend to be touted with an array of brass self-congratulation and lockstepped Sousan flatulence. And so too, the epic disappointments are perhaps less epic and more impotently ordained. Thomas Jefferson failed to scuttle the Bill for Indian Removal. George Bush cut brush while the tides of Katrina swelled over Engineering Corps levees. And Barack Obama has perhaps foundered in both Afghanistan and Iraq, or at least been interred in the burgeoning karmic slough left by his unwillingness to acknowledge climate change in any meaningful way. In other words, we can really only criticize the actions of these men within the machinery of inertia that is congress, the media, citizen ignorance, and the glut of money that forever clogs the heart of politics.

The Dust’s Bonus Tuesday Political Epigram: Believers in the fantasy of political redress tend to embrace figures who have yet to be humbled by the limits of power, because believing in the numinous possibilities of Heroic Rule allows them a few golden months before they are deflowered by the ugliness of actual rule.

Or to put it another way: if you make a habit of beating off to your Change poster, in a country that hasn’t contained any genuine change since Civil Rights legislation was dragged kicking and screaming down its fearful, status-quo, White Is Right throat, it’s a bad look to then complain about post-inaugural chafing.

Not happy with Obama, Nate? Sure, that’s an easy stance to take. And warranted on any number of fronts. But you might as well be dismayed that he hasn’t come to your house and rewired the chandelier, then figured out why those shrubs next to the porch keep dying. President Bush didn’t pay off my student loans or write me a script for antibiotics, either. Clinton forgot to turn the bath off, and when the flood ruined the tile, refused to come over and re-caulk it with Hillary’s disdain.

I will never, ever forgive any of them.

But the fact that Obama used to be your hero and failed you is not Obama’s fault. It’s your internal narrative’s fault, a residue of the mercury poisoning from a boyhood of watching and believing in television derring-do, cowboys and dead indians, wised up street-corner gunsels and knights of chivalry and swordplay. It’s the need for heroes at all that is to blame. But you didn’t vote for a hero. Or if you did, you were duped, because there were no heroes on the ballot, and there hasn’t been one since George McGovern. And the way he fucked over Tom Eagleton pretty much auto-crossed his name off that ballot, too. On the other hand, in 2008 there was the choice of a candidate vastly smarter and more capable than George Bush. And you got him! So that’s something. Beyond that? Eh.

This Week’s The Dust’s Unasked For OED Style Definition: “Hero culture.” (noun) e-ero kul-ture: The vaguely religious, certainly fearful, and mostly pathetic vestigial need to coronate those among us who are just as fallible as we are, and to hope that their press release examples of athletic prowess, or unusual kindness, or policy brilliance, or military courage (Ted Sorenson, I’m speaking to you) will somehow erase all their other faults and flaws.

Ever read beyond the usual encomiums about the lives of Caesar Chavez, or Mother Theresa, or George Washington, or Gandhi? All of them were at least half-deluded, made colossal mistakes in judgement, frequently contradicted their stated beliefs, had ugly and unflattering personality quirks, were constantly fetishized by third parties with unseemly agendas, and yet have been swallowed and adopted as veritable saints whose true behaviors cannot be questioned while their names are being affixed to bridges and airports. That’s just the way our minds work. We need our heroes to be beyond pure, beyond critique, truly inhuman.

And they never are.

My feeling is that a hero is merely a person who incrementally and fairly anonymously improves the quality of life for those around them through action or output, without need of acknowledgment or reward. A hero is someone who has contributed something beautiful or original to our generally curt and brutish lives without the least expectation or need for recompense.

 

A DOZEN DUST HEROES:

Saul Bellow-Wrote multiple novels that defined a generation, a country, a sexuality, a religion, and the absence of that religion.

Stanley Kubrick-Director of vast detachment, icy exactitude, beautiful shot-making, post-anal perfectionism, and platinum stones.

Muhammad Ali-Had no beef with them Vietcong. Also, Manila.

Robert Mitchum-Former stevedore, chin of amazing cleft, deep gaze, and suave line-read. Born to burn down 1953 Tijauana with a bottle of whiskey the fanny of Jane Greer.

Christopher Hitchens-Smarter than any 14 fourteen given intellectuals spot-welded together at the temple.

Bessie Smith-Nobody in town can bake a sweet jelly roll like hers.

Epictetus-Born a slave, became a Stoic.

Alice Munro-short stories you could cut your teeth on. Prose that unflinchingly inhabits the female mind like no other.

Toussaint L’ouverture-Google Haiti. Then send ten dollars.

Bertrand Russell-There’s a reason he wasn’t a Christian, and it’s not, four thousand pages later, the failure of the Principia Mathematica.

Diane Arbus-Rich, dark prints, startling perception. The veil of depression falls, bleeds through, lingers.

Francis Bacon-First to realize that if you stuff a dead chicken with ice, eating it three days later won’t kill you.

 

 

CONVERSELY, THE DUST’S DOZEN MOST HATEFUL (extant) AMERICANS, EACH A DANGLING SACK OF PURE ANTI-HEROICS:

Nancy Grace– If there’s a missing pretty white girl whose death can be flogged for maximum ratings, or a grieving family who can be cowed into seamy interviews under the guise of journalism, Nancy and her leering, swinish face can be counted on to report every gruesome detail between these important commercial breaks.

Scott Walker-Thinks teachers make too much, dental plans displease Saint Ayn.

Bruce Jenner-Has had more plastic surgery than La Ciccone, but is 20% less of a fraudulent Kabbalist, desperately trying to hold onto 4-decade old sporting glory through the vehicle of a reality show about his adopted daughter’s colossal tits.

Lloyd Blankfein-A thousand times more debased than Bernie Madoff, but fucked you just as hard, claims his tenure as head of the cinematically avaricious Fresh Organ Vendor that is Goldman Sachs has been all about “doing God’s work.”

Judith Regan-Made a career of giddily demeaning the publishing industry, spread her knocked knees for the unhinged Bernard Kerick, worked closely with American Hero O.J. Simpson (who could at least have stabbed her in the arm a few times) on his cash-conjecture of how he “might have” murdered, published “books” by Robert Bork and Sean Hannity. Greatest triumph was delivering Jose Canseco’s second tome into the waiting arms of American dipshit culture.

Andrew Brietbart-Thinks climate change is a liberal machination, spawned James O’Keefe III, epitomizes the usage of “toxic” in regard to both politics and media, embodies the karma of intentionally spreading syphilis, owes Shirley Sherrod an apology, makes Lee Atwater seem fair and balanced, is a delirious bearded cunt.

Paris Hilton-refuses to Just Please Disappear Already, grins like a ferret, possesses the erotic gravity of grandma’s unshaven calves.

Samuel Alito-would have made a great Cossack, the backbone of the Citizen’s United decision, essentially deciding that Target is as much of a citizen as you are, should have to spend retirement as the minimum wage personal valet of President Exxon.

Michael Musto-the epicenter of pissy gay celebrity-fuck propaganda and general brainlessness.

Richard Mellon Scaife-using his trust fund to bankroll the rights of the bankrolled.

Tyler Perry-Everything not funny about black men in female fat suits, colostomy humor, and dentures-falling-out jokes, all rolled up in a ubiquitous franchise that Oprah likes.

Tommy Hilfiger-sweatshop patriot and parvenu “style” monger, unforgivable innovator of the beyond cynical ghetto-yacht fashion movement of the late nineties.

Joe Lieberman-Unapologetically wrong on almost every issue, not an ounce of style, bald party-whore who is hated by both parties, won’t even support his own bills, a wrinkled condom of convenience.

Deepak Chopra-vacuuming cash by selling the tautological and banal to the gullible and aphasic, will surely burn in the sulphurous fires of another faith’s hell, or at least the tony streets of suburban Sante Fe.

 

THIS WEEK’S ULTRA-FREE BONUS LOATHING: Henry Kissinger.

 

But, hey, Nate, forget the assholes.

My point is that a hero is someone who gets even one random person over the hump of a tough midnight.

Some guy (girl) with a guitar. Some guy with a typewriter. Some guy with a camera.

Things seem to get a little better until they get worse.

And then it’s time for another hero.

 

Anything beyond that is religion.

 

 

 

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.

 

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

55 responses to “Ask The Dust – Vol. 33”

  1. Greg Olear says:

    Superb as usual, Dust…

    Personally, I feel that Obama is the most like me of anyone who’s ever been president, meaning, he’s Gen X, he’s a pragmatist, he’s not afraid of using a little force, but he also believes in liberal values. He didn’t just stop having his beliefs; now he knows how hard it is to get anything done. He’s done what I would do, I think, and probably what Nate would do, too, in the same situation. I’m just glad we have someone smart in charge.

    Oh, and, not to quibble, but Jenner’s reality show revolves around his adopted daughter’s colossal booty, not her tits.

    • Well said, Greg. Completely agree. (And I still don’t get why health care reform, repealing DADT & appointing two erudite, well-qualified women to the Supreme Court is so easily dismissed by some.)

      • Greg Olear says:

        Thanks, Litsa. You forgot Bin Laden. And that he killed Bin Laden and Trump’s candidacy in one fell swoop. And the fact that the economy’s improved, albeit slowly, after eight years of unprecedentedly reckless spending/tax slashing by his “let’s invade a country halfway around the world…again” predecessor. And…

        [on and on it goes]

        • Kicking myself that I momentarily overlooked killing OBL, particularly as I’ve underscored that very point w/ those on the far left and on the far right. And thanks for bringing up that economy was ravaged to an almost unprecedented degree BEFORE Obama took office. His administration’s actions are the reason the U.S. didn’t topple into a full-blown depression and, again, I’ve argued this w/ individuals across the political spectrum. My answer was off-the-cuff, but yours was more detailed and I agree w/ it wholly. (I’ve already donated twice to Obama ’12. Buoyed when I read last week the campaign has already raised $86 million.)

        • Fabian says:

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

          “I stand corrected. It is the gluteus Kardashius that hovers regnant over both the show and Mr. Jenner’s dubious status.”

  2. dwoz says:

    “blood running through the tranches…”

    you, my friend (may I call you that?) have a way with the strategic typo…

    • Fabian says:

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

      “You may indeed call me friend. And I am glad you astutely noticed “tranche,” as it was just a little sub-textual wordplay I hoped my win a chuckle here and there, given that credit default products were separated into what was referred to in broker jargon as “tranches,” based on the imprimatur of various ratings agencies, prior to being larded upon the unsuspecting.”

  3. Dust, spectacularly intelligent and insightful answer re Presidents and the nature of and need for heroes. When can we make out?

    • Fabian says:

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

      “My lips await. You may, however, have to best Jonathan Evison with dueling cudgels in The Circle of Fire first….”

  4. Don Mitchell says:

    “oleaginous marmot” – unbeatable. Considering the context, though, it’s insulting to those little critters.

    But maybe you were referring to the time Fabian tipped the bottle of peanut oil onto my expensive Gore-tex winter shell.

    • Fabian says:

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

      “As agreed by the statue of Artemis, you will never hear me publicly referring to that incident.”

  5. Gloria says:

    I love everything you say about heroes. Yes! YES! (Gandhi, for instance, didn’t believe in equality of women. Mother Theresa is quoted as saying, “Well at least they didn’t hit us” when a fatal auto-accident occurred in front of – and barely missed – a vehicle she and other nuns were traveling in.) (Everything I just said about Gandhi and MT was told to me by two different college professors. I haven’t vetted this information. Just F.Y.I.)

    Great piece.

    • Gloria says:

      Also, thank you for “possesses the erotic gravity of grandma’s unshaven calves.” I hope I can pull this out at just the right time sometime.

    • Fabian says:

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

      “Your professors were right to question the iconic, and there are infinitely more instances that could be added those initial comments. Vet away!”

  6. Becky Palapala says:

    I am shocked and somewhat offended to find us in agreement about something. I’m not saying what.

    Thankfully, I still have this:

    Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are dueling rattles in the slobbery, pruned, white-knuckled fists of the entirety of the Idiot’s Guide to Evolution athiest movement in the Western World. As dangerous and wrong-headed as their professed (and often imagined) enemies, they’re agent provocateurs of dimwitted ideological bifurcation and the recent cultural trend towards atrophy of intellectual curiosity, existential wonder, and tolerance for ambiguity. Values that should accompany any and all discussions of human nature, human purpose, and the human search for either and both.

    Rank pop-science demagogues. Words can hardly express. I’m just totally repulsed by their whole…gestalt. Virtually everything they say makes me cringe. Makes my rational brain itch. I have no respect for them at all. I’m allergic. I need calamine. I’m, like, sweating over here.

    I don’t know if I have any heroes. Diogenes?

    And Camille Paglia and Chrissie Hynde. Except, in the case of the latter, all that PETA crap which is just too much crazypants, even for me. Bitch is gonna out of her way to have a small country’s worth of stiletto-heeled fashion boots, and put no leather among them? THAT is criminal. THAT is abuse. All those cows will die anyway, and none will even get to be her awesome boots for their trouble.

    So three. Three heroes.

    My shit list is considerably longer.

    • Gloria says:

      Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins are dueling rattles in the slobbery, pruned, white-knuckled fists of the entirety of the Idiot’s Guide to Evolution athiest movement in the Western World. As dangerous and wrong-headed as their professed (and often imagined) enemies, they’re agent provocateurs of dimwitted ideological bifurcation and the recent cultural trend towards atrophy of intellectual curiosity, existential wonder, and tolerance for ambiguity. Values that should accompany any and all discussions of human nature, human purpose, and the human search for either and both.

      Rank pop-science demagogues. Words can hardly express. I’m just totally repulsed by their whole…gestalt. Virtually everything they say makes me cringe. Makes my rational brain itch. I have no respect for them at all. I’m allergic. I need calamine. I’m, like, sweating over here.

      Thank you for saying this, Becky.

    • cheryl says:

      Yeah Becky! Wow – I could never have said it as good as this:

      “As dangerous and wrong-headed as their professed (and often imagined) enemies, they’re agent provocateurs of dimwitted ideological bifurcation and the recent cultural trend towards atrophy of intellectual curiosity, existential wonder, and tolerance for ambiguity. Values that should accompany any and all discussions of human nature, human purpose, and the human search for either and both.”

      I am allergic to anyone professing absolute certainty about the origins and purpose of life. Hitchens and Dawkins are on the exact same spectrum as the fundamentalist religious types they rail against, just at the opposite end. All on that spectrum more concerned with being right than being open to seeing and hearing what else is out there.

      Tolerance for ambiguity – yes yes yes.

      • Becky Palapala says:

        Thanks, Cheryl.

        You’d think, smart as they appear to be, that they’d notice at some point they’re laboring along in lead cloaks.

        Hitchens can be forgiven to some degree, he being a journalist moonlighting as a self-styled expert and bigmouth on various things, but Dawkins is an actual ethologist and evolutionary biologist and lacks all but a shred of the intellectual humility that should come with being a theoretical scientist.

        Shame on him, especially. Plech.

        • Fabian says:

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

          “It’s possible that your distaste for Christopher Hitchens stems from having read a few (or even one) of his books, but I doubt it. While it’s true that his public persona can be abrasive and smug, his four decades of writings are in fact the diametrical opposite of your summation of him. Far from “ideological bifurcation” (which probably feels good to type but is, as a phrase, clumsy at best and sophistry at worst unless you mean to say you would prefer a utopian uni-ology on all matters political, religious and cultural) he has written with brilliance and deep understanding on almost every conceivable subject, and along every position of the political spectrum. Even his greatest detractors, at least among those familiar with his work, would cringe at the sight of your cavalier and poorly considered epithet of “dimwitted” and accusation of fomenting “intellectual atrophy.” With three clicks of a mouse you can find essays that range in scope from the analysis of Trotskyist union organizing to calling for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Or from the defense of Edward Said to supporting the prosecution of the Iraq War. Or from pro Palestinian rights to a strident denunciation of antisemitism in all it’s forms.

          If you are referring to Hitchens and Dawkins’ take on religion, I don’t see that as a political matter. Or at least primarily political. It is a moral matter. Or at least attempting to refute 2000 years of cowering orthodoxy, in which we have allowed ourselves to be ruled by the notion that a supernatural being’s wishes can be interpreted by the more righteous amongst us, and these dictates are ones that we should live our lives by accordingly. Is it “ideological bifurcation” to be horrified by the fact that the febrile, endlessly re-translated supposed utterances of a primate human (Jesus) continue to be the guiding factors in the setting of policy in a supposedly modern country? Or that 50% of the Republican primary field happily and proudly admits that they don’t believe in evolution? Or that their frontrunner (Romney) is a man who believes that the American Indians are the 13th lost tribe of Israel and that Jesus once walked the plains of the American midwest? Or that their second (Bachmann) thinks the world is less that 6000 years old? It is not political, it is moral and ethical to refute these things, and if they need to be refuted loudly and without concession to the “ambiguity” that you prefer, the very same ambiguity that has only recently been stripped away in order to allow the philosophy of atheism to be widely thought and written about to begin with, so be it.

          Finally, to rail against “rank pop-science demagogues” in the same sentence as mentioning a taste for Camille Paglia is beyond the capacity of my irony engine, but to Camille’s credit, I’m sure it would have elicited from her one of her signature barking laughs.”

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Sometimes it’s tough to know what will get a rise out of people. Sometimes it’s not.

        • Fabian says:

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

          “Ah, the clever one-sentence walk away line, which works well in Tom Hanks movies but as a matter of riposte is the equivalent of admitting that the body of your commentary carries no weight and is, in fact, merely calculated to provoke a response. In which case, such a cynical contrivance begs the question as to why you bother to invest the quantity of time to commenting that you do.”

        • Becky Palapala says:

          Lol u mad?

          Not that it’s any of your business, but I’m sitting in my bathing suit on a dock on a lake in northern MN typing on my cell phone. Were I at home in front of a keyboard I may have been able to muster giving a shit about your spirited defense of your hero (I was genuinely impressed at the word count. Even I couldn’t have predicted that). As it stands, though, you’ll just have to take what you get. If I still care at all when I get back, I’ll make sure to do a wordier job of reading my part in this born-doomed conversation.

        • Fabian says:

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

          “Faux-Intellectualism In Action 2011: “my technology prevents me from defending the venom of my original assertions, but I am still able to muster the cell-QWERTY to pretend to be both world-weary and bikini-clad in the face of the fact that I haven’t actually read any of the material I originally disparaged.'”

        • Becky Palapala says:

          I never said any thing about a bikini. I’m 8 months pregnant. It’s a tankini. I am neither a liar nor very susceptible to ad hominem, Dust. I am indeed in N MN and I am indeed not inspired to try harder in this conversation. I don’t know what you expect me to say at this point, but I can assure you no matter what I say, you will not be satisfied. You’re having what very much appears to be an emotional response to public deprecation of your intellectual/political hero. You’re not above any of this. How much of him I’ve read or not hardly matters. My point is made.

        • dwoz says:

          I think part of the problem is that the Hitchens of today is a paradox, a shade.

          I have boxes gathering dust in my barn, containing YEARS of paper copy back issues of “The Nation” in which Hitchens is practically a shining beacon. He and David Corn were certainly two of the four reasons I continued to subscribe all that time.

          The fact of his being the Anakin Skywalker of political prose is of course thoroughly confusing.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          As promised, Dust. I was still thinking about our exchange, so here I am. At home, at my kitchen table, with a proper keyboard. I will not be sending a photo to prove it, so you will just have to put aside your trust issues and take me at my word (I am not wearing a tankini).

          “Dimwitted” would be more problematic if I meant it to refer to Hitchens and not to ideological bifurcation on the whole, which is indeed fun to type, now that you mention it. One doesn’t need to be a conscious advocate of balkanization to end up a poster child for it or pressed into service as an agent of it.

          I’m not sure how you arrive at “utopian uni-ology” as the only alternative to “ideological bifurcation.” I can’t tell if it’s funnier to think this is intentional or accidental, but it’s truly gem in a discussion of false dichotomy.

          It is trumped, though, by the assertion that the religion/antitheism/”New-Atheist” question is “not political” as a lead in to a litany of grievances against the governance of a country and specifically the Republican party, as if, in fact, the ONLY argument against religion lies not just in politics, but in American politics and one particular party therein.

          I am willing to admit that I fall short of thoroughly-read on Christopher Hitchens. 40 years is a lot of material. I read enough to know that I don’t care for him in any number of his many hats, which is where most reasonable people quit reading any writer or thinker. I suspect you are not much different from anyone in this very respect. I bet Bachmann and Romney have some literature out there I could track down and send to you. I wouldn’t read it, but if you’re into masochism, that’s your business.

          Ultimately, though, this is what’s most interesting to me:

          It is not political, it is moral and ethical to refute these things, and if they need to be refuted loudly and without concession to the “ambiguity” that you prefer, the very same ambiguity that has only recently been stripped away in order to allow the philosophy of atheism to be widely thought and written about to begin with, so be it.

          I can’t remember at this point if you touched on this in this piece, but who we worship (and even respect) depends largely on who we want to be and (maybe more importantly) who, deep down, we quietly believe we already are. We press heroes into service as manifestations of our highest opinions of and hopes for ourselves. When we praise them, we praise ourselves.

          And so, in turn, folks will generally react to attacks on their heroes as personal attacks. Hitchens, with a lot of people, tends to engender an exceptionally high level of internalization/identification, so it wasn’t rocket science to know he’d be the one that would get a response.

          If I am right at all about this, then some interesting things about your opinion of and hopes for yourself emerge out of your praise of Hitchens and the discussion surrounding it.

          Of particular note to me is the insistence upon atheism as a (the?) morally and ethically righteous stance. Your flippant dismissal of tolerance for ambiguity (a generally liberal and certainly liberal-artsy intellectual, thoughtful value) stands in rather stark contrast to your relentless insistence that certainty represents the death of reason and intelligence and so on. You’re proffering that one should slay uncertainty “without concession” to be morally correct and ethical.

          When you’re talking about the moral rectitude of your own inflexible position on religious/~religious matters, you’re not doing a very good job of demonstrating how your position is in any way free of religion’s most serious folly.

          Atheism is not revolutionary, Dust. Not even close. It is not some mighty rebellion or uprising. It’s the worn flipside to religion’s ancient coin and cannot be anything else. It’s religion with a tilde in front of it. The not-religion. The thing that is only there because religion is and that has been there as long as religion has. One literally cannot think of religion without thinking of atheism and vice versa. The notion that atheism is somehow avant garde is ridiculous.

          Humanism–especially as often practiced by those who are looking for a more intellectual, less belief-dependent word for atheism–comes complete with its own mythology, fantastical history of man, archetypes, gods and demigods, and, in its most adamant forms, a fanatical orthodoxy so lacking in self awareness that it skips right over mockable to terrifying.

          That’s what’s wrong with Hitchens. That’s what’s wrong with Dawkins. Anyone who is not totally blinded by a personal identification with these men and their particular cosmology has no problem seeing the hypocrisy inherent in their positions on the matter.

          And if you’re fine with that, fine. Everyone’s bound to contradict him/herself at some point. I’m not here to convince you God exists or that religion is righteous or Hitchens is the antichrist or anything of the sort. That’s speculative and a waste of time, and being a person who is certainly not certain about God or religion myself, I can’t even say I know that we disagree. I can say for sure, however, that you stand in disagreement with yourself.

          Last but not least, good old Camille has her own problems, but pop science demagoguery, at least in the sense I mean here, isn’t one of them.

        • Fabian says:

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

          “Dimwitted” would be more problematic if I meant it to refer to Hitchens and not to ideological bifurcation on the whole, which is indeed fun to type, now that you mention it. One doesn’t need to be a conscious advocate of balkanization to end up a poster child for it or pressed into service as an agent of it.

          Your earlier comments do not support this milder interpretation. The term “Balkanization” is almost as flaccid and vague as “ideological bifurcation,” although it does boast the additional advantage of making people try to recall the difference between Bosnia and Croatia, which acts as a further decoy.

          I’m not sure how you arrive at “utopian uni-ology” as the only alternative to “ideological bifurcation.” I can’t tell if it’s funnier to think this is intentional or accidental, but it’s truly gem in a discussion of false dichotomy.

          I arrive there via the cloverleaf expressway of the notion that ideologies are bifurcated by definition.

          It is trumped, though, by the assertion that the religion/antitheism/”New-Atheist” question is “not political” as a lead in to a litany of grievances against the governance of a country and specifically the Republican party, as if, in fact, the ONLY argument against religion lies not just in politics, but in American politics and one particular party therein.

          It would take too long to dissect this meander into refutable chunks, but I will reiterate the idea that non-belief has only recently been seen as a reasonable social and intellectual position, and that its perpetuation is a moral drive rather than a purely political one.

          I am willing to admit that I fall short of thoroughly-read on Christopher Hitchens. 40 years is a lot of material. I read enough to know that I don’t care for him in any number of his many hats, which is where most reasonable people quit reading any writer or thinker. I suspect you are not much different from anyone in this very respect. I bet Bachmann and Romney have some literature out there I could track down and send to you. I wouldn’t read it, but if you’re into masochism, that’s your business.

          Your comments above support the idea that you’ve read no Christopher Hitchens at all and have arrived at your position of contemptuous dismissal entirely by osmosis. I challenge you to honestly list a single Christopher Hitchens book you have actually read. Further, I think more than 1.5 articles is highly unlikely.

          I can’t remember at this point if you touched on this in this piece, but who we worship (and even respect) depends largely on who we want to be and (maybe more importantly) who, deep down, we quietly believe we already are. We press heroes into service as manifestations of our highest opinions of and hopes for ourselves. When we praise them, we praise ourselves.

          Demonstrating a profound misreading of the very point of my column.

          And so, in turn, folks will generally react to attacks on their heroes as personal attacks. Hitchens, with a lot of people, tends to engender an exceptionally high level of internalization/identification, so it wasn’t rocket science to know he’d be the one that would get a response.

          Psychology I coursework put in service of an attempt to re-envision your initial comments as having a hidden “provocative” agenda, thereby lending them greater weight and purpose.

          If I am right at all about this, then some interesting things about your opinion of and hopes for yourself emerge out of your praise of Hitchens and the discussion surrounding it.

          My hopes for myself mainly include not having to have another scotch at the idea that you think you could possibly have any idea what my hopes for myself are.

          Of particular note to me is the insistence upon atheism as a (the?) morally and ethically righteous stance. Your flippant dismissal of tolerance for ambiguity (a generally liberal and certainly liberal-artsy intellectual, thoughtful value) stands in rather stark contrast to your relentless insistence that certainty represents the death of reason and intelligence and so on. You’re proffering that one should slay uncertainty “without concession” to be morally correct and ethical.

          The celebration of “ambiguity” as you have chosen to interpret it is just the sort of intellectual nullity that allows the perpetuation of notions like climate change science being “unsettled” and intelligent design being a “theory.” Yes, my tolerance of the use of “ambiguity” to support the idea that certain people should be dismissed entirely for marshalling a brilliant combination of science and rhetoric to refute thousands of years of anti-intellectual thought, is indeed limited.

          When you’re talking about the moral rectitude of your own inflexible position on religious/~religious matters, you’re not doing a very good job of demonstrating how your position is in any way free of religion’s most serious folly.

          Relativism masquerading as an opinion. You have no actual information about my flexibility concerning religious issues.

          Atheism is not revolutionary, Dust. Not even close. It is not some mighty rebellion or uprising. It’s the worn flipside to religion’s ancient coin and cannot be anything else. It’s religion with a tilde in front of it. The not-religion. The thing that is only there because religion is and that has been there as long as religion has. One literally cannot think of religion without thinking of atheism and vice versa. The notion that atheism is somehow avant garde is ridiculous.

          Avant garde? Revolutionary? Mighty rebellion? You are attempting to refute points that I’ve never made. In any case, you are very much mistaken that atheism is the obverse of religion. But rational thinking is certainly the obverse of ambiguity.

          Humanism–especially as often practiced by those who are looking for a more intellectual, less belief-dependent word for atheism–comes complete with its own mythology, fantastical history of man, archetypes, gods and demigods, and, in its most adamant forms, a fanatical orthodoxy so lacking in self awareness that it skips right over mockable to terrifying. That’s what’s wrong with Hitchens. That’s what’s wrong with Dawkins. Anyone who is not totally blinded by a personal identification with these men and their particular cosmology has no problem seeing the hypocrisy inherent in their positions on the matter.

          There is nothing wrong with Hitchens or Dawkins. They are very smart men who have written extensively about their conclusions after a lifetime of study and research. There have been no claims of personal identification. Both of their stances refute hypocrisy at every turn. Their “positions” are that maintaining static positions are the problem to begin with. Hitchens is armed with the idea that the canon of western literature is a better source of morals and ethics than any faith ideology. Dawkins is armed with a lifetime of peer-reviewed papers and undeniably brilliant books that make a mockery of the idea that your are capable of encompassing his “position” so conveniently.

          Last but not least, good old Camille has her own problems, but pop science demagoguery, at least in the sense I mean here, isn’t one of them.

          I happen to enjoy smallish doses of Camille Paglia. However, she made her name writing about Madonna, Amy Fisher, and Lorena Bobbitt. If the “sense you mean here” doesn’t involve having the sense to admit that those essays constitute exactly the “rank pop science” you claim to despise, there’s not much else to talk about.

        • Becky Palapala says:

          The celebration of “ambiguity” as you have chosen to interpret it is just the sort of intellectual nullity that allows the perpetuation of notions like climate change science being “unsettled” and intelligent design being a “theory.” Yes, my tolerance of the use of “ambiguity” to support the idea that certain people should be dismissed entirely for marshalling a brilliant combination of science and rhetoric to refute thousands of years of anti-intellectual thought, is indeed limited.

          This is all anyone should need to read to become instantly distrustful of the parity of your deliberations on the issue.

          You unimpressively, however predictably, declare that the certainty/ambiguity that is wrong is that of people who disagree with you, particularly in terms (again, the examples you choose), of politics. This is convenient, then. By the combined logic of your statements on certainty (that it is unthinking and unwise) and what you say here (unless it is certainty with which you agree), you turn up with an argument (however crooked) casting you as a thinking individual with wise, thinking politic, and (again) you never have to actually pay yourself a direct compliment. (Though your diction is evidence enough to me that you don’t get out of your own house or head much.)

          At any rate, I suspect your ideas about certainty were contrived to convince you, not me. I hope it’s doing a better job of the former than the latter.

          But it is political. It is entirely political. You’re rank with the stench of it. Every thing you say smacks of it.

          Even your awkward attempts to bait me into some kind of partisan piss-fest. You don’t have to keep casting about, name-dropping conservative candidates and hot-button political issues. You could just ask. If I had to say, I’d say I’m libertarian-ish. That would be the best I could do.

          But do not try to pass off your political resentment as intellectualism and pure sense. I’ll listen to just about anything if it’s honest, no matter how stupid, but a disguise that shitty deserves nothing but a scoff.

          I don’t know where you get science out of Madonna, Amy Fisher, and Lorena Bobbitt, but I don’t know where you get half of this. Hitchens is a journalist talking about evolution–actual theoretical science–for the masses. To me, there is a distinct difference. Just like there’s a distinct difference between me: Someone who would call herself an evopsych enthusiast and you, someone who is, as far as I can tell, is impotently and mistaken pissed off at religion.

          The bottom line is that by pitting themselves against religion in terms of its “not”, its “ain’t”, its “a”, these men, and you, have already bought into the exact polarization religion represents to you and upon which religion’s (and, unsurprisingly, secularism’s) most unseemly elements thrive. I’m saying you and Dawkins and Hitchens are part of the problem, Dust. Not part of the solution.

      • Yes. What you (Cheryl), Becky, and Gloria said. I, too, am “allergic to anyone professing absolute certainty about the origins and purpose of life.” We can’t know. We can’t. I don’t rule out any existential theories for this reason.

        • Fabian says:

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

          “I think both Hitchen’s and Dawkins’ books are both arguing precisely against “absolute certainty” and in doing so attempting to use evidence (logic and rational thinking, which is by definition skeptical) against faith (an absolute certainty to which there is no foundation except itself).

        • That’s cool, Mr. Dust. I’ve never read any of their books, but I’m sure your summation of the messages is accurate since you have read them. I admit I don’t know enough about either author to have an educated opinion about their writings. I often see their names in reference to atheism, the belief that there is no God, but I was intending to refer to atheism in general with my comment. I should have clarified.

          I’m not religious, and lean toward the “logic and rational thinking” side of things. I tend to think this ride most likely ends in darkness and peaceful oblivion. But I describe myself as agnostic (rather than atheist) because it seems arrogant or presumptuous to me to claim to have any concrete afterlife answers, whatever version.

          Is there a book in particular by Dawkins or Hitchens you would recommend? I’m always looking for an interesting new read.

          P.S. Thank you for addressing the ferret-like quality of Paris Hilton this week. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who looks at that girl and thinks, “Weasel.”

        • Fabian says:

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

          “I think a good place to start is Sam Harris’ book The End of Faith. It’s very reasonable, rational and gentle. Not at all polemic. It’s also very intelligent and convincing. I would suggest any of Richard Dawkins’ books, whatever you can find cheapest. They are brilliant, and also very genial and with each sentence refuting the idea of absolutism. Hitchens you can find for free online, more than you will ever have time to read. P.S. You’re welcome, re: miz Hilton.”

  7. mel says:

    Becky, I agree about Dawkins, but Hitchens, well he’s kind of sexy.

    Kubrick may have been post anal perfectionist but hes the only director whose movies i love so much i actually read an academic book about the symbolism in his works

  8. mel says:

    lol!! because hes a smartass and a brainiac and before he got sick he smoked a lot, he drank a lot, ate a lot, and i read he snores.

  9. mel says:

    what is ideological bifurcation?

    • Becky Palapala says:

      I guess when I say it, I mean the notion that there are two ideas or ideologies, generally a right one and a wrong one. Or a right one and everything else, or however it’s framed. “Bi” –> two “Furcate” –> Divide, halve, split

      In Hitchens’ case it’s can refer to his polemic tendencies in general or his Theocracy vs. Anitheist conceptualization of whatever ass-haired religious/antireligious war he thinks he’s engaged in.

  10. mel says:

    polemic, yes. but i like how he gets peoples goat. its impressive.

  11. Joe Daly says:

    Fabian-related letters: Agree

    Obama letter: Agree

    Presidents are just like NFL quarterbacks- they always get too much of the credit and too much of the blame.

    Of the three branches of government, the one with arguably the least power is the one that receives the greatest scrutiny. Not saying it’s wrong or unfair, but it just feels that way.

    • Greg Olear says:

      Like quarterbacks! Perfect analogy. O is Kyle Orton, and we are demanding the return of Rex Grossman because he didn’t win the Super Bowl by 100 points…

      • Fabian says:

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

        “Yes, but in this instance I think Mr. Obama is an underweight wide receiver who is money in the red zone. The problem is that the Democrats rarely get past the fifty yard line.”

  12. cheryl says:

    Dust, this was a great post as usual. You are spot-on in your dissection of hero culture and its disappointments. And this:

    “I think the real problem is that we all have unrealistic and frankly childish beliefs about what presidents are capable of accomplishing. If a) every lobbyist was kicked out of Washington today, b) congressional rules were permanently altered to disallow filibusters, c) majority rule was re-embraced, d) election cycles were shortened to four months, e) all corporate political donations were immediately ended, f) Fox news was shuttered and burned in an empty field like a burlap sack full of vinegary shit, g) rote obstinacy was de-incentivized through an insistence on congressional representation by people other than jowly constipated white men, and h) real campaign spending limits were firmly established–then and only then could we truly hold our presidents culpable for the major issues that plague us.”

    Brilliant. Just adopting d, e, and h would render a nearly moot, and pave the way for actual responsible policy-making – an oxymoronic concept in today’s political climate. But campaigns are Big Business, and Big Business is untouchable, and so the self-fellating circle goes round and round.

    Recently, my hero is the dude who caught Rupert Murdoch with a cream pie to the face.

    • cheryl says:

      P.S. Where’s Fabian? Did you fire him in a fit of jealousy? His mom is gonna be so pissed at you.

    • Gloria says:

      I kind of hope it was the same guy who threw a shoe at W. I just really want it to be the same person. Like, there’s one bullshit-averse caped prankster out there making a mockery of the machinery.

      • cheryl says:

        And the machinery so deserves to be mocked. Theatre of the absurd, but like, with a purpose. Which is why, I think, pies in the face and – for example – Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are so necessary. When the whole system is a joke, you really need the clowns.

        Cream Pie Guy totally called Murdoch out as a clown. Aww, having a bad day are we? BAM! How do you like your day now?

        And Colbert and Stewart are like the twin court jesters of American politics.

        I think we might need more clowns.

        Along those lines, I’m kind of fascinated by the whole anonymous hacking collective shenanigans and where that might lead.

        • Fabian says:

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

          “Fabian remains fully employed and well, and his mother is as mollified as she is likely to be. Thank you for asking. Also, yes, Murdoch-Pie has been a long time coming and a rim of shit-meringue is beyond deserved.”

  13. jonathan evison says:

    . . .thanks for outing me, dust! . . . don’t tell my wife, though!

    • Fabian says:

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

      “NEVER TELL THE WIFE was long ago chiseled into the granite loadstone in the darkest wooded corner of Castle Dust.”

  14. dwoz says:

    Horse people engage in ideological bifurcation.

    For any given horse person, there are exactly two ways to do any mentioned horse care/training/riding task:

    Their way, or the wrong way.

    There are indeed only two ways.

    No amount of enthusiastic enumeration of material difference between the “right way” context and the “wrong way” context will suffice to convince the true horse person that a third way might potentially exist.

    That’s like a global warming denier possibly acknowledging threshold effects…or a Casey Anthony juror possibly acknowledging sheer unadulterated prosecutorial conjecture as fact.

  15. […] Dust. You really let out some shaft in the comments section of ATD #33, didn’t you? Well, I have to say, it was a long time coming. A very long time. Speaking truth to […]

  16. Gloria says:

    Dear Dust:

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/08/07-5

    I would like for you to read this and then I would like to sit and have coffee with you while you offer your two cents about it. Because you make everything tidy, and it’s all pretty complicated. And I’m just a simple gal, Dust.

    Thanks,
    Gloria

  17. pixy says:

    mitchum, indeed! i could go for a swim in that cleft.

    le swoon.

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