Note from the Editor

As our collective psyche whirls with sound bites about the scary, dangerous, safe, prosperous, misguided, freedom-loving, god-fearing world in which we live, one need not travel further than the rural southern U.S. to put one's finger on the pulse of the actualities behind the spin. Phil Rockstroh does just that in a sad and solemn essay, with his dying father-in-law succumbing to his Death Genes that comprise each of us and our Empire. We must face up to them and name them; loosen their grip on ourselves and our culture. John Steppling, too, looks at the present state of culture, as in cultural entropy, where art is de-idealized and commodified, and reality TV and computer-generated movies are the best we can do with our imagination. Ironically, the powerful writings of Rockstroh and Steppling give proof that creativity is not yet a completely lost cause! More on creativity and inspiration in a moment, but let's take a detour and look at the US presidential election...

November 3rd can't come soon enough for those of us, rather weary and fatigued by the quadrennial charade, who aspire to moving on to the real issues that have been massaged, twisted, spun and regurgitated -- or mostly ignored -- by candidates and pundits alike. But, as Mark Lause points out in his historical overwview of the techniques used to derail third-party candidates in the U.S., "what we are doing in 2004 is not about November, but about where the political discourse goes in 2005 and thereafter." We can carry on supporting evil or lesser evil, or fight for something different. "If those willing to restrict their options to lesser evils held sway, we'd still be part of the British Empire or trying to figure out how to get rid of slavery," Lause matter-of-factly posits. Hopefully, this election won't drag on for another 36 days, but when you read Jan Baughman's musings on the insane complexity of election materials and the voting process...well...we'll know soon enough, won't we? Laughingly, Gerard Donnelly Smith dedicates a poem to the dead horse some of us have been beating on for so long. Pause, breathe deeply, and move on in the direction Mark Lause intimates.

Back to creativity: our Luddite-in-chief reviews two talks by Arundhati Roy and her conversations with Howard Zinn, released on DVD by AK Press. Roy, through her eloquence and humility, provides an inspiring voice of reason, insight, and indignation that should help pave a way to stop our contemporary madness, from Iraq to Afghanistan, to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to US imperialism and neo-liberal globalization. Speaking softly, she calls that way, that process, Revolution. Joe Davison analyzes US hegemony with its Christian Fundamentalist underpinnings planted squarely in Iraq, with gourmand eyes toward the entire Middle East, and messianic intimidations against any resisting or dissenting country -- what's now known as the Likudization of US international policies. Thinking of Israel, Manual Garcia has a few words that may trigger another bunch of "friendly" letters; but, again, on this matter, we'll defer to Arundhati Roy's new DVD for her thoughts on this wretched and racist conflict.

9/11 conspiracy theories seem to have resurfaced lately and Milo Clark reports on troubling new videos, notwithstanding the fact that none of these theories cares to explain what happened to the real planes and their passengers (and crews). In his second poem, Gerard shows one of the great mysteries of life: how beauty and horror can and do coexist, feeding upon each other.

Finally, a few blips, from sardonic questions to Mr. Bush on so-called free elections in Iraq; to more examples of the bipartisan consensus; to liberals, conservatives and the Greens; Asterix's 45th birthday; web scavengers; Bruce Anderson's new AVA Oregon; and more (like the latest report by The Lancet on Iraqi casualties -- here again, we'll defer to Arundhati Roy...). John Steppling reviews our past edition and we close with quite a few letters -- some definitely not from fans, but appreciated nonetheless.

As always, please form your OWN opinion, and let your friends (and foes) know about Swans.


Patterns Which Connect

Phil Rockstroh:  On Attendance Of A Funeral In The Rural South
Empire, Jesus, And The Death Gene

In a small, prefab house in the coastal Carolina lowlands, an old man, the son of a son of tobacco sharecropper, my wife's father, lay dying. Even though the St. James Bible had been placed at his bedside, Fox Cable News served as his Psychopompus, conducting him up from this fallen world towards the flawless spires of the Beulah Land.   More...


John Steppling:  Cultural Entropy

The culture industry was described in the forties by Horkheimer and Adorno, and with astounding prescience, and yet there is a sense of qualitative change in popular cultural product over the last twenty years.   More...


Moving Beyond Countdown to 2004

Mark Lause:  Derailing Third Parties: Today And Yesterday

The Republicans seemed to have a stranglehold upon power, although recent scandals had shaken much of public confidence in the party of Lincoln. Much of the country referred to the previous presidential race as "the Stolen Election," in which the GOP had seized power in spite of its loss at the polls.   More...


Jan Baughman:  Voting For Dummies™

"Enough about the candidates -- enough already," to paraphrase our editor. "Do something constructive..." Rest assured, I'm not writing about the candidates -- I'm writing about the voting, a topic Milo Clark's been covering, and one we'll surely hear more about for the next few weeks, long before anyone figures out who won and/or becomes appointed to the presidency.   More...


Gerard Donnelly Smith:  The Dead Horse (for John and Gilles)

That dead, stinking horse does know that it is dead,
hopelessly mired in hourglass sand: blue blood, red blood
thick as oil seeping down, guzzling down.   More...


Hungry Man, Reach For The Book -- or the DVD

Gilles d'Aymery:  Arundhati Roy's Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy

When I received the package from Josh Warren-White of AK Press three weeks ago, I fully expected a book, not a DVD. I'm a technophobe -- can't program a VCR or use the microwave. I don't even know how to operate those remote controls that are supposed to make life so technologically purfect, like a purring cat on your lap. A DVD? What am I to do with this?   More...


Myths and Realities

Joe Davison:  Saddam Hussein: Hero Or Villain

In 46 BC the captured Gallic leader, Vercingetorix, was paraded through the streets of Rome by Caesar to mark the fifth anniversary of his victorious campaign to quell revolt in Gaul and Germania, a campaign which secured the Roman Empire's European possessions.   More...


Manuel García, Jr.:  Putting The Elephant Out

In their article in CounterPunch, "The Elephant In The Room Of Empire, Israel As Sideshow," Bill and Kathleen Christison describe the Orwellian "stopthink" that characterizes political discussion about Israel within the United States.   More...


Milo Clark:  What Are We Seeing?

Is anything as it seems? Illusions or perceptions of actualities? How are we to tell? Recently, we have watched three DVDs about the September 11, 2001 events. Two airplanes smash into New York's World Trade Center twin towers.   More...



Gerard Donnelly Smith:  Beauty in a Time of Lies: Truth in a Time of Horror

            Gliding along the sidewalk, she sways
hips side-to-side like a trolley on uneven tracks,
turning heads, breaking hearts, inspiring sonnets
by the regretful poet/ess.   More...


Tidbits Flying Across the Martian Desk

Gilles d'Aymery:  Blips #5

A few selected issues that landed on the Editor's desk: "democracy is democracy," says W. with usual moral clarity and impeccable logic. Did you know about the Schieffer Bros, the deep differences between Robert Reich and Newt Gingrich, or Sandy Berger and Richard Haass, for that matter? Progressives and paleo-cons sing the blues, the Naderite Cult, dogma and bitterness; Asterix turned 45; Cockburn's superb article and the !@#$%^& scavengers; Bruce Anderson's new weekly; the latest Iraqi casualties, as estimated by The Lancet, trigger two quotes, with Isidore Ducasse in mind.   More...


Letters to the Editor


A good dozen letters in addition to John Steppling's regular review on our past edition; from Anna Kuros's piece on Poland, quite a few on Israel-Palestine (even a challenge to a debate), Phil Rockstroh, the US presidential election, etc.   More...



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Created: November 11, 2004