|A Flare for Destruction.|
Carter Sickel's, The Evening Hour, reminded me of a line from Kobek's, i hate the internet. It was a very simple line, but somehow very effective, and went something like, "It was like being knocked down and kicked, again and again and again and again and again and again, and again. Which is exactly what happens to Cole Freeman, his last name being as ironic as the first, as Mr. Sickel conjures the town of Dove Creek, West Virginia and its doomed oxy-addled inhabitants.
Cole's been beat up one side the head and down the other. His father left his pregnant-with-him mom whose grandfather drove her to the bus stop outta town right after his birth, although he was always told she left in a hurry on her own, which he didn't have trouble believing since all he ever got from her were postcards. He gets beaten up, threatened at gunpoint, flooded out of his trailer, loses his boyhood friend whose killed by the cops, fails repeatedly at love, and quite generally is not enjoying the life a nurse's aid in an old-folks' home pilfering their belongings whose buying pills from elderly medicare patients and selling them to opioid addicts, had promised. Disgusted finally, he settles his Grams and Mom (whose returned, her newly-acquired breasts el flagrante), and, as he's leaving town, or, to be more accurate, on the way out of town, he parks his battered vehicle offroad and starts a long trek up the mountain to get a glimpse of the other side, a prospect the desolation of which he discovered he was ill-prepared to process.
Upon looking at the other-worldly endless gutted expanse, he collapses to the ground, rolling over and lying flat out and staring at the sky; he soon finds himself ruminating on how we, or at least, he, belong to the earth, thinking on which, he is soon seduced by the aromatic smells, wild and subtle sounds, and surprising warmth of the embrace a fecund earth cycling back into newly sprung life, such that they overwhelm him with the realization of how fragile is this thread of existence we habitually assume is so durable.
But our society, you see, one for which West Virginia gave what's considered their big fat stamp of approval, or at least that's the interpretation of the election results, thinks otherwise.
Because this attitude, the attitude of belonging to the earth, is in opposition to the Capitalist ethos that insists, quite strongly, ya know, with guns and things, that, well, not quite, it's the other way around: the earth belongs to me.
So here we have a denizen of what's considered to be the heart of American conservatism, literally the Bible belt, as Cole's father is a snake-handling preacher of fire and doom, in complete accord as to its relationship with the land, the earth, our mother, as the Native Americans in North Dakota who are trying to protect their burial grounds and water rights from being destroyed by a pipeline for some of the dirtiest (and corrosive) oil being produced anywhere in the world: Canadian oil sands. Ie, by figuratively the same people. With Cole's man in the White house shutting down his real allies, the people whose beliefs he comes closest to feeling in his heart, in North Dakota who are protesting the same thing his girlfriend had been protesting in the mountains of West Virginia: rampant destruction of sacred lands for private gain by Fossil-fueled greed stoking free-for-all Capitalism.
And, since, given the election results, we should all contemplate the possible layers of meaning the idea of making America Great again might suggest, we should look more closely at the philosophical underpinnings of our closest, and costliest, ally, the State of Israel, that believes:
Descent is crucial to Jewish identity discourse in Israel because direct lineal
descent from antiquity is the main reason given by political-Zionist philosophers
for why Jews today hold the right to self-determination in the land of Palestine. In
this view, all Jews retain a special relationship and rights to the land of Palestine,
granted by covenant with God: some schools of Zionism hold that Israel is the
successor State to the Jewish kingdoms of Saul, David and Solomon. That claim is
expressed, inter alia, in the Declaration of Independence of Israel, which affirms
that Jews today trace their ancestry to an earlier national life in the geography of
Palestine and therefore have an inalienable right to “return”, which is given
precedence over positive law:
The Land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious
and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural
values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book
of Books. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their
Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in
it of their political freedom. Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Jews strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland. In recent decades they
returned in their masses. […]
That claim to unbroken lineal descent from antiquity attributes collective rights to
the “land of Israel” to an entire group on the basis of its (supposed) bloodlines.
So returning to what would make America great again, it becomes clear, that, in Israeli thought, to make America great again, the only real Americans, the ones the National Anthem refers to w ith the phrase, The Home of the Braves, are their corollary in North American tribal descendants, the Indians, who have been "Impelled by this historic and traditional attachment, Sioux strove in every successive generation to re-establish themselves in their ancient homeland", because, like Jews, "Here their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped".
As stated by this declaration, there exists a Manifest Destiny of Native Americans to "regain control of their land, having been forcibly exiled, and never cease to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom."
So like Cole, our truly land-loving West Virginian mining country inhabitant, the same desolation he sees wreaked by Heritage, the strip mining company, on his beloved pristine wilderness, is akin to what any Native American is subjected to looking down over a traffic-clogged freeway snaking on for mile after steaming mile, a pulsating river of molded metal swelling to a molten crescendo that is in spate twice a day, after which, it dries up to nothing but a trickle, a territorially huge monstrosity lying as naked and inhospitable as a desert sizzling under a merciless sun, basking in expectation of an approaching downpour.
So in what must seem like a trivial pursuit of whether the earth belongs to us or we belong to the earth, is embodied the most-often used justification for War and the territory it is used to either usurp or defend, and nascent in that is the contradiction inherent in being a native American who is not a Native American, and the question of how ethnic, racial, religious, as well as minority, rights are to be upheld in a world exploding in a New rabid Nationalism even as its only path to prosperity demands an all-consuming internationalism.
But how can we determine methodologies and a legal framework to adjudicate such a regime of not just tolerance, but acceptance and social interaction, if the countries that stand as the guardians of those rights not only tolerate, but enshrine into law, policies that fly in the face of those inalienable (unless you're an alien) rights? You wouldn't be too pessimistic if you were to think those beliefs were in their twilight, had perhaps even arrived at The Evening Hour.