The Underground Lady [Page Forty-Six]

No one should write more than ten words in a row.  (I love that eleven-word sentence.)

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The difference between satire and seriousness is often one of mere style.  But for satire to work, it also has to mean what it “says,” on some level.

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For the above reason, amongst others, satire is not the most effective means of critical expression.  Satire is the last recourse of those who regard themselves as powerless.  It is a life-line to sanity.

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In an age when culture is universally bad, shallow, toxic—such as our own consumerist age—satire and other forms of broad criticism become immensely popular.  This is not only a measure of how powerless people feel themselves to be, but also an expression of a deep seated reluctance to change things.  In really bad times, when the situation has deteriorated so far that there appears to most people to be no option but to go on in the same way that they have been going, one always finds this subterranean attachment to power, almost a sentimentality for it.  Even the harshest critics of the power system today remain deferential to its functionaries.  This is a willing form of slavery, on some level, and, after all, this is one of the methodds by which the situation has been allowed to go this far to begin with.

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It’s difficult to get excited about attaining any level of success in such a corrupt time.  And besides, there is a built-in disappointment to success.  The accomplishment of something, anything, fine and serious, is a great reward.  After that, having it recognized by others seems dull.  This is why so many writers lose interest in their work the moment they are finished with it. 

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The craftsman is not the type of the artist, ever.  The craftsman rushes to show and to sell his work.  The artist is indifferent to its dissemination.  Writing is never a craft, and all such descriptions of it are false and ignorant.  Writing is an adumbration of freedom—a skeletal outline of it—and even in its execution, in its most technical moments, perhaps especially then, it is un-craftlike.

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We have never known what it is like to be free.  In modern times we have lived for the most part under the constant threat of the jailer and the psychologist.  Most people, as a result, believe firmly that what it would really mean to be free approximates our definition of insanity: constantly depressed and ultimately alienated.  Of course, this doesn’t sound so bad, compared to the everyday alternative of life inside an advertisement.

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Anarchism complicates morality, but not any more than contemporary life, with its incessant invitation to corruption and the exploitation of others.  The error that many status quo commentators make is to believe that by pointing out the impracticality of anarchism, its material and logistical difficulties, they can convince anyone against it.  That may have been true fifty or even thirty years ago, but today, in the West, and especially in the so-called rich countries, there are so many who have lived for so long under the conditions of abject poverty, both economic and spiritual, that this argument against the “absurdity of anarchism” holds no weight.  This misunderstanding between the top and bottom of society creates an extremely dangerous situation for everyone.  And anarchy grows.

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Anarchy seems like freedom to slaves.  And to live in one of the control societies of today is a form of slavery so absolute, so crushing, it is hard to grasp.

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I am convinced of this: If the forces of control, and the fragments of anarchy, really clash, Western civilization will end.  But I am pensive at the prospect.  What does it mean?  Haven’t we been living in a fragmented, junk-strewn society for generations now?  Only the upper classes will feel the difference.  Ah, well…too bad for them.

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The Underground Lady says: It is too late to make an appeal to the intelligent youth in the West on the basis of humanity.  Any such attempt will simply be met with the suicide bomb and the Molotov cocktail.  The Bohemian knows this, she continues, and while he prepares for the worst, he tries to reduce the further escalation of the situation by the clueless forces of control. . .not to save authority, surely, but for the common good.

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When I say, “Attack the corporation,” I am not in complete disagreement with the Lady.  It may be that using every means possible to attack and disrupt the growth of the corporation into a religious entity, is the most direct way to avert our collective imminent disaster.  Or perhaps I am just venting my own pent-up rage.  Again, I can hardly muster the will to care.

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Fighting against power in a control society—which uses all the art of mass psychology, advertising and critical theory, and all the science of surveillance, spying and reportage, to keep track of its own citizens—is not easy.  It is a subtle, and liquid, form of combat—like using acid to slowly melt steel manacles.

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Lucretius made the atoms of Democritus “swerve.”  We must do nothing less in our overturning of all things past.

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