November 13, 2008

Projection Now, Projection Tomorrow, Projection Forever


Changeovers can be brutally destructive things. Many re-inventions happen in the wild and chaotic aftermath of massive, revolutionary change, but many more take place during the subtler transitions. Inevitably, though, naked avarice, cognitive dissonance and crude denial reign supreme. The winners scramble for as many spoils they can get, and the fleeing losers become scattered refugees, wailing in wide-eyed, desperate panic. Once-apt definitions no longer apply, as all forms of communication are pulverized into malleable blobs of Play-Doh, ready to be built back into whatever lingua franca the victors see fit to impose.

They also, of course, get to write history, which can be fun—believe me, I've met more than a few contortionist historians, and they were always winners—but for the most part, writing history is sloggy, boring transcription work, and that's where the projectionists make their real money. Yes, projection, that long-time tool of the Mighty Wurlitzer of Doom, ye olde standebye of demagogues and ranters of all stripes—but most recently employed by the snakes, thieves, and Judas goats who run the Republican Party, as well as the shifty little pimp-weasels who drive the Democratic jackass-mobiles, and the un-evolved rat-mammals we Americans call "third parties."

But enough of those fools for the moment—I was bitching about the election, because I have had e-fucking-nough of that, man. This merciless campaign has long since had its way with my fragile psyche, so by the time the climax slouched into view last Tuesday, I simply watched as the president-elect give his victory speech, then I drank a beer before immediately seeking a nice, quiet place to lie down for at least two months of hibernatory, blissed-out stupor. I felt I'd earned it, if only for the sheer feat of endurance I displayed by merely periodically degenerating into a jabbering puddle of goo—which is more than can be said for most pundits, bloggers, and other such self-important bloviators. Oh sure, I identify with those people in no small way, but their hyperventilating convulsions of informational ebb and flow this year clearly exceeded all recommended safety levels, and I needed a break from all that.

Sadly, it was not to be. I had barely settled down when a hideous shrieking sound crashed through my consciousness and blew apart any remaining sanity. "Mother of sweet babbling Elvis!" I thought, "what in holy hell can that be?" The tone and intensity was disturbingly familiar, and it didn't take too long to recognize the pitiful but dangerous yelps of cornered animals. Oh yes, I knew it well—it had been farting out of every nervous rally headlined by John McCain and his she-Quayle in the waning months of the vicious 2008 campaign, when frightened, incontinent crowds of Republicans collectively shit themselves with fear at the thought of a Black Liberal Democratic President.

Something was different this time, though, in the post-election-limbo-screaming. Every few notes or so, the sorry symphony reached apexes of fright that were just too articulate to belong to the average Sarah Palin fan, and then all at once I heard a crescendo of bile pour through the air—the kind that can only come from the brutalized and dehumanized, the sort that has only one origin; indeed, it was the sound of reflexive and reactionary self-defense, the kind of lashing out that I usually laughed at when it came from Minutemen at the border, or from Henry Rollins at a U2 gig, or from Red Sox fans down by one run in the bottom of the 8th in the unforgiving darkness of Yankee Stadium. Yes, it was full of that much pain, but all I could make out was a sewer-pipe of venom launched haphazardly in the direction of Salt Lake City.

Yes, it was the sad remnants of the Anti-Proposition 8 faction, the rainbow coalition of LGBT activists and their straight/hetero friends, frustrated into apoplexy that they had been caught flat-footed and beaten like lame mules by the "Protect Marriage" crowd, who'd swooped in from the deserts of Utah and utterly overwhelmed any last-ditch efforts at defeating the nebulous proposition and its exclusionary socio-religious elitism. It was the sound of sad, beaten projection—nearly a mirror image of the hysterical McCainiac crowd, but with a much sharper edge; oh yes, this was cornered-animal behavior too, but it also came from humans. Humans who'd had their humanity questioned and derided and denied and forbidden for millennia, humans who'd heard every lame, pissy, legalistic gripe about "so-called rights" and "no objective way to quantify homosexuality" and "think of all the frivolous lawsuits" and every other snide slanderous misinterpretation of "religious pluralism" or "cultural relativism" or whatever other pathetically feeble straw edifice ever employed to oppress the queers.

Yeah, they were pissed, and at the time, I couldn't really blame them, even though their collective spasm of protest was louder than an H-bomb and just as constructive. Days later, I would hear from a Mormon friend of mine who was caught in the middle of it; his flayed nerves and radiation burns were only a few of the ugly consequences of that raging horde's angst. He yammered on about tolerance and America and working together despite differences and all that other icky liberal do-gooder stuff, and as an icky do-gooder liberal, I agreed with him, because I'd also seen the same fallout demolish the momentary giddiness of a hundred thousand black people (and of course many other kinds of people) in L.A., delirious with joy at the ascension of our country's first off-white president, when they were suddenly set upon by angry and frightened Prop 8 haters who were convinced that "the black homophobic vote" had callously disenfranchised them in a violent, Jesus-fueled reclamation of "the civil rights movement."

That was a lie, of course, but it was the same sound of projection, and I knew it well. Oh yes, I did—as tangentially well as a white, straight, and married man can, anyway (which is more than you might think, especially if your seventh-grade peers never discovered your name rhymed with "queer"), and I despaired with sympathy. I recognized the foul reek of hard loss, the fetid stench of inglorious defeat, the awful truth of hopeless finality, because it had long been in me as well, albeit infinitesimally less dehumanizing. It stemmed from the collective, falsely-imposed shame of thirty years' worth of politico-philosophical date-rape—the same thirty years that saw the rise of Reaganism and other lesser cults of bootstrap-worshippers. Yeah, the same people who looted and stole and maimed and killed in an immoral orgy of fraud, corruption, and institutionalized ratfucking that has effectively paralyzed American politics for a generation.

I know you all know this—that "liberals" and "liberalism" have been shat on with exponentially increasing vitriol for that whole time, but the empathetic among us are readily able to extrapolate that to a fraction of the righteous anger that the truly oppressed have fermented in forever. It's an unbearably crushing weight, and even though it's a pretty pathetic self-flagellating exercise from me, I can't help but think that these two groups, Mormons and gays—these two-of-many historically persecuted minorities—are yet again being purposely divided, in the most heinous and inhuman way; are yet again becoming shoe-horned into the crawlspace of projection—forced to fight it out in yet another No-Holds-Barred Socio-Political Death Match for the amusement of the great dumb prime-time cable news and bloggy audiences of the twenty-first century.

Even worse is that I know what the answer back will be: "What the fucking fuck is this really about, dude? What the hell have you got to whine about?" And I have no reply but to point to my pathetic, year-long and campaign-long attempts at bear-beating; of egomaniacal indulgence and trying not to become a monster in order to defeat a monster. Of mocking the devil in smug confidence that he will flee from me. Of countering political fanboyism, of balancing out the slavish boosters of any candidate or credo. But that's no reply at all, and I know that to be true because of this: like almost everyone else in the greater Los Angeles area, I bought a newspaper on November 5th, 2008. It was the L.A. Times, and the headline was at once both glorious and chilling. Many if not most of you have seen it by now:

IT'S OBAMA: DECISIVE VICTORY MAKES HISTORY
...and below that...
In California, gay-marriage ban takes early lead
Fucking hell, people. As if we needed more proof that we all live in a capriciously chaotic universe. Hold on to your goddamn panties, kids. Everything up to now has been prologue.

Cross-posted: dkos, dd, mlw.

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