richard pettibone, jasper johns flag 1955, 1967
On the news this morning was talk about the two "hikers" released from Iranian prison after a year or so. They were let go as a "humanitarian gesture," for a million dollars. The girl with them was released not long after arrest, again a humanitarian gesture, for half a million. They call it "bail," but everybody knows none of them will return for a trial. Saw a picture of the two guys; they looked like survivors of Wrong Turn 2, red around the eyes, a stark terror in the eyes that will take many years to recede to something they can live with comfortably. You might say they had their eyes opened for them. I doubt either of these guys will return to Iran for any reason. I can't help but think it immensely retarded of them to go hiking in the Iraqi mountains on the border with Iran in this time of war all the way around Iran. Iraq on one side, Afghanistan on the other, both wars are (pre-emptive) American aggression, Iran in the American cross-hairs for the last 30+ years. I'm reminded of the people on a New Age tour to see gorillas in their natural habitat, the Rwandan rain forest, outdoor petting zoo, in the height of the Rwandan killing mayhem. We're white bwanas, we'll be safe. They're only killing each other. Several were killed. I think of someone whose house was washed away by a flood rebuilding on the same site. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. He had his reasons.
And what an odd blunder in Egypt. A protest, which nobody in an African country was fool enough to believe would overthrow any government. It did. Then what. They got rid of Mubarak. They were not prepared to take over power. They were just protesting. So the military now has "interim" power in Egypt. Then the people in Lybia start thinking a protest will overthrow Khadafy. It didn't work. Since they committed themselves, they have to fight now to keep from being killed when Khadafy comes back. Doesn't look like that will happen, but he has a ruthless mind and he's not out yet. On the news I'm hearing it called "Arab Spring," which strikes me as an American "defense" department sound bite, like "Iraqi Liberation," devoid of meaning. Sounds pretty. Like naming a plane Enola Gay. Yesterday I heard somebody call it the "Arab Uprising," which accords better with my perception of it. It's too soon to be calling it a "Spring." Spring implies Summer and Fall to follow. Arab Spring sounds too much like W Bush's "Mission Accomplished." What mission? Accomplished? The only mission I saw accomplished was the American people hoodwinked by successful propaganda.
On the phone with my friend Carole, she told something from her granddaughter living in Seattle. Granddaughter knew some people in Seattle who had talked about how vulnerable the city is to a particular kind of "terrorism," evidently in the company of the wrong one. A plain clothes FBI agent came along and started talking to them about committing this "terrorist act." They were astonished. They didn't want to do that. A good time to say, "Get behind me Satan," with accurate meaning. All are in prison. USA not a police state? One of the motivations for me to leave Charleston was seeing how vulnerable the city was. I'm reminded of the 50s, during and after the Joe McCarthy American activities of name smearing and causing a large number of suicides. In those days, talking on the phone with friends, we'd frequently say something and then hope "They" weren't listening or missed what we were talking about. It was in the time of J Edgar Hoover wiretapping PinkOs. After the fall of the Wall, which Reagan strangely took credit for, we had less emphasis on communism to keep the population's fear quotient up. We went through the Clinton years without any fear being pumped into us by propaganda, though we had plenty of fear of Kenneth Starr. Then W, Cheney, Rummy and Rice hit the stage with 911 and we started thinking about wiretapping of phones again, even cell phones now. We know this time around that the Supremes will uphold every restriction of We The People's rights.
I think of what Meher Baba recommended: Stay out of politics. Such sound counsel! And I add to that Jr's sayin his daddy, Wiley Sr, passed to him: Stay away from important people. I see important people the same as the word politics, just more inclusive all the way to the impulse to politics. Important people in about all cases I can see are self-important. Ask their wives and kids. Important amounts to posturing, something important people do all the time, like sharks swim all the time to keep from sinking. Other fish can be still in the water without sinking. Posturing is a constant mental activity entirely self-centered. It's what important people do. Want to be important? Start posturing and it won't be long until some people start thinking I'm important; must be, he's posturing. "Get you a guitar and put it in tune--you'll be a-rockin and a-rollin soon." Strangely, in the 1950s American educational system, it was preached to the kids that being a leader is important, not being a follower. Whatever the hell that means. Leaders are important people. Throughout my growing up, the message to the young was be important. In college, it was be great. What a burden. And what bullshit.
The moment Jr told me his daddy's sayin, Stay away from important people, I heard the wisdom in it. Not just intelligence, but wisdom. A truly wise saying. I was already imbued with that thinking, but didn't have it as concisely as in a simple sentence, stay away from important people. About any way you use the word important. Then you don't ever get talked down to, or when you do, you don't receive it. If one of Karl Rove's Tea Party members of congress were to tell me I'm a jerk, I'd roll around on the floor like two fighting cats, laughing til my belly hurt and mark the calendar in red for that day. I'd probably sound like the cats, too. Thank You, Sir; Thank You, Ma'am or Miz. It would be feedback as valuable as somebody saying to me of one of my paintings with a fiddle in it, "I can hear that fiddle." I take "important people" to mean about everyone who thinks of his station in life "a position," the sure sign of a posturer, one who postures. Like everything else I live by, I allow for exceptions, lapses, errors, whatever. I don't take anything that I know of for absolute. There is another meaning of important, that is excepted from the meaning above. Whatever is important to your heart. Posturing is important to the mind, not even noticed by the heart. Important to the heart would be grandma's pinto beans and cornbread.