Friday, August 09, 2019


Waking, I smell the stink of nearby forest fire.  The air is full of suppressed rain.  I think of the first massacre at Wounded Knee, not because of the weather, but because of the atmosphere of the country. I dreamt about it, worse than the Kardhasians, who are merely vulgar and flashy, because the Trumps are ghoulish in the 19th century way of the Clearance of the Prairies, the systematic killing of the people who had lived on this land since the glaciers retreated.

At Wounded Knee the massacre prompted by fear of dark people, though they were impoverished and their way of life was smashed, was one of the early uses of machine guns, the assault weapons of the time.  You probably recognize the photos of twisted bodies that were left in the snow, frozen in attitudes of agony.  What you probably don't know is that after the first killing wave when the children scattered into the brush, the officers called to them to come out, assuring them that now the danger was over and they would be safe, taken care of.  

When they came out, they too were raked by gunfire.  In the end when the soldiers and townspeople, ever curious, came to investigate the ground of murder, one baby was found still alive, under the mother who had fallen over the little girl to save her.  They did not kill the baby. They kept her as a trophy toy and raised her as a curiosity.  This is real.  You could look it up.  There is no photo of the president at the time (1890) grinning with his thumb sticking up like a weak imitation phallus.  But there was the same appetite for fame and destruction.

Zinkala Nuni as a baby, 
being held by U.S. Army General Leonard Wright Colby, ca. 1890

We're told there's a storm coming on Sunday.  We don't have hurricanes up here on the Montana Highline, except storms of the heart, the murder of girls and women one by one, forced to receive murder mixed with sex like all the other females of color over time and place.  (Zinkala Nuni died in 1920 of flu and syphillis given to her by her adopted white father, who raped her.) There is always a fringe of men, usually young, stuck in unemployment or drunkenness or grinding jobs who become enraged and unhinged.  They express it according to their times.  Along the High Line where it is often a truck driver's crime, esp. among those with felony records who cannot take a truck across the border, they leave the dead women along the road with the bottles of urine they fill because they don't have time to stop if they're going to meet their deadlines.  When the maintenance men come to cut the barrow pit grass they dread smashing the bottles, but they dread the bodies even more.

As Rachel Maddow has said vehemently, history is watching us.  Even during August recess, if it lasts, history is noting everything and will tell it through the times to come, as long as there are still people.  But the people who can are ignoring it.  Makes no nevermind to them.  Time to get ready for school with bullet-proof backpacks and emergency cell phones.  A family sit-down to decide what to do in case of massacre.

Erik Erikson wrote several books on the premise that certain prominent men can embody the key dynamic of their time and place. was the first.  (Not Martin Luther King, Jr. but the original Lutheran who prompted Protestantism.) Many have accepted the premise, including bios of Trump.  Some are more persuasive than others.  Of course, the ones paid for by the subject are only believed by the gullible.

In this linked article it is the bio of Trump's brother that is more revelatory than a recitation of The Donald's own scams.  Clearly, he was right about addiction.  It's just that someone told him Adderall is not dangerous or addictive.  They say he's also hooked on nose meds because of constant mucus drainage.  Whatever the cause, including age, Trump is sinking into dementia.  And so is the country.

In fact, it's a little difficult to separate the causes from the symptoms, given that some of the symptoms are so compelling.  For instance, video games are widely blamed -- vivid, violent, hypnotizing, often about war  -- but they are more symptoms of our gamification of everything than causes by themselves.  Gamification, commodification, and several other concepts are abstract, not often discussed, hard for many people to believe in as a "thing."  (Thingification is also part of this.)  Gamers admit that some keep score of mass shootings in the same way that vid games do: number of kills, number of shooters, time elapsed, and so on.  It's just part of the whole nation's score-keeping, as in sports.  Sportification.  

Winning becomes polarizing and leads to violence.  Extra points for tricky winning, like firing someone just before their retirement kicks in.  Winning becomes intimidation, like deporting people in circumstances that will kill them or orphan their children on the first day of school.  This is the part that's uniquely Trumpian.  Vicious retaliation, escalation.

Here's some catchup about gamification.  I've been presented with the idea as a good thing for both schools and religious groups.  Improve results!  Kick up your scores!  It begins in kindergarten with ball games.  It you don't become a winner from the beginning, you will miss your chance to never have a formidable post-grad debt!  The TV shows about office politics are just gamification acted out.

Here's a checklist in case of gamification becoming deadly, a mass shooting.  There are quite a few lists like this online. Watch out for these traits.  Put a towel over the mirror while you read it.

  • Lack of empathy — an inability to feel or sense how one’s behavior affects others and their experience of pain or suffering 
  • Cruelty — a history of enjoyment of hurting animals or other people 
  • Sense of grievance — the feeling that others have hurt, taken advantage of, belittled or damaged oneself or one’s family or community 
  • Entitlement — the feeling that oneself or one’s family or community has special status, deserves special treatment or privilege 
  • When grievance and entitlement are combined, a feeling those who fail to recognize or even who actively attack one's entitled position deserve to be eliminated 
  • Intensified threat or attack — the affronts to special status are actually or perceived to be growing worse 
  • Access to means of attack 

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