Archive for August, 2011
(Here’s a great piece that was on CNN’s website last Friday)
(CNN)-After watching him burst from the obscure world of heavy metal music onto the national stage as a Republican candidate for the Presidency, most Americans are asking the same question, “Who is King Diamond?” As of 2010, most political commentators hadn’t even heard the album Fatal Portrait let alone considered him to be a possible challenger to Barack Obama’s Presidency. However, the past few months have seen a whirlwind of political action by The King, including solving the debt crisis, helping to overthrow Mubarak’s government in Egypt and giving a speech in front of 2 million screaming, poorly-dressed metalheads at this month’s Million Metalhead March.
Not only is The King gathering a flood of support from disaffected Republicans (as well as some Democrats), his shadowy political action committee, known as THEM, has raised over 13 million dollars in less than 2 weeks. In order to understand King Diamond’s appeal to voters, it is first important to learn about his fascinating background. In many ways, The King’s story is America’s story.
Kim Bendix Peterson was born in Copenhagen, Denmark in 1739. He was the son of Per Peterson, a blacksmith, and Abigail Peterson, a blood-drinking witch who was a direct descendant of the God Poseidon. He was an intelligent young man who was deeply interested in alchemy, local politics and dead animals. When he turned 16, he had his first meeting with the Dark Lord Satan, who was working as a science teacher at The King’s high school. Satan, who was impressed by young Kim’s quick wit and nimble mind, became something of a mentor to him. “I remember when I first met him,” said Satan in an exclusive interview with CNN last week, “you could just tell he was going to do great things.”
When Kim turned 21, he officially took on the name King Diamond during a ritual sacrifice of Copenhagen’s largest water buffalo. The King was immediately given the powers of invisibility, the ability to cast spells on those he felt were deserving of torment and the occasional ability to raise the dead. Satan worried that The King might be taking on too much at a young age, but Diamond was able to keep things in perspective, rising to the role of Dark Prince in a span of less than five years.
Things haven’t always been easy for The King. Diamond has had to overcome several major obstacles in his life including a yearlong bout with bubonic plague and his grandmother’s devastating battle with mental illness. However, nothing compares to the horrible four year stretch where he was dead back in the 1840s. After being burned at the stake by wild-eyed French farmers who believed he caused blight on their crops, he was trapped in a darkened purgatory for what seemed like eternity. Eventually Charon, the ferryman on the river Styx, found the King screaming falsetto Latin choruses at passing demons and led him out of the realm of eternal darkness. “I felt like The King still had so much evil to bring to the world,” said Charon in his biography “Rollin’ On The River of The Dead: A Memoir”, “so I took pity on his soul and returned him to the world of the living. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
After his return to earth, The King became involved in politics, eventually landing a high-ranking position as Ambassador to Russia under President Teddy Roosevelt. While in the Roosevelt administration, Diamond accidently helped to negotiate the end of the Russo-Japanese War. For his work, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with the President, an Award that he tossed into a blazing fire moments after he received it. Things turned sour between him and Roosevelt soon after when the President refused to allow Satan to take control of Arizona, which he believed Satan rightfully won from the President in a game of poker. The King became disillusioned with politics and travelled to the Far East in order to learn meditation techniques from several enlightened masters.
The King returned to Europe in the 1970s and began his career as a musician, believing that music was the best way to spread his message of unbridled horror to the world. After stints in bands like Brainstorm and Black Rose, the King truly found his calling in the 1980s fronting metal legends Mercyful Fate. Along with the seven studio albums he recorded with Fate, he also put together twelve magnificent studio records as a solo artist. After seeing what he referred to as the “embarrassing state of American politics”, he decided it was time to return and save America from the “tyranny of the painfully stupid”. The King plans to bring a no-nonsense approach to governing that includes a more equitable tax code and the return of the guillotine. He has a bold, striking vision for America that many consider radical. However, in these troubled times, a radical message like his may be just what Americans are looking for.
(Editors note: This is inane poetry that I wrote about 5 years ago during my conversion to vegetarianism. It reflects my general unease about the idea of fake meat. I have since grown to love the stuff. Mock meat, I mean, not unease)
Why do we mock the mock meats?
Is it our feverish fear of fakes?
That make us avoid eating mock snakes
Do we fear down deep that we are eating
Something that never was bleating
Some hybrid of bean sprouts and shark
That looks like a deformed snark
Do we feel people will see us as quirky?
If we down a box of Tofurky
Should we eat what does not cluck?
Like a steaming plate of mock duck
Or avoid things that do not moo
And happen to taste like Elmer’s glue
What is a new vegan to do?
Settle down to a plate of mock kangaroo!
When will the mock meat madness stop?
Will they open a mock meat butcher shop?
Will mock meat mania destroy our nation?
Will we become a mock civilization?
A mock culture in neverending retreat
Who cannot tell the difference between real and mock meat
Posted by Keith Spillett in Articles I Probably Shouldn't Have Bothered Writing, The Politics Of Catastrophe on August 11, 2011
“It is not a case of choosing those [faces] that, to the best of one’s judgment, are really the prettiest, nor even those that average opinion genuinely thinks the prettiest. We have reached the third degree where we devote our intelligences to anticipating what average opinion expects the average opinion to be. And there are some, I believe, who practice the fourth, fifth and higher degrees.”
Do you believe in big government? Then you must be a communist who looks to manipulate lazy poor people into voting for you by offering them the opportunity to spend the rest of their lives as indolent pikers. Dumb. Do you believe in small government? Then you must be an evil spirited misanthrope who doesn’t care one bit about anyone but yourself. Dumb. Are you pro-choice? Then you must be a maniacal baby killer who seeks to undermine basic human values. Dumb. Are you pro-life? Then you must be one of those religious psychopaths who want to force women back into the June Cleaver model of complete helplessness and social inferiority. Dumb. Do you like Obama? Then you are clearly in favor of the destruction of the American Way of Life. Dumb. Do you hate Obama? Then you are clearly a closeted racist unable to cope with the forces of progress. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
It’s all so insanely dumb. CNN had a question on their Facebook site last night asking all of their likers the question of what should be done about the economy. Everybody responded with some inane pet theory running the gamut from the flat tax to value added taxes to the repeal of all taxes to forcing the Chinese to send their entire work force to Africa to the Fair Tax to more sin taxes, etc. 2,658 comments in 15 hours. People inevitably started arguing and quoting dumb things they heard other people say. People called each other names. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Everybody’s an expert. Each man a king, each woman a queen. Dumb.
I am not exempt from this sort of asinine posturing. I have moments where I forget that I am part of the mob. Wishful thinking does occasionally overtake my brain. The wicked, awful truth is by contributing to the blogosphere, I have merely exchanged my pitchfork and torch for a MacBook. I get worked up over the horrors of military spending or the Ponzi scheme-like quality of modern finance or the disgusting, venal nature of American politics from time to time and write about it. Dumb.
The truth of the whole thing is far worse than a person can contemplate without a complete psychic meltdown. It’s not just that we are dumb, that idea by itself is tolerable, even somewhat amusing. It’s that the product of all modern discourse seems to be dumb. Let’s assume for a moment that some of us want to use reason as an antidote to the basic dumbness of our world. Fine. Good luck. The non-dumb folks among us are welcome to use subtle, intelligent arguments to understand the world. It’s a free country, as they say.
Now, let’s say one of the non-dumb want to step outside of the perimeters of their mental world and, say, lessen the suffering of others or effect social change on any level. Well, those folks will present their ideas to a population that, for the most part, is uncomfortable and even threatened by anything that resembles reason. Let’s say you are making a reasoned argument for the truth of global warming. How on earth could you possibly explain the nuances of a concept like that to a person who believes that science is completely untrustworthy and dinosaurs weren’t real? Every time it snows they will thumb their nose at you and scream out “SEE!” Let’s say you are a bright and articulate religious person and you want to make a reasoned argument for what you believe? You will be met with every anti-religious cliché in the book and lumped together with sycophants from Jimmy Swaggart to Ayman Al-Zawahiri. You can’t win.
Eventually, the pure force of dumbness will overpower any even moderately intelligent argument. Seeing this, a person making reasonable arguments might well begin to lose trust in their audience. In order to enact any sort of change in our world, one must not just have a great idea, one must have an idea that the mob can be talked into. When the realities of the situation begin to occur to someone with an idea, they naturally begin to tailor their ideas to the wild eccentricities of the mob.
Most people might not understand the nuances of the idea of a welfare state, but they can certainly be convinced that its not right that someone who has a private jet pay the same taxes as they do. Now, the argument has moved out of the realm of thought and into the realm of pure, visceral dumbness. Pretty soon, an intelligent point about general inequity has become a shouting match between “the defenders of those with private jets” and “those who hate America.”
The upshot of all this weirdness is that extremely intelligent people are forced into becoming absurd polemicists. The merits of the idea take a backseat to the constant push and pull of public opinion. This idea is perfectly captured in the earlier quote by Keynes. The whole thing becomes a Faustian Beauty Contest fought not on the merits of what is beautiful, but rather, on the merits of what the mob might find the most beautiful.
Finding a point of view that makes sense becomes a lot like defensive driving. You are not driving based solely on the rules of the road, rather you drive based on what the idiot in the Camaro doing 100 miles per hour with a Pabst Blue Ribbon in his lap might think the rules of the road are. Even if you drive well, the moron next to you can still kill you. So, you adjust to the stupidity of the whole venture. In that adjustment, ideas that are logical are often jettisoned for more acceptable generalizations that can be absorbed by a mass of angry people. And those generalizations are met with counter generalizations, which are met with counter generalizations. The whole thing gets pushed out to the n-th degree. Suddenly, we are excitedly screaming at each other over what Joe The Plumber thinks. After a few hundred rounds of this everyone’s an idiot and no one can tell the difference. Over and over and back and forth. Dumb.
I offer no solution to this problem. This may well be how democracy works when you get it out of the textbooks; I’m not sure. I do wonder what the outcome of this insanity will be. I feel like I’m chained to 300 million lunatics going over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Everyone is paddling in different directions. Everyone thinks that they know how to escape and are just as convinced that the morons next to them are messing things up. We argue over how we got in the barrel, we argue over how to best get out of the barrel, we argue over whether The Falls are even real, we argue over how big the barrel is, we argue over who should get out of the barrel first, we argue over whether we should work together or separately. The result of all this strain and turmoil is no different then if we did nothing at all. We move towards The Falls with no clear explanation of what is happening and no possibility of ever getting out of our predicament. Dumb.