"It's the dark princes, the democratic republicans, working for a barbarian who can scarcely spell his own name." - Masked and Anonymous
Things are still rather chaotic here, though mostly in a good way, so I haven't the time now for a proper post. But since we've come to this almost inconceivable moment, when dogs pick at uncollected corpses in the streets of a murdered American city, preemptive nuclear war against the threat of non-nuclear weapons is official policy, the potential repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act is floated, and a former US Governor - even if it is Jesse Ventura - speaks of fleeing the fascism and ruin that the Bush White House is visiting upon the country, I'm thinking maybe what's really needed is a proper allegory. Something like Bob Dylan's Masked and Anonymous.
At its release two years ago, while most critics were greeting the film with either confusion or horror, David Vest described it as a "spot-on accurate portrayal of what is going on RIGHT NOW, seen through the eyes of someone with vision and not just eyesight...All America's chicken-hawk foreign wars have come home to roost. The horrors once visited upon El Salvador, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Somalia and Iraq are now rolling through the streets of California. All the electoral disgrace of recent campaigns has been compressed into one presidential speech."
Like a good Dylanphile should, I have a copy of his pseudonymously authored script. A good thing, too, since some of the most important words are lost in the editing. The speech Vest mentions, for one. Here is President Mickey Rourke's address to the nation upon inheriting the debased office:
As you know, we have captured the cultural institutions of this country. The institutions that shape the souls of the young. The schools, the colleges, the movies, music, and the arts. They all belong to us now. At the moment, we are giving people a new identity, and erasing the collective memory. We are rewriting the history books. Nothing was more important to our President than bringing peace to this war torn country. Peace, a lasting peace, can only be achieved through strength. So, in my first act as new President, as the leader of the new government, this new regime, we will begin to deploy troops immediately to the southern regions, we will resume the bombing in the jungle. We will begin executing and enslaving prisoners... Remember this, life is a chess game, where all the pieces are the same color. Your self-discipline will be watched and judged.
We have learned a valuable lesson. Great nations do not fight small wars. We have seen the difference between winners and losers. Those who are victorious win first then go to war, while the defeated go to war first and then seek to win.
There will be no more stupidity. No more mistakes. It is a new day. God help you all.
And that's more truth about America's situation than Bush will admit in his speech tonight from New Orleans' open grave.
Dylan's always recognized the old weirdness at the heart of the New World, and he can see it now behind the collapse of our former and flimsy consensus reality. "They have aliens stacked up in warehouses," says one character. "What more do you need to know?"
The voice of a radio preacher serves as a chorus, and near the end says
God has turned his back on this nation.... All of humankind is a slave race and was meant to be from the beginning. Will man destroy the earth to move on? Is that his destiny? We'll wait to find out. What nourishes gods? The smell of fear. The gods get fat on fear. These gods left before the Bible was written....
And isn't that what this feels like? That the ancient gods are back, and their priests are in the high places.