Rage Against The Water Closet

I want to relate an experience I had today and that has exhausted my battery of expletives. It is as banal as it can be: The flushing mechanism of the toilet in my apartment broke. At first, I scoffed at it, remembering that a friend once told me, “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown, well, one problem at the time.” But this type of problem doesn’t magically go away, nor does our digestive tract take into account the condition of our water closets. Soon enough I was flushing with buckets and the shower head tucked in the toilet bowl and my head clouded with self-pity.

So I headed to the store and explained the situation in my best Korean to a friendly lady, who eventually explained to me that they had replaced the old-fashioned floater with a new system. I gladly bought into that system and rushed home, borrowed a wrench and installed the system. The reservoir filled as I watched breathlessly. I had fixed it! But when the reservoir was full the device I had installed began to shake back and forth, continuously opening the water inlet so that the water kept flowing in short intervals, producing a maddening sound. I grabbed the new plastic with my hand, wiggled and turned it around hoping a little adjustment might solve the problem.

It didn’t, of course. I pulled back my hand, blue from the gooey stuff we put in the reservoir to prevent odor. Disgusted, but determined, I continued manipulating the flimsy device. How idiotic! Remember the movie Idiocracy? The reality is far worse! Here I was, sitting in my toilet, trying my best to fix a system that uses precious drinking water to flush down our excrements.

The idea that we have to “flush down” our excrements is the epitome of our refusal to understand nature. Treating our human waste in specialized faraway facilities has the advantages as it can be scaled up and properly managed, but detaching us from what comes out of our bodies reinforces a culture that reviles some vital parts of the human body – and I see a structural or Gestalt parallel between that attitude and the way we treat the body politic or the planet we inhabit.

I will keep raging against the water closet, perhaps smashing one to pieces like the German actor Klaus Kinski famously did.  I understand the dynamics of rage and how our inner fuse blows if circumstances force us to repair a system that we utterly and existentially disagree with, be it fascism or the water closet.

I appreciate the invention and register its contribution to the fight against diseases like cholera and typhoid. But our inability to move beyond a 19th-century Victorian technology in treating our bodily waste shows that we are far more stuck in old ideas than we realize. The old adage, that necessity is the mother of invention, holds true. We can only hope that this necessity will not come in the form of irreversible harm to our environment and the only physical body our culture inhabits.

A defining characteristic of any civilization is how it treats human waste, and I would like to see the day when we understand how full of shit we are.

Rage Against The Water Closet was originally published on Meandering home

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Trompsky #4

Welcome back professor Trompsky, how was your month, I think it has been a month since we have seen each other?
– How was yours? [chuckles and murmurs]
To be honest with you, sir, it has been terrible. I was terrified by all the suspicious packages addressed to the president’s opponents, the horrendous rhetoric of Bolsonaro in Brazil, the shooting in Pittsburgh?
– What we experience is the continuation of a process that has been set in motion, really, by the election of this current president. As a scholar I think the Bolsonaro election could be something of a final blow to global democracy, at least to the spirit of global democracy. That spirit is now in decline and, uhm, against ultra-nationalism we will have to fight an uphill battle.
Do you think the world will see more terror in 2019?
– I prefer not to engage in that kind of speculation, hope you understand. What I do see is a general shift in administration. From the nineties to the early 2010s the world has been governed by comparably capable people (remember how almost everybody currently sees George W. Bush in a favorable light), and now we are shifting to, uhm, the type of rulers that appear to be the lesser hypocrites. Yes, it is a politics of appearance, what we see in Brazil for example. Bolsonaro knows, using fake news, how to appear a tough crime fighter, how to appear the equal of the ‘normal man on the street’, how to appear an outsider of the elite, which clearly he is not. Appearance trumps political expertise and experience, we have seen this in 2016 in the US [chuckles].
Do you think leaders with a similar media strategy, a similar strongman style, will come to power in Europe and the rest of the world?
– Oh yes. This is to some extent a trial-and-error process. The few mistakes Bolsanaro has made, will not be repeated by the next Orbán or Duterte.
What is the proper leftist answer to this? Should they engage in, and could they win the battle of appearances?
– I don’t know. [shakes his head]. I think it will be very hard. Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or also Andrew Yang are very authentic politicians. But the left is divided and for proper idealists it is, and I think this is an important point, it is much harder to appear the lesser hypocrite. Wasn’t the media reporting about Sanders’ tax report? It is the absurd paradox of the politics of appearance that Donald Trump, with all his blatant lies, appears as the lesser hypocrite.
And the same goes for Bolsonaro?
– Yes. Brazil is in a way what awaits the US in ten, twenty years. The people are looking for an alternative and this man is filling the empty space on the right. In the case of Bolsanoara, he doesn’t lie directly but his supporters claim that what he says about gays, blacks, activists, women, minorities, it shouldn’t be taken seriously. And the riddle is why that makes him appear to the electorate as the lesser hypocrite.
We thank you for your time, Mr. Trompsky.
– My pleasure. Please do come back.
If democracy hasn’t died in darkness.
– Yes, ahum [chuckles]

Trompsky #4 was originally published on Meandering home

Professor Trompsky #3

Professor Trompsky, welcome. I guess you are a regular on our show now.
– Yes you could say that [chuckles]
Just  before this interview, you said you had a mediocre ephiphany. Care to elaborate?
– Yes. Consider thissimple question. Would you increase your happiness at the cost of another’s happiness?
I guess not.
– But isn’t this what the market allows us to do?
You mean the exploitation? The slaves of the modern age who produce our clothes and cell phones?
– Precisely. Consider what is going on in places like Bangladesh [fashion industry, red.] or the coltan mines of the Congo.
Is it not a bit cynical to reduce the function of the market to that?
– Isn’t cynicism the only correct position to occupy these days?
Occupy? Nobody talks about occupy anymore.
– That’s because the movement was never design to last. It was a little steam vent for the neoliberal machinery is what it was. [Huffs and puffs]
Would you like some water, professor Trompsky?
– Yes, please, thank you. But I want you and our listeners to think about my mediocre epiphany. What if [systemically, red.] the function of the market is to make invisible the decrease of other people’s happiness, so we can perceive our own increased happiness as the surplus of capitalism. It allows us to ignore the fact that, to a large extent, the economy is still a zero sum game.
Isn’t that indeed a very trivial observation?
– Surely my darling. But I ain’t getting any younger. Allow me my trivialities.
We thank you for this candid conversation, Mr. Trompsky.
– Thank you. [hums and chuckles]

 

Professor Trompsky #3 was originally published on Meandering home

Brazil kaputt

In a radio interview with a Dutch correspondent living in Rio, she expressed horror. The most likely president elect of Brazil this coming Sunday, the army captain Jair Bolsonaro, is worse than Duterte, Putin, Erdogan, Orbán and Trump combined. He will usher in a whole new level of autoritarianism. This piece of garbage is against minority rights, more specifically indigenous rights, and is lying all he can to ascend to power. His rule will also amount to a death sentence for the Amazon rain forest. He has applauded corrupt police officers shooting hundreds of people in the favelas. He says more people should be shot. He called African immigrants to Brazil the “scum of the earth”.

The popularity of this despicable thug, especially among black and mixed-race voters, is an enigma. Yes, it could partly be explained by the fact that Brazil is in its worst recession ever, partly by the escalating gang violence (black men are 9 times more likely to be killed than white men in Brazil) and partly by the sickening corruption of the ruling political elite. After he was recently attacked with a knife, many people began viewing him as a savior. Perhaps people are getting so sick and tired of the morally bankrupt political elite that they long for a de facto dictator.
But still. Shame on the Brazilian people, at least on the majority who will vote for this man out of fear or desperation or anger or all of those.

Fuck.

A dear Brazilian friend has already contacted me saying he will leave the country. I will offer him asylum in my appartment.

To be fair, the media is paying some attention, but it is not nearly enough. This is the largest country in South America, one of the 4 economies called the BRIC-countries and two of them (Russian and China) are already clearly not democracies. The world cannot afford to lose Brazil too.

Brazil kaputt was originally published on Meandering home

Professor Trompsky #2

Welcome back professor Trompsky, glad you took your time to talk about the controversial Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
– Thank you. These are very serious matters yes. I think he is the least capable person in America today to become a Supreme Court Justice. Every which way you look at it, this nomination is a catastrophe for our country and should be aborted at all costs.
So you are calling for abortion of his nomination. Could you elaborate?
– If we carry this nomination to term, we will have bred a monster. Brett Kavanaugh is a religious fanatic of the sort that would put the church above the constitution. The High Court will turn into a Medusa whose sole purpose it is to protect the powers of the president.
When you say we must prevent Supreme Justice Kavanaugh from happening, what exactly do you have in mind? Polonium?
– This is not the time for flippancy. I personally think there are more civilized ways than radioactive chemicals.
Such as?
– We just keep repeating the sins he committed as a young adult. Did you know that FFFF means “Find ’em, finger ’em, fuck ’em, forget ’em”? And that boofing is anal ingestion of alcoholic beverages?
This is common knowledge, yes.
– I don’t see how this man still has time for serious legal scholarship, let alone the position of highest judge in the country.
I understand your point professor Trompsky. What do you suggest as a means of last resort, to avoid this twit to ascend to the throne of the American judiciary?
– [shrugs] I don’t know. Maybe burn down the court house.

Professor Trompsky #2 was originally published on Meandering home