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A Terrible Thing, by Ray Zwarich

To all the Really Good Ones, and to all in peril on land or sea:

Caliban has noted lately that there seems to be an organized 'network' set up among 'alt-media'. I am seeing, several times now, an article will appear on a large number of 'alt-media' sites virtually 'simultaneously'. Sites have always republished material they like, but is this simultaneity not new? 

I'm not saying this is 'bad'. I'm only saying that Caliban 'sees' this happening. Caliban has learned that there is both good and bad in most ALL things, and I expect that this development is no different.

These entities, now apparently syndicated into the Left Alt-Media Network, (LAMN, but only my own ad hoc term), seem to have 'given birth' to one entity, (in de facto 'on the ground' terms).  

So ... A 'network' has formed. A network has 'switches'. Who controls these 'switches'? How are they controlled? These are among the fair and necessary questions. They must be asked. 

Caliban has also noted that young retired military officers seem to be LAMN 'favorites', or anyway, out of all the cacophony, many of the voices that are given time at the mic seem to be young retired officers, who actually project their rank, their status and identity as 'warriors', as part of their 'brand', as they promote themselves and their work. (Major Sjursen is not fighting for a cause here ... He's promoting his latest book).

Anyway ... Whoever controls the switches of this new Left Alt-Media Network, seems to have an especially high regard for young retired military officers. (Just sayin'). 

Major Daniel Sjursen is one. I encountered his latest article on ole Robert Scheer's blog. [(He of 'Ramparts' glory in the 60s, he who helped Eldridge Cleaver on his road to fame, or at least notoriety. A grizzled veteran of many battles is Robert Scheer)]. 

Major Sjursen wants us to find a way to be 'patriotic' even as we guard ourselves from 'nationalism'. 

The Left, or at least it's activist intelligentsia, seems to regard this as an important distinction to make.  

This is a truly brilliant young man. If any are not yet familiar with young Danny Sjursen's work, you should watch for his byline. Ole Caliban thinks the lad has a thing or two t' learn yet. I'm hoping he knows that too. (He sometimes seems to relish what he already knows a bit more than one should, if one is eager to learn more). But this young man shows promise of many good deeds. (He just looks like he has some critical choices left to make first). 

Copied below is Caliban's reply to young Major Sjursen's thoughts on 'patriotism' and 'nationalism'.

Hope all are well. So far ... so good..(knock quickly) ... Far too soon to fully exhale. We'll be fine ... Steady ... just be ready ... Resolve will be our best means. We will endure. Our time to take the field will come.

You'll know.


R Zwarich
Bent Birch Farm
63 Webber Rd
Brookfield, MA 01506
774b 449-8030

A Terrible Thing

All the accumulated legacy of human wisdom has been sung at one time or another. Collections of songs, if they are the right songs, can teach us much more than any textbook or bible.

Words speak our minds. Music expresses our Desire, our essential yearning, our human soul.

Together they can do magic in us. “Words and music, Wordman. Words and music”, Eddie said to Wordman, as he crossed his middle finger over his index, and tapped his heart.

Some can find the words. Some the music. The most fortunate can find both.

“My name is ‘O’Hannon, and I’m just gone 16”, said the young soldier lying in his ward bed, one leg gone below the knee, one arm to the shoulder. “How can I ask me darlin’ Jenny t’love me now?” is the only question that fills his mind, as his soul burns with hatred of the "quislings who bargained in soul”.

“Come all ye young rebels
And ‘list while I sing
For the love of one’s country
Is a terrible thing
It banishes fear with the heat of a flame
And it makes us all part of the Patriot Game

A ‘terrible’ thing; Indeed .. (The Latin ‘terrorem’, fear).

Does young Major Sjursen want to find some way to make it less? Less terrible? 

“O all the battles that ever I fought, the cause was there before we came, and every one I fought with no regret and not one trace of shame” — B Dylan, describing the ‘heat of the flame’ in him. (He said it better, to keep with meter and rhyme and all).

And thus do young soldiers, “without whom Caesar would have stood alone” (–B. Sainte-Marie), thus do dashing young officers proud of the glory they have won, look for noble ways to think of what they do, and have done.

All these ‘young soldiers’, like the young Major Sjursen, with generous pension checks coming in to reward them handsomely for their exploits as their nation’s imperial warriors, are now surfacing in our civilian society to guide our thinking?

Ehh? …. Good enough. They do all seem very proud of the badges of rank they earned as warriors. Just to remind us civilians, (who never took up arms for pay), a ‘major’ commands, but the orders she or he gives are not her or his own. She or he said, “Yes SIR!”, and saluted smartly, before turning to ‘command’.

The good Major Sjursen now enjoys having good fun at the expense of those he once loyally saluted, whose step and bidding the good major is now so proud of having once done. (There's rather a 'break' in the 'logic' there somewhere, isn't there?)

One thing the brilliant young major surely knows is that there are FAR worse motives that can animate organized power than even ‘patriotism’, or ‘nationalism’. Sure ... Caesar’s troops loved Rome. They fought for Rome’s glory. Aye, but by the man’s courage and deeds, they came to love Caesar himself much MORE!

We can clearly see the emergency in our nation’s precarious position in the world, in the fact that our warrior class itself has gone to such corruption of spirit that none are even ‘on the scene’ as our nation flops in powerful helpless spasms, like a mighty angry white shark flopping on the hard dock timbers.

It would not take near a ‘Caesar’ nor a Bonaparte, to rise above this chaos. A halfway competent general could see the path stretching out before her or him. It would be an easy path for a person of that stature to walk.

But there are NONE! None save Skinny Joe, his boots all alosh with dripping stink, and Trumpty-Dumpty, all in pieces now.

The Warrior nation has NO warrior heroes. No Achilles. No Ulysses. Not even a primping fool like Custer. All we have is these intelligent young officers come to guide us gently.. Well … OK … Good enough … 

But somehow something is not right.

These young warriors, especially those of lower rank, (Ms. Gabbard is also a ‘major’) have served a nation in doing evil. Granted … The ‘situation’ is so complex that many do evil in our times, and delude themselves into thinking they did ‘good’. Some have done some sort or degree of ‘penitance’, of ‘confession’, but even then they seem inordinately proud to have served in the Empire's Legions as they did great evil.

When we lose our genuine sense of ‘humility’ and begin acting humble to mask our pride, those who ‘see’ will seldom be fooled. Remember the conversations between Adam Trask, and his loyal servant, Lee, who, like poor Hattie Carroll, “emptied the ashtrays on a whole other level”?

The brilliant young major likes words games, does he? Find the inherent nobility in humility. It is near impossible to feign. Shall I raise my nose or lower it? Is there power to be gained? If there is, would that be a reward? Solve THAT word game riddle, young Major Sjursen, and Caliban’ll give ye another. These are fun games.

What does the young Major do when he stops playing games?

Here’s one fer ya, lad … Did ya ever read Blake? English …. But a ‘seer’ … Surely descended from Druids. He had mad visions. He saw deeper into ‘reality’, even beyond the confines of our human ‘sturm’ and rutting ‘drang’. He saw visions of a face he could never quite describe, but he TRIED. He tried mightily … and O so well ….

Anyway … Ole Willie Blake, (and I’m tellin’ ye, some spirits start speaking in him, ya best close the door and wait a bit), understood ‘dialectics’ much deeper than Marx.

We live on the skin of a bubble. That is the basic essence of our human condition. We live on the tension defined by opposing forces. Energy and Reason, ole Willie liked t’ call it, (often raging like he was carrying a mostly empty skin of wine). Reason and Desire, Caliban says, (a sip left there Will m’boy?).

Yer gonna slice it up, Major, like Slick Willie trying to have us doubt what ‘is’ means?

It’s not all as complex as you make it out to be. Yet sometimes the simplest riddles can be the ones that ‘stump’ us. (“Upon that stump there, young Gandalf. That one’ll do fine. And wear this silly pointy hat while ya think on it”. Isn’t the very language fascinating? the mystery in each word?)

Patriotism and Nationalism are but forms and degrees of the same thing. But sharpen yer blades, lads and ladies, because we need to slice love from loyalty, and understand the clear difference.

Uhh … Sigh … Any stump would do … C’mon, lad … Humility is not like some cheap whore … to use and kick aside. When you use it to mask your pride, do you think that NONE ‘see’?

YOU must ‘see’, m’boy. That’s all that matters. Only Self-Awareness can save us. You want to meet The Enemy? Find the closet mirror.

See thyself as you imagine an all-knowing ‘God’ would see you. How do you imagine an intelligent objective force would ‘see’ you, (‘objective’ meaning ‘not you’), that knew every deed you have ever done, and WORSE, that knew every thought that has ever crossed your mind?

“What can you do for me, young man?”, the old man in rags said to the glorious Alexander, looking up at him, awakening from his nap in his favorite spot under a bridge. “You could stand aside a bit. You’re blocking the sun’s warmth”.

Plutarch tells us that Alexander’s men saw him weeping, and clearly heard him say, “if I were not Alexander, I would be Diogenes”.

You like mind games, young Major? What was Alexander feeling as he wept? What passions clashed in him? And Diogenes? What might he have done, once the sun-god had departed? What else besides getting back to feeling the joy to be had in the sun’s very warmth?

You like word games? Yea … well … They’re OK … They’re fun … There is a history in every word… a human passion that once uttered as but a primitive grunt, became a word…. And word always leads to another.

And thus human Reason took flight.

Caliban likes word games, but I like to twist them a bit, into ‘riddles’, that's even more fun. Every Hobbit loves a riddle.

Humility and Pride had a great and fearsome fight.
Who won?