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Monthly Archives: April 2013

“Sovereign Citizens”  §

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Today, from what I gather by listening to the radio, one of our very own rednecks led Utah police on a high-speed chase after she tried to pass an officer on the interstate, speeding and in the median, to the left of the HOV lane.

Apparently, she has dutifully filed her “sovereign citizen” paperwork and is thus no longer under the jurisdiction of the state of Utah or the good ol’ U.S. of A. On it’s own, this is cute, but not blog-worthy. What makes this into a four-star story is the phone call that she made (and which was aired in part on the radio) to the 9-1-1 emergency line, in which she orders the dispatcher to have the police call off the chase and tries to explain that they do not have jurisdiction over her.

Naturally, they spiked her tires. Chase over.

— § —

It all reminds me of the son of a couple of white supremacist parents that lived in the neighborhood in which I grew up. They’d moved to the metropolitan area from one of the rural corners of the southwest, and he tried to explain this to me one day when we were pre-teens, one one of the odd occasions in which he and I ended up in conversation (we weren’t close friends and often ended up in fights rather than conversation).

“So let me get this straight—the government just arrests people that they don’t like politically, not on the basis of any crime they’ve committed,” I answered in response to an assertion he’d just made, “and then locks them up and throws away the key?”

“Yeah, exactly,” he said.

“But if you become a sovereign citizen, which you can do by sending some official U.S. government paperwork to the U.S. government, they can’t do this anymore?”

“No, because you’ve seceded from the country. You’re a country of one, completely independent. They can’t arrest you, take your money for taxes, make you agree to policies you don’t like and shit.”

“But instead they have to deal with you as two countries would deal with each other?”

“Yeah, exactly,” he said again.

“So instead of reading you your rights and arresting you when you do something they don’t like, now they’ll just bomb you with F-16s or blast your head off with a tank, just like they’d do to another country if it came to that?”

“No, no, you don’t get it, they can’t do that either,” he replied quickly.

“Why not?” I asked.

“That’s murder, it’s against the law!” was his answer.

In retrospect, I’d guess that this pre-pubescent kid didn’t get his ideas about sovereign citizenship and the practices of the U.S. government from watching teen programming on television. It may have had something to do with his ultraconservative parents (particularly the father, in this case, who was a real case study as I recall).

— § —

The Wasatch Front/Salt Lake City metropolitan is such a strange place right now; it’s being listed as a “major American city” in policy research, is a heating job market with a population in the multiple millions, and is being targeted by the likes of Google Fiber, Adobe, eBay, Kickstarter, and others as a top place to build, invest, and locate major operations. We have some of the world’s largest data centers and most cutting-edge medical research going on here, with big names involved. We’re an Olympic city. Park City and Sundance, each less than an hour away and both basically metropolitan satellites, are regularly packed with movie stars and the Hollywood set.

And yet, at the same time, it’s a Wal-Mart wasteland in which you’re still likely to run into dust-covered, barely literate “cowboys” in decaying leather rags, buying milk with their tobacco-chewing teenaged sons and trying to figure out how in the “sam hell” to operate something as mind-numbingly complex as the self-scanning machine.

I suspect that something will have to give. To listen to the talk radio and read the op-eds, the indigenous population is increasingly furious that it is being displaced. No, I don’t mean the Ute tribe, I mean the population of sovereign citizens that have been given this “country out here” as their birthright by God and the destiny that he once, for them, made manifest.

— § —

I still can’t decide whether I’ve made this post in jest or in all seriousness, or how likely this sort of thing is to happen in New York. At least in NYC, I suspect no one would be unsophisticated enough to bait a cop, then call the dispatcher to tell them that the police have no jurisdiction.

Even amongst nations rather than citizens, it takes a truly dumb nation (say, North Korea) to stick a finger up the nose of a political, economic, and military superpower.

Word to the wise, sovereign citizens: next time, at least wait until you have a tank to try to goad the U.S.A., or even the relatively harmless state of Utah, into war.

— § —

I take back what I just said about Utah, given the fact that one of our local military bases (a major U.S. one) will soon be one of three in the nation to host the national drone warfare program.

Get something more than a tank. At least wait until your sovereign self could take out Kim Jong-Un before you try to play realpolitik I’m-10-minutes-late-and-a-small-country-so-I’ll-just-blow-by-some-cops-and-not-even-on-the-road games with Uncle Sam or his local highway patrol adjunct.

To Introverts, Dreamers, and Snowflakes  §

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It’s not that I have disappeared or that I have stopped caring about writing here or elsewhere; it’s just that life makes it more and more difficult to do so.

I don’t mean as a matter of time constraints, necessarily, though that’s certainly a part of the reason.

But there is a deeper dimension to the process of becoming mute for some of us—a process that in my case has been ongoing since I first entered my twenties.

— § —

I’ve spent a good deal of time over the years engaged with various forms of personality evaluation, self-help and motivational literature, spiritual traditions of various kinds, and so on.

I know all the criticisms. In fact, I may have internalized them, as a consumer of these kinds of goods.

But as I get older and just a bit more wise, it has begun to dawn on me that the criticisms aren’t entirely innocent; they’re part of the ongoing process—not a conspiratorial one, by any means—by which certain kinds of personalities, certain individual value systems and orientations, and certain problem archetypes for enlightenment rationality and the totalized (along whatever axes) societies that it characterizes are repressed and displaced.

— § —

I’m an introvert. This is held to be maladaptive.

I’m not resource- or consumption-oriented. This is held to be maladaptive.

I’m a naturally dubious, inquisitive, and critical thinker. This is held to be maladaptive.

I enjoy nonproduction/nonactivity. This is held to be maladaptive.

I’m rather sensitive. This is held to be maladaptive.

I’m also stubbornly attached to my own judgment. This is held to be maladaptive.

— § —

The problem with trying to improve oneself in the world—which is really code for trying to figure out how to feed oneself after all in the extant political and economic systems that own the day—is not that the outlined techniques don’t work; in many ways, they do.

It is instead that self-improvement techniques are secretly tools of domination, designed to cause those of us that don’t naturally sustain and reify existing orders to become more like those that do.

— § —

It’s an extrovert’s world.
It’s a crass materialist’s world.
It’s a world of knowing, not a world of questioning.
It’s a world of action, not a world of thought.
It’s a world of rationality and externality, not a world of intuition and sensation.
It’s a world of the inessential, not a world of the essential.

The group of most successful archetypes is indistinguishable from the group of extroverted, productivist, consumerist, doubt-free, thoughtlessly acting, rationalistic, and inessential ones.

— § —

As I have become better at feeding myself—as I have, in other words, striven to be ever-more like that which I am not—my ability to produce or to feel motivated to produce—anything at all—has declined.

As a young person, I was incredibly generative, so far as I was concerned. Now, not so much so far as I am concerned. The lack of writing here (and elsewhere) is evidence of this.

The trick (and evidence) lay in the fact that to dominant eyes outside myself, I wasn’t particularly productive before and I am more or less in the same boat now.

— § —

For all the striving for change, what I have most lost is myself, something that disappeared along with the many habits of thought, feeling, and desire that characterized it—habits that I have spent a lifetime trying to change in order to “reach my potential” and to “be a better person.”

It is only now, as I get older, that I realize what a fool’s game much of this is. It doesn’t matter how hard I strive to be one of “them.” I will never be so “them” as they are—those gregarious personalities in suits that ask questions about price but not about value, about representations but not about their meanings. There’s a place in the world for MBAs, lawyers, politicians, enterpreneurs, and so on. They have a distinct value all their own.

But for the rest of us that sacrifice 90 percent of what we ever were on our own terms in order to manage to become 10 percent of what they are on theirs—the exchange is hardly an equitable one.

— § —

And once habits of thought, feeling, and desire are lost, they are difficult to re-establish.

But (for anyone young that stumbles across what I’ve written here) don’t imagine that by strangling your own nature you’ll fill any resultant vacuum with a new nature.

Instead, for the most part, you’ll be left with the vacuum—and you won’t be what you otherwise might have been.

Those that don’t understand—they’ll pat you on the back and say that you’re “getting better” and “maturing” and “growing” all the time.

Don’t listen to them; your instincts are correct. You’re not. You’re losing what makes you great. Pursue it, and let the naysayers complain bitterly—as they will, over and over again, unable to understand what you’re on about and what you’re all about.

But they need you, even in the midst of all their complaining, lack of understanding, and tendency to persecute you. The world needs you every bit as much as you need yourself—do don’t let yourself be sacrificed, and by all means, don’t perform the sacrifice with your own two hands.

— § —

So, in an obtuse (and, for the “other” kind of people, probably frightening, troubling, or bewilderingly nonsensical) way, that’s why I don’t write nearly as much as I used to, and why over the years since I began writing regularly, my writing frequency, quality, and volume have declined linearly over time.

I’m gradually training myself not to write. With every day, I get better and better at being “successful,” something that never quite measures up to the “success” that others—the ones that pat me on the back for it—enjoy, nor to my own values. And, with every day, I am less and less able to make use of the talents that I once had.

Dominant social and cultural forces, both individual and gestalt, didn’t value those talents. I made the mistake of imagining that—as a result—I didn’t, either. And even now that I have realized that I did, there remains the very practical problem and reality that they are maladaptive if I want myself (or my family) to eat.

I’m making a conscious effort to try to find certain things in myself again, writing (real writing) amongst them. We’ll see if it bears fruit. Even if it doesn’t in any real way, the attempt—if I manage to remain sincere about it—goes, at the very least, some way to restoring some sense of integrity, in the literal sense.