Author Archives: Edward Curtin

The messenger

Words are inadequate to describe certain experiences that happen outside the law of cause and effect. Although they are universal, they are often so weird that to recount them makes most people uncomfortable, unless they are New Agers, spiritualists, or mind-curers who believe in the great American tradition of the happiness machine and revelations on every bathroom wall, Jesus’s face in cloud formations, or apparitions in every shadow. I am none of those. Continue reading

The shallow Deep State goes deeper as it moves toward martial law

I am not trying to be cute and play with words. That title is meant to convey what it says, so let me explain. Continue reading

Passing behind our backs

I never met the great basketball player, Bob Cousy, the man known as “the Houdini of the Hardwood,” yet he somehow influenced my life in ways I never knew, or to be more accurate, in ways I didn’t reflect upon except in superficial ways. He was the guy who brought professional basketball into the modern era with his bag of fancy tricks that included no-look and behind-the-back passes, uncanny dribbling, and a magical court sense that made the fast break into an exquisite art form. The captain and point-guard of the Boston Celtics from 1950-1963, Cousy led the Celtics to six NBA titles, made thirteen all-star teams, and changed professional basketball from a stodgy, boring, and slow game into a fast-paced spectacle, entertainment as much as sport. He was a wizard with a basketball and set the stage for Guy Rodgers, “Pistol Pete” Maravich, Bob Dylan, Magic Johnson, and Steve Nash, among other tricksters, modern Hermes. Continue reading

The online double-bind

The trap was set at least twenty-five years ago and the mice jumped at the smell of the cheese. I am referring to the introduction of the computer as a mass necessity and the Internet that followed. Continue reading

Rotating on boredom’s spit

Without the ability to forget, we become imprisoned within a collective mental habit that induces us to repeat things that are as hard to escape as is trying to unlearn how to ride a bicycle. This results in the experience of boredom that John Prine captures in the above epigraph from his moving song, “Hello In There,” where the daily news reports seem so old to an elderly couple because they are so repetitive and not new and they realize that. Now that not just old folks are “in there” and people of all ages are “sheltering in place,” the ability “to forget what it is worse than useless to remember,” as Thoreau put is, has become more important than ever if one wishes to not be driven crazy with boredom of the self- and socially-induced kinds. Continue reading

Bob Dylan’s midnight message to JFK’s ghost

On May 1, 1962, President John Kennedy was meeting in the Oval Office with a group of Quakers who were urging him to do more for peace and disarmament. As he kept explaining the great political opposition he was facing within his own government, they kept urging him to do more. He listened very closely to their words and finally said, “You believe in redemption don’t you.” By the next spring he had turned decisively toward the peacemaking the Quakers had urged upon him, resulting in his murder in the fall by treacherous government forces, led by the CIA, that opposed him all along. Continue reading

Hovering in cyberspace

We live in a fabricated reality where the visible world became nearly meaningless once the screen world became people’s “window on the world.” An electronic nothingness replaced reality as people gleefully embraced digital wraparound apparitions. These days people still move about in the physical world but live in the electronic one. The result is mass hallucination. Continue reading

The art of doublespeak: Bellingcat and mind control

In the 1920s, the influential American intellectual Walter Lippman argued that the average person was incapable of seeing or understanding the world clearly and needed to be guided by experts behind the social curtain. In a number of books, he laid out the theoretical foundations for the practical work of Edward Bernays, who developed “public relations” (aka propaganda) to carry out this task for the ruling elites. Bernays had honed his skills while working as a propagandist for the United States during World War I, and after the war he set himself up as a public relations counselor in New York City. Continue reading

What’s Joker’s joke?

It’s not funny, that’s for sure. Continue reading

The metamorphosis of the Deep State

It gets funny, this shallow analysis of the Deep State that is currently big news. There’s something ghoulish about it, perfectly timed for Halloween and masked jokers. What was once ridiculed by the CIA and its attendant lackeys in the media as the paranoia of “conspiracy theorists” is now openly admitted in reverent tones of patriotic fervor. But with a twisted twist. Continue reading

Ms. Pumpkin Head for president: A nightmare

A few weeks ago, I had a terrifying nightmare, so gruesome was it that I awoke screaming and had to run to the bathroom to vomit in the toilet. In this dark horror show, I was carving a pumpkin for Halloween. The cap came off easily and I disemboweled the slimy interior quickly, but as I did, I felt a strange sensation on my hand, as if a tongue were biting it. When I was finishing carving the face, however, the trouble really started. The pumpkin head came alive as the eyes and mouth moved and then it started speaking in a voice that was familiar but one I couldn’t place. Blond hair started sprouting from its head as it started shrieking and bouncing on the table in an hysterical manner. I jumped back in fear and trembling as it started cackling, “I running, I running.” Blood ran from between the carved teeth and the blue eyes pulsated with the mania of a serial killer in a horror movie. Continue reading

When time stands still

The intimate human experience of time standing still is universal, although rare. When we undergo it, we are stunned. Silence seems to enclose us. It is the correlative to the more common experience of time passing at different speeds, sometimes slowly, sometimes fast, despite clocks. These universal experiences do not accord with the teleology that underlies the modern world with its scientific principle that leads to entropic death triumphant. They are therefore, as John Berger, the English writer and art critic, writes, “dismissed as subjective, because time, according to the nineteenth-century view, is objective, incontestable and indifferent; to its indifference there are no limits.” Continue reading

Public notices/private questions/musical dreams

Two women out walking do not stop talking. An elderly man and woman out dining do not start talking. Continue reading

Why does Chris Hedges hedge his bets?

Revelations about the machinations of the so-called “deep state’s” conspiracies often conceal deeper truths that go unmentioned. This is quite common, whether it is done intentionally or not. Continue reading

Jeffrey Epstein and the spectacle of secrecy

When phrases such as “the deep state” and “conspiracy theory” become staples of both the corporate mainstream media and the alternative press, we know the realities behind these phrases have outlasted their usefulness for the ruling elites that control the United States and for their critics, each of whom uses them refutably or corroboratively. These phrases are bandied about so often that they have become hackneyed and inane. Continue reading

A dreaming stranger on a train

News headlines for July, 2, 2019, seen at a kiosk in Grand Central Station: Trump says tanks will be on display July 4th as a sign of the nation’s firepower; bombing kill dozens and hurts schoolchildren as Taliban talks resume; Israel is blamed for deadly missile strike in Syria; could a mandatory keto diet improve U.S. military performance; and Japan resumes commercial whaling. The traveler saw these notices of strength and power and passed them by in disgust. Continue reading

When warriors become saints

As I sit on the small balcony on the top floor of an old house in the working class neighborhood of Alfama in Lisbon, Portugal, it is early evening, the time for wine and voices wafting on the fragrant breeze through the twisting cobble-stoned streets. The National Pantheon (Panteao Nacional) stares me in the face. I stare back, and then look up to the heavens and to the cross that is silhouetted against the blue sky. It crowns the Pantheon’s massive dome. On its façade stand three statues, only one of which I can see clearly. She is Santa Engracia, a Christian martyr from before the period when the Roman Emperor Constantine legalized and legitimatized Christianity, transforming the cross into a sword. It was her church before the state found it acceptable to convert it into a space to glorify its secular saints and its military and political prowess. Continue reading

Much ado about nothing: Asking who won the political debates

It amazes me that alternative journalists would spend even a minute writing about the ongoing Democratic Party debates. They are meaningless and they are not debates. How many times do we have to go through this ridiculous charade before this can be accepted once and for all? The “debates” are farces, total theater, as are the presidential elections. They don’t matter. The political quiz show of duopoly is fixed. Discussing who has won is the height of absurdity. It legitimizes the system of oppressive duopoly. It is political “jeopardy,” and only the fixers win when they suck us into watching and opining. One expects the corporate media to do their jobs and drone on endlessly about nothing, but not those who oppose this anti-democratic sham. Continue reading

Happenings in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave

The Sunday newspaper had been left on the park bench. Its book page had lists of best-sellers, as if numbers two through ten could be the “best” along with number one. Absurdities were everywhere for the taking. On the Non-Fiction Hardcover list, numbers 3, 5, and 10 each had the word fuck in the title. The books were published by two old and respected publishing houses: Harper and Little Brown. However, something was odd, for the word fuck was spelled f*ck. These books were about hope, acceptance, and living the good life, cliché topics in a feel-good culture: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, Everything is F*cked, and Calm the F*ck Down. It seemed you had to be fucked first before you could accept the hope that the good life was coming your way. He wondered if these publishing houses thought that by eliminating the “u” they kept their hands clean and were not descending into the gutter with hoi polloi, while simultaneously titillating potential readers. Did they think readers would be offended by the word fuck, but would not be by f*ck? Then it occurred to him that he didn’t know what the fuck non-fiction books were anyway. Maybe he had been wrong all his life and the opposite of up was non-up, not down. Continue reading

The war hoax redux

The Trump administration has a problem: How to start another war—this time with Iran—without having a justifiable reason for one. No doubt members of Trump’s team, led by the war-thirsty and perdurable John Bolton, are working hard to solve this urgent problem. If they can’t find a justification, they may have to create one. Or perhaps they will find what they have already created. Whatever the solution, Americans should feel confident that their leaders, together with their Israeli and Saudi bedfellows, are not sitting on their hands. Crazy people do crazy things. Continue reading

Speeding into the void of cyberspace as designed

Speed and panic go hand-in-hand in today’s fabricated world of engineered emergencies and digital alerts. “We have no time” is today’s mantra—“We are running out of time”—and because this mood of urgency has come to grip most people’s minds, deep thinking about why this is so and who benefits is in short supply. I believe most people sense this to be true but don’t know how to extract themselves from the addictive nature of speed long enough to grasp how deeply they have been propagandized, and why. Continue reading

Answering the mysterious call of an artist’s spiritual vocation

‘What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance’ by Carolyn Forché

Myths and popular tales, like life, are replete with accounts of those not answering the call, of locking the door to their hearts and shutting themselves up in sterile and safe lives where the rest of the world is not even an afterthought, where others suffer and die because of one’s indifference. Answering can be very dangerous, for it can take you on a journey from which you may never return, surely, at least, as the same person. Only the courageous heed the call. Continue reading

Between yes and no, heaven and earth with Albert Camus on a spring morning

For a writer to fight injustice to the exclusion of creating beauty and living passionately contradicts the deepest desires of the human heart. Albert Camus taught us this. The love of life must inform the rebel’s resistance to injustice. “It seems to me that the writer must be fully aware of the dramas of his time,”he writes, “and that he must take sides every time he can and knows how to do so. “But his refusal, his no, does not imply a renunciation but an affirmation, a yes, to the joy and grandeur of life that is everyone’s birthright. Continue reading

The CIA takeover of America in the 1960s is the story of our times

A quasi-review of ‘A Lie Too Big To Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy’ by Lisa Pease

When Senator Robert Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968, the American public fell into a hypnotic trance in which they have remained ever since. The overwhelming majority accepted what was presented by government authorities as an open and shut case that a young Palestinian American, Sirhan Sirhan, had murdered RFK because of his support for Israel, a false accusation whose ramifications echo down the years. That this was patently untrue and was contradicted by overwhelming evidence made no difference. Continue reading

A conspiracy theorist confesses to his petty crimes

Let me be perfectly clear from the outset. Continue reading

No more bullshit: Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill

Growing up Irish-Catholic in the Bronx in the 1960s, I was an avid reader of the powerful columns of Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill in the New York newspapers. Passion infused their reports. These guys were extraordinary wordsmiths. They would grab you by the collar and drag you into the places and faces of those they wrote about. Passion infused their reports. They were never boring. They made you laugh and cry as they transported you into the lives of real people. You knew they had actually gone out into the streets of the city and talked to people. All kinds of people: poor, rich, black, white, Puerto Rican, high-rollers, low-lifes, politicians, athletes, mobsters—they ran the gamut. You could sense they loved their work, that it enlivened them as it enlivened you the reader. Their words sung and crackled and breathed across the page. They left you always wanting more, wondering sometimes how true it all was, so captivating was their storytelling abilities. They cut through abstractions to connect individuals to major events such as the Vietnam War, the assassinations of President Kennedy and his brother Robert, the Central Park jogger case, AIDS, among others. They were spokesmen for the underdogs, the abused, the confused, and the bereft, and relentlessly attacked the abuses and hypocrisies of the powerful. Continue reading

Snapshots along the road of life

Jimmy C., age 9, died on the evening of Dec 28, 19_ _ from a gunshot bullet to the heart. He was shot by his seven-year-old brother Dennis, while, as The New York Times reported, “the two were playing with a rifle in a neighbor’s apartment in the northeast Bronx.” The boys were visiting with their mother and found the rifle under a bed. It was loaded and accidently fired, hitting Jimmy in the chest. Continue reading

The fascinating spell cast by weasels

To be fascinated by another person who holds or symbolizes power is very common. It is often accompanied by a frisson of sexual excitement, whether repressed or acknowledged, explicitly or implicitly projected. Masters need slaves and slaves need their masters. The chief, the big man, the fascinating woman, the glamorous celebrity, the rich mogul, the powerful politician, while all standard vintage people without their accoutrements of prestigious (magical) power, magnetically attract many people wishing to surrender passively to the perceived superior power of what Carl Jung called the “mana-personality.” However, such supernatural power or aura is in the eyes of the beholder, who wishes to be hypnotized and to fulfill his secret wish to be will-less. As Dostoevsky has written, “Man is tormented by no greater anxiety than to find someone quickly to whom he can hand over that great gift of freedom with which the ill-fated creature is born.” A smile, a song, or the projection of unconflicted authority—often that is all it takes for the spell to be cast. Continue reading

Martin Luther King Day and the unspeakable

As Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, his death day disappears down the memory hole. Across the country—in response to the King Holiday and Service Act passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1994—people will be encouraged to make the day one of service. Such service does not include King’s commitment to protest a decadent system of racial and economic injustice or non-violently resist the U.S. warfare state that he called “the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.” Continue reading

What are we working for ‘At Eternity’s Gate’?

Ever since I was a young boy, I have wondered why people do the kinds of work they do. I sensed early on that the economic system was a labyrinthine trap devised to imprison people in work they hated but needed for survival. It seemed like common sense to a child when you simply looked and listened to the adults around you. Karl Marx wasn’t necessary for understanding the nature of alienated labor; hearing adults declaim “Thank God it’s Friday” spoke volumes. Continue reading

A spiritual special ops team’s Christmas gift

It was snowing hard in the days before Christmas in 1972 as I sat at my writing desk looking out the back window toward the woods that were filling up with snow. I felt trapped by the heavy snow that made the roads impassable, but even more so by the contemplation of the barbaric “Christmas Bombing” of North Vietnam carried out by Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, and their associated war criminals. I was filled with despair and imagined the snow turning red with blood. Earlier that fall, I, together with a thousand others, had been arrested for protesting the dispatching of these B-52 bombers that were indiscriminately massacring Vietnamese. The corporate media, accomplices to war crimes then and now, refused to report on the demonstration and the large number of arrests, despite repeated requests to do so. They were just doing their job. Continue reading

Phil Ochs and the crucifixion of President John F. Kennedy

President John Kennedy was assassinated by the U.S. national-security state, led by the C.I.A., on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas. That is a fact beyond dispute, except for those who wish to engage in pseudo-debates to deny the obvious. I prefer not to, since there is nothing to debate. Continue reading