Friday, August 09, 2019

To Russia with Lunch--Part Three

I shall have occasion to expatiate on the wellsprings, confluences, and effluences of this genre, bad-cop porn, slightly later--in the filet, so to speak, of this peroration--but first I must neutral-good-coppishly (i.e., firmly but dispassionately and ever-so-gently) quash a demurral whose subsistence would undermine the plausibility of this aforementioned expatiation, a demurral that I dare not gratuitously demean by putting it into the mouth of a DGR-type figure inasmuch as I know it has the preponderance, if not the totality, of received Russological-cum-Sovietological opinion behind it, a preponderance or totality to which no small number of persons of indisputable parts, as well as learning and experience derived from Russia and the former Soviet Union, have contributed; and indeed the demurral that the recent-to-present wave of Eastern-Orthodox Christian kitsch is but the natural resumption of the force and course of a well-established EOC-humping current whose flow was artificially dammed and diverted for seven decades by the atheistic Soviet regime, a current in which each and every one of Russia’s pre-Soviet c******l leading lights (apart, of course, from such good-old so-called liberals as Turgenev and Chekhov) enthusiastically participated to some degree or other, such that, for example, Zvyagintsev’s Christ-fixation is to be regarded merely as a resumption of Dostoyevsky’s.  To this demurral I must, I say, neutral-good-coppishly counterdemur first that a far-from-soft-and slow distinction must be drawn between the theology, liturgy, and politics of the post-Soviet Eastern Orthodox churches and the religious, intellectual, and political habituses of even the most flagrantly EOC-humping exponents of novels, symphonies, plays, films, and so forth—modes or genres of c******l production that were firmly regarded as secular even in pre-revolutionary times.  The Eastern Orthodox churches undoubtedly are and always have been not only politically reactionary but also, and more significantly for the present writer’s PPs, utterly lacking in anything like a proper theology, which is to say any sort or form of philosophical orientation towards their own faith, and indeed, positively hostile to each and every sort and form of ratiocination (in such a context the oft-bandied about quasi-honorific mysticism is but a euphemism for embarrassingly willful inanity).  Such being the case, hyperoccidentals find it all too tempting to presume that a Russian’s intellectual heft (as tendentiously opposed to his spiritual heft, which can always be employed ici-deçà to cover a multitude of sottises au-delà du vieux rideau de fer) varies in inverse proportion to his degree of enthusiasm for the Russian Orthodox Church, such that anyone who has ever been an ardent adherent of the ROC is or was at best an intellectual toddler, and further that the official re-legitimation of the EOC churches and their attendant resumption of pre-revolutionary business as cassocked and incense-hazed as usual cannot have but been subtended by a Volksgeist-wide regression to an intrinsically infantile pre-revolutionary ROC-humping Volksgeist.  Few if any things can be further from the truth than this presumption—not because the latter-day exponents of ROC kitsch have not regressed, for they undoubtedly have done, but because their regression has consisted in an assimilation to the non-theological, non-intellectual Weltansicht of the ROC itself rather than in a return to the pre-revolutionary ROC-orientated intellectual tradition, which always saw itself as distinct from the ROC even when it yearned (or affected to yearn) most ardently for assimilation thereunto--and quite rightly saw itself in those terms, inasmuch as it freely and relentlessly engaged in philosophical reflection on that church’s tenets and practices.  Most salient and germane case in point: as hinted not far above, Dostoyevsky is regarded in hyperoccidental literary-critical lore as a kind of secular apostle of the ROC qua standard bearer of the spiritual entelechy of the human race, and this reputation is by no means undeserved--and yet (as my employment of the meta-metaphysically top-shelf hellenism entelechy hints) D.’s ROC-championing emerged from and always remained in tension with a ponderously minute consideration of each and every other intellectual habitus available to him not merely qua citizen (or subject, if philological-cum-translational consensus has made this the preferred term) of Tsarist Russia but also qua citizen of the larger, and by no means necessarily less ponderous, c******l-cum-quasi-political  entity that ought to have been and indeed ought still to be known as Panoccidentia.  Most salient and germane case in sub-point: the ROC monk-in-training Alyosha is both avowedly (i.e., by D. himself) the hero and indisputably (i.e., by any attentive reader of the book) the moral center of The Brothers Karamazov, and yet D. gives plenty of floor-time to the views of A.’s brother, the atheist Ivan, and indeed, via the famous story of the Grand Inquisitor, he allows this atheist to tender the notion that Christ’s visitation of the earth was both a complete waste of time, on account of the utter incorrigibility of humankind’s wickedness, and utterly inadequate as a means of expiation on account of that wickedness’s super-Satanic monstrousness.  And of course any readerly predisposition to regard Ivan simply as the baddie of the story, as not only the devil’s interlocutor but also his complacently quiescent mouthpiece, is put paid to both by Alyosha’s fraternal compassion for him and by his prostration by a potentially terminal case of brain fever immediately after his recounting of the anecdote of the Grand Inquisitor—a prostration that bespeaks both the inconceivability and the plausibility of his atheistic argument.  All four-to-seven of Dostoyevsky’s major works critically engage with the ROC and the Christian religion in toto--and specifically with them as participants in a sort of vast Panoccidential intellectual Town Meeting (in the Ivesian sense) whose venue must by default be regarded as being bounded on the east by Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and on the west by Sitka (or Novo Arkhangelsk, depending on whether the major D. work in question hails from before or after 1867), Alaska.  Having already made my e.g.-ial point adequately enough, I have neither a need nor a wish to dwell on D.’s most celebratedly or notoriously Christological work, The Idiot (which, incidentally, might just as plausibly be Anglophonically entitled An Idiot [and, indeed, I am surprised that the god-awfully ubiquitous Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, the Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale of present-day Anglophone Russian translation, whose entire corpus is essentially one awful unreadable antigraph of the most illustrious productions of their predecessors {C. Garnett, D. Magarshak, et al.} did not entitle it that if only to complement their article-swapping  re-Englishing of A Raw Youth as The Adolescent]), but I really must point out that for all his canonization as the great holy man of Russian literary fiction, that book’s eponymous idiot, Prince Myshkin, arrives in his native Russia in the opening chapter as a quasi-alien who has just spent four years—those of the intellectually formative early-to-mid-twenties—in the capital of Calvinism, Switzerland.  And then of course one must not, not remember—for one axiomatically need not remember something of this kind--but, rather, give due prominence, to that unforgettable passage in which Myshkin effectively concedes that the differences of worldview between believers and atheists may after all be merely semantic in essence.  Such meta-epistemological ambiguity is part and parcel of the nineteenth-century Russian Christian intellectual habitus.  It is obviously equally pronounced albeit in an entirely different way in Tolstoy—who started out a kind of ROC-Christian democrat and ended up a nominally post-Christian ascetic who had circumvented Christianity only by making himself into his own Christ; and its theistic facet is present even in the work of such supposedly thoroughgoing secularists-cum-cosmopolitans as Turgenev and Chekhov, neither of whom ever would have dreamed of toeing the supposedly progressive hyperoccidental party line by dismissing the faithful ROC-adherents as mere superstitious yokels who just needed to get with the Darwin-humping secularist program.  And I submit that this strain of ambiguity-drenched, panoccidentally born-cum-vectored meta-epistemological Christian intellectuality not only subsisted but thrived well into the twentieth century and indeed into the post-revolutionary period, in the work of writers from Bunin to Bulgakov to Tsvetaeva to Akhmatova, and of filmmakers such as Kozinstsev (whose ecumenical Christological Bildschaft is to be stridently contrasted with the bigotedly ROC-humping Bildschaft of his older colleague Eisenstein) and the pre-emigration Tarkovsky, on whose decidedly non-kitschy treatment of broadly religious and more specifically Christian themes I have already descanted.  And I must further submit that the highly favorable reception with which works in this strain were met in the hyperoccident from the very get-go, beginning with that metaphysically tormented soul Matthew Arnold’s gushing review of War and Peace, is attributable to a far nobler impetus than the appetite for religious kitsch, an impetus arising not from a mere banausic craving for answers, for the something to believe in with which the vilest bomb qua turd succedaneum slinging-ethos of a  comme-il-faut ethnic provenance is reflexively endorsed (at least condescendingly) dans nos petits pseudo-jours, but rather from a craving for genuinely engaging metaphysically vectored questions, a craving that was left utterly ungratified by the dreary cock-measuring contests that passed for theological disputation in the contemporaneous late-nineteenth century hyperoccident, by the squarings-off of chest-thumping macho Protestant Muscular Christians against self-preening poncey papist Oxford Movementalists (squarings-off with which, incidentally, today’s conflicts over such religio-political matters as hijabs and burkas make no improvement whatsoever in point of metaphysical interest, for all their heftier admixture of so-called cultural diversity).  Mais bien entendu, dans nos petits pseudo-jours, tout cela est foutu depuis longlonglongtemps.  Dans nos petits pseudo-jours the much-stultified intelligentsias of Russia and its fellow EOC-orientated polities have long since ceased to be capable of pedaling anything more intellectually or morally edifying than religious kitsch, and the contemporaneously stultified intelligentsias of the hyperoccident are complementarily uninterested in-cum-incapable of absorbing anything more intellectually or morally edifying.  I have already tentatively proposed if not quite an efficient cause of, then at least an impetus, an inaugural push, towards, the stultification on the EOC-orientated side--namely, the self-shunting of the Soviet intelligentsia into the bed of the EOCs by the institution of a more liberal cultural dispensation from on high--and perhaps less tentatively asserted that this stultification has persisted largely on account of its appeal to hyperoccidental culture-consumers, but that this appeal has been largely misgauged from the EOC-orientated side, that what they are pedaling as religious kitsch has been received over here principally (albeit favorably) as bad-cop porn, a genre that I have already defined in perhaps unduly abstract terms, and that I consequently hereby concretely exemplify by naming some of its most illustrious instantiations--viz. (i.e., emphatically not e.g.), the Shostakovich biopic Testimony, the Idi Amin biopic The Last King of Scotland, the Hitler biopics The Bunker and Downfall and last (on account of chronology) if not quite (albeit very nearly quite) least, in terms of aesthetic merit, The Death of Stalin.  What all these have in common is their up-close-and-personal presentation of the inner circle of a posteriorially universally detested dictator as a social formation wherein savage cruelty runs wantonly amuck, and indeed gratuitously amuck even in relation to the intrigants’ sole aim of getting as many living human bodies into their immediate control as possible.  In a bad-cop porn flick, all political misery of the polity of the diagesis is seen to flow directly from the intrinsic, total, incorrigible, and implacable malice of the leading political figure and his vicegerents, deputies, satraps, myrmidons, henchmen, and flunkies--each and every one of whom, not excluding the big headcheese himself, is a rival of all the others.  In a bad-cop porn flick, the dictator and the other inner-circular personnel relentlessly and not merely figuratively go for each other’s jugulars (typically not via a proper flesh-carving knife but rather via some implement like an envelope-opener whose comparative intrinsic gentleness guarantees a slower, and therefore more pornographically gratifying, jugular-slicing session), while at the orders of one or another of them or a coalition therefrom roughly two-fifths of the poor li’l auld sawl’-ovve-earf masses are being fed by the postcodeful into furnaces and the remaining three-fifths starve, futilely wave flags in the face of impassible gun-muzzles, or otherwise deep-freeze their heels in terminal political irrelevance.  The bad-cop porn flick is essentially a moral-cum-gesellschaftsbildlich negative (or visually mediated antigraph) of the abominable Hollywood gangster flick from The Godfather onwards.  In the abominable Godfather-type gangster flick the head honcho and his rivals likewise behave with ruthless brutality towards one another, but this habitus of brutality is understood to be heroic if not saintly rather than utterly bestial, inasmuch as it is has supposedly been ineluctably imposed from without-cum-on-high upon the gangsters qua salla della vecchia terra qua immigrants dal vecchio paese by a coalition of the god- awfully god-awful nativist WASP politicians down in Washington and the no less god-awfully god-awful nativist WASP bankers slightly less down in Wall Street.  In the  Godfather-type gangster flick the gangsters in the full flower of their brutality are understood to be morally superior to the politicians and bankers because as a combinatorial function of their down-troddenness and their hailing from a so-called culture that supposedly places a higher premium on frankness (la franchezza) in virtue of its predilection for gratuitous gesticulation (il parlando gratuito con le mane), they give material expression to their wills (gli willi) more honestly and hence less hypocritically than their tight-assed (con culi raggrinziti), well-heeled (con buoni tacchi) WASP contemporaries-cum-compatriots.  And of course, this presentation of brutality as a wooden nickel for honesty has in the past generation-and-three-quarters become a sort of Get Out of Jail for Free card-esque topos of the pan-occidental rhetorical landscape, by which I meantersay that virtually every cinematically schooled male, female, gender-queer, or species-queer human individual not born and raised in China, North Korea, aut paucissima cetera (that cetera very much excluding Russia [an exclusion that very much ought to be taken into account, and probably even greater account than is reflexively accorded to the intellectually lazy, purely domestically derived, political genealogy that posits the current Russian president as Tsar Vladimir I/IV-cum-Josef II, when speculating on Mr. Putin’s aims and motives]) now carries within himself, herself, or theirself, a sort of hissing, flattened-eared cat [naturally, the partisans-cum-ostensible instantiations of a certain especially stroppy sub-species of the species-queer will justifiably demur here that they have no need to contain such a cat, inasmuch as they already are such a cat] that he, she, or they judges himself, herself, or theirself, not merely permitted but positively obliged to unbag at any moment at which he, she, or they judges his, her, or their pride or interests to be threatened, rather than be regarded as the sort of tight assed-cum-cowardly person or animal who keeps his, her, or, their feelings to himself, herself, or theirself, and plays his, her, or their cards close to the chest; an unbagging that allows himself, herself, or theirself to enjoy the twofold pleasure of simultaneously indulging the righteous plain-spokenness of Kent and the wanton bloodlust of Cornwall.  That dude who served for all of ten minutes as the present U.S. president’s public liaison officer (a position, incidentally, ranging from myrmidon to flunky on the servility spectrum), the dude with that ludicrously appropriate commedia-dell’arteic name that I blush to drop herein, presented this wooden nickel with especially steely brazenness (yet equally especially deadening woodenness) when, after being dismissed for being apparently incapable of mentioning any person but his boss except as part of a kenning containing some depreciative inflection of f**k, by way of unfavorably comparing the power-corridors of Washington, D.C. to the supposedly hyper-mean streets of whichever actually completely anodyne, virtually knife crime-free township of New Jersey or Long Island he grew up in, he averred, “Back there, we stabbed each other in the chests, not in the back.”  At any event, for the present writer’s present purposes, the most interesting thing to remark in connection with the connection between the Godfather-type gangster flick and the bad cop-porn flick is the moral three-card-Monte switcheroo that takes place during the transition between the two genres, given that both are equally ardently admired by hyperoccidental bienpensants.  When Joe Pesci as a mobster boss stomps a harmless snitch to death in Goodfellas, the hyperoccidental bienpensant viewer salivates with admiring envy of a class of individuals who have the courage to be forthright in the expression of their grievances, but when Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev curses the burning corpse of the secret police chief Lavrentiy Beria after having had him executed without a trial, that same hyperoccidental bienpensant viewer shudders with morally outraged horror as he, she, or they takes a generous hit of his, her, or their own fart fumes from the hookah of self-satisfaction.  How is this possible?  How can the hyperoccidental bienpensant find it perfectly acceptable, and indeed praiseworthy, for human beings to mete out the most sanguinary punishment to one another in the hyperoccident and yet take the darkest umbrage at such out-meting in extra-hyperoccidental climes?  In order to answer this question, we--or, rather, the present writer (who, after all, cannot take for granted the existence of a single empirical Anglophone reader sympathetic enough to his sympathies to have read this far)--must indite a sort of pocket (or potted?) genealogy of the hyperoccidental bienpensant-ility’s orientation towards an entity that I hereby dub or christen Authoritariania, a realm encompassing all post WWI-extant polities that mainstream hyperoccidental opinion (within which mainstream hyperoccidental bienpensantism is generally if not invariably content to swim) has deemed insufficiently democratic, from Mussolini’s Italy to Putin’s Russia.  From the post-WWI outset right up on through to the present, the hyperoccidental bienpensant-ility have been implacably hostile towards any form of authoritarianism that justifies itself solely or principally by recourse to the principle of the necessity of maintaining social order--thus in the bienpensant mythos the average politically unreflective post-WWII Italian’s apologia for Mussolini, At least he made the trains run on time, stands cheek-by-jowl with the Nazi death camp administrator’s self-exculpatory assertion that he was Just following orders as a verbal synecdoche of all the evils of so-called fascism. In the hyperoccidental bienpensant mythos, the political curtailment of classic bourgeois liberties of any kind has always been too high a price to pay for such quotidiana as punctual train service, and from the comparatively modest restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, and so forth, exacted by Mussolini’s dispensation (NB: my standard of comparison is the entire political landscape of Europe, Asia, and North America of the past half-millennium, not that sub-sub-sub-entire one of the Anglosphere plus the Eurozone since the dawn of the present decade) it is not so much a slippery slope as a few square inches of friction-free skating rink-ice to the Holocaust.  But the hyperoccidental bienpensant-ility have never been opposed to authoritarianism eo ipso, and at least in the early days they were inclined to welcome it with OAs when it justified itself by recourse to the principle of the redistribution of wealth, as it was notably doing in the newly established U.S.S.R.  This redistributive U.S.S.R.-affecting strain of bienpensant-ism matured in the 1930s, during the so-called Great Depression, when questions about the viability of so-called capitalism were being raised if not quite all the way then at least three-fifths of the way across the so-called political spectrum (one is precluded from adding the appropriate sequel from red to blue [i.e., from avowed Communists to middle-of-the-road Republicans] by the god-awful tellingly amnesiac recent [i.e., ca. 2008?] inversion of the chromatic polarities, which has made red a signifier of implicitly anti-Communist rock-ribbed [a.k.a. true blue] Republicanism), even in the capital of so-called capitalism, the United States, because for the first time in that pseudosystem-cum-pseudophilosophy’s  history, the provision of the basic means of day-to-day biological subsistence was becoming problematic even in places long since saturated by the most advanced big business-spearheaded techniques of production and distribution.  The present writer admits to finding--and to have long since found--one and exactly one of the two (for there are only two) facets of this strain of bienpensantism quite attractive, for he is decidedly repelled by its whole robbing-the-rich-of-their-last-in-pissable-pot-esque facet, reeking as it cannot but do of the deadly sin of envy.  It is the other facet, the facet orientated towards the provision of wealth, or, more precisely the somatically orientated fruits thereof, with which he is--and has long since been--smitten, as the attentive reader, DG or otherwise, will hardly be surprised to learn in the light of his, her, or their familiarity with the second section of this essay, the one treating of the deficiencies of present-day so-called capitalism qua provider of quotidian comforts and conveniences.  There is, finally, a third strain of bienpensant-ism that one might term the hedonistic (If you’re out there, Elena, I apologize for obliging you to grab a dictionary) or better yet sensually libertarian strain, a strain that seeks its bliss beyond, or, perhaps, rather, beneath, the purview of the classic bourgeois liberties, in the realm of sensual satisfaction, a strain that was engendered during the Prohibition years of the late-teens through early thirties but really attained its first maturity only in the immediate post-World War II years, a micro-epoch when the older redistributive strain of bienpensant-ism had largely died away (or at least gone into hibernation) owing, ob multas causas, to the evaporation of the threat of famine towards the end of the 1930s, the ensuing wartime boost to production, and the ensuing further upramping of production owing to renascent consumer demand both at home and in renascent Europe.  This micro-epoch was of course also the micro-epoch of so-called McCarthyism, when Communists, former Communists, friends of Communists, and former friends of Communists, both actual and suspected, were being genuinely persecuted--albeit in a generally comparatively benign way (again, my standard of comparison is semi-millennial and well-nigh global)- -by the House Unamerican Activities Committee.  A large proportion--if not the preponderance--of those ha(u)led before HUAC were officially being subjected to its scrutiny on account of activities that they had engaged in during the so-called Great Depression--in other words, during the high season, and therefore presumably in the name, of, redistributivism.  But the actual catalyst or efficient cause of both the HUAC investigation and the exactly concurrent backlash against it (and a glance at a very-early 1950s number of even so now-notoriously anti-Communist a periodical as Life will make it plain that there was such a backlash, that long before Joseph Welch and Edward Murrow a large proportion if not the preponderance of the American public did not appreciate McCarthy et al.’s so [i.e., by this selfsame preponderance]-called witch hunt) was not the committee’s subpoena-ees’ then-former redistributivism but rather their then-current sensual libertarianism--i.e., chiefly, their predilections for illicit drugs, jazz music that was too complicated or chaotic to be readily danced to, and extramarital and homosexual sexual relations, predilections that were deemed particularly menacing by both its assailants and its devotees on account of its concentration in the nationally influential sectors of Broadway and Hollywood.  The starchily ascetic congresspeople from the so-called American heartland quite rationally resented and feared the influence of littoral sensual libertarianism on their constituents, and the bicoastal sensually indulgent hipsters equally rationally resented and feared the harshing of their respective mellows and the attenuation of their collective influence by the starchy heartlanders.  But what the D***l of a sort of role, the sufficiently (for the PW’s PPs) historically uninformed reader, DG or otherwise, is doubtless wondering, did Communism and the U.S.S.R. play in this perverse waltz or do-si-do of starchy congresspeople and sensually indulgent hipsters?  The conveniently apt answer to this question is that the U.S.S.R. played to the hilt the role of the D***l to both parties, and did so under the auspices of its official self-designation as an atheistic State.  The essentially starchy and at least contingently church-goingly Christian HUAC members quite rightly regarded the littoral sensual hipsters as card-carrying atheists but quite wrongly--if quasi-understandably, as will become clear long before the end of the present sentence--regarded their atheism as flowing from or paying tribute to the Soviet State, mainly because, although demographically speaking the much closer polities of central and western Europe had been bristling with atheism for donkey’s decades, the U.S.S.R., together with its newly established client States in eastern Europe, was the only occidental State that had been founded in explicit opposition (as opposed to mere indifference) to religion; and the littoral sensual-libertarian hipsters complementarily blamed their persecution on the Christian religion--rightly in one technically correct if immaterial respect, given that their persecutors were B&L card-carrying Christians; and yet wrongly in another, materially incorrect, respect, perhaps, given that it was essentially qua starchy heartlanders (i.e., qua people who just didn’t go in for that sort of thing and would on the whole rather be as far away as possible from those who did) and not qua Christians that their persecutors were wielding the Congressional scourge; and yet rightly again in a more-than-technically-yet-ultimately-immaterial respect, inasmuch as at that time most of the predilections they prided themselves on indulging were consistently categorically regarded as sins or vices by most Christian churches albeit not necessarily categorically or consistently by the New Testament--and sought vindication in the Soviet State qua sole avowedly atheistic major occidental polity.  They, the littoral sensual-libertarian hipsters, fetishized the Soviets qua atheists in perhaps conveniently feigned but in all probability conveniently genuine ignorance of the fact that except in a sub-kuchka of sociopolitical domains--for example, those of so-called reproductive rights and inclusion of women in the so-called workplace--the U.S.S.R. of the early 1950s was on the whole a more socially conservative polity than its hyperoccidental counterparts.  On the whole, despite their admittedly probably cheerfully received exemption from church-attendance, even the hippest of early-1950s Soviet citizens--meaning the least conformist (i.e., most dissident) strata of the Soviet intelligentsia--were probably not much less square than the starchiest of Bible-thumping American Heartlanders.  Certainly there was no so-called groundswell of enthusiasm for homosexual coition and illicit drug-use in early-1950s Soviet hipsterdom.  Naturally, the early twenty-first-century hyperoccidental bienpensant, true to his, her, or their Whiggish roots (and in the hyperoccident Whiggish roots are the only genuine ones, the only ones that have veritably engendered a tradition of loyalty to the founding principles that has veritably been handed down from generation to generation) will here demur that the Soviet dissident intelligentsia were in point of fact champing at the bit for the opportunity to use illicit drugs and engage in homosexual coition, and doubtless his, her, or their demurral has some basis in mid-century Soviet reality, inasmuch as there doubtless were certain mid-century intelligents who more than figuratively dreamed of indulging in either or both pleasures--but obviously not very many, or we would have heard as much about intelligents being carted off to the gulag for writing novels and poems about people lighting up spliffs or anally penetrating each other, as for writing novels and poems about heftily moustached dudes behaving in a capriciously tyrannical manner.  While I by no means wish to make light--or at any rate more than relative light--of the plight of homosexuals (to call them gays here would be quasi-anachronistic, as gay did not become the preferred term of homosexual self-identification until 1969 at the earliest)--in any part of the mid-twentieth-century Occident, at the same time I think it is important to recall, or, rather, chez most people, bring to mind for at least the effective first time (for, as with so many other topicks addressed in the present essay, even those who are biologically old enough to know better seem to have memories-cum-experience records interchangeable with those of people born within the past decade-and-a-half) that a lack of enthusiastic Occidental sympathy with or for this plight was by no means confined to the snake-handling Bible-thumpers of that micro-epoch, that, indeed, it was then very much in the mainstream of proto-bienpensant (i.e., progressive or liberal) thought.  Thus that most unabashedly zealous of Uranists, Leonard Bernstein, once at least wounded the joy of a particularly uproarious NYC breeder-free blowout by lugubriously exclaiming that it was a terrible pity that everyone present was a homosexual.  Thus in one of his later essays, Lionel Trilling--who was after all both a bosom chum of that leading light of Fire Island, W.H. Auden, and active exculpator of the patron saint of Christopher Street, Allen Ginsberg--sternly averred that he by no means wished to be thought to be countenancing homosexuality.  Thus in his mid-1960s memoir of his years as a prisoner of the Nazi Germans, The Mind’s Limits, did that most ardent fan of that arch-Uranist Marcel Proust, Jean Améry, unsparingly disparage those who regarded their deprivation of the opportunity to coit with members of their own sex as an affront to their human dignity by classing them with those who regarded the unavailability of a daily bath as a consubstantial outrage.  Naturally here the twenty-first-century hyperoccidental bienpensant, true again to the broader Whiggish root-system albeit only by half selling out his, her, or their commitment to the specific Whiggish root-complex known nowadays as science, will demur that it was the utterly reprehensible official medical pathologization of homosexuality that accounted for these otherwise upstanding souls’  presumably merely feigned lack of sympathy for their homosexual brothers, sisters (and presumptive al. [for this selfsame presumably presupposes that millions if not tens of millions of transgender, gender queer and species queer persons-cum-subjects were likewise languishing in the presumptive concentration camp basement of sexual unfulfillment]), for after all, homosexuality was removed from the A.P.A. Handbook of Exorcism-Worthy Diseases only in 1999 or some other ludicrously post-Stonewall year.  But this demurral will hold no more water than a grapheme gossamer sieve--in the first and more general place because as the medical-historiographical record of the past half-millennium hath shewn, official medical pathologization is by no means an insuperable (or even grapheme gossamer-thin) barrier to a rich and fulfilling life, to the extent that a rich and fulfilling life consists in discharging boulversant trumpet-blasts of fart gas into the faces of one’s fellow men, women, et-f**king-al. ad libitum; and in the second and more specific place because as the non-psychoanalytically couched terms in which the above-cited quasi-strictures suggest, it was not principally in medical but ethical and social terms with which homosexuality was taken issue in the hyperoccident at mid-century.  Améry presumably had no quarrel with bathing and presumably was as well-scrubbed as the next hyperoccidental of the mid-1960s, but he believed that not having a bath each and every day was something one could ultimately live with as a more or less self-respecting human being, inasmuch as having a daily bath was not something one needed in either a material or a spiritual sense.  Granted (so Améry, as extrapolatively channeled by the present writer), being forced to miss a daily bath was undoubtedly an irksome inconvenience; granted, one might be deprived of one’s daily bath entirely unjustly, by, for example (an example taken directly from the present writer’s recent-to-present experience), one’s landlord’s willful and indeed smug refusal to maintain minimum plumbing standards; all the same, missing one of these daily baths could hardly be compared in point of dehumanization to having one’s shoulder-joints dislocated as Améry’s own had been by the Gestapo.  For mid-1960s Améry, simply being deprived of something one merely desired in order to be spiritually or even somatically satisfied or fulfilled did not, regardless of the grounds or means of the deprivation, constitute sufficient grounds for moral outrage, because chez lui the minimum threshold for moral outrage was the deprivation of the means of maintaining organic homeostasis, and being denied coitional partners of one’s own sex did not in any way or to any extent obtrude upon those means.  Bernstein’s plaint by complementary contrast seems, on the evidence of his biography, to register a dissatisfaction with homosexuality on account of its alienation from the procreative component of the system of life.  As near as the present writer can tell, Bernstein’s existence as a paterfamilias was no mere so-called beard for his homosexual inclinations; as near as the present writer can tell, he both enjoyed and valued being the husband of a woman and the biological father of her children even though his prevalent amorous inclinations drew him towards coition with other men.  ANatPWCT, an act of homosexual coition, although sensually and even spiritually gratifying to Lenny, simply didn’t do the same thing for him as a frolic in Central Park with Felicia and the kids.  And when I say the same thing, I mean exactly that--viz., not that the paterfamiliasial aspect of his Lebenswelt was the more essential, fulfilling, or vital of the two aspects, but merely that the two were essentially and ineluctably incommensurable with each other, that according to Lenny’s ultimately laser-guidedly precise lights, there was no way of pretending that the one was simply a different means of attaining certain ends or obtaining certain goods equally readily attainable or obtainable by the other.  But of course it is this very laser-guidedly precise sense of the mutual incommensurability of heterosexuality and homosexuality that has utterly vanished from the intellectual (or, rather, subintellectual) landscape of the hyperoccident in the past quarter-century.  This evanouissement has been facilitated, if not engendered, by the pan-hyperoccidental promotion of homosexuality from the merely demimondial rank of a mere subculture to the plenimondial rank of a full-fledged lifestyle, to the rank of a modus vivendi that can be taken up at the dee of an haitch by all citizen-consumers who have sufficient funds to buy the kit and gear inalienably associated with it.  Of course, in synchrony with this promotion, homosexuality has retained, and indeed ramped up, the whinging, carping tone of bereaved entitlement that Améry resented in it--but how could it have done otherwise in the light of its unrelenting treadmill-like need to keep pace in point of singularity with lifestyles, racial, sexual, ethnic, mental-hygienic, somatic-hygienic, et ad nauseam certera?  It is after all a Hobbesian state of (at-minimum) third nature out there in the jungle of competing lifestyles, and no lifestyle, however popular and lucrative at a given moment, can afford to rest on its laurels for so much as a microsecond, inasmuch as one-upping, together with its gaping-walleted reception by smouldering-pocketed consumers, is as easy and instantaneous as lying, such that the next, purportedly even more envelope-pushing, lifestyle is always “breathing down” a given lifestyle’s “neck” like “the furies.” For the moment--and I really do mean moment in its most vulgar sense: i.e., 8:50 a.m. EDT on April 28, 2018--gayness evidently remains ever-so-slightly hip, inasmuch as a movie about the so-called coming out of a high-school student has made it into the current cinema offerings and not been universally panned as the naffest turkey since Howard the Duck.  But signs of gayness’(s) consignment to at least contingently permanently irredeemable naffdom are not far to seek, at least if the gayscape of the present writer’s municipality of residence--a municipality wherein the so-called gay community has admittedly occupied a more prominent and ancient public footprint than in [some Deep-Southern, Midwestern, or Great-Plains municipality that I dare not name by the throw of a dart lest the dart alight on some so-called progressive so-called college town wherein so-called gay marriage has been legal since 18-ought-nuttin’]—be taken as a near-enough-to-hand sign-collection.  A pair or trio of months ago, a club or bar styling itself G.A.Y. with eye-bursting unambiguousness if belief-beggaring unimaginativeness closed after perhaps at most eight months in business (I like to think its initials stood for Get Another Year), and a quartet or quintet of months before that, the Hippo, Baltimore’s preeminent gay dance club, an establishment that had been in existence for Hippo’s aeons when I moved hither in 1994 and that I had always expected still to be in business long after the statue of George Washington atop our monument to the so-called father of our country was kissing the paving-stones of Mt. Vernon Place, shut its doors, which were immediately thereupon converted into those of an instantiation of  that most pestiferous of present-day American proprietarially named commercial retail establishments, the CVS pharmacy.  It is surely only a matter of a handful or fewer years until hyperoccidental gayness undergoes a kind of semiotic heat death--until, in other words, it becomes a concept with no living significance, a concept that will require extensive historical research even to become vaguely comprehensible to living minds, much as such anciently obsolete concepts as socinianism, phrenology, and metempsychosis do now.   In the light of this impending post-shopworn obsoleteness of gayness par-ici, it is but small wonder if hyperoccidental bienpensants are baffled to the point of scandalization by the faintly controversial status gayness still suffers from (or perhaps, rather, enjoys) in present-day Russia, especially given that present-day Russia, unlike its Soviet antecedent, is not an officially atheistic polity, given further that in the hyperoccident of the past quarter-century atheism has transmogrified from a sort of default metaphysical habitus for people who were dissatisfied with officially chartered religions for any number of reasons into a quasi-officially chartered religion in its own right, and indeed the bienpensant religion of sole resort, a religion whose priesthood is populated by the insurpassibly intellectually pedestrian likes of Richard Dawkins, Steven Pinker, and Neil De Grassi Junior High School Tyson Chicken and whose creed comes pre-bundled with a wearisome liturgy in celebration of so-called science qua infallible out-churner of wondrous new gadgetry-cum-rubber stamp for whatever the androgynous-dog deity Evolution has allowed to pass muster among the most contemptible of animals--and so we must accept homosexual coition as completely natural and therefore positively virtuous on the grounds that most sheep have engaged in it at least a few times [although of course we mustn’t even dream of countenancing incest or p********a even though precious few sheep are strangers to either practice].  And of course, as hinted not far above, concurrently with the metamorphosis of gayness from a subculture into a lifestyle and atheism from a habitus into a religion, we hyperoccidentals have witnessed, and participated in to varying degrees, the ascent of ethnicity as a lifestyle marker, an ascent vis-à-vis which Sicilian-Americana and the god-awful Godfather movies, together with their Scorsesean peers, constitute a quasi-veritable Cape Canaveral.  By this I mean that the efflorescence of cinematic Sicilian Americana did not so much encourage members of non-Sicilian ethnicities to be more open about the preexisting features of their respective Scheinvolkschaften as that it encouraged each and every hyperoccidental man Jack, Jill, Schlomo, Serafina, Krishna, aut al. with a less WASPy surname than Smith to espouse some facet of the Sicilian-American cinematic habitus as an inalienable-cum-ineffable feature of his, her aut al.’s own Scheinvolk, and consequently his, her, aut al.’s personal orientation--or, very much rather, hyperoccidentation--to the world.  I have already mentioned brutal frankness as an attribute of this habitus, and the only other two that have since occurred to me, after an exhaustive mental screening of the entire canon of Sicilian-Americana are obtuseness and n*****liness (the last of which indeed is stridently at odds with the classic pan-Italian virtue of abbondanza, but then one must account in some habitual register for the Sicilian diaspora’s Umgang with a certain other diaspora  [i.e. {nudge-nudge; wink-wink}, the Scotch-Irish]), and in all cando(u)r and franchezza brutta I cannot think of a single hyperoccidental Scheinvolk that since 1972 has not helped itself to a heaping helping of side from one or more of these three buffet vats or ventured a micrometer beyond them in its side-gourmandization.  To be sure, the respective Scheinvölker have not partaken in equal measure from all three vats; to be sure, there has admittedly been some admittedly ever-diminishing margin of marginal variation among the consumption patterns of the various Scheinvölker--so, for instance, those hyperoccidentals with so-called roots in the Indian subcontinent tend to fetishize frankness above all other pseudo-virtues, whereas lily-pinkish-white so-called working-class inhabitants of the British Isles--with the obvious exceptions of Scotland and Northern Ireland--pride themselves especially ardently on their obtuseness.  At all events, the androgynous-dog deity Negative Providence, to whom all other androgynous dog-deities, very much including Evolution, are subservient, has seen fit via the pan-occidental popularity of cinematic Sicilian Americana, to ensure that most occidentals enjoy an unlimited license to behave abominably, to indulge unreservedly that universal urge to let off anal steam that was first pinpointed as the curse of our age by John Cassavetes in his 1976 masterpiece The Killing of a Chinese Bookie (a film that incidentally cannot but be read as an emphatic critique of The Godfather and associated cinematic Sicilian Americana inasmuch as its protagonist is an Italian-American non-gangster hounded by a WASP-headed cartel of gangsters [not that it is solely a critique thereof, inasmuch as its Chinese eponym’s dyadic depiction as both a monkishly demeanored harmless old man and the kingpin of the most powerful crime syndicate on the North-American West Coast also cocks a snook at the contemporary fetishization of the Chinese as instanced by the very existence of the television series Kung Fu {and presumably catalyzed by President Nixon’s rightly called groundbreaking visit to China (rightly called inasmuch as it broke ground on the occident’s ever since-deepening grave [more on this anon, Negative Providence Willing])}]).  I italicized most in the immediately preceding sentence by way of acknowledging that there are some occidentals who in virtue of their national-political affiliation are not vouchsafed this carte-blanche license to be abominable on scheinvolkisch grounds.  At present the most ruthlessly policed and consequently most conspicuously bashful of such unlicensed souls are most certainly the citizens of the Federal Republic of Germany.  A present-day German quite certainly cannot get away with telling off a non-German in R-rated language, or obtusely leaving a non-German coworker in the lurch, or expecting a non-German to cover the entirety of a restaurant-bill tip, by disarmingly ejaculating, “Hey, babe, what can I tell you?  I am, after all, a German”; for such an apologia of an ejaculation would be instantaneously met by the non-German prospective hit-taker’s implacably frosty rejoinder (every Kelvin-degree of its frostiness being in turn underwritten by the equally implacably frosty authority of local, national, or international legislation against so-called hate speech) of “Oh, I see, mein Freund: you’re just looking for a bit more Lebensraum.”  But by and large--i.e., notwithstanding all the recent shakeups in the Bundestag and the ever-recrudescent flare-ups of Neo-Nazism--the present-day German does not find the obligation to keep his German bunghole hermetically corked especially or even marginally onerous because by now the Federal Republic has been placidly leading a post-Nazi existence, and, even more significantly, punching above its demographic weight on the economic front, for nearly three-quarters of a century.  By and large, the Germans have weathered the Furzesverbot on laxative expressions of their Germanness as placidly as a multimillionaire(ss) weathers the VAT or sales tax on his, her, or their monthly capital outlay on chewing gum.  The various Slavic Scheinvölker are technically in a much more enviable sphincteral position than the Germans, inasmuch as all their forebears are at least speciously retrospectively redeemable as opponents or victims of the bad guys during the Second World War, but in material practice they are the most sphincterally constrained of all the occidental Scheinvölker—not, to be sure, because of negligible demographic representation among the Stateside twentieth-century Eurpoean diaspora either off-screen or on, for a plurality if not majority of that diaspora hailed from Slavic countries, but because a majority of that plurality or majority were Jewish and a virtual totality of that Jewish sub-majority opted to style themselves Jews, or Jewish Americans, rather than Russian- Polish-, Czech-, autc. Americans.  Thus in the lectural portion of a Young People’s Concert propounding the undeniably charming if ultimately preposterous thesis that American music owes its peculiar genius to the ethnic heterogeneity of its producers, Leonard Bernstein (the present writer sincerely surmises that Bernstein’s up-cropping in the present argument for the second time in scarcely twice as many pages is preeminently a function not of the present writer’s admittedly fervent Bernstein obsession but rather of Lenny’s intrinsic seminality-cum-pivotality-cum exemplarity in numerous facets of twentieth-century life), described himself as a child of Jewish rather than of Ukrainian immigrants—this even as he designated his fellow musicians’ progenitors as English, Italian, Mexican, Ruritanian, etc.  Such being the case, any non-Jewish Slav who exacts license for bad behavior qua Slav is ineluctably exposing himself, herself, or theirself, to a charge of anti-Semitism.  At most or best he, she, or they can get away with merely mock-bellicosely asserting to a non-Slav that he, she, or they haven’t lived until you’ve tasted a proper borsch or bublik, but statistically speaking, even this utterly anodyne assertion of ethnic singularity is bound to be met with the akimbo-armed remonstration, We Jews have also got borsch, and a version thereof whose ineffable chutzpah-imbued feistiness makes Russian autc. borsch taste like sickbed piss, and as everygoy knows, the bublik is just a shoddy goyish knock-off our proud Jewish bagel.  To be sure, there is a certain Slavic polity-cum-nationality that enjoys a considerable amount of ill-informed sympathy in the hyperoccident—namely, (the) Ukraine [the present writer insists on parenthetically retaining the definite article on grounds specified by him more than four years ago; together with the grounds of a highly plausible conjecture that he has since formed, the conjecture, namely, that the Ukrainians’ resentment of the definite article springs from no nobler motive than unregenerate racism, given that the only other singular-numbered polity whose name is traditionally prefixed by the definite article is the sub-Saharan African country known as (the) Gambia].  But it enjoys this sympathy only in virtue of its militarized opposition to the most longstandingly geographically extensive-cum-populous, and hence the de facto hegemonic, Slavic polity-cum-nationality—namely, Russia.

In shorter, at bottom, the present stigmatization of Russia across the hyperoccidental media—i.e., in both the day-to-day reportage on things Russian in hyperoccidental journalism, and in the month-by-month dramatization of Russian life both past and present in hyperoccidental cinematic and televisual offerings–is owing less to any longstanding or recently emergent characteristics of Russian society, let alone of the Russian mentality, Weltanschauung, psyche, soul, or what have you, than to certain changes that have taken place throughout the hyperoccident in the past three-fifths of a century and that have not taken place in Russia at all or have taken place at a slower pace than in the hyperoccident, and often for the better.  To put this another way: in many respects and domains Russia has cleaved, if only by inertia, to a mid-twentieth century panoccidental norm, a norm within whose confines certain behaviors and practices were rightly openly stigmatized and certain others, while perhaps unjustly officially  proscribed, were nevertheless in practice free to seek their own demographically adequate, and hence just, level of expression; while in other respects and domains it has merely and at worst strayed from this norm no more extravagantly than its hyperoccidental peers.  The thoroughgoing marketization of subcultures and ethnicities that has displaced this norm in the hyperoccident over the past three-fifths of a century wrongly rewards certain behaviors and practices and, while perhaps justly rescinding the proscription of certain other practices, at the same time unjustly both valorizes (to use a term made fashionable by a perhaps-unwitting conduit of this marketization, Michel Foucault) and trivializes these behaviors and practices by stipulating that they are intrinsically both no less desirable than the demographically more significant alternatives and no more desirable than the demographically less significant (and indeed even than the demographically utterly insignificant [because heretofore nonexistent]) alternatives.  The extra-juridical comportmental facet of this norm, a facet that enjoined a habitus-cum-bearing of supposedly stiff, uptight [or, in obligatorily more earthy parlance, tight-assed] politeness was an unquestionably unalloyed good, and up until ca. 1965 it was in equally flagrant evidence qua comportmental norm on both sides of the Icey, among all strata of the societies (and no, not just the geriatric, bourgeois, or middle-class ones) thereon, and it is now no longer in flagrant, or indeed even quiescent, evidence on either side of the former-cum-resurgent Icey.  The juridical facet of this norm, a facet signalized by the proscription of homosexual activity and of the use of hallucinogenic and narcotic drugs, was complementarily in force in most polities on both sides of the Icey through ca. 1965; the pharmacological sub-facet of this norm has been gradually crumbling ever since on both sides of the extant-to-former-to resurgent Icey, while the meta-sexual facet of it has all but utterly vanished from the hyperoccident and is now in force only on the east side of the former-cum-resurgent Icey.  To be sure, even over there this meta-sexual aspect is only weakly in force, inasmuch as it only ever dares express itself obliquely, which is to say not through the immediate impedance of homosexual activity, but rather through, for example, the banning of the screening of certain movies (and that only in officially licensed cinemas, such that there is no attempt [as far as the present writer has heard] to impede distribution through, say, international file-sharing networks) that allegedly advocate such activity, that allegedly function as homosexual propaganda by allegedly presenting allegedly homosexual characters in an allegedly unduly favorable light.  Here in the hyperoccident the very notion of homosexual propaganda cannot but elicit a condescendingly wry smile from all but the most rock-ribbed, snake-handling so-called Christian Fundamentalists, an all but among which or whom the present writer cannot pretend to exclude himself.  To be sure, the present writer cannot but concede, the notion that a person who has never given a thought to doing so will up and coit with another person of his or her own sex (Down male, female, gender-queer, or species-queer doubtless-only-contingently-and-therefore-tragically-non-essentially canine canine!: remember that however lamentably antediluvianly, we are after all treating here of homosexuality, a concept that, however lamentably antediluvianly, exacts a merely binary [as against wondrously infinitely multifarious] division between the sexes [as against the wondrous prismitization of infinitely numerous genders]) merely and immediately upon watching an evidently male cartoon mouse, vole, stoat, or what have you, address a fellow equally evidently male cartoon mouse, vole, stoat, or what have you, as girlfriend, is ludicrous.  All the same, the present writer cannot but hazard the conjecture (and hazard is very much the mot juste here, for the conjecture is one fit to cost a hyperoccidental of the late twenty-teens his aut al.’s livelihood if not his aut al.’s liberty, such as either may be) that this notion is founded upon a sub-notion that is far less risible, the notion, namely, that homosexuality may be being given more than a pale-complexioned Arab grandee under the auspices of its hyperoccidental marketization; for as I have already hinted not far above, one of the notable ineluctably instantaneous effects of marketization is the placement of the marketed good on a so-called level playing field (or in a supermarket-style shelving system) whereon (or wherein) in point of availability-cum-admissibility it enjoys absolute parity with every theretofore-available marketed good in its commodity-genre.  Once upon a time in the hyperoccident, ibuprofen was an obscure prescription-only drug with few advocates as a painkiller among the valetudinarian mobility (at any rate, the present writer does not recall having heard it mentioned by any of his valetudinarian contemporaries or elders in those days); once it was legally allowed to be sold in drug stores, it became one of the three or four standard over-the-counter pain relievers, and more or less every hyperoccidental headache-sufferer, however loyal an aspirin or paracetamol user, felt obliged to try it at least once.  Within a year of this over-the-counterization of ibuprofen, one seldom encountered a proper ibuprofen virgin, whether abashed or defiant, in the valetudinarian mobility.  To be sure, the older alternatives to ibuprofen retained a strong share of the over-the-counter pain relief market thereafter, and retain one to the present day.  But none of us can ever go back to a moment of ibuprofen-free prelapsarian innocence.  At some point not long after the over-the-counterization of ibuprofen, homosexuality acquired a post-over-the-counterization ibuprofen-like status in or on the lifestyle market.  To pinpoint the precise chronological site of this point is neither possible nor necessary—certainly it was already visibly in the offing as early as 1993, with the airing of the Seinfeld episode “The Outing,” with its tag line Not that there’s anything wrong with that, endlessly iterated by the show’s heterosexual characters like a counter-homophobic exorcistic formula, and it was palpably in the bag no later than 2012, when President Obama said that gay marriage was a good thing.  In setting down these bookends, I have deliberately refrained from mentioning any legal landmarks because in the lifestyle market, in contrast to the over-the-counter pain-relief market, there is seldom if ever a moment when a given market choice instantaneously and unequivocally passes over from the realm of the impermissible to the realm of the permissible; or, rather, to be more precise, in the lifestyle market the so-called law of the land is but one of several-to-many laws in play, and by no means the most important of these laws (and yet again by no means perforce not the most important, let alone perforce the least important [of course the orthodox hyperoccidental intellectual petit-bourgeois party line on this entire legalistic constellation is that the so-called law of the land is but a laggardly poop-scooping camp follower of the utterly un-rule-bound extralegal elephant of so-called national (or, in the case of diasporas, subnational) culture, but this party line is as moronic a line of thought as they come {in two or more senses?}, for reasons whose exposition is probably genuinely and not merely factitiously beyond the scope of the present essay]), as may be seen in the case of recent changes in the norms governing traditionally illegal and recreational drugs (to be sure, with the recent explosion of synthetic opioid use the distinctions between legal and illegal and medical and recreational drugs have become increasingly difficult to maintain).  Between the late 1960s and the late 1990s, the only must-take illegal drug in the hyperoccident was marijuana—and by a must-take drug I mean exactly what I seem to mean; viz., a drug that one refrains from taking at one’s immediate social peril, at the peril of ostracization from what passes for decent society in the micro-epoch one inhabits for the time being.  Although throughout those three decades marijuana use was illegal and subject to juridical penalties in every hyperoccidental polity (save the Netherlands, albeit only up to a point even there), throughout those selfsame decades it was extremely difficult for a hyperoccidental adult to travel in mainstream hyperoccidental social circles without at least occasionally partaking of a hit from a bong or a spliff, and to out oneself as an unrepentant weed virgin was tantamount to social suicide.  And yet, to these decades’ credit, they did not require their hyperoccidental inhabitants to indulge in the consumption of stronger drugs than the old Tee Haitch Cee.  To be sure, if one opted to be a full-fledged hippie, one would be required to supplement one’s marijuana intake with liberal lashings of LSD or so-called magic mushrooms; and if one opted to be a full-fledged yuppie one would be expected to transition from a regimen of marijuana to one of cocaine—strictly powdered cocaine, of course.  And to opt to be an habitual user of the (then) hardest drug of all, heroin, was genuinely to walk on the wild side, as that drug’s then-most dedicated champion and ardent propagandist put it (albeit in a song in which the eponymous wild side referred not to heroin use but to homosexual transvestitism, a song that, in other words, would presumably elicit a ban from the Kremlin were it released today).  By now, in 2019, although marijuana has been fully legalized in only a few U.S. states and remains fully criminalized in many other parts of the hyperoccident, in lifestylistically juridical terms it is effectively on par with alcohol and caffeine throughout the hyperoccident, which is to say partout-ici one cannot score any so-called Brownie points (hash- or otherwise) by either using or forbearing from using it.  While a hyperoccidental may now be required to swear off or embrace caffeine, alcohol, or marijuana as part of the adoption of a lifestyle regimen of some current standing in the market, he, she, autc. now neither seems a jot more or less hip or square in virtue of being a user or non-user of caffeine, alcohol, or marijuana eo ipso.  Any sort of nudge-nudgish, shifty-eyed Five-O raid-anticipating reference to smoking a bowl or firing up a spliff is now met with not a yawn but a laugh even in hyperoccidental polities wherein one could in official juridical principle do some serious time for engaging in either act.  Powdered cocaine in its turn has moved into the position occupied by marijuana a generation ago, or, perhaps, indeed, to a position of slightly greater lifestylistically licit standing, inasmuch as while in 1992, presidential candidate Bill Clinton felt obliged to subjoin his admission that he had smoked marijuana with the qualification that he had “not inhaled,” in 2008, a full decade ago, presidential candidate Barack Obama did not feel obliged to subjoin any sort of qualification to his admission that he had taken powdered cocaine (and if it be objected that powdered cocaine use, in being intrinsically and exclusively an affair of snorting—i.e., of a form of inhalation—does not admit of a parallel qualification, one must consider that in order to be properly absorbed cocaine must travel the full length of the nasal passage, such that Mr. Obama could have more than serviceably distanced himself from his cocaine use by remarking, “The stuff never reached my olfactory bulbs”).  Heroin, in a sort of poorly synched chain gang couple-like simultaneity with the relatively recently invented crack cocaine (granted, the middle 1980s, the microepoch of crack cocaine’s first heyday, are a very long time ago indeed, but also nearly a full two decades after Woodstock and the Velvet Undergound albums) has in turn moved into a position of exactly the same specific gravity if not quite the same substance (pun unintended but also unretracted because on reflection only partly a pun) as powdered cocaine: while it is not exactly good form for, say, a trentagenarian or quadragenarian librarian or quantity surveyor, to be a current regular heroin user, a person in such a petit-bourgeois quasi-professional position stands to garner considerable credit from his, her, aut al.’s vague-to-exact peers and contemporaries via a CV entry of, say, May 1999-July 2002—Unregenerate Unemployed Heroin Addict at Fuck You for Even Dreaming of Asking Where, Inc.; and any person in such a position who admits that he, she, aut al. has never shaken hooves with the horse ensures his, her, aut al.’s immediate quasi-professional ostracism, and, failing a speedy retraction, the none-too-dilatory reception of a pink slip.  Of course, all this marketization of pharmacological vice has recently begun encountering what is trendily (and hence inevitably, albeit admittedly contingently, vulgarly) known as pushback from the new valetudinarianism, a lifestyle genus that regards an ordinary loaf of bread—even a gluten-purged wholegrain loaf thereof—with infinitely more abhorrence than a comparably shaped and massive mass of the most concentrated state-of-the art opioid, and a five-minute session of the contiguity of a pair of buttocks with a terrestrially supported surface as super-tantamount to the smoking of an entire pack of unfiltered full-flavored cigarettes during the same of twelfth-of-an-hour interval, and it will be extremely interesting (almost as interesting, indeed, as watching the drying of a fresh coat of paint on a lean-to in Papua New Guinea [or, to be sure, whichever polity in the tropics reportedly enjoys the highest standard of living therein] during the rainy season) to see how this battle of the lifestyle-genres pans out, as they say—always supposing, of course, that it is afforded the luxury of doing so (q.v., LW).  In any case, even if bread has become the new smack throughout the hyperoccident by the time this essay enters the G*****esphere, this SOA will neither blunt nor dilute the piquancy of the two-pronged assertion that I have been building up to for Dunciadical donkey’s pages—namely, that all officially juridical and unofficially juridical (i.e., so-called cultural) changes that have taken place in the hyperoccident over the past three-fifths of a century, together with all their so-called economic epiphenomena, have been effected solely at the behest of an utterly unreflective infantile market-driven craving for novelty, and that consequently the Russia of the present has become the arch-bugbear of the hyperoccident solely on account of its residual resistance to succumbing to this infantile impulse.  Note well that I have just written of Russia’s residual resistance to such succumbation, for I would by no means have it thought that I regard present-day Russia as uniformly embodying and effectuating some sort of mid twentieth-century hyperoccident-style idyll behind the sort of impermeable spatiotemporal force-field as which not even the old Icey was ever imagined by even the most fanatical mid twentieth-century hyperoccidental Sovietophobes.  I concede that in many departments of the system of life, and perhaps even in the most important of such departments, Russia has succumbed as gluttonously and unreservedly as its most ignobly childish hyperoccidental contemporaries have done.  Certainly, to judge by their tastes qua cinema goers-cum-television viewers, as well as by the admittedly largely secondhand accounts of their comportment towards non-fellow countrypeople, the Russians have embraced the post-Godfather hyperoccidental ethos-cum-habitus of non-negotiable brutal frankness with a well-nigh Willisian vengeance.  And to judge by the comportment of at least one of the characters in Zviagentsev’ Loveless, its perpetually smartphone-transfixed housewife, they have no less greedily embraced the asinine pseudo-social networking engines whose pernicious vacuity I have in all modesty quite serviceably trounced many thousands of words ago.  And finally, however ardently a reflectively religious hyperoccidental may cling to the notion of Christendom and therefore cheer for any institutionalized version of Christianity that preserves any of that religion’s most morally noble and intellectually profound elements, he, she, autc. cannot in good faith (whether Christian or meta-Christian) smile upon the present resurgence of the Russian Orthodox Church, obdurately centering as it seems to do on the most ignoble and shallow abracadabral claptrap of a branch of Christianity that never had anything whatsoever of its own invention to recommend anyway.  But it seems to me that in their resistance towards the marketization of certain lifestyles and modes of production the Russians have much to teach us hyperoccidentals.  Vis-à-vis the Russian Republic’s official proscription of homosexuality, while the present writer, qua not only person but also man who has always loathed and despised all chest-thumping, air-humping expressions of macho arrogance, who has never either openly or privately disparaged another male as a f*g(g*t)—no, not even in the 1980s, when even the now-most evangelically pro-LGBT aut BL-E-A-A-CH! of my male contemporaries were by their own admission bandying about the three and five-letter eff words as if there were no LGBT aut BL-E-A-A-CH!-friendly tomorrow—cannot by any means countenance the proscription eo ipso, at the same time qua specifically chastely single heterosexual man he also cannot but feel a hankering for a hyperoccident in which, as in today’s Russia, homosexuality was by and large still understood to be a more than relatively marginal proclivity that the average (and hence non-homosexual) man or woman (but by no means the average minor) was expected to humor in others (e.g., by clinking glasses with a paired pair of new homosexual acquaintances as cheerfully as one would do with a heterosexual couple whom one likewise hoped never to see again), instead of as a lifestyle whose adoption each and every man, woman, unequivocally prepubescent child autc. not previously engaged by another coitional lifestyle is obliged to entertain as a compelling possibility.  It is true that nobody is, as they say, holding a gun to my head or even twisting my arm (at least not yet) to take up a regimen of fellatio and anal coition with persons who look like me from the waist down; on the other, onanising, hand (the left one in my case, appropriately enough), it is also true that virtually everyone is now standing alongside me at the by now sub-sub Olympic-sized swimming pool of gayness (for by now it has after all ceded a great deal of its territory to trendier coitional lifestyles) and repeatedly sweeping his, her autc.’s non-onanizing arm towards it with a gesture significative of How bad could it be?  Seriously, Volker(in, autc.), just the other year, a friend I had befriended way back in our elementary school days, a man who had been privy to virtually every one of my crushes and amorous entanglements from the age of 11 onwards, sought to brief himself on the then-current state of my sentimental life by asking me in allem Ernste, “Have you been dating any girls lately—or any dudes?”  Presumably this man, who by then had been married to a woman for a decade, had not undergone any alteration in his opinion of my erotic tastes; presumably after thirty years of hearing exclusively of my infatuations with certain females he did not expect me suddenly to begin unbosoming myself of infatuations with certain males; presumably what had changed was rather his attitude to the copular state eo ipso; presumably by then he had come to reckon being part of a coitional couple as such an essential prerequisite of a worthwhile existence that in his view a man who loved only women would be much better off by hitching himself to another man than by remaining single.  To be sure, he must have reflected at about that time, I was lucky enough to meet a woman willing to coit with me, but if I hadn’t been so lucky, who knows if I might not have settled for wearing Dick’s hatband?  Better Dick’s than none at all.  For to wear no f**kbuddy’s hatband, to be part of no coitional couple, is to be nothing less—or, rather, more—than NOTHING.  But that was way back in ’14 at the latest, when the minty aftertaste of the official normalization of gay marriage was still pleasantly fresh in the mouth of every non- snake-handling, opposable-thumbed hyperoccidental human but the present writer.  Now, of course, as more than hinted above, that taste has long since evaporated, and the present writer is additionally confronted by all butcher’s-dozen odd addenda to the old, and now ludicrously quaint-seeming, LGB quasi-acronym, qua options to which he is obliged to give serious consideration qua prospective hoisters out of the abyss of the de facto nullity of himself qua inhabitant of the hyperoccidental hic et nunc.  To be sure, the present writer finds these other coitional lifestyle choices even less appealing than gayness, convinced as he is that even considered in isolation from their political-economic context, they are all founded on or in grave metaphysical fallacies, fallacies to which the present writer, inasmuch as he has recognized them to be fallacies, is incapable of succumbing (the reader can find my explication of these fallacies in the essay entitled “Kripkean Metaphysics and Personal Eschatology”), but in any case, the alacrity and demographic abundance with which these formerly highly alternative-to-nonexistent coitional lifestyle choices are being embraced suggests that purely market-driven trend-humping rather than metaphysical confusion is the principal efficient cause of this embracement, that those who have chosen one of these lifestyles out of some notion, however fleeting or ill-founded, that such a lifestyle uniquely and infungibly services who they really are, are outnumbered by those who cannot bear not to be associated with a coitional lifestyle of tumescent valuation.  Case in to my mind-ever so piquant point: just the other month I was dining or supping in an absolutely mainstream Baltimore restaurant (Exactly how mainstream was it? even the most genuinely and dependably dearest of DGRs is entitled to query here.  And by way of giving this reader a sense of the absoluteness of this mainstreamness I cannot do better than to inform him, autc. that the restaurant was none other than the recently reincarnated and un-rechristened classic Baltimore seafood restaurant mentioned in “Every Man His Own W.G. Sebald”), and from my place at a table that exactly bisected the entire dining space and consequently afforded me a view of the entire bar and at least a dozen tables downwind of it, I could not behold a single pairing or grouping of persons betokening a heterosexual coitional lifestyle.  I saw plenty of stubbly dudes in dresses, plenty of trousered dudes chewing the fat with persons who may have once been women but were, or affecting to be, no longer, and plenty of women (both dressed and trousered) chewing that selfsame fat with persons who may have once been men but were, or were affecting to be, no longer, but nary a single pairing of a seemingly unapologetically unreconstructed man with a seemingly unapologetically unreconstructed woman.  As I was wrapping up my survey my eyes alighted on a grave old turtleneck-pullovered gentleman chatting up (or perhaps merely with) a woman of a so-called certain age.  Ah, here, at last, I exclamatorily sighed to myself, is proof that the heterosexual kernel of the Abendsgeist has not been utterly extirpated!  But then the gentleman stood up to go to the loo, and from the play of the folds in the turtleneck’s pectoral zone that thereupon ensued, I readily discerned that for all his gravitas he, or, rather, she, was no kind of man, gentle or otherwise.  Of course a thoroughly awful old-school DGR could here demur that I was after all afforded only a view of half of the restaurant’s dining space and that for all I knew the other half was chock-full of heterosexual couples intrastitially mooning and spooning as unreservedly as a passel of heterosexual teenagers at Lover’s Lookout in Anytown, U.S.A. in 1955.  To this demurral I must counter-demur, first, that while I admittedly retain no memory of the clientele of the other half of the restaurant on that evening, if the coitional-habitual character of that half had markedly differed from that of the bar-ward half I surely would have picked up on the difference, inasmuch as the layout of the joint mandated my passage by a good two-fifths of this half during my own none-too-seldom peregrinations to the loo; and second, that even supposing that other half was (or were) full of rabidly heterosexual couples, the proportion of alternative coitional agglomerations was (or were) still far too statistically high to be explicable as the belated expression of multi-aeonically ancient organically ineluctable libidinal impulses, for surely if a full half of the human population had been compelled to keep their alternative coitional-lifestylistic impulses under wraps for all those ca. pre-2015 aeons, some high mucky-muck or other, some pharaoh or sultan or emperor, would have got verbal wind of their discontentment by the dawn of the present millennium at the very latest, and have endeavored to placate that discontentment in some fashion—for surely the brute laws of Newtonian physics render it inconceivable for a force of x newtons (such as heterosexuality as conceived in the thoroughly awful old-school DGR’s most heteronormative scenario) to overpower another force of x newtons (such as the massed extra-heterosexual mobility as conceived in this selfsame scenario).  No-sir/ma’am/my LGBTGQFWZX liege–ee, every salient demographic indication suggests that these post-gay lib coitional lifestyles are of a radically different character from gayness in its Stonewall-to-Act Up heyday, that they have far more in common with the lifestyle choices that we associate with, say, a classic lumpen-bourgeois masculine midlife crisis, or (for post LGB-opting at such tender years is now lamentably common), a classic single-digit-aged child’s adoption of a new natural-scientific object of obsession.  A generation ago, a middle-aged man of more than modest means (i.e., inter alia, a middle-aged man far richer than the present middle-aged male writer) expressed his dissatisfaction with the inadequacy of his subjective imprint upon the world by buying an expensive so-called sports car, and a single-digit-aged child expressed his or her boredom with dinosaurs or volcanoes by taking up an obsession with black holes or sloths; now such a middle-aged man expresses such dissatisfaction by undergoing an expensive genital-reshaping operation, and such a child expresses such boredom by declaring that he, she, aut supposedly c. is a member of the opposite sex, or both sexes, or no sex at all, etc.  But just as even in the old days the commodities inextricably associated with these lifestyle-switchovers were very much moving targets—just as back then MG yielded to Porsche as the most-favored purveyor of sports cars, and wombats to meerkats as the most cuddleable exotic mammal—so are the coitional lifestyle choices of today by default destined to cede to even more eldritch and outlandish ones in the appallingly near future.  For after all, with each passing day, mainstream hyperoccidental received opinon is drawing an ever-broadening proportion of what used to be called creation within its ever-widening lasso or fishing-net of sentimental induced empathy.  A generation ago, even the most soppily animal-besotted vegan would break down and eat a kipper or a rock and chips twice or thrice a year on the grounds that it was okay to eat fish ’cause they don’t have any feelings (as a certain so-called deep cut on a chart-topping record album of the microepoch put it); now the ingestion of beef, pork, and chicken is semi-taboo even among those who would not stick at coiting with a cow, sow, hen, bull, steer, hog, or capon (and the mere mention of lamb-consumption qua long-proscribed practice can be whispered only once the ears of all children within earshot have been covered), and we are even being asked to take the civil rights of insects into account before tucking into our popcorn bucket of fried ants.  (The present writer’s view on the entire bucket of regrettably soon-to-be-hors-de-table worms—namely, that inasmuch as all matter, whether animal, vegetable, or mineral in essence or provenance, in being potentially sentient, should be treated with kid gloves [whether of the caprine or yahooine variety makes no difference], any line drawn between acceptable and unacceptable foodstuffs is devoid of ethical significance, has been expounded in detail in the essay “Gluttony and Panpsychism.”)  And inasmuch as this lasso or fishing-net widening cannot but—even as the present writer writes—be being accompanied by the usual present hyperoccidental elision of the difference between induced empathy and outright self-identification, it is by default inevitable that large numbers of hyperoccidentals will soon declare that they are not and never have been members of the human race (or, rather r**e), but rather are and always have been members of a certain animal species; that, for example certain children, upon watching a documentary about the Canadian snow goose, will delightedly announce that they are snow geese to their mummies and daddies (or LGBZTYVAWXZ guardians, all types of which presumably have their respective pet-honorifics that the present writer cannot be a***d to look up), who will thereupon tearfully embrace them while ejaculating, I’m proud as avian gonads of you, gosling, and that certain middle-aged people will have genetically accurate fins, gills, hooves, tentacles, autc. grafted onto or into their organisms (for surely if those boffins can make a mouse grow a human ear they can make a human grow muscine whiskers, and then some); and that later still, equally large numbers thereof will declare themselves species queer, and demand to be treated by their ever-so-backward, ever-so-tyrannical, homininormative contemporaries-cum-geozonemates, as a member of one animal species at 21:59 GMT, another at 22:34 GMT, and so on, until the cows would have come home in the days when there were still enough traditionally homeward-yearning cis-bovine cows to outnumber the stampede of trans-bovine (i.e., human) cows determined to make it big in the big city, under the auspices of a so-called diversity rider, qua representatives of a demographic niche that has more than figuratively suffered under the yoke of human repression for literally dozens of millennia.  If the reader (hereupon reconceived as a genuinely nice reader) dare smile at the immediately aforementioned scenario, he or she (the dropping of the “et al.” signifies the banishment of all levity, of all even ironic deference to the etiquette exacted by my enemies) should be informed that I assuredly am not smiling at it, that it makes me downright po-faced if not sourpussed, for I regard the realization of that scenario as a genuine de facto inevitability, and I do not regard that realization as being a jot more or less objectionable than the already-realized one of pan-hyperoccidental endorsement of all forms of fancy dress and make-believe on the coitional-lifestylistic front.  Seriously, sir or ma’am (sir if and only if you can have a prosthetically unaided slash without sitting down, ma’am if and only if you cannot), I find it no more pleasant or less offensive to doff my hat and give up my seat on a bus to a W.G. Grace-bearded bloke of 22 stone (139 kg) upon his barking Excuse me, male chauvinist asshole in a falsetto voice, as I am now all but required to do by law, than I will to murmur Excuse me, Rover (which will doubtless be the most that the law will allow me to do) when I discover a similarly physiqued bloke (and more than likely the very same bloke) masturbating against my leg five years (at the latest) hence.  The hyperoccident has long since reprehensibly sold its soul Ell Ess and Bee to the cartoon Chihuahua demigoddess Hipness, in other words, to the kneejerk compulsion to regard the normalization of the heretofore socially outlandish as praiseworthy; and whereas while the blood was still drying on the contract this compulsion at least gave vent to certain genuine, full-fledged urges (however socially undesirable that venting may have been),  in recent years it has produced nothing more even conceivably redeemable than the celebration-cum-sanctification of silliness for silliness’ sake.  Whence the present utility of Russia qua prospective savior of the occident (of the greater occident, encompassing all the nations and polities geographically coextensive with what used to be called Christendom)—not, to be sure, exactly as Gogol and his nineteenth-century successors imagined it, as a beacon inviting the Benthamite materialist European and North American portion of Christendom back to the faith of their pre-nineteenth century fathers; but rather, as a beacon inviting the Hipsterism-besotted twenty-first century hyperoccident back to the faith of its nineteenth-and-twentieth century fathers—to that selfsame creed of Benthamite materialism that Gogol at al. wished to lure it away from.  For present-day Russia is nothing if not unregenerately, defiantly unhip: never mind its risible conservatism on the coitional-lifestylistic front; infinitely more risibly, it principally sustains itself on exports of petroleum and natural gas, grossly material substances that were first discovered to be commodifiable as anciently as two centuries ago.  Can one conceivably get more unhip than that?  To be sure, this defiantly unregenerate unhipness is as of now nothing short of a scandal in the hyperoccident: indeed, it is now virtually impossible to get any hyperoccidental so-called expert on Russia, any of the termite-like mass of neo-Kremlinogists, to do anything but fulminate against it.  A month or two ago as of this writing (Decoration Day 2018), one such wag was interviewed on BBC Radio 4 regarding the Skripal poisoning case.  The gist of his communication vis-à-vis the case stricto sensu was that it bore all the earmarks or what have you of a classic KGB-style job executed by whatever the successor of the KGB is called, but the impartment of this gist was chronologically minuscule by comparison with his ostensibly merely parenthetical rabid disparagement of Russia qua oh-so-unhip dispenser of petroleum and natural gas.  The entire segment from ess to enns really did go something very close to as follows: “INTERVIEWER: So what do you think the cause of the Skripals’ poisoning was, Dr Siliconvalleyfellator?  EXPERT: Well, it obviously bears all the earmarks or what have you of a classic KGB-style job executed by whatever the successor of the KGB is called.  If there’s one thing the Russians are good at, it’s clandestine poisoning.  Granted, that’s the only goddam thing they’re any good at; granted, from fifteen-ought-nought onwards they’ve made an absolute bollocks-hash of everything else they’ve turned their hands to, or, rather half-arsedly pretended to turn their hands to…[FIVE MINUTES LATER]….flogging petroleum and natural gas.  I mean, for Chrissakes, get with the geoeconomic program, Vladdy &co.  That shit went out with piano rolls of the latest Paul Dresser ditty—”  INTERVIEWER: --I’m sorry, that’s all we’ve got time for, Dr Siliconvalleyfellator.  In other news (sic), how recently have you updated your F****k profile?”  While I sincerely (if none-too-warmly) apologize for any offense caused to any genuinely nice reader by the preceding bit of burlesque, I cannot in good faith take the blame for its offensiveness.  That blame lies squarely at the doorstep or what have you of the hyperoccidental punditry, inasmuch as they are more powerfully scandalized by Russia’s unhipness, gormlessly or willfully misconstrued as economic backwardness, than by the genuinely horrific consequences of any sort of vindictive machinations the Kremlin and its henchmen and myrmidons may be involved in.  I am as horrified by—and, indeed, probably much more horrified than—the next hyperoccidental man, woman, or child by the unprecedented infliction of an undiscriminatingly lethal nerve agent on an agglomeration of hyperoccidental civilians.  But I admittedly perhaps regrettably cannot sympathetically luxuriate in the pan-hyperoccidental Russophobic lather generated by the Skripal poisoning because the by-now eighteen-year-old hyperoccidental animus against the Russian government has been erected (and continues to rise ever-higher with each passing day) on such a flimsy foundation—viz., the foundation of handkerchief-to-nose clutching aversion to unabashed Russian cultural-cum-economic unhipness–that it is impossible for a would-be objectively minded hyperoccidental even to suppose, let alone conclude, on the evidence, or rather bare assertions, presented by the governments and traditionally most reputable news agencies of his or her (sic [q.v.]) geozone, that that other government was in any way or to any extent responsible for that poisoning.  These traditionally most reputable news agencies and governments simply expect their publics and citizenries to take their words for it that the Russian government was responsible for any nefarious act with some conceivable causal link to Russia because this is what all non-would be hyperoccidental Russians are like; this is the sort of thing they get up to, because they are culturally-cum-economically inept, because they’re perversely pooping the unbounded swingers’ party of global capitalism as though it were still 1989.  The entire line—or, rather, chasm-leap—of argument, is precisely consubstantial with the sort of argument that is denounced—and, indeed, prosecuted—as criminally racist in a local hyperoccidental setting, an argument to the effect of Well, of course one of those people was responsible for that murder at 27th and Honeysuckle.  After all, those people still eat animal flesh at least once a week and think Qinoa is pronounced like an ess haitch-less homophone of Kenosha.  What ever are we going to do with them?  And if to the immediately preceding assertions, it be demurred—again by a nice reader, albeit one whose reflexive disinclination to swim with the current of my argument bids fair to see him or her transferred in a trice from my Nice List to my Naughty List—that the present hyperoccidental pandemic of Russophobic rabies is by no means founded entirely on phantom guns that may not even be smoking in their phantom universe; that however disputable this or that hyperoccidental attribution of this or that nefarious non-sandwichial cloak-and-dagger misdeed to the agency of the present Kremlin may be, the present Kremlin has on more than one occasion quite openly behaved in a manner eye-burstingly seemingly brazenly calculated to circumjactate its weight and antagonize the hyperoccident—most signally in its annexation of (the) Crimea—if, I say, something to the immediately preceding effect be demurred—I must obdurately insist that even the hyperoccident’s resistance to such admittedly internationally-legalistically dubious acts is ultimately founded not on a pious reverence of (or for?) international law but rather on the same utterly contemptible aversion to the present Russian Federal Republican polity qua virtual incarnation of unapologetic hiplessness that actuates its (the hyperoccident’s) most kneejerk attribution of every non-Russian case of infant colic to the personal poisoned sparrow-fall-tallying intervention of Mr. Putin.  For after all, even the most cursory comparative examination of the recent political histories of the Russian Federal Republic and the Ukrainian Sovereign State of no specified political constitution (the very THIS SPACE AVAILABLE-esque absence of specification speaks volumes of fence-sitting whorishness)—and the present writer freely confesses that such an ultra-cursory CE is the only one the present writer has undertaken (as if a more lingering survey would be worth the arse-haulage!)—makes evident that since their early-1990s origins the two polities have essentially shared a single oligarchical-cum-kleptocratic political habitus wherein he or she (and at least as applied to Ukraine the she has often not been merely rhetorical) who happens to command the greatest share of national wealth at a given moment calls the domestic-cum-foreign political shots; that, indeed, the only facets of Ukraine’s political habitus that distinguish it from Russia’s are an aversion to any closer ties with the RFR (a facet that Russia itself is evidently logically incapable of adopting) and a yearning to be a member of the European Union.  Of course the Ukrainian government has always couched this yearning as a yearning for the rule of law, but what could be more brazenly paradoxical than a yearning for such a rule chez a political establishment that has never even aspired to embody this rule in the material life of its own institutions?  And in any case, even supposing this yearning were sincere, it could not but be accompanied by an awareness that the imposition of the abovementioned rule of law on a polity habitually recalcitrant to that rule would take several if not many years, an awareness that would perforce palliate the yearning to a much gentler and more intermittently mentally present sort of desire, to the sort of desire a young hyperoccidental just setting out on his or her so-called career path feels (with ever-diminishing justification, to be sure) for a sailboat or summer beach cottage.  The Ukrainians’ yearning for EU membership is of course by contrast about as intense a sort of yearning as a human subject-cum-organism—whether individual or collective—can have.  I have made mention earlier of the Cassavetean desire to fart qua metaphorical vehicle for the averaged metaphysical desires of humankind as a whole; the Ukrainians’ desire to be a part of the EU is more like the desire to have a wee (that’s wee, the micturational act, by the way, not wii the video game system [the latter of which of course nobody any longer desires to have, although a scant half-dozen years ago the desires for the two homophonic objects were on average somatically interchangeable]) after the consumption of six liters of beer (Baltika is the only conceivably apposite brand name that springs to mind; perhaps by now a politically appropriately inward-looking beer named Chornoye has supplanted Baltika in Ukrainians’ potational affections, although I rather doubt it [what with loyalty to beer brands generally both transcending and outlasting loyalty to nations, at least in historically unhip polities]) on an empty stomach; and the intensity of this yearning is, I submit, owing entirely to the instantaneousness and potency of the payoff, the specifically metaphysical payoff, that such membership would deliver.  For in becoming a member of the European Union, Ukraine, for all its immediate propinquity to Russia and its distance from France, Germany, Benelux, and Ireland (which, let’s face it, together comprise the totality of the EU in a strong sense, the totality of subordinate polities in which the necessity of retaining EU membership is still orthodox received opinion if by no means axiomatically or even statistically doxa) would automatically become part of the same place in which rock band-names incorporating slang terms for the female genitalia are ten eurocents a dizaine (i.e., one eurocent apiece), a place in which gender-queer yupster-hipsters with braided pubic hair extensions dine on funky offbeat reworkings of pseudo-local comfort food like free range agouti-stuffed Qinoa bubliki out of Edsel hubcaps while playing Higgs-Boson laser-tag in artificial zero-gravity environments—a place, in short, wherein all the most garishly obnoxious hyperoccidental trends are at least supposedly indulged and indulgeable in by all and sundry ad libitum, a place in which there will supposedly be no more seemingly endless dreary weekend winter weekend nights miserably whiled away in solitarily or merely heterosexually copularily nursing or chugging one’s Baltika autc., playing the local or national version of pool, snooker, or billiards, and munching on plain-old unstuffed wheat-flour bubliki off plain-old earthenware plates.  And then of course it must not be forgotten that with the attainment of EU membership Ukraine would straight-away benefit from what the present writer likes to call (and hopes other people will soon also like to call [provided, of course, that they credit him by name and uniquely identifying pseudonym each and every time they use the term]) the Jacksonville Effect, so eponymized in honor of a one-and-three-fifths-horse unregenerately pig-f**king Florida town [here the genuinely nice reader will, I am afraid, have to excuse a certain amount of lorgnette down-peering from a native son of a two-and-two-fifths apologetically regenerately pig f**king Florida town] that became the geographically largest, and demographically ca. 12th largest, city in the United States when, a half-century ago, it merged with the light suburban-cum-rural county of which it had been the seat.  (The Jacksonville Effect is to be distinguished from the superficially identical but really quite different and much less reprehensible Alaska Effect mainly if not exclusively on account of the much more modest [albeit presumably by no means at all less cupiditous] motivations, aims, and outcomes of the push for Alaskan statehood.)  Owing to an ambiguity in words denominating magnitude that I am virtually sure is common to all Indo-European languages, a(n) EU-affiliated Ukraine would be able and entitled to boast without qualification that it was the biggest country in the EU, and if reminded by a prospectively statistically nonexistent kuchka of pesky hairsplittingly truth-loving gatecrashers that size matters in other dimensions than the geographical, it would still be able and entitled to fall back on the boast that it was, say, the fifth most-populous country in the EU; such that it would, at least for the first few years of its membership (at the end of which it would naturally expect, however romantically, to have established enough zero-gravity bubliki-parlors to hoover every last touristic euro, dollar, etc., west of the Urals into its GDP), enjoy absolutely undisputed rhetorical pride of place in the Grand European-Unionian Chamber of Commerce—that officially nonexistent, yet for all that supremely significant, corporate entity by means of which the European Union shamelessly (yet ever-so-snootily, qua self-styled last bastion of 1700-style bon ton) whores itself to the rest of the world.  Of course the above-mentioned core EU member-polities are all-too-keenly aware of the rhetorical losses they would thereby perforce collectively and individually suffer, and so the question of Ukrainian EU membership has long since been kicked into the long (i.e., post-post-Brexitial) grass, as they say, by that abstractly indomitable central-hyperoccidental football-side.  Why, then, have I made so much of a muchness of Ukraine’s aspirations to EU membership?  Why, simply because I suspect that all of Ukraine’s recent-to-present beeves with Russia—not just some of them, but all of them—spring principally from its frustration with the long-grassed prospects of that membership, because I suspect that its Russophobia is nothing other or nobler than a stalking-horse of a pis aller for its frustration with the short-term impossibility of its participating in the EU’s (and, more, broadly, the pan-hyperoccident’s) cultural meat-grinding-cum-hamburger marketing industry.  Of course, I am aware that this suspicion flies in the face of the full spectrum or gamut of received opinion on Russo-Ukrainian relations like the aforementioned empty-stomached beer-chugger’s-bladder-ful of urine discharged into the windward of a so-called Category 5 hurricane or typhoon; aware, in other words, that every single goddamn soul and pseudosoul in or on the entire goddamn Erdkugel but me [I do so love these goddamns, which make me feel as though I am channeling the ghost of some would be-crapulously cantankerous but fundamentally wholesomely teetotal middlebrow male mid-twentieth century American science fiction-writer like Ray Bradbury or Philip K. Schlong] believes that the Ukrainians are fighting for national self-determination, and that even the most Russophile shaft or strand of this spectrum or gamut believes merely that Ukraine should put a bit more elbow-grease into holding its Russophobe horses; and yet, however many milliliters of urine I may be thereupon compelled to inhale or swallow, and however futilely my pissy ejaculation may be thrown back upon-cum-into my own ears and no others, I will and shall insistently aver that I suspect this desire for national self-determination to be but an epiphenomenon of a yearning for a durable lucrative stall for the P.T. Barnum-worthy shameless hawking of kitschy pseudo-national bric-à-bric, a suspicion grounded on the to-my-mind watertight grounds that Ukraine has been a full(y)-fledged nation-State for barely a quarter of a century.  The adducing of these grounds will of course raise every hackle-set and hoist akimbo every pair of arms associated with every empirical reader of this essay, and to those ERs—or, rather, and more likely, gruesomely unanalyzable fraction of an ER—who have devoted more than ten minutes to studying Russia’s pre-1917 history, I must if not quite apologize then at any rate tincture the remonstrative sternness of my I’ll deal with you later with a smattering of sympathetic approbation.  The remainder deserve and are about to receive an excoriating tongue-lashing in virtue of their assumption—the well-nigh universal assumption among hyperoccidental so-called elites [how my gorge rises at terming them such, despite the counter-emetic so-called]—that the inclusion of Ukraine in the U.S.S.R. was a consequence of specifically Soviet imperialism.  For it is indeed well nigh-universally assumed among the hyperoccidental so-called elites that with the collapse of the Soviet Union all the polities within that Union simply reverted to borders that had been fixed only as late as November 1917 and that accordingly all those former Russian Federation-bordering polities who are now pushing back, as they say, against Russia are doing so entirely as an expression of resistance to the prospective restoration of a specifically Soviet (or at the very least-cum-best semi or quasi-Soviet) status quo ante of less than thirty years’ antiquity—hence a status quo ante well within living memory.   The truth is that apart from some minor modifications occasioned by Stalin’s annexation of the Baltic republics—portions of which had been governed from Moscow or Petersburg beforehand anyhow—and perhaps some fringy bits of a sub-handful of sub-Russian territory ceded or gained during the big civil war of ca. 1915-1917, the Soviet Union at the moment of its 1991 demise was exactly geographically coextensive with the Russian Empire at its 1917 demise.  And such being-cum-having been the case, almost all of Russia’s specifically Russocentric discontent with its immediate former-Soviet neighbors axiomatically springs from these neighbors’ lack of respect for a status quo ante of trans-Soviet antiquity-cum-standing, and these neighbors’ discontent with Russia equally axiomatically springs from a nostalgia that transcends both living memory and the imposition of the Soviet system.  I believe it is worth drawing this indisputable syllogistic conclusion to a member of the hyperoccidental so-called elite, to the hyperoccidental bienpensant, first, inasmuch as to the extent that he or she gets off the Game of Thrones throne long enough to take in a bit of old-timey kulchur, he or she is likely to turn to a production hailing from pre-Soviet Russia’s so-called liberal period, to the period leading up to and succeeding the Revolution of 1905, to a short story or play by Chekhov or an early concerto or ballet by Prokofiev or Stravinsky, and he or she really ought to be made to realize that even as Nijinsky was executing his pas de chat at the Mariinsky and—even more pertinently—as that licentious young lady was walking along the Crimean seashore at Yalta with her dog, dozens of millions of Ukrainians, Georgians, et al., were grunting and sweating under the yoke (or around the spiked cast-iron dildo) of Russian government as miserably as they ever would subsequently do between 1917 and 1991; and secondly, as specifically regards Ukraine, by 1991 this yoke (or dildo) had been in place for a full two centuries, inasmuch as Ukraine figured among the territorial acquisitions of Catherine the Great (reigned 1762-1796), which is as much to say that Ukraine in 1917 was as well established as a constituent of the Russian empire as any of the former 13 colonies was then established as a constituent of the United States, and considerably more integrally Russian than Florida and Missouri, to say nothing of Arizona and New Mexico, let alone Alaska and Hawaii, were then American.  To be sure, since 1991 Ukraine has been a sovereign independent polity, but a sovereign independent polity whose existence was established not but by the mutual-agreed-upon revocation of a governmental charter but by a unilateral act of secession from a larger polity of which it, the Ukraine, had formed an organic, integral part for two hundred years, a polity that had formerly withstood at least two radical constitutional changes (for let it be remembered that Ukraine remained part of Russia under the government of the emphatically non-Soviet hyperoccidental-style bourgeois republic of pre-November 1917).  And to be frank, Ukraine’s present beeves with Russia, to the extent that they are specifically nationalistic beeves, are fundamentally expressive not of the resentment of a formerly temporarily occupied independent nation (à la the present Russo-orientated beeves of the Baltics and Georgia) but rather of the jealousy of a usurped foundation-site-cum-headquarters, for it was in Ukraine that people who called themselves Russians first settled, and it was Kiev that these ur-Russians designated their capital city—already very much a proper metropolis by the standards of the day, in numbering several-dozen inhabitants—when Moscow, the future Russian imperial capital, was but a piddling fishing village.  Accordingly, if the Ukrainians were really to be granted what they conceive of as their birthrightical if not God-given druthers, they would annex all six-and-sixth-fifths-million square miles of the present Russian Federation, along with, very probably, all eighty thousand square miles of Belarus (the third of the self-styledly Russian nations [whose contrastingly quiescent attitude to the Federation, while undoubtedly rather puzzling, is perhaps ultimately quite prosaically upchalkable to its being dwarfed both geographically and demographically by Ukraine qua potential challenger to Russia, and to its bordering eastward and southward exclusively on other Slavic polities rather than, as Ukraine does, via the Black Sea, on the quasi or semi-oriental Georgia and Turkey]).  Having taken in the preceding two sentences, the above fraction of an empirical reader with some knowledge of Russia’s pre-1917 history is doubtless aching to rush into my arms and plant his or her tulips on mine immediately prior or posterior to exclaiming, Darling, I knew you were one of us all along!  That you were one of the knowledgeable few enlightened enough to stick up for the Ukrainians qua monstrously poo-pooh’d scions-cum-rightful heirs of a millennially ancient imperium!  But I must unregrettably forestall the soothing of this ache with a stern schoolmasterly index finger (by no means to be confused with a gloatingly defiant bad-copperly middle finger) and calmly if ungently say to that F of an ER, “I told you I would deal with you later, and guess what, sirrah or missy?  Later is now now.  Let you not kid yourself, sirrah or missy: I am not now nor at any time have I ever been one of you-all, youse, you guys, you lot, or yinz.  I have no intention or desire to champion a territorial claim whose charter dates from, at most recently, four-and-a-quarter centuries ago and has long since been superseded by incommensurable territorial claims ratified by subsequent charters.  In the two sentences in question I merely wished to impart a sense of the terms in which the average nationalistic Ukrainian—Boris or Natasha Grinko (I suppose I am on safe enough grounds in surnaming this couple Grinko because that was the surname of a presumably pan-Sovietically famous Ukrainian who appeared in prominent roles in all five of Tarkovsky’s pre-emigrational features)—probably figures to himself or herself the Ukrainian national cause after downing a few growlers of Baltika or a pair of extra-dry Stoli or Standart (here, by way of forestalling a by no means necessarily figurative hangover, I take for granted that all over the world the same lackadaisical political latitudinarianism prevails among the consumers of spirits as among those of malt liquor) martinis.  I by no means wish to endorse these terms, as the F of an ER doubtless would have realized if his or her sentimental attachment to Eastern Slavic kitsch qua alternative to athletic team-fandom had been matched by a 1950s primary-schooler’s knowledge of the history and prehistory of the United States.   A bit before the two sentences in question I analogized Ukraine to one of the original thirteen ex-colonies comprising the United States at its foundation; now I must at once coarsen and refine that analogy by positing the Ukraine as a kind of Eastern-Slavic New England.  Comprising as it does the first bit of the present United States that got itself up and running apart from Mother England (sic [for we must remember that until 1707 there was politically speaking no such thing as Britain]), the bit thereof known as New England, comprising the present States of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Vermont, and New Hampshire, has always had, as they say, a chip on its grotesquely padded shoulders and a lorgnette high atop its grotesquely steep snout vis-à-vis the rest of the republic.  New Englanders have always thought themselves better than the rest of us Yankees to the abominable extent of bogarting the very concept of Yankeedom itself, such that those of us hailing from the lower 42-cum-upper one-cum-outer one (as they habitually ever-so-snootily style our sub-polity over old-fashioneds and Emporia cheroots at that Boston bar that furnished the exterior shots for the sitcom Cheers) can never be sure whether we are being excluded or included by a reference to a Yankee (e.g., the one to “a little Yankee boy” in that Connecticuter Charles Ives’s song, “He Is There,” wherefrom it is impossible to infer whether the boy in question is being celebrated generally qua generic American [i.e., one of us] or exclusively qua New Englander [i.e., one of them]).  And of course they have clung, at least in their snootiest enclaves, to a peculiar non-rhotic accent that is meant to distinguish them from the arr-affecting southern-cum-western rabble in virtue of more nearly resembling that of the English (even though, as I have to my mind-persuasively argued in the essay “Against Linguistic Diversity,” the ascendancy of non-rhotic pronunciation in England postdated the disembarkation of the Pilgrim Fathers at Plymouth Rock by much more than a century), and the capital and metropolis of New English snootiness, Boston, has had the confounded check to style itself The Hub, as in the hub of a wheel that is the universe round which the supposedly piddling remainder thereof supposedly circles with quiescent ineluctability.  To be sure, we grubby, banausic lower-42-cum-upper-one-cum-outer-oners have never been willing to have any truck with this popinjayish New English self-puffery: the instant one of these transatlantic toffs tries to give himself or herself the merest barleycorn of side, we rhetorically body-slam him or her by mock-servilely addressing him or her as your Lordship or your Ladyship in Mockney accents whose varying numberings on the DvD Scale (the DvD Scale being a scientifically tested means of measuring the linguistic fidelity of assumed East London accents, a scale whereon Dick van Dyke’s accent in Mary Poppins, being the least plausible on record, has been assigned the terminal number of 10) are of no moment vis-à-vis the conveyance to him or her of the message that this just won’t do, that he or she had best shut his or her Pepperidge Farm cakehole lest he or she find himself or herself starring as a crate of oolong in an impromptu reenactment of the Boston Tea Party; indeed, there is quite a popular term of abuse for self up-puffing Massachusites, Masshole, and I daresay the equivalent term for self up-puffing Connecticuters enjoys less currency only because it incorporates a word as yet deemed unfit for broadcast by the FCC and Ofcom.  And yet these rhetorical resources work so efficaciously against their target, against ever-resurgent New English snobbery, only because they are underwritten by a political dispensation—namely, that of the U.S. Constitution—that is indifferent to New England as a political entity and that relegates each of the New English states to a position of exact base political parity with the 44 other sub-polities comprising the balance of the United States.  (I write base political parity because of course two of the New English states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, enjoy above-average political power in virtue of having larger-than-average populations and therefore a larger-than-average number of congresspeople in the U.S. House; and the remaining New English states, in virtue of having smaller-than-average populations, enjoy less than average political power [a disadvantage that is, however, partly offset by their each having two senators like every other U.S. state].  But in constitutional terms there is nothing to prevent Massachusetts and Connecticut from becoming politically consubstantial with the seven states so lightly populated that they have only one congressperson, or Vermont from becoming more politically powerful than California.)  If for whatever reason the U.S. Constitution were discarded (and the prospect of such a discarding is by no means a laughably improbable one, as that Constitution’s many and seemingly ever-more-frequent recent failures to register anything remotely approximating the will of a clear popular majority [notably in connection with two of the last five presidential elections and the so-called hot button issues of abortion and gun control], together with the apparently universal lack of interest in remedying these failures via that Constitution’s own prescribed process of amendment, suggests that Americans are at least leaning towards tossing out the whole supposedly damned supposedly moth-eaten 231-year-old parchment-sheaf), there would be nothing to stop the New Englanders’ snobbery from attaining the McKinleyan (I confess I cannot stomach the toponymic adjective Denalian) if not Everestian political altitude that it already enjoys in its own imagination.  And so New England might very well declare itself an independent nation-state no longer bound to contribute to the infrastructural upkeep or military defense of any of the other 44 states, no longer obliged to submit to legislative or judicial fiats issued from Washington, D.C., and finally, and even more significantly, for the present purposes of the present argument, fully entitled to resist with all its might any interference in its internal affairs by any power of extra-New English provenance.  Such, the present writer argues, was the political position assumed by Ukraine in 1991, out of virtually consubstantial motives and with exactly consubstantial immediate consequences.  Does this mean that the present writer believes each and every one of Russia’s subsequent interventions in Ukraine to have been morally and politically justified?  Not by any chemically enhanced stretch of the imagination.  It merely means that he believes that hyperoccidentals should regard Ukraine’s often legitimate grievances against the Russian Federation a trifle more dispassionately—namely, as the grievances of a sovereign state tout court of twenty-eight years’ standing rather than the grievances of an eight-hundred-year-old organic and intrinsically peace and freedom-loving nation-state only even formerly contingently subject to the political influence of its intrinsically freedom-hating and incorrigibly domineering larger neighbor.  In the main and in particular, this dispassionateness would be most salutarily manifested in a realization that Mr. Putin’s claim that his infringements on Ukrainian sovereignty are guided exclusively by concern for the welfare of ordinary Russians is not pure eyewash, not merely a pretext for his own material and reputational self-aggrandizement; and further that the self-identified Ukrainian-resident Russians in whose name he is infringing have legitimate grievances in their own right.  To be sure, Mr. Putin wants to stay in power, and if possible to become ever-more powerful, and presumably everything he does on the so-called world stage, including the Russo-Ukrainian sector thereof, is calculated to serve this power maintaining-cum-augmenting end, but however unslakeably power-thirsty he may be, he is presumably not so perversely sadistically narcissistic as to forbear from doing himself a good turn merely because it does certain other people who pose no threat to him a good turn as well, and Ockham’s Razor suggests that when he says he is looking out for ordinary Russians, he really is doing just that, whether he actually gives a Tveran tinker’s toss about them or not.  As to the question whether these self-identified Ukrainian-resident Russians’ grievances are entitled to anything approaching parity with the carte-blanche indulgence of grievances enjoyed here in the hyperoccident by the Ukrainian government, I can hope for a modicum of sympathy with my rejoinder of Yes to this question only by appealing to the reader’s counterfactual experience, by asking him or her how he or she would now feel if he or she, a native New Yorker, Illinoisan, Alabaman, aut al. [the post-risible degeneration of each of the seemingly infinitely multipliable and ever-proliferating U.K. regions’ hostility to them citified folk from citified region t’other soide o’ that there hedge into pure shittified panto sadly precludes my even bothering to try to take any U.K. natives with me here] who had been living in Boston, Montpelier, Bangor, autc. for several decades, were suddenly, thanks to a New England secession of the type described above, to find himself or herself regarded as an alien in a place that he or she had regarded as home and had expected to go on regarding as home until his or her dying day?  Perhaps the constitution of the new New-English nation-state would simply have converted him or her into a New English citizen enjoying all the legal rights of a native Bostonian, Montpelierian, Bangorite, autc.  But what of that? Had not the history of the old republic conclusively shewn that mores and attitudes are agonizingly slow to submit to the yoke of the law, that certain genres of persons granted certain rights de jure have often had to wait long years to enjoy them de facto? Would he or she not accordingly feel an impulse to associate more closely with his or her fellow natives of the former lower-43-plus-one than he or she had done before the secession, and would he or she not also be more inclined to look to Washington than to Boston (to be sure, other capitals of the two polities are conceivable, but for the PW’s PPs there is no point in conceiving them) for material reinforcement of his or her right to maintain residence in his or her beloved townhouse, bungalow, or condominium apartment?  Well, perhaps he or she indeed would not, and in all candor and frankness, I myself in such a situation would probably be inclined to put up with being dislodged into a basement flat, a veritable Dostoyevskian cubbyhole under the floorboards, by the New English authorities, provided that even on condition of keeping my trap shut about the time before the great change I were otherwise allowed to skulk about my daily rag-and-bone-mannish business unmolested(ly).  All the same, I am sympathetic to the grievances of self-identified Russian Ukrainians because they are rooted in living memory, because they bespeak a certain kind of attachment to the particulars of one’s own remembered past, a certain kind of attachment to which I myself—admittedly perhaps for my sins—am apparently also in thrall.   I feel a certain kind of attachment to my native city of Tampa; to my quasi-native pseudo-village, Keystone, and my equally quasi-native ZIP code-designator, Odessa (Florida, not Ukraine!), in both of which I resided from the ages of three to eighteen, and in which my mother still resides; to my adopted city of Baltimore, in which I have resided since 1994, and hence for more than half my life; and, last if not necessarily least, to my native polity, the United States of America, whose borders I have never crossed; and I would be at least mildly annoyed if the names, institutions, or boundaries associated with these places were to be changed without my consent.  Indeed, I have recently, almost exactly a year ago as of this writing (Midsummer Eve Eve Eve 2018) had to contend with such a change in the form of a materially superficial yet semiotically devastating reorganization of the local (i.e., Baltimorean) public transit system, a reorganization wherein (and whereby) a diabolically shameless (albeit mild) retrenchment of services was laughably—albeit equally diabolically—camouflaged by a bewilderingly chaotic new-modeling of nomenclature.  This reorganization principally entailed stripping about half of the four dozen-odd bus routes of the numbers by which they had been designated for donkey’s decades and replacing these numbers with colors in flagrantly obvious mimicry of the color-coded lineation scheme of the nearby Washington, D.C. subway system (and hence in flagrantly pathetic symbolic compensation for the non-color code-exacting one-linedness of our own subway sub-system) in apparent obliviousness of the human (or at least American) mind’s inability to discriminate among very many more than the half-dozen colors designating the six lines of the D.C. Metro except as shades of the more basic hues, such that we now have a lime route that is impossible to distinguish from our green route without the aid of a spectrograph (fortunately I don’t have to use either verdant route); and reassigning the numbers of the remaining quasi-half by tombola, such that my former beloved No. 61 is now the No. 95, and my no less slightly beloved No. 11 is now the No. 51.  To be sure, as a commuter I have long since adjusted to this sub-Kakanian tomfoolery, but as a city resident of nearly a quarter-century’s standing I have by no means acclimatized myself to it, and I suspect that the odds of my future acclimatization to it are slim even if I finish up living here even longer than a further quarter century.   In my mind, the bus that takes me to work entirely via St. Paul Street is still the No. 61 and the bus that takes me to the suburb of Towson mainly by Charles Street is still the No. 11, and there’s an end on’t, and a very probably permanent end on’t at that.  To be sure, if the reorganization had entailed any substantive changes to the service, whether convenient to me or not, I could at least have reconciled myself to it after a fashion—reconciled myself to it as the realization of some ingenious or addlebrained policy wonk’s vision; or opposed it in some fashion guaranteed to garner support from a demographically significant segment of my fellow-commuters qua people likewise forced to make radical changes to their modi vivendi; but precisely inasmuch as it has not entailed any substantive changes it is exponentially more infuriating to me than if it had done, for in thereby willy-nilly rearranging a mighty panel of my long-established Weltbild to no apparent purpose, the powers that locally and regionally be (and they know very well who they be) seem to have gone out of their way to deliver a middle-or two-finger salute to me personally; not, of course, that I am actually so paranoid (although I am indeed probably much too paranoid for any of my empirical contemporaries’ comforts) as to believe these powers had me specifically in mind when they concocted this sub-asinine transportational-cartographic mash-up of darts and finger-painting, but rather and merely that I am much of a mind to suppose that they, the powers, conceived this mash-up as a dedicated celebration-cum-vindication of change for change’s sake (in other words, as a celebration-cum-vindication of the intrinsically pointless hipsterist strain of Whiggism that I have already vehemently inveighed against in the present screed) at the deliberate and vindictive expense of every single person accustomed to and satisfied with the way things already were, and that inasmuch as I am cut off from open commiseration with my presumably tens of thousands of fellow-sufferers owing to the preemptive force of more politically respectable lobbies (notably the lobby that a few years ago agitated to have the No. 61 route abolished [and succeeded in having its schedule slashed in half] on the utterly spurious but locally all-but-ineluctable grounds that all those who regularly used it owned limousines driven by their personal manservants and were merely using the route as a sort of tour bus for spectating on how the other 99.99 percent lived), I am more than effectively nursing my transportational-cartographic mash up-sustained wounds in utter isolation.  Anyway-cum-in short-cum-obviously, I am inclined to conceive of the plight of the present Ukraine-residing self-identified Russian—or at any rate, the plight of the present middle-aged U-RS-IR—as a fairly close analogue of my own plight as a regular user of mass transit in Baltimore.  In being inclined to conceive of that plight in those admittedly dire terms, I by no means wish it to be thought that I believe this plight to be direr than that of self-identified Ukrainians forced to suffer displacement or even death as an immediate or collateral consequence of Russia’s recent-to-present interventions in Ukraine.  At the same time, I do very much wish it to be thought that I believe the middle-aged U-RS-IR’s present plight to be worthier of respect and sympathy than either of the pseudo-plights under whose auspices the cause of Ukrainian resistance to Russia is almost invariably championed in the hyperoccident—viz., as mentioned before, Ukraine’s lack of brand-name recognition as a hyperoccidental polity in consequence of its lack of EU membership, and Ukraine’s historical priority as Ur-HQ of Russianness.  The present writer is so bumptious as to submit that neither of these pseudo-plights is worth the butcher’s quarter-dozen cubic centimeters of air requisite to bestowing on it a contemptuous snort.  As to the first: in every conceivable department of existence (very much including the political department, wherein Ukrainians have shown themselves to be every bit as kleptocratically corrupt as their Russian contemporaries), Ukraine obviously has far more in common with Russia than with any of the present EU member States, the former Eastern-Bloc ones very much included.  Such being the case, it is patently perverse in or of the Ukraine to seek to solve its difficulties with or even salve its resentment of Russia by petitioning for EU membership—or, indeed, by otherwise seeking to get to Paris (for it is after all Paris and not Brussels that is at the spiritual heart of the Continental European sector of the hyperoccident) without first passing through Petersburg and Moscow.  If a present-day Ukrainian hipster finds Kiev too naff by half, he or she should swan off not to Paris or even Warsaw but to Moscow or Petersburg, both of which, while admittedly unspeakably naff by hyperoccidental standards, are a zillion times hipper than Kiev (for example, whatever the laws of the respective Russian and Ukrainian lands might have to say on homosexuality, par ici one hears ad nauseam of a “burgeoning Moscow gay scene” and not at all of any sort of gay scene in Kiev), and in both of which he or she will benefit immeasurably from his or her native fluency in Russian—however vociferously linguistically ignorant Ukrainian W*******a editors may argue that their language has far more in common with Hungarian or Elvish than Russian, or Russian stand-up comedians may brazenly send up the Ukrainian accent while engaging in alarmingly verisimilitudinous simulated coition with real, live pigs.  (While the present writer presumes that there are numerous unofficial and official boulders blocking the actuation of a Kiev-to Moscow hipster-conveying conveyor belt, he likewise presumes that these boulders are smaller and lighter than the unofficial and official ones blocking the actuation of a Kiev-to-Paris H-CCB of comparable conveyance.) As to the second: in securing the genuinely nice reader’s participation in my scorn for it I need only recall to his or her mind the far-above-discussed mid-1960s Soviet time-travel farce Ivan the Terrible, wherein the eponymous sixteenth-century tsar is seen to cut a hopelessly pathetic figure in twentieth-century Moscow not so much on account of his eponymous terribleness as on account of his presumption that the old feudal hierarchy is still in place—his presumption that Shurik et al. are boyars, petty warlords either plotting to usurp him by killing him or bound by oaths of fealty to do his bidding on pain of death.  Of course, at this point the god-awful empirically prevailing reader, the long-former DGR, will crypto-waggishly or melodramatically demur that in point of fact nothing had changed in Russia between the late sixteenth century and the mid-twentieth, that far from being a fantastic farce uninhibitedly reveling in the genuine improvements to the system of Russian life introduced over the course of the intervening third of a millennium (i.e., not necessarily exclusively Soviet improvements), Ivan the Terrible is a chillingly objective exposé of the early Brezhnev regime’s genuinely unreconstructedly med-ah-eval treatment of dissidence and dissents; and of course for such confoundedly enormous cheek he or she will deserve to be knouted by Ivan the Terrible’s chief knouter—naturally made available for employment by the kind offices of Shurik’s time machine, un-mothballed especially for the occasion—until that cheek is dwarfed by either of his or her weal-augmented buttocks—not least because this demurral is as egregiously impertinent in the archaic or specialized juridical sense as in the more generally current buccal one.  For the point I am trying to make here is simply that any conceivable Ukrainian analogue to Ivan the Terrible, any time-travel picture entitled Vladimir the Great and centering on the transportation of that analogous founding potentate into present-day Kiev—whether the Kiev of the mid-1960s or late-20-teens makes absolutely no difference (Scandalous, isn’t it? I ferociously snarl at you bienpensant hyperocccidental reflexive up-suckers to present-day Ukraine, thereby prompting you to spill tea all over your heretofore immaculate dickies and shirtwaists in reflexive scandalization)—would perforce be obliged to cast a comparably risible light on him, and indeed, perhaps even to make him look more ridiculous than Ivan in the Shurik film; for after all, not only had late sixteenth-century Moscow long left Kiev trailing in the dust in bald demographic terms, but it also had a half-millennium of established Christianity behind it and was benefiting—however fitfully and minutely–from the opening up of Europe to classical learning and the discoveries brought over from the New World.  Transported into recent-to-present day Kiev, Vladimir the Great would very probably commit gaffes that would make Ivan the Terrible’s belly convulse with scornful laughter as violently as that of the hippest, most Whiggish present-day hyperoccidental, gaffes like swearing by the Sun God, rushing to protect a smoker from immolation by his freshly ignited cigarette (for one assumes that despite their yearning to join with the tobaccophobic hyperoccident the Ukrainians continue to smoke as fiendishly as Russians), and expressing wonderment that travelers to North America or East Asia didn’t fall off the edge of the Earth.  In short, the system of life in place in Ukraine at the moment of its (and Ur-Russia’s) foundation was undoubtedly as alien from that of present-day Russia as any system of life in place anywhere in the greater occident since Hellenistic times. And such being the case, any assertion of Ukrainian identity that is founded on this tenth-century founding moment is at best unregenerately kitschy in essence.  Not that I doubt that many if not most of the most besottedly nationalistic present-day Ukrainians can trace their lineage all the way back to the tenth century, and even to the loins of Vladimir the Great, but what of that?  A fairly recent (ca. 2015) genetic survey of the population of Great Britain found that in spite of more than two millennia of Roman, Saxon, Viking, and Norman conquests, and even the most recent, post-millennial, wave of non-conquistive immigration, some ludicrously high super-majority of the island’s inhabitants were of predominantly Celtic ancestry, and hence were direct descendants of the pre-Roman Britons, the selfsame pre-Roman Britons whose religious officers were styled druids.  Although the survey itself was presumably quite attention-grabbing, in that at least five minutes of reportage were devoted to it on BBC Radio 4, it apparently did not engender any comparably attention-grabbing interest in Celtic nationalism, inasmuch as the present writer did not subsequently hear via Radio 4 of any sort of swelling of attendance figures at Stonehenge, let alone of a nocturnal descent thereupon of multimillion-strong hordes of outlandishly attired carving knife-wielding Britons longing to reassert their newly rediscovered Celtic nationality by sacrificing any living mammal ready-to-hand to the moon goddess.  It seems to the present writer that present-day Ukrainian nationalists would do well to take a page, as they say—a  comparably immaculately blank page—from present-day Britons’  apparent utter indifference to their Celtic genetic heritage (not that I wish either to deny or valorize the fervor of the Scots’, Welsh’s, Cornish’s (!), and Manx’s (?) wearisome assertion of their factitious Celitc birthrights, but merely that I wish to point out [quite damningly, in my view] that the recent discovery of the pan-Britannic continuity of the Celtic bloodline has not altered the character or prominence of these quasi or pseudo-nationalities’ public profile a jot).  According to the present writer’s lights, every claim to nationalistic solidarity founded in or on some appeal to biologically genealogical continuity with a more or less utterly alien historical epoch-cum-system of life is about the hugest load of vocational clones of his maternal grandfather from 1976 to 1995 (see soonishly below) as can be imagined.  Admittedly these lights are furnished to him exclusively by the lightscape of his attitude to his own biological genealogy, a genealogy he flatters himself he could milk as productively as Ukraine’s leading Vladimir the Great impersonator presumably elects to milk his biological-genealogical cow, radically reaching as it (i.e., the PW’s own genealogy not the VtG impersonator’s cow) does back into at least three continents and at least five quasi-nations, two of them sitting very close indeed to the top of the totem pole (tho’ I presume throughout the hyperoccident the totem pole qua metaphorical vehicle is banned in what would affect to be called polite circles if the term polite circles now enjoyed any currency therein) of quasi-nations prized here in the United States (albeit none too close thereto in most other polities).  As the present writer has lately mentioned, he feels a certain amount of affective attachment to his native city, and this attachment naturally involves a certain amount of affective attachment to that city’s history—but this attachment extends barely a century back, to the birth year shared by the two of his grandparents (viz., his maternal grandfather and paternal grandmother) born in that city—viz., the year 1916; for this year marks the utmost chronological limit of his attachment to the history of that city via his material-experiential connection to people who dwelt therein.  When his grandparents were alive, he cherished their company and conversation, a measurable (although by no means a full-fledged goodly) proportion of which alluded palpably—albeit most often obliquely—to their city-resident childhoods and adolescences.  Now that they are long since dead (his grandmother since 1982, a few years after having retired from several decades of work as a nurse; his grandfather in 1995, a few months after having retired from many decades of work as a shoe-repairman or cobbler, he cherishes the memory of their company and conversation and cherishes the precincts of the city in which they worked and dwelt—most especially those in which he spent time with them as a child or youth (e.g., the shopping center in which his grandfather’s shoe repair shop was formerly sited), but also those in which he spent little or no time with them but that he knows them to have frequented long before his birth (e.g., the neighborhood in which both of them were born and raised).  He cherishes these places because, having heard numerous scraps of anecdotage about his grandparents’ period of frequentation of them, both from the two of them, his grandparents, themselves, and from those (notably his parents, the son of the one and the daughter of the other) who personally knew either or both of them longer than he did, and having himself known well and in person what they, his grandparents, were like in their old age, and having seen photographs of them as younger people, he is able to conjecture—admittedly unverifiably but also admittedly unfalsifiably—at considerable length and in considerable detail how they might have spoken or otherwise behaved in these places during these earlier phases of their lives.  But as for the birthplaces of these two grandparents’ parents—some village in Sicily in the case of the grandfather’s, some utterly undetermined locale or pair of locales in Cuba in the case of Cuba–why, to these places the present writer could not be more indifferent, and indeed if the entirety of the one were buried in volcanic ash from Mt. Aetna or the entirety of the other submerged in a hurricanic storm surge, he would greet the news of the catastrophe as coldly as he would do one of comparable magnitude befalling Zimbabwe or Indonesia.  (Not that hyperoccident-wide doxic fauxblesse oblige would allow him to forbear from pretending that such a Zimbabwean or Indonesian catastrophe affected him as unpleasantly warmly as the application of a tureen-load of molten lead to his couillons.) He has no affective choice but to be so indifferent to these places inasmuch as he has not even the faintest ghost of a vicarious share in any direct experience of them, inasmuch as neither of the two grandparents ever breathed a word about them in his presence.  To be sure, he is no position to assume that all or even most other of his contemporaries are as compulsorily indifferent to their pre-grandparental biological-genealogical heritage as he is; to be sure, indeed, he can easily imagine that there are now people with the same biological-genealogical heritage as his own who are genuinely enthusiastically brimful of anecdotage about Cuba and Sicily at the turn-of-the-century before-last, owing to the serendipitous fact that their grandparents sedulously pumped their own parents for such anecdotage and subsequently recounted every syllable thereof to their bairns and their bairns’ bairns.  But there cannot be very many such people, and as for people vicariously participating in the experience of yet a further generation back, in the experience of their great-great grandparents, why they must be virtually if not actually nonexistent.  For for all the incessant nearly eardrum-burstingly loud ballyhoo about the supposed vitality of this or that rich oral tradition (each and every one of which in the ears and eyes [and above all nose] of the present writer ought by all rights to be rechristened [!] a feculent north-anal sub-pseudo tradition), the sad but by no means utterly dispiriting fact (see soonishly below, if it please the non-Rhode-Islandish Providence) is that living testimony of quotidian experience (as opposed to dopey pseudo-epic nationalistic swill about gods, heroes, and pranksters, which in virtue of its experiential contentlessness can always be manufactured anew on the spot by any three-card-Monte artist of a yarn-spinning old crone or codger) hardly ever survives within families, let alone nations and polities, beyond two generations, that too much of every individual human life has always “been spent in provision for the day that was passing over” whoever happened to be living it to allow that liver to bestow much time on recounting the minutiae of his or her life-history to an amanuensis, and that, as each of these amanuenses needs must be spending no smaller a proportion of his or her own life than his recounting forebear did on his or hers, the fund of anecdotage must perforce peter out completely sooner rather than later on a(n) historiographical scale.  And such being the case, any wearisome blighter of a scribbler who takes it upon his or her gormlessly bumptious self to compose some sort of novelistic text about his or her greater-than-merely-great grandparents qua embodiers-cum-representatives of this or that invariably cheek-pinchably winsome Volk or Narod is obliged perforce to have recourse to the historiographical archive, to the same jumble of newspaper cuttings, photographs, bills of mortality, property leases, laundry receipts, etc. that is always at least in principle and quite frequently in practice available to each and every one of his or her contemporaries regardless of his or her place of immediate origin.  Thus in principle—and not improbably in actual, already-achieved practice—a Zimbabwean’s or Indonesian’s or indeed a Tampan’s account of everyday life in the (sic to all the pinheaded definite article-proscribing canaille, whom I have hitherto sedulously fellated in defiance of my own contempt for their linguistically unfounded pernickitiness but whom I refuse to fellate in this instance, inasmuch as here this pernickitiness cannot even be defended on grounds of article-circumcision envy {as a moment’s comparative consideration of such established expressions as the New York of the 1970s, the Paris of the Belle Epoque, etc., will make extensively plain}]) Ukraine of even the very late nineteenth century, to say nothing of the Ukraine of nine centuries earlier, may very well convey to us a more vivid and more nearly true sense of what it was like to live then and there than a parallel account of the same place and time supplied by the abovementioned top-ranking Kievian Vladimir the Great impersonator.  The genuinely sympathetic reader doubtless sees whither I am going with this, as they almost say, but before I take him or her with me to our shared destination, I must say something further about my own geographical and temporal situation, inasmuch as the utterance of this something will inevitably alter and improve the destination to an extent that I flatter myself will be well worth the delay.  So, then, re-regarding my situation vis-à-vis my grandparents qua mnemic bearers of historical experience: while it is presumably true that my memories of these two people have been deteriorating and will continue to deteriorate with the passage of time, that I now remember their voices, gestures, utterances, and, to a more limited extent, persons (for however philistine this sentiment may sound, photographs do an admirable job of preserving all but the most high-resolution and non-visual aspects of a human individual’s superficies) more spottily and less accurately than I did twenty years ago and less spottily and more accurately than I shall twenty years hence (if the Lord or the Almighty Scots Demiurge vouchsafe me [or any of us] a further score thereof), it is also undoubtedly true that with that selfsame passage of time I am becoming more and more like these grandparents from both a subjective and objective historiographical point of view—which is to say, not that I am assimilating an ever-greater share of their idiosyncrasies à la Proust’s narrator’s mother’s up-picking of her deceased mother’s habit of quoting Madame de Sévigné (although that may be true as well, albeit only epiphenomenally so), but rather that, for all my persistence on this side of the millennial divide, I am becoming more and more of what they have had no choice but to be for 37 and 24 years, respectively–viz., a relic of the twentieth century, much as Winston Churchill  came to be regarded by the British people as a relic of the nineteenth even after having guided them through the definitive twentieth-century military conflict, and Charles Chaplin as a Victorian by his own daughter Geraldine despite having done more than any other single human individual  (barring perhaps Henry Ford) to actualize a definitively post-Victorian world.  I have no choice but to become such a relic inasmuch at the turn of the millennium I was already twenty-eight (as the grandfather in point here had first made me cognizant I would be back in ca. 1980), such that my horizon of expectations had long since been formed and fixed by then, such that no matter how long I live into the twenty-first century, my understanding of what is reasonable, equitable, desirable, attainable, expectable, and so forth, will be delimited by what I already believed to be reasonable etc. by the end of the twentieth; and inasmuch as failing (sic on the failure qua failure [see as far as possible below, Lord etc.]) a global catastrophe of genuinely apocalyptic proportions, with each passing year the average horizon of expectations of an inhabitant of the present century will diverge ever further from my own.  To cite just one such component, a mere arc-second, of this horizon chez moi, vis-à-vis the comparable arc-second chez eux (a.k.a., essentially, even by now, chez vous autres): as a youngster, from my earliest walking days onwards I wore leather shoes with replaceable soles, and my parents would have the soles of each such pair of shoes replaced by my grandfather the shoe-repairman until I outgrew the pair or its uppers fell apart from wear.  My parents, who by the standards of their time and place would have been much more aptly described as poor than as rich, were able to keep me shod in resoleable footwear not only because my grandfather was a shoe-repairman but also because at the time resoleable shoes were by no means luxury goods, because the shoe stores and department stores, even the most downmarket among them, sold resoleable shoes at reasonable prices.  Eventually, in the mid-1990s, as mentioned before, my grandfather shut up his shop and died.  For a year or so afterwards, my parents would have my shoes resoled by a former assistant of my grandfather who was still (albeit presumably just barely) in business at his own shop, but the family-wide consensus was that he was a poorer cobbler than his former master, and in any case, by then I was living up in Maryland and thinking it was high time I started having my shoes resoled myself and in my own Umwelt.  But from the outset the realization of this highly timely project was metaphorically hamstrung by a potentially quite literally hamstringing obstacle–viz., the conspicuous dearth of shoe repair shops in that selfsame Umwelt.  The only verifiably proper such shop—the only one wherein the buzzing of semi-visible machinery proved that shoes were indeed being repaired on the premises—was sited at the shopping mall known as Towson Town Center, some eight miles or a ninety-minute round-trip bus ride from and back to my ZIP-code of residence, a bus ride through which I never would have dreamt of putting myself twice in a single year, let alone twice in the single week that presumably would have given the shop more than enough time to do its work.  And so I had recourse to a pair of hyper-local drycleaners with tiny neon SHOES REPAIRED signs in their windows, shops that presumably sent and received their shoes to and from gosh knew where—although it wouldn’t surprise me to learn that the repair-site was no more remote than the Towson shop just mentioned or that very shop itself, for neither establishment made me wait more than a few days.  But alas! Rapidity of turnaround proved to be these establishments’ sole virtue (pun on sole unavoidable but as regrettable as ant mound-sized pile of dog poo or brain-sized wad of chewing gum on account of its tenor-ific irrelevance [and no, I am not going to go back and replace sole with only just to avoid stepping into that pile or wad, for in the register of linguistic register sole was there far preferable to its more popular synonym]).  At first pre-donning sight of the first pair, the work seemed much better than I had expected; for it consisted of the same combination of rubber heels and leather soles that my grandfather had favored in place of the all-rubber job that I had assumed had become the order of the day among his successors in the trade.  But after walking around in them for a day or so, I noticed something very strange and indeed uncanny beginning to happen: the leather surface of the soles, instead of evincing the familiar pallid whorls of fresh abrasion, was simply flaking away like the bark of a paper-bark tree and revealing beneath its away-flakage something even more paper-like than such bark, namely a mass of wadding or stuffing composed of actual paper of a dehydrated mâché-like consistency.  Naturally, I had to replace that pair of shoes with a new pair lest I should wind up on my uppers in a more than metaphorically non-amphetaminical sense within a very few days.  And when the soles of that pair required replacing, I naturally took them to the other dry cleaner and disappointingly if not entirely surprisingly received the same merely leather-veneered paper-stuffed solar results.  By now (viz., July 10, 2018) cold death has taken so many citadels from me that an American football team of secretaries (whose services I could now doubtless secure for free and in perpetuity via the top-trending app Hireaslave) would doubtless be required to rank these takings in chronological order from earliest-cum-most primal to most recent-cum-most post tertiary, and in temperatural order of proximity to absolute zero.  For all that, I am inclined to wager that the moment at which I discovered that the resoling of shoes no longer meant actually providing them with more or less profoundly perfect replicas of their previous soles—replicas that not only looked right but wore well right up to the upper—with entirely visual simulacra thereof, with soles that presumably would not bear wearing even entirely indoors as slippers for more than a week, marked both one of the coldest and most primal of such takings inasmuch as it pointed up to me the flagrant shamelessness and shoddiness of the chicanery to which commercial interests were already-by-then (and have been increasingly since) willing to resort for the sake of turning a so-called fast buck.   Happily, within months if not weeks of my discovery of the superficiality of the second resoling, the department stores and shoe stores—even the most upmarket among them—discontinued selling resoleable shoes altogether and thereby compelled me to take up the regimen of consumption of disposable shoes that I have adhered to, faute de mieux, ever since.  Ever since then, some two decades ago, despite being a daily hair-washer, I have been obliged to go through pairs of shoes scarcely more slowly than through bottles of shampoo, a ratio that would be ever so slightly less disheartening if over that selfsame decade the price of a pair of shoes had fallen ever (and however slowly) closer to that of a bottle of shampoo, rather than, as it in fact has done, maintained if not increased the 30-to-one price-differential it enjoyed in the Golden Age of resoleability.  Even more lamentably, over the second half of that twenty-year period, I have had to reckon with an even more dismal chausseureal dispensation, viz. the ever-crescent displacement of even unresoleable leather shoes by those of an entirely synthetic composition, a displacement that doubtless any month now will compel me to make the stark choice between joining the shameless trainer-and-flip-flop-shod mobility and joining whichever (if any) order of popish monks still requires its members to go barefoot.  For as far back as September of last year (i.e., 2017), upon visiting an outlet of the chain department store known as Marshall’s, qua sole (pun disabled on account of non-chausseureal purport of present clause) chain department store-outlet in the entire city safely accessible to me qua non-driving whiteperson, with the intention of buying exactly two pairs of leather-uppered shoes, one black-uppered, the other brown-uppered, in deference to my multi-decadally ancient quasi-Sinatran bifurcation of my wardrobe between brown shoe-friendly and black shoe-friendly outfits, I found that in a certain brown pair of desert boots I had exhausted the outlet’s entire stock of men’s leather-uppered shoes in my size—viz., nine-and-a-half, the type O-Positive of men’s shoe sizes.  During this selfsame trip to Marshall’s, I was also hoping to find a leather non-martial arts-affiliated black belt (thankably, I already had a still-functioning brown one), and a few pairs of prevailingly cotton dress socks of various colors.  I found the store’s sole specimen of such a belt only after searching through an entire Portuguese eel market-sized collection of plastic impostors, and the sock search was a complete washout, what with the most cotton-rich of their dress socks still turning out to be 65% orlon or spandex or what synthetically have you.  When I began shopping at Marshall’s, along with its two rival discount chains, T.J. Maxx and Ross, back in the late 1980s, the sole drawbacks of such chains vis-à-vis their most upmarket mall-anchoring counterparts—e.g., Macy’s, Nordstrom’s, Lord & Taylor, or back then, in my home metropole, specifically and exclusively Burdines—were the comparative antiquity of their stock and the comparative obscurity of their roster of brand names.  Back then, if you wanted the current season’s couturial offerings from Ralph Lauren or Izod or (…I confess to be at a loss for a third comparably upmarket brand name of the microepoch [although perhaps Calvin Klein, although a comparative parvenu, will do in a pinch]) you were indeed obliged to repair to an outlet of one of the posh mall anchor chains.  But if what you ultimately cared about was the quality of the materials that constituted your clothes, you were every bit as well served by these discount chains, where you could count on finding more prevailingly or entirely cotton shirts, entirely silk neckties, and prevailingly cotton sock-pairs than you could have shaken Ralph Lifshitz’s American Express card at.  Nowadays these discount chains are brimming over with merchandise sporting the most upmarket brand names—e.g., Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, [and again I am stumped for a microepochally appropriate third example, though perhaps Calvin Klein, although a comparative has-been, will once again do in a pinch]—but in its very warp and weft this merchandise constitutes the sort of more than figuratively plastic tat that would have got one laughed out of the naffest singles bar in New Port Richey, Wolverhampton, Blue Ash, Norristown, or Luton in my day.  And of course in my resentment of the unavailability of rosoleable leather shoes and natural-fiber garments at discount retail outlets I am by default at daggers drawn with the entire present-day bienpensant hyperoccidental Untervolksgeist, which, like one of those poor (yet potentially very dangerous!) subjects of a botched brain operation that leaves his or her right brain hemisphere utterly oblivious of the operations of the left, is constantly remorselessly employing one hand in chastising me with a scourge that it would do far better to apply to its other hand, which is up to far greater mischief than I am according to its own irreparably bifurcated lights.  “Oh, so you fancy resoleable leather shoes?  Jolly good show, old cove.  Jolly good for the environment, innt?  And jolly good venue for the exertion of the craftsmanship of authentic artisans, ever-so-patiently turning some saw-or-lathe-like thing in well-nigh-stationery slow motion.  Allow me to present to you the card of my personal cobbler-cum-farrier, Mr., Miss, Ms. Mrs., or Mx. *******.  (My personal shoemaker is a different chap, chappess, or chappex, with a different card, which I would likewise be happy to present to you.) He autc. can get your shoes back to you within eighteen weeks.  Charges a mere a $10 a stitch or $800 a sole, whichever’s cheaper (with deals like these it’s almost like he’s giving his labor away).  Works out of Erdenet via Amazon.  What’s that?  No, you fucking dumbass, Erdenet’s the name of a town, not of a data-transmitting protocol.  Haven’t you ever heard of it? Erdenet, Mongolia? [Rolls eyes exasperatedly] It’s only the world capital of fermented Przewalski’s horse milk.  You mean to tell me you’ve never tried Przewalski’s horse milk?  Where have you been living, Outer Mo….erm, rather, Outer Moscow [whether Russia or Idaho makes absolutely no sodding difference]?  Or, I should rather ask, where have you pretended to be living, for a life without having tasted fermented Przewalski’s horse milk is at best a dying death.  Hey, what are you up to there with the collar of my shirt, asshole?  Just checking something, you say?  Well you’d better watch what you check from now on, ’cos I’m filming all this on my phone.  What do you mean, You should have guessed?  Well, of course it’s a hundred percent polyester.  Of course I know that it’s not biodegradable and that a bit of it leaches into the water supply every time I wash it, but what choice have I got?  I can’t jolly well make a poor (yet unsurpassably noble) shorn sheep shiver in the arctic (sic) Shetlands for the sake of making a mere contemptible (yet immortal and inexhaustibly wealthy) human like me a dust-mite mite’s more comfortable.  No, I’ve never heard of this cotton to which you refer.  Doubtless it’s some especially cute species of mink or agouti, you willfully spitefully anthropocentric turd.  Oh, it’s a plant, you say?  A plant with white, fluffy flowers?  Oh, now I remember—cotton.  That was the stuff they made slaves pick in the Deep South, wasn’t it?  Well, in that case, I absolutely cannot have anything to do with it—why, to wear a shirt made of such material would be tantamount to going about in blackface.”  As an unregenerate dyed-in-the Shetland wool (wool that I remorselessly wear in colder weather) child of the twentieth century, I don’t think I should be expected to have my shoes resoled by mail at ten times the price of the shoes themselves (or what a pair of resoleable shoes used to cost and by all rights ought still to cost), or to wear synthetic-fiber clothing under any circumstances.  As an unregenerate child of the twentieth century, I believe it is my God-given and inalienable right to have affordable immediate retail access to resoleable shoes and natural-fiber clothes, a right of which I have been unceremoniously divested as of the very all-cotton string vest on my back without so much as a bend over, chump, let alone a by your leave; a right, moreover, that I have good reason to suppose would have been more ably maintained in the Soviet Union than it has been here in the hyperoccident for decades.  Admittedly, I have yet to see a Soviet-produced film in which a pair of resoleable shoes is purchased at a GUM store or resoled at a state shoe-repair shop while the customer waits, but I cannot imagine that a society that did not regard a custom-tailored suit as an extravagance beyond the reach or deserts of a mere school principal like the heroine of Wings would compel even the humblest, the lowest-stationed, of its members to make do with disposable footwear.  Of the plenitude of natural-fiber clothing in the old USSR I have direct proof: in the 1979 contemporary Leningrad-set film Autumn Marathon (a film I felt obliged to exclude from my survey of Soviet cinema on account of the dubious morality and verisimilitude of its main plotline, which, like numerous hyperoccidental films of the same microepoch [notably several of Woody Allen’s] centers on an unprepossessing middle-aged man inexplicably relentlessly pursued by several women each of whose attentions he inexplicably takes for granted [as I said, it is all quite morally and verisimilitudinously dubious, but the mere fact that a film with such a plotline was made then and there suggests that the hypooccident was then vying with the hyperoccident in point of decadent affluence]) a character by no means represented as a dandy or clothes-horse, a character who is indeed the film’s star churl, a tubby, perpetually inebriated male neighbor of the protagonist, is seen wearing a highly stylish-looking casual cool-weather jacket of which he remarks, “I found it in the dumpster.  Someone had thrown it away just because it had a small tear in it.  It’s a hundred percent cotton.”  From this episode one reflexively and most rationally infers that the Brezhnev-micrepoch Soviet Union was a kind of textile Land of Cockaigne wherein all-cotton garments were so plentiful and inexpensive that the moment such a garment exhibited the slightest flaw its wearer would literally chuck it into the nearest waste-receptacle with one hand and reach for its replacement with the other.  Of course frowardly cynical wags will inevitably propose an alternative socio-descriptive gloss on the bibulous churl’s boastful appropriation of the discarded jacket—viz., that it is, to the contrary, proof of the rarity of all-cotton garments in the USSR of 1979, that the discarder was presumably some trans-Icey tourist who had prudently packed an extra all-cotton jacket before crossing into cis-Iceyana, and that its appropriator had fished it out of the dumpster only because he found his domestically produced factory-fresh polyester insufferably naff-looking cool-weather jacket insufferably, stiflingly hot.  And to such wags I demur, “And what if –in the impeccably straight and gapless teeth of reflection and rationality—this episode is to be taken as an illustration of the rarity of natural-fiber clothing in the late-former USSR?  For is it not accordingly likewise an illustration of the high premium that was placed on natural-fiber clothing in that selfsame USSR, an illustration that even the naffest of the naff in that polity cherished the distinction between garments of a natural and garments of an artificial basal constitution?—this in well-nigh-apotheosizingly flattering contrast to the hippest of the hip in the present-day hyperoccient, each and every last Jack, Jill, and Pat of whom is content to be clad cap-à-pie in materials that would instantaneously transform him autc. into an anthropomorphic candlestick were he or she ever compelled (as the present writer is hundreds of times a year in virtue of being a fulltime non-driver [in contrast to 99.99999% of the tree-hugging mobility, each one of whom fondly fancies he autc. is performing a decoration-worthily generous act of analingis on the so-called environment by performing multiple round-trips to the moon per annum behind the wheel of a so-called hybrid vehicle]) to endure more than ten minutes of a temperature in excess of 90 degrees Fahrenheit (i.e., 32 degrees Celsius)?”  And this meta-couturial dispensation by no means exhausts the catalogue of amenities of late-Soviet life with which Autumn Marathon contrives to coax oceans of envious saliva from the inner face-cheeks of the unregenerate child of the twentieth century.  To be sure, the exterior of the building housing the protagonist’s apartment looks almost exactly identical to the one housing the present writer’s present apartment—viz., in consisting of a surface of multi-storily undifferentiated red brick punctuated, both seemingly haphazardly along the horizontal axis and quite evidently regularly along the vertical, by moulding-less windows (at some point in the earliest years of the present writer’s residence in the latter building, a fellow-rider of one of its elevators, a tipsy so-called frat boy [to be sure, the present writer puzzles over his own preference of the elevator to his beloved stairs in this episode, but perhaps at the time he himself was tipsy enough to deem it prudent to break with routine], described it as an exemplary specimen of Stalinist architecture, as in one sense it is not, in having been built in a polity wherein the buck stopped not at Josef Stalin but Harry Truman, but in another very much is, in having been built in a microepoch whose pan-occidental architectural tone was set by Generalissimo Stalin as assuredly uniformly as that of the late nineteenth century had been set by Queen Victoria), but inside the two apartments the contrasts could be neither more striking nor less flattering to the system of life determining the material appointment of the present writer’s flat.  To move from the bottom up, whereas the floor of the AM apartment is composed of wooden parquetry of an intricacy of patterning that the present writer has previously seen with his own eyes (as against the borrowed eyes of a camera) only in palatially dimensioned pre-mid 20th century houses built for the haut bourgeoisie (albeit subsequently occupied by much socioeconomically lower types), the floor of his own apartment—or doubtless more precisely the upper few millimeters thereof (beneath which Cor only knows what lurks) is composed of mutually identical squares of lacquered corkboard—a discrepancy that, in the light of the two buildings’ presumptive mutual near-exact contemporaneity, suggests that in point of interior design (or whatever site between architecture and interior design is occupied by the construction of floors) the Soviets were already way ahead of us Yanks way back in the early mid-twentieth century (and yet again, by comparison with the equally mutually uniform squares of vinyl imitation linoleum with which he has had to content himself underfoot in every other abode since his infancy [apart from a summer in one of the aforementioned former haut bourgeois palaces], this corkboard floor is positively artisanal and, indeed, visitors of a so-called certain age to his present abode seldom fail to aver wistfully that it’s impossible to get a floor like this one done anymore).  And as for the furniture—well, in the AM apartment it consists entirely of basally or entirely wooden articles—a dinner table, bedside tables, desks, deskside tables, armchairs, other sorts of chairs, and, indeed, an upright grand piano—replete with the sorts of inexhaustibly winsome swellings and taperings that can be imparted to a stick or plank only by a master turner working entirely on his inexhaustibly winsomely artisanal lonesome—in short, this apartment looks very much like an extension of the genteel boarding-house sitting room of Wings.  The present writer’s apartment by decidedly unflattering contrast is furnished entirely with or by factory-produced veritable pacotille, by tables, chairs, bookshelves, and nothing else, all basally composed of compressed sawdust and plastic and exhibiting nothing but flat rectilinear shapes and surfaces, shapes and surfaces eminently impartible to even the most amorphous diarrheac turd by a robot die-casting machine.  In the present writer’s domestic-furniturial case the robotic die-cast hyperoccidental glossing of any aesthetic shortcoming in the lifeworld of a single man, namely that it is all a function of his bachelorhood, that his lifeworld simply lacks a woman’s touch, is evidently inapplicable, for if he were genuinely indifferent to the charms of gracefully turned furniture he would neither envy the possession of such furniture by others nor resent its absence from his own lifeworld.  The present writer is surrounded chez lui by such shoddy and hideously monotonous furniture solely and simply because such furniture is the best that his commercial environment has ever afforded him at prices that he has been able to afford—admittedly qua someone who has always been much closer to the bottom than to the top of the hyperoccidental per capita-GDP-al heap, but by that same toke-fest also (at least so our Whiggish masters assure us) qua someone who merely in virtue of residing within four hyperoccidentally sited walls is nominally a thousand times wealthier than Leonid Brezhnev to the power of Louis XIV.  And if it be objected by the bienpensant hyperoccidental that the furniture in the AM apartment is in the highest of all probability of pre-Soviet vintage; that, indeed, this furniture quite probably consists mainly or entirely so-called family heirlooms, the fruits of the immeasurably better fortunes enjoyed by the central couple’s ancestors under the auspices of the old imperial regime—if this be objected by the BH, then I can and must soundly trounce this objection by first reminding him autc. that the regime that permitted the accumulation of all these fancy meubles was one that the present Russian Federation under the presidency of Mr. Putin is chiefly taken to task by hyperoccidentals for have having supposedly resurrected—viz., a brazenly autocratic undemocratic, imperialistic, nationalistic, protectionist regime, a regime that supposedly ruthlessly dominated and bled dry their beloved Ukraine, etc.; and then pointing out to him autc. that if these articles of furniture were of pre-Soviet manufacture, they obviously did not survive sixty years of Soviet rule by shuffling from house to apartment to apartment, etc. entirely on their own power like their contemporaries as represented (but of course merely represented) in the silent so-called era of cinema thanks to the newly discovered pseudo-miracle of stop-motion photography, that some Soviet somebody or other, or a collectivity of such Soviet somebodies, must have decided that they were worth preserving and transporting and organized the manpower requisite to effecting such preservation-cum-transportation, that throughout the Soviet epoch there quite evidently subsisted a love of the beautifully made newly old that has by now quite evidently entirely vanished from the hyperoccidental Untervolksgeist.  (And no, just in case you’re wondering, you hyperoccidental Schweinhund [and I have virtually no doubt that you are], the protagonist of AM is not a Politburo member or otherwise a member of the Soviet ruling class—he is, rather, a decidedly low-ranking member of the Soviet intelligentsia, a literary translator who is obliged to make ends meet by lecturing at the university to microscopic classrooms of apathetic and essentially brainless teenagers; in short, basically the same sort of Greenwich Village barely cat-swingable walkup flat-inhabiting schlemiel or schlub who constitutes the hero of every Woody Allen film in which Mr. Koenigsburg has a go at limning the lifeworld of someone with the same petit-bourgeois background and middle-highbrow Weltanschauung-cum-habitus as himself who has not been lucky enough to become a world-famous film director.  He is a figure slightly albeit not substantially lower on the Soviet socioeconomic scale than the physician hero of the almost exactly contemporaneous Irony of Fate, who in virtue of being a member of a highly respected profession is allowed to live in a brand-new flat with brand-new furniture.  To be sure, this furniture is presumably not as well made as the furniture in the AM apartment, but the aesthetic brilliance and serviceability engendered by its newness (in flattering contrast to the aesthetic drabness of the present writer’s rickety fifteen-to-twenty-five-year old ultra-modern furniture) at least temporarily counterpoises its ugliness and lack of durability and to a certain extent this preference for the new and streamlined was a product of the tastes of the pan-occidental times: IoF’s protagonists’ exact American contemporaries-cum-socioeconomic peers, Bob and Emily Hartley, a clinical psychologist and schoolteacher, likewise lived in a high-rise apartment with all-modern furniture in presumably marked contrast to their contemporaries-cum-slight socioeconomic inferiors on the faculty of the University of Chicago (I allude here, of course, to the assistant professors and newly tenured associated professors, not to the full professors, some of whom who may very well have been the Hartleys’ upstairs neighbors), who quite probably lived in older lodgings filled with older and drabber but sturdier furniture.  If the patent inferiority of the present writer’s immediate Lebenswelt to that of the late-Soviet lower intelligentsia were confined to the aesthetic register, if the worst he could say about that Lebenswelt was that it could be filled with prettier furniture, his complaints thereabout might justly (albeit only just justly) be dismissed by a genuinely just judge—i.e., one not blinkered by bienpensant hyperoccidental Whiggism—as so much whingingly petulant pie slice-atom splitting.  But in point of outrageous fact, this immediate Lebenswelt is pervaded with or by material shortcomings with which the late-Soviet lower intelligentsia, or indeed any other stratum of Soviet peacetime society, was never expected to cope.  The most frequently intrusive, and so perhaps the most vexing, of such shortcomings is the ever-increasing intermittency of access to running water in his apartment.  In the course of the first ten years of his by now fifteen-year-long residence in this dwelling he had to contend with, at most, five emergency water shutoffs.  Then, beginning in about year eleven of this residence, such shutoffs became more frequent, and by ca. 2014 so frequent that a fellow longtime resident of the building in which his apartment is sited, the perverse reader of Chaucer in French mentioned in “Every Man His Own W.G. Sebald,” could not forbear from remarking to him, There’s something wrong with the water in this building during one of the parallel-ly ever-more-frequent fire evacuations (q.v., LW).  Finally, just over a year ago, the management of the building dropped all pretense that the shutoffs were emergencies and issued to the residents a theoretically conveniently magnetically adhesive (for in practice the stinking thing resiles from a fridge door as reflexively as beauty from an ape [ !/I’m so scared]) maintenance calendar brazenly highlighting in each month of the year a date in which the water would be shut off from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. as a matter of invariable course.  How endless fellation loop-worthily conscientious of them to let one know in advance so that one can be sure to be at work or out of town on each of these days, or, failing that, to fast both solidly and liquidly on each of their eves so as to obviate the inundation of one’s entire living-space by the effluent of one’s toilet!  Not that even the most scrupulous provision for the day of maintenance safeguards one against such an inundation, for unscheduled water shut-offs are even more frequent than before the institution of the calendar.  From this increase one cannot but conclude that the calendar was simply and fundamentally the building management’s way of saying, “Look, you f**king little s**ts, we’re going to be shutting the water off pretty much whenever we want to at the dee of an haitch.  Consider yourselves lucky that we’re even bovvering to give you advance notice of any of these shutoffs, you f**king little s**ts.  Christ, you’d think you f**king little s**ty lot were actually paying to live here.”  The management’s handling of trash collection has degenerated along chronologically parallel lines and to materially and ethically comparable depths.  At my move-in back in ’03 each floor of the building had two trash chutes down which one could chuck one’s full trash bags; each chute would convey the trash down to the basement and hence well beyond nostril’s reach of the chucker.  Not very many years after that, the management sealed up the trash chutes and simply had the trash collected directly from their encasing closets.  This was a lamentable declination, but ultimately a bearable one, inasmuch as the trash was collected promptly enough not to occasion much olfactory distress—at least for the first several years of the new dispensation.  Then in circa ’12, the management started both contracting out its trash collection service and charging residents for this service as an addition to their rent, and ever since then, the trash has tended not only to pile up in the closets but also to spill out into the adjacent hallways, often to the extent of several yards, thereby both hampering residents’ passages to and from their apartments and filling their noses with a stench so pungent and wide-ranging that it cannot but pervade even the interiors of dwellings sited at the uttermost remove (i.e., several dozen-meters) from a trash closet.  Last but ultimately most egregious, the management’s handling of fire emergencies has proved not only woefully but terrifyingly defective.  In the past five years, scarcely a week has passed in which at least one firetruck has not pulled up in front of the building while the present writer has been at home (Lord knows how many have appeared in his absence).  While it is indeed plausible on one so-called level to interpret these visitations as evidence of the municipal fire department’s impeccable professionalism-cum-good Samaritanism, on another, and to my mind more materially pertinent, level, one must interpret them as evidence of the building management’s execrable fire prevention-cum-containment strategy, as evidence that at least in recent years they have simply not done a good enough job of making fires more preventable, detectable, and locally extinguishable, that the municipal emergency services have been being called upon to deal with emergencies that never would have arisen at all had the building management had its pyro-prophylactic s**t together.  Ultimately, though, one would be able to tolerate the apparition of the firetrucks equanimously if one had ever been given a clear sense of the connection between their appearance and the advisability of leaving one’s apartment and heading down the nearest stairwell (there are indeed four of these on each floor, but each floor is well nigh-persective defyingly broad, and one must remember that these stairwells do after all date from the time of Stalin).  To be sure-ish, albeit not axiomatically sure, the building is equipped with a general alarm system (albeit not with a sprinkler system), but this system has so far proved far too sluggishly responsive for the present building-resident’s peace of mind.  During a fire in 2016, by the time the alarm went off, the main hallway of his floor was visibly filled with smoke, and the smoke got ever thicker the farther he descended the stairs to the designated evacuation area, the lobby on the first floor.  It turned out that the fire had started in the laundry room—in other words, in the basement, a full seven floors down from his own.  In the end, the fire was put out before spreading beyond the basement, but what of that, given that the telltale bearer of what we are told is the killer in the majority of fire-related deaths, namely, carbon monoxide, was already in abundant visible and olfactory evidence before we residents were notified of the fire’s outbreak?  At bottom, all three of the recent lacunae in basic world-maintenance chez moi that I have just described would have been adjudged scandalously unacceptable in each and every corner of the late-twentieth century Panoccident, the Soviet Union very much included, and each of them by all rights ought to be adjudged scandalously unacceptable therein now, inasmuch as each of them is vividly evocative of some classic limit case in the Panoccidental system of life, of some event that the Panoccidental mind can in good faith countenance only as a manifestation of the most fleeting of temporary concentrations of bad apples in the most marginal nook of the apple-barrel, or as the equally most fleeting of temporary failures of the Panoccidental will to cope with the most ineluctably deleterious forces of nature.  So, to start with the trash pile-up as the least egregious of the three: it is manifestly evocative of Britain’s 1978-1979 so-called winter of discontent, of an episode that bade fair to confound the very distinction between the hyperoccident and the remainder of the occident on the other side of the Icey, of an episode that made a demographically significant number of hyperoccidentals set their arms akimbo and not merely rhetorically ask, “If capitalism can’t even manage to keep mountains of rubbish from piling up in the streets, mightn’t we more than just as well switch to Communism?”  Of course this selfsame episode made an even more demographically significant number of hyperoccidentals set their arms akimbo and not merely rhetorically ask, “If socialism can’t even manage to keep mountains of rubbish from piling up in the streets, mightn’t we more than just as well set our time machines back to the days of Darwinian laissez-faire capitalism?”—whence the election of Mrs. Thatcher as prime minister in the spring of ’79, but the Whig-gratifying outcome of the episode is of no moment in this context, and of central moment herein is the fact that the so-called winter of discontent was perceived by all Britons across the so-called political spectrum as an episode in which the barest essentials of world-maintenance were not being adequately seen to, that it was by no means shrugged off with the equanimous utterance of These things happen with which an inhabitant of the hyperoccident classically greets minor disruptions to his autc. Alltag.  Regular rubbish collection was something that Britons of the late 1970s were accustomed to take for granted, and if the rubbish wasn’t being regularly collected, then by Golly, Jove, aut al., they were going to make a more than metaphorical stink about it.  Although I am placing it in the middle of my catalogue for argumentative efficiency’s sake, the shamelessly cavalierly administered rash of water shutoffs is undoubtedly the most troubling item therein, inasmuch as it is instantly evocative of a certain scenario associated with locales and events that figure among the most world maintenance-threatening ones of the present century to date—namely, certain Middle Eastern countries riven by military assault and occupation by foreign powers and rancorous civil war in the wake of their occupation.  The scenario has played out numerous times over the past fifteen years: a foreign power’s military force devastates a country’s material infrastructure; the foreign power devotes a woefully inadequate amount of time and money to restoring that infrastructure, then withdraws its troops, leaving the country nominally in charge of a government of its—the foreign power’s—own selection and the infrastructure still in a semi-shambolic state.  The government wants to complete the work of infrastructural restoration but is unable to do so because it lacks sufficient legitimacy in the eyes of the people to muster sufficient resources, and at the same time such meager resources as are available are precluded from being put to their intended use by extra-governmental political factions who, however implacably opposed to each other they may be in their ultimate aims, are united in their immediate wish to forestall any improvement in the government’s fortunes even at the cost of inflicting further material hardship on their own constituents.  As a consequence of all this, the government is obliged to institute a system of geographical and temporal rationing of basic utilities, a system wherein the country or its principal metropolis are divided into a certain number of sectors, each of which receives electricity, water, etc., at certain times of the day or days of the week while the remainder of the country or city languishes in thirst and darkness.  Naturally, the government hopes that this system will be of very temporary duration; naturally it aims to restore round-the-clock provision of services to all regions and citizens, but practically speaking, in even the best of cases—cases, that is, in which the government manages to maintain its existence rather than being annihilated by the fissile collision of the abovementioned factions—the system is extended into effective perpetuity and is accepted by the populace, however grudgingly, as part of everyday life, as part of the way things are and the way they must be; although it continues unfailingly to be represented in the hyperoccidental news media as utterly scandalous and unthinkable—i.e., impossible to be imagined as a system that would ever prevail here.  To be sure, throughout the hyperoccident, and perhaps preeminently in the North American hyperoccident, natural so-called disasters have not infrequently deprived hundreds of thousands of people en bloc of the basic amenities of late-modern civilization, but here this deprivation has traditionally not been submitted to qua anything but an interruption of a version of life as usual in which these basic amenities could be taken for granted.  To be sure, the very frequency and longevity of these intervals of deprivation bespeaks a lamentably general and longstanding disregard of a minimum level of world-maintenance, inasmuch as most of the deprivations could have been forestalled by the implementation of tried-and-true and none-too-expensive prophylactic measures—the erecting of an embankment, the burial of a network of overhead power cables, autc.  But at no point until the low-water mark very recently demarcated by the scheduling of water shutoffs in the present writer’s building of residence has any provider of one of these basic amenities simply thrown in the towel or J-cloth on the provision of these amenities with downright Falstaffian shamelessness, as if to say (in the G-rated and more articulate version of Look you f**ing little s**ts etc.), If you want to have round-the-clock water or electricity you’ll just have to fetch it or generate it yourselves with your own hands autc.  And with this in-throwing it seems to me that we have crossed a significant threshold on this side of which we should at the least charitable-cum-barebones intellectually honest refrain from describing any non-hyperoccidental polity as part of the third world or developing world, let alone (in the present U.S. president’s words) as a s***hole country, inasmuch as the very notion of a developing-cum-third world country implies an effort to catch up with the so-called first and second worlds (the second world, lest we forget, being the pre-1989 Communist world [more on this anon, LW]) in point of the provision of basic amenities, and although numerous polities within the so-called third world, notably and perhaps uniquely numerous sub-Saharan African countries, continue (often in highly resourceful from-the-bottom-up ways [e.g., door-to-door peddling of solar power kits and the local tailoring and manufacturing of garments in resistance to the provision of moth-eaten used Star Wars T-shirts and parachute pants by the hyperocidental charity industry] that recall the long-bygone golden age of Yankee ingenuity) to develop along such a trajectory, we in the so-called first world ourselves are now patently moving in the opposite direction, patently pursuing a policy of un-development, of the scaling back of the provision of basic amenities to sub-third world levels of availability.  As mentioned before, according to the present writer’s lights, the scheduled water shut-offs are intrinsically the most exemplarily troubling of the recent degenerative changes in his lifeworld, but the building management’s inadequate handling of fire outbreaks is obviously more deserving of rhetorical pride of place, first in centering on a problem more immediately threatening to life and limb and second in recalling a calamity that is still quite fresh in the hyperoccidental imagination—namely the Grenfell Tower conflagration of June 2017.  Obviously, despite all this evocativeness, the respective outcomes of the two phenomena bear no comparison, for in even the worst of the fire emergencies the present writer has had to contend with, despite the laggardliness of notification, he and all his fellow-residents managed to survive the event, and even if none of these residents had ever been notified of it at all, the fatality count presumably would have been much smaller than at Grenfell, where the fire spread so quickly, and so far in advance of the firefighters’ capacity to combat the blaze, that all those who stayed put in their flats were ineluctably doomed.  But by the selfsame or at least very similar token, the horrifying lethality of the Grenfell tower fire was owing entirely to an ill-adjudged architectural modification—namely the affixing of combustible cladding to the exterior of the building—that bespoke no more intrinsically egregious degree of negligence than that relentlessly evinced by the management of the present writer’s building of residence.  It seems reasonable to assume that a residential building management that allows evacuation-worthy fires to break out within its bailiwick several-to-many times per year, and neglects to inform its charges of the desirability of evacuation until at least half that bailiwick is filled with smoke, would not stick at having a façade of combustible cladding installed even after Grenfell (perhaps out of mere utter ignorance of the disaster, but more likely and reprehensibly out of a failure to register the significance of words such as cladding and combustible in their purdeaf assimilation of broadcast accounts thereof); and, indeed, so shamelessly gormless has been this management’s fire-prevention policy that I shouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow during my approach to the building entrance from the outside I found myself having to hopscotch around several flaming cladding tiles discarded or inadvertently dropped by cigarette-smoking cladding-appliers overhead.  I apologize if this all seems to be in the poorest of poor taste—but speaking of poor (and the shamelessly echolaliacal character of the transition is of course itself a manifestation of poor taste)—the main and indeed exclusive reason I think it worthy to point up what I believe to be patently significant parallels between Grenfell and my building of residence is that received opinion across the so-called political spectrum holds that the ultimate efficient cause of the fire was the comparative indigence of Grenfell’s residents, was the fact that despite being sited in one of the poshest postcodes in the United Kingdom the building was after all a council tower block, or what we in the States would term a public housing project, and hence simply and ultimately the habitation of people who mattered less than their better-heeled peers-cum-fellow subjects from the point of view of the various public administrative entities to which they were most materially subject; and further holds by complementary implication that anyone in the hyperoccident  with the supposedly axiomatically better fortune not to live in publicly subsidized housing has never and will never have to deal with a degree-cum-kind of negligence sufficient to precipitate a disaster remotely comparable to Grenfell; and that in this regard received opinion seems to be lamentably mistaken, inasmuch as, despite being apparently as materially negligent as the public entities in charge of Grenfell, the administration of the present writer’s building of residence is entirely in the hands of a private for-profit corporation, and inasmuch as by and large its residents, although decidedly unrich to the extent that one’s present annual net income is a measure of richness, do not occupy any demographic nook that Bob or Suzy Hyperoccident would regard as a traditional nesting-spot for outright poverty.  In brief: almost everybody in the building apart from the present writer seems to be either a student at the extremely expensive university sited two blocks west of it or a junior doctor (or resident, as we Yanks may still term them, for all I know [for I defaulted to a term I have picked up from BBC Radio 4, which has been my sole source of medical terminology for the past five years]) at the fairly expensive hospital sited one block to its south.   And it is not as if by pan-hyperoccidental standards, it is by any means cheap to live here: as of his most recent lease (and the rate rises substantially with each lease renewal) the present writer is paying $1,045 per month for the privilege of residing in a one-room apartment—a pittance, to be sure, by comparison with the monthly outlay exacted by a one-room apartment in Brooklyn (New York, not Maryland), but also—and to the present writer’s mind, far more materially significant—a fortune by comparison with the $600-per-month or so clams exacted by his friend’s two-bedroom apartment in Bozeman, Montana or (proportionately) the $1,100-per-month exacted by his late father’s friend’s three-bedroom house in Tampa, Florida.  If current received hyperoccidental opinion is to be given the abjectly genuflective head that it peremptorily exacts as a matter of course, the present writer’s fellow residents of his building of residence should have long since at minimum taken to the streets with placards and AK-47s several years ago, for that selfsame received opinion presupposes that anyone well-off enough not to live in government-subsidized housing is a sort of latter-day pea-princess who cannot bear to cope with the most minute disruption of his or her material-cum-somatic comfort.  But in point of fact, as far as the present writer knows, he is the only resident of this building—apart, that is, from the oldish gentleman who remarked that there was something wrong with the water several years ago—who has taken any umbrage whatsoever at these ever-increasingly frequent interruptions of basic services.  And from this building-wide apparent indifference to its management’s reprehensible inattention to the most basic amenities of civilized life, he, the present writer, concludes that his fellow-residents—who in an eleven-story building of fifty apartments per story must number into the thousands—have simply come to take the maintenance of their world so brazenly-cum-blasély for granted that only the most immediately and acutely palpable menace to their corporeal safety—say, a blowtorch-flame licking the soles of their feet, or a rat gnawing at their inner genitals—would be capable of rousing them from their virtual coma of complacency.  So what, each of them must have said to himself, autc. at some recent point, if my apartment reeks of unflushed urine and fecal matter?  So what if I haven’t been able to take a shower in three days?  So what if I had to tread through a truckload of dirty diapers just to reach my front door today? So what if I nearly suffocated during yesterday’s fire evacuation?  My withers are unwrung, for I am in constant command of a friendly voice-activated lady robet for whom my wish is her command and who will unhesitatingly and instantaneously deduct every last penny from my bank account if I simply pronounce her name and ask her to do so.  Complementarily each of the twelve-year-olds ensconced in the building management office must at some recent point have remarked to himself autc, So what if the hallways of this building incessantly reek of dirty diapers? So what if I haven’t a clue as to when a single one of the 500-plus toilets in this building will next be flushable? So what if every inhabitant of this building was within minutes of death by asphyxiation yesterday? My withers are unwrung, for I am clearly marked out by destiny to discharge a loftier office than that of keeping these snivelingly ungrateful squatters alive and comfortable, for I am in constant command of a friendly voice-activated lady robuht for whom etc.  And from this horrifyingly symmetrical scenario one may safely conclude that as a consequence of their besottedness by the digital false sublime, hyperoccidentals have simply lost all inclination, and perhaps even all capacity, to attend even ever so negligently or intermittently to world maintenance either qua providers or qua beneficiaries thereof.  World-maintenance simply isn’t hip enough for Bob or Suzy Hyperoccidental to pay any mind to nowadays—indeed, it is perhaps the naffest, the least hip, activity on offer á-cum-chez eux.  There are no apps associated with it; or at any rate, such apps as are associated with it avail themselves of decidedly démodé graphic interfaces, of the sort of patchwork of coarse-grained pixellation that fairly compels the user to ejaculate through a guffaw, Let me set my time machine for July 2012, if not as far back as November 2011!  In today’s hyperoccident, one can garner outright stratospheric levels of kudos and respect by quite literally and actually whoring oneself out as a master practitioner of quite literal and actual anilingis provided that before setting up shop one has meticulously mapped a sufficiently impressively diverse array of offered tongue motions (a.k.a. pas de la langue), gradations of targeted anal arc, texture, etc. onto a sufficiently impressively complicated and responsive piece of so-called smart-phone software.  But woe betide the present-day hyperoccidental who out of a presumptively misbegotten sense of duty brings some so-called smart phone-unmediated fragment of knowledge, however tiny, to bear upon a facet of the world that (unlike the ever self-renewing supply of fresh anuses) existed before the advent of so-called smart phones; for, after all, it now goes completely, absolutely, and categorically without saying that only a total loser could waste a microsecond on anything so antediluvianly ancient by means of such no less anciently antiquated means.  What’s your job, Pops? the typical present-day hyperoccidental, regardless of his autc. chronological age, or the addressee’s sex or gender, bumptiously accosts a typical sub-pitiful sod engaged in such work by such means. Oh, I see: checking to see if the plumbing in this here sexagenarian multistory building is meeting the minimum standards set by the municipal building code of 1950.  And with a ruler and a set of feeler-gauges you say. But weren’t the ruler and the feeler gauge invented by the ancient Romans [sic]? And didn’t indoor plumbing go out of fashion in the very early 1900s [sic] at the very most recent? And such being the case, given that it’s 2019, why for the ever-loving axiomatically non-heterosexual fuck aren’t you fucking dead yet?  Admittedly, the present writer cannot in good faith speak on or in behalf of world-maintenance from the perspective of such a sod, for he is by no means immured in the very trenches of the productive end of world-maintenance; he is by no means working with the literal and actual nuts and bolts upon whose watertight mutual complementariness the continuity our world quite literally and actually continues to be superstructed, centuries after the technology securing this complementariness was effectively perfected.  At the very best and most, the present writer can pride himself on championing and embodying world-maintenance as a generalizable ethos-cum-habitus by discharging his duties as a menial clerical functionary, a so-called bean-counter or pencil-pusher (or is the correct term paper-pusher?), with a conscientious regularity and punctuality that admittedly bely his overriding and fundamental contempt for the ultimate cause of his conscientiousness and punctiliousness—i.e., for the so-called goal or so-called mission or of the organization by and at which he is employed.  He flatters himself that in doing his job so conscientiously and punctiliously and not leaving the constituents (in either an intrinsic or extrinsic sense) of his employer in the lurch, he is in some small way, as they say, helping to keep the world from falling apart, even if these constituents are fundamentally and ultimately working for the Devil; inasmuch as, although their aims are fundamentally and ultimately Satanic, were their immediate exigencies not supplied, the world would fall into the inner genitals of the Devil (for it has patently long since fallen into His hands if not armpits) ever so slightly more speedily than if these exigencies were denied them, inasmuch as general faith in the actuality of world-maintenance would thereby be undermined ever more slightly, inasmuch as even if a 21B-stroke-six form is intended to set in motion a train of events ineluctably eventuating in the demolition of the entire system of life, a bloke or blokess who fails to receive a 21B stroke-six-form in time to meet a certain deadline of urgent material significance to the maintenance of his or her particular nooklet of the world is more than marginally likely to throw in the towel or J-Cloth of this nooklet; to ejaculate, Fuck it, I’m off, and immediately thereupon repair to some sort of world maintenance-corroding wilderness.  The present writer further, and more gently, flatters himself that in not calling in sick every third day of the work week as everybody else not only at his own organization but also at every other organization in the hyperoccident seems to do nowadays he is setting a good example, as they used to say, for the butcher’s quarter-dozen or so people in his Umwelt who happen—admittedly presumably pathetically fleetingly—to remark the distinction between his presence and his absence in the that Umwelt; that he is, so to speak the Cal Ripken of a sort of five-a-side world-maintenance team (if baseball were as amenable to downscaling as soccer) consisting largely or perhaps even entirely of players unaware of each other’s existence.  But it is above all in virtue of his perhaps unrivaled subjective continuity as a connoisseur of world-maintenance that the present writer believes he is entitled to enter—or, rather remain within—the lists as world-maintenance’s most dedicated champion and informed propagandist.  It is this subjective continuity that signally distinguishes the present writer’s ethos-cum-Weltanschauung from that of a mere cantankerous old fart, of a mere bigoted, historically blinkered booster of the institutions, folkways, gadgets, etc. that happened to be in their heyday when he was a younker [the most recent locus classicus is Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man, but the type has been satirized since at least the mid-seventeenth century, when it elicited uncharacteristically vituperative scorn from Dr. Sir Thomas Browne]-cum-disparager of the contingently different preoccupations of his younger contemporaries.  The present writer believes himself to be secure against pigeonholing as such a type in relation to both vertical sides of the projected edifice, for even as a younker he contemned all the fads, all the totems of the juvenile hic et nunc, cherished by his contemporaries, and cherished everything evincing any sort of continuity with previous microepochs, epochs, and eras.  As early as the age of 14, he disdained The A-Team, Miami Vice, Def Leppard, and Michael Jackson and sought solace and inspiration in Candide, Bleak House, Mozart, and Mahler; and stroppily made do with 60% cotton Oxford shirts and twill slacks while disdaining Members Only jackets and dreaming of an excuse-cum-opportunity to don white tie and tails (an excuse-cum-opportunity that he eventually alighted upon in his high-school senior prom [albeit, lamentably, without the aid of a single natural textile fiber]).  And perhaps not quite needless to say, at the age of 14-plus-23, he retains an attachment to Candide etc. and has yet to acquire a scintilla of nostalgia for The A-Team etc.  If at least in the meantime the subjective development of his contemporaries had conformed to the bit of hyperoccidental received philosophy of history according to which, à la the abovementioned Grumpy Old Man, each and every hyperoccidental human individual clings tenaciously to the folkways etc. of his autc. own microgeneration until death, the present writer might conceivably still find his existence as a connoisseur of world-maintenance at least just barely bearable, for although in such a case, he presumably would never succeed in convincing any of his near-to-exact contemporaries that Mahler’s Ninth Symphony was a superior artistic achievement to Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me” or that he aut al. should discard his moth-eaten Members Only jacket in favor of a well-preserved double-breasted Yves Saint-Laurent blazer à la Late Night-period David Letterman, he would at least be vouchsafed the intersubjective pleasure of luxuriating in their communal indifference to the at-best non-world-maintenance-inimical regressive pseudo-innovations introduced by persons of later birth.  What has in fact happened in flagrant contravention of this received philosophy of history is that, owing to the willful inimicality of the hyperoccidental system of life to world-maintenance, not only the present writer’s contemporaries but also his elders have to a man, woman, autc. embraced the regressive, pseudo-innovative tat originating from the younger generation-and-three-quarters (for in all justesse a generation should last exactly twenty-five years, such that in the forty-seven years since the present writer’s birth exactly one generation has come to term and a second one come within five years of doing so [this because although in the quasi-official nomenclature the present writer is a so-called Generation Xer and everyone born since ca. 1978 is a millennial and a member of a separate generation, of his juniors it is really only the younger half of the so-called millennials’ tranche or persons born since October of 1986 {i.e. 12-and-a-half years after the present writer’s birth} who have even half a right to describe themselves as hailing from the generation after his and only persons born since April of 1997 {i.e., a full twenty-five years after the present writer’s birth} who have a full right to describe themselves as hailing from a completely different generation, with the third generation yet to be born only in 2022 {provided we make it that far}, or fifty years after the present writer]), and have moreover arrogated the effrontery of high-hatting him for not embracing this tat with commensurately fellationary zeal.  A segment of BBC Radio 4’s flagship cultural affairs programme [i.e., flagship dedicated flogger of the nappy deposits of oversized lumpen-prole babies styling themselves artists {the exact Stateside analogue is NPR’s Fresh Air}] Front Row that aired only a few days ago (i.e., on August 9 or 10, 2018) quite pithily encapsulated the state of affairs by which the present writer is so grievously afflicted (albeit from one of his afflicters’ point of view and consequently with an unforgivable air of triumphant smugness only going through the feeblest motions of masquerading as chagrin): in attempting to account for the supremacy of the turn-of-the-millennium American sitcom Friends in the viewing figures of so-called video streaming services, one of the commentators remarked that the show now unites the generations in hailing from the twilight of pre-digital culture, from the last years in which we actually sat around just talking to each other instead of staring into our phones each and every minute.  The present writer respectfully begs to have his name stricken from the mailing or calling list in which he has been included via this instance of the utterance of we (along with countless other more or less contemporaneous-cum-consubstantial arrogations of the first-person plural pronoun), inasmuch as he spends zero (0) minutes per week, month, etc. staring into his phone, inasmuch as until six months ago the only phone he owned was a coil-corded touchtone so-called landline unit that repaid staring into as poorly as—albeit admittedly no less richly than—its late-1980s ancestor, and he now that he has at long last had a smart phone forced on him spends more time brushing his teeth than staring into it.  He has not an iota of sympathy for any of his contemporaries’ multi-myriad hair-shirted (or rather unbiodegradable macro-fiber imitation hair-shirted) eponymized-1980s-diet-esque regimens for limiting so-called screen time because he has never spent a minute face-to-face with an electronic screen doing anything that he would have felt a jot more luxurious or self-corrupting in doing vis-à-vis a sheet of old-fashioned acoustic paper.  His withers are legitimately unwrung by the very notion of being corrupted by so-called social media because such corruption is not a vortex that he could ever dream of coming close enough to being sucked into, any more than (à la Voltaire to Rousseau) he could ever dream of being prevailed upon to stop walking on two legs and resume crawling on all fours.  This is by no means to say that his heart is as adamantly obdurate as freeze-dried quartz towards the blandishments of a prospective Friends-watching session, for although he was certainly no fan of the show during its original run, he fancies he might just feel a ghost of a suspicion of Gemütlichkeit on being sucked into the admittedly ineluctable (albeit hitherto chez lui-unprecedented) vortex of a Friends-viewing session; but he further fancies that his enjoyment of the viewing-session would be radically different in spirit from that of his fellow-viewers, for whereas they would perforce be looking on these proxies of their former selves—on Ross, Joey, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, and Phoebe—with the mixture of self-satisfied bemusement and condescending mirth with which a hyperoccidental twenty-something adult classically spectates on home movies of his autc.’s fifth birthday party, I would be spectating on them in a spiritual attitude hailing from quite a different sector of the hyperoccidental spiritual atlas, spectating them with the mixture of full-throttle horror-cum-lugubriousness with which a middle-aged adult—perhaps, indeed, an exact contemporary of my empirical self—watches home-movie footage of his now drool-drenchedly senile parents in their twenties and thirties, with all their faculties self-evidently as-yet-unimpaired; or, perhaps, more precisely if less evocatively—because drawing on a topos that has been exploited less frequently if ever at all—in the attitude with which in a world taken over by zombies the last unzombified human while sitting in a roomful of zombies watches home-movie footage of these selfsame zombies’ prezombified selves.  The present writer’s sense of alienation from his contemporaries–very much including his closest friends and kin—is just that extreme, appalling, and unheimlich.  “No one he knows is someone he knows.”  Even the oldest and formerly gravest persons in his Umwelt, veritable white-bearded Nestors who formerly would have blushed even to be seen absentmindedly glancing at a hit television program or heard whistling a Billboard chart-topper, are now habitually and incessantly engaged in activities that the most airheaded cheerleader at his high school would have regarded as so eighth-grade in point of sentimentality and trend-humping desperation; and even more horrifyingly-cum-outrageously, they appear to retain no memory of their quondam gravitas and habitually and incessantly take the present writer to task for his refusal to join in the wantonly lighthearted desecration and demobilization of everything they used at least quite convincingly to affect to cherish and revere most ardently and devoutly.  Nevertheless, while acknowledging that the present hyperoccidental Übervolksgeist is unprecedentedly infantile and zombified, and further surmising that more or less contemporaneously with its passage into the new millennium the hyperoccident crossed a sort of Rubicon of infantilization-cum-zombification—that, in other words, in the current universally subscribed-to culture of phone-worship we are dealing with a phenomenon that in contrast to previous episodes of down-dumbing will prove to participate in (note well that I write participate in and not cause, for the destroyer of the hyperoccident is a many-anused beast) our complete and irreversible undoing—the present writer cannot pretend that this Rubicon has been crossed in consequence of some wholly contingent adjustment of our itinerary, that our itinerary might just as easily and much more felicitously have taken us across the Rhine, Danube, or Elbe (i.e., towards a hyperoccident in which universal phone worship had been preempted by some incontestably more attractive alternative-cum-salubrious Übervolksgeit-defining phenomenon like universal natural clothing fiber-worship, universal automotophobia, or universally peremptory universal insistence on consistently functional indoor plumbing), for as he has already taken considerable pains to shew in the present essay, the misery in which we (or at least the present writer and any other surviving non-child zombies) are presently immersed and stewing is an ineluctable consequence of the entire modern commercial-cum-industrial sub-system of life at its very origins in the seventeenth century—i.e., at the moment at which this sub-system came to be simultaneously dominated and defined by the dreams and exigencies of quasi or semi-enlightened Christian Protestantism.  From this very outset, quasi-or-semi-enlightened commercial Christian Protestantism was signalized not only by its so-called work ethic—by its veneration of labor eo ipso, its assumption that one was caeteris paribus always better employed exerting oneself than in relaxing—but also and no less signally by its intrinsically amoral nominalized teleology and its downright unethical collective sociopathy, by its assumptions that certain aims were worth pursuing eo ipso regardless of their social implications and that the effects of one’s labors on persons outside the circumference of the community of the faithful, of the would-be elect, were of no moment whatsoever, that such persons might as well have been rats as human beings.  Not one of these ethicules is perforce conducive to world-maintenance, and the last of them is manifestly toxic to it, inasmuch as it is ineluctably productive of charlatanism, hucksterism, and every other variety of con-artistry.  And yet it was this last ethicule, the ethicule of collective sociopathy, that kick-started the great pan-occidental commercial-industrial takeoff take-off—a take-off that has long since been enshrined throughout the hyperoccident as the unimprovable ne plus ultra of world-maintenance—by providing sufficient material and spiritual fuel to other two.  The first generation of great Anglo-Protestant merchants and industrialists, the generation of mercers, fullers, tailors, brewers, vintners, distillers, drapers, printers, booksellers, butchers, bakers, candlestick-makers, et al. who supplied the court of Charles II with all the pomp and luxury that afforded it its even-as-of-now-uncontested reputation as the most decadent court in Europe since Nero’s, knew full well that at least according to the terms of their own creed and its highly ascetic interpretation of Scripture they were facilitating Charles and his courtiers’ access to vices whose habitual practice more or less guaranteed these persons’ eternal damnation.  But that was perfectly fine and copacetic with these Puritan procurers because in their view the king and his courtiers were already of the Devil’s party in virtue of being at least de facto champions of episcopacy and hence crypto-champions of the papacy, such that supplying them with the means of more speedily packing themselves off to the grave and hence to Hell was all to the good.  And considered as an act of mass-poisoning this commercial-cum-industrial venture was enormously successful; for one by one in quick succession the members of the Restoration court, including the king himself, succumbed to venereal diseases and other ailments brought on by sensual overindulgence, and from that time forward every British monarch has had to cultivate at least the appearance of austerity and inculcate the same habitus in his or her entourage.  Meanwhile the priggish peddlers of poison, first in Britain and then in all other elsewheres in the greater occident, have had to seek their prey in ever-humbler quarters—the landed aristocracy, the grand bourgeoisie, the petit bourgeoisie, and even the lumpen proletariat.  And the more widely and concentratedly their poison has spread, the less capable they have become of sequestering themselves from it as pure producers and the more prone they have become to consuming it themselves and consequently to falling victim to their own crime.  As long as there subsisted in the hyperoccident a formal and semi-rigorously enforced distinction between work time and free time, a distinction succinctly articulated in the German proverb Schnapps ist Schnapps, und Dienst Dienst, it was at least theoretically possible and in some rare cases even practicable to be a net producer, meaning generally a net poisoner but also sometimes (owing to the sacrosanctness of the institution of the job, which subsumes commercial and non-commercial undertakings alike) a net-world maintainer, rather than a net consumer, meaning universally a poison victim and world-maintainee.  But of course consumption of so-called leisure goods during non-working hours has been quite a serious business indeed throughout the hyperoccident since at least the mid-twentieth century, and with the so-called smart phone’s insinuation of infantile play into every hour and minute of the hyperoccidental Alltag we have reached a point at which virtually every living hyperoccidental person brazenly associates himself aut al. primarily with what he aut al. consumes rather than with what he aut al. produces or at least affects—or at least formerly affected—to produce.  Officially speaking (not that even the notion of officiality any longer carries any rhetorical weight whatsoever) Bob or Suzy Hyperoccidental may be Company A’s Sales and Distribution Manager for Region B or Governmental Agency X’s Branch Chief in Charge of the Allocation of Service Y, but both materially and phenomenally speaking, he or she is first and foremost Generic Exchanger No. 2,222,447,584 (or some other number in the low-to-mid {and soon to be upper} ten figures) of Baby-Talk with the Universally Available Voice-Activated Friendly Female Personal Bank Account Balance-Erasing Robuht.  Which would be all fine and dandy if the world did not have to be maintained in the meantime; but of course the hyperoccident’s officially appointed world-maintainers, however pompously they may public preen themselves on their indispensability and howl like newborn babes dipped in rubbing alcohol the moment this indispensability is, I do not say called into question, but merely relegated to a position of slightly less than paramount supremacy; however highly, I say, they may rank themselves in the world-maintenance pyramid, they secretly positively hug themselves with positively orgasmic complacency in their assumption that the world is actually being maintained elsewhere by others, by immeasurably more menial souls in immeasurably distant lands and immeasurably more subordinate walks of life.  But as we have seen in the case of the perpetual breakdown of basic services in my building of residence, a goodly proportion of the maintenance of the hyperoccidental portion of the world still has to be superintended and undertaken by inhabitants of that portion; and to the greatly overrated extent to which this is maintained by the inhabitants of other portions, even these extraterritorial persons’ collective contribution is diminishing in force with each passing minute, as ever-increasing numbers of such persons acquire so-called smart phones and promptly metamorphose into latter-day Peter Ustinov-in-Quo Vadises imperiously bidding A***a to fetch them ice from the peak of some distant mountain range eighteen times per sweatshop-shift, and in so doing not only bankrupting themselves but also and (and perhaps even more objectionably) leaving dozens of hyperoccidentals quite literally shirtless.  Abetting this intrinsically and irredeemably vicious dispensation to an unquantifiable but undoubtedly significant degree are the political economists, who probably occupy an even higher echelon in the clerisy of our age than the natural scientists, and who in incessantly assuring us hyperoccidentals that consumer spending is (that’s is not qua actually shoddy, worm-eaten balsa-wood placeholder of some very probably temporary state of affairs but rather qua supposedly adamantine titanium lynchpin of an eternally perduring SoA) the largest sector of the U.S. economy (an assurance which, inasmuch as the United States, in being the Holy Land of so-called laissez-faire capitalism, remains the hyperoccident’s political-economical good [i.e., from my perspective, evil] angel, amounts to an unchallengeable reprimand to every polity that would seek its bliss in other economic sectors) all but literally goad us into taking it for granted that if consumer spending is up, all is right and bidding fair to be ever-righter with the United States, and that the greater proportion of not only Bob or Suzy American’s income but also of his or her securable credit, is being squandered on intrinsically corruptive garbage, the greater cause each and every American, and indeed hyperoccidental, has to thank his, her, autc. lucky stars (i.e., of course, the political economists themselves) for living in the hyperoccident of all political-economical-geographical sectors at this moment of all moments in the entire history of humankind.  In actual truth, the only hope for the subsistence, let alone prosperity, of the U.S. over the long term lies in the displacement of consumer spending from atop its political-economic (a.k.a. GDP-al  perch) by producer selling; i.e., by a situation in which what Bob or Suzy American is producing is of greater value on the so-called global marketplace than what he or she is consuming.  Certain purblindedly far-sighted American political economists have recognized the necessity of this displacement, but their proposed means of achieving it bear(s) witness to their laughable and typically present-day American intellectual petit-bourgeois addiction to soap operas set in hospitals and forensic laboratories, this means being the retooling of every last goombah, yokel, and unregenerate pig-f**ker in the Union into a physician, computer programmer, or natural scientist—i.e., into a producer whose product is so highly valued on the so-called global marketplace that however lavishly and cavalierly he aut al. may splurge on intrinsically corruptive garbage he aut al. need never fear figuring as a net consumer.  That such a retooling is utterly impracticable is—or ought to be—obvious, first and very much foremost, on the self-evident evidence of the insuperable disinclination of the preponderance of American goombahs et al. (like all non-American goombahs et al.) to any sort of labor requiring any sort of mental exertion whatsoever (and yes, by these goombahs et al., I am thinking inter multissima alia of you, you Threepenny Opera-esque beggars masquerading as biologically ordained steelworkers in the tediously shopworn theme park rustily known as the Rust Belt [on the longstanding phoniness of which see far above]); that it is highly undesirable is perhaps less obvious but still very much true, inasmuch as at least under the auspices of our present system of life, physicians, computer programmers, and natural scientists are preeminently concerned not with maintaining the world but changing it (admittedly very occasionally even in changing it for the better in non-delusory terms, but even then they proceed under the assumption that somebody else will ensure that the inadequate but indispensable status quo will go on maintaining itself over the course of the years or even decades exacted by the development or implementation of their world-changing stratagems), and, perhaps even more perniciously, inasmuch as even a United States composed entirely of net-producers would still be obliged to offload its products somewhere, and hence be obliged to strengthen the concentration of consumptive poison in the collective bloodstream of the remainder of the world to presumably you-ain’t-seen-nothin’-yet-esque levels.  This scenario of a thankably laughably unrealizable utopia of a smoothly along-chugging boffin-driven United States surrounded by a world suffocating or drowning in its own consumptive juices brings me to the shortcomings of the second of the trio of the mainstays of the modern commercial system of life—namely, nominalized teleology.  In the pan-hyperoccidentally sacrosanct cant of industrialized pedagogy this mainstay is idolized under the auspices of the phrase realizing one’s full potential, and every pedagogical institution in the hyperoccident is in principle dedicated fundamentally and foremost to this full potential-realization vis-à-vis every pupil in its charge.  Implicit in this full-potential-realization mission is the assumption that every stinking brat on the Devil’s dun Earth would inexorably develop into an Einstein, Eisenstein, ’Eisenberg, or Eisenstadt—i.e., into a world-class scientist or artist—if only he, aut al. were steeped lengthily and deeply enough in a sufficiently concentrated bath of dollars, euros, etc.; and this assumption has of course (been) met with a fair amount of polemical scepticism (although obviously not nearly enough thereof to deconsecrate the phrase or dislodge the assumption), scepticism founded on the well-attested and reasonably compelling evidence that even after being steeped in almost lethal concentrations of cash a fair proportion of school graduates have turned out not to be able to locate their own anuses without the help of a private dick (cf. my almost immediately preceding tiradelet against goombahs aut al.)—all cracking good stuff to be sure, but even these sceptics take it for granted that a world in which everyone realized his aut al.’s full potential would be an immeasurably better world than the presently extant one: they undoubtedly disagree with their opponents about the means but are in full agreement with them about the ends; they dream of a world in which the money being pointlessly lavished on the predestinedly gormless own-ass non-finders were instead productively lavished on the actual potential Einsteins et al. , who would then come all the closer to realizing their respective full potentials, by achieving commensurately greater things at a commensurately earlier age.  Much as I sympathize with the anti-lumpen prole-fellating spirit of these critics, I cannot in good faith affirm the letter of their program, inasmuch as history hath incontrovertibly shewn that the full potential-realization of specific individuals often eventuates in outcomes that are downright inimical to world -maintenance.  By way of obviating the unsealing of the biggest can of worms of all time, I shall skip the most obvious counterexample in favor of the second-most obvious one—viz. the most obvious counterexample’s long-distance bromantic partner, Henry Ford.  By any sane measure, Mr. Ford was undoubtedly a genius, a genius whose potential was geared towards the expedient production of motorcars, which potential he was ultimately suffered to realize in full, in so doing inflicting on the world a phenomenon that is undoubtedly (are you going to lower those eyebrows yourself, DGR Mark Umpteen, or am I going to have to introduce them to your chin?) the second-greatest menace to world-maintenance that the world has yet seen (the first being of course the various nuclear-powered explosives), inasmuch as this menace—viz., of course, near-universal motorcar-ownership—has imparted to almost every human being in the hyperoccident (not perhaps to mention ever-growing numbers of human beings in the rest of the occident and extraoccident) the instantaneously executable power of life and death over each and every other human being in his or her Umwelt, a power that in deplorable contrast to that imparted by weapons of every sort is exercised by default rather than virtually exclusively by an act of will.  To be sure, it is possible to injure or even kill someone accidentally with a weapon, but generally only by handling it an egregiously negligent way–by, for example, twirling and flinging about a loaded gun while it is fully cocked; whereas in the case of a car, once the accursed machine is up and running and has been shifted out of neutral gear, its driver will begin causing damage to life and limb (either human or arboreal) with it as a matter of course unless he aut al. deliberately chooses not to do so.  In recent years we have of course been witnessing the automobile’s alarmingly destructive power with seemingly ever-crescent frequency, as  one disgruntled dickhead after another has deliberately veered off a hyperoccidental city street and onto the adjoining sidewalk and maimed or killed several-to-dozens of pedestrians (or into a crowd of merrymakers and maimed or killed dozens to hundreds), but the tens of thousands of automobile-induced injuries and deaths in so-called accidents tallied every year of the past century and counting would testify just as eloquently to that power were the taken-for-grantedness of near-universal car-ownership recognized for the moral abomination that it actually is.  But this selfsame century-and-counting of near-universal car ownership has entirely blinded us to the abominableness of this abomination, as can (or at least should) be plainly seen in the assignment of blame in legal cases centering on automotive death or injury.  When a person has inadvertently injured or killed another person by means of an automobile, the judiciary always blames the so-called accident on some supervenient non-automotive cause operating on the injuring or killing driver—alcohol, a mobile phone conversation, a reckless disregard of right of way—or, perhaps just as frequently, on a comparable non-automotive cause operating on the killed or injured pedestrian or other driver; which is quite absurd given that in non-automotive life the supervening events are both common (in some cases unavoidably so) and laughably harmless.  If, for example, while negotiating a left turn round a corner described by two faces of a cubicle in a typical semi-open-plan hyperoccidental office, a pedestrian is too absorbed in his aut al.’s thoughts, as they say, to stop for a quick left-and-right gander in case somebody is approaching alongside the as-yet-invisible other face or its equally invisible resumption via the cubicle across the passage from which he aut al. is emerging, he aut al. stands a fair chance of suffering-cum-inflicting a mildly discomfiting but physically utterly undamaging collision with a fellow pedestrian, or at worst—i.e., if the fellow-pedestrian happens to be carrying, say, a tray laden with canapés (or a canapé laden with trays)—a highly discomfiting but no more physically injurious episode of slapstick.  If, on the other hand, while negotiating a left turn round the corner of a street intersection, a driver is too absorbed in his aut al.’s thoughts to stop for a quick left-and-right gander, he aut al., along with any passengers he may be conveying, stands a fair chance of suffering-cum-inflicting an injurious or fatal collision with a couple of tons of metal in motion within which are invariably included one or more other human beings who is or are almost inevitably also injured or killed.  The sufferer-cum-inflictor of a thought absorption-occasioned pedestrian collision in a fully pedestrian environment thinks almost nothing of that collision even in its immediate aftermath and certainly does not allow to it so much as a moth’s fart of weight on his aut al.’s conscience , whereas the sufferer-cum-inflictor of a thought absorption-occasioned automotive collision is haunted by remorse over that collision for months, years, or even decades afterwards—as he aut al. jolly well should be, but not for the reason for which he aut al. invariably is so haunted and is universally acknowledged to be jolly well rightly haunted, viz., his aut al.’s inattentiveness in the microseconds leading up to the collision, but rather for his aut al.’s having ever assumed guidance of a moving automobile in the first place.  Of course to this assertion my FrankenDGR, mechanically channeling a precept inculcated in(to) him by his high-school driver’s education teacher, will demur that a higher, more concentrated level of attentiveness is exacted of the driver of an automobile than of the pedestrian, that it’s all very well to be ambling gormlessly along on shank’s mare while chomping on a Big Bite and surrendering your ears to the Klangumwelt-obliterating tuneage supplied to them by your Walkman, but once you’re behind the wheel of a car, sonny boy or buster, you’ve got to have all five of your senses honed and on permanent DEFCOM 1 (q.v. far above) alert.  No sirree, sonny boy or buster, once you’re behind that wheel and aloft of those four other wheels, you can’t take your eye off the ball that is the road for a microsecond, lest you be instantly thwacked, or thwack some other hapless son [(sic on the genderism {this was after all the ’70s, ’80, ’90s, oughties, or tweenies-to-mid teens}] of a bitch, into the bleachers or a sand trap (depending on whether the FrankenDGR’s driver’s ed teacher’s favorite sport was baseball or golf).  But eis ipsis the hysterical terms in which this demurral is couched testify to its flagrant unreasonableness.  The human organism is capable of such finely honed, dedicated, multisensorily vigilant concentration on a specific activity for only the briefest of intervals, and even then only when the activity in question is at least relatively unfamiliar and consequently exacts such concentration in order to be performed without the immediate betrayal of an egregious degree of incompetence.  The moment a person has become habituated to a given activity—be that activity ever so intrinsically hazardous—he aut al. will begin to find himself aut al. devoting the preponderance of his aut al.’s attention to other matters while engaged in it., and consequently will require more than occasional goading reminders of its exigency (such as this may be) in order not to begin performing it as egregiously imcompetently as he or she did when first learning its rudiments.  In accounting, such inattention will tend to express itself, in, say, a numerical total rounded to the wrong nearer decimal point or a sum assigned to the wrong fiscal category, and be corrected by a sternly stroppy email tendering a derisive suggestion that the blunderer enroll in a course in remedial math(s) or spreadsheet software usage at the nearest adult high school; in automotive aurigation it will tend to express itself in a non-stop sign heeding turn or unsignaled lane-change, and be corrected by an injurious or fatal collision with a pedestrian or another vehicle.  Accountancy is rightly seen as one of the most prosaic of occupations precisely on account (pun once again unintended but unavoidable) of, inter paucissima alia, the at least immediate inconsequentiality of even its most egregious errors (to be sure, an accounting error can have serious[ly] adverse consequences, but these consequences, in being mediated by the present global monetary system, and consequently to some extent by the mental processes of people sitting [or increasingly, and lamentably, standing] at desks in stationary rooms, never entail any immediate corporeal injury to the affected party, and only very seldom even the most trifling of disruptions of the AP’s Alltag.  While the erroneous complete erasure of one’s bank account balance in theory spells mortal starvation, in practice the full balance of one’s account, and consequently one’s immediate access to alimentation, can usually be restored before one’s tummy undergoes its first monetary outlay-exacting rumble [All these generalizations are of course predicated on the by no means to-be-taken-for-grantedness of a degree of world-maintenance sufficient to maintain the present global monetary system]).  And yet each and every accountant who is also a regular driver regularly assumes a position that in point of immediate world-menacingness soundly trounces even the most hazardous of jobs—say, the manual conveyance of unspent Uranium fuel rods into the core of a nuclear reactor—in the stationary pedestrian world.  The eye-burstingly obvious yet apparently universally unrecognized truth is that the degree of concentration properly and fully exacted by automotive driving—i.e., a degree thereof that would take cognizance of every material-cum-moral obstacle to the vehicle’s de facto inexorable progress in time to avoid that obstacle—is unattainable by any human being who has yet lived, that it is, indeed, a degree of concentration exactable only of a kind of demigod or perhaps even only of a full-fledged god.  Such being the case, one would reasonably presume that the aurigational mobility—the 99.9999…% of the present writer’s fellow hyperoccidentals of the past century and change who have been regular motorcar-drivers—had entered into some sort of Julius Caesar-esque compact (not a car in itself, but easily metaphorizable as such, i.e., as a TARDIS-esque innumerable clown-including vehicle), wherein they had washed their arms in the blood of their prospective victims and agreed to regard one another as moral peers or brethren—indeed, as fellow-Lucifers—in having unanimously agreed to arrogate the divine privilege of governing such engines of slaughter.  Instead, they have set up a moral scale of downright Laputanesquely pedantic precision according to which those drivers who handle these slaughtering-machines with a materially minusculely greater degree of control than certain others are to be classed with the non-fallen angels, and these certain others are to be cast into the ninth circle of Hell.  By this Laputanesque scale I of course—and here for perhaps actually once I can use of course in good faith—mean in the main the laws, and even more significantly the moral stigma, attached to so-called drunk driving (or drink driving, as it is solecistically styled in the United Kingdom), a scale according to which the injury or fatality occasioning accident-involved driver who has consumed even the most minuscule amount of alcohol in the immediate foremath of the accident is to be irredeemably consigned to an immeasurably lower moral plane than any driver who has not consumed any alcohol in the corresponding foremath; this entirely regardless of any other supervening organic impediments to the safe direction of a motor vehicle to which the alcohol-free driver may have been subject (barring, of course, illegal drugs, which from the point of view of the law are merely alcohol on steroids)—most notably and typically fatigue induced by lack of sleep.  Any person who has more than a scintilla of experience as a consumer of both sleep and alcohol—i.e., inter alia and for our PPs, every 999th person out of a thousand among the abovementioned 99.9999…%--knows full well that the functioning of his aut al.’s faculties is more severely impaired by a night free of lengthily uninterrupted sleep than by one or two or perhaps even three alcohol-containing drinks consumed within an hour of eight straight hours of slumber.  Notwithstanding this well-nigh-universal knowledge, both our judicial and moral law perversely treat the well-rested, unflaggingly open-eyed recent tippler of a driver well-nigh-immeasurably more harshly than the only intermittently open-eyed sleep-deprived automotive aurigationalist.  And of course the perverseness of this dispensation of Get-out-of-Jail Free cards to non-sleepers at the expense of alcohol-consumers is compounded at least a thousand-fold by the fact that at a full 100% of hyperoccidental drivers admit or at least claim to be chronic sufferers of sleep deprivation-induced fatigue, and are axiomatically thereby compelled to concede that they are chronically less fit to drive than the average well-rested hyper-recent tippler.  Presumably this hyper-perverse juridical off-the-hook-letting of somnolent alcohol-free semi-corpses at the expense of super bright-eyed-and bushy-tailed alcohol-nearly free incarnations of vitality is a touching if irredeemably fatuous relic of the hyperoccident’s (or at any rate the hyper-hyperoccident’s) veneration of the so-called Protestant work ethic, inasmuch as however slight a tipple of booze’s effect on its imbiber’s automotive skills might ultimately turn out to be, there is no denying that booze is something classically partaken of for pleasure alone; whereas fatigue, no matter how deleterious a given instance of it might be to its sufferer’s ability to operate the button-and-zipper of his aut al.’s trouser-fly, let alone a quasi-proverbial ten-ton(ne) truck, is a physiological state classically induced by overwork—whence, presumably, in the minds of the original framers of drunk-driving laws, by a subordination of pleasure to business, and perhaps even a subordination of world-destruction to world-maintenance.  Of course (q.v. semi-immediately above plus one), in actual empirical hyperocccidental fact, especially twenty first-century EHF, fatigue is far more likely to have been occasioned by an overindulgence in pleasure, or what is regarded as pleasure, than by work of any sort—most often by all-night sessions of up-catching on the latest installment of a Tits & Dragons boxed set, but not quite rarely by all-night drinking binges at stag parties, hen nights, leaving dos, autc.  But it is unreasonable and indeed downright foolish to demand intellectual consistency within the purview of a genuine mass psychosis (while I do so hate to employ terms taken from the industrial abattoir of clinical psychiatry, in this rarest of all cases the giant industrialized pig brain-jelly shoe fits to a turn) of more than a century’s standing: in the hyperoccident the consensus of not only the living but also several generations of the dead has determined that the ownership-cum-habitual pilotship of a motor vehicle is the minimum condition of personhood.  And the supervention of this psychosis is entirely owing to a certain Mr. Henry Ford’s having been allowed to realize his full potential, inasmuch as had automobiles not become mass-produced, they never would have become consumed en masse, and automotive aurigation would have remained what it quite rightfully was in its earliest infancy—a statistically harmless hobby accessible only to the highest and least chinful and most bellyful strata of the aristocracy and nouveaux riches.  And such is the dispiriting truth about all the other artificial industrial-age woes that afflict us, from the airplane to F****k—that they are all F&F the unfortunate result of their devisers’ having foolishly been allowed to realize their respective full potentials; and in an ever-increasingly cluttered-cum-ingrown landscape-cum-system of commodities, full potential-realization ever more often takes the less dramatic but equally pernicious form of the vice of publicized Pygmalionism, of modifications of existing inventions that gratify the modifier’s ingenuity at the expense of the consumer’s ease and productivity of use of the invention in question.  But of course the FrankenDGR will demur that it’s all very well for me to inveigh cherry-pickingly against this or that personal pet peeve of an invention of the industrial era qua misbegotten result of full potential-realization, but that what full-potential realization hath taken away from me with one hand it hath likewise given to me with another—if not with many thousands of others à la some sort of Hindoo deity (at first blush an utterly inapposite comparandum, but at second blush a highly apposite one inasmuch as the production of a literally thousand-armed Hindoo deity could only ever be achieved on some sort of Fordian assembly line); that while I may manage at least to delude myself into believing that I am living happily—or, at any rate, less miserably—without the use of a motorcar, I cannot in good faith assert that my life would be materially enriched rather than impoverished by being deprived of many another product of full-potential realization—for example, the electric light bulb, an invention of perhaps an even greater and more famous exemplar of full potential-realization than Mr. Ford (not to mention what’s-his-name who cannot be mentioned), namely Thomas Alva Edison.  To which demurral I can in good faith rejoin that while there are indeed numerous—although I would wager a fairly large sum (albeit not quite so large a sum as the sum presumably soon to be exactable on auction by one of my all-cotton shirts) that there are not thousands—of full potential realization-actuated inventions with whose use I would not immediately gladly dispense, my attachment to most if not all of these inventions is of a largely-to-wholly superficial and contingent character and would very speedily vanish were I furnished with the conditions for enjoying the habitual use of their immediate or even distant predecessors on the techno-commercial evolutionary timeline.  Vis-à-vis the electric lightbulb versus its predecessors—viz. (in reverse chronological order) the gas lamp, the oil lamp, and the candle: I would be only too happy to revert to any one of these for my personal lighting needs were material conditions in place for my enjoying as ready and reliable access to them as was enjoyed by their average respective users in their respective heydays, but of course no such access is available or even remotely forthcoming in my Lebenswelt.  I haven’t the foggiest, sodium vapor-lit, notion of how or where one would go about finding an oil lamp, let alone the oil and wicks needed to keep it lighted; gas lamps are now highly costly contraptions requiring constant replenishment from wee aqualung-like tanks owing to their absolute material alienation from the governmental-cum-commercial infrastructure that still supplies a substantial portion of the pan-occident with its heating and cooking (to the infinitely smug, ill-founded whiggish amusement, let it be said, of the by-now-perhaps-preponderant portion of the hyperoccident that has gone all-electric in these domains of quotidiana [I have, incidentally, inserted this parenthesis by way of giving my fellow hyperoccidentals in the gas-zone, arch-Whigs to a man et al., a tastelet of the specific flavor of misery that was one of the principal impetuses to the composition of the present essay]); and as for candles, the only ones within my immediate commercial reach are my local grocery store’s butcher’s double-dozen of those aluminum-hooped half dollar coin-circumferenced discs known as tea lights (and known as such for a reason unknown to me [certainly this reason can having nothing to do with singeing so much as a single leaf of tea, let alone boiling an entire cup of it!]), each of which contains just barely enough wax, and gives out just barely enough illumination, to allow one to read the cover of the matchbook with which one has just ignited its wick before it sputters out.  If I were to undertake to illuminate my dwelling-space with candles now, I would be obliged to order the tapers from A*****n, and to make do exclusively with those god-awful scented mason jar-ensconced monstrosities targeted exclusively to women of a certain age-cum-modus vivendi, and consequently to suffocate in a miasma of doubtlessly chemically mutually counterindicated perfumes before reading a single octavo book-page by the aid of those tapers’ combined light.  By contrast, throughout the golden age of domestic candle-illumination—an age stretching from some presumably preteenth century to the early nineteenth—I would have had access to an almost dizzying array, as they say, of affordable broad-wicked, long-burning candles, at my local chandler’s—that is to say, a shop principally or perhaps even wholly dedicated to the vending of candles (and the fact that I cannot repress a snigger in writing chandler with a lowercase cee, so reflexively am I reminded by its uppercase version of the waggish Friends character, testifies to the fundamental lameness of the present writer qua irredeemable Edison-bulb addict), and would have consequently had no trouble whatsoever in reading from dusk till dawn, till the perhaps actual and literal bovine homecoming, by the exclusive and dedicated illumination of bougies or chandelles.  The same sort of demurral applies to my dependence on air conditioning, a dependence that is likewise conditioned by the conditions in which I have been compelled to live against my will.  When, a full one-and-twenty years ago, I shared a large three-story ca. 1900 Baltimore row house with five other people for a semi-summer (and the brevity of my residence in that house attests to the longstanding general impracticability of residing in such massive old houses as a renter) I was always quite comfortable lounging on the house’s ground floor with its tightly shuttered windows and ten foot-high ceilings, and it was only upon being obliged to retire to bed in my pokey eight foot-ceilinged, naked-windowed room on the third (British: second) floor (obviously some sort of converted cupboard or pantry not originally intended for human habitation) that I was further obliged to have recourse to a so-called window-unit air conditioner.  Now that I live in a ca. 1950 Baltimore midrise apartment block, I am contending with eight foot-high ceilings and naked windows (or, rather, strictly speaking, semi-naked windows, but the diaphanous barrier of mini-blinds and curtains with which I do my best to block out the summer sun is laughably ineffectual by comparison with the shutters that I am presumably prohibited from installing by my lease agreement) during not only every sleeping but also every waking chez moi-spent hour and so am obliged to have recourse to air conditioning—specifically to another so-called window unit—for each of those hours from May Day to Michaelmas, and many a such hour on either side thereof.  To be sure, the hyperoccident of ca. 1950, although substantially more barbarous in point of world-maintenance than the hyperoccident of ca. 1900, was substantially more civilized in point thereof than the hyperoccident of ca. 2020 (sic, incidentally, on the ca., for although the year of this writing is but 2019 [and it is presumptuous in the extreme to presume that 2020 is a year that we will reach as a matter of historical course], when employing ca.s in connection with years one must always round to the nearest fourth-place nought by way of distinguishing oneself from those churls who barbarously mistake ca. for a more upmarket version of A.D. [or whatever the current Guardian style guide’s M*******n-cum-C******n-fellating alternative abbreviation is]), such that when the present writer moved into his present Wohnung he enjoyed the usufruct of a slatted outer door which, when the unslatted inner door and the windows facing both doors were left open, allowed a cross-breeze to traverse the apartment, a cross-breeze that on many albeit not quite most of the abovementioned early May-to-late September days allowed him to be quite comfortable in the absence of air conditioning despite the eight-foot-high ceilings and inescapable sunbeams.  But then, some butcher’s half-dozen years ago—most likely at about the same time they sealed up the trash chutes—the building management tore away the slatted outer door, along with all ca. 300 other slatted outer doors in the building (presumably for uniformity’s sake, inasmuch as the remaining ca. 200 apartments already lacked slatted doors, presumably in turn because the slatted doors they had previously possessed had suffered some form of damage that could not be repaired onsite and that the building management had been d****d if it was going to shell out so much as an extra penny to have them repaired offsite), and the present writer was obliged to rely on air conditioning for each and every minute of the long summer.  And such for donkey’s decades has been the fate of every established technology in the industrialized hyperoccident: here and from time semi-immemorial, out of horror of the old and for the sake of short-term financial expediency, every such technology simply must be discarded in favor of something newer that does the job more barbarously, wastefully, and, in the long run, more expensively.  Perversely, if utterly unsurprisingly, it is the so-called environmentalists—the class of ostensible world-maintainers who wear their passion for world-maintenance on the broadest of dayglow toffee apple-green sleeves—who are the worst offenders in this regard.  Quite recently, meaning less than four months earlier than this writing (9/9/2018), The UK Green Party’s most prominent organ of propaganda, a BBC Radio 4 program(me) called Costing the Earth—which would be much more aptly titled Whinging about Global Warming, so brazenly and insistently does it advertise its subordination of literally every other concern under the sun to the goal of controlling the average terrestrial temperature—devoted one of its thirty-minute installments to the environmental hazards posed by clothing made of synthetic fibers.  As some more than negligible proportion of every synthetic garment currently on the market leaches into the environment each and every time that garment is washed, and synthetic fibers are intrinsically non-biodegradable, the program(me’s) presenter lamented, some alternative system of clothing must be pursued.  Inasmuch as in a sartorial context the antonym of synthetic is natural, the presenter was inevitably if presumably regrettably compelled to consider a natural fiber-based sartorial alternative and thereupon perversely if ultimately unsurprisingly went straight to a sheep-shearing farm arm in arm with a sheep-f**cking animal psychologist.  In our anthropocentric complacency we may suppose, the beast-shrink sententiously intoned, that because shearing does not result in the death of the sheep that the sheep does not suffer from the shearing and that we may accordingly wear our woolen garments without guilt; but empirical data hath incontrovertibly shewn that shorn-ness inflicts an incalculable degree of psychological trauma, that the shorn sheep almost invariably experiences body-image problems that not atypically eventuate in eating disorders that only slightly less typically eventuate in premature death and at minimum eventuate in long-term if not permanent ostracism from the unshorn portion of the herd.  By the time the psychologist had finished her lecture, there was only just enough time left in the programme for the presenter briskly to perorate, Well, that about settles it—unless we want to end up on the dock at the Hague, we’re stuck with synthetic-fiber clothes, and we’ve just got to put every last pound, dollar, euro, etc. in our synthetic-fibered pockets and drop of bionic elbow grease in our elbows into developing more-environmentally friendly synthetic fibers, and in the meantime abstain from washing the clothes we’re already wearing until we fall down unconscious from the stench of our own bodily exudations.  At no point during the preceding thirty minutes had my beloved cee word, cotton, or indeed the name of any other plant-based natural fiber, been uttered.  Any being from another planet listening to this installment of Costing the Earth—and such a being really needs must have hailed from another planet, inasmuch as vegetable fiber-based clothing is something known to every living human soul on earth—could not but have assumed that no favorer of natural-fiber garments had ever enjoyed the contact of any fabric more finely spun than woolen gabardine with even the most delicate parts of his aut al.’s body, that before the advent of synthetic-fiber garments all of humanity was or were perpetually tottering about ever-so-stiffly, with unbending knee, like the robuht in The Day the Earth Stood Still, for fear of contracting gangrene of the genitals from excessive chafing.  To be sure, even if there were no such things as vegetable-based natural fibers, even if wool were the only non-synthetic source of sartorial textiles, not a single living human soul would ever lose a moment’s sleep over his aut al.’s sartorial dependence on wool, not a single living human soul would be compelled to count a single sheep on account of having occasioned the shearing of as many as a milliard of them, because for the lamb of God’s sake they’re only sheep; but this consideration is of absolutely no moment to the environmentalist lobby, who are obliged by their incorrigible Whiggism to contrive some means, however laughably implausible and brazenly heedless of the most brazen evidence, to represent the retention of any less-than-state-of-the-art aspect the status quo in the domain of production, however tried and tested that aspect may be, as a nullity or unpardonable atrocity; and to represent the most pernicious aspects of that status quo as the only conceivable starting point for a supposedly direly exigent advance into the supposedly infinitely titillating (but invariably at-best snoozeworthy and most often even more pernicious) technological frontiers of pseudo-world maintenance, merely because these aspects happen to be the most up-to-date from a narrowly technophilic point of view.  One sees evidence of this crypto-Whiggism in each and every so-called eco-friendly initiative that one is peremptorily adjured to adopt by the ineluctably increasingly pubic hair-littered reusable shopping bagful by these fatuous t**ds.  To revert illustratively yet again (but only because yet-again aptly) to the misery of my own immediate quotidian Umwelt:  some three years ago the washing and drying machines in my building of residence were replaced with flagrantly more environmentally correct (obnoxiously but predictably enough, their start buttons are all green) models.  With the old models I could wash and dry two weeks’ laundry in three washers and three dryers; with the new ones I must apportion a single week’s laundry among four washers and four dryers—hence, quite apart from the in-itself-vexing and Whig-repudiating tripling of pecuniary expense ([sic] on the arithmetical discrepancy, for whereas I was charged a mere $1.50 for each cycle of the old machines, I am charged $1.70 for each cycle of the new ones), I am incontestably using some appreciably greater amount of electricity, natural gas, and water; for if the new machines were truly more energy- efficient than the old ones—if, in other words, they did not merely use less energy per cycle but with that lesser expenditure of energy also accomplish at least as much work as the old machines—I would now be able to wash and dry larger loads in fewer of them rather than being obliged as I am to wash and dry smaller loads in more of them.  How, I wondered for several months after the inauguration of the new lavational dispensation, could such an egregious imposture, such a switcheroo as brazenly unconvincing as a cinematic cut to a stunt double in the most brazenly uncrafted B-grade movie, ever pass muster, let alone cut mustard, with thousands of presumably neither immortal nor inexhaustibly pecunious clothes-wearers?  But at length everything clicked into place, as they say, thanks to a single concisely revelatory image—namely, that of one of my fellow laundry room-users, a diminutive and by no means mesomorphic young person, tumbling a single load of uniformly sleek, springy, and bone-dry garments from a single dryer into a laundry bag perhaps twice as capacious as the storage tub in which I laboriously convey my four loads (and which, incidentally, some one of these thousand nitwits unfailingly mistakes for a trash bin each and every week), and shouldering the entire Santa-worthy burden without so much as a grunt of disgruntlement.  It was instantly evident from this micro-episode that the new machines were being ungrudgingly, and perhaps even reflexively, accepted by every resident of the building but me because they were doing a perfectly fine and affordable job of cleaning and drying the sorts of garments that each and every one of these people was wearing on each and every square micrometer of his or her person at each and every non-nude minute of his or her day—namely, garments made not partially or even prevailingly but entirely of synthetic fibers—i.e., the very sorts of fibers that, according to the environmentalists, whose whims were supposedly being catered to by the institution of these new machines, were irreparably damaging the natural environment thanks in no small part to the effluence of washing and drying machines!  Only in a counterfactual version of my building qua microcosm of the sartorial-cum-lavational hyperoccident, a version thereof in which each and every one of my thousand fellow-residents had cloven as tenaciously as I have done to natural-fiber garments would any genuinely more environmentally friendly consignment of washers and dryers—a consignment thereof that less natural resource-wastingly washed and dried such intrinsically environmentally innocuous garments–have found its way into our laundry room.  But it is this way with every supposedly environmentally friendly initiative in the hyperoccident: the full-tongued oral salute to the environmental anus is always superstructed on an incalculably more longstanding, and therefore incalculably more penetrative, middle-finger salute thereunto.  On virtually each and every day of the past ca. 70 months I have been relentlessly adjured by some hyperoccidental organ of mediatic suasion to forego the use of some object traditionally supplied by commercial retailers and committed to their care or disposal after use in favor of a functionally comparable reusable object of my own acquisition-cum-storage.  For the first ca. 42 of those ca. 70 months I sportingly tried to imagine what the incorporation of each and every one of these extra bits of gear—a pubic hair-attracting carrier bag (q.v.), a spoon, a cup, a glass, a mug, a drinking straw, a plate, two forks (one for salads, one for meat and bean curd-based meat alternatives), a soup tureen, a spittoon etc.—might entail, and eventually formed in my mind the image-sequence of my miserable helpless self first staggering along the abominably ill-maintained sidewalks of Baltimore with a Transamerica (formerly Legg Mason and more formerly USF&G) Tower-surmountingly tall version of one of those steel-scaffolded backpacks that one tends to see confined to the backs of outdoorsmen embarking on some hike that may see them isolated from reliable sources of food and liquid refreshment for weeks at a stretch, then back at home being obliged to sleep out in the hallway after having disburdened myself of the whole K&C, what with there being not enough space left to accommodate even my puny recumbent form in my pitifully poky apartment.  Surely, I assumed, nobody in his aut al. RM and with the usual dyadic complements of arms, legs, and shoulders could actually be even attempting to put this downright Laputan (q.v.) scheme into practice.  Then one of these adjuring voices had the confounded temerity to perorate his case for the self-owned reusable ass-wiping rag or whatever it was with the insufferably certain you’ll approve-imbued pseudo-sop to convenience, And when you’re through with it for the day, you can just chuck it in the trunk [or boot] or the garage, whereupon I realized that this entire diabolical campaign of asininely impracticable asceticism was being all too efficaciously if mutually unwittingly orchestrated entirely by a congeries of owners of cars and houses, by people with enormous resources of storage and transportation at their disposal at each and every moment of the day and night.  Not, to be sure, that even their resources of these sorts were so enormous that they would be able to accommodate the diurnally crescent list of chez soi-must-haves indefinitely; to be sure, eventually even they would run out of storage space and transportational wherewithal to have every desiderated object ready to hand at its desiderated moment.  But for the immediate and indeed fairly long-term future they would indeed continue to enjoy the luxury of lingeringly compiling a laundry list of the day’s essentials from their garage’s inventory of quotidiana before setting out onto I-95, the M1, autc. of a workday morning—Let’s see: I’ll be going to S*****k’s for coffee, so I’ll obviously need the coffee mug, then I’ve got that meeting with the chewing-hashish lobbyists, so I’ll need the spittoon, and they’ll want to have lunch at the Daal House, so I must bring along the tureen, etc.—and alternately availing and divesting themselves of the items on this list at leisure, the luxury of chucking the spittoon autc. into the boot of the Volvo autc. before driving the eight miles of U.S. 40, the A1, autc. separating the chewing-hashish lobbyists’ headquarters autc. from the Daal House autc., chucking the tureen back into the boot before driving the 16 miles of U.S. 40, the A1, autc. separating the Daal House autc. from their employer’s office, etc.—in short, in carrying on the most wasteful and world maintenance-inimical modus vivendi imaginable by any person in his aut al. RM.  And yet in these wastrels’ eyes the present writer, who is in fact leading the simplest, least wasteful modus vivendi still practicable in the laughably misnamed developed world, was and is a monster for desiring a modicum of convenience in his unexacting quotidian transactions with the world.  Clearly a system of life —or anti-life—that rewards such wastrels and punishes such virtuously abstemious souls as the present writer is in exigent need of discarding and replacement by an alternative system of life that places world-maintenance in its fullest sense, as a maintaining of a specifically human world lived by organically particularized human beings, front and center, as they say.  And the only such system that has both presented and implemented itself in very recent centuries is Soviet-style Communism; i.e., Communism as practiced in Russia and the other sub-polities and territories of the U.S.S.R. between 1917 and 1989.  In making this claim on behalf of Soviet Communism I by no means wish to propound an assertion that is patently absurd even in my own Sovietophile eyes, an assertion that that system was perfect, that it left no room for improvement in point of world-maintaining capability; but I by every means do wish to propound an assertion that will doubtless appear only slightly less patently insane in the eyes of each and every one of my fellow present-day hyperoccidentals, the assertion that such a system was infinitely preferable to the present hyperoccidental one, inasmuch as it was monomanically driven by and centered on the question What do people need?, or in snootier but to my mind no less legitimate or redeemable terms, What is best for people? rather than, as in our present and longstanding hyperoccidental system, by a welter of other questions that can only ever contingently, temporarily, and patchily supply people with what they actually do need and what is actually best for them.  Under the Soviet system of world-maintenance, those in charge made to themselves and to each other such prosaic but efficacious pronouncements as–OK, we’ve got 10,000 people moving to District X, so we need to build enough living space to house them, make enough clothes to clothe them, and grow and stock enough food to feed them.  They didn’t each individually query him-autc.-self, “OK, so I’ve got a 10,000 tons of radioactive wombat shit on my hands; how can I get hold of enough people to foist this RWS on as caviar? or OK, so I’ve discovered an amazingly efficient and productive technique for irradiating wombat shit, and I’m proud as wombat’s balls about it; how can I get the rest of the world to be as wombat-shit about radioactive wombat shit as I am about radioactive wombat shit? or OK, I’ve discovered that radioactive wombat shit is the greatest threat not only to the human species or even to life on earth or even to life itself but to the very existence of the entire universe: how can I convince everyone else to dedicate his autc.’s every last waking, sleeping, and formerly wanking moment to the eradication of radioactive wombat shit? or OK, I’ve discovered that un-irradiated wombat shit is the cure for every conceivable human ailment; how can I persuade the rest of the world to lavish all their ducats on aphrodisiacs and laxatives for wombats? or OK, so I’ve discovered that as a canapé spread wombat shit manifests an immeasurably more nuanced spectrum of palatal colors than does caviar; how can I convince all the grocery retail outlets in the world to replace their caviar sub-aisle with a wombat-shit sub-aisle?, etc.  If to my starkly favorable presentation of the Soviet world-maintenance system it be demurred that on average those in charge of that system seldom succeeded in getting, say, even half of every bloc of 10,000 people fully ensconced in its designated apartment block within years of the targeted ensconcement date, I can justly counterdemur with Calvinist breast-beating righteousness (albeit seemingly only largely via the words of a man who, via the international propagation of his subculture and its sexual-political mores over the past quarter-century has doubtless contributed more than a fair amount to gratuitous political strife both within Russia and between Russia and the hyperoccident), At least they were f**king trying.  What the f**k have you or any of your hyperoccidental contemporaries done?  The notion on which our hyperoccidental system of pseudo-life is founded (a notion whose formulation dates back far beyond Adam Smith to John de Mandeville’s early eighteenth-century tract The Fable of the Bees), the notion that individuals pursuing their egoistic interests ([sic], for reasons that should presently become clear, on my preference of egoistic to the other P-word) will in the aggregate produce the best possible outcome for the social collective, was and remains valid to the extent that any very large and complicated social formation such as that of the present hyperoccident must be sustained by individuals who are at most only very slightly and vaguely guided by the aim of attending to the wellbeing of the social collective, to the extent that in such a social formation one must attend to the tasks, goals, whims, cravings, etc. that have immediately been set for one or that have been thrown in one’s way by whatever Lebenslauf one has ended up pursuing, whether in conformity with or athwart one’s own inclination.  But to the extent that this notion relies on individuals doing whatever they respectively please it has been both laughably and horrifyingly invalidated—not, I must emphasize by way of obviating my consignment to the junk heap of intellectual history as the latest and puniest of neo-Puritans, because pleasure in itself is a bad thing; but rather because from the outset (i.e., at the very latest the very early eighteenth century qua birth-epoch of the notion in question qua ideology-fragment, although the notion may very well have been subcutaneously effectual long before then) the various teloses of pleasure have been at socially destructive loggerheads and because, as I have endeavored to shew in this essay, the social destructiveness of their loggerheadedness has markedly increased as each telos has acquired ever-greater social force.  Even at its most advanced and smoothly functioning stage, a planned national economy on the Soviet model may fail to deliver adequately functional consumer commodities owing to the intrinsic and permanent absence of competition-induced incentives to product-improvement; but an unplanned international economy on the hyperoccidental model will inevitably eventually (and inasmuch as we are already living in this eventually, any reflection on such an economy’s initial virtues can now afford but scant consolation) fail to deliver adequately functional consumer commodities owing to the evaporation of competition-induced incentives to product improvement and indeed to these incentives’ supersession by incentives to product degradation.  And such being the case, any attachment on the part of any present-day hyperoccidental consumer—at least any such consumer mindful of his aut al.’s own personal comfort—to an unplanned economy cannot but be as delusionally sentimental as the attachment of a sports fan to an athletic franchise regardless not only of its personnel (à la Mr. Seinfeld’s critique of sports fandom as loyalty to a set of shirts) and performance-record, but even of its locale of residence (i.e., the very-probably-empirically-unattested attachment of a Baltimorean to the Colts even after their relocation to Indianapolis, or of a Wimbdledonian to Wimbledon FC after their relocation to Milton Keynes)—in short, such an attachment cannot but amount to the craven worship of mere names that Edmund Gibbon quite perceptively and rightly decried as one of mankind’s most common, pernicious, and intractable vices.  If my personal budget mandates my shaving with a razor that leaves me with a blood-drenched five o’clock shadow after a quarter-hour of face-raking, why should I care whether that razor has been christened a Gillette Sensor or a Schick Felchor or a Government Razor R2?  And vis-à-vis the Soviet-style planned economy’s undoubtedly frequent failures to deliver the goods in the most literally material (or materially literal) sense even during its most productive phase, one must consider that these failures may by and large be legitimately regarded as failures only in relation to a blinkered and fundamentally vicious hyperoccidental standard of success—a standard according to which the greater amount of brute kinetic horsepower is placed in the average consumer’s hands (and at best and most only literally in his aut al.’s hands, exactly after the fashion in which the power of a team of coach-horses is placed in the hands of someone who has never driven a horse-coach upon his aut al.’s taking hold of the reins) the better—and that accordingly by and large these failures may actually be legitimately regarded as successes.  One incessantly witnesses hyperoccidental auto-fellationists swooning with outrage over the fact that, for example, in the U.S.S.R. only members of the so-called Party elite could afford to own automobiles, or that the first cars to become available on a trans-IC-al mass-non-market, specifically that of East Germany of the 1970s, were made of plastic, lacked fuel gauges, and immediately overheated if driven above some risibly low speed—this as if ownership-cum-immediate command of a reliably high-performing car were an entitlement-cum-accomplishment instead of the felonious transgression of world-maintenance that it actually is!  One is likewise perennially peremptorily adjured by these vile Whigs to weep one’s eyes out over the fact that throughout the so-called Eastern Bloc air travel even within the Bloc was an exceptionally expensive luxury.  And indeed, the cinematic record seems to bear out the factuality of the state of affairs referenced in this adjuration; for in the dozen or more Soviet films with contemporary settings that I have seen I can recall only one representation of the kind of mass civilian air travel that is at least conceived of as a routine component of hyperoccidental life—namely the episode in The Irony of Fate in which the doctor-hero ends up on a passenger plane to Leningrad.  One assumes that if such travel had been very common one would have seen more representations of it in Soviet movies, as the Soviet authorities presumably would not have missed an opportunity of showcasing such an instance of the U.S.S.R.’s dubious parity with the hyperoccident in such an upmarket sector of mass consumption.  Of course the vile Whiggish adjurer will not be tardy to add that the scandalousness of the rarity of air travel within the Soviet Union owing to the lack of competitive pricing was exponentially compounded by the virtually total non-occurrence of travel to polities outside the Soviet Bloc owing to official political proscription—owing to the fact that the Soviet government hardly ever issued foreign travel visas to Soviet citizens out of fear that the travelers would either defect to the hyperoccident or return bearing dangerous commodities or ideas (i.e., essentially and exclusively, Levis jeans and Michael Jackson LPs or rumors of the ready availability of Levis jeans and Michael Jackson LPs).  To this appended adjuration I can only rejoin that by whatever cause, however intrinsically eluctable, or in justification of whatever principle, however intrinsically objectionable, the curtailment of travel tout court, and hence axiomatically of international travel, is a virtually morally insuperable good—meaning in turn that however intensely or unjustifiably a person or group of people may be suffering on account of the curtailment of his aut al. or their liberty of movement, the world will almost certainly be a net gainer, an instantiation of the proverbial better place, for this person’s or these persons’ being kept within the confines of the locale—i.e., not merely the polity but the locality—in which they now reside.  In point of inimicalness to world-maintenance, the present-day hyperoccident’s fetishization of international travel—meaning at bottom and in virtually all cases international tourism, inasmuch as almost all officially non-touristic travel is effectively tourism masquerading under false colors (inasfurthermuch as the charitable ends to which it is ostensibly dedicated could be much more expeditiously achieved from afar, such it cannot but be wholly actuated by a vile touristic craving for having been in an exotic place [or, indeed, and all too often, as evidenced by such recent scandals as the one centering on Oxfam’s sexual exploitation of the natives in Haiti, having been in a multitude of exotic intimate places])–is perhaps the single greatest, the single most-destructive, abomination in human history.  In world-maintaining terms, and in the light of the current state of the forces and relations of production, there is quite simply no need for any present-day hyperoccidental to travel beyond, say, a five-mile radius of his aut al.’s place of birth at any point in his or her life-trajectory.  Like the hyperoccident’s addiction to automobile-drivership, its addiction to air tourism is a vice, and indeed a vice that bids fair to be far more destructive to the hyperoccident than any of the vices that are actually recognized as such in the hyperoccidental imagination.  Whereas in the case of driving the scapegoated stalking-horse of a vice is bibulousness, as we have seen; in the case of air travel it is poor sexual hygiene.  As we all know, for nearly the past two-fifths of a century—i.e., more or less since, and on account of, the initial outbreak and spread of AIDS (while acknowledging the severity and significance of the spread of that disease vis-à-vis the disease’s longstanding untreatable terminality, I refuse to use either the E word or the P word in connection with AIDS on the grounds that whatever the official thresholds of demographic prevalence for designating outbreaks e******cs and p******cs  may be [and I cannot but strongly suspect that these thresholds have markedly fluctuated over the decades], in a rhetorical context the word e******c or p******c exacts mortal terror from every human individual in any community to which it has been applied, and I do not believe a disease as mildly contagious as AIDS has ever merited such a pitch or prevalence of fear, even in communities wherein it was most prevalent)—penetrative coition, whether vaginal or anal, absent the interposition of some sort of latex barrier, has been regarded as just about the most reckless, damn-fool, hygienically perilous, and morally callous activity a human being can engage in—perhaps, indeed, an even more reckless, etc. activity than driving within an hour of consuming a beer, or even a beer-and-a-half (although decidedly not two, let alone two-and-a-half).  In the present late-tricenarian hyperoccidental imagination, if you knowingly engage in so-called unprotected coition even a single time you are axiomatically both an absolute goner and an irredeemable monster who must be prepared to yield unprotestingly to whatever death, however painful or degrading, that nature has in store for you or whatever penalty, very much including the most painful and degrading form of capital punishment, with which humanity will see fit to punish you.  The well nigh-universally lauded mid-1990s cinematic teen melodrama Kids eloquently instantiates this doxical pan-hyperoccidental hysteria about unprotected coition in dramaturgically hinging on the question whether its central female character, a guileless waif, will acquiesce in coition with its central male character, a feckless lad who has just learned that he is HIV-positive and has no intention of divulging his test-results to anyone or taking up the wearing of condoms.  The buildup to the unprotected coition-act is actuated by the sort of montage sequence one most typically sees in political thrillers culminating in the assassination of some insuperably high mucky-muck or the terroristic obliteration of scads of so-called innocent civilians (i.e., a sequence in which the villain’s attainment of his goal is tantalizingly nearly obviated by a succession of mundane obstacles like a funeral procession or an altercation with a passerby over an untied shoelace), and when the act finally occurs there is some sort of cinematic analogue to the earthquake that ensued upon Christ’s giving up of the ghost—this all despite the even-by-then empirically demonstrable fact that the odds of contracting HIV from a single act of heterosexual coition were only slightly greater than those of contracting lung cancer from the smoking of a single cigarette (I owe this singularly felicitous comparison to a friend whom I would be happy to name in the unlikely event that he ever happens upon this essay and desires the credit).   And yet—and yet, I say—when some five years ago the horrifyingly extremely contagious and generally fatal disease known as ebola was spreading across Africa with alarming rapidity and already spottily manifesting itself in such mutually far-flung hyperoccidental polities as Spain, Great Britain, and the United States, the notion of imposing even the most lenient and selective restrictions on travel from the affected polities was laughed off throughout the hyperoccident with the same nauseating flavor of peremptory complacency as would have been administered to a proposed travel-ban on elves or hobgoblins.  At the very peak or climax of this epidemic [the asterisks may come off here, inasmuch as I really do believe worldwide mortal terror was justified by the outbreak in point] a certain physician, presumably a leading e*********gist [here the asterisks must be punctiliously reapplied, inasmuch as one cannot but assume this e*********gist earned his professional stripes by nominally presiding over a welter of  hummingbird flu outbreaks confined to handfuls of households within single postcodes] blasély maintained to the BBC that in today’s globalised world, it’s simply inconceivable (not undesirable or impracticable or even impossible but rather inconceivable) to prevent people from travelling whithersoever they please, howsoever they please, whensoever they please.  And upon hearing the sage leech intoning these words, I could not forebear imagining a thirty-years’ younger version of him qua spokesman of some 1985 anti-AIDS taskforce quite logically (albeit quite inconceivably) intoning no less blasély, In today’s world of unlimited freedom of sexual choice, it’s quite simply inconceivable to prevent people from f**king whomsoever they please, howsoever they please, whensoever they please, via whichsoever orifice they please, and immediately thereupon stuffing his erect, brazenly un-condom-swathed membrum virile into the anus of the nearest passerby (preferably an octogenarian granny for maximum expression of insouciance’s sake).  As with automotive driving, the hyperoccident is so utterly besotted with international air travel that it cannot see the mightily erectile public health-inimical wood for the helplessly, languorously quiescent consumerist trees.  It regards international air travel as a combination of a veritable and inalienable entitlement and a veritable and impermeable force-field separating each of its quasi-citizens from any harm that any constituent of the pesky old terrestrial world (very much including the extra-hyperoccidental portion thereof) might be so confoundedly cheeky as to presume to hope to visit upon his aut al.’s person-cum-organism.   If I can be flown from (say) Poughkeepsie to Vegas to Tokyo to Istanbul to London to Reykjavik to New York (or, rather, Newark [natch, for one’s frequent-flyer plan would never allow one to dream of touching down at JFK]) and back multiple times each year on the wings of mighty jumbo-jets, so Bob or Suzy Sub-Plebian Hyperoccidental Jet-Setter queries his or herself, what harm can some wee li’l [sic on the proper placement of the apostrophe qua designator of a glottal stop, albeit very much in the teeth of verisimilitude, inasmuch as the Bob and Suzy in question, like each and every one of their Anglophone contemporaries apart from the present writer, doubtless purposelessly place the apostrophe at the end] pesky virus do to me, or indeed to any other member (male or otherwise) of the mile-high club, to anyone else who enjoys conveyance by these virtually anaerobic virtual angels on demand?  Of course, the Bob and Suzy in question would never verbalize their unwarranted smugness in such brazenly aeronautophilic terms; rather they would speak—or rather splutter—some at best-semi-articulate blather about antibiotics and the latest medical technology, and superior sanitation, but only in miasmic defiance of their knowledge that neither antibiotics nor the latest medical technology nor even superior sanitation is in point here.  For as yet there exists no drug of any kind that reliably prevents contraction of ebola or palliates its virulence a jot once it has been contracted; such that a Poughkeepsiean exposed to the virus is every bit as much virtually doomed as a Monrovian exposed thereunto.  As for the latest medical technology, while state-of-the-art engines for regulating the intake and outflow of bodily sustainers and impurities (such engines mainly but presumably not exclusively consisting of dialysis machines) demonstrably prolong the lives of ebola patients, sometimes (though probably not often) long enough to allow them to weather the virus’s course and consequently achieve a complete recovery; and while the hyperoccident presumably possesses more such engines per capita than does any other sector of the world, one must remember, first, that even with the benefit of such machines the survival of the patient is very much a touch-and-go affair, and second, that even in the hyperoccident such machines have as yet been produced and installed only in sufficient quantity and locality to service the almost minuscule proportion of the hyperoccidental population who habitually have need of them—viz., mainly, although undoubtedly not exclusively, persons with renal disorders, such that even accommodating the first wave of a hyperoccidental ebola outbreak would necessitate the to-say-the-least controversial move of dislodging the customary users of such machines from their accustomed perch, and that accommodating subsequent waves would necessitate, to say the least, quite a formidable industrial undertaking.  (Here one could adduce comparisons to the megaton of industrial elbow grease exacted by the American war effort after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but one won’t, because one presumes from the outset that the present U.S. would be incapable of bringing to bear a milligram of such elbow grease.)  As for superior sanitation, even setting aside the dubiousness of any notion of such superiority in the light of everything I have said so far on the deterioration of the provision of water, sewage, etc. in the hyperoccident, one must remember that the ebola virus is unstoppable by the most exactingly disinfectant system of sanitation that has been implemented to date in the hyperoccident.  Unlike, say, cholera or ecoli, the ebola virus is not spread by the drinking of contaminated water or the eating of contaminated food; it is spread, rather, by epidermal contact with such minute quantities of blood as are not infrequently emitted in the quotidian, dust mote-occasioned sneezes of uninfected persons—in other words, quantities of blood to which the average hyperoccidental is presumably semi-routinely epidermally exposed.  Liberia, Mali, et al. suffered the brunt of the death toll of the 2014 ebola outbreak merely because they were geographically closest to the nesting-place of the non-human carriers of the disease—a community of chimpanzees, it is assumed—and consequently already beset by thousands of contagious cases by the time they learned of the first one; and were this chimp-community secretly parachuted into the Schwarzwald or Epping Forest or Acadia National Park it could not but precipitate an outbreak with a comparably high death-toll in Germany, Britain, or the United States, no matter how swiftly and stringently the most wide-sweeping and draconian public health measures were subsequently implemented.  (It must be remembered that the U.K.’s first and thankfully so far only ebola patient was an elite medical care-worker who had been clad cap-a-pie in a sort of hermetically sealed beekeeper’s outfit, and that her infection had been occasioned by only the minutest of fissures or gaps in this outfit; consequently, the only public health measure truly adequate to an ebola outbreak needs must consist in togging out each and every one of the at-least-thousands of persons in the potentially exposable community in a beekeeper-esque outfit more nearly impermeable than any as-yet accessible to the hyperoccident’s elite medical care-workers.)  When one comes right down to it, as they say, the hyperoccident’s not merely epidemic or even pandemic but downright near-universal insouciance about ebola and other highly contagious infectious diseases is founded on no medical or infrastructural reality whatsoever and merely on the average hyperoccidental’s for-the-moment (and very probably merely for the moment [i.e., the next decade at the longest]) still well-founded but patently altogether irrelevant presumption that he or she enjoys far greater commercial horsepower as a consumer than the average African, southeast Asian, Micronesian, et al.  The poor woman who recently lost her job for satirically tw*tting that she had no fear of catching AIDS during an imminent holiday in Africa because I’m white captured the hyperoccidental Übervolksgeist on this matter to a turn (although of course for white she should have substituted hyperoccidental [as a satire-connoisseur I do not fault her for opting for AIDS in lieu of ebola in the light of the non-coincidence of her visit with an ebola outbreak and AIDS-fear’s substantially longer pedigree]), inasmuch as black hyperoccidental visitors to Africa cannot but partake of the very same flavor of smugness, however stringently their blackness may preclude their explicitly expressing it).  Way back in 2005, the present writer sententiously lamented, “In ancient times, on being confronted by the spectacle of a natural disaster or some other great calamity, people used to say, ‘There but for the grace of God go I’; now they say, ‘There by the grace of the commodity I need never fear going.’”  As an observation this sentence is undoubtedly every stonelet as well-founded now as it was then, but the state of affairs it laments is now arithmetically if not geometrically more lamentable, given, first, that the commodities in which hyperoccidentals (I hope that a combination of then-still-globally-just-barely-plausible Occidentocentrism and then-hyperoccident-wide indifference to Russia condones my cavalier, globally besmirching employment of the other P-word a baker’s-dozen years ago) discover their grace are in general a thousand times more disgraceful; second, that disgraceful trinket-gourmandizing now occupies a far greater share of the world’s political-economic energies than it did back then; and third, that the economic fortunes of the hyperoccident from 2008 onwards—i.e., since the so-(and probably rightly)called great financial crash or crisis (the probably being an only-too-fair sop to the perspective of the PW who, having then [as now] no assets whatsoever to lose, spectated on the crisis with tap-water sipping, rusk-nibbling complacency)—have incontrovertibly shewn that the hyperoccident is no longer in any even remotely rational position to suppose that under the auspices of its retail consumer-driven political-economic dispensation it can escape going the way of all collective as well as individualized flesh, that there is no way that any remotely rational hyperoccidental can any longer pretend that, in Mandevillean parlance, private vices lead to public benefits in ineluctable perpetuity.  Back in 2005, the world’s wealthiest commercial corporation, Microsoft, although celebratedly-cum-notoriously utterly dedicated to the so-called virtual world of digitized electronic activities and transactions  rather than to the laying of bricks on layers of mortar or the screwing of nuts onto bolts (or bolts into nuts), was also principally dedicated to at least allegedly facilitating the means by which governmental and fellow-commercial concerns carried on the sorts of activities and transactions they had been carrying on for donkey’s centuries by more primitive electronic and pre-electronic means—e.g. if not i.e., account-reconciliation, textual and graphic document-generation, archiving, and interstitial and extrastitial communication of information.  To be sure by then, Microsoft was also a notable presence in the household of the average hyperoccidental consumer, thanks to the semi-ubiquity of its Windows operating system in a hyperoccident in which virtually every household housed at least one personal computer.  But the home-consumer market remained a sideline for Microsoft because the average hyperoccidental home consumer’s libido—the libido of Bob or Suzy Shiraz, or, more likely, that of the Shiraz-couple’s daughter, Twinklebell Shiraz (tho’ assuredly not their son, Buster Shiraz)—was not then principally vectored either towards his aut al.’s personal computer either directly qua upgradable commodity or indirectly qua vehicle of the purchase of other commodities.  At that time the average hyperoccidental domestic consumer was principally infatuated with the so-called mobile phone (a.k.[albeit by now only to the PW]a. the so-called cell-phone) in its pre-smart (a.k. albeit only retrospectively a. dumb) incarnation, when it was restricted to the transmission of sounds that Thomas Edison or Alexander Graham Bell would doubtless have found too lo-fo, too shamefully unfaithful, to merit a patent (and TBS, on the live-sonic front mobile-technology has progressed scarcely a micrometer since, but nobody but the PW seems to mind this) and sub-telegraphically minuscule text messages; but, hard-cheesy though it may be to believe in these head-cheesy days of instantaneously phone-accessible [makes farting noises in lieu of utterly gratuitous specification of phone-accessible content], all considerations of the painfully straitened content transmittable by these contemptible engines were tsunamically overridden by jaw-gaping admiration of the free-floating portability of the transmissions, an admiration that proved so pan-hyperoccidentally enthralling that even hyperoccidentals who could not have been dragged by steroid-doped Clydesdales to make a personal phone call in the landline-dominated telephonic age (my locus classicus of such a damals-phonophobic hyperoccidental is a certain gentleman, now a septuagenarian, who in ca. 1990 [and hence when a mere quadragenarian or quinquagenarian] hectored his son to get off the phone with a certain male friend, and upon being met with the filial demurral, We’ve only been talking for an hour, stonily retorted, I’ve never spoken with another man over the phone for an hour) went out of their way to ring up and talk the ears off friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and even outright enemies, for the mere sake of reveling in the pleasure of doing something that they had ineluctably been precluded from doing a scant butcher’s half-dozen years earlier; concurrently, hyperoccidentals who never would have dreamt of composing a personal email, let alone a personal paper letter, began furiously texting to friends et al. –plus-total strangers out of an infatuation with their wee data-transmission engines, as the mere thrill of knowing that something one had just typed into an engine being cabbed (remember [here those over 30 may wish to cover the eyes of under-20s]: there was no U**r then!) past the 92nd Street Y, had been almost instantaneously received by another engine being camel-backed along the dunes of the upper Sahara, rendered the contents of what was being transmitted from engine to engine virtually irrelevant.  (It seems to me that the proliferation of mental-cinematic montage engendered by the mobile phone is a much underrated contributor to its disproportionate success vis-à-vis earlier engines of instantaneous communication.  Compared to the flabbergastingness of the utterly mobilephonically stereotypical juxtaposition of mises en scène I have just tendered, the sequence of two people [however mutually smitten they may be] typing to each other at more-or-less-interchangeable desks or shouting at each other from more-or-less interchangeable telephone booths [even if those two desks or phone booths happen to be sited at 92nd Street and the upper Sahara, respectively] makes for decidedly dull mental viewing.)  Naturally, the dumb-phone’s deflating-cum-garbling of speech into instantly-audible yet prevailingly unintelligible gibberish and emparcellment of writing into minuscule chunks of character-stringage favored the subject-matter and linguistic norms of the very worst elements, the very dregs of the dregs, of hyperoccidental pseudo-society, namely those comprised by its mass of defiantly illiterate lumpen-proletarian young varmints, which norms were reflexively adopted even by those hyperoccidental mobile phone users who knew better and indeed best.  And thereby the hyperoccidental Übervolksgeist regressed into an Unterübervolksgeist (neither of which is to be confused with the U**runterübervolksgeit of about the past five years) wherein, as mentioned before (only in slightly more personalized terms), even the very-recently gravest, most cultivated, and most reflective of adults comported themselves as only the very-recently most frivolous, most loutish, and most spastic of teenagers had done.  And there-further-by the hyperoccidental populace was groomed for its willingly dilated  anused-cum-chameleon tongued reception of the unprecedented inanity offered and elicited in presumably equal measure by so-called smart phones—for all the videos and photographs of dancing cats and human genitals and cats in the shape of human genitals and human genitals in the shape of cats (i.e., of course, defigured p**sies) and dancing cat-genitals and stationary human genitals masquerading as cat genitals etc.  The whole ever-enlarging globe of cat excrement was far, far worse than Detroit, even in Detroit.  And now we hyperoccidentals—along, perhaps, with even the majority of non-hyperoccidental earthlings —have reached such an unprecedentedly low nadir of inanity that three of the wealthiest commercial corporations in the world are prevailingly-to-solely dedicated to the multiplication and propagation of images and videos of dancing cats and human genitals, together with instances of the admittedly formidable number of combinations and permutations thereof.  To be sure, I know that the meejia-pundits who allegedly have their fingers on the pulse or in the air vis-à-vis the present ascendancy of F******k, G****e, Instamatic, etc (siccissimo on the joined c in lieu of the disjoined al). assure us that these companies are fundamentally less interested in spreading stationary and kinetic imagery than in harvesting data—i.e., in collecting statistics on just who is posting and viewing pictures of what.  And these pundits further assure us with feigned teeth-chattering tremulousness—a tremulousness that poorly conceals their actual viscerally orgasmic delight in the phenomenon—that thanks to their data-gathering logarithms or algorithms or whatever these companies are getting to “know everything about each of us” (i.e., themselves and perhaps every other hyperoccidental apart from the PW) just like in the song (i.e., “Data Control” by Hüsker Dü [Land Speed Record, 1981], natch), and this data-gathering spree constitutes an egregious invasion of privacy of truly Orwellian (ugh! [i.e., inasmuch as Orwell was a contributor to the evil in question, in having posited the assertion of individual will as an unconditional good]) proportions.  But if everyone is only posting images of dancing cat genitals and so forth to these platforms, of what does the everything of one t F******k, G****e , Instamatic, etc., user consist that materially distinguishes it from the everything of the next F******k, G****e, Instamatic, etc., user?  An invasion of privacy ceases to be an invasion of genuine privacy—i.e., of the inner world of an authentic autonomous or even quasi autonomous subject—when the contents of the invaded space are materially indistinguishable from those of all other invasible spaces.  And such being the case, even at its most diabolically quasi-omnipotent, the data-harvesting power wielded by the likes of F******k, G****e, and Instamatic., is utterly unworthy of the faintest tremor of pathos or outrage, or at any rate no bolder tremor than that worthy of elicitation by the quiescently relentless up-hoovering of krill and other plankton by some massive comb-toothed cetacean; and yet complementarily, inasmuch as the human individual ought to harbor any aspirations whatsoever to generating or transmitting anything more substantial than images of dancing cat genitals, the global commercial supremacy of the likes of  F******k, G****e, and Instamatic, is worthy of Richter scale-defying cataclysms of pathos, outrage, and most materially of all, of shame.  And it is ultimately and fundamentally on the grounds of this shame that I found my appeal on behalf of a Soviet-style command (or controlled) economy.  At the very beginning of the fairly recent (i.e., early 2018-released) docudrama All the Money in the World, the film’s protagonist, John Paul Getty III, in reflecting on his early-1970s abduction qua heir apparent of his grandfather’s fortune, says in voiceover something to the effect of (and very nearly verbatim), My grandfather wasn’t just the richest man in the world; he was the richest man in the history of the world.  The screenwriters who placed these words in the third JPG’s mouth really should have spared us the histrionics, for under the auspices of a geo-politico-economic dispensation such as the one that has been imposed on humanity as a default for roughly the last three centuries, a geo-politico-economic dispensation that for very much worse rather than better has come to be known as capitalism (worse because of course it should be known as a strain—and only one strain [for every other domain of human thought and activity has likewise succumbed to the plague in question’s pestiferous influence]—of applied Whiggism) the distinction between the richest man (wo or otherwise, for sooner or later [and much sooner in the light of the pan-hyperoccidental mania for sex-change operations] this man is bound to be a woman) in today’s world and the richest man in history has become trivial to the point of fatuity.  Under the auspices of this dispensation, the richest man in the world is almost always and quasi-axiomatically the richest man in history, because the dispensation sees to it that on a global scale, wealth, at least according to the dispensation’s own dubious Dean drive-esque definition—namely, exchange value as quantified by the most generally esteemed currency—is more or less constantly (i.e., barring the occasional mildly embarrassing blip like the so-called Great Depression or the so-called Financial Crisis or Great Recession of 2008-?) increasing.  In the early 1970s, John Paul Getty III’s grandfather, being the richest man of his time, was unsurprisingly and quasi-axiomatically also the richest human being in history; at present, in the late 20-teens, the richest men in the world—and hence the richest human beings in history—are the head honchos of A***e, G****e, and F******k.  And the realization that these men are the richest human beings in history entails the corollary realization that at least according to the meta-historical logic of the capitalist so-called system all politico-economic activity of the past several hundred years has constituted but a semimillennium-long preparation of a launching pad, a scaffold, a staging ground, a Schauplatz, for the present commercial activities of the incomparably loathsome likes of Mr. Zuckerberg et al., that all those hundreds of thousands of miles of railroad tracks and trillions of rivets and hundreds of billions of barrels of petroleum (along with all the millions of gallons of human sweat and millions of pounds of human corpses that went into their laying, riveting, pumping, etc.) were all laid and riveted and pumped etc. solely in order to allow billions of morbidly obese shitting-machines to watch movies of dancing cat genitals.  And such not merely seeming but very much being the case, the replacement of the present so-called market-driven politico-economic dispensation with or by a Soviet-style governmentally administered politico-economic dispensation must be seen as morally exigent not only inasmuch as it will provide living and future hyperoccidentals with what is best for them in every conceivable sense but also inasmuch as it will at least bid fair to expiate the inexpressible shamefulness of A***e-cum-G****e-cum-F*****k qua daemonic culmination-cum-anti-apotheosis of the so-called capitalist system qua virtually dedicated purveyors-cum-transmitters of movies of dancing cat-genitals by retroactively demonstrating that all those tens of trillions of hours of track-laying, etc. were not destined to culminate in a phenomenon as ignominious as near-universal dancing cat-genital spectatorship (or, rather, in something even more ignominious than near-universal dancing cat genital-spectatorship, for the immanent logic of capitalism ensures that the next Biggest Thing Ever will make dancing cat genital-spectatorship look like the audition of a string quartet in a Belle Epoque salon), that the mania for dancing cat genital-spectatorship was but an episode of collective infantile dementia from which humankind was at long last snatched free and at least re-vouchsafed the chance, the possibility, the opportunity of redemption.  And such re-vouchsafing need by no means entail a return to a state of nature, or at any rate to any sort of primeval nature, but rather and merely a return to a state of second or perhaps even third or even fourth nature—a return to whichever stop along the Tube line of alienation at which such words as wealth, luxury, health, comfort, poverty, illness, deprivation, and discomfort most recently still denoted or connoted states of mind, body, and soul befitting a human being hoping to plot an intelligible, pleasurable, active, and significant life-trajectory in some sort of conjunction with other human beings (and largely disregarding non-human nature as a thing-in-itself, as something meriting preservation and cultivation in its own right).  Traditional advocates of Soviet-style command economies tend to find their advocacy snagged on the distinction between use-value and exchange value, the distinction between what is valuable because it serves a genuine human need and what is valuable only because it can be exchanged for a certain quantity or mass of other non-human things.  They find themselves snagged on it because as their opponents quite justly point out (often in tandem with a judicious citation of Lear’s “Why reason the need” speech) in every as-yet-known human social formation almost everything is valued at least partly for qualities that contribute not a jot to the biological sustenance of the human organism.  But having quite justly pointed this out, these opponents typically go on with the unforgivable cavalierness of a draughts-stroke-checkers player hopscotching the board with whatever pieces his fingers happen to alight upon, regardless of c**(*)*r or position, to argue that whatever happens to be valued in exchange-terms at a given moment in a given social formation should be effectively treated as being as intrinsically valuable as the scrap of cloth “which…keeps [a person] warm,” such that the lack of possession of such a highly valued thing should be treated as a manifestation of poverty, such that any means to remedy this lack, however ruthlessly violent, is to be not only pardoned but applauded, nay, fellated.  The locus classicus of such a supposedly distinction-obliterating case (a locus classicus inasmuch as it dates at least as far back as my own middle-school days, i.e., to the mid-1980s) is a diptych iconographically unified by a certain especially popular brand and make of athletic shoes (i.e., trainers or sneakers).  On the left panel of the diptych, one beholds a so-called inner-city youth in possession of a pair of such shoes being knifed or shot to death by another so-called inner-city youth who does not possess a pair of them; on the right panel one beholds a corridor-full pupils quiescently cakewalking their way to class at the posh suburban school five miles up the road, with each and every juvenile pair of feet in sight proudly yet fearlessly sporting a pair of the sneakers in question.  The upshot of the diptych, according to the distinction-obliterators, is that nowadays sneakers of this particular brand and make have effectively become as preciously necessary as food and water, such that we are both morally and prudentially obligated both to refrain from imposing any kind of legal penalty, however mild, on the knifer or shooter in the left panel and to do everything in our $-(i)al power to ensure that every last pair of juvenile feet in the (so-called) inner city is or are shod in a pair of the brand and make of sneakers in question, just like each of its or their counterparts in the right panel.  To this inference-cum-adjuration the distinction-obliterators’ classic opponents—viz. , the commonsense champions of use value—invariably appalledly demur that what is most appalling about the left panel of the diptych is that it involves a death occasioned by a mere pair of shoes, and that we are therefore not only morally but prudentially (but mostly morally) obligated to do everything in our  $-(i)al power to teach the youth of the so-called inner city that there is more to life than shoes.  But when pressed by the distinction-obliterators to specify what that something more to life is, they invariably adduce will o’ the wisps whose pursuit will lead the so-called inner city youth away from the man-trap of exchange value only over the very short run, whose pursuit, indeed, and even in the medium-short run, will lead him aut al. straight back into that trap’s ineluctable jaws.  They adduce, for example, a meaningful work-career, and place computer programming at the tippity tip-top of their list of meaningful work-careers.  (This abject worship of computer programming qua exit ticket from the ghetto is instanced by the truly nauseatingly self-righteous CP-popularizing campaign known as Year of Code and the unanimous approval by so-called progressive educators it enjoys throughout the Anglosphere.)  But at least dans notres pseudo-jours et pseudo-sociétés, computer programming is a dedicated lubricant of the engines of exchange value: it is suffered to flourish solely as a component of certain apparatuses (e.g., the wee nauseating software engines of administration all-too-aptly known as apps [although their actual long form, application, has Preparation-H-ial overtones that are quite apposite in their own right]) whose sole purpose is to facilitate the sale and purchase of such tat as name-brand sneakers or trainers.  (To be sure, if, like the Puritan vice-peddlers of old, the former ghetto-residing young computer programmer has enormous reserves of self-control, he aut al. can forbear squandering his computer programming-garnered ducats on name-brand sneakers and set the money aside for some future purchase [though for what purchase of intrinsic value could he aut al. set it aside in a society governed by exchange value?], but the commonsense champion of use-value does not believe in any sort of Elect and therefore cannot rest satisfied with any system that allows former inner-city youths to prosper only at the expense of present ones.)  In any case, as a combined defender of a Soviet-style command economy and xth nature, what the present writer finds most reprehensible in the diptych is not the actuation of the homicide depicted therein by shoe-envy but rather the tattiness and ephemerality of the actuating shoe.  To kill someone for the sake of possessing a pair of handmade full-brogue all-leather Oxford dress shoes (or even a pair of machine-made resoleable leather-upper’d-and-rubber soled penny loafers such as the present writer was able to afford as recently as the mid-1990s) while lamentable, is at least understandable, for with proper care such shoes will allow the killer to go about the world in style and comfort for the rest of his life (or at least the rest of that rest that precedes his arrest for the killing and the attendant presumptive confiscation of the shoes as contraband).  To kill someone for the sake of a pair of name-brand sneakers or trainers, on the other hand, is not only lamentable but asinine, inasmuch as the shoes in question, no matter how expensive they may be, are shabbily constructed, hideously unflattering to the wearer’s feet, and—in being unresoleable—intrinsically disposable; and inasmuch as these shoes are destined within a year at the very most to be superseded qua most-coveted so-called inner-city commodity by another brand or make of shoe-pair that will in no even relatively intrinsic sense (i.e., in point of comfort, comeliness, or durability) be superior to themselves.  But of course such murderous fervor over instantly superseded brand-name commodities is very much par for the coarse (sic) in the present hyperoccident, although here and now this fervor is preeminently lavished not on shoes but rather on electronic engines of data processing-cum-transmittal.  But of course it will be argued by the tech-humping faction of the champions of use value that electronic engines of data processing-cum-transmittal, in contrast to shoes, generally increase in usefulness as one brand or model of them after another supersedes its predecessor.  That I do not on the whole agree with this faction on this point should go almost without saying to anyone who has read even the preceding 500 words of the present essay (i.e., on the evidence of my very recent micro-polemic against so-called apps) and entirely without saying to anyone who has read the essay from the beginning (i.e., on the evidence of my fairly ancient mini-polemic against the incapacity of state-of-the-art present-day personal computers to deliver some of the barest amenities of the stone age of personal computing).  But my disagreement with them on this point is not in point, and indeed is entirely beside the point, at the moment.  At the moment, as far as I am concerned, the commodities in question could increase exponentially in utility without fail or pause and still be insufferably objectionable on account of the grotesque rapidity with which they arouse appalling heights (or depths) of envy, smugness, and contempt in the human individual who covets, purchases, and discards them, respectively and successively.  When a given data-processing-cum-transmittal engine first appears on the so-called market, each and every milliard or so would-be purchasers of the engine falls prey to spasms of ecstasy elicitable by no mere orgasm or heroin high and concomitantly launches into a panegyric thereunto fulsome and tedious enough to make Nero ([sic] {i.e., qua insatiable flattery-gourmand, not Caligula qua insatiable proto-Sadist, Moz fans}) blush and his largest pet elephant’s ears fall off.  And once one of these spastics-cum-panegyrists has managed to acquire one of these data-processing-cum-transmittal engines, he cannot forbear showing it off to everyone in his Umwelt at every opportunity—or, rather, at every opportunity plus every sub-opportunity; in other words, not only at every moment of so-called downtime but also at all but the uppest moments of so-called (if it is indeed so-called; if it is not, I hereby plant my personal motto [viz., Factor aquae nisi fractor venti]-bearing flag on the patent thereunto) uptime, at any moment at which the other person is not engaged in some activity whose most fleeting interruption will immediately occasion at least several human deaths.   It is very much like the sort of photograph-viewing ordeal one is submitted to by a new parent, only a thousand times more importunate, not to mention ridiculous (i.e., inasmuch as the photographed entity and the camera are one and the same). But no sooner (i.e., six months later at the latest) has the given data-processing-cum-transmittal engine been superseded by a new model than it disappears from the hands and chat of its former most dedicated advocate and ardent propagandist, who, should one be so churlish to inquire from him aut al. (who in the meantime will have begun singing the praises of the new former-latest model’s replacement) where it has got to, will immediately avert his aut al.’s face, take the longest imaginable of drags on a cigarette ever ready to hand in case of such an inquiry, and mutter through the drag’s exhalation, If you have la consideración más pequeña for my honor or safety, señor aut otro aut otra, I beg you, por favor, do not ever mention that motor malditor in my presence again.  And of course this entire cycle, in being a thousand times more normative than Tupperware parties and gray flannel suits were three-fifths of a century ago, is reflected in cinematic and televisual comedies and farces, wherein no figure is more mercilessly held up to ridicule, or elicits more vociferous laughter, than the doddering, palsied old codger still using an old-fangled flip-top dumb mobile phone.  Dans les mises-en-scène-cum-montages de nos pseudo-jours et pseudo-sociétés, the lingering dumb-phone user is effectively a reincarnated Pantaloon or a M. Hulot purged of every last conceivably redeeming trait.  And when one spins the dial of one’s wayback machine back a further butcher’s half-decade to the use of data processing-cum-transmitting technology dating from the first few years of the present millennium—why, then, one moves from comedy and farce to a sort of horror movie or video nasty that is conceived to be too horrifying and nasty even to be allowed within the view of a camera.  Whenever I witness one of my contemporaries being spoken to of a pre-2005 computer, let alone being brought into the presence of such a machine, I cannot but be reminded of Norbert Elias’s signalization of the unprecedented revulsion from feces towards the end of the Middle Ages as a watershed moment in the civilizing process, for these persons do indeed recoil from the mention of the obsolete engine as viscerally and violently as a modern pedestrian from a dog turd on the sidewalk; and indeed it is very much debatable—especially in this loathsome pseudo-age of yellow-snow cotton candy and toilet-themed restaurants—whether the immediate propinquity of an early-oughties desktop PC with all its obligatory peripherals would be suffered more readily by the average present-day hyperoccidental than that of a heap of dog shit of comparable size and heft.  Indeed, should some present-day Allen Funt revive (or, as I suppose one must put it now, reboot) that wonderful old cavalcade of televisual japery, Candid Camera, he aut al. would doubtless get the new version of the program off to a hilariously successful start  by purporting to offer a married couple some exorbitant sum of money—a half a million dollars would by no means be too much to be effectual—provided that they allowed, say, a 2003 Dell desktop computer to be prominently, immovably displayed in some room of their abode in which they regularly received company.  “So do you mean,” one of them would ever-so-tentatively ask on taking in the offer, “that we have to use the machine regularly, that it’s got to be the main computer we connect to the internet, shop, F******k, and so forth with?” “Oh, Heaven forfend!” the host would scandalizedly rejoin: “by all means continue using whatever machine you’re currently using.  You need never switch this one on, or even plug it in.”  “B-b-but what if someone should ask what that thing is doing here, in our living room?”  “That’s entirely up to you, sir, madam, autc.  You could reply to them, for example, that you somehow just haven’t gotten around to getting rid of it, to taking it down to the charity shop.”  “But that would imply either that we’d been using it recently, in the last few months, or equally horrifically, that we’re the sort of people who leave garbage like that sitting in our living room for decades on end.  And of course no charity shop would ever take it.”  “What can I say?  You have to decide if it’s worth it.  Remember: you could buy an awful lot of [latest-model A***e-branded gadget]s, perhaps as many as a dozen of them, with 500 grand.”  [Shaking his aut al.’s head in the negative while shedding tears of pride only very shabbily masquerading as tears of regret:] “I’m sorry, sir, we can’t.  We just can’t.”


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