In my last post I spoke of managing anger in regards to the BP ecocide (I was going to call it an oil spill, but the scale of this goes so far beyond a “spill” that I think I need to stick with the larger term). And managing anger can be a necessary practice in order to create a poetics that does more than simply blame and rail. And it’s certainly useful to own up to our own complicity in order to create the change that needs to take place: ending our addiction to oil.
Continuing the addiction metaphor, it could be said that this crisis is rock bottom, the absolute worst; it should serve to wake the addict (us!) up to our need to confront the addiction.
However, I think it can be healthy to express that anger, too, and in this case I think red-hot anger is warranted. So here I am, getting ready for a rant. Because I watched this video yesterday
and learned a little bit more about the whacked corporate culture at BP. Bill Maher says, well, it could have been Exxon or any other oil company. But wow. The editor at The Atlantic gives an eye-opening (and very wrath-inducing!) statistic: in the time that it took all the other oil companies combined to rack up about 20 safety violations, BP racked up 760. That’s not a typo. I’m not saying 76 with an accidental zero on the end. Seven-hundred sixty. That’s pretty fucked up. And Van Jones speaks about a corporate culture involving porn and meth use and folks from the Mineral Management Service (the government body charged with regulating the oil industry) being LITERALLY in bed with folks from BP. Gross. I mean, I’m all for healthy sexuality. I’m not a prude. But that isn’t healthy…that’s sick. That’s a kind of prostitution-for-obscene-profit, as well as a violation of public trust, and the result has been the destruction of myriad life forms, perhaps even the extinction of some species, as well as the economic devastation of entire human populations. (In all this talk about the problems this is going to present for the states along the Gulf Coast, I’m not hearing much mention about the island nations that are going to be surrounded by it, and on Fox News’ coverage, which my husband witnessed at work, they even removed the islands from their map!) I’d much rather have a common sex worker over for tea than any of the folks responsible for this mess.
Something else that’s served to chap my ass re: this travesty is the juvenile attitude of denial that BP continues to show. Not just the outright lies regarding the scope of the spill, but the flippant comments of some of its representatives, like Randy Prescott of BP who, in response to a concerned restauranteur’s question in New Orleans, made the flip statement, “Louisiana isn’t the only place that has shrimp.”
I have to say, though, that a lot of this is really chickens coming home to roost. The dominant culture of Louisiana (where we lived for almost 13 years) has for decades been one of intolerance, bigotry, government corruption, closed-mindedness, and, most germane to this issue, one of profiting from extractive processes (not just oil, but unsustainable agriculture, as well) while denying their detriment to the environment. The Shrimp and Petroleum Festival in Morgan City, LA, is a classic example of the celebration of such short-sighted industries. Can they really hold it this year? Is their irony meter completely kaput?
But as is often the case with blind justice, karma, the simple law of cause and effect, those who are paying most dearly are NOT those who have caused the problem: all the animals who live in and around the water, and future generations who will not experience the joy that living in their presence grants the human spirit. So yeah, I’m mad. I’m mad at BP, I’m mad at our government that has allowed these transnational corporations to run amok for decades (way, way before Bush et al, ever since corporations were granted 14th-amendment personhood), I’m mad at the American people for letting it all happen, for being so swayed by celebrity watching and shopping malls and happy consumerism that we’ve let all this transpire right under our noses. I’ve felt like a Cassandra for decades, trying to get folks to wake up to the reality that we’ve been creating. I worry that by the time things get this bad, so that anyone with eyes can see the problem, the problem is too big to fix.
So sure, I smile when I see a group at Facebook with the title “Plug the Oil Leak with BP Executives.” I think that if there were truly justice they’d all have their mouths forced open with Constantine’s doohickey and have crude oil funneled in until they were dead, dead, dead. And then maybe have a big stick shoved up their rears so we could roast them on a spit over burning oil and feed the charred remains to the starving pelicans. Lest anyone report me, I’m not actually encouraging this action, just saying that it’s what they deserve. Even this, though, wouldn’t fix what they’ve done.
My only consolation is that, in their final moments, whatever causes their deaths, the neuro-chemical DMT, which floods the brain at death and which, as a powerful hallucinogen, greatly slows the passage of time, will cause them to experience all the horrors they must, at some level, know they’ve earned, for what will feel like close to an eternity. If they want to avoid such a fate, I suggest they remove their heads from said rear-ends and stop trying to spin this, stop trying to profit from the oil flow, and plug the damned thing, and get to work cleaning up what they’ve done.
At Annie Finch’s page there was a discussion recently about poetry and spirit, whether or not poetry is a fitter vessel for spirituality than prose. Partly inspired by that discussion, and following my own vatic bent, and after having channeled Wonder Woman for over a year in a light-hearted laugh at myself and the earnestness of my first book (see, I’m trying to save the world with it, which makes me like Wonder Woman), I recently wrote this, which is going to be my own longpoem (a form Ron Silliman explores in his essay in Annie Finch’s book, Multiformalisms); I’ll be adding post-scripts as they come to me, probably until I kick the bucket myself. But for now:
God Speaks Again, Because Even Though She Loves Us and All,
She’s Pretty Fucking Pissed: I Mean, DANG
Religions: Read them
All. They all illuminate
some aspect of your
ALL of which you ALL
absolutely must be( a)ware.
Just keep them away
except as tradition from
young children. ¡Be sure!
to leave the vestigial shit
in the past: violence
the sacrifice of someone
else’s anything. ¡Take heed!
I’m only going to say this once.
P.S. — And drop the patriarchy
unless you want me
to invoke Evolution
and make a man’s sperm
like aggression, obsolete.
P.P.S. — And if you’d like to
be my scribe, make a practice
scrub toilets, tables, the floor
your own dirty mind.
Because seriously, what’s wrong with us? We’ve been worrying about who does what to whom in whose bedroom while the rape of the natural world (not to mention bombing innocent people so we can take their oil) is done in our name. It’s a happy accident that in the above video, Bill Maher switches from talking about the oil flood to talking about the Church and gay rights. (He makes a mistake, though, when he jokes about Jesus hanging around with all men…what about Mary Magdalene, eh? Jesus was one of the first feminists.) Or is it an accident? Because all this is tied up together: our attitudes toward sex (ooh, it’s dirty! can I have some more and then feel guilty, please?), our attitudes toward the earth, our greedy consumerism. Like John Muir says in my sidebar, everything is hitched to everything else, and that’s not just true of lifeforms, it’s true of ideas, as well. I know I tend to chew on the religious idea, but it’s religion that allows, even spurs us, to do so much of what we do, whether it’s cruelty to others or damage to the earth we insist the Bible tells us to dominate. Some would say a better translation is “steward,” and I have to say that if that which gave us the earth to take care of came back and surveyed the results, I’m pretty sure S/He’d be pretty angry. I’ve oft made the comparison to the old stories: if Zeus gave you a magic helmet and you used it as a chamber-pot to piss in, do you think you’d avoid a thunderbolt?
PS — I got the above image of Kali at this cool website.