Washington, Ct. One of the more delectable tidbits of dementia that emerged out of that ongoing prison-break of cognitive dissonance known cryptically as 9/11 was the feverish assertion, broadcast on television and hurtled through the internet, that the image of Satan glared from the burning towers of the World Trade Center before they fell.

This cocksure claim begs to be differed with because humans in this post Y2K America really don’t need Satan to unleash the horrors of Hell anymore. We do quite well enough on our own, thank you very much. Being cheerful Americans, we’ve concocted our very own Hell-On -Earth with a Happy Face, a kind of sprightly ornamented Skinner Box Sit Com of relentlessly droning idiocy.

I mean really now, is anyone still convinced we are not completely un-hinged? In case you are still amongst the steadfastly supportive, I offer up this partial rogues gallery of the last nine years as proof that good old-fashioned common sense has left the building. To wit:

1. We have successfully tanked the world’s strongest economy in a reprised Tulip craze of unsecured debt hilariously bandied about as commodity. Concurrent with this, we have placed our biggest rising competitor in the powerful position of holding our debt. Private printing of currency is called “counterfeiting” but on behalf of we newly minted debt-serfs, the Government refers to it as “quantitative easing”. “Ease”, to be tart, my arse.

2. We have developed a politics that could fill a hundred years of psychology textbooks with case studies of aberrant behavior galore if only we were to meet the standard textbook definition of the sane as those who recognize insanity. We do not live in a country anymore so much as we inhabit an asylum. No need to study crazy anymore, we’re all checked into the Psych Ward.

3. The fevered media has elevated the art form of crying wolf to such a degree that half the population is on the edge of nervous depression while the other half exhibits a level of ennui generally seen only within the rarified precincts of aristocrats. Well, ok, it’s also endemic to over-stimulated teenagers. As for the concept of Truth in Media, see item # 2 above and cackle maniacally.

4. We invade and demolish two third world countries in pursuit of an inventively fiendish platoon of Muslim Terrorists who were manufactured by our allies in the professional torture chambers of Egypt and further trained by us in fighting the Cold War enemy. As part of the effort, we contribute to the Egyptian Handbook on The Art of Dissident Torture by offshore torturing ourselves. Then, to cover our tracks, we sanction secrecy and the utter impunity of the Office of the Executive through judicial action, violating our own privacy and liberty on the altar of security. The Politicians and Media say “our enemy hates us because of our liberty”. Seems we aren’t too fond of those liberties either.

5. We perpetrate a decade of so called “art” that includes everything from staged “reality” television programming to the thrift store Baroque of Lady Gaga, Comic Book Novels, a cinema that has never met a worn out sequel it doesn’t like and in the realms of higher society art, we are confronted with insufferably banal exhibitions of naked bodies or random people having endless meaningless conversations which are to be observed by a public that pays for the honor. Bad Boy Damien Hirst crafts a diamond-studded skull that was pitched to sell for a sum that would make Croesus blanche. This bejeweled leering skull was, of course, building upon Mr. Hirst’s earlier output of livestock and sharks floating in vats of formaldehyde. On Broadway, the vaunted “Great White Way” of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Lerner and Loewe, we get “Shrek, The Musical”. Perhaps soon we shall enjoy “Sesame Street, the Athenaeum Lectures”. Bert and Ernie are our new Plato and Socrates.

6. We demonstrate such a blithe indifference to the planet and our future that in search of declining fuel resources, we drill in areas requiring extraordinary precautions but fail to employ them, thus we watch as an exploded well emits spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico for months before it is brought under control. Then, when it is brought under control, within days, the Government announces that the spilled oil has miraculously vanished because a lot of microbes ate it. I don’t know about you, but I hope I never run into one of those microbes in a dark hypoxic zone.

7. And now, as kind of a crowning monument of outlandish stupidity, a nutty pastor and his puny flock of 50 supplicants concoct the rather crude idea that they should burn the dread Muslim’s holy book in commemoration of the anniversary of 9/11. This, of course, results in a media frenzy of typically vigorous stupidity that then launches the President and his assigns into a stammering nervous fit of spitting pallor, including declarations that the Muslims will erupt, which, of course they do because the plundering leadership of the oppressed masses of the Muslim World encourage an auto-pilot of protesting distraction anyhow. Then, preposterously, the top echelon of our government actually takes the time to call this huckstering wing nut and ask him to please stop what he’s doing because it might be a …and this is really rich…”provocation”. I suppose an occupation by foreign forces with a few wedding party bombings on the side aint provocation enough in their minds. This, in turn, results in the happy dragging of the so called “Ground Zero Mosque” into the discussion and we start a quid pro quo bargaining that engages everyone from the Nutty Pastor to a couple of Imams, the august members of the Fox News Channel and Donald Trump, among many, many others. Much is said about the “sanctity” of the World Trade Center Site while nearly ten years after the horrific event, we are barely past the foundation stage of building a proper monument to the event because everything we do now must be complicated, involve politicians and incur several million dollars in billable hours in the most classy courtrooms of the land. The entire issue of course, is just part and parcel of the ongoing debates between both atheists and the religious as well as opposing religious tribes of all tints. We yammer about faith, soul and science while demonstrating a kind of dim, Neolithic stubbornness that is increasingly self-destructive. It shall not be long now before the inhabitants of the globe shall be busily engaged in scratching the eyes out of their every neighbor while tweeting about it over the Internet.

Had enough? I have.

9/11 was a stark and horrible day in the life of this comfortable country. Since that awful event on a crisp September day, a day just like today in fact, the people of this besotted nation have descended into a state of confused mental undress that begs the fine services of a Swift or Rabelais. The only thing we get however is a Glen Beck or Rachel Maddow. In other words, we get bupkus. We get spare change. We get a relentless bait and switch. We are treated to a constant barrage of nervous prodding with high production values.

Even Satan has lost his faith. I hear on good authority from the cemeteries of New Orleans that the Horned One is adrift like a bowery drunk amongst the crypts of that voodoo town. Like a growing percentage of the population, he’s lost his job and has been downsized. There is no challenge in grasping for souls who show such a profound inclination toward decline already. There is no fun in the harvesting of sinners in America any longer because even its’ pastors are amateurishly evil while our jackanapes leaders are a feckless lot bestride an increasingly destructive Leviathan. There is no guile in the harvesting of these sorts of fallen mortals, no skill. Never has commending so many to Hell become so boring. Hell hath no mystery to such a rabble. In fact, to some, it may come as a relief. At least Hell is professional.

Far from being an image of Satan unleashed and glowering in the burning towers of 9/11, the image we saw was Satan’s Pink Slip. The nation, from that day forward was going to embark upon the construction of its very own Hell. We would say we were fighting terrorists and defending freedom but the biggest thing we were going to attack would be ourselves. Mission Accomplished. We are as easily enflamed and distracted, as are our opponents now. One good burning effigy deserves another. Is it hot in here or is it me?

The silver lining in this foolapalooza is that despite the careening madness, the nation still functions somewhat smoothly. The everyday culture of person-to-person interaction is still relatively healthy despite the sordid mush around it. This is our only hope. In honor of our men and woman in uniform and all those innocents on both sides who were killed or maimed in the crossfire, I hope we snap out of it and wake up to see the wreckage of our civic life that has been heaped atop the ruins of that day nine years ago. We’ve wasted nine hard years on a descent into retribution, paranoia and aggravated self-abuse. We’ve come to embrace the same kinds of superstitious agitated fears that enflames our perceived opponent. Satan, relegated to a state of sidelined antiquation is down and out. I only hope he’s covered under the Universal Health Care Plan.

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  1. “We’ve wasted nine hard years on a descent into retribution, paranoia and aggravated self-abuse. We’ve come to embrace the same kinds of superstitious agitated fears that enflames our perceived opponent. Satan, relegated to a state of sidelined antiquation is down and out. I only hope he’s covered under the Universal Health Care Plan.”

    Best ending ever.

    Love the article.

  2. His honesty of measure and his resolute bravery to return to the headsman’s axe is a challenge to us all…

    I thought of this line Lawrence Durrell wrote about T.S. Eliot in Clea while reading your piece. It takes courage to write what you write, and despite my love of your fantastic prose, it is your bravery that makes it important.

  3. Thanks RoKo and Jordan. I cannot accept the honor of “bravery”, I’m just rattling keys on a typewriter so to speak, safe and sound in La Cave de la Obstreperepi while eating cookies and smoking cigars . The folks in uniform are the brave ones, despite being poorly used by a monumentally inept and craven political system that that has replaced fighting guerrillas in line formation with writing endless checks in Billions of Aid.

    Not only have these pukes forgotten our Constitution, they’ve forgotten how we won the Revolution….and why we won the Revolution.

  4. Sabin: “Had enough? I have.”

    Good show. Now please tell us what you really think.

    Sabin: “There is no fun in the harvesting of sinners in America any longer….”

    If I recall my Dante’s Commedia correctly, in the Ante-Inferno I guess he would have put a bunch of Americans on this side of the Acheron endlessly chasing a flag. See Canto III.

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