Paradise Journal: Gums, Germs, Guns

First dental visit since January. On arriving I learn M., my usual hygenist, left for a different dentist’s office. Fed up with the endless sprawling nowhere of Denver, like me. Still I feel an unexpected stab of sadness. Like I had for my old bartender, another semi-acquaintance I seemed to at least superficially click with, instead vanished never to be seen again.

Nothing connects, nothing stays: the first rule of progressive paradises. Unless you’re a billionaire.

M. was a pistol, brilliant blonde petite and half-crazy, executing funny accents, puns and absorbing anecdotes all as she lasered your gums with deadly precision. The two girls who replace her are like a 30-minute refresher on why so many males today simply avoid women altogether. Nonstop robot chatter about their favorite types of snack chips. There is a silvery, metallic cheer in their voices, as of something synthesized, something over-saturated, a transistor cranked to its upper range. It’s almost hard to tell where the voices end and the sound of the dental instruments begin. That same high-frequency chattering of metal on bone, on flesh, on saliva. On nerve.

But who cares. M had already got a boyfriend last I talked to her. In truth I couldn’t even remember her name until they told me she was no longer there. Was preparing for an awkward moment seeing her. Hey hey, if it isn’t… you, yourself, that person that you alone undoubtedly are.

Dropped by Mesquite’s the following evening. Good to get clear of the city. Lively in a way i haven’t seen in a town for months if not years. Lots of folks, well-behaved, good feelings. Too many tattoos but the signs of opioid addiction are mostly well-hid if not rare. Ah yes, rural whites, a despised and perhaps endangered species. Fascinating to observe. Why it is almost as if some of them recognize one another and have formed–what would you call it–a sense of place. Many seem worse for wear, but robotic at least would not be the word for them. 

I sit, sip and watch the pool games. Find myself thinking of the game as not really a game but a mystical tool, an exploration of the universe of all possible configurations of colored balls. Each configuration represents galaxies, trajectories, alternative universes. Cosmic augury, awesome technology, seeing, scrying. Like up in the mothership 10,000 year old aliens on the bridge compute their course by playing this exact game. Imagine that.

Keep trying to remember the name of that movie: 1960, Paul Newman, pretentious bebop score. They break his thumbs at one point. Nothing whatsoever to do with aliens or divination. Jackie Gleason as the master shark he finally defeats. The Hustler, maybe.

Take a wrong turn on the way back and end up 7 miles away from home. Circlejerk drive. Absolutely no routes west. How can even a city this size still be so easy to get lost in. (Later I realize I was within four blocks of home when I turned around.)

At the shooting range the next day some guys are talking about the ammo deficit. Prices are up, many types clean out of stock. Many are shifting to .22LR since it is more compact and cheaper. one says it is all about lack of raw materials. The factories are all ready to go but the metal isn’t there. Says the metal is being held back on purpose. It will be all over in a few months, once the election is decided, he thinks: like magic all the covid shortages will go away. I say maybe for a while but if the current crop of progressives win within a year you’ll see ammo get hard to find again–for good. I say something about how the fundamental trend is to deprive people of all serious adult responsibility (such as firearm ownership) and hand all control to tiny groups of experts. He nods gravely.

On the way home I head to Walmart to pick up more ammo before it’s all gone. Walmart has become the all-seeing eye. The form of future dystopia, today. A Terminator-style futuristic refugee camp and supply depot disguised as carefree consumerism and happy motoring. Of course there are cameras all over the parking lot. Of course the shopping carts are digitally tagged so that the wheels lock up if you move them too far into the parking lot. All that’s still missing is a nice drone to follow you down the aisles and video your every movement. But the signs everywhere and speakers monotonically bleating about new measures to “keep you SAFE” are something new. 

They make you feel less safe, not more. All this for a virus that seems when all is said and done to be maybe 50% more lethal than common flu. 

The complete uselessness and disingenuousness of scientific alarm. Of expert warnings. We thought it was 3% lethal; it turned out to be more like 0.3%. We thought it might come back and reinfect, or never go away. Last I saw two confirmed reinfections so far in the entire world (Nevada and Hong Kong), out of tens of millions of cases. The prospect of death by Covid has largely evaporated. But the social control it enabled might never go away, even years after the last case of Covid is catalogued on earth.

Outside the walmart masses of people line up and mill, sway, go in little circles, unknowing refugees, awaiting permission from the security forces to enter the supply depot–excuse me, roll-back bargain heaven. Their eyes are completely without familiarity or life of their own. Half are staring into screens. We did not have to be paid to digitally tag ourselves, which at least would have had a certain dignity: no, they made us pay them. But they will eventually make us all do it anyway, pay or not. More tattoos everywhere. Seriously—when did this country become the below-decks of a fucking pirate ship. 

Sure enough once in the walmart I see the 6.5 Creedmoor is starting to run low too. The clerk asks as if on the sly how I like that round. I say it’s great, has a serious but manageable kick. You feel like something has decisively happened. Very accurate, easy to get groups an inch or two across at 100 yards with a half-decent scope. He nods, says he’s thinking of buying one; that or 270. both good choices, i say.

I mention what the other guy at the range said–shortages of metals. strange times, i say. He makes a tiny nod. Can’t say much of course: the all seeing eye sees all.

The guy’s tall, blond, bearded, serious in expression, with a very slight wide-eyed look, as if he’s hunted or senses on some level that he’s going to be soon. I realize i like him. Feel like we are part of some general understanding together–both seeing the writing on the wall, both sensing something coming beyond our control, something running out of control, something that hates both of us. So come and get your guns, guns, guns, boys—come and get your guns.

Then I am outside again. All wear the mask, at all times, even outdoors, as they wait. Faceless, face in screens, face in colored face-underwear, docile, quiet, expressionless, or else making those same shiny, giggly metal sounds as i heard from the dentist ladies. Marked for demolition. No two people from the same place, no two people truly at home together, in a place designed to be as un-homelike as physically imaginable. Undifferentiated human matter: the the trick-prize goal (or gaol) at the end of “diversity”.

I think again: this is a monstrosity. Something is badly wrong, everywhere at once. It has only a limited amount to do with Trump, despite how fashionable it has become to put it all on him. Really, it has been building for over a century. Taylorism, bureaucracy. Voltaire’s bastards. Communism, financialization, fractional reserve, wokeness, antisocial media, postmodernism—all seemingly different yet all together, all part of some great witches’ brew, a Thing from the Void. A centralized, faceless, gutless, mindless modern nightmare. A golem conjured out of lies, silicon, plastic, data, heavy crude. Enlightenment unmasking as Endarkenment. 

“The Great Enframing”, I want to call it–the Empire of Gestell. Many names, one Void. Heidegger was a Nazi and I am convinced wrote gibberish more than half the time while laughing into his sleeve but he also somehow knew deep things about where all this was going. Savor this disturbing paradox but don’t linger on it too long. The world today is full of thoughts that might wreck your brain or wreck your chances at living in “society”. And the two—brain and society—are increasingly one. Just ask Neuralink.

Those who even have a clue as to the nature of this monstrosity are few and far between. Surely this is part of the entire design. You have conservatives who are really liberals who are really leftists, all the way down to the darkest mirrored funhouse pit of cosmic misunderstanding. 

Perfection for the rulers. Hell for the rest. 

All around the nation is readying to tear itself to shreds. Election, they murmur, election. The need for a “divorce”, the need for a coup—shadowy forces gathering, pre-gaming it out. It’s “transition integrity“, they proclaim—snake-tongued Voltairean Bastards who-doth-protest-too-much.

But this mayhem’s ultimate name is neither Trump, nor Biden. Not even Left or Right. And here’s the thing: for all the time it took putting together the Great Enframing, we are just seeing it warming up. I think it was in Star Trek that they had advanced aliens that created artificial black holes as a super-dense power source (or maybe that was Interstellar—). Well here we are on the event-horizon of the farcical triumph of the modern West: generating a black hole that swallows its own creator. To paraphrase Marx, history always repeats itself: first as sci-fi, then as farce.


Headed to Audreys, the bistro down the street. Pretentious, but still the closest bar. First time out in 3 months since the lockdowns.

On the way I stop in my tracks. A rustling above, a wisp of a tail disappearing behind some leaves. I stare up, light up the keychain flashlight and see two cyan eyes in a mask-like pool of black, staring down at me. Raccoon. Curious, otherworldly, frozen amid the dark of the branches. We stand there, each wondering what the other means. Then I reach for my phone. Must get photos.

This is what you’re always supposed to do when you see anything even slightly unusual: reach for the smartphone. Catalogue all non-habitual reality. Be ready to document all anomalies. Help us help you to be safe. Locus of control, locus of absolution. Reach. For. The. Smartphone.

I get two decent shots, then stare at the phone in disgust and think: all moderns should be rotisseried. Served with au jus, hollandaise. Watch and see if it doesn’t start happening soon, with everything else going on. The new progressive cause: some will eat, and others beg to be eaten. Sadomasochism seemed edgy once but really it was just a warm-up run.

Why not? It already happened in Germany. Such an advanced country–

I pocket the phone again, leave the raccoon to his darkness high in the air, envying it, and go on. At the patio of Audreys I pass a small, skinny, debauched looking girl (but they all look that way now). I overhear her, perched over the table, hands flying, telling someone in a breathless, childlike voice:

“—see, I’m really having so many of these adult things going on in my life now that I’m twenty-two, I’m really such a different person now, I have all of these really big decisions ahead that could affect my entire life and…” It sounds like ticker-tape, a script mindlessly recited, or a Cranberries song sped up and recited as epic poetry.

One does not attain adulthood any more. One simply talks about attaining it for the entire age of the universe.

Youth smothers maturity in its crib [note to self: another inversion]. Stars form without light. The Beast draws near.

Once inside, I find my old bartender, L., does not work there anymore. Instead, a snarky woke-looking Asian girl tasks me for not putting on a mask even though I keep six feet away. No bar service anymore, I am informed. Fifteen minutes to sit down although the place is two-thirds empty.

This all should have been obvious to me. The only remaining sin: forgetting about Covid.

I realize without L. around—no familiar face, no one who knows what I like—the place devolves into what it always was: a tedious haven for degeneracy and narcissism. I say never mind and walk back home.

Later, showering, I startle at something on the top of the bathroom door frame. Another creature. A moth this time—a big one with a stout body and sharp triangles of umber and sienna all over its wings. As I watch it it slowly turns to face me, antennae waving deliberatively above the big prismatic eyes. Attuning itself.

I attune back. Mothman, I think. Harbinger of psychic disruptions. Manifestor of the unseen.

I come with a warning–there lies grave danger ahead.

Well what have you come to warn me about. America has cancer and my whole generation consists of a demented clone army. How much more can I have missed.

Moths have been everywhere this season, almost biblical. You come home each day to find a dozen new ones in every window, every lampshade. But this one is the largest and most ornate one I’ve seen.

There is a hint of metallic shine in the wings too, like old brass and bronze. Flecks of it worked into a darker gray, like ironwork. Still it looks just plain enough and just small enough that you wouldn’t necessarily ascribe it any significance. The perfect disguise.

I stand patient under the lukewarm, shimmering stream, gazing over the shower-curtain at the creature. Something in me inclines to think it is peering back, like some kind of ethereal communion with nature-spirits is underway. I think of Gandalf in The Two Towers: stranded by Sarumann he whispers to a passing moth. Aid me, O dusky one: make haste, summon the king of all eagles to my rescue.

But mostly there is just the sound of water and a sense of being in the presence of an entity so infinitely different I could never even begin to guess at what its mind is like. An alien. And I imagine with the world we have now, even if the moth did carry away some message for me it would just make a quick involuntary snack for the eagle. Lord of the Rings comic outtakes, volume five: Now tell me what the old wizard sent you for, the huge eagle jokes to his buddies, wiping a stray bit of antenna off his beak. Oops, so sorry, I hate when I do that.