Where are the strong, and who are the trusted?

Hobo Supermans by Tim Davis.

Dear Friend and Reader:

Last week the new edition of Chronogram came in. That’s the regional magazine I’ve written for every month since early 1996. Chronogram always has excellent covers which by design are unconnected to any specific article. But they are often timely comments. With one glance my jaw dropped: the artist had summed up the state of the nation in one image.

It’s called Hobo Supermans. The artist is Tim Davis.

What’s happening in this picture? It looks like the Supermans have given up. They’re homeless and unemployed. There are two of them, which is odd. And they’ve lit their fire on the train tracks, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a train could come careening at any moment. Maybe they think they can stop it with their bare hands when it does, which it will, sooner or later.

Since they’re obviously just regular guys in costumes, that probably won’t work too well.

Superman, drawn by Alex Ross; conceived in 1933 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

I’ve always thought the Superman concept was truly strange; which is to say, the character and also people’s enduring obsession with it. This extends to all superheroes, who are aspects of the same archetype, though Superman is the central character.

He’s the idea that someone is going to come from the sky and save us, which is so old the expression is in Latin: Deus Ex Machina. Basically, he’s God in superhuman form, and somehow people find this reassuring. The concept is the American equivalent to some Nazi notion of the perfect man.

By 1938, when Superman first went into print, the German race (as some thought of it at the time) was busy trying to purify itself with the help of gas chambers and crematoria.

Now, in 2016, the guys shown in the photo have thrown it in. They’re despondent, worn out and bored, even though there’s plenty of work to do. They’re not God — they are us. They’re our phony presidential candidates. They’re one answer to Elvis Costello’s question, “Where are the strong, and who are the trusted?”

I understand the anger and alienation that has led many people to think that Superman has secured the Republican nomination.

He’s going to save the economy and seal the borders and get rid of the pesky Mexican criminals and work with the blacks who love him so much and clean up all the corruption in Washington and punish all those lying journalists and give us some fabulous health care and destroy Isis and we’ll all get a bottle of fancy wine every week and the best pastries and turn the White House, and your house, into New Versailles.

We, too, will be able to shoot anyone on Fifth Avenue and cherish women more than anyone, more than anyone. Believe me. Believe me.

He knows people are pissed off or they wouldn’t fall for this bullshit, so he plays into their anger and their ignorance. I saw a Trump campaign attack ad last night promising to go after everyone who contributed to the corrupt Clinton Foundation — which failed to mention that Trump himself donated and exploited the Clintons. That’s just what you do.

He has offended and alienated everyone, but like my father says to his students, “I know you’re not going to remember this because I said it five minutes ago.”

Nazi Superman, whose Kryptonite was Jewish people. His motto: “Without being strangled by the Jew, we will build a magnificent new National Socialist paradise.”

I understand the rage behind all of this, just like I get the anger of a child who wants adult privileges and has not earned them. So just leave the gun loaded and in reach. You paid for that gun and you have it by right, so why not?

Most Americans think that working hard entitles us to everything, and that having rights is a waiver from responsibility. Look where it’s getting us.

The missing piece is the personal one. It’s the part about the significant work of becoming human. We have human bodies and human DNA and all that, but actually evolving into one’s humanity is about the work of self-awareness and growth. This is challenging for people who admit that neither exist.

It’s about questioning one’s assumptions, which requires becoming aware of them. There’s also something about discernment: doing the work of deciding what is true and what is false; of deciding what is in accord with one’s values, which means knowing what they are.

Experiencing one’s inner being, what some call spirituality, is perilous. Introspection takes courage, because you don’t know what you’ll find. The modern substitute is religiosity: that is, being a holy roller of some stripe or another. Seeking within yourself is a lot harder than deciding that abortion is wrong and thinking that makes one a superior person who has God’s favor. Most of what religion encourages people to do is to play God and avoid the issue of death. In the United States, that means Jesus as Superman.

We have another candidate who is coming off more like the average American, the working soccer mom, despite her having held high office and earning hundreds of millions of dollars a year, from selling books or brokering her political influence. Her Superwoman status is conferred by all that she’s concealing about herself. One way or another, we’re about to find out what the Clinton Foundation is and what it’s really done.

By the standards of those with old money, she’s still a working stiff and scavenger, but by our standards, she’s an aristocrat, fully qualified by having killed a lot — and I do mean a lot — of people.

The anger that those supporting Trump feel is, in my view, a reaction to the disparity between what Clinton is presenting and what she’s known to have been involved in. They know there’s something off about her. It’s just that the rebellion is the kind that would get you called out by your Boy Scout leader as inappropriate and immature.

Beneath much of the Arctic resides vast stores of greenhouse gases, locked up for millennia. As the ice melts, it’s being released, speeding up global warming exponentially — a fact often left out of the news.

I understand the impulse to rebel and to fall for the rhetoric of a supposed rebel. This is where discernment would come in. It takes some maturity to realize both candidates are a form of Trojan horse.

Anyone who is partisan in this election is unlikely to be looking at their own candidate honestly, or for that matter, themselves. Clinton and Trump are part of the same corporatist system. They work the same mechanisms in many of the same ways. Both have made it work rather well — for them.

How you evaluate them psychologically would depend either on your gut instinct or your knowledge of psychology. It may also involve your perception of your parents.

The United States and the world have a lot of problems right now. None of them are being addressed. Methane is bubbling up from the Arctic slush, lower Manhattan was recently flooded, refugees from American-sponsored wars are inundating the globe, and the planet is floating in space like a Roundup-tainted soap bubble of debt.

Politically, we are holding an election with the infected wounds of many past traumas left unattended. We still live like maggots on the rotting corpse of slavery — the plantation kind, or the iPhone factory kind. In fact our whole style of life would be impossible if not for slavery.

We live oblivious to the genocide of the First People who inhabited the land we live on, which continues to this day at Standing Rock.

The last moments of a legitimate American presidency.

Regarding the presidency, the JFK murder is an unresolved source of psychological torment, proof that any president who takes a real stand will end up on an autopsy table.

Martin Luther King’s pool of blood is a reminder of what happens when a social message starts to come across, and it derailed the actual post-Civil War reconstruction. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were in no way repented for. The long attack on American peace activists is barely acknowledged. Watergate was never honestly addressed on the moral level, or the structural level of the president having too much power. Most people still think it was a two-bit burglary, as its apologists still describe it.

The misunderstood events of Sept. 11, 2001, are bleeding out our life force, and the false wars it was used to propagate are only getting worse. The United States has been at war in and around Iraq for 26 years — nearly three times longer than the seemingly endless Vietnam War and six times longer than we were involved in World War II. I’m 52 years old; that’s half my lifetime.

But those global problems are made of individual problems. By that I mean our personal, private problems, which add up to our collective social problems. How we deal with one is how we’re likely to deal with the other. There is a reason people refuse to see or refuse to challenge these situations, and that’s because they’re in pain and carrying forms of the same infections internally.

If you’re still suffering from the abuse inflicted on you as a child, it’s nearly impossible to rise above that self-image and psychic state and challenge the political system. If your parents still run your life, as internal archetypes or as actual overlords, you’re not situated to challenge authority in any other form. If you don’t get along with your partners, you’re not in a position to be advancing the cause of world peace and probably will not even care.

Members of the Anishinabek Nation sing as they enter the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s protest encampment. Water protectors have come under repeated attack by North Dakota authorities. Photo by Alyssa Schukar.

All this emphasis that’s placed on the presidential election is, borrowing from Wilhelm Reich, about isolation, alienation, spiritual poverty, craving for authority, fear of responsibility, mystical longing, sexual misery, and neurotically impotent rebelliousness.

We might add addiction to being entertained and expecting everyone to do everything for us, uncompensated.

The problem is that this is a normal state of mind, and state of affairs. And in that normal state we are subject to the kind of political infection we’re now experiencing — and paralyzed to do anything about it. This paralysis deserves a closer look. It’s often called many other things, it’s excused and it’s rarely acknowledged for what it is.

It may seem like we’re too damned busy to take care of ourselves, much less the world, but I don’t believe it. I’ve worked with too many people in their 20s through their 60s whose lives are still run by some phantom of their parents, even if their parents are now bones in a crypt.

Using denial as a means of dealing with all of this is like paying off debts with credit cards. And one might ask: what are we gonna do? What can we do?

Maybe we can have an honest conversation.

Or go back to watching Game of Thrones. I hear there’s gonna be a hot new rape scene in the next episode.

Sin cera, 

Moonshine Horoscope for Scorpio New Moon #1124 | By Len Wallick

Aries (March 20-April 19) — Know thyself, especially in comparison to who and what you were at this time last year. If you are pretty much the same person you were 12 months ago — if your needs are being met and your life is going smoothly — you are in a position to demand substantial reward for risking any change to your good thing. If your personal evolution has been substantial enough to make change your primary need at this time, consider thinking differently. Instead of risk versus reward, think in terms of renegotiating any previously incurred contracts, responsibilities or obligations to do right by both your new self and your old relationships. — By Len Wallick.

Taurus (April 19-May 20) — It would appear as though collaborations and artistic endeavors have long been a door through which new individuals have periodically entered your life. Now, it would seem to be that time again. This time around, any personality coming through that door could very well be the type of person you would not have considered working with in the past. The extent to which such an individual strikes you differently now will probably be a measure of how much your ongoing creative activities have in turn re-created you. Therefore, look twice where you would have previously looked away in order to better see yourself. — By Len Wallick.

Gemini (May 20-June 21) — If it is at all possible, take at least one day to be all by yourself sometime soon. It’s time to get reacquainted with who you are when separated from work and relationships. Let your special day alone be unstructured. Be rather than do. The possibilities are endless. Whether you stay inside or go outside does not matter so much, so long as you break routine. You could follow up on something that has been intriguing you — something you have not had time to investigate — so long as you do it on your own. Another viable alternative is to be utterly un-ambitious and simply remember how to enjoy your own company once again. — By Len Wallick.

Cancer (June 21-July 22) — Even if being a caretaker is second nature for you, it’s likely that you have a first nature that needs to be taken care of as well. Think of yourself as having roots — unseen but vital parts of yourself from which you derive both stability and nourishment. Then think about what you could do to water and fertilize those roots. In all likelihood, that’s what you should be giving yourself permission to do more of now. It could be as simple as getting more comfortable with touching yourself intimately. If auto-erotica is something you have neglected or avoided, now is a good time to take a chance on taking better care of that need. — By Len Wallick.

Leo (July 22-Aug. 23) — You could do far worse than make an effort to discover a new purpose about now. That’s especially true if anything happens to free up some of your time and energy over the next month or so. The nature of this new reason to be will depend on who you are, but there are some guidelines you can follow to find it. First off, think less about satisfying others and more about what it would take to satisfy yourself. Next, be open to having at least two purposes — perhaps one for the short term and one for the long term. Finally, start looking where you already are, but don’t be afraid of relocating (at least temporarily) if that’s what it takes to find your new, true cause. — By Len Wallick.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) — Don’t be frustrated if others seem shortsighted. Be kind. Not everybody can see as far as you do right now. Also, be humble. Your foresight could very well be paired along with an inability to detect what’s directly under or in front of your nose. As a matter of fact, now might be a good time to team up with somebody who can gently show you what you are missing, even as you carefully reveal to them what is coming. Ideally, this teammate would be somebody you have known for a long time, and with whom you have already developed strong bonds. If somebody who fits that description comes to mind, consider starting a conversation that begins with you pointing out that two heads are better than one. — By Len Wallick.

Libra (Sep. 22-Oct. 23) — Whatever you initiated at the beginning of October is almost certainly not coming to a close for you now. It is more likely that you have reached a point where you either need to step up or step back as regards to seeing things through to a conclusion. Before you do so, be aware that the process of finishing what you started could take as much as a year, and could result in your being a changed person. In all likelihood that change would be for the better, resulting in at least some of the balance you have sought in your life. First, however, you must answer an important question: do you really, truly want to change? If the answer is yes, take charge. If the answer is no, delegate the responsibility for closure to assure the best outcome for all concerned. — By Len Wallick.

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 22) — Some of the issues you now face are about you. Some are not. Sorting out which is which will go a long way towards making your load feel lighter. To do so, you need time to think. Keep in mind that thinking is not the same as procrastination. Take care of any urgent situations and keep up with all that you absolutely have to get done in order to keep (and preferably increase) order in your life. Assuming you can organize your affairs to the point that you are no longer running as fast as you can to stay in the same place, you should find that you have more time to meditate at length on the subject of where others end and where you begin. — By Len Wallick. 

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 22) — Assuming you are a licensed driver, now is a good time to look back and recall how it was when you were first learning how to operate an automobile. Odds are good you are now going through a similar learning curve, and dealing with its challenges will be a lot easier if you can remember how your motivations encountered your misgivings to result in your being both safe and comfortable behind the wheel. One thing you surely learned as a student driver is that fear is not helpful but deliberate caution is essential. The same is probably true for you now. Be alert, for sure. Be aware, of course. Just remember that there is no good reason to be afraid. — By Len Wallick.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 20) — For every problem, there is a solution. If you can remember just that one fact, you can head off any frustrations before they happen. As regards to any exasperating circumstances you may now be facing, remember two additional things. First, as the late, great astrologer Rachelle “Rockie” Gardiner so often reminded her readers: “Patience is the key to heaven.” Second, you are rarely, if ever, alone with your concerns. Somewhere in your community of friends, peers and citizens there are almost certainly a number of people who share (or at least empathize with) the issues that are important to you. So long as you can make your needs known to those communities while also patiently participating in finding a remedy, contentment should ultimately be yours. — By Len Wallick.

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 19) — Don’t give up on your aspirations now. Even if you have had some discouraging experiences lately, there will be at least one door opening for each one that appears to have closed until at least this time next year. In addition to being optimistic, there are at least two other things you can do to encourage yourself. First, remember that there is a difference between being stubborn and being persistent. If you can’t make that discernment right now, visualize the difference between digging in with your heels versus digging in with your toes. Let ‘less heel and more toe’ be your slogan. The second thing to keep in mind is that self-respect is contagious. Treat yourself with respect and others will not only return the favor, but also be inspired to emulate your example. — By Len Wallick.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) — Consider the term ‘quantum leap’. In essence, that often-used but less-often-understood phrase alludes to how electrons evidently move from one energy level to another without ever being in between. Pertinent astrological indicators imply that there is some sort of quantum leap in store for you when it comes to whatever you are trying to create or otherwise manifest at this time. But it almost certainly won’t happen by itself. You will need to participate. The good news is that your part will be simple. In essence, keep practicing consistently, and have faith that no effort will be wasted. If you can do just that, you will hasten the day when you wake up to find that you have suddenly left one metaphorical plateau behind for another one with a much nicer view. — By Len Wallick.

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