Without Hyperbole

Afterwar

I’m tired.

I can’t imagine how much more exhausted protestors are. In two weeks, between COVID-19 and the police brutality deployed every evening, there might not be anyone left to challenge the ongoing fascist coup.

Let me be absolutely clear. I do not use the term “fascist coup” lightly, or with any hyperbole. I am a mistress of well-deployed hyperbole when it comes to squirrel stories and urban fantasy; I am in this case laying it aside and speaking simple, honest truth.

A wannabe dictator stood in the Rose Garden of the White House while the screams of the protestors he had ordered tear-gassed and shot still lingered in the air, and he threatened martial law. This is an indisputable fact.

Then he, flanked by oodles of security, walked across the street and stood before a church his thugs had just violently cleared clergy and medical staff from, stepping over scattered, ravaged supplies. The wannabe dictator held a Bible upside-down and stared into the cameras. Later that night, high-ranking military were seen in fatigues touring various parts of the nation’s capital, “just looking at things.”

Martial law. Peaceful protestors tear-gassed and skull-cracked. Clergy, medics, and journalists targeted. A US Senator allowed to put fascist “we must call in the military to restore order” propaganda in what we’ve often referred to as “the paper of record.”

Pravda was a “paper of record”, too.

And all of this because Black Americans do not want to be killed at random by uniformed white supremacist thugs, and are tired of being held in bondage. Slavery was never really abolished; its methods simply hid behind euphemisms. The Southern Strategy was outright profitable for regressives, too, who have been working towards this moment–theocratic, oligarchic, racist, fascist rule–for decades.

Rich regressives have their propaganda outlet (Faux News) prepared. They have a grip on the levers of power–while American cities already in the grip of a pandemic convulsed with protest against murder and inequality, Mitch McConnell was busy in an air-conditioned chamber, ramming through lifetime appointments of loyal apparatchiks to federal judgehood.

Clearly he thinks the coup is accomplished. And the Joint Chiefs chose to send out a wishy-washy “statement” that functions only as a piece of paper to cover their asses if the coup by some miracle does not succeed.

How hard is it to say, “You will not fire on American civilians, and you are under no obligation to obey anyone who tells you to do so”? But after a Sunkist Stalin browbeating, a man in uniform countermanded orders to let the troops–the troops, let’s not forget, mobilized to be deployed against American citizens–go home.

Don’t believe me. If you’re reading this, you have the internet. Go look it up.

When I say, “A coup has happened, it is ongoing, and I don’t know whether it can be halted,” I am uttering strict, bare, honest truth. I saw a wannabe dictator attempt to declare martial law on June 1 after tear-gassing peaceful protestors in front of the White House, and that same wannabe dictator is still in power. His criminal cabal has closed ranks around him. He is still eating food paid for by our tax dollars, he is still being “guarded” by security forces paid for by our tax dollars, he is still handing out keys to the public treasury–our treasury, our tax dollars–to his friends, his family, and his fellow criminals.

The police are still on our streets, still beating and killing indiscriminately. Still kettling, shooting, and gassing protestors, bystanders, and anyone else they decide to, during a pandemic. Closing centers for COVID-19 testing in order to use them to hold prisoners, and using tanks by any other name against their own neighbors. An alphabet soup of federal forces, many of them not in standard uniform, has flooded our nation’s capital in order to confuse and use maximum violence against protestors. While we were struggling with a pandemic last month and the month before, the wannabe dictator was using federal medical aid and relief as patronage to extort promises of personal fealty from red-state governors, and now it’s paying off. Not only that, but this wannabe dictator is putting up his campaign-promised wall–around the White House, since I guess you can’t be a petty Hitler without a Berghof.

I cannot even imagine how tired the protestors are right now. I can’t even imagine the burden Black people and other PoC or marginalized groups are carrying. All I can do is use my privilege and platform to say what needs saying, and what needs saying is this:

A fascist coup has been attempted, and the wannabe dictator is still in power. The military is watching to see which way this is going to fall, and any “opposition” leaders in Congress are still vainly trying “bipartisanship” with the Republicans who plotted and are facilitating the downfall of any democracy in our republic. Thinking we can “vote them out in November” is a total abdication of responsibility–certainly, if we’re still allowed to vote in November, of course we should vote them out.

But in two weeks the pandemic spike from the opening of the beaches two weeks ago will be ongoing, and the spike from forcing people to choose between accepting a violent, random suffocation-death at the hands of police or choking to death as the coronavirus fills their lungs with liquid will be cresting. In two weeks many of the most active resistors will be dead of police brutality or sick with the plague.

What are we going to do then?

I did a lot of research on fascists, authoritarians, and coups for That Particular Book I Wrote Back In 2015. Every single bit of that research is screaming at me now. My commitment to my art and my profession requires me to tell the truth about this and not look away, that I use whatever privilege and platform I have to speak and to boost the voices crying out for justice, crying out a warning.

I do not say this lightly: A fascist coup has been attempted, and the wannabe dictator is still in power.

This is where we are now.

What are we going to do? I’m speaking directly to my white friends and readers, those who share my privileged skin color. What are you prepared to do? Don’t attempt to answer me in the comments. Just go do it, whatever it is. Make a decision. If you ever told yourself, “I wouldn’t have collaborated with Nazis, no sir,” now is your golden chance to prove it. The moment is nigh. Find a resistance lane and get going. Get your go-bag and make your decision not just about what you’ll do in the short term, but also what you’ll do if this ongoing coup succeeds and the security forces being tested and battle-hardened right now in our streets come knocking in the dead of night to disappear your neighbors–or even your own sweet self.

What are you prepared to do?

Don’t try to tell me. Just do it.

History, Reverberate

I didn’t feel fully awake until about 3km into this morning’s run. Now I’m not entirely awake, but close enough. I could do with a spot more tea, but that will have to wait until after I’m done writing this.

The last Haggard Feathers post goes up tomorrow. I’m sad to bring the experiment to an end, but on the other hand, it will be a relief to stop the time drain so I have some internal resources to deal with the ongoing flood of bad news.

It’s Memorial Day. I spent yesterday afternoon reading Osinga on John Boyd, and once I finished that I moved to Orlando Figes on the Crimean War. I haven’t read about the latter except in fiction; the first time I can remember hearing that particular conflict referred to was a short story featuring Florence Nightingale, which I read when I was about twelve, I think? Or maybe a little younger.

The more I study history, the more I think humans don’t ever really learn. Things just… reverberate. One can trace a certain strain of European conflict from the Roman Empire to the Crimean to World War I to World War II and up to the present day; it’s sobering to sit with the fact that people are killing each other over thousand-year-old grudges. Genocide and war don’t ever really stop, they just mutate, particularly virulent species going quasi-dormant and waiting for the next instance of fortuitous conditions.

It makes me wonder if we’d get further treating violence as a virus.

Anyway, I am not particularly cheerful this morning, though I suspect a cuppa will fix that. I have far too much work to let myself sit in the doldrums for long, thankfully. And a touch more caffeine might make my fingers stop stuttering on the keyboard. It’s taken a ridiculous amount of time just to type these few paragraphs, having to stop for typos and errors every few words. Some days are just like that.

At least it’s raining, the dogs have been walks, and I have some lovely piano music on tap. I’m definitely not in the mood for lyrics today. I woke up with Satie’s Je te veux in my head this morning, which I used to play along with ACDC to get Graves from Strange Angels to start talking.

He was an interesting fellow. And now it’s time for me to make that cuppa.

Over and out.

Staying Calm, Carrying On

I dropped the Princess off at work this morning (of course, since she works for a large service corporation, sick leave isn’t an option, GO ‘MURICA) and decided to do the usual weekly grocery shopping. It wasn’t until I actually got to the store that I realized…

…well, I’m beginning to think we’re doomed. At least, a certain slice of America is.

I did my best to stay six feet away from everyone else. The store was doing its best by allowing people through the door in five-person groups. Unfortunately the herd was fear-crazed and rampaging. Elderly white people were doing their level best to run me over and breathe in my face. The younger people I saw were all attempting, like me, to allow everyone space and wait turns.

Every single person who cut in line, attempted to breathe on me, hip-checked and barged past me, or who was being nasty to a grocery worker was white and over 60. I am absolutely not joking. It was horrifying to see, and I hope I never witness anything like it ever again.

Unfortunately, I suspect that hope is vain indeed. It was like those videos of young people determined to Spring Break on Florida beaches yesterday, a display of selfishness almost unequalled in my experience.

Almost.

I did my best to slow everything around me down, and moved at a snail’s pace. And of course the writer in me was taking notes; all things serve the work. I’m shaking now that I’m safely home, but I wonder how many of the people absolutely determined to be assholes this morning were already carrying COVID-19 and spreading it with abandon in order to get their aloe vera juice and complain at top, spittle-laced volume about the store being out of flour.

Normally we’re pretty well stocked here at the Chez, so I might have skipped the regular weekly trip to the grocers if I’d known it was going to be like this. But once I was there, I figured going through was better than leaving, and since my online groups and IRL neighbors have all been so amazing I trusted naively that everyone involved would be a reasonable adult.

I’ve been wrong before in my life, though seldom to this degree. May the gods have mercy upon us, because white Americans (of any age) seemingly won’t.

Now I’ve got to take the dogs for a walk and do my best to avoid other people during that, too. I knocked off 200 pages’ worth of revisions yesterday; there’s another 280 left in this epic fantasy. Either I’m going down, or this book is.

At least I can work at home. Silver linings, and all that.

Please be kind to each other out there, folks. I’m sorry this is happening; hopefully we can all work together to at least not make it worse.

Weary or Wicked

Finishing a complex, hard-fought revision leaves me feeling like I’ve been punched in the head–dazed, pained, and wondering where all the red stuff is coming from. Recovery always takes twice as long as I think it will, but I don’t have time to really let the dust settle. HOOD needs Season Three started and Season Two compiled chapter by chapter for serial subscribers, not to mention revising, editing, proofing, and formatting for release probably in March.

It’s gotten to the point where I’m listening to Wagner again. I just loaded up my Spotify queue with the Ring cycle; that’s a few days of lugubrious listening. The motifs, heavy and somewhat graceless as they are, are familiar enough that I don’t have to spend any time thinking about or untangling them.

It’s strange, I’ve never had the urge to see a Wagner opera, though I’ve listened to the Ring cycle more than I’d care to admit. Not as much as I’ve listened to Mahler’s Fourth or Debussy’s La mer, both old friends from back in my insomnia days. Then I found the Goldberg variations, which worked about 50% of the time–way more than anything else, so I used them until Calm Therapist talked me into going on meds.

Anyway, it’s calming to have Siegfried bellowing in the background. I should, one of these days, watch the operas, but there’s so much else to get through before then.

I did take yesterday off and read Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair, which was quite pleasing. I’m willing to be convinced of Bossy’s theory, and while some of the reviews took exception with his writing (too recondite, too learned, too complex in the sentence) I really didn’t have a problem with that. As a matter of fact, I found the book lucid-clear, and it was a relief to have an author talk to me as if he respected both my intelligence and my historical knowledge. (However small either may be, indeed.)

I’ve moved on to some Peter Grey; his Apocalyptic Witchcraft bored me to tears but so far, Lucifer: Princeps is extremely interesting. I did fall asleep in it face-first last night, always a good sign. If the book hits me on the nose (being dropped while I’m reading on my back) or I wake up on my stomach with said nasal promontory mashed in it, it’s more a function of the interestingness of the text than my level of exhaustion.

Though there was that one time a dictator’s biography kept hitting me in the face; I think I was passing out from sheer distaste. Anyway.

The dogs need walking and there’s a Tuesday writing post to put the finishing touches on. The monthly newsletter needs to go out soon, too, so that means I’ll be looking at my finances and seeing if I can afford to run a giveaway this month.

Rest? Who needs that? Supposedly, I’ll sleep after I’ve expired. (Or once I’ve achieved my final fighting form, if anime is any indication.) No rest for the weary or the wicked, and I intend to be both all the way down to the ground.

Not-Sleeping with Segur

Desires, Known

Not a single flicker of sleep last night, and my head is as tender as an overripe pumpkin. To think I used to endure insomnia three days out of five–well, I was younger then, and most assuredly am not at the moment. I’m fast losing my ability to string words together, and coffee is losing its utility to boot.

I used to think of nighttime as both a balm and a personal enemy. On the one hand, once I left my childhood home the darkness held very little in the way of terrors. It became a vast aquarium I could hide in, a small quick fish just out of reach.

Plenty of my best work has happened in those long dead times when the rest of the world is deep in slumber. The staticky feedback of so many conscious minds nibbling like mice at a gingerbread wall ceases, and one can think. Plus, what else was I going to do while I was up?

Well, other than read and listen obsessively to Mahler’s Fourth. Everyone’s got their own little quirks.

Even the sleep deprivation of having babies barely made a dent. I was so used to functioning under extreme exhaustion; it was probably easier on me than on many new parents. (Not to mention I’d been caring for small humans since I was eight.) I didn’t consider the insomnia as anything out of the ordinary, but maybe that’s why postpartum depression almost killed me. I was literally too tired to care about my own personal survival.

When I went on meds, the most marvelous revelation was being able to consistently pass out on a nightly basis. I’m sure it added years onto my life, and nowadays I sleep more often than not without chemical enhancement.

But not last night. No, last night was tossing and turning, my heartrate suddenly deciding to rocket into the stratosphere, wild What-Ifs crawling into my ears, and just generally a bad scene. At least I had Ségur to keep me company.1 I read Caulaincourt on the same events some while ago, and it’s interesting to see the overlap.

It’s not so bad, except I’m running out of words. Even writing this has taken far longer than it should; I stop and stare between sentences or even between syllables. Coffee is nice and the night is beautiful… but I think I prefer sleep.

I’ll rest well tonight. At least, so I hope.

Eleventh Hour

Afterwar

I recently read Dachau 29 April 1945–finished it yesterday, as a matter of fact. It’s a collection of interviews and letters by the American division who first entered Dachau in 1945–I don’t know if I can say they liberated the place, because who can ever be set free of such things?

I’ve sometimes wondered if all nation-states have periods of brutal (internal or external) conquest married to racism as a matter of course, and the only thing stopping such things is geographic luck (double luck for their neighbors, no doubt), lack of resources, or just simply not being old or cohesive enough as a country to allow the racism time and space to grow and bear its awful fruit.

When I was younger I likened it to teenage acting-out, but that analysis implies a lack of responsibility. I don’t think it’s an inevitable stage of development either, but the curse of reading history is seeing countries and people turn in spirals, deepening atrocities with each pass.

The concentration camps for immigrants are a hot current news item; also hot is a bunch of apologists saying “they’re not so bad” and “you can’t call them concentration camps.” To the former I can only say “yes, they are, your racism is showing,” to the former, I will simply say, “Yes, I can, because that’s exactly what they are. Oh, and your racism is showing.”

“But there are no ovens!” some fuckwit racist apologist will wail, to which I reply, “Not yet.” There are no mass graves yet–or are there? Frankly, we don’t know, and the way things are going, I believe we will be extraordinarily lucky if the cycle of genocide is interrupted before we get to walls of bodies tumbling into bulldozer-dug pits. And if we are that goddamn lucky somehow, some racist fuckwits will try to use that sheer dumb luck to say “oh, it wasn’t so bad, you’re exaggerating,” because they know the comfortable disbelief of the half-somnolent who aren’t directly affected (yet) is their best cover.

The most hideous thing about this is that it’s not a natural disaster. It’s not an earthquake or a typhoon, it’s not a forest fire or a flood. People are doing this. People with hands shaped just like yours and mine, people who go home at the end of the day to their families or just to their solitary lives. People are caging, brutalizing, raping, and beating other people. The abusers look like you or me, they kiss their children, they drive to work and think about traffic. They are neighbors and friends and bring potluck dishes to events, they put shoes on feet that look just like yours, my friend, and just like mine.

We’re doing this to ourselves. Sometimes I think humanity deserves to be wiped from the planet if this is how we’re going to behave. Oh, Terra will still revolve, and Nature will wipe all traces of us and our catastrophe away, and in a few billion years the vastness of the globe will be alive with bird and whale song, whispering with wind through trees maybe stunted by fallout and long-ago pollution but still alive and murmuring. The planet’s going to be just fine after we choke on our own blood as a species.

Occasionally, the prospect even comforts me.

I don’t hold out a lot of hope. I used to think people could change, but change is painful and many prefer to stay miserably oblivious, content to let the rich and the malignant destroy everyone else as long as there’s a chance the bootlickers and crumb-stealers will remain unmolested. Which is a fool’s game–sooner or later, even the bootlickers are kicked.

Yes, I read that book deliberately. When I saw it on the library shelf I thought let’s try, and if I can finish it and honestly not see where current events are going echoed in those pages, I’ll hang up my crystal ball and keep my mouth shut.

Well.

You see where I ended up. There is no way to look away or keep one’s mouth shut. It’s not quite the eleventh hour before the apocalypse–but really, do we need it to be the eleventh hour before we put a stop to the bullshit?

Do we?


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Sunlight, Driven Mad

HOOD

The weekend was long. Not temporally, but I had two very emotional discussions I was braced for and then stumbled into a third. Which put paid to any ideas I had about working or mopping the kitchen, let me tell you.

Of course, mopping really doesn’t interest me, and I try to avoid it whenever I can, but that’s not the point.

Anyway, I need a weekend to recover from the weekend, as usual, and will not get one, also as usual. It’s time to get a few more projects moving along the line. I should revise Incorruptible, get Season 2 of HOOD even more underway, and I think Sons of Ymre is the next zero I’m going to finish. It occurs to me that I need to make one of the protagonists in the last a little less sweet and a lot more menacing to get the effect I really want, but that can be braided in later.

I want to get Lightning Bound and Hell’s Acre off my plate in the next few months, too. It might not happen–I consistently bite off more than I can chew near the end of June, because sunlight drives me just as mad as it does everyone else–but it would be nice. Both of those projects have trilogy structures, so we’ll see, though I might just write the first Lightning book and float it as a trial balloon. Hell’s Acre might do for a serial, for those who like steampunk-y things.1

I did read Lyndsay Faye’s Jane Steele over the weekend; retellings of Jane Eyre are so completely my jam it’s not even funny. I’m also working on The Rise of Germany and looking forward to the third in that trilogy once it’s released. I still prefer studying the Eastern Front, but I’ve reached the point where only increasingly recondite studies are being published, so I might as well branch out.

In any case, there’s a run to get in before the sunshine makes everyone even madder than usual, but before that I have to get the rest of my coffee down. Sequencing, as my ex used to say with a twinkle in his eye, is so important.

Have a good Monday, my dears. Or at least, let’s kill only who we absolutely must.2

Over and out.