Archive for the ‘Black Iron Prison’ Category


No list of the fallen

July 22, 2006

I caught Richard Linklater’s film A Scanner Darkly (q.v., q.v., q. very much v.), based on Philip K. Dick’s mostly autobiographical novel of the same name. It verified what I have come to regard as a law of physics, that it is impossible to make a bad flick from PKD’s fiction. But of the several such flicks out there (Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and the French rarity Barjo), this is the one that fully captures Dick’s humanity, humor, darkness, and paranoia. The rotoscoping lends just the right air of reality cum unreality to the proceedings.

Phil Dick was honest about the drug scene as no one else I know of ever was. He gets the coolness, the fun, and the camaraderie. He gets the unchanging idiocy of the drug war and the Rotarian squeaky clean horror not just of what the drugs can do to people, but of the people it does them to. He gets the tragedy of decaying mental powers, from the inside. If D.A.R.E. were really daring, it would throw out the whole anti-drug curriculum, and just show this film. It would be ten times as effective as what they do.

But they won’t. Because the kids viewing it would be left to come to their own sympathies and their own conclusions.

One narc, who like the protagonist Robert Arctor has a foot in both sides of the war, surveys the wreckage as the novel winds down:

If God has an M.O., he reflected, it is to transmute evil into good. If He is active here, He is doing that now, although our eyes can’t perceive it; the process lies hidden beneath the surface of reality, and emerges only later. To, perhaps, our waiting heirs. Paltry people who will not know the dreadful war we’ve been through, and the losses we took, unless in some footnote in a minor history book they catch a notion. Some brief mention. With no list of the fallen.

We of the Left in America are privileged, at least for the moment. Because our polity is so far only, to use John Dean’s word, proto-fascist, these words do not apply to us. I look at the failed states in which America’s fear of terrorism is working its dark magic on numberless victims invisible to us, and the only part of that passage that doesn’t ring true is the part about evil being transmuted into good.

I can pray, though, that it fails to ring true only because I am watching it unfold in a glass darkly.


Did I mention the Black Iron Prison?

April 25, 2006

Tucked away into an intelligence bill just introduced into the House, Section 423 of H.R. 5020, is a provision authorizing the CIA and the NSA to make arrests, “for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States, if such personnel have probable cause to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing that felony offense.”

Not one, but two, secret police forces will soon be law. Once they’ve set up the KGB, will they bother to tell us when they’re setting up Lubyanka?

A tip of the nicteis wing to the Federation of American Scientists for the catch.