Category Archives: Popular Media

Terrible Dean Koontz’s Terrible Book Titles

When I was in prison, I spent two weeks in Segregation. Some of the only books available to read were several by Dean Koontz. Staring at his book titles for time uncountable, I realized some patterns, and eventually made this chart. Enjoy the laughable absurdity! 🙂

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The Gorilla Hirambe’s Killing Unsurprising, Emblematic of How We Treat All Animals

Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo

Harambe, a 17-year-old gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo is pictured in this undated handout photo provided by Cincinnati Zoo. REUTERS/Cincinnati Zoo/Handout via Reuters

The murder of this magnificent nonhuman-person, whose western lowland gorilla species is critically endangered, with fewer than 200,000 individuals left in the wild, has been discussed at length already. I just wanted to make a couple points, and reproduce a pertinent quote from the book I’m reading.

The only logical conclusion that this tragedy should engender is that zoos are fucking terrible, *inherently.* No exceptions. They are nothing more than prisons for those who’ve committed no crime. Kidnapping animals from the wild; breeding and then keeping captive animals; unnatural, toxic, pitiful facsimiles of the real nature these animals should be in, even at what most people consider the best zoos; and at the end, the most harmful aspect of them all regarding zoos–they treat, view, teach, say, and demonstrate the idea that nonhuman animals are/as property. The glass windows through which humans crowd around to stare at zoo animals and their “habitat” should more appropriately be seen as mirror that reflects back at those attendants some of the most awful characteristics of humanity; industrialized humans’ hubris, vanity, greed, sociopathic selfishness, denial of facts, cruelty, stupidity, and ludicrous, baseless worldview that humans are superior to all nonhuman life in any way or form that truly matters. The most brilliant, scathing analysis about the innate atrocity of zoos also comes from–not suprisingly–Derrick Jensen and photographer Karen Tweedy Holmes‘s gorgeous, heartbreaking coffee table-type book, Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos.

I’d like to mention a few things about this tragic (though all-too-predictable) event and its resultant media and social media firestorm. The number of people outraged by it is of course a great thing. Everybody should be angry. We should be calling for the sterilization of the boy’s mother 😉 But we also need to realize that–similar to oil spills, like the 20 thousand gallons of crude oil Shell just leaked into California’s Central Valley (which itself was just two weeks after Shell spilled 90 thousand gallons into the Gulf of Mexio!)–zoo animals being murdered by their captors is simply an inevitable cost of doing this kind of business! Toxic chemicals and carcinogens get “accidentally” released into the air/water/soil by giant multinational corporations that deal with toxic chemicals, and animals will be abused in industries that rely on their exploitation!

The answer is not to reform this genocidal culture; the answer is to destroy it!

Finally, there’s a certain moral schizophrenia, in the words of animal rights attorney and professor Gary Francione, within anybody who is upset about Harambe but has not yet gone vegan. What happened to Harambe is incredibly MILD and UNCRUEL compared to what the BILLIONS of nonhuman individuals trapped in the meat, dairy, egg, vivisection, fur, leather, and other industries. If you’re not vegan, you’re literally paying people to torture animals, keep them sickeningly confined to the point where they can hardly move their entire short, pitiful, miserable lives, and slash their throats in unspeakably savage, barbaric slaughterhouses. If you care about Hirambe, GO VEGAN!

And now, the passage that motivated me to write this blog. From THE MYTH OF HUMAN SUPREMACY by Derrick Jensen (who called me “One hell of a writer.” How amazing is that?!)

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“Regret the extirpation of a species? Not on your life. Regret our not being able to exploit them further? Now we’re talking.
“This is one reason nearly all news articles about an endangered species must include reference to this species’ financial value to the economy. From the perspective of human supremacists, financial value IS value. The inherent value of the other–the value of this other to itself [sic] and to its [sic] family or community or larger biotic community–is either going to be ignored, or at best, grossly undervalued.”

This passage made me think of Harambe, who was murdered by his prison captors; as the above passage draws to mind, his “property value” was lowered by the event’s inevitable media coverage, and so, even though he wasn’t going to hurt anyone, and even though his kidnappers could’ve stopped Harambe by using nonlethal means, they were better off simply killing him. This is business as usual in a culture of human supremacists. I’d frankly be more surprised if they HADN’T murdered Harambe the gorilla!

And that says more than all the articles combined.

 

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My Go Vegan Radio Interview

Great interview with me on Go Vegan Radio with Bob Linden this past Sunday! We discussed a whole range of topics, including veganism (natch), animal rights and liberation, the inherent racism of the American “justice” system, my time in prison, the vile Monsanto corporation, and my debut novel ORANGE RAIN, from which I read a short but powerful excerpt. Available for listening here:

http://www.goveganradio.com/2014/09/10/07-september-2014/

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Learn more about ORANGE RAIN here:

“Pynchon in Public” Day–Before

Thursday, May 8 (tomorrow, from my current chrono-location) is the fourth annual Pynchon in Public Day, a world non-event of culture-jamming with anything related to the madman-genius books of iconic postmodernist writer Thomas Pynchon–a recluse who makes J.D. Salinger like a media whore. One of the only known pictures of him is a dorky bucktoothed high school yearbook photo:

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Click the website link above for explanations, ideas, examples. My girlfriend and I will be going by names of characters in his books–Pugnax (dog who can read, and communicate with humans with barks) and Commander Randolph St. Cosmo (head of the hydrogen airship Inconvenience), respectively; our dog will be referred to as Mouffette, French for “skunk”, and a papillon dog (all names from Against the Day).

We will also happen to already that day be staying in San Francisco, location of Oedipa Maas’s day of Tristero-conspiracy findings in The Crying of Lot 49. She sees a symbol drawn all over the city, dozens of times–the muted Post horn, symbol of W.A.S.T.E. (We Await Silent Tristero’s Empire):

lot 49 trumpet

I have a feeling we, too, will be coming across many of these symbols drawn/chalked in various locations (photographic evidence possibly forthcoming). We will also be reading his books “unashamedly on trains”.

Happy (Mute Horn) Posting!

Walking Dead Season Finale: Who’s REALLY the “Walking Dead”?

The Walking Dead’s season four finale has now thematically coalesced into something they’ve been building, really, the entire series, but they’ve taken it to the next level with this season. The thematic buildup can be expressed in one simple sentence: The Walking Dead is now attempting to reverse the moral status of the living and the dead.

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We’ve seen it since the beginning—Shane’s violent actions against the living, and ultimately his attempt to murder Rick; random pillagers; The Governor’s being more savage, ruthless, and efficient a killer than any Walker, and so on. But in season four, the lines have been blurred even further, escalating every episode, until the transformation is seemingly finalized in the last episode. Here’s what it comes down to: the Walkers have no choice. Their humanity is destroyed, and they’re reduced to base level flesh-devouring automatons. But those who haven’t “turned,” the living—they still have the ability to empathize, to comfort and aide one another, to offer succor and forgiveness and compassion. But surviving so long and seeing so much brutality and death and misery, it’s turned many of the characters into creatures far more evil than the helpless Dead. Several of the starkest examples of this: (1) Lizzy, who almost suffocated baby Judith, who killed and dissected nonhuman animals “for fun,” and who finally killed her own sister because she was unable to see the great distinction between the living and dead (relevant here is how Carol was the one to kill Lizzy—Carol, who’s changed perhaps more than anyone, who’s justified ruthless behavior in the name of survival time and again; using ruthless violence to survive, just like the Walkers); (2) The “Claim Gang,” essentially a group of post-apocalyptic pirates, plundering, beating and even killing their own members who digress too far from their stated rules. How fitting that Rick’s “seismic shift,” as the actor who portrays him described it, comes during his attempt to overcome that very Claim Gang. In that one scene, there are at least three things that flip the script, as it were, between what we’ve come to expect from humans and Walkers—Daryl kills one of the men by stomp-crushing his skull, which was prior to that only done to Walkers; Rick also kills one of the Gang members in a way we usually only associate with the killing of Walkers, stabbing his son’s attacker over and over and over; and then, of course, the shocking moment when Rick bites out the jugular of his own captor, the gang leader Joe—utilizing a killing method we’ve seen literally dozens of times from Walkers.

Many of the characters are shown trying to come to terms with their dwindling humanity. Michonne and Carl both call themselves “monsters,” a term that could obviously be applied to the Walkers. Carol finally admits to Tyrese that she was the one who killed and burned the two bodies back at the prison. Others—most notably Rick—simply embrace a cutthroat, killer attitude. He will protect his son and his friends, at the expense of any shred of humanity he might have left for those outside that circle.

In the end, what we’re left with at Terminus is one dramatic, burning question: Just who exactly does the show’s title refer to? Is it the zombies who are “the walking dead,” or is it actually the living survivors? I can only guess that this question will only become more blurred, more difficult, next season. And I can’t wait.

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