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Throwing Up for Peace

Posted on Apr 2, 2012
Mr. Fish

By Mr. Fish

“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.”—George Orwell

The sad fact is that all traditional modes of dissent, whether they’re protest marches or boycotts or sit-ins, must ultimately fail because they are generally powerless to prevent their own inception. What does that mean? It means that once you’re able to label an injustice as being unjust, it’s already happened. Protest movements generally come about only after the baby has already bounced once on the ground, which, of course, is always too late to prevent the baby from falling in the first place. More often than not, a protester is looking at a wheezing sea gull with 11 toes when he is shouting, through cupped hands, “For the love of God Almighty, end pollution NOW!” 

In fact, organized activism such as the peace movement, even when executed on a grand scale, has never in the history of the world achieved the demands of its organizers nor the expectations of its participating sympathizers. Real humanitarianism requires years and years of practice to become useful to a society. It requires a certain eloquence to endear itself to the part of people’s brains that recognize the relevance of something only if it bears joyful repetition. It’s a lot like music that way. That’s why, even to the most forgiving ear, much of mass protest comes off sounding, politically speaking, like a bunch of people with no musical ability coming together to play the “Jupiter Symphony” on kazoos. The result is typically heartbreakingly charming to the friends and family of the protesters, but pathetic and unlistenable to most everybody else. 

Of course, the only hope we may have as a species lies within our ability to hear exquisite music inside the silence in between the notes we play, to see the beauty on the blank or graffitied walls separating our masterpieces and to recognize, with grace, our pathetic ineptitude when it comes to being able to appreciate the virtues of heaven only by requiring the episodic presence of hell on Earth.

I was recently sitting all alone in a vegan sandwichery and espresso joint in South Philadelphia watching a gangly barista with a translucent pubic beard dyed pink, neck tattoos and a tongue piercing that made him sound like Jodie Foster’s Nell when he spoke— Trouble go away at nigh’, an’ Nell caw Mi’i - an’ Nell an’ Mi’i - ye’, Nell an’ Mi’i - like t’ee in the way!—reach up under his Fuck Rehab T-shirt, unscrew the tiny barbell from his left nipple, pull it out, smell it and toss it onto the counter like it was a rancid olive. “Wah?” he said, when he noticed my expression of clear disgust. “Haen’t yew ebah gottn ah infecded teet befoe?”

“Lots of times,” I said, lying, “but I never diagnosed myself while working in food service, having just used my naked hand to press down on the toasted sourdough and avocado sandwich of a customer who was sitting in front of me.”

“Wha-evah,” he said, retreating into the backroom where, I imagined, he planned on dragging the onion ring-sized piercing he had on his taint through the mayonnaise bin.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that, “Nature and books belong to the eyes that see them,” which, to me, meant two things. First, elements of reality are real only when they are direct and experiential and, second, no one can claim the right to define what reality should look and feel like to another person. Having recently discovered the quote inked onto the front cover of a tattered journal from college, the sentiment freshly imprinted upon my mind, I decided to finish my lunch and to not think the worst of the Maynard G. Krebs-meets-Lady Gaga hybrid who, when I stood to leave, I saw back near the dishwasher milking the pus out of his breast with fingernails painted black, his shirt rolled up beneath his chin, his grubby sneakers hoisted onto tiptoes. He didn’t notice me, nor did the cat cleaning its ass on the prep table next to him, its hind leg pointed to the sky, its tiny brown head, pitching and bobbing like an aberrant muffin on a choppy sea, buried deep in its own crotch.


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By heterochromatic, April 13, 2012 at 8:18 am Link to this comment

Mr Fish—- keep on bringing the written pieces.

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By gerard, April 11, 2012 at 8:45 am Link to this comment

Fish, just wanted to tell you that, over the past couple days dealing with some commenters (“commentators” seems a bit over the top) on serious matters, I am beginning to grasp what you meant by “throwing up for peace”!

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By Joey, April 6, 2012 at 6:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What does Karl bring to Romney campaign ?

A political warrior that will do anything to destroy this country and win.
As he has done before.
Unlimited funds
Voter suppression

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, April 5, 2012 at 4:46 am Link to this comment

Meat scenes from Svankmajer’s “Lunacy”

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By mrEous, April 4, 2012 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear responders,

  So many of you seem ignorant of the fact that the word “too” has 2 t’s when its meaning is “also”. For crying out loud.

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By Rehmat, April 3, 2012 at 7:27 am Link to this comment

Mr. Fish seems to be ignorant of recent Middle East East history. In 1978, Iranian anti-Shah, anti-USrael mass movement threw away Reza Shah’s dictorial rule without firing a shot or attacking civilian and government buildings. In the process - over 250,000 Iranian lost their lives at the hands of Israel-trained Shah’s SAVAK killing machine.

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By balkas, April 3, 2012 at 6:53 am Link to this comment

yes, i agree, protests, plaints, etc., cannot bring any desirable fruits.
i’ve been saying this for a long time now. i am glad that Fish had noted it as well.
only a military-econo-politico-monetary-educatuonal power of equal or greater
might, might extract some goodies for the 80% from the people presently in
however, we need to note that the present protest in US is in its infancy. if it is
joined by, say, the 80% or more of USans, it may wring out some fairness from the
1 or is it, 20%.
but the possibility or even probability of sliding ever so slowly back to the old
ways, after granting some rights to the 80%, remains and most likely wld happen
unless the 80%  are represented in sufficient numbers in the governance and govts
of the country.

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By Ivan Hentschel, April 3, 2012 at 4:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

While I really appreciate the effort and energy that went into this piece (and the interesting imageries), your point was neatly encapsulized by the end of the second paragraph. And I agree, completely. Thanks.

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By Writeonwater, April 2, 2012 at 11:52 pm Link to this comment

Ah, I can only bask in the light of the recognition that humanity will not seek solutions to problems they don’t know exist. A truism that is not a problem, at least not that I know about.

We cannot be reminded to often that what we do next has a lot to do with what we last ate and the importance of working people.

The of poisoning oneself for a cause when it could be avoided escapes me but visceral nature of the prose tugged me forward. Like a trout on a hook.

The critic in me want’s to talk about Frank Lloyd Wright and form following a function. Ya know he saw a friend of his crushed under an artistic facade that served no purpose.

Wait, Fish is a cartoonist. This is his job!

Dear Mr. Fish,
Did you consider the wicked syncopation of anallingus and mayonnaise in the same verse?

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By poodfreemon, April 2, 2012 at 5:51 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The sad fact” and “the only hope” are artifacts. I am looking for the wondrous and breakthrough facts and the list of the 100 greatest hopes.

Wondrous fact: The OWS movement has politicized hundreds of thousands of young US citizens.

I have been waiting for the moment when the youth would again rise up and embrace politics.

The mention of “traditional modes of dissent” implies the existence of non-traditional modes of dissent. One of my old favorites in the non-traditional category is “subversive eccentricity.”

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By jimmmmmy, April 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm Link to this comment

Wow , the imagery is awesome. But what the fuck are you Talking about?

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By jr., April 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment

Let me start by saying, thank you Mr. Fish.  Great article and, great artwork!

Secondly, that is one vegan sandwichery which i hope to never find myself in.

Lastly, i don’t have all the answers, not sure i have any at all; but, even if i had, nobody would understand anyway.  The only thing i’ve found in living is that every man, woman, and child is on their own.  Your experience would tend to confirm the same.  It is an unfortunate lesson to learn, but anything less, is but another opinion.  What can one do?

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By gerard, April 2, 2012 at 1:13 pm Link to this comment

Cutting and emphatic as always.  But:  “...all the while secretly worrying that most people prefer kindness to hate, nonviolence to violence, not because they’re virtuous or reliably humane, but because they’re too lazy to devote themselves to the rigorous calisthenics necessary to pull off the most gruesome doomsday imaginable.” 
  Manicheaism to the point of a raging fever. Eliot expressed some of the sly nuances better:  i.e. the measly fear of eating peaches ... “missing so much and so much.” 
  It’s the “missing so much” that invites continuation in the hope of drawing just one more—breath?  And finding ... not nausea but a self-help pill, a knock-out idea, a North Star, a belief, a love, a SOMETHING that (everything else being equally incredible and indecisive)  just HAS to be out there, ticking,or is it twinkling?

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By felicity, April 2, 2012 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

Except that a little quirk can end up having profound
results and thus isn’t little at all, a quirk of the
human animal is to avoid thinking about, and thus
acting from well-reasoned thinking if the problem at
hand is too complicated, too big, has too many

We will spend weeks researching which $20 toaster is
the best one to own while we will buy a house that
has bread baking in the oven because we love the
smell of baking bread.  A tad extreme, but the point
is we can know a lot about a toaster and not very
much about which is the best house to buy.

(The 2700 page Affordable Health Care Bill is way to
big and complicated to tackle before it’s fully
enforced, but protesting against it after it’s in
place is not complicated and not overwhelming)

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