Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 10/27/04

Artist's Statement

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernable reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors… and you, all of you, will be left just to study what we do.'

-from Ron Suskind’s article
“Without a Doubt” from the
New York Times Magazine

Well, there it is. It’s been evident for some time now that the Bush administration doesn’t have much contact with reality, but I’d always hoped this was accidental rather than an active disdain. It’s sort of breathtaking to see it so arrogantly stated out loud. They actually believe that the laws of History no longer apply to them. Philosophically, it’s a deformed bastard child of Jacques Derrida and Joe Stalin. “We’re an empire now”—this is meant as a naive boast, as though the guy had never heard of the Sack of Rome, or Waterloo, or Hiroshima. Well, it’s possible that they’re getting a belated introduction to reality in Iraq. But I’m afraid they may be ineducable. After all, if you don’t believe in reality-based decisions, how can you ever learn anything you don’t already know? Already they’re talking tough about Iran. The President himself exemplifies this kind of feckless, smirking certainty, secure in the knowledge that his policies are guided by the hand of God, not by fickle, ephemeral facts. The only problem with this policy is that--duh--there’s no God. The free world is led by George Bush’s invisible friend.

Philip K. Dick, who had some issues with Reality of his own, had a good, no-bullshit, hands-on definition of Reality: “that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” I find this strangely comforting. I have this weird faith I can’t seem to shake—no doubt a vestige of my Christian upbringing—not in Truth but in Reality. Not divine justice or karma so much as good old cause and effect. If you’re fucking up, eventually you will find out: you can convince yourself, and maybe even everyone else, that you don’t have a drinking problem for decades, right up until the day your eyeballs turn yellow and you die. If I’m right and the Bush administration is wrong about everything, eventually we’ll know it: they can spin the statistics any way they want, but millions of people are still out of work; they can reassure the voters that we’re winning the War on Terror, but our boys keep coming home in boxes.

In other words, George Bush thinks he’s Bugs Bunny, able to define reality on his own terms from moment to moment—in the middle of being pursued by Elmer Fudd he suddenly stops on a dime, whirls around, throws confetti in the air, blows a horn and screams “HAP-py New Year!’ and Elmer, hopelessly befuddled, has no choice but to drop his gun, dance, and celebrate, even though it’s July. Bugs throws on a wig and a dress and poor Elmer instantly falls in love. But I grew up watching Bugs Bunny; Bugs Bunny was a hero of mine; George W. Bush is no Bugs Bunny. Bush is more like Wile E. Coyote, confidently assured of his own supra-genius, chuckling and rubbing his hands in gleeful anticipation, his master plan meticulously plotted out on a big architectural drawing board, his hi-tech ACME hardware expensive and brand-new, but his scheme is fundamentally flawed and, more importantly, completely deranged.

And Osama bin Laden? He’s the fuckin’ Roadrunner, man.



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