SOUND THE ALARM ! CLANG CLANG WHIRRRR
Since the advent of me, The Alarmist, and my delightful yet widely misunderstood alarmist jottings, and my solicitation of your queries, I have received only two questions from readers. Perhaps the reason for the disappointing lack of attention and curiosity among my readership is that you, Reader, have no desire to engage, NAY TO SET OFF, my alarm. Why is this the case?
ALARMISM: NOT ENJOYED BY MANY
We live our baleful, tiny ant-like lives directing our energies primarily to two very time-consuming activities: 1) working and 2) staving off alarm. Our lives, as opposed to us who live them, spend their energies erecting obstacles that require, and in fact produce, the aforementioned uses of our energies. The obstacles are: 1) work sucks (the degree to which you “love your job”—barf—is relative duh because work sucks) and 2) the discomposures of panic and alarm threaten the life-numbing calm that ensures we keep going back to work. You get the picture. To the enemy of me and all men, Jordan Stein, The Alarmist says: It’s like a dance party that you can never leave. To the over-praised, smiley Peter Coviello, I say: It’s a karaoke performance of a song that doesn’t exist. It’s a circle in relation to which you are the circle. This is a theory of subjectivity that I like to call: scorpions girt with fire, or, the goddamned inescapable fucking circle of me-ness.
Given how unemployment and employment are themselves silent states of constant alarm disguised as, well, work and the desire for work, the two fundamental human activities–working and staving off alarm–collapse into one, enormous stifling atmosphere of disavowed alarmism. While all roads lead to alarm, you do not normally hear alarm sounds. Now and then, marginalized types report having heard alarm sounds in response to which hegemonic types assure them, and everyone, that these experiences are aural hallucinations, merely symptoms of an underlying more serious condition: having a body (see Charlotte Perkins Gilman, below). Some homes have fancy alarm systems that pretend to send signals to the police but do not. They are silent alarms sounded by idiots, full of no sound and no traveling fury, signifying no one. The inimitable fake alarmist, novelist William Faulkner, writes:
Alarms slay alarmism…alarmism is dead as long as it is being sounded off by alarms; only when the alarm stops does alarmism come to life.
This, the obvious product of debilitating alcoholism, is wrong. True alarmism requires alarms that actually make noise and therefore SIGNAL ALARM. (Writing in ALL CAPS is one way, albeit SYMBOLIC, TO PRODUCE an ALARM SOUND. THIS IS HOW THE ALARMIST FEELS INSIDE. ALL THE TIME.) On a personal note, a functioning alarm system would help The Alarmist immensely. Shouldering the Atlas-like burden of hysterical noise-making is, to quote stateswife Ann Romney, hard. The first rule, and the overarching rule, of Capitalism is: You do not talk about Capitalism but it’s okay to press the alarm button on your so-called silent alarm because it’s not really connected to anything. The second rule of capitalism is: The Alarmist needs to shut up and die. Silence equals death, people, come on, I thought we so covered this already.
You already know these unwritten rules. Do not talk about Capitalism, and, also, do not run around gay-flapping your arms sounding any real sound-making alarms in response to the perpetual state of silent alarm inside which you live and which lives inside you. This alarm-sounding activity, alarmism, is generally considered histrionic and deafening, both submissive pathology and dominant aggression. The world as we know it, anti-alarmism whispers constantly, is already loud masquerading as quiet; don’t wake it up. The goal is to do anything but mirror the state of alarm. We internalize the will to mute as subjects formed by an unspoken shared Universal Librarianism: shhhh. Do not un-press the cognitive dissonance button on the remote (self-) control which threatens to cause crazy shit to reveal itself as crazy shit. This feared chaos of Borges-ian proportions (the fabled map the legend for which explains that 1 inch = 1 inch) threatens to produce an unbearably heightened state of knowing and feeling both for yourself and for others. It might breach the imagined boundaries between yourself and others. It might also lead to a successful Alarmist Occupy Movement. Nobody wants these things. They require a great deal of time. I don’t know about you, but I have to get up for work in the morning.
20% of the U.S. population use some kind of psychiatric medication. Imagine how angry this makes Scientology. I digress. If you, the well-adjusted (lolz) 80%, associate psychiatric medications with some type of personal or social stigma then, while you may aspire to middle class status, you’re not there yet. Or else you’re Australian. You get drunk as often as you can, or you do religion or you ride your bicycle greenly or you practice vegetarianism and worship the pernicious demi-god Kale. Most of us practice some creative combination of these things because it takes a village of fucked up behaviors to avoid knowing what you know and rising up in anger or shooting the television like Elvis. Or shooting the television hopped up on a cocktail of medication and alcohol like Elvis.
Shooting the television is a form of Alarmism. It’s pretty LOUD. Some people–Elvis comes to mind–are surprisingly good at carefully finessing complicated behavioral combinations—including, for example, mixing psychiatric medications with alcohol–because the science of bourgeois risk-taking pits survival against survival and, though undocumented, is very advanced. Some of us–myself The Alarmist comes to mind–make our work the study of the powerful mediating effects of various kinds of self-medication that allow us not to know ourselves as workers. Embodying this confusing meta-mindfuck of epic proportions results in an otherwise mindful life of repetition during which the intellectual repeatedly discovers without learning that he has a job. Most people despise intellectuals, so much so that using the word intellectual to name myself causes The Alarmist to wince with the realization that we normally hate ourselves too and convert that self-enmity into erudite acts of comedy. As the affective disaster Jimmy Corrigan would say: Ha ha.
Everyone knows that the totalizing narrative provided by cereal box Marxism is the best kind because it’s right and also you get to eat cereal. Work makes workers then provides us with the cure for workerness which gets us back to work which re-makes us into workers afflicted with workerness for which the cure is provided by work which gets us back to work, over and over like totally forever. The Alarmist is not alarmed by the fact of this controlling reality; THE ALARMIST IS ALARMED BY THE FACT THAT THIS FAILS TO CAUSE ALARM. Being The Alarmist amidst a sea of people placated by periodical fake acts of sounding silent alarms is not unlike visiting the zoo and discovering that all the animals are asleep. At the same time. WTF?
To recap–and forgive me for making an obvious link more obvious—all this is how we arrived at the result of only two questions being submitted to The Alarmist which I attribute to a shared will—a silent social contract, thank you to whichever Sarah pointed this out–to suppress all alarmism of the kind that actually results in ALARM SOUNDS. This is why people write stories with titles like “The Yellow Wallpaper” that pose stultifying didactic binaries: Is alarmism freedom or is it insanity? The Alarmist has no idea because I was so bored by the third sentence that I started to imagine a full-on remodel of that ghastly room including new wallpaper. Maybe just some paint. Although wall paint was full of lead back then so that would not be good for the baby. But really who am I kidding? Crazy bitch is never gonna have that baby, not if Margaret Sanger has anything to say about it. In any case, The Alarmist does not take the dearth of questions personally which, okay, is an outright lie. THE PERSONALLY OFFENDED, NOT TO MENTION HURT, BEYOND ANY EFFECTIVE PRIVATE OR PUBLIC APOLOGY IS THE POLITICAL. Still, The Alarmist, however manly yet sensitive, is not stubbornly attached to the infallibility of his Odysseus-like acute reasoning powers. Like Drake, The Alarmist could be wrong and then write a song and sing: “Fuck it I was wrong though.” The Alarmist would not, by the way, write the part about letting the lights “dim sum” because that form of blatant orientalism went out of style in 1844.
Maybe all of the above is too much, too bleak, a self-propelling depressive yet invigorated alarmist hysteria. The galvanizing powers of The Alarmist’s insights have long gone unrecognized because The Alarmist is SO FUCKING ALARMIST. Emotional regulation, Universal Librarianism: shhhh, and/or Blatherism (see below) are the best remedies for The Alarmist’s dwindling supply of sick leave; even so, The Alarmist is open to the possibility that he is wrong.
Alarmism: Don’t Hurt ‘Em, Hammer
Maybe, more accurately, there are a paltry and insulting mere two questions for The Alarmist because you, Reader, have no reason to want to encourage my alarmism because you fear–with real trepidation for which The Alarmist blames no man—that I have so little mastery over my spectacular paroxysms of alarm that I might sound the menacing ALL CAPS not only in response to your question, but also in response to you.
Most anxieties amount to distorted fantasies of future outcomes that are either impossible or have already happened. But, sometimes, anxieties attach to real fears of likely outcomes. Like 100% likely.
Now, finally, I present the two questions. Their interdependence is obvious. Since there are two of them, since two whole questions suggests The Alarmist has at least two readers, I present them both. I confess that they were submitted by the same person. In any case, as you will see immediately, and despite the fact that I hope to present them as separate entities for the purpose of establishing my popularity as well as to repress the dawning realization that I am being stalked by someone named Sarah who pretends to be two people, they might as well be the same question.
1. Dear Alarmist: Have you switched cable providers lately? I’m contemplating moving to U-verse from Comcast and trying to figure out how the timing works.
2. Dear Alarmist: Mitt Romney’s nickname “Mittens” always makes me think of kittens. Or cats. What is this? Is something wrong with me? Is there something wrong with kittens? Why the cat/Romney association? Will I be tied to the roof of the car?
You understand, Reader, that The Alarmist can answer both of these questions, and with so much detail and at such excruciating length that the resulting tedious alarmist discourse would itself risk turning into a form of silent fake alarm called Blatherism, the twin sister (to borrow a metaphor from the dreary quitter Virginia Woolf) to Universal Librarianism: shhhh. Mistakenly understood as the opposite of Universal Librarianism: shhhh, Blatherism manifests as the steady over-production of blahblah blah blah blah blah and produces the same sound vacuum inside which alarms are silenced by shhhh. Because The Alarmist eschews the pernicious ideology of Blatherism and of all anti-alarmist regimes based on the embrace of the silent fake alarm, I will now proceed directly to critiquing the shit out of the two questions and, by implication, whomever wrote them.
Please forgive me in advance for the motion to eviscerate the fantasy questioner. The Alarmist does not believe in authors nor human biography which is why I make a crafty pseudo-apologetic gesture with the epithet fantasy when I refer to him or her. To it, I mean. So, Sarah or Sarah: Really? These questions are the best you can do? And did you seriously need to embed that defensive, pre-emptive jokey shit in the second one to insult me by answering the question yourself? Dude. Dudes. Despite the fact that no one pays me to do this, and despite the additional fact that no one wants me to do this, I expect my editors to stop playing World of Warcraft long enough to put some effort into pretending like someone else wrote the fucking questions.
Comcast = Mitt Romney = Comcast = Mitt Romney ad infinitum. Let me break this down. Listen up, Sarahs.
When you think about Comcast and Mitt Romney together, even for one fleeting second, their glaring overlap rings clear as a bell LIKE AN ALARM: education! I know. It’s obvious. But I will illustrate the link to you anyway because The Alarmist takes as his sole mission re-investing the banal conditions of existence with the big, sloppy affect they should have inspired in the first place.
COMCAST IS SMART LIKE A SKULK OF FOXES
Comcast trains its employees so thoroughly—educates them to such an impossibly high standard–that 1) when a Comcast employee speaks, his elaborate turns of phrase are so larded with specialist technical vocabulary that he sounds like he is reading from a script, and 2) it is impossible to win an argument against a Comcast employee. A person, even The Alarmist, unskilled in the arts of formal debate and lightning fast rhetorical positioning has no chance.
Let’s close read.
Ccast: How can I help you? (invitation)
The Alarmist: My internet is not working. (acceptance)
Ccast: Let me check that. Can you please wait a minute? (wrests control of pace)
The Alarmist: Sure, no problem. (adjusts to the surprise revised rhetorical format)
The Alarmist: Are you there? (more engagement resulting from the production of absence)
Ccast: Yes, Ma’am. (insult disguised as polite deference) Your internet is working. (flat out blocking with an authoritative counter-claim)
The Alarmist: Wha? (vocabulary scarcity in response to agressivo reality denial)
Ccast: It’s working fine. (doubles down, gestures to, without actually claiming, a standard of truth supported by phantom machinery)
The Alarmist: No, um, I can’t get on. (snowballing self-doubt)
Ccast: Ma’am, is your computer powered up? (insult, insult)
The Alarmist: Yes. Wait lemme check. (second-guesses self, snowball snowball)
Ccast: Ma’am, your internet is working because your telephone is working. (insult, diverts anxiety)
The Alarmist: Lemme check the phone. (panic, desperate need for empirical support)
Ccast: Ma’am, I know your telephone is working because you’re speaking to me on your telephone. (insult, insult-kill,repeated diversion punctuated with shaming expository logic)
MITTENS ROMNEY IS SMART LIKE Jason Bourne meets Einstein
Like the Comcast employee training program and its trainees, Mittens Romney’s thinking soars so far above your capacity for comprehension that, in a million years, no matter how many hundreds of thousands of dollars you pay for your average quality education, you will never ascend to Mittens’ level. Listening to him speak feels like being bear-hugged within an inch of your life by his knife-like razor sharp cutting stabbing sawing Samurai brain.
Let’s close read.
MITTENS: Well, I think as you look at the national polls, you see that I’m tied in the national polls, both Gallup and Rasmussen have the numbers at even.
(First, casually ignore the rules of the comma; structured rest, like welfare, is for the poor. More importantly, position your interlocutor in relation to fake data as though you are examining that data together, as teammates, in real time, collaborating to decipher an ancient mysterious language–Gallup? Rasmussen? You see here how Mittens situates himself as a Virgil-like guide. The nonsense that appears in the interviewer’s blind eyes as an impenetrable puzzle, or a gaping lack of any information whatsoever, Mittens descries as the galvanizing, monumental truth, an apocalyptic revelation of the sharp hard facts that will mark history forever: we’re even.)
MITTENS: State-by-state you’ve got some advertising going on from the Obama people, which expresses their views on my positions, which frankly I think are inaccurate and in some cases dishonest.
(This is a classic move of persuasive offense you’ll recognize from both Cicero’s Pro Archia Poeta and Romney’s management primer How to Do Unconscionable Things Without Thinking About It: atmospheric panic-inducing subject-verb confusion. “…you’ve got some advertising going on from the Obama people.” On first impression, this imitates human speech. But, when you slow it down and re-play it a few times, you realize that it means nothing while it performs a multi-directional responsibility meltdown and then links that dark moral catastrophe to the name Obama. If Mittens can manipulate a small part of a sentence to pack this much destabilizing action [YOU’VE GOT SOME ADVERTISING GOING ON] with this degree of sublime cunning, the reader asks himself: What in God’s name will he do when he’s really angry because he didn’t win the election?)
MITTENS: The advantage I have is to go to the American people and describe how I’m going to get America working again.
(Note how Mittens masterfully selects which information to withhold in order to generate a mass desire that only he can fulfill, if he so chooses, in the future. This is the same effect—the strong desire for something so good it dare not speak its own name–that I have shown above as an effect of Comcast’s “Can you please wait a minute?” It’s as though this locution (“…how I’m going to get America working again”) promises that, when Mittens finally explains how he is going to put people back to work, the explanation itself is going to do the hiring.)
MITTENS: When you have a cat in your living room, you remember how cats are supposed to be so clean, so sanitary — and you get out the vacuum cleaner, and the cat is always scared of the vacuum cleaner. I don’t know why they do that. It’s a real problem.
(Mittens Romney. The courage to ask difficult questions that no one else will ask. Ever.)
MITTENS: How some of the things being said about me are not accurate, and mine is a campaign about 100% of the people, not 99 and 1, not any other percent. It’s about getting 100% of the people in this country to have a brighter future, better job prospects, and higher take-home pay.
(He starts in media res which suggests that his voice and what he is saying have existed since before time began and will continue forever. Then he does math, tricky math, math that splits 100 into 99 plus 1 and then puts them back together to make 100 again. He’s a budget whisperer, a numbers magician with the power to shatter a whole into two radically, RADICALLY uneven parts and then join them back together again. He also effortlessly makes the bold claim, tucked away in a stealth clause, that abstract mathematical ideas do not exist yet somehow, even in absentia, they threaten an upheaval that requires pre-emptive negation: “not any other percent.” DAMN STRAIGHT NOT ANY OTHER PERCENT NO WAY. Finally, his carefully chosen closing words console by reassembling the same audience discomposed by the shock of the “any other percent.” He offers happy words blended together by a vowel-meets-consonant skipping rhythmic rhyme scheme that eludes scansion: “brighter, better, higher.” The suggestion that the original phrasing in draft was “brighter, better, higher, butter” has not been substantiated.)
As for the Mittens/kittens thing: 1) it’s a rhyme, and 2) it’s a funny insult. You’re riding on the roof.
WHAT THIS MEANS AND HOW WE GOT HERE
Some time during the 15th Century, the famous homosexual future Freudian case study and mutant ninja turtle Leonardo Da Vinci wrote, “Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose,” suggesting his belief in balance, integrity, and consistency of focus. He demonstrated his lived commitment to this wholeness principle by doggedly pursuing his life’s ambition to be a doctor. And a musician. And a botanist, engineer, mathematician, anatomist, and architect. At night, after painting the Sistine Chapel all day, he went home and invented the helicopter and then forgot to tell anyone about it. What Leonardo Da Vinci meant to say was the opposite of what he did say and an echo of The Alarmist Creed: “Make your purpose to be in keeping with your work.”
To draw the link between Mittens Romney and Comcast, The Alarmist could have taken the easy road. But zipping down that road would suggest that roads are means for travel to locations. In fact, as inverted revised Leonardo Da Vinci knew as well as he could before he was inverted and revised, alarmism starts at its destination and then hopes like hell to find a road, any road, that will get it the fuck out of there. It’s the alarming way of alarmism which lives on forever as long as I have at least one Sarah.
For any naysaying anti-alarmist still reading this, let me Deepthroat this one for you, following the money, which always provides the shortest distance between Mitt Romney and any other point on earth and also kills the game with the roads and the destinations.
In 2009, Mittens Romney hired a dude named Deepak Sindwani to be a partner in Bain Capital. Romney hired Sindwani away from his job as the senior investment professional at Comcast Interactive Capital which is the venture capitalist fund for Comcast Corporation. Now Sindwani facilitates Bain Capital’s media and communications acquisitions.
Don’t vote for Mittens Romney on election day because that would be redundant. Every time you consume anything, including surfing your cable, boyfriend already pockets your vote. Plus I don’t know what U-verse is but it sounds stupid.
Henry Raz Histrio: Telling the hard truth since 2011.
SO FREAKING ROGUE.
Peter Coviello and Jordan Stein, I am sorry to learn that there is so much animosity amongst Avidly’s writing staff. WTF, Henry Raz Histrio? Can’t you get along with ANYONE?
Shut the fuck up, “Sarah.”
OOps–I meant to post that on behalf of Henry. He sent me a text.
also, Catherine Carrigan, you may find some advice here about your comcast switching issues. Or, you may not.
Avoid Margaret Sanger when you switch cable providers
“over-praised, smiley Peter Coviello”
also the factory photo
If only I could thank Mandy Berry for this
Why thank me? You mean bc I persuaded Henry to write down his amazing thoughts? He did it bc we are EXTREMELY close.
Plus that Margaret Sanger moment goes down in history as the meanest funny thing he ever wrote. IMHO
I say again, “over-praised, smiley”
lol where is Peter Coviello? Like his feelings couldn’t really be hurt. Right?
After I blew my chance to work “tinfoil excuse for a skirt” into a talk, as Sarah Mesle knows (even though I planned how to do it, I just FORGOT to say it of the plain speakers’ table that needed some tinfoil excuse for a skirt, I have been looking for a new challenge. And now I have one: find a way to introduce Peter Coviello at a talk with the words “over-praised, smiley.”
I am returned from the day’s labors to find myself… overpraised!
I hope this Henry motherfucker knows how much Mandy loves me and, ergo, how much she’s gonna kick his ass!
Peter Coviello, you can complain all you want, but “sarah” has been accused of playing World of Warcraft and WE KNOW MANDY WON’T LET THAT STAND.
I have been kept very busy trying to shhhh my alarm at being accused of playing World of Warcraft. Also, engaged in a variety of fucked-up behaviors trying to avoid knowing what I know. Which is that it is unclear the extent to which I am “Sarah” and the extent to which I am “Sarah” and also that my question about OFFICE SUPPLIES has continued to go unaddressed.
I’m completely confused by all of this. I’m afraid I’m going to need each of you to fill out a fourteen-page questionnaire of highly personal and occasionally ostensibly irrelevant questions, followed by one-on-one interview sessions for up to an hour, so I can figure out if I should be pitching this as a reality show. Kthxbai.
14 page questionnaire? Bringit.
As we all know, I have long desired a morning talk show called “good mourning and melancholia.” but Morgan Fahey the reality tv idea is EVEN BETTER.
also, i know henry wrote a damn lot of words this time but it is really worth careening through to the end, because there’s a kitten picture.
And this is Henry seriously keeping the word count low too.
“(He starts in media res which suggests that his voice and what he is saying have existed since before time began and will continue forever.)”
I think I am going to have to now redirect all of my work/panic energies to a new job, called Being In Love with The Alarmist.