Of Magritte Country and Simmering Frogs by Glitzqueen (aka The Other Katherine Harris)


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Dandelion Salad

Glitzqueen’s blog post
Sept. 21, 2007

(T)his is Magritte country, the country of surrealism. Anything can happen.
~ Baudouin Bruggeman

Bruggeman, a Belgian schoolmaster, made this remark with reference to the parliamentary crisis that may soon divide his nation. While sipping champagne at a recent festival in Namur, he also said, “We must not worry too much.”

In response, I submit that we’re all in Magritte country now. And we should be worried as hell.

Reminding me of frogs wasn’t the rift between French- and Flemish-speakers in Belgium, but a comment on Huffington Post to Hale Stewart’s blog, Why the Fed’s Rate Cut Was a Mistake. A member called usna73 opined:

(T)hey are hoping that … average citizens will act like a “boiled frog” as their standard of living steadily declines. All the while they will lie about the inflation statistics …

If the frog analogy is new to you, they cook peacefully over increasing heat, in water that feels at first like a warm bath and slowly builds to a boil. With reference to our decline in living standards, another Huffpost member (olephart) wrote very colorfully later:

In all the hoopla over the rate cut did anyone notice the reported wholesale and consumer price reports? Both were reported to have fallen! These numbers apparently issued in part to give cover to the Fed in its rate cut decision … Have any talking heads raised an eyebrow over these numbers? Is anyone else slightly incredulous? … The list of items I’ve seen going up is virtually everything I purchase. I know they use substitution to hide inflation but they must be down to tallying … costs of aardvark droppings and garbage at the port of New York. Commodity prices and gold are skyrocketing, oil has jumped 20% higher than post-Katrina prices, the dollar is tanking and they say that prices are falling? …

Too true, usna and olephart. And yet they’re peering at a teensy part of the picture: say, one bowler hat in a Magritte skyful. Even if we take in the whole “Golconde” of interchangeable bowler-topped burghers in suspension — and aptly liken it to a middle class held in stasis, without footing, poised to tumble or blow away through no motive force of its own — we’re leaving out a lot.

The larger canvas looks more like Goya’s “Disasters of War” and still spookier Black Paintings, depicting the evils he witnessed in wartime and and his vision of the dark spirits behind them. “Saturn Devouring One of His Children” just about nails the latter.

It’s a difficult image for most of us to view, but old Saturn isn’t short of worshippers. If you retain any doubt, brace yourself and read Stephen Lendman’s in-depth review of “The Shock Doctrine” by Naomi Klein, which appeared at Dandelion Salad yesterday. Even though many of the facts were familiar to me, Klein has brought them together in a uniquely forceful way. Certainly I intend to read the book, but the review seems an extraordinarily throrough account of its contents.

When I wrote “brace yourself” before reading this material, I meant it earnestly. There’s a grain of truth in conservative claims that we progressives are “soft”, which derives from the happy fact that we’re decent people. Few of us have ever done anything terrible and the wrongs that we do commit pain us. Unlike our foes, we were born and/or bred with empathy; thus, it’s hard for us to accept that some people — typically those in charge — are Just Plain Wicked. That’s why they get away with their conspiracies, laughing us off as fools when we spot them conspiring, wave our arms and blow whistles.

Naomi Klein is no fool and years of research went into the volume Lendman reviewed. It shows in certain terms that war and other catastrophes, man-made or opportunistically seized upon, are as meat and drink to those ruling most of the world now. Moving from one plundered country to the next, she demonstrates that the welfare of nations and people means nothing to these modern-day Saturns of global finance and commerce or to their locally purchased enablers.

To them, each territory is just a pot in which some of us swim with the illusion of freedom — until the rulers of the universe get a bit hungry or the heat chances to rise on its own. Katrina and the tsunami were gifts; they didn’t have to foment conflicts, engineer coups or maim societies with debt, as they do in order to feed on most populations. Following the first pulse of fire, wherever it comes from, they apply others — usually moving the dial gingerly to keep the froggies stupefied or even keen for more warmth, but they aren’t a bit averse to slamming the lid on hard and jolting the heat to max, when they’re in a rush for dinner.

We’re among the many being cooked now, of course — besides all the crises we’re already stewing in, we can feel the temperature rising — and I’m willing to bet the radical right-wing Flemings of northern Belgium are in league with them to boil the south. The country has a vast national debt, which they’d be thrilled to see settled disproportionately on the poorer Walloons, thus making them ripe for World Bank/IMF exploitation.

Yeah, it all sounds surreal. But now the whole world is Magritte country.

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