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the state of the civilization

What's War For?

critical nonfiction by Kurt Halliday

a Dick, a Bush and a Colon.

Wipe and I are getting sick of it.

That's all these guys in these bars these days seem to be able to say.

The SARS thing a welcome relief.

And there are these four, especially, embedded with their beers under the moose head, in front of the news.

It's about oil - guzzle - outrages the big drippy loud insecure one.

Totally - screeches the Dean of Law.

Like… sort-of-concurs the ripe, ready female.

And he's up.

Wipe is.

Proclaiming philosophy.

Rapid-responding on behalf of professional fossil officers everywhere.

Plato to NATO and all that.

Even Monty Python.

he wants to know: where's the analysis.

Where's the explanation.

Don't these people Think?

Don't they Know?

Are they so so-called emotionally intelligent now they can only Respond?


Hats on backwards. Faces all the men's-magazine-or-at-least-women's-studies-same. They look up at him.

His off-off-Hippiedom. The Magic Bus the day Timmy Leary didn't get out of the way.

Hairy hair. Avoidful red eyes.

“Yo!” says the one with the Canadian.

They laugh.


It's like.


and Wipe - firmly professorial, actually intellectual… recovering academic.

Looks encyclopedias at me.

As though to index the ocean he's bent over here.

Most of which'd only be troubled waters to the commercial sector there in the corner.

And then.

He gives them the nation-state… rising from the power of kings… controlling through violence… and… violence as the key organizing principle… Hobbes in fact its correspondent… the institutions, like slime-backed salesmen prancing before the used cars of the professions and the finance companies of academic self-interest…

then we're at 7-Eleven. Wipe has to meet Nighthawk and the kid, whose name is named for one of those unpronounceable periods of Prince's.

We mill.

The four louts, especially the female, are disgruntled.

They carouse more than matriculate.

“Oh, shat!” goes the old guy.

They're closing on a mailbox. Then kicking it. Apparently because the nation-state's a great whore rounding their little lives, etc., etc.

Nighthawk roars in with her cab.

She's on nights.

Unpronounceable there gets out on the side away from us with our intellectually complex slushies and toward the louts.

The female of which stops kicking the nation-state around, crosses her arms in mid-re-self-identification and smiles a giant “Ahhh!” all over the pretentious tyke.

Whose mother snorts unsoberly and Saturns off to the train to be somebody's ride.


Wipe and the louts are eye-rolling each other through the fumes.

Them seeing him with earthly responsibility: the offspring.

Him seeing them living out the love of wisdom he put upon them so dismissively: the mail box interrogation.


It's fine.

They come over.

We slushy.

It's fine.

We all do a little metaphysics.

Kurt Halliday will be survived in Kingston, Ontario by two near-novels, eighteen sorta-stories, creative non-poetry, wife Janet Anderson, sons Ross and Geoff, three cats and five computers

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