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the state of the civilization

How Nations Have Birthdays

critical nonfiction by Kurt Halliday

jasco is four of the twelve steps madder than Zeitl. Among political anthropologists, degrees are vital. Madness being a measure, in certain ancient ways, of freedom. Freedom being here, at least, not a kind of power.

His book's bigger than hers, too.

Hers has more blue.

"Absolutely!" I guffaw - staying onside in the edgy way.

Jasco naturally goes right through his latte (it does not go through him) to explanations of the nation-state.

These are not adjectives or other puppetings-about.

This is no characterization.

J. sports a goatee (badly chewed) and it flicks patê at me as I digit his explaining into my electronics.

"The state is violence. That's bloody wot it is. That's where it comes from. And. All these pretty bourgeoisie - "


" - will only begin to escape Psychological Society - "

"That's ironic. Right?"

" - for example: … !"

There's this little pink book. It's mauve. And it's got the Fates or Furies or someone like that on it. Someone intimidating us with lactose and destiny.

It's called The Dance of Intimacy.

Jasco, terminally civilized, handles all books with reverence or at least responsibility. He doesn't clerk them around, like a bleeding teacher, at any rate.

There is a paragraph on a page in the introduction (he never heads on into the bodies of books: that would be obscene.)

" …intimacy… " pushes Dance " …is not about changing the other person, which is not possible."

There is no together[ness] in which people change - no "us" as deep [and functional] as that - it seems to say.

Jasco does a neolithic vocalizing thing and launches it up, up into the aesthetosphere above Das Kafé.

It hovers around the chili pot. The regulars take the whole thing for a sign. The room's burgundy to a fault and here's this lavender sonofabitch hovering. Freedom is essayed. Eyes behind tables are already misty with tonight's relapse…

Now's the time to deal with Jasco's manuscript. Which is mighty.

It's this fourteen-inch bugger, monstrous black. Plated as a Victorian locomotive. Flashing white inside, not the least in the Oreo way.

Jasco and his book are about The State. Today being the nation's birthday - and here in Fort Piano, the national museums at their socialest - he's onto language.

"National," for one thing. In Canada the "public" broadcaster (actually, the state culture commissariat) calls its central news committee "The National".

This is telling!


The word-concept-thing "national" forcibly combines the people and the state. It does our political thinking for us. It's automatic for us, here, that the nation-state heads up the nation and the nation is society and, naturally, society is all the people. I am the Roman people! Caesar sneezes.

"Yeah. And like. It's elitism?"

The professor and his beret look at me and my up-talk to make sure I'm getting this as it is meant to be got.

There's a certain self-awareness that comes over an interviewee. It's the baggage claim on a look that says: wot blog's he with?

"And intimacy!" He taps the next copy of Dance and Sartre. Some are Bible-tappers: he's a Sartre-tapper. His Sartre is padded. (More like the lady than the locomotive.)

The state, one must understand, if left long enough without a revolution, becomes the people.


"Pipple! Pipple!"

"It's this damn multiculturalism."

It's these damn East European intellectuals. You can't find any other kind nowadays.

In any case, the state violates. Violation's the business it's in.

With Locke and Hobbes, the state claims a monopoly on legitimate violence. All other violence must be made ritually illegitimate.

With J., the contemporary role of religion here becomes obvious… Psychology as the state religion entirely apparent… Our horror at our own anger, aggression, etc… Our gratitude for the forcefulness, (always benign, big-picture-wise) of the police… Our relief that criminality, madness, professional sports and certain kinds of impressionism give us escape from psychology

The radical individualism, he hurries because I've just checked my battery, required by the market, is provided by the state through the state religion, which is psychology.

"I'd um - "

"Like to change everything."

"Oh, no! No! Way!"

"Why not?"



"For. Like. The text."

"Yes. Well. Is this the text?"

"It's um."

"About me."


"You want something about me."

" … "

"That I am a sociologist. Or something of the sort."

" … "

"And the natural predator of psychologists."

"I was thinking."



"I'm not, actually."

"And left."

" … "

"Or Left."

"Because alotta blogs."

" … "

"Are doing, okay: Left Over; Left Out - "

"It's the title."

"The story has to really get behind the title."

" … "

"Like. Totally. Line up."

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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